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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Appropriate Food : Bamn!

Automats have not been kind to me. I still remember the disappointment I felt when I learned that the food was not, in fact, prepared by robots. I later forgave the automat, and was fully prepared to dine at one when we moved to NYC in the mid 90's. But the last of the treacherous things had closed fives years earlier. My wife's gloating "Sure, I've been to one, haven't you?" didn't help. Seeing their dismembered remains in antique shops all over the city was a bittersweet reminder of things I'd never have.

Until now. The automat is back, in the form of Bamn!, an asian-influenced hole-in-the-wall on St. Mark's Place[1] in the East Village of NYC. The food is a take on traditional diner fare: grilled cheese sandwiches, teriyaki burgers, roasted pork buns (the best of the bunch) and Belgian-style fries (thankfully served fresh from the counter). And other stuff I don't remember. All yours for a heaping handful of quarters.

Being served (if not, sadly, prepared) by machines, I think you could argue that an automat is the ultimate geek dining format. And the 24/7 availability doesn't hurt, either. Chris says check it out.

[1] Think Austin's 6th Steet, only grimier. Or maybe DC's Adams Morgan, only more compact. Lots of NYU students, hipsters and panhandlers, generally indistinguishable.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

DayTripr : Mobile Access Trials and Tribulations

Up until a few minutes ago I couldn't have defined "tribulation" without reference to the hackneyed phrase in the title of this post. Enough to get it right on a multiple-choice, but no real clue. Turns out it's your standard Latin "threshing sledge" to French to Middle English sort of thing[1].

There's an early drawing of a threshing sledge there on the tablet[2] somewhere, along with, evidently, some numbers. The tablet was made in what is now Iraq, about 5500 years ago. I'd like to think it's some sort of threshing sledge FAQ. Threshing sledges are still around, although I'm sure the FAQ entries are out of date.

Speaking of ancient technology still in use today, developing a site for mobile phones is turning out to be a trial. The biggest pain so far is the software that takes HTML to phone-speak (there's a twisty maze of WAPish protocols in there.) It has a mind of its own. Like choosing to resize certain images to fit on the phone screen, but only sometimes. (Resizing makes maps unreadable). Then there's the way it breaks pages up, sort of semi-randomly, or refuses to load some pages at all. And the screens are all tiny in different ways.

Enough whining, back to work.

[1] Thanks Merriam-Webster (http://www.webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?sourceid=Mozilla-search&va=tribulation) and Bartleby/American Heritage (http://www.bartleby.com/61/67/T0346700.html)

[2] Original image at http://www.hp.uab.edu/image_archive/, but it looks to have been taken from the Dept. Antiquities, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK. The Ashmolean Museum was, according to Wikipedia, built in 1678 to house the cabinet of curiosities of Elias Ashmole. If that sounds cool, you should definitely check out the Museum of Jurassic Technology the next time you're in LA.

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