Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Had a dream last night. My dreams are usually very cinematic, to the
point of falling in clear genre categories. Last night was a spy

I was at some big event, and all the political brass were there. I met
Bill Clinton, I remember that distinctly, because he was older, and
fatter, and had a rosey nose and gin blossoms.

Later on, I was being chased, and I threw a guy down a long, steep
stairway. He rolled all the way to the bottom, and got back up to get
me. There was a wheel barrow at the top where I was, and I slid it down
at him, wheel side up. Went just like a sled. That got'em. Ouch.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thin Wallet

If food was priced according to calories, the developed world would not
have the obesity problem it does.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

H. Clinton

I once had a frank discussion with a woman I didn't like at all. She
knew I didn't like her, and thought it would be better if we talked
about it. She thought maybe I didn't like her because she was a woman.
Nope, not that. Because she was older than me? Nope. Because she was a
different race and nationality? Nuh-uh. No, Ma'am, it's simply that I
don't like YOU. I can't remember, I may have just told her that.

I feel the same way about Hillary Clinton. I don't like her, and it has
nothing to do with her being a woman, a democrat, or any other
demographic segment. I simply don't like HER. It's personal.

Let me add the disclaimer: I've never met her, I don't actually know her
personally, so it's pretty unfair of me to say I don't like her

With that said, she is among the most public profiles in America. You
can't be in the public eye without people passing judgement. For a
politician, that's deliberate, you need the people to judge you worth
voting into office. So, my (casual) judgement:

I find her abbrasive in her arrogance, deliberately divisive between
parties, and sarcastic and dismissive toward the other side of the

I'm watching the Democratic National Convention. She didn't rescind any
of her previous criticism of Barack Obama. If she wants him to win, she
should have. She named all sorts of social ills, suggesting that the
Democratic party could SINGLE handedly fix them all.

I'll stop. I'm just fabricating specific criticisms because I don't like
her. I just don't.

But I'm sure if we sat down and had dinner together we'd have a fine

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Android Invasion

I've been looking forward to the release of the Android phone for a long time. My Sidekick is hanging on by a thread, and I'm ready for it's successor. So far, it looks like Andy Rubin won't disappoint. He founded Danger, maker of the Sidekick series, and now he's heading the next big thing.

Engadget keeps getting info leak in about the first device to host the platform, the G1, the Dream Phone, it's gotten a few monikers amongst the handset following crowd. It's made by HTC, whom I've mentioned before. I've wanted to invest in them before, and just found out that you can buy shares on the London Stock Exchange (four at a time). If I ever save any money, maybe I'll try.

Anyway, the phone looks sweet. It's an open platform, which is something I really value. It doesn't look now like it'll have bleeding edge hardware specs, but oh well, I've been using a three year old phone.

The features I've decided I value in a phone are:
Form factor - It makes a difference to me whether it's a flip-phone, a candybar, a slider, a swivel, or any other permutation on phone form. I tend to really gravitate toward the "quickdraw" phones, like the Samsung P735 I used to have, or the current Sidekick.
Camera - I love taking pictures (and video) from my phone. Love it. I like being able to record whatever is happening around me. Maybe it's the broadcast journalist in me, but I'd chose to have a camera on me at all times, and the advent of cell-phone-cams make that perfectly feasable. The better the camera, the happier I'll be.
Data Connectivity - I use my phone for mostly non-telephone things. I use text, email, chat, the Web, note taking, scheduling, you name it. Connection to the one machine is important.
User Interface - This is part of where Android will make a big difference. Because it's open, the skin and controls can be customized, and because it's Google, it probably won't need much customization anyway.
Expandable Memory - As the cost of memory declines (about %40 per year), I should be able to load in a new card and carry %40 more a year from now for the same price. Most smartphones today have some form of expandable memory, theres just no reason not to.
Openness - An open platform is A) SO much more flexible than a closed platform B) Cheaper for the consumer (I don't have to go into the Apple store to get new software), and C) Inclined toward innovation, expanding the abilities of the end user.

So far, it's looking like this HTC phone will meet ALL of my requests. I really don't think you know how excited I am.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Skinny

Watching the Olympic Mens' Marathon finals, I am simultaneously inspired
and disuaded from ever running a marathon. Those guys are unbelievable.
The sheer torture they put themselves through is admirable, and I don't
think I ever want to do it.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I'm sincerely disappointed that I didn't think of this first: bullet-time-lapse

Space Art is fun.

Danny Michel is great, and nobody knows it but me and Canada.

Why were we so opposed to the ideology of the USSR for 50 years, but we're totally okay with Chinese oppressive Communism (Go Beijing 2008 Olympics)? Is it because Chinese Communism is (presently) a contained wrong? They aren't rolling tanks into Georgia, I suppose.

I don't think it's a good idea to be so cozy with a nation we don't share fundamental common values with, even if they provide unbelievably cheap labor. It intertwines our futures in a way that we'll ultimately have to reconcile, maybe in a very ugly conflict. It's like a marriage. You wouldn't marry somebody for the tax breaks when you know the other would make a deplorable parent. Why should we tie our future to China if we don't see eye to eye on very basic issues concerning human rights, freedom of speech, and political freedom?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Post Card

NOTE: Started this post a couple days ago, just posting it now.

I'm packing. I've mentioned before how meloncholy packing makes me feel. It's a sure thing, every time I start packing.

So, to combat the combined effect of packing and cloudy skies, I'm watching talks online.

This seems to be a new form of education/entertainment to rise with the web. I'll call them Short Courses on Big Ideas. A program like this would never survive network television, but thrives online. To give you an idea of what I mean, I'll link to a few of the talks from some of my favorite sources.


This talk by Daniel Pink aligns so closely with what Alvin Toffler said at the NAB convention last April, I wonder if he simply failed to cite all his his sources.

Adrian Bowyer discusses a machine at the heart of a movement I find fascinating. The priciples at play have the potential to be a global economic game shifter.


Kevin Kelly
is brilliant, and at gatherings like this, he is in good company.


BigThink is good too, and pretty new. This particular talk resonates with what I've said about good long view journalism.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yesterday was my last day of work at MSNBC.com.

Tomorrow will be four years to the day since I returned home from my

In four days, I'll be back in Utah.

Four years from now, I have no idea where I'll be.

Right now, I'm ascending the elevator to the top of the Space Needle.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

City at the End of Time

They have lecturers come and speak here at MSFT. Today sci-fi author
Greg Baer is here. He hasn't started speaking yet.

These talks have been a fitting compliment to some of my assignments at
BYUTV. I got to interview Orson Scott Card when he came to speak to the
Marion K. "Doc" Smith symposium of Sci-fi and Fantasy. Now I get to meet
and hear Greg Bear. At BYUTV, I got to meet and listen to Ed Catmull,
co-founder of Pixar. Then I came up here and Alvey Ray Smith, the other
co-founder spoke.

Why am I not recording all of these and posting them here? Too late now.
Tomorrow is my last day at work here.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Those guys over at Eyebeam are brilliant. Everything they do, brilliant.

It's like legos for tech kids. I want some.

Ye Who Enter Here

The places I work have funny doors. Like at BYU Broadcasting. Or MSNBC.com.

There is in fact nothing behind the door. Only a wall. It isn't even a closet, not enough room for anything much.

Makes me wonder what I'd find if they had any wardrobes around here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Totally Looks Like

This site is hysterical. Absolutely hysterical.

michelin man, michelin tires, stay puft marshmallow man, ghostbusters

No joke, I once had a dream with both these characters in it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Between two 6-year-olds in the hall at church:

"Are you lactose intollerant?"
"NO! I just don't drink MILK!"

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I'm watching the opening ceremonies. The enormity of this whole thing,
not just the opening ceremony, but ALL of it, is staggering. I wish we
(the world) could coordinate on such a scale for a project aimed at
actually improving lives in a lasting, meaningful way. I'll try to
figure that out.

In the meantime, let the games begin.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fire Alarm Again

This is the fourth time since I started my internship that I've had to exit the building because of the ear-piercing fire alarm. It's getting a little old, but I suppose it's an insurance necessity sometimes, and a legitimate cause for alarm at others. The Fire Department came on this one, so I don't think this is a drill.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Overheard from the upstairs neighbors

"Look under the bed...get a rake."
-Sent from Austin's phone.

Life Goal

I don't know if you guys heard yet or not, but I'm going to space some day. I am.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Dropping Names

Don't ever think you're alone on the web. The world is a small place. You will be found. Like I was.

I mentioned the name of somebody I briefly met last October. They found it.

With such a unique name, I shouldn't be surprised.

An Open Letter to T-Mobile

Dear T-Mobile,

I've been a customer of yours for as long as I've had a cell-phone. That's three and a half years at this point. In that time, I've paid you a very significant sum of money. It may not be significant to you, but it's taken a terrible toll on my wallet. I continue to pay the monthly service, though, because I've become more or less dependent on having access to people and information wherever I go. I've been satisfied with the service (if not the price) with a couple exceptions:

  1. When I purchased my first phone, I went all out. I bought a Samsung P735. It played Mp3s, it recorded video, it took great pictures (for it's day). It was too good to be true. So I took out an insurance policy on it's functional use. So when, a year and some months later, the inevitable happened, I was not concerned. I'd been paying a monthly fee, so that when the phone did break, it would be replaced. I called Asurion Insurance, and they politely informed me there would be a deductible. Turns out that means a deduction from my wallet. They charged me $100.00 to take advantage of the policy I'd already been paying for. Oh, and replacing my phone? That model is no longer manufactured. We'll provide a comparable model. Comparable model? They sent a RAZR. And wouldn't let me trade for something else. Lets recap: I bought a nice, expensive phone, paid a monthly fee so I wouldn't have to worry about replacing it, and you charged me $100.00 so I could have an exceptionally crappy replacement (that broke a few weeks after buying it). You've just taken advantage of my business in a way that borders on criminal. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why I didn't switch to a different wireless provider then.

  2. In my service plan, I was offered a free additional service. I chose the "WorldClass International Service". This is what I was shown.This sounded appealing. However, on my recent trip to a family reunion, I was charged a large amount of money for roaming. Apparently, I miss-read what service I was receiving. What I was getting for FREE wasn't International WorldClass Service, it was the chance to use my phone and pay more money. You gave me (for FREE) the chance to pay a lot of money for services. That's not exactly generous.

Today, the terms of my contract are long played out, and my service is on a month to month basis. Give me one single reason why I shouldn't try to find a more honest service provider. You've done nothing but "nickel and dime" me from day one. You've alienated me, your customer, by deceiving me whenever you thought it might profit you. I'm convinced your online services to check plans, coverage, billing, etc., are deliberately difficult to use, so the customer can't easily figure out what he's paying and what he's using. Your focus is on money, not your service.

In short, I'm extremely dissatisfied with the way you conduct business. It's dishonest and immoral. I would hope that will change, but I'm not sticking around to see that it does.


The Future

I'm lucky.

Jonathan Zittrain, author of The Future of the Internet and How to Sop
It, is here speaking to us lowly tech people.

I have never owned an iPod. Zittrain explains why that's a good thing.

Sometimes, I really like working here.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

UPDATE: You can read his book for free and find out more online at futureoftheinternet.org

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Phillip Toledano

I thought this photo essay was beautiful, poignant, and probably one of the more worth-your-time activities you'll have today.

days with my father

Saturday, August 02, 2008


My thirty dollar purchase at Value Village is currently going for $109.65 with exactly four hours left in the auction to boot! That price will go up! Fun.

Review: Jimmy Carter Man from Plains

Jonathan Demme's documentary on former president Jimmy Carter is somewhat inexplicable. I can only assume it was of personal interest. The subject matter is relatively high profile, but, forgive me, not something that captures the imagination.

We follow Jimmy Carter as he tours, promoting his book "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid". Controversy swirls into a cyclone of accusations, aimed at a man who, to hear him talk, is clearly a passionate, humble, pious servant of mankind. By almost all accounts, Jimmy Carter has only ever tried to help people, be that through brokering peace between Egypt and Israel, or promoting Habitat for Humanity.

But the particular wording of his treatise on Mideast peace was not universally received. "Apartheid" carries with it decades of baggage, it's loaded vocabulary. It caused much of Carter's audience to suppose he sided with Palestinians in the conflict, when Carter would proclaim his concern for all parties.

There is a scene where Carter, in front of a large audience, shows how deep the cutting remarks of his detractors go. In a quieted, halting moment, he says that it's the first time he'd been called a liar. For a man so deeply devoted to the Bible, to America, to family and humanity, for a man who only wants to help, I can't imagine much of anything worse to call him. That scene makes me think he'd agree.

The music is eclectic and often ill fitting, the motion graphics are stunning but distracting, and the focus unclear. It was enjoyable, educational, and I'm glad I saw it. I don't know if I'd recommend it to friends.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Research Expo

I've had the chance of seeing a few really great things while I've been here at MSNBC.com. Being so closely associated with the Giant that is Microsoft has it's benefits. I've gotten more swag than I know what to do with. I toured the Home of the Future, a little like if MSFT execs designed Epcot Center. I've been able to attend the MSFT Product Fair to see Steve Ballmer speak. I was here for the last day Bill Gates worked as a MSFT employee. And a few days ago I attended a Research and Design Expo.

The Design Expo had a few points of note. Much of what was being shown was, in my humble opinion, gimmicky and not worth much attention. But some of it was worth your attention. The demonstration of the spherical Surface prototype was primitive but promising, and an obvious extension of MSFT's aim to make every surface around us smart. They proved that with the Home of the Future tour. Apparently, in the future, you won't have a computer in your house. Your house will be a computer, with every wall, table, and cabinet a point of input and output, wired into the omnicient Web. Privacy watchdogs will love that one.
Home of the Future tour. The wall has a display visible through the paint, thus, your wall is a display. They got mad at me for taking a picture. I figured it would be easier to get forgiveness than permission.

But I digress. The Sphere Surface was interesting, though not exactly a game-changer for the computing industry (yet).

It dawned on me after I left the Expo that I'd seen the car they used to get 360* shots of Seattle for the Sphere demo. Saw it driving to work one day.

Another interesting project was a student and professor demonstrating their use of an augmented reality system. They had rigged a Sony UMPC to automatically classify plants in the wilderness. The process may take weeks using conventional classification tools (i.e. take a sample back to the library). It was a readily understood use, but there are countless others. It's a subject I've given way too much thought to, and I'm convinced A.R. is a huge industry waiting to happen. Mark my words.

They tried to show some of the other capabilities of the system, how it could visualize information and display it immediatly over your normal field of vision, integrated with the scene. A woman watching asked, "Well...what do you use it for?"

I was flabbergasted. I shouldn't be, I know I'm an early adopter where most people aren't. But that she couldn't see the potential of something like this caught me off guard. I wanted to say,
"What good are computing machines? The slide rule has always proved a trusty companion. Heck, long as I've got my abacus handy, that'll do just fine! Sign my anti-progress parchment, and I'll mimeograph some duplicates and we'll Pony Express these babies far and wide!"
But I bit my tongue.

I chatted for a while with the researcher heading up the project. Through phrases like "In the early 90's when we started all this..." it was clear he'd been doing this for a long time. We were a couple A.R. evangelists lamenting the worlds' failure to accept the future. He said the only reason you don't see this technology everywhere is A) Nobody has set up a business plan for it, so B) Nobody invests in it. I told him I'd work on the business plan. He (understandably) laughed a little, but I wasn't kidding.

I searched around when I got back to my office and found that I'd been talking to Dr. Steven K. Feiner, who, so far as I can tell, is one of if not the leader in the field of augmented reality.

There were a number of other projects there, but my time is limited. Before I left, I got to see my friend Anthony present his project from a class at UW. His group did a great job, and won an award (best concept? I can't remember).

As an aside, I'm officially no longer satisfied with my phone's camera. It's past time to upgrade. Maybe I should start working on an A.R. headset to replace my phone, glasses, GPS, camera, and mobile web connection.

When the Wind Blows

You can't tell very well in the picture, but the West skyscraper at Lincoln Tower today had six ropes hanging from the top edge, some thirty stories up, all the way to the ground. Abandoned window washers' equipment sat next to a pillar outside. First a security guard, then a grounds person for the building came to take care of them after about 20 minutes. Standing at the bottom, looking up on this windy day, it was surprisingly peaceful to watch them sway and twist and float in the updraft.

Reminds me of a commercial I saw recently.

P.S. The Blue Angels were awesome.

Blue Angels

In preparation for SeaFair tomorrow, the Blue Angels are practicing
maneuvers over Lake Washington. Everybody is out on their boats for the
show. My team at work went to the Microsoft office at the top of Lincoln
Tower in Bellevue. Great view.

But until my cameraphone has optical zoom, a picture would mean

-Sent from Austin's phone.