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Derivative Works from Daniel X. O'Neil

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Neighbor Dead.

I am not a super-enthusiastic & involved neighbor. Never have been, really. I'm not the hale neighbor-well met type who stops to chat and always has a story to tell.

Which is not to say that I'm unfriendly or mean-- I'm not. I'm always good for the "hi there" wave while dragging in groceries and passing by on the way to my car. I prefer a nuclear relationship with my neighbors-- i.e. if there were a nuclear bomb on the way to Chicago, I'd be the first to share a basement with you and pull our canned goods together.

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, The Shelter, helped me put words to my default neighbor policy. Here's the wikipedia summary:

The local neighborhood of a typical suburban community is having a small dinner to honor the local Dr. Stockton at his house. Everybody is especially friendly and mention is made of his late night work on a fallout shelter that he has built in the basement. A scary radio announcement is made that unidentified objects have been detected heading for the United States. Everybody knows what it means: nuclear attack. The doctor locks himself and his family into the shelter. The neighborhood becomes hysterical and wants to occupy the shelter. All the friendliness disappears and is replaced with hate. The last scene shows the once-friendly neighbors breaking down the door to the shelter with a battering ram. Just then, the radio announces that the objects have been identified as harmless satellites. Rod Serling makes the final statement. “For civilization to survive, man must remain civilized.”

On Friday morning at about 2 AM, a 27-year-old man who lived across the alley from me was shot and killed in his apartment. I was sleeping, and never heard a thing. A fact that bothers me. While my neighbor was taking a last breath, I was aslumber in air conditioned glory.

As the Tribune story notes, the people in this apartment had lots of parties. Mellow parties, for the most part-- never any trouble. Just lots of porch-talking etc. I sometimes thought to myself, rustling in my kitchen for late night snacks with kitchen window open to their fun, that if I was a friendlier neighbor (and if I still drank), maybe I'd go on over there and introduce myself.

The circumstances of his death seem pretty sketchy at this point, but he's dead for sure. His family were there yesterday, slowly removing his stuff, hugging softly, patting shoulders. They were crushed. As I watched them in daylight out my kitchen, I played his death scene in my head, based on conflicting news accounts, and I knew nothing.

19 New Wide Right Turns

R, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Just uploaded 19 new Wide Right Turn signs collected since the beginning of the year. This variation is one of my favs-- blind spot IM talk.

Auction Action

I am always fascinated by auctions, no matter what is being autctioned off. It's a primal economic venue-- buyers and sellers, optimists and losers, people coming and going. In any auction, there is a side who thinks it's better to be rid of something and a side who thinks it's better to have something. Tension and speed.

I read yesterday that Santa's Village here near Chicago is closing. No big deal to me-- I've never been there and have no sentimental memories of the place. I'm a Kennywood kid. Basically, Santa's Village is in some money trouble and they have to liquidate everything they have in order to pay off debts.

The outfit that is doing the auction is called Norton Auctioneers, and apparently they have a pretty good business in doing exactly this sort of thing. They list past auction results from places like "7 Floors of Hell" in Cleveland and Elvis' favorite park, Libertyland.
They also do zoos-- here's a PDF (it costs $15 in real life) for the sale of zoo stuff, including exotic animals.

You missed out on breaking into the haunted house business this October, though. Here are partial results for the Hell sale:

A complete 13-room walk-through haunt labeled “The Haunted Mansion” sold for $36,200.00. A lot of torso parts went at $1,725.00; a small walk-thru facade sold at $8,250.00; Black Lights for $1,400.00; Electric Chair at $3,300.00; and a Vomit Barrel for $880.00. Other prices realized included: Shake-n-Bake, $4,900; Snake in Chest, $1,550; Bride and Groom, $2,200; Corpse Attacker, $1,925; Beast in Box, $1,250; Window, $2,100; Demon, $2,750; Talking Bride, $3,500; Jack in the Box, $5,400; Rage, $5,100; Bathtub Victim, $2,725; Drop Portrait, $1,870; Grumpy Gargoyle, $3,275; Yoguth, $4,175; Sleeping Giant, $12,750; Impaler, $7,100; Gas Chamber, $6,050; Acid Spitter, $880; French Door, $1,900; Master Gargoyle, $5,300; and a Jail Facade for $3,300.

Vizual Edge on Walgreens Health Corner Show

My client, Vizual Edge, is featured on the Walgreens Health Corner TV series this Sunday.

Lasik surgery is fairly routine and nearly painless. But there are new options for achieving better eyesight. "It got me to the pros," says Brett Basanez, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, about the Vizual Edge program. The program uses tests similar to video games that measure visual skills. Increasing the level of difficulty, it trains eyes to perform better. According to ophthalmologist Dr. Barry L. Seiller, creator of Vizual Edge, "You need to train two to three times per week, for four to eight weeks. About 83% of people who use the program also have academic improvement."

There is a video clip of the entire feature already on their site. If you prefer actual TV, it's on Lifetime Network sometime this Sunday afternoon.

While you're there, you can check out "And Never Let Her Go", starring: Steven Eckholdt, David Hewlett, Mark Harmon, Paul Michael, Kathryn Morris. Falling For Thomas Capano was her first mistake. Trying to leave him would be her last.

Based on a true story and book by Ann Rule. Ann Marie Fahey begins working for Thomas Capanoand they begin a torrid and abusive affair. When Ann Marie disappears, Capano is the main suspect of Detective Frank Gugliatta and U.S. attorney Colm Connolly , however, they cannot charge him because of the lack of tangible evidence. Ultimately, when Ann Marie's diary shows up and Capano's brother Gerry cooperates with the police, Thomas Capano is prosecuted for Ann Marie's murder.

Why Kidz Bop 10 is Good for Humankind

Kidzbop10 So, you can file this under "never thought  I'd say this", but I bought  Kidz Bop 10 for my kids and I think it is a perfectly good thing for humankind. Here's why:

  1. Early teaching of derivative works-- that you can meld a song that you hear that is owned by adults and change it to meet your tastes.
  2. "By kids, for kids"-- sense of power
  3. Intelligible lyrics-- they re-do the songs so you can actually hear what they say, almost always exposing an actual narrative
  4. Tracks seem sharper-- easier to point out separate instruments and understand how the music is constructed

God bless us all.

My Times > New RSS Reader from the New York Times

Today I got an email from the NYT about their new web-based service, My Times:

a new way to personalize NYTimes.com. My Times lets you create a customized page gathering your favorite information from The New York Times and elsewhere on the Web, with guidance (if you want it) from Times reporters and editors.

So basically it's an  AJAX-y RSS reader. It works real well as far as I can tell-- easy to add content, drag/ drop elements, and to click through to full items. The twist (as they mention above) is the "My Journalist's Pages" concept, which allows you to see the content on NYT people's pages and maybe add what they're interested in to your page.

This is a good example of doing nothing new-- Bloglines allows you to surf other people's public subscriptions, and pretty much any self-respecting internet application has a social component to it these days-- while making an impact with quality.

It's one thing to wade through a bunch of crappy YouTube videos to find the Lynne & Tessa in the rough, but it's another to find out what design legend Stephen Heller is interested in (btw, he likes gigposters.com).

All in all, a nifty new addition to the web-based RSS reader world. Not sure how much it'll drag me away from Bloglines, but a welcome new addition and a great way for me to get more out of my subscription.

NYT Times Beta

George Bush, Helen Thomas, and Cabrini Green Demolition

Next in the "Car Music" series-- 60 seconds of confluence between where I am in my car and what is on the radio. This is George Bush answering a typically combative question from Helen Thomas about the war in Lebanon while filming/ driving by the demolition of yet another Cabrini Green high rise. A classic.

Grave Panorama

Here's a panorama shot of 14 images while standing on my father's grave in Sewickley Cemetary in Sewickley, PA using Double Take.

JJ Grave Panorama

BEA Aqualogic User Interaction Server (ALUI) Investigations

Here are some links about ALUI so as to get a basis of how the product set is conceived and also provide some primary sources of info:

Q&A: BEA Executives Discuss New ESB, Java Releases / Development / Categories / WebServices.Org

The whole idea is to enable our customers to move to SOA, and start reusing services to actually integrate and deploy them in ways that allow them to be very dynamic and meeting the needs of the business in a heterogeneous environment.

Byrne Reese, the Manager of Platform Technology at Six Apart and someone who is super-active on the MT Professional message board (i.e. arrow catcher), has experience with BEA:

Grand Central and BEA WebLogic Workshop: Web Services Walkthrough

Grand Central and BEA WebLogic Workshop: Web Services Walkthrough

by Byrne Reese

I did not know about this enterprise-y effort to "help push AJAX in the open-source community", whatever that means.

Thin Client: February 2006 Archives

Vendors Form Collaborative AJAX Push

FEBRUARY 01, 2006 (COMPUTERWORLD) - The market for AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), a technique for developing interactive Web applications, is heating up with the announcement today that several vendors, including IBM, BEA Systems Inc., Borland International Inc., Novell Inc., Oracle Corp. and Red Hat Inc., have formed a collaborative to help push AJAX in the open-source community.

This is the kernel:

“[AJAX] has taken on a life of its own,” he said. “It was a train leaving the station with or without [vendors].”

And ALUI specifically supports it:

BEA’s AquaLogic User Interaction and WebLogic Portal support AJAX for building Web-based user interfaces to improve a user’s experience, Kent Dickson, BEA’s vice president of engineering, said in a statement. The open-source, community-based approach of Open AJAX will help evolve programming frameworks and foster the maturation and adoption of AJAX, he said.

The initial supporting members of Open AJAX include the Dojo Foundation, the Eclipse Foundation, Laszlo Systems Inc., Mozilla, Openwave Systems Inc., Yahoo Inc., Zend Technologies Ltd. and Zimbra.

Good info on the product space:

Trends: Oracle to launch new portal product

According to Jason Stamper, editor of Computer Business Review, Oracle will release a new portal product at the end of the year called Oracle Workplace Portal. Mr. Stamper confirmed this news with a European Oracle representative. Supposedly the new portal differ from the existing Oracle Portal, as it'll be less focused on intranet scenarios. This may sound a bit like competing vendor BEA, which already has two products: AquaLogic User Interaction (former Plumtree) and WebLogic Portal. In another interesting commentary Mr. Stamper quotes BEA CEO Alfred Chuang as saying: "We could integrate them but some companies are buying both...I'm trying to sell everyone who has one the other, and it's going well." It would seem like the original integration plans between the 2 BEA portal products may be revised and BEA may keep the two very different product lines. Will IBM and SAP also launch another portal product soon? Challenging times for buyers indeed...but would seem to confirm our contention in the Enterprise Portals Report that different use cases often require substantially different technical approaches.

Let's Retire "Piece"

I am relatively done with hearing people (usually people who are demonstrating, talking about, and attempting to sell "enterprise software") use the word, "piece".

"Oh, you mean docket managment? That's the 'docket-love' piece. Reports? Yes, they're done in the reporting piece. The on-button piece? yes, that's extra."

Let's retire piece.


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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