AssembleMe is an information science blog written by Julius Schorzman that frequently sways off-topic.

Julius is the CEO of the Google Ventures backed company DailyCred. DailyCred makes working with OAuth super duper simple.

To view some of my old projects, visit Shopobot or CodeCodex.

You can follow me on Twitter if you really want to @schorzman.

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    A Tip From a Fellow Take-Outer

    INFO ACCESS: When did Amazon start providing restaurant menus on their website? I don't know, but I like it. And it's not just Applebee's either, I've found all my local mom-and-pop restaurants too, such as tonight's dinner provided by the Noodle Studio.

    Currently available for these cities:

    * Boston

    * Chicago

    * New York

    * San Francisco

    * Seattle

    * Washington, D.C.

    If you're wondering how this fits into Amazon's portfolio, then you're in for a real suprise when you see their Presidential Candidates page.

    No, you can't buy a president. (Well, one can buy a president of course, but you can't. Not at Amazon's discount prices anyway.) You can however donate to a political campaign. Nice to see Kerry/Edwards has raised about five times as much as Cheeny/Bush. Is Amazon more popular among lefties?


    Trader Mike

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Trader Mike is a great blog about the [endlessly entertaining culture that tries to predict the] stock market. My favorite thing about this blog is his chaotic charts and graphs:

    There are a number of problems with this representation -- the most striking to me is the clutter and that awful gradient background with the volume histogram barely distinguishable from the background. You run into the same problem with those pesky EMA lines.

    (EMA, it turns out stands for Exponential Moving Average; basically a statistic that hopes to be the derivative of the line created by any particular stock price over time -- never mind that that is impossible since the future data doesn't exist yet. One thing I remember from Calculus is that the end of a line (in this case, the current stock price) has no derivative, because it has no slope. So, in actuality the EMA is just another moving average, and moving averages by nature lag behind the actual data.)

    In any matter, what I find more telling about this visualization is that Mike's little, short comments are always worth much more illuminating then all of the other data represented by the visualization. This is why, in my opinion, you'll be a more informed investor by reading the Economist then you will be by going blind staring at these kind of graphs all day everyday. It's the idea that stock prices aren't determined by their stock history, but rather by the psychology of investors, the company itself, earning reports, the economy, the weather, the government, exchange rates, geography, employees, and six billion other factors known as world consumers. (Imagine what it might look like if you could find a way to gather and present all of that data clearly and in an informative way. m(@_@)m )


    FYI: Clear Channel Has No Political Agenda

    VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Nothing pisses off Clear Channel like free speech. Yeah, that's the company that had numerous stations ban the Dixie Chicks for speaking their mind. And then there were those Pro-War-Rallies (wtf is wrong with people?) called "Rally for America" funded directly by Clear Channel. What's the new big thought-crime that clear channel is out to squelch? This billboard, meant to be displayed in Times Square in New York during the RNC:

    So what does Clear Channel have to say for itself?

    "We have no political agenda," [president and chief executive of Clear Channel, Paul Meyer] said.

    Hmmmm, sure, buddy. Here's the New York Times article about the snafu. Ok, I'll try and lay off politics for a bit.


    Republican National Convention Map

    INFO VISUALIZATION: Here's a hand little map from the New York Times showing where not to go in Manhattan during the RNC.

    It's good to see Mayor Bloomberg is trying to make the Republican Party more centrist by supporting gay rights and pro-choice groups.


    Bootlegging Tips for SuprNova

    INFO TECHNOLOGY: Are you tired of surfing on SuprNova and wondering which version of Spiderman 2 you should download? Here's a handy reference for the various terms used so you can get the best version:

    Telesync: a copy which was shot in an empty cinema or from the projection booth with a professional camera, directly connected to the sound source.

    Screener: a copy made from either VHS tape or from DVD-Video disc that are sent to movie critics and censors before the movie is available to public through video rental chains. Normally refers to a very good quality bootlegged copy.

    Cam: a specific method how movie pirates create illegal bootleg copies of original movies. Cam method is basically just a guy who uses either regular or professional camcorder to shoot the movie either from TV or actually inside a movie theatre (in some Cam copies of movies you can actually see audience as well :-). These bootleg copies are normally then encoded into VCD, SVCD or DivX format and distributed illegally over the Internet.

    Telecine: a method to make an illegal bootleg copy of an original movie. Telecine method can be done in various ways, but normally it includes process where the movie is taken directly from the reel to digital format and then encoded into VCD, SVCD or DivX format. Other bootleg methods include Telesync, Screener, Cam and DVD-Rip.


    Remotes Remotes Remotes

    INTERFACES: An Engadget post points us to an article about the inventor of the remote control being "confused" by modern day remotes.

    The article is so short it's hardly worth reading. (Think: local broadcast news quality.) But I think the salient point here isn't that remotes are all that awful, there are just too damn many of them. My Tivo remote is pure quality; I never have to think more than a micro-second about what I need to push to get the Tivo to do what I want. However, I'm always flipping back and forth between the Tivo, the stereo, the LCD Television, the wireless mouse and the wireless keyboard. I also have a remote for my ATI video card and a remote that came with my Dell desktop; neither of which I use.

    I know what you're thinking: universal remotes. Ok, now slap yourself and forget about it. Having one human interface to every household device is an awful idea. I don't want to use a mouse to turn off the kitchen lights and I don't want to use a television remote to surf the web.

    What really needs to happen here is a smarter integration between devices. When I plug my TV/Monitor into the stereo, it should know that the stereo is there and it should turn the stereo on when I turn the TV/Monitor on and play its line-in (unless it's already doing something else or I've told it not to). When I activate my computer, my TV/Monitor should know that I want to use it now and should switch from analog in to DVI accordingly. When I turn off the TV/Monitor, it should send out a signal to the stereo saying, "if you're just playing your line-in, you don't have to anymore so turn off." This sort of system wouldn't put every appliance in your house on one remote, but that's a good thing. Instead, it would eliminate the need to have more then one remote just to do one thing, like watching television.


    Politics and Misinformation: The Looming Republican War

    OFF TOPIC: This is way, way off topic for this blog, but I couldn't help but post it. It's a musing by Andrew Sullivan about "The Looming Republican War." I've always had a soft-spot for Libertarians, but have always hated the Christian Right, so I can't help but think it would be amazingly good for this country if the two right-wing camps parted ways. (I also tend to think there is a widening split between old-fashioned protectionist liberals and progressives (like myself), but the split isn't as blatant as that on the right.)

    No direct links on his blog, so you'll have to find the original post here.

    THE LOOMING REPUBLICAN WAR: The current tussle in the Congress over the budget is just a precursor to what I think will be outright Republican civil war after this election. If Bush wins, it will cripple his ability to get anything done. If he loses, the recriminations will get vicious. The fiscal conservatives will be fighting the "deficits-don't-matter" crowd. The realists will be out to topple the neocons. The Santorum-Ashcroft axis will continue to wage war on any Republicans not interested in legislating either the Old Testament or the dictates of the Vatican. (The FMA battle now looks more and more like an attempt by Santorum to identify Republican social moderates so he can use primary hardliners to challenge them in the future.) The battle lines are deep and sharp - and the future of American conservatism is at stake. Bush has proven himself unable to unite a party that includes Tom DeLay as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Bill Frist. Whether the coming civil war is about who lost the election, or who will exploit the victory, it's going to be nasty and enduring. No single party can be both for individual liberty and for theologically-based social policy; both for fiscal balance and drunken-sailor spending; both for interventionism abroad and against moralism in foreign policy. The incoherence is just too deep, the tensions too strained. And with the war on terror itself a point of contention among conservatives, geo-politics will not be able to keep the coalition in one piece.


    I'm Back and Less-Caffeinated

    ASSEMBLEME: Well, I'm back from a long, blogless weekend, and I'm ready to cut back my daily caffeine intake a bit. Here's a list of the caffeine content of various common drinks. I had no idea that my two 12 ounce coffees per day had the equivalent of ten to fifteen cans of Coke! No wonder I get so groggy in the afternoon.


    Preview of Tiger

    INTERFACES: Apple has a Tiger Preview available on their website. It has more of the amazing (yet simple) features that has me salivating like it's Panther all over again. This company is simply amazing.

    Above is a view of the so-called Dashboard, which holds little miniature helper programs that run continuously. Basically, it's like what Microsoft is trying to do with that big ugly second start bar with a huge ugly clock on it that comes with Longhorn, except unlike Microsoft's crap, it's the coolest thing since Panther's Exposé.

    Meanwhile in Redmond... How many people work at Microsoft? Like, 10 thousand? And how much money do the have? Like, all of it? They really need to pull their heads out of their asses and focus on doing a few things well, rather then doing everything shitty. Here is apple, adding features to OS that aren't projected to be in Windows until 2008! Gah, what's wrong with that company? All the money in the word apparently can't buy you a good product.


    EFF: Patent Buster Extraordinaire

    INFO TECHNOLOGY: The EFF has released the 10 patents it wants to either have thrown out or dramatically modified. Wired News has a report on the EFF's efforts, and it's an interesting list. You can also read the EFF's Patent Busting Project's home page. From video game emulation to online testing to Acacia's infamous "digital media transmission" patent, these are all potentially stifling patents and deserve to be busted.

    However, it seems that two of Amazon's patents are missing from the list. Amazon has patented their (brilliant, amazing, feat-defying) "One click purchasing" and their "Affiliate Program," and both are completely obvious and deserve to be busted as well. Maybe Amazon is a little too well financed for the EFF to bother with at this point. Hopefully those will come around in the next batch.

    Meanwhile, we'll just have to enjoy this quote from XCorvis on Slashdot: "Someone should patent the method for profiting from vague patents... then sue everyone profiting from vague patents."