· The World
· · Life Online
· · · · Games (5 fragments)
· · · · Humor (12 fragments)
· · · · People (34 fragments)
· · · · Sun (21 fragments)
Still Blogging in 2017
· Not alone and not unread, but the ground underfoot ain’t steady. An instance of Homo economicus wouldn’t be doing this — no payday looming. So I guess I’m not one of those. But hey, whenever I can steal an hour I can send the world whatever words and pictures occupy my mind and laptop. Which, all these years later, still feels like immense privilege ...
Shooter as Tabula Rasa
· Last night I accidentally came face to face with Twitter horror, a very pale reflection of larger real-life horror, but still jarring. What happened was, someone shot up a Québec City mosque. For a few hours nobody knew who’d done the shooting, and that absence of identity became a blank canvas which the Net’s trolls painted with their shit-colored dreams ... [2 comments]
· You hear talk about Internet overload/addiction, but this very specific form has crossed my radar multiple times in recent days. In students, specifically. To the extent of failing multiple courses. Because they use laptops for everything, and YouTube is always a Cmd-Tab away, and whether your itch is Team Fortress 2 or cat breeding or string quartets or tentacles, there’s always something new and fresh there to scratch it. So teachers don’t get heard and homework doesn’t get done. My hunch is it’s a real thing. Anyone else? [8 comments]
Money and Ads on the Web
· My goodness, the iOS-9 ad-blocker tech is rattling cages all over the Internet. Herewith some links, including a couple you likely haven’t seen, and one to a possible solution to the problem, from Google ... [5 comments]
· All sorts of people are denouncing Internet.org, but it looks OK to me. Maybe I’m wrong. If someone convinces me that I am, then I’ll update this post with an explanation of why it’s a bad thing, and of course link to the evidence ... [9 comments]
· Good news and bad news; but mostly bad. It’s a playground for abusers and management’s pointing the wrong way ... [5 comments]
How To Be Secret
· Suppose you need to exchange messages with someone and be really, really sure that nobody else reads them. Here’s how I’d do it ... [5 comments]
Gamergate and Bullying
· I’ve been watching the “Gamergate” brouhaha with sick fascination. We all know the Internet’s got ugly corners and suddenly the ugliness came out of the corner. I honor the courage of the women who’ve been standing up to the creeps. But I was kinda puzzled by who the creeps actually are and why they’re so upset; I know lots of heavy gamers and they’re by and large pleasant well-adjusted people. So I went looking for them ... [13 comments]
Life Changed Much?
· Occasionally, new technology changes lives. But mostly it doesn’t. I’m a greybeard and (like most people I think) the number of qualitative tech-driven shifts in my life fits on the fingers on one hand. How about you? ... [13 comments]
Ingress Tips for iOS-folk
· Well, it looks like the client has dropped. Welcome iDevicers to our private party! OK, not so private, there are a million or so of us around the planet. I’m a regular-but-not-obsessive player, and have been since 2012; if you’re playing in the Vancouver area, I’ll probably meet you in-game, which quite likely means F2F. The first time this happens I want a demo of the app ... [6 comments]
Twenty-first Century Home Repair
· What happened was, a horrible windstorm took a big branch off the neighbors’ maple; it reduced one of our eavestroughs to scrap metal on the way down. Getting it fixed was (surprisingly) Net-mediated and pain-free ...
The Web is 25
· We’re celebrating! I can remember, sometime in the early Nineties, being irritated when emails and Usenet postings started filling up with these new things called “URLs”, initially-awkward-looking agglomerations of slashes and colons and letters ... [9 comments]
Ingress in 2014
· It was stormy at dusk last Sunday; Shoekey and I hunched shoulder-to-shoulder in a waterfront park, 90 km/h of swirling wind driving a mix of fresh rain and salt spray at us from every direction, zip-loc-bagged Androids in hand. Because in a big Ingress op, you gotta do what you gotta do. Yeah, I’m playing again ... [1 comment]
Tab Sweep: Hallowe’en
· Well into Q3 and autumn, and my SAD is already stirring in the back corner of my brain. But any season is Harvest season on the Web ... [2 comments]
The Ingress Social Network
· While I go days at a time without turning on the client, I do still go out on an Ingress level-8 op every week or two; and now I have a couple of purely-social reasons to pitch in now and then ...
· I was sitting up late; family asleep and work over, scanning around. The New Yorker feed threw up Jake Bugg: From Nottingham to Malibu. He sounded interesting on paper and, hey, the article was full of YouTube links and what with the ChromeCast, I was listening and watching right there and then. Yeah, Jake’s good, I’d go see him if he came to town. You may never have heard of him but I guarantee you’ve heard Lightning Bolt. Synthesis? The Internet is one great big fat culture pump, don’t you forget it. [1 comment]
Ingress Ebb and Flow
· The last Ingress fragment here was back in May, reflective of the fact that I, like many who leveled all the way up, lost interest and drifted away. But I’ve been out a bit in the last couple of weeks; in particular spending quality time in graveyards. the game remains an interesting and under-reported story ... [3 comments]
Meta Meta Meta
· On Sunday I wrote On Medium about writing on Medium, after I posted a rewrite there of a piece I wrote about Texas politics. Now let’s write about that ... [2 comments]
· Paul Kedrosky, highly visible Internet/Money guy, tweets: “So strange to see people talking about future of blogs in 2013. Blogs still exist?” (His own blog is now just a daily tweetpendium.) Paul’s smart, but that’s ridiculous ... [7 comments]
Ingress Chase Scene
· I hadn’t been out to play in a long time, but I heard of a cross-faction event at IO, and I’d never done one of those. It got way out into crazy-space; Even non-players might enjoy the story ... [1 comment]
· Wherever you go these days there are Level-8 players, and even the occasional L8 portal. It’s a different game at that level. What may be my last piece on the subject; with a side-trip into BioShock Infinite ... [5 comments]
Measure the Pain
· Learning isn’t free; re-learning is paying the price twice. Many of the people who use what we geeks make would like to re-learn less ... [6 comments]
Card Update Degree of Difficulty
· In Hawai’i I left my credit card behind where we ate lunch on the way to the airport. Called ’em from the departure lounge and told ’em to cut it up and throw it out. Called Visa and told ’em to send me a new one. Really pretty easy. Then there’s switching over all the pre-authorized payments ... [4 comments]
· The game still feels like a big story to me, and still under-reported; so herewith Ingress coverage, featuring tourism, community cancer, client controversy, and tactical tips. With pictures of places Ingress players see ... [3 comments]
· Here’s an odd sentence made of special words: The Web can do big things for little people and little things for big; we think it’s really pretty good right now. In related news, this blog is ten years old today ... [7 comments]
· I still think Ingress is the most interesting New Internet Thing on the current radar. What else is there to get excited about, Vine? Gimme a break. Also I can’t write about work until the release pipeline unjams a bit. So herewith more news from the front ... [6 comments]
Ingress, Month 3
· Ingress is into its third month and if any other relatively-mainstream bloggers are covering the story I haven’t seen it, so this for the record if nothing else. There are strains showing; but interesting developments also. To start with: as of today, Jan. 29, every Zipcar and Jamba Juice location is an Ingress portal, it seems; which feels to me like a news story ... [2 comments]
Things About Ingress
· I’m not even a serious player, I go out for a couple hours two or three times a week. But there are lots of stories to tell and lessons to learn; here are some of mine. [Warning: This post will be more or less completely incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t played quite a bit.] ... [9 comments]
Two Million Saved
· Back in April of last year, I noted that my LifeSaver 2 app had saved a million call records and SMS texts into the cloud. Now it’s two million, and by a much more useful measure. But there’s more work to do and it’s going to be fun ... [1 comment]
Blog 4 $
· Andrew Sullivan, one of the world’s most visible bloggers, is going indie and will try to make a living at it. I wish him luck, but I think maybe he’s thinking about it wrong ... [8 comments]
· I’ve long been aware of the Inbox Zero notion, and never really got it. My Google inbox has 6,457 messages and my personal inbox 5,096; none are unread and I feel no stress. Recently I’ve noticed that lots of people have huge numbers of unread emails staring them in the face, more or less all the time I guess. This would drive me crazy in about fifteen minutes. So, as a Christmas present to the world, here is my recipe for maintaining an unread count of zero; a condition I’ll call Low-stress Inbox ... [2 comments]
· It’s a new thing on the Internet, a planetary-scale augmented-reality game being played on a real planet: ours. It’s fun to play, particularly if you have kids. And interesting, I think, for anyone who cares about issues of Life Online, even non-gamers ... [10 comments]
Gonna Hang Out
· There’s this notion of a “Google+ Event”, which combines G+, YouTube, and Moderator; it’s trying to be a new way to do an online conversation. Some of the outreach people at Google (i.e. in jobs like mine) are going on the road a lot less and Eventing a lot more, these days. So I’m going to try it tomorrow (Thursday): Life, Identity, and Everything ... [1 comment]
Private By Default
· As of now, this blog’s primary address is https://www.tbray.org/ongoing; note the red “s”. That means your communication with it is private, which I think is the way the whole Internet should be ... [24 comments]
Sending and Receiving
· Yes, this is about “social media”; is that still a thing? I depend on this blog and syndication feeds and Twitter and G+, all at once at the same time, and in a complicated and messy way. But life isn’t terrible ... [6 comments]
· Gmail is really good at spam these days. It’s been forever since I’ve seen any pharmaceuticals or watches or penny stocks; the very occasional 419 and virtuous-girl-looking-for-friends leaks through. However, there is a steady flow, one or two per day, of intensely-miscellaneous pitches for products or services that look perfectly reasonable and mainstream — except for being spam-promoted. They’re actually sort of, uh, interesting. Here are a few days’ worth, in the order I received them; the geographic distribution is remarkable ... [1 comment]
What’s Wrong With Twitter?
· About fifteen minutes after Twitter came on the scene, alternatives started crowding through the door behind it. So far, none of them have really made a difference. Why the crowd? ... [3 comments]
· Jon Udell is blogging less. Gosh, so am I. There are loads of ways to talk to the world, new alternatives every day it seems. Is this thing, you know, over? ... [19 comments]
Not the Softest on the Block
· We moved into our current place in early 1997 and, almost immediately, were badly burgled. Last week, Mat Honan got badly hacked. We took home-security measures and haven’t had any problems since. I protect my online presence, with similar results. Some lessons apply to both cases ... [1 comment]
Checking out Intrade
· I kept hearing about how this or that political campaign or economic scenario was “trending on Intrade”, so I thought I’d check it out. Then, of course, I had to make some bets. It’s fun! But not a good way to make money I think ... [4 comments]
· I have an interesting job and a family, so it took me five times as long as anyone else, but now I have an Inferno-capable Level 60 Diablo III character. I’m wondering if this is when I start getting bored. Herewith a few notes on the experience, and some tips for those who haven’t done D3 yet ...
· I’m really not much of a gamer; but I did the Diablo dance back in the day, and have enjoyed revisiting the franchise. Herewith remarks on that thing that’s been responsible for so many red-rimmed eyes at early meetings this last couple of weeks. D3 isn’t just flawed fun, it’s interesting in a serious way, I think ... [3 comments]
A Million Lives Saved
· Well, not really. But my LifeSaver 2 app has now uploaded over a million calls and messages for a temporary stay in the cloud and (in theory) transfer to other devices. This is not as impressive as it sounds since the number of unique users is still just a few hundred; but it pleases me nonetheless. I observe that the number of downloads is quite a bit smaller; it seems that people upload, and then it takes them longer than they thought to get their new device brought up and LifeSaver installed; long enough for the cloud scrubber to have erased their upload, so they have to do it again ... [4 comments]
· Way last fall, I took my old LifeSaver app and re-wrote it to store histories in Google App Engine back-end as opposed to the SD card, mostly because lots of modern phones don’t have SD cards. Then I had an attack of fear about deploying it, then I went on a world tour and got sick and took vacation and got distracted. I just published LifeSaver 2.0 ... [7 comments]
· I bought it for the houseguests over Christmas, got mildly hooked, took a character to level 17, but that’s it, I’m bored ... [6 comments]
Cloud Lifesaving and Fear
· Last year I built (and of course blogged) this nifty little Android app called LifeSaver, which would copy your telephone-call and SMS logs onto an SD card, so you could move the SD card to another phone, run LifeSaver again, and get ’em all back. Calls and texts aren’t migrated by the excellent Android backup system ... [26 comments]
Suggestions and Additions
· These are the ways that you circle people on Google+. The streams of names, most with little photos but some naked, burn time but I can’t stop ... [4 comments]
Things About Google+
· No, I haven’t figured it out. Neither has the rest of the world. Which means that now is a good time to write about it, while our impressions remain plastic ... [21 comments]
· All the geeks know about it, but not many civilians; in the Blues room this evening, we ended up talking about Web-server stuff and NodeJS. The idea is powerful; one symptom of which is, I keep thinking about ways to make it better.
[Update: It’s now US-only. Can’t play any more.] ... [10 comments]
· Anyone who’s been on Twitter for a while and has built a following occasionally wonders how many of them are real people; because plenty aren’t. So I took some measurements ... [2 comments]
· The official statement is: The +1 button is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out”. This blog now has ’em. If you’re one of the (vast majority of) people who are looking at this in one feed-reader or another, you can’t see them, but you might want to glance at the home page to get the feel. Or just open this article in a browser and look down at the bottom ... [38 comments]
· Reading the tech news of the day, I was moved to sneer at one story, and the Internet piled on in a way that gave me a few chances to snicker, so here they are. [Warning: Adult language.] ...
Things about Blogging
· What happened was, my manager organized an internal Google panel on blogging and asked me to join it. Other panelists were Matt Cutts, Don Dodge, and Chris Messina ... [7 comments]
Accidental Twitter Honeypot
· I have always-running searches for “Android sucks” and “Android rocks” that I look at a couple of times a day; I find them very useful for gauging the general zeitgeist. Anyhow, one of them accidentally has been giving me a real-time panorama of the world of Twitter spam; depressing, but impressive in its scale. Check it out. [6 comments]
· I’d typed the first letter of some URL into the address window when I was interrupted. Looking back a moment later, I was startled at what the browser had assumed I wanted to visit ... [4 comments]
Millions of Hovels
· There’s a really interesting piece in the New York times about black-hat SEO, The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. Normally I’d just tweet a link, but it has this wonderful paragraph that totally captures the sad part of the Internet, the way I see it. I read it three times in a row, nodding all the while ... [10 comments]
Tab Sweep — Technology
· I see lots of things online that I’d like to share. Often I do that via Twitter, but inevitably the number of browser tabs climbs, each representing something that I feel is owed further thought or attention. This is that. The only organizing principle is that these notes are tech-centric; It should be unsurprising that some go back months ... [3 comments]
· I’ve never really got much out of Facebook. Quite likely because I’ve been Doing It Wrong; so I’m trying to fix that ... [12 comments]
Anniversaries & Ideologies
· I took my little girl to the Sunday toddler drop-in at the local community center and thought about this weekend’s birthdays: Wikipedia’s tenth and the IETF’s twenty-fifth ... [5 comments]
Twitter ProTip: Less Is More
· I was looking at Twitter’s lists of important and memorable Tweets, and spotted an obvious pattern: They’re short. Back when I was first getting into this, I used to have fun crafting tweets that occupied exactly 140 characters. That got boring pretty quick, and then I noticed that Twitter’s at its most fun when you get a bunch of people quoting and excerpting each other; and for that to work you need some room in the upstream tweets ... [6 comments]
You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone
· There are no whales; but my Twitter account has been inoperative for the last 4 hours or so, via any and all clients. The earth’s background hum has suddenly fallen silent. I’m a river-of-news person on Twitter; I follow lots of people and often ignore it for hours and never worry what I might have missed, because if it’s important it’ll find me ... [3 comments]
No More Users
· I just wrote a little piece about how to write software, and it contained a few references to the humans who carry the mobile devices on which the software runs, and who interact with it. I found myself referring to these individuals as “users” or “the user”. Gack; I hate that word ... [32 comments]
· On any given day, I’m apt to communicate electronically via the telephone, an Internet VOIP equivalent, email, IRC, IM, Twitter, and I might even write a blog post, like today. Why all these silos? Shouldn’t these conversations be talking to each other? ... [7 comments]
The Listening Engine
· I’ve been thinking about Jeremy Toeman’s Will Normal Folks Ever Use Twitter? A related question is: “Will normal folks ever use feed readers?” I suspect the answer to both questions is No. This might signal a new kind of stratification in society ... [21 comments]
· My son, who’s just started “Computer Labs” at school, came home all eager to tell us about this “Google” thing on the Internet. So far, we haven’t particularly encouraged computer use at home. We got into an interesting family talk which was reported back to the teacher, then Lauren and I found ourselves invited to come in and teach the Internet to the class. So we set up scratch blogging space; this ended up being instructive both for them and us ... [7 comments]
· This conversation started with Clay Shirky’s A Rant About Women, which advised that gender to self-promote a little more, maybe even bullshitting sometimes. There have been good follow-ups and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. It’s a fallacy, though, to think that these issues are important only to women ... [14 comments]
Power Web Site
· I propose a new definition. A site which is designed as the primary Web property for a person, place, or thing is a power site if the person, place, or thing has a Wikipedia entry but, in popular search engines, the site ranks above that Wikipedia entry. There aren’t very many. But they follow simple patterns ... [14 comments]
On the Blankness of Google
· Today, without planning to, I visited the Google home page, then also Yahoo and Bing. They don’t look like each other at all. I think, first of all, that Yahoo is the past, Google the present, Bing the future. And second, that it doesn’t matter much ... [17 comments]
· In 2010, you are whatever the Net says you are. Deal with it ... [25 comments]
· What happened was, for that Sex and T.E. Lawrence piece, I had to engage in an old-fashioned paper chase; books, scribbles, large work surface. I’d say “No search engines involved” but that wouldn’t be true ... [4 comments]
The End of the Golden Age?
· For a few years now, the Internet has been just insanely useful. Everything is there and you can find it when you need it. But Google is working less and less well, and I’ve spotted another potential crack in its foundations. Will we look back on this as the time when it all started to fall apart? ... [15 comments]
· Recently in Blog & Tweet I explained why I wanted to make my Twitter history a part of the publication you are now reading. Along the same lines, read Dave Winer on the importance of the historic record and the general goodness of static files behind an Apache server. This post outlines how it works, with source code, and draws a conclusion ... [9 comments]
Blog & Tweet
· If you blog and also are on Twitter or a competitor, I think that’s a problem. Twitter doesn’t (yet) have a business model, and doesn’t make it terribly easy to refer back to the beginning of your tweet-stream, and the data is full of fragile URL-shortener output. So it’s time to reel things in ... [22 comments]
· I have comments, but no spam in my comments. Here’s why ... [20 comments]
Is This Spam?
· I still moderate all the comments here, but the setup is idiosyncratic enough that hardly any spam gets through. Today, I’m pondering one particular comment, wondering whether to approve ... [21 comments]
The Internet’s Payload
· The tree’s branches are real but only there to support the leaves. The sizzle is enticing but the steak is why you sit down. The eye candy is cool, but the Web is really about words, and mostly written words at that ... [17 comments]
Friends and Flexibility
· I so love the Internet. The other day it turned up another friend of my youth, unseen for three decades. Which gives me an opportunity to plug Pilates, in which I invest a couple of hours every week ... [2 comments]
Sustaining the Internet
· I spent Thursday evening and Friday at a meeting called “The Future of the Internet and Sustainable Development Consultation”, hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), an advisory organization funded by various bits and pieces of the Canadian government. This particular exercise is aimed at producing advice for Industry Canada, which has some reasonable concerns about the Internet, Canada, and the world. Data point: Canada, once second in the global Internet connectivity scorecard, is now nineteenth and falling fast. Which isn’t good ... [3 comments]
· I’m sitting in the keynote at Northern Voice 2009 listening to a keynote (eloquent if unsurprising thoughts about what new media mean to old) in a nice soft acoustically-good arena being delivered by a golden-voiced radio professional, and I’m hearing a sound more clearly than ever that’s a regular part of my life but didn’t exist a decade back: The soft surging pitter-patter of laptop keyboards as backdrop to the speaker’s voice. It’s a good thing. [4 comments]
Where To Write?
· Maybe not so much on Twitter.
[Update: Useful pointers in the comments, and also I just ran across Birdfeeder; obviously this is a hot spot.] ... [16 comments]
How Many Followers, Really?
· Sometime in the last few days my Twitter follower count clicked over a round number of thousands. In parallel, DeWitt Clinton published Sampling Twitter, some nifty research into how many Twitterers are really active. Being, obviously, an egomaniac, I was more interested in how many of the people following me are “active” ... [3 comments]
On Internet Addiction
· It’s obvious that I’m an addict. Not all addictions are bad; I’ve been hooked on books since the age of six and on music almost as long, and hope to maintain these habits into the grave. But the issue is quantitative; you have to balance your addictions, worthy or otherwise, to get things done ... [17 comments]
· Of the Lost Souls I mean. It was so much fun it shouldn’t be legal. This post is here so I can post a funny picture of myself and meditate, once again, on the profusion of digital recordings of, well, everything ...
Working As Intended
· This is a simple story of an online purchase that went well despite a problem. The fact that this is sufficiently rare to make me want to write about it is sad, but that’s how it is ... [4 comments]
· For a nice safe NPOV (“Neutral Point of View”) discussion of the issues, see Deletionism and inclusionism in Wikipedia. My experience, which isn’t NPOV at all, is that Deletionists are knuckle-dragging droolers, walking vacant spaces, and as a side-effect generally, well, what’s the word I’m looking for? “Wrong.” ... [27 comments]
· Recently I read The Rebellion Within by Lawrence Wright, a long, erudite, immensely informative New Yorker piece about the internal dynamics of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad: Who are these people, anyhow, where did they come from, and where are they going? I entirely recommend it. There’s a problem, though: I read it on-line ... [7 comments]
Not an OS
· Last Thursday I tweeted: “I strive to maintain an open mind when nontechnical people talk about the ‘Internet OS’ or ‘Web OS’. Sometimes it's tough.” I got some grumbles by email and I think the subject is worth more discussion. Let me be more specific: Neither the Internet nor the Web is much like an OS. And even if it were, that’d be the wrong way to think about what’s going on right now ... [24 comments]
· I like Twitter. I hope it lasts. So I want it to have a business model. This week, I was in a discussion on that subject with really smart people, some even with useful experience. Afterward, I had a really radical idea for a business model: Ask people to pay for using it. Read on for discussion, and a survey ... [40 comments]
· Nope, I’m not talking about uptime or architecture or any of that stuff, I’m talking about people. In Twitter Musings, Lauren Wood bemoans the decline of the personal, of the ephemeral, of the tab sweep, not just in Twitter but in life-online generally. Worth reading. And In Summon Monsters? Open The Door? Heal? Or Die? (dunno about that title) Giles Bowkett sings the old information-overload blues, but grounds it in personalities, citing the “Tim Bray problem” and “Cory Doctorow problem”. Anyone who compliments my taste in hats has to be basically OK. I’m not sure he says anything new about continuous partial attention, but he has way better pictures than the other people who write about it. [2 comments]
Over Two Thousand
· That describes the number that appears, on the page called @timbray, with the label “followers”. I’m finding it kind of intimidating, and while I’m no more confident about What It All Means than I was when that number passed one thousand, I’ve been thinking about it more. Plus, I thought I’d throw in some Twittertainment ... [5 comments]
· Almost exactly four years ago we launched blogs.sun.com. It’s been a trip, almost all upside, remarkably problem free. There’s a bit of new news, both inbound and outbound ... [2 comments]
Changing Your Address
· I’m tired of typing my postal address into Web sites. Furthermore, it’s stupid, wasteful, and a little worrying that so many of them out there have stored copies of it. Wouldn’t it be better just to give them the address of my address? ... [23 comments]
· There was this little flurry of excitement when one of the Silly-Valley TechWhatever news aggregators asserted that Twitter was dropping the use of Rails. It seems not to be true. This is yet more evidence that the news aggregators are becoming part of the problem, not part of the solution ... [6 comments]
· I’ve given five public talks in the last two weeks and in several of them I’ve done a poll: “How many people here were active on Facebook six months ago? Please keep your hands up for a moment... of those, how many still are?” Not many hands stay up. Mind you, these audiences are mostly grown-up. [11 comments]
· I’m writing this in an airplane to Vancouver from Chicago. When I get home and read my mail, if recent trends continue I will hear about a few new Twitter followers, bringing the total up over one thousand. I think that with Twitter, something important is happening. But I’m having trouble figuring out what ... [19 comments]
The Big Switch
· Clearly, Nicholas Carr disapproves of much of the culture in which I’ve immersed myself and which I nearly-wholly embrace, to which I would apply labels such as “online” or “Web” or “Internet” or “Twenty-first century”. (Carr and I have written back and forth already on the generalities.) So it would be reasonable to suspect me of bias in writing about his recent The Big Switch—Rewiring the world, from Edison to Google. And indeed, I do think that several of its key arguments are, well, wrong. But it’s a good book anyhow; well written and extremely apposite ... [5 comments]
Microsoft + Yahoo
· I have a Yahoo userid. I bet you do too. I wonder how many of those there are, in total? I wonder what that number divided by $44,600,000,000 is? [16 comments]
The RESTful Way
· I received the most charming email this morning from the owner of “therestfulway.com” domain name saying, in essence, “Anyone you know have a loving home for this domain? I don’t need it and it’s about to expire.” What a nice domain name. If you want it, drop me a line explaining why and I’ll forward the requests to the author. I think he’d probably give it to somebody with a good reason, but also wouldn’t turn down a reasonable monetary offer if one were forthcoming. [2 comments]
TV and the LazyWeb
· I have a problem: I want a new HDTV, I have very specific requirements, and I’m not which models match, or even how best to find that out. There’s always the LazyWeb, and it’s showing new signs of life, in the form of Dave Sifry’s Hoosgot. Let’s see if it can help me find the right TV ... [15 comments]
In The Audience
· At modern high-tech conferences, many in the audience go online, and stay online during the presentations. To facilitate this, conference organizers often provide wireless networking, and extension cords for laptop power. There is strong disagreement as to whether this A Good Thing or Appalling Discourtesy. I have observations both from in the audience and on the stage ... [14 comments]
· This month has been nasty in the blogosphere; as in sudden-death nastiness, best summarized by Shelley Powers in With Sadness. One of the departed, Anita Rowland, was an occasional contributor here, writing me emails before there was a comment system, for example to identify a crocosmia and an iris. Bye, Anita. What, then, about blogs and death? ... [9 comments]
· There’s much ado about Knol, but I haven’t noticed many Wikipedian voices. Well, I’ll speak up, and I’m sort of a Wikipedian. Actually, less so recently, which is relevant ... [16 comments]
Social Network Fear
· I’ve been real busy the last couple of weeks, and thus casually deleting the steady flow of Facebook and LinkedIn static, and now I can’t bring myself to go to either site because it’s just gonna be a big slow tedious pain in the butt wading through all those invites to see if I actually know them and rejecting the stupid app-spam come-ons and trying to think whether I care about joining this group and that. Time is not on my side. [3 comments]
· It seems to be having a growth spurt. Every time I check my mail, there are a dozen “XXX is following you” messages. My algorithm is, I bring up their Twitter page and give it one glance and make a follow/no-follow decision in about 0.5 seconds. Which probably means there are interesting people I’m not following because they weren’t interesting in that half-second. And I have more followers than followees, which probably makes me an egotistical bastard. Oh well. I think Twitter is here to stay. [3 comments]
Missing in Shanghai
· Wikipedia. BBC News. YouTube. Everyone on wordpress.com and on blogspot.com. Plus, all feeds hosted at FeedBurner (and that’s a lot of feeds, including some pretty big-name bloggers). Mind you, all this changes, sometimes from week to week, they tell me. Still, you have to feel sorry for Chinese knowledge workers, fighting with one hand tied behind their back. [4 comments]
· Rob Scoble is reporting Google-Reader subscriber counts for popular sites. These are interesting numbers and (I suspect) a reasonably useful metric of relative popularity. But some of the evidence is puzzling ... [1 comment]
· Check out Is The Net Good For Writers?, compiled by RU Sirius. Thoughtful, but I think it ignores part of the landscape. This via Nick Carr’s The word on the net, which has me seriously irritated; I look forward with venom to reviewing his book, which just arrived in the mail. [Warning: this fragment is appallingly self-centred.] ... [2 comments]
The Intimate Internet
· Here’s the thing: the Net’s killer app has always been other people. There are side benefits, like access to all the world’s information. But the links that matter aren’t between pages but people, and they’re strong and rich and subtle. Multiply the infinite flavors in human relationships by a thickening bundle of means-to-connect; that product is what’s new and what’s good and what’s exciting. People who are looking for the Next Big Thing are mostly looking in the wrong places. And anyway, you don’t need to look, it’ll find you ... [7 comments]
· The paper this morning had a front-page story about some guy with Hells Angels links getting shot: “A high-speed car chase in a quiet east Langley neighborhood Tuesday ended with a black Hummer in a ditch and a spray of gunfire in a gang-style shooting just a few hundred meters from two schools.” ... [2 comments]
· Are there any Facebook apps that aren’t pathetically lame? Just wondering. Also wondering, why do I have to update my Facebook status, my Twitter status, and my chat status in three different places? Which means that usually I don’t. [Update: Wanna change your status just once for everwhere? MoodBlast is da bomb! Thanks, Dion.] [20 comments]
Heard in Conversation
· We were talking about how to publish something or other, and Lauren said “Well, if there’s a Facebook app for that, there’ll be a WordPress plug-in, too”. Sounds about right.
· Facebook offers me irritating little choices, almost every day. I have a system for dealing with them ... [4 comments]
Tab Sweep — The World
· The tabs build up as fast as I cut ’em down. This sweep is half photo-stuff, but I also have Second-Life humor, an Art-Rock conundrum, and what happens when you can’t write any more ... [7 comments]
1½ Days of APP Interop
· Check the results. This makes me very glad, as did the hours on the IRC, trying code, patching code, peering at logfiles, laughing at each other... making it work. This is how the Net gets better. Like I said last time, Windows Live Writer is da bomb, other people who are in the blogging-client biz better watch out ... [8 comments]
See, It’s Addictive
· Blogging, I mean. Up till now, I had known exactly one instance of a successful high-volume blogger who just walked away from it: Russell Beattie, who closed up shop in April 2006. Well, he’s back. Two things you need to know about him: he is extremely expert on the mobile technology business, and his surname rhymes with “she catty” or “he ratty” or “me fatty”. I’ve subscribed. [4 comments]
Two From David
· I’d like to encourage you to read two things featuring David Weinberger. I’ve been meaning to post about his new book for some time, but just recently ran across his “Web 2.0” debate with Andrew Keen over at the WSJ Online, and if you care at all about this here Web thang, you really ought to go take it in. Not because it’ll educate and inform you (though it will) but because it’s good fun. I find the Net-centered life sufficiently fulfilling and self-supporting that I wouldn’t take the time to react to a provocateur like Keen, but it’s nice that David does so, while entertaining us ...
· I’ve only been on Facebook for a little while; I visit my turf there once or twice a day when a friending request comes in (I wonder if/when they’ll quit flowing?) I accept them from anyone I actually know. Sometime in recent days the “Reject” button went away, to be replaced by an “Ignore” button. Much less uncomfortable to click on, wouldn’t you say? I wonder if the experience is less painful for the ignoree than the rejectee? (I haven’t got around to propositioning anyone in weeks, so I don’t know). Facebook feels increasingly anodyne; maybe that’s the point? [3 comments]
· Check out The New Web War, the first of Rob Scoble’s Fast Company columns. It’s a nice compact summary of the Apollo/Silverlight/JavaFX arena. There’s a startling sentence in the conclusion: If your competitor builds a more interactive site than yours, customers will flee to the “flashier” foe. Uh... Google? eBay? Amazon? Facebook? All plenty interactive, and pure non-proprietary native Web technology. The evidence seems clear to me: quality content and useful functions trump both flash and Flash. All these people keep saying that “Rich” Internet Applications win, and they’re right: but I do not think that word means what they think it means. [14 comments]
More on Missing Women
· This conversation stays interesting, and for me, has started to get very close to home. [Update: If you care about this, there is lots of juicy input (much of which I disagree with) in the comments. Also check out the contributions from Dave Megginson and especially “gamehawk”.] ... [20 comments]
“X Me” is a Facebook Virus
· A friend on Facebook invited me to try the “X Me” application. It sounded a little silly but it was a person I respect, so I clicked on it. As soon as it installed, it popped up a list of more or less everyone I knew asking if it was OK to mail invitations to them. I said “no”, and then (weirdly) it popped up one other name and I said “no” again. Now I’m getting messages from people asking if I really think they should install “X Me”. This, obviously, is a virus ... [11 comments]
· Check out devChix. Since I am given both to public lamentation about single-gender geek culture and obsessive interest in dynamic languages, I am pretty much exactly their target audience (aside from being, well, male, but let’s not quibble). There is currently much ado around the blogosphere over Let’s All Evolve Past This: The Barriers Women Face in Tech Communities. I had some fairly strong reactions to the piece, but I think I’ll sit on them for now; it’s weighty, addresses a subject that matters, and deserves not only reading, but some careful consideration. Oh, and if you Just Don’t Care about this whole missing-women thing, visit devChix anyhow and read RUBY: DRY up your Enumerations. Good stuff.
I’m So 2.0
· In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself signed up for DOPPLR and Facebook. Most people of course already know about these things; but I had a real surprise ... [3 comments]
JRuby IRC Koan
· On the
#jruby IRC channel, a well-known JRuby committer was heard to utter the following: this is the instance of place which harbors the method we are invoking which may not really be self at point it is calling. And it was in the middle of the day, too. [3 comments]
One of Everything
· On the Internet I mean. And actually that should be at least one. In connection with a project I’m working on, I was thinking about monkey noises and, what do you know, welcome to the world of Primate Vocalizations. My fave is Dian Fossey’s gorilla hooting and Colobus abyssinicus: Male roar.
Good Conduct for Bloggers
· As several have noted wittily, Tim O’Reilly has managed to accomplish the near-unthinkable by getting the online community to unite in disagreeing with his Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct. (There’s a wikified version, not really starting to converge yet). I personally wouldn’t be able to adopt Tim’s proposal, but I think the discussion he’s launched is a useful and healthy one, and we all owe a vote of thanks. I have one big issue and some little ones, but I also have an alternative to propose ... [1 comment]
· The recent Internet Nastiness experienced by Kathy Sierra has started a discussion about aggression in general; is it ever OK to go on the attack, or should we try to adopt a mutual non-aggression treaty covering the whole blogosphere? On reflection, I think that, yes, it’s OK to go negative, but only if you mean it and are doing it seriously, and only if you’re prepared to deal with the consequences. It may be the case that some legislative tinkering is required to make accountability work better. [Update: Hani responds, and I’ve been Biled.] ... [30 comments]
· Following on last week’s nastiness, Tim O’Reilly has issued a Call for a Blogger's Code of Conduct; good stuff. While the discussion he launches will certainly be useful, I think you can boil down his point #1 to get one simple rule that cleanly addresses the legal and ethical realities and isn’t just for bloggers and that we all should live by: You’re accountable for what appears on your Web site ... [7 comments]
Twenty-First Century Recruiting
· Google is hiring. And there was a Tuesday in last week. Mind you, everybody’s hiring. But jeepers, I got a friendly email yesterday to my @sun.com address from a Google recruiter, subject “Exciting Job Opportunity with Google!” saying “saw your blog, we sure are a great place to work, want to talk?”. Now, it’s really easy to dig up my private non-Sun address. Not to mention my phone number. Am I old-fashioned, or does this seem a little desperate? I assume that more or less everybody in the biz who’s got a blog or is otherwise publicly visible will be getting email @work from the big G. Anyhow, I wrote back saying “Thanks, but enjoying my job just now.” and she wrote back saying OK and “Feel free to pass along my contact information to any friends or colleagues who you think might be interested in exploring opportunities with Google.” I’ll get right on it. What’s next; sandwich-men in high-tech parking lots? [8 comments]
Contrib: I Give Up on Comments
· I started a dialogue here and it went something like this. Tim: “I want to fiddle the feeds to make the comments more visible.” Tim’s commenters: “Go pound sand.” Well OK then, I won’t, for now. What I will do is, when I think there’s some unfinished business coming out of the contributions I’ll do a post like this with “Contrib:” in the title. Also, there were some good ideas that I’ll try to capture in an improved comments feed. Also, I’ll try and figure out a way to do some of what Sam wants. I’m looking for a metaphor to pin on Sam. Canary in the coalmine? Princess and the pea? Whatever, he has good taste. [2 comments]
Old Map of the Future
Life Is Complicated
· My goodness, even CNN picked up the story about Microsoft trying to retain Rick Jelliffe to update the Wikipedia articles on ODF and OOXML for them, just as the ISO process around OOXML is getting in gear. This raises complicated issues about document formats and transparency and conflict of interest; and there’s at least one elephant in the room ... [20 comments]
· Harrumph, I’ve been tagged. I’m not sure I approve of this glorified-chain-letter stuff, but who can resist a chance to blather on about themselves? So, here are five not-widely-known things ... [4 comments]
· My computer, like most, is normally connected to the Internet, and since I’m on quite a few mailing lists and subscribe to quite a few feeds, I get a lot of traffic. In general, we really haven’t figured out how to manage traffic in such a way that we know what’s going on and still get work done ... [6 comments]
· Check out Framed! by Lauren Wood. There’s puzzling low-grade Internet scamware afoot. Here’s a slightly more detailed description of what’s going on; if you have any ideas, please leave a comment on her blog, not here ... [2 comments]
Changing The Present
· Heard about it via Bruce Tate who’s apparently building it, and at first glance I’m very very impressed. ChangingThePresent is trying to bring web-commerce techniques to philanthropy, and off the top I can’t see why it won’t work. When it’s this easy to pick a cause, pick a vehicle, and throw a few bucks into the pot, why wouldn’t you do so every time you read a particularly grim headline or see a particularly horrifying picture? And lord knows there are enough lame presents exchanged this time of year. If they succeed in getting a feedback-heavy community built up around this, it could really be a new thing in the world. The jury’s out, obviously; but I’ll be watching. [3 comments]
· For years, I’ve had two email addresses; the current job and the long-term personal one. The latter is unfortunately one of the world’s most public, appearing among other places on the front of the XML specification, and thus gets a lot of spam. I mean really a lot. Which was causing some pretty severe pain, but I’m using the Gmail dodge, and that helps quite a bit ... [24 comments]
· Time was, Slashdot was the big, big, dog. The first time I got hit, 3½ years ago, there were 27,000 hits in the first day and around 40K in aggregate over the next few. This last Monday, two days ago, Slashdot hit my XML schema-language piece at 7PM Pacific. As of now, mid-day Wednesday, I’ve had 8,361 hits. Now, there are mitigating factors: the Slashdot link to ongoing was kind of hard to see, and quite likely in the years since 2003, the set of Slashdot readers who care about the things I write about have mostly subscribed, so they’d seen that piece already. But still. By way of comparison, I got 17,849 links in the first 48 hours to Java Is Free; Reddit was the leading referrer with 5,623. Times change. [3 comments]
· There’s been something happening recently in my little corner of Wikipedia, and I don’t know if it’s an anomaly or evidence of a trend; so this is raw random anecdotal data. By “my little corner” I mean the small collection of articles that I track via a recent-changes Atom feed, have contributed to quite a bit, and feel a little bit of shared responsibility for. There’s been a surge of recent editorial activity, with super-energetic (and apparently well-informed) new contributors trimming and tweaking and growing the articles, often several times per day. In general, while I haven’t been convinced that 100% of the changes are improvements, the quality of the articles as a whole is definitely trending up. Also, the random drive-by teenage defacements are getting fixed really fast. Anyone else seeing this? [5 comments]
· ongoing has had comments for a couple of months now; I’m really happy with the way it’s worked out, so, first of all, Thank you! to the people who are doing it; I checked this morning and there’ve been 449 contributions. The quality is by and large high; for example, in the last day, Kill Switch Nightmare got a really smart comment from Colin Jeanne pointing out that for the bad guys, there may be easier and deadlier attack vectors than the Vista/Office “Kill Switch”. And somewhat to my surprise, Bob Aman responded to On Attacking Iran, taking the other side of the issue and demonstrating that not everyone who’s considering this is a complete fruit-loop. Yes, they’re still moderated; I’d like to turn that off, but I watch everyone I know on commercial packages burning time and cycles battling the ever-mounting spam wave, and I get scared. Call me a chicken. Cluck-cluck. I’ve got a to-do list for a dozen minor improvements, all suggested by you (thanks!); I’ll get to them. [9 comments]
· I’m having trouble, this dingy Friday afternoon, with episodic random defocusing. I don’t listen to music when there’s a chance of serious work happening; right now I’m tuned into Radio Delíro, whose front page says Radio Déliro, basée sur les préférences musicales de Roland Moreno, est animée et programmée par Sylvain Robert. I’ve never heard of either of M. Moreno or M. Robert, but I sure like the music they pick. It’s deliciously eclectic, which in practice means ridiculously corny sometimes; but in a good way. Just now they were playing the Don Friedman Trio performing You Must Believe in Spring, which is appropriate given what’s going on outside. [3 comments]
· What happened was, as we were getting ready to leave the apartment in Frankfurt a bunch of comments showed up, and when I clicked “Approve” the Net had gone away for some reason and we had to leave. At the airport, I noticed they had lots of these hokey Internet-by-the-minute kiosks; I’d never used one. While writing ongoing fragments requires an intricate web of technology and a solid
ssh connection, the comment system is pure browser-based simplicity. The kiosk interface is slick, it lets you enter a URL and doesn’t ask for money until you say ”Go“. So I slapped in a €0.20 coin and started struggling with the German keyboard, which makes the “Y” and “/” hard to find. Eventually I reached the approval page and got logged in and saw the comments again. I was about ready to hit the button when this thing popped up on the screen, “Your time is running out in 30 ... 29 ... 28 ...”, quite nerve-wracking in fact. I dove into my pocket and found another double-Euro-dime with seconds to spare, giving me time for the approval to complete and to use the “logout” button. What a weird feeling. I wonder if these things are profitable? [1 comment]
On Comments (II)
· Thanks, everyone, for the high-quality discussion and suggestions about comments and dates and updates and so on; if this were an IETF Working Group, I’d be comfy declaring “rough consensus”. I’ve made the obvious changes; herewith a description, along with general remarks on how this whole commenting thing is going ... [13 comments]
· I’ve had comments running for a few days here now (I prefer to say “contributions”, but whatever). People are irritated at me because an ongoing fragment shows up as unread in their feed-reader whenever a new comment comes in. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is. This piece outlines a few options and asks the community for discussion ... [34 comments]
Wikipedia: Resistance is Absent
· What happened was, I went to check out the new Microsoft search engine at live.com (it’s not bad), and I started by looking for myself. I was kind of surprised when my Wikipedia entry came in ahead of ongoing. (Wikipedia’s #2 at Google and Yahoo.) I’m seeing this pattern of Wikipedia inching up the search-result charts for a whole lot of things. Search-result rank, on the Internet, more or less equals Authority. So this trend has to worry the anti-Wikipedians. It worries me too. Maybe it could be reversed, but I don’t think so. [Update: Byron Saltysiak suggests a more positive aproach.] ...
· Atom, especially the Publishing Protocol, is moving into the evangelism stage, since the committee work’s almost done and there are plenty of implementations. Here’s why I think Atom is important. If you look at Dave Sifry’s numbers, the growth of the blogosphere is astounding; looking past all the fluff and chaff, there are somewhere between five and ten million people out there who care enough to contribute to the Net once a week or better. That may sound like a lot, but I don’t think it’s nearly enough. Here at Sun, in a blogging-friendly tech-savvy culture, maybe 5% of the people post regularly. So I look at the number of people using the Net and I wonder: “Why there aren’t 50 million, instead of five million, people contributing every week?” The answer: “Because it’s too hard”. We can fix that. Here’s the Atom dream: A “Publish” button on everything. On every word processor and email reader and web browser and cellphone and PDA and spreadsheet and photo-editor and digicam and outliner and sales-force tracker. Really, everywhere. If it doesn’t have a “Publish” button, it’s broken.
· I don’t know about you, but in recent weeks I’ve been hit with high volumes of spam promoting penny stocks. They are elaborately crafted and go through my spam defenses like a hot knife through butter. When I was off the net for 72 hours last week, the volume actually filled up the POP inbox at one of my accounts and my mail started bouncing. By the way, you can find the people who do it with a search for “Stock Promotion” (G, Y). As a consequence of living in Vancouver, long a headquarters for penny-stock promoters, I have some personal exposure to how incredibly devious, energized, and unprincipled these people are; it’s like trying to root out cockroaches in a warm climate. Part of the problem is that there is apparently an inexhaustible supply of suckers ready to march smiling into the jaws of these bottom-feeders. This could be the straw that finally breaks the back of email as we know it, the kind that costs nothing to send and something to receive.
Back to the Land
· Every year I spend a few days on a family member’s farm in Saskatchewan; this is usually followed by many photos of cows and Prairie landscapes here on ongoing. The Internet there is dial-up but usable, with the application of some discipline. Only this year, I fired up my recently-repaired Mac and it told me that my internal modem did not exist. Repeated reboots failed to make any progress, and I couldn’t really get to the Apple knowledge base. That’s OK, all I really need is email and I could use the secure-webmail interface for that. Only for some reason, that wasn’t working; incomprehensible error messages about something being misconfigured. Ouch; so I filed a trouble ticket and called my boss’ admin and asked her to drop me a voicemail if anything super-important went across our group alias. Then when I called back to check my messages, my personalized Sun 1-877 number gave me a busy signal. Clearly, some heavenly power did not want me interacting with work. So I closed the computer with an emphatic “snap” and went to take a crap, and the toilet backed up.
· You know, I’ve really had trouble figuring out Nick Carr. I’m a confirmed subscriber, because a lot of his writing is excellent; but then, some of it seems to come from troll territory. I have a theory; and some words on Open Source. [Update: Carr responds at length.] ...
· A while ago I got an email out of the blue from Jarosław Rzeszótko, who’s from Poland I think, saying “I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions about software.” Then I ran across it again while looking for something in my inbox on a plane ride, so I dashed off some answers; the person seemed pleasant and polite. He calls himself “Stiff” and his blog “Sztywny Blog”. Anyhow, he also heard back from Linus Torvalds, Dave Thomas, David Heinemeier Hansson, Steve Yegge, Peter Norvig, Guido van Rossum, and James Gosling. The answers to his questions are interesting.
· I checked the front page and it said “1999 fragments”, which means that with this one, there are twice the number of your fingers times the number of your fingers times the number of your fingers. Damn, that’s a lot. To anyone and everyone who happens to read this: a big “Thank you!” I think I’d go on writing if no-one were reading (but I haven’t had to make the experiment). I’ve learned, to my chagrin, that what I think about what I write has no relation to what others think about what I write; as in, throwaway squibs reach multitudes and carefully-polished essays are ignored. I have failed to learn what people want to read. Which is on balance a good thing, I think.
Contribution and Experience
· “User-Generated Content” is an irreparably ugly and broken phrase. First, we’re people, not “users”. Second, people write and speak and design and compose and sing and play and build and earn and pay; machines “generate”. Third, it’s words and pictures and sound and money, not “content”. The trouble is, we need labels; short ones that still say something. Say, contribution and experience? The Net (really, truly) is the sum of billions of contributions from millions of people, and that’s all that’s interesting about it. People contribute at the edge, and experience the contributions at the edge. (Experience, not consume; the difference is obvious). The Net itself’s a contribution, by humanity to humanity, the engine of future contribution and experience. The Net’s not finished of course; contributing and experiencing, both of them, are too hard and awkward and slow.
Feed Format Kitten Fight
· Like your syndication politics tasty and fresh? Head over to DeWitt Clinton’s Unto.net and read On RSS and Atom. Clinton’s at A9, Amazon.com’s Silly Valley search-wonk cauldron, and his stuff keeps coming across my radar in recent weeks. Anyhow, he has what seems to me a clear-eyed and dispassionate evaluation of the feed-format choices facing implementors these days. There is one place he gets it backward, saying: “I’ve been consistently impressed with how well the authors of the Atom syndication format anticipated the needs of the advanced content syndication community.” No; Atom’s design reflects the backward-looking experience we got in the last few years of working with RSS; it turns out that the future is somewhat like the past. But don’t stop when you get to the end of DeWitt’s piece, there are dozens of comments, most of them instructive, coming at the issue from all sorts of directions. Scoble pushed back at length, follow the pointer from his comment. Someone who signs himself “Raja” has an awfully familiar style. And a final note: when Mr. Clinton talks about XML, for example an RSS
<description> element, he says
<description/>. Now, that’s the kind of pedantry I can relate to.
The Prompt of Doom
· You know the one I mean; when you visit some site that you haven’t been to for a while, long enough that you’ve changed browsers or something expired, and it asks you for your your username and password and you don’t have the vaguest idea, so you guess, and the browser says “Remember this username/password?” I always get a sinking sensation, knowing that my immediate future probably contains email confirmations (which will probably end up in the spambucket) and half-forgotten password (is the answer case-sensitive or not?) hints. I confess to rankly superstitious behavior, telling the browser “No, don’t remember it.” in the hopes that the general orneriness of things will cause me to guess right. I know some Internet Identity gurus, and they say “It’s about so much more than single sign-on”, but dammit, do I ever want single sign-on; and I can’t be the only one.
Not Writing Much
· I haven’t been, recently, although the “needs writing about” queue never stops growing. I’ve got a new daughter, who takes bandwidth. After I told the world about my Sigrid project at Java One, two different groups want to try it out, but I decided it needed one last refactoring, which takes bandwidth. Most of all though, that Ruby-community discussion around Unicode turned into a mind-bomb for me. I’ve been programming in dynamic languages for many years, and thinking about i18n and Unicode for almost as long, but it had never occurred to me to think about what The Right Way is to combine them. Now I’m having trouble thinking about anything else. I’m not ready to write; among other things, there are people in the Ruby community who see certain things as axiomatic that I see as simply wrong and unsupported by any evidence. I don’t think they’re stupid so I need to do more listening. Oh, all these things taking bandwidth, they’re good things; this is a good time, and summer’s here! I hope you’re enjoying life too.
Blogging Cam: Almost Right
· Via Niall Kennedy (who’s been very good lately): Microsoft cameras that have one-button publishing to MSN Spaces. This is so wrong. I don’t want to see a future in which your camera is LiveJournal-enabled or Facebook-ready. When I get a computer or a mobile device, it’s either Web-ready or not, it doesn’t have to be MSN-enabled or Yahoo-blessed. This is why we need the Atom protocol. If your phone or your camera or your anything is Atom-enabled, then it will work with any publisher who supports the protocol, no special deals required. Coming soon.
· I repeatedly advised Jonathan not to allow comments on his blog; “You’re an officer of a public company, dammit,” I said, “the trolls and stock-pumpers and nazi pedophiles will have a field day, you’ll have to have three shifts of watchdogs.” Shows you how much I know; check out the comments on A Roof in Midtown Manhattan. Yeah, some are obvious, particularly at the top, but there are real surprises as you read on down. Gotta get that ongoing comment corral on the air.
Underground, Invitation, Le kick and rush
· I wonder if there’s any real benefit, when someone whom I’ve already highlighted writes something exceptionally good, in pointing to them again and saying “read this!” But sometimes you can’t not do it. Item: my brother Rob on the joy of underground high explosives. Item: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward on Ana Victoria (oh, my). For my last link you’ll have to be able to read a language somewhat but not entirely unlike French; Mondial 2006 is the World Cup 2006 blog from Libération ; its torrent of high-velocity low-rent French baffles me in places, and it doesn’t help that I’m not 100% au fait with les Bleus, but you have to like pieces like Panini, beer & Co.
Yes, I Can Keep Editing!
· I have taken a serious interest in a fairly small number of Wikipedia entries, on subjects where I think I’m pretty expert, and for some time I tried to keep on top of them, nuke others’ edits when they were bogus, fix grammar and spelling problems, trying to achieve what Toyota calls kaizen, or continuous improvement. But I can’t any more. I don’t have time to go check back every day or even every week, and that’s what a conscientious article minder ought to do. I totally need, for each article, a feed I can subscribe to that will summarize changes. Give me that and I can probably stay on top of a handful of articles, because most edits are good. It can’t be that hard; every article already has a “history” page that has the information right there; all you’d have to do would be to create an alternate version wrapped in RSS or Atom tags. So, dear Wikipedians; you want me to invest time and attention in improving the commons? Give me tools. [Hah! And from within the bowels of Wikipedia, a voice emerges, saying: “Ask and you shall receive.” And, it’s valid Atom 1.0; how many more million Atom feeds is that? Put me in the Wikipedia fanboy column.]
· I’ve had Anne Zelenka’s Content’s Divorce from Advertising open in a browser tab for days, thinking about it and trying to find something to expand on or disagree with. Nothing comes to mind, but I’m still thinking. Great-looking site, good writing on lots of lots of other important stuff too. Highly recommended.
· Let’s consider Flickr, del.icio.us, and Technorati as canonical “Web 2.0” companies. Let’s suppose that Flickr is popular because it’s a good way to organize and publish pictures, which is useful. And that del.icio.us is popular because it’s a good way to organize and publish links, which is useful. And that Technorati is popular because it’s a good way to find out what people are saying right now, which is useful. And let’s suppose that the facts that they all do tags and are frequently described in sentences that include the word “social”, just suppose those things are ephemeral, and the success is about doing useful things for individuals. How old-fashioned. Every day that goes by I believe more and more that the only important new thing is that the Net is read-write. Everything that matters follows from that.
Astounding, As Usual
· Dave Sifry’s back with another State of the Blogosphere and the numbers are, well, see the title. We remain on track for everyone in the world to have a blog by 2009 or so. A mild gripe: Dave says “blogs” but he really means “feeds”, a lot of them aren’t blogs at all. Still, we’re up to 3.9 million of them being updated weekly or better. The media spectrum is getting awfully smooth, whether you’re talking about the output of a multibillion-dollar media empire or news from your brother’s family, they’re all just tabs in the aggregator.
Evolution and the Net
· My brother Rob investigates whether or not there’s a convincing analogy between the progress of Darwinian Evolution (well, Gouldian actually) and the Internet’s, uh, evolution. I’m not 100% convinced, but I sure am glad I read it.
· My spidey-sense is tingling; I keep hearing things about Second Life, the kinds of things you hear about something that turns out to be real big. So far, I don’t really get it, but that doesn’t mean anything. Read on for a picture of my Second Life persona and some impressions ...
Atom as a Case Study
· This is adapted from my talk of the same name at ETech 2006. The talk’s sections were entitled Why?, How?, What?, and Lessons?; I’ve left out What?, the description of what Atom is, since we’ve had plenty of that around here. That leaves Why we built it, How we built it, and what Lessons you might want take away from the experience ...
· Recently, Postmodern Sass wrote Ich bin kein Blogger, calling out an argument that there is no such thing as blogging. I think the evidence is against her, but then again, Sass herself has been doing something with the form that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Her blog is filled with extended, interlinked, multi-part stories; nothing new about that. But every time she posts a story, she goes back to the previous episode and updates it to add an “in the next chapter...” link. Latch onto a few of the stories in her Year One Archives and see how they run backward and forward. I think this is a good idea and quite a few of the multi-part blog narratives out there, including some of my own series, would have benefited from richer linkage.
The Magic Middle
· Dave Sifry’s posted Part 2 of the State of the Blogosphere and this may be the most interesting chunk ever. There’s a lot more than just numbers in there; what particularly caught my eye was the notion of the “Magic Middle”, 150 thousand or so blogs with between 20 and 1,000 inbound links. These people tend to have a lot of very specific topical authority and to be, in general, good. Perhaps a new thing in the world?
RBD: Bitplanes and Mexican Pop
· As another side-effect of the recent software rejigger, I now have accurate information about which ongoing fragments are actually getting looked at by humans. One of them, these days, is RGB Planes, from May 2004, a harmless expertise in bit-banging which actually produced some rather pleasing pictures. It turns out that one of those pictures was named rbd.png (have a look, it’s pretty) and it also turns out that RBD, a band out of Mexico, is hot stuff these days. The band members are also telenovela stars and hence look good in pictures; a Google Image Search for “RBD” produces lots of pictures of them, and my bitplane. Every day, a couple of hundred of the people who do that search are taking the time to click it. If you’re one of them, ¡Hola! You couldn’t make this stuff up.
· Being administered, in this case, by Google’s Matt Cutts. I think I approve: I suppose there may be some decent, honorable, intelligent people in the SEO business, but everyone also knows there are also despicable scum. Talking to Dave Sifry and Rob Scoble today at Northern Voice, I learned about some horrible black-hat SEO techniques that deserve the Instant Internet Death penalty. I’ve repeatedly heard the Net compared to the Wild West, before the law came to town. Until Wyatt Earp gets here, there’s gonna be some vigilante justice happening. Whether it’s a good idea or not.
· Dave Sifry’s starting another run through the State of the Blogosphere. His first instalment finds that the number of known blogs, now somewhere around 25 million, has been doubling every 5½ months. Which calls for a quickie Perl script... aha: At this rate, in August 2009, the number of known blogs will more or less equal the population of the world.
Online Picture Dictionary
· Our son is in French Immersion school, and lots of times there are words in his storybooks that don’t appear in my workable-but-limited French vocabulary. One time I’d misplaced the Larousse, but I thought for a second and realised I wasn’t stuck. I went and typed it into the nearest online image search, and there I was. So next time you find you don’t know what a sauterelle or a citrouille is, look no further.
Protecting Your Data
· I was watching a mailing-list discussion of backup software, and how often you should back up, and based on some decades’ experience, found some of the thinking sloppy. Here are my life lessons on keeping your data safe while assuming that The Worst Will Happen. Some of it is Macintosh-specific, but there may be useful take-aways even from those parts, even for non-Mac-hacks ...
· BlogPulse says that my little It’s Not Dangerous squib was the twentieth most popular blog post of 2005. That’s nice, but I tossed that off in about fifteen minutes in a flash of irritation at the wave of moronic “fired-for-blogging” stories. I suppose it matters that it got translated. Still, it’s lightweight. Want something more substantial? A few days later, I wrote On the Absence of Women, put my heart and hours of my time into it, then it sank like a stone, hardly a ripple. Or, go back to that BlogPulse list—interestingly, quite a few of the links are gone already—and for something with actual meat on it, check out #6 for an emotional wrench, #10 for a life lesson, or #25 for a wickedly good laugh.
· As a member of the T. E. Lawrence Society and a participant in the TEL studies mailing list, I’m happy to announce the arrival of telawrence.net. Lawrence died in 1935 and UK copyright survives its author by 70 years, so his writing is now out of copyright. This is the work of Jeremy Wilson, biographer and student of TEL, and a fine thing it is; thanks Jeremy! We look forward, in the near future, to the arrival of large volumes of TEL’s writings; he was prolific. I’m pondering the possibility, once things get going, of a TEL periodical along the lines of the Pepys Diary; Lawrence was not a diarist but he was a prolific correspondent; I suspect that the entry density would be plentiful enough to support a blog format.
My Wikipedia Policy
· Scoble published his, and these days, I think having a policy is a good idea. Unlike Scoble, I have edited my entry, in my case with a very specific goal. Both Scoble’s entry
and mine are labeled as stubs, which I think is silly. I suggested that we de-stub mine, and no less a person than Wikipedia goddess Angela Beesley laughed politely at me, saying it didn’t even have my birth-date and so on. So I filled in the basic bio and now it’s plenty long and I’m eventually going to run out of patience and de-stub it myself. Hey Rob, you want me to de-stub you too? Why don’t you put in your birth-date and citizenship and other basics first? The other thing I do, and I recommend that everyone else with an entry do, is get a Wikipedia account and put your entry on your watchlist, so that if someone starts defacing, you’ll notice. Wikipedia doesn’t provide feeds on watchlists, but I think they should, it would improve the efficiency of error-correction. I see Petrik de Heus has already handcrafted a watchlist feed generator in Python. [Update: Thanks to AdamJacobMiller and PatriceNeff for cleaning up my article and de-stubbing it. Scoble’s still a stub though.] Meta-Blogging
· So, here’s the good news: I walked into the bar at ApacheCon to get a beer, there was another guy there waiting; when the bartender came around, he ordered a drink then, pointing at me, said “... and whatever he’s having”. He turned to me said “Love the blog” and we shook hands and talked for a while. I’m terribly embarrassed that I’ve lost his name; Interesting guy, he’s at Google and was there for the JCP Board meeting. That’s the first time my blog’s earned me a beer, what’s not to like? So here’s the bad news: Recently, a colleague asked me what I thought about a subject that I’d just written a big piece on two days earlier. I harrumphed, and she said “Who has time to read all your stuff? There’s too much!” OK, so I write really fast and I don’t sleep much, but she has a point. The problem is that the creative flow is really uneven. First half of the week, I was on the road and didn’t post much, now for some reason I have five big pieces squirming around in the back of my head wanting to be written; and the nasty bit is that if I don’t write them, they don’t save up, they evaporate. I suspect there isn’t a solution.
Activa vs. Mrs. Lanteigne
· That would be Mrs. Louisette Lanteigne of Waterloo, Ont., who has an extremely amateur GeoCities website that she’s been using to post illustrated complaints about what look like dangerous, shoddy, and environmentally damaging construction practices in her neighborhood, illustrated with her own pictures. Activa, one of the developers she’s been complaining about, has slapped her with a 2-million-dollar libel action. Plus, Slashdot knocked her site off the air (Google cache here). The litigation seems a little over the top to this non-lawyer; are there any good Waterloo-area geeks who’d like to fix her up with a higher-grade Web presence?
· Jonathan was giving a keynote and asked the audience: “Would you rather give up your browser, or all the rest of your desktop apps?” The answer is obvious, but the follow-on questions are real interesting. Most ordinary database-backed business apps have migrated into the browser and they’re not coming back, no matter how great Windows Vista is. Given that, what kind of apps justify the irritation and inconvenience of having to download ’em and update ’em and back up the data and so on? Jonathan lists a few, including the browser itself, Skype, Google Earth, OpenOffice. But what’s the pattern behind that list? From right now in 2005, I see three families of desktop apps that are here for the long haul: First the browser itself, including variations like news readers and music finders, whether P2P or centralized. Second, realtime human-to-human communication, spanning the spectrum from text to voice to video. Third, content creation: PhotoShop, Excel, DreamWeaver, and whatever we’ll need for what we’re creating tomorrow. And like Jonathan says, as does Tim O’Reilly way down at the bottom of Page 3 of his big What is Web 2.0? essay, as did the Government of Massachusetts: all those bits and bytes that are the numbers and reports and stories and poetry and pictures and music and video we’re creating and shipping and searching and sharing? They’ll be open, non-proprietary, re-use limited only by their creator and your imagination. Nothing else makes any sense.
· I just don’t understand how this can be. I got yet another phishing spam claiming to be from Amazon. So peeked at the real URL and it was pointing to “Amazo-check.com”, which lamely attempts to sort of look like Amazon, among other things using its logo. Thirty seconds’ investigation reveals that the domain is registered by Marin Lopez, Calle Albartos 22, Madrid. Mapquest suggests that that should be Calle Albatros, which is in the same postal code. The site is registered and hosted by arsys.es in Spain. Either Señor Lopez is a criminal and should be arrested, or his domain has been hijacked (I doubt it, given the name) and he should either take it down or his ISP should, or he’s a fiction, but someone paid arsys for the registration and they’re the criminal. What am I missing?
· Pretty well all of my creative energies in recent days have been consumed in thrashing at the Java underbrush, so instead of actually thinking and writing, I’ll cough up some undigested links, ain’t the Web grand? First, this Matisse Project demo has been getting tons o’ buzz, but what I like is the silky-smooth Czech accent. Second, Dervala’s friend Tim Vetter got an astounding Mission-district picture. Third, David Megginson simultaneously explored Ruby on Rails and PHP, never previously having considered either; his conclusion may be surprising. Fourth, Clint Combs writes up another interesting RSS/Atom app. Finally, John Cowan is pumping out technolinguisticophilosophical gems, several per day in recent days, don’t miss ’em.
Featherweight Meme Propagation
· That (extremely lightweight, I thought) Blogging’s Not Dangerous piece has now been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Finnish, and German. A few of them (grumble, grumble) skip the caveats in front, the trailing remarks on policy, and the suspicious conclusion about media coverage. I know, I’ll go write a Business Book entitled Eleven Lessons For Success From the Blogosphere and make millions, I tell you, millions. But, just because I thought it was a facile little squib doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t thank those kind people for reading and translating it; and I do.
· The box that hosts this cyberhomestead is being moved from somewhere to somewhere else in Eastern Standard Time starting at 11PM Sunday March 20th. They say it’ll be up well before all us Norteamericanos get to work... we’ll see.
Pure Black Flame
· A few days back I posted a fragment arguing that blogging is good for your career, which has become, I believe, the most-linked-to item in the history of ongoing. While it was universally ignored by all the media outlets that have been gravely intoning “Blog and yer fired”, there were reactions, some quite remarkable ...
It’s Not Dangerous
· I have given several press interviews in recent days, all more or less along the same lines: someone’s been assigned to write a story about people being fired for blogging. Recent pieces from AP and CNET are pushing this spin, going on and on and on about the risks. Except for, it’s all a bunch of BS. For most people, blogging is a career-booster, both in your current job and when you’re looking for your next one. This fragment includes, among other things, Ten Reasons Why Blogging Is Good For Your Career ...
Organizing the Long Tail
· The Long Tail is one the few things about the blogosphere that seems new. Here’s an obvious question: is there any structure lurking in that Long Tail, or is it just an undifferentiated skinny pointy blob? The answer starts here ...
· I met Bob McHenry, former editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica, when I did some consulting for them a few years back. He’s a wise, engaging, fellow, and he did me a huge favour by agreeing to do a keynote at the first-ever XML conference in 1997. But I’m profoundly disappointed by his vicious thrashing of the Wikipedia, which descends (literally) to toilet invective. I cannot understand how a perceptive human being can fail to see the beauty. Although Britannica is a pale shadow of its former self, McHenry presumably still has some insights at his disposal that he could offer to this brave band of people trying to create a new thing in the world. Instead of standing back and throwing mud.
New Spam Flavour!
· When I picked up my phone this morning it beeped “text message waiting” at me. Two in fact, which, run together said: Stock Buyers Alert: Ticker: XXXX|Current: $0.051 - 194.1% increase on 11/08/04. Details: Newly listed. High Growth Potential. Large emphasis on Rent-to-own program with high return on lease investments. Let’s see, here we have a penny stock (i.e., usually a scam) based on rent-to-own (i.e., exploiting poor people), touted in a new spam flavour. What’s not to like? So, in a probably-futile attempt to nip this new evil in the bud, I called the telephone company to complain, and the friendly, helpful lady knew all about it. “The one about the stocks? Me too.” It turns out that basically everybody in their network got it, they hadn’t figured it out, they were working on it. If I could cue doomful impending-peril music at this point, I would.
· Today, I’m angry. A person with whom I have to deal is misbehaving and may destroy something good through bad, inexcusably bad, behavior. This person doesn’t work for me nor for anyone I know, in fact there’s no authority relationship either way. I seriously considered using ongoing as a weapon. Suppose I posted a piece here whose title was that person’s name, laying out in succinct but forceful detail the nature of the bad behavior, solidly illustrated by pointers to online examples. Suppose I offered a calmly-worded opinion that nobody in their right mind should consider hiring, or doing business with, or dating, this person. Suppose some other people who shared my opinions saw fit to point to the attack and perhaps chime in a bit. Given the way search engines work, I’d say that such an attack would be extremely damaging, and very hard to recover from. Would I do this? I don’t think so, unless it was a matter of life or death. But I sure do think about it sometimes.
· For bloggers too; and you don’t even have to be American! Courtesy of Technorati, check it out. And unlike boring old regular voting, you can vote for or against either candidate.
Crooks in Plain Sight
· This morning, a rather well-crafted phishing attempt squirmed through my spam filter; my EBay account was due to be suspended, and so on. Very polished and professional and concerned, only I don’t have an EBay account. So, by investing about 45 seconds of source-viewing I ascertained they wanted me to go visit 126.96.36.199 which turns out to be “ThaiEdResearch.org”, a plausible-looking website, at least to one who like me doesn’t read Thai. But obviously, they are either criminals, or their webmaster is a criminal, or their ISP is a criminal. If anyone cared, it wouldn’t be too hard to find out. This feels to me kind of like walking into a bank, waving a gun around, and giving them a stamped self-addressed envelope to mail the stolen money in. What am I missing? [Update: lots of feedback on this one.] ...
· There’s been a swirl of controversy around the Wikipedia, summarized nicely by Ross Mayfield. Back in July, I added substantially to the article on T.E. Lawrence and since have fixed a couple of little typos and errors here and there. Maybe the Wikipedia is a short-lived fad, maybe it’ll get better, maybe it’ll get worse, but I was surprised that nobody pointed this out: The Wikipedia is beautiful. It’s an unexpected and unexplainable triumph of collective creativity and of order over entropy. I hope it lasts a long time, and those who criticize it Just Don’t Get It.
· Lauren nails it; this is one of the technology-culture stories that has already arrived en masse before people start noticing it. When I’m working in three-million-pixel mode, I actually work on the big outboard screen, and the 1280x854 PowerBook screen inevitably gradually fills up with iChat windows. There are a certain number of people with whom I usually have a chat going most of the time, every day; the equivalent of adjacent cubicles, I guess. (Except for, unlike real cubes, you can ignore people without being rude.) The fact that some of them are many time-zones away is irrelevant. And unlike a real cube farm, Lauren is in one of the adjacent cybercubes, which is nice too.
M & A & F
· Check out Mark Pilgrim on why specs matter; a typically-excellent piece which begins with the proposition that in the context of standards, most developers are either morons or assholes. I count myself as proud to be (in Mark’s terms) a moron. Mark however omits to note how the Web encourages moronic behavior (and why this is good) and avoids a third category, Flamers. So I’ll cover those bases ...
· Sometimes it feels like a family. What happened was, we’re having all this angst over in Atom-land about well-formedness and media types and the fact that RSS is usually served “wrong” and the problems this causes. Well, before too much longer, there are going to be a lot of Web resources named
the-other.atom being dished out by Web Servers everywhere, and by default those servers are gonna look at the names and say “Dot-atom what? Yer
text/plain, punk.” So I appealed to Greg Stein of Apache and Google, and he had a pow-wow and reported back I've gone ahead and done this: the application/atom+xml (for .atom) type will appear in our next releases (Apache 1.3.32 and Apache 2.0.51), whenever those come out. Well, Apache’s not the only server out there, so I wrote off to Obasanjo and Scoble and said “Here’s the problem, how about IIS?”. So Scoble did some digging and got routed to Thomas Deml, lead program manager on IIS, and I saw a forwarded email saying The change goes into Win2K3, SP1. Now if we could sort out the rest of the Internet’s issues that smoothly... anyhow, thanks guys.
Google Censorship, Ouch
· From Perrspectives, a fairly ordinary U.S. left-liberal political site (but with an above-average sense of humor), a shocking story of being cut off by Google AdWords for “language that advocates against an individual, group, or organization.” Earth to Google: that country you’re based in is going through a war and an election! A substantial part of the population is (quite properly) advocating like crazy against one political faction or another as a result of one or the other. The Perrspectives folks point out that the policy, on top of being, uh, wrong, is also broken, in fact lots of people are using Google AdWords for political rhetoric and polemic; the appearance is either of political bias or of incompetence. I’m not sure whether I’m saying Don’t be evil or Don’t be stupid but whichever, please don’t.
Who Are We?
· Blogads ran a big reader survey, and just posted some preliminary results, which are extremely interesting. I’m not sure what they mean, but they’re sure interesting.
· Hah, I see that the OpenOffice crowd is decloaking. Some of it I found quite difficult to read, but your mileage may vary. My favorite so far is Eike Rathke, pretty geeky stuff but with the essential spin: you-gotta-laugh-or-you’ll-go-nuts. Particularly if you work with STL.
San Diego Geek Dinner?
· I’m going to have a free evening next Monday, the 26th, in San Diego. It occurs to me that a geekazoid gathering in those parts might be a fine idea, and the person I’m visiting said he’d even organize it if there was any interest. So if this sounds like a good idea, drop me a line; remember, firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Several people have pointed to Planet Sun, a rather good aggregation of all the known Sun bloggers. It’s done by David Edmondson, whose own uncollected thoughts is well worth visiting. Also worthy of note in recent days is Mike Duigou on Complexity, which totally captures the mental pain consequent on confronting a big new hairy URI. (But that whole Java.net space is organized in a weird way that I don’t quite get; hmm...). Also, Planet Sun is a clever name... for the next such project how about Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun? [For the under-40s, that’s a druggie-Sixties-music reference -Ed. (Yeah, but a great tune! -Tim)]
· It’s probably superfluous for me to point to anything by Scoble, since I suspect our readerships have pretty complete overlap, but his recent essay entitled How Do You Persuade? is the best thing he’s ever written.
What People Care About
· Herewith the top couple of dozen search strings that brought people to ongoing, sampled over the last few days. Let this be a lesson to you on what you can write about without developing a “certain reputation” ...
· I made a connection this week reaching back 25 years to the first time I ever programmed seriously; this retrospective is mostly for my own amusement, but contains some references that will probably bring smiles to faces that have a few grey hairs attached ...
Short-notice Geek Lunch
· So Scoble posted at 1:30 AM Sunday that he was in Vancouver, how about lunch. A dozen people turned up, it was 16°C so we ate outside in the sun, fun was had ...
· Wired is running a short interview with Neil Young which I read because I’m fond of his music; and if you’ve never seen Neil perform live you ought to make the effort, there are ups and downs but the ups are way up. Anyhow, I think this is a must-read for anyone who cares about Media and Radio and Music and The Net and all those other capitalized words. Mr. Young obviously Gets It, big time. I’m now off to spend some time at his new multimedia project, Greendale.
RSS: Unreal and Addictive
· What happened was, someone pointed out that Apple is now doing doing RSS feeds for lots of stuff; I signed up for OS X Knowledge Base (feed) and Downloads (feed) and sure enough, every so often there’s something there to look at. Today I was kind of hung up waiting for a phone call and RSS got me in trouble ...
Get Yer Social Networking Here
· Sometime in December, somebody flipped a big switch and all of a sudden everyone was inviting me to join their Linkedin network. Then suddenly last week the Kozmick Finger pointed at Orkut, and near as I can tell, all the geeks on the planet have spent this weekend busily inviting each other to be Orkut pals. It all seems mostly harmless; mind you, I haven’t actually got any use out of either of ’em. For what it’s worth, all the Orkutians seem to be heavy geeks, while about half the Linkedincrowd is VCs and businesspeople. I don’t think it’s gonna change the world, but I’ve been wrong before. To those whose invitations I’ve declined: sorry, nothing personal, it’s just that I feel I ought to either have spent some face-to-face time with you or been in some substantial online interaction.
Slippertje gemaakt? (Antislipschool)
· What happened was, I was sitting up late and saw a new bot hitting the site; first of all, the bot said it came from TranSGeniK, a French Techo/Ambient music site which has some OK tracks to listen to (have I just fallen victim to referer spam, I wonder) but then I see that the bot’s being run out of ovh.nl, which near as I can tell is a bunch of Dutch auto enthusiasts who have lunch and practice anti-skid driving techniques (you can get “slipcertification” it seems). And they need to run a French bot at ongoing. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
· Wednesday evening, Lauren and I had a social in the spacious and comfy suite that she gets for chairing the XML conference, and it was great fun. (If you know us and didn’t get invited, sorry, we only decided Wednesday morning and missed seeing a few people). For me, the real thrill was there were several pairs of people at the party who’d known each other for years (electronically) but had never met and were really happy to do so. Put Betty Harvey and David Megginson and Rick Jelliffe and Dare Obasanjo and Jon Udell and Norm Walsh and Sean McGrath and James Clark and Peter Flynn and Eve Maler in a room — the evidence of the wineglasses suggests there were thirty people or so, I just picked those names off the pictures that I took but aren’t good enough for ongoing — put all these people in a room, and you get more than a few of of these You’re David? Wow! moments. I had one of those myself, meeting Dare Obasanjo for the first time. Dare is given to occasional over-the-top flaming and snarling on mailing lists, and he looks kind of menacing too, but turns out to be a friendly, cheerful, and interesting guy.
This Is War
· Just now, a couple of spams that made it through Mozilla were in the inbox, and I missed slightly with the bold swipe of the mouse to group-select ’em for erasure and actually selected one, which brought it up in the message pane, a pitch for strapless bras. Suddenly my computer was talking to me: “For years, women have struggled...” then my finger reached the
Del key and it was gone. Lauren raised an eyebrow at me from across the room and when I explained said “I think we’ve just hit a new low.” She’s so diplomatic.
Debbie Does BitTorrent
· I had this vague idea that BitTorrent was a useful thing for snagging Linux distros and Lord of the Rings trailers, but then the Editor of a very well-known publication said, in casual conversation, that he thought it was a game-changer, something important. So I went and got it, and here’s an initial report. [Update: Good stuff from Raph Levien.] ...
· Recently Jon Udell ran some video clips from BloggerCon in which three different people, among them Amy Wohl, complained powerfully that online publishing is too hard, and that worst of all, it requires programming, which ordinary people can’t be expected to do. Since then, Dylan Evans argued more or less the opposite position in The Guardian: that being unafraid of code is increasingly going to be essential to anyone who wants to be considered part of the intelligentsia. So who’s right? ...
· I don’t often do a short post saying “Hey, look at this great blog!” but I’ll make an exception in the case of Jonathon Delacour’s “The Heart of Things”, which is interesting and beautiful—achieves effortlessly the kind of nice typography that I’ll eventually make happen here at ongoing. Also it’s well-written and multilingual, and well anyhow, check it out. At the moment, Made in Usa is the top story, but it’s good enough to deserve its own pointer, for down the road.
· The recently-ended Foo Camp has been well-covered all over the Web and certainly doesn’t need me to write anything more about what happened there. I’ll say in closing, though, that it fulfilled a need that I didn’t know I had, the need—sometimes—to go tribal, to hang out with your own kind. For which, thanks to the organizers and to my fellow campers. Obviously I’m a geek, but as a matter of choice I’ve spent a lot of time on other paths, being a businessman and family man; and I don’t regret those choices. But it’s sweet for a couple of days, among fellow spirits, to share concerns and jokes and values and then the important thing, the central thing: never needing to explain “why.” What we’re doing here is worth doing for its own sake, never forget it.
The Input Spectrum
· What happened was, I found myself talking to my computer before breakfast this morning, and I didn’t really like it. Then I looked at the screen and saw the dozens of folders full of thousands of emails, the Web browser parked at a Wiki, the chat icons, and the RSS aggregator. Feeling a little overwhelmed, I looked around the room and saw the newspapers, the magazines, the TV, and a pile of unanswered (physical) mail, as well as Lauren’s and my cellphones charging and the land-line on the sideboard. All these are about moving messages around. So I ask: which is the right one to use? ...
Degrees of Viral Separation
· I was nuking a few dozen pieces of Sobig.F dung that had made it through the mail filter, recognizing a few of the names that had been forged in the “From” and “To” fields, not recognizing more, and it occurred to me that each instance of this virus contains an assertion about three people: that one of them knows the other two. There’s a business plan lurking in here ...
Thermodynamics Of Hell Fire
· I don’t normally point at “weird stuff on the Net” but after visiting a few pages of Objective: Christian Ministries I honestly can’t figure out whether they’re for real, or a side project by The Onion staff. I particularly gasp at the Creation Science Fair from which the title of this note is taken. Thanks to Tim Romano for the pointer. [Update: Several people have written me that this is a parody, but nobody has really provided much solid evidence. But the more I look at it, the more I conclude that it just has to be, based only on the language.]
On Not Being a Gamer
· I’d never really played computer games except the obligatory runs through Myst and Riven. In mid-1999, I founded Antarctica, and for a while we shipped, along with our 2-D data mapping software, a 3-D version that was a lot like a video game. I figured I’d better check out video game culture, and it became a hobby for just over two years; this is a look back. It’s just barely possible that someone reading this may have known me under some variation of the name “Bengal” (of the Basin) ...
· Herewith, dear reader, practical hints for turning up interesting stuff on the Web, with a sample of the findings ...
· Help! I’m getting like a couple of hundred spams per hour relayed through
rbof53-01-p177.gt.saix.net (SAIX is a South African ISP) to every permutation of two or three letters
@textuality.com. They are a classic 419 spam allegedly from
email@example.com, but I’ve never seen this pattern before. It all gets caught by the spam filter, but textuality.com is just a POPmail address and I can’t imagine good things will happen if I just ignore it and fail to offload the crap from my ISP regularly. This isn’t an irritant, this is an outright assault. The phone number in South Africa is +27-83-570-6267. Is there anything I can do? (Later: got my ISP to drop anything that’s not specifically to
tbray on the floor, but what a shock. I suppose if you’re any big company, there are a couple of dozen of these turkeys pounding you at any given moment. Yow.)
Free Speech and Benchmarks
· This is astounding. Many software licenses, including some from Microsoft and Oracle—and in this biz, if those two are doing it everyone is—have language saying you can’t publish benchmarks or studies about the software without written permission from the vendor. Apparently, the US courts are giving this practice the treatment it deserves. I feel a severe flame coming on, but there’s some interesting background to look at first ...
aloihin Backhuhn ambulant chopin
· This, believe it or not, was the title of a spam that made it through the Mozilla junk filter. Maybe we're converging on a new bargain with the spammers: if they provide an interesting enough title, we'll smile at their cleverness before hitting
Budapest and Marks
· ongoing is not normally given to fits of randomness, but isn't there a quote about consistency and small minds? Woke up this morning, turned on the computer, and got an IM from Lauren who's in a meeting in Budapest. Which I'm not too jaded to find a bit exotic and thrilling. Then I ran across this and this from Mark Bernstein, which everyone who fancies themself on the creative end of whatever this is should read forthwith. And then I see that Mark Pilgrim's getting married. Mark's voice is one that stands nicely out from the crowd, so best wishes from points North! Over & out.
Logging On to Cluelessness
· I'm on the road (in Florida bad-dialup hell too) and was watching the basketball game in the hotel room, amused by the continual exhortations of the announcers to “Log on to nba.com” for one thing or another. You hear this usage all the time in commercials and promotions, but almost never among people who actually use the Web. I “visit” or “hit” or “look at” websites, I don't “log on” to them. But maybe I'm not giving them enough credit for subtlety ...
· I first heard “flame” as a verb on Usenet sometime back in the Eighties. Flaming is now part of the landscape for anyone who lives in part online. It's ugly. Can we make it go away? Should we? What should we do about it? ...
Giving Back Timbuktu
· Heh, a minor milestone; for the first time, I put something back into CDDB. Which makes me think that I should take a moment to plug the disk Talking Timbuktu, by Ali Farka Toure (from Mali) and Ry Cooder. CDDB is magic, so is the record, read all about it ...
· We all got a note from Paul the CFO, who's a bright and reasonable kind of person, telling us we should put one of those privacy disclaimers at the bottom of outgoing emails. This struck me as a ridiculous idea, so I pushed back a bit, and learned why these things exist ...
· We're coming off 72 hours of being off the Net at home. This disconnectedness diary is better than other bloggers' home-tech laments, because it includes a genuine earthquake preparedness safety tip ...
Old Game, Old (Online) Community
· Go is a very old board game, called Wei Ch'i in Chinese, Igo in Japan, and Baduk in Korean, and is played most heavily where those languages are spoken. I used to dabble in it, and recently in the grip of insomnia discovered that one of the oldest of games is supporting one of the oldest of online communities (and some drop-dead-cool Mac software) ...
On Being Slashdotted
· There may be those who write in public and don't care who and how many people read, but I'm not one of them. So when I turned on the computer Tuesday morning and discovered by visiting Slashdot that they had a pointer to my XML Is Too Hard for Programmers piece, I woke up real fast. Herewith a bunch of random observations on the experience ...
Porn Spam: Zero to Zero
· This is a true story: in 1988 I single-handedly knocked AOL off the air. What brought it to mind is, I just now took my once-daily look at the junk-mail folder and wiped a few dozen pornospams with a single keystroke, and there were none in my inbox; antispam is getting good enough that I may never see another, and I remembered, lo my righteous wrath and the awful consequences when I got my first one ...
Spam Inflection Point?
· I'm a very heavy email user, and after a failed attempt to use the shiny new OS X "Mail.app", have reverted to Mozilla, curently the 1.3beta. Both have remarkably effective spam filters. Despite Barry Shein's pessimism in today's Slashdot, I think we may be winning ...
Small XML-dev Flame War
· I am a member of the
xml-dev mailing list, the original XML-zealot conclave and home to most of the people in the world who worry seriously about XML in general; a very special and fortunately small shared obsession ...
The Warriors Formed the Outline of a Heart
· Warsinger died. Warsinger is the nom-de-guerre of a mid-level player in the middlingly-popular MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. Cameloters fight fearsome monsters that swarm the countryside (and often lose). Camelot is divided into three realms, Midgard, Albion, and Hibernia, who regularly fight each other and win and lose and die ...
By Tim Bray.
I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.
A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.