Tag Archive: Free things

Dear Plutor of the future

August 18, 2007 6:37 am Published by 4 Comments

Dear Plutor of the future: I know that the crumbling economy, skyrocketing gas prices, and warming climate trend has likely made the world of 2008 a bleak Mad Maxian landscape. If the grocery stores are even open anymore, the selection is likely poor — jicama and tomatillos being among the very few surviving produce. But I have good news for you. I know of a place where, ideally in August, you can pick and eat delicious ripe blackberries until you explode. I will leave the task of fashioning a boat out of household materials to you[1] — I’m certain that as the world spun towards chaos, the last issue of Make Magazine was particularly helpful. You’ll need to boat straight out from the end of South Boston to Spectacle Island. Once there, hope that the trails have not yet been completely overgrown, and follow them to the north drumlin. Along the path, you’ll see the plants, but the mother lode is just before you get to the hilltop, on the left.

Bring a few containers. And good luck.

[1] – I don’t envy you this task. In 2007, there was a Ferry that you could pay $12 to bring you to Spectacle Island and the many other harbor islands. It was fun for a number of reasons other than the fruitful bounty.

Is Google a killer?

August 23, 2006 8:49 am Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s hard to argue with the fact that Google has grown to the point where it can be a real challenge to compete with it. The first public demonstration (in my memory) came this week when web calendar Kiko went up for auction on eBay, and the obvious reaction was to think that it was killed by Google Calendar. Paul Graham went so far to say that the big lesson here is “to stay out of Google’s way”. The Kiko team itself came away with some rather different lessons.

But I think that David Heinemeier over at 37signals said it best. Google isn’t the be-all end-all. In fact, no one product or application or website will ever be the best thing for everyone. There are plenty of Google applications (among them the Calendar), that while neat, don’t suit my needs. When people balked at this idea, claiming “Google is big. Backpack calendar is small. They win, you just haven’t realized it yet,” Jason Fried piped up with defining your own success. Success is not a zero-sum game. Two competitors can both succeed.

And that’s probably the most important lesson.

How I got a new DSL modem

March 10, 2006 8:48 am Published by

MetaFilter — or more accurately AskMetaFilter — is a thing of beauty. Last week, after about a month of noticable deterioration, my DSL stopped functioning almost entirely. I spent three hours on the phone with five different AT&T helpdesk people until they finally decided to send out an engineer. He showed up, plugged something into the wall, mumbled “your modem is broken” and left. They wanted $100 to replace it, which I considered (information super-)highway robbery.

EBay has hundreds of DSL modems listed for a lot less, and I decided I’d get one there. But I didn’t know what to look for. There are a lot of acronyms and whatnot, and I wasn’t really interested in doing hard research and studying for a twenty-dollar piece of equipment that I only need for a few months. So I asked MetaFilter. I got better answers than I expected. Two people offered me free modems. One lived in New Haven and I met him last night.

It works like a charm. The Internet is a wonderful place. Thank you, horsemuth.

Flickring the news

December 20, 2005 11:24 am Published by

I don’t get the newspaper, and I don’t watch TV news programs; instead, I get almost all of my news via the Internet and NPR. The problem with this is that I don’t often get a chance to see what places or people in the news look like.

For me, Flickr is a great way to follow current news events visually. Today, I’m keeping an eye on photos tagged with strike and the NYC group pool.

Reading 2005

December 1, 2005 9:30 am Published by

Late last year, I finally started requesting inter-library book loans regularly. As I started reading more (because it was now simple and free), my list actually got longer, so I started writing it down. One unexpected advantage to this is that I can go back and look at the books I’ve enjoyed (or not) over the last year. I’m not an especially prolific reader, but I’ve surprised myself with the amount that I’ve actually had time to get through.