Friday, December 30, 2005

D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter

My new Sony Ericsson w600i cell phone has bluetooth. So I bought the D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter and it works great. My only concern is that it is so small (my son said it looked like a tooth) that it might be easily misplace. $20 after rebates.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

10 Good Books of 2005

Here are ten good books I read in 2005.

  1. Shaping Things. Bruce Sterling has a wide view. He looks at what can be given where we already are. I’m about to read this book another time and will probably refer to the  book, Laws of Form, this time through. This book is about design and what things are becoming. Highly recommended to anyone interested in considering the shape of the future. 
  2. DHTML Utopia Modern Web Design Using JavaScript & DOM. AJAX was the dominant new "technology" in 2005 and this book was the first to really cover it with great examples and clear explanations. When I first saw Gmail, I knew we were looking at a new way of “doing business” on the web with JavaScript. This makes it accessible to any JavaScript coder.
  3. Who Was Marshall McLuhan: Exploring a Mosaic of Impressions. I order almost any book on Marshall McLuhan and many rehash old material. Nevitt was a co-author and friend of McLuhan and this was a great read and very helpful on my “McLuhan’s Laws of Media” web site that I’m working on.
  4. Jack Trout on Strategy. “Positioning” is one of my favorite books and Jack Trout co-author it. In previous years I had been reading a lot of Al Ries, the other co-author, so it was great to read this other brilliant marketing thinker.
  5. Programming Ruby: The Pragmatic Programmers' Guide. Some may consider Ruby as the “technology” of 2005. This is the introduction to this object oriented language that I believe gain a major presence. This is where my web server is going.
  6. The Ten Faces of Innovation : IDEO's Strategies for Defeating the Devil's Advocate and Driving Creativity Throughout Your Organization. For more than two decades I’ve been reading business books. I’ve learned not to believe that they are a cure-all. Design is also important to me. So I’m intrigued by the entire D-school movement and innovation in business. This book makes me think a different way and therefore gives rise to new ideas. I’m enjoying a slow reading of it.
  7. Head First Design Patterns. New programming methods give us new ways of logically thinking. Now more than two years old, it is still good and a very fun read for what could be very dry subject. I’ve got a lot more to absorb.
  8. Home By Design. Sarah Susanka is better known for Not So Big House. She, like many, were influenced by Pattern Language. While this book is great inspiration, I’m still partial to Patterns of Home by Jacobson, Silverstein and Winslow which covers broader principles. Helpful in my home re-design.
  9. The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations. Ries and Trout have convinced me that PR is often more important than advertising especially for a new venture or brand. This is my start at educating myself. Interesting history but uncertain of usefulness to this century. I need more education to judge this book.
  10. A Theory of Fun for Game Design. I’ve always liked computer games. I’ve sold more titles than anyone else in the 80’s and 90’s from my stores. And I wrote a few. Koster’s book is a great history of computer games, good design theory and good fun!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Non-profits and Open Source

David Weinberger writes that “the most powerful institutions in our society don’t like the Net much.” He sees hope that seven American univerisites will be making their software freely available. I was thinking that non-profits, especially unions, should consider the same.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Math of Sudoku

Added a section to my Sudoku Lens on Squidoo. This links to articles on the Math of Sudoku. Here’s the introduction I wrote:

No arithmetic is required to solve Sudoku. You don't add or multiple the numbers. In fact the numbers could just as well be hamsters or any other nine symbols.

The logic of Sudoku is mathematics. For example, there are computer programs to solve and to create Sudoku. So it is now the subject of a large number of papers. This is not the definitive list but a place to start if you want to explore Sudoku in more depth.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Comment on my Soduku Squidoo

As the creator of the Sudoku lens, let me tell you my experience.

I've now built four different lenses on Squidoo. I started not knowing what to expect with no particular business purpose. My first lens was on Marshall McLuhan, former patron saint of Wired. I didn't expect this to be popular, but thought it might be useful for my work-in-progress on McLuhan's Laws of Media. At first it was a way to publicly organize my research. This was rather static, or so I thought.

My Sudoku lens was built with a more public audience in mind. I had been working on a Sudoku site www.allsudoku.com and had found some sites and feeds that really did not fit on my site. It also gave me a chance to see how my site could be used to supply content to Squidoo. (This is where I think the web is going: subscribing not surfing pages.) In particular I knew several good Sudoku game feeds.

I then built a Lens on Christmas Ales and Beers. I have a vintage collection and was interested in exploring what was on the web. So as I surfed I put together the lens. I also used it to test the format of lenses.

SURPRISES

First, I was very surprised that my Sudoku lens was in the tip 10. It is a fun ride.

Second, I'm surprised at how often I go back to my lenses to read them and update them. The lens itself becomes a research tool for updating the lens.

There is a lot unknown about Squidoo. Improvements will be made as will mistakes. In summary, like blogs Squidoo is a very interesting new web format worth exploring for personal and business use.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Squidoo Out of Beta

I’ve been working with the beta version of Squidoo. This is an interesting site pushing a concept of Seth Godin. It is a cross between blogs and about.com. So far there are some very interesting “Lens” (Topics) that have been created. I just sent on about diabetes to my family tonight, for example.

Time to brag though. My Sudoku Lens is rated as the 9th most popular. A few links to my site allsudoku.com and others.

Now if only they’d had comments and trackbacks, then maybe the site would be complete.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Future of Media

A good look forward of RSS as a media. Just as the first TV shows were radio shows, the first RSS feeds were web sites (or blogs). RSS is microcontent and the result is mashups. This post looks at that future [future is here again]. I’ll read this post again.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Spinnaker Software

It was so cool reading about Spinnaker Software again. Seth Goodwin’s first ad was for their product.

Flocked

Been trying new Flock browser which is in beta. Very nice "social" or web 2.0 functions. It has a "river" RSS aggregator like Dave Winer has been talking about for years. Not sure if I like that it pings RSS servers every hour though. I was not able to get the blogging feature to work with my blog, but it is an early beta. The sudoku games from the RSS feed at All.Sudoku.com worked fine.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sudoku RSS Feed

Much of my spare time is still devoted to AllSudoku.com. There is now a daily Sudoku RSS feed which gives you a new game every day with links to play it online or print it. I’m having a little trouble with the print it feature right now, but hopefully I’ll have a solution soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Justice John Roberts

With the new Chief Justice now sworn in, it is time to blog a bit. It is surprising the connections I have with this stranger. First, we both went to the same very small high school in Indiana. LaLumiere School at that time was boys-only with less than 100 students. But I graduated four years before, so I never meet him. But I was taught by the same teachers he was, played on the same sports fields, went to the same classrooms, ate and servered in the same dining room, and lived in the same dorms. These were good teachers. My brother who is two years younger did attend school during the same time. And my sister dated a guy in Robert's class.

Another connection is that we both grew up on the shore of Lake Michigan. His small town was east of Michigan City and mine was west of Michigan City. So we both took long bus rides to our Catholic grade schools. I don't know if he was a sailor. I was not a golfer. He still practices in the Catholic faith, I don't.

And finally, we both worked summers at the Bethlehem Steel mill in Burns Harbor. This was a strong union environment where high school graduates made good money. Beer only came in steel cans. Shop stewards were respected. Our fathers were management. And the Lake Michigan shore line became industrial.

I don't know how much any of this influences John Roberts. Living on the shores of Lake Michigan was a great place to grow up. And the Catholic laymen of LaLumiere were good, ethical people. I don't know if I'll support his views from the bench, but I believe he is a safe, ethical and intelligent person to have on the court.

Hopefully I'll get to meet him one day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

War of the Web: Revenge of the Dynamics

Excellent editorial on Ajaxian.com about programming language, frameworks and generators with a look into the future. CGI/Perl, Ruby on Rail, to JavaScript. Work a read. I’d add that the new Macromedia/Adobe not only has Flash and .pdf, they also have thousands of people using Dreamweaver.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Email Sudoku to a Friend

Just release a new verision of AllSudoku.com where you can email a game in progress to a friend.  It sends it as an HTML email showing the board as well as provides a link to go to AllSudoku.com and play the game.

 6          2      7          4 
         8              2         
 2  7          1          5  9 
         7  6      5  4         
                 4                 
         3  1      8  9         
 4  5          3          9  6 
         6              5         
 3          4      6          1 

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sudoku at allsuoku.com

While I’ve been using my laptop more than ever, I’ve not posted much to my blog lately. Since early July I’ve been working on JavaScript function to provide a tools for playing Sudoku. I’ve put them all together at  AllSudoku.com: Sudoku Tools for Beginner or Obsessed.

The site is still in early beta, but I’d appreciate any comments you have. I’ll post notices where when I update the site. Thanks.  

On the Path Again

As this is posted, hopefully I’m somewhere on the bike path again. I’ve long wanted to make the trip from Washington DC to Cumberland, Maryland, on the C&O Bike Path. We’ve planned using the C&O Bike Guide. Thanks! So just before my son is off to college, we are doing a three day father-son trip. Now this should be a vacation to remember.

Mainstream Media: Impact of Air America Radio

It is hard to separate the rise of political bloggers and Air America Radio. It is a coevolution. But it was Air America Radio – so called Liberal Radio – that drew the fire of right wing radio commentators like Rush and Sean. Commentators would even go so far as to say that it would never find an audience. We now know that prediction, or hope, was wrong.

So we now have mainstream media. By staking out the niche of Liberal media, Air America Radio, has changed the vocabulary of all opinion media (bloggers and talk radio) on the left and right to talk about mainstream media. The New York Time, Washington Post and TV networks are considered mainstream media and no longer the liberal media.

This reposition of journalistic institution is a very good thing. We don’t need news outlets being slandered by a label. We still need the watch how they behave which is easy to do by Googling “mainstream media” or looking in Blogdigger.

Gulf Coast, Not Just New Orleans: Bias in the Media

A good friend of mine and his family survived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His livelihood did not. We all know that this area that got the strongest impact of the hurricane. Yet, the media coverage is dominated by stories about New Orleans. And even then primarily about the city itself.

The bias of the media is a leading reason for the neglect of those areas outside New Orleans. TV depends on pictures and thus cameras. Getting the cameras with satellite uplinks with mobile power is expensive and thus there are not many crews from any one network. And sense reports tend to flock – for a variety of reasons – we are seeing primarily coverage from New Orleans. It has only been on Countdown that I’ve seen a long piece on the Coast.

However, on radio I’m hearing different coverage. I’m hearing stories from different parishes throughout Louisiana. I’m hearing rural stories. I’ve heard voices from Memphis. I’m getting coverage from where it is easy to get a microphone or telephone. The coverage is geographically different.

There is a bias in the media because of the technology. We’re seeing this in Katrina coverage and we must be aware that there is more to the story.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

RSS Extensions

A wiki to discuss RSS extensions. Since these extenstions tend to bring up more than technical discussions, it will be interesting to see how they handle those political discussions. Anyway, I’ll start working on documenting what NEA.org is doing with RSS entensions when I go back to work.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Blogs Really Are Unique

Contrary to David Coursey opinion, blogs are unique. They may become ubiquitous, but they are unique. And so are RSS feeds or subscriptions.

Blogs are unique for several reasons. First, the reverse chronological order of the postings with archives. This is contrary to most website though it may be like some columnists in newspapers. Second, it is open to anyone. While my blog is all over the place in issues, many serve a very small niche like a town or a technology or an idea. New blogs will rise as years go on. Third, you can subscribe to most blogs and read the content. News outlets generally only let you read a teaser.

Blogs are here to stay and are unique. And they won’t disappear. Magazines changed with the advent of television news, but they did not disappear. Too bad Mr. Coursey doesn’t know communications history better.

 

Monday, July 18, 2005

Post Article on Podcasting

Washington Post writes about podcasting today. “Podcasting, coined by joining the word "broadcasting" with the Apple iPod digital music player, is generally credited to former MTV video jockey Adam Curry and software developer Dave Winer, who created some of the key software and popularized the idea beginning last year. Subscriptions to podcasts are free to listeners.”

Friday, July 08, 2005

John Gibson (Fox News) Should Be Fired

“Fair” is the brand name Fox News uses. John Gibson’s hatred towards the French is unacceptable as Loic details. This is the type of nationalistic defamation that we are fighting in our War on Terror. This is certainly not fair, nor is it right.

The Truth: The Brand Name

What were the brand names that our forefathers used in drafting the Constitution? I pose the question as our nation positions itself for possibly two Supreme Court nominations and the continuation of the War on Terrorism.

I learned in school about our government through Patrick Henry and Daniel Webster because of their ability to debate and speak to issues. This is what is still taught on the yearly civics tests. However, every decade our nation moves away from rational discussion and into the marketing political process. Peace-Keepers, No Child Left Behind, War on Drugs, War on Terror, Liberals, Radical Religious Right, Red, Blue, Weapons of Mass Destruction, et. al. Presidential speeches are best known for brand names like Axis of Evil rather than leadership. The facts are hidden by the mosaic of political brand names spun in microcontent like blogs, political radio shows and televised news.

The truth is now The Truth – another brand name. Slogans, spin, tag lines, focus groups, talking heads, sound bite are now common words that our forefathers would not understand. Most people now understand that our civilization and culture is in now obsolesed by Corporate and Political Marketing. 

Let’s read about Freedom of the Press and All Men Are Created Equal, not just use the words.

 

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Marketplace Model Doesn't Always Work

Conservatives have an almost unwavering believe in “the marketplace.” While I agree that it works better than government regulation of businesses like trucking, I don’t believe that it is the best policy in several areas including health.

John Robb has been following global guerrillas and globalization for a while and his blog is excellent reading to counter the overly domestic US news media. He recently talked about Avian flu pandemic as another threat.

Robb pointed to the excellent article written by Sally O’Reilly as future blog posts in the midst of Avian flu pandemic during this upcoming winter . Full of facts (US vaccine capacity is one factory!) and links. It makes me think of buying a survival shack in the woods. This is a prime case where too much has been left to the marketplace and we need government.

Friday, July 01, 2005

NPR Covers Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Are they going to attack liberal arts as a college major next? CPB head secretly hired a consultant to monitor several shows on NPR. David Folken produced a radio story which is even better on the web because it includes Acrobat copies of the 58 page Overview along with other segments. So you can judge for yourself, not just take NPR’s word for it.

Bill Moyer on Al Franken show said it very well. You don’t get to the truth by having opposing talking heads spinning the story. You invite guest on to get to the truth – a journalist principle if I’ve ever heard one. So all this counting of liberal/conservative and pro/con Bush is not journalism but raw, ugly politics trying to corrupt the press.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

RSS and Attention

Nick Bradbury challenged readers to write about Attention. To boast a little, I’ve written about Attention before and think the article in Wired was one of the best pieces I’ve ever read there. So I’m taking up the challenge.

Steve Gillmor wrote this article in Znet “Waiting for Attention… or something like it”. This is xmling the Wired article meme, the best I can tell after a first read. So I’ll have to do more reading about attention.xml. Looks like there is something there.

My view is that attention is not just a matter of time. A thousand monkeys has something to do with it. Those thousand monkeys have the same amount of time to prduce what looks like quality. Attention is value added time. Thusthe  attention stream is knowledge.

Now this gets tricky. Celebrity is a product of attention. We have only so much attention to give. Apply some network theory and you get celibrity. So is celebrity.xml next? I believe we must study celibrity if we are to understand attention.

Obviously, lots more to read and study.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

We and Moyers Deserve Better

The conservative attack on the media continues. Bill Moyers has a two page "ad" in the Washington Post today. New York Times uncovered secret effort by chairman of PBS to have conservative watchdog monitor Moyers' show. This effort to control the media is ugly and the headlines are probably hidding even more abuses. Weren't we just talking about Watergate recently? This is scary stuff.

Monday, June 20, 2005

OPML

Getting more practice writing XSLT for OPML. Testing Dave Winer's OPML Editor and enjoying the company of a small group of testers. More will cove out at Gnomedex, which I can not attend.

Vacation and Broken Hard Drive

What a struggle it can be when the laptop hard drive crashes. Hours and hours trying to restore, looking for CDROMs, learning old software. Hope you don't know the experience, but that is what's happening. Now a few days at the beach.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Nixon Loyalists Tell All

In all the many articles I've read about the importance of Deep Throat recently, David Broder's piece in the Washington Post says it best. In reviewing the comments by Nixon loyalists Chuck Colson and Pat Buchannan, Brodeer points out we "can learn everything [we] need to know about the dangerous delusions of the Nixon era. The mind-set that created enemies lists, the blind loyalty to a deeply flawed individual, the twisting of historical fact to turn villains into heroes and heroes into villains - they are all there".

He also interviewed a much braver and more patriotic man than the Nixon loyalists. Elliot Richardson resigned rather than fire the Watergate special prosecutor. Richardson in reference to Mark Felt said, "But if you see the White House and the head of the FBI interfering with the investigation, what are you going to do?" Because Mark Felt was brave and care about his country, he became a whistle-blower.

"The republic was saved and the public was well served. That Colson and Buchanan still don't get it speaks volumes about them." And tells us what we need to remember about Watergate. Brave men like Felt ,Richardson and many others saved the republic.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The iPod market should make you think

The decline of US economic power continues and is examined by a series in Salon by Andrew Leonard. This is a look at the economy of the ipod which itself is a microcosm of globalization.

Critics are worried about trade deficits, job numbers, and even national defense. They are convinced the U.S. has sown the seeds of its own decline by shipping jobs and technological know-how to future super powers like India and China.

With every new startup having an Indian on the team, we should not be surprised that business is moving to East Asia. First steel. Now silicon. There is a global economic war going on and most people don't realize that the US is no longer the super power.

If you want more about waning US economic power, listen to the Marketplace Morning Report for June, 2005. 

Monday, May 30, 2005

Podcasting Device

Money was a concern, so iPod was delayed. Then I looked deeper at the limits of the iPod, so I started looking at other mp3 players. Decided that $100 and 1gig was the breakpoint. I think I found the one I'll get very soon: Rave-MP ARC2.5

Friday, May 27, 2005

More on XSLT for OPML: Harvesting OPML

I've was involved with Gateway for Education Materials (GEM) and their system spidered the web in a specialized way that they called harvesting. If various sites create OPML files of their RSS feeds, these could likewise be harvested to create a directory. I know that other places are already doing that, but this is a general idea that could be applied to other purposes beside RSS directories.

More on XSLT for OPML: Shopping Cart

My OPML Wizard idea just expanded. Say you had a large OPML file like Tod Miffin's directory of podcasts. Then you make it collapsible and expandable like good old outliners using Ajaxian coding. Finally you throw in another web meme, the shopping cart, so people can select the items they like. When they view their "shopping cart" they have their own, personalized OPML. Using this concept as with a directory of podcasts, you then have your own OPML directory of podcasts that you could import into your favorite RSS/Podcast reader/aggregator.

If you are having trouble imagining this, think of Gmail interface where you manipulate a list of podcasts instead of email.

Obvious my project for building a XSLT wizard just got very ambitious. And if I could get it working, it would be useful for any site that hosts more than one RSS feed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Curry vrs Winer and The Washington Post

Nearly everyday I walk by the Washington Post building. On the ground floor there is an exhibit area which among other things features distribution. Most of us think about the stories on washingtonpost.com not about distribution. But it takes an entire set of skills to make the Washington Post a success everyday. It is more than just witting stories.

The two guys that got podcasting to the critical mass for success had a falling out. It took both Winer and Curry to move it. This is not unlike many businesses where it takes a salesperson and a technology person. There are too many examples to list. Lot of discussion on the blogs about this falling out including this timeline post with comments.

Here's a viewpoint, actually two. What is a podcast? For some it is the show and for others it is the technology. Would Dawn and Drew Show exists without the the show? without RSS? We think what we work on is important because we commit ourselves to it. Usually it is only part of the process, like distribution of the Washington Post. Depends where you are coming from. You can see this bias in some of the bloggers taking sides.

Podcasting is the technology and the show. Credit both.

(Disclosures: I'm a tech/business guy. I've meet Dave a few times. See my Blogshares in Trade Secrets.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

XSLT for Public Radio Feeds and New Project

Tod Maffin maintains Public Radio Feeds and was looking for a way to easily convert his OPML file into HTML. So I wrote for him an XSLT file.

I really like how a simple XSLT file can produce a good HTML page. My XSLT file is less that page of code yet it produces many more lines of HTML for most OPML files.

I offered to do this for Tod for a bunch of reasons. First Dave Winner posted Tod's request. Second, XSLT sounded like the perfect solution and this gave me an opportunity to learn XSLT for OPML. I'm in the processing of learning more and more about OPML. Third, I'm working on a generic XSLT testing page. So Tod's project was a great way to test this project.

So all of this leads me to consider expanding the scope of my XSLT tester. RSS and OPML are two of the most common XML files available on the web. So I was thinking of building an XSLT wizard using JavaScript. You would pick a series of what amount to an HTML building block for each element (node) of a feed. This would build an XSLT file which would be run against any publicly accessible RSS or OPML file. When you like the result the wizard would email the XSLT file to you.

I've got so many other projects that I'm working on, I don't know when and if I'll get to this one. But I really like the idea because creating XSLT is now mostly hand coding with very little debugging help.

If you have an idea on how this project might work for you, let me know.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Schools Build a Showcase Nation

While I love my country, I've always had a problem with "the greatest country on earth." I'm proud of our Constitution, but I feel that the label gets in the way of us listening to the rest of the world. And we should listen to Finland's approach to education.

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bill Moyer Scares Us

Wise and respected, Bill Moyers deserves to be heard. Corporation of Public Broadcasting was "to be a firewall between political influence and program content." His address to the National Conference for Media Reform looks that troubled state of political journalism inside the Beltway. This was picked up by Salon.

I haven't yet read the entire piece. This is my reminder to take notice of what Bill Moyers has to say. Especially now that this administration is trying to blameshift its problems to Newsweek.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

High Home Prices Can Hurt

Housing inflation is going mainstream. USAToday's cover story was "Bubble or not, high home prices can hurt." There are good numbers in here, like "a typical existing home costs 3.5 times a median family income, compared with a longstanding 2.7 ratio."

And speculative buying and investment buying: "Home builders are trying to tamp down speculative buying by writing contract clauses allowing them to cancel a sale...."

"Based on past experience, ARMs should have only about 20% of market share." They have more than 33% of the market.

Article even uses the phrase: "real-estate-price inflation." This is a quote from Eric Wolfe of IBEW noting working migrating to affordable areas. Like I've been saying, where are the workers going to live? How are the jobs going to be filled?

There is no doubt that we are in scary economic times.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Wikipedia is Hitchhiker's Guide

In State Paul Boutin compared Hitchhiker's Guide to the Wikipedia. The comparison is right. Given the absurdity and humor in the books, I wonder if life with the Wikipedia is also like Hitchhiker's?

Chris Abraham says "Complete bullocks, IMHO."

Pro-UNION Site

I happened across an blog entry by a former boss and discovered a great pro-UNION site. There is actual discussion going on here and thoughtful papers. Wish I had more “feet on the ground” experience to add.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sloppiness as a Virtue

RSS is sloppy. So are web pages. Jon Udell wrote about Paving the Information Footpath and shows how things get done – sometimes sloppily.

Sports Teams' Names as the Truth

Are all of the players Los Angeles natives? If you really want honest representation then shouldn't the team that represents Los Angeles be players from Los Angeles?

There is an emotional "leap of faith" to follow any team. This is not a rational decision.

This comment was prompted by an blog entry for Worthwhile: Little White Lies, or Great Tales from the Marketing Front by Kevin Salwen in Creativity

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Housing Inflation Fueled by Home Equity

Pay $10,000 down payment three years ago, refinance twice and take out $80,000 with a $100,000 line of credit which "he might use it to buy an investment property." Margaret Webb Pressler wrote It's on the House in the Washington Post about how the "rules" of home equity have changed with the boom in real estate price. Plenty of information to show how housing inflation is bubbling.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Structured Blogging

I really don't think this site is about Structured Blogging as much as it is about metadata and archiving RSS feeds. I'll have to look at the code examples some more but it looks close to what I've been doing with HEMS.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Master Prognosticators

Not just a prognosticator of the Bucknell win, but writer of a great story: Stewart Mandel. Thanks, Judy.

Ray Bucknell, Ray for the Orange and the Blue

Bucknell vrs. Wisconsin 2005

'Ray Bucknell, 'Ray Bucknell,
'Ray for the Orange and the Blue!
'Ray, 'Ray, 'Ray, 'Ray,
'Ray for the Orange and the Blue!
   - Bucknell Fight Song

Since Bucknell won its first NCAA Basketball Game and since they'll be playing Wisconsin tomorrow, here is some background reading for you.

First, this is a very short piece that appeared in the Bucknell Alumni newsletter by John Feinstein, the well known sports writer. This is about the last game played at Davis Gym where I took boxing in the upper "rafters" and saw the Grateful Dead, et. al. The kicker is who the new Stadium is named after.
The Sweetest Place

Apparently the Bucknell team is not a fluke given not only their conference championship but also this game from earlier in the season. Think you'll enjoy this Feinstein article from the Washington Post. Jan 8, 2005.
Bucknell, for One, Offers No Guarantees

Then, if you missed watching the game, like I did, here is the Sports Illustrated reap. "Expect a slugfest in the second round against Wisconsin, another defensive minded club. But if Bucknell plays like it did Friday night, the slipper may be hard to pull off." I'll watch and see if Wisconsin can pull it off tomorrow at 4:50 Eastern.
One Shining Moment 

One final note for you Duke and North Carolina fans who love tradition. "Bucknell began playing basketball in 1896, joining Yale and Minnesota as the nation's oldest Division I programs." - New York Times.

Monday, March 14, 2005

start.com

I expected to hear the Rolling Stones when I tried this test site of Microsoft. This is a RSS aggregator - at least the start of one. It will get better and we'll see Yahoo! and Google move into this space more. But you might want to take a look at what can be done. I like the displan so far, but adding feeds needs to be easier.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Review of 2001

I've always like epinions both in concept and execution. However, I've only written on review - all negative - so far. So to start tipping the scales, I wrote a review of 2001 - the best movie ever.

 

Best film every made. You should see this film, but only under the right conditions. This is two generations talking.

This film was meant to be watched in a theater where you could take an intermission. It was not cut with the idea that you'd watch it at home on TV. With either some work or the right large screen setting this might now work at home, but see it in a theater if you can.

I never wanted to see 2001 through a TV screen. I only wanted to see it projected on a screen. But I have seen it at least three times on TV. Once was without commercial interruption on TNT on New Year's Eve 2001 (and I was surprised a bigger hype was not in the air at that time). Two other times have been from DVD - which has no special features. These two times have been with my son, who is now a high school senior. During our last viewing, after complaining at several time during the movie about the slow pace at the end he asked, "What is the point?"

I explained that his question is the point. Nearly all other movies telegraph the point. They have a point of view. You can read the ending. Why should a movie be like a novel or other written story? Did you miss the chase scene and the running joke? Can't a movie be like a piece of art? Or a poem instead of a story? What is the point of most modern art?

My son now wants to show it in the theater at school.

Don't expect a movie. Throw out all of your experiences with other movies. Visit an art museum first. Then go to the theater to watch this masterpiece. Be amazed at how undated it is. Watch, don't worry about the written story.

Or in your home, work very hard to not be interrupted and to be patient as you are in a theater. Low lights to reduce distraction. Turn off all of the phones. Turn up the sound, please. Make it as much like a theater as possible. And when you are done watching, I'll hope you'll be convinced to watch it in a theater next time.

Enjoy the masterpiece. This is a special film that deserves your attention.

I don't know exactly how many times I've seen 2001, but I did once borrow the projector and the film after being the projectionist. Oh the images!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Larry, Moe, and Sergey

Steve Gillmor let Larry, Moe and Sergey have it. Think he is talking about replies like this from Google:

Thank you for your feedback regarding the AutoLink feature of the Google Toolbar 3.0 beta. AutoLink is a user-initiated feature of the Google Toolbar. AutoLink links are generated only when a Toolbar user clicks on the AutoLink button on his or her Toolbar. Links aren't automatically generated on a page, and a Toolbar user must click on the generated links in order to go to a linked page. AutoLink does not modify links that already exist on a page. Finally, Toolbar users choose whether they want to enable or disable this feature and when to use it.

We appreciate your taking the time to share your feedback about th AutoLink feature, and we'll keep it in mind as we work to improve our service.

Hope they don't decide my blog is evil because it is Anti-AutoLink.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Browser as Operating System

A walk on a cold day brings out the minimalist in me. So I was thinking "Why not the browser as operating system." This was after a long day on my laptop writing in my HEMS content management system which runs on a server on my machine. Browser and web server, what else do I need on my machine. I know some Linux consumer version were like this, but with the Google Maps and Gmail, it may soon be a reality. I would not have posted this but the recent move of Mark Lucovsky, an engineer of Windows at Microsoft to work for Google brought this to the front again. I really doubt the he and Google are working on an operating system in the traditional meaning. More like as described above. XML, the Browser and the network are a powerful hybrid of media.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Surfing the Laws of Media

I've started a new blog for details about a new web site/blog/community called Surfing the Laws of Media.

Google Should Have Guidelines

Dave Winer point out that Google has desktop software principles. Dave is right that Google owes us content modification guidelines.

Cory Doctorow responds to some of the posts about Google's AutoLink feature, calling it a "beloved butler." Something else to consider. In May, Google posted a set of software principles for desktop applications and spyware. It was a curious document, because at the time Google didn't have a desktop app. Six months later, of course, they did, desktop search. Today, Google could allay our concerns by producing similar guidelines for content modification to protect the integrity of the web. Of course such guidelines would make no difference unless Microsoft and Yahoo also agreed to them.

PS. Google, I won't download anything from you now because of this mess you've created. Where do I sign the petition?

Monday, February 28, 2005

"That No-So-Silent Sea" and more

The Edmund Carpenter appendix to Theall's book is available in pdf. Much more on Carpenter and his works is available at the virtual snow.

When Media Was Open

I think each medium has its Golden Age. I just bought Donald Theall's "The Virtual McLuhan" primarily because Edmund Carpenter wrote a very long appendix about the work he and McLuhan did at the University of Toronto and afterward. See if this passage has a ring to it.

For one brief moment, media were open, democratic. I recall another instance, this one personal. I discovered that the ancient Serpent Mound near Peterborough, though on government land, had been sub-divided. Tress had been cut. Bulldozzers stood ready. Officials ignored me. So I mounted a one-man media crusade. Officialdom closed ranks. On the last day I gambled. I was never certain, but I suspected a $3,000 bribe, at a low level. Higher-ups, I knew, feared the charge of cover-up. I called the provincial minister of Education. The moment I got through, I warned: "Destroy that mound and I'll wipe your fucking ass across every headline in the province." It worked, instantly. The place is now a park. I believe a plaque there honors those same officials.

I mention these two incidents to illustrate changes in media access. Today (in the U.S. at least), private citizens, unless they possess immense wealth, have little access to media. This wasn't true of Toronto in the 'fifties. Media were then open, competing, democratic. A remarkable moment. It didn't last. Power & profit got their act together. Form open market, media went to closed networks.
p 251-252

With several bloggers become regulars on television and the A-list position being firmed up, where are we now? Or with musicians on the radio?

John Robb is a must read.

John Robb continues to look at the hard reality of the world. It will make you interested in politics again even after the US Presidential Election.

WP.  All this pressure on Iran refuses to acknowledge Iran's trump card:  oil.  The oil market, for the first time in its history, is capacity constrained.  The reason:  Chinese demand growth and a loss of 1-2 m barrels a day from Iraq (due to global guerrillas) have changed the market dynamic.  In this new environment, any country with production capacity of more than 2 m barrels a day has the same power as the entirety of OPEC.  Iran has that power.  It could drive oil prices to $100 plus and subtract trillions from the global economy with a flip of a switch.  Our lack of an energy policy limits our options with Iran. 

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Housing Inflation: Bye-Bye Boom

Michael Kinsley's article Bye-Bye, Housing Boom make the case that the run up in housing prices can not be sustained. It also points out that if LA Time, NY Time and Washington Post all agree prices will go up, then troubles ahead. This goes along with the belief that you can tell you are in a bubble when there are not skeptics left.

Now let's start talking about the impact before and after.

Friday, February 18, 2005

tetradjive: The Laws of Media Tetrad Wizard

After months of talking and thinking about it, I produced the first draft of tetradjive: The Laws of Media Tetrad Wizard. This is the key component of a Laws of Media site that I'm working on. There is a some text to explain the Laws of Media. You'll also be able to surf through different linked tetrads and rate them. Then tetradjive is the key to allowing people to create their own tetrads or comment on other tetrads.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Housing Inflation: Habitat for Humanity Owners and Property Taxes

Washington Post and Examiner have recently had articles related to housing inflation. Today's Post article dealt with the problem Habitat for Humanity owners are having with rising property taxes Habitat for Humanity owners are having with rising property taxes. These are caused by the housing inflation.

Yesterday the Post Outlook ran Assess This: Why You Should Stop Whining and Learn to Love the Property Tax by David Runori who is having chat. So much of the recent anti-tax talk seems to like "throwing the baby out with the bath water." The problem is not property taxes but rather housing inflation. While I agree that property taxes are a good tax, I disagree that rising property values are "a good thing." Housing is not an investment like investing in the stock market. Everyone needs a place to call home, not everyone needs to invest in the stock market.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Good Union Stories

Regularly I hear a story about how a person was really helped out by their union. The other day I heard about a soldier who was called up to go to Iraq. His family was looking at a large loss of income for his wife and infant. His employer was going to do the minimum under the law and just hold his job. The union stepped in and made sure that his income did not drop and that he would be able to keep his family's home. The union, not management, came to the support of this soldier.

The recent blog conversations about , stories that the mainstream media misses and journalism got me thinking about this story. Also about moving this forward.

First, following Halley Suitt's recommendation on blog writing, this tells the union message with a story. This is a great pro-family story. An American story. Second, as Dave Winer says, blogs should cover what the mainstream media is missing.  These are what unions and their volunteers do for their members every day and the mainstream media does not cover it. Third, I heard this story, I did not see it reported as PressThink and my friends like to point out is important. I don't know all of the facts or even if this person really exists.

This story should be in Google, Feedster and Blogdigger if it is true. It should be reported with "all" of the facts. This would be the ideal world where the press reported all stories and spin was stopped by trained journalists.

So in this real world of blogs, talk radio and tabloids, how do we get close? We need more union locals blogging stories about their members. Locals are as close to the source as we can get and have a story to tell.

Calling all union bloggers!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Halley Suitt on writing4rss

At BBS 2005 Halley Suitt presented on writing blogs. She had a list of "laws" which Debbie Weil wrote up. (Not sure if Halley will blog about them or not.) Good stuff.

Also, I agree with Debbie that you don't need to write every day, especially for RSS.

Tag: 

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Writing for RSS (writing4rss)

I was reading Debbie Weil's BlogWrite and her many links to RSS and Blogs. Decided I needed a short piece on writing for (RSS) feeds.

People don't read web pages like they read newspapers. Likewise people don't read RSS feeds like they read web pages. All three require a different way to write.

Look at most home pages. Lots of blurbs about content you need to drill down to. Your eyes have to scan each blurb to get to the one that might be of interest. As writers, we understand this when we compose a page.

In the feed world, which includes blogs, we write one piece of content at a time instead of an entire page. This microcontent might be read in a blog, in a blog archive, in Bloglines, in FeedDemon on your desktop, in a Feedster or Blogdigger search, in a tag or sent in an email. You don't need to know all of these new "Googles", but you must recognize that you are writing microcontent and are no longer composing a web page. Many readers will never see  your corporate logo, your branding elements, your navigation, or your supporting content. For example, I don't know in what context you will read this.

People found your web page with Google. With RSS feeds they find and hopefully read your microcontent.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Do you work with a bunch of monkeys?

Everyone has bad days at work and wonder what they're doing there. The CareerBuilder of all the  SuperBowl ads were right on target. Clever and the cleverness relates to the services.

Scripting News Brunch

Had another great talk with Dave Winer at the Scripting News Brunch Scripting News Brunch in VA this morning. A real geek fest of us with day jobs and internet projects the rest of the time.

I was very interested in Dave's work on a new outliner. He offered no timetable so I'll just have to wait a while or go back to some antique outliners.

Towards the end of the brunch, talked turned to news reporters not being able to report on their parent companies. While this was generally a good conversation, and this is not a complaint or a remark about Dave's comments, we must be careful to respect professionals. A trained reporter has skills that the majority of bloggers don't have. The methods of fact checking, allowing comments prior to publishing and more are skills. Questioning a reporter's objectivity is too often a means to tear down the profession. More about this later.

Also some talk about a Maryland (?) blogger con. I'll keep listening for more on that.

Most people had interesting projects and I'll provide posts on each on in the coming days.

Thanks to Dave for hosting. Nice to meet everyone.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Big Three Under Reported

Housing Inflation, Super power China and Terrorism.

Maybe this is a guy thing. Or an engineer thing. For me, newspapers, news programs and news blogs should be reporting on the big threats to our society. You report so we can fix them. From my reading of the Washington Post, Express and Examiner; from my listening to NPR, WTOP, WMAL and Air America; from watching limited amounts of TV/Cable News, three important stories are relegated below everyday political spin news.

Housing Inflation. I'm not convinced that there is a housing bubble, but I certainly know there is inflation of housing prices across the US and in Europe. In the 80's we saw the devastation that monetary inflation caused and then took action to tame it. When monetary inflation started there was little alarm but the impact hit and became the top concern for a long time. The Federal Reserve is still fearful of monetary inflation.

Housing has much more inertia than money. You spend money every day but only buy a house every eight years on average. So is taking much longer for people to personally experience this problem. And regrettably it will take much longer to find a solution and the impact will be felt for a long, long time.

While the impacts and disruption of housing inflation are wide spread, I'll just mention one. How can anyone's kids afford to live in the same suburban town they grew up in? And if young adults are not living in the suburbs, who works in the retail stores in the suburbs? Obviously this prompts many, many more questions. The impact is local, national and worldwide.

Super Power China. The US promotes free trade as the alternative to violent nationalism. This has been our policy since World War Two, though some may argue. Regardless, you think we'd prepare ourselves for the "next war" because it looks like we've won the free trade issue.

I use the term "next war" because when we think of super powers we think of nukes. But in the next war, the super powers are not competing with us on the battlefield but in the global marketplace. China has become the other economic force in the world. Look at how they influence the price of oil. Look at their trade balance with us. Look at the cost they will have to reclaim their environment. They are the other Super Power. Are we prepared?

Terrorism. Sure the war on terror is front page news, but that coverage is looking at it through Viet Nam glasses. Global or network terrorism is fighting in the "free trade" world. Targets are rarely battleships but rather economic infrastructure. John Robb's Global Guerrillas blog is excellent coverage on the subject. Surprising that his perspective is not also covered by the mainstream press. We need more reporters working on this.

Washington DC Scripting News Geek Brunch

Going to try and be there at 11:00 am Sunday. Still looking for a there. Want to hear about Dave's outliner and listen to any discussion about reporting and blogging. Geek Brunch.

PRESSthink

I've taken Jay Rosen's RSS feed for a while. If you take a look at PRESSthink, it is not your usual blurb writing. His reports on the Blogging & Journalism Conference were excellent reporting. As he says in the intro, he believes in "the word press."

And I really like the design of the skin (the stuff around the blog entries).

Friday, February 04, 2005

Podcast Advertising on Public Radio's Marketplace

Podcasting has reached critical mass so quickly. Just woke up to Public Radio's Marketplace talking about advertising with podcasts and Heinekens' podcast. Not sure where you can listen to it yet. It is posted now. mp3

The Buck Keeps Going

Republicans have no problem saying one thing and doing another. The Bush administration says that accountability is important. But look at the bitter divided between the parties with the Rice and Gonzales confirmations. Apparently there were no mistakes in judgment in Iraq ("Mission Accomplished"). Otherwise the infamous Buck Would Have Stopped Here instead of keeping going by these nominations.

Were all a little poorer with these confirmations.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fifth Law of Media

There are four laws in McLuhan's Laws of Media and thus the tetrad. Here is a Fifth Law of Media - present in a blog.

What current medium does the new medium put on, or satirize?

Certainly worth exploring.

Medium is the Massage - Soundtrack

McLuhan's Medium is the Massage is both a book and album published in 1967. It was the first successful "multimedia" production that I'm aware of. While "multimedia" publishing (e.g., CDROM inside the book) is common now, it was unheard of 30 years ago. Both still stand up well IMHO.

Unlike previous books which were standard text, this book was a graphic explosion. It has been reprinted by Gingko Press. I found a sample page in an old issue of McLuhan Studies.

The album was also pioneering. Unlike Robert Frost reading his poems or a series of songs, each side was one long recording. The album is no longer available but I recent found the Medium is the Massage on mp3 files on ubuweb. I just listen to both (each side is a different mp3) for the first time in probably 20 years.

Repeat, Medium is the Massage album is on mp3!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Comments on Design and Laws of Media

I left this comment on Mind, Media and Society II. There was a post about Massive Change and design.

The process of design creates an artifact.

This is design as a verb and shows how it relates to the Laws of Media. It is also useful in the deconstruction of the artifact.

More often we use design as a noun. I think you can then say design is the artifact. McLuhan applied the Laws of Media to many different artifacts. So design really is everywhere. The depth of design, and thus artifacts, is detailed in David M. Levy's book, Scrolling Forward.

If design really is everywhere then the question becomes why we think (or feel) that brands such as Prada are design. Perhaps design tries to be invisible while brands try to be visible. So is this a ground figure?

(I'll have to think about a tetrad for brand.)

I was looking for Buckminster Fuller's definition of design but could not find it. But ran across this article by Bill Miller On Design.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Monopoly of Intelligence

The effort to create an intelligence czar has seemed wrong. Diversity brings the best results. Look at how GM beat Ford for years with competing divisions. Maybe it is now clearer why the Pentagon tried their best to derail intelligence reform because Rumsfeld had his own mini-CIA started according to the Washington Post.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Wrong Distinction: Form versus Function?

Design should be a field of study and I don't mean just graphics. I think there are basic principles of design in how we create and use any artifact. In my view this includes buildings, manufacturing, interior design, graphics and much more.

Recently I've wondered if the long debate about form versus function derailed design as a field of study. What if the distinction was not made between form versus function so that the energy that went into the debate had gone into building the field of study?

It would be interesting to write up a set of courses that would compose a major in Design. And then detail the required books for these courses.

Hotel Rwanda: Consequence of Distinction

Hotel Rwanda's setting is the slaughter of Tutsis minority by Hutu majority in Rwanda. The distinction of these people into tribes was a result of colonialism by the Belgians (pdf) though there is more history involved. The movie and the events it portrays make one wonder if the genocide was a result of a distinction. I don't believe that this shifts any blame to a previous generation but rather highlights the difficulty of living with distinctions.

 

Life's Distinctions

Life is more varied at the boundary. Wish I could cite where I first read this observation. It was talking about wildlife in the meadow and in the forest compared to on that boundary. The observation raises as many questions as it answers.

It is highly unlikely that I'll nail this topic in this post or in this blog. In college I first attempted to read "Laws of Form" which I believe proves this observation and probes the questions it raises. (This book was also definitive proof to me that higher levels of math and philosophy are the same.) But I'm still gathering experiences that will help me understand "Laws of Form". I'm rather sure that John Lilly recommend this book in one of his.

[Note: I have to laugh. I'm working nearly every day during my commute on a large personal web project about HTML forms and I have been searching for a brand name for the project. Laws of Form would have worked.]

Spencer-Brown's idea starts with distinction. It is by drawing a line that distinguish one thing from another. For example, it is easy to draw a distinction between blue and green. And we make a further distinction between blue-green and green-blue but this distinction is not as universally shared. Then throw in two other observations "a rose is a rose is a rose" and that Arctic natives have many more words for snow than we do. These are just some of the questions that distinctions raise, at least for me.

And my observation. I've been doing a lot of house construction lately where I've torn out an old 50's pink bathroom and I'm making the space into two bathrooms. To do this all myself I've had to read many different Home Depot and Lowes books on carpentry, plumbing, electrical and tiling. Like any book they draw distinctions for example, between installing a bathtub and a sink. Or tiling a floor or tiling a bath surround. But these books do a poor job when it comes to the transition between two projects. For example, I had to install both drywall and cement backerboard. The later for the bathtub and the former for the rest of the bathroom. Easy to read how to install both, but nowhere could I read about how to transition from one to the other. I did eventually get my answer on the web.

Which lead me to thinking about how much we miss by the distinctions we live with. We make some of these distinctions, our culture makes others and our technologies make others.

In many ways that is the purpose of this blog and the fun of life. To note the distinctions (the ground/figure) and the consequences  of drawing the distinction.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thinking in Blog Reverse

In setting up the architecture for XBletter I looking at it from a users perspective. Well usability, user-friendly, consumer, etc. are important, it is more important that the code be simple and elegant. The old form/function argument (which I must blog on in the future).

Shaking the user view, I started looking at the structure of a blog and RSS feed. The key is in the permalink. This is like the foundation upon which everything is built. So the foundation is an unlimited number of HTML pages which are harvested to create an RSS feed. In turn this RSS feed is the source for an XSLT which creates the home page, category pages, archive pages and newsletters. This architecture is independent of the filenames for each HTML page.

Now I'll start creating the modules that make all of this work.