· Naughties
· · 2004
· · · November
· · · · 09 (4 entries)

Live Radio Mmmmmmmm · I’m sit­ting here try­ing to work, but dis­tract­ed be­cause we have the CBC turned up on the good ra­dio through the big speak­er­s, lis­ten­ing to In Per­for­mance; tonight it’s the Ed­mon­ton Sym­pho­ny play­ing the Eroica. The sound is ex­traor­di­nary; get the mix­ers and dub­bing and multi-tracking out of the way, hook up the mi­cro­phones to the broad­cast gear and turn on some good re­ceiv­ing hard­ware, and it does a bet­ter job of putting you in the room with the or­ches­tra than most record­ings do. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed.
Politocolinguistic Militancy · Scan­ning the BBC news be­fore break­fast, I read that U.S.-Pakistan re­la­tions are im­prov­ing, and that this “coincided with an army of­fen­sive against sus­pect­ed mil­i­tants that of­fi­cials say has left 17 dead.” I am doubly-irritated; first, at the cur­rent us­age of the word “militant” (chiefly by the gov­ern­ments of the U.S. and its al­lies) mean­ing “someone whom it’s OK to kill” (or in this case, whom it’s OK to kill on sus­pi­cion). A mil­i­tant is some­one who is tak­ing up arms in sup­port of a cause: his­tor­i­cal ex­am­ples would in­clude Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton, Charles de Gaulle, and Simón Bolívar. Mil­i­tants, his­tor­i­cal­ly speak­ing, are some­times con­sid­ered ad­mirable peo­ple; par­tic­u­lar­ly when up in arms against cor­rup­t, op­pres­sive, mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship­s. Like, for ex­am­ple, the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan. Which isn’t to say that ev­ery­one fight­ing against Gen­er­al Mushar­raf is a fine per­son. But when the Amer­i­cans or Is­raelis or Saud­is or who­ev­er equate “militant” with “license to kill”, that’s of­fen­sive on a bunch of lev­el­s. And as for be­ing on good terms with the cur­rent Pak­istani regime... Amer­i­ca has his­tor­i­cal­ly got very poor re­sults from prop­ping up enemy-of-our-enemies dic­ta­tors, but keeps try­ing. Fol­low the link and look at the pic­ture, which kind of says it al­l, for me.
Post-and-Poll · The ar­rival and insanely-fast growth of syn­di­ca­tion/RSS tech­nol­o­gy brings a New Thing to the In­ter­net. Un­til re­cent­ly, there was on­ly one mes­sag­ing ar­chi­tec­ture known to work at In­ter­net scale. That was store-and-forward, as in how email work­s: I send my mes­sage to a com­put­er near me, which stores it and sends it to an­oth­er com­put­er near you (with re­tries and so on as ap­pro­pri­ate), which stores it, and you re­trieve it from that com­put­er. Syn­di­ca­tion has proven that a dif­fer­ent mod­el, post-and-poll, scales up too. It works like this: I post some da­ta which con­tains ei­ther mes­sages or mes­sage point­ers to a pub­lic place, and you poll pe­ri­od­i­cal­ly to see what’s new. The dif­fer­ence is that store-and-forward sup­ports anybody-to-anybody mes­sage traf­fic, while post-and-poll as­sumes sep­a­rate com­mu­ni­ties of senders and re­ceiver­s. Peo­ple who are de­sign­ing mes­sage in­ter­change frame­works that might need to be­come Internet-scale should con­sid­er this, and be care­ful of ar­chi­tec­tures that don’t fall in­to one of these two bas­ket­s, be­cause noth­ing else has yet been shown to work. [Up­date: Some­how I for­got to cred­it Mark Hap­n­er of Sun who point­ed all this out to me, pre­sent­ing it as some­thing ob­vi­ous, not a dis­cov­ery; but then I re­al­ized that it hadn’t been ob­vi­ous till he did so.]
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.
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