Category Archives: Consumerism

The City Eats Its Own

As one who loves beautiful, old, historic things,
and as one who loves American city architecture from the early 1900s,
and as one who lived in Oregon for five years,
and as one who has a massive crush on Portland,
and as one who loves books and needs to be pried from Powell’s with a crowbar…

…I of course loved it when Cabel Sasser tweeted the following:

Renovations for across the street from Powell’s uncovered this beautiful, untouched tile from the 1900’s. Cool.

Tile Floor from Cabel Sasser

And needless to say, I was heartbroken when Cabel followed up a few days later:

Well, so much for the beautiful tile floor they uncovered during construction. :(

Tile Floor from Cabel Sasser a Few Days Later

Cultural metabolism.

If ignorance were not in such great abundance, we could all have nice things.

UPDATE: Awesome! Pedro at Longbored Surfer looked at Cabel’s photographs, and took the time to recreate the tile pattern digitally. Sounds like Cabel snuck a piece of the actual floor, too, when the builders weren’t looking!

A bad taste in your mouth.

Mint Sells to Intuit for $170 Million

Why is this such a great deal for Intuit? Fast Company explains:

“Mint’s apparently not begun to investigate the data-mining opportunities present in the recorded info on those 1.4 million users–a data set that’s got intrinsic value in its own right.”

Wow, that’s pretty bold-faced. To be fair, as a user of I appreciated the fact that they had not begun to investigate the data-mining opportunities present in their users’ accounts.

So, the way I see it is this. Intuit paid $170 million for Mint. A lot of the value of Mint comes from its 1.4 million registered users. If you’re like me and you have a “thing” for Mint but not so much for Intuit, you would want to see Mint get the better end of the bargain here. There’s probably no better way to make sure this happens than to delete your account on Mint.

That way, Intuit will have paid a heck of a lot more money for a dwindling user base, so it will be as though Mint got paid more for delivering less! It’s like selling your house, and then hiring someone to break all the windows before the new owner moves in. You got paid more for something that’s now worth less! You win!

Oh, and don’t be surprised if you’re presented with this confidence-inspiring response when you delete your account. Cabel got it, and I got it as well:


Happy deleting!

UPDATE: Here’s Peter Merholz’ take on the acquisition: User Experience = $5 Million per Employee

UPDATE 2: Don’t miss Jason Fried’s glowing take, affectionately titled The Next Generation Bends Over

Human-Poultry Interaction and Internet Pajamas

You can’t make this shit up.

In this paper, we present novel systems supporting remote interactions between humans and also between humans and animals. We developed interfaces which supports non-verbal modes of communication. We introduce the Poultry.Internet system, a remote multi-modal human-pet interaction system. This system allows humans to remotely touch their pet using a system interconnected through the Internet.

We also present the Internet Pajama, a wearable suit which allows parents to interact with their child. The aim of the system is to allow parents to hug their child while they are not at home.

Poultry.Internet and Internet Pajama: novel systems for remote haptic interaction

Pro Tip

If there is a top secret document that you absolutely do not want me to see, this is probably the best way to hide it:

  1. Write it into a blog post.
  2. Publish it online.
  3. Send me an email telling me that I absolutely must read it.

If secrecy is of paramount concern, I would recommend you Digg it as well.

This is so wrong.

Saw this ad on today, and honestly I’ve spent the better part of the day trying to parse the metaphor.

AccuQuote Ad - If you died today, life insurance could be your family's prince charming.

The more you think about it, the weirder it gets.

Martini has a thing for ice cream.

I went south today, and met up with some friends for the Great American Food And Waiting In Line And Music Festival in Mountain View. Apparently the event planners had grossly underestimated America’s appetite for food, and the lines were so long our group actually began taking them in shifts. The one for burgers was an intimate spiral that wrapped around itself two times, and it was an hour until we were finally united with our meaty bliss.

We waited in line for bacon (sweet, delicious bacon, the candy of meats) for twenty minutes, advancing a mere foot before abandoning that objective for some slightly more attainable southern barbequed meats. We ate and snoozed in the grass, nursing our food comas to the fine jazz stylings of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

True to the theme of the day, the most popular topic of conversation seemed to be my close proximity to the finest ice cream in San Francisco.

Right now I’m tapping this out on my phone, and in a few seconds will publish it using the WordPress iPhone application. Technology is pretty amazing, when you take a step back for a moment and consider it. The landscape-mode keyboard is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world.

The One In Which Dane Discusses AT&T Service Plans for Five Hundred Words, Much To Everyone’s Dismay

Well shucks. I was just about ready to toss my first-generation iPhone down a well, until I dug a bit further into how much this new service plan was going to cost me.

All I can say is, ouch.

Right now I’ve got 450 anytime minutes and 5,000 night-and-weekend minutes for $39.99 a month. In addition I have my iPhone data plan, which includes 200 text messages, for $20 a month. Finally, I do a lot of dialing across multiple time zones, and so to keep those long family conversations from bankrupting my lavish estate I have early nights and weekends for an extra $8.99 a month.

This comes to a grand monthly total of $68.98, or approximately $72 after those bullshit fees. The last I heard we had finally finished paying off the Spanish American War, and so the phone companies have been quietly rewriting their terms and conditions such that they are no longer charging you recovery fees for the taxes they incur, but service fees for whatever the hell they want. It was this breach of contract that allowed me to duck out of my Sprint contract back in January 2008 and avoid their $200 early termination fee.

So. The data plan for the iPhone 3G bumps everything up an extra $10 a month to $30. Now, from what I’ve heard 3G is pretty freakin’ amazing compared to EDGE, but unfortunately I never seem to live or recreate in a place that supports 3G (San Francisco, of course, being a civilized anomaly in my trek through the backwaters of America).

Thus, for my purposes it would be an extra $10 a month for the privilege of potentially enjoying a service that I will never get to use. Now, I do get other amazing things with an iPhone 3G S, such as GPS and voice control and more storage space and a compass and a faster CPU and a non-recessed headphone jack, but it hardly seems prudent that I should reward AT&T on a monthly basis for enjoying a set of features that has nothing to do with their service.

What’s more, I would have to pay an extra $5 a month to get the 200 text messages that are currently included in my (cheaper) data plan. Now, I don’t text much, but I find it indispensable when coordinating with friends, or sharing short bursts of information that don’t require a proper phone call. Indeed, it is criminal that they charge money for something that rides as heavy as a hobo fart on the network’s backchannel and costs them nothing to support. That said, if I have to pay for texting I want a flat rate, as the last thing I want to think about when I’m composing a text is whether or not it’s worth 25 cents.

I have been with AT&T long enough that I qualify for the $199 pricing on the new phone. The question is, then, how enthusiastic I am about getting burned for an extra $180 a year for the same mobile service that I currently enjoy (as 3G does not yet penetrate the windswept mountaintops and tree villages that I typically inhabit). To put it in perspective, that’s a monthly payment I could spend on hosting my intertubes at Media Temple.

Which. If things go as planned, both these expenditures might well be worth their while.

In other news, I wrote my first iPhone app today.

Spry. Or Perhaps The Faun.

Today I bid farewell to the Frankenbike, as my friend put the finishing touches on a more proper bike that he’s been building for me to use for my mighty summer. I talked to Kate, and she said the going price for a used bike in Walla Walla was about thirty bucks. I paid a bit more than that, but I shudder to think what a $30 bike transaction in this town would look like. It would definitely involve a stolen bike sold by a dangerous tweaker covered in scabs, who would demand that I meet him in the Tenderloin.

No. This bike is good and proper. Swift and nimble, it is a third the weight of the Frankenbike with a playfulness all its own. Small frame, large wheels, road tires, one speed, and one speed only. It has a lovely green finish and an aggressive racing posture, but most importantly it has brakes and it can stop.

I need to take this new bike for a good long spin before I can truly give it a fitting name, but that hasn’t stopped me from rolling a few around inside my head. You know, to see how they feel.

Your Online Banking System Can Go To Hell


Dear Online Statements,

I have paper records that go back ten years. Ten years. These records do not expire. You propose that I enroll in a “convenient” system that forgets my records after a mere 18 months. If I want to access records older than that you will charge me a fee and send them via U.S. mail, which is what you were doing in the first place.

If your online system is so “secure” why can’t you entrust it with more than 18 months worth of records? If it is so “convenient” why does it do a worse job of managing my account history than I do?

This is supposed to sound compelling why?


P.S. If you ever again mention the “greenness” of online statements versus mailed statements, so help me god I will claw out your throat. There is nothing green about a server farm that needs to run white-hot 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to allow me “access” to my “statements” whenever I “want”.

I’ll tell you what’s green and convenient, and it’s a fucking file cabinet.

Captain Morgan and his spiced piss can go to hell.

Contrary to your claims, regional liquor rep, I believe whether or not people come to my party will be determined more by whether or not they think I’m a cock, than by what brand of liquor I’m serving.