Welcome to Backlog Week!
Monday, Nov 10, 2003
So there are things I keep meaning to post, but never get around to. Some are a few weeks old, others may have been sitting in the hopper for a year. This week is Backlog Week, and now all that stuff is going to get posted! (The stuff I've finished and just haven't posted, that is. I still have projects that need to be implemented, of course.)
Oh my god! They know where I live!
Monday, Nov 10, 2003
California State Senator Jackie Speier last week spoke out regarding identity theft, loudly decrying Google as "an invitation to identiy thieves" for making it easy for people armed with just a phone number to find out someone's name and address.

From Speier's web site:

Speier explained that if a stranger enters your home phone number in the Google website, the search engine will produce a home address as well as a map.

Speier noted, "If this stranger knows where you live, he can steal your mail and be well on his way to getting credit cards in your name. Having your phone number listed on Google is an invitation to identity thieves."

Several others on the web have been quick to note that there are many other ways to get a name and address given a telephone number, but so far everyone seems to have missed the greater point: If an identity thief wants to get the holy grail of a name, address, and telephone number, they don't need Google, Yahoo, or even a reverse-lookup telephone book.

I wonder what Speier would do if she realized that ordinary telephone books routinely list all three. After all, if you're looking to steal someone's identity, wouldn't you be far more likely to already have a name or an address and want to find the phone number? Who picks phone numbers at random, trying to harvest an identity, when they deliver a book full of match sets to your door for free every year?

Google as an invitation to identity thieves? Please.

Wanted: HTML PixelSpy
Wednesday, Nov 05, 2003
As a graphic designer, I loved having a utility that would give me a magnifying glass and tell me the exact color of a given pixel, in RGB or hex. It was oh so very useful, but now I want more.

What I dream of, as do so many people who have to make pixel-perfect HTML, whether they know it or not, is a PixelSpy that tells me not just the color, but the rationale behind a pixel. I want to point at a pixel on a web page and tell me, layer by layer, what objects are there, with easy shortcuts to the cascaded style info for that object, with the ability to click on any one of those properties, like font size, color, or what have you, and show me the tree of cascading factors that made it end up at that value.

I want to be able to click on a 1-pixel border that shouldn't be there and instantly know what piece of code makes the browser think it should be there.

It would save hours. Like now.

Fury by the numbers
Wednesday, Nov 05, 2003
Total (approximate) number of visits to the front page since October, 1999: 424,443

Total number of words written in Fury posts since October, 1999 (excluding comments (and this post)): 350,828

Visits per word written on Fury: 1.21

I don't know if I wish this number were higher or lower.

News of the 'Burgh
Tuesday, Nov 04, 2003
Now that the weather has dropped precipitously from 90 down to 50 in the last week, I'm nostalgic for Pittsburgh. I still follow the news there now and then. I'm vaguely pissed that Starbucks is moving to Craig Street, giving Kiva Han a run for its money, and I congratulate Michele, the CMU HCI program coordinator, on fulfilling her dream and moving to upstate New York to open a B&B!

I miss the leaves, wearing gloves, and walking through a leaf-strewn cemetery to the bus stop with my iPod in my pocket and feeling so very in-the-world.

Free Your Mind
Tuesday, Nov 04, 2003
Google's letting me free my mind for a couple hours tomorrow at Matrix Revolutions. Following up on last Spring's company-wide jaunt to see Matrix Reloaded, the whole company's going to the movies tomorrow to get a glimpse at the 'real world'.

I love my job just as much for taking me to the movies as for the fact that my work s so fun that I look forward to returning to my desk.

Viva Las Vegas
Monday, Nov 03, 2003
Heya! I went to Las Vegas last weekend with Mom and Susie. We had a great time, I saw 'O' for the second time in three months (it really is the best show ever) and after being down $260 and up $360 I ended up down $60. Not too bad, considering the amount of time I spent at the tables.

Mom taught Susie and I pinochle. This is important because it was the game that my Dad, Uncle, and Grandfather would play whenever they got together. 'The three beards' we called them (even after Dad shaved his off!) and nobody else ever played. Now that the threesome has been broken up, Steve has taken up playing, and Mom taught it to Susie and I so now we have another three-person game to bond with. Cribbage works with three players, but is really made for two, or to a lesser extent, four.

Working late tonight, and will be coming in early tomorrow, but I wanted to pop my head in and say hi. On the flight back from Vegas I remembered just how fast my mind works when I'm confined to a small chair, reading an intelligent book, listening to good music. I have tons of ideas on deck now, including one I want to work into an article for Salon or the New Yorker, and another that I'd like to turn into a book.

Where are all those hours that used to be in my days?

Happy Halloween!
Friday, Oct 31, 2003
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

It's funny, but every Halloween I think a little bit about high school. My high school's colors were orange and brown, and we'd always have our homecoming game the weekend of Halloween and would have cheezy Halloween/school spirit floats.

Last night Rachel and I went to my second ever haunted house, the Pirates of Emerson. It was really rad, and totally blew away the one I went to when I was 8 years old. I think even Rachel was impressed, and she's a haunted house veteran. I can't wait 'till next year.

Forms of successful ambient displays (note to self)
Thursday, Oct 30, 2003
(I was going to write this as a note to myself, but figured I'd put it here while I digest it)

The troubling thing about pinning down the nature of ambient displays is that too many end up being displays that forcibly get your attention when they have pertinent information (like the light on the answering machine or the shaking string denoting high network activity) or they need to be polled specifically, like the 'weather mobile' or, well, a clock in general.

Really good ambient displays provide their information nondisruptively during the course of the observer's everyday tasks.

Cases in point:

A kleenex cube is a poor example of an ambient display because it gives only the binary reading of 'empty' (no tissue sticking up) or 'not empty' (tissue sticking up).

Rolls of toilet paper are good examples of ambient displays because you know how much toilet paper is left, without ever directly polling the object to find out.

The key is that most ambient displays are tightly coupled with the objects they display information about. Successful man-made displays will probably rely on representative state-changes to metaphoric representations of the relevant objects, like fluid in a cylinder indicating how full a hard drive is. The display is even more successful when the user comes across the information over the course of their user's normal activities.

That's all for now...

Cyborg for a day
Wednesday, Oct 29, 2003
Today I went to the cardiologist. After several months of occasional premature beats, I decided it was time to get checked out. Rachel was a godsend and did the legwork of finding a good cardiologist and so it was off to Stanford Medical Center I went this morning.

Driving, parking, finding the office, filling out forms, getting weighed and measured and it was off to the examination room I went. A thorough examination later and now I'm wired to seven electrodes plugged in to a meter smaller than a VHS tape. I'm wearing the box in a shoulder-bag. My cardio-manpurse.

Anyhow, now the machine's watching my every beat and I'm sitting here at my desk, waiting for my heart to flip-flop. It's like the opposite of hiccups: The more attention I pay to it, the less it wants to happen.

Anyhow, now I'm wired (and partially shorn, but maybe I'll talk about that later), and still getting over the cold that kept me from work yesterday. Ugh. Too much stimulus.


Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox