Mad Anthony’s

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Mad Anthony’s
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good coffee

Friday
Entry One

Flew out of work, the fleet flight of Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone cracks a smile upon stepping out of the concrete and glass coffin of the corporate work week. The motorcycle is quickly gassed and loaded, I leave Washington DC at three-thirty, vowing not to check the time for the rest of the adventure. Adventure, the American adventure of the open road is what I seek. The road, my cameras, and escape.

Right turn off of 15th St. NW and I’m motoring past the Washington Monument and the White House. Harleys and clones are already lining the Mall for the annual Memorial remembrance that is Rolling Thunder. I’m soon over the bridge and on I-66 west. I plan on avoiding major highways when at all possible. Preferring scenic byways to drab highways. 66 is a necessary evil to flee the DC metro area as quickly as possible. At the start, 66 is a good quick run, for awhile anyway. Loads of Rolling Thunder riders are heading in 66 eastbound.

I keep the ubiquitous two fingers down to the side salute to fellow bikers out for extended stretches of time. In my experience, HD guys return the acknowledgement about 30-40% of the time. No big deal, some animosity exist though between different bike cultures. Motor-ism two-wheel stereotypes. However with the Rolling Thunder guys there is a noticeable increase in response, perhaps due to no longer just one biker acknowledging another, but a patriotic sharing of support and remembrance for those left behind, POW-MIA.

Traffic worsens further out 66 and I come up on a full HD dresser. Screaming Eagle back patch worked in with POW-MIA covers his vest and is topped by a “Run for the Wall” patch. I keep back a pace and we adopt the natural offset positioning of multiple riders.

After some 66 backup, stop-and-go, we strike up a staccato conversation in the pauses of the traffic flow. Where you been, where you going, see the rain coming? I tell him I’m headed out to the mountains, Skyline Drive and West Virginia. He says he’s just in from there recently, was in DC for Rolling Thunder for the day and will be coming back in on Sunday again. His license plate is obscured by luggage, so I’m unsure of his port of origin.

Later on we part ways and my thoughts turn. Of my parents friends only my step-dad was drafted for Vietnam. Luckily, for us, he only went as far as Ft. Hood, TX, and came back with some good stories about army life and venturing into Mexico (at least the ones he’s shared with me). I think about all the life he’s lived since then, all his experiences and joys. Thinking about what all those who didn’t return gave up, lost, when they didn’t come home. The loss felt by those who loved them, families that have a name on the Wall.

Rain is sprinkling before Manassas. Enough to cool you off but not enough to get you worried yet, at least for a bit. Whooooo. Then come the big drops. I head off the ramp to gear up with the rain paraphernalia under the gas station pavilion. Finally get it all on and get strapped back up and out pops the sun and the rain stops. Too funny. Now I have wet clothes on under the raingear. Rain gear now keeping the wind out that would dry me. I motor on as more rain is promised on the horizon.

This brings up a point about rain. People always ask, “What do you do when it rains and your on the motorcycle”. I reply simply, “I get wet”. Duh. Rain riding has never bothered me. On the straight highways it’s no big deal. Just give more cushion to the cars in front of you. Drive like grandma on the exit ramps.

My turning point is finally reached. Off of 66 west and onto 647, Crest Hill Rd. at The Plains, VA. Crest Hill Road is my first slice of motorcycle heaven to be had this weekend. I’m delighted to find that the squiggly line I traced out on the map when planning this trip has translated so well in reality. The road is still wet from the passing rain clouds, and I give a small rabbit and then a chipmunk a near death experience. My first of many animal crossings this weekend. The road is fantastic. A mixture of hilltop road and tree lined canopies that create forest tunnels. Speed limit is 45mph, 55-60 feels comfortable on most parts. Keeping an eye out for a hilltop barn to photograph that I’ve seen in my minds eye, lit by the sun breaking through the clouds and backed by the mountain vista. No luck on any of the barns actual placement to fit the mental picture I have framed.

Crest Hill Road and Fodderstack Rd is a long stretch. I take shots of a church and other buildings along Zachary Taylor Highway. Fodderstack gives more of the same as Crest Hill, just a narrower road. The asphalt is of my favorite variety, freshly laid. Washington, VA is a tiny town of historic bed and breakfasts. Local wineries appear to be an attraction here too. Right after Washington the rain returns while I’m in route to Sperryville. Then it really starts to come down, a full on summer thunderstorm. Visibility is down. Road and parking lots soon resemble rivers. Rain drops of the monster variety explode on the pavement, and you know it hurts when they hit you.

I quick soaking circuit of Sperryville confirms there are no local hotels. I duck into a barn shaped restaurant to wait it out. My drenched gear takes on bar stool and I occupy another. There’s a few flying pigs about. The bartender get me a hefeweizen, and recommends the angus burger. Locally raised and grass fed, we exchange jokes about my passing the burgers relatives on the way in.

Don’t freak about the beer. I have a one only rule when riding. It was followed by a meal (best burger of the weekend!), several coffees, and this bar top journal entry.

Somewhere along Crest Hill road I decided to keep the cell off for the weekend. In addition no tv, newspapers, internet, or e-mail sound like a good idea. Of course I now am studiously avoid eye contact with the two beautiful plasma’s above the bar.

Entry Two

Hazel River Inn, Culpepper, VA, has the coolest street side seating in town.

The downpour let up at the Shady Farms bar in Sperryville and due to the deficiency in local lodging I quiz the bartender for options. Over the other side of the mountain, the opposite side of Skyline Dr via 211 is Luray with lots of motels, but I want to save the mountain for the morning. The waitress suggest Culpepper, there being a Holiday Inn etc.

Stepping outside the sun has broke through the clouds again. Enough for some shots of Shady Farms Restaurant and a bridge. Heading down 522, the Sperryville Pike, I keep an eye out for photo ops to catch the next morning as I’ll be rerouting back through. Following the mantra of Dale Borgeson about tour riding in the US, I aim to avoid large chain establishments, whether they are restaurants or hotels, and explore the mom-and-pop local variety businesses. I have a dive-ish roadside motel in mind, Culpepper comes through with the Sleepy Hollow Hotel.

Before check in I ride through downtown historic Culpepper. It’s a cool place. The Shady Farm bartender had recommended the Culpepper Thai restaurant. I see it but don’t visit, still full from the meal earlier. Cameron Street Coffee looks like a great place, located in an old warehouse. Unfortunately their closed for the night.

Shower and changed, room 102 at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel. I hop back on the bike, refreshed and dry and ride through the warm night air back downtown. The coffee at the Hazel River Inn comes with a sweet fudge confection on the side. The peach and blackberry cobbler with vanilla sauce is divine.

The reconfigured plan for this getaway is to shed. Shed worries about the job, career, housing, and relationships. My motorcycle is therapeutic. It’s 600cc’s of Zoloft on two wheels. The road lifts my spirits. This wasn’t supposed to be a solo run, and there are stretches of road where I feel the emptiness behind me.

The cobbler is finished and I can hear the sound of a band doing their sound check. The banging of the drum requires investigation.

Entry Three

I found Brown Bag Special in the cellar pub of the same restaurant I was in. On my way to the door the noise of the sound check floated up the stairs and directed my feet downward. Brown Bag Special opened the set, appropriately enough, with “I drink alone”. The ol’ man, Big Money, would have loved it. Drink alone started off a Big Money Blues trifecta to include “The Breeze” and “Mustang Sally”. Then they made the mistake a lot of bands make that have a great lead guitar player. They let him sing. The lead guitarist karaoke sucked his way through a Tom Petty hit. He was so off key in his singing it made you appreciate the guitar solo’s all the more for the relief they provided. Thankfully the regular singer soon resumed his duties and the night went on. More good stuff from the band.

Freebird
Folsom Prison Blues
Cheap Sun Glasses

“can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, what she’s done to me”

Off to bed now at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel with the ghost and shades of dead hookers and overdoses past.

150 miles today.

Saturday

Entry Four

Morning breaks on the Sleepy Hollow Hotel, a hot shower and I’m back on the bike. A quick stop downtown to shoot the Hazel Inn, then it’s back on the Sperryville Pike. More stops to capture some sights seen yesterday. Mr. & Mrs. Pump. The open mouth caricatures are an accurate representation of the current gas cost and the pumps eating your wallet.

I keep telling my daughter that her first car, college car, will be a hybrid. She thinks they are ugly. The bike isn’t so bad, averaging around 40mpg. At about 180 miles on the tripometer I start to look for a refill, although I’ve pushed it to 211 miles before.

A quick left in Sperryville on 211 and up into the mountain, Blue Ridge Mountains and Skyline Drive. Heading up the mountain I get the first bite of the twisties I’ve been craving. The fee at the gate to Skyline Drive is well worth the price. Great scenery and fantastic views. The only drawback is the 35mph speed limit that is well enforced by the park rangers.

I shoot some self-portraits at Pollock Knob overlook. They’re funny in that with all the scrambling and hurrying to be the camera timer, then trying to effect a relaxed pose. I’ve also broke out my old friend this trip, the Lubitel 166, a medium format, 120mm film, twin lens camera. I’m like Jay-Z with this camera, I have to get it in one take. There is no digital review after the click for instant gratification. As a fellow photographer it’s “Point, Push, and Pray”. I’ll be interested to see the results. Not that I’ve left digital behind. Carrying both cameras, I’m an analog/digital double threat.

After the self-portraits and some dead tree shots I’m about to pack back on the bike and leave when I meet the preacher and his wife. He offers to shoot me with my camera and I return the favor with theirs. Conversation flows and in a ‘small world’ moment it turns out that he works for same Hazel family that owns the restaurant I was at last night for his Monday thru Friday job. I get a friendly “God bless” and I’m heading south on Skyline Drive. I make several more stops and break out the cameras again at Big Meadow.

There is a gnarly dead tree in the middle of the meadow. It has burn damage at the base, either the result of some wild fire or perhaps a controlled burn done to maintain the field. I spot and shoot a few deer, they probably won’t turn out as they’re to far away for my lens on the D100. I shoot a bunch of shots of the tree with the D100 and then totally switch processes with the Lubitel. The picture setup with the Lubitel takes about a minute-and-a-half. Manual zoom, i.e., walking back and forth to get the framing I want. Light meter reading. Then dealing with the reversed optics of the look-down box camera. It is fun though, to switch it up, change the pace and the dynamics. Just one click though, hope I caught it.

It’s a long but enjoyable ride to the south end of Skyline Drive. Unless you really like slow cruising I would suggest picking which third of Skyline Drive you’d like include in your trip and leave the rest. I drop off the mountain and into Waynesboro. Finding Mad Anthony’s coffee shop for a late breakfast. I overhear that it’s around noon. The Italian Roast coffee is good, in fact, it would prove to be the best coffee of the trip.

One of the pleasures of traveling by motorcycle is that it’s an easy conversation starter. People ask you where your coming from, where you’re heading, ask about your bike, tell you’re about their bike or the one they wish they had. One of the peculiarities of these conversations is that if the person even remotely knows of anyone that has died on a motorcycle, they will be sure to share this fact along with details. These stories usually involve a deer, a car pulling out, or someone taking a corner to fast. The conversation goes something like this:

Stranger“nice bike”
You“thanks”
Stranger“my cousin Bob had a friend that hit a deer and died on his bike”

Short silence.

You“yeah, deer are dangerous, got to be careful”

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve held variations on this conversation many times. Luckily this isn’t the conversation I have with the owner of Mad Anthony’s. He’s a former sailboat instructor who now finds the same release and head clearing on his motorcycle that he used to get from his sailboat.

This brings to mind the same wave – don’t way dynamic that occurs between sail boaters and power boaters, very similar to the sportbike & HD crowd.

The proprietor is a coffee guru, we discuss roasting (my Italian roast was just roasted Wednesday this week). We talk about the good and the evil of Starbucks. We’re both in agreement that they over roast their regular coffee, but I think their foo foo drinks are tasty. He has in his shop both the Bodum press and the Bodum vacuum coffee pot that I got my mom for x-mas. A shameless plug here, the Bodum vacuum coffee pot makes the best home coffee ever. It’s also an entertaining crowd pleaser, no joke.

Leaving Waynesboro the plan was 340 northward to 33, then into Harrisonburg, VA (home of the Valley Mall and JMU). 340 proved to be boring so I jumped on 256, Port Republic Road, for a better ride to Harrisonburg. I don’t know if the coffee wore off or if I was just worn out. I pull over at Westover Park, pick out a spot of grass, and take a good nap in the sun.

I had my motorcycle bug handed down to me by my step-dad. My kindergarten year of school we moved right at the end of the school year. Rather than switch schools at this inopportune time my Dad stuck me on the back of his Honda and rode me to school and back again for the last month or two. Even earlier than that I have a great photo of me in 1973-4 sitting on his chopper with him. Me in a diaper and him with his long hippy hair. The wild side of the Reverend indeed.

Refreshed from my nap it’s back on 33 westbound. Heading out of the Shenandoah Valley and Rockingham County is more glorious twisty roads and the George Washington National Forest. GW is a beautiful tree canopy lined road with a river off to one side. Franklin, WV is the destination, a return to the Star Hotel.

I stayed at the Star a few years prior when they first re-opened the historic Star Hotel. The owner, Steve Miller, is a great guy, friendly and conversational. I told him I’d be back again, but it’s been a few more years than I thought. Late lunch at the Star is pesto grilled chicken on ciabatta bread with roasted red peppers. Not the type of fare one might associate with West Virginia, but people have misperceptions about everywhere. Steve promises a prime rib later at dinner tonight to die for.

So that there is no misunderstanding, in as much as the Sleepy Hollow Hotel was a dive, the Star Hotel is a dream.

Dump the gear in the room back on the bike for some roaming around. I head back to explore a river road I passed on the way in, Rock Gap. It’s a gravel affair and I follow it back a little ways. Photo some river shots. Down further there is a large cliff face with some college aged kids de-gearing after a day of climbing. I’ll try to stop back in tomorrow and shoot some climbing action, as well as some fly fishing.

I pick up a bottle of Barefoot Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, and drop it off with Steve at the Star to keep for later. I’ll enjoy that bottle later tonight from the 3rd floor front porch. South out of town I head, into some very secondary roads. I shoot an old decrepit cabin that would be right up Bobby Sargent’s alley. I put it in the metal folder for a possible future model shoot location, along with the river spots I’ve seen.

There are a couple more stops on this little ride. Once for what appears to be a feral chicken, and then for middle of the road stare down with a young doe. She’s camera shy though and is off before I can get a shot. Sportbike probably isn’t the best conveyance for nature photography. The pavement stops and gravel begins, I motor on. Rick & I once spent a full day just about on gravel roads, crisscrossing the back country around Cumberland, MD. So I’m comfortable with the less than ideal riding surface. A few miles on the road dead ends at a pair of chicken houses (source of the feral chicken’s ancestors perhaps?) and I turn around and survey the valley I’ve just ridden through. I have to stop the bike and soak in the scene. A picturesque farm is nestled in the corner of the valley, up against the hills. I meet some inquisitive cows, along with the farmer and his wife.

It seems that when you are in WV and you pass a sign that says “snow removal ends here” that the already suspect road conditions are going to quickly deteriorate and will soon resemble somewhat more of a logging road. I motor on through some back country, no houses, no farms, just mountains, steep roadside cliffs, and wicked gravel switchback curves. The part that gives you the willies are the downhill corners where the road grade is slanted to the outside of the curve and to the drop below. Yikes!

I creep along where a four wheeler would be much more functional. Although I still hit it a bit in the straights. Pavement arrives again and I’m unsure of my exact location. I follow the chicken farmers directions and soon discover myself back in Brandywine, intersecting the same stretch of 33 I rode on my way into Franklin.

Back at the Star Hotel it’s a shower and fresh clothes before heading down for dinner. Downstairs I find the prime rib to be as good as promised.

Entry Five

How beautifully staged is this. Barefoot on the 3rd floor patio, wine to ease the back and the ache in the knee.

205 miles today, the last 30 after check in, just to explore.

Sunday

Entry Six

Out early in the morning. I find no climbers at Rock Gap, unsure of the hours they keep. Out of Franklin on 33 west, looking for another squiggly line I had seen on a map. Bland Hill Road name is a misnomer. A single lane country road winding through German Valley. I got a few shots of German Valley from the 33 overlook before turning on Bland Hill. Now I find myself in the same location I had shot from above.

The road cuts through some open pasture land and I meet some cows standing in the road after rounding one bend. They’re pleasant enough, if in no particular hurry to cross, and don’t mind posing for a shot or two before meandering on. People talk about the danger of hitting a deer, a cow would really ruin your day! Off of Bland Hill and on down into the valley. I come up on the rock formation I had seen from the overlook previously. It’s not Seneca Rocks, but a formation of the same ilk. I get some more photos, then onto German Valley Road. I’m still staying at the Star, there is no real destination today. It’s relaxing to stop as much as I like.

German Valley Road puts me back on 33 west and not long after I’m ordering breakfast at the Valley View Restaurant. Dale Borgeson warns of places that advertise home cooking, but that’s about all you see in these parts. There are a fair number of cars here and that’s usually a good since the food will be alright. Hell, even the Army could make a good breakfast. It all works out and it’s a hell of a deal, for toast, two eggs, hash browns, bacon, and coffee.

From 33 I hit 28 and turn off on Smoke Hole Road, just because it’s there and looks interesting. Boy, what a find it is. Combining the curvy one lane country road with nice wide smooth pavement (gravel free in the corners). It’s great. Smoke Hole Road turns out to run from 28 across the Seneca Rocks National Forest to 220 on the other side. Going west-to-east it starts out all curves and hills, then ends by winding along the south branch of the Potomac. There are lots of fly fishermen here enjoying the catch-and-release section of the river.

Up 220 to Petersburg, I run into some Ducati guys at the gas station. We swap riding info and I’m soon on 42 north towards Mayville. Hanging a left when I see a sign for Dolly Sods. I’m back on secondary roads and I soon pass another prophetic ‘no snow removal’ signs. It’s gravel the rest of the way up the mountain til it breaks out on top at Dolly Sod.

I’m real happy with today’s roads, as both Smoke Hole Road and Dolly Sods were unplanned ‘discovered adventures’. I do some rock scrabbling at Dolly Sod and enjoy the cliff top views. A fellow tourist snaps a shot for me an I hike out well past the distance that the casual tourist and families go. Shot some more shots of the rock formations with both the digital and film camera. Do some more self-portraits. I then sit down to relax in the sun with the cliff side breeze steadily blowing and update this journal.

Entry Seven

Well, fellow traveler, if you’ve made it this far I am duly impressed. I thank you for your perseverance. The rest of the day was spent riding without incident. Just more fantastic roads. You don’t have to be an explore on par with Lewis & Clark to find great rides in West Virginia. Just be curious in nature and unafraid to leave the beaten path. Drop off the numbered roads and take the route less traveled. Soon you’ll be in your own undiscovered country. Blah blah blah.

Out of Dolly Sod and I find myself on 32. Rough calculations put the dirt road travel around 25 miles for the day. While we are on stats, here’s today’s animal road count:

1 rooster
1 dead fox
2 cows
8 chipmunks
7 alive
1 dead
3 dead possums
1 squirrel
1 dead blob (undistinguishable)
No fearsome deer
1 dog

I guided myself today by a rather non-descript map put out by mountainhighlands.com

Leaving Dolly Sod on 32 puts me in Dry Fork and back on familiar 33 west to Elkins. I cruise around Elkins on the off chance I’ll run into a guy I know named Dallas. Now all you need to know about Dallas is the following:

I don’t know his last name
I once gave him a hair cut with dog grooming clippers
I know he works at a bike shop making choppers

You figure the odds of me finding him, near zero.

If your curious it wasn’t the first time I cut hair, albeit the first time using dog shears. In Korea I cut in the latrine for a cut or for a 6 pack. Everything was barter in the Army. We had a cook that would make you a great custom birthday cake for a case of beer or feed you food out of the back of the chow hall at 3am when you staggered in drunk from the ville for the promise of a future round to be bought. Korea stories could fill another journal.

Anyway, out of Elkins and south to Beverly. Scott, if your reading this you were on my mind as I went through town, never forgive, never forget.

So far I’ve only tried to write about the positive food experiences of the trip without throwing anyplace under the bus. C&J in Beverly however, served only barely functional burgers and the vanilla shake was of the worst chemical prefab variety. There are some things that I am stuck on, good vanilla ice cream is one. The others that I’m picky about are beer, whiskey, steak, cheese-steak, and coffee. It’s just so disappointing when something you usually enjoy turns out to be sub par.

After C&J it’s 250 east to 28, which heads back towards Seneca Rocks and Franklin. It’s a good haul through the Monongahela National Forest. A road of the scenic variety, with good twisties up the mountain and through the scenery. These type road have become quite a common occurrence here in WV. Back in Seneca Rocks and 33 east into Franklin. I never shoot Seneca Rocks, the light is never right, number one can tell you how I get about my light.

The Star’s restaurant is closed on Sunday, dagger, so I shower and head into Franklin by foot. About Franklin, WV. It’s a nice little town, quiet and sleepy. No bars other than the VFW that I could see. Everybody I’ve met and spoken too has be pleasant, friendly and conversational, both here in Franklin and elsewhere in WV. I’m sure there are a variety of characters much as anywhere, this is just my observation from the tourist level.

Following last night precedent I grab another vino from the Shell station. The Star being closed is a dilemma; I’m in need of a cork screw (having borrowed the restaurants the night before). I wander back down to the hotel, wine in hand, and past the hotel just a bit til I meet an old man sitting out front. I explain my situation, wine without access, and he says he’ll sell me a corkscrew. He goes in the house, shortly to return with the necessary implement in hand. I figure I have it for -4 or maybe rent it for a one time use for . That proves unnecessary however, he says just to take it, and keep it for any future need.

The sole booking for the hotel tonight, I’m like a wraith as I glide through the halls. On the front porch with my bottle of vino in hand. I have some cheap cigars I also picked up and there’s nothing to do but kick back and watch the sunset.

It’s been a great trip. Somewhat lonesome at times. The lack of someone to talk to surely let to the length of this journal. It was a trip to getaway, to reflect. There was no great revelation or anything, just time to get to know yourself. The road gives you time to think. I know who I am and I like being me. I know what’s missing.

I’m resolved to take more bike trips in the future. It’s definitely my preferred way to travel and vacation. Motorcycling is the way to go.

Tomorrow I have my route generally planned out, more scenic byways for a winding route home.

Miles today, 240.

Monday

Entry Seven

Just a short postscript. 20 miles east of Washington DC, on 66, the chain popped off the bike. It’s never easy.

Safari for Windows Beta 3.0
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I admit to not being as big a fan of Apple as some people around here are, Ive supported their products enough to know ther are just another PC company in most respects, better than most sometimes and worse others at other times.

But I still had to download and have a play with Safari for windows, its worth a shot after all and I have some observations if youre wondering its is worth it.

First up in running Vista Ultimate using Aero on a newish machine (Dual Core 2.06 with 2gb ram) and it works well, hasnt crashed yet on me which counts for something. most sites work fine and its pretty frendly.

It does not seem faster than Firefox. Ive done some tests and it seems to load pages in the same time give or take and the application itself takes longer to laod – yes its faster than IE7 but many things are, its not however anywhere near as fast as Apple claim on their website for the Beta (but then Apple benchmarks are always a bit suspect and hyperbolic).

It is nice and easy to use but be warned it IS buggy, while it runs fine on this machine on my Dell D620 laptop it doesnt show correct fonts and some pages wont load at all, thats also running Vista on a 2 month old Centrino Duo with 2gb ram and an Nvidia card – it just seems to have a font problem.

Is it work installing? Yes. Is it working so far? yes. Is it the fastest browser ive ever used? No.

Look beyond advertising and just have a play, I think i could grow to like it from where I sit if there are available plug ins for it, but in the end it still has a lot to overcome – Safari may be fast on the mac but even on that platform it has SSL issues, HTTPS problems, just wont load some pages and will not work properly with Citrix Secure Gateway servers which forces our mac users to run Firefox anyway – for apple to make headway they have to make sure it will work fine in all environments and that means ASP and other things that might not please apple internally.

Time will tell. right now its worth getting and playing with.

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QR Code appearing in printed
cartoon April
28th, 2007

Interesting find in the May issue of Monocle, a magazine on global affairs,
business, culture and design: In the back part of the magazine there is a
manga cartoon (with a nice introduction ‘how’ to read such a cartoon) and
embedded in the story you can find a working QR code that reveals important
information to the hero of the story. While we won’t tell you where the Code
actually links (find it out yourself with the photo from Flickr) to a page
on the internet, which is of course absolutely cool, it could have been used
in more creative ways in our opinion. Not *necessarily* linking to Wikipedia
(hehe) but for example an online version of the cartoon, a different route
of the story or a voting poll on how the story should unfold in future
releases. Obviously this would put a lot of work onto the planning and
design of such a story, but hey, if we don’t do it, who else?

Click here for full
sized photos.

Posted in Uncategorized *|* No
Comments »
NY-Times: New Bar Codes Can Talk With Your
Cellphone April
1st, 2007

The Sunday Edition of the New York Times had a good frontpage article on 2D
barcode technology. The article gives an ok overview of some of the players
and describes some scenarios where 2D barcodes are currently used. Strangely
they have a callout box in their article featuring "qode" some NeoMedia (the
company who believes they have the patent on scanning barcodes for
cellphones) venture I never paid any attention to. It would have been a
better article if it had highlighted some of the differences between the
codes; "quode" is not an *open* code like QR-code or datamatrix and is based
on the business model of selling the creation of it proprietary codes.
Everybody can create QR-codes and datamatrix codes for free. Also it should
have at least hinted at the problem of the existence of several code types
as seen from a user perspective; the more code types that exist the more
frustrating it gets for the user. As the article rightly points out, 2D
barcodes can be a big push for the mobile web, but only if we bring it down
to one or max two barcodes types. I don’t see users choosing between
different barcode scanners when interacting with a physical object. The
money is in the content and not in the codes. It would have been great for
them to mention that the latest Nokia n-series devices already ship with
QR-code and datamatrix readers preinstalled. A statement of Apple IPhone
division would have been great as well.

Overall a good article that heightens the awareness of 2D barcode
technologies.

www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/business/01code.html

Posted in Press *|* 20 Comments
»
6000 Tags March 26th, 2007

Dear friends, with your help, interest, and enthusiasm we have reached the
creation of the 6000th Semapedia Tag since our relaunch early 2006! Every
day we are amazed about the variety of Wikipedia articles you come up with
and which find their home back in the real world. We encourage you to take
advantage of technologies to bring your knowledge into your world and hope
that Semapedia can be a part of this effort also in the future.

The Tags in general have been in a process of change and tweak with the
latest one being or customized QR code. If you have ideas or suggestions to
make the Tags even better, we believe this is a good point in time to do so!
We are happy about any feedback and criticism.

Keep on tagging, hyperlink your world!

Posted in Uncategorized *|* 119
Comments »
We have been BBC’d March 9th,
2007

The BBC On Africa Magzine published an excellent article on our efforts in
Ghana.
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6411961.stm

For those who haven’t met Guido Sohne our man down
in Ghana, here a classic picture of his;) This was back in the day when we
were still using datamatrix codes. Guido was involved in pioneering the
datamatrix readers for semacode.

[image: Guido Sohne]

Posted in Press *|* 458 Comments
»
Financial Times on 2D Barcodes
February
27th, 2007

[image: QR codes are coming]

Big news just in, Richard Waters of Financial Times writes in his
article Mobile
groups study barcode
plan

Leading mobile communications companies are due to meet in London on Tuesday
to consider a plan that would help turn handsets into personal barcode
readers – a move that could stimulate the first big mobile-driven
advertising market.

and

Tuesday’s meeting, prompted by an alliance between the technology and
marketing giants Hewlett-Packard and Publicis, has been called to try to
promote standards in this area. Companies due to attend include Nokia,
Ericsson, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, said Tim Kindberg, an HP
researcher.

Of course as the founders of Semapedia we are excited about this development
and are hoping for a consesus between these companies to settle for open
standards that are accessed over open protocols. (As opposed to every
carrier implementing their own little ID-based lookup service as lengthly
discussed here)

Thanks Nicole;)

Posted in Press *|* 389 Comments
»
Semapedia Tag Clue Overlays
February
23rd, 2007
Hi all, as you can see, we have experimented with the level of error
correction of QR Codes and the possibility to overlay graphics (such as a
visual clue cellphone) to explain the interaction to new users better. Or at
least make them aware of the fact that the codes are being ‘used’ with
cellphones. So far our testing has been successfull and the QR Codes can
still be decoded successfully and quickly as always. We hope you like this
little enhancement and stay tuned for further explorations on this topic.

Posted in Technology *|* 66
Comments »
Semapedia @ Share Festival 2007
January
17th, 2007

We are happy to announce that from January 23-28 Semapedia will be
showcasing at Piemonte Share Festival , the
festival dedicated to the relationship between Arts and new media digital
innovation, in Torino – Italy in tandem with the Torino 2007 Winter
Universiade .

Now in its third edition, the festival plays host to an exhibition,
conferences, meetings, round table discussion, workshops and performances.
The event might be summed up as a form of soft-rave, or collective party,
where that special magic created by such a ‘happening’ develops a party-like
atmosphere – enjoyment, pleasure, and creative inter-exchange at differing
levels of public involvement, whether artistic, recreational, dance,
cultural, or simply that of sharing. Arts and digital culture are
expressions of a knowledge-based patrimony and creative languages that
remain alive via networks, the international exchange of know-how,
interdisciplinary contacts, cross-media interaction, multimedia projects,
and joint information technology-based collaboration. It is for this reason
that this new form of creative expression – based on so-called Information
Technology ERQ – differs so radically from that of the past.

Semapedia Conference will be held @ Associazione
Azimut,
Piazza palazzo di Città 8, on the 24 January @
18.30 +1 GMT.

Main site: Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti, Via Accademia Albertina 6,
Torino.
Admission to all events is free of charge with conferences being held in
both Italian and English.

The festival’s full schedule it availalble
here
.

[image: Share Festival]

Posted in Action *|* 639
Comments »
Nokias new NFC Device: The Nokia 6131 NFC
phone January
8th, 2007

Awesome news just about right
on time with our previous post – Nokia released its’ first massmarket
NFC-enabled phone today! The possibilities with such a device are amazing
and we hope to soon be able to play around with it as well. Happiness!

Posted in Uncategorized *|* 223
Comments »
Next generation Semapedia – Near Field Communication
hotness January
7th, 2007

Near Field Communicationis
what we believe the next logical step in physical hyperlinking and we
are
happy to show you our first experiments with one of the first NFC-enabled
phones, the Nokia 3220.

The goal in principle is to reflect the capabilities of 2D barcodes (storing
a Semapedia URL on a Tag, attaching this tag to the URL-relevant physical
object and making it – the URL and subsequently the Wikipedia article –
easily accessible to others) with this new kind of technology.

As an example we have chosen to physically hyperlink New York
Cityusing a given 1k
Mifare NFC Tag. The Nokia 3220 with its’ NFC shell (a
physical extension that stores the NFC Reader/Writer hardware plus
accompaining Read/Write software) makes it really, really easy to Write the
URL – semapedia.org/v/New_york_city – onto the Tag. In NFC lingo a
URL is called a ‘shortcut’. You can additionally Write phonenumbers or
sms-shortcuts onto a Tag. The act of writing is plain simple. Selecting
Write mode and the shortcut (http://semapedia.org/v/New_york_city) and
subsequentially literally touching the Tag induces the URL onto the Tag.
This process takes about a tenth of a second.

Once the shortcut to semapedia.org/v/New_york_city has been stored on
the Tag, we can startup the service discovery software on-phone. It will
prompt us to touch the Tag to reveal it’s hidden secret.

The actual act of touching is as simple as it gets: Coming close with the
back of the phone (the Read/Write hardware of the NFC shell) down to 3
centimeters or closer will result in an immediate reading of the Tag. What
is nice about the Nokia 3220 is its’ vibrant, tactile feedback once the URL
has been received. This usually takes no longer than half of a second.

We can now load the URL using the built-in webbrowser. Depending on the
connection speed this might take some time, but the experience is in general
seamless. And since we are proxying to Sevenval.com’s mobilized Wikipedia,
the result is very usable:

This new extension to Semapedia is of course still far out concerning
available NFC-enabled phones and availability of NFC Tags for the
everyday-man (and woman!). But we do anticipate a steady rise of devices
capable of at least Reading Tags this way. We always planned for this
technology and we are extremely (I rarely use this word, so this really
means it) excited about being able to play with it and realize the high
level of usability of this technology in general and specifically in terms
of the Semapedia application. We are sure to try even more things out with
NFC and Semapedia, so stay tuned on this one [image: :)]

Again, one word: Hotness.

Best wishes and – a little bit late – a happy and successfull year 2007!

Alexis & Stan

Posted in Uncategorized *|* 560
Comments »
Almost Christmas – Nokia’s S60 Barcode Reader for
download December
20th, 2006

In one of the most interesting and intense blogentries plus discussion over
at Tommi’s S60 Weblog,
Jukka Eklund posts
:

Hi, Nokia N73 version [of the barcode reader, added by author] is now
available in the Download! application.

Awesomnest, you can install the reader now on your N73 (and I’m sure there
will be other devices following soon).

Posted in Uncategorized *|* 163
Comments »
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