MacGuffin Repair Mission: FAILURE

There’s an article about the West Chester Guerilla Drive-In coming out in tomorrow’s Citypaper! I had heard some reports that the MacGuffin wasn’t transmitting properly, which means that Citypaper readers wouldn’t be able to earn their Official GDI Member Numbers in time for the last 2008 showing on October 25th.

So after work, Lydia and I hopped into the car to go pay it a visit at its SECRET LOCATION. Here’s what it looks like after six months of continuous operation — check out the greasy fur on the antenna!

MacGuffin: busted after six months

Lydia playing with the trainsThe red light on the front of the Pelican case was out — sure enough, the power cord had fallen out of its socket. Probably while the Halloween pumpkins were getting plugged in. I plugged everything back in, verified that the Sony Sports Walkman hidden inside the case (a leftover from the Retropod project) was still running, and got back in the car.

No dice.

So I’ve got about 24 hours to either fix the MacGuffin, or to think up an alternate “Hero’s Quest” for City Paper readers. The way the MacGuffin quest works now is you have to locate the MacGuffin, listen to the SECRET ACCESS CODE it is should be broadcasting on AM 1700, then send in a picture of you at the location. That way, you can’t just pick up the info on a message board; you have to get out into the world of people and things and have a PIPIN’ HOT adventure. So you can get into TRAINing. (sheesh, if the MacGuffin isn’t working, why am I still dropping hints?)

Any suggestions for what an alternate City Paper GDI Hero’s Quest should be?

UPDATE: The City Paper piece is out. I’d better think of something quick!

MacGuffin Repair Mission: FAILURE

Will Ronco, Iron Developer

Will Ronco, Iron Developer

Tikaro Interactive developer Will Ronco turned in an awesome time at the Lake Placid Iron Man a few months ago, and he’s now in Kona, Hawaii getting ready for the world championship this weekend (he toured the lava field yesterday.)

He’s also prepping for a Drupal site launch next week. You know, in his spare time. I thought maybe we’d be able to trade some emails or some Jira issues.

I was really surprised to find, though, that the vChat on our PowerBooks Just Worked(tm), and I was able to see the FRIGGIN’ SWIM COURSE over Will’s shoulder. That’s just ridiculously awesome.

The race start is behind his left shoulder, and then they swim over to the orange buoy behind his right shoulder.

The race is Saturday. It won’t be televised until December, but you can follow Will at His race number is 176.

Will Ronco, Iron Developer

ACAC Barcode Tattoo Booth at the West Chester Chili Cookoff

One of the goals of my development shop, Tikaro Interactive, is to connect the online and offline worlds. For the past year, I’ve been especially interested in barcodes. So far, the channels I’ve been developing are needlepoint, nerd fashion accessories. And now (drum roll, please…) barcode tattoos.

Here’s the program we set up this Sunday at the West Chester Chili Cookoff:

Toren applying the ink

The Barcode Tattoo Booth
Our tattoos were sponsored by ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center: you can see I’ve got an ACAC sashimono attached to the bike (the tattoo table extends from the sidecar.) We gave free airbrush tattoos with the ACAC logo, plus a unique barcode.

Once you get the tattoo, you visit ACAC and get your tattoo scanned at the front desk. “Hi!” you’ll say, proffering your bicep. “I have a barcode tattoo here, and…” BEEP! goes the keytag scanner, and the friendly front-desk staffer tells you what you’ve won. Maybe a soft pretzel at the snack bar. Maybe a free day at the spa. Maybe a two-month membership! Every tattoo is a winner.

There’s a number of things I like about this program. For one thing, even though it’s all futuristic and high-tech, it uses the existing keytag scanners and computers. So there’s no special hardware needed. As far as the scanner at the club is concerned, your tattoo is just a regular ol’ keytag. We’ve tested the tattoos on a wide variety of skin tones, including black skin and ultra-ultra-tanned aerobics-instructor skin, and it works just fine on everyone so far.

Jason with his Barcode Tattoo
From a pure marketing standpoint, I like the tattoo because it’s a coupon with built-in urgency. Your tattoo will last two or three days before it starts looking haggard, so it’s an impetus to actually go in to the club quickly.

Plus, you know, lasers are involved. What’s not to like?

At the cookoff yesterday, Toren applied no less than seventy-eight unique barcode tattoos. I’m curious to see how many folks will show up at the club today to get scanned. There’s a pretty good chance, I think, that this will have a high response rate and will actually make sense as a marketing channel.

In which case, I’ll make my first Powerpoint presentation that incorporates tattoos and BMW motorcycles. And that’s you know, a life goal.

Got an idea where a barcode tattoo with a three-day lifespan would make sense as a marketing channel? I’d love to hear it. Drop me a comment!

ACAC Barcode Tattoo Booth at the West Chester Chili Cookoff

Oaklands Farm Barrel Cars: HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR


IMG_0809.JPGOn Saturday, we went to the Fall party at Oaklands Farm where all the McIlvaines live (about a mile down the road from where I grew up.) The highlight of Lydia’s YEAR is riding around in the barrel cars. Many of the McIlvaines are welders, and the barrel cars are homemade. Seriously, that is BADASS. We also visited the chicken coops, and petted the turkey. And made apple cider. And rode around in the vegetable wagon, towed behind one of the antique IH tractors on display.

Kate’s a McIlvaine. It’s a formidable family.

Oaklands Farm Barrel Cars: HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR

No, You Can’t Have a Chicken. NOT YOURS

Yesterday, Shirley came over at breakfast talk about making magical QRcode real estate yard signs that let you find out how much the list price of the house is — and talk directly to the listing agent. She brought over a bunch of eggs gathered from her hens that morning, and I had to practically get out the six-pound sledge to crack them open. And the yolks were a really beautiful orange color. So naturally I’m now all excited about building a small coop in the back yard, to get ready for “Great Depression 2.0: California Drift”

I checked out some of the really awesome coop designs at, including this really great small “playhouse” coop:


Oh, BOY, that’s totally awesome! Look at the little door to get the eggs out! We decided we’d get four hens, and that each of us would get to name one. Lydia had already named hers “Hannah”, which is a great name for a hen. I was busy reading up on the many benefits of Diatomaceous Earth, and subscribing to The Allotment Lady‘s blog, which Kate reads regularly.

Now, we seem to remember hearing something about how West Chester Borough ordinances prohibit livestock, but permit pets. Let me just verify that we can kind of squeak through, here. After all, we’re not getting a rooster… AW NUTS!

Borough of West Chester Ordinances [1][205][213], adopted 1989::

ARTICLE I Keeping of Poultry and Hogs

§ 37-1. Purpose.
The purpose of this Article is to prevent nuisances arising from malodors, noises and health hazards caused by the presence of poultry or hogs or by the slaughter of poultry or hogs within the Borough of West Chester.

§ 37-2. Keeping and slaughtering prohibited; exception.
A. On and after the effective date hereof, no poultry or hogs shall be kept or slaughtered on any property located in the Borough of West Chester. Ha, ha, ha, PWNT! Sucker.
B. Licensed operators for commercial purposes shall be exempted.

Any person who violates or permits the violation of any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding brought before a District Justice, be guilty of a summary offense and shall be subject to the payment of a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $1,000, plus the costs of prosecution. Upon default of payment thereof, the defendant may be sentenced to imprisonment in the county prison for a period of not more than 30 days. And we’ll tape a picture of the chickens YOU CAN’T HAVE to the wall of your cell. Haw, haw, haw.


Crap. My choices now are to give up, get a commercial license, or become a member of the Urban Chicken Underground, and live the glamorous but secret life of a Chicken Criminal. Any suggestions?

UPDATE: Hmm, maybe this would be an excellent time to add “licensed poultry technician” to my long list of useless bona fides. That might satisfy the letter of the law. I’ve always wanted an excuse to bust out a Tackleberry: “Well, you see”, I’d say to the mean, humorless Chicken Confiscator, poking him right in his clip-on tie, “I’m a Licensed Poultry Operator, so these chickens are legal under local ordinance part II, Chapter 37, article I, section thirty-seven DASH two, paragraph B…” at which point he’d gnash his teeth and tear up the Chicken Confiscation Order, and the credits would roll. Maybe Hannah the Hen would flap up and lay an egg in his combover as a part of the extended blooper sequence.

I could pick up a carny license while I’m at it! Ooh, ooh, and a license that would let me sell ice-cream from my sidecar! Ice cream… MADE WITH FRESH EGGS?

No, You Can’t Have a Chicken. NOT YOURS