Monthly Archives: September 2003

Doctor WHOOOOooo, Doctor Who, Doc, Doctor Who

And in a follow up to yesterdays poll results that said more people in the UK wanted Doctor Who back than any other show, comes news that it will be back. Telegraph | News | Doctor Who ready to come out of the Tardis for Saturday TV series.
I really hope this goes through. I want my favorite sci-fi show ever (MST3K counts as comedy not sci-fi) back.

Exchanging Money For Goods

I often find myself wishing I could write as well as my wife can ( I’m sure that if I had her skills I could write something which would flow beautifully and incline other people to link to it. I want to be able to do that after reading something like: Charging People and the two commentaries to which it links Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content and the rebuttal Misunderstanding Micropayments.
But here is my best attempt anyway. After having read all three I come down squarely on the side of Scott McCloud’s editorial (Misunderstanding Micropayments) and I don’t believe it’s just a misguided idealism on my part. Here’s why. A couple of months ago I had used up all my free downloads (you don’t get many) from and I wanted an image or two for something I was working on. The only solution I had was to buy a block of “download credits” for a $10 fee. I was not liking that choice in the slightest. However, had BitPass or some other micropayment system been accepted by iStockPhoto I could have purchased just the two images I needed for the $0.50 each cost at the highest price they charge. Even if they had charged $0.55 or $0.60 per image because I wasn’t paying them for a block of 20 downloads all at once I still would have preferred paying the small additional amount to having 18 credits ($9) sitting in my iStockPhoto account until the next time I need some royalty free images for a project.
So, Clay Shirky’s article (Fame vs Fortune) had the opposite effect of the one he intended. I’m going to go sign up for BitPass. I’m going to use my $3 worth of micropayments to explore some new stuff I might not have otherwise investigated. But once BitPass stops being a test service and anybody can sign up to offer content through it I’m going to start pressuring some of the sites I really like to use it. I want iStockPhoto to offer me individual downloads and not just large blocks, I want Penny Arcade to offer me an easy way to download their comic and commentary (or receive it in email) every day without having to go to their site, and I want to go to Liz Phair’s or Radiohead’s or The Dandy Warhol’s website to download a song and pay $0.50 or $0.75 cents for it. I don’t want to go steal the damn song (because frankly that’s a pain the ass) and I’d really like to have most of the money go directly to that artist, not to Apple or one of the fine members of the RIAA.

The Wheel ‘O Yum

What one single program could increase the gross national product of the US by 1-3% all by itself? Why the Wheel ‘O Yum can!
How does it do it? See if the following exchange sounds familiar. You’ve wandered out to the parking lot with X numbers of your co-workers. You have no idea where the hell you are going for lunch. “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” “I don’t care. Anywhere.” “How about The Mexican Hat?” “I just had Mexican last night.” “OK, well where do you want to go?” “I don’t care, as long as it’s not The Mexican Hat.”
Yes. This is the problem that the Wheel ‘O Yum solves. Everybody votes on the restaurants they do and don’t want to see, the WOY server adjusts their size on the wheel and then it is spun to let you know where you should go. Also, it’s written in Java so everybody can use it even in environments like the one I work in where there are both Windows and Linux machines.