3 Pleasing Things: Office software, wireless router, and boots to boot

Too often a blog post ends up as a vent or rant about stuff that annoys the blogger (been there, done that). When I started writing this post I was pretty annoyed by a head cold I caught at a trade show last week, but I figured that expressing this in a blog post was not going to make it go away, so I decided to focus on the positive and ask myself: Can you name three things you're pleased with?

OpenOffice.org in Action

Well let's start with Open Office, a suite of software I've been using a lot lately, on both my Mac and my PC. I can definitely say I like this a LOT.

This is great software. If you tried it in the past and found it slightly flaky, you really should give it another go. As far as I am concerned there's no need to buy Microsoft Office any more.

Today, Open Office is what you want for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, document layout, databases, and drawing tools. It really is free, it supports many languages,  and it works well on both Macs and PCs. Here's how the OpenOffice.org web site describes it:
...the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

All true. And in some cases it works better than Microsoft Office. I know because I just used Open Office to create a new set of product literature for Monetate. These are pretty fancy documents--like the one shown above--and they are not something I would feel comfortable creating in Microsoft Word. They are made to be downloaded as .pdfs from the company web site but they also get sent to a high-end printing press to create sell sheets for shows.

Watch Out Wall Street and Central Park, the CEO Wagon is Coming

Look for Jeremy Dean's rolling artwork, Back to the Futurama, in New York's Central Park next weekend. Pulled by two white horses, it will be hard to miss this statement about corporate greed, consumerism, sustainability, and human pride.
Look for more pictures on Flickr. And at the blog: Back to the Futurama. If you are in the area, check out the details.

Run Dates: March 4th – March 7th 2010
VIP Reception: Thursday, March 4th, 9am-noon.
Location: Pulse New York art fair Booth #C4
Daily: Thursday- Sunday 12-8pm
Directions: 330 West Street @ West Houston
New York, NY 10014

I've Moved! But I'm still here...

Moving billionsLast night I completed the move of cobbsblog.com to a new hosting service!

Moving a web site is not that hard, but moving a WordPress blog with all that SQL database stuff can be tricky.

So please let me know via the comments if you see anything missing or not working right. Fortunately I found an excellent set of instructions here, for which I am very grateful.

Another factor that can complicate the moving of a web site is the reluctance of the existing web hosting company to let you go (more on that later). However, this move will save money on hosting fees and give me greater control of the site. (It is now on my virtual private server, operated by a hosting company that has proven helpful and reliable over the years: 1&1.)

BTW, the graphic in this post is not the covert transportation of billions of bits that make up my blog but the not-so-covert and ever-so-stupid moving of billions of dollars of cash into Iraq.

Conceptual Artist Deconstructs Hummer, Video Goes Viral: Art World Take Note!

The buzz about Brooklyn-based Jeremy Dean's art project "Back to the Futurama" has now gone viral, with coverage in a wide range of online media. As regular readers will recall, Jeremy is converting a GMC Hummer H2 into a horse-drawn carriage to create a symbol of America's perilously unsustainable lifestyle.

Jeremy has bet the farm on this project, so to speak, and exposure of the project will be vital to its chances of success. A big boost came two weeks ago when influential car expert and automotive journalist John Voelcker wrote about Jeremy's project under a headline that is itself an alliterative classic: "Hummer-Hating Artist Hacks H2 Into Horse Cart, Cites Hoover." This article has already racked up 16,000 views and 285 diggs.

The story spread like exhaust fumes through the automotive blogosphere and there are now over 100,000 Google hits for Hummer Hating Artist Jeremy Dean. The video that Jeremy made of the first cut into the Hummer has been viewed over 16,000 times on YouTube (http://tr.im/humvid) and more in Vimeo ( http://vimeo.com/8962281).

Not to be outdone, the equine community has picked up the story, appearing here in Horse Journal. Maybe some cart horse experts can help Jeremy match power source to completed carriage. Of course, this story was destined for mainstream press coverage from the start. We now see the project making its way into the Huffington Post and it may be on Current TV soon (it's on their web site's Upcoming section).

When us social media mavens talk about something "going viral" there really has to be a global element. The story has to be covered far and wide. Well here it is on a forum in Russia. And getting from the East Coast to New Zealand probably counts. The story was covered there in the equine press.

What is really interesting, from an art perspective, is the lack of coverage [so far] in the art press. When assessing the work of Jeremy Dean, the art world would be wise to take a tip from the film world. Conventional wisdom said Jeremy could not, as a first time film maker, make a documentary about race, not one that could be nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Dare Not Walk Alone did not win that award, but it did get a theatrical release, positive reviews in national press, a spot in Walmart's catalog and, on Tuesday night, there was an Oscar-winning actor in the front row for the screening at the Skirball Community Center in L.A. Immediately after the screening the actor walked up to Jeremy, shook his hand, and said: "Great Film!"

Footnote: Jeremy's art has been mentioned on the influential art blog EAGEAGEAG but I confess it was me that did the mentioning. (Who am I to talk about art? Well not that it really matters, but I do have a minor in Fine Art from the University of Leeds. I started a Master's degree thesis on Hegel's Aethestics at McMaster University and a doctoral thesis on William Blake's Notes on Laoco├Ân. However, don't take my word for any of this "what is art?" stuff, check out the New York gallery show in March and decide for yourself.)

Technology for Haiti's Recovery: OLPC reaches out to G1G1 supporters

If you've been reading this blog for years (and some people have, seriously) then you may recall how excited I was when the One Laptop Per Child program starting shipping its cool XO machines to developing countries. Back at the end of 2007 my wife and I participated in the Give One, Get One program which resulted in tens of thousands of XO laptops being donated to places like Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, and Cambodia.

Referred to as G1G1, program participants paid for the purchase of two XO machines, one of which was donated, the other sent to us for exploration, edification, etc.

Well, after the earthquake in Haiti, OLPC put out a call to all G1G1 supporters to ask for any unused XO machines to be donated to Haiti. Below is the email sent by Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC movement's founder and driving force. Obviously Mr. Negroponte knows geeks pretty well. We were excited to get our laptop. We checked out the software and began to experiment with it, but then real life got in the way and "Do stuff with the XO" moved down the things-to-do list. I suspect many G1G1 supporters can relate to that. So, we are sending our XO to Haiti, per the instructions in the email, happy to think that in some small way this will help with the rebuilding of the country and the shaping of its future.

I am blogging this and including the email because I know something about geeks as well. Some of use go through email addresses like...hmmm...words fail me here...but my point is, you might not be getting email from the address you supplied when you participated in G1G1 program. And you might have missed this:

Dear G1G1er,

At the end of 2007 you participated in the Give One Get One program of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Thanks to you and others like you, 75,000 laptops went to Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Cambodia, Oceania, the West Bank, and Haiti.

An additional 75,000 laptops came into the USA as part of the "get" side of the equation. In some cases those laptops have since been put into closets for one reason or another.

We are gathering additional used XO laptops to send to Haiti. If you or the child to whom you gave the laptop is no longer using it, we appeal again to your generosity and ask you to send it to the address below (even if it is broken).

OLPC FOR HAITI c/o Exel
615 Westport Parkway #500
Grapevine, TX 76051

75% of the schools in Port-au-Prince have been destroyed in the recent earthquake, but by good fortune, none of our Haitian team was hurt. They have spare parts and OLPC technical staff and teachers, and stand prepared to deploy these XOs.

Because of the XO's unique features (sunlight readability, solar powered, water resistant, drop proof), it is also an ideal tool for relief work. If your XO is in use, please ignore this email. We only want your broken or unused XOs.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Negroponte