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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 30, 2007. Monday, April 30, 2007

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Slingbox supports AppleTV.

Adam Curry has a gripe with SplashCast.

The #87th most influential person in IT.

How to design a podcast player Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Notes from today's *excellent* discussion.

It's listed as a panel, but I'm the only official panelist. ;->

Our topic of dicussion is, officially, How to design a podcast player.

I wrote a piece about this, with three points, in February.

1. Self-contained, untethered synchronization, much the same way a Blackberry gets email.

2. Read-write, two-way, should be able to record and connect with a publishing system for automatic upload and feed production.

3. Must be a platform, that is, people other than the manufacturer can add apps.

After we discuss that, we'll talk about whatever people want to talk about.

Some more ideas...

1. Checkbox News.

2. Twitter as coral reef.

3. Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.

WebFS Permanent link to this item in the archive.

WebFS is a "web services protocol used to exchange files and associated metadata between web applications and services. It's primary intentions are to allow the free-flow of files and data between web services and applications."

I'm sitting next to Nick Cubrilovic of Omnidrive, who is developing this protocol as an interface to his service, and is working on an open source implementation as well.

Other developers are working on it, but he doesn't have clearance to reveal their names.

He has a private mail list that's he opening up.

Bay Area Outage, Day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Raines has an outage update. Like Raines, I made my way from Berkeley to the Oakland Airport yesterday, without incident or traffic. I also took city streets and avoided the Maze, my route would have taken me through the section of freeway that's missing!

Bradley Horowitz, who lives in Berkeley and works at Yahoo has a daily two-way traffic nightmare to look forward to. Maybe enlightened high-tech employers will take this opportunity to distribute their workplace.

Governor Schwartzenegger has declared BART free for all today. What a trip that's going to be. It'll be hard to get a seat on the Richmond line. ;->

My Twitter Friends, Day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I documented the new My Twitter Friends feature in the OPML Editor.

At the time I hadn't tested OPML inclusion in a Twitter post, but today I had a chance (while watching the Microsoft keynotes) and it worked.

Here's a screen shot with an outline expanded.

And here's the Twitter post that created the link.

Blogzone video Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm hanging out with Scoble at the Blogzone at the Venetian. We're going to watch the keynote here. There's a guy in an Elvis outfit here. Really embarassed for the guy.

This happens to me too Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Ross Mayfield: "I was reading the NY Times and glanced at the top right of the page looking for the time."

Wikipedia editing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I did something I had never done before, I edited an article on Wikipedia. And then I edited another.

The first one was about the MacArthur Maze. It had already been updated to include the outage, I just fixed some typos, and rearranged the words so they flowed better. Then I decided to link to my page of links about the news, expecting that would be reverted in a few days at most as the full story was documented, but it was reverted within minutes, as were all my other edits.

Then I decided to look at the RSS page to see if it linked to the RSS 2.0 spec. It didn't, so I added a link. I haven't been back to see if that has been reverted. BTW, most of that page is worthless, things that never happened, Rove-like spin from god knows who. That's the thing about Wikipedia, it's a free-for-all slamfest, and you don't have a right to confront your accusers. Feh.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 29, 2007. Sunday, April 29, 2007

Movies from the Blogzone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Joshua Allen on leaking tomorrow's announcements.

Jeff Sandquist on Pahrump, NV.

Miguel de Icaza on the name Miguel and how it feels to be at a Microsoft event.

The scene at the Blogzone.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

BART tips on commuting in the New Bay Area.

Scoble is hosting a geek dinner for Hugh MacLeod in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Dinner tonight, 6:30PM, Grand Lux Cafe Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bloggers dinner tonight at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian at 6:30PM.

Sign up, comments, on the wiki.

Seeya there!! ;->

PS: My flight gets in at 3:30PM.

PPS: Get ready for weather shock. High of 94 today. Hot!

PPPS: I've got my Sprint Ambassador phone with me. 415-871-7163.

Major Bay Area highway outage Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This morning there's a report on local news that a critical piece of Bay Area roadway is out, and may be out for weeks or months.

The biggest traffic bottleneck in a traffic-challenged metropolitan area is known as the MacArthur Maze. Four major freeways, 880, 580, 24 and 80 all come together from the East Bay, and from the other side -- the Bay Bridge connects all that with San Francisco.

Early this morning a gasoline tanker truck caught fire on a ramp connecting 580 westbound with 880, causing 250 yards of freeway to collapse.

Google map of the maze.

Reports from SF Chron, KGO, Mercury News, Contra Costa Times.

New Twitter support in OPML Editor Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday I released new code that allows you to browse the posts from all the people you're following on Twitter.

How to: 1. Choose Update opml.root from the File menu. 2. Click on OK. 3. Quit and relaunch the OPML Editor app.

There's a new Twitter sub-menu of the Community menu, with two commands: 1. The Preferences command allows you to set your Twitter username and password, and 2. My Twitter Friends opens an outline window with a list of your friends.

In the window, when you double-click on a friend's name, after a short delay, we display the last 20 status messages posted by that person. If the the message contained a URL, the outline node is a link, if you double-click it, the link opens in your web browser (screen shot). Although I haven't tried it yet, if the URL ends with .opml, it should open in-place, since that's a hack the OPML Editor uses to trigger an OPML inclusion. ;->

As usual, report any problems here, or on one of the mail lists.

PS: Amyloo got it before I even wrote it up. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 28, 2007. Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spreadsheet calls over the Internet? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named coffee.jpgI like having a spreadsheet around, but until Google came out with their browser-based spreadsheet, I hadn't used one in many years. I find Office too much software, and all the other spreadsheets I had learned either didn't run on my machine or weren't being actively maintained. Without thinking much I had stopped using them.

But now I use it for all kinds of little tasks that require an array of values, or a bit of calculation. Now I'd like to start building more of my life around a spreadsheet, to use it to monitor various processes on my servers, but to do this, there will have to be a protocol for plugging web apps into the spreadsheet.

Here's the syntax I imagine using:

[server].getPortfolioValue (username, password)

It would work just like a built-in spreadsheet function except the call would go out over the net, run the procedure on the indicated server, and display the value it returns, formatted according to how the spreadsheet author says it should be formatted.

The server url would include a protocol, server name, port and path. I would recommend doing XML-RPC first, it's the simplest, most uniformly implemented RPC out there. You'd have to do some form of SOAP, and extend REST with standards for serializing and de-serializing parameter lists and returned values (or you could adopt the serialization format from one of the other protocols).

Example: xmlrpc://rpc.fidelity.com:7092/

Interestingly, this is one of the demos Microsoft did for Multiplan for the IBM-PC in the early 80s when it was competing with Visicalc. Then, it was a good vision, but impractical. Today it's practical and would be very useful and would lead to many interesting apps, perhaps even businesses.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

"So what?" is exactly right. Imagine saying that the number of telephone calls had stalled at 15.6 million. Or the number of Word docs. Blogs aren't businesses, they're documents, or at best collections of documents. Counting them is an meaningless exercise. Look for individuals who are changing things using blogs, that's what's important.

Phil Wolff: "Skype lawyer Seema Sharma emailed blogger Jan Geirnaert Friday afternoon. She told him his popular skype-watch.com and skype-gadgets.com blogs put him in legal jeopardy."

42 people have signed the Mix 07 wiki page so far.

Twitter as coral reef Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named houseOfCards.gifCalling a technology a coral reef is the highest compliment I can pay.

Here's how the story goes. Scattered throughout tropical seas are coral reefs that started when a ship sank and sea creatures made it their home. Then the predators of those creatures started hanging out, and their predators, all the way up the food chain. Eventually, if the ocean climate was right, a coral reef would appear, much larger than the wrecked ship that started it all.

These days they deliberately sink ships where they want a coral reef.

It's a little sad for the ship, to be devoured this way. I know how it feels, Radio 8 is hardly used anymore, although I think it's a great piece of software, it got consumed in the flames of people who didn't like RSS, but despite their protests, the coral reef did show up, and now RSS has become a thriving ecosystem.

When I develop something new these days, I automatically think of using Twitter as a back-end to connect users of my software. If other developers aren't doing this, I imagine they will soon. And Twitter will beget competitors, and they will have to have APIs if they want to be competitive (Twitter has one) and by now I think they'll have to be compatible with Twitter's to be taken seriously.

The role that Twitter is playing is a vital one -- it's a notification system, always-up, and keeping it up is someone else's problem. As a system designer, I'd like to believe that Twitter or something like it will always be there. I'm not sure of that yet, but it seems we're close.

I know Microsoft is rolling out the red carpet for them in Las Vegas next week. Not sure I like that, or if I would like it if I were Twitter's owners, I'm suspicious of Microsoft's embrace, after lots of experience. But for me, there's really not much risk, even if MS were to try to eat their lunch, as I said, they'd have to be compatible, right?? We'll have to ask Ray about that. ;->

In any case, Twitter is becoming, for me, a coral reef. That's cool.

Little-known facts Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You don't need to use Curl to get stuff from Twitter, you can use a web browser for some simple API calls to see what they return. Try clicking on this URL to see my most recent 20 status messages.


Yeah it's XML. Hope you didn't have a heart attack. ;->

The docs could be much clearer about this, imho.

Another little-known fact, the RSS feeds that provide code updates for all the various components of the OPML Editor now have comments, that explain what changed in each update. I never release a part without explaining it (knock wood, praise Murphy, don't sue me if I don't). Here's an example, the feed for opml.root.


Should have done this a long time ago. I'm going to push some Twitter-related updates today, they should show up in that feed. This means you might want to also subscribe to these feeds in your aggregator or feed reader, because they now include human-readable bits. Unless you're a programmer the notes will likely not make much sense, but that's one way learn programming, almost by osmosis.

Blogs work in sports too! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Curt Schilling: "So for one of the first times this blog serves one of the purposes I'd hoped it would if the need arose. The media hacked and spewed their way to a day or two of stories that had zero basis in truth. A story fabricated by the media, for the media. The best part was that instead of having to sit through a litany of interviews to 'defend' myself, or my teammates, I got to do that here."

How many times have reporters proclaimed blogs stupid, irrelevant or dead.

Now you know why. They're freaked out because their exclusive access to the minds of readers is in its waning days. Blogs are the reason why.

The next step is for publishers to realize that the monopoly is breaking, and to start doing deals with the sources.

Here's Schilling's blog. And feed.

My Twitter friends Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named myTwitterFriends.gif

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 27, 2007. Friday, April 27, 2007

Chickenshit? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named chicken.gifI got a call from Mary Trigiani on Wednesday night. A regular reader of this blog, Silicon Valley communication consultant, cookbook author, sister of a famous author, and friend.

She had been at a conference on advertising in the new era, a panel discussion that included AlwaysOn publisher Tony Perkins and Kourosh Karimkhany from Wired Digital. The panel turned to the discussion that was brewing in our corner of the blogosphere about the role of sources and our relationship to reporters.

Based on Mary's account I expressed optimism for how Wired was rising to the occasion. And it totally didn't surprise me that Perkins took a couple of personal and cheap shots at Calacanis and myself.

One more loose-end to take care of...

Last night, I said I might offer the email I sent to the Wired reporter, Fred Vogelstein, on April 24. The text follows.

"I don't think you would have gotten anytihng from a phone talk with me or Calacanis. We do all our business via email, and in blog posts, and in comments.

"Go read Mike's Crunchnotes post. You'll see his view of the world. See my response, and that's how I push back against his view.

"The fact that all this exploded into Techmeme today made your story. Start reading, and post questions in the comments on all the blog posts that puzzle you. Make sure they know you're from Wired.

"If you're creative you'll get a wonderful story.

"Think of yourself as an American in Iraq."

In other words, do research, the story is on the web, not the telephone.

Phone intervews Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named elephant.gifNow, after all the michegas about how I like to do interviews in blog posts, largely because they create a record that can be easily verified after a story runs, let me say that I often consider doing phone and face to face interviews, and sometimes I do them.

A couple of examples.

1. Recently we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Scripting News. There wasn't a lot of press in the U.S., or in the blogosphere, but interestingly, the story got a fair amount of play in newspapers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The Guardian (U.K.) wanted to do a piece about it, on a very short deadline, and wanted a phone interview.

Now, I have a long-standing gripe with the Guardian, in 2004 they ran a highly conflicted, perfectly awful article about RSS, as the "wars" were settling down, a piece written by one of the partisans, that reflected his point of view, and was presented as news, not comment. Others were not given an opportunity to respond. This is the kind of conflicted reporting that I just can't support, and won't. When I asked the Guardian to look into it, politely but openly, they attacked my qualifications and character, and that was it.

A picture named tariqAziz.jpgSo when the reporter asked for the interview, in 2007, we had a long email exchange about the basis for trust -- why should I work with the Guardian when they hadn't responded adequately to a legitimate inquiry. After much consideration, I didn't do the interview, and didn't link to the piece because like many press reports, they called me a nasty personal name. I hate that part of what they do. They have no insight into who I am personally, and I felt given the dispute that this was their way of getting even. It looks bad, and in reporting, how it looks matters.

Net-net, what might have been fun, even interesting, was miserable. That's the Guardian.

2. On the other side, I did a classic phone interview with a SF Chronicle reporter a week or so ago, shortly after the Virginia Tech massacre, to talk about the releasing of the videos from NBC. I wanted to discuss this with a news reporter, who I felt might have an opinion about it, who would likely want to view the videos himself, rather than have them filtered for him by a competitor. I wasn't disappointed.

I chose to do that interview because there was something in it for me. And while I was extensively quoted in his article, all the quotes came from my blog, because (I hope) they most clearly represented my point of view, much better than my conversational quotes would have.

How to linkbait me Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Today's meme, thanks to Jason Calacanis, is linkbaiting. Not why it's bad, or why he won't do it, or respond to it; rather what you should say if you want him to link to you, and what you shouldn't say.

Okay I'm game, even though this is likely to spawn backlash from the people who say the A-list sucks or it's a boys club, or whatever.

First, in the positive -- here are things that get my attention and make it more likely I will link.

1. Your name is Scott Rosenberg. He's a Berkeley neighbor, founding editor of Salon, a very nice person, but none of that is why I will link to his pieces more often than not. The basic reason is he generally says things I find interesting, even essential. Very rarely do his posts mention me or my work, so clearly I'm not being linkbaited. He's a good journalist, and imho a great thinker, and a very lucid writer.

2. It says it on the What is Scripting News page: "A link on Scripting News means that I thought that the story was interesting, and felt that an informed person would want to consider the point of view expressed in the piece." I know it's corny, but that's more often than not the reason I link.

3. If you link to something I wrote recently and add something to the discussion, esp an experience or point of view that hasn't come up before. I often start threads here, or pick up threads from other sites. If you're continuing a discussion that's hot right now, I'm likely to link.

4. If you say I deserve a MacArthur or Pulitzer, I'll probably link to that. ;->

Now reasons I might not link.

1. If you call someone, esp me, a bad name.

2. In an email or other kind of direct communication you say or imply that I have an obligation to link. Anything other than "FYI" or "I thought you might find this interesting" is pretty much guaranteed not to get a link from me.

3. Lack of reciprocity. If I observe over time that the linking is one-way, i.e. I link to you but even when I'm on-topic for you, I don't get a link from you, that will dampen my enthusiasm.

PS: Obviously this is one of those times Jason wants some link-love. Jason, if you're reading this, see item #3 above. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 26, 2007. Thursday, April 26, 2007

Essential television Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Watching the Democratic candidates debate on MSNBC, all the candidates sound excellent, if not presidential, the kind of people I'd like to see in the Cabinet.

A picture named thinkusa.gifHowever, to make an informed vote, to even understand the context that the United States exists in today and in the near future, we need a lot more information about terrorism and the war in Iraq. Luckily, PBS has produced an excellent series that's eye-opening, and fills in a lot of blanks in the picture that's been created for us by the press and government.

You can download all 11 episodes via BitTorrent, and I highly recommend we all do that, watch the shows, talk about them on our blogs. Let's have a great discussion about the future of our country, and have an equally great election in 2008.

And if you get something out of these programs, as I'm sure you will, please give generously to your local PBS station.

Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part 11.

The changing role of the source Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Must-read piece by Jeff Jarvis on the future of the interview.

I think Wired is doing a wonderful job of listening, far better than any previous print pub has. It's awkward because a lot of understanding hasn't yet taken place. No pain no gain.

The new reality for all publications is that their sources can go direct. It's just like every other activity that the Internet touches, disintermediation happens.

This is a much bigger story than they were aiming for -- it's the still unwritten story of the blogosphere. Wired has a chance to get this scoop that has been out there for the getting for more than ten years, even though, ironically, I wrote much of the story myself, when I was at HotWired -- before leaving, to bootstrap blogging.

Oh it's a great big circle, it is. ;->

Scott Rosenberg: "In the online conversation, the reporter doesn't get the last word. And the reporter doesn't get to filter which parts of the conversation are available to the public. No wonder journalists want to stick with the phone."

A perfect demo Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This blog post from reporter Ryan Sholin perfectly illustrates why we need to create a record of our interviews to provide an incentive to report only the story, not to make up stuff to add drama to it.

For example, where did the "if he wants to" bit come from? Certainly not from me. I would have bent over backwards to answer his questions, of course it would only be "If I want to," but that's the same rule that would apply if he asked me a question on the phone, I would only answer "If I want to." Sloppy reporting.

The second mistake is much more serious: "The problem, of course, for folks like Dave and Jason, is that they've done enough print interviews to get frustrated at the fact that not everything they say, not every bit of context, not every piece of backstory makes it into the final published piece."

That doesn't even come close to reflecting what I said or what I believe. I'll leave it to your readers to click on the links and compare the way you've expressed my opinion and the way I express it.

My belief: You need the discipline of having your sources fully on the record so that you're more careful about representing what they said. In this case, where the reader can fact-check you, you've utterly failed in your responsibility to tell the true story. And this is an insignificant meta-story, and not very complex, and in your area of expertise. I don't have much confidence that you'd be straight with me or your readers if the story was more subtle, or complex.

Conference business models Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I think I'm one of the people who Jim Forbes was on a first-name basis with when I used to run a software company in the valley, and he was a reporter for various tech pubs.

As I read this rambling and interesting blog post, I started to get the idea that Jim was talking about me, and as it progressed I was sure, but he didn't actually say my name.

I don't have anything to hide, either about my involvement with the TechCrunch 20 conference (I'm not being paid for my services, and so far my only involvement has been to say that I am involved) or in the back-channel discussion with the Wired reporter. The only part that hasn't been disclosed is a little advice I offered, on background, but if he wants to disclose it I don't mind. (Maybe I'll dig it up tomorrow and run it as a post.)

I certainly never said anything, publicly or privately to call into question Jim's integrity, nor do I believe there is any cause to, but I do have a problem with conferences that showcase technology, charge people to attend and charge people whose products are demoed. I'm sure, based on knowing JIm for many years, that he never did anything unethical. And Demo, the show that he worked on, is better than a lot of shows, they tell everyone that the participants are paying, in other words, they disclose.

But I've paid to go to conferences where I was sure I was watching ads. Boy did that feel slimy.

People I used to admire did it. That felt worse than slimy, that felt like betrayal.

I know the pressures people operate under, I ran four conferences myself, and never took money for a speaking slot. But it's common practice in the tech industry. And I'm glad that Jason and Mike are going to make an issue of it, because it will put pressure on other conferences to clean up their act. There will be a lot more disclosing in the future, and maybe some conferences will have to find a new business model to keep people coming.

Anyway, it's late, I'm listening to old live Dead music as I write this on my new stereo that I love (a Mac) that's also got an outliner and a browser on it. I'm so glad I lived to see all this convergence. I've smoked a lot of cigarettes with Jim, and maybe a few other things, many years ago when we and the industry we're part of were much younger. I love the guy, and if I said anything that hurt him, it was inadvertent, but I'm sorry nonetheless.

I don't do interviews by email Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm so tired of reading how I prefer to do interviews by email, as if to prove my point -- can't these reporters read or don't they care about getting the story right? This is crux of the story. It's not a minor detail. I don't do interviews by email.

Here's the piece where I explained how I do it.

Here's where I explained it again.

One more time: I am not Jason Calacanis, who expressed a preference for interviews by email. My name is Dave Winer. I prefer to do it in blog posts, totally out in the open, in writing, on the record.

We're in really deep shit here in the US, at least partially because reporters don't do their jobs. I'm up to episode five of the PBS series. I've spent hundreds of hours reading news coverage of Iraq, and now I'm finding out what I suspected, all the reports were 100 percent garbage. Nonsense. Fiction. This is how it happens. They write what they think should be true, they don't bother finding out what's actually happening.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: Jack Valenti dead at 85.

Newfangled indoor BBQ movie.

Checkbox News, Day 4 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Thanks Doc. What a nice thing to say. ;->

I think Checkbox News is all the things you say it is.

Uninstalling IE7 renders machine useless Permanent link to this item in the archive.

  1. I installed IE7.

  2. The OPML Editor doesn't run on Windows XP if IE7 is installed.

  3. I want to use the OPML Editor on Windows XP.

  4. Therefore, I uninstalled IE7 using Microsoft's Add/Remove Programs control panel.

  5. It told me I had to restart.

  6. I restarted.

  7. iertutl.dll blah blah blah.

  8. Didn't the government sue Microsoft over this?

52, the perfect age? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I was born on May 2, 1955.

Which means that on Wednesday I will be 52.

Think about this.

May 2.

5th month, 2nd day.



Perfectly symmetric.

As is the number itself.

5 is an upside down 2.

And vice versa.

Sometimes life makes sense.

Or will make sense.

Next Wednesday.

We hope.

Praise Murphy. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2007. Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Going to Mix? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mixer.jpgI was curious to see who's going to Mix 07 next week, so I started a wiki.

Robert Scoble's Mix 07 predictions. He says Microsoft may announce an S3 competitor. Maybe they'll allow you to specify an index page, then it'll be useful for about 100,000 real world applications that S3 isn't. ;->

If you're going to Mix, and have something you want to talk with other people about, post a note in the comments, or on the wiki, and I'll link to some of them here?

Iraq news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Highly recommend two broadcasts for perspectives on what's happening in Iraq and the US.

First, Monday's Fresh Air interview with Bill Moyers, a preview of his Friday night PBS series, which begins this week with a look at how the press is in collusion with the administration in how they present news about the war. The interviewer challenged Moyers on that word, and he said there's no other word for it (although it's not universal, some of the press is, he says, trying to tell the truthful story).

He also expresses a point I wish more journalists would get, it's not their responsibility to tell both sides of a story, it's their job to say what's actually happening. Most journalists let a Republican and Democrat chew at each other and leave us believing the truth is somewhere between. But in many ways the two parties are also in collusion and they're not even in the neighborhood of the truth.

A picture named bike.jpgSecond, I'm slowly working my way through the PBS series, America at a Crossroads, I'm in the middle of episode 3 (there are 11), and it's beautifully done, and it explains the history of al Qaeda, the relationship between what they call al Qaeda in Iraq and the group founded by bin Ladin. Lots of revelations and important reminders. I didn't understand that for all practical purposes we had destroyed al Qaeda in Afghanistan, that their plan of drawing the US into a hopeless war failed, that we prevailed and drove bin Laden into hiding. Then, something I did understand, we gave them the biggest gift, by invading Iraq.

The third episode contains stories told by soldiers in Iraq, with stories from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War intermixed. Great literature, eye-opening perspectives. Both parties say they are supporting the troops. They should watch this episode for an idea of what that actually means.

Connect the two shows together, Moyers and Crossroads, and you see that the press is still feeding us nonsense about Iraq, carrying the Bush message that we lose if we withdraw. In fact, we lose by staying, depleting our military, and going ever deeper into debt. And eventually the troops are going to figure out that no one is thinking about them back home, and we should expect a nightmare when they force us to look at what's happening. A replay of Vietnam, at a societal level, only much worse.

bin Laden understands economics, and I'm sure the President does too, but it isn't reflected in the public dialog. I hope Moyers will fully uncover that on Friday.

They're doing great work at PBS. There's at least one shining light in American journalism. Thanks.

Update: Bill Moyer's Journal is on KQED in San Francisco tonight at 9PM.

Checkbox News, day 3 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

An interesting discussion about Checkbox News yesterday, although it was overshadowed by the michegas about Wired and Arrington, both of whom took cheap shots, Arrington's in the name of friendship. I echo his sentiment, with friends like that who needs flamebait? ;->

Okay, enough about that, what about Checkbox News?

A bunch of people misunderstood that it's a mechanism for giving feedback to the news networks. It is that for sure, but that's not why it exists. Please read this carefully, it's important.

When I uncheck an item, I no longer get news on that subject.

When I say no more Anna Nicole, I don't get no more Anna Nicole. It isn't a request to the network that they consider showing less of Anna Nicole, it's like an on-off switch, or a checkbox (hence the name) -- when unchecked, the flow is off.

So it's a user interface control, a preference, not merely a feedback mechanism.

A picture named elves.jpgOf course if no one has Anna Nicole Smith checked, they'll stop producing news about her, so it is a feedback mechanism in that sense. But if I don't like the garbage they pass off as news, I can watch the stuff I am interested in.

Dan Gillmor says he votes by changing the channel, but that doesn't work when all the networks are covering the same idiotic press conference, where the DNA results of the paternity test for Anna Nicole's baby are being announced, or on the first day back at Virginia Tech when they're holding yet another prayer vigil with orange and maroon balloons. I think it would be nice if they had such ceremonies without the network cameras there, and of course I turn off the TV when they all do that, but see the previous item about Iraq, there is actually news going on when they go into 24-hour hand-wringing mode, and TV is a good way to get news, if only you could get some.

And Trudy Schuett offered a great idea via email -- a section where I say what kind of commercials I want and don't want. I'd turn off the Head-on commercials (got the message, hate the product), and turn on the Apple-PC commercials (they're so damned funny!) and I'd like to get commercials for kitchen appliances (I need some) and home entertainment systems, and travel deals to Europe. This allows Checkbox News to be part of my vision of how advertising works in the 21st century, it's information, not intrusion. Yehi.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Checkbox News Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named accordion.gifYesterday's piece got the most positive and enthusiastic response of any technology I've proposed in the 10-plus years I've been blogging. I love it when an idea takes root like that. Perhaps it's a measure of how fed up we are with what passes for news on television.

We live in a complex world, and many of us have minds and are educated, and want to understand what's going on. TV is not a bad way to do it, but the medium needs an overhaul in the age of the Internet. Our attention has mostly been focused on print, probably because we haven't felt we can do much about TV. But as yesterday's mockup shows, we're really not very far from turning TV news upside down much the same way RSS revolutionized written news.

To implement this style of news, two things are needed:

  1. The news has to be unbundled, each segment, each story, has to be available as a separate unit.

  2. Each item needs to be categorized, needs metadata, to fit into a folksonomy.
Both #1 and #2 are easily within reach given the current economics of TV news. They have the technical means to do the unbundling, some are already doing it (examples: 60 Minutes, NewsHour). And I'd guess that some news organizations are already generating the metadata for each story, and if not, many have the editorial staff to do it.

Once #1 and #2 are in place, just turn your news flow into a frequently updated podcast feed, and we can do the rest, building a variety of clients from Apple TV to the Windows Media Player, running on iPods and cell phones, laptops, desktops -- who knows where. All of it powered by the enormously simple idea of checkboxes.

PS: A J-school prof at Cal told me that most reporters have absolutely no idea which of their stories people read or don't read. They're flying blind. I bet TV news people are too.

Scott Rosenberg: "Not only do most reporters have no idea which stories are read, many if not most don't want to know."

Transcription errors Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named notebook.jpgJason Calacanis was contacted by the same reporter who contacted me. I'm mentioned in Jason's post, but somewhere along the line there was a transcription error. I did not offer to do the interview via email, I made a different offer.

Here's what I said: "Not generally doing interviews these days. If you have a few questions, send them along, and if I have something to say, I'll write a blog post, which of course you're free to quote. Sorry that's about the best I can do."

Like Jason, I have a lot of experience being misquoted, or having comments linked with others, as if there was some back and forth that didn't happen. Or I get used to make a point that the reporter wants to make, and my story gets lost. Often, the reporter's point is that I'm a putz. Why should I work hard to help people do that? Also like Jason, I don't have any trouble getting my ideas out on my own.

So if you want to work together, let's find a new way to do it. I'm fed up with the old system. The way we start the reboot is to do all our work out in the open, real-time. Not via email, but in full view of everyone.

I will respect the reporter's wish not to be identified, and if they want, I won't even say my comments are in response to an inquiry from a reporter.

Another super-rude comeback from a Wired reporter. And they wonder why we decline to do interviews with them. Look in the mirror guys. Imagine someone talked about you that way, and ask if you'd go out of your way to help them.

Dan Gillmor: "Every journalist should have the experience of being covered by journalists. Nothing would improve the craft more."

Joe Beda: "Talking to the media has absolutely no upside for me."

Kevin Tofel: "How about an interview Wiki?"

A picture named straightLine.gifPostscript: A Wired reporter takes issue with Jason's post, calling him "cowardly." As if to prove my point, perhaps. Can't wait to hear what epiphet they have for me. The weird thing about it is that I know and respect Dylan Tweney, which makes me wonder if he's trying to make some kind of really bad joke. If you're trying to be funny, self-deprecating humor works better. Seriously.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I was curious to find out who is going to Mix 07 next week in Las Vegas so I started a wiki page.

NY Times: "Federal securities regulators said yesterday that they would bring no civil charges against Apple over the backdating of executive stock options. But they stopped short of removing the cloud that for nearly a year has hung over the company's chief executive, Steven P. Jobs."

Dan Farber: Apple's former CFO blames Jobs over options.

Rober Ebert: "Being sick is no fun. But you can have fun while you're sick."

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 23, 2007. Monday, April 23, 2007

TV news of the future? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a mockup of how TV news may work in the future.

How I came up with this view...

I was drinking coffee, watching the morning news when a story about Virginia Tech came on MSNBC. I really wanted to begin this week without more stories about how they're coping. I know this makes me an ogre, but after listening to On The Media yesterday, my cynicism is validated. And after watching 60 Minutes about life in Baghdad, the first report I've seen to actually go in to get the story, I was aware that people are dying in places outside Blacksburg (and truthfully, the dying is probably over in Blacksburg).

I had a flash, I want a checkbox that tells MSNBC that I don't want any more Virginia Tech stories.

A picture named zb.gifThen came breaking news that Boris Yeltsin had died. In my ideal news system, the screen would refresh and a checkbox entitled Yeltsin would be added, checked by default. If, after hearing the first report, I didn't want to hear more, I could uncheck it. No doubt a biography is coming, and testimonials, and interviews with Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. I am interested in this stuff, Yeltsin is history, but there may come a time when I'd prefer more news about Alberto Gonzales, and I definitely want to hear anything they have on the Internet or Macintosh, or the impeachment of President Bush.

And there are some longterm stories that I have an interest in, like Katrina, or topics that because of my past I want to stay tuned into, like NY Metro. I live in the Bay Area, so I want to be informed about news there, but mix it in with news of the world. As we head into baseball's post-season, I'll check Sports, but it's still early, and I'll look for the news of my teams on the net, myself.

A picture named jonbenet.gifI think this is another form of the River of News, the checkboxes represent subscriptions. I could see MSNBC including stories produced by CNN, and sharing revenue with them. The goal is to get the best news experience tailored to the interests of specific users. I don't want to interfere with people who want to see the Virginia Tech students go back to class, but I want to move on, and want my news provider to respect that. (And I still want the choice to see Cho's videos, I think that was the solution to the problems Howie Kurtz was concerned with on the Reliable Sources. Note that media navel-gazing is not checked in my customized view. This permits them to talk about themselves all they want, which is fine with me.)

I'd like a button that means "Go on to the next story."

I thought I would write this up, but why not go a step further and mockup a prototype page, because it might stimulate some thought and other ideas.

And if you have comments, please let me know.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: "Two former Apple executives expect to be sued this week by the Securities and Exchange Commission over the company's backdating of employee stock options."

American Cliche: "Has the Podshow lineup been booted off Sirius?"

Infoworld: Wi-Fi cloaks the City of London.

Technology Review: Vista vs OS X?

Google == Internet? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fordtocitydropdead.gifRemember the newspaper guy so many were calling clueless for saying that Google was getting all his content for free without paying for it? I defended him, saying that from where he stood the name Google was synonymous with everything we think of as the web or the Internet.

Now there's a study that ranks Google as the most valuable brand, not just in tech -- it's worth more than Coca-Cola, Marlboro, Wal-Mart, GE, and of course Microsoft and Apple. Google is the #1 most valuable brand in the world. That's right -- Google. How did that happen?? ;->

Now, if you stopped a man or woman in the street and asked what Google means, what would they say?

I don't know, but I suspect they would say "The Internet."

Get revenge on Wired, or..? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A Wired reporter wants to go to Mix 07.

But there's a hitch -- it's sold out, and there's a waiting list.

Should Microsoft give the reporter special consideration?

Sopranos Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Amyloo was made nervous when Tony tended his tomatoes last night. It's not the only recent hat-tip to The Godfather, right? They lead you right up to the cliff, and leave you hanging there. Heh.

I wonder if this Sopranos reference will be as high-ranked as last week's? Seems kind of a scam, I wish I had more to say about it. For some reason Google thinks I'm authoritative on the Sopranos. Go figure. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 22, 2007. Sunday, April 22, 2007

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On The Media segment on Virginia Tech massacre. We were all actors in a drama.

Seattle P-I: The end of a blogging era may be near.

Yogi Berra: "We're lost. But we are making good time."

Surprised that my review of last week's Sopranos is in the first page of results for Sopranos on Google.

Google Calendar security issue.

Moveon taking cheap shots at McCain? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mccain.gifAmyloo chimes in on liberals not stooping to the ridiculously low level of Republican politics. One thing I'm not clear on is if Moveon.org is taking cheap shots at McCain for his gaffe about bombing Iran (which was insensitive, btw, to the Iranians who would die and the Americans who would risk their lives to drop the bombs).

If Moveon is doing this, can I have a pointer? The reason I ask is that the founders of Moveon are neighbors, and this is something we can do something about, unlike most of the misery of the world, we can help make this one better. And I'm willing to seek out Joan and Wes to express our displeasure.

Postscript: Yes, they are taking advantage of McCain's mistake. Here's a copy of the email they're sending. They lose me when they do stuff like this. I'm not voting out one set of unprincipled losers to replace them with another.

Hannibal Lecter Lite Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Any time Anthony Hopkins stars in a murder mystery that gets reasonably decent reviews, I'm all over it.

Fracture sure isn't Silence of the Lambs, it's nowhere near as intellectually challenging, we figured it out an hour before the other main character did, but it's still a good movie, with Hopkins in great form, even if it's just a hint of the depraved cannibal that lives inside him. ;->

I gave it a B- on Yahoo.

OPML Editor help Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm seeing reports on people's blogs that they can't get yesterday's Twitter connection working.

In many cases the problem is that they haven't updated to the new release process. The instructions are here.

If that doesn't do it for you, post a message on one of the mail lists where people can help.

New Twitter prefs panel Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I added a prefs panel for Twitter support in the OPML Editor. This replaces step 3 in yesterday's instructions, you don't have to go looking for user.twitter.prefs in the object database, this panel takes care of that.

To get the panel, choose Update opml.root in the File menu.

Here's a link to the prefs panel. You must have the OPML Editor running on your system for that link to work.

The OPML Editor has a built-in web server for applications like this. Makes it easy to configure apps in a web browser.

Advertising, day N Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Almost everyone in the comments missed the point of the naked car guy in the YouTube video, they commented on the quality of the ad, which is something everyone can have an opinion on, but that wasn't the point.

Their gesture was significant even if no one was informed or entertained by it, it had the courage to say this is something you want to watch even if you don't have to.

Read the part in italics, read it carefully before you post a comment saying the quality is too low. The point is that the age of intrusive commercialism is fading, and replacing it is opt-in commercials. Commercial information you seek out because you're buying a car or refrigerator, planning a trip, need to get new shoes, or need surgery or to be represented in a lawsuit. We are all seeking commercial information all the time, and guess where we go to find it these days -- the Internet -- of course!

Imho, in five years, there will be so many commercial videos on YouTube and it will seem so much a part of life, everyone will say it was always totally obvious, but remember the day (today!) when you didn't think so.

Commercial information will be opt-in, long-form, information-rich and entertaining, or people won't watch it.

The ad agency responsible for the naked car guy may not get it right this time, but they should keep trying, because they're onto something.

Money talks Permanent link to this item in the archive.

1. I've spent many thousands of dollars on the Internet.

2. I've spent $0 on ads that showed up in the margins of my attention.

3. I've never intentionally clicked on one.

4. Mark Cuban: "My viewers are my customers."

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 21, 2007. Saturday, April 21, 2007

First user-facing Twitter feature Permanent link to this item in the archive.

For OPML Editor users...

While I was waiting for today's movie to start, watching some boring Coming Attractions, I was thinking about Twitter, and how to connect it to blogging software.

A picture named funkytunes.jpgI went over the options, you could connect a RSS feed, so every post would be Twitted, immediately, as soon as it's on the web. I didn't like this so much.

What I opted for is to make it easy to post a link to your blog post to Twitter, by clicking a button, when you're ready.

Here's how it works...

1. Choose Update opml.root from the File menu. This will also update dotOpml.root.

2. Quit and re-launch the OPML Editor.

3. Jump to user.twitter.prefs, and enter your Twitter username and password.

4. Choose Open today's outline from the Your OPML Weblog sub-menu of the Community menu.

5. Enter a blog post. When you're ready to notify your Twitter friends of its existence, click on the Twitter button. A dialog appears, confirming what you want to say, and allowing you to edit it if you like. If you click on OK, it adds a permalink to the text, and shoots it up to Twitter.

A picture named dialogAfterEditing.gif

6. And a few moments later, your wisdom is on Twitter.

Good advice for everyone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Weinberger: "MoveOn.org can decide to make political hay out of McCain's gaffe, but we all pay a price for it."

I agree. And our corner of the blogosphere can benefit from that advice as well. Think about it.

21st century advertising Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This is what I've been talking about.

In the future, advertising will be so entertaining that it will create its own pull. No need to intrude, to hitch a ride on other more compelling content.

8/3/06: "If it's perfectly targeted, it isn't advertising, it's information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive."

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 20, 2007. Friday, April 20, 2007

RSS miscellany Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Looking for sources of photo feeds for flickrRivr...

I came across an OPML file listing all the NY Times feeds. Now that's cool. I wish they had told me about it, could have saved a bunch of time.

Here's the OPML in a browsable form.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgI'm finding I can't use as much of Yahoo's stuff as I hoped to. They have feeds of news pictures, but they're too small, when they are displayed on a TV screen they're grainy and hard to look at. There were some other problems with Yahoo feeds, but I'm going to try reporting them directly to Yahoo people before writing them up here.

Basically I'm looking for RSS 2.0 feeds with either Media-RSS photos, or enclosures, with medium resolution photos, between 100K and 1MB, with family-safe pictures.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named lincoln.jpgComputerworld: "A hacker managed to break into a Mac and win a $10,000 prize as part of a contest started at the CanSecWest security conference in Vancouver."

SF Chronicle: "The Virginia Tech shooting is the first major U.S. news story in which traditional media and new-media technologies became visibly interdependent."

Microsoft is hosting a blogger lounge at Mix 07, April 30-May 2 in Las Vegas.

Tim O'Reilly defends Amazon, who is suing Statsaholic, a site that builds on Alexa, which is owned by Amazon. Amazon is an O'Reilly customer and also sponsors their conferences.

Reuters: "The Vermont state senate passed a symbolic resolution on Friday calling on the U.S. Congress to impeach U.S. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over their handling of the unpopular Iraq war."

Frank Shaw: The Press And Iraq.

Dan Ruby's Festival Preview.

Engadget: Wal-Mart $299 HD DVD player.

Oh Valleywag Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named augustusCaesar.gifI think they're all smoking crack down there, or abusing small animals, or sticking things in orifices god never intended things to be stuck in, or maybe all of the above (at the same time), because their brains seem to be shrinking, visibly, every day.

Sorry, but I had to even the score before I could write about them. ;->

The latest evidence of self-abuse is this piece where they say Apple won in podcasting. I strongly disagree. The users won. And the people with programming that the users like won.

It's not all about technology. One would think the Valleywag guys would get that. Sure there's a little bit needed, and Apple helped distribute podcasts, enormously. If I were Evan Williams or Adam Curry I never would have invested in the systems they invested in, even before Apple came in to the market. I put my stake in the ground when both these systems launched. No future here.

It was kind of obvious -- podcasts aren't like photos, you can't make a social network form about them because people get ideas about podcasts when they're nowhere near a computer, unlike photos or blog posts. Apple didn't make this mistake. Their goal was to help the MP3s make the trip from the podcaster's server to the user's iPod, and that they do fairly well, so god bless them, they helped us get this thing going. Thank you Apple.

A picture named hotdog.jpgSo it's shaken out as it obviously would. There was no boom in podcasting technology, and there won't be. There's still lots of opportunities in players, iPods are the best available, but they're designed to play music, not podcasts, and there's a lot of room for improvement. Whether the VCs will bet on that is a good question, or any consumer electronics companies other than Apple, but that's where they should be putting their money, not on fakeouts like Odeshow and Podeo.

Today's MSM monologue Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Can they only do one story at a time?

Today they're only reporting on the second floor of Building 44 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Is this news? Barely.

In the meantime our government is in crisis.

And who knows what else is going on.

The news doesn't mention anything other than a nameless sub-contractor who may or may not have taken hostages. Not much is known, but massive amounts of attention are focused on it.

Podcast Hotel, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named freakyPanelInSanFrancisco.jpg

Live stream from Podcast Hotel on Ustream.tv.

We cracked the code Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mourn.gifThe Republicans are quick to jump on Harry Reid saying he's undermining the troops, but I don't think Americans are so dumb that they fall for that kind of BS. They've been selling corrupt logic for a long time, and we've cracked the code.

The best way to find out what the troops think, if that's their real concern (of course it isn't, their concern is that they might get blamed for the mess they created) is to ask them.

It could be that soldiers in Iraq have very little idea what we're doing there, and don't relish dying to keep Bush from going down as the disaster that he is. Who loves Bush so much that they'd be willing to die for his legacy? Isn't the next President going to have to own up to Bush's mistakes? At that point, how will Bush spin it? The tools available to ex-presidents are nothing compared to the power of the incumbent.

Yes, of course, the war is lost Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fredo.jpgHarry Reid says that the war in Iraq is lost. Yeah. That's been obvious for a long time. We don't even have any goals for the fighting. If we did, maybe then winning or losing would mean something.

I don't think there was any way for Reid to win by saying what he said. So maybe he was motivated by something that the Republicans don't understand, maybe his conscience dictates that he tell the truth, if it might possibly save one life, no matter what kind of a Republican shitstorm it provokes.

When the Republicans say we should stay so we don't lose, they're playing politics with the troops lives.

And Reid is to be applauded for saying what's so obvious that no one else in politics seems willing to say.

BTW, if you want to find the bug -- we didn't have a national discussion about the war before we started it. Instead skeptics were shouted down as unpatriotic. Look at what a mess that created. Will we learn the lesson? Seems we have another chance to do that. Reject the Republican smear. I don't think Reid is wrong, but he simply expressed an opinion, and as majority leader of the Senate, we want him to do that, even if we don't agree.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 19, 2007. Thursday, April 19, 2007

Podcast Hotel Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named beach.jpgI described the idea of a podcast hotel in a Trade Secrets podcast with Adam Curry in 2004 or early 2005. The idea was pretty simple. Rent a cheap hotel in the middle of nowhere. I was thinking St Augustine Beach, FL. A few meeting rooms, a decent-sized ballroom with lots of tables and chairs, we truck in food, high-caffeine soft drinks, and a bunch of connectivity and wifi. Spend $100K and everyone rents their own room. Double-up if the price is prohibitive. Car pool. Swim in the ocean. Walk on the beach.

Spend a week there, writing code, blog stuff, doing podcasts around the clock. This was in the early days when you could fit all the podcasters in a dinky beach hotel. Then, basically -- you'd get infinite connectivity if you stayed long enough. Everyone would get to know each other, and there would be a dozen podcasts that were great, tons of great ideas, and out of that would come a roadmap for all of us. And a great memory of when we worked together, to help launch an industry, a new human activity.

Unfortunately it never happened, for a lot of good reasons, mostly that it's hard to get people to work together.

Now in San Francisco, tomorrow and Saturday, there will be a conference at the Swedish American meeting hall on Market St, that is called Podcast Hotel, but it's a pretty ordinary conference, not even an unconference, and nothing like the podcast hotel we envisioned.

I may stop in tomorrow or Saturday to schmooze a bit, shake hands, listen to a bit of stage-talk, and wonder What If.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Joe Conason: Gonzales' resignation is not enough.

Mark Glaser asks, on his PBS blog, whether NBC should have released the Cho videos.

Jeff Jarvis: Losing control of media.

1/3/05: "The professional journalist is totally part of the story he or she is writing. That they believe otherwise is the major bug in their process."

News.com: Dell brings back XP on home systems.

Scoble argues for full-text feeds.

Joe Trippi, Dean campaign manager in 2004, joins the Edwards campaign.

Internet Identity Workshop, May 14-16, Mountain View.

Jackie Danicki signs up with Ing Direct based entirely on reviews here. I hope she'll write up her experience as she becomes more familiar with it. One of the problems with all the online banking systems is that you can't see the software before you sign up for an account.

Cho-TV, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

[[A picture named antena.gifWhen it came out yesterday that Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, had sent 23 QuickTime videos to NBC in NY, that changed forever how I thought about blogging, video, podcasting, etc. When I first put up the post, Steve Garfield sent an email saying he didn't think it was vlogging, but I'm not so sure. Whatever it is, there's an amateur using the new tools, not for good, but horribly, for bad.

Some people say that if NBC were to release the videos, completely and exactly as Cho produced them, this would spawn copycats. That's a valid opinion of course, but I don't see why. We don't know what's on the videos. And do you think anyone who wanted to see them hasn't seen enough to get the basic idea? Maybe the copycat will strike because Cho's video didn't get broad distribution, and they have an easy shot at outdoing him. I don't know how the mind of a mass killer works, if anyone does.

I said we hadn't forseen this use of the technology because, as utopians, we tend to look for the good stuff. I liked to think I had a balanced view, and could see where bloggers weren't doing good, but I hadn't seriously considered our tools used to further such a bad cause.

What's next? Isn't it obvious -- the latest and greatest stuff, Ustream, Twitter and mass murder. When you see a suicide bomber with a camera strapped to his or her head, you'll know that the bad has caught up with the good.

Reuters looks at questions raised for newsrooms about social media and events like the Virginia Tech killings.

Reuters asks if they should accept amateur video, when doing so might encourage others to take risks they otherwise wouldn't. I think that's an easy call. They should accept video from anyone who's credible. They should stop seeing themselves as parental to amateur reporters. They also say no amateur ever dies covering a story. They can't have it both ways. They accept video from professional reporters who take risks, so they should treat amateurs equally.

Rob Sama: "At this point given that NBC has done a partial release, they should just finish the job and go with WinerÕs suggestion. But NBC's attempt to split the difference between the two opposing schools of thought, both of which make valid points IMO, wound up embracing the worst aspects of both. As it now stands Cho has his stardom and the public doesn't have enough information to figure it all out."

Frank Shaw says if he had received the videos, he would have turned them over to the police without airing them. What would you do if you had to make the call?

I've heard it said we're exploiting other people's pain. I suppose almost any event could be spun that way. For example, when the President says we should wait six months before judging his troop surge, a lot of people are going to die because of that, and anyone who is critical of his plan might be seen as exploiting their pain. It's in times of crisis like this that we learn the most about our values and how they compare to others. A lot of learning happens. There are always people calling foul, so be it. (People used to say who was I to write about tech, then they said I shouldn't write about politics. I said don't read it if you don't like it.)

Paul Andrews: "Cho undoubtedly did not want NBC to censor the materials. But he apparently, naively or stupidly, sent only one copy out. So NBC owns the rights, unfortunately."

Time: "How much Cho to show?"

Online banking, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Great response to yesterday's request for experiences with online banking services.

Sounds like Ing Direct gets the highest marks from its users. Based on what I read, I almost set up a new account yesterday. Read what Clay Johnson says about them. It's pretty rare that a product gets that kind of review from a customer.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 18, 2007. Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Vlogging comes to mass murder Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named cho.jpgThe Virginia Tech shooter sent a package of video and pictures to NBC.

In other words, vlogging comes to mass murder, in ways no one anticipated (or no one I know).

It makes perfect sense, in a perfectly senseless way.

He sent the package in the 2 hours between the first and final killings.

Note: I took this post down for a few hours this afternoon because it wasn't clear what was in the package, and if it would be released. We're watching it on MSNBC now. It's amazing stuff. The videos are Quicktime files.

NBC should release all of the videos in Quicktime form as downloads. It's wrong to withhold them.

They're sifting through them and deciding what to release and what not to release.

It's 2007, and it's a decentralized world. We should all get a chance to see what's on those videos.

GIven enough time the focus will go on their process, much better to just let it all out now, with no editorial judgement.

If you have contacts in the blogging world or MSM that could influence NBC's decision, please pass this on.

A picture named envelope.jpg

Micah Sifry: "There's no obligation to put it all out there..."

NY Times: Package Forced NBC to Make Tough Decisions.

Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing is chronicling the release (or lack) of the Cho "multimedia manifesto."

Via email, Doc Searls nails a bunch of angles on this:

"Cho sent those recordings to a major broadcast network. Not to the police, not to other individuals. (Far as we know.) Clearly he wanted his recordings broadcast -- after the deeds were done, and he was dead as well.

"We don't know if he thought about uploading them to YouTube. But, since he planned to fill the rest of his morning with murder, it's likely that he didn't want to post his plans on the Live Web -- where somebody might see it and get authorities to stop him. So he opted instead for snail mail and a big bang later on the small screen. YouTube would come, inevitably, later.

"From what I gather, the police have seen and cleared the recordings for disclosure. So, presumably, there is no reason to protect anybody (for example, individuals Cho may have targeted for murder) other than broadcast viewers. (This is required by law, fwiw.)

"So I think Dave is right. If there is nothing to hide here, other than obscenities that cannot be broadcast on TV or radio, there is no reason why NBC should withhold the recordings other than the belief that they own them, and hold them as property. That's their right; but it does not help the rest of us get clues that might help prevent another tragedy like this one.

"And this tragedy isn't just about Cho and NBC. It's about the rest of us.

"So I agree with Dave. More eyes will make the this bug shallower. It may save lives. Even if we see a zillion mashups of the original video, which we'll see eventually anyway."

Best online bank? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A couple of years ago when I started using my bank's online system to pay bills, I was in awe. How much easier and faster it was than paying bills by hand. What used to be a chore that I put off and as a result paid late fees, and my credit rating suffered, had become a pleasure. My queue of unpaid bills was never very deep or very old.

A picture named donquixote.gifNow the thrill is wearing off, I'm a homeowner with a mortgage, and a business owner, which means I have two checking accounts and all of a sudden my bank's online system isn't working so well. Things that would be easy if the software were designed by Google or Yahoo isn't so easy. For example, I have to use two browsers, one set up to pay bills from my personal account and the other to pay from my business account. I haven't been able to figure out how to choose an account any other way. I've tried repeatedly to convince the bank that I don't live in Massachusetts, but there are all these replicated copies of my address in their system, and they keep presenting the wrong address as the default.

So I decided to check out Consumer Reports on this subject (you must be a member for that link to work) and they don't yet rate banks based on their websites. I suspect this will change soon.

Anyway, I thought I'd ask you to share your experiences. You don't have to name the bank if you'd rather not for security purposes (as I am) or you can use a fake name so you can name the bank without risk. I'm just interested in getting an idea if my experience is bad or typical or good, for 2007.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Fantastic rendition of My Generation.

New coffee maker. Key feature: hot coffee.

A YouTube group for OPML users.

Dvorak on the Web 2.0 Expo.

Andy Carvin: "Virginia Tech's students are about as wired as any other school, with laptops everywhere and cell phones close to ubiquitous."

CNN: "Insurgent bombers launched a series of attacks across Baghdad on Wednesday and killed at least 171 people and wounded scores -- a particularly violent day in a bloody capital city enduring sectarian warfare and an aggressive government crackdown against insurgents."

NPR segment on a blogger's code of conduct.

Republican rhetoric Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The BS you hear from Republicans on radio, TV and in print would never play if it were repeated in an offline political discussion between citizens. With a majority favoring withdrawal from Iraq, even though the President is against it (which indicates a fairly strong conviction, imho), you can't get away with the kind of idiocy that Vice-President Cheney said in his Face The Nation interview last Sunday with Bob Schieffer, who patiently put up with it because it's his job to.

The Republicans repeatedly say the consequences of withdrawal is failure in Iraq. Which is easily pushed aside. We've already failed, and you're right, the consequences suck. What now?

Last night on Countdown, Olbermann asked the same questions I asked here yesterday, although much more politely. Why are the lives of the Virginia Tech students any more precious than the lives of our soldiers in Iraq, and please explain to me why they're more precious than the lives of Iraqi children, some much younger and more helpless than the Virginia students. They aren't. A life is a life, all are equal. And as Olbermann pointed out, the deaths in Iraq are more preventable than those from a random act of violence.

I had a radical idea watching a debate on TV about the war, between a Republican and a Democrat. Maybe now it's time to have some discussions of the future without the Republicans. They drop the level of discourse to the lowest level I've ever seen, and these days it's all about covering their ass for the disastrous things they've done to this country, and the rest of the world. Maybe it's time to stop giving them equal time so we can get on with fixing the mess they created and stop debating why they're not to blame.

No, you don't get it! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A while back I was being lectured, in a blog post, by a woman, about how sexist I am.

She explained that one way to tell you're being sexist is to reverse the genders in a story you tell, and sometimes the sexism reveals itself. Your prejudices about one gender are influencing you, and by switching them, you switch the bias around, and what was invisible before now is visible.

I knew about this, and agreed, it is an excellent way to see sexism or any kind of ism for that matter -- racism, ageism. For example in a TV commercial, a woman hits a man in the face, as a joke. Or turns the sprinkler on him. Or says he's so predictable, in a dumb way, because he likes black cars. Or doesn't remember something like an anniversary. We're supposed to laugh. But if we were getting physical that way with a woman, or being so condescending, it would evoke a completely different reaction.

The irony, is that if the person lecturing me were to flip genders in her own story, she'd probably see her own sexism. Would she lecture a woman the same way she was lecturing a man? Might she consider the possibility that the woman is smart, and might be offended by the assumption that she's not? Especially if the woman she's talking to is 20 years her senior? Basically it's always a mistake to assume you understand something that the other guy doesn't.

Another thing like that is the zealot's proclamation that You Don't Get It. Michael Gartenberg indulges in that today. As with my sexism teacher, the danger in saying that about someone else is that it likely applies to you as well. Michael has no idea what I get or don't get. In fact he's basing his conclusion on old data. I've refined my position. Even so, I haven't used it once so maybe I have to refine it again.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 17, 2007. Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Samsung phone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I got a new Sprint phone today, a freebie.

I posted a picture earlier, and a whole bunch of comments showed up. Maybe we can start a self-help group for clueless people like me. I can see it's got a ton of features, but I can't get started, I don't even know what the number of my phone is.

CNET review of the Samsung SPH-M620 phone.

Politically incorrect questions Permanent link to this item in the archive.

1. How long before Bush connects what happened at Virginia Tech with the global war on terror?

2. How long before a Republican presidential contender says the Democrats want to take your guns away?

3. How long before one of the cable networks runs any story other than Virginia Tech?

3a. What's Don Imus doing during all this michegas?

3b. Anna Nicole Smith?

4. Will anyone notice that while we're venting and emoting about Virginia Tech, hundreds of Iraqis have died.

5. Okay, I suppose some people believe American lives are worth more than Iraqis, so what about the 3300 Americans who have died in Iraq. That's about 100 times the number of people who died at Virginia Tech. What are we doing to prevent another 3300 deaths? Who's responsible? Could those deaths have been prevented?

6. If you're glued to your TV hanging on every word, when was the last time they said anything that even remotely qualified as news? (If you get bored, try playing a game, every time they say Virginia Tech, substitute Iraq.)

7. How long before Lou Dobbs raises the killer's immigrant status?

Local image URL syntax?? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I have a folder of images on my local disk.

If I drag one onto the Firefox icon in my toolbar, it displays.

The URL in the address bar is:


However, if I use that URL as the src attribute on an img element, I get a broken image.

<img src="file:///flickrPics/pic42688.jpg">

Question: Is there a way to get the browser to display an image coming from the local file system, and if so, what's the syntax for the URL?

Sam Yates says it might be a Firefox security feature.

Via email, Wendy McCully writes: "As long as the HTML file that references the local images is in the same directory as the images themselves, you don't need to indicate any path at all." I tried it -- and it works, without changing the browser's security settings.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: Corzine's Speed Put at 91 M.P.H. Near Crash Site.

Scoble says always-on isn't for him. Good move.

Michael Gartenberg has a Mac laptop question.

I got a new Sprint phone today -- a freebie! ;->

Worth another look after three years.

Virginia Tech's phones Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Roanoke Times: "When Virginia Tech wanted to alert students to developments in a recent campus manhunt for an accused double murderer it relied on e-mail, the Web and messages sent to dorm phones."

Google search for "Virginia Tech" and "Rave Wireless."

Andy Carvin: "I spoke with a PR rep at Rave Wireless today and she said that they have no relationship with Virginia Tech."

Scoble's cam Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo, I did a brief interview with Robert Scoble. I wondered what his camera hat looks like.

A picture named scobeloleo.jpg

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 16, 2007. Monday, April 16, 2007

Social networking and search Permanent link to this item in the archive.

When I search on Google for RSS, I'm only interested in knowing about the syndication format. However, if I was from India, it's possible I'd be more interested in the political party named RSS.

Oddly, at least to me, when RSS was starting up, the first page of hits on Google would be a mix of the syndication format and the political party. Today, the Indians are pushed down to page 2, and at that, it's only one link.

A picture named manilaBoxSmall.jpgAnother example. In 1999, UserLand released a web content management system called Manila. It was one of the first blogging platforms, and it's still on the market, but not as famous as it used to be. A few months after Manila shipped it became the first hit on Google, then like RSS it came to dominate the first couple of pages of hits, pushing aside a city of 10 million people, the capital of the Philippines, a soverign nation. What kind of sense does that make? Well it makes a lot of sense if you're me, or any of the few thousand people who used Manila to do their websites, but there are lots of people around the world to whom this made no sense at all.

Now it may have been cute in 2001 or 2002, but by 2007, with search integrated into society at a very deep level, and only getting deeper -- it seems like it's way past time to fix this. And we know how to do it, and it's not even very hard.

How? Integrate social networking and search and learn what people who I'm connected with, people like me, choose when they search for RSS and adjust the results accordingly. It's collaborative filtering applied to search. If Google doesn't do it, Yahoo, Microsoft, Ask or a startup should.

Integrity comes to Silicon Valley Permanent link to this item in the archive.

TechCrunch 20, Sept 17-18, San Francisco.

I am one of the 20 people helping choose the 20 companies to present.

None of the companies pay a dime to participate, and I'm not being paid (and I assume the other experts are contributing their time as well).

What a combination, people and products. It's about time Silicon Valley got back to its roots, we hope.

Watching more, revealing less? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Getting a late start today for some reason. Procrastinating about going across the bay to the Web 2.0 Expo. I have a dinner over there tonight, so I have to go at some time. ;->

This morning I watched Scoble drive to San Francisco and park his car, on his way to Moscone for the Expo. I talk with Scoble fairly often, so I know what it's like from my perspective, but today I found out what it's like from his. I didn't try the obvious thing of calling him while watching on Ustream, but others did.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgLast night I did my own Ustream show, called Bad Hair Day. I've wanted this for quite some time. I first wrote about it in the beginning of 2006, part of a series of feature requests for Yahoo. I wonder when Ustream came online? I first heard about it over the weekend. Over on Jeff Pulver's blog I read a comment from one of the founders saying that Twitter was instrumental in spreading the word about his service. Somewhere else I read someone wonder if Digg would respond to Twitter by becoming more real-time.

One thing's for sure, with Twitter and then Justin.tv and now Ustream, our little corner of the web is becoming a lot faster and more intimate. People used to be shocked at how much I shared here on Scripting, now I look conservative.

It wasn't very long ago that I thought Mike Arrington was daring for having TechCrunch parties at his house in Atherton. By today's standards, just a year or so later, it looks tame.

A few weeks ago, when Justin.tv was raging, I said to Scoble that he would have to match him. I knew it wasn't for me. I like a clear line of delineation between my personal and public life.

Waiting in line for coffee the other day Sylvia challenged me on this, asking if I had ever written about XXX (name X'd out), an old flame. I said nope never did. She asked about another girlfriend. Again, no. She said I write about my parents. True, but that's relatively new, and only very surface level stuff. I've found that if you want to have personal relationships, you have to keep them out of public view and be very careful about that.

But we're entering a phase of the evolution of web culture where the parts of people's lives that are private are disappearing. It'll be interesting to watch.

On the other hand, with everything online, where will the private stuff go, or will it just disappear. Surely Scoble will have to go to the men's room sometime today? He may not mind having everyone watch him take a leak, but how will the other people feel about that?? Can't wait to find out. Maybe only homeless, life-less people will be able to be online 24-7.

However, Ustream is certainly the answer to how we'll webcast my session at Mix 07 on April 30, and all future conferences. Check one off the to-do lis.

Sopranos Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Warning -- spoilers follow. Don't read if you haven't seen last night's show.

Last night's Sopranos took us right to the edge of a very tall cliff, let us look over the edge, and then said "Hang here till next week."

Even so last night's Sopranos left us with a satisfied yet bitter-sweet feeling. They said to us, we can take it all from you, and just to show you, we'll let one of your favorite characters speak on your behalf.

"It's a thankless job," says Johnny Sack.

Like a rock concert where every member of the band gets to play one solo before walking off-stage, even minor characters remind you of their character.

Oh it's going to be quite a show. They've carved out an ambitious stage, positioning Tony as a latter-day Michael Corleone. Great drama, acting, music, theatrics, chutzpah.

Let's hope they can live up to the hype!

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Fast Company profile of Berkeley neighbor Sylvia Paull.

PodCorps.org is a "worldwide army of audio and video stringers who volunteer to record important spoken-word events."

Watch Scoble drive to San Francisco. He's listening to the radio, talking on the phone.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007. Sunday, April 15, 2007

Progress on FlickrRivr Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've made a lot of progress in the last 24 hours on the packaging of FlickrRivr.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgTo summarize, it's a desktop application that subscribes to one or more feeds from Flickr, and deposits them in a folder of your choosing. Then you can configure iTunes to synch from that folder to AppleTV, so you can see pictures of your Flickr friends automatically updated on the screen of your TV. You can of course also configure your Mac's screen saver to run off this folder, for the same effect on your laptop or desktop computer.

I've got the configuration part working now, before I had the aggregator working and it's been running on my home entertainment center for over a year. People find it fascinating. Me too.

Now I've hit some stumbling blocks, no deal-stoppers, but I thought maybe I could open this up so that people who read the site can help search for what I'm hoping to find.

Yahoo has lots of RSS feeds, and they even have feeds with news photos. Very cool, except the photos are low resolution, too low to be good for this application. Seems a shame, because in between pictures of Irina and Valerie, Scoble and Justin, and everyone's cats and grandparents, it would also be great to mix in pictures of Gonzalez and Imus, Sharpton and McCain. A bit of Edwards and Clinton wouldn't hurt. Obama and Blitzer. Cheney. Ahmadinajad. The Dear Leader. The Great Wall of China. Tony Soprano.

And the feeds don't have to be from Yahoo. If you know of other sources of news photos in RSS, I can use more examples, more stuff to preconfigure FlickrRivr. If bandwidth is an issue, I don't mind mirroring the feeds and photos on my server. I don't think there will be so many users as to make bandwidth a serious issue.

Anyway, if you have any ideas, please let me know.

PS: I know this is realllly low-tech. All of the good stuff is. But I'd be willing to bet this is as big as blogging or podcasting. A major application for our networks. It's that compelling.

PPS: The guy on the left in the cowboy hat is my maternal grandfather, Rudy Kiesler. Here's the full picture.

Bad Hair Day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Note: I'm looking for the chatroom. If anyone has an idea, please post a note over in the comments.

I was able to create the chatroom over on Ustream. Come join the conversation everybody!

Bug report Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Imus is off the air, Gonzales is still the Attorney General.

Imus is an entertainer, Gonzales is the top law enforcement officer in the US.

Did Gonzales fire the US Attorneys, or was he ignorant as he says he was? And what do you think, were they fired because they were getting too close to Republicans?

President Bush said there's "no credible evidence of wrongdoing." So what's he actually saying? Gonzales may have been doing wrong, and there may even be evidence of it, but the President doesn't think it's credible. Wow, that's the standard of integrity we want for our highest law enforcement official. (Sorry for the sarcasm.)

And what about the millions of missing emails? Bug or feature? ;->

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Doc Searls wants to bring local public radio to Santa Barbara. With his background in radio, Berkman connections, and sheer enthusiasm, I bet he pulls it off.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 14, 2007. Saturday, April 14, 2007

AppleTV has an intriguing profile Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgI like the way 901am describes the connection between flickRivr and AppleTV: "He uses FlickrRivr to pull in Flickr RSS feeds on his computer and then sends them wirelessly to his Apple TV device, resulting in a stream of photos displayed on his TV screen." He goes on to suggest that Yahoo Pipes might be able to do what flickrRivr is doing, but I'm pretty sure the software has to run on the desktop, at least for now.

At some point Apple will build in a RSS aggregator that sucks down feeds with pictures, probably in Media-RSS format, in fact I suspect they're already doing it for movie trailers, but there's no way for a non-Apple server-based app to get in there, at least not now.

AppleTV has an intriguing profile, it has a full Internet connection through wifi, and it can connect up to any server Apple wants it to. It's kind of a weird beast that way. I was surprised when the movie trailers were already pre-loaded, current ones. I'm pretty sure it's checking for new ones periodically. I wonder if any of the people hacking up AppleTV have been monitoring the network traffic it generates. I'd be very interested in seeing it.

Is anyone from Apple is presenting at the Web 2.0 conf next week? They seem to be doing some of the most interesting software right now in this domain, as interesting as my own. ;->

flickrRivr.root Permanent link to this item in the archive.

For OPML Editor users, a new version of flickrRivr.root.

I'm planning a new release of the OPML Editor, designed mostly for Mac users, although of course it will run on Windows. It's designed to add on to AppleTV and provide a media subscription service, starting with photographs.

That's why I'm reviving flickrRivr -- which I've been using constantly, and wowing visitors to my house with how cool it is to have a stream of photos of friends on my home entertainment center.

Apple is obviously heading in this direction as well, AppleTV has a very beautiful screen saver that displays photos synchronized from your desktop or laptop computer. That's what flickrRivr ties into.

The next steps in the development of flickrRivr are to make it even more turnkey than it already is.

Another coooool application for RSS. ;->

PS: Movie demo of flickrRivr.

How to update any root Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Along with the new version of flickrRivr.root, I've also released a new version of the OPML Editor Tools menu that allows you to update any Tool file, using the new RSS-based updating method. Here's how you do that.

1. Launch the OPML Editor.

2. Choose Update opml.root from the File menu.

3. Click on OK to confirm that you wish to update.

4. You should receive 2 or more new parts.

5. Quit the OPML Editor. Re-launch.

6. You should see a new command near the bottom of the Tools menu called Update Front Tool.

Now, when you want to update a root here's what you do.

1. Choose the root file corresponding to the Tool from the Window menu.

2. Choose Update Front Tool from the Tools menu.

3. Click on OK.

That's it. It should work for newsRiver.root, dotOpml.root, even opml.root.

A smarter net? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On Twitter, earlier today I saw that Jason Calacanis was in Barcelona. Hmmm, I thought, I wonder what he's doing there.

A few hours later, I see that Jeff Barr is in JFK waiting for a flight to Barcelona.

Okay, now I know something is up. So I ask Jeff, and he sends a pointer to a conference he's going to. I'm sure Jason is going there too.

Now I wonder, who else in my network will be there?

And of course I'd like to have been alerted of this coincidence two weeks ago, so I could have planned a trip myself. While the conference doesn't look that awesome (do they ever?) I've never been to Barcelona, and here's an excuse to party with people in my network in a new city. And a trip to Europe would be interesting right about now.

Someday, probably not too far down the road, our nets will be smart enough to make these connections for us. All we need is a few hooks and a data interchange standard or two, or enough motivation to enter our data into a new app. Maybe there would be enough of a payoff.

Disclaimer: I invested in Confabb thinking they might solve this problem.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Sylvia went to Om Malik's party last night in SF.

Tim O'Reilly reviews Spock, a search engine for people.

Update on RSS spec site Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named iLoveRss.gifJames Holderness sent me a long list of small issues with the new static RSS 2.0 spec site, most of which I fixed today. I also fixed the bluearrow I wrote about yesterday, so that all instances now are relative, so the site should be totally relocatable. I also fixed the home page link on each page, it was pointing to the top level of cyber.law.harvard.edu, now it points to the home page of the RSS 2.0 site. All these are small things, but it's always good to get the small things fixed.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 13, 2007. Friday, April 13, 2007

Mix 07 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fan.jpgIt's going to be a busy few weeks starting at the end of the month, beginning with a discussion I'm leading at Mix 07 at the Venetian in Las Vegas on April 30 at 3PM. The topic is how to design a perfect podcast player, but I have a hunch we'll branch out into other topics as well. Unlike the other sessions at the conference, there will be no panel and no audience. I will speak for a few minutes to get some discussion topics out there, and then we'll see what's on everyone's minds. We'll make sure the discussion has an online presence, maybe someone will even live-webcast it.

Rational comment policy, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named cat.jpgYesterday I posted what seemed then to be a rational comment policy, and on re-reading it, it seems equally rational today. I hope people consider posting one of their own, and since I link to and quote another blogger, we could start a process of refinement where each of us helps each other draft their policy. To me that would be the true blogger way to solve the problem, something like a bucket brigade. Blogging is inherently DIY and decentralized. I think that's why we like cats so much. ;->

Today's Links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

CNN: "Millions of White House e-mails may be missing, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino acknowledged Friday."

TechDirt quotes Lorne Michaels, the creator of Saturday Night Live, on YouTube. "If the work is good, I want the most number of people to see it."

TechCrunch is hit with a defamation suit. Rex Hammock, who yesterday reported on yet another defamation suit, has more data on the latest one. It's in the air. Coast to coast.

CNN reports Google buys Doubleclick for $3.1 billion.

From John Feld comes this handy tip. Use Google Maps to plot a course from Berkeley to London. ;->

New RSS 2.0 spec site deployed Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As I reported here and here, I've been slowly working on a project to "future-safe" the Harvard site that houses the RSS 2.0 spec. Yesterday, we started redirecting from the old site to the new one.

If you're pointing to the RSS 2.0 spec, you may want to point to its new location.

I found this project interesting, because I want to learn how to create a website that lives for decades, if not longer.

Here are some of the techniques I employed:

1. Everything is static. It can all be seved by a standard install of Apache, with no plug-ins or special software required.

2. It's self-contained. Every resource it uses is stored within the site's folder. That includes images, screen shots, example files, downloads.

3. Almost all the links are relative. As far as I know only one type of link is not, links to the blue arrow that marks an internal document link. If for some reason at some time in the future, cyber.law.harvard.edu should go offline, and the site has been moved to a new location, the blue arrows will appear as broken images. I may yet fix this one. I don't think there are any other hard-coded links in the site.

The goal was to make it so that a future webmaster, wanting to relocate the site, would just have to move the folder, add some redirects, and everything would work, more or less.

You can also download the whole site, from a link on the site's About page. You're free to mirror it if you like. And as always it's licensed under the Creative Commons, giving everyone the ability to create new things from it. (I also included the Frontier CMS tables the site was generated from, and the Manila site, in the Downloads folder.)

A picture named rsshat.gifThere was one example where I thought for a second about changing the spec, but I didn't; the <docs> element, which we say should point to the spec. It's an optional channel-level element. The example we provide is the previous location. I thought this was a good place for me to express the commitment to the spec being totally frozen, so I left it as it was. To change that value would have broken nothing but a promise, but promises are everything when it comes to specs that industries are built on, and the RSS 2.0 spec surely has become a foundation that many build on.

Of course if you spot any breakage, please let me know asap. Post a comment here, or send me a private email.

Sitemaps, day 3 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Since I've been playing with sitemaps, of course I created one for the RSS 2.0 site.

And I've checked to see that the maps I deployed for scripting.com are properly updating, and they are.

But when I checked, I realized that I would have done it differently, so that the sitemaps, in adition to helping search engine crawlers, might be interesting things for human beings to read as well.

I refer back to sitechanges.txt, a simple project I was doing in 1997 that was like sitemaps. It was also before I did XML. ;->

A picture named goodbye.gifThe idea was that the content server was responsible for providing a daily reverse-chronologic list of pages that had changed. Then a crawler would keep track of when it had last visited my site, and only suck down the files that had changed since then. This would enable search engines to be more efficient, and provide more current content. It was nice because you could read it yourself and see what had changed. Contrast this with sitemaps, where you have to go hunting for the changes, it's no better a user interface for finding the new and newly updated stuff than the file sytstem is. I was kind of disappointed.

Another thing I would have done differently is allowed sitemaps to include other sitemaps. There really is no need for two file types, just let me link to an index from an index, much like inclusion in OPML 2.0. This added an extra layer of complexity for everyone implmenting sitemaps on moderately large sites, or old ones where some content changes frequently and other content not so frequently (like scripting.com).

However, on balance, it's a great thing that all these companies got together and did something to make the web work better. We need more of that!

If anyone is working on more stuff like this, I am available to review it before it's cast in stone.

A nice thing about *not* being a Mac fanatic Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I don't give a shit if the new OS is delayed. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 12, 2007. Thursday, April 12, 2007

City life Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fan.jpgAfter breakfast at Saul's this morning, I stopped in at Long's Drugs, nearby, to pick up a fan. It's still cool in Berkeley, it's only April after all, and the Bay Area never gets all that hot, nothing like the south or the east, so houses here don't have air conditioning. But we will have a few days of 100-degree heat, and on days like that you must have a fan. Last summer I got there too late, they were already sold out, so this year I resolved to get there early. They had a good selection, and I was able to get the kind of fan I like. $20. Another item off the to-do list.

While walking through the aisles, looking for other things, batteries, soap, I overheard a conversation between two store clerks. What were they talking about? Imus, and how he had been kicked off MSNBC, and they expected he'd be kicked off CBS too, and he was getting what he deserved. It was amazing how much they had to say about it, and how what they said exactly mirrored what was being said on the cable news.

In the NY Times they say he got caught in the 24 hour news cycle, he never had a chance.

We witnessed something that looked to me a lot like the Kathy Sierra storm that swept the blogosphere a few weeks ago. I knew Imus like I knew the people who were being hunted in blogland. I liked to listen to his show in the 70s, he was fresh and different, irreverent, interesting. I feel sorry for Imus, and I think it's sad that he's going out this way. I hadn't listened to him in many years, but I haven't forgotten how the young version of me saw him as a role model.

A picture named billypilgrim.jpgAt the same point in my life that Imus made me laugh, so did Kurt Vonnegut. I loved his books when I was young, and I made a point, four years ago, to re-read most of his books, so I've got an updated appreciation for how wonderful they are. And they were made more important for me because I shared his writing with my uncle, who had (I felt) a similar sense of humor, of irony. Like many others of my generation, Vonnegut formed my perspective on the world, on mysticism, and politics, on the smallness of everything we care about. If you've read Sirens of Titan, my favorite Vonnegut book, you know what I'm talking about. No spoilers here!

And while I shared Vonnegut with my uncle, I shared Imus with my younger brother. He was in NY, where Imus was broadcasting; he'd record cassettes and mail them to me in New Orleans, where I was in school. Getting a tape of Imus was like getting a bag of fresh bagels or a Sunday NY Times. Love from home.

I hope Imus finds something satisfying to fill his remaining time. Maybe he'll become a podcaster or a blogger. It's smaller than being a radio star, and we have witch hunts here too, but here they can't shut you down for being rude. At least not yet! ;->

Response to Motion to Reconsider Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On March 27, Michael Risch, a partner at Russo & Hale, filed a motion to reconsider a ruling that denied them the right to represent UserLand shareholders in an action against me.

We filed a motion today to deny their motion. "Counsel's mistaken view of the law regarding shareholder actions, which they display again in this Motion, is not a proper basis for granting a motion for reconsideration."

Sitemaps, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I now have my sitemaps implemented for scripting.com.

There's a sitemapindex file, that points to all the sitemaps.

By design, some never change; others change frequently.

I've added the auto-discovery link in robots.txt.

There's a lot of room for optimization, for sure.

I followed the instructions for pinging the search engines, I tried Yahoo, Google, Ask and Microsoft; and none of them acknowledged that they accepted the ping, in fact they all returned cryptic error pages. Not a good omen!

AppleTV, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I think I understand AppleTV, after setting it up, playing a few video podcasts, copying some pictures into its screen saver, and reading about its limits on various weblogs.

I'll give you the punchline before the details.

If you're technically proficient enough to read this blog, AppleTV is not for you.

I'm not sure who it is for, but you don't need it. You're much better served buying a Mac Mini, or the equivalent Windows box (maybe a cheap laptop).

AppleTV seems designed with the same philosophy as the PCjr of the 1980s. The PC was super popular, a juggernaut, and IBM felt that the "home user" (i.e. idiot) couldn't handle all its power so they created a scaled down machine, with a crippled keyboard. Problem is people wanted a PC, not IBM's dumbed-down vision of a PC. (They secretly wanted to kill the PC because it was destroying their mainframe computer business.)

AppleTV is an exercise, for me, in discovering what it won't do. Most important to me is that it won't play the AVI files I create when I scan DVDs using Handbrake. On the other hand, my Mac Mini, with VLC installed, does. Yes yes, I know I can hack up my AppleTV to get it to be a Mac Mini, but I'm lazy, and I've already paid Apple for the Mac Mini.

And why do I need synchronization with iTunes, when file sharing works so well on the Mac? It's pretty easy, I don't think AppleTV's syching is any easier.

True, the Mac Mini costs at least $599, and AppleTV is $299.

Anyway, I don't like AppleTV, but I have a TV in the kitchen that didn't have a computer, and I spend a lot of time working there, so I will keep trying to find something useful that it does that the Mac Mini doesn't already do much better.

Etienne Deleflie: "Why doesn't someone come up with a Linux box that just hosts VLAN?"

Earl Moore says I miss the point of AppleTV. "I could turn a 5-6 year old loose with the Apple TV and they could watch cartoons or movies galore without assistance."

I don't think there's a connection Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Adam Curry wonders if the legal difficulties we're having around UserLand are the source of some technical problems with his RSS feed, which is hosted on a UserLand server.

As far as I know, there is no connection. I don't work at UserLand, haven't worked there in almost five years, so any problems I have are not likely to effect your RSS feed.

But you never know, Murphy works in strange ways. I suggest sending an email to Lawrence, in the meantime. ;->

Why TPM deserves an award Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Scott Rosenberg has taken a hiatus from writing political essays, but he just published another great one, about why we should pay close attention to the coverup of the firing of the nine US attorneys. Whether the President was a Republic or Democrat, makes no difference, if the US attorneys were fired to subvert with the election process, it's a scandal of huge proportion, that undermines the fairness of the US justice system.

What many don't know, and it is not widely reported, that if this is a replay of Watergate, then the role of Woodward and Bernstein is being played by a community of bloggers, Talking Point Memo, founded by Joshua Marshall, who was at the first BloggerCon, and who will be at the Personal Democracy Forum in mid-May in NY (I will be there too). When I see him, I hope to shake his hand, thank him and congratulate him.

Meanwhile I read in the Guardian, yet another conflicted and self-serving piece from a MSM publication, saying that blogs didn't turn out to be such a big deal after all.

If someone were to ask me what the future of blogging holds (and I am asked that frequently) I would say that in the future, mainstream press people will give up their fight with blogging and accept us as sources of information and perspective that enriches what they do, instead of being in conflict with it.

To me blogging is not just protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution, it is also an instance of the Second, the right of the people to keep and bear arms. When the justice system is corrupted by the executive, we have the right and responsibility to reform it, with words, and with actions, as Marshall and his crew are doing so admirably, so Americanly (if that's a word).

We were meant to have an active and armed citizenry in the US. As long as people like the TPM community feel empowered, we have a chance of keeping our intellectual life rich and informed. Keep up the great work, it's important, and appreciated!

A rational comment policy Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I hosted my first online discussion group in the early 80s. I've been on mail lists, a multitude of chat systems, hosted a web DG, then turned it off, brought it back, turned it off again, etc etc. After all that, I've arrived at a comment policy that's more or less what Will Fernia outlines here:

"I don't mind anonymous comments if you have something worthwhile to say. If you don't have anything worthwhile to say, I won't approve your comment even if you do put your name on it. (And sometimes even worthwhile comments that aren't quite relevant or that speak more to other commenters than what I've written don't get approved. People can start their own blog and say whatever they want and no matter how many happy badges I put on my blog, I can't do anything about that.)"

The main difference in the way I do it, is that like many others, I use the Wordpress feature that requires a commenter to be approved the first time he or she comments using a specific mail address. It seems to work pretty well. If someone abuses the priviledge there are easy ways to deauthorize them.

For the most part, these days, the comments here are fairly productive, abuse is not allowed, strong opinions are allowed, even strong opinions that disagree with mine, as long as they're on-topic, and not personal.

I see the comments space as largely belonging to the readers, and I don't comment there myself too frequently. However I will respond to a direct question if I have something to say and feel it would add to the discussion.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2007. Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The author speaking through one of his characters, Eliot Rosewater:

"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'"
Vonnegut died this evening in NY. He was 84.

A picture named vonnegut.jpg

Nappy ho Permanent link to this item in the archive.

An old white radio personality didn't just wake up one morning and think of "nappy ho" all by himself.

Okay he's white and he said something stupid and he's old, so he's easy to pick on.

But maybe black people should take the issue up with the music industry too.

And its not just music, all that kind of stuff was in a movie that lots of white people saw, myself included. 9 years ago. In that movie Halle Berry said "Don't you know you my nigger" -- to an old white guy!

Maybe it's just a sign of respect. Certainly when some people say it, it is. I don't know, seems a little racist to me to have a huge national shitstorm when a white person says something that if a black person said it wouldn't be any cause for alarm.

Maybe Imus didn't mean any harm at all. Just a thought.

Postscript: A commenter named "Solo" points out that Jesse Jackson has a lot of chutzpah going on national TV saying that Imus has to go. Maybe he forgot Hymietown?

Sitemaps Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Autodiscovery for sitemaps. I'm working on sitemaps for scripting.com. An example, the sitemap for the "misc" folder.

We can arrive at a fair solution Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I don't think my old attorney blogs, but maybe he should. Maybe by the time we're done with all our michegas, he will.

Two weeks ago I posted a proposal, in public, to try to get a dialog going. In that proposal, I tried to see things from his point of view. I like to figure out what's right, and then do the right thing. I don't want anything I'm not entitled to.

I did all the work to create weblogs.com, and took all the risk, and withstood all the flaming -- and I also invented it (unlike RSS, weblogs.com was invented), so it might seem fair that I get all the proceeds. (I did all that without getting a salary from UserLand, all my time was at my own expense.)

But UserLand did help, it registered the domain for me (something we did for anyone in our community who wanted us to, back then domain registration wasn't so easy), and I did run the site on one of its servers (also something we did for others, at no charge), so let's, for the sake of argument, assume that UserLand owned it when it was transferred to me in 2003. That was the starting point for my proposal. From there, I thought we could easily arrive at a fair solution, shake hands and go forth and do our respective things.

So here we are at a fork in the road.

As far as I'm concerned the proposal is still on the table.

But -- today I thought about what it would be like to go through depositions and a trial. I can do it. I blogged Jury Duty and got something from it, and so did my readers. Maybe I'll write a book from the inside of the legal process, I suspect there will be plenty to write about. Sure it'll cost money -- but I have money.

Net-net: I believe in being fair, to others, and to myself.

AppleTV here Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My AppleTV arrived. I'll try to install it later today, and of course will report on the experience here.

Engadget reports that AppleTV hardware is capable of doing HD, but inexplicably, the software isn't provided to do it.

3PM: I have AppleTV hooked up to my kitchen TV set using the HDMI cable. Everything worked the first time. Connected it to the LAN through a wifi router in the den. Connecting my laptop to the unit was like connecting a Bluetooth device -- you enter a password that's displayed on the screen of the TV. It's now synching all the content in my iTunes library, even though I didn't ask it to, and when I stop it, it starts again on its own. I've decided to let it have its way. I want to link it to a folder of photos on my laptop's hard disk, but the command it says I should use isn't present in my copy of iTunes. I tried copying an AVI file I ripped from a DVD, but it was rejected. So after setup it's confusing, and not working the way I expect it to. More later.

I found the tabs, I was looking in the wrong place. It's synching pictures now.

I happened to have a copy of a video Meet the Press podcast, and it got synched to the AppleTV in the initial setup. And when I browse through the menus, which are patterened after the iPod menus, there was a section for podcasts, I chose this podcast, and there was the first "aha" moment -- I was watching an episode of Meet the Press, albeit an old one, and it looks pretty much like it looks when I watch it on NBC throug my cable box -- far from HD quality, but still a pretty good demo of what it can do.

They have a full selection of trailers, already downloaded. That's cool! I'm watching a preview of Grindhouse.

Twitter slowdown? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named elephant.gifThe furious pace of growth on Twitter, for me, has slowed to a trickle, and now all the action is on Jaiku -- or maybe it's just that Jaiku is catching up? It's hard to say because everyone's view of these systems is different. Jeff Pulver, in Scoble's video description of Twitter, said it was IM or a chatroom, and Scoble corrected him, pointing out that it was very different in one important way, that people opt-in to listen, and can opt-out at any time. So true. But to others, with very few people listening, it must look like a chatroom, a chatroom they can't post to, a conversation they can listen to but can't participate in. I imagine for some personality types this is exactly what they like.

Web 2.0 conference Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I will be at the Web 2.0 conference next week, at least for one day (not sure which one), so if there are any products or companies you think I should see, or for that matter anyone should see, please post a note here or send an email.

Thanks to the folks at O'Reilly for approving my request for a press pass.

Doug Kaye Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had a nice lunch on Monday here in Berkeley with Doug Kaye. It had been too long.

I learned a lot about Doug that I didn't know before. I thought he was a tech guy, turns out he's a film and audio guy who learned tech out of necessity. No wonder his stuff is so useful.

I first met Doug when he was an early member of the Radio developer community. Come to think of it, that's how I met most of the people who went on to do great things in blogging, podcasting, and Web 2.0 in general.

Doug recommended a movie, Memento, saying it was one of the ten best movies of all time. I had never even heard of it. Of course, with that kind of endorsement, I had to see it, and I now have. Very good, really haunting. I bet Doug likes it because it is a technical marvel, I'm not a movie technology guy, but even I could see that putting this movie together required greatness. I rated it a B+ on Yahoo. (Also you have to see it twice to get all that's going on.)

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 10, 2007. Tuesday, April 10, 2007

scripting.com outage Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named under.gifOur ISP had an outage between approx 7PM Pacific and 9:30PM Pacific which caused many of our sites to be offline, including scripting.com. I temporarily mapped the DNS to a server that was working. Of course shortly after that, the main server came back online. Murphy works in mysterious ways!

BTW, it's kind of cool that I can write an emergency version of Scripting News without getting any lawyers in the loop. ;->

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Don Imus is an ancient redneck pimp.

My favorite new ad. These women are hot!

Jason Calacanis: "Blogs are about fighting for what you believe in!!" Amen.

I now have a presence on Jaiku.

Scoble video explains what Twitter is. Good explanation.

podLoader allows you to "load content from the web or from other desktop files onto your iPod."

OPML Editor and IE7 status Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named scales.gifThe point of developing Frontier was to create the perfect development environment for me to spend the rest of my career in. It worked. I am very happy with my object database and outline script editor, multi-threaded runtime, HTTP server, etc etc. I program at a very high level and I'm very happy about it.

But now we have a problem with the OPML Editor on Windows, and since I haven't programmed in C for many years, it's not realistic for me to solve the problem. We need help and we're getting it from a surprising place -- Microsoft! Let me say that again. We're getting help from a surprising place -- Microsoft!

Wow. Microsoft helping with an open source project. Now I think it makes sense for the platform vendor to help make sure open source stuff works on their platform, maybe even help make it run well on their platform, but I've never seen one offer to help. It's a very good thing.

Here's the status report from Joshua Allen.

Anyway, I already said thanks on the mail list, and I wanted to echo it here. Thanks!

Sylvia's mom Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My very good pal and Berkeley neighbor Sylvia Paull lost her mom last week. She wrote a remembrance, on her blog.

I hosted a good portion of her family here on Saturday night, we went to dinner, watched a bad movie on my TV, and a couple of her relatives stayed overnight.

Everyone was in town to mark the passing of the mom and the grandma. Like all families, Sylvia's is crazy, but it was great to see them all together. There were some people missing, her mom didn't talk to her sisters. They say they hated each other more than they hated the Nazis (they were Holocaust survivors).

Last night I went to the movies with my friend Evan, Berkeley neighbor and Sylvia's son. Some days I feel like Sylvia is my surrogate mother, and some days my surrogate sister, which makes Evan my surrogate brother or surrogate nephew. We have a good time when we go out, it's a total male experience.

The link on Scripting yesterday to the USB-controlled rocket launcher (a cube toy) came from Evan.

We went to see a great movie, Grindhouse -- which is actually two movies, over three hours of movie pleasure. They are so disgustingly gory, like Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill, that at first you're shocked and wanting to walk out, but then you get accustomed to it, and even the most ridiculously gory stuff makes you laugh! I'm laughing right now as I write this. But the first few scenes with sick body parts are very difficult to watch.

By the end of the second movie you're cheering. ;->

Thank god for soemthing to write that doesn't have to pass the lawyer test.

And thanks to Sylvia's mom for taking care of Sylvia for all those years.

A new reality for this blogger Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm not aware of any tech blogger who has received a serious threat of a defamation suit, but I'm sure there have been some. I've done more homework on this, and find that the law seems to assume that libel appears in a newspaper or magazine, not in a weblog. The method of retraction they call for seems to reflect a print reality, not an electronic one.

When I chart a course for myself, I feel to some extent that I'm making decisions for other bloggers. If I win, that may help bloggers -- if I lose, it may hurt them. I'm pretty sure most people aren't thinking about who might sue them for their blog posts, I wasn't -- and I think that's the right thing. I think our two rules for integrity are pretty good:

1. Never knowingly say something that's false.

2. Disclose all relevant conflicts of interest.

Lawyers however, have a different set of rules, which are more restrictive. So far the blogosphere has operated under the more relaxed rules. For example, there are many things people have said about me that would clearly be actionable under the legal rules. But I don't sue people for what they say about me, just as I don't file patents that prevent other technologists from using my ideas. Just because you have the power doesn't mean you have to use it.

If a business provides bad service, or treats its customers unfairly, that's something other customers should know. That's one of the fundamental principles of the Internet, in my humble opinion. It's why the travel industry, the real estate industry -- every service industry is undergoing massive upheaval. Yet, you just don't see too many people talking online about bad service from lawyers. It seems to me people are pretty scared of what lawyers can do to them, and I don't think this is a good situation.

And while my words have become more measured, I've decided to continue writing about this, while I can, because that's what I do.

Yesterday's comments, and today's.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 09, 2007. Monday, April 09, 2007

Russo & Hale threatens defamation suit Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Earlier today my lawyers received a letter from Jack Russo, my former attorney and former friend, demanding that I retract statements I made here on Scripting News.

I just had a conference with my attorneys, and read some background on libel law as it applies to bloggers, from the EFF, and California's anti-SLAPP statute.

I'm not going to, at this time: 1. Publish their letter; 2. Link to the portions of articles they want retracted; 3. Retract anything previously published.

I am going to spend some time thinking about this, studying, and learning about libel law to find out what the options are.

I am going to solicit the opinion of readers of this site, especially those who are lawyers.

I take my integrity as a blogger seriously. I only say things I believe to be true; and if there's any doubt, I label opinions as such. I have at times made mistakes, and when that happens, I retract and apologize. If I have done this, in the matter of Russo & Hale and its lawsuit against me, UserLand and VeriSign, I will both retract and apologize. But anything I do is going to be done openly and in consultation with the readers of Scripting News.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

ThinkGeek: USB Rocket Launcher.

Jackie Danicki: "I'm struck by all the fear of O'Reilly there seems to be out there."

Rafe Needleman shows how to use RSS to connect Twitter and Jaiku.

I think I'm pretty close to done in transitioning the dynamic RSS site into a static Apache-served site. I did get the blog posts moved over after all. I reviewed the spec carefully, word for word, and all the links. Everything seems to work.

O'Reilly's code of conduct Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fireman.gifWe all seem to be speaking with one voice today, this code of conduct idea is not a good one. Of course the NY Times couldn't resist putting it on page one since it confirms their assertion that the blogosphere is a bad place. Maybe next time well-intentioned people will avoid the rush to perform for the big publications.

Jeff Jarvis: "O'Reilly only set us up to be called nasty, unmannered, and thus uncivilized hooligans."

Mike Arrington: "It feels like a big angry mob is arming itself to the teeth and looking for targets, and I need to choose whether I'm with them or against them."

I don't think a mob is forming this week, around this issue. The emotional rages have predictable cycles. A catalyst appears, a few days of escalating emotion, then it dies down, and people are left with a bad feeling from all the venting, and some people are really badly hurt.

The thing I'd like to see is not a code of conduct for commenters (O'Reilly's exercise proves how pointless it is), rather a code of conduct for well-intentioned individuals when mobs are forming. How can you subtract energy from the stampede? And what can you do to help the people who are being hurt by it?

If you look at how the mob formed around Kathy Sierra, you'll see a fair number of A-list and near-A-list bloggers who are frustrated by trolls. Some who were targets of abuse had never been targeted this way, probably had never even seen anyone targeted this way. I got a phone call from Maryam Scoble, who until the mob scene, considered me a friend; she was enraged that I wasn't joining in condemning the people the mob was devouring (who weren't, imho, responsible for the really nasty stuff). Her rage didn't sway me, I let my comments stand, unedited.

Today Tim is trying to justify the stampede, and the way it went after the wrong people. There's no justification. If you want to heal from this, and I gather from reading many of the posts that's the undercurrent, a good way to do it is to take back the mean things you said about the people who weren't responsible. If you don't want to retract them publicly, do it privately.

I have been at the center of these riots, some have even been led by Tim O'Reilly. The damage continues to this day, in the form of people who think what they say about me must have an element of truth to it. In a world where people don't always meet each other face to face to form their own opinions, this kind of tagging can be permanent and hurtful and costly.

If you want to reform the blogosphere, here's where to start. Have a brigade of people whose job it is to put out fires when they start. To defend the people who no one wants to defend. That, imho, would be a very positive first step.

Meanwhile in other news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This just in!

Apple got me again. I broke down and ordered an AppleTV yesterday. I saw someone did an RSS reader for it. It's pretty bare-bones. But now I have to get my fingers in there and start adding my own hacks. I also bought an HDMI-to-HDMI cable (theirs was pretty cheap!) and an extra Mac power cable. Someone asked if I would be buying an ApplePhone, and I groaned. "I don't want to, but I probably will," I admitted.

Saw two movies over the weekend -- House of Sand and Fog, and Stranger than Fiction. Both had chances to be great, but neither achieve anything close to it. House is a really grim movie, which is something I don't mind in a movie, but -- it had zero suspension of disbelief. So I was watching from the outside, not in the story at all, amazed at how bad things could go, but not really feeling it. Oh well.

And Stranger than Fiction was trying to be Sixth Sense-ish or John Malkovich-like, or a clone of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a tricky movie, with great acting. It had good acting, and great actors, but a stupid plot that oversold itself. In the end you feel the energy was sucked out of you for nothing. Just a void. You wanted to laugh (Will Ferrell is the star after all) and you wanted to get involved (Emma Thompson) and you owed them respect (Dustin Hoffman) and they had style (Queen Latifah) but the whole thing didn't come together. Oh well. You gotta watch some mediocre movies so you really get to appreciate the great ones.

Hope Tim O'Reilly doesn't feel this post is uncivil. ;->

What kind of kid was Tim O'Reilly? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As I think about this code of conduct thing, I find myself wondering what kind of kid Tim O'Reilly was.

It made me think of an idea Ponzi has for Gnomedex. She's thinking of asking my mother to give an interview on stage. I know Ponzi loves me, so I'm actually thinking of supporting the idea. (My mother also loves me, btw.)

I think the kind of kid each of us was has a lot to do with how we approach things as adults.

I was bullied a bit when I was a kid, but then I shot up and the bullies mostly left me alone and picked on smaller kids. I couldn't help but identify with them, and I felt bad that I didn't put myself between the bully and the kids they tormented. And I have definitely been pushed around in the blogosphere, and as I mentioned earlier, the biggest bully on my blog block is Tim O. So I find it pretty ironic that he's the one calling for civility.

But I digress.

I wonder what Tim was like when he was a kid. What did he get in trouble for, or maybe he didn't. I don't want to presume to know, but I wonder.

Since he's made our behavior such an issue, and mine in particular, for so many years, in so many ways, it seems only fair to ask some questions about him.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 08, 2007. Sunday, April 08, 2007

Maybe we're writing for Google?? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Last month I went to Boston to be part of the Public Media conference, which I described to everyone I saw there as the NPR conference, even though most of the people there didn't work for NPR and I knew it.

I was actually trying to make a point, one that otherwise would have taken a lot of words to express, but could be said simply if I was willing to look a little inept and uninformed. The point is this -- the distinction between the different parts of the public media ecosystem are lost on people outside the ecosystem. I tend to think of it all as "public radio" -- more today than in the past -- and eventually, I think they will too.

Before the Internet, I listened to KQED. That meant listening to shows I wasn't interested in, like Pacific Time or Latino USA. Now, after having lived in Seattle, Boston and Florida, I'm an NPR listener. I found shows on WBUR that KQED doesn't carry. My favorite show comes from WNYC. I'm a fan of DIane Rehm who does her work at WAMU, but I first heard her on WJCT. I still listen to Fresh Air from WHYY, but I only listen to the podcast, and only when the program interests me.

In a few years, the transition to the Internet will be so complete that the link between the call letters and a local area will be meaningless. The stations won't even broadcast. Then someone at NPR will swallow the hard truth that the distinctions mean so little to anyone outside their industry that they might as well just collapse it down and call the whole thing NPR.

Which brings me around to the lecture that my friends and colleagues in the blogosphere have tried to deliver in the last 24 hours to Mr Zell, the new owner of a bunch of big important newspapers.

A picture named columbo.jpgIt could be that Zell is brilliant, and is saying something that simplifies the truth to make a bigger point, and he doesn't mind if you think he's inept if some people get the bigger picture -- which is he thinks of the Internet and Google as being the same thing, and you know what -- I bet a lot of other people do too, and they have a point. Like the public radio stations, maybe we're fooling ourselves if we think we're not writing for Google, as they are fooling themselves into thinking they're not creating for NPR. We want to cling to our theory that each of us is independent of the others, but what if he's right, and it's us vs them. What if his friends in the newspaper business decide they want to compete against us directly. What if my pointers into the LA Times and the NY Times stop working? Or what if he offers you a job to come write for his company so your pointers do work?

So stop and think a bit before you stop listening, and try to get beyond your impulse to dismiss him just because he said something that's technically inaccurate. He could be smart as a fox.

The Sopranos and Entourage Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ari.jpgIt was so great to see new episodes both shows tonight. I missed Tony and Carmen, Bobby and Tony's sister (esp the story about her boyfriend, heh). I missed Eric, Turtle, Drama, and I hope Vince gets to play Pablo Escobar, and would you guys just forgive Ari! Lovely lovely lovely. I missed the whole thing. Can't wait for new episodes of Big Love and my absolute fave, The Wire. I'm a total fan. Love, Dave

Apache internals Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named baselineperfmonsmall.gifOne of the most intriguing comments came from Paul Ding, who suggests that the overhead of htaccess files may be too large a burden to bear and says that one could (clever!) use the file system to do what I was trying to do with the htaccess file. That may be true, but I want to know if Apache really reads and parses the htaccess file for every access. Is it not optimized to store the commands in an internal format and then check the mod date before re-loading and parsing the file? Either way, it doesn't seem to make a difference on my server, whose performance monitor hovers near the baseline even with lots of commands in various htaccess files.

Sunday morning geekfest Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named apacheLogo.gifIt's been a really interesting weekend, most of it out of view of blogging. I have been continuing the project that involved Apache. I'm doing a static rendering of the Harvard site that hosts the RSS 2.0 spec. It's going well, with the help of the community, it occurs to me that one of the things Scripting News could be is an online tech support workgroup for Apache.

I think we must all go through this rite of passage, the docs for Apache are so cryptic and inadequate. The design of Apache itself is weak. But it is workable, you know that eventually you'll puzzle it out, and if you can find the right people to help, they can show you how to do what you need to do quickly and surely.

I'm lucky because the techies who read this site really know their stuff. I know how good they are, because when I'm hunting for answers to Apache questions, the best resources are discussion threads scattered around the web, where people like me asked questions of people like you, and got good answers. But I got more thorough and informed answers than I saw anywhere else, and most important, they explained the theory behind the solutions, so I could in turn pass on my knowledge later.

The cool thing about Scripting News has always been how smart these people are, how good-natured they are, and how they like to show off what they know! This is a very useful combination of skills.

Anyway, as of yesterday I had completed the exporting of the named pages on the site, they're all linked into the index page on the new static site. These are, generally, the spec itself, the pages that link from the spec, the example files, and various documents announcing the transition of the spec from UserLand to Harvard ownership. This morning I'm working on exporting the blog posts. Then we come to the comments, and I think I'll stop there, because there has been so much comment spam on this site, that after the technical work is done, comes the editorial work of deciding what's spam and what's not spam, and I've been very carefully avoiding questions that involve editorial judgement. My goal has been to turn over the content of the site, so the new rendering will be as future-safe as we know how to make a site in 2007. It's been an incredible learning experience!

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, April 07, 2007. Saturday, April 07, 2007

Is Google the root of all pain? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Washington Post: "If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?' Zell said during the question period after his speech. 'Not very.'"

Believe it or not I think I understand what he's saying even though what he literally said makes no sense.

He's thinking that publishing their content on the web is a money-loser for his papers. It has nothing to do with Google, but in his mind there is no separation between Google and the web (and he has a point, most of the money being made on the web, market cap-wise is being made by Google).

He's looking at the balance sheets of the papers he's bought and wondering "Why the fuck are we on the web?"

Good question, btw. Not saying it would be good for us if they pulled out of the web, and ultimately it probably wouldn't do anything to help the financial condition of his papers.

Look a little closer Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Some people are saying that Day 1 of Scripting News was nothing more than a collection of links to sites I had visited. I have a couple of responses to that.

A picture named airplane.gif1. That's what weblogs were in the early days, it's only later that the the title-link-description model became the norm. Wes Felter, an early blogger, laments that change, and says it has more to do with the software than the way people blog. I agree, in fact that's why sites like del.icio.us came along to reinvent what blogs were in the first place! ;->

A picture named blackHelicopter..jpg2. Look a little closer, the last link on the page is to a DaveNet piece, which was more like what you'd think of as a blog post today. For people who weren't around back then, DaveNet was a series of essays I started in 1994, they were shipped via email, published on the web, and often quoted in the press (thanks!). I humbly put the link at the bottom of the page in the beginning because I didn't want to seem egotistic, but later I got over it, and put it at the top, where it belonged. Eventually I stopped writing DaveNets because mail became clogged with spam, and I wanted to encourage people do use the web more. Nowadays, Scripting News is like DaveNet, so things have come pretty much full circle in the almost thirteen years since all this michegas started.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times: "The popular image of a heart attack is all wrong."

Rafe Needleman: "Jaiku is another nanoblogging service, much like Twitter."

Question for htaccess experts Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I have some documents in a site with no suffixes, like this:


And I want to redirect them to:


I tried the obvious thing in an htaccess file:

Redirect /utah http://somesite.com/utah.html

But it generates an infinite series of redirects. Makes sense when you think about it -- Apache is not exactly redirecting urls, but patterns.

I thought maybe RedirectMatch would be the right way to go, but it's not clicking.

How do you handle a situation like this??

Please post a comment if you know. Thanks!!

Why lawyers are special Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In a comment on yesterday's Lawyers essay, Dan Stoval says lawyers are "no better, no worse than any other profession."

Of course other professions and trades have unethical and incompetent people, and of course there are lawyers who are principled and competent, and there are lawyers who are good some days and bad others.

But -- people are scared of "outing" lawyers who misbehave because when a lawyer gets mad, he or she can destroy you. I suppose a doctor can too, but that's a little too scary to contemplate -- let's hope that doesn't actually happen. But lawyers try to destroy people as a matter of everyday business. Non-lawyers just accept it with a shoulder-shrug.

My point is that now it's time to go through that, and use our new tools to at least let each other know which lawyers are the good ones.

Is Microsoft dead? Feh. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Paul Graham posits that Microsoft is dead and the cause of death is:

1. Murder by Google.

2. Oh who cares, it's all bullshit.

In fact, Microsoft is not dead, because (come on get real) it's a company, and companies aren't living, and they don't die.

In 1983 I wanted to develop for the Mac and I had investors advising me, older guys who had been in the tech business probably about as long as I've been in it now. Everyone said that Apple was dead. They asked what Apple's sales were. About a billion dollars. They said it was safe to develop for them, because billion dollar companies don't go away. Same with Microsoft today.

What's happening with MS is not death, but being pulled back to earth by gravity. It's the cycle of tech companies, and it's like the cycle of world powers. You have a vast natural resource to exploit, your population grows, the air gets clogged, the resource starts to run out and you're left with a large population. You go from optimism and huge growth to reality and flat, even negative growth. It's completely natural and predictable. It's going to happen to Google too, bet on it.

BTW, Microsoft's natural resource was people who don't have personal computers. And that's what they're running out of now. So they have to sell people their fifth and sixth PC. They will. And they will suck. Like everything else does. And Microsoft will be a mediocre huge company, again like every other huge company.

Sorry, Graham has no clue about the cycles of technology. You never should fear the incumbent, any more than you fear the IRS. Keep your distance, unless you're trying to be the next one, in which case good luck to you.

Emailing with Ole Eichorn about this (I think he used to work at Intuit) -- he wonders if MS has become irrelevant. I volunteer that of course they are irrelevant. It's been going on for a long time. My diatribe continues.

Geez, it's as if he (Graham) discovered something new!

I would say MS jumped the shark right around the time of "write once run anywhere."

They fought that. Oooops. Mistake.

They also tried to bury the web to protect Office.

Instead the web just routed around them.

Google took advantage. For a while.


PS: I could use some help with Apache htaccess files. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Friday, April 06, 2007. Friday, April 06, 2007

Lawyers Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named youngMenWithBuckets.gifI've been naive about lawyers, but I'm learning fast. There's a technique they learn somewhere that I think of as messing you up every way they can think of until you give up and give them what they want, and it's usually money. It's legal blackmail. They can do it to anyone at anytime. I'm reading about cases that have come before the judge in our continuing case. It's just amazing to me what lawyers think they can get away with.

I'm going to open the door to a lot of this and shine some light in there. What you'll see will blow you away if you haven't been paying attention.

Here's an example, the case of New York rabbi Mordechai Tendler, "who brought proceedings first in Ohio and then in California to try to identify several anonymous bloggers who commented on charges that he abused his position of relgious authority to get sexual contact with women who had come to him for counseling."

It's a fascinating case, and since it was about blogging, there's lots of interesting stuff on the web.

All this upsets my mother, who reads this blog. She's worried that I'll get hurt. I remind her that she's the one who made a huge issue of buses idling in New York, and she's won every battle she's taken on. A citizen on a mission can make a difference, I keep reminding her, but I know she knows -- she taught me that. ;->

When Travelocity ripped me off, I wrote it up here, and it was off my plate for a month or so when I was contacted by a marketing exec there, offering to give me my money back. I said no way, that's a bribe. And while my story remained in the first page of search results for Travelocity, every potential customer was forewarned, this is a company that doesn't take their customers very seriously.

A picture named microBBanimes.gifCritics ask if blogging is a field of banality but arming citizens against big corporations is becoming an important part of our economy, and it's for the good. Today, when I tell a company that's taking unfair advantage that I have a blog, nothing happens. In a few years I don't think it'll be like that.

People may think we can't reform the legal system, and make lawyers accountable. But they haven't found out yet what a blogger can accomplish, simply by making sure the process is visible. I certainly won't be the first, just doing my part to help make things work better, and more fairly.

See also: Overlawyered.com.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Aid workers blog network.

Joshua Brauer: Ignorance is not a defense.

Om Malik: Google launches 800GOOG411.

Seven-minute Sopranos. Spoiler city.

Dave Sifry says Technorati is looking for a new CEO.

Steve Rubel thinks Twitter will be sold soon.

Wired: Cheapest Mac ever.

UserLand Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm at a UserLand board meeting in downtown San Francisco. I think it's going really well.

Betsy digs the Wired cover Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named wiredcover.gifLate last night I ran a picture of the cover of next month's Wired celebrating ten years of blogging.

"Many of you were interviewed for this issue," I purported.

I thought everyone would get it, but no one got it, until I fessed up that it was a joke, a hoax. Happy April Fools. Belatedly. ;->

Also, when I said it's not the cover of Rolling Stone, I didn't mean to put down Wired, I was just quoting a wonderful song from the 70s by Dr Hook called The Cover of Rolling Stone. Back then, the equivalent of a blog star was a rock star, and the highest honor one could aspire to was the cover of the most famous rock magazine, Rolling Stone.

It worked, btw, Dr Hook got on the cover of Rolling Stone, presumably because of the song! Maybe my little joke will get me on the cover of Wired? Heh. ;->

And yes, I got the idea from Betsy's site -- where she had her famous husband, the Nobel Laureate, on the cover of Wired. I thought to myself, Hmmm, that looks interesting. And the poem just came to me in a fit of rhyming creativity. Love you Betsy! Say hi to Frank.

Trouble in paradise? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Leo LaPorte: "I've asked Ev to delete my Twitter account. I'm concerned about confusion with TWiT." Screen shot.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 05, 2007. Thursday, April 05, 2007

Russo & Hale ignores my proposal Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named russoAndHale.jpgThe Palo Alto law firm that used to represent UserLand, and was my personal lawyer for almost 20 years, ignored my offer to settle, and filed a motion to reconsider allowing them to represent the shareholders of UserLand in an action against me, VeriSign and UserLand itself. Oy!

If there are lawyers tuned in, here's the motion Russo & Hale filed. I wish they would seriously consider my proposal, and stop filing these motions, it's a total waste of time and money. Meanwhile they're becoming known as the law firm that files frivolous (and ridiculous) suits against their clients.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Forever Geek: Prototype of Firefox Coop released.

Nick Nguyen: Making Firefox more del.icio.us.

Om Malik explores the platform vendor dilemma.

AP: "Everything was stripped from a rental home after an Internet classified ad invited people to take whatever they wanted for free. But the landlord says the ad, posted last weekend on the craigslist Web site, was fake."

KSDK NewsChannel5 has video of the story.

Google's new user-annotatable maps. Coool!

It's not the cover of Rolling Stone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm featured on the cover of Wired next month in a special issue celebrating 10 years of blogging. Many of you were interviewed for this issue, so congrats! ;->

The theory of Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday's piece about the "imbalance" of Twitter was, if I say so myself, an important one.

There's a theory of social systems, a theory that has yet to be written, that will eventually group them into two distinct sets: balanced and imbalanced systems. Neither one is better than the other, both have strengths and weaknesses. It's generally assumed that the balanced systems are democratic and fair, and the imbalanced ones are not, but I think that's too crude.

A picture named fruitAndVeggie.jpgLet me make a prediction. It won't be long, if it hasn't already happened, that there will be an eruption of angst about the A-list in Twitter, just as people grouse about the A-list in blogging. In Twitter terms, the A-list will be people who have lots of followers, more than the average person. It will be more pronounced in Twitter because you can clearly see how many followers someone has. It's like those Feedburner badges that say how many subscribers a site has, except in Twitter, everyone has such a badge, and it's in a consistent place.

But this imbalance is what has made it possible for actual work to get done in the blog world. With balanced media, like a mail list, everyone is tightly coupled with everyone else. Imagine a company where every decision had to be ratified by everyone else. A company where everyone had veto power. Only really small companies could get work done. Once you got over a certain level, there would always be a naysayer for everything you might want to do -- so in the end, nothing gets done.

I like to joke that at one point I could have a developer's conference for RSS in the shower or while I was taking a walk, alone. Suppose the aggregator developers (me) wanted the blogging tool vendors (me) to support a new feature in RSS. I usually found they were easy to work with! Once there were more developers in the space, guess what happened -- nothing! Even the most innocuous proposals were controversial, and once there's controversy that's the end of forward motion.

A picture named spicySalsa.gifIn open source communities they call the imbalance a benevolent dictatorship. Far from being a perfect democracy some people imagine open source to be, actually a project often sinks or swims based on how good the central decision-maker is. Again, people complain about the A-list, but that's okay, work gets done over the objections.

I found myself thinking of Twitter as loosely-coupled instant messages. It's definitely a new thing, and because of that, it's fascinating. David Weinberger came up with an excellent name for what Twitter is, and the web, and the blogosphere, and RSS (but not mail lists) -- he called it Small Pieces Loosely Joined. There are lots of other terms for it, all good, but to assume that imbalance is bad, would be to miss the goodness of the web itself, imho.

Brian O: "Messages are lightly battered and quick-fried."

Brent Simmons wishes Twitter to remain simple.

Morning coffee notes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named accordion.gifFollowing up on yesterday's post about imbalance in Twitter, I think it's basically a pub-sub environment. Probably would be a good idea to adopt that terminology. So "friend" becomes subscriber. Someone who is being followed is a publisher. On the other hand, it would be hard, at this stage, to try to change the terminology without creating massive confusion.

The problem with April Fools posts is that if they work, they damage your integrity, and if they don't (the usual case) they show how pathetic you are.

I figured out what I want from Technorati -- in addition to finding blog posts that comment on my posts, or ones lots of people are pointing to, or blogs that have lots of inbound pointers, I'd like it to find me interesting stuff that not many other people are reading. Thoughtful articles written by people who know what they're talking about. Not the usual mindless repetitive stuff that perpetuates top positions on various lists. I want ideas, stimulation, food for thought.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, April 04, 2007. Wednesday, April 04, 2007

An imbalance with Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named parakeet.gifWhen Twitter was new, "friendship" required agreement, it was a two-way thing, I couldn't subscribe to you unless you agreed to subscribe to me. This is the normal behavior for social networks, and something like instant message buddy lists, even mail lists. I learned this from listening to the Calacanis interview with Evan Williams.

Somewhere along the way they made a fundamental change, breaking that link. You could subscribe to anyone, without permission, and with no obligation on their part to subscribe to you. This creates imbalances, and makes Twitter like RSS and the blogosphere. Or like publishing anywhere. I might read the Chicago Tribune, but there's no requirement that every columnist has to read this weblog.

So when I ask a question on Twitter, someone who's "following" me might not be able to communicate to me through Twitter, because I might not be following them. You can see this in MD's post, on his blog, where he laments that he had his "first taste of frustration with one-way friendships on Twitter" when I asked my questions. He had answers, but he thought, no way to communicate them.

However, I saw his answers anyway, despite his certainty that I wouldn't. How?

Well, like a lot of other Twitterers, I have a blog, and I use Technorati to see who's talking about my blog. He did a smart thing by pointing to my blog, and he must have pinged Technorati, because his post showed up there shortly after I posted my questions on Twitter, and I saw it, in time for his knowledge to make a difference.

He could have also gone to my account page on Twitter, seen that I have a blog, click on the link, find the comments, and post there.

The point? All these tools integrate and mix. Twitter adds something new and useful, but the other tools don't become less important because of it.

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

News.com: "Microsoft plans to follow Apple in selling unprotected songs from EMI."

At times like this I think our President has an emotional age of about 14 or 15.

Twapper lets you "keep up with Twitter on your mobile phone browser."

Lifehacker: Get happy in 60 minutes.

A browser feature that would make me happy Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'd like a preference that told the browser to remember the text size option on a per-website basis.

Some people use styles that make the text too small to read. So I make the text larger. Then I navigate away. Make the text smaller.

Too much work.

It would be nice if the browser popped up a dialog asking if I'd like it to remember this text size for this site for the next time I go there.

Crazy Bob says NoSquint is just the thing!

Jason Lefkowitz found something even better -- a minimum font size preference. I just tried setting it to 13 and already some sites are more readable (like Gmail). Thanks!!

Co-existing with platform vendors Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My experience with platform vendors...

1. I have been a platform vendor.

2. I had to live within the platform of a huge vendor.

3. I observed up-close how huge vendors dealt with developers in platforms I didn't develop for.

A picture named aldus.gifFrom the vendor's perspective: How can I prevent collisions with developers? This is what the platform vendor worries about, assuming they care about their platform continuing to be a platform. I tried to deal with this by telegraphing my roadmap to developers. Aldus, whose Pagemaker product had an active developer community, had a rule that they wouldn't squash a developer for at least one product cycle, that is, they wouldn't integrate a developer's idea as a feature until version 4.0 if it came out during the lifetime of 2.0. Not sure the developers would have appreciated this if they had known about it.

From the developer's perspective: How can I choose a niche that's either not likely to interest the vendor, or one that's likely to get me acquired by the vendor or another big company with lots of money who wants to make trouble for the vendor (in the latter case, Microsoft on the Mac in the mid-late 80s is a good example). Sometimes developers choose a niche that's either directly in the path of the vendor, or even worse, on the roadmap of the vendor. In those cases, they don't really deserve our sympathy. It's almost like a game of PR, there's no way you're not going to have a fight on your hands. The various vendors of widget environments on the Mac come to mind.

The issues are so thorny and so impossible to solve that I came around to the opinion that the only solution was to get rid of the idea of platform vendors altogther, and see the Internet as the platform without a platform vendor. That actually seems to be working! ;->

I tried to help RSS be such a platform, and so far it's resisted various attempts by technology companies to turn it into something they control, where one vendor can crush anyone that enters their eminent domain.

A picture named jesusChristIsComing.jpgToday some technology bloggers are debating the issues around the future of Mozilla, which is the oddest of beasts -- it has a non-commercial platform vendor, a foundation, and it's rich, generating tens of millions in revenue. They are truly a dangerous vendor to develop for, how are you going to figure out what motivates them (not profit for sure, their problem is how to get rid of the money they accumulate!) and you surely can't get acquired by them, and foundations don't attract competitors, so it's hard to imagine a rich suitor coming along wanting to create trouble for them. Looks like somehow we've backed into a pretty tough corner. No matter how nice they are, how benevolent, they're going to make more and more developers miserable, and their existence might not be good for the health of the browser ecosystem, long-term.

8/22/95: What is a Platform?

Just some thoughts from a guy whose been around this block a number of times. ;->

Scott Knaster Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named scott.jpgTurns out Scott Knaster, who I've known since the very early days of the Mac, has been working on Google Desktop for the Mac, which just came out today. I tried it on Windows when it came out in 2004, and was really psyched, but it didn't turn out to be as useful as I thought it would because most of my work had migrated to the web. Today, even more so. I have four computers that I use regularly, so there's really very little that's unique about each desktop other than its location (and one of them has Parallels and Windows XP, which I still find amazing). But Scott's one of the best designers I've ever known, and a great guy, so I'll probably give it a try.

Yes, there is a scripting language in there Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Phil Jones asks if there's scripting in the OPML Editor.

Yes, of course -- it's running in Frontier, which was GPL'd in 2004. It's got the full environment, the object database, scripting, verb set, TCP support, web server, CMS, etc.

You can see lots of examples starting in the Window menu. The community functionality is implemented in dotOpml.root.

Twitter API news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named parakeet.gifThere are new docs for the Twitter API. They're more philosophical and a bit more dense than the previous version, which may have lacked detail, but it was all guessable, and served well as a crib sheet for programmers. This one, not so much.

Good news, it appears there are two new entry-points for sending and receiving direct messages. I've already written and released glue for the OPML Editor for receiving, I'll do the sending part later this morning. This feature was the basis for the speculation in this March 28 piece.

There's a scary bit in the docs, where they say they're working on an authentication scheme we are not familiar with and have no code to implement. Are they going to break us? I wish I didn't have to worry.

I added a Twitter badge in the right margin. Not sure how long it will last.

MD answers some of the questions I asked on Twitter earlier today. Technorati was the key to me finding his post, btw.

Postscript: I got a note from Alex Payne who's working on the API at Twitter, and he says the current authentication method will not be deprecated, so that's a relief. I'm having fun with this stuff, and adopting a new method of authentication, esp one that isn't supported in my environment, is work! ;->

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, April 03, 2007. Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thanks Bush Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I watched the presidential press conference at 7AM Pacific this morning. It was tough to watch before coffee. That man has no goddam personality, charm, or ability to seduce.

Anyway, if I were a Democratic strategist (the president often drops the last syllable, pretty disrespectful) here's what I'd recommend:

1. Pass the bill, send it to the president.

2. He vetoes it, as he's promised to.

3. Pass the bill without the withdrawal bit he objects to.

4. He signs it. (One can only hope.)

New Democratic talking point: Okay Mr. President, you can have it your way. We tried, for now. In the fall we're going to look at how you're doing, and if the "surge" isn't working, we're going to ask the Republicans in Congress to get with us and pass a new Iraq withdrawal plan that's veto-proof.

A picture named hebrewHunk.jpgOf course, both parties are using the troops as a political football, leaving the American people wondering how we're going to get out of Iraq. The Republicans, by August, should be completely fed up with Bush. Let him have his victory now, without continuing the fight, let him run around saying how he saved the troops from the Democrats. While he's fighting a war with the other party, it'll become clear to everyone else that he's not taking responsbility for the war in Iraq, which of course, the Republics (sic) started.

One more thing, schedule another Bill Clinton appearance on Fox, asap.

OPML Editor updates Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I think we're ready for a few changes in the OPML Editor.

1. There's a new official way to get updates. This has been well tested and there have been no problems. This update is recommended for all OPML Editor users.

2. There's a new test version of the full Mac download.

3. And one for Windows. This one has been most problematic, because there's probably a crashing problem with Vista, but it's hard for me to tell because there's been limited testing, and I'm not running Vista myself.

If you have data to share please either post a note on the mail list or in a comment.

There is a known workaround for Vista, if you write-protect background.html in the Appearance folder, the program should launch without a problem.

Joshua Allen uses the OPML Editor on Vista. Hmmm. I guess that's not the problem.

Fun at 10 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The most fun thing about this blog turning 10 is seeing other oldtimey blogs that are still up and running.

Like Bill Humphries. Now there's an original!

BTW, there's no such thing as "belated" when the matter is 10 years of blogging. I figure you got at least a couple of years left before it's belated. ;->

It's also nice to get kudos from people I used to work with but don't work with any longer.

Le Monde blog post about "dixieme anniversaire."

Not that I care Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Over the last few months I watched as the Technorati rank of this weblog sank precipitously.

A long time ago, it was #1. Then it was in the top 10. Then, at the behest of Jason Calacanis, they changed they way they calculated rank, and it fell consistently to the bottom half of the top 100.

By the middle of March it had dropped below 350.

I told myself "No big deal, that's not why you write."


But then why I am I enjoying the resurgence of this blog, when viewed through Technorati?

This morning, on the rise, it broke the 200 barrier, at 199. Who knows where it will stop!


Okay, maybe I do care.

Just a little. ;->

Rick Segal Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Rick, as always, has good advice for entrepreneurs.

Rule #1: VCs never say no.

Rule #2: And entrepreneurs tend to hear yes when the VC means no.

Rick says you should pin them down. And never tell the VCs which other VCs you're talking to, until you get a term sheet. Good advice. Financing is a negotiation. If you were buying a car, you wouldn't tell a dealer which other dealers you were talking to, would you? Remember, they do this for a living, they know a lot more about it than you do. And they know when you're bluffing, maybe even when you don't! ;->

I go further in my advice to entrepreneurs. Even after you get an offer from a VC, very carefully find out if their vision of the company agrees with yours. If it doesn't there's a pretty good chance you're either going to end up working for the wrong company (the one that agrees with the VC's vision) or out on the street looking for a job, with your idea tied up in a company whose vision you don't agree with.

I've seen this happen too many times -- the entrepreneur feels his or her vision has been ratified because the money has come in, but the VC was thinking something else. The VC often wins this struggle. Better to figure this out before you become partners.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, April 02, 2007. Monday, April 02, 2007

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

According to Heise Online, the Department of Homeland and Security wants the "master key" for DNS.

Naked Jen visits eBay, and of course, she's naked! Need I say it's not work-safe? ;->

CNN report on Kathy Sierra's death threats.

Yo Wes! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Wes Felter checks in. He was there at the beginning, and I share his feelings about how code formed blogging, when it should have been the other way around. Oh well.

This is what leadership looks like Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named elephant.gifA special thanks from Six Apart.

Companies should always strive for the diplomatic voice, to be above the fray whenever possible. If you're in the airplane business, run an op-ed ad on the anniversary of the first flight at Kitty Hawk. And if you're in the weblog tool business, where's the harm in acknowledging the various milestones in the history of blogging.

So thanks to the folks at Six Apart for the hat-tip. When Cameron Barrett, Jorn Barger and Jason Kottke celebrate their 10th, we'll light some fireworks here too.

Blogging is inclusive, that's the point. Everyone gets to share their ideas. We're all folks, so come as you are. And thanks for the thanks, and many happy returns!

PS: You guys have stepped on a few toes too, btw, fyi, nabd, ianal, etc. ;->

Google Earth and New Orleans Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named jewWrestler.jpgI recently started using Google Earth, and one of the first places I looked at was New Orleans, and I couldn't make sense out of what I was seeing -- it looked like the city had completely recovered from Katrina. I knew that it hadn't.

Today I spotted a post on the Google weblog that explained they had replaced New Orleans imagery with pictures taken before Katrina, but I still can't figure out why they did this.

Is it fair to assume that this is the only part of Google Earth that has been doctored?

What about other parts of Google, and what is their disclaimer policy when the data they are presenting is not the accurate data?

Seems like a basic integrity issue.

"We recognize the increasingly important role that imagery is coming to play in the public discourse," is not enough of an explanation.

PS: I've received emails from people who say they've fixed the database, but at 1:50PM Pacific, I just spent 20 minutes zooming around New Orleans in Google Earth, and it's definitely the pre-Katrina city.

A pro-media blind spot Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named meninblack.jpgListening to this week's On The Media, they had a segment on cartoonists, and why it's so bad that we are losing so many of them as the newspaper industry shrinks. I like cartoons very much, but I was struck by something else in the piece. They were talking about cartoonists testing the limits of where they could go, and listed a bunch of topics that were taboo, and one of them was the publishers of newspapers. Then I remembered, a few years ago I was on a campaign to expose this blind spot, and got absolutely nowhere.

6/6/02: "If everyone says a journalist is really nice, I take that as a clear warning that this supposed journalist is actually playing footsy and selling out his readers. As readers, we have gotten very complacent about this."

My point then is that the media industry is enormously important to our economy and political system, but we have almost no visibility into how the money flows, and who makes the decisions. Only recently, as the industry has been firing reporters, have some of the editorial people had the guts to look at their bosses. And aside from interviewing reporters the rest of us have no way in there (and we know how reporters feel about bloggers).

This is just a reminder, there are a lot of places we don't look, but if we did, we'd see our strings being pulled all the time, in so many ways. Ever wonder who decides that we should get a steady diet of Anna Nicole Smith while World War III is breaking out in the Middle East? I do.

Brief note Permanent link to this item in the archive.

To Steven Levy: Brevity has its place. ;->

Parallels report, part 3 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named meninblack.jpgI've been running Parallels and Windows XP on my 17-inch MacBook Pro for a few days, and I still like it! It's not quite as bizarre for me as it is for others because I administer my servers, which mostly run Windows, using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection, which puts Windows inside a window on my Mac. But this is stranger, because it's using my local machine to simulate a real machine. Okay, I know other people have run emulators before, but this is my first time, so humor me. ;->

I like it because Windows has won so many wars with me that I like the idea that finally I get to win one. This is the ultimate revenge for having made a fool of me so many times, now I've got it fooled into thinking it's got a whole machine, when in fact it's just an app! Hehe.

Warning: Spoiler follows.

Did you see Men In Black and how there were galaxies everywhere inside everything, even inside a piece of jewelry? That's what it feels like. There's a whole little universe, and inside there they don't know they're just living in a dog collar! Oh Microsoft, I hope you'll understand, please don't take it personal.

Anyway, back to the serious stuff.

A picture named russo.jpgI had to run Windows somewhere new because both of my Windows laptops had died and I needed to test new builds of the Windows version of the OPML Editor because the new version of Internet Explorer broke it. We did something fancy, we embedded the browser control in the MDI window, thinking we could do something cool with it, but we never did, and now it's just a liability.

I'm at the point where I think I've managed to disable the feature enough to stop the crashing, but according to Amyloo, it leaves the app looking bad, but (key point) not on my machine.

So I swallowed hard and installed IE7 in the virtual machine, in the process I had to validate and then activate my machine (the one that doesn't actually exist, heh) but it turns out you have to do it the other way round (this is Windows after all) so I happily did that, and IE7 is now theoretically installed on the machine. I'll let you know how it goes.

PS: This is what happened when I tried to launch IE7. I guess it's (virtual) Big Red Switch time. Luckily, it reboots much faster than a real PC does.

PPS: I had to reboot several times to get the machine to respond. Oy. Maybe installing IE7 on a virtual machine wasn't such a hot idea. Anyway, I did finally get it to reboot successfully, and was able to reproduce the condition that Amyloo reported.

EMI removes DRM Permanent link to this item in the archive.

EMI press release. "EMI Music is launching DRM-free superior quality downloads across its entire digital repertoire and that Apple's iTunes Store will be the first online music store to sell EMI's new downloads."

PDF presentation. I'm trying to tune into the audio webcast, without luck so far.

Michael Gartenberg: "This is a great PR win for Apple and Steve Jobs."

Morning coffee notes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Just before 5AM Pacific.

The Apple & EMI press conference in London starts soon.

Amyloo saw the CNN segment on last week's blogosphere uprising, she says it could have been worse. I'm tuned in to CNN now hoping to see a re-run, but at 5AM I'm looking for video of the London press conference. Any ideas?

There probably is some meaningful connection between a blog and Twitter, still trying to figure it out. Pointing to Amyloo on Twitter because she hasn't got a post about this on her blog, yet. I suspect she will have one eventually. Should her Twitter page have something about her blog, or vice versa?

I listened to the Evan Williams interview on the Jason Calacanis podcast, Williams is the guy behind Twitter, founder of Blogger, software philosopher. The interview doesn't go into much depth, worth listening to if you're following Twitter, as I am.

Thanks to everyone who sent or posted good wishes for the second decade of Scripting News. There's a lot of goodwill out there, and that's much appreciated!

New mail address Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You can send me mail here:

scriptingnewsmail at gmail dot com

This address may change when the spammers catch up with me! ;->

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, April 01, 2007. Sunday, April 01, 2007

A decade of Scripting News Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named elephant.gifOn this day, ten years ago, a weblog named Scripting News appeared for the first time at this address.

Today, it is the longest continuing running weblog on the Internet.

This site played a big role in several important trends.

1. It helped bootstrap the blogging world. Many of the earliest weblogs were patterened after this site. The software that was used to build many of those blogs came from Scripting News.

2. It was the focal point for the communities that created RSS and podcasting.

A picture named hourglass.jpg3. Many of the political and social innovations that sprang from the blogging world got their start in the Scripting News community.

Earlier today SN more or less reflected what the site looked like on its first day, 4/1/97. It was an approximation -- in some cases the sites it linked to are gone, but archives were available at archive.org. In those places I've linked to the archive.org versions. In other cases there was no backup at archive.org -- those links are broken. But there is a lot of interesting non-broken stuff hanging off this page. If you're interested in the roots of blogging, you'll find a lot of treasure here. It may be worth an hour or more exploration on a Sunday afternoon.

I've archived the 1997 version of the home page.

Here's the downloadable archive of the first decade of Scripting News, in HTML. And for outliner fans, in OPML.

To the women of blogging Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I have many friends in the blogosphere, and many of them checked in today, in a way that matters most to me, by holding hands in cyberspace.

A very special greeting came from Betsy Devine, who linked to a timely but forgotten piece I wrote in 2003, which I would like to dedicate to the women of the blogosphere who, at times, find the environment so challenging. In standing up for men in this space, sometimes it may seem that I don't appreciate the risks that women take. Let me make amends for that.


Be who you are, nothing more and nothing less, and know that's where beauty comes from.


Dave Winer, 51, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

"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.

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Scripting News

On This Day In: 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

April 2007
Mar   May

Things to revisit:

1.Microsoft patent acid test.
2.What is a weblog?
3.Advertising R.I.P.
4.How to embrace & extend.
5.Bubble Burst 2.0.
6.This I Believe.
7.Most RSS readers are wrong.
8.Who is Phil Jones?
9.Send them away.
10.Negotiate with users.
11.Preserving ideas.
12.Empire of the Air.
13.NPR speech.
14.Russo & Hale.
15.Trouble at the Chronicle.
15.RSS 2.0.
16.Checkbox News.
17.Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.
18.Twitter as coral reef.

Teller: "To discover is not merely to encounter, but to comprehend and reveal, to apprehend something new and true and deliver it to the world."

Click here to see a list of recently updated OPML weblogs.

Click here to read blogs commenting on today's Scripting News.

Morning Coffee Notes, an occasional podcast by Scripting News Editor, Dave Winer.

KitchenCam 1.0

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Click here to view the OPML version of Scripting News.

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