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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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The Question

So, maybe I'm a cyncial and ugly person or maybe I just cut directly to the most obvious unasked question, but when I read this story: Virginia Man Among Four Kidnapped in Iraq, with the following lead:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Al-Jazeera broadcast video Tuesday of four Western peace activists held hostage by a previously unknown group, part of a new wave of kidnappings police fear is aimed at disrupting next month's elections.

The news station said the four were seized by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which claimed they were spies working under the cover of Christian peace activists. The captives — an American, a Briton and two Canadians — were members of the Chicago-based aid group

Christian Peacemaker Teams .

The first question that comes to my mind is, "well, are they spies or not?"

Stove Top Stuffing Inventor is Dead

Ruth M. Siems, Inventor of Stove Top Stuffing, died earlier this month.

We are a weird peoples. Here's some text from the patent:

"The nature of the cell structure and overall texture of the

dried bread crumb employed in this invention is of great importance if a stuffing which will hydrate in a matter of minutes to the proper texture and mouthfeel is to be prepared."

Image as Metaphor

  Exit Metaphor 
  Originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Oftentimes a single image can sum up an entire time period. This image of our President, surrounded top to bottom in the ornate, deep red of China, trying to get out through a door that is locked.

The grimace, the door that towers over him, the repeating pattern behind him, the blue discodant sliver of tie, this is an image to remember him by.

What is it about

this family and bad pictures on trips to Asia ?

How I Feel About Fantasy Football


I added another thing to my "Thought I'd Never do THAT" list by joining a Fantasy Football League. Here's how I feel about Fantasy Football:
  • Conflicted. I get mildly interested in some games that the Pittsburgh Steelers (born there, saw the 4 Super Bowl championships in the 70s) and Chicago Bears (live here, saw 1985 happen) play. I want them to win the games they play. But I also often want individual people who play for their opponents do great as well
  • Mentally unprepared. In order to be successful in Fantasy Football, one has to be relatively cold-hearted about people. You add people and drop people. You use people when you need them and get rid of them when they get injured. Not conducive to long-term relationship building, no?
  • Picky. Yesterday I wanted the Giants to score a touchdown against Minnesota in the closing minutes of the game, but what I really wanted was for Eli Manning to throw for a long touchdown, not for some do-nothing running back who I don't "own" score from one yard out

In the end, being conflicted, mentally unprepared, and picky is not really super-fun. I've had about enough of Fantasy Football

How I Feel About Fantasy Football


They sit and lean for papers
like disciples
reaching toward a biscuit
for strength.

11/01/2005, Daley Center Room 1401

Toward a Rethinking of Tornado Warnings

The deadly tornado in Indiana and Kentucky is another opportunity for us to consider new, innovative ways for one-to-many and many-to-many communications system in a world of Open Source Emergency Response. In this NYT article, Tornado Survivors Question Siren Warning System, people question the utility of TV warnings and land-based sirens for emergencies in the middle of the night:

While the local authorities in southern Indiana defended the region's warning system on Monday, some shaken residents said they wondered now whether it was enough, whether something louder or faster or more technologically advanced might have saved some here.

My first instinct is toward cobbling together some informal CTA Alerts-style network where people sign up for the alert, set their phone on high volume, and keep it near their bed. That is something people can do right now to at least improve their chances of getting notification.

But what if we had a more formal, organized way of approaching a new Emergency Broadcast System? What if we manufactured all of our cell phones with a special channel that local government and emergency bodies had the right to publish to? Why don't we think of our phones as a broadcast device just like we treat TV and radio?

Toward a Rethinking of Tornado Warnings

GMail as Online File Storage

I was lucky enough to get a GMail account about 3 days after their beta launched because I met some arcane formula on my Blogger usage. I liked GMail from the start, and invited lots of people, and evangelized all over for the Google love.

Then time passed, Yahoo! increased their storage space, and my old Yahoo! habits won out. I figured out I just didn't need to save most of my email and I liked the Yahoo! riff on most things.

But what I kept using Gmail for was storing large attachments of a serial Microsoft Publisher file that I get every week. I had thrown it away after I used it, but suddenly I didn't have to. I had used many online file storage systems over the years. I used to pay these guys $40 per year for some GB (forget which plan I had). For a while, I used Yahoo! Briefcase with 30 MB of space, and some other service I can't remember right now.

But Gmail is perfect for storing what I really need to store (documents that I want to work on, refer to, or use later) instead of what I don't (emails that I've already read and acted on). Here's how I use it:

  • I set up a Gmail account that only I know/ send things to
  • Whenever I finish a document from work that I have officially delivered (a proposal, a strategy document, training materials, or some other deliverable), I send it to the account
  • I copy/paste the most germane portion of the document (executive summary, price, deliverables, etc.) into the body of the email so that it will easily show up in searches and I can scan them later
  • Then I go into Gmail and use the tagging function to characterize the document-- "client name", "proposal", "training", etc.

That way, I've got only documents-- not spam, not text that surrounds draft documents, not conversations that won't really matter 10 months from now, and so on. Yahoo! is my main mail, but Gmail is the best free online file storage system anywhere.


Daniel X. O'Neil: Chicago-based writer and internet developer. I am a co-founder of and the People Person for EveryBlock, a site that pulls together local news and public information. I run dozens of personal projects and websites for clients, and also own half of a poetry book company.


EveryBlock: A news feed for your block.
CTA Tweet: Unofficial Twitter tracker for the Chicago Transit Authority.
CityPayments: Database of all vendors, contracts, and payments that have been posted by the municipal government of the City of Chicago
Wesley Willis Art: Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
Wide Right Turn: An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.


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    • Wesley Willis Art
      Site dedicated to the fact that Wesley Willis was an artist.
    • CTA Alerts
      Wireless notifications about service on the Chicago Transit Authority.
    • Wide Right Turn

      An incomplete look at the role of variation in a capitalist society.
    • Derivative Works Art Manifesto
      Humans own their experience of copyrighted content.
    • Y!Q Link Generator
      Simple form for creating Y!Q links to add relevance, annotate text, and provide more sophisticated layers of meaning to web content.