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December 13, 2006

The grandeur that was Greece...


Above, a fourth-century B.C. gold Greek funerary wreath, believed to have been created by the master who forged the royal wreath of Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

The wreath, decorated with sprays of gold leaves and flowers inlaid with colored glass paste, was designed as a burial gift, probably shortly after the death of the Macedonian warrior-king Alexander the Great in 323 B.C.

The masterpiece was unearthed in the early 1990s and made its way via a labyrinthine path to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California, which this past Monday (December 11, 2006) agreed to return it to Greece, which has maintained the work was illegally excavated in the province of Macedonia and then removed from the country.

December 13, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Digital Mozart


Just in 32 minutes ago from the newest addition to my crack research team, one Clifford Marsiglio up in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, this website which aims to "make Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's musical compositions widely and conveniently accessible to the public, for personal study and for educational and classroom use."

Clifford keeps beating on me about the bookofjoe perks he was expecting: he wrote, "Still waiting for the benefits package to sign and return! At at least my official BOJ Beer Cup Hat."

Yo, Cliff, don't hold your breath — a full scuba tank isn't among the extras.

December 13, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Custom Printed Toilet Paper — Episode 2: 'What do you wipe with?'


That's the question on the homepage of the JeremyInc website, where Jeremy (above) — a 21-year-old Canadian who in WetWorld lives on a 100-acre farm — will help you design and buy a single roll of custom printed toilet paper for $9.99.

I thought the crack research team had done a decent job last week, tracking down a company that would do a minimum order of four rolls but as Jeremy noted yesterday in his comment on Episode 1 of December 5, 2006, "Hey we also have [custom] printed toilet paper. We can print any picture that you submit in full color on toilet paper. This site is good quality and cheaper for smaller orders of toilet paper. Check out this... site."


Now, for today's million-dollar idea, offered as always here, for free — the way it should be:

Figure out how to use an actual roll of toilet paper, right off the store shelf, in your printer and print your own.

I mean, I've heard of roll your own but this is ridiculous.

But I digress.

Bonus: make as little as a single sheet at a time — how's that for taking bespoke to the max?

This is such a great idea even I'm crying, that I've gone and given it away for nothing.

Ah, well, that's life in the Bizarro World, where someone like Jeremy — or you — can email me with something, find yourself on bookofjoe 20 minutes later and suddenly become famous and/or rich, while those who offer me money — sometimes serious simoleons! — for a mention get the old, "Here's your hat — what's your hurry?"


December 13, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

WiiSaber for OS X — Wii, Mac and Lightsaber Sandwich


"Adapts the Nintendo Wii's 'WiiMote' wireless controller for use on the Mac."

Oh, I almost forgot: it's free.

Where can I get one?

Right here.

Because even a blind (and anosmic) pig finds an acorn every now and then.

That didn't take long, did it?

I mean, I asked for it on October 25, 2006 and here it is 49 days later.

[via eliax]

December 13, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who's that girl?


I sure didn't recognize her when I first saw the picture above.

It's Mena Trott, co-founder and president of Six Apart, creator of TypePad, Movable Type and now Vox.

All glammed up for her star turn in the Economist (November 23, 2006 issue), to be sure.

Below, Mena


back in the day.

Here's the Economist story featuring her and her company.

    The Universal Diarist

    Mena Trott of Six Apart is at the forefront of the shift from mass media to “intimate media”

    It all began five years ago with a blog entry about a banjo. Mena Trott had recently graduated as an English major from college and, at 23, was living as an under-employed designer with her husband Ben in San Francisco, passing her time by keeping a personal online diary. Called Dollarshort, it was a blog about her childhood, her pets and that sort of thing. One day, on a girly whim, she wrote that she wanted to buy a banjo but that her husband, ever the “tyrant”, wouldn't let her. Mena's friends and family, knowing that “Ben is the sweetest guy in the world”, recognised the humour, says Ms Trott. But all sorts of strangers suddenly blogged back with angry feminist advice, advising her to get a separate bank account, to tell off her bullying husband, and even to leave him. Ms Trott was livid. “Why can't people take a joke, and who are these people anyway?” she wondered.

    It was the seed of a profound insight: that the era of mass media was ending and a new era of “intimate media” had begun. Mr Trott had written some software to make it easier for his wife to update her blog, and they realised that other people might find it useful too. It was an instant success upon its release onto the internet in 2001, and the Trotts have since built their company, called Six Apart (because their birthdays are six days apart), into the largest independent provider of blogging tools and hosting services. Ms Trott is Six Apart's president and public face, while Mr Trott, who is shy and retiring, runs the technical side of things and seasoned executives handle the management. Six Apart's flagship products, Movable Type and TypePad, are popular among “power bloggers” with large audiences, and its third product, LiveJournal, is big among teenage girls who blog for their friends. Collectively, Six Apart's products are used by over 30m bloggers around the world.

    These days, however, the Trotts are most excited about their newest product, Vox, which was launched last month. For if a blogging service can have a personality, then Vox has Ms Trott's. Like Ms Trott, Vox is unpretentious and accessible. By contrast with rival services, users need not worry about having to understand technical matters, such as the HTML formatting language in which web pages are encoded, in order to incorporate whizzy features into their blogs. They can upload pictures, video clips and songs with just a few clicks on a simple, colour-coded page. Also like Ms Trott, Vox celebrates the frivolous and mundane. Much of Ms Trott's personal blog, VoxTrott, is devoted to images of her beloved dog Maddy, while Mr Trott, a dilettante cook, likes to post “disgusting pictures of good food” on his blog. Many ordinary people are scared of blogging because they feel that they have nothing to say, says Ms Trott. So her message is that “mundane is interesting; it's OK to talk about your sandwich”. To a handful of people in the world it may mean a lot.

    The other thing that keeps many people from blogging is fear for their privacy, she thinks. Hence the third and most important characteristic of Vox. It is intimate. For every item on Vox — a text paragraph, a photo, a link — bloggers can determine if it is to be public or private and, if it is private, exactly who can see it. Ms Trott, for instance, keeps one part of VoxTrott for communicating only with her mother, who has an insatiable appetite for information about certain minutiae of Ms Trott's life. She also has a daily “Yay Me Update” just for herself, in which she uploads self-portraits from her mobile phone in order to preserve a chronicle of her life for her descendants — uninterrupted except for that time when she gained a bit more weight than she cared to commit to memory and conveniently forgot to post for a few days.

    But despite its homely origins Six Apart is ultimately a business, so somewhere in this vision there must be money. The daunting challenge it faces is to “monetise” the product without ruining the feeling of intimacy for its users. Like most online media, Vox is funded by advertising, but “the advertising is so subtle that a lot of users don't even know where it is,” says Andrew Anker, the product manager for Vox. A blogger might, for instance, write about her favourite novels and include a link to the books on Amazon, a big online retailer. Within a small social circle, such personal recommendations are a powerful form of marketing. If somebody clicks on these links, lands on Amazon's website and completes a purchase, Amazon will share 7% of the proceeds with Six Apart. Similar arrangements exist with an online video service, and Mr Anker hopes to add deals with online music stores and other partners in future.

    As a firm, Six Apart expects to break even only next year, and it is tiny when compared with giants such as Google, which has a rival blogging service called Blogger, or News Corp, a media conglomerate that offers blogging as one of many features on MySpace, its social-networking site. So the surprise is how well Six Apart holds its own against these industry titans. For some of the large internet companies, blogging seems “like a checkbox”, says Ms Trott — ie, something to have because it is fashionable, without caring much about it. She and her husband, however, sincerely regard blogging as a way of life.

    Her commitment to the social, not just the commercial, potential of blogging has made Ms Trott an unofficial spokeswoman for the wider phenomenon of new media. Ms Trott is 29 but appears even younger; she is currently practising how to speak clearly with new braces in her mouth. And yet she increasingly has the attention of elder statesmen who are baffled by the rise of blogging and need help in “getting it”. At a big conference this year, Ms Trott regaled a large audience of digerati with her family photos and other tales. Spotting Al Gore, “the first person I ever voted for”, in the first row, she turned shy for just a moment. America's former vice-president then sat spellbound through the remainder of her speech.

December 13, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

French Gendarmerie Cape


The real thing.



[via Paul Biba]

December 13, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'In Flagrante Collecto' — by Marilynn Gelfman Karp


It means "caught in the act of collecting," not to fret.

This new book "explores and catalogues our impulse to acquire the accidental miscellanea of the past."

According to Ms. Karp, "Collecting is a calling, not a choice."


Sort of like my motto, to wit: "I'm a child, not a choice."

To which my friends invariably reply, "Bad choice."

But I digress.


If you'd like to read a wonderful story about a collector whose impulses got the best of him, you could do worse than pick up a copy of Bruce Chatwin's 1988 novella, "Utz."

December 13, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

360TravelGuide.com — 'The world's largest free access panoramic image library'


Now here's a pleasant place to while away some time.


"With a library of more than thirty-thousand 360-degree panoramic pictures of everything from Times Square to the Taj Mahal, viewers can see every angle of Montmartre, turn slowly around the Great Barrier Reef or stand on the edge of Niagara Falls," wrote Jennifer Conlin in this past Sunday's (December 10, 2006) New York Times Travel section story.


Coming in March will be panoramic shots of the public spaces inside 1,000 hotels, including shots of their pools.


Everybody in!

December 13, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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