Monthly Archives: April 2008

Observation: Bus Driver Camaraderie

One thing I’ve noticed during my bus-riding career is that bus drivers have a really strong sense of camaraderie. Like, if a bus passes another bus, the bus driver might honk or wave at the other driver. During my days at UNM, this was pretty common since the busses took a circular route, and so it would make sense for a bus driver to say hi versus ignoring his/her co-worker. It was even pretty common for drivers to open up their windows, stop the bus, and start a little chat. This was kind of annoying since I was usually late for class.

I think the camaraderie doesn’t end by just affiliating with the same university. I was riding the blue Michigan bus to work the other day and I noticed a cross-bus encounter! The school bus driver was talking to the city bus driver across busses! So this must be a really strong link between bus drivers of all types, regardless of employer or bus model.

Is there some kind of strange connection being made between these bus drivers? Is bus driving school a really uniting experience, like boot camp? Do bus drivers stick together and maybe have bus driving school reunions? Is there a bus driver’s guild!?

If anyone can shed light on this phenomenon I would greatly appreciate it.

P.S. I spell the plural of bus “busses.” Technically, it’s correct. It’s like the British version or something.

Facebook Lexicon: Kinda Fun, But Useful?

Facebook just recently released a fun new thingy called Lexicon. It shows you a graph of the occurrences of certain words or phrases over time on all Facebook walls. Since I do quite a lot of research using Facebook, I thought I’d take a look at it.

Facebook has some suggested phrase pairs that you can use such as “party tonight” and “hungover.” And as expected, the phrases are cyclical and you tend to see a spike in “hungover” the day after “party tonight.” But it’s worth noting that you can’t prove causation by just correlation.

What’s a little strange is that there doesn’t seem to be any growth going on in Facebook. Maybe they’ve normalized the data so you can spot trends, but you’d kind of assume that word counts would trend towards going up since Facebook is still supposedly growing. Or is Lexicon telling us something Facebook doesn’t want us to know about their growth?

Anyway, at least one question of the ages has been put to rest. According to Lexicon, shampoo really is better than conditioner. STOP LOOKING AT ME, SWAN!

Bonus Analysis:

It looks like the word “happy” is used more on holidays like New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day. But the word “merry” is kind of exclusively used on Christmas. See that strangely unhappy day near the beginning of March? Since it’s a leap year, Feb 29th was included in this graph. And since less people statistically have birthdays on that leap day, the word “happy” was recorded less. Pretty neat stuff, huh? I’m sure there’s other fun stuff to dig out of Lexicon, if you were really inclined to.

Muxtape: Bringing Back The Art of The Mixtape

So I’ve just recently discovered Muxtape. It’s a site that allows you to make a little “mixtape” of songs by uploading and then choosing which order they go in. The interface is pretty easy to figure out. You click on a song (or just the area around the song) and it’ll play automatically. It was working pretty well last night but for some reason the thing is choking in Firefox for me right now (and making Safari crash AND making IE run out of memory), yay for compatibility testing!

Anyway, the site is neat because if you’re as old as I am, you might remember making mix tapes for your friends. There was an art to this. Instead of the crazy-huge capacities of an MP3 player that you have these days, tapes were limited to like, 90 minutes or something. And the order mattered too since tapes didn’t have skip functionality (unless you had a sweet-ass walkman with that feature built-in). Muxtape sort of forces a restriction on you by forcing you to choose only 12 songs, and by different artists (no dupes). Mix tapes were a labor of love and works of art! Muxtape is easier, but it also sorta reminds me of when I made mix tapes way back when.

So a few criticisms. First off, while Muxtape tries to keep it real by limiting you to the number of songs and artists, it’s still probably way illegal. I wonder why the site hasn’t been shut down yet. Not saying I’d like the site to be shut down, but the reality is that it’s totally un-legit. You might say it’s fine because it only lets you stream, but using Firebug, you can pretty easily tell what the address is for the MP3.

Also, lol at the constructed urls of the MP3s (the first get arg is “PLEASE=DO_NOT_STEAL_MUSIC”).

Last.fm also pretty much is THE place to go for finding new music, and they have tons of searchable (which you could argue is kind of important!) tracks available. Though I did try and recreate my mixtape on last.fm and two artists were missing (one is the IBM computer “singing” Daisy Bell) and of the 10 remaining songs, only 6 had the full tracks playable

So at least Muxtape wins as far as playability goes (though I did have to upload them myself)! There are probably some big legal issues that make it impossible for last.fm to do what Muxtape does. That’s probably good, since last.fm makes money for themselves and more importantly, artists, while Muxtape just makes money for themeselves (if you don’t count Amazon MP3 cuts going to artists). Last.fm makes artists money simply by streaming their music; no buying required.

Anyway, if you want to check out my own mix, go here. Hopefully it’s varied enough to be worthy of mixtape status. You must understand, I’m a bit rusty.

Fun Facebook Follies (Bugs)

One nice thing about constantly iterating your code is that you get new code out quickly to your users. The bad part is you probably don’t do enough testing and your users get code before it’s ready.

Facebook gives you a choice to mark notifications that you get as spam. This is for when your friends won’t stop sending you notifications that you’ve been bitten by werewolf them. Apparently, you can also mark any notification as spam. Even, say, Facebook’s own wall feature. Facebook’s. Wall. Feature.

You know what would be cool? If Facebook developers weren’t so zealous that they skip sanity checks in order to get their pushes out sooner. Unless Facebook wants users to be able to mark their walls as spam. Which is actually understandable, now that I think of it…

Firefox 3 RC 5 Impressions

So I installed Firefox 3, RC5 because my old Firefox install was pooping out on downloading .css files for some reason, which left website viewing to be less than desirable.

It seems okay, I guess. I think I’m already used to the new UI that makes the back button bigger than the forward button. Even though I sort of hated it at first, I guess it makes sense since people go back more often than forward (via the buttons, anyway).

So Firefox 3 runs a lot faster, and using a lot less ram. In the past, I have yelled at Firefox like Mel Gibson in Ransom asking for my ram back. I have 5 tabs open right now and I’m only (my expectations aren’t that high) using ~165MB or ram. The whole thing moves a lot faster too. I’m not sure if that’s because of the added side effect of more than half of my plugins not being compatible, though. I can live without most of them, but Firebug is really sort of indispensable. I hope FF3 comes out soon officially so everyone will get their plugins updated. There seems to be something weird going on with Flash 9 as well. Not too sure what.

So far, I’d say Firefox 3 is lookin’ good. I totally skipped getting a Firefox 2 shirt, so I’ll definitely have to get the 3 when it ships!