Coyle & Sharpe – the original San Francisco Pranksters

Coyle & Sharpe

San Francisco has a long tradition of pranksters. Back in the early Sixties, two guys in suits working for the local KGO station interviewed people on tape for their radio show. The archives are available on CD and they also have been releasing selected episodes via podcast. The pieces capture a time when America was more innocent, when anyone in a suit could get people to agree to anything in the name of, “being a good citizen.”

In Maniacs Living in Hell they push one guy to agree to risk death working 12 hours/day in a fiery pit, attacked by swooping bats and murderous maniacs. He finally declines when he learns he has to make his own lunch.
The Imposters 001

Those looking for a modern version of the Coyle & Sharpe spirit are advised to check out the San Francisco Cacophony Society.

next.yahoo.net

There’s some cool blogging going on over at next.yahoo.net, a relaunched corporate blog that highlights the hacker culture at Yahoo.

Sure, they just posted a short video of sound bites spliced together from interviews (Ricky Montalvo is a master) I did at a recent all-night hackathon. But there’s also other great posts including Havi’s summary of a thread on implicit & explicit which includes the complete video of David Weinberger‘s opening keynote from the first Defrag Conference held in Denver earlier this year which is well worth seeing.

A picture is worth a thousand words – Yahoo! Shortcuts for WordPress

Yahoo ShortcutsWhen I write a blog post I make heavy use of the tabs in my browser so that I can switch back and forth between the blog compose screen and other screens where I do my research. I usually have my trusty image editor running as well so I can crop an edit any images that I use in my posts.

For the past few weeks I’ve been playing around with a new WordPress plug-in (Yahoo Shortcuts) that will cut back on the copy-paste, rightclick-save, and other context switching by bringing content and references directly into the WordPress compose area. With this plug-in running, it scans your post for potential annotations that can turn a drab bit of hypertexed links into a gloriously illustrated work of art.

For example, if I wanted to do a story about my hotel in where I recently stayed, all I need to do is include the address (3000 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109) and Shortcuts will look for suitable information such as the map you see on this post and add it complete with text wrapping. All it took was a single click. Not only will Shortcuts search across shopping for product information, it can also pull in stock charts for companies, and Creative Commons images from flickr. The embeded graphics are beautiful so the temptation is to go overboard and embed the Shortcut “badges” willy-nilly. An alternative is to chose the “link” option which is a great way to add context to your post while keeping your viewers on your site.

Some other examples where Shortcuts does the right thing. Hover over the link to view the contextual badge:

  • A chart for Dow Jones or (AAPL).
  • Shopping preview for the Nintendo Wii
  • A search preview for Barak Obama

Once you’re done with your post, click the Review this Post button and you get a preview window where you can choose which links you want to embed, which you want to just enable with a popup, and which ones you want to ignore. This is key. Other products that automatically provide contextual links are an all or nothing affair. It’s vital to retain editorial control so you can choose which words or phrases you want to recognize. Yahoo Shortcuts does this. To get a sense of the how the plug-in works, check out the screencast.

No more tabbing over to another window or fiddling around with HTML or CSS code, Yahoo Shortcuts just brings it all in so you can work with it right there and then, all on one page.

Yahoo! Shortcuts plug-in for WordPress

End of an Era

Pay PhoneBack in February Western Union announced that it would no longer be sending telegrams ending a 150 year tradition of the hushed interruption by the butler of urgent news from lands far, far away.

Thus it is only fitting that today we hear that the New York Times has shut down its fabled Recording Room which was the journalist’s last savior for phoning in a scoop before deadline. No more dashing to the lobby of the racetrack to phone in results over a pay phone. AT & T even announced that they’re getting out of the payphone business all together.

I guess it’s about time for trenchcoats and fedoras to come back in style.

Lowest Common Denominator President

Our country is sharply divided over a war that is being waged in a distant land. My views on this war are clear: it is happening, it is happening in Iraq, and it will continue to happen until it stops. Some people believe we should withdraw all the troops now. Some people believe we should stay and fight until we’ve established a stable nation. Some people believe we should gradually hand over control to the Iraqi government. I feel blessed to live in a country with so many beliefs.

– from McSweeny’s A Presidential campaign speech that will help you sweep the popular vote

Reminds me of speeches I’ve heard before. I’m tired of hearing candidates say, “I believe. . . ” What about, “I know. . . “

Warner Brothers gives us a peek at upcoming Speed Racer movie

Larry and Andy Wachowski made their name with The Matrix trilogy of movies. In their first release since that series of movies, Speed Racer (due out in May 2008) is an on screen adoption of the popular Japanese cartoon from the Sixties. Today Warner Brothers released a few stills from the movie and it’s looking pretty amazing.

Speed Racer’s car

USA Today has the full story with more stills.

UPDATE: AOL has the trailer in High-Def!