All posts by Kevin Lawver

A Bold Proposal

We all hate spam. It’s stupid, misleading and a huge drain on our inboxes. But, what if it was short and mildly entertaining? What if spammers were required to write their misspelled grammatically horrific missives as single haikus? I think that would make things a lot better. I’ve even written some to get them used to the idea:

  • Your manhood too small? // Your wife will be happier // If you take our pill!
  • African prince here // Need help to send you dollars // Just fill out this form!
  • Replica watches // Built in Ukraine, look like best // (only last a week)
  • Russian brides for you! // They’ll love you for your money // Peruse our beauties!
  • Not really PayPal // Need your password, or… bad stuff! // I’m, like, official!
  • Someone thinks you’re cute! // But, to find out, we need cash // You poor lonely fool.

The great thing about haikus is that they easily fit on twitter too. I’ve posted a couple of these with the hashtag #haikuspam. If you write your own, tag ‘em and share ‘em with the world!

Years of Costumes We Have to Explain to Everybody

Sometimes, especially Halloween, I can’t help but think I’ve somehow ruined my children. Every year since they’ve been old enough to pick their own costumes, they’ve gone as something so obscure and webby that we end up having to explain it at every house we go to. That’s doubly true since we moved to Savannah and most of our neighbors are retired.

Here’s a quick recap of the last few Halloweens:

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]Spifftacular[/hang2column]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]Brothers

2006: Max was both Calvin and Spaceman Spiff. Brian was Hobbes.[/hang2column]

[nohang]Crazy enough, in 2007, they were a tiger and an elephant[/nohang]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]Max & Brian as Pip & Kitteh

2008: Max and Brian from Abe Koford’s awesome web comic, Laugh Out Loud Cats.[/hang2column]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]The Dancing Duo

2009: This one wasn’t so obscure… Max was Luigi and Brian was Darth Vader. We still had to explain Max’s costume to the neighbors.[/hang2column]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]Link and Geno, Ready for Some Treats

2010: Max as Geno from Super Mario RPG and Brian as Link from Legend of Zelda.[/hang2column]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]My Little Peashooter

And 2011: Brian as a Peashooter from Plants vs. Zombies. Max decided not to dress up this year after failing to manufacture all the pieces he needed to be Gordon Freeman from Half-Life.[/hang2column]

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]I have no idea where they get it from…

Me as Walter Sobchack[/hang2column]

[nohang]Happy Halloween, everybody![/nohang]

My Baby With a Real Baby

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]Happy[/hang2column]

We went to my co-worker Juliet’s birthday party on Saturday and my other co-worker, Steven, brought his daughter. Brian also had a project last week at school where he had to take care of a tiny pumpkin like a baby, so we’d been having lots of chats about what it was like to have a baby. Brian told me he couldn’t remember ever holding a baby before. I tried to remind him of the time he held a baby at Uncle Tim’s birthday party in Ohio, but he didn’t remember it.

So, the day before the birthday party, I asked Steven if we could “borrow” Stella at the party. Brian was an absolute champ with her, and Stella was an angel. She’s the coolest and calmest baby I’ve ever seen and had a ball laughing at everyone and being the center of attention. Brian was super gentle and did a good job holding her and keeping her from tumbling onto the lawn.

I think the reason I love that photo so much is that it sort of cements that Jen and I don’t have “little” kids anymore. The boys are growing up and we have entirely new things to deal with – no more dirty diapers, but we get to deal with peer pressure, girls, school projects and trips, parties, etc. I kind of miss having babies around, but I don’t think I’d trade places with Steven. We did the baby thing, and now it’s time to do this.

Two Things

Real quick, before my brain falls out of my head.

  • I launched this. It’s still very new and so very not finished, but you can start to get an idea of what it will turn into and how awesome it will be. We’ve got 10x the number of songs that Pandora does, super awesome technology and we’re just getting started. It’s radio, but awesome!
  • I wrote this. It’s about how those of us already living in the future can help those stuck in the present (or in some cases the past). I’m still looking for the right way to say it all, and am looking for help. So, read it and let me know what you think.

There you go. Two things. Enjoy!

My Favorite British Shows on Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix customer for only a few months, but I’m already in love with all the foreign films and documentaries I can get. The best part, though, has to be all the British TV shows! Because someone asked on Twitter last night, here’s a list of my favorite British stuff on Netflix right now:

  • Luther – One of the best psychological thrillers and cop shows I’ve seen in a long time. Idris Elba is fantastic as John Luther, and the rest of the cast is superb. I can’t recommend this one highly enough. Fantastic show.
  • Doctor Who – If you’ve missed the Doctor Who revival of the last six years, what’s wrong with you?! This show is aces. It walks a fine line between serious sci-fi, camp, satire and horror. The great thing about Doctor Who is that it can do pretty much every genre and still be OK for kids (I tell mine that the Doctor always wins and that seems to get them through all the scary stuff).
  • Top Gear – Again, how have you missed this? Don’t be afraid that it’s a car show – it’s basically the Three Stooges with insanely expensive toys. It’s one of the funniest shows ever produced, and there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular shows in the world.
  • The IT Crowd – One of the funniest sitcoms ever, and one of the geekiest. Really, just watch it.
  • Downton Abbey – Kind of an Upstairs Downstairs thing, and a little soapy in spots, but the acting and writing are spectacular, especially the servants.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look – Seriously funny sketch show – smart too.

I’ve got to get to work now, but that should keep you busy. I know I’ve missed a bunch, and some of my favorite UK shows aren’t on yet (*Misfits* is one of my favorites – think Skins with super powers), but keep an eye out.

I’d love to hear about new stuff if there are things I’m missing!

What I Did This Weekend: Bugs and Dolphins

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]two dolphins, fins peeking out of the water[/hang2column]

My co-worker Mireia has been in Savannah working with us for almost three months. She goes home back to Barcelona in a couple weeks, so we decided it was about time to start cramming in touristy stuff! This weekend, I dragged her all over the low country looking for alligators and dolphins. We were half successful…

On Saturday, we went to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge looking for alligators. Unfortunately, because they’re doing construction, you can’t drive through the refuge like you used to be able to, so we went on a two mile hike through a small part of it. We didn’t see any alligators, but we saw a lot of birds, got bitten by a thousand little bugs and I got a sunburn. Then we went to Johnny Harris for lunch. It’s Savannah’s oldest restaurant, and has been open every day since 1937. Here are the rest of my pictures from Saturday.

[hang2column element="div" width="500"]two dolphins, fins peeking out of the water[/hang2column]

On Sunday, Juliet, Mireia and I went on Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tour. It was great! We saw a bunch of dolphins, got some great pictures and had a lot of fun, even though the boat was full of Girl Scouts (they were really well-behaved and not as bad as I thought they’d be). I took 347 pictures – mostly because dolphins are really hard to photograph. So, I put it in sport mode, centered the focus area and took tons of shots. My 18 favorite are also up up on Flickr

After the tour, we went to Gerald’s Pig & Shrimp on Tybee. It’s a food truck with a nice patio, and some of the best BBQ in town. If you’re going to the beach, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It’s way better than most of the other restaurants on Tybee, the prices are super reasonable and Gerald is a lot of fun to talk to. Plus, their limeade is heavenly.

After all of that, I did laundry and went to bed early. Being a tourist is hard work…

Ficly and Creative Commons: The Power of Open

[hang2column width="250"]The Power of Open book cover[/hang2column]

I’ve been a huge fan of Creative Commons pretty much since they launched. If you don’t already know, Creative Commons provides several ways for you to license your work that expressly allow people to use it in certain ways. It’s sort of copyright++ – allowing folks to do things with your work that they might not otherwise be able to do legally without a lot of complicated legal wrangling. For example, there are tons of CC-licensed photos on Flickr. Depending on the license, you can use those photos for non-commercial work as long as you provide attribution, all the way to mashing them up in any way you want with absolutely no restriction. This blog has been CC-licensed since the beginning of Creative Commons. All of my photos on Flickr and presentations are too.

But, this post isn’t about my blog. It’s about Ficly (and ficlets, may it rest in peace). Back in 2006, when we first started working on ficlets, I wanted everything to be CC-licensed. Part of the motivation for that was so we could use share-alike licensed photos from Flickr. The other reason was that the share-alike license perfectly fit the premise of the site: anyone can add sequels or prequels to your stories. It took a lot of convincing to get the AOL lawyers to sign off, but after they did some digging, they realized that they didn’t have to do any work writing an additional Terms & Conditions document for the site, since the Share-Alike Attribution license (for the sticklers, out there, I think ficlets used by-sa 2.0) covered it all.

A few months ago, someone from the Creative Commons reached out and said they were writing a book of case studies of sites that use CC licenses and asked me if they could interview me. And of course, I said yes! Well, I’d totally forgotten about it until I got an e-mail that the book, The Power of Open is out now, and my little interview made the cut! You can download the PDF from the site, buy a copy for yourself, or just check out this screenshot of the page about Ficly.

I’m proud to be a part of it, and proud of the ficlets and Ficly communities for creating and sharing almost 70,000 stories with the world.

The Bully Project

I was always a big kid, but that didn’t keep me from getting bullied at school, usually picked on because of my weight or that I was a Mormon (and usually the only one in my grade). Thankfully, it stopped by high school (probably because I was, again, big). I’m glad to see that there’s a documentary out there like The Bully Project. Bullying is horrible, and too often it’s ignored by schools and misunderstood by parents.

I don’t know how to stop it… but talking about it can only help.