Archive for September, 2006

September 27th, 2006

VisiStat 4

New Macworld review: VisiStat 4 (September 27, 2006)

September 26th, 2006

Revolution Number Nine

It’s been a crazy day.

A couple of days ago, we saw a huge spike in the number of visitors to SenseList, thanks to a mention on That was pretty cool, especially since SenseList hadn’t yet attracted a great deal of attention since we launched the site in July. But today, we saw an even bigger surge of interest, this time due to a mention in Yahoo! TV’s daily The 9 (we were #5). In both cases, the post that attracted so much attention was 32 Weirdly Specific Museums. Which is funny, because that was, for me, one of those off-the-cuff, phone-it-in kinds of posts, based on an article I wrote for Interesting Thing of the Day way back when: Museums of Interesting Things.

Prior to today, I hadn’t even heard of The 9. But it was the eeriest thing to be watching a video of this perky blonde, in a very E.T.-style show, rattling off the day’s hottest nine Web pages according to Yahoo, and to have her mention SenseList as though everyone had heard of it already—complete with the SenseList logo I created up there on the screen. It was like seeing my own name in the newspaper or…I don’t even know what to compare it to. Very odd. But, I mean, way cool.

Meanwhile, Morgen and I spent the afternoon hanging out with Jillian Hardee, who has written a couple of articles for Interesting Thing of the Day (Highgate Cemetery and Assateague Island). Jillian, who lives in West Virginia, was in town for a conference her husband’s attending, and it was a delight to meet her and show her some of San Francisco’s interesting spots. The three of us turn out to have quite a bit in common. For example, we’d been planning to take her to see 826 Valencia, a pirate supply store (really), and during lunch she happened to mention how much she liked pirates. So that was a pretty groovy coincidence. We also visited Mission Dolores, all three of us having a fondness for cemeteries.

September 22nd, 2006

Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner

Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner coverTo celebrate the autumnal equinox today, I’m happy to announce the publication of an appropriately fall-themed book: Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner. Like other Take Control publications, it makes complicated tasks easy for mere mortals; in this case, though, the subject matter isn’t computers, but rather cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It costs $10 for the downloadable PDF version; a spiral-bound print-on-demand version will also be available in a couple of weeks or so (regrettably, too late for readers in Canada, where Thanksgiving falls on October 9 this year). Readers of both versions get access to a special “Print Me” file with summaries of all the recipes, shopping lists, and schedules. As usual, you can download a free 31-page sample.

I’ve written a lot of ebooks (this is, I think, my 11th, depending on how you count) and I thought I’d more or less mastered the process. But this one was a much different (as in significantly longer and harder) undertaking. For one thing, recipes take a lot of time to test: if you overcook the turkey you spent the morning brining, you can’t just use an Undo command or revert to the backup turkey you archived an hour ago. For another, everyone’s kitchen, ingredients, and skills are a bit different, so what works marvelously for one tester may not work for the next. And we’ve had to overcome numerous technical hurdles (such as getting fractions to print correctly on certain platforms) and management issues (such as an illustrator flaking out on us before Jeff Tolbert came to our rescue), among many others.

In all, this project has been much more work for all of us than we’d ever imagined, and speaking for myself, it was the most difficult ebook I’ve written. That’s a bit ironic in the sense that we’re trying out this whole cookbook thing for fun, not as a change in our editorial direction. (Of course, if this title sells 10,000 copies in the next month, I think we’d all be more than willing to endure this sort of pain again…but we’re not counting our books before they’re sold.) But I also think it’s one of the best and most useful things I’ve written. I’m really proud of the way it turned out, and I expect it will make Thanksgiving a lot easier and less stressful for lots and lots of people.

Speaking of cooking and computers, I’d like to officially announce The Geeky Gourmet, my new blog about food and technology. I’ll be mentioning a lot of Thanksgiving-related stuff, of course, but the blog will cover all sorts of things: cooking science, food gadgets, restaurants, culinary technologies, and anything else pertaining to food that strikes my fancy, especially if it also has a technology angle.

Last but not least, I should call attention to the fact that I’ve retooled the look and feel of this site a bit, moving from a cluttered three-column design to a more streamlined two-column approach, swapping in a newer picture of myself, and making lots of other small changes. Perhaps I’ll even manage to post a bit more frequently, now that the place looks spiffier.

September 19th, 2006

SnapMail 5.0

New Macworld review: SnapMail 5.0 (September 19, 2006)