Wednesday, November 30, 2005


With each new podcast, Sparkletack is getting closer to being a complete audio history of San Francisco. The podcast is well written and an easy listen.

Sparkletack mostly focuses on that part of the city north of Market St and east of Van Ness Avenue. This is the high density heart of the city that includes China Town, the Financial District, The Tenderloin, Union Square, Cable Cars, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Telegraph Hill, Civic Center, Polk Gulch, North Beach.

If you live here for any length of time, you become curious about the origins of the place names. Throughout the cities history, streets, buildings and locations have been named after politicians, newspaper publishers, Generals, Spanish and American pioneers, and more recently, writers and poets. If you do something to contribute to the good name of the city then eventually you'll get a street or alley named for you.
Sparkletack gives life to the names.

Subscribe to Sparkletack through iTunes

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Misfortune of Others makes me Happy

Give us anonymity, and a format we're comfortable expressing ourselves in.
We'll tell you the real truth about ourselves.

To get in the mood, listen to The Smiths.
PostSecret is taking confessions.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Tips for using the Treo 650

If you own a Treo 650 (or any Palm OS device) go to Engadget, where readers have been invited to leave comments on their favourite tips and tricks . The list of tips is at 64 and growing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Simple is Good

In the 'old' country (NZ) my grandparents used Hotwater Bottles that were flat pottery bottles with a stopper. (As a child I thought they were stones used for Curling!)

I rediscovered the modern Hotwater Bottle a few years ago.
Just like the mouse trap, the design hasn't changed for decades, and it can't be improved on.

The instructions say not to use boiling water, but it works best if you do. Put in as much water as you want, then squeeze the air out before tightening the stopper. One side of the 'bottle' is thicker and cooler than the other. Use that side first and then flip it over after an hour or so. Put one in the bed an hour before you get in. Place one on your feet under your desk.
When you're finished with it, hang it upside down on a hook to dry.
Simple is good.

Art and Automobiles

Because of my interest in cars, I get to see a lot of automobile inspired art. I keep seeing it, but it fails to inspire me.

The best paintings of cars are the ones that almost appear to be photographs, as seen at SFMOMA back in June.

Part of the problem is that the car itself can be art, which makes any artistic interpretation of the car, an imitation of art.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Calatrava's Sun Dial Bridge in Redding

Rocky Arroyo just sent me this photo. At first glance I just saw cables and orange which means GG Bridge to me. Then I wondered where the deco detail was, and why the cables where at that angle.

'Orange light tends to travel in the "Golden Hours" which is early in the morning and later in the afternoon' Rocky explains.

He wasn't writing about us...was he?

William Burroughs was a great observer of our American Life. He has a droll and disinterested delivery. Listen to him read "Dr Benway Operates" from "Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales".

Now imagine him reading "Thanksgiving Prayer":

Thanks boingboing and Realitystudio.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Screen Spanning iMac

Josh has two displays connected to his PC, and they behave like one very large wide screen. When you mouse off the side of one monitor you reappear on the other monitor. This is so cool! I'd much rather add a second monitor for $$ than blow $$$$ to have one very large screen.

Go here for a list of Macs that can Screen Span, and here for the MacWorld article and link to the download.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


A debt of gratitude to Amy and Josh Tretakoff for hosting a perfect Thanksgiving dinner! And thank you Pauline for carving the turkey.

I had such a good time. You could tell, because I couldn't stop flapping my lips!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I've used the power of Voodoo to place the webcam image on this blog and refresh the image without the complete page reloading.

For the code, go to

GM vs Toyota

Our neighbors have left for Thanksgiving, and I'm looking after their car as I usually do when they're gone. They just bought a Corolla to replace their Saturn. The Saturn was ok, but the Corolla is so much more refined to drive. So, it's no surprise to me that GM is closing factories, while Toyota expands production.

BTW I'm a UAW autoworker, and I encourage you to buy whatever car you want! If you "Buy American" that only means the profit goes to an American company. I don't get all patriotic when I see that Ford made a profit, do you? You can buy a Toyota made in Canada, a Honda made in Ohio, or a VW made in Mexico. You'll get a great car. And instead of feeling good that you bought American, feel good that an autoworker has a job. Hey, Canadians and Mexicans need jobs too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dwell magazine

I enjoy reading Dwell magazine because I'm looking for clever design ideas I can use one day in my own home.
But why do so many architects believe in curtain glass walls and no drapes? When these happy home owners turn on the lights, the neighbors get a widescreen living movie. Could they possibly have nothing to hide? Never leave a mess in the kitchen?

Monday, November 21, 2005

SF Auto Show

SF doesn't get the prototypes or new car unveilings like LA, NY or Detroit, but you will be able to sit in almost any car you'd like to.

This year all the exotic and race cars have been herded into one area upstairs above Moscone South.

This was my favorite car, the Lotus Elise. It was hard to get into, but once seated there's enough room for my 6' frame and there's more foot space around the pedals than I'd been told.

On the other side of the hall was this lineup of old Loti:
That's a Lotus Cortina (British Ford) behind a lotus 23.

A Lotus 7.

And a Lotus Elan with a Lotus Europa behind it.

Click on the image for a QuickTime movie of the Lotus lineup.

A Citroen DS21. One of my favorites and the only French car in the show.

Joe Huffaker's SCCA GT4 class winning (rwd!) Mini.

In the South Hall was this beautiful Ford GT. I think the original GT40 in Gulf colours is the best looking car ever.

The new Jaguar XK looks good

Of the more practical cars I liked the Audi A3. The Volvos and Saabs were very nice, and the BMW 3 series has a good quality interior, but the A3 is smaller and wagon-like. I know hatchbacks don't sell, but I love a fun,fast,practical car!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

SF Cyclocross

SF Cyclocross
Originally uploaded by treough.
Cyclocross is a European sport that was popular with road racers during the off season. The bikes look like road bikes but have cantilever brakes and knobby tyres. Part of the race course is off road, and riders sometimes carry their bikes over difficult sections.Todays cyclocross was in GG Park, with the start/finish at the Polo Field.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

You give and you give

You send me a Bag of Crap, and you see fit to give Treough Blog a plug here.
I'm giddy!

Friday, November 18, 2005


The webcam is here on this bare website (I need to dolly it up a bit. Any web publishing software suggestions? Contribute 3, Dreamweaver, Freeway 4 Express? Help).

Anyway, today I installed a firewire repeater and a second 10m firewire cable for a total of 60m.

I need the extra cable to move the camera to point down the street towards Golden Gate Park. The move is necessary because otherwise this time of year the sun would shine into the lense.

Here's the image I see with EvoCam. You can see the motion detection in yellow. A new image is uploaded to the server when a certain level of motion is measured.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jaguar XJR15 vs XJ220

I took this photo of the 1990 XJR15 in 2002. Then I saw the racecar again at the Mallya Collection a few weeks ago. It's small and beautiful with a narrow cockpit. It's a shape derived from the needs of racing.

Behind it in the collection is a 1994 XJ220. This is the Jaguar supercar. Customers paid their deposit on the car thinking they were getting a V12 and awd. The final production car had a 540hp turbo V6 and no awd. The styling was a bit off. Too big with too much front overhang and too much oval styling.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

300 West 57th Street

When I was in London in 1976, I was delighted to see new buildings on Oxford St. constructed behind the old facades of demolished department stores. The look of Oxford St was being preserved. has some great photos of the Hearst building in NY. Map

WebCam Moves to the Front Room

I like peeking at traffic cams in other countries. So today I've moved the webcam to the front window with a view of the street. You'll see my neighbours parking their cars and walking home. There's more traffic around 5pm (PST) when people head home from work, but there's activity outside all day long and you'll get some idea of what the weather is like here today.

I'm using a 10m FireWire cable to reach the living room, and I notice the image is not very crisp. I'll be working to improve the image quality, add motion detection, and have each new image refresh over the old image. Look for improvements in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Get your mp3's here!

If we all stole music from file sharing networks, the recording companies would go broke, and bands would have to perform live to make money. And that would probably just leave us with the real musicians who are artists.

Anyway, take a look here. Download songs for a few cents each from this (ahem) legal site. And if you don't like giving your credit card information to the Russian Mafia, they take PayPal!

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Rietveld Chair is Assembled

I've been sitting in the chair today and I find it more comfortable than it looks. I'm 5'12" and 165 lbs. The chair fits me like a wooden glove. It has good thigh, back and arm support for me. But the space between the armrests will be too narrow for a lot of people. The next one I make will be 3" wider to accomodate the average American.
Now I need to putty the holes. Sand and prime. Sand and prime. Undercoat and sand. Paint Black, Blue, Red, Yellow.

Woot! Bag of Crap

For those not familiar with Woot! take a look here.
Every evening at 10pm Woot! puts up something new (usually electronic) for sale on there site. The price is always great, and they often sell out within the hour. The product descriptions are very funny to read. Last week they had for sale a "Bag of Crap". They wouldn't say what the bag contained, except that it was worthless junk! Demand for the bag was so high that their server crashed. But, I waited, got my order in, paid $8, and now FedEx just dropped off the bag. This is what I got:

1 Vinyl bag- good design, but it is vinyl.
1 Sony big button TV remote control. It works great on the Trinitron.

2 DVD+RW. Such a shame. Mac uses DVD-RW. Who wants these?
1 TEC hat. Nice. It's Coolmax with two pockets and loops to hold headphones. This is the company that makes cool clothing to carry gadgets

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Shop Girl

Saturday we went to see "Shop Girl" at the Embarcadero Theatres. We like to see movies there. They have free parking and if the movie is popular they have it showing in two theatres.

Shop Girl stars Steve Martin (who also wrote the screenplay), Claire Danes, and Jason Schwartzman (whom I liked in "I Heart Huckabees"). We enjoyed it, although I had that tense feeling of impending doom for Danes' character Mirabelle. She is naive and inexperienced. An unkind lover could hurt her.