Wireless? Hardly. What's in My Gadget Bag

Gizmodo asked me what I carry in my gadget bag, and I obliged. This isn't even a complete list, but it's the majority of what I carry on a trip when I'll be away from home for three to five days in a hotel. I've fortunately curtailed those kinds of trips with a baby due in the very very near future, and plan to spend less time flying and more at home in the coming months, too.But gadgets are gadgets, and most of mine are relatively inexpensive and highly utilitarian.

Post Fat, Ergo Propter Fat

This article about a new obesity in children study contains a serious omission: if the study looked into genetics, the article doesn't mention it. The study as reported says that obese parents raise obese children 64 percent of the time compared to 16 percent of children of non-obese parents. The sample size was 150 children studied from age 0 to 9.But if they didn't look at genetic predispositions and family history coupled with examination of diets and other factors, there's absolutely no way to determine whether non-obese parents fed their children 2,000 calories a day and they burned it off or whether obese parents fed their children 1,000 calories a day and they still got fat. With an increasing body of evidence that obesity is a genetic predisposition along with certain propensities toward emotional states having a basis in genes, too, it's absurd that this study hasn't incorporated any of that science. It may have and the article elides it. The article says, The temperament of the child also played a role. Those who were highly emotional and prone to tantrums over food were more likely to become overweight. Or, conversely, there's a genetic correlation between those emotions (or even excess stomach acid) and the inability to convert food into energy instead of fat. It might be in the study, but the study's not yet available online and it's possible that it will be a subscriber-only offering. The study is quoted in the article saying, "Parents faced with an emotional child who has tantrums over food may feed the child to reduce the frequency of tantrums," the researchers said. This sounds like an entirely unjustified conclusion unless their observational research revealed this specific sort of behavior over time. And, Another risk factor was sleep. The study found children who were overweight slept about 30 minutes less each day compared to those who were not overweight. Or, children who are unable to sleep soundly gain weight. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders interfere with the metabolism. The 30 minutes less each day is an average--what's the standard deviation? Were 30 children sleeping 6 hours a night and 120 children sleeping 9 hours a night? One obesity expert said, "None of these findings are particularly surprising but it is fascinating to see science backing them up." This isn't the kind of science that helps, frankly. It's speculation unless the study is entirely misrepresented.

Gotham Is the Cornerstone

A neat article in the New York Times about the typeface and planning of the message for the cornerstone of the new tower that will form the heart of the buildings on the World Trade Center site. The typeface Gotham drew its inspiration from anonymous transportation signs -- which parallels Gill Sans development in that Gill Sans was inspired by an earlier typography used in transportation signage.Some vernacular sign painting or metal worker developed an uninflected style that met the need, and that turned into a designer's notion of how to represent the city. Obscure fact of the day: Two Twelve Associates quoted at the end of the article is named after 212 York St., the building that houses (housed?) the graphic design department at Yale, from which graduate program the founders of Two Twelve graduated.

New Form of Comment Spam: TrackBack Spam

I was just hit with dozens of Movable Type TrackBack spams: that is, links that will show up in my TrackBack link for a given article. I hadn't even thought about this kind of spam. These spams are hideous: anal rape, etc., etc. Lovely. Okay, how do we fight TrackBack spam? Fortunately, I must have misconfigured Movable Type: it's not showing any TrackBacks.I looked into how to fix this problem and found no good answers. I wound up just disabling the TrackBack script so that people can't send TrackBacks. I'm not sure how this could be salvaged.

How I Saved $10,000 with a Mailing List

No, it's not an article about spamming people to make money. Rather, I wrote this piece at O'Reilly Networks to discuss how I built my own mailing list software that's incredibly reliable and robust with a few hours of programming using Apache, sendmail, perl, and MySQL. If you're running Movable Type, you can use my scripts to create a mailing list with double opt-in confirmation, Web-based and email-based subscribe/unsubscribe, and a few other features for free.