Category Archives: Events

iPhone mute switch kerfuffle

Ringing Finally Ended, but There’s No Button to Stop Shame

The unmistakably jarring sound of an iPhone marimba ring interrupted the soft and spiritual final measures of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday night. The conductor, Alan Gilbert, did something almost unheard-of in a concert hall: He stopped the performance. But the ringing kept on going, prompting increasingly angry shouts in the audience directed at the malefactor.

After words from Mr. Gilbert, and what seemed like weeks, the cellphone owner finally silenced his device. After the audience cheered, the concert resumed. Internet vitriol ensued.

Many people have been commenting on this event for a while now and Marco Arment pulls many of the various issues and sub-issues together here: Designing “Mute”.

No doubt how the mute switch works relative to all sounds is a meaningful design discussion but what interests me is that few if any of these discussions about the event recommend turning the phone off. Turning electronics off not only solves the unexpected alarm/ring problem, it also solves the problem of people silently texting their friends during a concert.

If I spend the money to go to a concert at Avery Fisher Hall the last thing I want is to be sitting next to someone with a lit up smartphone texting his or her friends.

The answer here is to turn off all electronic devices at a concert like this. Not sleep, not mute, but power down. That takes care of the texting problem and users who don’t know that they’ve set up an alarm to go off during a concert.

First known use of iPads, iCloud, and Photostream

Indian painting

Taken with iPhone 4S through glass, 2″ across

I met an old and dear friend, Mamen Saura who was visiting New York and we went to a exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100–1900.

The exhibition is made up mostly of book pages displayed flat. The scale is so small that the museum has a box of large magnifying glasses that are essential for seeing the pieces, even if you have perfect vision (which I don’t, I used both my reading glasses and the magnifiers).

I hadn’t been to the Met in years and I have to say, it’s so overwhelming my head was spinning. Mamen and I took in the first room of this six room show and had to go sit down and have lunch, we were totally exhausted. We went back and saw the rest of it but in fact, we both ran out of energy before the end. I plan to return with my wife Anne to see it again, it’s that good.

On the way to that exhibition we passed through the new permanent exhibition of Islamic art which is also spectacular. The Met really knows how to display art and while this is to be expected, not every museum does as good a job. I’m not trying to be a “New York snob” but in fact, MoMA is also an excellent place to see an exhibition: the Henri Cartier Bresson show that Anne and I saw there recently was beautifully presented.

Note: nn closer inspection of this Indian art from the 1500′s we found the beginnings of Apple marketing to the rich and famous. We weren’t aware that Apple made pink iPads but no doubt the teenage girls of that era were pleased as punch over it.

World War II: The Holocaust

World War II: The Holocaust

More of Alan Taylor’s excellent collection of World War II in Photos.

Many of us have seen numerous collections of photographic documentation of Nazi Germany’s “final solution” of concentration death camps and have little interest in seeing more. Alan Taylor is an excellent photo editor and has put together a well-captioned collection that should send chills down anyone’s spine, Jew and non-Jew.

Human beings are capable of terrible things and it’s important to look carefully at images like these to burn that idea into our brains so that we don’t find ourselves in the same place, yet again.

Given our short cultural memory, coupled with the number of people who have no clue that this ever happened, I’m not confident we won’t repeat it in one form or another.

Joel Meyerowitz’ photographs of the aftermath of 9/11 in New York

Joel Meyerowitz has a show up at the Tremaine Gallery at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut that’s well worth seeing if you’re in the area: The City Resilient. The images are spectacular: the superb photography and large scale increases the dramatic impact of the scale of the destruction at ground zero.

Amazon has the book of these images: Aftermath and the hardback is priced very reasonably.

Here’s a second video on how Meyerowitz got entry to the site which no press was allowed in to at the time.

We are in the direct path of Irene

We are in the direct path of Irene

The path of Irene’s eye will take it pretty close to our house. Looks like Torrington, Connecticut will be where the eye hits. Mt. Greylock near Pittsfield, Massachusetts where we were the other day will get hammered this afternoon.

Town truck just went by with a snow plow on it, scraping up downed branches on the road of which there are plenty.

Our Stream in Irene

Our stream pre Irene

Warren, Connecticut. Standing on the bridge I made out of telephone poles and 2x pre-Irene (yesterday). Stream running from recent rain but nothing big yet. This stream’s entire drainage is less than a mile before it joins another stream 1/4 mile down from this.

This is 3/4 of a mile of watershed drainage.

Our stream morning of Irene

Standing on the bridge this morning. Stream getting fuller, making a lot of noise.

The eye of the storm won’t hit for another 6 hours so the stream will most likely top our bridge which I’m standing on as I take this (getting soaked).

Bridge over stream pre Irene

Standing near the bridge yesterday, pre-Irene.

Bridge over stream morning of Irene

Standing near the bridge today, during the beginning of Irene. Water will most likely top the bridge, shouldn’t wash it away (telephone poles are heavy) but who knows?

The day of Irene

Our stream is almost overflowing. Not going out to shoot it, rain a bit too hard and the wind is picking up. The eye won’t be here until 2 pm EST (it’s now about 7 am).

We should be clear of the storm this evening but if we have no power it may be a few days. Oh boy, camping in the living room.

I think we’re about to lose power… Sigh.

Hurricane Irene

Sometime Sunday mid-day the eye of Hurricane Irene will pass right over Connecticut (where I live). It’s quite possible we’ll lose power and may not get it back for a few days or longer. They’re now saying it will still be a category 1 hurricane through southern New England which means we’ll have the potential for 75 mph winds and as much as 15 inches of rain in 12 hours. This is serious.

If you comment on this site during the time there are power outages on the East Coast and I don’t get back to you or your comment is caught in moderation limbo, please be patient, I’ll get back online and tend to this site just as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here are some useful links to follow to track the storm and get updates and information:

Hurricane Irene Tracking Map
Hurricane Irene Threatens East Coast of US, New York City Prepares
Listen Live Online to First Responders From Throughout Entire Storm Area
Image of Hurricane Irene from space
Weather Channel Storm Tracker
Ready America Hurricane Safety
State-by-state developments related to Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene on Google News
Hurricane Irene at NPR
Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang

If you’ve got more resources please add them in the comments. Thanks, and everyone affected by this storm, stay safe.

Endeavour lands

Endeavour STS-134 Lands (201106010001HQ)

Nasa photo of Space Shuttle Endeavour making its final landing at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-134) makes its final landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center, Wednesday, June 1, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Endeavour, completing a 16-day mission to outfit the International Space Station. Endeavour spent 299 days in space and traveled more than 122.8 million miles during its 25 flights. It launched on its first mission on May 7, 1992. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A Remembrance of Dorothy L. Peirce

Note: In 1985 I was asked to do a series of workshops on how computers could help students with learning disabilities at The Forman School, a small prep school in rural Connecticut. I liked the people I met there so much that I left the University of Oregon to start Forman’s computer program. The woman who helped me construct that program was Dr. Laurel Fais who ran Forman’s language training program. The woman who helped us integrate computers into the rest of the school was Forman’s academic dean who was also the wife of its headmaster, Dorothy Peirce. Dorothy had long since retired to rural Vermont when she passed away on February 28th. This past sunday Forman had a memorial service for Dorothy and Laurie wrote and read the eulogy below. There’s not much I can add, Laurie wrote and delivered a eulogy that would make Dorothy very proud. No doubt she is.

Dorothy PeirceRemembrance of Dorothy L. Peirce
Alumni Weekend
The Forman School
May 8, 2011
Laurel Fais

I first met Dorothy in my final interview for a job at Forman in 1983. She slipped into her husband, Richard Peirce’s office as he and I chatted, made a few pleasant remarks that put me at my ease, and it wasn’t until later that I realized I had seen my first glimpse in action, of the incredible partnership of Richard and Dorothy Peirce that fueled the energy of the Forman School in those days. If I may be excused verging on blasphemy, though somehow for those of us who know them it doesn’t seem much like blasphemy, Richard proposeth, Dorothy disposeth. Richard lived the visions that they shared for this newly-turned college preparatory school for LD students, and Dorothy made them happen.

I arrived in June of 1983, a new Language Training teacher as it was called then. I was lucky to have the summer to get to know Dorothy, and to begin to understand the principles, the foundations and the motivations behind the sophisticated, comprehensive curriculum that she was in the process of building, a curriculum that reflected her passion to make it possible for these students to achieve to their utmost potential, and more personally for these students to perhaps realize even just a little, the same sort of love she felt for ideas, for language, for knowledge. I drank in her fervent explanations, learned from her profound understanding of the ways of both education and adolescents, marveled at her calm, matter-of-fact attention to every detail, and the long, long hours she selflessly devoted to her professional life as Academic Dean. She made me want to learn everything about helping these students that I could; she made me want to be like her. She had that effect on many of us, through the sheer magnetism of her being, and, I know I am not alone in this group to think that she changed my life, and made me a more worthy human being, by the very intensity of her own professionalism and integrity.

Now, remember that this was the 80’s, and the 80’s for me was the time of the Wonder Woman—the woman who had family and children and was of course the perfect mother, but who also proudly had a successful career at which she excelled. And I had fashioned Dorothy in my mind as one of these Wonder Women already by the time that school started that fall. So I was completely unprepared for her introductory remarks at the first faculty meeting of the year. She walked up to the podium and said, “I am Dorothy Peirce and I am the Headmaster’s wife.” I was shocked, and at first disappointed in what I had taken to be a denigration of the important professional position she occupied at the school. And then I realized that Dorothy was teaching me again—she transcended those stereotypes—she was as devoted to her husband as she was to her career, and defined herself first by her partnership with him, a personal partnership to be sure, but one that defined the Forman vision in those days. She taught me a gracious balance—she taught me to value my role as wife and mother every bit as much as my role as LT teacher, and she was utterly supportive of all of us young mothers working at the school in those days. She smiled as I nursed babies in committee meetings, and held and burped those babies if I had my hands full. I gave birth to two of my three children on campus in Dobbins House—and Dorothy, who now that I think about it, had to have had many many other crucial things to do in her office, was the one who spent the hours of my labor playing with the two older children, keeping them happy and occupied until she could bring them in to meet their just-born youngest sster. Whereupon she promptly changed and took the birthing sheets off to her house to wash, and made me a cup of tea.

Her family was the entire school. I’m sure Forman is the same now as it was then in at least this respect—by June, everyone is exhausted, spent. I stood with Dorothy on one of the June days as the campus emptied of the last students, and together we waved goodbye to the final van carrying students to Brewster. I could feel my body go limp and I turned to share with her my vast relief and my plans to sleep for the next month, sure that Dorothy, who worked harder than anyone, had to have been as tired as I was, and was brought up short by the tears in her eyes. Yet she turned to me and said “I miss them already.”

I’ve already made three trips to the dictionary and thesaurus trying to avoid the overuse of the word that comes to my mind over and over when I think of Dorothy: grace. With her happy wit, her compassionate sensitivity, her sharp intelligence, and her deft cooking skills, Dorothy was a superb hostess. She had a way of dressing so that those of us/you who came to the Head’s parties looking rather scruffy (and you know who you are) felt just as comfortable standing next to her as those who were capable of slightly more upscale fashion. She herself was elegance mixed with spunk, tempered with a vast tolerance and affection for the vagaries of her Forman family. At the first such party I was invited to, I was completely nervous—how on time or how fashionably late should I be? What should I wear (I tended to the scruffy side)? Would there be drinking—should I bring wine? I settled for flowers, which I hurriedly picked from around Dobbins House I presented them to her when she opened the door and she accepted them with thanks and delight, and led me into the kitchen where she carefully placed them in a vase, and where they stayed. “You know,” she said confidentially, as she smiled and took my arm to introduce me to other faculty and staff members, “those flowers are actually endangered.” [But she accepted them in the spirit in which I had given them, and never let me feel bad or embarrassed about the gift.]

Everyone in this room who knew her could add many, many more stories to these, all of which would illuminate another aspect to this complex, remarkable, brightly vibrant, quietly powerful woman. I hope these words have helped evoke her integrity, her grace, her passion for education, her love of the students, her charm, though they are a poor tribute to such an exceptional woman. I think that she would think that the good that she radiated into this world, and that continues on in all the students she took care of, in the faculty she mentored, and in everyone she touched, is the finest tribute of all.

3/11 Tsunami Photo Project

The 3/11 Project: Photographs from Japan, Helping Japan

The 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project is a new app featuring the work of fourteen photographers who documented the tragic aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The .99 app, published by Kodansha, is an innovative fundraiser as well – all proceeds from the project go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

iTunes Preview page: 3/11 Tsunami Photo Project.

An iOS app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch the proceeds from which will go to the Japanese Red Cross.

Robert Crumb Retrospective in New York

R. Crumb: Lines Drawn On Paper

Wow. It’s not a question of going, it’s a question of how many times I can get down to the city to see this show. R. Crumb is my god. I have all his books, a pile of Zap comix and more. Oh my, I’m gonna love this.

Robert Crumb (b. 1943) is considered the premiere underground comix artist of his generation. With only a smattering of issues and titles such as Zap, Motor City, Head Comics, and Despair, Crumb deconstructed the american comic book, revolutionizing the form forever. Over four decades later, his impact continues to be felt worldwide.

This retrospective, curated by Monte Beauchamp, editor of The Life and Times of R. Crumb (St. Martin’s Press), presents key pieces culled from the underground art collection of Eric Sack, with contributions from Paul Morris and John Lautemann.

March 23, 2011 – April 30, 2011

The Society of Illustrators
28 East 63rd Street
(between Park and Lexington Avenues)
New York, NY 10065

Tel: (212) 838-2560
Fax: (212) 838-2561

Gallery Hours:
10 am – 8 pm Tuesday
10 am– 5 pm Wednesday – Friday
12 noon– 4 pm Saturday
Closed most holidays

The Society of Illustrators invites you to attend the Opening Reception for R. Crumb: Lines Drawn on Paper Friday, March 25th, 2011, 7:00 pm.

Refreshments will be served
Cash Bar will be open until midnight
Suggested donation $15 212 838 2560


John Gruber’s take on the iPad2 introduction: The Chair.

Good iPad apps can make the iPad feel not like a device running an app, but like an object that is the app.

This is right on the money and is achieved by having a device that one holds in one’s hands, by having apps run full screen, and by creative use of the multitouch UI.

I watched the Steve Jobs iPad2 Introduction and I think Gruber nails it. Taking Gruber at his word that:

Last year, Apple’s take on the iPad seemed to be that they believed they had something good. This year, they seem to know they have something enormous.

it’s obvious that Steve Jobs who looks to be bravely fighting serious illness felt that he had to make this presentation. I teared up during the ovation he was given at the start; many in the audience thought it might be his last public appearance in a role like this which he excels at.

For what it’s worth, Steve Jobs gave me my first Macintosh at the West Coast Computer Faire in 1984. That computer changed my life. Jobs has changed a lot of lives with his products and the iPad will no doubt change millions more.

In a way, the iPad delivers on what Apple said the original Macintosh would be: the computer “for the rest of us” except its doing it in what Jobs called “the post-PC world.”

Yes, I’ll be getting an iPad2 for sure.