Born Standing Up

A Comic's Life Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Interesting snippets on the life and development of his style of comedy. I liked reading this with “Kiss Me Like a Stranger” in that he knew people during the same time as Gene Wilder, such as Gilda Radner and the SNL folks. It would probably be worth reading Gilda’s autobio after these two to gain more insight into an era of comedy that predates me.

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Search engine redux

So, I’ve been feeling like Google has become Yahoo! circa 1999 recently (wow! free email for life!). What’s really all that new, anyway?–lots of results, images, video, news, and other categories. But the interface is just not new at all! This I learned after looking into alternative search engines with a class of students in fourth grade. What about visual learners? Categorization and grouping those massive results? Natural language? Subject-specific?

In fact, since I’ve been asking the question for the past year of many library users, “Which search engine tool do you use?” and received Google 95% of the time (alternatives usually include, surprise, Yahoo!), it’s getting pretty boring to talk about searching. Until I discovered AltSearchEngine’s list of choices and how search engines are getting divvied up in ways that I’d never heard of!

Specific searches tools for specific uses, such as Helia (health), simple facts (FactBites), or charitable donations (Noza) ! New graphical interfaces (SearchMe, Kartoo, Quintura)! Nowadays with search, there are a lot of people out for a piece of the Google pie, but they aren’t really getting much traction. Why not?

According to some, it’s the design interface that’s key, and I’d agree–it has to be simple, clean, and easy to use and many of these new alternatives don’t stick closely enough to this to match Google. Some say it’s the crawling and ranking algorithm that make it work–the “intuitive” feel of the result that is created by the search engine reading your mind and magically returning relevant results (quantity doesn’t matter if the cream rises immediately to the top).Multi-tool

I think the toughest thing to get right is the assortment of tools for the user (which Google offers in its suite: personalized calendar, photo-sharing, blogging, and more) which goes beyond simple results-gathering. Plus you have to incorporate the above items and make your search ubiquitous (think:browser interoperability) and suddenly it’s the Swiss Army pocket knife versus the Swiss Army multi-tool–which would you prefer on a desert island?

The changing face of biking (and the media)

I love my community, especially when the local public radio station does a story on biking around my favorite city. I still remember the days when biking was considered not only perilous, but was considered to be a renegade group by our own mayor.

Now that gas prices are up, the sun is out, and there are over 4,000 members of the SF Bike Coalition, biking is making more headway than ever! Families are joining up and getting bike skills for their kids, road improvements are on the rise (thanks to Prop K) , custom-built bikes are where the top execs are now conducting business instead of the golf course (at least in Silicon Valley), and even cops are getting to understand cyclists better:

Green garages

Well, I’m in love with the Guardian again–it’s been a while since I’ve picked it up and said, “Wow, this paper really speaks to me!”  With the release of the Small Business Awards, I’ve learned more about why SF is still great than I have in a while.

In particular, Lucious Garage.  I thought for sure that after buying a hybrid, I’d be tethered to Toyota and indebted to their service department for the duration.  Lo and behold, SF ingenuity comes to the rescue–a locally owned shop that will help me build a better community (despite my car).


So I took the plunge and released my iPhone into the wild using jailbreak software, ZiPhone. Not bad so far–no crashes, data loss, or pain. I’m lovin’ on the metronome, which I needed for a drum class I’m teaching (and after buying one that didn’t even work!). It’s like a whole new device with all the freeware out there!