Protesting the Westboro Baptist Church in San Francisco

Filed Under Pranks | 2010-01-29, 12:27

I couldn’t resist joining in the fun of an absurdist “counter protest” of the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest in front of Twitter’s office building. My sign:

Photo by LiveSoMa

After the WBC packed up and left, one of the officers stopped me and asked if they could have my sign to give to their sergeant. How could you say no to that? In seconds it was stashed in his car for him to find later.

Photo by Rubin Starset

I also stashed my Flip camera in my front pocket to record the event. I got a lot of shots of people’s waists, but pasted together a bit of video to show what the scene was like.

Sam? also got a shot with my “backup sign”: God Hates Retweets.

There were quite a few people with cameras there. Here are the ones I’ve found so far:
Photos from LiveSoMa
Photos from
Photos from sam?
Photos from chada
Photos from EDW Lynch
Photos from Zack L


Join us on the SXSW Nerd Bird Flight

Filed Under Events, Geek, SF Bay Area | 2010-01-28, 13:18

SXSW Interactive 2010 is only a few weeks away. If you’re like us, you’re still procrastinating on buying plane tickets to Austin. If that’s the case and you’re flying from either San Francisco or Los Angeles, then you’ll want to book the following flights on Southwest. We’ll all meet up in Las Vegas for the second flight to Austin. If you’re flying in from somewhere else on the west coast, look to hook up with Southwest Flight 718 from Las Vegas.

If you’re flying from San Francisco (SFO->LAS->AUS):
3/11/2010 (Flights 674/718)
Depart 10:00am     Arrive 5:25pm

If you’re flying from L.A. (LAX->LAS->AUS):
3/11/2010 (Flights 853/718)
Depart 10:30am Arrive 5:25pm

Southwest has an open seating policy (we all love ‘open’ things, right?) so all the geeks will be able to congregate on the plane, confusing other passengers by speaking in acronyms, websites, and snippets of code. Southwest does have a couple of planes that have WiFi service, but it’s not possible to know whether we’ll be lucky enough to snag one. Maybe we can get some strings pulled…

Thanks to @dotBen for starting this idea. He’s even got a Google Spreadsheet going with who will be on the plane and some FAQ. Dave McClure has also setup a Plancast.


Mahalo Is Breaking Creative Commons And Their Own Rules

Filed Under News | 2010-01-22, 14:32

You would think that a site as “large” as Mahalo would be respectful of Creative Commons, as well as the quality of the information they are providing. Mahalo bills itself as “a human-powered search engine and a knowledge sharing service…” but it turns out they’re using algorithms to provide some of this knowledge. Algorithms that get it embarrassingly wrong sometimes.

There was a math teacher by the name of Heather Kennedy that was found guilty of sleeping with one of her 16 year old students. Mahalo has a page on her. On that page Mahalo is crawling Flickr and Google for related images. Great, automating information retrieval is useful in some case. However, presenting it on a page where it’s intended to be informational without specifying that this is simply a search for images based on keywords is bad form. Especially when Mahalo bills itself as “human-powered” and hand picked information. Either Heather Kennedy has had facial reconstructive surgery multiple times or Mahalo is automatically searching for images using the keywords “Heather Kennedy” and Creative Commons.

Only Mahalo apparently doesn’t understand Creative Commons, even thought their own content is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Most people classify their images as Creative Commons with Attribution, which requires anyone using the photos to “attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor”. In addition, many people specify that their images can’t be used for commercial purposes. Mahalo links to the image, but doesn’t give proper attribution, and it could very easily argued that Mahalo is for commercial purposes with the half a dozen ads on the page.

But what really gets me personally is the fact that Mahalo was using an image my friend, Rubin Starset, posted on Flickr that contains several friends (one with the last name “Kennedy”) and my fiance, Heather. It was the headline image with no links to the source or attribution. It’s obvious why this would come up in a search for “Heather Kennedy”, but it’s absolutely not related and was not attributed.

After contacting Mahalo, it appears they’ve pulled it as well as all images on the Heather Kennedy page, but if you look at any other pages you’ll see the very same method of retrieving images in use.


Thunder and Lightning in SF

Filed Under Photography, SF Bay Area, Video | 2010-01-19, 17:34

The way that Twitter blows up during large thunderstorms, you’d think that lightning and thunder in the Bay Area is rarer than earthquakes.  Well, I’m not sure of the stats, but it just might be.  Early this morning I woke up gained some semblance of consciousness as thunder rolled through San Francisco along with storms that have continued on and off all day.  

After seeing the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder half a dozen times, I decided to setup my Zoom H2 audio recorder and Flip video camera to see what I could capture.  Only three minutes later lightning struck again.  My Flip video camera isn’t quite up to the task of recording lightning, but you can see a flickr and hear the thunder (along with some guy on the street yelling).  The audio recorder is slightly better at it’s job, picking up the echoing thunder as it traveled across the city.


And of course, once the rain tapered off, it was up to the roof with a camera to catch the awesome light as blue skies returned.
The sun will come out...


SXSW 2010 Proposal Was Accepted!

Filed Under Events, Personal | 2010-01-19, 13:16

I think it’s safe to officially say that my proposal for SXSW 2010 has been accepted. “How To Not Be A Douchebag At SXSW” will be a core conversation at this year’s South By Southwest. A huge thanks to everyone that voted in the PanelPicker (apparently we were pretty popular), and of course thanks to SXSW for accepting the idea!

I’m organizing the conversation, but I won’t be educating alone. Violet Blue, John Adams, and several others will be helping lead the conversation. I’m excited that this was chosen to be a core conversation since it means we’ll get to hear the opinions of everyone that attends.

The rough draft of some of the questions you can expect to be answered during our session:

  • Who is “that guy” and how do I avoid being him?
  • How do I self-promote without being a douchebag?
  • What words instantly make me sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about?
  • How do I not come off looking like an obnoxious PR flack?
  • How do I pitch my product/service/technology?
  • How do I handle an open bar?
  • How should I ask questions at panels and presentations?
  • What is the proper Twitter/Foursquare etiquette at SXSW?
  • How can I treat the locals graciously?
  • How can I make a connection with someone I’m attracted to and not come across like a marketing dweeb? (i.e. — hooking up, the undouche way)

It’s looking like we’ll be scheduled on Friday, March 12th, so make sure your flights get in the day before because you won’t want to miss this! Not only will you get educated, there will also be a limited number of appropriate stickers and buttons.