February 28, 2005

Penny Arcade on Kottke...

Whoa! Penny Arcade has a field day with Kottke.

A feature of Tivo That Saved Season 5 of Babylon 5

So season 5 of Babylon 5 was -extremely- preachy, I hated it, especially when compared to how tight season 4 was. All this recent talk about AutoLink reminded me of one of the things I do with Tivo to make TV more palatable.

When my daughter was very small and I wanted to watch TV, I would sometimes watch with the sound off and the close captions on as she slept against my shoulder. But sometimes the 30 second skip was too granular and I wanted to really just watch it faster. I can read much faster than I can hear, and it turns out that with my combination of TV and Tivo, when I goes fast forward I can see close captions at double speed.

This saved Babylon 5 because I would have had to stopped watching if I had to either read or hear all those speeches in the 5th season in real time. So, Tivo owners, have fun with this feature!

I, the user, modified the content in such a way that was more convienient to me and less convienient and maybe even artistically insulting to the creator. I'll leave further analogizing to the experts.

February 27, 2005

The EFF's Fred von Lohmann on AutoLink

See what he has to say. He says it much better than I have: EFF: Deep Links. If you haven't joined the EFF yet, you should you know.

February 25, 2005

I've been posting a lot today...

Man, I'm quite chatty cathy today, aren't I. Back to work!

Danny Sullivan on AutoLink

People interested in the AutoLink issue owe it to themselves to read Danny Sullivan's article: Google Toolbar's AutoLink & The Need For Opt-Out

I don't really agree with the opt-out thing, read my earlier post for info about that, but its' a pretty terrific round up of opinions and angles around the story. Well done. Again, not speaking officially for Google here.

Coolest Laptop Accessory Ever.

So 3m makes a product which they have dubbed, plainly enough, as the 3m privacy filter. If you follow the link you can see what it does. It is basically some exceptionally small louvres that keep people who are sitting as near as an airplane seat from seeing what you are working on the plane. I can't tell enough how handy this is.

It does attenuate the light a little bit, but it's easy to remove when you are not in a public situation. Just slide it out and you're back to normal. Dirk Hohndel at Intel has one and I've always felt covetous of it, so I ordered one when I got back from Linuxworld in Boston. It took 24 whole hours for Google to have one magically teleported to my desk. So very efficient.

One more thing about Michael Gorman

Bloggers, take note of his platform: Michael Gorman. This is not a bad guy, so don't be so quick to consider him a jerk, okay? Libraries are some of the few institutions resisting the Patriot act, and we really need the ALA on our side on this.

My Letter to Michael Gorman......

While I'm fine with someone not digging blogs and the writers thereof, this article by ALA President Elect Michael Gorman: Library Journal - Revenge of the Blog People! is a bit, well, off.

So I'll just come out and say this: What's up with calling Google a "notoriously inefficient search engine"? That is baffling. Maybe it is just my love of google, but I still consider it the best way to find information on the internet and I wouldn't consider labeling it as inefficient. A quarter second to a very good result of 8 billion pages is a terrific information retrieval feat.

As an information professional, I have idly wondered if there are librarians who don't like the internet because there is some fear that they make libraries obsolete, when in fact in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth.

The internet, and by "the internet" I mean everything, bloggers, search engines... hell, even podcasts ... is strongly complimentary to libraries. I go to libraries with my daughter all the time, and I can't think of a place I'd rather study. A bastion of silence in this noisy world of ours. I'm loking at our conference bag now filled with books and such from the library as I type this (working from home this morning!)

I'm completely okay with Mr. Gormans questioning of Google's ability to execute well on the book indexing project. It's a very difficult thing to do well, but at its core, the project is designed to make more information available to everyone, and in the process of doing so, we're likely to make mistakes along the way. But this is a good problem to have and to attempt to solve.

I'd like to personally invite Mr. Gorman to come visit Google and meet some of the people involved in it, and I think he'd find kindred souls walking around the google plex. Almost universally, the culture of google is a reading culture. We're not looking to reduce the world of the web and the printed page down to snippets and paragraphs, we want to help people find that information so they can appreciate it in its full glory.

February 23, 2005

A Feature of Google Maps you Might Not Know About..

So I watch people use maps, and one feature that I like a lot if the callouts for the individual driving directions. Here, do this...go to this page (opens in new window):

Google Maps - from el camino and castro street, mountain view, ca to 800 Amphitheatre Pky, Mountain View, CA 94043

And click on the 4 link for the direction, "Turn right at Stierlin Road". Note the callout. All hail maps.google.com. And to answer a recent question I was asked about maps, in fact there are no deals on file with the devil for the UI.

Google Movies

So, I just wanted to point you to a new feature, google movies. Super cool, for instance: Google Search: movie: Mountain View, CA. See Jess' google blog post about it.

February 22, 2005

Bloglines Lag: Two hours and 2 minutes..

Hardy a median number, but it appears that bloglines is lagging about 2 hours behind posts. This is too bad, but honestly, it still a remarkably good service, so I'm more than willing to deal with its growing pains. Success can put quite a strain on a data center.

The 2 hours and 2 minutes is the amount of time it took for the last post to appear on bloglines. Like I said, no biggie, but an interesting thing, nonetheless.

Imeem Invites

So it's hard to give them to you if I don't have your email address. I have a few left, so if you want them, post your full name and email in the comments, or email me at chris@dibona.com. Note that there is no spam armor as nothing will help me... I redirect all my mail to my gmail account which can deal with the horrible amount of spam I get on that account. All hail gmail.

Worth Continuing?

It needs a lot of work/editing/etc, and I'm considering just abandoning it, but if someone cares.... I'll continue it.

Chris

--
Second Spring
Prolog:

He hadn't had to wait in line long, it was a pretty mellow day on the mountain. The young woman behind the counter asked him, "How may I help you sir?"

"One Tram ticket please."

"Certainly, nineteen dollars please.", she had a slight accent, Brazilian? He thought about that as he passed her a twenty dollar bill. He looked up through the grand glass wall which gave a terrific view of the mountain. He saw the Tram was gliding its way into the station. "Good timing," he thought.

She passed him his change and the ticket and he made his way to the embarkation area. There wasn't much of a line to speak of, Tuesday morning mid February, with no real holiday traffic, was a pretty good time to go skiing in Tahoe. All things considered, this was a pretty terrific way to end things.

He climbed into the Tram and settled in for the trip up the mountain. The wind was pretty calm, there was no swaying of the tram and the air was amazingly clear, giving him a good view of the mountain below. A few minutes passed before he saw his destination. At the peak of the first mountain there was a stanchion that held up the cableway for the Tram. There, that was the place to do what he had come to do. It would have some impact, that's for sure. They had been right, it was perfect. An almost perfect cliff.

If he timed it just right, the people on the Tram would see it as it was happening. Yes, that was the place. Michael spent most of the time enjoying the view, breathing in the mountain air.

A voice from behind him, female, said "Beautiful, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is.", Michael turned to see a young woman next to him, maybe all of 25. Cute snowboarder on her way up the mountain. He saw a pair of ipod headphones draped over her shoulder. "What are you listening to?"

"Ah, this, just some dance music, helps me keep my rhythm on the slopes. What about you? I'm Kayla, by the way", she stuck her hand out.

Michael was surprised, why so friendly? He wasn't old enough to be her father, but he was at least 12 years her senior. He shook her hand. "Michael. I'm actually not listening to anything, except you of course."

She smiled, "Well, what's that then?", pointing at a bulky item on his wrist. Along the wrist in bold type were the characters 'GA-Vp2'

"Oh, this, it's a GPS unit.", he lied.

"Oh, okay. A skier, huh? Where are you planning on going?"

"Oh, just down the face here."

Her eyes got wide, "Where? It's a little steep there, I don't even know if you can ski there today."

"Oh, I can," he said, it would be a short trip for him. His last.

"The cover is kinda sparse, don't you think?"

"Sure, but I think I've found a line I can traverse."

"Cool." She said, "Where are you from?"

"Oh, I'm from the Bay Area, you?"

"Oh, really?", she smiled, "I'm from San Francisco. Where in the bay?"

"I'm in Mountain View, not far from 85 and 101."

"Ah, do you work in computers."

He chuckled, if she only knew, he felt like he had been surrounded by the things for a decade, "No, I work for a biotech firm down there."

"Biotech? Like genetic engineering?"

"No, more like medical devices. My specialty is in creating very small medical devices to monitor the health of a patient."

"Hmm, interesting."

"And you?"

"Oh, I'm a photographer, I shoot weddings and do some fine art work."

"Oh, nice. I love photography, but only as a hobby for now. Terrifically fun stuff though. I haven't shot a proper film camera in some time."

"Well, you should come up to the city and maybe we can go shooting."

"I'd like that, I love San Francisco.", he said as the Tram slid into the end station.

"Alright, be careful though, maybe I'll see you at the Sundeck?", she asked. The sundeck was a bar at the base of the mountain.

"Maybe, here...", he fished a card out of the back pocket of his jeans. He had a card in every pocket of his jeans, he didn't want there to be -any- mistake of who he was. The cards themselves were a dense polymer, unlikely to be ruined by what he planned to do. He found it ironic his card would survive what his body would not. "Give me a ring sometime and we'll get together. Maybe I can buy you dinner."

This action on his part was a bit nervy, he had no real expectation of surviving the next hour, much less into next week, but she was pretty cute and he was single. You never know, he thought.

"I'd like that.", she said. She took her snowboard and they left the tram. They walked out of the building and they attached themselves to their various accoutrement. Her into her board, he onto his ski's. She tuning her ipod, him turning on his 'GPS', which began to buzz its ominous little buzz as a small number 6 began to glow a baleful dark red glow.

He watched her as she gave him a wave as she skied off. He pointed his skis down a different directions and started towards what might be, for him, the end of his life.

This was neither good, nor bad. He was going to die anyway. A nasty stomach cancer had metastasized and riddled his entire body with little cancerous clumps. His kidneys, his liver, pretty much any important organ seems to have been colonized. The fact was that he wasn't in much pain, it just wasn't like that, but he was dead in weeks regardless and at least, he thought, his death would have meaning.

His friends had provided for him: gobs of vicodin, a week on the slopes as a last hurrah, a credit card with no real limit. He'd had a good time, finished a couple of really good books that he wanted to finish, ate some fine cuisine at some of the nicer restaurants on the mountain and now, it was his turn. His turn to die.

Michael had been at peace with his fate for some time. When he had received his diagnosis, his overwhelming feeling was that he was thankful his parents weren't alive, it would have killed his mother if he had passed away before her and dad. His diagnosis wasn't a surprise, he had been inexplicably sick for some time, he should have gotten a diagnosis sooner, his doctor had said, and he might have fought it with chemo or any number of drugs. But his work had been too important, too...all consuming. He even now didn't regret taking the time to do all that work.

He schussed down a nice long run, his rhythm was right on, cut right, cut left, chose your line and drive down the mountain. His legs were already complaining. He had really overdone it the day before, skiing too hard. He had to remind himself that he had neither the body or conditioning of his 15 year old self. He had grown up skiing but had given it up when he had moved to California for college. The slopes were generally pretty far away and expensive, and all of his spare money went to rent and books for his classes at Stanford.

After he had graduated and gotten the job with SenseSix, he could have afforded it, but he really hadn't taken a vacation since he started 5 years ago. He wasn't a workaholic so much as an opportunist, he told himself, and where else could he have had as much fun? He had friends and colleagues and the odd girlfriend here and there, but his job was very fulfilling. He was using his brain more than he had thought possible and he was learning so much. But....that was all over now.

He saw ahead of him the stanchion for the tramway. He tapped the unit on his wrist and it switched from red to green and the vibration increased on his wrist. It was kind of annoying to him, but he knew it wouldn't keep the device from working. He pumped and skated his skis until he got going at a very good clip. There was a short slope leading to his destination, a cliff to the side of the tower holding the tram up. His timing was off, the Tram wasn't anywhere to be seen, so he slowed down a bit and looked behind him. It was right behind him and he could see people watching him. He decided to give them quite a show.

He started going faster and faster, the speed was exhilarating. The wind cutting against his cheeks, like a long cold slap, was less fun, but this was clearly the way to go. He gave the tram a thumbs up and got into a tuck as he got closer and closer to the cliff. He started counting, "One! Two! Three! Four! Five!"

Although they couldn't hear him, people observing him on the Tram were beginning to get an inkling that something was wrong. He wasn't turning and, if anything, he was going faster and faster to the out of bounds area which was pretty much straight down a cliff into a dense stand of trees. A blond woman in a blue snowsuit told her husband, "Look at this guy, he's going way too fast." More people went to the side of the tram to see Michael's stunt, which swayed the tram and alerted the attendant that something was up.

"nine....ten..."

"What's up?", he said walking to see what was going on in the back of the tram. He was a young man in his 20s.

As he asked that, Michaels tips crossed the lip of the cliff, and physics told the rest of that story. After a brief, beautiful flight that brought a smile, then a scream, to him, as he yelled out "Twelve! Thirteen!" Michaels body impacted with a small pine tree, driving his face through the back of his skull. The unit on his wrist, went to yellow and let out a small beep before the led switched back to the baleful red and then, nothing as its battery, like Michael's body, was dead.

His last thought had been: I wonder if she'll call.

Chapter 1


The smell. That was the thing no one could have warned him about. Everything smelled so bad. Or so good. It was intense. Michael rose out of the bath of lukewarm fluid.

"Michael?", Jeanne said, helping him up. He was naked.

"Christ, do you have to shout?", he replied as the fluid coarsed off his body into the tank and through the grate in the floor, "And could turn down the lights."

"Sure, Michael, sorry. Tom could you dim the lights?", Jeanne called out. "Here's a robe."

Michael pulled on the robe, a little self conscious about his nakedness. Now you know how the monkeys fee, He thought. "So... How'd it go?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing. You look alright. You look great in fact. How's your brain?"

"So far so good. Michael Kaminski, born 1993, last memory....", a flash came to him, "A tree. And shit....13? 12? It's a little fuzzy. I remember the damn vibration from that thing.", indicating the GA unit. The last time he had seen it was on his wrist on the mountain.

"Let's go over some particulars, alright? Have a seat over here.", she indicated a chair in the corner of the lab. Michael settled into it, and as he did, Jeanne and Tom started affixing sensors onto his head, wrists, chest and legs. They had him lean forward and they smoothed a long neural sensor along his spine to the nape of his neck. He heard the machinery giving cheery beeps as they started feeding data into the system.

"Okay, Michael. Calibration time. Touch your nose.", Tom said.

"Good, now clap your hands three time.

"Kay, now fingertips.", Tom said. Michael touched index, middle, ring and pinky to his thumb and then did the reverse.

"One more time.", Tom said, "Now tug on your earlobes. Good."

"Should I rub my head and pat my stomach at the same time."

"Don't laugh, that's actually a great consistency check for the monkeys, but we never know if it is the training or their obstinancy at fault when we run them through it.", Tom said, "Now, touch your forehead, good...."

"Well?", Jeanne asked.

"Well, he's pretty much spot on. Spine looks identical, maybe a little faster. Same with muscle control numbers and coordination. Oh, one more thing.", Tom hit a button on the machine. Michael received a sharp electric shock. "Yeah, look at this, pretty much the same...a little faster reflex response. The body is his. A little younger perhaps. But it's him alright. At least the wiring is on track. The software is your problem, not mine."

"Thanks Tom.", Jeanne said. "Well, Michael. It's my turn."

"Go ahead.", he said, then said somewhat louder, "At least you don't shock me. Tom, was that really necessary."

"Yeah, well....you know, mostly. It gave me the information I needed to certify that you are you. Don't you feel better about that?"

"Yeah, sure. Hey...what did you guys mean when you said, 'A little younger'"

"Ah, yeah.. so here's the thing Michael, the receiving clone was taking too long to gestate to adult form, so we didn't get the same amount of curing time we wanted. Because of that you are now only 26, not 35. Also, we didn't get a chance to replicate your old bodies scars and tattoos. We really wanted you back in your body. We've got a small problem."

"Well, what is it?"

"It can wait after we're done checking you out. First, log into this workstation.", she slid a keyboard monitor combination arm into his field of view. He logged into the machine, up popped his calendar and email. Three days had passed and he had 452 messages waiting. Out of habit his finger moved the mouse towards his mail application.

Jeanne's hand fell onto his, "That can wait. I wanted to check that your memory was intact for familiar actions. Now, I have some questions."

"Shoot," Michael said. He felt good, ten years younger, had he really ever felt this alive or was it some side effect of the transition.

"Okay. Name."

"Michael Gates Kaminski"

"Employee guid?"

"451-2023"

"Okay, name of your first pet."

"Max"

"First line of Alice?"

"Heh, that's pretty funny...'ALICE was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do'", Michael replied. His thesis had been on speech sythesis, and his demonstration had been a small animatronic head that spoke a variety of English dialects and he had chosen alice in wonderland as the source text. Alice as read by a Cajun, a Northeasterned, a Canadian and a British among others. He hadn't even known that Jeanne knew about that part of his life.

"Okay, good.", she smiled.

Well, your readings look like you. A little faster, but we can blame that on the clone aging issue. "

"How long had the clone taken to prepare?"

"The clone or the machinery?"

"Both, I guess."

"Well, we would have had you reinstantiated sooner, but the cloning mechanism got a contaminant in the amniotic solution, we had to flush it out and restart. I wish we had detected it sooner. We really need you pal. You making it through the process gives us more than enough ammo to keep the project going. That said, allowing you to kill yourself so publicly was a big mistake on our part. The resort was pissed. Once we go public about you, we might be looking at a lawsuit.", she said.

"Well, once they realize they were the place immortality was born, I can't imagine that'll be a problem anymore."

"You've always been an optimist."

"Tell me about it. But, it seems like it worked out.", Michael said.

"hmm. Anyhow....take a look at this monitor," she swung a display in front of him, stood up and shut off the room light. It was quite dark save for the green power led on the monitor.

Michael heard her typing on a keyboard behind him, and the monitor in front of him started to glow. First with a pale green then as it got brighter it transitioned to red the blue then white then back to black. He perceived it as being very bright. He felt a headache coming on. "Have any ibuprofen?", he asked.

"Not yet, we need you clean. Please Michael, keep your eyes on the monitor."

"Alright Jeanne," he did so, the screen was now a grid with dots appearing in the spaces, like a large scale game of checkers. Then this too faded through colors before fading to black.

"Well, your brain looks pretty normal...", she pressed a button, and a loud sharp noise scratch noise came from the speakers on either side of the monitor, scaring Michael and causing him to jump.

"I hate that part. ", he said.

"I know, that's why we use that noise, you hate it a -lot- and we can always get a good read on your reflexes with it.", she said, "Well, listen, I'm done with you, I want to crunch on this for a bit. Why don't you go clean up. Remember this body is brand new, it has -none- of your regular tolerances"

"I know I know," Michael swung his legs from the chair in preparation to stand.

"And Micheal,", She said, "No drugs, no pills, not even advil. Medical needs you clean. Nothing, okay?"

"Sure, no problem.", he replied, "Take it easy."

Michael walked to the door to the lab and waved his hand over the rfid patch. Nothing. He waved again.

"Michael. It's not there anymore, " She said, referring to the chip he no longer had in his hand, "New, remember. Here, take this."

Michael took a card from her hand, "Use this till yours is reinserted."

"Thanks.", he waved the card in front of the patch, the door opened and he walked into the decon area. The door closed and he screwed his eyes closed as he was bathed in UV light. The lab had been used by the CDC before they had taken it over. They didn't really need the decontamination facilities, but they had found it useful in impressing investors and in getting grants.

The outer door opened and he stepped into an anteroom, staffed by a single guard at a table. "Sign out please Dr. Kaminski."

Michael took the offerend pen and signed out. His signature was the same, he noticed. He passed back the pen and strode out into the hallway.

There was a blue stripe down one side of the hallway. On one side of the hallway were the labs and the other the offices and cube farms. It was a funny building. Michael walked to his office and considered that it was strangely appropriate that the wing that his office was in used to be the primate lab for the previous tenant. He swore he could smell the monkeys still. He waved his hand over the patch antenna and his door unlocked, he pushed it open and walked inside, welcoming the familiar , if slightly more potent, smell of his books.

As he lowered himself into his chair, he noticed a glass sat on his desk with the remains of a lemon wedge rotting at the bottom. He guessed that had left the glass on his desk before he had left for Tahoe. It wasn't unlike him to do this, and the smell was something rancid, but not very powerful. But he could taste the rotten lemon on his tongue. He took the glass, shook the lemon into the trash and walked to the sink in the corner of his office and as he cleaned out the cup...

February 21, 2005

Oh, please.

I've been reading some of the hubbub about our latest toolbar release on blogs here and there, and I have to say that some people simply need to take a pill. Here are somethings to think about:
  • The user must explicitly download the toolbar and turn on the feature.
  • Since the user explicitly wants to do this, the user is choosing to augment the content of a given website.
  • Since the user explicitly wants to do this, what people who are up in arms about this are saying is this: The user can only have the experience that I dictate when I put my content up on the web.
  • What this means is that the user cannot change font size, browse with a browser that the producer didn't explicitly endorse, cannot change the default linking style, can't run a pop-up ad-blocker (like the google toolbar), can't run a regular ad blocker, can't use DNS tricks to circumvent ads. Can't shut off JavaScript, Java or flash. Can't control cookies. Can't control image placement, cycling, or origination point. Can't control security, for god's sake.
  • Which means that people who have a problem with the toolbar should, in my humble, non-google official opinion, should simply remove their content from the web until #4 is truly possible, which I hope will never come to pass.
  • Finally, Google is not advertising up your page with this technology, we're linking to maps and other useful knowledge. That isn't evil, and we do in fact care about this sort of thing. Remember that the users, your viewers, who turn this on -want- to be able to do this, explicitly. They are adults who turn on the feature knowing what they are doing.

So, in short: Grow up. When Microsoft introduced smart tags for IE, I thought that was unacceptable, as users had no choice. But even then I wasn't worried, because I used Linux and Mozilla, not IE and windows. You see, if you don't like it -don't use it- and add to your TOS on your site that users can't use it and surf your site at the same time, and , while you're at it, use robots.txt to block google's crawl. In for a penny, in for a pound, I say. There are other seach engines out there who do an okay job.

Please note that not everyone is as tedious about this, there are still some smart people left on the internet, it seems. Thank god for that.

You'd think Thompson would've gone out in a more fantastic sort of fashion.

I think that we should edit Mr. Hunter S. Thompson's obit a bit. Instead of "Shot himself to death" howzabout we go with one of the following:

  • Shot by secret service when he tried to infiltrate a CPAC rally.
  • Gunned down by South American gun lords for being 'overly agressive' during drug aquisition negotiations.
  • Killed in a shootout with Reno police when, upon hearing the awful Led Zepplin cover band music playing a casino, he went crazy, shooting the PA system. "He was frothing at the mouth", said one officer.
  • Killed by fall in Las Vegas: "He didn't pay attention to the instructions to put on his safety harness on the coaster.", says official of the stratosphere.
  • Killed by drowning, during Cruise to antiqua. "I've never seen anyone so determined to retrieve a pill bottle.", said lifeguard, "He hit me!"


Anyhow, feel free to comment with your own suggestions!

February 17, 2005

Houston, We Have a Title.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you Open Source 2.0, going to production April 1st, 2005 for a July publication. An O'Reilly book, Open Sources is a follow on to the original , award winning book, Open Sources, with new Authors, new essays and all kinds of goodness. Look for it soon!

MAKE is Awesome.

See title. Make is amazing. Go subscribe. You won't regret. What a magazine. I've been an O'Reilly partisan for a while, but this is really way better than I hoped or expected.

February 15, 2005

At Demo: Imeem

So imeem demo'd at Demo. imeem is a windows application that brings together social networking, im, filesharing, picture sharing and blogging in a single, caching windows application. It's really cool technology and they have a solid design sense, which is something I really like a about them.

One thing that I think they are doing especially right is that all communications are cryptographically secured. This is a very right way to do IM. It is invitation only, but if you are interested, I have some. Please note I'm an advisor to the company, but that's not a bad thing :-)

JMS, take my advice, let it die.

Reading one of my favorite news sources, Sci Fi Wire where we find that Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczyinski is outed for wanting to revive Star Trek from its moribund situations. I have only one thing to say... Babylon Season 5(which showed us what happens when you are given enough rope to hang yourself with) . Leave it be, Straczyinski, Leave it be. You're great when a strong hand is editing you and you are under time pressure, but paramount has proven itself unable to control the flourishing collection of tired cliches that Star Trek has become.

Let it die, let Star Trek go to the great Holodeck in the sky, let it realign its emitter array, may I suggest that it even be allowed to go to the great Sherlock Holmes/Borg crossover episode in the sky. Let it die.

February 13, 2005

Congratulations Steve!

Steve Jensen is taking the leap! He proposed to his now fiancee, and, as his magic 8 ball reads, all signs point to yes. Read all about it here on his weblog.

Methinks thou protesteth too much.

Hey, GoDaddy CEO, no one cares about you or your stupid ad. Cheesecake is -so- beer ad. What does any of this have to do with DNS? Nothing. Maybe I just missed the point. No fun, that's me.

Let me introduce you, my dear readers, to a real registrar...EasyDNS, they're terrific.

Who was first? Kneel before them.

Ah History....it is so easy to ignore you. In the vast feedback loop that is the blogosphere, so many deny your existence and are shocked when you reassert yourself.

So...let me present to you denizens of the feedspace....slashcode and Slashdot.

Slashdot was the first group blog, launched in early 1997 by Rob Malda and then joined by his college pals Jeff Bates, Nate Ooooostendorp and others, it quickly rose in prominence to the hourly addiction that it remains today. Issues they've tackled include:

Comment Spam
Link Spam
PageRank Spam (for karma, natch)
Page Widening posts
Trolling
Free Software Licensing of their Codebase
Keeping Advertising from effecting editorial.
The dynamic nature of the .com business and what it does to revenue.

And yet...every single one of these things has popped up again and again. I don't know if you care about these issues, but if you do, check out slashcode and learn! This public service message brought to you by me. This is one of the great things about free software...you can learn from it even if you don't plan on using a line of code. Enjoy!

February 12, 2005

Neat! A Proportional Scale Solar System Online.

So..yeah..the earth is pretty damn small....but we are better looking the venusians! The Solar System. Very neat stuff.

February 10, 2005

Those papers..

So I linked before to this article: projectsw3igart: The Masked Grader Strikes Again! and while this is very funny stuff, what's just outrageous is that these people are college freshmen. Let me say it this way: These people are college freshmen? To judge by the quality of their work, I'd say they were maybe 3rd graders at best, and that might be insulting to third graders. I mean....seriously. I'm not going to be winning a Nobel prize for literature any time soon, but these papers are vastly awful.

I love the internet.

The Masked Grader Strikes Again!

Finally! DSL is up.

Excellent. I am happy. My DSL is up and running. Through Speakeasy, in spite of SBC's evil efforts to the contrary.

February 9, 2005

Remember when memory wasn't so damn cheap?

This post boggles the mind "Miguel de Icaza: Gnome memory use in various languages". I remember when we were all talking about Enlightenment (screenshots) and how consumptive it was of system resources. That these new applications running on their various interpretive layers/bytecode clrs are all more consumtive than E ever was is just funny to me.

When I was a pup, as a thought experiment I tried to create the smallest application that would do something interesting under dos, It was a 4 or 6 byte program (I don't remember) that cleared the screen and returned control to dos. I entered it directly into the file as machine language (think: cat > file.exe) using the alt-numbers entry method. That was a long time ago. It worked though. And it was -fast- :-)

Expected, but excellent. BSG Picked up for year two.

The Fan Boy rejoices: Sci Fi, in a blatant attempt to make me forget the evil of cancelling Farscape, has renewed Battlestar Galactica. Read about it here on Sci Fi Wire

Yes, I'm digging the show. As if you couldn't tell.

Tags Tags Tags

So here are two problems I have with tags, one is a problem now, and one will be one later. Regardless, I like the fun that has been happening around tags, but I wanted to do a brain dump about this:

Now:

People who tag their posts are not always qualified to do so. For instance, if I were to tag this post as being about tags, I'd say that's true. If I were to say this post was about technorati, it'd be only partly true. If I said this post was about internet architecture, then it would be only generally true. If I said this post was about my thinkpad, it'd be pretty much untrue. This is a bad example post, but suppose I was writing a post about coding opengl using the swig bindings to python. So I could tag it as swig, python, java, graphics, gaming and opengl. Well as you see there are a number of words that mean many things. Java could mean coffee. Graphics might mean design. Gaming might mean board gaming or poker or cards and python.....you get the point.

Later:

People will use tags to spam. Remember how people used to use meta tags to add contextual information to web pages? I remember when I was running svlug, someone suggested adding porn to the meta tags to draw more traffic. Needless to say, I didn't do it, and I avoiding having to talk with that person at meetings as he was clearly broken, but anyhow....that's enough about that.

So have fun tagging, but don't get too attached to it :-)

February 7, 2005

SBC DSL ...a Submarined Tool For Data Monopoly..

Like many, I read my colleague Nelson Minar's weblog. And I have only one thing to say about his recent post...Nelson: beware! I recently moved and found out an interesting thing about SBC. One thing the FCC allows is if there was a previous installation of a DSL line into a property (like my new place) they don't have to actually remove the connection until something like 60 - 90 days after a new line has been routed to the place from covad or whomever.

So, this means, if you want to pull in DSL from the fantastic speakeasy or inexpensive dsl extreme, you have two choices. Wait for SBC to remove the DSL 'order' from the previous tenant (you in this case Nelson, should you cancel) or you can order a naked dsl line on one of your others pairs leading into your house.

That said, SBC DSL is pretty rank stuff, I prefer Speakeasy, so I deal with the pain in the ass factor that is inherent in DSL when I set up my home network. It's very annoying. To Speakeasy's credit, they've been very diligent around the matter, so by Thursday, my 'naked' line should be in place and the bits should be flowing.

But SBC is bad for doing this kind of anti-competitive stuff, that's for sure. If I call and complain to SBC I get the worst kind of run around: Oh, DSL? Let me connect you to SBC DSL. Click. Hold please. Click. SBC DSL... oh you need to remove an order, yes, we don't do that. I'll connect you to the SBC Blah-de-blah. Click. Oh, DSL? Or, in basic:

10 print "route call to other office."
20 goto 10.

Sigh. I hope it comes off on Thursday, my last appointment, the covad tech got sick and couldn't do it. In the meantime, it's Tmobile from the starbucks nearby. It actually works pretty well for casual surfing though.

Google Maps Goes Live

Congratulations to the maps.google.com team! The new Google Maps beta with directions and what I think is the best user interface for this kind of thing on the web is live. Some cool searches:

  • Indian Food in Berkely
  • Books in San Francisco
  • Lobbyists in DC
  • Acting Schools in Los angeles.
  • Tulips in Holland, Michigan


    Things to try:

  • Click the pin! Check the drop shadow..
  • Click and drag the image.
  • Scroll in and out with the magnification bar.
  • Click in the middle of the compass to return to the original searched point.

    This is pretty cool! Remember, this is still beta stuff, but it is sure neat.
  • I think I need to reinstall Quake 3 Arena..

    Arruda sent me a link to the place where we got our levels when we were at va, and I tracked down the level we used: Runtfest and a couple of others you might want to check out, Roomdm and Bathroom. Lots of fun with lots of players.


    Enjoy!

    First Elmo, now this?

    Remember in New York when they had 'celebrities' tell you to buckle up in a cab? Well, looks like not that they've strapped you down, they want to you to consume while you do it. From Gizmodo: Taxis Everywhere to Sell You Interactive Crap. I'm picturing the violence that will be done to these things. If it meant a free cab ride, well then maybe that might be okay..but it seems for the privledge of sitting and paying for a ride, you must watch ads. Yay consumerism! Civilization ho! This is worse than cola ads before movies.

    February 4, 2005

    Family Guy Video Game in the Works

    I was reading the comments for this story on Slashdot and came upon this comment. It was like having cold water splashed on my face. I remember playing against people who used this model.

    At VA we used to have a regular game every afternoon. All the engineer cubes and a great number of others would all play some huge game of Quake or Urban Terror. It was so cool. One of the maps we used was this freaking huge bedroom and all the players were the size of action figures by proportion. There was a desk, bed, computer, bookshelf, closet, and everything. I don't see it online anywhere, but I'm sure its out there. Boy it was fun.

    That said, a Family Guy video game will likely suck to the level of the worst tv show tie in ever made...yes, I'm talking about South Park. I'm not even going to give them a link it was such a bad game.

    February 3, 2005

    "I, for one, welcome"

    I do love this phrase: "I, for one, welcome" In case you haven't searched for this one, you might want to (be careful, the results can be icky). Or on Feedster or technorati...it's kind of a bloggy phrase, but don't hold that against it.

    February 2, 2005

    If Robertson pulls this off, I'll be surprised.

    Hell, if he even gets one major label to do this, I'll be shocked...Lindows Chief To Launch DRM-Less Music Service.. This headline should really read, "Lindows Chief to attempt to Launch DRM-Less Music Service." Good luck to you, you're gonna need it.

    How Cool is Modern Pneumatic Tube Technology? Damn Cool.

    Check it out: GW Hospital : Pneumatic Tube System " Manufactured by PEVCO, this carrier technology allows the transportation of a broad range of materials from pharmaceuticals, delicate tissue samples and blood and blood products to paper and supplies." Neat, huh?

    Good Riddance to Crap Sci-Fi

    From the Sci Fi Wire.. Enterprise has been killed. Good riddance. The only good thing about it was they didn't have any stupid sherlock holmes on the holodeck episodes.

    Tivo Feature Request: Delete from shows where Locate('holodeck', shows.description) != 0 or shows.producer = "Braga"

    February 1, 2005

    U.S. Students Say Press Freedoms Go Too Far.

    From the ignorance-is-bliss department:

    This is the kind of thing that just amazes me. In yesterdays McPaper, they ran this gem: U.S. students say press freedoms go too far There isn't much I can say about this that hasn't been said already, but whenever I read these kinds of articles (see also Kansas and evolution, Americans and Geography or Creation Science) I think the exact same thing: "We're gonna need a lot more H1b visas." here in the US. Otherwise how will we get any technical or scientific work done.

    I wish I could get and maintain a list of these students. It might come in handy later... "Oh, look, this one thinks Dinosaurs walked the earth in the same time as humans....I think we can pass on him..."

    Brooklyn residents: just say no to space elevators! (via bb)

    I love this kind of thing: Boing Boing: Brooklyn residents: just say no to space elevators!. Along those lines there is a fiction contest going on at the ESA centered on their elevator project. I'm considering entering, but the ideas I've been having for them are all pretty grisly. Murder mystery on the elevator (A classic locked door situation)? Horrible plague on the Elevator? Oxygen leak? Explosive decompression investigation? Terrorist attack (props to Fred Pohl) ? Elevator Rave (picture lots of x cruching perky goths swaying to apocryphal music on their way to a concert topside...).

    Unfortunately, none of these would win.

    Russ Nelson Named Head of OSI

    Congratulations Russ! For more info, read this unfortunately titled article. Open-source leader steps aside at industry group.. I'd say that Eric has had a good run and it's a good time for other leadership to emerge. Russ is a solid guy and look forward to seeing what he does.