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Way, way back

One of the things that's always made me a little uneasy about designing things for the web is the likelihood of the stuff you make being wiped away for good once a site is updated. I tried to break myself...

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Story of my life

I'm tempted to bill Fontlab for all the lost hours, but it crashes too often for me to bother keep track....

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Old Friends

I had a vivid imagination as a kid, in a way that is a lot harder to maintain once you get older and have to devote more and more mental space to the rest of the world. I wasn't lonely,...

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Starfleet catering

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The pretty one

mosshh: God save Rory....

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Bionic Showdown

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Goddess

Retro Future Realness...

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Maya

susiesnapshot: Catherine Schell, Space:1999, 1976...

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Status Report

This week, my childhood idol Jaime Sommers shall provide you wih a dramatic interpretation of my current feelings about my work/life balance:...

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From the scrapbook

(via ponfarr)...

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NASA

kiske: Allen145 (via leifpeng)...

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Maya

(via peepshowcreepshow)...

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From the scrapbook

(via sissydudeomen2)...

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From the scrapbook

(via sissydudeomen2)...

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Brief Message from the Management

I throw up my hands in defeat. I’ve finally had to shut down the comments on this entry about Sodachrome. Although some very lovely and flattering authentic comments were made (for which Ian and I are deeply grateful), I...

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OMG STAR TREK!

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'...

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The Ombudsmen

"On Friday night a blockhead died in New York." So begins the gripping tale of The Ombudsmen, the only line of defense between us and the editors of the papers we read. Or are they? [Thanks, Dave!]...

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Secret Lives

Oh captain, my captain! We all wish we got to know that Jean-Luc Picard....

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A bullet dodged

Like its predecessor, this would have featured cool ships and robots, and crappy everything else. Behold! The promo trailer for the never-finished Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming:...

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Time and Travel

If you can't spot the error in this scene from "Time Bomb", a 1978 episode of Wonder Woman, then I don't even know who you are anymore and clearly we have no future together after all....

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Random wonderful things

I’ve been bedridden for days, so my already active trawling of the web has really gone off the charts. Here are a few gems that I feel compelled to share: The "I Can Read Movies" Series: these imaginary paperback novelizations...

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The Internet says I know something

It gives me a mild flash of nerdy glee to know that I am now cited as a source for information in not one but two articles on Wikipedia. If you ever have any need or desire to read about...

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She's Amazing.

Granted, it's not as great as the final choice, but how is it possible that I’ve gone this long without knowing there was an unused (or perhaps very rarely used) alternate version of the Bionic Woman theme? And while I’m...

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Wirehead

Uh oh. Anyone who's read Larry Niven's Ringworld novels will probably realize right away that this development is a bad thing waiting to happen....

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Oh yes.

I always thought he was a great casting choice. Check out how good Sylar looks as he struggles with his half-human emotions. Can't wait....

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Edwardian masher

While I’m on this Joe Orton kick, here's another great bit from the diaries: Saturday 15 April Watched Doctor Who on television. Rubbish, but there's a young boy in it who's worth looking at; like an Edwardian masher at a...

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ΩÖØ

Do you like the idea of using crazy characters in your blog posts or online profile headlines, but just can't remember all those nutty character entities? Fret no more! This website is a tiny little thing that lets you copy...

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Gays of Future Past

This is a long clip, but it's truly sublime, a testament to verbal flair of one of the greatest confirmed bachelors to ever venture forth into outer space: Dr Zachary Smith!...

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Battlestar Barbarella

When worlds collide, eh? I love both Barbarella and Battlestar Galactica, but for very, very different reasons. Seeing them mashed together for a promo shoot makes my head hurt a teeny bit. If I were more of a straight...

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How'm I Doing?

I just upgraded to the latest version of Movable Type, the software that runs all this. The interface at least is completely different, so I can only assume some stuff will break. If you spot anything funny going on, please...

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Assorted Bits of Nerdistry

Bullet time! I had a maddening problem with my iMac on Saturday that I was only able to resolve by wiping the drive and restoring it from the backup. Overall I was impressed with how Time Machine came through for...

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Just in Case

I don't suppose there are any deep-pocketed eccentrics out there who feel like sponsoring a brief transatlantic research trip about typography and math, right? It looks like this year's TypeCon in Seattle is having a workshop on Microsoft's new math...

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Spring Cleaning

Ah, a fresh start to this rusty old contraption. Ten years or so of archives were weighing me down, so I figured it was time to toss them out and stop competing with my more prolific days. Maybe I'll post...

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No Turning Back

I finally had to change the region encoding on my laptop's DVD player this weekend so that I could start watching the complete first season of The Bionic Woman, perhaps my all-time favorite show from childhood. (She was so...

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Box o' Crack

Dave knows me intimately well, as only one's best friend or deadliest foe truly can. Sometimes he can be both all in one, as shown by this care package he sent me. On the one hand, I melted with...

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Cuteness Trumps Kerning

Oh, my beloved Diesel Sweeties, you've done it again. At its worst — and it's rarely bad — this comic is still adorable and comfortably nerdy. At its best, it's like those crazy pixelated robots have escaped from the eccentric...

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Star Wars: A New Hand

While I try to recover from a couple of weeks of intensive research and writing (let me tell you, though, my 24-page analysis if Monotype 4-line mathematics typesetting is a real page-turner) and force my brain to start thinking about...

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Fear Me, Human!

While I spend my days drawing letters and writing about metal type, researchers elsewhere in the university are making some extraordinary progress in the exciting field of Mad Science. Morgui, the fantastic disembodied robot head shown above, contains a number...

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Like Mr. Sparkle, but Better!

Genius alert! Check out these completely glorious anime-style drawings of the characters from The Simpsons and Futurama: They remind me a little bit of this classic gem, just taken to a new level:...

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I Can't Use the Force! You MUST Use the Force!

Luckily, Dave has saved me from having to think of anything clever to post today. Please enjoy this amusing video he sent instead:...

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Three Cheers for Penmanship

I wish my handwriting were nearly as nice as that of Laura Roslin, former president of the Twelve Colonies. I guess handwriting isn't as much of a lost art in a society where computer networks are considered a Very Bad...

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The Resistance

As much as I hate to use the word "webisode" I have to declare that I am totally digging the pre-season webisodes they're doling out Battlestar Galactica. They're certainly not as addictive as the show itself, but they're just the...

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Wiped Out

Another year, another TypeCon. (that’s a good thing, by the way: TypeCon is always a highlight of the year for me. 'Cuz I’m a nerd.) I am deeply, deeply exhausted after 5 days of workshops on type design, presentations on...

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Recordkeeping

One of those nerdly things that makes me break out in a cold sweat from time to time is the extraordinary fragility of digital information. Now that just about every crucial piece of information in my life is stored as...

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The Willow That Never Was

OMG! Unaired Buffy pilot! I had no idea such a thing even existed. Internet, how could you have failed me for so long? You can still see the early seeds of the brilliance that was to come, even with the...

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Busted

Friends, don't let this happen to you: "Publisher in £80,000 font raid" A publishing firm fell foul of the law by using unlicensed typefaces worth £80,000, according to licensing lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The publishing firm had...

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The Way Back Machine

Check out the way I’m rocking the twin SE/30s in BU's graphic design computer lab, circa 1992: Those hard drives? 80 megabytes! Those screens? Grayscale. That scanner? Bitmap only. That printer? Well, it would probably still run today if you...

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Reading Is Fundamental

I’m trying to teach myself to read all over again. I can already handle all the big words, thank you, but I’m trying to improve my ability to retain facts instead of just overall tone and general concepts. Although I...

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Future Living

While retelling the glamorous story of my visit to Moonbase Alpha recently, I remembered that I’d wanted to link to an even sexier recreation of life the Space: 1999 way. If you're like me, then living in the 21st century...

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WTF

Last week I was explaining ligatures to my typography class, another in a series of lessons that explain how typefaces contain many, many more characters than just letters (both upper- and lowercase), numbers, and the basic marks you see on...

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So Meta

God help me, but I’ve become one of those bloggers blogging about blogging at a conference's requisite blogging panel. Hell, I’ve been blogging longer than any of them except for Kottke, so why shouldn't I? Also, I’m totally here to...

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Type Geeks

Just about all my waking hours for the last few days have been spent in the midst of fellow typography nerds at Typecon, where we all get to let our freak flags fly and rant about the differences between the...

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They Go to 11

My new favorite high-concept band should come as no surprise to any of you: Warp 11, whose mission is to rock out while exploring intertwined themes of sex, booze, and Star Trek. Get their album if you like anything you...

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Mac Rat

Hah! Look what I noticed as I was shoving the new boxes into the hall closet: that’s about 10 years and many thousands of dollars worth of brand loyalty there. God, and those are just the boxes that were easy...

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Arrival of the Mac mini

I’ve always wanted get a Mac before anyone else got their mitts on one so I could indulge myself in one of those blow-by-blow porn shoots of the unwrapping of the packaging. My time has come at last!. (Of course,...

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Mini to Me

And in totally exciting nerdy news, my new mac Mini is at this very moment on a delivery truck speeding toward my house. (Not like a collision, of course, but I like to imagine it racing diretly to me without...

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For Frack's Sake

I was totally jazzed about the new Battlestar Galactica when it was first aired, but I didn't trust my reaction completely. I mean, I didn't have any complaints about it but it was so new and so full of eye...

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The Relentless March of Progress

Through the misty shroud of time long past, picture a young Sparky full of optimism and armed with a shiny new BFA in graphic design chirping with glee over his shiny new Mac IIci, juiced up with 12 megabytes of...

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Lego My Hero

Watch this totally fun stop-motion battle between Lego Spider-Man and Lego Doctor Octopus (or "Doc Ock" for the modern audiences who apparently can't be trusted with extra syllables). I want a Lego Flatiron Building of my very own. (Maybe I...

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Geek Lashes Out

I was too lazy last week to mention how much this Times article struck a chord with me, but it certainly gave me a moment to feel grateful that someone, somewhere paused to acknowledge the plight of the friendly nerd....

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Defiling the G5

I’m nerding out for a second, brace yourself: There's been a link making the rounds about an alleged case modification to a G5 by some kid who wanted a Dell for Christmas but only got this crappy G5. Assuming this...

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Happy Anniversary to Me

Crap! I forgot my own anniversary! August 5 was the official Fourth Anniversary of my career as a blogger. That is to say, it was the first time I posted online with a proper blogging tool I had been writing...

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Point, Shoot, Become Obsolete

Speaking of the technological wonders of 1983, do any of you remember the Kodak Disc camera? You know, the one with those tiny little negatives arranged like spokes around a plastic center? While going through all my old negatives (spanning...

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Gadget Nirvana

I have it, here in my trembling little hands. Oh man, it's so beautiful. If you held it, caressed its beautiful, touch-sensitive buttons and curved edges, you'd understand. Three times the capacity of my first one (up for grabs if...

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#928

This is my 928th blog entry (more or less there have been a number of guest writers, and I’ve deleted a few irrelevant technical announcements from former sites), having now combined into this one place all the posts ever made...

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Unimaginable Hunger

I was getting ready to write all about how deeply engossed I became in Manor House this weekend, and what a fascinating experiment it was and how I think public television's reality shows are in some ways more sinister than...

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Top Ten Treats

I’m a sucker for work that slyly works in the pop culture heritage that I’ve absorbed throughout my life. There's a lot of heavy-handed, ironic name-dropping of old TV shows and such out there, but that shit's just weak. What...

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A Standard Model

It's my lot in life to have carved out a challenging, financially comfortable niche for myself in an organization that’s not much fun. When you spend day after day, year after year, producing dull-looking technical documentation, you get your kicks...

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New Feature: The Alpha Room

One of my plans for this latest reboot of UltraSparky was to use the "Other" page as a place to dump random interesting bits, including old gems from the previous incarnations of the site. I finally got off my lazy...

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It's a Family Affair

If you give a crap about weblogs and what place they hold (or can hold) in the networked world, then you really ought to check out Tom's presentation (PowerPoint version, which is worth looking at.) Rather than hopping into any...

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Google Me, Baby

I make it a point not to look at my site logs, since the last thing I need is something else to obsess about. In a frantic search for somethign to post that wasn't all about me and how grumpy...

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Legacy of a Misspent Youth

Before I consign it all to eBay or the trash, does anyone need a grab bag of goodies from the pre-USB days? I have SCSI, ADB, microphone, and serial cables. I have monitor and ethernet and serial adapters. I...

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Treats!

Now that I’m not home quite as much, I thought it was time to upgrade to new tools better adapted for the circumstances. I also upgraded to a second-hand (but never used) color Palm IIIc: the payment terms were...

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The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Now that I’m back in the freelance loop, the work from Thirteen is turning from a trickle to a flood. This isn't so bad, since it means some extra cash and a chance to do some things that exercise the...

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Snowbot

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Disqualified!

Disqualified! I think it's important for people to know that Tom Coates is an American bank teller with a wife and two homely children. Best European Weblog? I don't think so. Best GLBT weblog? As if....

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Road Trip Fever

I’d hate to squander this fun conversation with my pal Beau: RhageRN: Hmm...I’m trying to win the road-trip Pontiac contest. Interested in a road-trip to visit favorite bloggers across the country? UltraSparky: Oh hell yeah! UltraSparky: It'd be a Blog...

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Alpha Male

If you know me, than you probably know that I’m a big fan of science fiction. Why hide my spots, right? I make an effort, though, not to impose my enthusiasm on those who don't share it. It just invites...

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Farewell, TV

TV is going away once and for all. Well, sorta. The tiny South Pacific archipelago of Tuvalu, owner of the lucrative .tv top-level domain, is succumbing to the effects of global warming and sinking beneath the sea. Its 11,000 inhabitants...

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Who are you? I’m BatDan.

When inspiration fails me, I find that any ol' online quiz making the rounds works for a quick entry. This time aorund, I figured I’d see what sort of animal I am. Dave, this is going to kill you.) Apparently,...

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Sparky's Typesetting School, Part 3

After looking through parts one and two of Sparky's Typesetting school, Cynthia reminded me that I forgot to talk about the ellipsis (you know, the dot-dot-dot thing). Just a little gripe, why is it that my editors don't freakin' know...

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Sparky's Typesetting School, Part 2

OK, now it's time to tackle the commonly abused dashes and hyphens. (This one's for you, Brad, baby.) This is an area of typesetting that people always seem to get wrong, presumably from some combination of never learning the rules...

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Sparky's Typesetting School, Part I

Like many others, I have a profound respect for correct use of the poor apostrophe. I’m going to take the issue a step further, however, and complain about a very particular pet peeve of mine: the flagrant misuse of correct...

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East Side Ecstasy

If you watch any documentary before you die, you really ought to watch East Side Story, an incredible look at communist musicals in East Germany and the soviet Union. Man, it'll get your heart pumping to watch those men sing...

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A Plea to the Nerds

Do you have a math or science background? If so, maybe you can give your old pal Sparky a hand. I'll gladly barter trinkets or prominently featured links to your web site You see, in a little while I’m going...

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The Eagle Eye

Adam HH wins the prize for doing the best job of identifying the geek accessories around my desk. Granted, no ne else even tried, but I doubt they could have done better: Sayeth Adam, "I spy with my little eye:"...

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Geekiness Ain't All Glamor

This may come as a shock but I’m pretty damn sick of being a geek right now. For most of the last two weeks, just about all my time has been spent cabling, networking, installing software, troubleshooting, settling preferences, handling...

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Good Gadget Grief

In the ongoing saga of my acquisition of new computer equipment, all my new peripherals arrived at my home today while I was at work haggling with Apple and my credit card companies trying to sort out why it's so...

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Turn and Face the Change

Change is afoot here in the Rumpus Room. You'll notice that I didn't make that a link, because I’m not talking about the web site. I’m talking about my bacheloser pad, the actual Rumpus Room. The most obvious change is...

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For Science!

I’m writing this entry on my trusty Palm V, just because I can. This little client is cool as hell, but this is likely to be a pain in the butt until I can get myself one of those sexy...

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Cubealicious

I wanna have sex with the new Apple G4 cube. It's THAT unbelievably droolworthy. Not a single analog part in the whole damn thing. No fan. Only 8 inches high and wide. Did Wallpaper* finance the design of this or...

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Doh!

Man, you try to take a little vacation from the online world and look what happens — The Rumpus Room goes down, and on a weekend. AFTER my ISP's tech support leaves. Curses. And just when this whole site here...

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Endless Dreariness

One of my freelance gigs is a consulting project for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, doing some research about a computer system they want to buy. (Yes, I am also a nerd-for-hire by other nerds. Who knew?) Today, I...

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Identity Cornucopia

The Internet tells me who I am. For instance, my Bond Girl name is Anita Mandalay. My Wu Tang name is Top-Heavy Hookjaw (or possibly Homicidal Terrahawk), my cyborg name is S.P.A.R.K.Y. (Synthetic Positronic Android Responsible for Killing and Yardwork),...

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Self-Employment Limbo

The drawback to working at home is that it feels like I’m developing narcolepsy or something. OK, maybe it has something to do with the complete lack of structure to my day, and my recent tendency to stay out all...

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Rise Robots Rise

Humans! Hear me! I am S.P.A.R.K.Y. (Synthetic Positronic Android Responsible for Killing and Yardwork), the Digital Artificial Neo-human. What are you? My favorite web site of the day, Oh Messy Life, directed me to that little bit of fun. Andy...

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Viewing the Internet in Transit

This is just the sort of thing that panders to my basest instincts. And hopefully yours. Voyeur serves up 12 randomly selected web searches people are trying to make, and gives you the chance to click and see the results....

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The Mego Years

None of these guys are in my collection anymore. This is a historical photo from the Rhatigan family archives. It's all about Mego, baby. As I’ve been putting more stuff up for my big auction on eBay, I realized...

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Excuses, Excuses

I’m sorry, Joe, I know I’ve been delinquent with the updates lately, but my latest incarnation as a professional technical writer has been making it very hard for me to come home and type some more. Or at least type...

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Scholarly Data

Overachiever fails out of grad school! Yes, it's true. I got my report card from Pratt today, the one with all the classes I decided to blow off as a means of effectively quitting grad school. In a way, it...

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No More Pontificating

As of last night, I am no longer a college teacher. Technically, of course, I was an instructor of a basic computer skills class at Pratt's school of Professional studies, but it was basically teaching college. I loved teaching, and...

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Old School

I don't mind being 29. In fact, I was speaking with Gina today about how I think I may have been born in time to enter the design field at just the right moment. My education and experience as a...

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The Good vs. The Bad and the Ugly

Good Lo-Tech Bad Hi-Tech Datebooks, Address Books, etc. Immediate access as long as you have the presence of mind to keep them with you Databases and Electronic Calendars Vulnerable to power outages and and disk crashes; it takes a...

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I’m a Bad Geek

I'll be the first to admit that I’m a big nerd. I was a little slow to give myself over to the world of electronics — I never played video games very much, and I never used a word processor...

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