Friday, June 24, 2005

"Here, kid, read 'The Story of O' while you're at it"

A librarian in Italy was found not guilty last week of giving obscene material to a minor. The fracas apparently all started when the librarian lent the Virginie Despentes novel Baise-Moi out to a 14-year-old in the neighborhood; since the book was on a government-written list of recommended novels, apparently she didn't really think that much about it.

Now, I've never read the novel Baise-Moi myself, but I did see the movie when it came out five years ago, and can definitively state that it might be the most inappropriate story for kids I've ever come across in my life; the entire plot basically consists of two female sexual-molestation victims who just lose it one day and decide to go on a cross-country sex and killing spree, participating in orgies and then slaughtering all the guys afterwards, with absolutely no justification given besides that they're men and that all men deserve to be slaughtered like the rutting animals they are. I mean, it's a great movie, don't get me wrong, and it's a shame I think that it showed in so few theatres in the US (I think the grand total was something like five or six in the whole country); but still, I'll be the first to admit that I wouldn't hand that story over to a 14-year-old if my life depended on it. I mean, jeez, even the title itself is French for either "rape me" or "f**k me," depending on how you translate it.

So the question in my mind, I guess, is not whether it was fair or not to sue the librarian for lending the book, but rather: Why the hell is the Italian government recommending this book to teens in the first place? Just what's going on over there in that crazy ol' EU, anyway? Coming next year: state-sponsored Polish orgies! (Thanks as always to Bookslut for pointing this out.)

Blogger finally allows image uploads

Blogger.com announced today that Blogspot owners can now finally upload images to their blogs. This would normally be impressive, except for the fact that SixApart (makers of MovableType, Typepad and LiveJournal) have had this function as part of their services for years. Still, though, it's awfully good news for all us Blogspot users.

And that's...the REST of the genocide!

Well, for years we've been waiting for Paul Harvey to lose his mind, and he finally has; on his radio broadcast yesterday, the octogenarian commentator urged the US government to simply drop a hail of nuclear bombs on the entire Middle East, ending the so-called "war on terrorism" once and for all. And the saddest part is that I'm not making this up; check out this entry by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn to read the actual transcript, which unbelievably is even more offensive than the summary I just gave. (For example, he actually defends the Pilgrims giving blankets to Native Americans that were tainted with smallpox, arguing that biological warfare is a perfectly acceptable solution in life when you want something that someone else has. Seriously, man, you simply have to read this transcript to believe it.)

The deathwatch for AOL officially begins today

Remember when America Online was the most popular internet service provider on the planet? Remember when they made billions of dollars exploiting their customers' ignorance concerning other web-access alternatives? Remember when they choked up the US postal system with millions upon millions of free CD-ROMs, paid for by the escalating fees forced upon those poor, dumb, son-of-a-b***h customers? Remember when they refused to comply to any standards the W3C proposed, because they were AOL and they didn't have to do anything anyone else said?

Yeah, neither do I.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Paypal releases API

Here's interesting news - Paypal has released an Application Programming Interface (API) for their services, to give companies more power concerning payments. An API, for those who don't know, is basically a set of instructions that a company will give out for free to whoever wants it, that tells outsiders how to directly connect to and manipulate the data from that company without using the company's already-existing interface. In Paypal's case, this mostly means that you will now be able to verify credit cards right from your site, using this new API, without your customer knowing that it's Paypal powering the whole thing; it will also streamline the purchase process, according to the company, and also finally let companies accept Paypal payments over the phone, fax, or in person. Hmm, hmm, hmm... (Thanks to "E-Commerce Guide" for pointing this out.)

Chicago slacker wins Miss Exotic World

This is a little late, but I wanted to congratulate my friend Toots L'Amour, co-founder of the Lavendar Cabaret burlesque troupe, on winning this year's Miss Exotic World competition out in California. If you've never seen the ladies of the Lavendar Cabaret in action...then by God, you need to! (Thanks to Gapers Block for bringing this to my attention; and more specifically, thanks to my friend B. for bringing it to their attention.)

Mobile technology roundup

There's been a number of items in the news the last couple of weeks that should interest all us geeky mobile users; here's a roundup of the items I found most interesting.

--OP3, a software company out of the Netherlands, recently released a new technology that they're calling ShotCode. The idea is that companies can produce special barcodes using the technology that they can display either in their store or on the products themselves; a mobile user who also has the ShotCode technology loaded on their device can then take a picture of the barcode with their cellphone camera, and get immediately linked to a unique URL on their mobile browser that tells them more about what they're looking at. An interesting technology, I think, although it needs a lot of work still to become viable...like inventing versions of ShotCode for all those hundreds of types of phones out there, for example. (Thanks to Threadwatch for pointing this out.)

--Stephen Baker is writing an article on moblogging for BusinessWeek, and has put his notes concerning it up on the web, detailing the frustrations he's had with the various services. He comes pretty much to the same conclusion I have in the past: with Blogger and Flickr it's easy to send multimedia files to your blog from your mobile device, MovableType and Typepad not so much.

--And finally, Google's introduced a new search service for mobile devices, which links just to sites that are mobile-friendly. I'd sure like to know how they determine if a site is mobile-friendly or not; otherwise it works perfectly, just like every other damn thing Google makes.

Test your site on a Mac...from a Windows computer

Are you a Windows owner who has always wanted to see what your website looks like on Mac screens? Wish no longer - simply type in your URL at this site and get screenshots right on the webpage of what it's looking like in all the major Mac browsers. (Thanks as always to Threadwatch for pointing this out.)

Professional-quality digital SLR cameras for $750

The New York Times has a great review up right now of the new Nikon D50, the latest in their "D" line of professional digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, which is going to sell for an unbelievable US$750 (approx. 500 euros, 375 pounds). The D50 gives you everything a traditional film-based SLR camera does - swappable lenses, manual adjustment of shutter and f-stop, crystal-clear photos - but of course is all digital, meaning that you can send the photos straight to your computer without the need of a photo lab. Plus the thing powers up in two-tenths of a second, has no lag time between shutter press and the actual taking of the photo, and can shoot two thousand photos off a single set of batteries. Man, what will the modern world think of next?

Kodak halts production of black-and-white photo paper

Mark the date: Kodak has announced that in 2006, they're going to stop manufacturing black-and-white photographic paper. I mean, sure, all us silver-nitrate veterans know that Kodak's b/w paper was crap anyway; anyone worth their salt uses Ilford paper instead, a not very well-kept secret. But still. (Thanks to Gizmodo for pointing this out.)

Chicago gets a tiki festival - and it's about time

It's the news we've been waiting years to hear - Chicago is finally getting a tiki-music festival! (Okay, so it's true - sarcasm doesn't translate well on the printed page.) It's called Exotica 2005 - Luau by the Lake, and is being presented by Tiki Quest magazine (Tiki Quest magazine?!) and Eddie Angel of the band Los Straightjackets. Events take place from July 7 to 10 in a variety of locations; the only one in the city is Trader Vic's down in the Loop. If you've never been to Trader Vic's before, by the way, you owe it to yourself to go at least once, just to say that you've had the experience. A-lo-ha... Oy. (Thanks to Gapers Block for pointing this out.)

Get RSS feeds delivered via email

Here's an idea that's just been waiting to happen - Rmail, a service which does nothing but push an RSS feed to your email account instead of a news reader. The process couldn't be simpler - just go to their home page, type in the feed you want, type in your email address, and click "subscribe;" unsubscription links appear in each subsequent email you receive. And even better, Rmail provides a piece of Javascript code that lets blog owners run an automated "notification list" at their sites; in reality, of course, it's just your RSS feed being sent to peoples' email addresses, but the Javascript code lets you run a little subscription box right on your blog page itself, and lets your readers automatically subscribe without having to jump over to the Rmail page. I've been using the option myself for about a week now, on both my personal journal and my social-networking one, and can report that it works flawlessly; I highly recommend it to others as well. (Thanks very much to Steve Rubel for pointing this out.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Another test of mo:Blog 2.0

Yet another test of mo:Blog 2.0 for the palmOne Treo, which supposedly fixes the notorious title-field bug found in the Blogger API. Let's see if it works correctly this time.

Live from Nextfest: I've been fired!

What a surprise - somebody from Nextfest actually read my journal yesterday, and I've been asked not to show up again. You can read all about it today over at my main blog, if you want.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Live from Nextfest: Prep, day 1 (photo 3)

I'm reporting live this week from Nextfest (nextfest.net), where I am volunteering in exchange for a free ticket. Here, a shot from day 1 of the fest's prep, showing the exhibition slowly going up.

Live from Nextfest: Prep, day 1 (photo 2)

I'm reporting live this week from Nextfest (nextfest.net), where I am volunteering in exchange for a free ticket. Here, a shot from day 1 of the fest's prep, showing the exhibition slowly going up.

Live from Nextfest: Prep, day 1

I'm reporting live this week from Nextfest (nextfest.net), where I am volunteering in exchange for a free ticket. Here, a shot from day 1 of the fest's prep, showing the exhibition slowly going up.

Live from Nextfest: Gaggle of volunteers

I'm reporting live this week from Nextfest (nextfest.net), where I am volunteering in exchange for a free ticket. Here, my fellow volunteers. Note how I'm the only volunteer not actually in high school - but more on this later today at my main journal (jasonpettus.com/blog).

Live from Nextfest: Ready to work

<img src="http://www.jasonpettus.com/jpil/archives/img/checkin.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="180">
I'm reporting live this week from <a href="http://www.nextfest.net">Nextfest</a>. I just checked in, in fact, for my first day of volunteer work - here's their check-in table down at Navy Pier.

Live from Nextfest: Ready to work

<img src="http://www.jasonpettus.com/jpil/archives/img/checkin.jpg" border="0" width="240" height="180">
I'm reporting live this week from <a href="http://www.nextfest.net">Nextfest</a>. I just checked in, in fact, for my first day of volunteer work - here's their check-in table down at Navy Pier.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Test of mo:Blog 2.0Test of mo:Blog 2.0
This is a test of the new mo:Blog 2.0, which supposedly will finally fix the title-field bug caused by Blogger.com's outdated API. Let's see what happens.