As Far As I Can Tell

There goes another one

I was born twenty-seven years ago today. Here I am 25 years ago; check out the sweet denim jump suit.



Hey Simon - Happy Birthday!!

Posted by: scott on September 29, 2005 12:49 PM

Happy B to the D! Keep it real.

Posted by: joshuaf on September 29, 2005 11:11 PM

I wish I was with you on your birthday. We will have to have so many celebrations rolled into two weeks when you visit. Lordy, I miss you.

Posted by: meredith on October 1, 2005 5:03 PM

happy late birthday! i’ve moved my journal again. it has been a while since i checked this place out. much different now!

Posted by: jim on October 3, 2005 2:24 PM

Mobile work and ubiquitous WIFI

When I started school I was given a 15-inch Powerbook to use. Ive never had a laptop powerful enough to do actual work on and Im really enjoying it. Ive fallen into a mobile work style where Im constantly changing my location. Ill roam from the studio on campus to the public library, over to the caf, and then home. Even in my apartment Ill swap between the kitchen, couch, and bed. I like not being prisoner to my desk.

One of the reasons this works is that every place I go in a normal day has free WIFI. The one missing spot was the 61C coffee shop next door to my house but this week they hooked it up. I dont even think about internet access anymore; I just open my laptop and assume Im connected. Complete city coverage through municipal wireless would be great but in my day-to-day geography this mesh network is great.



i live in portland now, did i tell you? anyway, they are going to try to get city-wide access, but the city is probably going to muck it up—because it won’t be free! basically giving one company the rirhgt to charge the whole city. and right now there is this great geek-run organization that installs wifi in places around town for free ( personal telco: ) , and if this city thing goes thru, it would create problems for the good stuff already in place. p.s. the falsefridays thing was me, too.

Posted by: jim w. on October 3, 2005 2:27 PM

92 and counting

By the time I’m done writing this Meredith’s flight will have landed in London, the first leg of her trip to Lille completed. I woke up so nervous this morning, as if I was the one leaving the country for over half a year. I was dreaming that all our houseplants had starting growing like mad, sprouting upwards and spawning giant flowers that they’d never had before. It’s like they’d learned how to speed up time, growing and flourishing at an increased rate. I can only hope the next 8 months will feel that way for me. Go time go.

I’m not dwelling on the whole chunk of time though; I bought my ticket last weekend. Ninety-two days until I’m in France. I’ll be counting them down.



I feel for you.

Posted by: jake on September 27, 2005 7:26 AM

92 days….. you can do it! It is only three months. Think of how fast the last 3 mo. have gone. Go plants!!!! Go!!! I am sorry it will be so long. I hope you are crazy busy so it will go by so very fast.

Posted by: gig on September 28, 2005 10:38 PM

Time will go fast once we get past these transitions and we are in the countdown…The Final Countdown. Thanks for your support spanning the Atlantic.

Posted by: meredith on October 1, 2005 5:01 PM

Kick-off to endurance

Im busier than Ive been in years but this is a no schoolwork weekend. Im headed to Michigan early tomorrow morning to spend my last days with Meredith before she heads to France. This two-week warm-up period was okay as long as I stayed busy. Luckily thats in the cards for the duration.

Besides tons of fun with her Ill be celebrating an early birthday with my family in Sturgis. My brothers birthday is today (Hey Isaiah) and since were both so far away were rolling it into one. Better yet since Meredith will be gone over hers next month well celebrate that early too. Every days a birthday.

Its funny — since Ive had so little downtime lately I had to schedule phone calls during for my drive to Michigan. Basically I couldnt answer some lengthy emails so I moved them into voice. That sort of time and task shifting is essential now and Im getting better at using every spare moment for something.



Get used to that…it only gets worse. :)

Posted by: Dan Saffer on September 16, 2005 1:08 AM

Simon, Please email me…… I need your new address : )

Posted by: gig on September 19, 2005 12:43 PM

I’m busy too, I think its probably for the best though.

Posted by: John on September 21, 2005 12:21 AM

Google Scholar and CMU

I just noticed that when using Google Scholar from the campus network certain entries have an extra link next to the title that says Carnegie Mellon Fulltext. Clicking it takes you an internal CMU library page where you can read the entire article. Since its doubtful that theyre rewriting the results on the fly Im guessing that theyve partnered with Google to detect the network source and include the link.

There are other digital libraries, like the entire ACM, that detect my campus connection and let me in. But thats a basic authentication system: check IP range and allow access. This is entirely different, serving up a specially rewritten page with links to an inside network. The scholar features are a distinct service from Google University, which offers a Carnegie Mellon option. I wonder how data is obtained. Is it queried in real time or does somebody at the library provide them with an update file periodically? Ill have to ask around.



I noticed something similar here at WMU this year. First, when I am at school the Scholar link appears on the google homepage— where at home I have to go to more and then to Scholar. Second, under the description where it offers links to where the article is cited and web search, there is also a ‘FindIt@WMU’ link. This takes you to Western’s server and uses SFX [] to search within the library’s system… linking to full text if available, and an option to make an interlibrary loan. It looks like all Google University does is add the ‘’ option to my searches. It just looks like a list of schools’ domains to search within.

Posted by: chall on September 21, 2005 1:57 PM

Interesting. Maybe it’s a deal made through the Ex Libris Group since that’s what CMU uses for full text searching as well. It would make sense that it’s mediated through a third party like that rather than directly with each school. I also noticed that the scholar link is on the homepage from the campus network. Very tricky.

Posted by: Simon on September 21, 2005 6:03 PM

Mexico City through the eyes of Mark Powell

When I visited my brother in Philly last July we took the Chinatown bus into New York for a day to visit museums and galleries. It costs an amazingly low $10 one way for a two hour ride on a comfortable charter bus. Compare that to driving where you have to pay gas, tolls, and parking all day. The bus drops you in lower Manhattan a short walk from SoHo or the subway.

One of the shows we saw was an exhibition put on by the Brooklyn Institute of Contemporary Art at a gallery in the meatpacking district. I didn’t care for most of the work but the one artist that caught my eye was Mark Powell of Detroit, currently living in Mexico City. His street portraits of life in the Mexican metropolis really capture the uniqueness and personality of his subjects. Each one seems like a small clue to a strange and lengthly story.

After seeing an artist I like it’s normally fruitless trying to find online examples of their work. Not so with Powell, who has a huge collection of photographs on his Flickr account and adds new ones almost daily. He uploads at full resolution so every detail is visible and even publishes them under a Creative Commons license that allows for non-commercial usage. He recently created a catalog photoset that contains all the photos from the show I saw and more. The catalog photos are lower resolution but many are duplicated at highres further back in his photostream.



what the hell? who is this viagra character??

Posted by: allison on September 8, 2005 12:27 PM

I deleted the post you’re responding to, and it may surprise you to know that I have to delete at least a few of those every day. It’s known as “comment spam” and if you haven’t heard of it you’re lucky. I have a addon to Movable Type that blacklists URLs posted in the spam but new ones pop up all the time. Basically they want to get their link out there so their Google PageRank increases. Such is life on the publicly writable web.

Posted by: Simon on September 8, 2005 12:29 PM

Thanks for coming to the show. I have a book coming out and will keep you posted on that.

Posted by: mark powell on February 23, 2006 4:11 PM

Is it me they’re avoiding?

I took a break from work to look at various record label sites and the tour dates listed for their bands. It’s frustrating to see that nearly every one I check plays Philadelphia but skips right over Pittsburgh. As if thats not bad enough I saw that Kalamazoo is on the Destroyer tour schedule. Big ups to Kalamazoo, but what the hell? Everything else here has been splendid but who would have thought that I’d have fewer show options?



He/they are playing the Barking Tuna Fest. It does seem like some cities, despite their size, get the shaft on the touring circuit. p.s. What’s wierd is that WIDR was supposed to rename the Barking Tuna Fest was supposed to be renamed this but I guess they were too lazy to do so.

Posted by: josh f on September 6, 2005 1:35 AM

i’m tired and repeat myself and don’t make sense…ugh

Posted by: josh f on September 6, 2005 1:38 AM

Start booking shows, Simon… it’s not as if you don’t have enough to do, right? ; ) **** BTF? WTF? I thought it was dead. Or is that just my jaded crabbiness showing through… Actually, I’m happy to hear that Kalamazoo is doing so well with shows… even without the presence of one Mr. Joel Wick.

Posted by: e on September 6, 2005 11:41 AM

Whew, that�s better.

New layout, new city. It�s impossible to recap everything that�s happened to me over the last two months or so. Who am I kidding; I haven�t been updating this site with any frequency for much longer than that. That is about to change though; believe it.

I live in Pittsburgh now. Meredith and I moved here in the middle of August and spent two quite wonderful weeks together exploring the city and really enjoying our new neighborhood. She�s back in Michigan now, biding her time in Gobles and trying not to feel like she�s time traveled back to high school. At the end of the month she leaves for France so this is just a weird limbo state.

For both of us I suppose, though my setup here is roughly the same as it will be when she leaves. I�ve had a week of school so far that went by quickly and felt good. I�m teaching a class as well, which was disorienting to find out about a week beforehand but once I get in the groove of the semester it�ll be fine.

So enough of this attempt to recap and reframe everything you may or may not already know. Posts like these are what cause me not to update after a lull. If you want more info on what�s new with me or just what my new address is then drop me an email.



Congratulations on your move and [re]starting school. Teaching a class, huh? I’m sure it’ll be great. Best, Tim

Posted by: Tim Iseler on September 4, 2005 2:36 PM

as i’ve said before, i’d *love* to have you as a teacher… now if i could just get myself to return to school. congrats on the new pad. it seems really cool! (we checked out yr. flickr pix) allison and i are jealous of the unique space… and moreso, that map of the midwest. let us know if you head to nyc… and maybe we can make a visit to pittsburg! *heart* e.

Posted by: e on September 5, 2005 1:01 PM

Thanks guys. Eric: You two should visit, especially if you ever drive back to Michigan sometime since I’m right on the way. Do you ever drive though? It’s so much easier to fly.

Posted by: Simon on September 5, 2005 10:05 PM

Now I must update my sad abandoned thing too. Maybe I’ll just throw another online quiz on there.

Posted by: meredith on September 7, 2005 7:37 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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