So, I've arrived at Scientology central in Hollywood (I'm here for a friend's wedding tomorrow). We're staying at the 'Celebrity Center' which includes a hotel and restaurant 'Come for Brunch' is proudly displayed on the street - I can't see any small print, but perhaps it should say 'Stay Forever'. I'm disappointed already since there aren't any celebrities here as far as I can tell, but the magazines in the lobby have pictures of actors and actresses on. The picture of Travolta looks like it was taken twenty years ago.
I've already fallen foul of the powers that be. Upon checkin, we filled in the normal address forms and were handed an extra 'questionnaire' asking lots of medical questions as well as things like 'Are you carrying any weapons?' and perhaps more sinisterly, 'Have you ever been designated 'trouble to scientology' by any Scientology center?' We filled it in, and handed it over, and I asked for a copy. They man seemed surprised, and offered to let me review the form again. 'No, I'd like a copy for my records'. There wasn't a photocopier handy it seemed, so he gave me a blank copy of the form, saying 'It's copyrighted'.
Whilst waiting to be shown to our room, he came scurrying back - "I just checked with my supervisor, and he says that the form is copyrighted and I can't let you have a copy. I can shred the one you gave me if you like." So I reluctantly gave the form back, and watched him shred the one we'd filled in.
We were then escorted to our (very plush) room. I tried to tip the maid, but she said "No, there's no tipping here."
Tonight is the big party, and the wedding tomorrow - I'll keep you posted on how we get on...
It seems that Microsoft is not assured of an automatic victory over Lindows' use of a name similar to its Windows trademark. The US Trademark office refused to trademark the name for many years since it was clearly a generic word (and used by more than just Microsoft at the time); but in 1995 it inexplicably changed this ruling without giving any reason and Windows as a trademark was born.
I like Michael Robertson's characterisation of the lawsuit - "They [Microsoft] lobbed a grenade into our office - and we just lobbed it back", although didn't he co-opt a generic term for his previous company - MP3.com?
There are plenty of examples of bastardised words as trademarks, e.g. the Ford 'Ka' although one Slashdot reader wisely pointed out: "I personally would have touble living in a world where every product had a non-dictionary name. It would begin sounding like a D&D campaign."
Glass Panes and Software: Windows' Name is Challenged [New York Times]
For a while now, I've been a big fan of Net News Wire Lite - the free RSS reader from Ranchero Software - part of a refreshing trend to have better software on the Mac than on the PC. For all your RSS Feed-reading needs, this is a great piece of software.
Now comes the public beta of the Pro edition and it's great - allowing offline composition of Blog entries for multiple services (Blogger, Moveable Type etc sadly not LiveJournal yet...), a Notepad heralded as the Return of the Scrapbook (another great Mac application that disappeared) and offline reading too. No pricing yet, but if it's reasonable, I'll be one of the first to sign up.
In LA for the New Year thanks to a wedding - and it's a hoot already. Breakfast with two members of the cast of Melrose Place, coffee with a dancer auditioning to be J-Lo's little sister in a new reality TV show (gee, that sounds compelling.)
Also, I'd never noticed this before - people here go out in their pyjamas in the daytime. Emerging from a large house on the way up to the Hollywood Hills (and the infamous sign) comes a woman in her finest pink two-piece jammies complete with little white bunny-print motif, Prada bag in one hand and fully-dressed boyfriend in the other, off on a shopping trip seemingly on foot. In the local supermarket, the same thing - white jammie bottoms with teddy bears at the cigarette counter. Perhaps there's an understanding that it's acceptable in the neighbourhood because no-one who counts would be in the street to see them - they only really have to dress when they drive somewhere they're expected to Be Seen. Either that, or I expect this new trend in the pages of Vogue soon.
In the same supermarket I'm shocked for a second by a woman's face covered in bandages, until I realise that along with her overstuffed breasts it's self inflicted.
Coming soon... New Year's Eve at Scientology Central - the 'Celebrity Centre', Hollywood
Here's a useful addition to OS X: 'Searchling' providing access to Google, ebay and a dictionary from the menubar, giving results in your chosen browser.
A great insight into the current trend of speed-dating in NYC. I met some friends after they'd all been to a session - it was just as described here, an exericise in concentrated disappointment.
Hot on the heels of New York's decision to ban smoking, San Francisco mulls banning fog - presumably to stay ahead in the progressive stakes...
A message to America's friends and allies - the USA is experiencing technical difficulties right now; please don't watch.
The ban on smoking in bars is coming to New York. Since 1998 it's been illegal to smoke in bars in California, a ban which has been generally well received and only occasionally ignored. More states will likely follow suit; but I can't imagine the UK implementing anything like this anytime soon.
New York to Widen Smoking Ban [New York Times]
The latest update on what Nick Denton is up to with his Weblog Media idea looks interesting. Gizmodo is already a great gadget resource, and the plan to turn disparate weblogs in to a coherent new media form sounds intriguing, but I'm not so sure about another guide-to-NYC blog; we'll see how compelling that turns out to be. In any case, he seems to have enroled some of the great and the good - Jason Kottke, Meg Hourihan et al. This looks well worth watching.
Weblog Media, A New Venture [Nick Denton]
Apparently, there's a rash of Europeans in New York clubs at the moment - this article includes a list of interesting clubs to visit - Lotus, Pangea, Powder etc.
A New Eurofestation [New York Times]
Cometa, a new venture from IBM, AT&T and Intel will aim to provide ubiquitous WiFi - competing with 2.5G/3G Networks and older services like Ricochet (which is slowly re-emerging from bankruptcy). With the rise of open access (NYC Wireless, SF Wireless, Consume.net & Warchalking and Starbucks wireless access through T-Mobile's HotSpot there will be plenty of choice soon - but at what price? Full disclosure: I already have several antiques in this area - three old Ricochet Modems, two Omnisky receivers and a current solution - a recently GPRS-enabled Treo 270.
High Speed Wireless Network is Planned [New York Times]
Apparently, great deals are available; if you ask, and if you're, you know, 'taking a break from work at the moment.'
Yuppie Joblessness Brings A New Perk [Wall Street Journal]