January 30, 2003

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 11:08 am

Just in case you don’t religiously follow “The Onion” here is a recent article of thiers that will make you smile a a mile wide.

January 28, 2003

Are you cool enough for Apple?

Category: Humor — Biella @ 7:50 pm

So, this is one of the funniest pieces of flash I have recently seen and it is especially great for all you Linux/Apple lovers out there. What I like about the parodic play (and do see the Mac Ad first) is that it essentially captures everything about Apple that I personally can’t stand. I mean, yes, I love their computers, I can’t but help drool when I see a titanium wanting to nab it from my friend when they least suspect it and I think that they have perfected the “touch” of keyboards but their own marketing/image department makes me want to… barf.

So, what drives me crazy about Apple is that they have created this image of themselves as this company that is really “deep dish cool” to the core, so much so that taking a bite of the Apple will make you, him, and her be way cool too, and also free and fun and hip.

And yes, many of their products are great but their such strong, explicit forms of advertising makes it almost too obvious how marketing in our society functions to psychologically remake selves, selves that are happy, cool, content, fulfilled, and in the case of Apple, free!!!! and really, really, really cool!!!! Yes, it is what all advertising does but I think they try just too hard and look like fools in the process.

They also use advertising to try to paint themselves as a different type of company than the likes of M$ but they fight, and fight just as hard to protect their IP. In some ways, I sometimes feel like ok, at least M$ ain’t trying to hide behind some weird veneer of coolness which is what Apple likes to do. But anyway, the flash piece drives home the point I just tried to make so check it out!

January 22, 2003


Category: Research — Biella @ 11:25 am

This morning, I was sleeping soundly when a dog, a sato, of course, starting to bark and howl expressing what seemed to be full-blown grievous pain. I could not help but wake up to the sounds and take a peek out the window to see a dog hobbling and howling away. There was not much I could do at 6 am, his agonizing cries leaving tight knots in my tummy and unable to fall back asleep.

So I rolled out of bed, turned on my computer and went through many emails that I have neglected in the past week. The stillness of the morning combined with some mini-travels and wanderings on the net calmed by tummy and it was then when I was struck at how emotionally attached I have become to certain parts of the net in the sense that I realized how it gives me a certain type of joy, happiness, and satisfaction. It sure is a uber-nifty tool for communication as well as a means to unleash hordes of information, and facilitate commerce or creative production, but it is also this complex multilayered social medium that draws in the human self in all its own variegated complexity.

One of the things I stumbled across this morning only added to my excitement. A group from the University of Chicago is organizing a conference on digital genres, this initial manifesto offering the underlying intellectual spirit of what they hope to accomplish. Among other things, I like how it emphasizes the social thickness of digital genres:

“Digital genres are not merely art, nor are they merely spectacularly efficient ways to move information between bodies. Digital genres do more than extend the human ability to communicate across space and time. They have the potential to create a world which we can inhabit. This potential of digital genres has become more and more emergent in recent days. Massively multiplayer games are not ways for people to communicate in the world, they are worlds within which people communicate. And they are just the tip of the iceberg.

I sometimes have this eerie feeling of “leaving” a place when I take off for a couple of days away from my computer to then return to this place and the people who inhabit it. Or I have this odd moment of finding about connections between people on the net that I had no idea were connected. Friendships blossom and follow paths online that differ from meatworld ones but then they tend to converge blurring that oft noted division between the on and offline world. The division is a useful and necessary demarcation although it is less of a steadfast division and more of a process of constantly shifting boundaries whose movement is predicated on the fact that these two domains converge all the time .

Some of my strongest friendships are those that have a consistent online and offline component, as those friendships develop around a multi-dimensional bucki-ball sphere of experiences in which the mundane, the emotional, the intellectual, and the creative unfold in realtime to occupy different parts of the sphere of friendship that you form with others. The sharing of the offline and online mitigates against the fragmentation that can mark life in a modern urban setting. I think we will look back to this time on the net to see it as something that has transformed the very nature of friendships, especially as more kids start this friendship building it in tandem with online and offline components from a young age.

But there is one thing that irks me about my life online. Just as James Gleick writes about in Faster, life online speeds things up. When I leave to places like Puerto Rico or go away for the weekend with some friends, finding myself unplugged, time slows down, and significantly. I like the molasses quality of life away from the net.

January 16, 2003

The solution to sandy ears

Category: Personal — Biella @ 10:16 pm

After spending a couple of weeks in the Caribbean, it takes about a week to clean the sand from your ears. As you clean out your ears in the morning (or whenever one might perform this less than savory hygienic ritual), you sort of think to yourself: “Wow, the ear can hold a lot of sand” and then as the days pass on and there is less and less sand, you miss and miss your Caribbean beach even more. Nostalgia is experienced in weird ways at times.

Here are some pictures from the Vieques Protest I went to last Sunday. It was a good protest with a pretty large turn out considering it was organized pretty last minute. My dad and I argued (peaceably) about the protest, his sentiment being that it was useless or really frivolous because the US has already agreed to give up military training on this island, while my point was that it is good to yell and scream to make sure they don’t forget to leave not to mention they still need to commit more tangibly to the clean-up efforts. Anyway, he drove me to the protest which was nice given that he did not agree with it.

Back here in SF, the turmoil of Vieques and the idyllic life of the Caribbean seems far away. News about
the tech and intellectual property world moves around here as do fish in the Caribbean sea. Oh, and sad, frustrating news, like Eldred losing in the Supreme Court. I mean, I did not ever think it would be a sure thing but I thought Eldred had a chance and it was pretty depressing shoot out at 7-2??!!!!

Often when I come back from the Caribbean, I fell torn desiring to go back but also loving my life online and the research I do. Then there are those other things I like to dabble in such as Chi Gong and acupuncture that are not as accessible in the Caribbean. But I think I have found the solution of how to combine the different passions of my life–> living on a hacker/activist sailing vessel that has a satellite link to the net and whose purpose is two fold: to transport computers to places where they are needed and serve as an underground acupuncture clinic! I can then also teach Chi Gong classes, have year round access to the ocean and with all my extra time, I can just write, blog, and of course swim. And being on a boat where you tend not to go to the beach but just jump off the deck into the water, you never have to worry about sandy ears.

January 11, 2003

A good tonic

Category: Personal — Biella @ 6:07 pm

I finally biked in Vieques, something I have wanted to do for years but my plan was always derailed for one reason or another. I only spent the day there but it was a day well worth it although I woke up in a semi-foul mood due to lack of sleep as I had to wake up early to catch the first flight to Vieques on an itsty bitsy teeny plane. I sat next to this older fellow who looked happy as a clam while we gently flew over the island, heading east towards Vieques, which is quick but enchanting 30 minute ride. Once there, this same fellow took me to the bike rental shop La Dulce Vida, which is on the other side of the island and run by some guys from Seattle, which was made viscerally evident when one of them, Andy, was overjoyed, and I mean overjoyed, that they now had an espresso machine up above the bike shop. I admit, I salivated at the sight of his frothy, surely caffeinated coffee.

I eagerly took the bike, which was an older mt bike in good condition but a bit heavier than I am used to but I was up for the challenge, wanting to ride to

January 10, 2003

Caffeinated Waters?

Category: Personal — Biella @ 4:24 pm

I had one goal in mind for my trip to the tropics: quit caffeine. I thought it would be a process of pure hardship and hell as it has been many times in the past but for some really strange reason, this time, it was like cake. I did not even go through one withdrawl headache and felt like my concentration was as good as when I am off caffeine. Strange, no? My only explanation so far is that they must caffeinate the water here or something. I really feel I went through nothing and let me tell, I have gone through some serious emotional and physical turmoil quitting in the past, so this is a pure joyous mystery to me.

I should come here whenver I need to quit but it has not cured me of my online addiction that is for sure. My dad finally got his computer hooked up and he is right at this very moment, shooing me off to “get off the computer!!!!” Better do as the keeper of the computer wants!

January 3, 2003

Ahhh Puerto Rico

Category: Personal — Biella @ 7:29 am

Things don’t change much here year to year which actually is a good thing. It keeps places like Starbucks away but well, they have finally made it to the Old City and people love it…. Ironic. PR is known for their yummy coffee and Starbucks is crowded as sardines in a can with locals and tourists sucking down on way too acidic harsh coffee.

It is nice being here especially since the weather is holding up despite daily rainshowers. So far one of the things I have enjoyed the most is open air tai chi. You can’t beat doing it outside with the little coqui’s chirping in the background, the breeze helping you along with the movements.

I am missing my net access sooooo wishing there was access on or near the beach. One can dream, right?