Civ V and OS X – A mark of desperation

I’m currently somewhere over New York state, flying Virgin America back from Boston (where we had our gdgt live event last night). I only brought my iPad with me on this trip. Which is painful, because Civilization V is currently out!

So, I wanted to see if it was even possible to play. Are you ready for this mark of desperation?

Civ V running on Windows 7. In a Parallels for OS X virtual machine. Via a VNC client on my iPhone. What?! So, what happened? Screen shots below!





In search of Paul Bunyan

This weekend, I went camping and canoeing on the Russian River with friends. Near the town of Guerneville, I had an interesting case of real life deja vu.

Standing in front of an RV park near town was a giant statue of Paul Bunyan. How giant was he? I am standing in front of him, for scale.

You might be wondering why this is notable, or why anyone would even care.

I actually grew up near another large Paul Bunyan statue, located in the small town of Mentone. It was the strangest thing to see, heading to school or back home every day. A large statue of the infamous lumberjack, just sitting in front of someone’s yard. It’s still there today!

Here’s a photo I took while visiting my parents a few years ago (yes, that’s also a Statue of Liberty head sitting on top of a roof). It’s nearly identical!

Mentone, California

What sort of madness is this? A flaw in the matrix perhaps?

Dislike for Corona saves geologist from death.

I’m sure Corona’s marketing department is thrilled about this.

[H]e returned to his residence in Kabul to find it had been burgled. The intruder took money from a drawer and left behind a bottle of Corona beer. The Corona bottle sat on his counter for the next two weeks Yeager says, because Corona is one of his least favorite beers. He finally opened it during a going away party as the other drinks began to run low.

“I pulled it out and when I popped it there was no fizz and the cap was loose,” says Yeager. “Because this one didn’t have fizz you wonder if it went rancid or not, and I just kind of sniffed it and I went ‘Oh, that doesn’t smell like beer.’ “

Yeager, a geochemist familiar with acids, realized it smelled like sulfuric acid – otherwise known as battery acid. He called a friend over who had the same reaction to the smell. Yeager poured the “beer” into the toilet and it foamed and fizzed, leaving “no question” in his mind it was sulfuric acid.

gdgt live in Chicago


gdgt is visiting Chicago next week! It’ll be my first visit to the Windy City, so I’m pretty excited.

If you’re in the area, come check us out at Gallery 223 (223 West Huron) on May 12th at 7pm. We’ll have a ton of cool gadgets on display, drinks, music, and even the potential to win some rad gear. More info is available here.

Austin, TX – For SF residents in exile

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I’m here in Austin, TX for a few days for our gdgt live event at SXSW. Since such a large contingent of the San Francisco tech crowd is here, a group of San Franciscan folks are handing out SF Embassy cards.

On March 11, 2010,
the San Francisco diplomatic mission to Austin commenced
with the establishment of
the SF EMBASSY on 6th Street.

San Francisco residents traveling to Austin for SXSW 2010
are advised to stay in close contact
for the duration of their visit.

Especially around brunch.

Hah, pretty awesome!

Watch out for South-by-SARS though, that’ll get you.

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Perfect way to start (and end) any trip

This weekend, a number of our friends ventured to Lake Tahoe for some R&R. We stayed in a friend’s family’s cabin, went snowboarding, and watched the Super Bowl.

Of course, the perfect way to start (and end) the trip is by visiting In N’ Out.

Where do I go in San Francisco?

heatmap - 2009-12-21.png

Where Do You Go is an interesting mashup that shows the areas you most frequent in a city, using a heat map layed on top of Google Maps. The data is derived from your Foursquare checkins.

The above image represents the areas of San Francisco I most frequent, based on nearly 400 checkins with Foursquare over the last year. Red / white are areas visited the most, while blue / green (and grey) are areas I visit the least or not at all.

This is a pretty fantastic use of one’s geo-location data and it’s something I’ve always been curious about. Just where exactly do I go all the time, and what areas do I frequent. This sort of thing might help plan further adventures to parts of the city that I neglect. I just might have to reinstall Foursquare on my iPhone after all!


Of course, when I do finally reinstall Foursquare, what happens?


Go figure.

Two things you never talk about in an Irish pub


(Photo via Wikipedia)

“There are two things you never talk about in an Irish pub: religion and politics…”

Last summer, we traveled to Europe. The campaign to elect the next U.S. President was starting to ramp up and at that point, Barack Obama was a household name. This lead to an interesting conversation with a fellow in Dublin, Ireland.

Right before we arrived in Barcelona, we stopped over in Dublin for a few days. On our last night there, we happened upon an old pub named Mulligan’s Pub.

Apparently, it’s one of the oldest pubs in Ireland, and there has been a watering hole at that spot since 1732. Incredible! People have been drinking beer at that spot since before the United States even existed as a country.

While Sanjin and I were enjoying some glasses of Guinness at the bar, an old Irish fellow sitting next to us strikes up a conversation. After finding out we’re from the States, he looks around and then whispers to us:

“There are two things you never talk about in an Irish pub: religion and politics. That said, what do you boys think about this Obama character?”

Fantastic. It was pretty amazing to think that Obama, who hadn’t even been officially nominated by the Democratic Party yet, had already piqued the interest and curiousity of people overseas.

Funny shorts in Barcelona

While traveling through Europe last year, we stopped for a few days in Barcelona to check out the capital city of Catalonia. The hostel we were staying in gave us a flyer of interesting things to do over the next few days.

One particular entry caught our eye.

“¡Una nit de curts còmic!”

It’s written in Catalan and basically translates to “a night of funny shorts!”

That was pretty amusing to us, especially because we all agreed that Sanjin had just bought some ridiculous and funny shorts right before we left on our trip.

Sanjin surfing a cannon

So we made plans that evening to set out for the bar / lounge (called the Mau Mau Underground) that was hosting “funny shorts night.” Sanjin decided to pack the shorts in his messenger bag and change into them when we got there, just in case the night ended up being a bust.

When we arrived, we noticed a distinct lack of activity in front of the bar. We paid a small cover and went inside, only to find the place fairly dead. A few people sitting on couches and either drinking beer or smoking.

Mauma Lounge

We decided to make the best of our time there and plopped down on a couch and ordered a few beers. After a few minutes, they started playing some ridiculous and hilarious movie. It was over within a few minutes. Another one immediately started, and it was also over within a few minutes.

One of us turned to the rest and asked, “what’s with all these funny short movies…”

Their voice trailed off and instantly, we all knew what funny shorts actually meant! We shared quite a bit of laughter over our pretty obvious mixup. We sat down, content to enjoy the rest of the evening, watching funny shorts and having some tasty Spanish beers.

Mary, Sanjin and Dave enjoying beer in a lounge

As an aside, one of the short films we saw that evening particularly stuck with me. It was an amazing stop-motion film focused on photography. Which is why I think it made such an impression on me. Ten Thousand Pictures of You.

“¡Una nit de curts còmic!”

Funny shorts night. It’s a phrase that will always bring a smile to my face.

The dark side of Dubai


Source: Mohamed Somji, via flickr (2007).

Just read this fascinating article about the dark side of Dubai, posted by the Independent in April of this year. The article is quite long, but it’s a pretty gripping exposé on the seedy, behind-the-scenes underworld of Dubai and the blind eye that rich tourists, ex-patriots, and locals take to the city.

There are three different Dubais, all swirling around each other. There are the expats, like Karen; there are the Emiratis, headed by Sheikh Mohammed; and then there is the foreign underclass who built the city, and are trapped here. They are hidden in plain view. You see them everywhere, in dirt-caked blue uniforms, being shouted at by their superiors, like a chain gang – but you are trained not to look. It is like a mantra: the Sheikh built the city. The Sheikh built the city. Workers? What workers?

Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town, where they are quarantined away. Until a few years ago they were shuttled back and forth on cattle trucks, but the expats complained this was unsightly, so now they are shunted on small metal buses that function like greenhouses in the desert heat. They sweat like sponges being slowly wrung out.

Sonapur is a rubble-strewn patchwork of miles and miles of identical concrete buildings. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in Hindi means “City of Gold”. In the first camp I stop at – riven with the smell of sewage and sweat – the men huddle around, eager to tell someone, anyone, what is happening to them.

Of course, there are numerous choice quotes in this piece, and it’s pretty hard to cherry pick just one.

One day, after yet another beating, Mela ran out onto the streets, and asked – in broken English – how to find the Ethiopian consulate. After walking for two days, she found it, but they told her she had to get her passport back from Madam. “Well, how could I?” she asks. She has been in this hostel for six months. She has spoken to her daughter twice. “I lost my country, I lost my daughter, I lost everything,” she says.

As she says this, I remember a stray sentence I heard back at Double Decker. I asked a British woman called Hermione Frayling what the best thing about Dubai was. “Oh, the servant class!” she trilled. “You do nothing. They’ll do anything!”

You can read the rest of this article here.

More information about Dubai can be found via this write up I posted to Laughing Squid earlier this year, titled, “BASE jumping off the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building.”

[Via personal correspondence with Mark Rebec]

New York City bound!

From the top of Rockefellar Center

Off to New York City this week to help out with gdgt’s east coast launch party on Thursday. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to NYC (last visit was in 2007) and I’m looking forward to it. Unfortunately, there will be little time to play this time.

Weather is supposed to be good though!


And apparently, I do need to make time to check out Shake Shack. Their burgers are supposed to be pretty good.

The Longest Way

The Longest Way 1.0 – one year walk/beard grow time lapse from Christoph Rehage on Vimeo.

I posted this on Laughing Squid last month but apparently forgot to post it here.

In November 2007, Christoph Rehage set foot from Beijing, China with a goal of walking to Berlin, Germany, a distance of over 4,500 miles. He created a short video called “The Longest Way 1.0“, documenting his journey over the course of a year and featuring self portrait photographs he took each day on his trip that shows his hair and beard getting longer.

Travels through the U.S. and Canada


Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Last weekend, I returned to San Francisco after a two week road trip across the western United States and Canada.

Some of the places we visited included:

  • Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
  • Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
  • Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
  • City of Vancouver and City of Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Mt. St. Helens, Washington
  • Oregon Caves National Monument
  • Sonoma Valley wine tasting

Some select photos from part of the trip can be found below.

Rocky Mountains in Idaho

Sawtooth Mountain Range, Idaho

Hamilton, Montana - Night Shot

Bitterroot River in Hamilton, Montana.

Flathead Lake, Montana

Flathead Lake, Montana.

Columbia Valley

Columbia Valley near Radium Hot Springs, Canada.

Kootenay National Park

Entering Kootenay National Park, Canada.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Kerry and I at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Banff National Park, Canada.

Athabasca Glacier

Wannabe Mountie.

Photos from yesterday’s drive through Montana and Canada

We’ve finally arrived in Canada! Hello maple leaves, grizzly bears, and universal health care.

 We stayed at Radium Hot Springs last night and ended up taking a dip in the warm pools. Of course, the fact that the town is named after a radioactive element found in uranium ore deposits is kind of unsettling. But hey, at least we’ll have a healthy glow!

 Also, on the way up to Canada, we drove past Flathead Lake in Montana, which I haven’t been to in nearly 10 years. Beautiful place and it totally reminds me of Lake Tahoe.

 Here are a few photos from yesterday’s adventures.







 Today we finally head into Banff!

Posted via email from Dave Schumaker’s Posterous