The only small cars in the US seem to be the Beetles – if I’m looking for a very cheap (< $2000) car that's SMALL, where should I look?

Flower Power Takes on Land Mines: “A Danish biotech company develops a genetically modified flower that changes color when the plant is close to a land mine. The genetically modified weed has been coded to change color when its roots come in contact with nitrogen dioxide evaporating from explosives buried in soil. […] Within three to six weeks from being sowed over land mine- infested areas, the small plant, a Thale Cress, will turn a warning red when close to a land mine. “

Job posting: “Works as a member of the information architecture team, defining requirements and designing the user interface for complex web applications and sites. Assist in interviewing clients and potential users to define needs and requirements for Church Web sites.” (Via SIGA-L list)

This ad for an IA at the church of LDS (lds.org) was especially funny at my job, Logical Design Solutions (lds.com).

LibDB: HomePage: “This is the development wiki of LibDB, an open-sourced Perl/MySQL library and asset management system based on and inspired by the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (pdf), triples from the semantic web, and “the end-user doesn’t, and shouldn’t, need to know this stuff”. In English, this means that you’ll be able to smartly and easily catalog your movies, books, magazines, comics, etc. into your own computerized “personal library”.

Still in the early planning stages.

You have to wonder what the response rates to “Orfder your Vyiagbra and Suupier Vikagpra saefely and securbely onliyne” are like.

whichbook.net is a faceted bookbrowser using facets that contain ranges (not categories), like happy-sad, long-short, easy-demanding. Once it chooses books for you, it also lets you check if you can borrow them in a library closeby. Nice.

Jon Udell: How dynamic categories work: some interesting experimentation with dynamically filled (not dynamically generated) categories: “What is special is a search that combines the sort of standard metadata captured by any content management system with what we might call “inline metadata” that emerges from the content itself.”

CSFB – Thought Leader Forum: “The Amoeba dubia has 690 billion letters of gene code in it. We only have 3.2 billion letters of gene code. It’s 200 times the size of ours but still based on four letters. You can code binary code into life code: A=00, T=01, C=10, G=11. This becomes the science of bioinformatics. The amoeba only needs 1 billion letters to live. The rest is storage space. You can store every copy of the New York Times ever printed on a couple of amoebas. And they can reproduce. That’s what a nanocomputer looks like.”

How to make a documentary

Related posts:

  1. How to make a documentary
  2. Logging the documentary
  3. Editing the documentary
  4. All the posts about documentary making and the Colombian documentary

I am leaving tomorrow morning to Colombia to make my first documentary film ever. I always wanted to make a documentary.

I’ll be using a little consumer digital mini-DV camera (a Sony DCR-PC120BT, around $800). I bought it six months ago, and I’ve made a few small movies of friends and stuff to practice since.

Here’s an overview of what I’ve learnt so far:

  1. Image quality (lens, resolution) of a consumer camera is good enough for this documentary. It looks fine played back on a television.
  2. How I film it has a big impact on the perceived image quality. Use a tripod for many shots. Be aware of lightning.
  3. Showing the visual evidence is more important for a documentary than shooting pretty shots.
  4. Hold that shot! First lesson not to look like an amateur: hold that shot. Don’t start zooming, panning and so on if not absolutely necessary. This was a hard lesson but I think I’ve got it.
  5. Sound is the hardest thing to get right. As long as you point your camera in the right direction and your battery is ok and you have enough film, you’ll get decent visuals. But sound is very hard to get right, and if you get bad sound there is no way to get it good again. I bought a small $70 Sony shotgun mike that goes on the camera, but that didn’t really produce good sound either, so we borrowed a professional shotgun mike from a friend. The mike’s bigger than the camera. This may sound a bit exagerated, but it’s necessary. The mike in the camera (and even the outside mike I bought) just suck to the point of the sound being unusable.
  6. Editing on the computer is easy. I am using Vegas 4.0.
  7. When you’re finally doing the shoot, you don’t want technical problems. So I bought a backup battery and lots of tapes. I’ll start a new tape at every shoot, even if the previous tape was only half full.
  8. It’s nice to shoot little scenes that can complete other scenes (for example when you have a part that’s not usable because it’s out of focus).
  9. You can’t know exactly how the documentary will work out before doing it. (At least, I don’t).
  10. You should watch what you filmed every evening to get a feel for what you’ve got, and where the documentary is going.

Me and my girlfriend have found a way of working for interviews and such that seems to work: she asks the questions and points the mike, and I film and listen to the headphones to make sure the sound’s ok. We practices a little bit – I’ll report back on how it worked out.

We are going to film for about a week. Until then.

A long-living family archive website

This page inspired me to start a new project for this year: a family archive website.

It is a website where my extended family can post pictures and information, and the idea is that it will be a long-living site: I am shooting for 100+ years – that seems certainly feasible, the technology (HTML + HTTP + …) seems stable enough.

I expect this site to go through cycles of activity and non-activity. I like to imagine a great-grandchild discovering it, after it hasn’t been updated for decades, and getting fascinated with the facts and pictures posted there.

So I’m making some design decisions that will make that kind of lifespan feasible. Comments on these decisions are very much appreciated:

1. Plain HTML only, using HTML transitional 4.01 and CSS. Use basic set of semantically useful tags, and allow only updating of the stylesheet for changes in the look (I’m not sure about this one). No server side functionality like PHP or Perl. No database.

2. Passwords and server information stored with a variety of family members.

3. A scalable and easy-to understand (and updateable) IA. For now, it looks like this: (all thoroughly cross-linked, but implemented as static HTML):
home
— about this site
years (a list of years we have information on, in reverse order. There are also decade overview pages.)
— individual year (or decade) page (each with text and links for all the information we have for that year, like who got married, and links to information and people)
people (a list of people, organized in family trees)
— individual person (contact info if any and links to years and information).
information (a list of all the content (that’s not people or years) that has been added to the website, organized by year it was added.)
— individual information piece (a page or website, including all relevant files, that presents information about the family. For example, a photo album, or a description of an event.)

4. This website is not the place for experimentation – just plain uploading of information and cross-linking. There will be a sub-domain where family members can request their own free websites where they can do whatever they want (start blogs, …).

Comments or experiences with similar projects welcome!

Jim Moore’s cybernetics, politics, emergence, etc. : Home Page: “To win we must find more and more ways to deepen the support that online organizing provides for face-to-face community. Face-to-face meetings generate and feed the intimate daily personal communication networks that help people stand up to the media-driven information assaults that currently define politics as usual. Face-to-face community involves identifying local people who share your values, obtaining social permission to get together and talk politics, sharing information and developing understanding, and taking meaningful personal action to play a part in a larger political whole.”