Author Archives: profgarrett

Through Mongolia in 4 minutes

Drive Across Mongolia in 4 Minutes from Spots Unknown on Vimeo.

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Nerdcore – MC Frontalot Stoop Sale

Another incomparable song from MC Frontalot.

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Ever wonder how spam works?

Click on the image above to see how spammers use banks and 3rd-party resellers to make money.

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Crazy OK-Go Video

Making music with a car, drums, and lovely gasoline.  OKGO makes the best viral band videos.

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Branding and the decline of the IBM-compatibles


There’s a great post on the Baby Name Wizard blog discussing the latest name of the year —  Siri.

To English speakers, Siri comes across as classic Danish design: clean, spare, elegant in its simplicity. It feels namelike but isn’t overly familiar or tied to any time period. It’s approachable but not in-your-face. It’s cool.

This branding is typically Apple.

A look through computer history reveals less inspired choices. The first electronic relay computer was by Konrad Zuse, and called the Zuse Z1-2.


The first completely electronic computer was the Eniac, which computed firing tables during WWII.

IBM (itself a less than friendly name), came out with the personal IBM 5150, and with some exceptions (like the brilliantly-named Thinkpad) continues with such names as the System Storage SAN768B-2.

Apple, in comparison, has generally done a good job of choosing human-like names.  Think of names like the Lisa, Macintosh, or MacBook.  While part of this consists in such a limited product line, it generates generate a brand that is easy to talk about.

Compare Apple to Dell.  Dell has the Inspiron, Inspiron R, XPS, Z Series, and Alienware primary laptop brands.  Each of these have additional options, screen sizes, and customizations.  They don’t have a brand — they have 5.

The Thinkpads have always stuck out to me as one of the few viable brands opposing the Apple Macbooks.  While not IBM anymore, they’ve got a good reputation of reliability.  Ironically, I’ve seen some studies by rebate providers showing that Apple does not have the best hardware reliability.  But, the uniformly high-quality of their lineup means that they’re perceived as a safe choice. Compare that to Dell, where you can buy a great computer, like the XPS or Alienware, or a terrible one that barely runs the crapware that comes installed on new computers.

It’s been a long time since “no one gets fired buying IBM.”

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Video tutorial on how a content management system works.

I had trouble explaining this concept to some of my students this week, and so put together a brief tutorial on how Content Management Systems work. The Youtube video below walks through how a webserver deals with clients.  It’s simplified, but is a rough mental picture of how the different parts work together to create most websites in used.

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Don McMillan – Life after Death

Don has a number of funny videos on Powerpoint.  His DVD is available for sale, but you can get a pretty good sample through the YouTube clips below.



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Long Way Down

The Long Way Down is the 2nd DVD series/book by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman.  It follows their journal from the tip of England down to the horn of Africa.  Although ostensibly about motorcycles, it spend much of its time dealing with the social devastation resulting from poverty, tribal conflict, and AIDS.

I watched the DVD series a few years ago, and just finished the book (go Burbank library!) last night.  It’s a short read, about 6 hours or so, depending on your level of child-per-minute interruptions.

The first part of the book is marred by constant kvetching about the fast-paced schedule.  Riding a motorcycle is really demanding, but the constant complaining gets annoying.  Their first trip, the Long Way Around, had a much more flexible schedule, and Ewan and Charlie were able to get more in the spirit of a long-distance trip.

I really have no desire to go through Africa, but their descriptions of the people and scenery were gripping.  It’s amazing how much each country differs geographically.  I suspect that part of it is due to the different country’s developmental level and irrigation engineering, but think that it also shows how divisive different geographical landscapes are to people groups’ development.

Overall, this was a good read, but I would rate it as a distinct second to their original journey.  The faster pace and heavier focus on social issues takes away from the more carefree first film, which focused more on Ewan’s and Charlie’s friendship and the challenge of traveling in desolate areas.

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Funny video on presentations

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Carl-Benz Academy Launch Event Pictures

The Carl Benz Academy is a three-university start-up intended to develop Mercedes-Benz managers in China.  The launch event was last year, but I just ran across the photo album today.  Aside from a weird expession on my face, there are some nice pictures on the launch page.


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