Thursday, March 28, 2002

Has the web lost its stickyness? Rubbish! Riding into work today I picked up the dead tree version of The Times and found this article, by Lisa Guernsey, asking if the web has lost it's luster. Some, like Cool Site of the Day founder Glenn Davis, have lost their enthusiasm for the web. Davis says, stand back everyone, "The Web is old hat." ( The only old hat around here is the one on his head.) There are a lot of great things on the net and there continue to be more and more interesting uses discovered every day. Ever here of blogs or web services? (Yes that's right I said web services!). So what does this article site as examples of the golden days? The Spot, The Fishtank Cam, and the Coffee Cam. Holy mother of Jehosephat somebody get me a flamethrower! Are you kidding me? I wonder if Lisa Guernsey ever fires up a web browser. The web is not "old" hat. The web has changed and quite frankly the people that gather there are looking for more than just checking the level of a coffee pot at the University of Cambridge. Yes these things make us smile and it's fun to see these web toys pop up from time to time but for God's sake this is the most important technology to come around since the printing press. Why should we be satisfied in having a web filled with Potty Cams? Those were fun times. Yes I enjoyed my first 20 seconds at the dancing hamster site. But the web is definitly getting more interesting as more people get on line and begin to connect with each other. So stop diddling yourself with webtoys and surf around and make contact with the other people around here. That's what this is all about.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks..... -- Tom Petty
Some final thoughts on "The Future of Ideas"
The entertainment industry groups are scared shitless over the new ability of normal people to make exact, high fidelity, copies of content which they purchase. While we all have a right to fair use the industry sees us all as pirates wanting to pull down their businesses. To save their collective asses they will lobby the governement by throwing their money around to get the congress to pass the most obscene laws imaginable. We've got to stop them. Start at the EFF and figure out what you can do. Copyright law is out of control. The original framers of the U.S. Constitution had the idea that the country would suffer if innovation on old ideas could never occur because those old ideas were perpetually protected. They understood, over 200, years ago what our lawmakers seem completely incapable of seeing. Works of art and culture should not be perpetually protected by copyrights. Eventually they need to fall into the public domain to fuel the creativity of future generations. Mickey Mouse must someday be set free. Software and business process patents are probably evil. We should demand of the U.S. Patent office that they become more stringent when they change policies so that we are not stuck with bad regulations. If software patents are not going away then they should be severly limited in duration. Again innovation and economic growth are at risk. None of these battles is new. They are just the constant push and pull between corporations, the government, and the people and usually there seems to have been a decent balance struck in most cases. Now the political system is drunk with corporate money so the balance is shifting to wards companies that shortsightedly want to protect their meager profits in their existing businesses while they fail to understand that all of this change will only sprout new industries for them to grow on and prosper. If RCA had listened to studio execs when they invented video tape there wouldn't have been a home VHS market. There are other ways to maximize shareholder value.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Hey, you gotta admit sometimes you miss the guy... Bill and the boys...
Windows 95 in the Public Domain in 5 years? Windows 95 would be in the public domain in about 5 years if anyone listens to Lawrence Lessig. In The Future of Ideas he comes up with some possible remedies to our current disapearing commons crisis. One f the remedies is to limit software copyrights to 5 years, renewable for another 5 year term, after which the software, and source, falls into the public domain. You may think that's drastic but look at the reality. A law like this passed 10 years ago would basically be yeilding Windows 95 in 5 years. I'm not sure how much code reuse happens in Redmond but hey that's a very interesting prospect. Regardless of what you think of Microsoft, try to imagine of all of the knowledge locked up in a product like Win95. Think of the social benefit of that much code being released for teachers to use as examples in classes, for inventors to gain insight into another world previously hidden, for hackers to critique maybe even to the benefit of Microsoft. On the otherside what would the effect to Microsoft be if Win95 was released? I doubt they would be harmed financially. They are making money off next generation products that they've developed since the release of Win95. From a technology stand point do they lose anything? Probably not. Other companies, while not placing code in the public domain, have released their software as open source. The exposure of the source hasn't caused any harm. And you can't tell me Microsoft would be harmed by another company redistributing their own version of Windows 95 ten years after it's initial release. The more I think about it what a great move this would be for the software industry. To bad it will never happen.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

From the "Wake Up People" Dept. If you care about your rights you might want to check out this link at the EFF. Congress is considering passing laws that give the big media associations strong control over what features electronic manufacturers can give customers in new devices. This is about the MPAA and RIAA controling what you can hear and see by locking down the hardware you will buy to view and listen to Digital TV, DVDs, CDs, etc. Write your to your reps. and senators. I did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I heard a very disturbing story on the radio this morning related to this article about militant Sunni muslim groups targeting Shiite mulsim doctors as a reaction to Musharraf's clamp down on radical Islamic groups with link to terror organizations. I was horrified. What kind of people could do this sort of thing. Of course I shouldn't have been so shocked. It happened here and continues even today. It's scary when you look your enemy in the eyes and see your reflection.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Thoughs on "Crashing the Party" I finished Nader's Crashing the Party last week and Michael Moore's Stupid White Men the week before. I must say I was really surprised how these two books effected me on an emotional level. It's been a while since I've read something that actually made me want to go out and act. These two books really hit a nerve, or more accurately, awakened something that was asleep for a long time. I'm not sure if many can connect with what I'm saying but I can hardly think I'm unique. Crashing the Party really opened my eyes to the fact that we don't have to live with a political system that continues to offer the least of two evils. It's time for a change. I don't know if the Green Party is the way but there has to be a clear message sent to elected officials at all levels that the people demand more for their vote. Our votes count when they are cast in good conscience they are wasted when we vote to be with the winner or for the guy who has a chance at being elected. My vote was wasted on Al Gore when I should have been standing with Ralph Nader in 2000. The two party system died when the two parties started acting like each other. No one could tell the difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush during the election. That's why the results came out the way they did. It's time for a change. Now I'm not naive enough to think that one single vote is going to herald a new age of American politics with a viable third party choice available to all. No, I think I'm going to start smaller by getting in touch with what's going on in my town. That's the best place to start. Where better to connect with the process but in your own back yard. Maybe I'll make a difference. Maybe not. But at least I'll have a sense of what's going on and where my money is being spent.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

I'm sure David Deutsch author of The Fabric of Reality would have a field day with some of the current thoughts on net-space. I would recomend reading him if your interested in these kinds of notions. I'm going to go re-read him since Doc W. in an email reply brought up the notion of time as a place. i.e. like the past. I think even he thought the notion didn't quite fit but it did start to remind me of Deutsch's work on quantum mechanics, the multiverse theory of reality, and quantum computers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Space is the place...
AKMA, Doc W, et al, have been blogging on the notion of the net/web as a place. There are some interesting ideas floating around there (where exactly is the point). From my perspective you really need to consider that although the net appears or can be observed to be somewhere else it in fact is very tied to the physical world and to specific localities. e.g. If an overweight UNIX admin with plumbers butt bends over in the right aisle at my hosting facility in NJ and knocks over the system where my pages are served from my site is gone for the duration. Similarly it is not unheard of for sites to be brought down by a backhoe digging in the right (wrong) place. Granted it is very resilient to this kind of damage, but it just can't exist without this ligature to the world of servers and pipes. Sorry to be so concrete but this has led me to consider the following. If you want to talk about the web a place then where is it? The answer is that it's everywhere. It's all around us. Bits may be passing through your body right now encoded at 802.11b or as CDMA packets. Servers and clients are all over the world and in orbit above our heads. Sure the net stops where there is no electricity to drive the devices or where the cellular signal drops off to nothing but these are only minor technological limitations. This notion of the web as an omnipresent space fascinates me. Equally fascinating is that traveling within this space requires us to still obey very fundamental physical limitations not the least of which is the speed of light which, for the time being, no signal can travel beyond this limit.
This is not a very comforting article. Forget biological and chemical weapons. Super unleaded could be the weapon of choice for terrorists. Not far fetched when you think that a few years ago the weapon of choice was fertilizer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Has Disney Bought the Senate Commerce Committee?
I was reading in the Times that Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney was pleading before a "sympathetic" group of senators of the Commerce Committe to ask them to instituted laws to regulate the computing platforms of consumers to allow the entertainment industry complete control over what can be seen by whom. Eisner and other industry leaders told the committe there was little incentive to release their libraries in digital form because of piracy. Who is he kidding? The record industry is releasing CDs, music in digital form, and have made tons of money even when Napster usage was at its height. The movie industry is still making money while releasing DVDs. These industry execs are insane. I love it when you talk about regulating any industry and companies will moan about how they want the government out of business but when they need help, they come with their hats in hand begging the government for relief. What enraged me is that the senators were "sympathic". I mean are the senators on this committee out of thier minds? Then I did a few searches on www.opensecrets.org and found that Disney gave The honerable Senator Hollings $22,500.00 and that the TV/Entertainment sector gave him over $264,534.00. These figures are all for 2002. Anyone else thing our government is not for sale? Where is this country headed?

Monday, March 11, 2002

When my alarm went off this morning I sat at the edge of my bed for 10 minutes staring into the darkness. I didn't want to go to work today. The fact that it has been six months since the attack on the WTC was very much on my mind. Today would be a good time for someone who wanted to make a point to try another desperate action. Today would be another opportunity for outraged, immoral Davids to cast another stone at Goliath. What would it be this time I thought? All that kept running through my mind was a brilliant flash of light as a little sun materializes over Times Square from someone's suite case, the shockwave running down the length of Manhattan, everything is on fire, and then waiting for the sickness. Images like this haven't haunted me since I was a child when I though U.S. and Russian warheads would obliterate the world. But this morning I was just worried my little slice of existence would be set alight. I know it's far fetched but your head can be a scary place to be at 5:00am. So I got up, got dressed, fought the paralyzing fear, and came into work. Last night, like many people throughout the country, I watched 9|11. I'm not sure why but I wanted to see the event through someone else's eyes. I was very torn about watching the program, but after viewing it I'm glad I did. It told a very moving story about the first firemen on the scene, how they tried to change a hopeless situation and the aftermath. CBS did a great job presenting the video shot that day. It could have been very distasteful. I think they showed remarkable restraint and created a worthwhile program.
AOL switching to Mozilla (finally!) If the story is true mozilla-heads all over the world should rejoice and it could mean an explosion of support for my favorite browser. Linux is also under consideration as an OS of choice inside AOL but an AOL client for Linux is not part of the deal. Keep your fingers crossed people. It means a lot for folks suffering under the yoke of oppression that Microsoft calls an operating system.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

I'm blogging from my daughter's elementary school. I'm chaperoning her over night school camp. The theme revolved around African-American arts and there were some brilliant performances by various groups. I was blown away by five youngsters from the The New Jersey Jazz Institute These kids, ages ranging from 15-17, were astounding. They played a piece called Minority ( I couldn't catch the name of the guy that wrote it. ) Amazing. Their drummer who was the youngest of the bunch played better than most adult drummers I know. Anyway now it seems that all the kids are starting to give into their exhaustion. There all going down one by one like punch drunk fighters trying to stay in the ring one more round. But they're all going down. They're all starting that rhythmic kid snoring that is starting to make me drowsy. Thank goodness I'm in the school library and there are computers with internet connections. Ah my tax dollars at work. Enough fun. Time to try to catch a few zees before these kids start trying to roam the halls.

Friday, March 08, 2002

A few quickies Let's just say I had a lot to learn about flensing the screaming buddah. Are women really fit to be the President. I mean my wife get's really upset at what I think are the smallest things sometimes. I mean really upset. What would happen at Camp David if Putin forgot to put down the toilet seat? WWWIII? Save Internet Radio! I'm ready to march!

Thursday, March 07, 2002

I woke up today genuinely depressed about the situation in Israel and Palestine. PapaDoc blogged it today and provided some link to a very misguided soul trying to draw parallels to the Roman occupation of Judea. Very misguided, indeed. The analogy is flawed and the notion is uncivilized. The root of the problem is that both sides are unwilling to sit at a table and talk peace. I liked Mark Bowden's description of the mental condition of the Somali's with respect to their long running civil conflict, in Black Hawk Down. After speaking with Somali's of different factions he concludes that no one really wants peace. Each side only wants victory over the other. In my mind this applies to the conflict among the Israelis and the Paletinians. Either side can not win under the current situation. Their mindset is that each side wants victory. Israel can not hope to gain anything by continuing to brutalize the Palestinians. It's apparently even too much for the State Department. How can they possibly feel that more violence is the way to peace. Of couse we've given any state the green light if they claim they are fighting terrorism so I guess that was a semi-silly question. Still Israel stands to loose more and more support from its allies if all we see are images of them killing Palestinians. On the other side how can the Palestinians hope to gain anything by violently resisting the occupation? They have limited resources at best and they are facing a very determined adversary. This is not a foreign army they are repelling. This is not Israel's Viet Nam. The only thing the Palestinians can achieve is more senseless loss of life and increased marginalization due to their tactics. Suicide bombers do not play well on American TV nor are they a good use of young, motivated human beings. The Palestinians could only hope to widen the conflict which would be disasterous to the region. There is no way for them to win. So what can be done? In my opinion, both sides need to stop fighting now. Israel should retreat from the occupied territories. The Palestinians should cease their activities both in Palestine and in Israel. Short of that the Palesinians should go non-violent. It would send a message to the world that they really want peace and it would force Israel to stop their offensive. There could be no justification for Israel continuing to kill people who would lay down unarmed at the checkpoints. The Palestinians could really change a lot if they chose non-violence. With or without Arafat they must take the initiative and lay down their weapons. It is their best hope.
Google Bombing I started off the day pretty depressed. Then I happen to stumble upon this article on organized Google Bombing. What a trip. This renews my feelings that the net/web are well springs of nifty ideas and also will hopefully remain hot beds of subversion and culture hacking. Not only is the net capable of routing around damage but maybe it can be used as yet another tool to bend the sociopolitical scene to the will of the people. At least people and organizations can use it for more than just boosting their own names to the top of the list. Now all you have to do is to get organized. Just another tool for the revolution. Heh, Heh.....
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Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Allchin admits breaking laws and hoodwinking the courts! What makes me sick is that these guys admit to breaking the law and what do you think is going to happen? I'll bet you the 11 dollars I made off your Amazon purchases this month (Thanks, BTW) that nothing will happen. The DoJ will probably just let it slide. What's more outrageous is that the premise of the CNN article is a lie. Listen clearly. IE CAN BE REMOVED FROM WINDOWS! They just haven't tried doing it yet and they never will as long as the US DoJ rolls over on these issues. Thank God the States Attorneys General are going to continue this fight. Monkey Boy (Balmer) spreads more FUD on the entire issue that the State's case, if they win, would mean open season on Microsoft by their competitors as they demand "infinite numbers" of windows versions. More bluster and bombastic pronoucements from a co-conspirator. Ladies and gentlement listen again: WHAT'S GOOD FOR MICROSOFT IS NOT WHAT'S GOOD FOR AMERICA. I hope the States skewer Microsoft.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

BTW, my thoughs on IM stem from the notion that in my mind IM is just 1:1 chat. Since most IM systems now allow for users to create extemporaneous m-way chat/IM sessions. So my experience is different from Matrullo when he says that IM is 1:1 and linear.
Dr. Weinberger asks for some feedback on his IM notions. IM for me is more about crunching spacetime than anything. Since most of the people whom I work with are far flung and spread out at various accounts IM is a way for us to meet, fling ideas, banter and generally chit-chat without actually being there. Sad to say it is not perfect and can never replace a face to face meeting or elbow bending session at the local pub. However it does help us to maintain bonds that tend to weaken when everyone is busy concentrating on work and there is no watercooler to crowd around and decompress for a while.

Monday, March 04, 2002

We celebrated my daughter's 9th birthday this weekend. On Sunday my wife and I, mostly my wife, worked from 8:30am until about 5:00pm on preparing and hosting this shindig for 15 of her friends. It was an international theme so we made different snacks from all around the world and the kid's activities were all children's games from different countries. Tara organized and planned this event on her own. I was her helper starting Saturday when we went to get a few last minute items and when we started cooking and decorating on Sunday morning. My wife should do this for a living. She is truely creative and when it comes to parties of any sort she's the master (mistress?). Not in that Stepford Wife/Martha Stewart way either. She really dives in and is careful about what I sometimes think is the most mundane detail. But it comes out perfect because she pays attention to those details. She also runs these events. She explains the food, the activities, breaks up the eventual disputes over quantities of treats dished out, etc. I don't think a linebacker in the NFL has the energy to keep 15 eight to nine year old kids engaged for two and a half hours. But she does. I think it comes from the days when she taught Spanish and Italian to high school kids, another herculean feat. She is an absolutley amazing woman.

Friday, March 01, 2002

Fat Mouse Oh my God. I can hardly type I'm laughing so hard....
While this is no "work of staggering beauty" it still is very funny.
An Open Letter to Marek Grieve for now, but don't stop writing altogether. We were all disgusted by Perl's death. Not only because of the perpetrators but in a world that could let things like this happen to innocent people. Politicians, Terrorists, Journalists, we are all just people given to the darkest most vile id-monsters of human nature. However we are also capable of staggering beauty and sometimes deep compassion and understanding. So Grieve for now but don't let that grief go completely. Ball it up and drop it into that pot of creative juices and when the thing starts to seethe and erupt, get back to the damn keyboard and write, you madman. I'm a hack, a pretender, but your words gave me inspiration and laughter. It would be a shame if your voice was silenced forever by sadness. We need all the help we can get to sort out this life. Come on man. It's time to write again.
Go, RageBoy, go! I love the guy. How can Dvorak actually call his analysis of cluetrain critisism? Talk about delusion and drug use. I think Mr. D has been dipping into medicine bag.