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Many moons ago, our building instituted a policy where the trash cans in people’s offices or cubicles were not longer to be used for trash, only for recyclables. If you have any trash to throw away, you have to walk it to a common area.

Now, think about that: every time you use a Kleenex, every time you have a small piece of food or a wad of tape or a soiled napkin or bloody gauze, you have to walk that trash to some common area. For some people, that means walking across the building to a kitchen or copier room.

A thoughtful building management company would have thought to do both: empty your trash and empty your recycling. But not our building.

For a long time, the janitorial staff has been just emptying our garbage anyway. But a while back, that stopped. I didn’t even realize it until about a week later. By then, my can was filled with apple cores and tissues and those gross parts of the mini carrot you have to bite off because it’ll taste like stem if you don’t. So I decided that I’d try it out. Maybe I can put my trash can in the kitchen every night to be emptied. Of course, that didn’t work well. My trash can is my last thought as I leave here every day.

So I came in today and had the following polite but infuriating note placed on my keyboard:

Well, that’s it, you jokers. Time for one of my patented rant letters. Here it is. It won’t affect change, but at least they have no doubt that one more person here hates the stupid policy.

Hello.

I know that the Tower’s poorly-thought-out “no trash in trash cans” effort has been more strictly enforced in recent weeks. I was going to try to be okay with the new crack-down and empty my own trash can myself whenever I remembered to do so. However, I found one of the “Oops!” notices this morning on my keyboard, and so I have to get this off my chest.

Recycling pick-up is not an every-day need. Trash pick-up is.

I already walk to the kitchen to rinse out things like bottles, cans, lunch containers, frozen meal trays, yogurt cups, etc., so they can be properly recycled in the blue or green bins. I will not also be walking to the kitchen every time I blow my nose or pull off the non-recyclable top to a food container or dispose of leaves that have fallen from my plants or when a napkin has been soiled or when a piece of gaff tape has been pulled off a box or when a raisin or a cashew or a piece of lettuce from a sandwich has fallen on the floor etc. etc. etc.

Dry recycling—which I assume is really just clean paper, clean cardboard, and non-soiled plastics/glass/metal—does not need to be emptied every day. It does not rot, does not pose a threat of vermin or mold, does not smell. Trash, however, is another matter. It should be picked up and disposed of every single day. Office buildings have been doing this as a courtesy to their tenants for countless decades. (Citation needed, of course, but I think you get the gist.)

The “let’s all recycle!” message The Tower is trying to use for this program comes off as insincere, just some marketing speak wrapped up in a desire to get some kind of tax-incentive building accreditation and to, perhaps, cut costs. If The Tower really wants to “save our planet,” then they should have added an in-office and in-cubicle recycling program to the standard trash service. Two containers would be swell—most of us had two containers anyway! Why not empty the trash every evening, then empty trash and recycling once a week? Say on Fridays? Still a bump in cost, but then the program is truly about the tenants and making our lives here better and not just about other, building-selfish concerns.

Perhaps it’s petty to complain about something that, in the end, takes only a few more moments out of the day. But that could be said about The Tower, too, asking us to do what has been their job. The flawed logic of this program is what gets me so riled. So is the lack of input from the people who actually have to live here every day. So is the inequality of people of a higher pay grade and with nicer offices having their trash emptied without complaint.

So I will not be walking every single piece of trash to the kitchen. I will continue to throw it into my trash can, because that’s what it’s for. If I forget to then walk that receptacle to the kitchen every night before I leave for home, and continue to do so for a week or more, then so be it. I’ll get to it when I remember to do so. If it’s now my job to be a janitor for my office trash, then I’ll get to it when I can, and I’ll thank The Tower for not meddling in what is now my personal business.

Thanks for listening.

–Steve

Ken and Frank:

I’m writing to more fully express some of the reasons behind my negative comments on Twitter following the ITVfest opening night party. I’m making this an open letter since my tweets were as well, and so others can refute any of my points if they had a different experience. I am also speaking on my behalf as only one of three producers at KATR Pictures. I do not speak for Robb or Tanya.

I got your letter this morning, and, truth be told, the two issues you mention in it are irrelevant to me in the end. So here is why I, as an excited and enthusiastic webseries producer and ITVfest participant, was so disappointed and peeved by the whole affair.

Communication is your festival’s primary issue. Your communication is terrible.

I tend to be more of an optimist. I tweeted that “the little hints at trouble with @itvfest have been building for weeks,” and this meant that I had been noticing some problems, but not letting them get in the way of our participation at ITVfest. Because this is your first year running ITVfest, most of these little problems were easy to shrug off. They were noticeable, and sometimes even aggravating, but nothing was detrimental, and I was assuming you were trying your best and working with situations others are unaware of.

Some examples of the early “indicators” were:

1. Lack of communication on festival details.

2. Lack of communication regarding technical aspects of the screening.

3. Inaccuracy of information.

Other issues, like the lack of passes for participants to see screenings and panels, and the expensive awards banquet that we as no-budget producers can’t afford to attend, really are just annoyances and disappointments. It’s the lack of communication that has created an air of “we don’t care” and “you are here for our benefit, not your own.”

To explain these 3 issues now would make an already long (LONG!) letter longer. So I will just talk about why the opening night was such a let-down and, to my eyes, an unprofessional mess.

When I arrived at 7:35 and saw the red carpet set-up, I was really excited. Call it vain—and, really, who gets excited about a red carpet without some vanity being involved?—but I couldn’t wait to take my first walk ever down a red carpet and talk to the media about a show on which I and my friends worked very, very hard and of which we are immensely proud.

There was no check-in table, which was very strange, and the only person with a clip board was the assistant to the photographer. I couldn’t pinpoint anyone there as being an official of the festival.

The red carpet line was huge. Robb and Tanya had yet to arrive, so I found some fellow webseries friends in the line and waited with them to see what was going to happen.

While the line wasn’t moving, word started spreading that we might be able to just skip the red carpet, join the party, and come back out later when the line was winding down. Then about 10 minutes after that, Frank was coming down the line telling people they could get their hands stamped if they wanted to just go up to the party. Some people took him up on the offer. After Robb and Tanya arrived, we decided to finish waiting in the line.

It was nearly an hour after I showed up when some lady with a clipboard started yelling something about being on a list. We couldn’t hear her, so we waited for her to come down the line. Turns out there was a list of who was allowed to be on the red carpet and who was not. This was a surprise, and not just to us, but to everyone around us. People were either VIPs or not. As I waited to check our names, listening to this lady communicate with the others in line made me angry. Her demeanor was brusque, unfriendly, and accusatory. She told every one of us that “our people communicated to us” that only two from each show were allowed on the red carpet. We were told that “our people” had chosen who the two would be. She was either misinformed or was making this up because no one around her knew what she was talking about.

The obvious irritation amongst in the crowd around this woman did not suggest to her that something had gone wrong and that she should take a more sympathetic tone with us. “I’m sorry, there seems to have been a miscommunication and we didn’t get the VIP info out. But let me find your names and blah blah blah.” That would have gone a long way. Instead, her tone was, as I said, accusatory. Whose fault was it that none of us knew about the list? Whose fault was it that we did not know to check in with someone? Whose fault was it that we wasted time in this line? Ours. That was the message.

Let’s examine this for just a moment. Here are well over a hundred people, waiting in a line without anyone having told them what the rules were. There is no check-in table, something even major studio motion picture premieres have. No one is wearing badges to identify themselves as staff. There has been no e-mail ahead of time saying there were red carpet rules for the evening. There has been no request for us to choose who would represent our show on the red carpet. Nothing. So instead, a large number of people wait in this line, then are told much too late in the evening that they should not have been in that line and it was all their fault for time wasted. This is why I called it an invisible lottery on Twitter, and why I felt it broke us all into castes.

I was not on the list, but Robb and Tanya were. This is not what upset me. Robb and Tanya can sell our show maybe even better than I can. Nor am I upset at your rules. Many projects have a large number of cast and crew, and to limit who gets to represent the production publicly at the event makes sense. (Though a case-by-case exception—in our case for 3 equal producers—would have been fantastic.) I am upset because you never told us—and apparently most others—about the rules. Being told by some rude woman that I should have known about it made me angry. We were, as I tweeted, treated like pigs. An exaggeration in the metaphor, perhaps, but the tone is accurate, and it’s how many of us felt.

That the limiting of red carpet participants didn’t do anything to speed up the process is another, most likely organizational, issue entirely.

I went into the party others who were also not on the VIP list. After being in the party for a while, many of us started getting texts from our friends below that they were not being allowed up because the bar was over capacity. Our colleagues, the supposed VIPs of the party, were shut out.

One of your defenses later that night was that you told us all to get there early because the event would sell out. Shouldn’t you have made sure there was room for your own festival people and designated VIPs? How does it help arriving early for a red carpet that starts, according to all communication, at 7:30? You guaranteed that people who were part of the festival would be left out.

Who was the party for? We had mistakenly assumed this event was for us, the participants, to kick off the festival and meet other folks involved. This was obviously wrong in hindsight. According to your letter from this morning, it was a success because the confusing and poorly-planned amassing of people brought press and dragged some executives back from Hawaii. Your defenses make it sound like gaining some cliché obnoxious Hollywood bragging rights helps us all. Exposure in 33 media outlets makes no difference if it comes with disrespect.

Drai’s can be blamed for kicking us out early, it seems, but they were not the ones selling tickets. That was all you guys. To have oversold the party to the point where people who are actually involved in the festival could not even get in is not Drai’s problem. And yes, to us, they did close us down early because your Eventbrite site said the party was from 7:30 to 1:00am. If the party was scheduled to end at 10:00 and you told us 1:00, whose communication error was that? (I can not find the Eventbrite page now, so I can’t confirm the ending time that I remember. But I know we all had 1:00am in our calendars.)

Event planners should know a thing or two about capacities, venue expectation, contracts, and attendee numbers. All of that, I imagine, would have been helped had you had a knowledgeable PR and event planner team to communicate continuously with you, with the venue, with the attendees, and amongst themselves.

We can try to argue over who this festival should benefit. But, really, it’s your show. You can make the rules. You can have all the expensive banquets and gift bags and more VIP-than-the-VIP VIPs and Hollywood-style attitude you want. It’s your show. Just make sure you communicate. Make your event professional. Allow us to work with you to create an amazing event for everyone. Apologize and recognize when your efforts may not have worked as you wanted them to. And if everything has indeed gone off just as well as you planned, then perhaps ITVfest is not what we were expecting based on the past. We cling to last year’s ITVfest because it was low-key, yet energetic. It was attendee-focued. It was friendly and accommodating. Since I was not part of an official selection last year, I can not speak to communication. But I can say that the vitriol you are experiencing from many of us is in response to the apparent New Douchebaggery of the event. That may be fine for the TV and the movie people. They’re used to it, I guess. And you’ll find plenty of webseries people who will join you in a more Hollywoodized ITVfest. Just know that the whining and complaining about gift bags is a symptom of real concerns. We have our own vision for what this new media can be, and a lot of us strive for a professionalism and honesty that, are we to take Thursday night’s events into account, do not mesh with the goals of this year’s ITVfest.

I’d love to be wrong about your intended tone and goal for ITVfest. The reason I’m even bothering to write this detailed letter is to see if I am wrong, and to give you guys a chance to see that maybe we aren’t just thoughtless complainers but truly passionate participants in what is hopefully the new and different future of entertainment.

We are not pulling out of ITVfest, as others have. Frankly, we understand why they have. But for our own selfish reasons, we are staying in. We have fans who want to come, we have prizes to hand out, we have fellow artists in our screening block who deserve our continued participation. We are hoping for a really fun screening. It could be by the end of the week, the festival will have righted itself from the mess of Thursday. I personally am withholding final judgement until the end, which is as it should be, I think.

Thanks for reading.

–Steve Lekowicz

In the move to get as much exposure and as many fans as possible for our new web show, Vampire Zombie Werewolf*, we are designing a site with a lot of clutter. Lots of thumbnails, lots of links, lots of boxes with text fed from other parts of the site, lots of badges to like or tweet or love or post, forms for commenting… Let’s just say it’s the opposite of a clean and orderly site.

The site will not be bad. In fact, despite the mess, I think it’s turning out to be quite nice. It will certainly be better than most sites out there, especially other video and social sites. But it won’t necessarily be a visual pleasure, serene and welcoming. It will be strident, a salesman wearing a trench coat containing pockets overflowing with goodies. Watch our show! Here it is! You love it you can tell because you want to click on everything here on the page go ahead just don’t leave please no don’t leave!

The practicality of having a site with every possible trick to lure and keep an audience is, unfortunately, more important than a site with a few really wonderful experiences. Robb is right: just look at the most popular sites on the Web. YouTube? Disaster. Facebook? A mess. Google? Noisy. But people love them and flock to them and expect the rest of their world to be like this. Can we have a serene, fun, cool site without all that? Of course we can. But no one knows who we are. If we’re going to have any chance of catching the eyes of the Web-blind, we have to have something they expect. It hurts me to admit that. Hopefully we are balancing noise with style.

I’ve heard of Edward Tufte, but for the first time today, I read about his concept of 1+1=3. I saw it mentioned in a blog post about the design tweaks in a recent update to a program I use often, OmniFocus. Perhaps ironically, I’ve been searching for a replacement to OmniFocus because that application’s vast array of features and the design that has resulted have been factors in me not using the app as much as I should. I don’t think OmniFocus is badly designed at all, I just want something simpler, less busy, faster for me to use.

Alas, the major feature I truly do desire in a to-do app—invisible, automatic syncing among all instances of the app across Macs and iDevices—is only to be found in OmniFocus. And so, for now, I have decided to stay with it and purchase the iPad version of the app. When I can afford it.

Now, 1+1=3. The Omni blog post linked to this essay by Scott Jensen, which contains a design example I imagine we have all had a bad run-in with at one time or another: elevator open and close buttons.

I agree 100% that open and close buttons require too much thinking. It takes too long to decide which button is the one you need to press. I would welcome better buttons in my office building, that’s for sure. However, once Scott gets to the part about removing the close button altogether, to simplify the choice and remove the +1 (and therefore the =3), I start to balk. I do not do so because I think the close button should be there to save a few seconds. I do so because the fundamental design of elevator systems do not allow for a perfect timing of the closing of the doors.

Huh?

Well, here, it’s like this: As with most elevators, the cars in my building emit a piercing alarm when the doors are allowed to stay open too long. Sometimes, as is currently the case here at the office, an elevator’s programming goes awry, and the doors will not close until the alarm has begun to sound. The only way to avoid the alarm? Hit the close button and hold it until the doors shut.

A more selfish case also exists in my office building. In the morning, until about 10:00am, the doors of the elevators on the lobby level are programmed to stay open until just before the alarm sounds. It feels interminable. I assume this pause is to allow each car to accept a maximum allotment of rush hour bodies before climbing into the building. But what if no one is coming? Why wait there like fools? No need to. There’s a close button.

In the non-close button scenario from Scott’s essay, we’d all be stuck waiting for technology to do whatever the hell it’s doing. If the technology is failing, we all get to stand, wait for the alarm to go off, then listen to it for the 3 seconds it takes the doors to close. In the morning, we all get to stand, waiting inefficiently, until the doors’ program allows them to close.

I’d be happy to take the door close button out of elevators, but another design consideration makes the door close button a near necessity: the elevators themselves. Design keeps the doors open a long time in the mornings. Design causes the elevator doors to fail until the alarm rings. Design allows for a pointless alarm in the first place.

And so it is with the Vampire Zombie Werewolf website. If we wish to attract a wide audience of people who frequent the Web, we have to keep the close button. I wish we could be the cool ones who have a stylish, beautiful, and minimal site that wins us millions of adherents by showcasing the quality of our episodes, but we can’t afford that. The current design of society dictates that we keep what others have come to expect.

A website without comments, three ways to get to everything, summaries of stuff from elsewhere, flashy thumbnail directories, and social linky badges?

An elevator without a close button?

Ridiculous!

*At this writing, the VZW website linked is not the one I’m referring to. Our new site will be up soon.

Thanks to some satellite pictures of housing developments—many of them unfinished—in Florida and a coincidental link at Daring Fireball, I have re-visited a post from 2006 about Walt’s film pitch for EPCOT.

I have to say, the mixed-use phenomenon has grown out of control in the last 4½ years. Since The Grove, an incredible number of mixed-use projects have been finished. The Americana in Glendale, by the same folks who did The Grove, is truly mixed-use, with living space above the actual mall, overlooking it.

Then there’s City Center in Vegas, which I just visited last week. It’s a sprawling mix of hotels, condos, office buildings, shops, galleries, and, of course, casinos.

The problem with every single one of these developments is their lack of integration into the surrounding environment. I don’t mean visually, but practically. In L.A., these large developments have not properly taken into account the impact of their presence on the rest of the city around them. Traffic is worse, parking is impossible (unless you want to shell out cash, which is like being robbed), crowds get unbearable. Part of EPCOT’s purpose was an attempt to harmonize the mess of traffic and congestion that is a city. Some people love the cacophony of a messy, crowded, traffic-jammed city. I’m thinking New York, Chicago… I don’t know a single person who likes the congestion and traffic of Los Angeles. Maybe because the city’s soul seems to spring from this source. L.A. is defined by it’s clogged arteries. How tragic.

Again, a 100% planned city is a bit creepy and strange, but maybe that’s because no one’s yet done it correctly. I’m not a fan of any of these mixed-use monstrosities that have sprouted lately, and I’d rather sleep under my office desk every night than go home to a condo over a Lululemon. Such places are built solely for commercial reasons, with no thought to, as Walt said, “the public need.” No one needs The Americana or City Center. They solve no problems. But EPCOT, had it grown into something like Walt pitched in that movie, might have drawn my interest. Maybe it would have succeeded, and been an inspiring mix of technology, progress, and design.

Maybe. Who knows? But the thought of it is still exciting to ponder.

Just look at that! Sweetness. (Click to see full size.)

UPDATE: Oops. Thanks to a WordPress re-install, upgrade, and old backup, I have lost this picture entirely. I’m very sorry. It was very nice. If I find the file somewhere, I’ll post it back here for you.

I got my 3G iPad on Friday, and it’s been a lot of fun this weekend. Though really I’ve spent a lot of time sleeping so far to make up for last week’s VZW shoot. I’ve also spent the last few hours getting my act together by re-doing my Aperture library, hoping to use it for all my photo imports. These two shots were tweaked and exported from Aperture.

I’m also posting this from the iPad WordPress app (it could use a lot of work—getting links in is a manual affair, for instance, and pics are only inserted at the end, which requires cutting and pasting the code to where you need it) and using a Bluetooth keyboard. All right in front of my Mac Pro. Silly, but why the flying hell not? I got the photos to my iPad using Pastebot, which is a kick-ass app. It’s made for the iPhone, but it’s working just fine from the iPad as well.

UPDATE: Well, posting images form the WordPress iPad app is also a bit wonky in how it names pictures. So I trashed the files and uploaded them with decent names. And links to bigger versions. Well, so much for that!

I got something very exciting in the mail today!

Thanks to an Ars Technica article, I got a bit sidetracked today.

Two bills have been introduced, one in the Senate and one in the House, that prevent the FCC from “regulating the Internet.” The fake front argument is that “no one wants the government regulating the Internet!” Because, you see, it’s so much better to leave that regulation in the hands of the people who provide the service in the first place. I hope you’re not missing the subtle sarcasm there.

These bills are really meant to allow your Internet provider to filter, restrict, or censor Internet content as they see fit if they feel it is in the best interest of… themselves. The argument that the companies need to do these things to protect their systems, their businesses, and the economy of the universe at large are so retardedly illogical and false that it gets me fuming. You could smoke gouda on my head.

The Senate bill S. 1836 by our friend John McCain and the House bill H. R. 3924 by some hack legislator named Marsha Blackburn (I base her hack status solely on this bill) are eye-rollingly named: “Internet Freedom Act of 2009″ and “Real Stimulus Act of 2009,” respectively.

Internet Freedom Act, Mr. McCain? If you must believe that a handful of greedy douche bags with profits as a sole motivator are in need of freedom, fine go ahead. It must mean you’re ignorant or a complete douche yourself.

If the providers get their way, within the next decade, I guarantee you (really, it’s a guarantee), we’ll see limitations on our Internet access. “We have to limit the speed because speed is expensive and you don’t want to pay $400 a month for speed, now, do you?” “We have to limit P2P access because it’s stealing the Internet from others who need it!” “We have to make sure you don’t download .m4v files over 200Kb because, hey, we’re not here for your convenience!” Whatever the arguments end up being, I’m absolutely certain Time Warner will make sure I am not able to get fast download speeds from sites they deem “hostile to Time Warner’s interests.”

I am so pissed at this, I wrote to my congressfolk! You can do it, too. You can find your Senator here, at the top right of the page, and you can find your Representative here, at the top left. Write them if net neutrality is important to you. It should be, unless you’re a greedy douche bag.

* * * * * *

My e-mail to Henry Waxman:

I am flabbergasted at Representative Marsha Blackburn’s irrelevantly- and deceptively-titled Real Stimulus Act of 2009 (H. R. 3924).

It is ignorant to believe that cable companies and telcos have the true interests of their customers at heart when it comes to making sure we are all allowed to access what we want when we want on the Internet. These companies have to be TOLD that it will never be okay to limit our access. Money will always be the excuse for why speed has to be throttled, or why the amount of data we can download every month has to be limited, or why certain kinds of files have to be discriminated against.

We should all appreciate the money it’s taken to install the infrastructure capable of bringing such a phenomenon as the Internet into our lives (though it lags behind much of the rest of the technologically-blessed world), but claiming “too much” Internet will hurt profits and the economy is an insulting and specious position.

Real stimulus is letting the Internet continue to be an open, unburdened frontier, passing all data through at maximum possible speeds at all times. Business is not capable of monitoring itself, only the FCC can do so.

Please vote against H. R. 3924 and work to convince others of your colleagues to do the same.

Thank you!

I sent some feedback to Apple regarding the new UI for QuickTime Player. Here’s what I had to say. Notice I didn’t once mention York Peppermint Patties. York! The Freshmaker!

* * * * * *

The new QuickTime Player X interface is very cool on the surface, but it has some unfortunate limitations when compared to QuickTime Player 7 that make it less useful. I find myself opening most of my movies in QuickTime Player 7 so that my video is not invaded by UI elements, and so I can use some of the features now missing in QuickTime Player X.

1) Putting the title bar and controls inside the movie frame is not very logical for a computer screen-based interface. This is not a TV or iPhone I’m using where the elements have no choice but to appear over the video. It’s a Mac, and as such is capable of a better, more useful, non-frustrating UI. I was able to see the entire frame of my movies in older QuickTime Player interfaces without cruft. Now, if I want to see the entire frame while paused or take a screen capture, I can’t without the controller and title bar littering the frame. If I want to go frame-by-frame through the video, I have to move the silly player control around to find out where it will be the least obtrusive. And if anything is in the top of the frame in my video, forget being able to see it through the title bar. Likewise, having the Trim bar inside the movie frame is ridiculous, doubly so because it can not be moved. If I need to see anything behind that trim bar, I’m out of luck. There is no reason other than “gloss and flash” to have the controls where they are in X.

2) I used to be able to use standard key strokes for multi-speed playback in either direction. The J, K, and L keys no longer work in QuickTime X. If there is a practical reason why they have gone missing, I can not think of one.

3) Doing away with the half-size (⌘0) and double-size (⌘2) shortcuts makes no sense. Cycling through sizes with ⌘- and ⌘+ is a nice addition, but it can also be like TVs that don’t let you get to the input you want right away, forcing you to cycle through every input until you get to the one you need. The current solution is a weaker choice. There’s no reason the older shortcuts and the newer shortcuts can’t both be available in the new player.

4) The fixed-size timeline slider is much more difficult to use than the older, variable-length slider. In long movies, it was easy to get finer control in the timeline by expanding the size of the QT window. But now, no matter how big the window is, the timeline slider remains the same size, and becomes fairly useless for fine-grain control on long videos.

5) The vanishing title bar means no more playing multiple movies at once and being able to tell which one is which with a quick title-bar glance. A small hindrance, but I point out that there was no such hindrance until it was created for QT Player X.

6) Rounded corners? Why? Just because all Mac windows have rounded corners? But video does not have rounded corners. If this is not putting the sow before the silk purse, I don’t know what is.

Nothing has been gained by making the changes I’ve mentioned. Not a thing. Having all controls on the outside of the video is common sense, and vastly improves on the human interface of QuickTime Player. Again, this is not a TV or iPhone I’m using for watching video, and so there’s no need to make the video window behave as such. If you are really hot to have the controls and frame vanish automatically during playback, the same thing can be accomplished with controls outside the frame and a simple preference option to let users choose to turn that behavior off if they want to. A keyboard shortcut can be added, too, so we may make the controls appear and reappear at will if we choose. It seems to me, however, that the vanishing controls are only necessary because of the unfortunate addition of intra-frame controls. Hmmm!

Apple has set the standard for good, logical design and UI for decades, with certain exceptions, of course. Hockey puck mouse, anyone? Sadly, QuickTime Player X trades usability for coolness, and it just doesn’t work.

Thanks for reading!

Here’s a blast from… er, a time long ago.

In 1991, I got to act in a few sketches for a Bridgewater, Massachusetts cable access show called The Cutting Room Floor, created by Bob Caron and David Almeida. Christian Roman wrote most of the episode. My B.U. friends Catherine, Synneve, Karl, and Seth were in the show as well. I did improv in college and then professionally in Boston with Seth and Chris, and professionally in L.A. with Seth after 1994. Catherine, Karl and I made A Pound of Flesh in 1993, in which Seth had a part. None of us had anything to do with Mr. Belvedere: The Golden Years in 1997.

Enjoy this ridiculous but often rather funny piece of local cable access TV history and read more about it on the official Vimeo page. You can also see the other episodes there.

Watching this now for the first time since 1991, I remember how Chris and I both loved Monty Python. We had re-created a couple of their sketches at the coffee house nights in Claflin Hall. You can see the Monty Python influence in the above, with props and themes that weave through the episode, and segues between skits.

Boy, it’s good to see this again!

UPDATE: David reminded me that a skit we shot was included in episode 2 as well. Here it is! Look for “Sleeping Through the Movies with Philip & Bean” at 13:05. And here’s the Vimeo link, also with interesting tidbits about the episode.

There are these half-inch-long flat bits of something that I have been finding in my apartment for years. I thought they were just some kind of odd “leftover”… bug shells or carcasses, or maybe a flattened droppings. I don’t have vermin in my apartment, no mice or rats, so it couldn’t really be droppings. No roaches, thank God. But I do have silverfish. Lots and lots of silverfish.

One day, some time ago, I saw one of these flat things moving. It surprised and mystified me. I could not tell how the thing was moving. It was so slow and ponderous, and I didn’t see any legs. Grabbing it in a Kleenex didn’t show me anything; it just sat there, like a piece of nothing, and I threw it away. Just last week, I found one crawling slowly up my bedroom wall, and saw a tiny something at the front, though I could not really discern what it was. Grabbing it again didn’t show me anything.

Finally, today, I saw one in the kitchen sink and got to examine it. It had a head poking out one end. Then the head went away and poked out the other end. Odd! I picked the thing out of the sink and put it on my counter. After a minute, it poked its head out again, then started crawling, slowly and ponderously. I took pictures and a movie.


What the hell? What was this thing?

As I was pondering the mystery with Derrick tonight, I decided to randomly search something: “silverfish larvae.” What if these were, somehow, the larval stage of the silverfish? It didn’t make much sense because I’ve seen very tiny silverfish, much smaller than this hermit worm.

The answer was easier to find than I thought. Someone else out there had thought the same thing, but we were both wrong about the silverfish connection. Here it is, the larva of the household casebearer moth. Now I also know what to call those tiny little moths I sometimes see around.

It turns out that the little larva fella can turn around in that silk-lined house of his! That explains the “double heads.”

Well, now that I know these are just moth larvae, I’m not nearly as creeped out by them as I am by the silverfish. Silverfish are always spooking me by writhing out from under things… Gads!

Household Casebearer Moth Larva

I know everyone’s doing this, but I didn’t care. I had to get a preview of what Derrick and I would look like on the dance floor.


I think we look smashing! And very hip and loose. And cool. And frankly, I’ve never looked better in skinny pants.

Red Flowers

I took my day-old iPhone 3G S out for a hike today, and had lots of fun testing out the camera. It’s pretty impressive for something on a “phone.” I use the quotes because, really, the iPhone is maybe only 10% phone.

I posted stuff live to Twitter during the hike. I’d send you to Twitpic to see how they posted, but it’s really not worth the effort. There are no forward or back buttons on Twitpic (or Yfrog), so I’d have to post the individual link for each picture. No thanky.

But wonder awaits! I have a collection of full-res pictures and movies lovingly posted to Steve’s Snapshots for you to examine. Here’s a sample:


Being able to take that movie was pretty exciting. Not only did the butterfly behave, but I shot it with a phone! Well, okay, a 10% phone. Really, I shot it with a pocket Mac. (The movie in my gallery is larger.)

Go see the rest of the hike stuff now! Hurry! Before it’s too late!

Here it is:

My New iPhone 3G S

See actual glamor shots of the phone in my gallery.

I waited a whole day to order the phone following the WWDC keynote, mostly because my 3G works just fine, and also mostly because it was gonna cost me $499! But I ordered it anyway. Luckily, this week, AT&T gave the lower price, $299, to early adopters of the 3G. Whew.

Activation has not happened yet because, as usual, AT&T was “surprised by the response” (not an actual quote). Whatever. Guess I’ll have two iPhones for the day.

Derrick and I figured this would be the iconic photo of my visit. It pretty much captures it all.

Hot Dogs

(Click to see larger, bien sûr.)

This was taken in front of the Smithsonian castle. Fortunately, you can not tell how unbearably hot and disgusting it was outside.

Oh, and yes, that’s an exploded Mac shirt. Thanks for asking.

This is how Derrick greeted me at the airport in D.C.:

Derrick greeting me at the D.C. airport.

(Click for bigger, of course.)

The trip only got better after this.

I guess this is kinda the modern version of that phrase, eh? “Molly’s got it made in the shade.”

Here is my latest art installation at Maison des Wexlers. I call it “Candy Striper,” and it will soon be open to the public. It will, inevitably, be an interactive piece.

Mazel tov! I hope I spelled that right.

Left, Right, and Center

We played a fun game tonight: Left, Right, and Center. (The actual game container called it Left, Center, Right, but who the hell cares?) Everyone around the table has $3 in singles. We take turns rolling the dice, one per dollar you have, up to three. For every L you roll, you pass a buck to the person on your left. For every R, you pass a buck to the person on your right. For every C, a dollar goes into the pot. The person with the last dollar wins the pot.

Amazingly, though the stakes aren’t huge, it’s enough to get everyone incredibly rambunctious. Take a look for yourself at this, the last few minutes of the game. I won’t tell you who wins.