September 2005 Archives

"Congress Abandons WikiConstitution"

Don't normally do this but it's too funny.
From the Onion:

WASHINGTON, DC—Congress scrapped the open-source, open-edit, online version of the Constitution Monday, only two months after it went live. "The idea seemed to dovetail perfectly with our tradition of democratic participation," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said. "But when so-called 'contributors' began loading it down with profanity, pornography, ASCII art, and mandatory-assault-rifle-ownership amendments, we thought it might be best to cancel the project." Congress intends to restore the Constitution to its pre-Wiki format as soon as an unadulterated copy of the document can be found.


My other new blahg!

Yahoo! SiteExplorer

Michal: there's no escape.

.htaccess [1]
robots.txt [2]

sudo apachectl stop [3]

ACL [4]
i don't want to stop talking, I want Them to stop listening ;)

ha, yeah

The popular misconception is that Big Brother is some sort of government consipracy. This is wrong. Big Brother is a commercial enterprise. :)

All your blog belong to us. Keep talking.

Stop da man:
[1] .htaccess: special file used by Apache webserver which allows, amongst other things, to block access to specific resources (like web pages) based on rules.
[2] robots.txt: special text file used by convention to kindly inform respectful search engine "spiders" (a.k.a. robots) to please not index this, that and that.
[3] Command for quitting the Apache webserver process. In other words, turn off the webserver.
[4] ACL: Access Control Lists. 'Nuff said.

nano cry babies

What a bunch of total hyper-obsessive morons.

1- Cotton does not scratch hard polycarbonate. Besides which do you really think for one second after 3+ years experience producing iPods, Apple would suddenly use "softer" plastic? Which, contrary to reports from these dingbats, does not get scratched by fingernails.

2- the nano is *small*, which means you are putting it in places where you may not have put previous iPods, or, in places where it now has more movement play due to reduced size. e.g.: your pocket with a single coin or *shudder* a key. The iPod, due to it's size wouldn't move around much in that situation and you'd be a bit luckier. The nano... oh yes that will scratch. (And if you're not happy with it, may I suggest another place you can stick it? Hrmm? ;)

3- things get used in this thing we call reality, they get worn out. It's a fact of life. Look, you too are getting ragged. Deal with it.

4- I have a 3 year old second generation iPod whose screen is hazy from wear. I can still see the information behind it perfectly. You're trying to tell me you put your nano in your shirt pocket a few times and now "seeing album covers and photos is impossible"? Please.

Baka. Get a grip on reality.

Biiig difference between cracked screens due to faulty manufacturing, and perceived "too much scratches" (which has always been a gripe with anal retentives and their iPods).

Real browser war

I thought of doing this recently. I can't imagine that no one has suggested it earlier.

The amount of times I have heard web developers curse Internet Explorer, only to then sigh, shrug and say "but it's the client's site so...".

Sure, that's fine but... what about YOUR site. I mean your weblog, your personal publishing outlet; you know, that thing that doesn't exist solely to make someone money.

What am I saying? I am saying: shut 'em out. "This site cannot be viewed with the Internet Explorer web-browser. Please download one of these..."

I think WASP used to have a page sort of like this that you could redirect to based on a simple browser detect, but that was years ago, before the Firefox sweep and associated awareness building of how bad IE is. Perhaps now would be a good time for a whoooole bunch of us to do this... ;)

Whatcha thinks? A couple of prepackaged Javascripts people can pop in their pages, plugins for the various blog systems, etc.

Patterns in Google/Yahoo hirings

Karl has been scouring the web for the last few days looking for all public reports of people hired by Google and Yahoo... and has added them in the comments of my previous post on the subject.

It's a loooong list and quite revealing. Somewhat shocking in some cases even.
(We should put it on a wiki somewhere...)

Diabolical [PSP] marketing

Sony PSP advertising campaign in Malaysia.

ps201.jpg ps200.jpg

Clear bubble-wrap over the PSP's controlpad button icons (X, O, triangle, square).
Diabolical for the following reasons:

  1. As everyone else is saying, who's never had fun popping bubble wrap? It is addictive. A marketers wetdream.
  2. Tactile engagement, via an addictive activity, with the marketing object. Physically enforce the message via a movement not unlike the movement required of the actual product, i.e.: pushing buttons with the thumbs.
  3. via tactile engagement, semiotic enforcement of the icons related to the actions (X, O, triangle, square) into the mind of the user.

A man came up to me and said
"I'd like to change your mind
By hitting it with a rock
," he said,
"Though I am not unkind."


Implementation-wise, genius. The structure of the bus shelter provides the architectural framework. A quick paint job and logo application, icon grid in the existing ad space frames. The bubble wrap can either be prepared as boards with the grids and easily replaced, or some sort of frame bracket allowing easy periodic replacement of just the bubble wrap. Replacement cost is dependent on length of campaign.

Via Régine, via Marketing alternatif.

Lord of War

Lord Of War Poster 0905

Ok, first of all, it IS a Hollywood movie, which means it is replete and chock full of everything a Hollywood movie needs: clichés, one liners, understated deadpan melodrama; the works. Second, Nicholas Cage gives a great rendition of Nicholas Cage as an international arms dealer.

That said, go see it.

I didn't say much above cause I was sorta speechless. Essentially, it's a wake up call to a ot of people. There were a handful of scenes that literally caused the audience to recoil in horror; not out of goriness, but a sense of "this is real... frightfully real".

Walking out of the cinema I thought how important it would be to harvest this recoil and sense of disgust of the audience into some sort of positive action they could engage in, but nothing came to mind. (long day... heh...)

Well it seems someone is doing something. Amnesty International USA has some materials in place and a campaign. Though I am reminded of part of the proposal that Michael and I submitted to (they went with a direct email marketing solution provider.. go figure) wherein we - well, really, it was Michael - pleads such organizations should use the webtools we see today (RSS, etc) to allow us to really get involved. Keep us up to date with developments, hook us up with regional meeting info, etc...

Anyways, how lucky... how damned damned damned lucky I am to not know war; to not fear a bullet striking me, or a machete hacking my flesh.

Potter spam

It seems only fitting that along with drugs, gambling and porn, I am seeing lots and lots of Harry Potter hawking email and weblog comment/trackback spam.

More detritus of today's society and culture... :p

What we need is more McLuhan

I've been meaning to send some link love (daaah, cannot believe I used that phrase) to Mark Federman's new weblog. Mark's the Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Center at the University of Toronto. He used to write at their official weblog but understandably a situation arose where Mark's voice was being confused with the Center's "official" voice. It's been a few months actually. Sorry Mark for not mentioning it earlier.

So, free to use his own voice, Mark's been writing some really kick ass stuff.
If Corporations are Obsolete, What is Their (Reversal) Successor?
The Obsolescence of Mass-Media Journalism
Trusted Computing (a hot topic around here lately ;)
and Fascism Anyone? (I love this one, mainly since I have been saying this for over 10 years to anyone who will listen... without credentials or references mind you, just on gut instinct...)

Of course I am biased; as anyone who's had a deeper conversation with me will attest to, I always end up talking about McLuhan... or buddhism... or both combined.

Anyways, good stuff. Check it out, and Mark, keep it up. :)

Google swallows the internet whole, and you with it

First, it was about "indexing" all of the web. Then, it bought a small chunk of that web (Blogger). Then Google said "hey, there's more than the web out there!" and Google Mail was pushed out. Quickly followed by Google Talk.

There was some murmuring recently about something initially called "Ajax Office", wherein you could do all your word processing and spreadsheet work in a web browser and the files would be stored on a remote server. Google was mentioned as "a good place to do it".

I'm not sure what the deal is here but check this out... Google Wifi. Here's the salient part of this:

Why would I want to download and install Google Secure Access?

Google Secure Access allows you to establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi. By using Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted, preventing others from viewing the information you transmit.

Does Google Secure Access connect to a VPN server?

Yes, Google Secure Access connects to Google's VPN ("Virtual Private Network") server provided for this service.

As with everything Google does, yes this is a very good and very much needed service. But what this means is that everything you do on the network goes through Google's servers.

What sort of information does Google have access to?

If you choose to use Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted and sent through Google's servers to the Internet. The data that is received will then be encrypted and sent back through our servers to your computer. Your privacy is important to us, we strongly encourage you to read our Privacy Policy to be fully informed about how your privacy is protected.

Oh please. Policy? A few words to soothe my worries? "Policy" is as weak as the paper it is written on, not to mention the laws of the country they are used in. (For example, it is the policy of Yahoo! China to share the contents of their database with chinese police.)
Encryption? You're joking me right? We're talking about the single largest networked computer in the world. Not to mention they are the ones encrypting the tunnel for you. You don' think they can decrypt it?

Is there a fee for using Google Secure Access?

No, Google Secure Access is free.

Of course. You are supplying them with their main invaluable natural resource: content. For free. Who's getting the real bargain here?

Nothing is free, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. ;)

Trust is something that must be fluid and reflexive. Faith is very very dangerous.

Quiennes mas macho?

"Advancing the Effectiveness & Sustainability of Open Education"
($250.00 USD)


"Web 2.0"
($2,795.00 USD)

Gee. I wonder which would be far far far more interesting, stimulating and worthwhile...
$600cnd flight to Salt Lake City... hrmmm...

That was quick!

"Apple supports video podcasting"

Seems they "turned it on" without telling anyone.

Told. you. so. :D

My new blog

Well, here it is. My new blog, complete with Atom & RSS feeds, language [fr] switches [de] and "references"...

I think I will call it... "Xanadu"... yes... that sounds right. A centralized master document of all the web, tailored to my needs at any given moment.

(It's a little rough and not up-to-date, but it's a start... )



"Lead Camino developer Mike Pinkerton has announced that he has accepted a position at Google."

Public (and there are more such announcements coming)

  • Micah Dubinko -> Yahoo
    XForms Specification Editor

  • TV Raman IBM -> Google
    Participant of many W3C working groups

  • Flickr Team Ludicorp -> Yahoo
    includes Stewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, George Oates, John Allspaw, Heather Champ, Aaron Straup Cope, Corey Fake, Serguei Mourachov, Paul Lloyd, Kakul Srivastava, Ana Zavala, Dathan Pattishall

  • Dave Beckett Bristol Univ. -> Yahoo
    RDF / Semantic Web, created of librdf

  • Vinton Cerf MCI, ICann -> Google
    One of the "Fathers of the Internet"! What a catch!

  • Mike Pinkerton AOL -> Google
    Camino/Firefox developer, joins Google's Firefox dev team

"I am leaving King Yao. He is so obsessed with the ideas of benevolence that I am afraid something ridiculous will come of it. In any event, funny or not, this kind of thing eventually ends with people eating each other raw.

"At that moment, there is a great wave of solidarity. The people think they are loved, and they respond with enthusiasm. They are all behind the king because they think he is making them rich. Praise is cheap, and they are all competing for favor. But soon they will have to accept something they do not like and the whole thing will collapse.

"When justice and benevolence are in the air, a few people are really concerned with the good of others, but the majority are aware that this is a good thing, ripe for exploitation. They take advantage of the situation. For them, benevolence and justice are traps to catch birds. Thus benevolence and justice rapidly come to be associated with fraud and hypocrisy. Then everybody doubts. And that is when trouble really begins."

"Flight from benevolence"
Chuang Tzu

Brush up your french and read this page by Karl. Or, hehe, trust the Google translation of it. ;)

Also, an amusing, cheesy, tongue-in-cheek but really quite accurate tale of Google as the 9 billion names of God. (Er, not the sentient part... that's just silly.)


Slowly, they are learning. See, look! TagHop:

Taghop allows you to relate categories on the web. If your "Technology" category is related to someone elses "Software" category, then link the two. Someone else may relate their category to the same "Software" category, allowing you to discover a new source of information that may be important. The more people similar to you collaborate, the more new valuable sources of information you will find.

Yay! The funny thing is it took us huge multi-user systems like public folksonomies to "get" that we need ontologies and relationships. Now, let's get to work doing this on our desktops.

For Mac users, we have everything we need: Spotlight, plugin "bundles", open source software. I want a personal ontology management tool which will unify my web-tags (already found in ecto etc), my mail tags (MailTags), my Address Book groups, etc etc.


Modernity | Hold -> Musak -> Static

As mentioned, I spent a "good" amount of time on the phone with various customer support lines over the last 2-3 weeks. This means alot of time on hold.

In the evolution of phone-based services, "hold" was of course an entirely necessary development. As despicable as it is, it's just a reality. To assuage the wait time, the brilliant idea of piping in muzak was introduced, and thus created an entire sub-industry for musicians. (In interview, Sting was once asked "at which moment in your career did you realize you had 'made it'?", to which he answered-paraphrased-"the day I stepped into an elevator and heard 'Roxanne' in soft tones.")

Now, a development behind-the-scenes, on the technology level, has truly dropped the experience to lower-wrung of hell conditions. Yes, IP-based telephony is now used in all but the most backwards call-centers (and really, do you want to deal with a company that can't afford to save money?), which has created two new realities: scratch-breakbeat-electronic-soft-jazz for the adult-contemporary-urban listener on hold, and IP static.

Brccccchhh dooot dooo dooo dooooo brrrchchhhhhhh doot doot brchhhhhhhh

"Your call is important to us. All our representatives are busy with other callers. Please remain on the line. Did you know you can access all our self-help support features at double you double you double you dot we love widgets dot com?"

Brccchhhhhhhh ...

I wonder how long the modern urbanite could go on without having to call Customer Care.


A good artist is conscious of his environment.
A great artist is unconscious of himself.

On *isms

Cynicism is, IMHO, the worst *ism there is, for it is the only *ism that cannot be cured with more education.

That said, here is a nice set of guidelines for civil discourse.


Still alive. This server is toasted. Migrating tonight or tomorrow. For those who would know what to make of this: "Stay away from Plesk-based VPS services."

Update: Moved, upgraded. Phew. Thanks Joi and Jason. ;)

So, in a nutshell, my last week consited of much time on hold with support, being nice with support, being not so nice with support. I believe I used the phrase "it's GO time" once.

The Dell replacement monitor arrived and after an initial SNAFU, I now have full DVI glory and oh my god. Sweet. Now I need to call their support to return the defect.

I am getting good vibrations about spending a good chunk of the winter in California. L.A. mostly, but hell if I'm out there I'll be in S.F. a few times for sure.

Christmas in Tokyo. If I can pay off all my debt between now and the end of October, it's a done deal.

There is of course loads more to talk about. Alot of work related stuff as I am totally submerged in it now. Lots of thoughts about aggregation and data/media classification and retrieval systems. The word "context" has taken on an enormous importance, and I see it's application everywhere. You haven't gotten anything until you've gotten context. ;)

Generally, less talk more action. But hang in there, I'll be back. Muscle flexing is coming.