Archive for January 2005

One Million Served

6 months. 64 posts. 2011 comments. One million page views. Mike Industries hit seven digits today, and to celebrate I’m giving away an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse to the person (or people) who submit the best comments, in haiku form, as to why they want either device. An example is as follows:

Oh Bluetooth Keyboard
I Yearn For Your Wireless Touch
Untether Me Now

The best haikus posted by EOD Wednesday, will be shipped the products. Multiple entries are fine.

I want to thank everyone who has been reading and/or participating in this site over the last several months since inception. I feel like this blog is 99% troll-free, and the quality of discussion is top shelf. Never would I have learned that the McLean Deluxe burger is part sea-kelp without the vast pool of savants who visit these pages.

I also want to give a shout out to Dreamhost, my hosting company of choice. I’ve hosted sites with many different ISPs in my life, but Dreamhost just continues to completely blow me away. I have zero complaints and a thousand compliments. In fact, I’m so satisfied that I just gave them placement on my sidebar, which is about the closest thing to an ad you’ll find on this site. If your hosting company doesn’t make you want to run over and hug them, you should check out Dreamhost.

Thanks also to The Wolf who continues to make the world a better (coded) place. Somebody please clone him.

Anyway, I’m off for a vacation in the Mayan Riviera now. The diving is supposed to be great. Will post close-up pictures of sharks when I return.

UPDATE: We have two winners! Thanks to everyone for participating. There were more than a handful of really great haikus, but these two stood out as the greatest:

Pale azure molar
Blinking vermillion rodent
Freely I would roam

— Isaac Lin

Contiguity?
Electromagnetism!
Disentanglement.

— Jay Robinson

Congrats to Isaac and Jay. I’ll ship you your stuff as soon as I get back from vacay.

The iPod End Game

I have to admit, the iPod has been one of those devices that has fooled me from the start. I never thought anyone would buy a $400 portable music player, and before you laugh at me, remember how you felt the day it came out. If you bought an iPod within the first few weeks of it being released (or at least would have if it was PC-compatible), you’re off the hook. If not, you were skeptical like the rest of the world.

Oh how times have changed since then. iPod sales have far surpassed everyone’s expectations — including probably some people at Apple — and by the end of 2005, the device could see a market share of over 80%. Possibly well over 80%. An entire book could be written on the rise of the iPod, and in some senses, an entire book already has.

But I don’t want to get into any of that. It’s a huge hit. Bravo Apple. You are shaking up the world again… in a great, great way.

What I want to talk about is how this game will play out. How the rules will change when Microsoft puts both feet in the water. How sales will be affected when consumer tastes change. How new devices and new technologies will help, hurt, or kill the iPod. And most importantly, how Apple may attempt to defend its newfound position of power with a diversification strategy.
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Does Accessibility Belong on the Server-Side?

If you think you knew how to design or code a site with disabled people in mind, head on over to this National Institute of Standards and Technology accessibility study (via: Henrik Olsen) and find out exactly how much you don’t know.

Somewhere in Toronto, even Joe Clark is taking notes.

In a nutshell, Redish & Associates observed 22 screenreader users interact with a variety of web sites. Most were government sites, but Google was also included to represent search behavior. The results showed that most sites, whether or not they complied with the syntax of accessibility, were difficult to use based on the presentation of the content.

The study covers lots of ground, all the way from “skip navigation” links to recommendations against creating branded words like “LiveHelp” (apparently, screenreaders read that as “livahelp”).
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Costanza Loves the McDLT

So one of my friends e-mailed me yesterday to tell me that he had just moved to St. Croix and that they are so far behind the times over there that you can actually still get a McDLT. Yes, the McDLT… possibly the best sandwich to ever come out of the Ronald McDonald School of Culinary Arts.

The McDLT hasn’t been seen in America for about 15 years, but you remember it well: The hot stays hot. The cool stays cool. One half marketing genius, one half environmentally-unfriendly styrofoam waste.

Upon hearing of the McDLT sighting, I immediately hit Google to feed my nostalgic lust. There isn’t much current McDLT news to speak of, but I did find this gem of a commercial featuring George Costanza, circa 1985, who in the words of the site’s author “seems to love the HELL out of the McDLT.”

The spot is great. Extra points for the white Miami Vice jacket with the rolled-up sleeves and the kooky mid ’80s “Fame” dancing.

MacWorld 2005: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Twice a year, Apple fans like me take the first half of the workday off to watch the semi-annual ritual that is Steve Jobs’ MacWorld Expo keynote speech. When Apple is nice, they provide a live Quicktime feed for us to get our drool on. When they are cruel, they provide no video and force us to watch text-based accounts provided by the nice folks at MacNN, Engadget, MacMinute, and others. Either way though, we eventually get what we’re after: a first glance at what’s coming out of Cupertino this year.

UPDATE: The archived keynote is now available here.

I thought this year’s announcements were quite good and filled with several things to be excited about, but at the same time, I feel Apple is still behind the game with regards to a few lines of business they should be in. Let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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Playing Along with African E-Mail Scams

With all the genuine relief efforts going on in the world right now, it’s easy to lose sight of the fake ones. Particularly the plight of poor Augusto Nandu Savimbi, son of Jonas Savimbi, recently slain leader of the UNITA movement in Angola (pictured at right). If you’ve ever received one of these e-mails, perhaps you’ve been tempted to help poor Augusto or one of his siblings out of the horrible predicament that has been thrust upon them by the oppressive government of Angola.

Or, perhaps you’ve just wanted to play along via e-mail and see how much of “Augusto’s” time you could waste.

As it turns out, a designer I work with, Stephen Lodefink, has a friend who has been doing just this for the last month or so, and it’s one of the more entertaining e-mail exchanges I’ve read in awhile. This friend Patrick has been trading e-mails with “Mr. Savimbi” stringing him along and setting up a fake meeting in Dublin to transfer funds and make them both millionaires.

The e-mail chain has gotten a bit long and Mr. Savimbi has grown quite frustrated, but I’m going to go ahead and post the entire transcript before the saga is complete. I will add new e-mails as they come in. The whole thing starts off rather tame, but once Patrick’s broken english and “kooky-kitten-kat” stories kick in, it goes way over the top.

The transcript follows:

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Fantasy Football Addiction

Fantasy Football is a terrible addiction. For the last 17 weeks, I’ve wasted almost all of my Sundays watching NFL games I otherwise wouldn’t have watched, all for the sake of a small amount of cash and some bragging rights. I’m so bad that even though both of my league championships have already been decided, I’m watching the meaningless Cowboys/Giants Sunday night game right now because Tiki Barber is still scoring me points.

With the emergence of web-based fantasy sports engines like our own ESPN League Manager, fantasy football has gone, in only a few years, from an obscure fringe hobby to one of the most popular paid services online. I’m the commissioner of two ESPN leagues this year and they are both the biggest leagues I’ve ever participated in (16 and 20 people). I think that growing league sizes and multiple league memberships are signs that fantasy football fever is still very much exploding.

One of the leagues I’m in is a blogger’s league that Keith Robinson and I set up to help get to know some people in the community a little better. It is my jealous pleasure to announce that Keith won the league championship today with a 159-124 victory over Mike Papageorge (a.k.a. The Shifty Spaniard) in the final game. Keith’s team, Kiss My Asterisk, was among the most exciting to watch this year, winning several nailbiters on clutch plays and good coaching decisions. Mike Papageorge’s team, The Alicante Algonauts, was quite strong as well, especially considering it was operated out of Spain, a football starved province in Western Europe. I was one fumble away from taking the title this year, so I can’t complain, but congratulations to both Mike and Keith on making the final game and to Keith for winning it all <marv_albert>WITH AUTHORITY</marv_albert>! Thanks also to the 17 other industry know-nothings in the league who put up with the forked tongue of the Commish for the whole season.

The second league I ran is a money league of friends and co-workers and I’m happy to say I took the title in that one with a 244-139 blowout. I don’t expect any readers to actually care about this, but hey, it was a long season and I’m proud of the win, damnit!

The Cowboys/Giants game just ended a couple of minutes ago which means the fantasy season is now officially over as well. Tiki Barber got me another 34 points. Yay Tiki.

It’ll be nice to have my Sundays back now.

Shared
How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)
The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In:

Take your pick of about 20 great quotes from this Daring Fireball article. My personal favorite:

The iPhone is not and never was a phone. It is a pocket-sized computer that obviates the phone. The iPhone is to cell phones what the Mac was to typewriters.

sirmitchell:

Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity’s Seven Minutes of Terror

The precision and innovation that is required for space exploration just blows my mind. I did not realize that Curiosity will have to basically land on Mars completely unaided by man, but it’s so much more complicated than that.