Moving House

house on wheelsSunday morning in Cambridge… the birds are chirping, the strollers are out, and triple-decker apartment buildings are driving down the street. Apparently, even with Man Ray gone, there just wasn’t enough room for the ambitious new apartment complex in central square. This triple-decker has been inching closer to my building for about a week now, and this morning they took down the street lamps and shifted into drive.
The building only traveled about five house-lengths to another lot. Strangely the new lot is clearly not prepped for a house. The building is sitting there now on top of wooden blocks – like a car in a hick’s backyard.
moving house
back of driving house

No Reason to Copy Sony CDs

Apparently I am completely out of the loop on what the hip kids are listening to these day. Of the twenty CDs that Sony decided to protect with their anti-copying software, I have only heard of four, and of the four, three are Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, and Ricky Martin (artists I would not consider listening to – well maybe Neil Diamond). A Google News search today returns over 400 articles about the Sony recall. So far, music CD anti-copying software has (1) deterred purchases, and (2) caused a mountain of bad publicity. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea.

Google Analytics Launches

When HitBox and WebTrendsLive ceased offering their free web traffic measuring services several years ago, countless* individual and small business “webmasters” (now an obsolete term I think) had to switch over to Sitemeter to get nice charts of their web traffic. My site is an example.
These are hosted services so they incur expenses, but the prices these companies were charging to analyze server log files were well out of the range of all but corporate brochure-style sites. A site funded by advertising revenue just didn’t generate the hundreds or thousands of dollars of monthly fees to pay for analytics. Only site owners who had higher pageview to profit ratios could afford deluxe tracking software.
Urchin has been offering a great analytics product that I use on my server, but only because my hosting company negotiated a bulk license making it affordable. Google’s acquisition of Urchin meant they would soon be updating the software and lowering the price, as they tend to do. (Keyhole was a couple hundred dollars before it became Google Earth and available for free.)
It’s no surprise then that the former Urchin hosted service is now being offered by Google for free, but it is exciting. What’s most interesting is the integration of website analytics to the Adwords advertising program. Presumably, the increased advertising revenues will subsidize the hosting costs. The web has granted us an amazing amount of data, and we’re still taking baby steps towards making sense of it. It’s worth remembering that not everything can be measured in pageviews, unique visitors, purchases, and ROI. I will be checking my site stats at least daily though.
*I use “countless” in the expressive sense – meaning “many”. Surely a web analytics company has some method of counting their subscribers.

New Central Square Dining Establishment

I’ve been watching the former site of Burger King in Central Square with anticipation over the last few months as “for rent” signs were posted, construction began, and a menu has been unveiled behind the tinted glass bubble of the former ruler-of-burgers. The new restaurant will apparently be called Rendezvous, which means I will be doomed to mispell both words in its name. Day after day I have turned my head and slowed my pace, occasionally reaching a full 90 degree head turn and, yesterday, actually stopping to peer inside.
From the looks of the menu (apparently the kitchen staff is ahead of the construction crew), you can have a few drinks and not be able to remember which Cambridge square you are occupying: Central (Rendevous), Havard (Grafton Street), Porter (Temple Bar), or Kendall… wait, you’ll know you’re not in Kendall.
The next question is whether Rendezvous will benefit the neighborhood. I can see why many would say that another upscale restuarant is the last thing that Central Square needs, especially after losing a hip Cambridge destination, but there really isn’t anything bad that can come from the end of a Burger King.

IKEA Stoughton Opens

After years of waiting, IKEA comes to the student metropolis of Stoughton, Massachusetts. It’s here, no doubt, to serve the greater Stoughton metropolitan area – namely the student meccas of Boston and Cambridge. I’ve actually earned a degree in the time I’ve been IKEA-less (exceptions for visits to Renton (WA), Woodbridge (VA), Elizabeth (NJ), and New Haven (CT), but the wait is no more.
Of course, if you decide to go opening weekend the wait continues in the form of traffic. I waited over an hour in the traffic between the freeway and the parking lot on Saturday afternoon, but I knew what I was getting into (and also what I was getting). Friends say I’m crazy for making the trip, but I ask you: Is it unreasonable to be excited about affordable well designed furniture? Of course it’s not – and they were handing out hundreds of windshield sun-screens that would corroborate this point.

Nascar Guitars

I saw these Nascar Guitars in the latest Zzounds catalog. Now maybe it’s just me, but I just can’t see any connection between auto racing and acoustic guitar music. Are the winning drivers expected to serenade the crowd with the sweet sound of strummed strings after their aggressive display of pedal pressing and wheel turning? Or is it simply that there is nothing left on the car to sponsor so the cars themselves are now sponsering other everyday items?

Old Computers had More Innovative Design

These photos of old computers on CNET show that some of the early computers actually had pretty nice looks (a couple of the ones pictured, not all). Today’s computers are almost always just a box. Innovation today is Apple making a box with rounded corners. Where did we go wrong?
I think the early years of a technological innovation are the most varied design-wise. There is no model to copy, no standards to comply with, and no established consumer expectations. Some of those early cars looked pretty cool too – a lot more than than the five basic shapes you see today.

Yahoo! Maps +

Yahoo! answers Google Maps with their own updated version – very similar to Google’s, with the ability to drag and zoom, and it’s very fast.
Yahoo is also offering an API so that people can integrate other data with the map. One example of this is, which plots upcoming shows from (a recent Yahoo! acquisition) onto Yahoo! maps. The result is pretty cool, but – as the name suggests – shows are more about when than where, which is why is organized into metros rather than cities (which also makes it ridiculous that people have created a Cambridge metro when there’s already a perfectly good Boston one).