Thinking ’bout video

some links and stuff
The clicker has recently had some right-on takes on stuff:

In this article, Stephen Speicher makes a great point about how the next-gen DVD format wars aren’t about which is better for the consumer, but rather about which is better for protecting the profits of the content distributors.

In this article, he looks at the effect and aftermath of the recent legal decisions on the broadcast flag.

Also, via kottke, did a nice tribute to Saul Bass’ title work which is some of the most creative motion design work ever. They do a nice trick with a slideshow, but it would be cool if they posted the actual video (probably didn’t want to get sued into oblivion)

Posted: Sat – August 13, 2005 at 04:55 PM

Matt’s in the Market

reservations, whatever

I’ve had some pretty memorable meals at Matt’s in the Market over the years. This place is a local favorite and the devotion is well deserved. The place mixes a simple, but expertly prepared, menu with a relaxed and mellow atmosphere and an informal and friendly staff.

Two pieces of advice:
1) Check the menu before sitting down. Their menu is ever changing, but it is also quite small. You might find that there isn’t anything you want to eat after waiting to sit down.
2) Don’t bother with reservations. They will happily take your reservations, but they will also quite happily seat someone who walks in without reservations before you if they are there first. This happened to us recently. We walked in behind this couple who didn’t have reservations and they were seated at the last open table. We then had to wait 20 minutes to be offered seats at the bar.

Matt's in the Market on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Zoe

This is not a cheap dinner, but you’ll pay the bill with a smile on your face.

Zoe has been garnering a ton of hype and I’m happy to report that it is well deserved. The food was unique, the ingredients fresh, the service excellent, the dishes well prepared but not self-conscious or over complicated. This is a great special occasion restaurant or more often (if you can afford it). The only detraction is that the room can be quite noisy, but it never got to the level of other places we’ve been to where we had to shout to hear each other.

If you’ve read my other posts in this category, you’ll know that I’m pretty picky. I heartily recommend Zoe.

Restaurant Zoe on Urbanspoon

Friday Harbor House


The Friday Harbor House restaurant in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island, WA) shows that good service and fresh ingredients can still produce an average meal. This isn’t such a horrible thing in itself, but when you are charging 4 star prices, serving 2 star food is unacceptable. Also when you are charging 4 star prices, maybe having a little bit of a dress code is ok. The woman sitting next to us in flip flops, a ratty tank top and gym shorts did not make us feel any better about our meal.

Avoid this place.

Macrina Bakery + Cafe

Amazing, but marred by a nearly fatal flaw

The line out the door (which is nearly constant during business hours) is emblematic of two things. First, the pastries and breads are simply amazing. Secondly, the counter staff sucks. Well, sucks is a bit of an overstatement. Some of them can be outright rude, but some are hampered by the weird setup of their retail area. The pastries are in a display case and on shelves where there is only room for one person. This means that there are often two or three people standing behind the counter doing nothing, while one is filling the order of someone in line. This is sometimes really frustrating for you as a customer because this place tends to attract people who will just stand there gawking at the items for sale, unable to make up their minds even though they have been standing next to that same counter for 10 minutes waiting. On multiple occasions, I have stopped by the shop feeling lucky that there was only one or two people in line and still spent 15 minutes waiting to order my muffin because the person in front of me wanted to know the ingredients of each thing in the case and what each tasted like and then wanted to pay by check. This is why many coffee places now have two cash registers, so that people like me who just want a large drip don’t have to wait behind the person ordering 12 different, complicated, drinks for their entire office. Macrina probably won’t bother to make a change like this because they don’t have to. Their food is good enough that even I (who hates lines) will wait for it, but they would be even more amazing if they could solve their customer service issues.

Macrina Bakery in Seattle

When will this trend end?

yeah, ok, I’m getting old

It’s like a freakin uniform and I’m getting pretty fed up with it. Backwards baseball cap, flip flops, cargo shorts (or cut off cargo pants) and a stupid t-shirt. It is the uniform from the teens until the 20s and it is pissing me off. Forget the fact that it is impractical: I see it most in the city, where I live, where flip flops are the stupidest thing to wear as you step over broken glass. It is the fact that this uniform combines two of my least favorite stereotypes: flip-flops, which is straight out of the hippy surfer aesthetic; and the backwards baseball cap which was made cool by Chuck D and lame by Fred Durst and now is more frat guy than hip hop.

Today I saw a small crowd of these identically dressed automatons walking down the street, oblivious to how sad they looked.

Please lets move on to the next stupid fashion trend. This one is way over.

And before you think that it is only the young uniform that pisses me off… My second favorite lame uniform is the dockers and polo shirt combination that passes for casual wear on most of the people my age and older.

Sneaky Apple…

fishing for switchers…

The halo effect of the iPod is pushing Apple PC sales percentages even after the macintel announcement. Today Apple lowered prices on the mac Mini and on its iBook line. This was a very smart move: Apple is lowering prices on the prime switching machines (the low cost ones) as well as the machines that students use most as we enter August. This should help continue to drive sales.

But Steve, where is the love for the die-hards? When are you going to lower prices on Powerbooks? We’re not all waiting for MacIntels! I want a new Powerbook dammit!

Continuous partial attention

since Supernova, everyone is all excited about this: ho hum

I’m with Nick Carr on this one. Continuous Partial Attention is a hip way of talking about something that people have been calling attention to for decades. Remember the articles about multitasking when the Walkman or Cellphone came out? This is nothing new, but the 20-year cycle idea is kind of ridiculous. Also, the thought that we’re moving towards a new cycle where people don’t multitask is just a joke. “The next aphrodisiac is committed full-attention focus” is a statement that says nothing, but is designed to provoke argument. Since when was it not? How has partially paying attention to a person every been considered ok?

All evidence points to the contrary. People are multi-tasking more than ever. Gen Y are more adept at IM’ing while doing their homework and watching TV and talking on a cell phone than GenX (my generation) ever was. I don’t see anyone under 40 unplugging from their on-line social networks in a desire for more direct human connection. The on-line networks are moving more and more onto mobile devices so that you can spend that time in the presence of others while maintaining your virtual connections. I see that increasing rather than decreasing.

I guess the thing that kind of bugs me about the whole discussion is that the “inventor” of the continuous partial attention “idea” has only talked about it from behind a podium during keynote presentations. How ’bout writing an article or publishing a paper or starting a blog? You know… entering the world of debate: where you can defend your ideas?

A case study for the next Don Norman book: MSN Messenger 7.0

When product design forgets about real-life users

A co-worker of mine, told me something I hadn’t thought about around the feature in MSN messenger that lets people see what you are listening to now. It seems that Messenger will broadcast whatever it is that is playing in Windows Media player to all your IM buddies. ANYTHING that is playing. If you are watching a video that you would be embarrassed about and you have these feature on, well, you get the idea.

From a business perspective, I think that the feature itself is sheer genius. Why? Well, because when you do show what you are listening to, it adds links so that your IM Buddies can buy the music you are listening to over at MSN Music. It is amazing, it turns you into a walking billboard (well, IM’ing billboard) for MSN music under the guise of creating a better sense of Community. I want to consider it evil, but it is such a great idea, I just have to admire it.

I wonder if you are watching Porn if it will send people to the porn site…