Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > "Leave Television Behind"

"So I wish we'd have the YouTube debate on YouTube and leave TV behind. A few of the candidates are beginning to answer voters' questions and challenges directly, small-camera-to-small-camera. Thus they are opening up a dialogue between candidate and constituent that was not possible before the internet: a conversation in our new public square. That is how elections should be held, amid the citizens."

No satisfaction for meat-eaters - The Press - Get the latest local, national and world news from Christchurch's daily newspaper

Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals.

So much for carnal knowledge.

Usenet Still Funny After All These Years

> i went to the bathroom and when i came back, my computer was gone. I called
> > verizon service guys but they were of no help. Should i switch to cable?
> >
> >

OMG! You actually *can* string words together to make a complete sentence!

Are you sure it's gone? Could you have taken it with you to the bathroom and flushed it down the terlet?

Here's what you do: locate your modem or router. (I'm going out on a limb here, and assuming you have DSL.)
Locate the ethernet cable that comes off the modem/router.
Follow the ethernet cable to the end farthest from the modem/router.

Is there a computer there?

If not, check the sewer.

But what if you have wireless?

MS-DOS paternity suit settled | The Register

The PC world might have looked very different today had Kildall's Digital Research prevailed as the operating system of choice for personal computers. DRI offered manufacturers the same low-cost licensing model which Bill Gates is today credited with inventing by sloppy journalists - only with far superior technology. DRI's roadmap showed a smooth migration to reliable multi-tasking, and in GEM, a portable graphical environment which would undoubtedly have brought the GUI to the low-cost PC desktop years before Microsoft's Windows finally emerged as a standard.

But then Kildall was motivated by technical excellence, not by the need to dominate his fellow man.

TabletBlog.com by ThoughtFix: Geocaching with the N800

Tips on how to use technology to get heat stroke.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Facebook Bankruptcy

Calicanis turns off comments, and puts down Facebook.

Now if a lot more people did such things (particularly the well-known A-listers) the world (well the Internet anyway) would be a better place. Too many people (including myself) are spending too much time following each other around on the Internet while the world falls apart.

Now, the Internet (and all the high-tech gadgetry that goes with it) may play a part in making the world work better, but not if it is done to the exclusion of all else.

The world only needs a few bleeding edgers to evaluate everything that shows up and tell us which of those things might be useful to the rest of us. But these days there are too many people trying things, and writing about them and apparently loving ALL of them to be of any use. I've tried following behind, trying first one gadget after another and most of it is junk. I hope more people, especially the bleeding edgers (early adopters, whatever you want to call them) will raise their standards a notch, or ten. Stop telling us what you like, start telling us about the really great stuff you are using daily to actually get things done, not just to play with.

I used to tell people I only used computers for work, not to play games on. These days the two are hard to tell apart. If you are having too much fun at it, you are probably doing something wrong.

YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.

As a YouTube user Google produces some interesting stuff.

(I still prefer Google Video though.)

800,000 stolen social security numbers: a 22-year-old scapegoat?

Link From Slashdot...
"Their report also faults the chain of command, which was muddled by contractors. The Inspector General identified Jared Ilovar as 'a 22-year-old, $10.50-an-hour employee' hired just three months earlier, who received his assignment from…another intern. The intern reported to a $125-an-hour consultant, who reported to another $200-an-hour consultant…"

From intern's letter to Columbus Dispatch:
I will always ask for written instructions and/or policy instructions. I will no longer assume I am following the rules and/or policy if I haven't actually been instructed of such rules and/or policy by a supervisor and/or administrator.
I would like to thank OAKS for the opportunity they gave me several months ago and I wish the outcome of all of this was much different than it is.

Of course, do so will only brand him as a troublemaker. Seven or more e-mail messages exchanged over where to have lunch today is one thing, but actually putting work related matters into writing, be it a formal document or otherwise is something I've found many "executives" in government or out are reluctant to undertake.

From the PDF version of the Investigative Report:
In hindsight, administrators we interviewed universally agreed that they should have notified the patrol and other authorities at least 48 hours earlier.

Ummm, so why hasn't ayone else been fired, or even reprimanded in any way?
Finally, we note that the theft would never have compromised the identities of hundreds of thousands of state employees, taxpayers, public assistance recipients and others had OAKS administrators responded appropriately to a call they received from an assistant state auditor in late February 2007. The auditor warned that access to Social Security numbers and other sensitive data was readily available on a shared drive on the OAKS intranet. Four months later, state officials would learn that the stolen backup tape contained a massive quantity of data that had been stored on that drive.

Why? Nobody else fired, government worker or contractor. Why?
Given the complexity of the OAKS conversion and the enormous pressure nearly 300 state employees and contractors have been under to meet tight delivery schedules, it is clear that security and confidentiality were secondary concerns at OAKS.

Ahhh, I see, they were under time pressure, so all is forgiven.

So, for all future management types, project planning types, government desk-jockeys, contractors, and even interns, lets save you those thirty or so seconds you couldn't find to come up with a better backup strategy than this:

(1) It makes no sense to take the most recent back-up tape home, or even off-site. It DOES make sense to have back-ups off site, but consider how you are likely to use them... The most likely uses for back-up tapes at all are: Software failure resulting in lost or corruption of data; human error resulting in same; hard drive failure; total system failure (in roughly that order of likelihood). In all such cases you are going to want to have a back-up tape on-site, not off-site.

(2) When would you be most likely to need an off-site tape? Well, I'm thinking that would be only in the event that the site (you know, the place where your computers are) is destroyed or unavailable for some reason. Hurricane Katrina comes to mind. Although in that case, having someone you work with take the tapes home and leave them on their TV set, or in their car, or anywhere else they are likely to leave them wouldn't be any better than just leaving them on the top of a bookshelf somewhere in your data center. Next 911 comes to mind, but there too, you wouldn't want them nearby, just laying around. Oh, and by the way you would need to arrange for an alternate facility to take such a tape (you know, for the "restore" part of the "back-up" plan). And if you didn't have time to think of your plan as far as where to take the tapes, it's really, REALLY hard to imagine that you even have an alternate site in mind, much less that you have made arrangements to use it on a moments notice. Weren't planning to run the whole system on your son's Playstation were you? When your primary site becomes unavailable, nobody is going to expect you to have everything running again the same day, even if such a thing was remotely possible (even if you had planned for such an eventuality). So what would it matter if your backup were a day old, or a week old? And don't tell me you only have ONE set of back-up tapes. You do daily back-up right? And Weeklies? Throw in some incremental tapes for times when they will do? No? Maybe you need to find an intern to make a back-up strategy for yourselves.

Really, you people are an embarrassment to your profession. The sooner you retire or resign the better. Maybe higher ups in governments, both state and federal should help the process along a bit. A bit more than firing an intern that is.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.[Is53:6]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Judge: Gov't To Pay For Wrongful Convictions -- Courant.com

"BOSTON - A federal judge today ordered the government to pay $101.7 million in the case of four men who spent decades in prison for a 1965 murder after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence to protect an informant."

Obviously we also need to impeach (retroactively) every President since Eisenhower. (Hey, I'm just trying to fit in with mainstream media pop-political thinking!)

Sand, sun and RFID?: The high-tech, networked beach is coming soon | NetworkWorld.com Community

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meet Mrs. Macbeach

And LOOK!:

The power outage in SF has turned me into a woman!

A rather attractive sort-of oriental woman at that (if you ignore the goatee in non-matching blond).

Maybe this decaying infrastructure thing isn't all bad.

Barcelona Struggles on Day 2 of Blackout

"The blackout began Monday morning, hitting public transport, hospitals, homes and businesses, affecting 350,000 customers in all. Power company Fecsa-Endesa said 80,000 customers were still without power Tuesday, but hoped to get 50,000 of them back up soon.

Firefighters reported a flood of calls from people stuck in elevators, and police officers were sent to major intersections to direct traffic."

Terrorism? or just incompetence?

At least 20,000 without power in downtown S.F.

"Brian Swanson, a spokesman for the utility, said outages have been reported throughout downtown and along the Embarcadero, including at PG&E's office on Beale Street near the Ferry Building. It was unclear initially how many customers who lost power remained without it for a sustained period.

PG&E officials said they did not know why power had gone out."

Oh, that's comforting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Second Life is trying to get rid of the nasties - Scobleizer

... and Scoble tries to free the stick from his craw ...

@24: You nailed it. (Even though your Vegas analogy seems to have escaped Robert's grasp.)

But don’t forget this is a long standing vendetta for Robert who isn’t so much interested in being a part of a community such as SL. He wants to be treated as a VIP journalist who is above the rules that others have to follow.

SL is a labor of love for the people who work there as well as many of its users. It’s a small company, and unlike Microsoft, potentially vulnerable to a media bully. I think nothing would please Robert more than hearing of a financial setback to SL that could be attributed to these all too regular pot-shots.

While I’m sure that all the decisions made regarding SL aren’t perfect, and I’ve criticized the bandwidth issues since the program’s inception, I also know that the people involved are not making these decisions in a vacuum. They have been involved and studied many similar programs that have gone before and are attempting to improve on limitations (like static content) that those programs still have.

SL was started on the premise that it would only perform well on computers 5 or 10 years out, and it’s getting there. It was promised to work on a variety of platforms and (finally) I can use it as well on Linux as I could on Windows or OS X. That last change took two years longer than they thought it would. I forgave them. If I were Robert, I’d be throwing eggs at their windows for eternity.

I also know that the economic system of the program was changed many times before it reached relative stability, and I’m quite sure that many other aspects will look very different in another 5 years. Child users were NEVER a priority for the company during the early years. In fact I seem to remember them saying they would NEVER allow children users. The kids grid was only added long after (in Internet time) the adult nature of the main grid had established itself. Unlike the economy, this is not a parameter you can tinker with on a weekly basis. Whatever they come up with next in this area, whether an improvement or a step backward, will have to be stuck with for a good long time. I don’t blame them for proceeding with caution.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Microsoft Watch - - Google Is All About Information

"The Internet is Microsoft's big problem, and it's growing larger as Google exercises more control over information access. But Google's efforts appear like control because informational utility increases so dramatically. Like the PC made information available to more people, so does the Internet. The promise: access anytime, anywhere and on anything. Google has greatly extended informational utility through its success delivering meaningful search. Suddenly, there are many new avenues to informational repositories that aren't locked to Microsoft technologies or file formats."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Slashdot | Open Library Goes Online With Public Domain Books

From one of the articles:
With the backing of some of the groups opposed to the Google Library project, the Open Content Alliance should experience smooth sailing.

In other words, the group trying to tie up Google in the courts is off doing something very similar on it's own. Typical outcomes for such efforts is to plod along offering competition to the product being litigated and in the process try to make the venture unprofitable for the target organization. Once case is settle out of court (or in) competing product is dropped like a hot potato.

Why would ANYONE trust Yahoo, MSN, HP or Adobe with content of any kind?

I fail to see what is wrong with the Google approach: I can search on content with strings. If the found content is not under copyright I have full access to it right away. If the found content is still under copyright I can at least verify that it actually covers the topic I'm interested in (as opposed to just containing a word or two in the glossary) and I can then procede to order the book, go to my public library, or whatever I need to do to get the information.

I love Project Gutenberg and the like, but considering the players involved this thing stinks to high heaven.

Of course Google could just make it easy on themselves and pull the plug on their efforts right now. Let these bandwagoneers do the heavy lifting and just provide searches on it all (which they are likely to do in any event).

My guess is though that this group will disband about a day after Google stops scanning.

We WILL get fooled again!

Miami Condo Glut Pushes Florida's Economy to Brink of Recession

In the 1970s, when condos were a new product, Florida developers built 500,000 units and prices fell 50 percent, said Brad Hunter of MetroStudy, a research firm in West Palm Beach.

"The difference is, back then they were two-story condo buildings that had $50,000 units,'' Hunter said. ``Nowadays they are $700,000 units in 20-story buildings. Instead of building too much stuff that people could afford like we did then, this time we built too much stuff that people can't afford."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Zonbu: Green doesn't have to make you Blue!

Yet another appliance PC for the masses. This one about as "green" as you can get.

They all seem to fail though, even though most people I help with their computers would be much better off with something like this.

Only thing I don't like about this one is the monthly (or annual) pricing. I'd like to have the option of just owning the machine outright, just in case, you know, they go under.

My hope though is that some people get rich off of this. Leading to lots of copy-cats with a variety of options.

Dell: So Sorry

"On its corporate bog, Direct2Dell.com Dell said that it was a 'simple oversight' and the machines should be $50 less than a version of the Inspiron 1420 computer with Voleware on board."

Thousands turn out for opening day of new Tacoma Narrows bridge

"While most of the engineering and design for the new bridge was handled in the United States by New York-based Parson's Transportation Group, the detailed engineering and fieldwork and all the spinning and cable-wrapping equipment used on the bridge were provided by NSKB, a joint venture between the Japanese construction giants Nippon Steel Corp. and Kawada Industries Inc."

IE, we didn't do much other than provide a place to put the darned thing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

'Made in China' - WSJ.com

"Increased consumer activism is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough to guarantee safer products. The moral of this story is that Chinese businesses do not operate outside of their larger political culture. Until China addresses the root causes of these widespread unethical practices, the lives of its people -- and those of its trading partners -- will remain at risk."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Intel, `$100 Laptop' Project Make Peace - Forbes.com

"But Intel has been an obstacle. Its chairman, Craig Barrett, derided the 'XO' machine from One Laptop Per Child as a mere 'gadget.' And Intel recently began selling its own child-focused Classmate PC, which is a more conventional machine than the radically rethought XO computers."

Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright

From Slashdot.

Monday, July 09, 2007

ScienceDaily: Team Builds Viruses To Combat Harmful 'Biofilms'

Oh boy.

Interesting spectrum of responses at Slashdot (where I got this) from "MIT scientists never make mistakes" to "the end is near". I guess I tend toward the latter (it's an age thing).

What's to keep these things from running amok? (I know they can't jump phylum, etc.) And with this type of research becoming more commonplace (which is pretty much inevitable) what are our chances of keeping the science from being misused?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Microsoft Tries to Spit Out the GPLv3 Hook

Nothing like a nice fishing metaphor.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

23 staffers call for removal of hurricane center chief

From the article:
"Opposition to National Hurricane Center director Bill Proenza grew to a full-blown mutiny late today when 23 staffers signed a petition calling for his ouster."

Now, restoring my faith in the public's common sense:

"Fire the the knuckleheads that signed the petition to fire this fine gentleman. Proenza has firm views on how his ship should be run and because he's not like every other crony before him, everyone is up in arms! He's probably calling out every public servant working under him in the weather center who is talking on their cell phone, playing online hold'em, taking 2 hour lunch, using public vehicles for personal use, etc. All these slacking public servants better watch out, because the public is AWARE of what you're supposed to be doing-so grab a weapon and stand guard. WE COUNT ON YOU AND PAY YOU GOOD MONEY FOR YOUR CUSHY JOBS!"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Paul Buchheit, the Man Behind Gmail

Mr. Buchheit said he started working on Gmail after observing that other email programs were getting worse, not better. Microsoft's Mr. Doerr said that at his company, Gmail was a thunderbolt. "You guys woke us up," he told Mr. Buchheit. Yahoo's Mr. Diamond, then at a startup with its own hot, new email program, [OddPost, now known as Yahoo Mail Beta] said Gmail was the final impetus that Yahoo needed to buy his company.

Mr. Buchheit responded with a victory lap. "We were trying to make the email experience better for our users," he said. "We ended up making it better for yours, too."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Slashdot: Windows Loses Ground With Developers

Heat on contractors gets hotter

"The Washington Post also unveiled an investigation into a Homeland Security Department contract with Booz Allen Hamilton that grew from an original price tag of $2 million to $124 million. The work was from the early days of the formation of the department when it had little to no infrastructure, particularly in its procurement shop."

Monday, July 02, 2007

Official Google Blog: All aboard

"We're pleased to announce that we have acquired GrandCentral Communications, a company that provides services for managing your voice communications. GrandCentral is an innovative service that lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed from the web. We think GrandCentral's technology fits well into Google's efforts to provide services that enhance the collaborative exchange of information between our users. "

DailyTech - Linus Torvalds on Core 2 Duo Errata: "Totally Insignificant"

“Yeah, x86 errata get more attention,' said Torvalds. 'But those things are pretty damn well tested. Better than most.”