MAKE has a gift guide for the world of bicycles and I contributed a top 10 list of things I think anyone with a bike should have, or know about, or lust over, or carry with them all the time. Or something. You can read it here. Enjoy!
I realized a few weeks ago that I was a few thousand miles short of maintaining my AA Platinum level advantage account for next year so decided a quick round trip flight to NYC was in order. I’d get the miles I need as well as a few hours to hang out with friends in the city. Today I’m doing that, I fly out of LAX heading to SFO via JFK with basically a 16 hour lay over. Tomorrow morning I’m aiming to have breakfast/brunch/lunch in the LES with any friends who can make it out. I’m aiming for Atlas Cafe for sure and depending on timing there’s a few other spots I want to hit up before rushing back to the airport. If you are around and want to join, please let me know. See you then!
I’m super excited about the release of Freesouls: Captured and Released, the first collection of photos by my good friend Joi Ito in book form. All of these photos are pulled from his flickr stream and all published under a CC-Attribution license making them free for anyone to use. I’m excited about this for so many reasons, and not just because I’m one of the portraits. I’ve known Joi for many years and have watched him grow as a photographer and I’m delighted to see him taking this next step. It’s also amazingly cool to have all of these photos together, because of who he is Joi has access to some amazing people and has captured intimate and candid moments with them. In Freesouls we get to see these people not as the world does, but as Joi does. These people are his friends and the photos show a different side of many of these people. Additionally, from a ideological stand point this book is amazing. Photography is a very guarded art, with rights and permissions being a massive clusterfuck. This book is proof positive that it doesn’t always have to be that way and that some of the sharpest minds out there know the value of sharing. We as a culture don’t benefit from things being locked up and out of reach. I hope this book will encourage more people to reconsider copyright, as well as consider some of the other options provided by Creative Commons.
I should mention that the book is being made in a limited edition only, so if you want one you should order it now.
Because I’ve been flying them for years and have platinum status I end up on a lot of American Airlines flights. I check in online and print my own boarding passes from their site to save myself the hassle of lines at the airport. As you might recall many airlines implemented ‘print at home’ passes in the last few years to help cut costs on their end and it’s a good idea. Last weekend I printed a pass and got this:
Click through to the photo for additional notes and a larger version. When I clicked print boarding pass I didn’t just get my boarding pass as you can see. I also got a short list of suggestions of things to do in the city I was flying to and a bunch of ads. A bunch of full color ads. A bunch of full color ads that mostly indicate I should click them. Yes, this is annoying and stupid.
- I have pay to print the ads. If they were in black and white that would be one thing, but they are full color and color ink isn’t cheap. This is totally inconsiderate that AA is making money by selling an ad that I then have to pay to produce.
- The ads are useless to the advertiser. As you can see in the larger version of the pic, most of the ads are for something online – requiring you to click them to gain any benefit to the advertiser. Basically they bought and ad that can’t be used in it’s intended format. Maybe you could argue some name recognition, but is annoyance what they want to be associated with?
- The ads are useless to me. Since I can’t click an ad on a printed page it’s a 100% waste for me. If the ad was a coupon I could take somewhere for a discount that might provide some value. As it stands, that isn’t the case.
- Travel guide also fails. Since AA doesn’t know anything about me, the suggestions as to what I might enjoy doing in the city are worthless. If they’d partnered with some other site that knew what kind of things I’m into that might be cool. Again, since they don’t the suggestions are things like “Golden Gate Bridge” or names of people who I suspect might be performing or talking or something but I have no context for who they are. Of course, many of these suggestions are links, which again are useless once printed.
The bullshit of all this is that this company Sojern, that handles the ads is scamming everyone. They’ve convinced the airlines that this is useful their customers – it isn’t. They’ve convinced the advertisers that this will bring them some business – it won’t. And they’ve offloaded the cost to people who gain nothing from the whole situation.
This is so disappointing because again it’s a sign of major companies completely missing it. This had potential to be cool. Partnering with a site that knows something more about me could make the suggestions somewhat useful, or a quick glance at their previous records to see if I’ve been to that city before might help tailor it a bit more. If I’m flying to a city that I’m in 20 times a year, the most obvious tourist suggestions might not be fitting for me. The ads could be coupons. Give me a $1 off a coffee at the Starbucks at the airport, or 10% off at one of the airport shops. That would be useful and have value to me. Ads that I can’t click from a printed piece of paper don’t. If they have to have something online with links, promote it as that – after I print my pass give me an option to check out a page with this info full of links and ads. Then I can at least use them.
You may have noticed that it’s mostly a crapshoot at this point trying to figure out if I’m in Los Angeles or San Francisco. I’ve been back and forth a lot – a habit that has a short lifespan but more on that in a bit. This weekend I’m in LA with the main purpose of finishing my Motorcycle Safety course. Unfortunately the class that I was told I could easily grab a standby slot in was full, so I ended up with more free time than I’d expected. I don’t believe in fate, but I do think things happen for a reason and this all worked out for the best.
I left SF and shortly there after so did Tara. She went north to her fortress of solitude (except not really because her family is there) and I ended up in Dogtown. Within a few hours I was rolling around on a floor at Dennis Hopper’s house with a Keith Haring painting. Xeni was entranced by some charcoals and Souris was talking about white picket fences. I suppose you just had to be there.
Tara and I have been trying to decide where to live since long before we got married but had remained mostly undecided. As much of a militant advocate of Los Angeles as I’ve been known to be, it has been amusing to see how many people instantly assumed that I’d be moving to San Francisco. Certainly I’ve been spending a lot of time there, but in the last 12 months I’ve probably spent as much time in Vienna, yet no one assumed I’d soon be calling Austria home. As Tara mentioned in her post, we need to find a place that could be ours. A place of our own, a home. After much consideration, many candidates, and stacks of pros and cons, we’ve focused our sights on Venice. We don’t have an address or a move in date yet, but it’s fairly safe to say that once we get back from Europe we’ll be on the lookout.
"I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I've trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I'm away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX."