Archive for the ‘New York Times’ Category

Yesterday Maureen Dowd used the word “casuistry” in her critique of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech. I consider myself fairly well-read and articulate, but I’m certain I’ve never encountered this word. Fast forward a couple of hours and now I’m reading Claire Cain Miller’s piece about new P.R. strategies for start-ups in the Times business section and it mentions Wordnik, the beta site that’s all about words. So, I thought I’d check out what it had to say about casuistry.

Move over dictionary.com–this site not only has definitions from four dictionaries, but it includes etymology, relevant tweets and usage over time,  cleverly visualized in a very NYTimes-esque bubble chart. Since Dowd used the word, two people posted tweets (1 was a comment about Dowd’s usage). The word was most popular between 1830 and 1860, the related antonyms and synonyms are “correct,” “true,” “fallacy,” and “sophism,” respectively. For those who are visual learners, there is a section where you can see what Flickr users think a word looks like (no visual for casuistry, but check out images for the synonym fallacy).

Wordnik wants to be “a place for all the words and everything know about them.” May I make one suggestion to satisfy us word puzzlers out there–stats on crossword references would make it nearly perfect!

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Having worked on a do-it-yourself home renovation tool with Armstrong, I was curious to check out Autodesk’s Project Dragonfly after reading Ashlee Vance’s review in the New York Times.  I wanted to see how the site handles issues that we faced on Design My Room, like color, perspective, sizing and the intricacies of placing objects in a room exactly where you want them.

Once you get beyond the big homepage headline–“Feedback? Hey we just started this thing. Really and we need you to tell us what to add or fix to create the killer app for you, seriously, it’ll only help us to give you what you want!” –you’ll quickly see that the app is very basic but potentially useful for people who want to get a feel for how furniture and bathroom fixtures fit in a room. There is no ability to change wall colors or accessories or place your own objects in rooms.

Here’s what I experienced: I started a project based on a template. The default view is 2D or plan view and allows you to see all the rooms in a home at once, zoom into any room and click on walls to check dimensions. You can also toggle to 3D and “fly through” the rooms, which is pretty cool. From what I can see you can only work with placement in 2D. For example, you can click a piece of furniture and delete it, rotate it or “enable/disable content rules” (not sure what that was) and the pop-up that appeared when I clicked that button was completely confusing.

Other frustrations I experienced included:

  • Having to toggle back and forth between a product’s thumbnail and its description on a separate screen. A simple dialogue box upon hover would have solved this rather than forcing users to pogostick between the products and the details.
  • Inability to tweak color–on the walls and in simple accessories, like an area rug.

I’ve heard terrific things about similar sites, like FloorPlanner and Google’s Sketchup. The new web-based Design My Room allows users to create moodboard-like collages with a menu of products, then link to the manufacturers’ sites for more information. It’s apparent that the development team worked directly with interior designers. Their collage-based tool models how many designers play with different looks and share them with clients. Fun stuff. Now if I could only find the time to re-paint my bathroom.

After Obama won the election last Tuesday I received this email from “Barack” (that’s how he signs off all emails):

Jenn —

I’m about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don’t want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign — every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it’s time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I’ll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing…

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,

Barack

After he beat Hillary in the primaries, I decided to sign up for his email updates, thinking that I’d receive a weekly email. I even downloaded the Obama Facebook app. Not only did I receive email from Barack, but heard from Michelle and Joe (Biden). After awhile I must admit, it started feeling a bit spam-ish, so rather guiltily I stopped reading the emails and trashed them. Yet this latest is one I’ll keep, because I feel that in my own way, I participated in a little bit of history. I know that this won’t be the last communique, because the campaign has managed to build an online brand and extensive database to which he can message directly. As David Carr wrote in the  New York Times this morning, “Senator Barack Obama understood that you could use the Web to lower the cost of building a political brand, create a sense of connection and engagement, and dispense with the command and control method of governing to allow people to self-organize to do the work.”

Maybe because he’s the first post-boomer president or maybe it’s his message of change, but most certainly it’s because of the relationships he’s built online that I’ll be engaged in the dialog for the next four (or more?) years.