netWert Ideapad

November 2002

November 26, 2002 +
The Ideapad celebrated its fourth anniversary on November 1.

On the 'pad's second birthday I wrote this, which is still fairly accurate and worth a read by the curious.

I occasionally wonder how long I'll keep this going, but the site inevitably metamorphoses in style and keeps up with my whims. Here's to another four years.


Appreciate a company that can poke fun at itself
November 26, 2002 +
"My name is S. Claus, and I'm a switcher." Great new Apple Switch spots featuring Will Ferrell.

The buzz
November 25, 2002 + Posted to Getting It Right
Hot news this week is's "subscriber sponsorship" plan, where advertisers pay for users' access to in exchange for a more targeted, and appreciative, viewer audience. Sleuth Holovaty spotted links to the discussions below on E&P, I Want Media, and

Here are actual articles discussing the plan:
~ View an Ad, Get Something Free at Some Web Sites, Reuters
~ Start of a New Trend?

Miscellaneous blog surf
November 25, 2002 +
Danny Sullivan: Death of the "keyword" metatag.

A few weeks back this space discussed Jesse James Garrett's aggravation at not knowing who the forces are behind Amazon's powerhouse site. Ask and ye shall receive: Mark Hurst interviews Amazon VP of site development Maryam Mohit on Good Experience.

Dive Into Mark: Recommended reading for folks who enjoy this site (or any site for that matter).

My new personal policy
November 25, 2002 +
Whenever something affects me negatively, no matter what it is, I am going to blame it on music piracy.

Your fat kid is really your own fault
November 21, 2002 +
Lawyers have filed suit against McDonald's trying to pin child obesity on the fast-food chain. Lawyer Samuel Hirsch calls children eating McDonald's "a very insipid, toxic kind of thing."

Here's an idea: Americans could take responsibility for the children in their homes, and stop trying to blame someone else for their own families' decrepit eating habits.

Then again, why bother? It's easier to point fingers at someone else. And those fries taste so good. And it's only 39 cents to SuperSize that soda....

Update, Nov. 25: The kids are suing McDonald's, not the families. To which I say: You know fries are fattening, Tubby, and so do your parents and guardians. Give it a rest.

Latest column
November 21, 2002 + Posted to Getting It Right
The redesign of in Digital Web Magazine, an excerpt from "Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself."

November 19, 2002 + Posted to Quite Keen
My surname, Wertheimer, is German, and rather literally means "from Wertheim," a small village in southwestern Germany.

Apparently, Wertheim aspires to be a tourist destination; and with the Internet being what it is, the village has a Web site.

Obvious business news
November 18, 2002 +
Microsoft earns much of its money on OS sales and loses it everywhere else. Surprised? Don't be—the whole point of initiatives like XBox, MSN and Windows CE is to lure new users into relying on the Windows operating system.

Only in New York
November 18, 2002 + Posted to Quite Keen
Meet my puppy Charley's dog groomer.

November 13, 2002 + Posted to Quite Keen
At Bice, an upscale Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan, the kind of place where men in suits can order $90 truffle pasta platters to impress other men in suits during their business lunches, in the men's room, above the urinal:


Good to see you
November 12, 2002 +
Witold Riedel's weblog source code begins with a large ASCII rendering of his head.

Crack is wack
November 12, 2002 +
And apparently it's hip now, too. How fucked up is your social life when you have to smoke crack to be "cool?"

American myopia as spam rejection
November 11, 2002 + Posted to Getting It Right
I'm considering auto-deleting emails from certain country codes as a simple way to avoid spam.

No offense to the nations mentioned, but more than half the junk mail I receive is from Brazil and Denmark thanks to lax security by foreign sysadmins. I don't know anyone in either country; why not filter them out? Seems far more straightforward than installing some half-brained spam software that may junk my real correspondence.

Which begs another question: do the spammers really think I'm going to "llame, por favor!" when the x-sender is .dk?

Design "opportunity"
November 11, 2002 +
Pyra is looking for designers/Blogger fans to redesign, essentially for free. Comp with caution.

SVN's forum has an excellent debate on the pros and cons of "free" design opportunities. I'm in the anti-comp-design camp these days, but the debate is complex and intriguing.

Action sequence
November 8, 2002 +
Your estimable host had fun at Meet the Makers Wednesday. Met some great folks, and Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman's Web standards panel was a real highlight.

While talking to Carole Guevin and Joshua Davis in the afternoon, flash bulbs went off. Little did I know I was caught in the act.

Sub, hero, other
November 8, 2002 +
The Dialect Survey, now in progress, is not only a fascinating read, it's fun to take.

60. What do you call the area of grass between the sidewalk and the road?
a) berm
b) parking
c) tree lawn
d) terrace
e) curb strip
f) beltway
g) verge
h) I have no word for this

I recommend taking the survey or, at the very least, exploring some of the linguistic maps.

Lunchtime weblogging
November 7, 2002 +
~ Leonid meteor shower visible in North America November 19. If it weren't a Tuesday, I'd drag my family to my elementary school again.

~ The Guardian gave Pete Townshend a forum to review Kurt Cobain's "Journals" and rebut Cobain's "Hope I die before I turn into Pete Townshend" line. And did he ever. "These are the scribblings of a once beautiful, angry, petulant, spoiled, drug-addled middle-class white boy from a divorced family who just happened, with the help of two of his slightly more stable peers, to make an album hailed as one of the best rock records ever."

~ Speaking of petulance, Mad Magazine turns 50 this fall. The Sunday New York Times ran an article compiling some of Mad's greatest letters to the editors. "I have been reading Mad for several years now. Mainly, the first issue I ever bought. I just couldn't see wasting a quarter on another."

New IA Institute
November 3, 2002 + Posted to Getting It Right
Launching Monday is the Web site of the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing and promoting information architecture. I find that conceptually fascinating: "promoting IA." As vital as it is, IA certainly deserves any possible efforts to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The top level of the organization is jam-packed with name-brand IAs and an ambitious list of projects appears on its initiatives page. This is a site worth bookmarking.

I am curious to see how the organization develops, and whether it becomes public-relations oriented, like the EFF, or more communal, like the WWWAC. Stay tuned.

Update, November 5: There's a vitriolic but compelling debate about the long-term usefulness of this organization on Metafilter.

Holy shit, it's November
November 1, 2002 + Posted to Quite Keen
When did that happen?

A minute ago I was newly engaged, playing in the summer sun, roadtripping out of the city every weekend, getting a dog.

And now Halloween is already gone and tomorrow the temperature won't break 40, and the puppy has been around for more than a month, and I've been promoted and sent to London, and the engagement is fact, not novelty, along with family dinners and holiday sharing, and the car being in the city is a novelty today, and I no longer have an apartment uptown.

It has been a summer and fall to remember, if only I noticed it as it rushed by. I need to take notes more frequently.

Amazon's quiet workforce
November 1, 2002 + Posted to Getting It Right
"I can't identify the people doing the best work," says Jesse James Garrett in a Boxes and Arrows interview. "Everybody says Amazon's interaction design is a big factor in the company's successˇwhy don't I know the names of any of the people responsible for it? Why do most consultancies hide their talented staff, whose expertise makes their success possible, behind a faceless corporate identity?"

Jesse answered his own question: If a corporation's staff is faceless, it is the company itself that has the expertise, not the individuals, who may come and go. Why externally hype someone? If the person leaves, the company takes a public-relations hit, and all the accolades walk out the door.

Still, this is intriguing. I'm not promoted externally by The Economist, yet it is known that I design Here's a better question for Jesse: Does Amazon prohibit its employees from publicly mentioning where they work, and if so, is that a bad thing? Anytime I see an Amazon staff member mention something in public, it's always with an "I'm not supposed to tell you this but..." disclaimer.

Part of Amazon's success is its continual, and faceless, excellence. Jesse mentions it with negativity, but I don't know if it is a bad thing.


October 2002




Copyright © 2002 David Wertheimer. All rights reserved.