April 2006 Archives

Smart move: W3C opens China office in Beijing.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announces the launch of its China Office on 27 April 2006. W3C, through its newest Office, invites experts in China to join the international project of developing Web standards at W3C. The Office is based at the Advanced Computing Technologies, School of Computer Science & Engineering of Beihang University in Beijing, China.


Web Philo 101

Someone (Hoder) launched a missive in the GlobalVoices public mailing list stating that "[weblog search service X] sucks!" His main point of contention was how it does a poor job of tracking weblogs which aren't in english. Ensued a short spurt of others chiming in about why they think said service is no damn good.

I've had a bit to drink tonight so I fired off this missive. Beware. Boris pontificating.

*cough* *pulls out soapbox* *gets on soapbox* *cups hands around mouth*

The web is, by its very nature, decentralized. The notion that any centralized service or resource meant to be comprehensive is in any way authoritative, even effective, or even truly possible, is absurd.

Even Google is not the web, and try as they might, it will never be.

Furthermore, the desire to centralize all knowledge, even as an index or reference point, is an ages old human endeavor, one fundamentally linked with the fact that we are sentient and have developed language. (It is the role of language to codify all we experience; we call this "reality".)

This desire, this drive and even it progress and development and deployment, isn't "good" or "bad", it just is. It can be helpful but it can also be hurtful. When we structure things too much, when we push our order too far, things inevitably fall apart. In nature that is called "death".

In social/political terms there is a word for this extreme formalization that starts with F, which eventually leads us to getting to a state which is referred to by another word that starts with F. I leave that to your imaginations. ;)

As usual, I digress. (Blame my mind which is one with the Web.)

Technorati *can* be, when it works, a helpful resource. It is by no means authoritative, it will never be, and wanting it to be so is bad for our health. Seek multiple tools and resources.

I truly hope that one of the side-effects Global Voices might one day have (I think already does actually) is to spur on localized developments of aggregating and attention gathering services, such as regional aggregator blogs and ping servers. There is no reason (none) why there cannot and should not be a thousand Technorati-like services around the world, all tweaked and tuned for specific niche interests and purposes. (One of the effects of electronically accelerated communication is the fragmentation of culture.)

And ideally they would not be controlled by a handful well-fed [american] Silicon Valley types.

*steps down from soapbox*
*has another glass of sake*

So there. ;)

Reminder to self and others

No one likes it when you wear your heart on your sleeve and lose your head.
Pop your heart back in where it belongs and strap your head back on tight.

Everything works better that way. ;)

Gentle brush past my shoulder

This is so close to me it's not even funny.

Nokia and Yahoo! add Flickr support in Nokia Nseries Multimedia Computers

You can upload your full size photos to Flickr directly from the camera or image Gallery application on your Nokia Nseries device. Another supported feature is the ability to add comments to the photos that are uploaded from the Nokia Nseries device.

You know who you are. All 5 or 6 of you. (or do you?)
Big smile. I am just happy to be in the room. Even just as a whispering ghost.

Now if only one of these phones fulfilled *my* I/O needs. (ahem... pen entry, dictation input, cerebral interface... :p


Some days, I tell ya.

Here's an example of how sometimes, try as I might to do something smartly, I end up in a stupid situation.

On my way back to the lab early this morning, I decide to turn right and not left, and go to Akihabara to hunt for a new 2.5" hard drive and external enclosure. This task has almost become tradition for me since every time I come to Tokyo, 2.5" hard drive capacities increase. (I was hoping to find one of the new Fujitsu 12mm thick 200Gig drives but dammit I couldn't find the nifty deli-style hard drive shop anywhere... nor did I find any enclosures that would fit it if I had.)

This adventure started poorly when I realized I had hopped OFF the Yamanote Line at Ebisu to grab the Hibya line metro up to Akiba... when I simply could have just gotten on the Yamanote in the opposite direction, which would take me there much much quicker and above ground.

At that point I should have taken instead the outbound Hibya to Naka-Meguro, then on home to the lab... had I known... but I didn't, and already I was not thinking straight. Where's my head?

So I arrive in Akihabara seemingly a lifetime later. Hibya is slow as molasses and I had to pee badly.

Electric Town does not open till 10ish. It's 9:30. I duck into a Dutour coffee shop, dutifully order a latté and realize only chain smoking salary men hangout in Dutours. Ack. By the time I have finished the coffee and the Dutour employee has finished cleaning the washroom before letting me in, it's past 10. (Buddy was not happy to see a goddamn gaijin jump into the washroom he just made sparkling for his fellow nihonjin. Tough luck pal. He was waiting for me to get out to redo the job. "I just peed bro... and washed my hands..." Whatever.)

Akihabara has *always* confused the hell out of me. The streets all seem familiar... but then they all look the same too. Like I said, I couldn't find the shop I wanted. I did find one that I did recognize from previous flailing visits and a quick run though their chart of "which hard drives we have fresh today" revealed that the 12mm 200Gig drives were not available yet and if they were they'd be a pretty penny... Fine. The 120Gig 5400rpm Seagate is fine by me. Lemme go look around a bit more.

By noon I am no closer to anything. Inside an Ishimaru (big box electronics store, 3rd floor), I decide to pick up a Buffalo 2.5 120Gig 5200rpm 2.5 disk+enclosure deal for pretty much what it would have cost me to buy the parts separately and assemble it.

Except I already spent three hours of my time on this. I bill high lately so that's not peanuts. In fact it'd have been more cost effective to send someone to get it for me, dammit. :p

Anyways. Whining.

So I buy this thing. The cashier does his best to explain that "the software is japanese only"... whatever pal, I don't need whatever software this thing comes with.

Or do I...

Time to head back. I decide to take the Hibya line again since, even though it is damn slow, it takes me straight to Naka-Meguro where I just quickly transfer to the Toyoko track which goes to Jiyugaoka.

As a bonus, Hibya also stops at Tsukiji. I'll be damned if I am not going to have sashimi lunch in the fish market mecca of the world.

I'm gonna spare you the details. Sure the fish was good but whatever. The fish is good everywhere here. Let's just say I had 2 half lunches in two different places, mainly because the guy behind the counter at the first place was... not having a good day.

$35 later, I'm wandering the backstreet markets. Now THAT was awesome. If I bought my groceries here everyday I'd die happy. For 200 yen (roughly $2) I got one heck of a fish steak which I'll grill up tonight.

Don't ask me what kinda fish. It looks like salmon but darker. And the guy wanted to sell me 6 slabs for 1000 yen. Crazy.

Anyways... an hour later, I'm at the lab. It's 2pm, I have 100 emails that came in overnight...

and dammit this hard drive won't mount.

Crack the case open, remove the interface, swap it with my old trusty FW one. Mounts no problem. I format the thing, name it "Hoppy", then transfer it back to it's original enclosure.

Still no mount.

I peruse the packaging and the instruction leaflet--all in japanese--and realize there is some sort of security software built into the firmware on the board. Since I can't read the directions, I don't know what I need to do to get around it. Worse, I have a bad hunch that by formatting the drive via another interface, i may have screwed up their silly little protection mechanism.

This means I have to go buy an enclosure. Decent ones go for about $30-40. And another 3 hours of my time. :p

Rachel interview

I am really really pleased to be working with such a great bunch of people as makes up GlobalVoices. Our new Managing Editor, Rachel Rawlins gets interviewed/podcasted on Kamla Bhatt's site and does a great job not only explaining various aspects of what we try to do with the project and how, but also articulates many of the motivations and thoughts we, the team, seem to share.

Read but present in Smart Mailbox count


I would really love an option for Smart Mailboxes in Apple's Mail.app to display a count. In the above mockup, the dark dot with the white number in it is the existing functionality of unread count. I have Smart Mailboxes which contain read emails but that I need to return to, and knowing how many are in there would be terribly useful...

"Shattering the China Dream"

Rebecca lobs a grenade at the feet of visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao in the form of a Washington Post OpEd:

Free Hao WuAnother victim of Chinese state kidnapping -- with whom I am personally connected -- is Wu Hao, an independent filmmaker, blogger and U.S. permanent resident. It is unclear why state agents abducted him on Feb. 22, but his friends think it may be related to his work on a documentary about China's underground Christians. He continues to be held -- this is the 58th day of his detention -- despite the fact that Chinese law limits the maximum detention without charge to 37 days

With Chinese President Hu Jintao in the United States this week, Americans have an opportunity to assess his regime. What is this country to think? On the one hand his government has raised the living standards of millions of its citizens with economic reform and international trade. On the other hand his underlings trample shamelessly on his people's basic human rights.

As the article mentions, Wu Hao is one of our Regional Editors at Global Voices. His abduction came very soon after he started with us.

The cold whiff of secret police state activities arrests one's breath. The stink stains.

I am missing something

I'm missing dancing. The long late nights in little cozy sweaty lounge clubs.
The breakbeat, rare groove, afro-electro-house.
The uninhibited moving, grinning, flirting.
Till 4 am.

Oh, I will be home soon. Just no set date yet.

Hey New York Fries! Up yours!

New York Fries, which offers poutine on it's menu, has the incredible balls and audacity to claim:

"Invented in Quebec and perfected by New York Fries. A delicious marriage of New York Fries, fresh cheese curds and our signature gravy."

Excuse me? What?!? PERFECTED? Mon oeuil osti d'ciboire de tabarnac, calisse!

I HATE marketing SO much. ;)

I miss poutine. :p

Cue music

I had a funny daydream waiting for my chashumen the other day...

A medium sized ramen shop in Tokyo.
The last bars of "Our house" by Madness are fading out on the radio,

Our house, in the middle of our street Our house, that was where we used to sleep Our house, in the middle of our street Our house, in the middle of our street Our house....

as three japanese rockabilies strut in. Lots of attitude.

They yank out three little stools and take position at the large thick wood slab table.

They shout out their orders in time, as if counting down the start of the next song: "Shoyu!", "Miso!", "Chashu!"

Cue music: "Rock this town" by the Stray Cats.

As the waitress scuttles away with a gleeful "Haaaaaiii!", the three jump up... and start to dance.

We're gonna rock this town, rock it inside out We're gonna rock this town, make 'm scream and shout Let's rock, rock, rock man rock, rock We're gonna rock till we pop, We're gonna roll till we drop We're gonna rock this town, rock it inside out

Salary men slurping their soup 'n noodles, trying hard to not notice. Office ladies giggling, and looking away quickly...

Well we're having a ball just bopping on the big dance floor Well there's a real square cat he looks nineteen seventy four Well, you look at me once, you look at me twice, You look at me again there's gonna be a fight We're gonna rock this town, we're gonna rip this place apart

General mischief...

As the song ends, the three all at once return to their seats as their meals are plopped down before them.

"What a wonderful world" croaked out by Louis Armstrong takes us, through a retreating zoom-out, to fade...

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

(With thanks to Lil for the classic snaps of japanese rockabilies and everyone else who posts to Flickr.)

Blocking Technorati

If you're one of the people who prefers to disallow Technorati's bot, which does not respect the robots.txt convention and it's directives (talk about a good net citizen...), you may have resorted to blocking the bot's IP,

As of today, Technorati has changed the originating IP of its crawler to

Update your block-lists accordingly. ;)

(I don't currently block TR myself. I enjoy the blog-ego hand-job it provides... when it works. ;)

Don't do evil

Oops, seems in their fervor, the community has forgotten to define *what is evil*.

Last year Google hired the bipartisan lobbying firm Podesta Mattoon, whose lobbyists include Daniel Mattoon, a Republican and longtime friend of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Lauren Maddox, a former top aide to Newt Gingrich.

Now it has also brought in the DCI Group, which has strong ties to presidential adviser Karl Rove. Its Senior Vice President Stuart Roy is a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, The New York Times reports.

Yes, Google as an entity must do what it must do in order to not only survive but to grow as big and as fast as possible within the frameworks of its socio-economic-political environment.

When nature allows something to grow larger than its environment normally allows, we call it an anomaly, a grotesque freak. We observe it with morbid fascination, and are not surprised when it inevitably collapses and dies.

Conversely, we have the bizarre fascination and compulsion to grow our own systems to such gargantuan proportions, totally warping all sense of reality and sustainability. One day one of these experiments will take us with it when it goes down.

It's happened before you know. Many many times.


"Air Canada Reservations, how can I help you?"

. . o o O O ( ( ( my visa's good till mid June ) ) )

I'm not coming home just yet. I hope you all understand.

End zone

I'm on a fast railroad down my last days here.
For the first time in my life, I do NOT look forward to going home.
This is going to be tricky.

Granular email search in Mail.app

Everytime I poke around with Spotlight stuff I am struck by how breathlessly powerful it is and also.. how breathlessly poor it's integration is the various Mac apps, be it the Finder or, in this case, Mail.app.

So, Apple Mail.app provides a single "Find" interface for Spotlight queries on your email. It's that input box, by default, in the top right corner of your Mail.app menu bar.

mail search input

If your search is along only one axis, this is more than enough. In otherwords, if you want to search for a person, you type their name; a keyword or phrase, type it in. In many cases this is good enough.

But sometimes you need to get into your mail with a bit more fine a comb.

For example, you are looking for a specific email which contains a specific word/phrase, which is very likely to be very common across many many emails from many many people, and you know you only want that one that John sent you about a month ago.

So how do you do that? Easy. Smart Mailbox.

Create a Smart Mailbox, name it something like "custom search" or "soup 'n nuts" or whatever you wish. Now whenever you need to do a really detailed search, you have full access to all the search axes available to you via Spotlight.


Found that email! Rock.
(Actually I'm lying... John, I still don't know where that resto in Shibuya is... ;)

No joke

So when 5 days after April fools and it's own 30th anniversary, Apple announces it will allow Windows XP to run on it's new Intel based machines, I thought "yeah right! best April Fools' joke evar!"

But when you consider that this announcement not only upped Apple's stock by ten points (so far) but also pushed the NASDAQ and S&P 500 indexes to 5 year highs... well... that gets serious.

Steve Jobs has been saying for years "Apple is a hardware company." Betting that allowing Windows users to buy a Mac, run Windows XP on it and once in a while switch over to try out Mac, in the hopes that they'll switch definitely... is seriously ballsy. But just might work in a lot of cases.

Cause, you know, Mac OS is just so so so much better... ;)

(And if it doesn't work, Apple can keep selling it's hardware, running Windows XP or Linux or BSD... and I can leave all this insanity behind and open a fish stand on an island in Micronesia.)

A little Flash help please?

So um... I have this Flash-based IRC client that we--GlobalVoices-- need tweaked a bit, both aesthetically and there's a strange behavior we would love to see straightened out...

I know exactly zip about Flash. It seems the source is Flash 6? I opened it in Flash 8 and my eyes rolled back in my head.

Anyone with really good Flash skills and an hour to kill sometime in the next 24 wanna give us a hand please? For eternal gratitude and glory? ;)