Archive for April, 2007
The OnTheCommons blog recently ran a post about a new law enacted in São Paulo, Brazil, outlawing most outdoor advertising. I know some U.S. towns have laws to limit the size of such ads, but I haven’t heard of anything on the scale of what São Paulo has done. I’m interested to see if the ban stays in effect.
The City of São Paulo, Brazil, the largest, most prosperous city in South America, has gone ad-free! Last September, the City Council by a 45-1 margin approved a law that bans all outdoor advertising in the city of 11 million people. The law applies to outsized billboards, neon signs, electronic screens, ads on the sides of buses, the distribution of fliers, and even advertising banners pulled by airplanes and placed on the sides of blimps.
I first saw Theo Jansen’s sculptures on a video of his 2005 presentation at the Gel Conference. The kinetic sculptures he builds are otherworldly and amazing to watch, as they walk across the sand. Unfortunately, the quality of the Gel video isn’t the best. For a quicker, better introduction, check out this 1 minute video:
For more background, Jansen gave a 30 minute presentation the 2005 Pop!Tech conference. You can download a higher quality quicktime version of the presentation from the Pop!Tech website or watch a streamed version below:
I’m a huge fan of music, but very little of what I listen to is mainstream enough to make it onto corporate radio stations. There are some good community radio stations in Austin, but even those can’t come close to the variety of music that’s currently available online.
Thanks to Internet radio, I’ve been introduced to a wide variety of new musical genres. I’m able to keep up with Hawaiian, ska, Asian underground, and electronic music. I’m also able to discover new music through streaming services like Pandora.
Unfortunately, the governing body in charge of copyright royalties recently decided to more than triple the rates Internet broadcasters must pay. Put simply, the rates are more than the total revenue for some stations and will likely cause stations and streaming services to cease online streaming altogether. PC World posted a story yesterday covering the latest developments in the fight to keep Internet radio alive. Hopefully it won’t be too-little-too-late, but please join me and take a moment to sign a petition to help save Internet radio.
A recent editorial in the Central Connecticut State University Recorder Online has a surprising and sad analysis of the hybrid Toyota Prius. Apparently when you take into account the overall environmental footprint of the car, especially the multiple batteries required for the hybrid engine, the Prius is not all it’s cracked up to be.
The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?
UPDATE: A more thorough analysis of the Prius lifecycle and additional background on the editorial above can be found in the April 16 article Prius Versus HUMMER: Exploding the Myth on The Car Connection. The article may raise more questions than it answers, but it is definitely a more thorough analysis than the editorial I originally pointed to.
The ongoing battle against spam brings out some of the most creative problem solving in programmers and system administrators. Techniques like greylisting and bayesian filtering are applied in an attempt to keep the spam problem under control.
A recent behind-the-scenes blog post about The Architecture of Mailinator details some creative problem solving that went into the design of the Mailinator service. By foregoing perfect service in favor of near-perfect service, Mailinator is able to significantly alter its approach to the problem.
Now if this all sounds a bit shaky, as in we might just lose an email now and then – you’re right. But remember, our goal is 99.99% accuracy. Not 100%. That’s an important distinction. The latest incarnation of Mailinator literally runs for months unattended. We do lose emails once in awhile – but its rare and usually involves a server crash. We accept the loss and by far most users never encounter it.