Laptop mechanix

I’m proud of myself. I Newegged a new 60 gb Hitachi 2.5″ 7200 rpm drive, swapped it into a dead Lifebook p2040, reinstalled the OS, drivers and apps, and voila, a classic subnotebook is alive again, on its way back to school with my daughter, who justifiably regards it as a sweet PC.

It did eat up most of Saturday, but hey, waste not want not, and I didn’t manage to croak the system with some March static electricity.

I loved this laptop when I owned it. 12 hours of life with all the batteries installed. A little pokey due to the Transmeta Crusoe — but it has a trackpoint, good DVD playback, and nice bells and whistles. Plus it’s little.


I may be dreaming here, but why couldn’t a metrics system such as Omniture be integrated into a CMS such as Interwoven, and based on rules, automatically shift traffic down predetermined paths?

Example: if a vendor is driving traffic through banner URLs and paid search to landing pages, and if there are multiple instances of those landing pages as part of a standard A-B/multivariate suite, why couldn’t the “winning” page begin to receive the majority of the clickstream as it wins out over its alternatives? The metrics system would need triggers that would run against a rules engine, modifying in real time the destination URLs to funnel traffic to the appropriate page.

It would seem the human interaction in the production-analysis-placement chain is the weakest link in the flow. I need to think more on this one and see where it goes.

This is my favorite font

You have new Picture Mail!

Originally uploaded by dchurbuck.

I want this font. It is in nearly every airport I’ve been in, and seemingly nowhere else.

If I were to pick my default web font, it would be this.

I first saw it in Frankfurt, LaGuardia has it, and this pic is from BWI.

I challenged a design team at Rare Medium to use it for in 1999, but alas, no one could find it.

Dubow to leave

Motley to Leave Time Inc., Plus More Job-Hopping Fun – Gawker

Charles Dubow

“Charles Dubow, the lifestyle editor or, has quit Forbes and is moving to BusinessWeek. The move is more significant than it might appear because Dubow’s lifestyle stories are a key profit driver for the Forbes brand. bills itself as the world’s number one source of business news. But the vast majority of’s readers arrive at the site somewhat accidentally via links, and a large part of this traffic is from what’s executive editor calls “wealth porn” —- and much of that is generated by Dubow. It’s the regular “slide shows,” pictorials of the “most expensive houses,” the “most expensive cars,” and even the “best topless beaches.” These stories get prominent play on AOL and elsewhere —- and the AOL users are morphed into “Forbes readers.” Dubow was most responsible for making this happen for, which made the site quite profitable. Now he is taking his act to BusinessWeek.”

I hired Charles in 1995 after asking Forbes FYI editor Christopher Buckley for some recommendations for a lifestyle editor for Lifestyle — essentially the lives of the rich and famous and powerful — has always been a big differentiator for Forbes from its competitors, genetically embedded by the late Malcolm Forbes’ joie de vivre, balloons, collections, harleys, etc.

Charles is a genius at building online content. His additions and contributions to, as the Gawker item above correctly states, was the solid backbone of expanding Forbes’ audience far beyond what the print brand deserved with its emphasis on business news and chronicles of the corporate leadership of the world. Charles intuitively understood audience development — how to hook people in and then get them clicking, over and over through interactive slide shows of mega houses, luxury vehicles, fashion …. you name it, Charles invented it.

Not to second guess the management at, but they just lost a secret weapon to an online brand that is coming on very strong after a decade of inactivity. Fortune blew it in my opinion by folding itself under CNN Money, but Businessweek, thanks to its emphasis on blogs, is on a roll, and I know from discussions with Reuters over a year ago that they too have their sights set on taking some marketshare away from Forbes.

With some nostalgia, Charles’ was one of the few remaining founding fathers of, back in the heady days of launching, of Adam Penenberg and Kambiz Faroohar breaking the New Republic/Shattered Glass scandal, and now, all that remains is Michael Noer, the founding managing editor now running special projects.

Good luck to Charles and congratulations to McGraw Hill for having the wisdom to snag him.

Bus Plunge Journalism

When I was an innocent young man, given to affectations of being cynically “grizzled” and smoking up a storm in a newsroom in Massachusetts, listening to the police scanner, drinking vending machine coffee out of paper cups with poker hands printed on them, hanging out with derelicts who did funny things like de-ice their frozen windshields with Lawry’s Garlic Salt (thus making their car smell like a hellish pizza for life), I began to collect a scrapbook of bus plunge items.

What, you may ask, is a bus plunge?

Look at a newspaper — the paper kind — and you will find, on any given day, a little inch of text about a bus “plunging” off a cliff and killing a couple hundred people. This is a horrible thing, but apparently occurs often enough to persuade me to never, ever take a bus ride in the Andes. The headline always — repeat always — uses the verb “Plunge.”

Reading the word makes my stomach flip like the descent on a roller coaster. Buses always plunge. They don’t crash. They don’t fly. They don’t plummet. They plunge.

And when they plunge a lot of people die, anonymously, notes in less than 50 words drummed up by a hassled copy desk denizen who needs to plug a chunk of white space on page 5.

In the same genre of bus plunges are ferry capsizes — usually occurring in the Phillipines — and I soon expanded my scrapbook to include those horrors of manmade disaster.

This was not a happy project and the notebook, amazingly, quickly filled up as there seems to be a bus plunge or ferry capsize every single day of the year. Someone stole it.

Point of this macabre digression? If newspapers are toast, and there is no physical layout problem with online news, is the bus plunge doomed? Is this a Zen question?

Google reveals the genre is still alive and well, but not as finely crafted into the telegraphic style of days ago. Now there are actually some details:

And of course, you knew it was coming, there is a bus plunge portal. I am in awe.


More Captain Chat Part 7 – Uncle Bethuel is Wrecked in Siberia » Part 7 – The Reminiscences of Captain Thomas Chatfield

“It was the first of October, and no help would reach them, or anyone know anything about them before the following May, with food enough, with close economy, to last from three to four months and scurvy (that scourge of the High latitudes) sure to make its appearance in a short time…”

Wow, poor Uncle Bethuel goes ashore on an island in the Ochotsk Sea, builds a camp, crosses the frozen straits, finds some Cossacks, and doesn’t lose one of his 32 men. Let’s see, today I listened to a tele-direct web discussion about PTI rates, accessory attach rates, and debated the fine points of a merged agenda for an Integrated Media marketing presentation ….. Garrr. Time to swash the buckle and batten the hatches. wins 2006 Neal Award for Best Web Site

“American Business Media – ABM
Best Web site: Category 3
Editorial Staff”

Congratulations to the staff at and the crew at CXO Inc. They’ve achieved a huge amount of progress in the past year, are in the middle of a massive IT and design upgrade, and this award is validation of those efforts.

Janice Brand, Todd Borglund, Jennifer McCarthy, Bill Hall, Chris Murray, Sandy Kendall, Chris Lindquist, Joe Nguyen, Paul Kerstein, Irina Gabecchia, Jim Alla, Danielle Tetreault,  Jennelle Hicks, Ann Butera …  online GM Rob O’Regan, and CEO Mike Friedenberg …. and the magazine staff. Great job.

Questions about Arctic Whaling

Jim Forbes asks if the “bone” that Chatfield talks about — he shipped tons of the stuff back to Massachusetts, estimating one load’s value at $18,000 in 19th century dollars — is “baleen.” Nope. Baleen is a fibrous material that some species of whale sport in their jaws which acts as a strainer. The whale would plow through a mess of sardines, anchovies or krill with its mouth open, scoop up a ton of protein, and then expel the water through the balleen, leaving the food inside. Bone was just that — bone. It was used, these were the days of pre-plastic, for fake ivory applications. Scrimshaw is not bone, but whale teeth. Baleen was used for corset stays, collar points, hoops in hoop skirts. All sorts of uses.

Jim also asks about “kedge” anchors. Anchors were a very big deal for a whaler. They were like emergency brakes on a steep hill in San Francisco. Captains lived in total fear of a lee shore — meaning, they never wanted to be blown onto a beach. The more distance between the ship and the shore, the safer they felt. So, if the wind is blowing off-shore — meaning, the wind is coming from the direction of the land,  then, if all hell broke loose — a mast breaks, a rudder is disabled, the ship will be blown away from the reefs and shoals. If the wind is blowing on-shore, towards the land, then any screw up could result in utter disaster and the loss of the ship. That’s where the anchors come in. If you are totally screwed and being blown ashore, time to drop anchors. Ships were constantly losing their anchors. Either because their lines snapped, or because they became fouled on the bottom and had to be dropped. Most ships had two.

A kedge anchor was a small anchor that could be placed in a ship’s boat and rowed someplace. Think of it as a manuevering device. You’d run it off the stern, drop it, and then winch up tight to move the stern back and forth. Very useful for winching a ship sideways, off of a shoal, etc. Here’s a definition:

[the]…smallest anchors, the kedge anchors were used when the ship was anchored in a harbour. They helped to steady the ship and keep her clear of the bower anchor cable. They could also be used to ‘kedge’ or warp the ship. Warping was a way of moving the ship in a confined space or if there was no wind. The kedge anchor would be rowed away from the ship by boat and then lowered. By pulling in the anchor cable the ship could be moved along. This could be repeated until there was more space or the sails caught the wind.”*

*HMS Victory website 

Apology over ‘fake’ Clooney blog

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Apology over ‘fake’ Clooney blog

Duh. Posting George Clooney when you are not George Clooney is a highly stupid move by Huffington. The one great loss to online journalism in the blogification of mainstream media is the utter collapse of quality control, fact checking, and accuracy (not that the MSM is a shining paragon).

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