Blago is gone, but his hair and crazy-as-bat-shit speeches will be missed.
Parting is such sweet sorrow.

New M-Lab tools were released by Google to “test your Internet connection” or more specifically, to test your ISP.  One of the tools called Glasnost will test to see if your ISP is blocking or throttling BitTorrent traffic.  A couple of tools are still being developed and one of them will test to see if your ISP is prioritizing packets.  It will be a Net Neutrality test if you will.  You may find these helpful if you are into that sort of thing.

Earlier today, I took my first exterior moblog photo of the San Francisco skyline from UCSF and was happy to see that it was mapped by Flickr upon receipt (due to the photographs embedded GPS coordinates).  By the way, have I told everyone how much I love my BlackBerry Bold, because I do.  It will be interesting to see what my Flickr map will look like in a couple of months of moblogging with GPS.  Very cool.

It’s official, the Aretha Franklin hat is an Internet meme (see Flickr).  Photoshopping the hat onto unsuspecting subjects is just too much fun for many to resist.

The signs at the end of Bush Street in San Francisco were changed to read “Begin Obama” instead of “End Bush.”  San Franciscans held a party there earlier today to celebrate the inaugural. Wow, another reason to really love this city.

Barak Obama is Sworn In

There’s really nothing I could add to the coverage by CNN, MSNBC, the BBC and other news organizations about this historic day.  Except to say that it was a very emotional moment for me when Obama was sworn in as President.  Sure, we all knew the moment was coming, I for one was looking forward to it for months.  But the moment caught me off guard and I was still filled with emotion.  I wept.  Brown and black kids my age never dreamed of becoming President.

Sure, we were told by teachers that if we worked really hard we could become lawyers or doctors, but nobody believed that being President was even remotely possible.  Well now it is.

It’s my birthday today–this is the best one by far.

Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe by ZeroOne

In Zimbabwe you can!  The country is suffering through hyper-inflation and they are *still* printing money.  Damn near worthless money anyway.  They have recently printed a $100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar note that is worth about $300 USD.  And by the time you are done reading this it could be worth about $280 USD.  Spend it while you can!  Bananas cost $5 billion six months ago! Local vegetable vendors prefer the U.S. dollar, South African rand or Botswanan pula, and most workers now demand their salaries in foreign currency.  It is likely that with the currency’s value dropping this fast the country could collapse. Crazy.

You can get paid to vacation for six months straight!  How!?  Australia offers a six-month island caretaker and resident blogger position on one of the islands on the Great Barrier Reef.  The position pays $105,000 and includes relocation expenses (airfare) to Hamilton Island and housing in a three-bedroom villa with a pool.  The “caretaker” is expected to stroll the white sands, snorkel the reef, take care of “a few minor tasks” — and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.

No other job pays equivalent of $210,000 per year and all expenses paid to chill and blog.  I could totally do this job!  Apply now, they will take applications until February.

Ricardo Montalban passed away “peacefully” at his home today at the age of 88.

The former BART officer that shot Oscar Grant at the Oakland Fruitvale BART Station on New Year’s Day was charged with murder.  The conclusion by Oakland police, contained in a legal filing made public Wednesday, contributed to Alameda County prosecutors’ decision to charge Mehserle, 27, with the murder of Oscar Grant.

“After careful analysis of the video, it is clear that both Grant’s hands were behind his back, a position hands are commonly placed in by police officers in order to handcuff individuals,” the police filing said. It concluded that “Grant had been restrained and unarmed when shot.”

It is highly likely that no charges would have been brought against the officer had the incident not been filmed by several BART passengers, posted on YouTube, and ultimately reported on the local news.  In other words, it is likely that this officer would have gotten away with murder as little as 5 years ago, before video capabilities were available on cell phones and digital cameras.

A 13-year-old girl in Orange County sent 14,528 text messages in a single month! It was such a large and obscene number that her dad initially thought it was an error of some sort.  He then busted out the calculator.

“Assuming my daughter slept an average of eight hours during the billing period (she usually sleeps more), that works out to 484 text messages a day — or a text message every two minutes she was awake” said her father.

Luckily, the family had unlimited text messaging.  Otherwise at 20 cents each, the girl’s text messages would have totaled $2,905.60. I don’t have kids but can totally picture myself killing my daughter if I were to see a phone bill for that amount.  Crazy.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Yelp users that have posted bad reviews and featured in newspaper articles.  There may be many more lawsuits that have not been reported.  Additionally, some people are threatened with lawsuits that are sometimes never filed in order for companies to get negative information removed from the Yelp website.

A friend of mine used a cleaning service to clean her house, didn’t like the service and posted a bad review.  Months after, she was contacted by an attorney.  The cleaning company hired a lawyer to try and scare my friend into taking down the negative review.  She decided to take down the negative review but posted another review explaining that she was contacted by a lawyer after leaving a negative review.

What would these businesses do if the entire Yelp community decides to boycott businesses that sue, or threaten to sue, people that post negative reviews?  I think that those businesses would suffer much worse losses than those warranted by a bad review or two.  Can Yelp stay in business if people are afraid to post negative reviews?  It will be interesting to see what happens in the long run.

There were record highs in the Bay Area today with 69F degrees in San Francisco.

December Ultrasound

Mama and I are happy to announce that we are expecting a baby in early July.  This is one of the first photos (well, it’s an ultrasound) of the baby taken in December.  We are very excited and cannot wait for the baby to arrive.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that a BART police officer shot a young man named Oscar Grant on New Year’s day at Oakland’s Fruitvale BART station.  The event was videotaped by several witnesses with cell phone cameras and one clearly shows the police officer shooting Grant in the back while he is in a prone position almost “execution” style.  The video is pretty incriminating to say the least.  Last night, protests against the shooting turned violent with demonstrators smashing storefronts and cars, setting several cars ablaze and blocking streets in downtown Oakland.

It would be hyperbole to call what happened last night a riot, but this did remind me of the Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles.  The scary thing is that the Oakland violence happened *before* the officer that shot the kid has been even investigated or brought to justice.  In contrast, the King riots occurred after the officers involved in the King beating were acquitted in a court of law.  I think that civil unrest in Oakland will go from bad to worse unless the city acts quickly to investigate and castigate the injustice.  Violence fills a vacuum.

The sad thing is that just like in Los Angeles, the protesters vandalized businesses that are part of the community, some of which were black owned, and have nothing to do with the BART police.  The BART police is ultimately the power structure responsible for the shooting and it is not associated with the Oakland Police or beholden to the city of Oakland in any way.  If protesters analyzed the situation carefully, they would have sought out BART police cars and burned them all to hell.  Unfortunately, the mob mentality is not that smart.  Sad.

Update: Here are Thomas Hawk’s photos of the violence in Oakland last night
Update: Story of the unrest reaches CNN front page, called a “riot” nationally

An East Bay family went mushroom hunting on Mount Tam and were poisoned and nearly killed after they ate them.  They ended up hospitalized at UCSF for 8 full days, 4 of them in intensive care.  The moral of the story: don’t be a cheap ass and buy your mushrooms in a store.

We returned from Puerto Rico late on Saturday night to 39F degree weather in San Francisco. Although we miss the 80F degree weather, it is definitely good to be home. It took a while, but I posted the bulk of the photos for everyone to enjoy. Here’s a link to the slideshow.