There was a bomb scare in Boston today, the details are still sketchy, but on CNN they just said that the devices they discovered were part of a promotion for the Cartoon Network. And apparently a howto was published on Makezine.
If you work at CNN, Phil Torrone has more info on how this happened. Send him an email, pt at oreilly dot com, he's a friendly guy.
Telegraph: "There has mostly been silence from the big names, including 'superstar bloggers' such as Dave Winer and Robert Scoble."
The first time I've got a mention for saying nothing!?
There's a simple reason for me having nothing to say about Vista -- I don't know anything about it. All attempts to be included in their public relations program have been met with silence.
$500 million of marketing can't hide the fact that these days it's hard to find anyone who cares about Windows.
Today I'm going to learn something about Amazon S3 that I've been planning on learning for a bit of time.
It makes it possible to store static stuff up in Amazon space, instead of having to rent expensive server space, which I currently do. My server bills come to $1200 every month. I think I can get that down quite a bit, using Amazon, but first I have to figure out how this works.
1. I created a CNAME, pointing aws.scripting.com to s3.amazonaws.com. When I access this address, I get the error response, which is good, it's what I expected. Next, I'll create a bucket with the name aws.scripting.com, and put some files in it. There's still part of the puzzle I don't understand, which is what is to stop anyone else from creating a bucket with that name. How does S3 decide among several buckets with that name? (Right now there are none, so when I create one, that won't be a problem.)
2. I've created the bucket, and uploaded a bunch of files, including one called lincoln.jpg. I'm getting AccessDenied as the error code now, even though (I thought) I created the bucket with full read-write access.
3. I've got the bucket working, thanks for lots of great help in today's comments. Came across a Firefox add-on that makes it easy to browse and edit your S3 structure. It's almost an end-user thing (add a Godaddy account for domain mapping and you're there). Net-net, I couldn't use it to host scripting.com because there's no concept of a default file. Seems like such a small thing. However, I should be able to use it to offload a bunch of my static storage.
4:44PM: I'm moving over my first website to Amazon, an old static store, with early podcasts from the original crew, myself, Dawn & Drew and Adam Curry. We had big plans back then. I have a bunch of these sites, and as a result I should be able to retire one of my servers. Saving money, I hope.
Thomas, I don't want Flickr to do the dumb thing they're proposing to do, but I figure when they actually do it, and I no longer can get into my account, that's when I'll raise a stink. I wonder if they really thought this through, by the way. I have a Flickr account that somehow I created accidentally that's linked into my Yahoo account. How will we merge those two things? The old account is definitely the one I want to keep. In any case, the Flickr people are smart, and once they figure out how stupid this idea is, they won't actually do it. Count on it.
BTW, not only are they smart, but they're also nice! They won't screw this one up.
I wonder if anyone else has bought the $1.99 patch for Macs that enables 802.11n support. I just purchased it, and the order status page says "electronically delivered" but where was it electronically delivered? To me it feels like this is something I should have gotten through the software update mechanism, I'm not an accountant, but okay I paid the $1.99, now what? Any clues would be much appreciated.
Wes Felter offered a clue, there were no links in the email, but, on the Store website, the Your Account page has a section called Downloadable Software, and that's where a link to the download could be found.
Matt Mullenweg on Snap: "I think this is one feature where what the masses want and what geeks prefer diverges pretty heavily."
Fake Steve Jobs: "Well my friggin lawyers are advising me that I will have to shut down this scandalous old blog."
Freedom to Tinker: "Having long argued that customers can't be trusted with MP3s, the industry will have to ask the same customers to use MP3s responsibly."
This morning I explored the NetAudio feature of my new Denon receiver, and found more new interesting ideas, fully implemented. Had Apple done this first, we would all have raved about how they were reinventing home audio, what Denon is doing is that good, with the usual caveat that the user interface is at best workable and at worst -- slow and ugly. But it works, and that amazes me.
The first thing I did was visit the central website, radiodenon.com, enter the MAC address of the receiver, which I got from the attached devices page of my Netgear router. It needs to know the address because once a day the receiver checks with this website to see if I've updated my favorites, and the ID it uses is the MAC address. Then I browse through the directory, by geography, by format or by language, and added my usual favorites, WBUR, WNYC, KCRW, WJCT. And a few new ones, including Virgin Radio and the DNA Lounge. Now I'm going to wait 24 hours and come back and see if my receiver knows about it.
In the meantime, I found that there's a minimal directory available through the fractional horsepower HTTP server in the receiver itself. I navigated through its menus, and chose WBUR, my favorite Boston radio station. Now I feel like I'm at Berkman, living in Newton, and getting ready to dig some snow!
Your geeks are taking both of us for a ride.
I was subscribing to your feed, generally reading all your updates, and now I see the feed moved.
I was going to post a note saying that it would be better if you redirected to the new feed, but then I saw that your new feed isn't RSS, to which I ask -- why??
Do you want to lose subscribers?
Because that's what happened. I can't read your feed anymore Ted. I'll survive, but I will miss your posts.
You and I both have gray beards, and we knew each other when we were young lads. And that wasn't so long ago!
Isn't life too short to keep breaking things that work?
Your pal, Dave
I am working on a contract, so I'm sending back and forth lots of DOC format files, and this morning I noticed something nice, that works really well. I'm a Gmail user, and now there's a link when you're looking at an attachment that allows you to open it in their browser-based word processor. It's by far the most convenient of the three links, esp since I don't have a desktop word processor that reliably opens Word files. Since I'm so often critical of Google I thought it was important to say "Good job" when they do something that's nice for users.
Kampala Monitor: "Ugandan bloggers choose funky, strange names for their blogs."
Paul Boutin: "Good stories don't have to be true."
Scott Rosenberg wrote a lengthy profile of Charles Simonyi in this month's issue of Technology Review, a magazine edited by Jason Pontin. Pontin has a piece in today's NY Times that is eerily similar to the Rosenberg piece.
According to CNET, Microsoft is withdrawing the patent.
I thought I would get more pushback on the piece I wrote about Carter and American Jews. However, I did get an email from my father, and in the ensuing exchange I found that he had been updating his blog. I was subscribed to it, so it was a puzzle -- why had I not been getting the updates?
Probably has something to do with the feed being managed by Google, and they're pushing the envelope, changing syndication formats, and my aggregator isn't being maintained to keep in synch. So it seems to me that possibly Google has come between us. If so, bad Google.
So I'll let my father, Leon Winer, speak for himself on the Palestinians and Jews, Carter and Israel; without comment.
There's a new quote in the right margin, from a 2005 white paper written by Tim O'Reilly. It's one of the most accurate paragraphs on the origins of RSS, even though the chronology is a little wrong. The term "Really Simple Syndication" didn't come until 2002, and the confluence came in 1999, not 1997. But more importantly, the beginning moment for RSS is 1997, and RSS 0.91 was the result of the joining of two forks, which is a unique moment in the evolution of formats. Usually they splinter, they don't coalesce. 0.91 grew into 0.92 and then 2.0, which is the format most people use today.
I don't read Wikipedia pages on subjects that I'm close to, and I never go near my bio page, but sometimes I come across discussion about it in the blogosphere. Mark Bernstein says someone wants to delete my bio. Not sure that would be a good or bad thing.
Steven Levy is looking for the best tech writing of 2006.
Every week or so the crowd that's gathered around TechMeme goes crazy about something. Last week it was social networking and press releases and how some people get it and others don't (as in I get it and he doesn't). Do you care? So many do. Today it's something even more inane. I had a long talk with Gabe Rivera on Thurs night. Blogs are great, I said to Gabe, because they're not mail lists. The problem with TechMeme is that it drives blogs into becoming a mail list, where everyone feels compelled to comment on whatever inanity is driving the herd at the current moment. It doesn't much matter what the topic is, as long as you get heard (sorry for the pun). To which I say, bleh, that ain't what blogs are about senors and senoritas.
I haven't read Jimmy Carter's new book yet, but I have heard a few interviews with him on public radio, and I have read a bunch of stuff written about his book by people I respect, and I don't know what it is about Jews, but when it comes to Israel they lose all sense of perspective. Do they think the Palestinians are entitled to a point of view? Imagine for a moment if you were a Palestinian. Might the treatment you've received by Israel feel just a bit like apartheid?
I think Carter is doing us a service, giving us a chance to see things from another perspective, and it's so disappointing to see otherwise intelligent and thoughtful people, including at least one person I respect enormously, refuse to consider the possibility that Carter makes a valid point. How are we going to get to peace if we don't see things from everyone's point of view? Come on Phillip, give it another chance. If I had been at your party, it wouldn't have been unanimous.
This is something I don't agree with my parents about, either. When it comes to Israel all reasonableness goes out the window. I don't feel very good about this. I was raised to think Jews are smarter than everyone else, but when it comes to Israel, we're pretty damned thoughtless.
I don't understand identity conferences. I went to one yesterday, and sat down at three sessions, listened for a bit, then got up because I had no idea what they were talking about. Funny thing is I don't think most of the people at these events are technical, but they've invented a jargon that they use in fast-spoken sentences and I have no idea what the language means. Not saying they should change, but I can't get over the hurdle to figure out what if anything I can contribute.
Doc says they need a Dave Winer, but I don't think he understands that the reason I was able to make RSS 2.0 stick was that for a brief period I controlled all sides of the technology and could create consensus over a cup of coffee, with myself. I could have a conference in the morning, write the code in the afternoon, and ship it the next day. Seems there's no equivalent opportunity in identity, which was already a contentious, fractured and divided world, before the Internet even existed.
Which brings me to Phil Windley, a congenial fellow, I don't know him very well, but I know him well enough to shake hands and look him the eye and be glad to see him and see that he's glad to see me. We're about the same age, and I thought of similar minds, until the subject got around to Bush and the war in Iraq. Phil lives in Utah, and is very Republican and very different from me. Now what I'd like to do with our differences is have a conference about that, and balance it, one Berkeleyite to every Utahan. Let's spend a few days, in Utah first, skiing at Park City. Pair up, a congenial older lefty like me, and a congenial older righty like Phil. Ride up on the lifts together. Ski down groomed slopes at Deer Valley. Then we all have a buffet dinner every evening and compare notes. In 2007, in today's political climate, I think we could really get something done.
My new Denon receiver is really tied into Windows, but because it also has an HTTP interface, I can program it from my Mac laptop. That made me think how Apple benefits from the openness of others. Suppose Denon were like Apple, and made a closed box, then I would be pissed because I'd have to use my Sony laptop to control it, but I would use the Sony, even though I prefer to use the Mac. The idea of user choice isn't about good or bad, heaven or hell, it's really pragmatic. Being open creates opportunities for companies like Apple, it allows them to coexist with monopolies like Windows, to develop a superior product, even though another company has dominant market share. Maybe someday Apple will dominate, but that day will likely be a bad day for open interfaces because while Apple benefits from the openness of others, they themselves aren't willing to leave the door open for others.
A good acid test of openness. My software runs on Mac OS X. I'd like to run my software on my iPod. I can't. In my humble opinion, that's too damned bad, because I'd do some great stuff with it that Apple could copy, and make a market out of. It would not only be great if they opened it up, but if there were also economic incentives for me to pour my heart into their platform. Like Steve Jobs, I like to make money. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Whatever happened to that beautiful idea.
At dinner the other day we were talking about conferences and we got around to Gnomedex. I thought of something nice, it made me smile. Gnomedex is the only show that invites me to speak, year after year, without me having to ask. That says something special about Chris and Ponzi. I'm really not a bad guy, I bathe regularly, I listen when people talk, when I talk I try to give people something to think about. So I conclude that Ponzi and Chris aren't scared to ask the people who come to Gnomedex to do all that. Having realized that, I didn't think I should let it pass without thanking them. Thanks!!
On Thursday at the PaidContent mixer in SF, I met a guy, talking with Susan Mernit, who, in the past, there had been er ahem, difficulties with. I said hello, paid him a small compliment on something he had done since, and was surprised that he wanted to talk. We had a good back and forth, shared some ideas, and I offered my hand, saying, you know we've had some problems in the past, but I don't have a need to perpetuate that. He said me too. That made the whole evening worth it. It was a big noisy room, but not too bad. You could do some business there.
Observation on my new stereo -- it's the first time in 35 years that I've had a stereo that's good enough to sit and listen to and do nothing else. When I was a teen, I had a great (for the day) stereo, and young ears that could hear all the highs and lows. Now, I'm listening to a sound system that is so incredibly great you can feel the quality in your bones, even if my ears can't now grasp all the greatness. Quite unplanned, I find myself sitting here listening to the Beatles' White Album and it's so sweet. That the music is playing from a 160GB disk that I paid $99 for at Best Buy would have been hard for 16-year-old Dave to comprehend. He didn't even know what a byte was!
Insider Higher Ed: "While plenty of professors have complained about the lack of accuracy or completeness of [Wikipedia] entries, and some have discouraged or tried to bar students from using it, the history department at Middlebury College is trying to take a stronger, collective stand. It voted this month to bar students from citing the Web site as a source in papers or other academic work."
Interesting comment thread on Snap at Rafe Colburn.
Rob Safuto: "We agree! Snap is useless and annoying."
Is it just me or does it seem that the user generated content panel at Davos didn't have any users who generate content?
I'm at the mobile identity workshop today, and I led a discussion this morning about features that people want for an open podcast player device. The rules were anyone could blurt out any feature they wanted and I put them all on the list. (I'm not endorsing these ideas, or explaining them.)
TiVO features/last ten seconds
popup menu for categorization
lots of dials
real volume control
See you at the PaidContent mixer tonight. Maybe I'll get paid for some content? Heh. Of course not.
Great to see all the cool people honored by Forbes as the most popular people on the net. Scoble, Arrington, Calacanis, Om -- the stars of our corner of the galaxy. I knew them when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. These guys deserve it. Mazel tov.
Thomas Hawk took some of the pictures, but didn't get credit at first. He deserves it. See, creative people like to get credit for their work. People act so surprised sometimes.
I don't know how you feel about this, but I find the little popup preview windows that are showing up on various blogs to be REALLY ANNOYING. Makes it hard to hover over a link to see where it points. And sometimes it's pointless, like when the page it links to requires a cookie or a password. You know the web is pretty good just the way it is. And these little widgets ought to give users a way to opt out. Or why not just forget the whole thing. Your favorite curmudgii. Uncle Davey.
Sometimes the pictures next to bits on Scripting News mean something and sometimes they're just cool little bits of color to make your mind feel good. In the case of the previous post there's a bit of hidden meaning in the picture of the boot. See if you can figure it out. It's good to exercise your mind.
Jason Calacanis reviews Hype Machine, a service that scans music blogs for MP3 songs and maintains custom RSS feeds with enclosures that you can subscribe to with a podcatcher.
Friday in SF, the Mobile Identity Workshop led by Doc Searls.
Not sure if this requires disclosure or not, but I decided it's better to disclose than not.
On Sunday, I added a command to the robots.txt file for scripting.com that tells the TechMeme robot to not read this site. I was told by Gabe Rivera, the author of TechMeme, that this would have the effect I desired.
I found that when I'd link to an article here that was in its domain, that very quickly that link would appear on TechMeme. Recently, a link to an old article here spawned a link on TechMeme within minutes of its appearance on Scripting News. At the time it was the only item on this site. If a human being were echoing my links so quickly, I'd ask them to stop, if I felt they would respect the request.
I've been discussing this on and off, privately, with Gabe, for almost a year. I'm a regular reader of TechMeme, and I plan to continue to read it. There is nothing to stop TechMeme from pointing to articles here on Scripting News, but it'll have to find out about the articles from pointers on other sites.
I've not decided if the ban is permanent or not. I want to try it this way and see what happens. It's a way for me to learn how TechMeme works, and now that you know, for you to learn too. And it gives people more of an incentive to read this site, or subscribe to it, an incentive you may not have felt before, since so many of my links were turning into TechMeme items. Also it may appeared that I was just replaying TechMeme items here.
I don't want this move to in any way reflect on the Gabe's professionalism or ethics. TechMeme is a marvel, and very useful, and he's a very respected member of the tech blogging community, deservedly so.
Mike Arrington: "It's rare for a blogger to take action to reduce her/his own influence, but that is exactly what Dave has done."
That's what it looks like to Mike, and I respect that, but that's not the way I look at it.
There are a lot of things I could do to have more influence, but it might not be the influence I want.
Before I put the robots.txt block in, I basically could, unilaterally, put someone else's ideas onto TechMeme, but I couldn't get my own ideas there. And because people had less incentive to come to Scripting News, they weren't reading the things I really care about.
I made a similar choice a few years back, when I quit Wired. Believe me, my flow went waaaay down that day. But my freedom went way up. I'm not getting anything like that kind of lift, but Mike is right, I don't care about influence as a quantity.
Politics is all of a sudden interesting. The Congress is organizing across (as opposed to along) party lines. Yesterday on NewsHour, senior Republican Senator John Warner from Virginia sounded more like the opposition than a member of the same party as the President. It's a miracle to see discourse come back to national politics. We are still in a very dark period, but it's getting brighter. And once again the brilliance and luck that's designed into our system is saving our ass. John Adams and Thomas Jefforson hated each other after George Washington left office peacefully and Jefferson's cousin John Marshall had guts. We're living in a country whose political system is largely formed around the personalities of these four men.
Throughout the President's speech last night he expressed an idea that surely the founders, all of them, would have objected to -- the idea that the people in the room were doing The People's Work. No, that's not the idea. The idea is much heavier than that. The people in the room are the people. That's why the House is re-elected every two years, and that's why the President has to come to Congress to get approval to go to war, and that's why, when Warner reminds the interviewer that Congress is the equal of the Executive branch, she can be forgiven for needing a reminder, because for the last six years, Congress has not been doing its job. It thought it was here to serve the President. That is even further from the intent of the founders.
No matter, the founders win this one. Right now the Congress is not only serving the interests of the people, they are acting as the people, and that of course is good. That there are so many candidates for President is a sign that the system is working. Everyone should have the guts to think their ideas as worthy of discourse. This is where the philosophy of blogging and the philosophy of the US are totally in synch.
Jim Webb, the other Senator from Virginia, a Democrat, gave an absolutely stunning rebuttal to the President. I stood up and cheered, tears running down my cheeks. This is the kind of person that the founders imagined would be our leader. By the end of the speech I found myself hoping that Webb runs for President, although I think it unlikely that he will. But he would make a good President. I haven't felt that about anyone in a very long time.
And also yesterday, lost in the State of the Union shuffle, were the initial revelations in the Scooter Libby trial. Fascinating, unexpected. The White House itself is becoming a circular firing squad. First the Vice-President is implicated by the prosecution, then Karl Rove is implicated by the defense. Who knew what when? Well it turns out there was a coverup. No major surprise, but it looks like it's going to come out before Bush leaves office. What then? Will there be an impeachment? In the atmosphere in Washington today, it's hard to imagine that the President wouldn't be taken to court for his crimes. And for the President, the court is the House of Representatives.
Only one thing can save the President, it's unmentionable, but it was mentioned in a CNN interview this morning with David Gurgen from Davos. Maybe the high mountain air made him say something that you wouldn't say with your feet on the ground in the US. The one thing that could save the President, he said, is a catastrophe on the scale of 9/11/01.
Yes, politics has gotten interesting, once again.
Not sure if that's good or not.
More often than not, Wikipedia is the top result in Google searches, and more often than not, given a choice I'll point to the Wikipedia page as the definitive source, without knowing whether the text was written by an impartial third party with good information, or someone else; while I know that in areas where I have expertis, the Wikipedia pages are the result of "edit wars" between partisans, trolls and the people being written about. It's hard for me to know, for example, when reading a biography of Augustus Caesar (I'm a fan of the HBO series Rome) if it is the result of the same conflicted process.
Microsoft is the latest to fall in the trap. They are criticized by Jimmy Wales, who has no credibility in this area, having been caught editing his own biography, removing mention of his collaborator. Wales is aware of the basic flaw in Wikipedia, his actions indicate that, yet he isn't above criticizing Microsoft for trying to hire someone to do what he did for himself. To be clear, what Microsoft did is absolutely wrong. If that practice were to escalate (and who knows that it hasn't) then Wikipedia would just reflect the views of rich corporations and individuals. The biography of Bill Gates would talk glowingly of his philanthropy, and downplay (or omit) his conviction for antitrust.
To me, in areas outside my expertise, it seems that Wikipedia is an excellent source of information. But that's the problem. In areas that I know better, I can see its flaws. I play by the rules and don't fix the mistakes. That leaves it to the trolls to write the story. Somehow we have to resolve this. And Wales should recuse himself from being the judge in these matters.
NY Times: "Mr. Schwab views the spread of Web logs as more evidence of the changing power equation. He said he might have to rethink guidelines for reporting events, which put many of the sessions off the record."
Passionate and lucid essay by Briar Dudley on why it's so urgent that we define "blog." Once thought, by some, to be an unimportant academic discussion, the lack of a clear idea of what is and isn't a blog is standing in the way of meaningful campaign finanance rules.
Valleywag lists five reasons to fear for the future of Steve Jobs.
People's Daily: "U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was deeply involved in the leak of a former CIA agent's identity in the summer of 2003, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said Tuesday."
Steve Rubel: "Someone should commission a study on bloggers who choose to syndicate the full text of their posts in RSS feeds vs. those who abstain. Something tells me they're read more."
The new governor of Masschusetts is podcasting. Pioneered at Harvard just a few years ago, podcasting has been growing at an amazing rate.
Jeff Walsh: "Who wants a CEO that gets mired in nuance and grey areas?"
Please read all of what Jeff says, and consider it carefully. It is flattering to me, and like everyone else I like to be appreciated. But his point is right on. Columbus popularized America and deserves credit for its discovery even though Vikings had arrived here, by accident, centuries earlier, and did nothing with the discovery.
To me, I'd like credit for discovery of some cool stuff, invention of software that makes it work and content that makes it compelling, all of which are neccessary but not sufficient, because the new stuff also has to be demystified, and it has to stay easy to understand, so that rather than intimidate, it should invite discovery by everyone else.
I don't make credit an issue, other people do. When I said I want to celebrate not just ten years of Scripting News, but ten years of blogging, I got a pile of "who does he think he is," as I knew I would. Well, something started with Scripting News in 1997, whatever you want to call it, I call it blogging. If you think I'm wrong, blog it.
That's how blogging started by the way. I had a discussion group here, and people would write there how wrong I was about this and that, to which I said -- you need to start a blog. I must have said that to hundreds of people. By giving them something to respond to, Scripting News played the role that a shipwreck plays to a coral reef. You can quote me on that.
I learned from the Frontier community that people will always do what I do, even when I did what I always wished other platform vendors would do -- telegraph the roadmap, clearly. When I would do that, other people would start to do what I was going to do, and then scream loudly when I did it. That taught me that if I wanted people to do something, I had to do it first. The Pied Piper effect drives adoption and builds communities. It's not surprising that the generation of bloggers that came after the the first generation said they hated me and were trying to steal my thunder. That's human nature. But they were doing exactly what I hoped they would. They blogged their discontent, and as a result built something much larger than one person can build, and then they spawned communities that eventually hated them, and on and on, ad infinitum.
I also know that discovery comes in layers, as did the blogging world. There are many levels of early adopters. Today there are people who are discovering new applications of blogging in new contexts. Davos, this year will have more blogging than it had in 2000, when Lance and I were (probably) the only two people blogging there. I can't claim credit for bringing blogging to Davos though, because my efforts didn't gain traction and grow. If blogging was meant to happen there, it didn't happen in 2000. Maybe it'll happen in 2007.
My last piece about RSS aggregators was well received, so let's try some more advice.
From time to time I get emails from readers saying the feed for Scripting News doesn't display well in apps like Netvibes or Google's customizable home page because some of my items don't have titles. Some have even said I am wrong to have items without titles, but I don't agree, and the spec backs me up on that. The item-level title is optional.
The reason titles are optional is that there have always been blogs that had items that don't have titles and those items had to be expressable in RSS, as did ones with titles. There are some aggregators (such as the ones I wrote) that deal perfectly well with either kind of item, so I know it can be done. Two of the earliest blogs, Scripting News and Robot Wisdom, both had title-less items. I admit they're not common, but it's good way to blog, and right now I'm not going to change, especially when the developers who are reading these feeds could easily adapt (and since they all came after RSS had this feature, it seems to me that they must).
Anyway, that's the historic preamble. Now here are two ways to deal with titleless items.
Choice #1: The simplest way is to ignore items with no titles. Pretend they don't exist. This is so much better than displaying a blank line, which is what some do.
Choice #2: Synthesize a title. Here's a way to do that. Take the description text, strip the markup, take the first fifty characters (or whatever works for you) and add an ellipsis (two or three dots). If you really want to be cool, back up to the last space, delete everything after that, and then add the ellipsis.
BTW, there are likely to be some condescending and fairly nasty comments about this, and that sometimes has the effect of reflecting negatively on me. That's how those people stop me from helping, or at least how they have in the past, and it's one of the reason blogging doesn't work so well these days. If you take the way they express their opinons as reflecting only on them, then we can go somewhere. You have a lot more power than you realize. Me, I'm just trying to make things work better. Really.
Scripting News has long posts, like this one, and very short ones, that are basically links to off-site articles that I think an informed person would want to be aware of, but about which I don't have anything to say. Here's a screen shot of a few of those from the Jan 10 SN. Those items are just links to articles, but each one should be its own item because they came online at different times in the day. To give each of them titles not only would waste screen space, it would create intellectual clutter, something that I'd like to reduce, not increase. Esp when it's so easy for software to handle the case.
NY Times: "The major record labels are moving closer to releasing music on the Internet with no copying restrictions."
Marc Canter: "IBM has validated the usage of social networking in business."
NPR: "January 22 is the most depressing day of the year, according to Wales-based psychologist Cliff Arnall."
Buried in yesterday's piece about layers of the Internet; actually only implied by it, was an idea worth emphasizing.
The day is coming when the cable TV box from Comcast or Direct has another interface coming out: Ethernet, and inside, an HTTP server. Then the TV set will have a variety of HTTP clients, in a perfect world one for each data type, but we don't live in a perfect world, so -- as many as needed. The setup screen, accessed on the TV itself or on your laptop via HTTP (the TV will also have an HTTP server) allows you to choose which player gets which content type. Sorry, even more than today, you'll need to go to college to learn how to watch TV. Maybe then the content will improve to offer something a bit more challenging to the educated mind. But I digress.
Apple's TV interface tethers itself to iTunes running on a desktop, but this is a world that imho, Apple is not destined to rule. Denon, the manufacturer of the receiver I just bought, is deeply in bed with Microsoft. Their interfaces are totally nestled in the Microsoft world. Somewhere there is a sales team that works for Redmond who has been touring the Far East, making deals with the home entertainment manufacturers. This means, to me, that at some point Apple will surely offer a receiver of its own, and a TV of its own. Of course Denon also has a port for an iPod (actually two, one in front and one in back). The iPod was the first device to provide content for my new stereo. No tape drive, turntable, CD player. No analog content for this crazy uncle. We're all digital from day one.
It's all confusing, so many deals, so many things only work with some other things. This isn't how I like my technology. Or maybe it's exactly how I like my technology. A few months ago I found this stuff daunting. Now, I admit, I find it inviting.
And then Denon did one really nice thing, they also put an HTTP interface in there. I haven't tried it yet, that's my next project. Hopefully I'll have some screen shots soon.
In the meantime, thanks to Mark Cuban for pushing my mind in a new direction. Settop boxes with fractional horsepower HTTP servers. Of course! Why not? Can't wait. Let's go.
I follow with a comment of my own.
An event distributed across the wifi-enabled food courts of the world? Apple Stores. We need t-shirts, buttons and hats so people know who's a celebrant. A Flickr tag. I want a HyperCamp or two.
Maybe I'll celebrate in NYC, make it easy for people from the US and Europe to join me. One in DC for blogging lawmakers. A blog-in like the be-ins of the 60s?
Good omen: April 1 is a Sunday.
Obviously we'll need a wiki and a mail list.
The 10 year anniversary of Scripting News is approaching and with it, the ten year anniversary of blogging.
I'm thinking of having some kind of party to celebrate. Would you be interested in participating?
I've said it before, On The Media is my favorite podcast, I'm an unabashed fan, every Saturday I listen attentively to their latest.
That said, I have to object to their treatment, this week, of Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
The point of the interview was how the media decides on our behalf which candidates will be taken seriously.
Kucinich took some controversial positions in the 2004 election and they turned out to be visionary. HIs supporters are enthusiastic, his focus is where I'd like all our candidates to be, ideas and issues. Maybe he wouldn't be the best leader, but maybe if he were given a chance, he might become exactly the kind ofl eader we need. I can't imagine he'd be worse than the current President, who the press took more seriously than Kucinich.
That OTM laughed at him during this interview is just appalling.
He took the high road over and over, even quoting Emerson, explaining why he chooses to run this gauntlet, again, when the deck is so stacked against him.
They should listen to their own report with a critical ear, and when they do I hope they apologize to the candidate and their listeners.
Marc has been struggling to find the right phrase the helps people understand what he's working on. Yesterday he wrote something I've heard him say, but I don't understand, that he was "forced" to change from calling it server in the closet. Why? I find that helps to position the software, if that's really what he has in mind. I want a server in the closet, one that really works for the house as an interface to the universe, both ways.
I also believe that servers belong everywhere, and predicted it, and it's happening. Nowadays if you want to buy a webcam, you can buy one that connects into your wifi network and has an integrated HTTP server. That's how you get the images -- visit a web page on your LAN. I just bought a receiver that has a built-in HTTP server, so I can program the stereo over the Internet. It wasn't the reason I bought the receiver, but you can imagine I was delighted to find that it was there. It's also why I strongly believe that the TV set in your living room or den is also going to be a full computer, a peer on the Internet, a client of various Internet services (as predicted by Mark Cuban) and a server so you can control it using a web browser, and also so you can have your own private YouTube or MySpace (that, I believe is Marc's vision).
All the players here are orbiting around a set of protocols and standards that make this stuff work, even the ones you usually don't see playing well with others, the entertainment and technology industries. The attraction of the formats is irresistable. As TBL said: "Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor."
What he didn't say, but surely is aware of, is that it's possible to add new layers to the Internet that have the same properties, and new proponents of evolution who stand beside himself and Vint Cerf. It didn't stop with TCP, HTTP and HTML, and it won't stop with RSS and WiFi. But the philosophy that TBL stated so succinctly is so important that it's worth codifying as a law. And it can be restated in a mashup of the words of JFK: Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet.
Tim Berners-Lee: "Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor."
Mark Cuban: "Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, Charter, Insight, Cox, any cable or satellite provider could easily offer a website that allows users to upload content the same way they upload to Youtube."
Read this piece for a clue as to what's wrong with RSS readers.
One of the first rules of software design is also the primary rule of business -- "The user is always right."
Most RSS readers remind the user, all the time, how wrong he or she is. Or inadequate or lazy or behind in their work.
Who needs that. I sure don't. And if I'm designing software that I'm using myself, and it's always telling me how I'm fucking up, you can be sure I'm going to want to change the software, not the user.
Think about it this way. Suppose you read the paper every day. What if at the top of the paper it told you how many articles from previous issues you hadn't read. Whoa. When you subscribed to the paper did you mean to imply that you would read all the articles?
Emphatically: News is not email.
Unlike email, every article is not necessarily something you should read, or even look at.
I read so few articles that I want my software to work differently, I want it to make it easy for me to give a fraction of a glance to every new article and if I'm not interested, or too busy -- too bad. No need to count the number of articles that didn't get my attention. It's a useless piece of data.
The author comes within an inch of getting the answer. "Here's a simple trick to handle this load -- goto the root folder and select 'Mark All Items as Read.' Now open the Techmeme River of News website and read the important stories that you might have missed while on vacation."
Good idea! Now have the software do all that for you.
And not just when you come back from vacation, every day, rain or shine.
And then you'll find you can subscribe to even more feeds.
9/20/05: "Let the news flow by you and relax like someone sitting on the bank of a river looking for something interesting as you while away the time. That's how news works, and RSS is, emphatically, for news."
Try this one out. Imagine you're fishing, and there was some nerd on the other side of the river, shouting at you, the number of fish that went by that you didn't catch. How long before you'd want to kill the nerd??
Jeremy Toeman asks if I agree with his piece about the Apple iPhone and how its appeal is dropping daily. My response.
I don't disagree, but that's not the same as agreeing. I didn't like the iPod at first, now I've owned three and use my current one and leave the others at home for various reasons. (The Sansa is broken, the Archos is too big, the others aren't even worth mentioning). My original problem with the iPod was its dependence on the Mac (I didn't even have one then) but they cured that, and now I use Macs only.
Now back to the iPhone. Apple is likely in it for the long haul, and we've only seen their first product.
On the other hand, I thought you were right about the launch souring over time, which is something I see too, and I think it's important to observe, so maybe it'll dampen the peak a little next time around (fat chance).
Now ask me what I think about Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. Yummm!
I had some errands to run yesterday after writing the piece about mapping software, the subject was fresh on my mind and I realized something that scared the shit out of me, and also made me want to run down the USPTO and claim an idea that's sure to be worth billions. I decided to blog it and worry about the patent later.
Okay here's the scenario. I program a destination into the GPS and start driving. I notice that it tells me to cut over to Solano Ave from Marin Ave about 20 blocks before reaching the destination. This is odd, I think, because Marin is the faster street, it's primarily residential and wide, where Solano is heavily commercial, with lots of cars entering and exiting, stopping and starting. Lots of pedestrians too, and in California we like to stop for them (at least this driver does).
How curious, I thought. Why make me go this way. I decided to check it out. When I got to Solano, there's a convenience store right there. I practically have to turn into its parking lot. How convenient, I thought, a perfect opportunity see if they have Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke (I'm getting single-minded about this, in kind of the same way NakedJen is about being naked). Later I realized something, the scary vision, the patentable scary vision.
There's no way the GPS knew there was a convenience store there (a national brand, btw), but in five or ten years, I'm sure they will. And further, Toyota will make a deal with the chain to direct traffic by their store, as opposed to their competition. Remember in a lot of businesses it's all about location. What if someday everyone has GPS, like everyone has automatic transmission now (they didn't used to, believe it or not). That could be much more valuable than advertising. It's not about impressions, it's about delivering customers. Literally!
You can be sure, if we survive Iraq and nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and the Chinese shooting down our satellites, if we're still driving ten years from now, our cars will be sending us on errands on behalf of the auto manufacturers. Maybe someday they'll just give us the car, the GPS will be so profitable.
Yeah Marc, SXSW is promotes certain people, and if they don't like you, there's no way in. This year they have some kind of fig leaf that allows them to deflect criticism, but I'm not going to run the gauntlet after years of being snubbed, damn I'm one of the founders of the industry they cover, and I've never been invited to speak. I know lots of people who have been asked, many of them are users of stuff I created (hey, modesty aside, they all are users of stuff I created). They ought to roll out the red carpet for guys like you and me Marc, but something is wrong there, so don't let it get to you man. I've asked, three times now, for an invite. That's enough. Fuck em.
Aside: I remember listening to the podcast of their podcasting panel while I was still working on podcasting, thinking how it would have been cool if I could have told the people at SXSW where I saw it going (and ultimately where it did go).
Google Trend map comparing Podcast vs SXSW.
RSS plotted against SXSW is even more lopsided.
Marc created Director and many other miracles. If it weren't for Director, you wouldn't be using Flash. Marc also gave me a lot of the ideas that made it into Manila, which was, in 1999, one of the first blogging tools, widely copied, not respected by the SXSW crowd, unfortunately. But that doesn't mean it's not respected. A couple of weeks ago, for example, Peter Rojas of Engadget told me his first blog was a Manila site. And Marc's vision for the People Aggregator is a good one, and different, and well worth listening to.
Marc doesn't take himself too seriously, I think that's why a lot of people don't take his ideas seriously, but that's a mistake. It really hurts me personally to see such disrespect for a man who has given so much, and wants to give so much more. You all ought to send emails to Hugh Forrest saying if they don't show respect for Marc, then we won't show respect for SXSW. This is one place where you all can make a difference, so how about it.
It's nice to see the Bush Administration starting to obey the law in foreign surveillance. Recall, when they said they weren't going to get the warrants required by FISA, it caused an outraged and scared response among advocates of the Constitution, myself included.
Well, the good news is that they say they're going to start obeying the law. The Attorney General says that times have changed, they're not as worried now as they were after 9-11, but we suspect the real reason is that there's now a Democratic Congress, that might ask some questions that the old Republican one didn't, ones the Bush guys don't want to have raised, or if they are raised, now they have an answer: "That was a time of emergency."
But why should a new Congress make a difference? After all, if they were willing to break one law, why not break them all? Which raised the really ugly question, which as far as I'm concerned, is still out there -- will Bush actually leave office at the end of 2008? Now it seems more likely he will. If so, what a relief it will be when that happens. Hope we make it.
Jeremy Toeman: iPhone appeal drops daily.
Like everyone else (and the guys in Lazy Sunday) I use Google Maps to plot out routes, even walking routes, which isn't something it's really good at.
Yesterday I used it to map out a route to the BART station, it was a long walk, so when I returned I took a cab home. He took an odd left turn, and then when I realized what he did, I saw that this was a much better route. The road was wider, no traffic lights, less traffic, and it was a straight road, no curves and bends. It was probably faster, and it was definitely easier on the nerves.
So I went back to Google and looked at it on the map, and it's even more direct than the route they mapped out.
So -- when does mapping become a two-way app? I'd be willing to tell their software that I have a better route, it's one that comes from living here, and being a cab driver here.
Last weekend I went to a Marc Canter's birthday party, it was great, but it would have been even better if they had my favorite soft drink.
It's not his fault, there's a missing product. I have the same problem when I shop for a party -- how to stock up on at least three or four of every popular soft drink, beer or wine. The missing product? A 24-pack that's got a variety of stuff. A couple of Sprites, Diet Pepsi, Tejava -- you get the idea. Of course Coke would have their own special pack, and Pepsi would have theirs. No problem. I'll buy three of each.
BTW, I got Marc a Sansa 2GB MP3 player. Expect some convergence over there in CanterLand.
Happy 42nd birthday to Robert Scoble!
Brier Dudley on the new pricing for Skype out-calling.
According to Michael Gartenberg it'll cost $1.99 to turn on 802.11n support in already-purchased Macs that can do it. Weird. I don't get understand why, but who cares. A leprechaun latte at Starbucks costs more.
A Blog "Dedicated To Keeping CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Honest."
AHN: "Faculty at SMU in Dallas are protesting the plans to house the George W. Bush Presidential Library."
I just got off the phone with Sylvia, who passed on a great idea that just might work, to help George Bush leave office early. Here's how it goes. We all contribute to a fund, that hopefully would contain a lot of money, say $150 million. If Bush resigns on the first day, he gets the whole $150 million. Every day he waits, the fund goes down by 10 percent, so there's a real incentive for him to act quickly. On Day 2 it's worth only $135 million. On Day 3, $121.5 million. And so on. It's kind of a simplified version of Deal or No Deal.
I love the idea! I'd kick in $5K.
Here's an idea for Jeff Jarvis, who says, with the best intentions, that we need to measure the number of people reading news sources or listening to podcasts so advertisers can know how many people are getting their messages, so they know how much to pay news organizations to carry those messages.
As a "consumer" of news (or user of news, or just citizen) I am interested in knowing which organizations do the best job providing news. The more they focus on news, the higher their score. I think there actually is a way to quantify it in a meaningful way.
Consider: When Anderson Cooper devotes his whole 2-hour show on CNN to the return of two children to their families in Missouri, that would add very little to the score of CNN. On the other hand, the Headline News channel, which repeats the top stories every half-hour, would score relatively high, because of the variety of the stories they carry, and the relevance of those stories.
There is a way to separate the human interest stuff that's clogging the air waves from hard news. When four climbers are lost on Mount Hood, for example, if we look at it dispassionately, we'd see that the only people who are affected are the climbers (who died) and their families. If you want to stretch it, other people who climb mountains in inclement weather might also have an interest in that information. But the rest of us are only getting an emotional hit from the story. We project ourselves into the situation, and think how horrible it would be to die that way, or to have a family member or friend die that way. It's not news, it's not conveying information that affects us, it's story-telling.
On the other hand, there is information that is news, that affects all of us, that has almost no story-telling to it. When the Fed raises interest rates, there's no story, but wide impact. The fact that many Americans don't understand how it impacts them, is perhaps itself a story.
Anyway, my hope is that if the various news sources were rated, they might feel pressure to add more news to their news shows. So someone who tuned into CNN might get 45 minutes of the hostages in St Louis, and 15 minutes on the PBS interview with Bush, or Scooter Libby, or global warming. Or if you like human interest mixed in, how about a story about the Christian Coalition working with Moveon.org. It's a bit of a tear-jerker for sure, but it's also news. Or, why not interview some of the families of Iraq casualties? There's a real emotional rush, for sure, but it's real. Or if you really want to go for the gusto, show Iraqis as human beings, and help people understand that when an Iraqi dies in violence that we caused (or at our hand) they leave behind people who miss them, who grieve them, just like us.
And how about the "meta" story of why the networks aren't interviewing the families of Iraq casualties. These stories are about the times we live in. When future generations wonder what we were doing when all this was going on, we'll have something to tell them. And I can't help wondering if we aren't witnessing a successful attempt by the government to control the news we're getting.
Imagine an airline that, instead of taking you to Chicago, as advertised, gave you burgers and left you right where you were. Sure, the burgers taste better than airline food, but you got on the plane to actually go somewhere!
I'll write some more about this later.
All the cable news networks are covering tonight are the two boys who were kidnapped in Missouri. Meanwhile, 70 people died today in one bombing incident in Baghdad. Barak Obama declared for President. The Scooter Libby trial started in Washington. Bush was interviewed on PBS.
Something that's remarkable to consider. As closed to developers as Apple is with the iPod and now the iPhone, it's pretty amazing that Microsoft, a company with a long tradition of offering developer platforms, hasn't managed to offer a product that's even worth considering by developers as an alternative to the non-existent option of producing software for Apple's mobile devices.
It's even more remarkable if you consider that Apple's product wasn't an early product and has been on the market for over five years. Plenty of time to catch up even if Microsoft was caught by surprise. Charles Fitzgerald, one of the few old-timers still at the MS used to say it was a "scrappy" competitor. I wonder what adjective Charles would use for the company today.
Techdirt: "Copying the technology is just one aspect to competing, and if the market is dynamic, by the time you catch up to whoever you're copying, they're way ahead of you."
I have a strange bug in my CMS, it's so entertaining that I haven't wanted to fix it. Every so often it picks a random day and generates my RSS feed as if it were that day.
Today it picked 3/1/00, a day I had lunch with Tim O'Reilly and Dale Dougherty, in San Jose. While we were having lunch, Tim got a call from Jeff Bezos about patents. I even got a picture of Tim's side of the conversation. Like I said, it's a strange bug.
Washington Post: "The Pentagon yesterday disavowed a senior official's remarks suggesting companies boycott law firms that represent detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."
To be clear, what the official did is a breach of everything that we hold sacred in our legal system. It reeks of totalitarianism.
Scoble was wrong, I was right.
It's another example of the movie industry's lack of will to compete.
Plus, my TV is a Mac, and doesn't run Windows software and I'm not going to switch when my settop box already does this and as I said, I don't use it.
However, all that said, Scoble was wrong to predict the death of Netflix. They have a bunch of momentum, and they understand their users, something none of the others, including Apple, can claim.
PS: For all we know Netflix is using the Verisign service that was supposed to, according to Scoble, kill them.
Hugh MacLeod's random notes on blogging.
Berkman is having a conference today on politics and blogging. They're also having a podcasting conference on Feb 24. I signed up and paid the $50, not sure if I'll make it. If you're in the Boston area, it's probably worth checking out.
One of the services I've provided to Microsoft over the years is free consulting. I do it in the open, so everyone gets the benefit. I recommended in 1994 that he give up on OLE and other hugely complicated attempts to control the universe and join the messy world of the Internet. After dismissing the idea, a year later, he turned his company upside-down in an effort to catch Netscape. I've done it many times since, and after reading this piece on his desire to chase Google (it's not going too well), I have another bit of advice.
Find the CP/M of the Internet. It's gotta be ugly and geek-friendly. A piece of software with a command-line that today's 12 year old nerd could add something to that would make everyone's life more fun, and give us something to do with the Internet that you could never sell inside a large tech organization like Microsoft or Google. Something like Visicalc, dBASE, 1-2-3 or Wordstar. MacPaint, MacWrite, Pagemaker or Flight Simulator. Tetris, PacMan, MySpace & Napster.
You aren't going to get there by zigging where Google zigs, you have to zag to their zig, if you get my drift.
And Bill, fire a few people who are too comfortable in their jobs. They're running your company to suit their purposes, not for the benefit of users and shareholders. I know because they're always alarmed by things I say. Hey the things I say have helped your company see opportunities it otherwise would have missed. These people don't want to think, that's what you gotta root out. And most people will think, if they believe their livelihood depends on it.
Last week, when President Bush's plan for Iraq was coming public, I realized it's going to be a long fight, and if it's anything like the fight we had in the 70s with Nixon over Vietnam, eventually it's going to feel like a war, of ideas, a non-violent war, within the context of the political system of the US.
There were some heroes of the war with Nixon, we got a reminder when President Ford died at the end of last year, Sam Ervin, Peter Rodino, Barbara Jordan, Archibald Cox, even Charles Rangel, who was on the Watergate-era Judiciary committee, who is still in Congress, now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
We're definitely going to have a major disagreement in this country, you could see it forming in last night's 60 Minutes interview with Bush. He's not going to bend to the will of the American people. I think we're headed for a Watergate-scale battle between the branches, with the lives of thousands of Americans and millions in the Middle East at stake, and eventually, perhaps soon, our way of life, which amazingly hasn't yet felt the imact.
As a blogger, my job will be to cover this, and to put my spin behind it. I'll do that here on Scripting News of course, but I've started another site to focus attention on the war between the people of the US and our president..
I'm not sure yet what form this site will take. I've thought it might simply be a place to register names of people who are opposed to the President, who, like the author of this site, are sickened by the prospect yet another existential battle for the soul of America.
Al Jazeera: Iraqi president arrives in Syria.
According to Google News, the Iraqi president's visit to Syria isn't being reported by American news sites. It could be that my search is inadequate. Or it could be that we're not getting all the news.
Jason Lefkowitz outlines a reaistic nightmare scenario in Iraq.
It's time for everyone to bone up on the separation of powers in the American form of government. In its first six years the Bush executive was unchecked by Congress, but that's over now. It's remarkable to see the lights of our government come back on. The wisdom of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the fighting they did, the tension between the first Senate and the first vice-president (Adams), the personalities of our founding fathers are still what forms discourse in our country, in the age of television, blogs and podcasting. It really is a miracle to see it all start to work again. Brilliant!
"The iPod is a wonderful product, but damn it's time we made one that could run our software, could run any software, so users have choice, and so you don't have to buy new hardware to get software features, and so the market can grow at the rate of innovation, not at the whim of one marketer."
Perhaps people can agree with this. Apple could even make it, a limited edition iPod that runs Mac software and allows us to add commands to the iPod user interface.
You never know what might come from this, after all Apple didn't invent all the cool stuff that's come along in the last few years.
A permathread for sure.
Am I hypocrite because I want to write software to run on iPods but I won't allow other people to post to Scripting News? I don't know, maybe to some it does, but I think not.
When I started this blog in April 1997, I immediately published, for free, in source, the code I used to publish the site. The result, within a few months, a bunch of sites that worked more or less the same way this site did. When I added syndication to this site, I encouraged others to create their own syndicated content, and tools that use the content. Within a few years everyone is doing it. That may not be the only way to define being open, but it seems to be part of what it means to be open.
Paolo: "Ask not what Apple can do for you. Buy their products and STFU."
Ethan Kaplan says the hand-wringing is out of control.
I think the hand-wringing about the hand-wringing is out of control.
I just watched our governor on ABC.
He's great. Just what we need.
On The Media segment looking at Apple's ability to turn marketing into news.
This is what I was trying to say yesterday. Carrying Apple's product announcements as if they were news is probably not good for reporters and bloggers, ethically. We're making a big mistake if we accept the news about iPhone, for example, only from Apple. There are other companies already in this market. How about taking a close look at their products when Apple asks us to look at the category? When Apple boasts of patents, as if that were a feature for users (imho it's a feature that's actually against them), this begs for a closer look as well.
Now, that's starting to happen, and that's good.
Another example. I took my friend Rex Hammock, who was in town for the Expo from Nashville, to Fry's in Concord, for a cultural exchange. When I visited Nashville a couple of years ago, Rex took me to a great BBQ place. Fry's is the closest we come to culture here in the Bay Area (I also took him on a drive up Grizzly Peak Blvd, the roundabout way to Walnut Creek, with great views of the Bay and the city). Rex, who had attended the Jobs keynote the day before, suggested I might get one of their new fast routers. I took him to the part of Fry's where they had a whole shelf full of "Pre-N" routers, all of which were exactly as fast as Apple's (and cheaper too). This fact had not come out yesterday, in the rush of all the press coverage. To be fair, the router was almost an afterthought in the panoply of marketing that masqueraded as news, but it should have been mentioned, right up front -- there probably isn't anything special about Apple's product.
We have a lot of catching up to do here. Apple has received an unfair advantage from the press, and also from bloggers. I'm not saying that we should give Microsoft a free pass, because they still control who gets their news, and that's wrong, it compromises the integrity of every reporter that takes their offer. It can be hard for reporters to say no, but they must, if they want to deserve our respect.
Many companies have lost their businesses, and customers have lost a lot of choice because of this system. Well-intentioned people inside the companies are led to believe that their products don't have to be competitive because they have the press in their pocket, and lawyers to protect them with patents. James Plamondon, a good guy for sure, should never have been able to think of developers as pawns. The only way it makes sense is for them to think of developers as competitors. That's where respect comes from. When we get there, vendors will make products that we use, they will not be thought leaders, or gurus. This is what they demand in order for us to have access. But we're not doing them any favors by giving them what they ask for, and we're sure not doing any favors to the users, and to ourselves.
I don't believe for a minute that Jobs's closed-box approach to cell phones is the right one. Growth is driven by choice. The Internet grew because, for the 80th time, it was the platform with no platform vendor. The Apple II won, the Mac won, the PC won, even Windows won, because you could install any software you wanted on them. The iPod is a wonderful product, but damn it's time we made one that could run our software, could run any software, so users have choice, and so you don't have to buy new hardware to get software features, and so the market can grow at the rate of innovation, not at the whim of one marketer.
Apple is now bidding once again to become the total control platform vendor that they have always been inside. When they introduce the phone software to the Macintosh (seems inevitable, doesn't it?) will they shut down developers there too? I am writing this on a Mac, because it's much better than Windows. Apple didn't need any patents to get me to buy their system. I don't even like the company, I think they're brats, small thinkers. Even though I don't have to, every year I spend thousands of dollars on their products. That says all I need to know about what kinds of locks you need on users. The only lock you need is to create a better product. The rest of it is nonsense.
Sylvia Paull, who worked at a Mac software developer when NeXT was rolling out, explains how they fooled reporters into thinking that there was working software for Steve Jobs's new computer. Great story.
She invited reporters to look under the table where there was a Mac that was actually running the supposed NeXT app, but they wouldn't look. If they reported the fiasco, they'd lose access. This kind of deception is the rule, not the exception, in Silicon Valley.
I've heard from people who were at the Jobs presentation this week that there was a wire connecting his cell phone to something. I can't tell you myself, because I am not allowed to attend Apple press events. If I were there, I would tell you.
James Plamondon: "Microsoft's PR people are distancing from my 1996 presentation, saying that the approach to evangelism that it describes was not then, and is not now, Microsoft's policy."
Michael Gartenberg and Steven Levy together, pull the truth out of Steve Jobs on why the iPhone doesn't run software written by developers. But it's not the truth that Jobs would have you believe.
Anyway, it was not actually a great PR week for Jobs. All that hype from Apple about patents as if they were somehow good news for users, exposes how ludicrous the whole Apple marketing system is. That they're now getting called on it, if not by the mainstream guys, but by bloggers, shows you how there's a new system of checks and balances. We're watching the people who were supposedly our eyes and ears, and finding out that they're playing footsie with the guys they're covering, and have been for a long, long time.
Now Apple is not only playing hardball with bloggers, they're pushing around another giant Silicon Valley company, one with deep pockets and expensive lawyers, as they try to roll over Cisco over the iPhone trademark.
Meanwhile, the option backdating mess is still there, hasn't gone away, and I don't think the SEC is going to be rolled over as easily as Cisco or as the press used to.
And you gotta ask yourself when it's going to completely flip over, when a reporter that grants embargos to big tech companies like Apple or Microsoft is going to have to explain why they never run bad news about these companies. That's an even bigger scandal, imho, than the option backdating one. Me, I'm proud that I'm not invited to Apple or Microsoft events, as long as they're running such ethically compromised PR. And yes, I believe there is an ethics to PR, it's the mirror image of the ethics of reporters. Vendors must respect that reporters must write what they believe, not what the companies want them to write. That I'm not invited is how you know that I haven't compromised. Can't say the same for other bloggers, however. Lots of people dipping into the same poisoned well that the MSM guys did.
Valleywag is doing a great job of chasing this story, it goes deep into the culture of Silicon Valley.
I got an email this morning from Richard Lang of headless.org saying that Douglas Harding, a truly great teacher, died last night. My view of existence, like that of many others, was heavily influenced by Harding.
5/5/97: "It's so easy to let what we've learned interfere with what we can observe."
TechDirt: "If the technology works as well as the demo, then Apple is going to make a ton of money with or without patents, because people will buy the phone."
Wired: "A prominent trademark lawyer thinks the word iPhone may be general enough for both Apple and Cisco Systems to market products under the name."
Jeff Pulver thinks it's a "good thing" he didn't file a trademark on iPhone in 1995.
Al Jazeera: "US forces, backed by helicopters, have raided the Iranian consulate's offices in Arbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq."
Great blog post by Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler. "Apple is a very aggressive enforcer of their trademark rights. And that needs to be a two-way street."
I love Verisign and Scoble, but he's wrong about Netflix.
Bush still has the ability to surprise. Not only does he want to escalate American involvement in Iraq, but he plans to attack Iran and Syria too. Meanwhile the Democratic response was actually great. We were there for Iraq, backed them up, gave the lives of our solidiers and our wealth, and democratic principles, we dug Saddam out of a hole and supported you while you tried, convicted and executed him, and that's enough. We won, time for us to go home, thank you very much.
Computerworld Australia: "James Plamondon, the former technical evangelist for Microsoft who in a 1996 speech called independent software developers "pawns," said Wednesday he now regrets using the metaphor."
Nick Carr: "User-generated content? Hah! We're not even allowed to change the damn battery. In Jobs's world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet."
Doc Searls: "The influence of developers, even influential developers like you, will be minimal. The influence of customers and users will be held in even higher contempt."
Press release: Cisco Sues Apple for Trademark Infringement.
Google Trends comparison betw RSS and Web 2.0.
CBS News piece (1967) on the hippies in San Francisco and the Grateful Dead. Echoed by early MSM articles about bloggers.
It seemed fair to withhold judgement of the President's new plan for Iraq until he made it public, but the announcement has already happened, and it's as it was being telegraphed. His response to the electorate that voted his party out of control of Congress, because we wanted him to withdraw from Iraq, is to send more troops to Iraq. Part of his package is a $1 billion jobs package... for Iraq!
I will listen to his speech tonight, and I will listen carefully, for any sign that reality is creeping in. But I suspect that after tonight the problem is going to clearly rest with the people. We still need to find a way to make our will felt in Washington. The election, apparently, didn't work.
I've read dozens of reports on the iPhone; two stand out.
Paul Boutin notes that everything Apple announced is in vapor, and that's new for Apple (and disappointing for users), but all CES previews are vapor and Apple is, in every way, a consumer electronics vendor now. "By holding his own mini-CES 500 miles away, Jobs literally stole the show. As I sit here typing in a sulk, an NPR stringer in Vegas just messaged, 'CES is dead because iphone is all that mattered today. there is a mood of -- like everyone here went to the wrong party.'"
Tom Evslin: "The design of the phone -- no hard buttons, all touch on screen, sounds like everything we expect from Steve and from Apple: it's all about the GUI and that part'll be fun. But the business relationship is as old school as it can get: exclusive US distributorship through Cingular."
Tom has a point. Like many others, I was hoping that Apple would turn the cellphone business upside down. On the other hand, quoting from the essay I wrote yesterday, before the iPhone announcement, "Get in bed with the guy whose lunch you want to eat." Maybe Steve is more clever than we give him credit for?
NY Times: "Ramen noodles are a dish of effortless purity."
Greenspun: "What I want is a phone that won't make calls from inside my pocket."
Gizmodo reports that Apple also (quietly) announced (but didn't ship) a new Pre-N wireless router.
PS: Thanks to the Gawker guys who snuck me a bogus pass to the Showstoppers event last night, where I shot Renee blowing kisses (one more time). Bouncers who don't recognize the self-proclaimed co-inventor of RSS should be hung from the nearest tree. In the meantime it's good to have friends watching your back.
Paul Andrews says I should be in San Francisco instead of Las Vegas. I am. I quietly returned to the Bay Area this morning. I'm going to dinner with a bunch of friends in the city this evening and should have a lot more data on what Apple announced. And while I am of course interested in the phone (like everyone else) I expect I'll be able to shed more light on the TV box. (Don't expect me to gush, I think it's the wrong way to go, and not because of its resolution.)
Michael Gartenberg fills in an important blank about the iPhone -- it's a closed box? Really. How could that be since it runs Mac OS and wifi and it's a phone for crying out loud. Confused and disappointed. BTW, we still need an iPod that can have its personality enhanced by developers.
Engadget report on Apple's phone. But of course it's also a Mac, which is what makes it interesting.
AP has a lot more details.
Lance Knobel on the opening of Davos.
Fascinating report on the internal view of developers at Microsoft, circa 1996. I knew James Plamondon, he was one of the good guys, relatively speaking. I overheard a worse conversation on a bus at Microsoft in the same period, and wrote it up in a DaveNet story. Of course this didn't win me many friends at Microsoft, but it cemented my relationship with the few people who worked there then who really wanted to do great stuff, which imho, we went on to do. Today, the bad people at Microsoft won, bigtime, leaving them as mediocre as any tech company you can think of. Apple, a much smaller company, is completely, utterly, kicking their ass. Which would be even more gratifying if Apple had a culture of supporting, even celebrating developers.
I'm typing this post from the Las Vegas airport where they have free wifi that performs pretty well. All you have to do is enter your email address in a form. I said I was firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's the good news. Now here's the strange news.
I happened to have iTunes open, and in the left panel I noticed a new list named "Shared" and under that, the libraries of four nearby people, not sure whether they're running iTunes or what, but it looks like I'm supposed to be able to access their music, but I can't. Here's a screen shot.
Explanation: I missed a few Jobs keynotes before I switched to the Mac late in 2005.
Used to be when Microsoft wanted to take a market from a successful competitor, they started by seducing their users with something comfortable, a product that worked just like the competitor's, and was better in some major way.
My first experience with that was with the IBM PC in the early 80s. I was a developer for the Apple II and III, and was very familiar with the limits of these machines. The Apple II was the juggernaut, it was the machine that ran Visicalc, but it was limited by CPU, screen, memory and disk; and the Apple III, which corrected those limits, was unreliable, and incompatible with the Apple II.
Enter Microsoft, with its partner IBM and their PC. A big blank machine. More than 10 times the memory. Blazing fast. But a very similar architecture to the Apple II. It took less than a month to port my software. For users, the switch was even faster. And once we switched, we never looked back. Apple was stuck, IBM and Microsoft was the way out of their mess, for users and developers.
One more example. When IE came on the market, it worked keystroke for keystroke the same as Netscape. You could switch in a couple of hours. And it was faster, prettier, just nicer in every way. Even though it was the dreaded monopoly slaying the smart but arrogant upstart, IE had enough for users that you actually felt good about using it. Finally someone cared about users. Netscape, which had forgotten about the browser, obviously didn't.
On Sunday, after waiting for hours to hear Bill Gates talk, I sat through the first half hour of the talk, and was amazed that they had nothing new to offer users. Just more empty words about how great Vista was. Gates even said we should care how much time and money they put into it. Why? I had left them between XP and Vista because they left their users to fend for themselves against all kinds of malware.
I walked out after they put up a slide showing their mediocre line of Windows cell phones, with a parenthetical afterthought in the title. "Outsells Blackberry." I am a Blackberry user. In the old days, when Microsoft was smarter, they would have embraced Blackberry users. There would be something special in the connection between the Blackberry and Vista, that made Vista irresistable to a Blackberry user. Today's Microsoft can only offer that, when added together, all the different Windows cell phones sell more. But are their users happier? We love our Blackberries, the same way we loved Apple and Netscape, before they sold us something better. Today's Microsoft doesn't seduce. The old one did.
Zune is another perfect example. It seems that as an iPod user, I should be able to pick up a Zune and begin to use it. Not so. Yesterday I had my first chance to try one. The controls don't work. How should I hold the thing? Sometimes the display is horizontal, and other times, it switches to vertical. I don't seem to have any control over this. The scroll wheel, which is shaped exactly like the one on the iPod, doesn't scroll. It's as if the PageDown key on the IBM PC didn't do more or less the same thing as the one on the Apple II. As if the Back button in IE didn't do the same thing as the Back button in Netscape. The scroll wheel is that central to the use of the iPod.
Will Microsoft be able to fix the broken controls on the Zune? Not without breaking their users. They've painted themselves into a corner, there's no way to win. The iPod people at Apple must be laughing. Microsoft could have easily found way to embrace and extend, the old Microsoft surely would have.
Later... Continuing the story -- Microsoft is behaving now like their foes of the 80s and 90s. Consider that when Apple asked Microsoft to make Mac software, they didn't say "We're coming out with something better called Windows, and rather than support a competitive platform, we'll focus all our effort on Windows so we can make sure the Mac is weak, so we can win." Instead, they went gung-ho into the Mac, won the spreadsheet market with Excel, and Lotus was stuck with the character-based PC market.
Then, in the late 80s, when IBM split with Microsoft, and was planning to erase Windows with their OS/2 Presentation Manager, the same Lotus decided not to develop a spreadsheet for Windows, instead they focused all their effort on the Presentation Manager, so they could make sure WIndows was weak, so they could win. It backfired, Windows won, and Lotus is now a forgotten division of IBM and their chief architect is now Microsoft's chief architect.
Moral of the story: If you're big, or aspire to be big, cover all the bets you can, and never assume your lack of support will hurt your competitor. Get in bed with the guy whose lunch you want to eat.
Brier Dudley: "Sorry, I've been in Vegas too long already."
Blogging from the press room in the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Had a lot of fun walking around checking out products, including sound systems, set top boxes, game controllers you sit in (!) -- ate some awful food, saw lots of old acquaintances. If I were at home I'd take a 20-hour nap now. My feet hurt so much. I'm tuning out the noise of the press room with my iPod.
Ethan Zuckerman on the open source release of the Second Life client by Linden Labs.
Wired says MP3 is the format of the future, and DRM has got to go.
Today's the first day of exhibits at CES. I'm going to walk-around with various Scripting News readers. I'm mostly intersted in audio and video (of course, until they invent consumer electronics for touch, taste and smell). Want to be part of the wandering Scripting News brain trust? Let's figure out a place to meet up to wander around. I got two days to see the show. And of course we have to have a place to consume the Apple keynote tomorrow. Will it be webcast? Let's accumulate our intelligence on the lasagna wiki.
I'm starting to accumulate MSM descriptions of myself, in the right margin, to give reporters a way to describe me without resorting to the "self-proclaimed" insult. Even if you don't respect me, it seems you should respect your MSM peers, one might hope.
Amyloo on outline todo lists.
I got a bunch of email after a Sony announcement yesterday that they were making a box for their Bravia TV that connects it to the Internet, and includes a RSS aggregator that gets podcasts to play on the TV. Niall Kennedy writes: "Your TV now subscribes to RSS. Crazy!" It's worth mentioning that my TV, a 46" Sony Bravia, already has this capability. I did it with a $500 add-on called a Mac Mini, and some RSS software I wrote myself. It's connected to the Internet, of course, and also includes a blog editor, and an outliner. No reason to think of your TV set as anything other than a PC.
Forget Bill Gates, guys, Valeriewag blows (a kiss at) you.
I asked Doc what he thought of the Valeriewag video.
The Gates keynote was borrrring (no surprise) so I left early and came over to the Bloghaus blogging party. Here's a movie of the scene.
Artistic shot of people lined up for Bill Gates keynote.
I got a press pass, the straightforward way. Went to the convention center, found the press registration office. Filled out the form. Printed yesterday's Scripting News, gave it to them. Stood my ground when challenged. Got the badge. Lots of other bloggers were there, all of them got credentials. Not sure they knew what blogs are, but "Internet" was an acceptable form of publication. (Postscript to Gartenberg about bloggers and press passes.)
Two reports on Netgear's product announcements. Moving video content around a house is something I've been playing with for the last few months, and I gotta say I don't believe Netgear has a product that works for most people. You need a file server for sure, but every TV set must, imho, have its own hard disk and CPU. I prefer the Mac OS and I'd love to get a few Seagate TB disks. Such a setup does make the TV a lot more expensive (today) but I think it's the only solution that actually has a chance of working. Pretty likely Gates is going to talk about something like this tonight, and his solution almost certainly will put a hard disk and CPU at every TV (he sells OSes after all).
Pictures of the press room at the convention center.
Movie: The Las Vegas strip flies by.
Movie: In a cab on the way to the convention center Steve Gillmor makes an admission. Steve got a press pass too.
Brian Benz: A Resident Geek's Guide to Las Vegas during CES.
Bonus movie: In Scoble's room at the Bellagio.
Las Vegas weather: 47 degrees now, high -- 55.
Naked Jen: "I am me. Nakedjen. Who protests just about anything and everything."
Michael Gartenberg on bloggers at CES. I don't count as one of them, at least not yet. Count me as a gawker, eyes wide open, gears stripped, not knowing where to begin. Like Michael I'm in awe of Peter and the Engadget folk. How do they do it? Me, I'm mostly going to tag along. I have my camera and laptop. And my cold is threatening to come back. I'm going to wear a sweater and warm jacket today, no fashionable sports jackets for this guy. And yesterday Furrier asked me who Gartenberg is. I said you gotta know Michael.
It's the bonzo doo dah dog band coming to you live from Las Vegas.
Haven't been here in 15 years, and man it's sure changed a lot.
It's like a cartoon come to life.
Had dinner with the gang: Furrier, Shaw, Gillmor and Scoble.
Tomorrow Scoble is doing a live interview with someone famous.
Gillmor was in rare Bad Sinatra form.
Do be do be do.
Reminds me of a joke. I'll tell you later.
Still offstage, Crazy Niece Valerie Cunningman, Craza Papa Doc Searls, Future Billionaire Jason Calacanis.
Stay tuned, don't touch that dial. More to come!
Your faithful stringer...
There's a preview event tonight for press at the Venetian, and I want to blog it but I'm not sure if I have a press badge (the wonderful people at Podtech are looking into it). So I need a good Plan B.
If you need a stringer, someone with an eye for podcast utilities and players, mobile blogging and news, video on the net, I'm your guy. I'll blog it for you, no charge. I even take pics.
So if you have a clue on how I can get a press badge at this late hour, send me mail: dave dot winer at gmail dot com.
This morning its 37 degrees in sunny Berkeley. Chilly, but normal for this time of year. In NYC, where it's supposed to be cold and snowy all day every day this time of year, the forecast high is 71. It hasn't snowed in NY yet this winter. On the TV they're grinning and laughing, the idiots. This weather is not cute, it's political, and dangerous.
In the Spike Lee movie on Katrina, they interviewed native New Orleaneans, who asked, half accusing, half in misery: "Why didn't someone tell us this could happen?" Someone did. Over and over. It was on 60 Minutes, for crying out loud. No one kept it hidden, everyone who cared who lived in New Orleans knew that someday a storm would arrive that the levees couldn't handle. It was also commonly known that the levees either broke or were blown in 1927.
Global warming? Same thing. Obviously what's happening now is not a cute little fluke, it's part of a major world-level change. To think life will go on as before in this new world would be as naive as believing in the peace dividend after the Soviet Union fell apart (yeah, some people did). An unstable world is a dangerous world. Katrina itself was a warning for all of us.
You deserve a laugh.
Ole and Lena, the wacky, sexy Norweigians from Minnesota.
I followed the instructions here to create an OpenID for myself at MyOpenId, and added the magic bits that associate this weblog with that ID:
<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.myopenid.com/server" />
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://davew.myopenid.com/" />
If you do a View-Source you'll see these two link elements in the <head> section of the HTML.
So now I can use any of the services that use OpenID as an identity system, and not have to create a new identity.
It took a few years, but it's great to see software actually being built around the identities that aren't vendor controlled.
I didn't comment on Daylife at first, I didn't know what to say because I don't really know what Daylife is.
I saw a really sexy demo early last year in NY when visiting with Jeff Jarvis, it did a lot of things the beta we're all using now doesn't do. I've already disclaimed that I have an investment in the company, not a huge amount of money, but I have hopes to make a fat profit from the investment, and that certainly colors what I say and don't say. (And not knowing what it is at this point is not a fatal flaw, for sure.)
That said, I agree with Mike, they should do something with RSS. They're getting all these people looking at it now, and surely some of them would subscribe to a feed of news about Daylife itself. Nothing more than a flow of new features, or new partners. How do they expect to invite people to come back for another look if there's no way to subscribe.
This is a very common opportunity that entrepreneurs overlook. Your first challenge is to build the lines of communication to the people you want to influence. The more efficient those lines are, the better your chance of success. In the old days that meant buying ads in trade pubs, today it's a lot cheaper -- just put up a feed, and don't forget to post to it.
PS: Salim, can you hear me??
Okay, the second Opportunity Knocks post was spectacularly unsuccessful. There must not be any underemployed PHP programmers in the Bay Area in my sphere of connectivity, or none who are interested in making a few bucks pioneering the attention economy with the principles of vendor relationship management.
So be it. But I'm one stubborn mofo. I'll keep making offers until something hits a nerve. I really want to do this project.
I no longer want a PHP programmer, and I'm willing to relax the rule about being in the Bay Area. I'm also willing to work with a developer community instead of hiring a contractor.
So here's my idea...
I want to define a cloud in Amazon S3 space, a cloud of subscription information, some of it public and some of it only accessible to the user. We're going to depend on Amazon's ability to keep stuff private that we want private, and make available publicly the stuff we want to publish.
I'm looking for a family of apps, some that run on the desktop, some that run on servers, that allow a user to:
1. Upload an OPML file with subscriptions to S3, in such a way that only the user can see the list of subs.
2. Present that list to the user, with a checkbox next to each subscription. By default each box is checked. The box indicates whether or not the subscription will be visible to the public. The user can change the status of any of the subscriptions to shield it from public view. This is remembered, so whenever the OPML is published an unchecked item will not appear in the public list. (This is necessary because the existence of a feed in a subscription list may reveal private information about the person, where they live, who they bank with, etc.)
3. A way to create a publicly visible OPML file, following the guidelines in the 2.0 draft spec, to be shared publicly, so that aggregators may create recommendation systems based on the information. It should be possible to create lots of interesting views of the informaiton.
4. Every time the OPML file is updated, send a ping to a changes server that will either be operated openly by the community, or if no agreement can be reached in time, I will operate it myself. This avoids "who does he think he is" arguments. If it's possible to put something together that is free and open, and reasonably well managed without being owned, I'll support it. Otherwise I'll run the service myself, with the possibility that I may someday profit from it.
I will also implement a desktop app in the OPML Editor. It'll be GPL, as is all the code I ship in the OPML Editor (and the editor itself). That's the plan.
Michael Gartenberg says you shouldn't go to CES unless you have to go to CES. Ooops. I don't have to go. He pointed to this list of things to do to avoid exhaustion or illness. Maybe I'll just stay in my room. I'm one of the people who will bring disease with me, a nasty little cold I picked up in NY last week, I've been nursing it all week. I'm going down tomorrow, hope to have a press pass (the Podtech people are working on it, they're totally rolling out the red carpet for me, which is much appreciated). I'm in the same hotel with Steve Gillmor, Jason Calacanis and Gabe Rivera. Two crazy uncles in one hotel. Should be pretty fun. It's a Hilton, where I have a billion points, so maybe I can get an upgrade. Even though I've been warned, I'm still excited.
Ads in CAPTCHAs??
Patent the idea, and license it for $1 million per instance.
I am part of the selection committee for the next Under the Radar conference, on March 23 in Mountain View, CA.
My main responsibility is to help them find interesting companies with products in relevant categories that aren't very well-known.
The goal of the conference is to help draw attention to those products, and help get them staffed and funded, and successful.
Naturally, I wanted to blog about this, so we could get the idea out in front of Scripting News readers.
They're looking for companies with products in the following eight areas:
1. Organize - Tasks, Database, Project, Notes, Bookmarks,
2. Collaborate - Groups, Wikis, Spreadsheets, Word Processing, File Sending, Document Management
3. Track - Time, Expenses, Budgets, Accounting, HR
4. Publish - Blog platforms, Web publishing, Feeds/RSS, Content Management
5. Communicate - Email, IM, VOIP, Voice, web conferencing
6. Create - Presentation Mngr, music, photo edit/manage
7. Personalize - Desktop, Calendar, personal organizers
8. Search - vertical, social, create your own
How to proceed. If you know a company with a worthwhile product in any of these areas, one that isn't well-known, but has potential, please post a comment here, with a pointer to their website, and I'll pass them on to the people running the conference. Should be pretty interesting!
Welcome to Daylife, a "new way to explore the world."
Mike Arrington: "What makes Daylife stand out is not so much what it does well, but what's been left out."
Incredibly rich comment thread on this Valleywag piece.
Steve Rubel: "Daylife may not be the most comprehensive news site on the web, but it's a winner."
Look at all the Placeblogs. Wow!
Brier Dudley's CES party list.
NY Times: Man Is Rescued by Stranger on Subway Tracks.
Robert Niles: "Journalism is journalism, no matter who does it, or where."
In early November I advertised here for a PHP/MySQL programmer to work with me on the SYO project. I interviewed several people, but didn't find the right person. I'm looking for someone local, close enough to Berkeley so that meeting face to face is possible, at least once a week to begin, and then at least once a month.
This area is getting hot. Metadata about subscriptions and recommendations derived from aggregating that data should be a very active area of development, and it'll be politically charged too, because the big companies won't want to let users control their data. By building something outside the big companies, early on, we can head that off, and quite possibly make a nice business. That's the concept.
To begin, I want to hire someone to work on a monthly contract basis. I listed the basic qualifications in November. Please, none of the qualifications are optional. You must be local, must have experience, must love to develop software that pleases users. Send me an email, with a pointer to your resume, if you are qualified and interested. Thanks.
EngadgetHD: "Does BackupHDDVD really actually crack AACS? Well, yes and no."
Todd Cochrane will pay $100 for Movable Type tag support in external editors.
I would say "declined to comment" instead of refused. Sounds so much more dignified.
If you're going to be at CES next week, sign in here, and maybe we can do some stuff together.
Also my story about the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel is on the first page on Google when you search for the hotel. Maybe they'll change their policy if enough customers ask about it when they're checking in.
Five years ago today: When to give away the technology.
It's good to see the music industry realizing that podcasts can be ads for their product.
Placeblogger is getting links from everywhere. Way to roll out a new service, Lisa. Go go go.
Every year John Brockman asks a question of the people on his mail list. This year's question is "What are you optimistic about?" I suppose it's a cop out to say The Universe. Because no matter how much we fuck this planet of ours, most of the universe is outside our grasp. It's safe from our despots, our selfishness.
Another thing I'm optimistic about -- the afterlife. I believe we have a larger existence than we can comprehend. I believe in my dead uncle's Church of Non-Functional Probabilities. The other day I was telling a story about my uncle. A few minutes later, when we got out of the car, there was a freakish wild, cold wind. Freezing cold. When we got out of the restaurant, it was warm again. My uncle would say that was proof of god. I am optimistic about that.
I guess I am optimistic about everything that I am not pessimistic about, which is to say almost everything. How's that John? (BTW, my mail address changed, it's dave dot winer at gmail dot com.)
In the dustup over Microsoft's RSS patents, some of the mainstream press brought up, once again, the issue of Who Invented RSS. But RSS doesn't have an inventor. It wasn't invented. Something else happened, something harder than invention, imho -- an activity that we don't have a word for in the English language.
First, let's try to figure out what happened, never mind, for the moment, how it happened.
Today it's very common for a news oriented site, whether it's a blog or a newspaper, or a company or government organization, television or radio network, library, candidate, political party, university, sports team, anyone with news and people who are interested in that news, to have a feed. There are quite a few formats, but RSS 2.0 is the most prevalent.
Now, if you were to draw a graph of this phenomenon, plot time on the X-axis and level of adoption on the Y-axis, you'd see a rising function, maybe a few setbacks here and there, but for the most part, every year there was more adoption than the year before.
But during the years that everyone argues about, at the beginning, there wasn't much upward motion at all. The "invention" of RSS, muddied as it was, by prior art, wasn't responsible for its uptake. Rather there were several significant moments along the way: support by individual publications, individual bloggers, then blogging tools, then a small number of aggregators and readers, then a few very large publishers, then a flood of publishing and reading tools, followed by a flood of content. And podcasting, which also builds on RSS, helped fuel the fire.
Some of this growth was organic, it was created by previous growth. And other leaps were caused by innovation, new ideas, and some by arm-twisting, or evangelism. It's in this area that my commitment to RSS was instrumental. If it had been left at the "invention" stage, it would be where many other XML-related technologies are today, invented, but not much-used. Something new was done with the cloud of content, tools, aggregators, and that allowed a lot more people to use it, or hear about it, or decide it was finally time to support it.
RSS, unlike other XML inventions, has made a difference. If you want to understand what made RSS happen, it's the innovation, evangelism and commitment that was behind it, not the invention, because I said before, and as everyone seems to agree, it wasn't invented. But we lack a good word for the other stuff, so sheez, what's the big deal if they substitute "invention" for all that? I've looked the other way. But to say I was the "self-proclaimed" inventor is just wrong, I just nod my head when others say it, because I'm tired of arguing.
Anyway, the curve has been going up steadily through 2006, but this coming year I expect to see some setbacks.
Ominously, various publishers and technologists are carving out private spaces, where only their tools can play, or only their special of flavor of RSS is understood. It's inevitable, it was bound to happen. The interesting question is: Will much light come from the discussion as the new services come public, or will the mud-slinging exemplified by the mainstream press, in the last round of discussion, hide the ideas.
Doc has given the go-ahead on the open movie rating project as the first Vendor Relationship Management application.
I wrote it up on 9/30/06.
It was made necessary because the two movie services I use the most, Yahoo and Netflix, won't share my ratings with each other. That's no good. So I'm going to start from scratch, and create an XML file that lists all the movies I've rated with both services.
It's going to take some doing because they won't even show me a list of all the movies I've rented.
Now that's evil!
Postscript: Well, I have to take it back. Netflix does have a way for you to see your previously rated movies. Only in HTML, not in a format that you can export, but at least it's a start. Still don't know of a way to see my previous ratings on Yahoo Movies.
I watched a bit of today's funeral for President Ford.
Like so many people who were alive then, I met Ford myself, when I was an undergrad at Tulane University in 1975. He came to give a speech, and they needed students to sit behind him while he spoke. For some reason I was chosen. He announced that the war in Vietnam was over, as far as the US was concerned.
A story people aren't telling about Ford is a gaffe in a debate during the 1976 campaign against Jimmy Carter, who would go on to win the presidency. He said: "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration." He was given a chance to retract the statement, which was not true, but he didn't.
Sunday's Meet the Press, which is largely a remembrance of Ford, is worth listening to, for the history of the end of Watergate, a period that rushed by so quickly, a lot of people, including myself, missed the details. My guess is that there wasn't a deal between Ford and Nixon. At the time I felt the pardon was the right thing to do, and I still do.
Nixon was a bad man, and a worse president, but he was gone and stayed gone, even with the pardon. Losing the presidency and the humiliation that came with it, was punishment enough, and we desperately needed to get together after the 60s, the war, and then Watergate.
Like many others who lived through that period, I am afraid that when we dig through the remains of the Bush presidency, we'll find that he was an even worse president than Nixon. He made the same mistakes Johnson made, and was even more corrupt than Nixon, if that's to be believed.
I was struck in the Stephanopoulos interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards, also on Sunday, they said that gay marriage would absolutely not be an issue with their daughter's generation (she's 24). Funny how that is, I probably won't be around to see how that turns out, but I wouldn't be so sure. The sad part is that we were sure, my generation, that we would never repeat the mistakes that led to Vietnam and Watergate, but we have repeated them. Edwards is just 53, and can make the same claim.
Sylvia: "Professions I just wish didn't exist then, now and forever are monks, nuns, priests, policemen, soldiers, high school vice principals, animal psychologists, prison guards, and executioners."
Yes, indeed, Barak Obama is a smoker.
Adam Curry thinks the Saddam execution is a shark-jump moment for MSM. I don't know that the cell phone camera guy wasn't part of the official coverage. Maybe the Iraqi govt understands Youtube, they probably do. And Russert and Stephanopoulos had both watched the unofficial tape before the Sunday morning talk shows, so MSM was definitely in the loop. Don't count them out yet, the new channel works for all journos, not just bloggers.
A random fact I learned recently after working through the HBO series Rome -- the term caesar applied to all rulers of Rome. It was a title, not a name. And then I learned that the German kaiser and the Russian tsar were both derived from caesar.
Do I dare admit that I've seen the great movie Idiocracy? Nahhh. I haven't seen it. But if I had, I would say the funniest part is where the Carls Jr vending machine mouths off at a customer. Doc Searls would just love it. Totally.
The News Hounds guy is back. But he won't be watching Fox anymore. Ouch. :-(
It's no different from other media, all they ever talk about is what they are. We got dinged by the NY Times because all bloggers talked about at the DNC was other bloggers. But what were they busy doing -- talking about other reporters, except when they were talking about bloggers -- talking about bloggers.
Nothing wrong with it.
In the early days we joked that they were watching us watch them watch us watch them. And so on.
In 2003, when I was beginning my stint as a fellow at Berkman Center, since I was going to be doing stuff with blogs, I felt it necessary to start by explaining what makes a blog a blog, and I concluded it wasn't so much the form, although most blogs seem to follow a similar form, nor was it the content, rather it was the voice.
If it was one voice, unedited, not determined by group-think -- then it was a blog, no matter what form it took. If it was the result of group-think, with lots of ass-covering and offense avoiding, then it's not. Things like spelling and grammatic errors were okay, in fact they helped convince one that it was unedited. (Dogma 2000 expressed this very concisely.)
Do comments make it a blog? Do the lack of comments make it not a blog? Well actually, my opinion is different from many, but it still is my opinion that it does not follow that a blog must have comments, in fact, to the extent that comments interfere with the natural expression of the unedited voice of an individual, comments may act to make something not a blog.
We already had mail lists before we had blogs. The whole notion that blogs should evolve to become mail lists seems to waste the blogs. Comments are very much mail-list-like things. A few voices can drown out all others. The cool thing about blogs is that while they may be quiet, and it may be hard to find what you're looking for, at least you can say what you think without being shouted down. This makes it possible for unpopular ideas to be expressed. And if you know history, the most important ideas often are the unpopular ones.
Me, I like diversity of opinion. I learn from the extremes. You think evolution is a liberal plot? Okay, I disagree, but I think you should have the right to say it, and further you should have a place to say it. You think global warming is a lie? Speak your mind brother. You thought the war in Iraq was a bad idea? Thank god you had a place you could say that. That's what's important about blogs, not that people can comment on your ideas. As long as they can start their own blog, there will be no shortage of places to comment. What there is always a shortage of, however, is courage to say the exceptional thing, to be an individual, to stand up for your beliefs, even if they aren't popular.
I sat next to Steven Levy the other night at dinner in NY. He volunteered that in his whole career he had never written a word that wasn't approved of by someone else, until he started a blog. I applaud him for crossing the line. I give him a lot of credit for writing without a safety net. It really is different. Comments wouldn't make the difference, what makes the difference is standing alone, with your ideas out there, with no one else to fault for those ideas. They are your responsibility, and yours alone.
For me, the big rush came when I started publishing DaveNet essays in late 1994. I would revise and edit, for an hour maybe more, before hitting the Send button. Once I did that, there was no turning back. The idea was out there, with my name on it. All the disclaimers (I called the essays "Amusing rants from Dave Winer's desktop") wouldn't help, if the ideas were bad, they were mine. But if they were good, they were mine too. That's what makes something blog-like, imho.
Reading Grace Davis's first post of 2007 reminded me to note that 2006 was a very good year in my family. Everyone who was alive at the end of last year is still with us at the beginning of this one, although my dad, who I still call The Miracle Man, gave cause for concern in the spring. We all seem to be getting on better too, though slowly -- that's something else to be grateful for.
I just bought $500 of new clothes at the Gap on the web, a nice way to begin a new year, I think. I'm always resolved to do better, so to make resolutions at the beginning of the year seems like more of the same. Indulging and celebrating, now that's different. And buying stuff after Christmas means you get much more bang for the buck.
On the flight back from NY I sat in the same row as TV celebrity Suze Orman. I was in a window seat, and she was in the other window seat, so I didn't get a chance to talk with her.
If I had had the chance, here's what I might have said...
First, of course, I've watched your show, and I admire your chutzpah, but I gotta say, I'm (obviously) a man and I don't think you treat men very well on your show. Myself, I do pretty well with finances. The only debt I have is a mortgage, for its tax benefits, I could afford to pay it off. I have always been a saver, haven't been in debt since my late 20s (I'm in my early 50s now) and I have health insurance, and home owner's insurance. I've never mooched off women. I'm pretty responsible, I even quit smoking and stayed quit. And I don't like the way you treat men on your show.
Yeah, after saying that, I would have been happy to sit next to this person for six-plus hours on a flight from NY to SF. Not.
So another thing I'm grateful for is that I wasn't seated next to Suze Orman.
PS: Speaking of smoking, I heard that Barak Obama is a smoker?
"The protoblogger." - NY Times.
"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.
"The protoblogger." - NY Times.
"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.
© Copyright 1997-2007 Dave Winer.