Elaine Wherry took a break from working in San Francisco high-tech startups to work at Dandelion Chocolate, the chocolate maker/cafe that her husband co-founded. She calls her tenure at the chocolate factory her life as "an oompa loompa," and in a fascinating post, she writes about the differences and similarities between working in data-driven startups and in physical, retail-based hard-goods business. It's a wonderful study in contrasts.
For loops are a veritable miracle — At the chocolate factory, something breaks every single flippin’ day. Each morning I gave my evil eye to the roasters, melangers, temperers, wrapping machine, dishwasher, or anything with a screw, fuse, gear, glue, belt, or oil level and asked, “Okay, which one of you little buggers is going today?”
In comparison, code brings tears to my eyes. If that for loop worked yesterday, then barring catastrophic hardware failures or someone checking in code they shouldn’t, it’ll likely work today. That type of, “if you don’t touch it, it’ll keep working” certainty seems divine. I’ve always loved the Web but I have renewed appreciation for redundancy, unit testing, and monitoring now.
Heather Gold's "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify as a Cookie" interactive baking comedy comes to the East Bay (free tix!)
Years and years ago, I saw Heather Gold's innovative, interactive baking comedy "I Look like An Egg, but I Identify As A Cookie" in San Francisco. It was fabulous. Now it's about to have its debut in the East Bay:
While baking chocolate chip cookies with the audience and special guests (Bakesale Betty), Gold combines heterosexuality (DRY), lesbianism (WET), and the Left (MIX). "Cookie" is a story of first kisses, rugby drama, Mrs C's secret honeycake recipe and slow dancing to Air Supply. Gold transforms the coming out story, making mincemeat of the identities that keep us from our whole selves and each other. "Cookie" is a show of sweet and simple truths.
Heather's making two pairs of tickets available, all you need to do is tweet you favorite secret ingredient with #eggcookie and she'll get in touch. Oh, and here's a great post Heather made explaining why she uses CC licenses in her performances.
Hugh D'Andrade sez, "The Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair takes place this weekend in San Francisco! I'll will be one of the speakers -- I am giving a slideshow all about the series of posters I have created for the Anarchist Bookfair over the last 10 years, called 'Anarchist Bookfair Artist: How I Tried and Failed to Solve the Anarchist Image Problem' on Sunday at 1pm. Here's my Flickr set of these 10 posters, each available for high-res download on a CC Attribution-Noncommercial license! And if you like, my Etsy shop, where I have these for sale."
Correction: The Borderlands event is on Feb 7, not Feb 8.
As this post goes live, I am on a plane from London to Seattle to kick off the tour for Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother. My first stop is tomorrow (Feb 5) night, at the Seattle Public Library, and then I head to Portland for Feb 6, where I'll be at Powell's in Beaverton. Then it's off to San Francisco, where I'll be at Booksmith on Feb 7, and Borderlands on Feb 8.
There's a lot more cities on this US tour, mostly in the warm spots (we're trying to minimize weather delays, because the schedule is so tight). And though it's not on the calendar yet, I'll be Lawrence, KS on Feb 28 at the Kansas Union's Alderson Auditorium at 7:30 and in Toronto on Mar 1 for a presentation at the Merril Collection at 7PM.
If you're wondering what the book's all about, The Oregonian ran an interview with me this weekend about the book:
A couple of years ago, it occurred to me that the emergency had become permanent. Declaring war on an abstract noun like "terror" meant that we would forever be on a war footing, where any dissent was characterized as treason, where justice was rough and unaccountable, where the relationship of the state to its citizens would grow ever more militarized.
But this permanent emergency didn't have any visible battlefront -- it was a series of largely invisible crises in the form of brutal prosecutorial overreach, police crackdowns, ubiquitous surveillance, merciless debt-hounding and repossession.
I wanted to write a story that helped kids see this invisible, all-powerful crisis unfolding around them, and helped them see that it didn't have to be that way, that they could push back.
I've heard from thousands and thousands of kids who were influenced by "Little Brother," kids for whom it was an inspiration to become makers, programmers and activists. I wanted to reach these kids again, and their little sisters and brothers, and show them that the fight goes on and it needs them.
Dreamworks is producing a sensationalized, awful movie about Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Some of the action involves the Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco that Wikileaks's Jacob Appelbaum helped to found, so Dreamworks wrote to them asking for permission to use their logo. Noisebridge collectively penned a letter back explaining fair use and free speech to the representatives from Big Content who'd come a-knockin':
From your description, it should be clear to anyone watching your film that you're just using the image to talk about Noisebridge, not claim you are Noisebridge or that Noisebridge supports your film*.
Given this, Noisebridge as a community believes you have the free speech right to use such imagery without having to ask permission -- especially those who you might be implicitly criticising or commenting upon. Such a right is encoded in the existing nature of trademark and copyright with the idea of fair use.
Sadly, knowledge of such rights have been eroded over the years by the repeated claims of copyright maximalists, who would have you believe that you must beg to refer to us in your film -- or even that you would be beholden to us if, for instance, you parodied our disrespectful attitude to your concerns with the following image, which includes both of our identifying marks, the Noisebridge(TM) circuit, and the Unicorn Pissing A Rainbow(TM).
Such a position is lunacy and a genuine threat to free speech and the first amendment. You should exercise all of your fair use rights freely and without fear.
So we say tell your friends at DreamWorks to publish (or print, or produce) and be damned. Tell them we fully support them in their brave stand. You can say with confidence that the only conditions under which Noisebridge would sue them and their partners to the maximum damages entitled to us by law would be if it turned out that hackers like us were completely hypocritical nihilists out only for our own egotistical ends.
Given that you were so nice as to ask us, we can't imagine you think that of us.
Rina writes, "Join SF in SF as they begin their 8th year of presenting science fiction authors and films in the Bay Area, this Saturday, January 19th. Steven Gould, author of JUMPER, and the new sequel, IMPULSE, will be joined by his wife, Laura J. Mixon, author of ASTROPILOTS and the the Avatar's Dance trilogy. Each author will read a selection, followed by Q & A moderated by author Terry Bisson. Book signing and schmoozing in the lounge after; books for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books."
The SF in SF events are as good as they get, and Steve and Laura are two of the best writers and nicest people you could hope to meet. This is going to be GREAT. Plus,
Scott Weaver is a San Francisco sculptor who spend 35 years building the most stupendously gorgeously wonderful toothpick sculpture, a kinetic piece that is a miniature of San Francisco and all that's glorious about the city. The piece has 100,000 toothpicks, and 10,000,000 measures of awesome:
Thirty five years ago I had yet to be born, but artist Scott Weaver had already begun work on this insanely complex kinetic sculpture, Rolling through the Bay, that he continues to modify and expand even today. The elaborate sculpture is comprised of multiple “tours” that move pingpong balls through neighborhoods, historical locations, and iconic symbols of San Francisco, all recreated with a little glue, some toothpicks, and an incredible amount of ingenuity. He admits in the video that there are several toothpick sculptures even larger than his, but none has the unique kinetic components he’s constructed. Via his website Weaver estimates he’s spent over 3,000 hours on the project, and the toothpicks have been sourced from around the world.
You can see Weaver's piece at the American Visionary Art Museum.
One man, 100,000 toothpicks, and 35 years: An incredible kinetic sculpture of San Francisco [Christopher/This is Colossal]
(via Making Light)
The happy mutants at MonkeyBrains, the San Francisco hacker-friendly ISP, have launched a $350,000,000 IndieGoGo campaign to buy their own satellite ("North Korea just launched a satellite; we want to as well"). Some fun facts about MonkeyBrains: it was founded by Rudy Rucker, Jr (son of the archduke of mutantcy, cyberpunk writer Rudy Rucker [Sr]); it is the basis for the fictional ISP pigspleen.net in my novel Little Brother; and they want $350,000,000. Also: if the satellite thing doesn't work out, they want to use the money to fill San Francisco with high-speed fiber optics that aren't run by crappy telcos.
A quick internet search reveals that this is the cost for getting a satellite into orbit:
* Satellite manufacture: $150M
* Satellite launch: $120M
* Launch insurance: $20M
* In-orbit insurance: $20M
* Satellite operations (15 years): $15M
Our initial research seems to indicate having a satellite in orbit may not speed up your internet at all. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access#Geostationary_unsuitable_for_low-latency_applications]. However, if more research doesn't bode well for a geostationary satellite, we will take all of the $325M to fund either:
* Fiber to the home.
* A balloon tethered to the Farallon islands.
* a hovering drone over the Bay.