Panayotis Vryonis sent an email saying I might be interested in what he's doing. He was right about that!
He's got Wordpress serving OPML to Nokia's podcatcher, apparently it supports dynamic OPML (what we call reading lists), a very powerful and useful feature.
Well, well, well..
Look at how well all these things work together!
Wordpress, Nokia, OPML, podcasting, and a developer out there where ever he is.
We didn't have a big press conference, or leak something to the NY Times or TechCrunch There was no grand announcement of an alliance. We didn't threaten anyone, or undermine anyone, or any of that. We all just said Hey this might be useful why don't you give it a try.
Gotta love it.
PS: We need a logo for loving OPML like the ones we have for RSS. Anyone want to give it a go?
Standards devised by one tech company whose main purpose is to undermine another tech company, usually don't work.
In this case it's Google trying to undermine Facebook.
And I don't think it's going to work.
What would be exciting and uplifting, a real game-changer -- Internet companies giving users full control of their data.
When Google makes their announcement on Thursday, the question they should be asked by everyone is -- How much of my data are you letting me control today? That's pretty much all that matters to anyone, imho.
1996: "How much happier we would be if instead of crippling each other with fear, we competed to empower each others' creativity."
Okay now we have Open Social to add to a long list of Opens and Frees.
Open Source -- let's see your source code.
Open Doc -- let's get rid of Office.
Open ID -- let's see your users.
Free Beer -- Web 2.0.
Free Software -- no code-level lock-in.
These aren't good or bad, they just serve someone's interest without thinking about the users' interest (at best) or counter to the users' interest (at worst).
Which suggests maybe it's time to get to the point.
Let my people go!
I find that amazing. Maybe because we don't sell links (or take ads).
Google hasn't sworn him to secrecy so he can speculate on what Maka Maka is.
I got past the initial screen this time...
Any help on how to get a stuck disk unstuck in a Wii would be much appreciated.
Look: You can open it and push the disk out manually!
A twit last night from Scoble points to a page of docs on a new API for Pownce. Of course I want to check it out, since Pownce is roughly comparable to Twitter, which I use every day, and there is some functionality I'd like to see in the Twitter API. If that functionality is present in Pownce's API, it seems more likely that it will show up eventually in Twitter's.
First, the API is maybe 1/3 complete. If you scroll to the end of the page you'll see a list of areas that haven't yet been covered. The ability to post and read friends-only notes are very important, you can't implement a client without those interfaces.
Examples of things you can do with the API, right now. Click on the link to see the XML that Pownce returns.
1. Get the most recent 10 public notes.
2. Get the most recent 10 public notes from Veronica Belmont.
3. Get my public profile.
He had some Wheaties this morning for sure.
1. Remember to have fun.
2. We're all bozos on this bus.
3. We're all barking farting chihuahuas.
4. I make shitty software and so do you.
5. It's even worse than it appears.
6. You never learn anything hanging with the same people.
7. Thank heaven for little girls. (A repeat of #6.)
8. It's later than you think.
9. It's not like anyone gets out of this alive.
A comment by Lane Becker on Scott Rosenberg's blog...
"I've been using Winer's nytimesriver on my iPhone screen for weeks now, and it’s far and away the best interface when you're reading on a mobile device."
"Which is the point: it's all about context. It's not either/or, and it's not just different readers wanting different things. sometimes it's the same reader wanting different things at different times, in different situations."
Exactly right. I use nytimesriver on my iPhone or Blackberry, but I don't use it on my desktop, where I prefer an interface with more controls. The small screen of a mobile device demands something simpler.
Slowly the word is getting out. I'd like to do it faster. It would be great if the TImes itself looked at this. If they can write about installation art in their lobby, why not tell their readers about a new way of reading Times news on a mobile device?
The Times was a leader in RSS too, but never reported on it. Perhaps there's a blind spot.
Good software designers get out of their bodies and become users of software. Because ultimately you don't design software to express yourself, you design it to be useful.
The point of news, as with software, is to be useful to the person using it.
Sorry, it's not about employing editors. Scott Rosenberg, a writer and editor of news can be forgiven for seeing it from his own point of view, but we users of news don't share that point of view. To me, as a software designer, it's no surprise that there are lots of ways to view news. That there used to be one main way to do it is also not a surprise, there were technical limits, that aren't there anymore.
The skill of laying out a paper presentation of the day's news on a big sheet of paper is now an obsolete craft. The only reason we needed people to do that in the past was that was the only way to get written news to massive numbers of users of written news. Now that computer monitors are cheap, and we have little computers that can get us news that fits in our pocket, we can try out lots of ways of arranging it, and maybe we'll even discover something new.
Which it turns out I needed because after I got home all three external drives attached to my desktop were reported as damaged beyond repair by the new Mac OS. Coincidence? Lucky that I had exactly the hardware I needed to dig out of the mess? Who knows!
Funny thing is it's taking over 10 hours to do the copying. It won't finish until tomorrow morning, Murphy-willing. When the disks got big, all of a sudden restoring from backups takes a lonnnng time.
And recapture some valuable screen real estate and a portion of your sanity.
defaults write com.apple.Dock no-glass -boolean YES
Thanks to Mark Johnson for the tip.
The numbers are up at nytimesriver.com.
Two hops off the directory home page.
PS: What's next? Link love from the NYT itself?
I want my white menubar back.
I think the idea of the translucent menubar is wrong.
Here's a screen shot.
See how dark it is in the upper-right corner. You look in that corner all the time, it's where the clock is, it's where you see how much battery you have left, how good your wifi signal is, etc. We don't have much room for a dashboard on these machines, but that's where it is. If it changes appearance just because I changed the desktop image, that's new and unexpected behavior, and it can make it hard to read for people with old eyes. And for what purpose? It makes the desktop background choice something that impacts a crucial part of the user interface.
I want an option to have a white menu bar.
1996: "I came here to get my work done."
It's kind of like Facebook's feed for people who don't do Facebook.
It seems pretty cool.
I just started watching The Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic Channel a few weeks ago, and I'm hooked.
I really like the way the star, Cesar Millan, explains stuff. He shoots straight, with love. You can't be politically correct and get a dog to behave.
And he never misleads the owners, they have to change in order for the dog to change.
Dogs are very simple, they can't just be your friend. The dog's world is hierarchic. Someone is the boss. If you're not the boss, he or she is. Every pack has a leader.
Watching the show I wish I had a dog so I could try out his ideas.
I also wish news shows were like this, get to the real story, find a solution to the problem.
Maybe he'll run for Governor of California. I'd vote for him.
Sue Polinsky loves the Dog Whisperer too.
I have to admit I don't like Halloween, or actually I liked it when I was a kid, a lot, and I would like it as an adult if there was no expectation that adults had to behave like kids!
Well, actually, something I don't like about Halloween is that you have to buy candy and keep it in the house for trick or treaters, and the temptation to eat the junk is overwhelming, and it's not good for adults to eat so much sugar. And you buy too much and you have it left over, and have to find someone to give it to.
So what's left with Halloween? Uhhh, yeah you see there's the problem. So what I do on this holiday is find some friends who feel the same way and go out to dinner. If anyone asks what I go as on Halloween, I say "The Invisible Man."
Update: "I want my white menubar back."
First a little background. I stopped using a Mac in 1997, as Apple was transitioning to the new operating system. I started using the Mac again as my primary OS in late 2005, a little more than two years ago. This is the first new version of the OS to come out since I switched back.
Based on a tour of the new features, pretty late at the end of a long week, it's safe to say an OS is still just an OS, the purpose of the OS is to stay out of your way until you need it. Leopard may be prettier than the last version, I'm not sure it is or isn't. Not sure I'll use many of the new features. For people who hadn't used VNC before, "screen sharing" would certainly be a big new feature if they're working in a networked enviroment. And maybe the new backup code will fit into my routine. I have some ideas about that. (Maybe I'll just have one computer on my LAN that is backed up and copy things there if I want them backed up.)
File sharing is more convenient in Leopard, the shared computers are listed in every Finder window, and this is good. FInding the disks that are available on each of these computers is one step easier too.
The Preferences applicaiton appears largely unchanged, except the Networking section where a lot of functionality seems to be missing. I have to look at this more closely.
The Download stack is lost on me since I don't use Safari or Apple's mail app. I would find it useful if Firefox had a similar feature (but they kind of do, I can direct all downloads to a specific folder).
Update: The Download stack is just a folder, you can direct Firefox to download to it. I think I saw some Apple marketing on this feature that implied that only Apple apps could use it.
All in all, changes to an OS aren't that important. The action is in the apps, and for me, just a couple of primary ones, the web browser and my integrated writing and programming environment. It's been quite a while since there have been meaningful improvements to either, and those improvements would end up meaning a lot more to me than improvements to the OS.
There isn't much you can do, after the Mac has been around for 23 years, that hasn't already been done.
Net-net, my first impression of Leopard is that it isn't a big deal one way or the other.
Matt Neuburg takes a dim view of the changes in Leopard.
PS: I wonder if the next version of the OS will be called Leonard, to honor Leonard Rosenthal, a famous Mac developer in the 80s and 90s.
7PM: I got my disk.
9:25PM: Updating in Leopard. The OPML Editor seems to work. Whew. Not sure what I would have done if it didn't. When it finally finished installing it started playing some really happy music and of course it sounded really good. Things definitely look nicer. Screen sharing is very nice, nicer than Chicken of the VNC which I had just started using. Obviously there's a lot of new stuff to learn. I'm backing up my laptop now so I can really dig into this tomorrow. I got started on my Mac Mini in the den, a relatively new system. If I had to wipe it, it wouldn't have been that big a deal.
Second, the reason those of us who ordered in advance are not getting our Leopards is that Fedex couldn't handle the load.
Even so, when I called Fedex this morning they said I would have my package today, even though the website says otherwise. Their gears are stipped on a good day. Is Fedex the AT&T of package delivery? Will Apple end up leasing their own fleet of trucks to deliver the next version of Mac OS? I guess we still have to make it through this release.
Will we be able to have a Flash Conference on Monday to discuss Leopard? Only time will tell.
MacInTouch first look. (Clearly canned.)
Ryan Block has his first review up.
Raines Cohen was in Austin for the Leopard ship.
You can see how Apple has not! prioritized getting Leopards into the hands of people who might help others get started. John Gruber of Daring Fireball is posting pithy observations on the size of human eyeballs, Brent Simmons is giving up for the day, no Leopard on his doorstep. Are there problems with Leopard? Chuck says so. Do we have any idea the scale of the problems? Nope.
Anyone have an idea what "Future delivery requested" means?
Very perplexed and somewhat unhappy.
No one seems to know what "Future delivery requested" means.
Update: Now the Fedex site says I'll have it by 5:30PM. On the bright side that means I'll get more work done today.
Chuck Shotton has his Leopard, but hit a wall. "Leopard's migrate user function has failed 3 times on 3 separate clean installs. This is a seriously broken, critical piece of the OS."
Mossberg and Pogue missed it, didn't make it into USA Today.
That's the motivation behind the flash conference idea. After two or three days, organize the knowledge as covered by the bloggers, really cover it as tech news has never been covered before.
If necessary, have another flashconf two weeks or a month later.
An idea I've been thinking about for a while and looking for an opportunity to do is a "flash conference" along the lines of the flash mobs that were so popular a few years ago.
Here's how it would work...
Some event happens that focuses the attention of bloggers, one where there's a lot of ground to cover and at least two or three different ways to view it, one where the combined expertise of 5 or 10 bloggers would make a big difference.
The event would last at most 3 hours, would be webcast live, and be edited into a 1 hour program within 24 hours.
As many of us are waiting for delivery of Leopard, the new Mac OS, it seems that this may be an opportunity for such a conference.
We'd have to find a facility in San Francisco that could house this. There would need to be room for 20 or 30 people, and it must also have decent networking.
Then the question of who would we turn to for expert opinions.
1. A Mac software developer.
2. A gadget blogger (Engadget, Gizmodo, etc).
3. A creative artist (it is a Mac after all).
A USB-DAC connects through the USB port to a Mac or PC, and to an amplifier and speakers. Apparently you can get much higher quality sound from your computer, for as little as $200 with the Stereo-Link 1200. I didn't know these products existed until I heard a report on the Tech Talk podcast, and read the article in today's NYT.
Seems like I'm going to have to buy one. Amazon doesn't carry them. Not sure where to buy.
Later: Not so fast...
Update from Kevin Newman: "If your audio receiver has optical digital inputs, and your computer has optical digital audio output, connecting them digitally allows the receiver to do the D-to-A conversion. If you have an expensive receiver, it already has nice converters. That would almost certainly sound better than taking the analog minijack output from your computer. I'm not sure how the sound would compare to one of the external DACs listed in the article, but a digital connection is less clutter and less expensive."
Postscript: Newman was right. I have a good Denon receiver (the one with the integrated HTTP server) that has several optical inputs on the back, and when I replaced the analog cable connecting the Mac Mini to the receiver with a digital cable, the increase in quality was incredible. There are physical sensations to recorded music that I had never experienced before. I have some flac recordings and I ran those through the new setup and was blown away.
Illustration: The important thing about the back panel is that there are four optical (digital) inputs, which are compatible with the digital output of the Mac. So when you play an MP3 from the Mac, and connect to the receiver with the optical cable, the D-to-A conversion is done by the receiver. The Mac is $500 of computer hardware (and damn good at what it does) and the Denon is $2K of audio hardware, and also very good. This setup lets each system do what it does best. The result is stunning sound. Really hard to explain how good it is.
First, let me gloat.
My investment is now worth $54,933.
That's 10.5 percent growth in less than a month.
I bought the stock because I was going to buy everything Apple sold from now until forever. The last product I had yet to purchase was the company's stock. That was a mistake. The beauty of owning the stock is that you can use the increase in value to fund the hardware habit. So far so good.
My very dear friend Sylvia Paull bought an iPod a month ago. In a blog post today she calls it a gateway drug. Having read early reviews of the new operating system, she's ready to buy a 24 inch iMac.
I recognize the signs.
It's like a virus I tell you.
PS: I just checked on at the Apple store. My family pack of Leopard has shipped, and will arrive tomorrow by 10:30AM. Now that's cool! No penalty for ordering online vs visiting the store. Way to go.
Now that Microsoft has invested in Facebook, I'm reminded of a poem an anonymous correspondent wrote when I was working with Microsoft in the late 90s.
There once was a lady from Niger who smiled as she rode on a tiger. They returned from the ride with the lady inside and the smile on the face of the tiger.
It didn't turn out that way then and might not turn out that way now, but it's still a cute poem.
Which is a more interesting platform -- Facebook or Firefox?
This was a topic of conversation at the Web 2.0 Summit last week in SF, not on stage, but in a LobbyConversation between myself and venture capitalist Bijan Sabet.
Bijan Sabet: "I like that Firefox developers don't have to live in a world where they lie awake at night worried that the platform company is going to make life hard for them."
What do you think??
I replaced the Google-based search tool in the right margin with one from Lijit.
I found the Google one took up too much space, and I couldn't easily configure it, I never used it, and I grimaced every time I saw it (it felt like an eyesore).
Let's see if this one works better, it sure looks better.
Watching various people (on Twitter) get on an airplane to go to Hawaii to an insider invite-only Silicon Valley conference, and thinking about the various business ideas the valley is floating these days, advertising, and how valuations work, and how unaccustomed the insiders are at having their ideas challenged, I came to a few rapid-fire conclusions last night on Twitter. (One good reason to follow me on Twitter is I tend to blurt out things there that would get me in trouble here on my blog.)
Twit #1: "I have a theory that 'user generated content' is a last-gasp of the regal outlook of silicon valley, where we're all chumps or slaves." (Before UGC we were just supposed to be eyeballs, consuming their shovelware, buying stuff we see in ads. They had to adjust their thinking when it became apparent that we were also interested in creating, though we're positioned as generators not creators.)
Twit #2: "The role of the tech industry is to create tools and players. To enable creativity, not harness and control it." (I think this is when it all works best.)
Twit #3: "If you're scared to hear what people really think you're not prepared for the world you live in." (I finally figured this one out. The reason so many people in SV say I can't be trusted (it's observable) is because I'm equally likely to say your product sucks as I am to say it's great. This is a culture raised on Gee Whiz editorial coverage, the adulation of MSM. When blogs came along they had to hear that not everyone thinks they're so wonderful all the time. Who would you hate most but the guy who pushed the tools that made everyone with an opinion so audible. And would you expect such a person to keep his opinion to himself? Heh.)
Even though I think this, I know I'm actually full of shit...
Guy Kawasaki asked me once why so many people say I'm not a nice person, when in fact I am. If I saw you on the street I'd smile and say hello. I stop when someone is in the crosswalk. Nothing makes me happier than making a tool that people enjoy. I try to listen to everyone, and I don't care how much money you have. I never answered Guy's question, but here it is. If you asked me why some individual person thinks something, I'd say you'd have to ask them. That's basic respect. Let people speak for themselves. If you ask me why 100 people think something, I'm even more clueless.
BTW, Guy and I weren't friends for a long time after being good friends for a long time. I much prefer having him as a friend, I missed his company while we weren't talking. He doesn't suffer fools, and he's the first person to question his own thinking if someone says he's wrong. I've seen him do it, and I was totally impressed. People like that figure stuff out. People who don't want to learn about bugs in their thinking go through life with a lot of bugs. Today, and beyond, everyone has great tools for saying what they think. If you can't stand to hear it, you're not going to like the future very much, sorry to say.
The next stop on my tour of development projects is to ship some new software that runs inside the OPML Editor. The software is designed to run on a Mac Mini that's attached to a big screen HD-TV. So the way the OPML Editor boots up now is inappropriate for this application. It presents a dialog and opens a weblog editing window. Instead this app interfaces through a web browser, and runs in the background.
So I need to come up with a way to not run the startup code for the weblog editor. I'll be taking my notes here, so that later when I want to do the same thing for another project I'll know how to do it. And since the OPML Editor is open source, the notes can apply to other people's projects if they want to do something similar.
1. How do you create a plain text file using the software Apple ships with the Mac OS? The TextEdit app doesn't have that option, amazingly. I found one very ugly way to do it. Open a .txt file. Then the options on the Save dialog give you a way to save as plain text. The real answer: It's a preference.
2. The OPML Editor will have an opmlStartupCommands.txt file in the application folder. The first line will set user.prefs.flStartupDotOpml to false. dotOpmlThread.script watches for this, and if it's present and set false, it won't start up.
3. Add this to the to-do list. I need to get Bonjour working inside the OPML Editor, with the minimum of fuss.
Jacob Harris leads this piece about the metadata of the NY Times with the corniest tech quote I've ever heard.
I heart corny quotes.
A retired reporter, Jim Forbes, was evacuated from his mountain home near San Diego, and tells the story on his blog.
Nelson Minar says he likes TechCrunch, but they're not journalists so be careful what you say to a TC reporter at a party. He cites two examples where he feels they acted unethically.
In one example, the reporter seems to use off the record comments exactly as they are supposed to. Most non-disclosures require that you keep the information confidential, but only until someone else discloses the information to you. If you get it from another source, on the record or off the record, the NDA is no longer enforceable. In this case they got confirmation from three off the record sources.
The other is just an example of a dumb story, not a violation of journalistic ethics. To say that a big company told a lie is hardly news. If it were about something material and not the age of one of the founders, then it would be newsworthy. But it's not an example of an integrity breach. (You can make a mistake and still have integrity. It's only a problem if you knew it was wrong when you wrote it.)
Imho, too much is made of whether someone is a journalist or not. You read reports like this one from a high reputation news organization, written by a journalist, that contain no information but leave a sensational impression for people who don't know technology well enough to know that the reporter is talking nonsense. I'd rather read the opinion of a non-journalist who knows the subject and can defend his or her position, and clearly discloses their interest in the subject. At least I'd learn something, and no one would be misled into believing they were getting "news."
However I do applaud what Nelson wrote because he had the guts to openly criticize TechCrunch. People from outside Silicon Valley must wonder why hardly anyone does, given that they are at or near the top of most lists ranking tech news sources. Why should they be immune to examination? Answer -- they shouldn't.
Of course people would like to have an item-level opt-in, to guarantee a post would earn a top position on TechMeme, but obviously that's impractical, so why not give us the power to say please don't include this story in TechMeme, it's too meta.
When I say a piece is too meta, it's not news, it's news about news, what the Big Media guys call a process story. For example, I would prefer to not have this piece, the one you're reading right now, on TechMeme. It's now meta-meta, because I'm talking about the meta-ness of the piece. You can see this could go on forever, now I'm in meta-meta-meta mode. For a brief moment I went into quadruple meta mode. (Sometimes I get so deep into a joke I wonder if people are still with me.)
Seriously, some pieces just shouldn't be on TechMeme. And I know which ones those are. So instead of making me turn off the TM spider for my whole site, why not give me a way to say "Stop TechMeme spider, this item is off-limits." We could come up with a TechMeme namespace for RSS 2.0. I'd be happy to help.
A few notes on the NY Times outline...
1. I switched it back to the frequency sort, having tried it as an alphabetized list for about 18 hours. Now I want to see what happens with it flipped around so the most frequent keyword bins appear first.
2. Not sure, but I think it will empty out later this afternoon, as yesterday's stories expire, and before tomorrow's stories ship.
3. It seems that at least some people have bookmarked the site and are refreshing it. If so, I'm glad -- because that's the way these pages are most useful, they tell you something about what changed. Remember this is "news" not olds.
4. The outline view is something like TechMeme for the Times news flow. Not exactly because the keywords are assigned by people. Unseen news mavens. Where do they reside? Are they on the upper floors or in the basement of the NY Times skyscraper on 8th Ave, or somewhere inbetween? Maybe they work out of their homes. My mind wants to visualize these people, but I have nothing to cling to. It's not an algorithm that's determining where things sort out, it's people. Otherwise known as editors? Or are they librarians?
6. Francine Hardway twitted at me: "Times River is awesome on my iPhone! Was reading it while waiting for eye surgery and it was very distracting." Amen. That's the big secret. I wish there were a way to get everyone to look at the river on their cell phone. Eyes would open.
7. Thinking about integrating the two views, cross-relating them. Not sure exactly what I'll try first. That's why I wanted to let it settle in for a bit before moving in a other directions.
8. Of course, I know that if this ever becomes a "real" product, the user is going to control the view he or she wants to be the default. But for right now I'm experimenting. I want to see what people think. Enough people were asking for an alpha view that I wanted to see what would happen when I gave it to them, and if anyone would scream. Screaming isn't a bad thing, it's data.
My new toy arrived late yesterday, too late for this weary boy to want to set it up. This morning I put it on my to-do list. Item #3. Set up Wii. So that's what I did.
I have a receiver that's connected to the other new toy, a Samsung 52-inch HDTV, and the Wii connected up to the receiver, and the receiver was already connected through component video to the TV, and when I cycled through the inputs on the TV's remote, voila, there's the Wii. Smooth as can be!
And that's where we got stuck. I installed everything according to the instructions or so I thought. A screen comes up saying you should press the middle key on the remote which I did, and it chirped kindly, and then presented a screen asking me to confirm that I speak English and no matter what key I press, nothing happens. Nada. It just sits there. I'm ready to bowl, play tennis, design Mii, whatever cooool things you can do with a Wii, but that's where we are.
Okay. We'll get past this. I hope. :-)
Update: I called the 800-number for support, and they had me go through a trouble-shooting procedure, that was actually fairly interesting. I explain it in this picture, which indicates that the sensor bar appears to be okay.
Update #2: I tried standing on a chair, moved 10 feet back, 15 feet, even 20 feet. Moved the receiver to the bottom of the screen. No cursor shows up. Rebooted a dozen times, resynched three or four. Something is screwy here, but I'm no closer to knowing what it is. :-(
Here's a movie that demos the situation.
After an intense week with the NY Times metadata, I'm going to put it down for a bit, take care of some other stuff, and put together some downloads of other software I've developed over the last few months so they can move to the next stage. I also want to set up the new toy today and see what that's like. And then I got an email from Jason Etheridge, who is listening to all the Morning Coffee Note podcasts, and finds that quite a few of them are missing. More in a minute.
Jason Etheridge has been working his way through the archive of Morning Coffee Notes podcasts, and has found a bunch are missing. I'm going through the list, using archive.org, local backups, Google, and whatever else I can think of, to try to find the missing MP3s. These are the ones I haven't found yet. (I'll update the list as I work through it, so hit refresh periodically.)
* Denotes a file archive.org says they have but can't access because of technical difficulties.
Of course, if you have any clues about rescuing these files, or have a copy of them on your local system, please let me know.
Here's a list of Morning Coffee Notes podcasts that we have been able to rescue, so far.
Lost podcasts that I've found, but haven't been able to upload yet.
It's not very often that you see something new in News.
News is not exactly new technology, but when personal computers came along, and then widespread networking, it created a whole new playing field for news, that has shaken things up for most of my life. Change comes in fits at starts. First there was the web, then RSS, and now I think we're on the cusp of another bit of change.
If you want to see what I think it looks like, check out the home page of nytimesriver.com. But that's not the end of the story. A flat completely chronologic view of news probably isn't enough. And earlier this month at a meeting in NY, two engineers at the NY Times set me off in a new direction, with a very simple bit of advice. They told me to look in the HTML source code of their stories. When I did I saw they had applied a taxonomy to their news flow, and this opened the door to what I would like to show you today -- an outline view of the news.
I believe it's fairly self-explanatory.
The topics are arranged in order of frequency in today's news.
In a previous rendering, the stories were shown in a histogram, but this view I think is much better. You can still see how many pieces relate to the indicated topic, but by clicking on the plus next to each topic, you can actually see the headlines and descriptions, and if you want more you can click through to the full stories. (Initially, the outline was sorted by frequency, with the most frequently occurring keyword appearing first. I changed it, based on feedback, to be alphabetic.)
Now, there's still more to do, I showed this to a number of people during the weekend and got some excellent clues on ideas to pursue next, and I will do that. Further, in the process of exploring this, I've been shown the work of other developers who discovered the keywords on their own, and one in particular is very interesting. I'm hoping that these projects will come public so I can show them to you and tell you what I think they mean.
This is what I live for, professionally -- the sense of being somewhere with great unexplored potential, a virgin landscape of the intellect. I'm never happier than when I get to play in such a place.
Dan Gillmor: "Dave Winer has been exploring a superb news resource, exploring the depth and breadth of the New York Times‘ data-stream."
Bijan Sabet: Dave's River of News.
Scott Rosenberg: Remixing news.
Om Malik: A new way to view news.
Please comment on the screen shot page.
1. There are infringing uses of BitTorrent, for sure, but why is Comcast taking the role of enforcer against the interest of their customers. Just a question, but not likely to get an answer, because Comcast officially denies they're doing anything, even though employees (apparently) are confirming, not for attribution, that they are.
2. What about non-infringing uses of BitTorrent? Can their algorithms tell if someone is using BitTorrent to share mamterial that they have the legal right to distribute? If not, how do they justify interfering with their customers' use of the Internet?
3. And perhaps most disturbing, what does this say for the future? Perhaps someday it will be deemed inappropriate for people to publish content to the Internet, if so, could Comcast take steps to block that activity? How different is this from interfering with BitTorrent?
Another nugget I thought would be good to share.
I came home from my trip to NY and there was a pretty bad stink in the kitchen.
Smelled like garbage.
It didn't take long to zero in on the source -- the garbage disposal.
I tried pouring all kinds of cleaning stuff down the drain, to no avail, the smell didn't go away.
Then I did a search on the Internet, found a variety of suggestions, and felt pretty sure that I'd have to call a plumber because they all seemed to assume skills and/or tools I didn't have. Instead I tried a very simple idea and amazingly it worked.
1. Put a drain stopper in the disposal so no water can flow out through the bottom
2. Fill the sink with hot water mixed with soap and chlorine bleach. The hotter the water the better.
3. With the water running put one hand on the stopper and the other on the switch, as you pull out the stopper, turn on the switch. (Be sure to do it in that order, to keep your hand from getting chopped up!)
4. Let all the water run out of the sink and leave the water running as long as there's suds.
5. Repeat two or three times. Wait a day or two. With any luck the smell will be gone.
The reason this works is that junk gets stuck on the walls of the drain, and since it's garbage, it rots and stinks. By immersing it in soapy water, the junk gets dislodged and goes down the drain and out of your life.
I just figured something out, and it's the kind of thing that's best said publicly, even though it's likely to: 1. Be misunderstood and 2. Upset some people.
But since it's all about this blog it really is best to air it here.
First what triggered the epiphany.
I was over at Loic Le Meur's house in San Francisco yesterday having lunch with his family and friends. We were all drinking wine (very good wine of course), enjoying the view, and talking about this and that, when the subject turned to Mike Arrington. Loic said that Mike told him that we used to be best friends. I couldn't figure out what that meant, because our friendship was the business kind of friendship not the personal kind. What does it mean to be best friends in that way? And how does that relate to having a blog? It never occurred to me that friendship meant that (here's the epiphany) that I would only say positive things about Mike's business. It didn't occur to me until I heard Loic's side of a blog-fight that I saw happen from a distance, with Sam Sethi, Mike and Loic.
Complicated? You bet. Too complicated. An unspoken deal that I never agreed to.
When Mike was starting TechCrunch, I pointed to his blog all the time, with glowing praise, because I was truly impressed with what he was doing and because I wanted to encourage other people to do it too. I wanted people to write about technology products based on how they used them, not based on alliances, investment, posturing of execs, the crappy stuff that means almost nothing to users, and imho is just a substitute for actually understanding the technology. Mike was approaching products the way I felt they should be approached. Hence the praise.
Fact is, my opinion of Mike, as a person, hasn't changed much in the last couple of years. He has a personal charm and charisma that not everyone finds appealing, but I do. I like hanging out with the guy.
However, that doesn't mean that if my opinion of TechCrunch, his business, isn't uniformly positive (and of course these days it is actually fairly negative) that I will withhold it. But it's also part of Mike's way of dealing with people that he sees criticism as betrayal. I just don't see it that way. I've had the shit kicked out of me so many times, and as a programmer I understand that criticism is necessary to perfect a user interface, even to get the damned thing working, that even when it hurts, I have to push the hurt aside and listen to what people are saying, and try to respond to it. Professionalism demands it.
Anyway, one of the reasons I want to write this now is that I've written about Loic's business here a couple of times in very positive terms. I don't want anyone, esp Loic, to assume that this will always be so. If they get in the way of other creative people, or otherwise act as a poor example of entrepreneurship in technology, of course I will write about it, and will say what I think. I would expect Loic and people at his company to take what I write to heart, and consider it. My feelings won't be hurt if they don't do what I say. (People almost never do.)
Same as when I said Facebook sucks. Or when I criticize Techmeme. This isn't in any way meant to reflect on the quality of the people at Facebook (some of whom I know to be outstanding people of high principle) or Gabe Rivera who I know to be a very smart and competent and honorable person. It's possible to critcize someone's work and still admire the person. My epiphany is that a lot of people who thought were my friend, didn't understand this very basic thing about me.
8/17/07: Friendship and blogging.
It's not often you learn a life lesson without any pain, but that happened this week, starting with a blog post by Fred Wilson, that I've now applied twice, once successfully, and the second time, we'll find out.
Fred is a venture capitalist. An important part of his job is evaluating and deciding on opportunities to invest. For every company he invests in, he turns down many more. So how do you turn someone down without being personal? Well, you probably can't. So a lot of VCs side-step the problem and never turn anyone down, they just stop returning calls, or blame their partners.
Fred decided to tell people the truth -- not only that he's not going to invest, he'll also tell you why. I think this is a good idea (here's the lesson) because the person might be able to fix the problem, and Fred will get to invest, and the person's idea will get a chance to become a company.
I tried it yesterday in a negotiation at a furniture store, and it worked.
First, when buying furniture you're expected to negotiate, the sticker price is just a starting point. But I hate to negotiate, even though I know I have to. When I hesitated about whether I would make the purchase, the sales person said "Of course you get a ten percent discount." And if I said 15 percent? She said sure. I said to my companion, I bet she would have gone to 20. I looked at the sales person, she put a pained look on her face and said okay.
I didn't feel sorry for her, because they'll still make 40 percent of what I pay as gross profit, if the percentages are the same as when I sold software through retail in the 80s.
Then I decided to add a couple of lamps to the purchase. She said of course since those are accessories I would only get ten percent off. I grumbled to my companion, thought about it for a bit, and said "I'll pay, but I feel really bad about this." I thought some more and decided I wouldn't shop there again.
Then I thought of Fred and his policy of telling the truth, so I told the sales person that I'd not shop there again. She gave me 20 percent off. Telling the truth was the right thing to do because it gave her a chance to fix the problem and keep me as a customer. And I still feel a little slimed, knowing what I know about retail and margins, and I may not shop there again anyway. But that's another lesson.
Guy Kawasaki: The Top Ten Lies of Venture Capitalists.
Last night I changed the way Scripting News is rendered in HTML, and while it works in Firefox on the Mac (the browser that I use) it is broken in a bunch of others. This afternoon I'm going to try to get it working everywhere.
The advice from readers, some of it quite confusing, starts here.
I've got MSIE 6 running in Parallels, so as I go I'm testing there and in Firefox/Mac.
Here are the changes I'm making, in order...
1. Apparently the <a name="xxx"> element is causing a problem, the purpose of it is to enable permalinks to work within the archive pages, Colin suggests making this the name of the <div>, so that's what I did. (This got today's elements expanding and collapsing in IE, but not older days. Very weird.)
2. In the stylesheet, added width:400px; to both .show and .hide and padding-left:15px; to .show. (That successfully widened the body of each post in MSIE.)
3. I eliminated the table I was using to indent the body text. (Now the older days expand and collapse. Hurrah!)
4. Added another 5 pixels of padding for a little bit more indenting.
5. At this point it appears to work in both MSIE 6 and Firefox/Mac. I will now download Opera and try it there. (Downloaded and installed, but I can't get it to display any web pages including scripting.com. Very very strange. If you have Opera installed, could you try clicking on the pluses and minuses on scripting.com and let me know if it works. Apparently it does.)
7. Added "min-width:400px;" to the .hide style, per Colin's advice.
Todd Cochrane noticed that feedvalidator.org is reporting problems with feeds it used to pass. I checked it out and verified the problems he reported. As far as I can see there's nothing wrong with Todd's feed, imho the validator should not be warning about the problems it's warning about. Please, would the maintainers of the validator check this out and make whatever corrections are necessary. Thanks!!
It seems to work nicely.
Does it work in Opera? Please let me know.
The lobby of the Palace Hotel was a hub of activity after lunch yesterday. The picture to the right hardly does it justice. A constant stream of friends, a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, flowed through.
It was unlike anything I had seen before, likely because this conference was held in downtown SF, and not San Diego or Phoenix, and a facet of what we'll have when the Newsroom of the Future is up and running. Every city will have one, but San Francisco will probably be first.
Here's a video I took last week at CUNY that gives another perspective. Lots of tables, video screens, a stage, radio and TV equipment. What you can't see is that the room was saturated with wifi, and while it didn't have a huge presence on the Internet, it could have.
Doc: "A year from now every newspaper will have a newsriver."
I think so too because: 1. The idea is so compelling and 2. It's so easy to implement.
Thanks so much to Doc Searls for writing a great evangelical piece about the power of rivers. The stream is turning into a current, and soon really will be a river.
It’s so weird to see rivers show up in Facebook, and Twitter is just a big river of all the people you’re following.
The idea is actually a descendent of the teletype terminals that used to be in the movies (and for all I know in actual newsrooms). The news was printed on scrolls of paper, and when a new story came in it would push the older stories onto the floor. You could catch up on the news by scrolling back through the news. Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Katherine Hepburn did it. We’ll all be doing it soon enough. And it really helps to get other people singing the song, esp from within the hallowed halls of Harvard.
The more attention we get focused on it, the more other developers will tune in.
And what may not be so clear from the narrative is that this project got its start from a meeting I had with some technical people at the Times last week in NY. Like most organizations, it's not of one mind, there are people who are scared of what comes next but there are others who know that the Times has to change. By opening up their internal data to me, all kinds of interesting stuff can happen. We've been here before. The Times are the unsung heroes of RSS, without them it never would have solidified, with the publishing industry falling in behind the Times. It was this consensus that created critical mass for RSS 2.0 in 2002 and 2003.
I really hope some of this stuff feeds back into the Times support of RSS. And as you have seen, there are now lots of new opportunities in user interface for news. This is what I do, when I'm in my "flow" -- we're there now again, with a new toy to build and then play with, every day.
Betsy Devine: "Dave Winer has been improving the New York Times for as long as I’ve known him."
Phil Windley: "With more sources, who are themselves continuously updating, the keyword river could be as dynamic as you’d want it to be."
If I were an American League fan there's little doubt that I would be a Red Sox fan. They have it all. Fenway Park. The Green Monster. The Curse of the Bambino. And an ancient legacy of sucking and when it looks like they're not sucking so bad, blowing it in the worst way possible at the last possible moment. The drama of the Red Sox, the agony of their fans. The only more hapless team in baseball is my beloved New York Mets. (And possibly the Chicago Cubs.)
Before last night's game they were down 3-1 in the ALCS, but they won, and now they're down 3-2. These are long odds, but with the Red Sox, you never know. (They were down 3-0 in 2004 and came back, amazingly, to beat the Yankees, a sweet wonderful humiliating defeat.)
For some reason, last night I thought of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring as an appropriate anthem for this moment in Red Sox time. The pioneers have their ups and downs, theres's still hope, but they've suffered greatly. I think of Dowbrigade, hunkered down, feeling sure his team will exceed his worst expectation of disaster.
After spending a day with the old keyword page, and getting bored with it, I came up with a new way to look at news, something I've not tried before, that might be fun and/or useful
Since it's likely to change again soon, here's a screen shot.
How it works. Every hour, as usual, it does the nytimesriver scan. Every story is linked to in the database undern all the keywords it references. Then the report, in HTML, is prepared, with the keywords in the left column, and links to all the stories in the right colum. The list is sorted by number of references, the keywords with the most references appear at the top of the list.
So today, baseball is the top item, with 15 references. The teams, the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies, rank high. For some reason (heh) the Boston Red Sox don't appear, even though they're still in it, and the Yankees, even though they've been eliminated (yay!) are near the top at position 10.
It's another leaderboard! (Oh shit.)
The stories age, and are removed after 24 hours. After all this is news, not olds.
If you have comments, post them under the screen shot, linked above.
I really need a rock-solid expand-collapse display that I can integrate with Scripting News.
If you're reading this in RSS, flip over to the home page and have a look. See how the pluses and minuses work? There are a bunch of problems:
1. Doesn't work in Opera. Deal-stopper. Opera users are cool folk.
2. I don't like the indentation. I want the text flush-left.
3. Takes too long to display. I want it to be instantaneous.
4. Must be multi-level. I haven't tested the code I'm using with more than two levels.
I know it can be much better, because I see it done better in lots of places.
Mock up a Scripting News home page with your code, and post a pointer, and we'll test it out. When it's done, everyone will be able to use it.
BTW, I know there are people from the Radio community that have stuff in this area, I just don't know how well supported the stuff is these days. It's been a while.
Colin Faulkingham has a mockup that works in Opera, etc.
Before heading over to the Web 2.0 conference at the Palace Hotel in SF this morning, I couldn't resist doing some more digging into alternate user interfaces for news reading based on the NY Times keywords.
One thing I learned the hard way is that when you access the Times site from a script (not through a browser) if you try to read an article that's too old (not sure what the time limit is) it tries to redirect you to a login page (which is pretty pointless considering that there's no human being around to log in). I hit this problem yesterday, and then hit it again this morning, but couldn't remember what the problem was. So by writing it up this time I hope to remember.
No doubt some debunked hack journalist posing as a tech industry mogul will slander me for this, but the
Amyloo was digging around the NY Times code weblog and found this OPML file, weighing in at a monstrous 3.3MB that contains some mysterious but rich data about the NY Times and a guide to using the Times to cover special topics that I don't think anyone outside the Times knew existed, but there it is, in a public folder, so lets have a look.
1. There are 10522 top-level headlines. There's no structure to the OPML, it's absolutely flat.
Here's an HTML rendering of the list: timestopics.html.
2. It's a subscription list. Each item has four attributes, type, title, htmlUrl and xmlUrl.
3. The htmlUrl for each element points to a page of stories for the topic. For example, here's a page of stories about table tennis. On that page is a link to an RSS 2.0 feed containing the same information.
4. The xmlUrl links for at least some of the elements are broken, the error appears to be very simple, if you replace the ampersand with a question mark, it works.
If you look around at the topics you'll see it's an incredibly rich set of data. Here are just some of the topics that begin with the letter T: Tableware, Taste, Tattoos, Tax Credits, Tax Evasion, Taxation, Taxicabs and Taxicab Drivers, Tea, Teachers and School Employees, TED Conference News, Teflon, Telephones and Telecommunications, Television, Television Sets, Table Tennis, Terra Cotta, Terrorism, Tests and Testing, Textbooks, Thanksgiving Day.
Behind the keywords is a taxonomy that I haven't seen, but would like to. I asked them to make this public, both at my meeting there last Thursday and in a phone talk this morning. I think there could be a lot of value in the Times taxonomy, it might even set a standard.
In the meantime, I wrote a script last night that tracks the keywords in NY Times stories as they flow through the nytimesriver application. Here's a report that's updated once per hour.
Obviously it would be interesting to be able to click on the keywords to see what articles reference each of the keywords. And it would also be nice to have a cumulative list and a daily list. Right now all we have is the cumulative version.
But it's still pretty interesting, bordering on fascinating to think of the possibilities if they provide the framework behind these keywords.
When the pros try to figure out how what they do will continue to make sense after the Internet achieves all its promise, this may be an example. The metadata is generated by librarians, and we don't as yet have our own librarians in the blogosphere (though some might disagree). And it's possible that after a release of the taxonomy that something like Wikipedia may happen, with the public taking over maintenence of the taxonomy. No one knows what will happen, but one thing seems clear, there can be value in a news organization beyond the reporting and editing it does.
Over the last week, I've been writing about the disconnect between flow and rank. Paradoxically, sites that are ranked high don't always deliver a lot of hits when they link to you.
On the flipside, there are some sites that are rarely on Top 100 lists, or talked about very much, that deliver substantial flow. Two of them stand out, one a veteran site, and the other a relative newcomer.
1. Daring Fireball is a thoughtful blog written by John Gruber that focuses on the Macintosh. Since I've returned to the Mac in 2005, and have been writing more about Mac issues, I've started getting links from this site, and when I do, they usually send between 1000 and 2000 readers my way. And they're generally interesting people with useful information and ideas. I follow Gruber on Twitter and have learned that he is a Phillies fan and therefore disappointed this year. His posts are interesting there too, and irreverent, which I like of course.
2. A Digg-like memetracker, news.ycombinator.com is in the same league as TechMeme, about 1000 hits for a highly ranked piece. I don't know much about the site, I'm not a regular reader, and I don't know much about the people who visit from this site.
Apple announced that there will be an SDK for the iPhone.
Thanks to Bijan Sabet!
Just read about this on Engadget.
I know there's a Nokia breakfast in SF starting at 8AM, which I will not be able to make, but as an N800 user, if this product really is coming, I can see two thing right off the bat that address major problems with the previous model. 1. Nokia makes good keyboards, but the old model doesn't have one. On-screen keyboards are a pain, even relatively good ones like the one in the iPhone, but the one in the N800 is not particularly good. 2. The other notable feature is the screen resolution, which looks pretty fantastic.
Anyway, I've asked my contacts at Nokia for info as soon as it's available, but it seems like the Engadget guys are on top of it. If you have any more info, please post a comment here. Thanks.
Nokia did announce the N810 (data sheet pdf).
Here's a high-res picture.
A video showing the N810 in action.
Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.
It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.
Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.
We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.
P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]
Web 2.0 companies, observe how Loic rolls his product out. It's done personally. Not with a big bang, but with nurturing, one user at a time, at first, then it will fan out, but it will always have the personal touch, because it began that way.
In contrast, giving an exclusive to one press person or one blogger can be much less effective. It may get you on top of the ladder for a moment, but the glory fades fast, and then what? And your first impression is in the hands of someone else. What if he or she doesn't like you or your product? (Or worse, if they have a conflicting interest, I've seen it happen.) You could get sandbagged.
Most PR firms show you how to do the big bang rollout, because that's all they know. But even the greatest promoters, with the most press credit (I'm thinking of Steve Jobs) won't rely exclusively on the press to carry their product. They guide it, they put their personal signature on it, they create an experience.
No doubt in the next few days there will be a lot of rollouts because of the Web 2.0 conf in SF. The only ones you'll read about here, with any positive juice, are the ones that roll out with personality.
It's been a real thrill to watch Loic Le Meur roll out his new video community tool called Seesmic. He's got the French touch, a bit self-deprecating, he's good at seduction, keeps his ego in the background and puts the focus on the users, where it should be.
As he's been seeding people one by one, they create videos which then appear on Twitter (heh) so people who don't have Seesmic get an idea what it's like through the eyes of people they know. This immediately creates a feeling of envy, but if you beg Loic he gives you an activation code, and off you go -- ready to become his next evangelist. Feeling priviledged to be his next evangelist. It's like Tom Sawyer and the fence.
He reminds me so much of Jean-Louis Gassee in his prime, when he had all the Mac developers wrapped around his finger, and loving it.
I have an idea of where Loic wants to go with this, and it's going to be big. It'll be a fun ride, and fun to watch a master promoter at work.
PS: Here's my latest Seesmic video, a demo of FlickrRiver. You may have to turn up the audio to understand what I'm saying, or use headphones. We're going to do something fun with the people at Le Web 3 and FlickrRivr. Thanks to Loic for also having a curious mind.
PPS: Beware the exclusive.
This time, the problem was if you had two tags on a photo, one of them was the one that was supposed to let your picture pass, and the other was a tag for some other purpose. You'd think the pic would flow through to Twitter.
Well, it should.
But it didn't.
Now it does.
I like the way Lemon O'Brien expresses himself.
I had a great Skype talk with Paolo yesterday. He was driving his car, in Italy near his home in Trieste. The connection was great, it was like living in the future.
One of the things we talked about was the iPhone. At first I talked about it as if Paolo had had one from the outset. He feels that close, and he's the kind of person who would get the latest Mac toy on Day 1, just like me. Later, when he said he just got his iPod Touch, I realized of course, this is one of those things we got here in the U.S. that they haven't gotten yet in Europe. Don't worry, they have some something we don't, a strong currency. :-(
So here's his first writeup of the iPod Touch.
Why is it that the highest-rated sites, some with supposedly hundreds of thousands of subscribers, only generate a couple hundred hits when they link to you?
As Pete Cashmore on Mashable says, it's because the subscriber numbers don't reflect actual readership. The people who subscribed may not even be aware that they are subscribed. Or put another way, we haven't learned yet how to measure what's valuable, we only have the crudest ways to measure value, so crude as to be meaningless.
Ultimately what matters to me is not how many people subscribe to my feed, rather how much of a connection I can make with the people I want to connect with. I'm satisfied that the people I care about read my site, and the aggregators flow mostly the wrong people through my posts with the most sensational headlines, ignoring the ones with the greatest value, imho.
I'm a blogger not a broadcaster. Blogging isn't about mass markets, it's about the small picture. My small picture (and for you, yours). I'm trying to draw a picture, create a frame of reference that's personal, not corporate. I'm a zig to corporate media's zag. I am a blogger. I am personal.
I don't want a hundred thousand ghosts "subscribing" to my feed. I want to influence the thinkers of the tech sphere, and I'm satisfied that I do. No leaderboard is ever going to reflect that, even though my site is often favorably rated by them.
I want rating services to provide clues about what I should be subscribing to. I want them to find not what's popular with the masses but what will be valuable to me. My favorite movies are not the ones the masses like, I prefer art films and ultra-violent comedies (I like everything Quentin Taratino does, for example).
It's a simple matter to apply collaborative filtering to this problem, we've even done it in SYO. These ideas need revisiting now that everyone else seems to have caught on that this is a problem worth solving.
Fred Wilson: "I totally agree about engagement being the right metric."
Instead of using my iPhone and Twittergram to post real-time pictures, I used the Nikon and took higher resolution pictures.
The leaves are turning, and the sun was out after a huge rain. I thought there would be some good pictures, and there were.
Click on the picture above to see the set.
Sometime after I updated to 1.1.1 my iPhone stopped ringing. I checked myself, calling my iPhone using my Blackberry. Sure enough, no ring. I did a soft restart (hold the button on top down while clicking the menu button on the bottom). Didn't help. Did a search, found I'm not the first with this problem. Dr Fran says she missed a social event because her iPhone didn't ring. I missed a bunch of important calls before I realized my phone wasn't ringing anymore. This is the nightmare, I can't afford to be without the phone, but a phone that doesn't ring is like 1/4 a real phone. Oy. Let me know if you have any ideas. I don't relish getting in Apple's loop on this.
Update: Ben had the answer. Yehi!! The phone rings again. Happy.
The home page on Scripting News has changed to match the RSS feed. Now the 20 most recent items are posted, as opposed to just the items of the current day. The current day's items are expanded, the previous days' items are collapsed. You can toggle the expand-collapse state by clicking on the plus or minus to the left of the title. As always, the blue arrows are the permalinks, if you're going to point to an article, you should use the page it points to. This is an experiment, it's possible that the expand-collapse approach doesn't work in all browsers. Report any problems here. Hope you like!
Usually I ignore the moralistic snipes that come from a handful of bloggers, but to characterize a post of mine with a term like "hate" is really over the top. The post certainly was critical of a piece of software, but hate is a special word, and should be saved for special circumstances.
My family emigrated to the U.S. during World War II from fascist-occupied Europe. Growing up, my grandparents told us stories of how they fled for their lives and how the U.S. welcomed us. Without that, I wouldn't be here today, I never would have been born, because my parents and grandparents wouldn't have survived. What they dealt with certainly was hate. It was there in NY when I was told by schoolmates that their uncles were killed in World War II fighting for "The Jews." To be blamed for the deaths of loved ones when I wasn't even born was, imho, an example of hate.
Saying that a software system is controlling its users, when it obviously is, is not hate. It's criticism, and it's one of the things guaranteed by our Constitution in the United States. In this country hate speech does not enjoy the same protection. So let's not cross that line so easily. Let's not devalue a term like hate, let's save it for those special circumstances when speech is used to persecute innocent people.
PS: I turned on the TechMeme blocker to be sure this post doesn't appear there. I don't want this to turn into a topic that other people pile onto in hope of improving their rank on the Leaderboard. I'm seriously considering leaving the flag on, because the atmosphere there has turned so acrid.
Working on code today, may be limited updates.
The nytimesriver.com site is the perfect way to read news on a mobile web browser, on a Blackberry, iPhone or Nokia N95, as examples. The home page of the site is a stream of new stories, in reverse chronologic order, with titles, links and descriptions.
Until today the links went to printer-friendly versions of articles, now they point to mobile versions, with ads on them, so they make a bit of money for the Times. This was the first concrete result of my meeting with the Times tech guys on Thursday in New York.
Here's an example of a mobile Times story.
There was definitely a bug in the code that processed Flickr categories in Twittergram. If you'd specify that a picture required a tag, and one of the pictures didn't have it, all the other new pictures would be ignored, whether they had the tag or not.
Some people who used the category tagging feature didn't notice this problem because they never uploaded pictures without the tags.
If you never used tags and had it set up to not require them, everything would work as planned (that's how I use it).
In any case, knock wood, the bug should now be fixed and all users should be happy whether they never use tags, always use tags, or sometimes do and sometimes don't.
Thanks to everyone who patiently and carefully reported bugs, esp MDY whose bug report helped me zero in on the errant code. If you want to report further problems, or just say that it's fixed, please post a comment here. Twitter is notoriously bad for bug reporting, since user's reports, even in the best circumstances, often leave out important information. With the 140 character limit, it's impossible to fully describe a problem. That's one thing Twitter is not good for.
Another topic Scoble and I talked about today was Facebook. I said I don't like Facebook, never have, and I finally figured out why.
It's another one of those user generated content things, only this time I'm building up an address book that I can look at, but can only do things with it that Facebook lets me do.
Why exactly do I need Facebook to get inbetween me and my address book?
I mean, I understand why they want me to tell them everyone I know, but how about letting me download a copy to my computer, so I can back it up, use it on my iPhone or Blackberry, bequeath it to my heirs, write a book about it, or give a copy to Google or Netflix or Yahoo, or you get the idea.
It's the last thing they don't want me to do, give a copy to a competitor of theirs. And they hope I won't notice that I'm doing all this work and not insisting on at least being their equal when it comes to my data.
Sometime in November Google is rumored to be revealing their answer to Facebook. Whatever it is it will surely have an API, and will allow Google apps to share the info, and it will, if it hopes to compete with Facebook, provide some access to this data to app developers. But the true measure of their gravitas will be whether they give full control of the user's data to the user. If they do that, no matter what's missing from their software, it won't suck.
PS: When I write about it, I do it crudely, saying they suck or don't. When Doc Searls writes about it he calls it Vendor Relationship Management. Doc writes so elegantly because he is a research fellow at Harvard University.
A thread was started by Scoble who suggested, in a phone talk yesterday, that he would pay $10 a month for a Twitter that didn't have the 140 character limit. Seemed like an excellent conversation starter, so I relayed the idea via email to Fred Wilson, cc'd to Scoble.
While I was at breakfast in Palo Alto the two went back and forth, and the idea that always creeps into conversations about Twitter crept into this one. What about SMS? I guess SMS users are limited to 140 characters? Don't know.
After I posted a pic of pumping gas on my way back to Berkeley, Scoble called me on my cell phone, which is beautifully integrated via Bluetooth with my car's sound system (to him it sounded like I was at home, not driving on the freeway), and we discussed many things including this conversation which led me to another sequence of ideas.
1. I wonder if anyone reads my twits on SMS. (I sort of doubt it, many of them have links which would be useless on SMS.)
2. If they do, I don't care if there are parts of my twits that don't translate (after all, they're already living with that).
3. And if I had to check a box saying that my twits wouldn't be available on SMS at all, I'd happily check it. I really only care about the web, and if your cell phone can't do the web, well, get another cell phone. I've always written software for the highest common denominator not the lowest, why should my micro-blogging platform be any different.
After hanging up I wanted to re-iterate -- give me payloads for Twitter so we can go where we need to go. Pictures are a very easy and vital way to express what you're doing right now. And lots of cell phones (like mine) can do nice lo-rez pics. I want payloads.
I have to tell Virgin America that I'm not going to be on the flight tomorrow morning. That's proving more difficult than you might imagine. I logged into my account on their website, and it seems to have forgotten about my reservation, even though I just got an email reminding me to check in. Okay, so I called their reservation line, navigated through voicemail, and received a message that due to heavy call volume they can't talk to me, and hung up! Oh man, that's not cool.
So what should I do now? I thought maybe I should call Xeni or Cory or Peter, since I know all of them and they're now spokespersons for the airline. Heh. Okay I'm not going to do that. But I thought about it for a second or two and decided to just blog it instead.
Now I have to talk to American Airlines to see about getting them to pay for the hotel in Dallas last night. Lotsa luck! (Predictably, they said I didn't read the fine print, so I paid for my hotel room and that's that. Now what to do with all the miles I have on this airline that I'm never going to use.)
One more stop -- Expedia, to see if I can get a refund for two nights in New York that I didn't use. What do you think?? Hmmm. Well, Expedia wins the prize! I'm getting the refund. I asked where she was -- the Philippines. I congratulated her for working for a good company, that made her quite happy. I make a point of thanking these poor people when they help me.
I'm pretty sure I'll get a credit from Virgin America when they actually decide to talk to me, or when the website recognizes me, whichever comes first.
Later: I did get through to Virgin America, they gave me a credit for the unused portion of the trip, which I can apply to a trip anytime in the next year. A good outcome.
Someday every story in the NYT will be blogged thoroughly before it runs.
Lane Hartwell loves what she do. (32)
If Fred Wilson feels like chopped liver, I must be liver spots. (63)
Okay it was overly optimistic of me to set my computer's clock to pacific time. (79)
Mike Arrington is at his best when angry. (41)
NYT OPML. (10)
American Airlines are mother fcukers. (37)
Techmeme is still a spam-filled cesspool. (41)
After twitting and blogging about chopped liver, now i have a jones for chopped liver, at 4:06AM. Oh the humanity. (114)
PS: All are less than 140 chars. (32)
1. If a picture is wider than 500 pixels, scale it.
2. Only the 100 most recent pics are shown.
3. They have numbers next to them.
Today I had a visit at the NY Times with a couple of tech guys, got a tour of the newsroom and now have a fairly good idea of what's available on the Times site these days and got some pointers of places to look for interesting possibilities.
One of the intriguing spots was this blog...
"A blog about open source technology at The New York Times, written by and primarily for developers."
This is something new.
"All the code that's fit to printf."
I had noticed that the Times has some pretty rich metadata. Do a View Source on any story. Wouldn't it be cool if that data were included in their RSS 2.0 feed? The category element is designed for exactly that kind of data. And I wondered if there is a master taxonomy somewhere. I'd love to see it.
Anyway, this is just the beginning of a conversation. Derek and Jacob have their hearts in our world, and even though the Times still feels as if it's "over there." Perhaps someday it may not feel so far away.
No two ways about it, American Airlines ripped me off.
The facts. My flight from Newark to Dallas was delayed by bad weather.
We were 1/2 hour late getting into Dallas. I only had 45 minutes to make the connection if we were on time, so I just had 15 minutes. I got to the gate for my SF flight with five minutes to spare. But the doors were closed, and they had given my seat away.
Now, in their computer, they knew I was coming. Why did they give my seat away? I guess they were betting that I wouldn't make it. Seems they could have told me that before I pushed it to get there with 5 minutes to spare.
Then the guy behind the counter told me I could standby on the next flight, in three hours. No guarantee I'd get a seat. I have a lot of miles on American. I choose to fly American because they treat me well, probably because of all the miles. But it's at times like this, when they treat me like garbage, that I see how it really works. Rather than take the chance of flying with an empty seat, they gave my seat to someone else.
I went down to the Admirals Club and called their 800 number and was treated well, but I knew I couldn't make a seat appear tonight. I'm staying in Dallas tonight, paying for it myself (they wouldn't pay), they got me on the first flight to SFO tomorrow morning. Not standing by.
But it doesn't change the fact that they gave my seat away while they knew I was trying to get to the gate, and I was only late because their flight was late. Miles or no miles, I think my good feelings for American are finally gone (it's not the first time I was told to go to hell by the airline, btw).
Click on the pic for detail.
Adam Engst: "My initial reaction to Twitter was that it was utterly inane, but I was basing my opinion on the public timeline that show posts from all Twitter users and on the Twittervision service that plots messages from Twitter users on a map of the world."
I've become fascinated by newsrooms, and they have an interesting setup at CUNY where the Networked Journalism conference took place.
So I got out the video camera and took a brief tour.
Micah Sifry sent an email asking if I could create an IRC channel for this conference. Good idea, except I don't know how to do it. I've always depended on Kevin Marks to create them for my conferences.
But it can't be that hard, right? Let's see if we can figure it out. If you have a clue, please post a comment here.
Okay, here's a clue from the mirc faq: "A channel is automatically created as soon as the first person joins it. If you join a channel and you find your name as the only one there, you just created that channel. Channels on IRC are dynamic in the sense that anyone can create a new channel, and a channel disappears when the last person leaves it."
Okay, so I logged onto a channel whose name I made up.
It's called netjny at irc.freenode.net.
Come join me and let's see if we can chat.
I am absolutely delighted to see a piece by Scoble on top of Techmeme, one which explains how flow works in the tech blogosphere. There's also a piece on Valleywag. My piece yesterday may have started a ball rolling. Everyone who's been pointed to by TechCrunch who tracks referrers knows that the site may be high-ranked, but it doesn't generate so many click-throughs. It used to be very different, a link from TechCrunch would deliver 2000 readers in the first hour. Yesterday, I was linked to by TechCrunch, and there were 33 click-throughs, total.
Techmeme, on the other hand, is steadily increasing. I never said, never implied, never thought otherwise, despite what The Guardian says. I don't know why people think that paper is so authoritative, they make a lot of (big) mistakes. For me a top link on Techmeme is worth 1000 hits. That's a lot of hits for me, and they're highly qualified, exactly the kind of people I want to communicate with.
BTW, the Guardian, which links to me from the piece, has delivered 12 hits in a few hours.
I am impressed with Techmeme's rise. I think it's because a fair number of people look to it for the news of the day in tech, a role TechCrunch used to play. I think the sites compete, and I think Techmeme is winning. It's one of the reasons why I suggested to TechCrunch that they try turning off Techmeme, to force people to at least skim their site.
I don't like the Leaderboard, because it perpetuates a myth, but since we've been writing about it, perhaps expectation is getting closer to reality. Being highly rated on that list (which my site is, btw) isn't saying very much about the power and influence of the site. Same is true for Technorati's list. Maybe now it's time to start a discussion about what makes a site powerful, or just go back to blogging, telling our story, and stop trying to be so important.
Last night while way too jetlagged I decided to add a feature that accumulates all the pictures that TwitterGram flows from Flickr to Twitter. Apparently I got away with it. Here they are...
Obviously some more work is needed, but it's already a fun way to get an idea of who's using TwitterGram and what their lives are like.
Thanks to the Flickr API and the Twitter API.
Congratulations to the folks at Jaiku for their deal to be acquired by Google.
I happened, by chance, to be at lunch today with Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, the lead venture investor in Twitter, when we got the news (via Twitter, naturally). I called out to him at the counter, while he was ordering our food. "Fred, Google bought Jaiku."
The big win of course would be if Jaiku supported the Twitter API in a plug-compatible way. Then all our apps that work with Twitter would work with Google's new tool.
http://jaiku.com/api (Doesn't appear to be a clone of the Twitter API, but they do have an XML-RPC interface, which of course we like.)
Scoble called while we were at lunch, saying this isn't about Twitter, it's about Facebook. Probably so.
In any case, our world changed today, while we were in a cab on our way to lunch.
Here I am on Jaiku:
Mike Arrington's site, TechCrunch, appears high on both lists, it's #4 on Technorati and #1 on Techmeme.
Feedburner reports that 609K people subscribe to the TechCrunch feed.
When I got a prominent link from a TechCrunch piece on September 30, it generated 228 hits (according to Google Analytics). Now it could be there was some other reason less than 1 in 1000 of the readers clicked on the link, or it may be that these sources are over-reporting the influence of TechCrunch.
In other words, there may be some kind of bubble going on here.
It could be that the position it occupies on these lists is largely "game" because there are non-editorial incentives for blogs to point to TechCrunch, esp in the Techmeme cloud. Since Arrington's pieces tend to rise to the top of the page, pieces that link to them become more visible (they show up in the Discussion links), and the chances that another blogger is going to point to them go up. All it takes is one or two of those pointers to promote your piece to the top level, and that really boosts your visibility, and now that the Leaderboard is there, it could make that status semi-permanent, creating an even greater incentive to point. So people can and do, at least sometimes, point to TechCrunch not because they think one of their pieces is worthy of a comment for its own sake, rather because it gives them status and flow, and if they're running ads on their site, money.
The only way TechCrunch could be sure that this wasn't the reason people point is if they put a line in their robots.txt file that keeps Techmeme from crawling the site. Then we would know that when someone points it isn't for the Techmeme flow and status, because there would be none. Maybe they will do that. Honestly, I think it would be great for the tech blogosphere if they did. It would force more of those 609K people to use their subscriptions, rather than depend on Techmeme to find the important TechCrunch pieces. In other words it might actually have the effect of boosting the influence of TechCrunch. No matter, that's up to Mike and Heather, I'm just speculating.
And in case anyone accuses me of spamming Techmeme with this piece, I've added a line to my robots.txt file that tells Techmeme that it is not permitted to crawl my site. So you won't see this piece on Techmeme, nor any other stuff I may write today. And no one will point to this piece for the TM juice it provides, because it doesn't provide any. It might be a refreshing break!
PS: I turned off TechMeme, as an experiment, on January 24, and turned it back on on April 12.
PPS: At 2:43PM today's TechCrunch piece linking to this site generated 22 hits. I remember when a link from TechCrunch would deliver 2000 hits in the first hour.
PPPS: I turned TechMeme back on. No one accused me of spamming them. Happy.
I decided, after giving it much thought, to buy 300 shares of Apple. I think it's a good long-term investment. And I spend so much on Apple products, maybe this is a way to recoup some of that money, or maybe to spend even more. BTW, the share price is approx $165, so that's about $50K worth of stock.
Wish us luck!
I like Jeff's post, I said, but I'd add that it would have worked out better if the Mets had sucked more at the beginning of the season and been strong at the end than the way it worked out.
But I was lucky, I started loving the bums when they sucked 162 games a year, every year. Those were the Mets I fell in love with, those are the Mets I miss.
Choo Choo Coleman, Rod Kanehl, Bud Harrelson, Frank Thomas, Marv Throneberry, Ed Kranepool, Ed Charles, Bob Shaw (lived next door to us in Queens, mowed his lawn as a kid!), Gil Hodges, Duke Snyder, and on and on. Tommy Agee! Casey Stengel! These were the canonical Mets. They're smiling down from heaven or wherever they are (some are still with us, for sure) thinking how appropriate that the Mets disappointed this crop of fans, who actually expect them to win because that ain't the way it works!!
The Mets are about poetry, philosophy, drama and love.
Only winning when winning helps accentuate the above.
And baseball can teach us about life -- I'm serious about it. Because no matter how much fun life is, we all end up losing in the end. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is the truth. Enjoy it while you got it, cause it ain't gonna last.
You Gotta Believe is a better slogan during the season than after, when all the lessons of the previous season are available, and belief is pointless, because we now have knowledge. We know how it turned out, it's no longer a matter of believing.
To me, the perfect Met is Mookie. Because he's the bridge between the Lost Mets, the ones who'll never come back, and hope that at least some of the hapless wonderful loving spirit of that team is still with us.
I'm afraid, however, that next season may be the last season of hope, because it's the last year the Mets will play in Shea Stadium. They won't move far, to a stadium they're building in the parking lot. My first choice would have been they always play in the home stadium, like the Cubs or the Red Sox. I enjoyed ridiculing Seattle for destroying their own stadium, asking if a church ever destroys a sacred shrine, but now it's happening to the Mets. Maybe someone in charge will come to their senses and think of the good thing we have going in Shea Stadium, and instead aim the wrecking ball at the new stadium when the time comes. Or it could be that I've outgrown baseball then, and it's time to move on to whatever comes next.
An observable phenomenon.
Web access on AT&T's network is much faster in NY than it is in the Bay Area.
I was refreshing web pages as quickly as I do on wifi at home.
I find this interesting.
Twice in the last two days I've had my MacBook Pro reboot when I close the cover and put it away. The trick I've discovered, and share for all to follow is to put the laptop down before closing the cover. That way the disk won't get jarred when the MacBook is going to sleep. Apparently if there's a problem in sleeping it just restarts. Not 100 percent sure this will always cure the problem but it did work twice for me. Interested in knowing if the theory is correct.
I love an interesting technical problem, esp one that's about human behavior, and how to give people what they want even when it puts stress on a system.
Okay so here's the problem.
1. I recently opened the Flickr-to-Twitter feature of Twittergram.
2. A bunch of new users came on, some of whom don't understand the feature in all its fullness (not their problem, it's mine).
3. A user uploads 150 pictures in five minutes.
4. Dutifully, Twittergram sends notifications to all his followers, one at a time, creating 150 tweets, pissing them off, probably causing a few of them to send him nasty private tweets, and some probably unceremoniously unsub.
4a. In the future, when there are 200,000 Twittergram users, this will piss off the folks at Twitter when they realize they're spending a million dollars a year sending junk messages to people who don't want them.
5. Something must be done to regulate this.
Here's a screen shot that illustrates.
I have some thoughts, I'm interested in what the readers of this blog think. Post your comments here.
Fred Wilson explains how he uses tags to route pictures from his Blackberry to Twitter.
Bijan Sabet is a fan of Flickr to Twitter.
The Sunday morning talk shows are showing up on my Podcatcher downloads page.
Reading material: Paul Graham on web startups.
Follow me on Twitter.
I'm writing this from 35,000 feet, a few miles south of Interstate 70, and a few miles east of Grand Junction, CO. The airspeed is 527 miles per hour. I'm on a Virgin Atlantic flight from San Francisco to New York.
So here's the promised report on the experience. The networking features aren't live yet, it seems that will be the big differentiator. The only feature on entertainment system that's (imho) worth anything is the map that shows where the plane is at. Instead of the low-rez maps you get on international flights, which is a godsend on long trips, you get a beautiful Google political map, that you can zoom in and out on. It shows roads, cities and parks. It would be great if they also showed the terrain, esp since we're flying over clouds right now, and of course some of the most spectacular scenery in the world is below those clouds. No more guessing where you are, you know, with great precision, exactly where you are.
The power at the seat works. The USB connectors are for charging iPods and other devices that charge over USB.
The chat rooms, the feature people were most excited about, while inspiring, aren't being used by the other passengers. I don't like that they can see my seat number. Maybe that's why people aren't participating. I'll check back later in the flight, maybe then people will be more bored and will be trying out other stuff.
They offer a rich selection of movies and live TV, but I'm not that interested. If there were any breaking news happening right now (the Mets in the playoffs, or an impeachment debate in Congress, as examples), I guess there would be value in it. But I spend a fair amount of time before a trip accumulating videos, music, podcasts, etc. I have a huge surplus of stuff I already want to watch or listen to, it's ahrd for the airline to compete with that.
The flight attendants wear black and are young and all male. The lighting in the plane reminds me of a W Hotel, that is, very hard on my old eyes. But this is a daytime flight and the window shades are up, so we're getting good light. If it were dark, I'd have trouble seeing.
The crew is friendly, and geeky. There are two wireless LANs on the plane: secretva1 and walrus. I'm connected to walrus just for the heck of it. I asked a flight attendant what it was for, he said it's an internal network they use for the kitchen. Not sure what that means. I suggested it would be cool if we could share files among the passengers. I have a funny feeling we can. I can't log into the other network, secretva1. Not sure how to share just part of a Mac on a network, but I may try to figure it out. A file-sharing network among the passengers. That's an idea.
Anyway, I joked with the attendant that this seems to be the airline designed for laptop users, kind of like Virgin Laptop Airlines. I like the way that sounds.
BTW, now we're just south of Denver, and the clouds are gone. There are towns scattered across great distances. Pretty cool. Wish this were getting posted while I was writing it, as usual. Next year. Murphy-willing of course.
I got an email last week from an Italian blogger who I met at the dinner in Milan in June saying that a feature of Feedburner that allows people to game the subscriber count for a blog is wreaking havoc in Italy. I took a look and found immediately that the conversation is entirely in Italian, a language that I (unfortunately) do not read.
So I asked my Italian host and friend, Paolo Valdemarin, to look into it, and he sent me a detailed email, in English, explaining. I asked him to post the email and he has done so. It's a very interesting situation and calls into question some of the huge Feedburner subscriber counts you see on various blogs.
The gist of the problem is that it's easy to add 2 million or 20 million subscribers to Feedburner's count for your feed. as Paolo explains.
Thanks Paolo for looking into this. It'll be interesting to see if a discussion develops in the U.S.
Last night I opened up the picture processing part of the Twittergram service.
It's the second scenario in Thursday's post about web architecture.
That means that anyone can sign up for the service, and links to all their pictures will be posted to their Twitter account. A lot of new people are using it, but learning that too much of a good thing can be, er.. too much. So I'm going to have to put some constraints on it, like this: no more than five pictures per hour? So they queue up after that? Not sure. You could ruin an account by posting too many pics (it might take a long time to clear the queue). This is going to take some thinking and perhaps experimentation. Ideas are welcome.
Follow all the pics in the picstream account. I clearly should do a page on the Twittergram account that shows all the pics. Already some people are using it for R-rated pictures. Oy. This might get more "interesting."
I was watching RIAA president Cary Sherman on CNN this morning. A reasonable guy, with a straight pitch. We know our future is on the Internet. We want people to enjoy music. We don't mind if you make copies of the music but don't go into competition with us, don't distribute the music. Hard not to sympathize when he says it so reasonably.
They got a $222K judgement against a Minnesota woman yesterday. We're thinking about it. And of course that's what the RIAA wants us to do, right. Think. Okay. We're thinking. Hopefully they'll do some thinking too.
First, Sherman seems so reaonable, makes me wonder if a negotiation is possible. I've always said I want to pay, but like Sherman, I want it to be reasonable. I've already purchased music on vinyl, then tape, then CD, if I'm going to do it again on the Internet I want a better deal than last time.
We got a good piece of what we want with the Amazon MP3 store. But I'd like to buy music in bulk, in MP3 form. Like I said, I don't mind paying, a reasonable amount of money. Half-terabyte disks cost $150, and the prices keep coming down. I'd like to go down to Fry's and buy a half-terabyte of music (they're not going to like this) for another $100. I'd like it already installed on the hard disk. Put the RIAA brand on it if you like. Make a deal with Seagate?
Anyway, I'm thinking, I'm thinking.
How about music-lover's liability insurance?
Companies, even small startups, buy director's liability insurance. Without it they'd never get high net worth individuals to serve on their board.
How about RIAA and MPAA insurance. Pay $1000 per year and download all you want, sure that if the RIAA wins a judgement against you, you're covered.
I bet a lot of people would go for it. Think of the peace of mind it would buy.
Then hopefully, the RIAA would get the idea that they could cut out the middleman.
PS: William Smith thinks someone is doing it.
PPS: Kim Jong Il may need some MLLI?
Flying from SFO to JFK on Virgin America.
Should be interesting. Power at the seats so I'm not going to bring an extra battery. They have USB ports, not sure what they do. For charging devices with USB chargers? No wifi yet. I'll take pics with my iPhone. People are curious about this airline. Me too.
Apparently it's really hot in the east. I'm still going to pack a couple of sweaters. It could get cold in NY in early-mid-October.
A bit of feedback to anyone at Virgin America who might read this. Your site could work a lot better with Firefox on a Mac. Come on! You're based in SF, not Redmond.
Ooops, look what happened when I tried to print my boarding pass. Repeatable.
PS: Virgin America is in the air today.
Boston blogger dinner, Oct 18, 6PM.
Lance Knobel on the WSJ personal pages.
Declan McCullagh analyzes the RIAA victory in Minnesota.
Tim O'Reilly on the "Web 3.0 Nonsense Blogstorm."
Fred Wilson: "When will people start building apps/services that sit on top of multiple APIs?"
It's a good question, and the answer is -- we're already doing it. The services are now so reliable and flexible that you almost forget how complex the systems are.
Let's look at a Twittergram scenario:
1. Chris registers with the Twittergram site. That's App #1.
2. She takes out her iPhone and opens the phone app. That's App #2. (Yes, the mobile device is also a computer, it's running an app, with an interface, it can dial a number and transmit audio. It's old fashioned, but it works great.)
2. She calls BlogTalkRadio, 646-716-6000. That's app #3. Records a 30-second message.
3. She hangs up. BlogTalkRadio calls the Twittergram app. App #1, again.
4. Twittergram calls Amazon S3 to store the MP3. App #4.
5. Twittergram calls TInyUrl to create a short URL for the MP3. That's App #5.
5. Twittergram calls Twitter. That's App #6.
So there's a simple application that uses six different apps/services.
Another example, the Flickr-to-Twitter integration, also part of Twittergram.
1. Randy registers with the Twittergram site. That's app #1.
2. He goes to the park, sees a beautiful flower. Takes a picture with his iPhone. That's app #2.
3. He mails the picture to Flickr. That's app #3.
4. Twittergram is monitoring Randy's RSS 2.0 feed on Flickr. Some people might say this is another app, but let's be conservative. App #3, again.
5. It notices a new picture, grabs the URL, calls TinyUrl. That's App #4.
6. Grabs the title of the picture, appends the TInyUrl, sends it to Twitter. That's App #5.
Another app that uses five different apps/services.
We've been doing this stuff for a long time, all the way back to 1998, when XML-RPC first came online. It's always been about delivering functionality, quietly and reliably, to users.
It was intriguing for a day or two, but now it's clear that the Leaderboard was the dumbest idea ever, because now more than ever, people are gaming Techmeme so they can climb the list.
Reminds me of something Ted Turner once said about how the Forbes list of richest people in the world was the worst thing ever for philanthropy. If you're super-rich, now you don't want to give it away because when you do, you move down (or off) the list.
Techmeme was already severely polluted by people saying stupid shit to rise to the top of the page. That was an ephemeral high. Now there's a way to accumulate points toward more persistent rank, and everyone who isn't on the list, wants to be on the list.
Or Scoble, who started on the list near the bottom -- is rapidly rising. How's he doing it? By saying extreme things that people will react to. That's how you get points in the Techmeme universe. Scoble ain't no idiot. If he wants to rise on the list, he rises.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Well, this ain't blogging, and we're still getting ready to start a war with Iran, and the stock market is still acting weird, and there are still big ideas out there to pursue, and now Techmeme isn't even worth reading when the top item on a weekday is guaranteed to be some idiot procliaming himself king of the hill. It's worse than AM talk radio.
PS: A piece I wrote in May offering a vision for "Web 3.0."
PPS: Mike Arrington weighs in. "Gabe sometimes edits stuff like this off of TechMeme to keep it stocked with real news." Hmmm. I'd be surprised if that were true.
I was subscribed to too many podcasts, my old podcatcher was downloading far more than I'd listen to.
So when I started the project to write a new podcatcher, I decided to start with a clean slate, and go for a minimalist set, the ones I really listen to, and add slowly, and make it very easy to remove or suspend a feed.
And as I announced on Tuesday, my podcatcher has a Twitter account, if you're interested in background programming while you twit the day away.
And yesterday I took another item off the to-do list, and came up with a public web page that shows my podcatcher's discoveries in reverse-chronologic order.
This will develop of course, what you're seeing is totally pre-alpha, not even 1.0.
I wonder if it would make news if The New Yorker article by Sy Hersh was the most pointed to page on the web.
When John Furrier started Podtech I told him to open a permanent blogger's space with great production facilities South of Market in San Francisco near Moscone. The press room for SF tech bloggers (professional press would be welcome too). He did a strange rendition of the idea, not at all what I had in mind at CES, called Bloghaus. I mention it now, because Loic is doing almost exactly what I asked Furrier for. His place isn't close to Moscone, it's in Potrero Hill, not close enough to BART into the city to visit. But there is parking, and what Loic lacks in location he makes up in charm. There's much more to his story, I hope to get some stock, so I guess I should disclaim that up front.
Sy Hersh's New Yorker article on America's plans for war in Iran. Scary shit. Must read.
The Older link is back in Twitter, along with a surprise, the UI has been spruced up and made to work in Firefox. We are reluctant to complain about Twitter, so it's very nice when they fix problems we never complained about. I'm having lunch next Tuesday in NYC with Fred Wilson, and plan to talk a bit about Twitter then. Fred is the VC with the arrows in his back. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
The playoffs have started. The Mets are resting. I get work done when the Mets aren't in post-season play. The old silver lining thing. Wait till next year!
This morning a key element of the Twitter user interface went missing, the "older" link at the bottom of every page. Without it, it's as if there was no past. Unless you're glued to Twitter around the clock, or follow very few people, you're going to miss some of what's happening. I like to keep up with it all. There was lots of speculation about where it went, and whether the disappearance was temporary or permanent.
At some point during the morning, a post appeared on the Twitter weblog explaining: "This is not a permanent change." Okay. That's good news. I was seriously thinking about what life would be like without Twitter, and didn't like the feeling. Now I know at some point the link is coming back, and the functionality behind it (also missing temporarily) and I can relax.
While you're deep in the server logs, and trying to figure out what's going wrong, it's hard to remember that there are people out there wondering what's going on. Over time, the frustration builds, but right now the Twitter community is still in its Happy To Use Something New phase, so everyone took it in stride and with good humor.
Suggestion: There's this perfect space on every user's page where they can communicate with the users. Make it easy for the staff to quickly post a note there, perhaps saying nothing more more that "we're working on it" -- to help keep the users in the loop.
Are we going to start a war with Iran? Listen to the Terry Gross interview with Seymour Hersh. What will Iran do after we attack? The British are evacuating Basra, will Iran invade to fill the vacuum? What will Bush do then? And will Iran move into Afghanistan? They share a long border. Will Pakistan then move into Afghanistan? Hersch says it will be a 20 year war. He can't imagine a President of the US trying everything before going that route, yet, of course, Bush is doing nothing. At this point, knowing what we know about Bush, we are complicit if we do nothing.
Don Park advocates comment gardening.
Microsoft announces a new Zune in the NY Times. Okay, but did they seed any bloggers? Feels like they keep going over our heads. I've heard nothing from Microsoft PR. Do I have to buy a Zune to evaluate it? Unless it's an unqualified home run, wouldn't it be smart to first market it to people who might work with them to smooth it out? They say they want to build community. Wouldn't it make sense to use the communities that are already interested in this stuff?? (BTW, it looks like Engadget and Gizmodo didn't get briefed.)
I love podcasts, I take a walk every day, and listen to whoever Terry Gross is interviewing, or Tim Russert. I love it all, but sometimes there's no substitute for a great schmaltzy song and some of them never seem to get old, they just get better.
One of those songs is You and Me Babe, from the Ringo album. I've said it before, this album is really the last Beatles album, all four of the Beatles write, produce and perform. To me, a Beatles fan since I was a Mets fan, it's a beautiful album, there are reprises from some of the great post-Beatles music of McCartney, Harrison and Lennon. And I love it even more because it's all got the Little Help From My Friends spirit that RIngo embodied.
I dare you to listen to that song without smiling.
My podcatcher has its own Twitter account, which everyone can follow.
Right now it doesn't subscribe to very many feeds, just the ones I try to stay current on. You'll get at most one or two podcasts a day, except Sunday, when you'll get at least four, Murphy-willing: Meet the Press, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Face the Nation and 60 Minutes.
Of course you don't have to listen to any of them, but you can, with a single mouse click. And you're notified within an hour of when they're available.
BTW, this is a feature of my podcatcher, when it's released. Heh heh *cough* tease *cough* heh heh.
For example, I have confidential conversations using Gmail with execs at companies that compete with Google. At one time, when I ran UserLand and they owned Blogger, I actually competed with them myself. The fact that I continue to use Gmail shows that I have a lot of trust in the ethics of the people who work at Google.
I also use Google Analytics to monitor the traffic on my site. I allow them to run ads on a few sites that I run as a community service, to compensate me for hosting costs. From time to time, I run ads myself. I keep financial data in Google's spreadsheet.
If things were different I might use Feedburner. Especially on weekday mornings it's amazing how much traffic one file, my RSS 2.0 feed, gets. So it occurs to me that I could streamline things simply by offloading that file to Google. Now that they own Feedburner, this is something I might do, if they take a pledge not to break aggregators that depend on the format of my feed not changing. If someday my feed were to change format and break just one person reading it, I would consider that a serious support issue. It's not something I want to take a chance with. Some people trust me in this way. Not so many people as Google, but to me, they're very important. Could I delegate that trust to Google? No, not at this time.
There's another side to it. Even though I don't choose to use Feedburner, because I subscribe to the feeds of people who do, I am effected when they change the format of their feeds. When Google does this they inevitably break products that compete with theirs, the most obvious being Google Reader, but there are also server-side products that compete with Google's that depend on being able to read RSS feeds. If all of a sudden a large number of those feeds become invisible to them, people would find their services less useful, and therefore less competitive. This is exactly the kind of behavoir that made Microsoft such a bad corporate citizen in the 90s as they tried to suffocate the web to protect Windows and Office.
Now, amazingly, it seems as if Google may be doing this. I've seen it myself, files that mysteriously change format and break apps and users, and I've heard about it from a couple of developers. No one has said anything publicly, that I know of.
So, as a responsible corporation, it seems that Google should say something. What's their policy about breaking users of Feedburner, and people who read their feeds? Is this something they will do quietly, a sort of "silent data loss," or do they feel the need to be public about such policies? And what other products will they mess with this way. Will someday I look in my spreadsheet files and find that Google has changed the numbers? Or will emails from execs at Yahoo contain racial slurs or outright lies? See how much damage Google can do because we trust them?
I honestly don't know what they're doing, and I don't want to guess. I'd like them to come forward and explain.
Seth E: "Someone asked me yesterday to sign a petition to have remove JewWatch, a anti-semitic weblist of powerful Jews, removed from Google’s search-engine."
Ben Metcalfe raised a similar question earlier today, noting that TechMeme didn't differentiate between professional publications like the NY Times, Reuters and CNET and TechCrunch, Engadget and GigaOm. It's not clear what the distinction is. I don't see any of those pubs as being blogs, so I think Gabe did the right thing, just lump them all together and let god (or mashups) sort them out.
A pragmatic question for people who want to follow the TechMeme LeaderBoard -- it's clearly not practical to look at it as frequently as it could change, every 20 minutes.
So what kind of tool do we need to tell us about change? Email notification? An RSS feed for each site? I'm interested in knowing what people think.
Speaking of being #1, this blog is first on MSN for bricked iPhone. Needless to say it's generating some traffic.
There's a lot you can do with the Flickr API, I've pretty much mastered it, and it may look a bit intimidating at first, but it's well designed, and once you learn how to do one set of calls you pretty much know how to do the others. I would have relied more heavily on XML-RPC encoding for uploading pictures, but now that I've been uploading pictures for a couple of months, the pain of developing that glue is fading.
BTW, I've got glue for the OPML Editor, it should work well in Radio or Frontier. I've exported a snapshot of the system.verbs.apps.Flickr, for all to use. It may be included in any distribution. (To be clear, OPML Editor users don't need this, it's already in the update stream, just choose Update opml.root from the File menu.)
Anyway, I want to expand the Flickr/Twitter experiment, but before I do that I wanted to check with the Flickr folk because this service does a lot of polling of their RSS feeds. I suggested it might make sense to create a service that would allow a caller to find out which of the feeds its interested in have changed since the last time it checked.
They responded with a simpler feature, they implemented a Last-Modified header on the RSS feeds, so that you could skip processing if a feed you're interested in hadn't changed. I've now updated my code so it does that, and everything seems to work. You'll find the script at Flickr.readFeed. Here's a text listing of the script.
12PM: The TechMeme Leaderboard site is live.
Like almost everyone else, I keep track of who's pointing to me in Technorati, a service that was created in a Thanksgiving programming binge by David Sifry, based on the output of (my own labor of love) weblogs.com.
Technorati grew to become a blog search engine, and much more, but as Mike Arrington points out on TechCrunch, their unique position has been whittled down by other blog search engines who are doing a better job technically. Not hard, since Technorati is famously unreliable.
Technorati is also famous for its top 100 list, ranking blogs according to the number of in-bound links. Scripting News started out as the #1 blog on Technorati, and occupied a top 10 slot for a long time, until they changed the algorithm to place less weight on long-term links, so Technorati's list became a measure of recent popularity. News sites, that aren't actually blogs (imho) became the mainstay of Technorati's list. Today, Scripting News is solidly in the second 100 on Technorati.
Last night Mike Arrington got a scoop, as he so often does, that there's a new list coming soon, from TechMeme, that ranks the sites based on some other measure, which is not (yet) understood in detail. Mike also has a screen shot, which teases, by showing that TechCrunch is number 1 (all those scoops make a diff) followed by Engadget and the New York Times. The Techmeme list doesn't pretend to know what is a blog or isn't they rate all sites regardless or race, creed or color.
But Mike's screen shot teases, stopping at #30. What about the rest of the list? There are a hundred or more bloggers who want to know if they made the list, and if so, where they are. Brilliant marketing by Gabe, and damn you Mike.
So I begged Gabe for the list, and he relented, and sent me an OPML file containing the data which I then turned into the list below. Enjoy!
4. Ars Technica
10. Wall Street Journal
11. The Register
22. Associated Press
27. Business Week
29. Business Wire
34. Rough Type
36. Scripting News
38. PR Newswire
44. PC World
45. Wired News
50. Washington Post
53. Times of London
57. Publishing 2.0
59. A VC
61. Download Squad
62. All Facebook
63. Financial Times
64. Boston Globe
66. Yodel Anecdotal
70. USA Today
71. Compete Blog
73. Apple 2.0
76. New York Post
77. Googling Google
78. iPhone Central
82. Digital Daily
85. Security Fix
90. Think Secret
94. O'Reilly Radar
100. Los Angeles Times
PS. This is a snapshot taken last night. The list is fairly volatile, according to Gabe, and will change quickly as stories move up and down the ladder at TechMeme.
PPS. The existence of this list will probably make getting stories on TechMeme even more highly valued than before, if this list is taken as gospel, as Technorati's was, even with its flaws and skews. There was no correlation, for example, between flow and rank, a site with very high flow could have very low rank on Technorati, if it didn't get many inbound pointers. It was just one measure, as TechMeme is just one measure.
Since the re-rollout of Office in 1996, it's been really clear why Microsoft was so hell-bent at first owning and then suffocating the web browser, along with the web.
Tim Berners-Lee understood, before there was a Mozilla and a Netscape, he said the web was inherently a two-way medium. We struggled against the inadequacies of MSIE as a writing environment when blogging was booting up in the late 90s and early 00s. The air was mighty thin, which was no accident, Microsoft deliberately tried to keep us from breathing. Because for them, writing was not something that would be done in a web browser, if they improved their browser as a writing tool, that would be the end of Word, and with it, a big reason for using Office.
Synopsis: Microsoft wouldn't let MSIE become a decent writing tool, because they were protecting Office.
I won't shed a tear for Office. Good riddance, I say.
I use Google spreadsheet happily, even though it doesn't have anywhere near the features of Excel, and is way slower. Every sacrifice I make there is something I'm giving back to the web to heal the Microsoft wound.
However, we traded one monster for another. It seems there must always be a certain amount of evil in the tech business. The Java Wars are behind us, as are the Browser Wars. No one is going to fight Google in the next war, I doubt if many will even protest.
Dave Winer, 52, 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.
One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web. "Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.
"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.
Dave Winer, 52, 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.
One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.
"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.
"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.
My most recent trivia on Twitter.
© Copyright 1997-2007 Dave Winer.
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