Voyeuristic Procrastination
16 November 2008

Goto Google Image search or flickr. Search for one of the many default digital camera image names, such as DCSN####.jpg or IMG_####.jpg (where you replace the pound sign with a number). Look at the results.

Many people do not change the defaults and you will find yourself obtaining an interesting glimpse into the lives of different people.

Example

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A new waste of time
29 October 2008

MTV has decided to post most of their videos online. I guess they have given up on broadcasting music on TV, but still, this is an amazing site. YOu will definitely find yourself wasting hours here. You have been warned.

MTV Music.com

Some links to get you started:

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Big news!
19 October 2008

I thought this deserved more than a simple tweet. Annie and I got married in small private ceremony! Pictures to follow.

(now we will really see who is reading this blog based on the congratulations I receive).

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Site update
07 October 2008

Dear readers (or should I say reader):

Soon you will be seeing a site redesign or should I say reorganization. My blog will stay here at the top level www.solidblacksquare.com. Meanwhile, my professional/academic page will be moved to stationarypoint.com. The latter will be a “stationary point” in cyber space as I constantly move through real space. Details to come later. Please keep an eye out on this and the other page and changes occur.

Thank you! m

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Kids today
07 October 2008

So I was sitting on the subway this morning, minding my own business when two kids got onto the train. Hearing them talking about music, I listened in, as I like to stay in touch with “the youth” of today. I then overheard the following:

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Kid 1: Check out this awesome new song I found?

Kid 2: Ok, cool play it. 

(Kid 1 plays Joy Division Shadowplay on speaker from his Ipod Touch). 

Me: (to myself. “WoW! He rediscovered Joy Division!!! WOOHOO!!”) 

Kid 2: Man, this is just a really slow, bad cover of that Killers song.

----


I nearly threw my bag at them. Ian Curtis died before Brandon Flowers was born. Anne said (and I agree) that I should have said something and put those kids inline. I just glared at them imagining their heads to explode.

Maybe we can band together to start a new non-for-profit, “Preserving Good Music for the Children of the Future”.

Opinions?

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Something new I am trying
27 September 2008

Optimize This: A blog hosted by tumblr. This will include things I find and encounter which I think need improving. Let me know how it works out.

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Can't we all agree?
26 September 2008

As we approach the debate tonight, can’t we break through the partisanship bickering, and agree:

1) Our dog and cat wrestling together is cute: Barnaby and Watson

2) “Before someone amputates your penis, you want to be real sure it’s necessary.” News article

More videos of Barnaby and Watson shot and organized by Annie: Youtube channel

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This did not take long
26 September 2008

The Chase logo just looks so weird with the crazy WaMu colours. OR should I say the colours formally known as the crazy WaMu colours.

wamu-chase.png

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More Barack puns
25 September 2008

How about an ode to Terminator. I call it the Barackinator:

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A new t-shirt
25 September 2008

Annie and I brainstormed a new Obama t-shirt today. I whipped together a quick template. Opinions?

borackalli_2.png

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I think I have a problem
24 September 2008

I love writing instruments, not necessarily writing.  I love paper, stationery, notebooks, fountain pens and different inks.  I love writing in my research journal with different colors.  I like writing notes to people when an email would suffice.  I can’t help it; I don’t know why.

 Over the next few weeks, I will write up some reviews of the different notebooks and pens I use which I hope others may find interesting.  If you have any requests, please feel free to email me.These reviews will include modern pens such as the Lamy Safari, Omas Emotic, Namiki Falcon and the Pilot Vanishing point and more vintage pens such as a Waterman’s #2, Parker Vacuumatic and Esterbrook J.  As for paper and notebooks, I hope to cover the Apica journal and original crown mill paper.  We will see how much I cover in my free time; I do have a real day job.

Till next time.

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Strip club Wall Street Jokes
17 September 2008

Wow! The local strip club really keeps its finger on the pulse of America.

photo-1.jpg

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Long time no post
15 September 2008

My goal will be to post regularly.  Sorry for the delay.  Let's just say
you know it is a bad weekend when the best part of the trip is
the funeral.  Airports are horrible.
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Why Movable Type?
08 September 2008

I have received quite a few comments from friends about why I went with Movable Type over one of the many other blogging services/systems out there. So here goes a brief explanation as to my decision process.

My first idea was to roll my own. Using this an an excuse to learn python, I sat down over a couple of days and wrote some nice code which would convert simply text entries into a blog format.
This was nice. It was clean. It required no additional software othe than Python; however, it did not support comments, archives, or searching. Although not a deal breaker, I began to feel that I needed something a little more powerful.

My next idea was to check out the online blogging systems, such as Blogger or tumblr. Both of these are nice and support many nice features and I went as far as to register a tumblr id, however, after some experiments I felt some customization I wanted was lacking. (Still if forced, I could have made do with tumblr).

Finally, I became a little braver. If I am going to host a blog then I will run open source software on my own server. The main players here were Wordpress, Joomla and Movable Type. My first experiments were with Wordpress, mainly out of laziness. My host, A2 Hosting has an auto-install feature which includes wordpress. I set up a database and begin to play around. The general UI was nice and again I could have made this system work; however, I found the technique for customization a little too constricting. I felt forced into a WP box in my design ideas. Next on the list was Joomla. My good buddy Q uses and loves Joomla so I downloaded it and gave it a shot. Again, it was nice, but just not me. Everything about it felt “busy”. About to give up in despair, I came across Movable Type. MT powers some of the better designed blogs out there (in my opinion at least), including on of my few daily readings Daring Fireball. I downloaded, installed, and set up and software and was off. The first thing I noticed is that unlike WP, the documentation is slightly lacking. This IS annoying, but still I pushed through. I began studying the templating and design features and became more and more impressed. MT seemed to be a system whih allowed you to design your site however you wished, bending itself around you as opposed to forcing you to bend you design ideas around it. MT is not all sun and rainbows though. As I said, documentation can be really bad. Important concepts such as the mythical “blog id” are not mentioned and many plug-ins are extremely tricky to get working. (After a week of hacking, I STILL cant get the PostOffice plugin to work properly.) For example, the Action Stream plugin is quite nice, allowing the blog designer to pull in info from other third party sites. HOwever, no where in the readme file is it mentioned how to actually set where this stream is pulled in from. (It is under User -> Add Profiles if you are looking.) All of this can be frustrating and Anne heard a few curses underneath my breath as I was trying to get things to work.

To conclude, I went with MT because it seemed to give a lot of freedom in design. Would I recommend it to others; it depends. If you just want a full-featured blog that works, go with WP or tumblr. If you want to make design a top-priority, while sacrificing a little sanity, MT may be the way to go. Either way, blog on!

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Concert review: T.V. on the Radio
07 September 2008

Industrial barbershop. Sort of like that McDonald’s ad, I would call it “weird, but tasty”. Last night, Anne and I went to the Showbox SODO to see on of the more musical industrial acts around. For more info on this act see this wiki-page.

The venue was nice. An old warehouse type building, refitted with a nice bar, large screen televisions and amazing AC set the scene. After settling down in the over 21 area with matching wrist stamps (see Anne’s blog for pics), we bought some drinks and looked around. The audience was mostly kids with a smattering of old school punks living the cool-life. After a wait, the opening band miles benjamin anthony robinson came on and the music began. The lead singer had this unique, cracky style voice which slowly grew on me and the drummer was by far the most talented member in the band. Still, after a few minutes of listening to them, I felt my toe start to tap a little and my head begin to bop. Not my fave, but they served they purposes in setting the tone of the night.

Finally, what we have all been waiting for. TV on the Radio. As they came on stage, Anne looked at me and immediately commented on how they have really cleaned themselves up. See, 3 years ago, before we were dating, she got us tickets to Franz Ferdinand. Who was the opening act? TV on the Radio of course. Then they were this dirty and smelly group who just rocked out! Last night the lead guitarist cleaned his bird-nest inspiring beard and fro and the singer clearly lost weight. But still, they did not forget how to rock. The set was a good mix of lesser known tracks and their big hits, but as Anne pointed out, it seemed as if they left out some of the “harder-to-sing” pieces. Still, after the encore of their most famous song “Staring at the Sun” I was left we a happy feeling in my stomach and a smile on my face. I will definitely be buying their new album, Dear Science, at the end of the month.

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Book recommendation: The Orphan's Tales: In The Night-Garden
05 September 2008

This is the first in a hopefully, semi-regular series of brief book overviews. Unless noted, I will not give away any plot elements unless noted a priori.

The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night-Garder is the first of a two volume series of fairy-tales written by Catherynne Valente. This book was recommened to Anne and I at this wonderful (nerd) bookstore in Berkeley, called The Other Change of Hobbit. The worker there said that this would be a wonderful book for us both to read, discuss and enjoy.

The first volume consists of two main story-lines, however, within each, interesting stories unveil themselves, much like a russian nested doll set. At first, I found keeping my place in the “stack” confusing, for at times the author does delve quite deep into the “story within a story within a story” idea. However, after the first 100 pages, I was unable to put the book down, as each tale weaved itself with the others, creating an intricate, interrelated story arc. By the end, I found myself ripping through page after page, trying to reach the end and then frantically running to buy the second volume. The quality of writing is not the best; however, the story is unique and captivating and well worth the time to read.

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A welcome message
02 September 2008

Hello all.  This is my first post (of many) in my new web journal.  I am thinking of abbreviating this into a small catchy word such as "wernoul", what do you think?

Solid Black Square is an ode to the Halmos Tombstone, a symbol classically used to denote  the end of a proof in mathematics.  As for the site's design, I built up this theme by hand using Movable Type as my content management system. The goal for this site is to show that simplicity can convey information intelligently.   It is still (and will always) be a work in progress.  If there is something showing up incorrectly, please email me.  (If you are using IE, I may or may not listen to your issues)


Till later!
marc

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