Thursday, June 30, 2005

Phil Says Blog is Three Years Old!

I failed to make the day, so I'll do it now. Happy Birthday to the Phil Says blog. I started this blog on June 28, 2002. We'll have cake.

qv: My first blog entry...

VW Polo viral advert draws laughs, jeers

Viral advertisements grab your attention by shocking. That's certainly what this VW Polo ad does. The ad is shot well enough to run on UK TV, but deals with a subject that's just sensitive enough that everyone wants to disavow any knowledge of it. So many contradicting stories have appeared in various publications that it looks like all parties are going to keep trying them on until not a one of them seems plausible. We think it's funny (but respect your right to think otherwise.) (Click picture to watch.)

qv: More about the advert at Snopes.
via: Scott

Days of Wonder Casts Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot Box ArtDays of Wonder has released a cooperative game based on the Arthurian Legend.

An unladen swallow flies across the gray skies of Cornwall… The forces of evil are gathering around Camelot – The Black Knight was sighted atop a desolate ridge; a scheming Morgan plots her revenge; Saxon troops are on the move; and acres of timber are being felled for the Siege Engines. And yet Lancelot has all but vanished, Excalibur is still to be recovered, and the Holy Grail remains just a legend. These are heavy times indeed…

The game is getting great reviews, so it looks like we'll have to give it a go as well. Days of Wonder produces a number of great looking board games that we like a lot. We've been especially fond of Ticket to Ride. Look for a review of Shadows just as soon as I get my gauntlets on a copy.

qv: Shadows Over Camelot
qv: Game Reviews at Board Game Geek

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Podcast: Libby Hoyle talks exercise with Dr. Ann Kulze

On Clemson University's Your Day radio program today, Dr. Ann Kulze gave some specific advice on exercise that seemed to make a lot of sense to me. She recognizes that building a regular routine requires effort, but that you can make it easier by rewarding yourself for the activity and working your way up to the routine you need. She says that thirty minutes a day, five days a week generates considerable benefits, and she lists those benefits during the interview.

qv: YourDay Archives for June 27, 2005 (Listen)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chuck Palahnuik's Haunted is giving people the vapors

I have always been intrigued by the powers that great story tellers can hold. The best create elaborate illusions and then place us in them. Chuck Palahnuik's stories are powerful. Choke and Fight Club demonstrate his ability to enthrall you and then "break your heart" just as he set out to do. His latest book, Haunted, is having an even more dramatic effect. Public readings of the book are causing people to faint. Some of the people have even been hurt by the fall and were treated by paramedics. So far, the count of people who have fallen at Chuck's readings -- more than seventy. If this is a stunt, it's a great one, and certainly one appropriate to the rowdy style of Mr. Palahnuik.

Look: Weekend America - Fainting Spells
Listen: Barbara Bogaev interview's Chuck
Read: Review: Haunted is a triumph

Monday, June 27, 2005

DESTROY ALL HUMANS - The Alien Army Needs You!

What could be more fun than to take the charm and beauty of 1950's Post Card America and then invade it as aliens and destroy it. THQ has released the game Destroy All Humans, subtitled One Giant Step on Mankind for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and other platforms. The website invites you to play the part of a Furon whose job it is to soften up the Earth in preparation for a later invasion. The methods you use are up to you, you can infiltrate the humans or disintegrate them. Either way, you'll need to harvest human brain stems which contain much needed Furon DNA along the way.

qv: Destroy All Humans - The Game

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Homeland Security may tune into XM Radio?

An interesting Associated Press story at the Washington Post website outlines how the Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness Network may get a dedicated XM channel that would be available to first responders and those needing information in an emergency. The satellite radio system apparently offers enough bandwidth to send maps and other imagery, which could be displayed on portable computers. The system might even be programmed to deliver specific messages to certain areas of the country only.

qv: Washington Post - Military Might Draft XM Satellite Radio

Godless America

This American Life dedicated an episode to the issues surrounding the separation of Church and State. I guess I wouldn't be blogging it if I didn't agree with what I heard. Why the founding fathers (and we) should avoid mandating the practice of any particular religion by our government seems pretty sensible. I guess I should also mention that Julia Sweeney's experience with her Bible sounds a lot like my own. I was sorry to read that she has been getting some pretty scary emails in response to her monologues. She talks about it a bit at

Check out episode 290 in the This American Life archive.

qv: This American Life (Archive) .

Together on Flickr

Originally uploaded by Yanov.

I've started posting some of my Family photos on Flickr. I've started out cautiously, making those photos visible (mostly) only to Family. I started using Flickr thinking that it was mostly a place for me to display some of my art photography and get some feedback on it. Then I saw that some people uploaded nearly every photo they had ever taken. Different people are using it for very different things. It is something of a wonder to me that I thought that most people were using it like I was. Different people using the same tool for different purposes is not new, but in this case the tool is also a community. As a community it turns out that the participants have some very different objectives. What happens when new features are to be decided upon? Certainly they will serve some sub-communities better than others. How do you decide? Does Flickr eventually splinter? The group mechanism in Flickr today allows individuals to group around purposes or interests, but I don't think it is sufficient to create all the opportunities these communities might want in order to communicate. It would be an interesting experiment to build social analysis tools using the Flickr API to determine the vitality and life cycle of the various groups that appear on the site. What groups are vibrant? Which are sickly? moribund? This is not simply an issue of counting heads and photos. It's about trend rates.

By the way, the photo here is from a collection of family photos shot the final week of June 2005.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

BadFruit beats iTunes to podcasting support

Want podcasting on your iPod? There is no need to wait for the next version of iTunes. BadFruit delivers the ability to subscribe to podcasts and have them loaded to your iPod automagically.

Well, that is if you are running iTunes on Windows (BadFruit doesn't work on the Mac) and are willing to start using a program that might actually stop working with the next version of iTunes. BadFruit's BadApple program, looks like something of a rogue plugin that's generating considerable discussion on the merits and shortcomings of such an approach in it's forums.

qv: BadApple - Forum

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Podcast: Elvis Mitchell interviews Christopher Nolan of Batman Begins

Elvis Mitchell, entertainment critic for NPR's Weekend Edition and host of The Treatment interviews Christopher Nolan, director of the recently released Batman Begins. The interview is a warm and personal conversation between two men who love the art of film and storytelling, one of whom has just re-introduced the world to The Batman.

Listen: The Treatment

Monday, June 20, 2005

Limericks for Nice Nieces

Lauren VisitsLauren’s Limerick
Lauren’s a lovely young niece
who lives up the road a far piece
But she visits here twice
a year and that’s nice
she’s a bit like the migrating geese.

Rachel ReadsRachael’s Limerick
A fair maiden Rachael sublime
with free time at camp was divine
she grabbed up a book
and hid in a nook
and sped through twelve volumes by nine

The Tragedy of Snaky Jack (a limerick)

A sneak slithering serpent named Jack
Fell from his perch to my back
I grabbed him and yelpd
then admired his pelt
and that’s how a belt came of Jack

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sweet! Napoleon Dynamite Festival is Next Week

Break out the chapstick and head on over to Preston Idaho for the Napoleon Dynamite festival to be held next weekend. It looks totally sweet.

via: NPR: A Sweet Festival for Napoleon Dynamite Fans

ps: Vote for Pedro

Friday, June 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Escher Birthday Happy

Today is the birthday of M.C. Escher.

Surely you've read Gödel, Escher, Bach.

Mirrormask Looks Yummy!

Gina McKee in Samuel Goldwyn Films MirrorMask, scheduled for Sept 2005 release.
Neil Gaiman is a 21st century Wizard of Oz. This looks beautiful.
qv: Mirrormask (Yahoo)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hassling photographers becomes new pastime

Only a couple of times during my photography career have I been hassled. I guess if I worked harder at it, I might have had it happen more often.

It turns out, however, that law enforcement officers and security guards that are not familiar with the rights of photographers have been confiscating film and detaining photographers in defense of "National Security." Avoiding the situation if possible, is probably the best advice, but knowing your rights is a good backup. Bert P. Krages is an attorney who has written a book on the subject and published a one page flyer that is available for download from the web.

qv: The Photographer's Right - A Downloadable Flyer

What's Black and White and Depressed All Over?

Well the answer would be... A Father of the Pride fan that has not yet purchased their own copy of the DVD. We absolutely loved this show when it ran sporadically on NBC. We followed it's doomed flight as best we could, but the Fates cut it short. We picked up a copy of the DVD last week and now we can go back and see all of our favorite moments as well as three episodes that never aired! Fabulous! I want zee Ummm!

qv: Episode Guide: Father of the Pride

This is at last the Batman movie I've been waiting for. ..

So says Roger Ebert in his review of Batman Begins. It looks intriguing. Up to a few days ago, I had low hopes for the new Batman. I have always loved the character, but the early trailers held no appeal. I have been disappointed by most of the Bat's previous flights, and had no good reason to believe that this one would be any more to my liking. Ebert's review makes me beleive that Batman Begins offers the complex, conflicted, and brooding Bruce Wayne that I have always found the most captivating.

If Ebert is right, then this is the Dark Knight I have been waiting for, too.

qv: Roger Ebert Reviews Batman Begins
also see The Dark Knight Returns

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Happy 7th Birthday --

My records show that my original personal website, PhilYanov dot com, achieved domain status on June 15, 1998. So today is my website's 7th birthday. Since that day I have registered a number of other personal domains and shuffled things around a bit. In fact, I am about to launch something new, but today is a great day to take a moment and celebrate seven years of web publishing. By the way, I do not have a picture of how the website looked in 1998, but through the magic of the Internet Archive's WAYBACK machine, I can show how it looked in 2001.

qv: as of April 13, 2001

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Get a physics lesson on your postage stamps

Got your Feynman stamp yet? In April, the US Postal Service issued commemorative stamps of American scientists, Barbara McClintock, John von Neumann, Richard Feynman and Willard Gibbs.

I'm sure they were all great, but of couse I know the most about Von Neumann, and Feynman. Of those two, only one published a really engaging book entitled, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.

I remember hearing Dick Estelle read the book on Radio Reader almost twenty years ago. Feynman was fun, eccentric, funny, willing to try anything, and able to endure terrible personal tragedy. It's clear why he has become something of a hero figure. I'm happy to see him honored, even if it's on a stamp.

Hopefully a new generation will read his stories and learn that being a scientist can be fun.

qv: Berkley Groks Richard Feynman at the Internet Archive

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mappr puts your Flickr photos on a map

I like the idea of having blog entries, photos, etc geolocated. There have been a few attempts at this on the web, but none that struck my fancy, until now. Mappr allows you to easily tag your photos with location info that it then uses to position those photos on a map.

qv: Mappr!
qv: Wedding Photos via Mappr!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Happy Birthday to FLLW

Today is the birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright. Google's doodlers decided to dress up the Google search page in celebration.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Email large files quickly, securely, and easily!

Well, that's the claim of web service YouSendIt, anyway.

The web page claims you can email attachments to friends of up to 1 Gigabyte in size. That means with just two attachments, you could actually fill up someone's GMail account!

The interface is simple and does not ask much of it's sender. It does not require the sender (or receiver) to create yet another login and password. You fill out a simple form and then press the upload button.

The file is uploaded and then the recipient receives a link in an email that lets them know that they have up to seven days to retrieve the file.

Since downloading a 1 GB file can take a while, the website owners have thoughtfully provided advertisements to be viewed during the download.

My only problem with the site so far? I have yet to get it actually complete the upload of even a 187 MB file, less than a fifth the size of their claimed upper limit. Harumph! The site looks good though, and if the designers put the same attention in their actual delivery of the service, I think this one will be a winner.