thomas locke hobbs | weblog
travel, latin america, photography, urban planning and stuff.
...and now my New York chronicles

March 31, 2000  
Plastic Bodies on Display. Scientific American. March 27, 2000. Disturbing pictures...

Ten real human corpses are slated to travel the U.S. this summer--not for any sort of reburial or medical school exchange program, but to be put on display at science museums.

posted by Thomas

March 30, 2000  
Constructor. By this UK firm called Soda. It's these mechanical stick figures which you can manipulate. Very cool.
posted by Thomas

Eric Raymond's Random Writings. The guy who wrote "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" about this whole Open Source thing. I think I'll be spending a long time here.
posted by Thomas

The new Cubicle. Fast Company. April 2000. About a revolutionary new design in office space meant to replace the cubicle and fix many of it's problems.

Cubicles that have low walls are supposedly designed to encourage collaboration, but they often go too far. Yes, people need to work in teams, but they also need to work on their own. Without boundaries, people lack the visual privacy that they need in order to focus; they're constantly distracted and interrupted...

Resolve's solution? Use screens rather than walls, with narrow slits between the fabric and the poles. The openings act as portholes to adjacent workstations, offering access to colleagues as well as the benefit of privacy.

Peep Holes! The solution to our office space problems is peep holes.
posted by Thomas

I joined the weblogger's webring. Cool. Maybe now I can increase my traffic from my current 6 unique visitors daily.
posted by Thomas

March 29, 2000  
The 20-Ton Packet. Wired. October, 1999. Comparing container shipping to the internet with containers as packets, the oceans as the network, and ports as routers. A really fascinating read, especially concerning the complex business ecologies that might emerge managing the information about the flow of goods.

In ocean shipping, the Southwest Air equivalent may be small, superfast container ships able to deliver heavy goods much more promptly than monsters like the Maersk ships, but at lower cost than air freight. One company, called FastShip, plans to offer high-speed container service using jet-powered vessels traveling from Philadelphia to Cherbourg, France, at speeds up to 40 knots, compared with the Sovereign Maersk's 25. The idea is to offer a seven-day North Atlantic door-to-door service comparable in speed to air freight, but with a cost closer to that of liner shipping.


Imagine, for example, a US factory making finished goods - shoes and dresses - out of leather and textiles shipped from Mexico and China. If a storm disrupts the supply of leather from Mexico, that leaves the factory with the prospect of shutting down for a short time. Knowing the whereabouts of incoming textile shipments from China, though, a plant manager can decide to pay extra to the shipping line to give its textiles unloading priority at Long Beach - while simultaneously speeding up payment through its bank for the goods. The plant manager might also arrange for part of the textile shipment to be delivered by air to keep the plant busy until the rest of the shipment arrives by rail.

posted by Thomas

March 28, 2000  
Weavers Go Dot-Com, and Elders Move In. New York Times, 28 March 2000.

But it was in this community of 2,000 people that an organization formed by indigenous women of two tribes revived the ancient art of hand-weaving large hammocks from locally grown cotton -- and then took their exquisite wares online. They hired a young member to create a Web site. And last year, they sold 17 hammocks to people around the world for as much as $1,000 apiece, gigantic sums in these parts.
In case you're interested, the weaver's website is at www.gol.net.gy/rweavers. When I looked at it the New York Times story had not yet caused it to crash. It's certainly the first time I've visted a site (physical or virtual) in Guyana.
posted by Thomas

Online Bookstore Price Compare or Search: enter ISBN to search for and compare prices at many online bookstores. I saved about $50 buying Christopher Alexander's a Pattern Language. It's heavily discounted at VarsityBooks.com. I also found a coupon at Dealjet.com that saved me another $10 and gave me free shipping. It's nice to know that VC money is going somewhere. Also you can use the code TRIP1840849 to get free shipping for purchases over $25 (expires May 1st, 2000).
posted by Thomas

March 27, 2000  
Salon People | Keep a Web journal, get fired ... or worse. Perhaps I should rethink the wisdom of this.
posted by Thomas

March 24, 2000  
gladwell dot com / articles. Articles by New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell. It was an interesting experience discovering his site. I had read (and liked) most of his articles, without realizing they were all by him. My favorite is one he plublished December 1999 comparing the revolution brought by parcel post to the current craze over ecommerce. His article on the six degrees of Lois Weisberg is damn good as well.
posted by Thomas

Eden: A Gated Community. The Atlantic Montly. June 1999. A nifty article rich with the irony of the post-modern world.

The plot contains elements of Lost Horizon and Heart of Darkness, Fitzcarraldo and The Tempest. After making a fortune as founder of North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins embraced the principles of deep ecology. Then, forsaking civilization, he bought a Yosemite-sized piece of wilderness in Chile, where only he and a like-minded few would live. They intended to show the world how an eco-community could flourish even as the ancient forest was kept pristine. Tompkins ran into one big problem: other people.

posted by Thomas

Digibabble, Fairy Dust, Human Anthill. Forbes ASAP, October 1999. A really cool essay by Tom Wolfe. Not entirely coherent. it has to do with Canadian intellectuals and sociobiology.

I hate to be the one who brings this news to the tribe, to the magic Digikingdom, but the simple truth is that the Web, the Internet, does one thing. It speeds up the retrieval and dissemination of information, messages, and images, partially eliminating such chores as going outdoors to the mailbox or the adult bookstore, or having to pick up the phone to get ahold of your stockbroker or some buddies to shoot the breeze with. That one thing the Internet does, and only that. All the rest is Digibabble.

posted by Thomas

March 08, 2000  
1.2 million miles on chocolate pudding. Here's a story of a guy who earned quite a few frequent flier miles thru a Healthy Choice promotion which gave him 500 miles per bar-code sent in. The cheapest way to rack up the miles turned out to be thru 25 cent cups of chocolate pudding bought from discount stores. Best of all, he gave the pudding to charity.
posted by Thomas

March 07, 2000  
Ten usability heuristics by usability guru Jakob Nielsen. It basically is a summary of ideas contained in Don Norman's book (see post below) except that it's two pages instead of 300. Somehow, tho, the ideas don't sink in without the 298 pages of anecdotes and product horror stories.
posted by Thomas

Design of Everyday Things. The book I'm currently reading. Don Norman, the author, talks a lot about doorknobs and light switches and how you just "know" how to operate something based on subtle visual and tactile clues. Since starting this book I've become horribly intolerant of the non-standard, and hard-to-use light switches here in buenos aires.

Also checkout BadDesigns.com which has a long catalog of badly designed fixtures and suggestions on how to improve them.
posted by Thomas

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Send me email: hobbs@post.harvard.edu
Let me know what I've misspelled.

About me

My name's Thomas Locke Hobbs. I used to live in Argentina, now I am in New York City. I grew up in California. I'm a bit suspicious as the value of keeping a weblog, but I do it anyway. Go to my home page for more about me.

Weblogs I read:

Xblog, Virginia Postrel, Signal vs. Noise, Peterme, Obscure Store, Metafilter, Media News, Lonely Planet Daily Scoop, Lightningfield, Kottke, Joel on Software, Dan Bricklin, Camworld, Arts and Letters Daily,

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