Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finished Cowl

I finished the cowl yesterday as I hoped. It is now blocking on the bedroom floor, where it will remain damp for days, because it is not very dry here. But because I'm actually blocking for shape I just have to suck it up and walk around it for a few more days.

This is not a terribly flattering picture of it, but a) it is a knitted tube, what do you expect? and b) it is wet so the colors aren't quite accurate, and c) it will be bunched up when worn around the neck because no person's neck is actually that long, so glamor isn't really the highest priority. Oh, and d) I fixed that little pokey-out bit on the lower left after I took the picture.

Edit to add: updated photo with texture detail, showing the actual color of the yarn when dry. (Much nicer, don't you think?)

Does Pasta Really Need All That Water?

Maybe not, says Harold McGee in the New York Times: How Much Water Does Pasta Really Need?

As someone who is living with a non-kitchen and has been reduced to making pasta in an electric skillet on more than one occasion, I am glad to see someone investigating this matter of blasphemy. I agree that the extra stirring is key. And that short pasta shapes are easier to keep from sticking or tangling.

Via Not Martha.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mundane Hallucinations

One day, not long ago, I was tidying the kitchen area (calling the area where I cook in this cottage a "kitchen" is generous to the extreme), and I encountered a box grater, of the sort usually used for shredding cheese. "Odd!" I thought to myself, "I did not think I had one of these anymore, and have been grating my cheese on a tiny micro-plane! This may come in handy later."

Today, I would like to grate some cheese. Can I find this mystical box grater? Of course not. Did I imagine having it in the first place? Possibly. Did I spend 15 minutes looking for it anyway? Yes.

In other, more productive news, I am one row away from finishing my first cowl - I am hoping to get it blocking and take some photographs today. Then I have to come up with another project to take with me to jury duty for the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Recycled Soda Bottle Box

This is a beautiful, functional example of re-use at work: recycled box by Zitta Schnitt.

In fact, I think I'll add a tag for recycle, to cover both recycle and re-use examples. My mind seems to be bending that way lately, even to the point of subscribing to two different eco-friendly Twitter streams. I guess my use of that tool is evolving somewhat!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garden Progress Report

New pictures are up of the garden - I actually took these right when I got back from the conference, but it took a while to get them uploaded. Here's a quick preview:

Something is eating the bejezus out of the kale, most likely earwigs. So far I am resisting Dad's offer to put out poison. I'd love for this to be a completely organic process. Besides, kale is pretty robust, and if this keeps them away from the other veggies, it's probably a worthy sacrifice. The peas are going like crazy, we already need to tie up new string. And the lavender bush outside my back door is covered in flowers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More SXSW bits

My plan for today is sorting and filing some very very old paperwork while listening to some of the SXSW Interactive podcasts for panels that I missed. Should be a very constructive way to multitask.

Speaking of SXSW, artist Mike Rohde has posted the "sketch notes" he put together at the conference this year - you can find them on his Flickr. I am quite interested in these, because back when I took notes by hand in undergrad, I used to format them in a similar sort of way, bolding important concepts and organizing things in sections or bubbles. Unfortunately, my handwriting was not nearly so attractive or tidy as Mike's, and no one else would have found them legible, much less interesting.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reflections on SXSW Interactive 2009

I took, no exaggeration, 44 pages of notes from the panels at SXSW Interactive conference in Austin this year. This was in large part due to the high quality and relevance of the sessions I was able to attend. This was one of the best SXSWi for me so far, from a panel perspective. From a social perspective, it's hard for a conference that has grown so much to have the same ease and opportunity for making personal connections as it once did; especially for those like me who are more comfortable in a small group than in a massive crowd. But the opportunities are still there if you made the effort to look for them.

It is the energy I was able to catch from the conference this year that was the very best thing about it. A lot of people there were struggling with the same issues I am - to wit, how to stay motivated and proactive when the economic and regulatory climates seem so dire. However, I came away refreshed, hopeful, invigorated. I have some new projects in the planning stages, some of which you'll see evidence of here on the blog very soon.

Highlights of the conference included several panels dealing with audience management and crowd sourcing, a full day of panels surrounding issues of copyright and fair use, and two extremely helpful panels about changing jobs in the current economy. Overall, I thought the panels were well selected and scheduled; in the past there have been several time slots where I wanted to be in four places at once and others where I was interested in nothing; this year there was only one session slot in which I found myself free, and I used it to visit the trade show floor.

In addition, I saw a number of great folks I usually only see once a year in Austin, and as usual, met some great new people who turn out to live practically in my backyard. SXSW Interactive 2009 was a great conference for me, and I feel lucky to have been able to attend.

And if anyone has insomnia or a vast amount of time on their hands, I'd be happy to share my panel notes. Just shoot me an email.

Monday, March 16, 2009

As Seen On Twitter

JessaJune: Staggering into CC, unshowered, pocketful of almonds as breakfast, Pass forgotten (luckily in bag). Glad out late enough for @jmcnally #sxsw

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Blogging/Conference Update

No blogging of conference content has happened because the Marriott Courtyard didn't quite anticipate that having a crowd in for an internet conference just might mean a lot of their guests would intend to spend time, well, on the internet. So their system has been fubar'd since our arrival. The only internet I have is in the conference center itself - and then I'm usually in a panel. I'm taking good notes, and I'll post some impressions sometime soon, but it's possible that won't happen until I return!

Best panels so far:
Collaborative Filters: Evolution of Recommendation Engines
Kicking Ass with Controlled Metadata

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SXSWi - this year's org issue

Discovered this year's new organizational problem (hey, at least it's a new mistake) - the print program has a small schedule with abbreviated panel names to show times, and then a full alphabetical listing of panels by name with the details. This is slightly annoying in itself, but the real problem is that the abbreviations of panel names don't necessarily start with the beginning of the full panel name. For example, "Civic Technologies and the Future of the Internet" appears on the timing table as "Future of the Internet." There is no logical way to get from the schedule table back to the panel names.

For anyone who wasn't obsessive like me and do all the research ahead of time, it's impossible to know what to go to, and even for me finding the panels I'm specifically looking for is problematic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gearing up for Austin

It's almost that time... I'm packing and planning for my trip to Austin today. I'm not leaving until Friday morning, but I'll be working at the Santa Cruz library tomorrow, and then heading from there straight to SF to hang out with my guy for the last time before heading southeast to the hometown of SXSW.

I am looking forward to some great discussions, lots of fabulous food, and seeing all those fun folks I generally only catch once a year at this conference. I am not looking forward to the weather - last week, the forecast called for mid-to-low 80s... this week, it claims a high of 45 on the day of my arrival. What happened? Now I have NO IDEA what to pack.

Nonetheless, I have to get started. I guess it's a "pack for every contingency" kind of trip. Good thing I have a nice new suitcase.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Yesterday morning, Dad picked up some baby chicks and we set up the nesting box for them. I'm not a huge fan of birds-as-pets for whatever reason, but there is something undeniably cute about these little balls of fluff. Plus, keeping chickens is relatively easy for big rewards, if you're a fan of eggs, and you can do it in suburbia so long as you don't keep roosters.

They're about 4 days old now, and they'll grow really fast. By mid-April, they should be ready to go into the coop.

It was in general a pretty farm-like day. Once the chicks were settled, Dad and I tied up the peas (harder than it sounds, mostly because of the amount of squatting and stooping required), prepped a new plant bed, and transplanted some vegetables from their pots in the greenhouse: collards, beets, swiss chard, and some volunteer carrots. (Volunteer meaning Dad doesn't know where the seeds came from - they were just kind of growing there.) E will be happy to know I also planted that sprouted garlic that he's been wondering about.

And after that, I trimmed back the grape vines - a bit late in the season for it, but they hadn't started sprouting yet, so hopefully no harm done. And when I say I trimmed them, I mean, after gently sounding Dad out about it - he's more of a "let the plants do what they want" than a "manicured garden" kind of guy - I pretty much hacked them back to the main trunks. (He'd said I should do whatever I wanted! Honest.) So it will be interesting to see what that does for fruit production - if the grapes spend too much energy maintaining canes they don't do as much in the fruit department. Last year there wasn't much and the birds got most of it. This year, we'll see.

It was a beautiful day - cool, but quite warm enough while working in the sun that I left my sweater behind. It was really nice to be outside after all the rain we've been having.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Upcoming: SXSWi

This week I sat down and took a really good look at my calendar for March. For a girl whose time has been pretty unstructured lately, March is FULL.

Perhaps most important is my trek to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive. I've been going to this conference since 2002 - it's changed quite a bit in that time, from an intimate, transplanted-SF feel to a full-sized widely recognized conference for web and software technology professionals. (Note that I am speaking specifically of the Interactive portion of the conference - the Music and Film portions have been widely recognized and attended for much longer than that!)

I spent some time going over the conference schedule today. Below is my tentative game plan. Items in parentheses are alternate panels that I may attend as crowds and whim of the moment dictate. In general, I thought that the scheduling of panels was far more balanced than it's been in years previous - kudos to the planning team!

I'm posting this partly for my own reference, as evidenced by the room numbers next to the panel names. I also intend to be better about blogging my impressions about the various panels than I have been in previous years. We'll see how that goes.

User Generated Content: State of the Union
- C
(Core Conversation: the Conference Networking Catalyst - 19B)
The Ecosystem of News - 12AB
Book Reading: Career Renegade: How to make a great living doing what you love - Day Stage
Screenburn: That Doesn't Suck! (Spore) - C

Civic Technologies and the Future of the Internet - 9
Curating the Crowd-Sourced World - C
(Not the Same Old Story - Hilton C)
Kicking Ass with Controlled Metadata - 8
(Connecting Interrelated Design & Dev Workflows - 10)
Collaborative Filters: Evolution of Recommendation Engines - B
(Building a Bridge with Barcodes - the QR Code Invasion - Hilton A)

Version Control: No more save as... - Hilton B
Design for the Wisdom of Crowds - A
(EA Dead Space: A Deep Media Case Study - 6)
CSS3: What's Now, What's New, and What's Not? - 6
What Do I Do... Economy Collapsed? - 9
(Post Standards: Creating Open Source Specs - Hilton C)
How Social Networks Are Killing the Revolution - 8

The Invisible Web and Ubiquitous Computing - 9
(Shift Happens: Moving from Words to Pictures - Hilton C)
Ultimate Showdown of Content Management System Destiny - Hilton B
(The Future of the DVD and Digital Distribution - 12AB)
(What Can We Learn From Games - A)
Keynote: Virginia Heffernan / James Powderly Interview - A
Using the New Digital Social Media to Accelerate Sustainability - 8
(You're Living in Your Own Private Branded Entertainment Experience - 6)
"You May Also Be Interested in..." - 9
(Evolving Digital Technologies and Profitable Green Building - 8)
(Girl Gaming Goes Mainstream: Cliches, Reality, and Community - 12AB)

New Threats to New Media: Fair Use On Trial
- Hilton B
(Rethinking the Digital Prototype - 6)
Online Content: Transforming Piracy Into Profit
- Hilton B
Tuesday Keynote: Chris Anderson / Guy Kawasaki Conversation
- A
Policy Trainwreck: How Copyright Law Failed the Digital Age - Hilton B
Are Virtual Worlds a Refuge from the Recession?
- 5C