Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Radiohead covers Neil Young at the Hollywood Bowl

I don't know why it never occurred to me that Thom Yorke would be a natural to cover Neil Young, but this is beautiful. And there's something lovely about seeing Radiohead play with a couple of acoustic guitars.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Classic MySpace: iPhone app error

MySpace iPhone app error messge

Even on the MySpace app for iPhone, error messages are part of the experience. At least the character of the app is consistent with what you get online. Though it kind of makes me nostalgic for the days when all you could get out of MySpace was, "This error has been forwarded to MySpace's technical group." Those were the days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Go see "In Search of a Midnight Kiss"

On the LinkedIn blog this week, I cover a question from Hollywood producer Seth Caplan. It's about this film he has out, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, an indie flick that is only in 25 theaters nationwide. Because of that, I recommend going to see it. It's a good film, it has heart, it has humor. It deserves your bucks much more so than the blockbusters that are currently out there.

I happened to catch this film at its LA debut at the Downtown Film Festival. My friend Jeremiah had an extra ticket, so I came along, not knowing what to expect. The reviews out there pretty much cover all the immediate associations: this film is a fine blend of Woody Allen's Manhattan plus Linklater's Before Sunrise, with just the right amount of Clerks and a touch of Swingers. And if you can relate to the romance of social networks, you'll die laughing when the best friend tells the lead character, looking for a date on New Year's Eve, "you've got to get on Craigslist, man, you don't have time for all that MySpace shit." Where every Internet love story from You've Got Mail to Must Love Dogs failed pathetically to capture any real soul, In Search of a Midnight Kiss nails it perfectly. And subtly, without knocking you over the head with it.

Adding to the story, director Alex Holdridge told the audience that they'd made the flick for $12,000, pulling heavily from autobiographical anectodage and drawing on friends to act and shoot. Another $13,000 got the film to an HD master that they could transfer to celluloid. So for $25,000, this group of filmmaking friends made a great film. This is the kind of feelgood story that you want to get behind.

Get behind it, go see it this weekend. You won't regret it. The movies are supposed to put you somewhere, and this film does just that, proving it's not the budget that makes the magic.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Granddaddy of Phone Phreaking a Christian Scientist?

Joybubbles, the grandaddy of Phone Phreaking, was apparently a Christian Scientist, or studied it at the least. On a new website dedicated to the history of Phone Phreaking, this passage about Joybubbles' apartment caught my eye (emphasis added):

What's this? Oh, an old military AUTOVON telephone, complete with the magic extra Touch-Tone button labeled "FO ("Flash Override") that Generals were supposed to use to alert the President in the event of war. It's next to half a dozen other telephones and boxes of wires, connectors, and components. And this? Oh, that's a complete Braille bible ... next to the complete Braille Mary Baker Eddy Christian Science text ... next to a complete Braille Webster's dictionary. Which are all next to a 1970 Pacific Telephone/AT&T training manual for the #1 electronic switching system (ESS) ... a gold mine if you were a phone hacker like Joybubbles was back in the day.

Here's a guy born blind with perfect pitch who accidently discovered at age 7 that he could manipulate the national telephone system by whistling into the receiver. He's an interesting character, who can be traced as the inspiration behind Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak's first retail collaboration, a blue box that that did electronically what Joybubbles could do with his whistle. The New York Times published a fitting obituary late last year.

Joybubbles Steve Wozniak with blue box

Joybubbles was an ordained minister of his own Church of Eternal Childhood, reflecting a lifelong desire to return to the innocence of youth. But it's interesting that he was packing heat with the Bible, Science and Health and Webster's. Perhaps his reverse-engineering of the phone system offered some metaphysical insight into the underlying cause of things. If nothing else, he was a poster boy for the kind of undying curiosity that inspires people like Jobs and Wozniak to invent wonderful things. Because the world is full of wonder, but sometimes, you need a Joybubbles to remind you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The blog was invented in 1997

...but in 2008, Office 2004 still doesn't know about them. This should be embarrassing for Microsoft.

Microsoft spellcheck still doesn't recognize "blog".

While the iPhone will autocorrect everything from Imac to Ebay (iMac to eBay), Microsoft still doesn't know what a weblog or podcast is, to say nothing of the finer points of eCommerce capitalization. I can't speak for Office 2008, but that's what updates are for. I mean, sEriously.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I dreamt of Beck and Boris Karloff

A series of ongoing celebrity encounters that happen, literally, in my dreams. This dream is from about summer 2004.

I was hanging out with Beck and his band on a park bench on my lawn, discussing Beck's early work. In the course of the conversation, someone called out from my Victorian manor: “Boris Karloff for you, sir.” I pardoned myself from Beck to take Karloff on the telephone.

Inside, I picked up the phone and politely greeted Boris. He said hello in a Russian accent. He explained in broken English that he was trying to record a radio broadcast to a compact disc. I thought it was cute the way he was trying to catch up with technology. In my patient Mac Genius tone, I explained that he could record it with a tape cassette if he wanted to, but not with a CD.


Beck Boris Karloff

See also:
I dreamt of Neil Young and Bob Dylan
I dreamt of Chico Marx and Dave Chappelle

Friday, August 1, 2008

Leave Steve Jobs Alone! (UPDATE)

Here's a piece I co-wrote with my buddy Kris — it took commenters over at Dan Lyon's blog (the erstwhile Fake Steve Jobs) about half a day to get around to pointing out that it's knocking off Chris Crocker, which still gives me the heebie-jeebies to watch. The blog-o-zone is getting so much mileage out of the last three paragraphs of Joe Nocera's article in the NY Times, we thought we'd pile on too. Surprise and delight!

Cheers to Mario, who wanted a "Leave Jerry Yang Alone!" video, but had to settle for Jobs.

UPDATE: With the video at 4,500 views, somebody made the investment to jump-start So that's an Internet startup drafting off a YouTube mini-meme riding the coattails of a NY Times buzzquote that leeched off health speculations about the Apple CEO. Now if some sites poach misspellings like and, we'll have a complete scale model of Web economics.

UPDATE: And Valleywag has posted on it.
UPDATE: And Gizmodo.