This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

December 2008 Archives

December 11, 2008

Pizza Hack: Broil Your Pies. Great details in this piece, and a cool idea, too.

December 7, 2008

A BeTaMaXMaS. December 1988. This is what Christmas is all about.

December 6, 2008

iPhone Game Idea

Idea for an iPhone game. I call it: "Scream Shooter." It's a fast-paced side-scrolling shooter set in outer space. You move your ship by tilting the phone. Your ship shoots its guns constantly, destroying enemies in your path. Your ship is also equipped with a limited number of bombs. To launch a bomb, you go, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

Great for bus commutes.

December 5, 2008


Rands In Repose: Dumbing Down the Cloud. Rands reviews Dropbox.

I don't get to use web services like Dropbox much because these days I do most of my computer stuff my employer, and I work for a large company who (rightly) doesn't trust its proprietary data to a small one on the whim of an employee. But 1Password gave me an excuse to try .Mac mobileMe to make sure my work computer and home computers all knew how to sign in to my banks' websites. And I thought, Hey, this syncing thing would be cool for Yojimbo too, which previously I never used because I didn't have a mobileMe account and I spread my time across too many computers to only keep notes on one of them. So I paid my $99 for mobileMe. iDisk sort of worked, and the iPhoto albums were kind of neat. But application syncing never worked. 1Password and Yojimbo. mobileMe application syncing never worked.

1Password users were so desperate for a sync solution more reliable than mobileMe that Agile Web Solutions, makers of 1Password, started hacking on their own data-everywhere solution. They also invented a new keychain file format that would be compatible with file syncing services. The latter feature didn't seem to work so well with mobileMe's iDisk, so Agile updated their marketing text to recommend 5 others, including a ringing endorsement for, "our favorite," Dropbox.

The design of every aspect of Dropbox is stunning, and that's where the trust comes from. Here's how good Dropbox's design is: It's free for the first 2GB, it's beta, it's a start-up burning investor capital, and I'm using it to store my passwords. Encrypted by 1Password, but still, my passwords. They'll get my $10/mo as soon as I cross 2GB.

December 4, 2008

Audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Using an instrument of your choosing (any instrument), learn "A Symphony for YouTube" by composer Tan Dun from sheet music and instructional materials on the site, then submit a video of you playing it. You'll also need to make a video of a more traditional audition piece. Those chosen will be invited to perform the Tan Dun piece at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

The site includes a video of the London Symphony Orchestra playing the symphony, videos of the conductor with audio for practice and without audio for recording, and master class videos from LSO members about the separate parts of the piece. The master class videos are especially cool, because they spend a few minutes on the Tan Dun piece, then talk about other pieces on the audition lists and playing music in general.

Seems oddly old school to have the final performance be in a concert hall. Where's the online audio forum for live collaborative practice and performance sessions? Hello, 21st century?

December 1, 2008

NBC cancels 'My Own Worst Enemy'. I was really starting to like this show. The premise is ridiculous and gimmicky: Super spies each have a computer-activated split personality of an everyday American family person to conceal their identity. Edward Albright's computer-activation chip breaks and he switches back and forth between his super spy self and Henry Spivey, his mild mannered alter ego, at uncontrolled and inconvenient times. But buy into it, and the premise is rather fruitful as a foundation for themes of the duality of ourselves and our imaginary selves, particularly American male selves, who we wish we were and who we're afraid we'll become. The main character's two personalities struggle to be and resist becoming one another, and the jealousy runs both ways. (And it's the family man personality that's fictional.) Christian Slater is great, too.

Catch season 1 on Hulu, while you can. Hulu is only keeping the last 5 up at a time, and by this writing the pilot is already missing. iTunes has the entire season so far. As of this writing, 6 episodes have aired; no idea how many are remaining in NBC's queue.