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July 09, 2004


alright, ever since I got back from Europe I've been excessively lazy at posting blog entries. So for the five or so people out there who still even look at this page, thanks for coming. Things have been crazy... I moved from Berkeley to my new home in the Mission District of SF, have been buried in work in a "pre-startup" company - a little summer experiment about which more should surface later, and have had more social engagements in the last month than in the entire three months before I left for Europe. So where does that leave me? Excited, exhausted, and with one too many mid-week hangovers.

Throughout it all, fun things have been afoot...

  • All my conference talks in Europe went really well. While having the A/V fail on me during my big CHI talk was truly a blast (for this paper, on designing directive systems, or, machines that tell you what to do), my workshop talk at AVI on invisible interfaces was the most fun. It was a bit unnerving to get up in front of a bunch of more-or-less ardent computer scientists and (1) not talk about computer science, but rather a bunch of philosophy, psychology, and sociology, and (2) tell them that the way they conceive their work may be flawed. Fortunately it went over well, and great comments and debates of various types ensued. I guess it's hard to be disagreeable in an abundance of wine.
  • My infovis class project, Vizster, a visualization of friendster networks, was treated to two very nice blog entries by Sean and danah, so that when I got back from Europe there were over 500 Google hits (it's now down to under 200) in at least a dozen languages. I should get around to releasing something by the end of the summer...
  • My visualization toolkit, prefuse, didn't quite get accepted to the UIST conference, but has generated a lot of interest. Mucho thanks to all those out there playing with it and providing feedback. And for those who haven't seen it, check out the video (it's 30MB and requires the DivX codec). And why the name "prefuse"? Since UI toolkits in Java have musical themes (Swing, Jazz, etc), I named it in honor of the musician who provided the soundtrack for much of the coding.
  • I will no longer get to enjoy my living room view of the bay. However, one of my former roommates is moving into the house next door to the old one, so I'll have to crash his living room instead.
  • What else? Was in Los Angeles for the 4th... for a loft party in downtown, pool side mansion party in Glendale, hipster party back in LA (and where, though he apparently doesn't check his voicemail, I got to randomly run into the greatest artist I know), and then a complete fireworks immersion in Long Beach.

Next on the docket, two black belt promotions at my aikido dojo this weekend, and a sure-to-be-fascinating workshop on urban computing next week. And, if I can finally get my act in gear, maybe even some regular blog posts. But don't hold me to that.

Posted by jheer at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2004


I could have told you this, but I'm glad there's a quiz to confirm it...

You are a sneaky Ninja.
We don't even know you're there...
before it's too late!

Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by jheer at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2004

back in the saddle (for now)

Papers are due, reviews must be submitted, books must be read, and to top it off, classes must be attended. School has returned. And in the process this blog has been completely ignored. Not just due to the continual ebb and flow of business and laziness, but to some contemplation as well.

I started this blog as something of an experiment, an attempt to better understanding the current blogging phenomenon through participation and immersion. Against some of my initial expectations, most of the benefits I've experienced through blogging have come surprisingly close to home. These include:
-a continual and multi-faceted exchange between other friends and I (some fellow bloggers, others just readers) -- people I know primarily through face to face interaction but whose exchanges have now carried over into the digital realm.
-a memory cache for myself. A searchable, time-indexed journal of the mundane findings/readings/experiences of one's life may or may not make for good public reading, but is quite handy for personal reference.
-a good motivation for writing and analysis -- not necessarily deep analysis, or even decent writing for that matter, but the more practice the better.

That being said, the comments and interests of previously unknown visitors is a great experience and is another nice aspect of blogging, but much less a part (for me anyway) than I had initially thought. As a result of posts to this blog, I've been approached by reporters, made contact with folks from around the world, and at times have even had to take down information previously posted due to unforeseen sensitivities. But it's still the things close to home that ground the activity.

In the end it's not at all surprising, having a digital persona rooted in your physical persona, and spreading from there. I'm convinced (in no small part due to my daily swim in the seas of HCI literature) that the ultimate role of successful technology is not the transcendence of traditional physical and social worlds, but their enrichment.

Perhaps that's a bit heady/pretentious for this post, but for now I think I will continue to use this space to leverage the benefits I stumbled across above -- a repository for the random and not-so-random miscellanea of my life and milieu, as seen through my eyes and through the networks (both online and off) surrounding me.

Posted by jheer at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2004


After nearly a fortnight of self-imposed net restrictions, I'm beginning the process of jacking myself back in to the world of work, blogging, etc. The break has given me a wonderful window in which to take down a couple books (I should hopefully get around to writing something up for those) and eat and drink way way way too much. Other (non-Vegas) highlights include reunions with old friends from numerous phases of my life, one helluva Cal bowl game (51-49 Bears), and a meandering march through the city and back for New Year's. And from what I can remember, it all went quite well. And from what I can't, you're probably better off not reminding me. Now begins the recovery...

Posted by jheer at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

forward to the future

Main Entry: pro.cras.ti.nate
Etymology: Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow
Date: 1588
transitive senses : to put off intentionally and habitually
intransitive senses : to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done
(via m-w)

Funny how procrastination pushes you into new heights of (misdirected) productivity. If only I could create self-convincing artificial deadlines for equally artificial projects, I could turn my normal work into the pure joy of procrastinatory excursions. Incidentally, I am now caught up on hours of reading back-log and am managing just about my entire website using MovableType, including my publications and other assorted drivel (speaking of which, I have a new poem up).

But the clock is ticking. Tomorrow (today?) that abstract, temporal tyrant we call a deadline looms ever nearer... better get some more done.

Posted by jheer at 12:44 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2003

europa awaits

Multiple paths through the grapevine that is the HCI community have confirmed it -- our paper got in! Vienna awaits (as does Prague and Berlin if my plans come to fruition). Anyone looking to be in Eastern-Western Europe come late March / early April late April drop me a line... I'd love to cross your path, or better yet, blaze one with you. And watch out Austria, as I warned you earlier, I may have gubernatorial ambitions. Time to refresh mein Deutsch.

(p.s. more on the paper later...)

Posted by jheer at 01:17 AM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2003

spambot redux

This is the best piece of spambot poetry received yet...

I really liked the site and would ask you a question! How do you blog your blog? If you don't know, please drop me an email.

how do i blog my blog? i'll be sending that mail any second now.

Posted by jheer at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2003


I've been crazy busy as of late... travelling around, presenting, hacking, working, reading, playing, partying, and, when I can, sleeping. So I'm going to do a little back-blogging so my digital memory isn't left incomplete! Some of the highlights include giving demos for ACM Multimedia and intelligence analysts, and throwing a little party back here in Berkeley.

Also, check out this quote I ran into while doing some research for my ubicomp class project:

Perhaps if we stopped thinking of computers as information highways and began to think of them more modestly as symbolic sewers, this realm would open up a bit.
  - Susan Leigh Star, "The Ethnography of Infrastructure"

Right on.

Posted by jheer at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2003


Have a blog? Interested at all in blogs? Then read this: PressThink: Blogging is About Making and Changing Minds. (via DocSearls)

Just my own inactive passing along of the most interesting info :)

Posted by jheer at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2003

fun with spambots

Over the last month or so, I've noticed all sorts of spam comments getting posted to my blog. My favorite so far read something along the lines of:

Great blog! Fascinating, relevant posts. Check out http://somesite.com for penis enlargement solutions.

Fortunately it hasn't yet reached a volume that makes manual moderation unbearable, but it's a disturbing, yet predictable trend... and I'm not the only one who has something to say about it.

Of course the release of MT-Blacklist can help us MovableType users manage this nonsense, but why not have more fun with it? I propose that we co-opt spambots for our own purposes. Through a combination of automatic and manual detection, we can remove spam postings from the comments listings and instead, for each entry, post a "spambot score." We could even have a spambot-honeypot design contest to see who can snare the most spambots. I may even come to regret having so callously deleted those penis enlargement ads before they could be added to my tally. Or, better yet, can we create "spamback" mechanisms and leverage the blogging community + the wonderful world of web services to have some fun at the spammer's expense?

So who wants to write Movable Type modules to do this? Any takers? :)

Posted by jheer at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2003

bloggy blogg world

everyone has a blog these days...

Posted by jheer at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2003

leavin' for a while

I'm leaving tonight to go to the Pacific Northwest, visting Portland for a few days before heading to Seattle to present this paper at the Ubiquitous Computing conference. If anything interesting happens along the way I'll try to post it when and where I have net access.

In other news I got in a car accident this morning. Someone forgot to signal before making a left turn across my path. So I hit my brakes to avoid getting sideswiped, but they still didn't see me and smashed head first into my car. It sucked. I think I'm fine (hopefully no whiplash will make itself felt) though my car is a bit tweaked. I think I'll to stick to airplanes for the next week.

Posted by jheer at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2003

chi flurry

Some of my limited readership may have noticed that I was silent for about a week or so. I was busy working my ass off getting two submissions ready for CHI 2004 - the 2004 Conference on Human-Factors in Computing Systems. I was lead author on one paper, at it pretty much consumed my life for a while... I didn't even get to sleep on Sunday night. I was a secondary author on the other submission, which was a collaboration with my friends at PARC. I shoudn't comment too much about paper content, as all submissions had to be anonymized. I really hope the papers get accepted. Obviously there are all the normal reasons for wanting this, but there was an extra motivation this year, as the conference is being held in Vienna. I could use a nice European vacation come April. Maybe I could even run for governor out there.

Posted by jheer at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2003


My friend Amanda is hardcore:
The Marathon Blog: Here's the skinny on the actual marathon.

Posted by jheer at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003


I ran across an ad for an online IQ test, and having never taken such a test before (which I guess is a lie, since I have taken the PSAT, SAT, GRE, ...) I decided to check it out. It was only 40 questions, mostly logic and math (including visual reasoning). I know nothing of the validity of the results... but read the extended entry if you care to know how it turned out.

Your IQ score is 136

This number is the result of a formula based on how many questions you answered correctly on Emode's Ultimate IQ test. Your IQ score is scientifically accurate; to read more about the science behind our IQ test, click here.

During the test, you answered four different types of questions — mathematical, visual-spatial, linguistic and logical. We analyzed how you did on each of those questions which reveals how your brain uniquely works.

We also compared your answers with others who have taken the test, and according to the sorts of questions you got correct, we can tell your Intellectual Type is Visual Mathematician.

This means you are gifted at spotting patterns — both in pictures and in numbers. These talents combined with your overall high intelligence make you good at understanding the big picture, which is why people trust your instincts and turn to you for direction — especially in the workplace. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.

Posted by jheer at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2003

my window

This is the view from my dining room:
Mt. Tam

Did I mention I love my new house? And soon I will be able to scientifically explain the beautiful view... Check out this exerpt from a homework problem in my computer vision class:

If one looks across a large bay in the daytime, it is often hard to distinguish the mountains on the opposite side; near sunset they are clearly visible. This phenomenon has to do with scattering of light by air--a large volume of air is actually a [light] source. Explain what is happening.

Not that you care, but I will let you know the answer once I get around to figuring it out (ostensibly before the Oct. 1 due date).

UPDATE (9/17): I think I solved the problem. It's pretty interesting. However, I realized that I can't post it before Oct. 1, because then it could be construed as providing an avenue for others to cheat. Just made me realize that though I am quite cognizant of the fact that this blog is world-readable, I tend to conceptualize it as more of a private forum. But enough with the meta-reasoning.

Posted by jheer at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

i passed

I just found out I passed my prelims!! Fortunately my pre-notification celebrations this past weekend weren't in vain. Now I guess I actually have to do something about getting a Ph.D. instead of just talking about it.

Posted by jheer at 05:12 PM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2003

whither heerforce?

My blog has been rather silent as of late... I got a little pre-occupied with moving back to Berkeley, starting up school, and wrestling with SBC to get DSL up and running out here... now I'm swamped in prelims studying and upcoming conference deadlines, but much to the joy of the 5 or so people who actually read this, I will try to post when I can. Though I warn you, with prelims coming up next week, there may only be a large number of paper summaries in the works...

Posted by jheer at 09:37 PM | Comments (2)

August 20, 2003


Kinky and fun, you know how to scream and you sure know how to have one hell of a party!! And one hell of a night . . . I took one of those stupid web quiz-thingies after seeing an entry on metamanda's blog. Never knew that I was a screaming orgasm. I always considered myself more of the beer persuasion, but I suppose I must humbly defer to the superior judgment of the wise web quiz.

Congratulations! You're a screaming orgasm!!

What Drink Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by jheer at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2003


Howdy y'all. Been a while since my last post, as I've been slaving away for the man this past week or so, trying to get a big demo put together for work. I've been working this summer on an architecture for building a wide range of interactive graph visualizations, and using the architecture to build new visualization tools to support intelligence analysts. On Wednesday, a bunch of folks from the intelligence community who have been funding this work are rolling into town and we get to show off our stuff. Exciting, but it has kept me rather busy. In the meantime, I'll post a few interesting tidbits when I can, and hopefully will be able to post more regularly by the end of the week (hopefully DSL has been turned on at my new place by the time I get back there).

Posted by jheer at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2003


metafilter had enough interesting blurbs today to motivate a post... Starbucks is under attack in SF, the magical combination of Google images and digital camera naming schemes can allow you to practice voyeurism from across the globe, and insects run police states.

Posted by jheer at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2003

rss rumble

Haven't posted in a while, as I was offline the past half-week, moving into my beautiful new home with a bay view. Life is rough :)

Here's an intriguing article on the future of RSS and syndication formats that should be of interest to many bloggers and content managers.

Battle of the blog - CNET News.com

Posted by jheer at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2003

blog test

This is my blog. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. Thanks to metamanda and kwc for some design inspiration.

Posted by jheer at 05:26 PM | Comments (1)