Archive for September, 2008

Tweet Tweet

If you look in the side bar of this site you will find a widget called “What am I doing?”. In this my twitter updates show up. But what is Twitter you might think. Well, it’s something called micro blogging, but that is really a term that makes about as much sense as the later Nietzsche… No, better to take another approach. Start by watching this video by Common Craft:

 

 

All done? Enlightened? Good. But what’s the catch then? Ahh, funny you should ask. Twitter has a tendency to go down every once in a while, meaning you can’t post or read anything. But to me, that is secondary. The real fly in the ointment is that it is a closed environment. If you have friends across multiple services such as Jaiku, Plurk or even Tumblr, you need to use all of those. There are things on the horizon to get us over this obstacle, but so far none seems to have emerged victorious and they generally require you to get yet another account…

Another problem for me personally is that it has been very hard to get my friends to sign up. Sure a few has come along for the ride, but many prefer the horrors of Facebook or use normal blogs for the stuff that really fits better on Twitter. But at least you can join up with some of your heroes. Everyone from John Gruber and Merlin Mann to Damh the Bard and  John C. Dvorak. I know those are mostly tech folks, but there are others to. Barack Obama for instance have his very own twitter feed, although it is uncertain if he updates it him self. John McCain is also on here, but I think we can rest assured he’s not doing it him self, though.

I think what stops many from getting on one of these micro blogs is the perceived learning curve. They remember what it was like trying to get Facebook to work or ‘code’ a MySpace page. But this is quite different. A few clicks and you’re done. You can even update via SMS. Calling Twitter a social network is really a misnomer I think. It is more like distributed SMS without the cost!

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Why do you use Twitter“, posted with vodpod

 

 

Merlin Mann of MacBreak Weekley, 43folders and ThatPhoneGuy fame has turned tweets into an art form and is an absolute joy to read by the way.

 

~ Blogging is the new poetry ~
So now I hope you’ll rush over and join up! Friend me, I’m @toobydoo.
Thobias
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Uni Humi

Time for some Cambridge humour, curtsey of Stephen Fry and the Footlights.

Old Professors never die, they just lose their faculties.
~ Stephen Fry

Thobias

Editors

You apparentley can’t underestimate the importance of a good editor…

Newspaper editors are men who separate the wheat from the chaff, and then print the chaff.

~Adlai E. Stevenson

Thobias

Book convention ’08

As previously stated, I attended the Book- & Library con in Gothenburg this Thursday. I thought I’d recount some of that experience here for the benefit of the ‘scryers’ of the TwilightShadows.

Staying the night with two girls…

The trip was paid for by the department I attend, the Department for Culture Studies, but of course we had to pay the entrance fee out of pocket. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of my self. I took forever to find out when the buss was to leave from Lund. At 7.15 am as it turned out… I quickly realised that it would not be practical, nor much fun, to get to Lund from Hässleholm at that hour. So I asked a dear friend of mine, Emma, if I could bunk up at her place. Thankfully she said yes, and I spent a lovely Wednesday evening with Emma and her sister Anna. On Thursday we were up at 6 and got dressed, downed a piece of bread each, and went off.

Travelling and arriving

The trip up was without much excitement, although we did make a pit-stop i Halmstad at Eurostop, and Emma and I shared a Club Sandwich and a clementine each. We arrived in Gothenburg around 11 and met up with some people and went in. OK, first unpleasant surprise; the price of admission turned out to be 180 SEK, not 120 as I had been told… But I paid, and we all went inside.

Rather imposing

Rather imposing

Walking through the door a wall of noise hit me. It wasn’t that it was extremely loud, I just was not ready for it. We stumbled straight into the theme of the the year, Lithuanian literature. They had a weird but prominent display made in brown cardboard… Didn’t really wet my appetite for Lithuania. C’est la Vie.

I found it rather sovietish…

I found it rather sovietish…

Awesomely expensive food!

After a little while we found FOOD, and realised that this whole due is interesting, yes, but somewhat of a scam. You pay 180 SEK to get in and pay a lot more money! Thought full, don’t you think? A sandwich cost me 65 SEK, roughly €7! And it wasn’t even a fancy one. Tasty yes, but small. We later found that a 33 cl cola cost a whopping 23 SEK. The same thing went for many of the books. Not all of them were particularly new, and many of them were definitely overpriced. It seemed most of them landed in the vicinity of 150 SEK, roughly €17 I think.
I was also slightly depressed by the lack of tech at this con. No sign of Adobe, Quark, Apple or even Microsoft!?! Without them today’s book world would not be possible. And Adobe just released CS4 the other day. There was not even a glimmer of a presence! What, why, how? That a convention this big and important doesn’t see any of the software makers is nothing but pitiful. I expected better. Also an e-book or two wouldn’t hurt…

ICAs publishing companies

ICA's publishing companies

The books I found

In spite of these minor hiccups, I managed to find a few worthy ones. The first one Emma found at the Alfabeta publishing booth. Ormstenens Gåta/The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin. (ISBN 978-91-501-0913-9) It’s a historical detective novel, and the edition we both got is a relatively nice one. At 150 SEK I did think it was slightly pricey for a convention though.

Walking down some isles I came by Man av Skugga förlag, which publishes comics and graphic novels. I bought Death Piglet by Johan C. Brandstedt. (ISBN 978-91-85253-04-3) Awesome series, apparently a web comic but I confess to have missed it. It’s “99% word free” in a strip format, and who can resist a seal saying “Official seal of warranty – NOT GAY” with an asterisk pointing to “may contain assrape”… 100 SEK for this comic seemed very reasonable.

Martina Haag gets interviewd

Martina Haag gets interviewd

Later on I picked up Skenet bedrar/Paint A’Licious by Joanne Gair (ISBN 91-32-33227-0). A nice photo book on body painting with people hiding things or them selves with the aid of really good body painting. This book was bargain priced at 39,90 SEK, and I did not hesitate to buy it.

The last book I picked up was from one of my favourite publishers; Taschen. It’s really a German company, but it was the British division visiting Sweden. Their art books are beautiful. Emma found some extremely nice books on Leonardo da Vinci and Salvador Dalí. Neither one of is bought any of those though. Partly due to price, 399 SEK I think, partly due to weight… I did pick up a very nice and fun book though: 1000 Pin-Up Girls (ISBN 978-3-8365-0505-5) at a very reasonable 95 SEK.

Other things I saw that I wanted was a cookbook called Paris which seemed very nice. Paris pictures, and if I understood it correctly it had recipes from all over modern day Paris. From Thai to baguettes.

The cook book I wanted

The cook book I wanted

There was also this address book with pictures by John Bauer (ISBN 91-638-2562-7). Quite beautiful and only costing a mere 10 SEK! I know for a fact that this book costs around 200-250 SEK in regular bookshops. This was the major bargain of the day, and I did by it for Lise.

Carl-Jan Granqvist och Leif Mannerström

Carl-Jan Granqvist och Leif Mannerström

Stargazing

Since this is the foremost con of its kind in Sweden there were a fair few “stars” there too. To mention some of them we saw the Princess Royal of Sweden, Victoria, Peter Stormare of Hollywood fame, writer and journalist Jan Guillou, Carl-Jan Granqvist and a couple of others. Personally I am not particularly star struck, but it’s fun to see people you’ve seen on the telly IRL so to speak. They are not just myths.

Peter Stormare gets a prise

Peter Stormare gets a prize

It’s a long way to go

By now we were quite ready to go home. We did stop by Lärarnas Riksförbund on the way out to get some wine. Technically you were not allowed unless you’d been invited, but some nice guy handed me an invite and I got a surprisingly nice cup of rouge. All’s well that ends well, I guess.
We headed out to the bus and sat chatting most of the way home. Most were pleased with the day, and that would have to include my self. Though the overall prices did cause some hubbub. We saw a few road accidents on the E6 on our way south, and I hope it wasn’t as serious as it looked, but thankfully we were without and arrived safely in Lund, though slightly later than scheduled.

End of an evening

Emma and I walked home to here place where I was to pick up my stuff and try and help Anna with some philosophy, positivism to be exact. If I did anything but confuse the poor girl it was pure luck… I am sorry Anna. We talked the day over, said our good byes, hugged and then I hurried of to the train. I caught the last one just in time.

These girls had an interesting fairy tale book about a lesbian princess.

These girls from Sagolikt Bokförlag had an interesting fairy tale book about a lesbian princess.

Once back in Hässleholm Lise met me with the car at the station. I was by now rather famished having only had a couple of sandwiches all day, so a kebab sounded really good. But wouldn’t you know it, all those joints were closed. After a bit of thinking I came to the conclusion that there really is only one place you can always count on; McDonald’s. So a Big Mac it was then. Funnily enough it tasted rather good, but in all honesty a dead horse with some cabbages boiled with vinegar would probably have been an appealing proposition at this time as well… So a strange end to a good day.

Some afterthought

The general impression of the con was that it was a very nice happening. But I think the publishers etc. need to rethink their pricing of goods. Also, almost no freebies? What’s that all about? Not even a sodding pen! Conventions are after all meant to be the industry equivalent of tarting your self up and head out to a bar. Be funny, be interesting and most important of all: give stuff away for free. It’s all about building a brand, and that you do by making sure people remember you and talk about you. Books should be like drugs, the first one should be free.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.

~Groucho Marx

Thobias

Ps Emma lended me Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment when I left. It’s awesome!

September Update

So, I thought maybe it was time for a general update of things. As you might have seen I recently went pro on Flickr and updated for the entire summer. Sorry about that, but my internet connection over the summer was really sucky…

Found it a bit lurky…

Found it a bit lurky…

In other news: I am attending the Book and Library con in Gothenburg this year. It should be a lot of fun, and hopefully the TwilightShadows will contain a full report soon! If I see anything really interesting I might tweet it and/or throw up some pictures on Flickr from the con, so check that out as well. Adding to this I am conscidering working at the LitteraLund childrens book festival. I think I might actually.

If you’ve lived in a bag for the last year or so you might have missed a new internet star called Jonathan Coulton, or JoCo. He is as indie as you get, since he is entirely self-published and adding insult to the RIAA’s injury, started by giving his music away as a podcast! If you haven’t checked him out you really should. Head on over to his site, or look him up in the iTunes Store. I recommend ‘Code Monkey’, ‘Creepy Doll’, ‘First of May’ and ‘Furry Lobster’. But there are many more! This is the new generation musicians, and man does it rock!

The Culture Night in Lund turned into somewhat of a fiasco for me. First of, my personal demons were acting up, and that didn’t help matters. But also, I’ve never been before so I did not realise that most of the western world would be there… So here’s a recipe for success: Look through the info and decide what you want to see or do. Next, show up in advance! Up to one hour in certain cases. The ‘Edith Piaf’ concert was sold out when I arrived 20 minutes in advance… I’m planning on attending next year to, but I will be more ready this time!

And finally; every last Sunday of the month ‘The Bishops Arms’ in Lund holds an Irish session. This is where Irish folk musicians come to the pub and sit around and play and sing together. Anyone can join in. Price of admission? The price of a drink in the bar! It’s awesome and it is truly recommended by The TwilightShadows.

In all institutions from which the cold wind of open criticism is excluded, an innocent corruption begins to grow like a mushroom – for example, in senates and learned societies.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Thobias

Autumnal Art

I will start by publishing a very short piece I started to write one Halloween, or so I think, just after I’d made a Jack-O-Lantern. It was originally meant to be a real short story, but ended up some sort of poem instead. I originally called it ‘The Cutting of Jack‘, but decided to rename it ‘Autumnal Art‘. It is sprung from the more macabre depth of my imagination, but I hope you’ll enjoy!

 

It’s the cutting that makes it interesting. But you need to have a good design first, lest you’ll make a foul job of it. To feel the skin under your fingers, and then, slowly, feel the knifes edge penetrating it. Smoothly, softly. An almost erotic, sensuos feeling, as you use this night to emulate the gods. As you create true art.

 

Then, to see your creation grow with every cut, making a truly unique piece. Something the world never saw before, nor will ever see again. To see the flesh, to smell the flesh. The grim reality of the inside of a thing. The sweet smell of death. The tingling feeling of excitement and night time horror.

 

Truly, the cutting of the head at Halloween is what any dark and macabre mind is longing for. One night to be aloud to let your true soul show. To cut, to create. To kill. Since it is impossible for us, the children of the autumn, to ever feel quite at home in a world obsessed with sunshine, but forever hidden in the murky depth of the winter fog, we would do best to not forget the cutting, the twisted faces, the glowing horror.

 

Never forget Jack!

 

Thobias

Count words in TextWrangler

I tend to write my texts, at least for blogging, in a text editor and then cut & paste them into where ever. The editor I tend to use nowadays is TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software. Why? Well, I find that a text editor lets me focus on the task at hand much better than a word processor, and TextWrangler happens to be free. It is the conceptual child of BBEdit Lite which I used to use under System 7 and OS 9. Other excellent apps would be BBEdit, TextMate or Tex-Edit. Tex-Edit is an old favourite I just discovered exists in an OS X version! And it is extremely AppleScriptable and has great Automator support as well. Switch coming on?

The problem is though that most text editors do not have a word count feature.* This is not a problem for coders, but for us knowledge workers it can be of utmost importance. Enter the glory of AppleScript!

Over at Nabble I found the base of this script, and added the display function my self. It is simple, it is not the second coming, but it is highly useful to a particular sort of person. Feel free to use it as you wish.

tell application "TextWrangler"
count words of selection
display dialog "Number of words in document: " & result giving up after 1
end tell

I would like to ask that if you add to this script, especially Growl support or live updating, please notify me.

TextWrangler – It doesn’t suck… either!

Thobias

Edit: For those who do not know how to use this code, I recommend that you read this newbie guide.
* Update: However, Bare Bones TextWrangler does have a word count function, and I failed to mentioned this. Why? Well, call it a slip of the keyes… I missed it, I can’t say anything but: I am sorry, and I apologise if I misled anyone with this.

** UPDATE 2: It’s been pointed out that I don’t tell you HOW to count words in TextWrangler, except with this AppleScript above. Here is how to do it, courtesy of amateur6.

“For the record: go to View -> Get info (or simply press Command-i from within the document). You’ll get Character, Word, Line and Page counts.

Or if you want to be fancy, do a Grep search using “([^\W\r\n]*)\w|([^\W\r]+)\r|([^\W\n]+)\n ” without the quotes (although this generated one false positive for me, so I’d just go with Get info).”