East Side Pies

In the perpetual search for the best pizza in Austin, I am tentatively appointing a new leader: East Side Pies, 1401 Rosewood (next door to Sold Out 4 Christ ministries, near the Carver library and Long Branch Inn). Last night was our first order from there, so they haven’t established a track record, but damn, that was a good pizza. New York style thin crust. Excellent ingredients—Gwen, who doesn’t even eat meat, agreed “that’s some damn good sausage.”

The now-dethroned Parlor still has a damn good pizza with a slightly thicker crust, not to mention an ambience with a certain je ne sais quoi.

I’m still holding out for a good Chicago-style stuffed pizza (sadly, Mangia no longer counts as “good”), but I can be quite content with East Side Pies and the Parlor.

And now that I live on the east side, where many delivery places fear to tread, I can say “suck it” to the west side, because we’ve got better pizza here anyhow.

The trouble with Mail

I’ve recently started reading Hawk Wings, a blog focused mostly on Apple’s Mail.app and other personal-information programs like iCal and Address Book. I’m always keen on ways to tweak Mail, but I was moved to actually write about it by the recent post Mail’s most annoying bug. It got me thinking about all the ways Mail could be better.

When it was released with OS X 10.0, Mail was barely usable. I had used Eudora up to that point, but when I made the switch to X, I decided to leave the old OS behind completely. While Eudora was available, it did not handle Japanese; it only handled Japanese on OS 9 thanks to a plugin that had not been ported to X (I know nothing of the state of Eudora’s i18n today). I looked at some third-party alternatives, and gladly would have paid for one that I liked, but I found nothing that I liked better than Mail, so I stuck with that.

Today, Mail is a pretty good program, but it has obvious problems, and even if those were all fixed, would be solid but not innovative.

Bad/no keyboard equivalents: Mail lets you read messages one of two ways: by splitting the window into a message-list pane and a message-viewing pane, or by showing each message in its own window. My natural inclination (probably inherited from Eudora) is to open each message in its own window, but when you do this, it is impossible to use the keyboard to navigate between messages while viewing the message. You need to close the current message window, then arrow up/down, then open that message. It’s a small thing, but multiplied out hundreds of times a day it adds up. I am dumbfounded by the lack of this, as well as some of the strange keyboard commands that are there—the commands to send and check mail, two of the most common e-mail activities, are obscure and non-mnemonic.

Bad threading: Mail tries to group messages by thread, but also groups based on subject line. I have a client that uses the subject line “request” on every message he sends me, so every time he sends me work, I need to disclose an increasingly ungainly list of messages (I keep all the old ones around just because I am that way). Another weakness in this quasi-threading is that it is “flat”–it doesn’t show which message is replying to which. This is possible. Properly threaded e-mail been possible for decades. Apple should be able to figure it out.

Inclusion of .sig in body: As far as I can tell, most civilized mail clients segregate the signature line from the body of the message when you are editing. Not Mail. This means you needs to edit around the .sig, or add it back after you’ve deleted it.

Reply format oriented towards top-posters: I’m not going to say that top-posting is wicked and only evil, stupid people do it, but I don’t do it. [Update: Holy crap, look at the passions this topic arouses.] When replying to an e-mail, I try to interleave my points with the sender’s points. Mail is set up to encourage top-posting though: it places the cursor on a blank line above the quoted text, and prefaces the quoted text not with a salutation but with a more bureaucratic “on such-and-such a date, so-and-so wrote:”. So there’s that wasted blank line, and a first line that I almost invariably wind up editing (if you get e-mail from me that has that introductory line unedited, it means either that I’m really busy, that you are bugging me, or that I don’t know how to address you). Again, customized salutation lines have been around for a very long time. Mail should solve this and not assume that everyone is a top-poster. And when I want to interleave my response into the quoted text, Mail does a lazy job. The helpful thing would be to create three blank, unquoted lines with the cursor on the middle line. Mail creates one blank unquoted line. If I’m inserting a comment between two paragraphs of quoted text, there will be one blank quoted line just hanging there—it should clean that up. I think Eudora did.

Simple filtering: I use a lot of rules in Mail to direct my mail into the appropriate slots. I know that Boolean logic can get confusing, but Mail could offer an expert mode for creating rules like “If (A or B) not C” Yes, I know that Mailsmith can do this. I also know that Mailsmith has no support for Japanese. i18n is a real bright spot in Mail: before Mail, e-mail containing Japanese was a frequent PITA. I still have occasional problems with it, but the problem is mostly solved.

No queue for outgoing mail: This is another one of those Eudora features I miss. With Eudora, it was possible to write a message and queue it for delivery later (indeed, this was the default, though it was also possible to send immediately). Not with Mail: you send it, it’s gone. A five-minute grace period would save a lot of mistakes.

So far, these complaints are just of the “this is broken” variety. There are lots of ways Mail could actually be innovative.

Presentation of threads: This is one thing where gmail is out in front: it shows “conversations,” including both messages you received and sent as part of the conversation. Even if Mail would show all the messages in a mailing-list thread in one window—ideally with proper threading indicated—I’d be very happy. If it could go a step further and strip off all the detritus of footers and excess quoting, I’d be amazed.

Mailing-list handling: As long as we’re talking about mailing lists, Mail should be smart enough to recognize “hey, you’ve subscribed to a mailing list” and offer to set up special mailboxes and filters for it. Since almost all mailing lists run on a handful of platforms (Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, Mailman, and maybe one or two others), it should be possible to create special actions for quitting a list, etc, so that newbies who subscribe to a list they then decide to leave don’t post annoyed and annoying messages to the list asking “how do I leave this list?” (actually, this suggests a whole xmlrpc mechanism for managing lists, but that’s a topic for another day).

Ad-hoc mailing lists: this could be dangerous in the wrong hands, but sometimes it is useful to have a mailing list for a short period of time and a small number of people. With the right rules and actions, a mail client could emulate a mailing list well enough. There should be a quick way to set this up.

Alternate views: It could be useful (or at least interesting) to be able to view my mail database in calendrical form. Or by person. It would be interesting, for example, to see a histogram of all the mail exchanged between me and Gwen over time.

Old blog, new domain

I’m back to using Movable Type, although I’m intrigued enough with WordPress that I may continue fidding with it behind the scenes.

One thing that really is new is my domain name—it looks as if that deal is going through. My old e-mail address should continue working for a few months, and there should be redirects for this and a few other subdirectories that should also last for that period, but now would be a good time to update your address book and bookmarks. Wherever you see “crossroads.net”, change it to “8stars.org” (or “eightstars.org” if you prefer—they both work).

Why 8stars? It’s an obscure visual pun. The Chinese character for rice, ç±³, looks like an 8-pointed star (in fact, the Japanese nickname for the asterisk is “kome-jirushi,” or “rice-mark”). You can see a stylized version of this character in the header of this blog—I’ve actually been using that mark for some time. I would have registered 8star.org, but someone else already had. So I went with the plural. 8pointedstar.org is just too damn verbose.

It is with some regret that I part with the old domain name: I’ve had it since 1994, and really thought I’d have it permanently. As silly as it may be, that domain name had become part of my self-image. There’s also a practical reason to regret it: having a durable e-mail address has allowed some people to contact me at that address even after many years of silence. The flipside, of course, is that I get an ungodly amount of spam. So there’s a silver lining. Plus, well, there’s the money. Not enough to retire on, but enough to make a significant difference in my retirement fund, buy a few toys, and go on a trip.


gray's anatomy picture of the inner ear

I’ve been laid up since Wednesday with labyrinthitis, an infection of the inner ear, which results in fluid-filled and inflamed ear passages. And dizziness. WoOOOooOOooo. It’s slowly coming under control with potent antibiotics; I was initially prescribed dramamine to deal with the immediate symptoms, but that turned out to be completely ineffective; I saw the doctor again yesterday and he prescribed a combination of valium and prednisone (cortisone) instead. The valium also seems to be ineffective (perhaps he prescribed it in part to counter the behavioral side-effects of the prednisone, which can put you on edge, from what I’m told), but I am on the mend.

For a couple days, I wasn’t able to keep food down. Since then, I’ve improved gradually. Today’s the first day I’ve been able to comfortably read more than a paragraph or so at a time, although it still requires more concentration than usual, and I’m unsteady when moving around. With any luck, I’ll be over all this by the end of the week. It’s been a strange experience: I think it’s the first time in my adult life that I’ve been so incapacitated by an illness that for days on end, I can’t do much more than lie in bed and watch TV. It’s also kind of strange that I would be laid low by just this one symptom–there’s been no pain or anything else that you’d normally associate with being laid up.


I’ve been offered a big chunk of change for the crossroads.net domain name. There’s a good chance I’ll take it. If this happens, everything under this URL, as well as my e-mail (and Gwen’s) will change. More here soon.

Alfresco Whispers

Post-move, I’ve been cleaning out some old papers, and found this. I’ve decided to type it up and post it online for the benefit of future generations. This was originally typed up (and orchestrated) by Chris Poole. Although I’ve tried very hard to reproduce this in exactly the same form as Chris typed it up, it’s quite possible that I’ve introduced a few typos.

I don’t remember exactly which one of these I translated, but it was somewhere in the late 30s/early 40s.

At the closing luncheon of IJET-4 an exercise in consecutive translating was conducted, drawing on the expertise of the assembled translators and interpreters. A simple phrase in English was chosen as the starting point and a Japanese speaker was asked to translate it. This in turn was translated back into English, and then back into Japanese again and so on. People were asked to translate into their own language and were given sixty seconds to do so. No one saw anything but the previous version, and were therefore unaware of the subtle changes that were taking place.

It should be noted here that some difficulty was encountered due to people’s handwriting, but as the participants became aware of the overall objective, a guarantee of anonymity seemed to become more important. In deference to these numerous requests I therefore present the results typed up, with annotation where appropriate.

  1. Bridges between cultures are built on foundations of tolerance.
  2. 文化のかけ橋、忍耐を土台となる。
  3. Patience, indeed, is the foundation of bridges between cultures.
  4. 文化のかけ橋になるのは、忍耐しかありません。 “Foundation” component of metaphor disappears.
  5. The only cultural bridge is forbearance 忍耐 alternatively translated as “tolerance,” “patience” and “forbearance”. The latter perhaps confusing the translator, who finds refuge in an ambiguous use of the word 理解 which then of course becomes “understanding”. A very durable concept which lasts until 21.
  6. 文化は他を理解することで結ばれる。 “Bridge” metaphor disappears via 結び and “link”.
  7. Cultures are linked by understanding others.
  8. 他の人たちを理解することにより文化交流がなされる。 “People” are introduced through the ambiguity of 他.
  9. Cultural exchange is done by evaluating other people.
  10. 文化交流は、外国の人を理解することから始まる。
  11. International understanding begins with an understanding of foreign people.
  12. 国際理解は外国の人を理解するから始まる。
  13. International understanding begins with an understanding of foreign people.
  14. 国際理解は外国人を理解するから始まる。
  15. International understanding begins with the act of understading foreigners.
  16. 会得する、理解、始めに、その行動は外国人の行動を理解すること。
  17. Understand first that behavior is to understand the behavior of foreigners. Statement becomes rather incoherent imperative due to confusing layout of 16.
  18. 外国人の行動であるとまず理解すること。 Does not read 17 as imperative.
  19. To understand from the outset that this is the way foreigners behave. Seems to become conditional clause here.
  20. 外国の方はこういうふうに行動するものだと初めから理解すること。
  21. You must understand that this is how foreigners behave. Back to the imperative.
  22. 外国の方はこうなさいます。 Then back again to descriptive statement.
  23. This is the way foreigners would do it. “would do it” if what? Do what?
  24. これは外国人がよくするやり方です。 Solves above problem, but introduces question of frequency.
  25. This is what foreigners often do.
  26. 外国がどんあことをよく行いますか? Inexplicably becomes question. Also omits 人, leaving sentence to mean “what sort of things do foreign countries often do?”
  27. What kind of things do they like to do in foreign countries? In order to make sense of the above, invents identity/ies, not necessarily native to the countries, who now have a choice about “what they do”.
  28. その人たちは(かれらは)外国にいったときどんなことをしたいのでしょうか。 Good, if cumbersome, translation that makes it plain that “they” are visitors.
  29. What do you think they might want to do when they go overseas?
  30. 太りすぎたらどう対処すると思いますか。 Handwriting problem. Misreads “overseas” as “overeats”.
  31. If you are too fat, how do you handle the problem? Introduces value judgment on obesity.
  32. 太りすぎていたら、どうそれに対応しますか。 Female translator said she would rather not translate something like this. I emphasised that it was only a game so she obliged (but didn’t see obesity as a problem).
  33. If you were too fat, what would you do?
  34. ふとり過ぎていたら貴方はどうなさいますか。 Renders “you” as 貴方
  35. What will the lord do when he gets too fat? Mistakes 貴方 for 貴族 and renders it as “lord”.
  36. 神は肥りすぎたらどうするか? Reads “lord” as “God”.
  37. What do you do if God is too fat? 37, 39, 43, 47 all manage without a personal pronoun in Japanese. Personal pronounds cause problems on both occasions they appear in 34 and 40.
  38. 神様があまり太っていたらどうしますか。
  39. What would you do if god was too fat?
  40. 神が肥満過多だったら貴方は… Bases vague, open-ended question on condition that God were too fat.
  41. If God were too fat, what would you be? Good logical translation that deduces remainder of question.
  42. 肥りすぎの神様がいったらどう思いますか? Raises question of attitude rather than “being”.
  43. If there is an overweight God, what do you think?
  44. 太りすぎの神様がいるとすればどう思いますか。
  45. What would you think of a fat God.
  46. 太った神様をどう思もいますか。 Rumoured fat God lives!
  47. What do you think of the fat God.
  48. 神様太ったでしょう? Renders simple question as traditional Japanese greeting addressed to God.
  49. You look well God! Good translation.
  50. やあ、元気そうじゃないか! Supreme being departs as “God” is read simply as exclamatory component of greeting.
  51. Hello my lover. You’m be lookin’ fine today (Devonshire) Very ably translated into equivalent dialect.

We’ve moved

Giles house after move

Our renovation is done. We’ve moved in to the new place. Now we just need to unpack and get rid of all the stuff that won’t fit. I’m exhausted.

Cathedral of Junk

Went to an event organized by the Museum of Ephemerata at the Cathedral of Junk this past weekend. I’ve been living in Austin for a while, and I’ve been a part of some of those things that “keep Austin weird,” so when I saw the cathedral, I was surprised that I had never even heard of it—much less seen it–before.

It’s extraordinary.

Every once in a while I encounter an artifact that rises above its humble materials and primitive construction, ennobled by the dedication of its creator to become something almost sacred. This is one of those things.

I saw it at night, and need to see it in daylight.

The Sidepad

I’ve been musing a bit lately about the problem of having too much information on our computer screens to deal with. I’ve also been thinking about the problems involved in using a computer as the hub of an entertainment center. What follows is a concept that might be able to address both problems, as well as a few others.

This is a gadget I call the “sidepad.” It has a few modes of operation.

1. Docked mode

In this mode, the sidepad is physically connected (via a docking station) to the host computer, and acts as a specialized secondary display.

I’ve written before that I like the idea of roping off a section of my display for to use as for status-monitoring displays and the like, or better yet, a separate display entirely. There wouldn’t be enough of this ancillary stuff to fill a normal display (even a small one), but a custom display such as I am proposing would be perfect.

Shown here is a very rough mockup of a 20“ iMac with an ancillary display showing how the two would relate.

Image showing iMac with sidepad

Here is a detail of just the sidepad in docked mode

Detailed view of sidepad in docked mode

In this, the ancillary display shows the dock, application palettes, and ”dashboard“-style information, though in a much simpler and more disciplined format than Apple’s Dashboard. For lack of a better name, I’ll tentatively call this part of the display the ”dashpad“. Rather than having each widget being free-floating and self-contained, each dashpad widget fits into a ”slot“ and has no chrome (though actual widgets in this case could be somewhat dressier than I am showing them here). I have left the application palettes alone, although I envision a standard visual format for them, along with a special API to take advantage of the ancillary display.

How would something like this work technically? At the physical level, I imagine a dock that would connect to the host via Firewire. Although it would act in some respects as a second display, it would probably need to be treated more as a peripheral; it would have its own processor, which would need to collaborate with the host to fake acting like a second display in some respects.

At the software level, the OS would need a new API that let applications relegate palette display to the sidepad when present, along with support in the OS for the look and actions of those palettes. Likewise display of the dashpad.

2. Detached mode

In this mode, the sidepad is undocked from the host computer, but within wifi range, and acts as a remote terminal for that computer, as well as the command center for home entertainment.

We’re at a point where having a remote display for one’s home computer can be incredibly handy. Such as:

  • You see something while watching TV and want to check some background info on the web (IMDB entry on an actor, product website for something you see advertised).
  • You are piping music from your computer to your stereo. You want to be able to see track info, and to have more control over playback than next/previous track buttons on a normal remote offer.

Obviously these tasks can be accomplished with another computer networked into your primary computer, but this can require a fair amount of setup, and the expense and maintenance of an another computer. Apple likes to talk about its computers being ”digital hubs,“ and I love the idea, but I need to be able to use it out at the ends of the spokes.

Shown here is the sidepad removed from the dock. It would communicate with the host over wifi (probably setting up a VPN). Assuming the mac was also hooked up to, say, a TV and stereo, the sidepad would work as a remote control in this mode, directing media signals to the appropriate outputs.

sidepad in detached mode

In this mode, the screen would show something completely different. A fixed source browser would appear on the top-left, with tabs for one’s computer, the Internet (which would show a browser in the remainder of the screen), music, movies, photos (which would hook into the appropriate sources on the host’s hard drive, and display suitable browsers), and an organizer (contacts and calendar that would sync with the appropriate iApps).

3. Outbound mode

In this mode, the sidepad is operating independently of the host computer, functioning as an Internet terminal, media player, and PDA.

A lot of people who mostly need a desktop computer could also use something lightweight for e-mail, web surfing, and entertainment when they are away from home. The proportions of the display are not an accident: it has a 16×10 aspect ratio, for widescreen video. A laptop (especially a used one) is not an unreasonable solution, but may be overkill, and requires more work (and if Apple has its way, a .Mac subscription) to keep in sync with one’s desktop. Low-powered, small, and lightweight web-surfing tablets such as the Nokia 770 and Pepperpad already exist, but these are not really designed to sync with larger computers, much less provide either of the other modes I’ve discussed.

In order to fulfill its other functions, the sidepad would need a powerful enough processor to act as a PDA, with utility applications like a word processor, spreadsheet, and e-book reader. So it would be a no-brainer to include these functions in this mode.

One aspect of this mode that is open to criticism is the fact that it would require a fair amount of storage to be useful, increasing its price and putting it dangerously close to iPod territory. This could be handled by making storage optional, by using a memory-card slot, or by actually designing in an iPod dock.

The display in this mode would be very similar to that in Detached mode. The functionality would be different, though. The ”my computer“ tab might be disabled if a VPN at a decent speed cannot be established. The media tabs would reveal locally stored content, not content on the host computer.


What are the odds of something like this being built? Slim. There are a lot of problems with this idea:

  • Price: it might wind up being expensive enough that most people would reasonably ask ”why not just get a laptop?“
  • Size: For one thing, the size is not one we’ve seen before in a portable product—bigger than a PDA, PMP, or portable game console, but smaller than a laptop. The fact that nobody’s selling a device this size (measuring roughly 12” x 6“, the size of a license plate in North America) may be because nobody would buy it. For another thing, in order to feel well-connected to the host machine in docked mode might require different models for different screen sizes.
  • Marketing: With several different modes, none of which are ones that most consumers will instantly grok, this would be a challenge to sell effectively.

Still, I’d buy one.

Renovation, week kajillion: colors, trim, and hardware

We’ve gotten to a point in the job we’re all the fussy stuff has to get tackled, and where it takes a lot of work to see a little progress. We’re also starting to see little fit-and-finish issues, consequences of bad planning, etc. Nothing too serious.

One mistake I made in our electrical plan was that the ceiling fans all have light-kits, but I didn’t reflect separate wiring for both fan and light in the plans. I just figured that out last night, and correcting that problem will be a little sticky. We’ll have to compromise in a couple spots. I can live with that. As much work as I put into trying to figure that out, I could have put in more.

Karl noticed that, now that the cabinets are installed in the bedroom, the ceiling fan looks poorly positioned. I didn’t think it was a problem, but he said “we’ve feng-shui’d the heck out of this room, and it would be a shame for it to be out of place.” Another problem with this room—one which we could only detect under the harsh glare of flashlights at night—is that there had been some sketchy taping and floating at some point in the past (I think), and so the new paint was forming bubbles over those spots. We’d caught a couple spots previously, but found more last night.

The brown color we had chosen for the bedroom just didn’t quite look like we expected. Karl pointed out that the color chip we had used is flat, but the paint we had selected is eggshell, which has a little sheen to it; he said the sheen changes the way you perceive the color. He went and recovered the room with flatter paint (and perhaps a tiny bit blacker) and it looks very close to what we were expecting. The paint in the other rooms looks great, though. Karl repainted the oven hood, and annoyingly, hairs got caught in the wet paint as it dried.

One of the two sets of double-doors for the office closets are up, and they don’t quite line up with each other. Not hard to fix, Karl tells me.

I’m thinking/hoping that by catching all these little things as we go along, our punchlist at the end will be very short.

Although the process has been moving along quickly, we’re getting impatient to move in, mostly because we’re fed up with the place we’re in now. It’s not a bad place (hey, we’re trying to get it rented out), but the new place will be a lot better.

Unexpected beauty

I was walking down a quiet street at night in my neighborhood, listening to Cat Power’s melancholy “Evolution.” I spotted an aluminum Christmas tree looking ghostly in a picture window, rotating with shifting colors, and in that moment, each was the perfect complement to the other, each elevating the other to a higher plane.

Aluminum Christmas tree

The Trouble with 37th Street

I lived on 37th Street during the Christmases of 92, 93, 94, and 95, and was an enthusiastic (if not always artistic) participant in the whole lights display. I have always thought the lights were wonderful, and that they helped create a sense of community on that street that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I’ve stayed closer to the folks I knew from 37th Street than any other neighborhood I’ve lived in.

In recent years, the light show has shrunk. I believe the Christmas just past will be the last.

The Chronicle just ran an article on the diminishing lights, fingering absentee landlords in California as the ultimate culprit. This is nonsense. Mike Dahmus used this as a jumping-off point to complain about low-density student housing.

The reason that 37th Street is going dark has to do with people and personalities. It has something to do with landlords as well, but a homegrown one.

People leave

Jamie and Bob were the original instigators of the whole show. Robert later joined in and, with his volcano and motorcycle, put up one of the three showcase displays on the street. Robert and Bob have both left; Jamie is leaving. Ray was also noteworthy for his car-hedge of lights. He’s gone. There’s just not that much holding the street together anymore.

The real-estate market

There are a lot of rent-houses on that block, but there were a lot when I lived there too—I was in one of them. Eight of those rent-houses are owned by a local guy, whose name seldom passes from my lips without being preceded by the word “slumlord.” In fact, he owns 308, which Jamie once occupied, and which under this guy’s stewardship has been home to a meth dealer; I believe it was more recent occupants of that house that Jamie got into a fight with (as mentioned in the article). When I was living on the street, I believe the same guy owned the same number of houses on the street. 308 was unoccupied—it was owned by this guy, who was undertaking an extremely desultory and dubious expansion and renovation of it. All of his houses are messes, only rentable to less-discriminating students.

Note the way this article changes gears in such a way that you’re not supposed to notice:

Neighbors partly blame changes in the neighborhood on irresponsible and absentee landlords. “We didn’t demand all we could get from the houses,” Pine said. Now, eager to reap the highest rents possible from the maximum number of tenants, greedy landlords are letting “kids get away with murder and won’t do anything about it,” he complained. [Emphasis mine]

The irony is that Ray himself once owned most of the houses in question, and sold them to people like this guy.

Barnes – who counted five homes that have changed hands this year on 37th Street, compared to what he said is usually one

If you want to place the blame somewhere, you could also blame the outrageously high property taxes in this state (and rates of increase in those taxes) that force people out of their own homes once their neighborhood becomes sufficiently desirable. This increasing churn rate is not unique to to 37th Street–it can be seen throughout the surrounding neighborhood.


When I lived there, there was, shall we say, an institutional memory for the lights. There were enough people on the street to enforce certain social norms. Jeannie would lecture visitors who left trash behind, and there was a strong anti-commercial sentiment on the street. So there may have been a broken window effect in action: by dealing with minor infractions, major infractions never happened.

As this institutional memory left with the old-timers, street hawkers moved in and the scene became rowdier. Another less public aspect of this is Jamie himself. While Jamie has never openly appealed for money, he has always been the recipient of spontaneous largesse from visitors to his backyard. The amounts of money involved are considerable, and this created animosity between Jamie and some of the other old-timers, who felt that he should donate the money, share it out, or simply not make it so obviously easy for visitors to give money to him (he kept up clotheslines with clothespins where people can hang money). I have to believe that this friction within the street’s micro-community must have caused some old-timers to lose interest in maintaining the street’s Christmas zeitgeist.

. . .

It pains me to write all this, rather, it pains me that all this is so. Living on 37th Street was a great experience, and it is sad that the community that made the lights possible no longer exists.

Collaborative content and social awkwardness

I check in with Wikipedia every day, and try to be a good steward of the articles I’ve contributed to.

Wikipedia is a funny thing. It’s easy for two people of good intent to have very different ideas of what’s appropriate content, and to get into a fight over what belongs and what doesn’t. In situations like this, the “right” thing to do isn’t very clear-cut. In some situations though, there is a clear right and wrong. Commercial links and self-links are explicitly discouraged.

So it felt a little awkward for me today when I discovered someone I kinda-sorta know had inserted links to his own site in many articles. This is a little like cussing in church.

I reverted all his insertions.