The Balsa Man burned!

Filed Under Burning Man, Fire, SF Bay Area | 2008-08-31, 17:41

The first ever Balsa Man was a huge success. There was a large turnout of familiar and new faces on Baker Beach last night as we all gathered to burn our own Man. The Balsa Man built by Colin and Nifer was impressive in person, even after already seen the pictures of the build. Several art pieces were shown including the Temple of Reduced Expectations (by JRad), a Balsa Phoenix (by Jordan), a last minute Waffle, Balsa Shave signs on the beach leading to the Balsa Man (by MissySB), little pink statues (by Anthony Ricci), and the MiniDDI (by me). There was even a mini-trash fence to keep people from wandering off into the dunes!

The Man burned first of course (even before the one on the Playa due to whiteout conditions), and was followed by the Temple and the Phoenix. While attempting to run MiniDDI, Rubin missed a step in “Butterfly” which triggered a terrible software glitch and caused the whole thing to go up in flames. It was a beautiful disaster.

As with every event, there was of course photo and video documentation:
My Balsa Man 2008 photos
My videos (Balsa Man Burn, DDI Burn)
The Temple Burn (video)
Forest’s photos
~Jeanne~’s photos
ebisue’s photos
Balsa Man 2008 Flickr pool

And of course blog posts:
Official wrap-up from Colin

If you have yours to add, drop a comment. It was awesome to see so many people come out and so much participation in this little event. A huge thanks specifically goes out to Colin for putting everything together.


Balsa Man: a diminute effigy for a reduced community!

Filed Under Art, Burning Man, Fire, SF Bay Area | 2008-08-29, 13:28

Is it The Man or Balsa Man!?!

Originally uploaded by catcubed

There’s a large number of people who didn’t go to That Thing In The Desert this year. If you’re one of those lucky ones enjoying showers, real beds, flushing toilets, and the beautiful weather of the Bay Area, but looking for something to do this weekend, then look no further. Camp Riverton is hosting Balsa Man at Baker Beach this Saturday. Colin, Nifer, and Supervisor Ghastly have been hard at work building a 3ft version of the Man. For photos of the build check out the Balsa Man set.

The Balsa Man will not be alone on Baker Beach though. This little effigy has sparked creativity in other local artists, and rumors has it there will be a Temple of Reduced Expectations, at least one mini-artcar, and of course entrance signs. There are also rumblings of other small-scale projects that may make it to the beach. If you are an artist that wants to bring your small piece to the beach, get in touch with Colin for more logistics.

So, show up on Saturday, the 30th at sunset (8pm-ish) on the north end of Baker Beach to watch the little man burn. For all the info, check out


Statistics for Twitter

Filed Under Twitter | 2008-08-28, 18:07

Tweetrush stats for edrabbit

Tweetrush stats for edrabbit

Anyone else out there a statistics junkie? Yes, I’m looking at you, the one with a account who’s adamant about scrobbling every last mp3 you play so you can generate fancy charts. Well if you’re a Twitter user, you’ll be happy to know about Tweetrush. Tweetrush is a site that will spit back statistics on how many twitters/tweets you sent, what time of the day you send them, etc. Currently they’re only showing stats for the last 7 days, but they’re using data from Gnip, which parses Twitter’s full data feed of all the tweets. This means they could theoretically parse more data as long as they have the servers to handle it. Want to see my (weak) stats? If you’re missing out on my low traffic Twitter, you can follow me here.

However TweetRush isn’t just a fun little Twitter site. It’s a test of the new RushHour engine, an analytics system for measuring actions and events as opposed to raw page views and clicks. RushHour might be just the thing that many sites are looking for to get a more detailed analysis of how people use their site. Unfortunately it’s under a closed beta right now, but you can apply to get into that beta over at


Mona Lisa painted in less than a second by paintballs

Filed Under Art, Geek, Video | 2008-08-28, 17:07

This video is by far the winner of the “Coolest thing I’ve seen today” award. Mythbuster’s Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman showed a crowd at NVISION 2008 the difference between a CPU and a GPU (well kind of). While not the most technically accurate demonstration (multi-core CPUs anyone?), it was definitely impressive. For the CPU, they used a robot with “addressable paintballs” to draw a smiley face. Then a huge contraption consisting of “thousands of pounds of aluminum and steel, a mire of high pressure air hose, hundreds of pounds of compressed air, and 1,100 specifically addressed paintballs and 1,100 barrels” to represent the GPU approach. “Leonardo” will make just about any tech geek drool.

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San Francisco Suggestions

Filed Under SF Bay Area | 2008-08-28, 02:10

I read a lot of blogs that run the gamut from industry stuff to just for fun stuff. On one of those blogs (you can guess which end of the spectrum it falls in I’m sure) a request for San Francisco establishments was requested. I commented on my suggestions, and then realized others might be interested in them as well. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Oh, you want to know my real motive for posting this on here? I wanted to check out the “Reblog” feature of Disqus comments.

As others have said, is your best friend when it comes to finding a good restaurant in SF. My suggestions:
Papalote: the best burritos (2 locations)
Little Star Pizza: Delicious deep dish pizza (2 locations)
Lori’s Diner is super close and has breakfast. Not exceptional, but good cheap standard diner food.
Squat & Gobble: A good breakfast place. I always go to the one on Haight St. If nothing else it has a funny name.
Absinthe: If you’ve got a bit of cash, Absinthe has excellent food, a huge drink menu, and of course absinthe.

As for beers:
21st Amendment: a tried and true lunch stop with a good selection on beer
Zeitgeist: Don’t tell the other locals I’ve never been but I hear people constantly expressing their love for this dive bar.

Hit up an In-N-Out on your way to Monterey, as the only one in the city is up by tourist-trap Fisherman’s Wharf.
In Monterey, don’t miss the aquarium, it’s great. It’s also a great place for photos, just don’t flash the octopus. If you can also time it right, find out when low-tide is and walk down onto the rocks and you can find some interesting things.

As far as places to take photos, there are the obvious ones, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate park, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, etc. Try to make it out to the Sutro Baths right around sundown.

Whew.. how’s that for now? :)

Originally posted as a comment by edrabbit on A Welsh View using Disqus.


Disqus Comment System Added

Filed Under PHP/MySQL, Wordpress | 2008-08-21, 16:01

Disqus Logo

Comments are both a love and a hate of mine. I love hearing back from people. It’s great to hear suggestions, arguments, opinions, etc. What I hate is the spam from comments and the not so great WordPress comment system. Don’t get me wrong WordPress, I know how much writing a good comment system sucks. I’m looking at doing this for some other sites that I coded from scratch, and let me tell you, I’m not looking forward to it.

So today I finally decided to install the Disqus plugin for WordPress. For those of you that browse a lot of blogs, chances are you’ve run across Disqus on a site. I’ve been wary of using a 3rd party for something as integral to a site as a comment system as I’ve been burned in the past. The latest Disqus plugin allows you to sync comments back to WordPress. This means that if sometime down the road I decided that the Disqus system isn’t for me, then I can switch back to the default WordPress comments without skipping a beat.

The installation of Disqus was almost painless. I downloaded the .zip file, extracted it into the plugins folder and activated the plugin. The configuration screen asked me for my username/password and then found my account and this blog. That was it. Disqus was setup. If this had been a brand new blog, I would have been done. However I wanted to import all my old WordPress comments into Disqus. So under the Advanced Options, I clicked Import. After a second of working it spit out text from all my comments, and an error saying php had run out of memory. I realized that Spam Karma 2 (a now outdated spam plugin) had marked a couple hundred comments as spam that Disqus was attempting to address. I went into Spam Karma, cleaned everything out and then ran an import again with success.

So what’s so great about Disqus? Well it uses a single sign-in across all the blogs that use it, so you won’t ever have to re-register on a new blog that has it installed. It also ties into FriendFeed for those of you that know what FriendFeed is. I hear it has good spam filtering, which I hope is 100% true. And it also integrates Seesmic, the video comment system that I’ve been meaning to get installed on here for awhile. So, leave me a video comment if you can! And the thing that sealed the deal was the ease of installation and the ability to rollback instantly should I hate it. If Disqus lives up to the expectations, I may also look into using it on my other sites since they plan to have an API soon and that would be great for integrating into my existing code. Let me know what you think of the new comment system.


Critter’s New Tattoo: Fail Whale

Filed Under Body Modification, Twitter | 2008-08-21, 12:05

Fail Whale Tattoo

Wow, Critter already sealed the title of “Best Geek Ink” long ago with his Seesmic, ColdFusion, and Adobe Air tattoos. (Did I miss any Critter?) Oh yeah, there’s also the Twhirl tattoo. But now he’s taken it one step further to get another piece of the web tattooed on him. This time it’s the ever lovable Fail Whale from Twitter. He says the white on the whale will show better once it’s healed up.

UPDATE: Of course he had to go and upload a Qik video of it being inked:


Quitting my day job

Filed Under News, Websites | 2008-08-15, 15:42

When I turned 25 it suddenly dawned on me that if I wanted to be successful and actually do something with my life I was solely responsible for making that happen. The next 3 years of my life saw me sitting down and building up a network of websites. It started as something I enjoyed doing in my free time, and over time it started to eat up more and more of my free time. It opened new doors and also provided some supplemental income. It allowed me to move to San Francisco. It let me buy new gadgets and toys. I longed for the day that I would be able to actually make a living off of all this work. I wanted to answer to nobody but myself. I wanted the excitement of actually creating something. That day has finally come.

Today is my last day at [large software company]. I’m walking away from a great team of people, a nice paycheck, a good working environment, and the security of health benefits, 401(k), vacation time, etc. I’m walking into the unknown of working for myself 100%. Life is good, life is exciting, and it is sure to be an adventure.


SEOs that don’t do their homework, Pabitra

Filed Under SEO Callout | 2008-08-13, 11:44

I run several websites, many of these rank #1 in Google results for their keywords. If they don’t rank #1, then they’re almost always on the front page. I keep an eye on search engine optimization and try my best at it. Occasionally I’ll get an email from a so-called “professional SEO” who wants to help me get my sites ranked at the top of the Google results. These emails are form emails but make an attempt to be personalized to my site. They fail. Here is where I start to call out these SEOs on their BS:

from: pabitra <[REDACTED]>
date: Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 2:42 AM
subject: SEO Service

Hello and Good Day!

I am Pabitra Kumar, Marketing Manager

I was surfing through your website and realized that despite having a good design; it was not ranking on any of the search engines for most of the keywords pertaining to your domain.

I was wondering if you would be interested in getting the SEO done for your website.

There is a simple equation that is applicable to the online world.

Ethical SEO -> Better Traffic -> Higher Sales.

We are an ISO Certified, SEMPO registered Online Marketing firm and have over 5 years of working experience. All the techniques used are ethical and proprietary.

In case you require any additional information, it shall be our pleasure to furnish the same.

I look forward to your mail.

Yours sincerely,
Pabitra Kumar
Marketing Manager

PS: “Buying a website without search engine optimization is like spending your entire budget on a commercial without buying any air time to show it to the world”

First off Pabitra, my web design sucks. I’m a programmer, not a designer. Second, I already rank #1 for my main keyword and first page for any secondary keywords I target. Sending an email that says the following might be better:
“I took a look at your site, and checked the search engine results for several keywords I believe are related to your site. I see that you rank:
#2 for “keyword 1”
#8 for “keyword 2”
No ranking for “keyword 3”

I can help you obtain higher search engine results for these terms if you’d like.

This would show that you’ve actually looked at my site, you understand my niche, and you’re willing to put a little bit of work into things. While I would probably never hire someone to do SEO for me, it’s a much better approach that would attract clients that would be willing to pay for your services. You might also want to work some SEO on your own name, as the first thing I do when someone contacts me trying to sell services is to search for them on Google. If you don’t turn up on the first page, that’s a bad sign. If the website of your email address isn’t accessible, that’s even worse.

PS: Sending email to potential clients without doing your research is like shouting on the street looking for customers. You just look silly.

UPDATE: Apparently it _is_ just a form email, as I also have the exact same email in my inbox from your friend, “hasan”, the “SEO Manager Mosaic”


Blogging Merit Badge

Filed Under Funny, Geek, Pranks | 2008-08-12, 19:19

Blogging Merit Badge

I got my Blogging Merit Badge in the mail today! Being an Eagle Scout (explains the attraction to fire art, eh?) and a longtime blogger from before the ugly word was even coined, I knew I needed this merit badge as soon as I saw it on Boy Scout Store. They’ve got a whole section dedicated to “spoof” merit badges with some real good ones in there. I grabbed the only one they had left of the blogger badges, and a couple others to hand out to friends at appropriate times in the future. It’s a good joke patch, but how long before it becomes an actual Boy Scout merit badge? Right there alongside “Citizenship in the Internet”! Now where’s my sash? It’s time to bust out those Sewing merit badge skills.