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

Permanent link to archive for Monday, December 31, 2007. Monday, December 31, 2007

Going to the top Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A screen shot of an email I sent to Steve Jobs at Apple.

Marc van der Chijs: "Dave, what happened to me at the Apple Store in Shanghai is even worse. They tried to recover my data, but did not have another HD to put it on, so they copied it onto one of their store computers. Two weeks later I came back to the store and to my big surprise I found all my data still on that computer. Every customer had access to it! No apologies from Apple of course."

Full text of the email I sent.

Holy Hannah it's a Morning Coffee Notes podcast! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The last podcast of the year, for sure, it's a tutorial on the meaning of the at-sign in Twitter for Dave Sifry. Maybe I got it wrong? If so, post a comment here.

Fix on Feeds page Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I fixed a maor bug on the Feeds page in FlickrFan.

You don't have to do anything to get the update, other than leave the app running.

The new version is 0.34.

Sorry for this bug. Glad to have it fixed.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 30, 2007. Sunday, December 30, 2007

Office and conference FlickrFans Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I don't have an office, and I'm not running a conference, so I hope to hook up with someone, hopefully in the Bay Area, with either of these, to try some experimentation with FlickrFan.

First a little background...

My first glimpse of how wonderful news photography and screen savers are together was when I visited Andy Rhinehart at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal on 2/15/05. He had to go to a meeting, and left me in his office to check email, update my blog using my laptop. HIs PC of course went into screen saver mode, and started showing pictures of various political leaders in meetings around the world and sporting events, people digging out of snow storms. It didn't take long before my eyes were fixed on his screen.

Later I found out that everyone at AP does this too.

If you have a folder of new pictures on your LAN it makes a fantastic source of distraction. But it's different from video because it's silent. You can have a conversation about what's on the screen without interfering with it, or try to have a conversation about something else entirely.

This is something we noticed about podcasting too, that sometimes less is more.

Because there is no video you can: 1. Use your eyes for something else, like driving, walking, doing housework. 2. Use your imagination in ways you can't with video, imagine what the speakers look like, where they are, who else is there. Once your imagination is activated in one direction it goes off in others.

So photocasting or picturecatching, whatever it ends up being called, has a similar "less is more" dimension.

So then I tried an experiment, I put an early version of FlickrFan on a 46-inch screen in my den, and when people would come over to visit I'd leave it running and we'd talk about whatever we were going to talk about, and I wasn't surprised to see the attention drift over to the TV. It's captivating.

So I'd like to try it in two new venues to see what happens.

1. In a reception area in an office. Imagine one of the buildings at Microsoft. Or a doctors office, or the lobby of a VC firm. Install a big flatscreen TV on the wall, with a Mac Mini behind it, with a net connection, and let it run. See if people don't gravitate to it. See if people don't want to have meetings in the lobby. (I think some might.)

2. At a conference, like Demo or Davos, scatter four screens around the main lobby (not the meeting room), with one Mac driving them all or each with its own Mac Mini. Again see how it affects the dynamic. You might want to show pictures taken at the conference for a unique recursive effect. Or just use the AP news photo feed. Either would be sufficient to learn how it works. I bet we would learn a lot.

Let me know if you decide to give it a try, and by all means please blog about your experiences, share what you learn with the rest of us. ;->

Playing with Photobucket Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Apparently Photobucket supports RSS (good).

They use media-rss (also good).

But they seem to only provide thumbnails of the photos, which is not good (if true).

Here's the RSS feed for my newly created Photobucket account.

Update: James Holderness says a link to the full-size image is there.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 29, 2007. Saturday, December 29, 2007

Insightful review in Wired News Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Michael Calore at Wired News writes about something I do too, and love.

Wired News: "The first time I ran it, I let FlickrFan pull just AP photos, then I sat back and watched. I run two monitors here at my desk at Wired, so I can see two photos from the news agency side by side. This makes for some fantastic juxtapositions -- like a picture of Bhutto smiling on one screen and her coffin being hoisted by mourners on the other, or of Iraqi children playing soccer on one side and a center ice scrum from an NHL hockey game on the other."

It's a fun game to play in the living room with just one monitor, but with two (Macs work very cleanly with multiple montors) you get some special kind of magic.

People who focus on the software miss the point. It's about the photography. The software just facilitates.

Update: A Flickr set that illustrates.

A feature a day... Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm going to try to add one feature to FlickrFan every day.

Today's feature: How to find a user's feed, if they have one.

Bottom-line: On the public list, there's now an XML icon next to every user who has a feed, who hasn't opted-out.

Thanks Lifehacker! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A simple no-nonsense writeup of FlickrFan. Thank you.

However, the product does much more than what they say.

We'll continue explaining and enhancing the product here.

Pride of Cucamonga, Day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mac.jpgStill listening to this classic Dead song.

And writing about it on Twitter...

It's an MP3 that I ripped from the Mars Hotel album. Which I bought on CD many years ago.

I've listened to this track about 1000 times. When I play it it puts a smile on my face. Because Cucamonga is a place with no pride, imho. ;->

It's a joke, kind of like Truckin makes fun of New Orleans, a town that done the Dead wrong, once, a long time ago.

Now if it were on vinyl I would have wore it out a long time ago. I'm sure there was a copy of the song on the disk Apple stole from me.

There you have it RIAA. You can go after Apple. I'll support you because they stole from both of us. They have no right to listen to PofC.

I imagine Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller sitting around smokin a doobie listening to Phil Lesh sing, thinking "Dave has good taste in music."

BTW, Cucamonga is a suburb in southern CA. Near Ontario. Probably very non-descript. Might have been interesting 70 years ago.

And that's your bedtime story for Saturday, boys and girls. Have a nice day, don't hit your brother (or sister) and be nice to the sitter!

A picture named smallpride.jpg

Update: Frank Zappa lived in Cucamonga.

Flickr search for Cucamonga. Lots of hits!

Permanent link to archive for Friday, December 28, 2007. Friday, December 28, 2007

Recommendation for Flickr Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've been emailing today with photographers who use Flickr to manage their sets and collections. They like it that people can view their pictures publicly, but they want to control how they're used. RSS, used as a way to distribute pictures, is a new idea for many of them.

Based on these conversations I think it's important that they have a way to:

1. Turn off the RSS feed for their pictures.

2. To have their pictures not included in RSS feeds based on tags and searches.

3. To include their pictures in RSS feeds, but only links to them, and the titles and descriptions, but not as enclosures.

Of course this recommendation isn't just for Flickr, it's a good idea for any photo-sharing site.

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

Good morning, lots of discussion on many weblogs about the new product, FlickrFan, announced here last night.

I'm going to write about it here, a lot, over the coming weeks and months, but first I wanted to link to some of the comments about it.

Michael Markman: How to Use FlickrFan with AppleTV.

Don Park: Dave's New Thingy.

Rex Hammock: Dave's cool new thing.

I guess it's a "thing" eh? ;->

Phil Jones: Platform Wars.

Michael Gartenberg: FlickrFan first thoughts.

Scoble (yesterday): The MacMini HDTV revolution.

Fred Wilson and Bijan Sabet have been using the software for the last month or so in a variety of forms.

Loren Feldman marks the moment in history. ;->

Om Malik came for a visit last month, we took a walk in the hills, and of course I talked about FlickrFan and did a demo.

There were other articles and reviews, you can find them on TechMeme or Technorati. One thing I've learned is that takes a bit of time to find the right mix of personal pics from Flickr and news pics from AP. It's an unusual app because whole families can use it, and they have different preferences and expectations. The tech blogosphere tends to rush to decide about things. I find they sometimes miss the mark, widely and I was sure this would be one of those times, which is why I didn't roll it out the usual way.

I wanted to get a base of users going, and learn and evolve the software, so far it looks pretty good, so the next step is to evaluate, listen, fix the most serious bugs I can find, think, and then move forward.

Watch this space (below) for new features and fixes...

Change Note #17: List of newly-installed FlickrFans.

End of year links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

NY Times list of buzzwords of 2007.

Washington Post: "The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed."

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

It appears Twitter is down.

Couldn't come on a worse day. All the support concerns and links to blog posts are now flowing through email. Oy. We've gotten hooked on this technology and when it's gone, it hurts.

It's back up now.

Pride of Cucamonga Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Oh, oh, pride of Cucamonga

Oh, oh, bitter olives in the sun

Oh, oh, I had me some loving

And I done some time

Beautiful song, can't get it out of my head! ;->

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007. Thursday, December 27, 2007

New product release today Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...

It's with much anticipation that I say this.

I have a new product that may be familiar to those of you who used Radio 8, and in other ways may be completely new.

The idea is simple.

There's a convergence between big screen high-definition televisions, and photography as an Internet based activity.

The purpose of this product is to smooth that convergence, to make it easy to set up a connection between the Internet and your television. To allow photography to come into your living room in new, powerful and easy ways.

Think of it as the networked living room and you'll understand the vision.

Some of the work I've done is technical, some is user interface, and some is working with media organizations to try to create a comfort level, or at least a spirit of Let's Give This A Try.

In the latter case, it's much like working with the NY Times to get their news headlines and summaries to flow through Radio's RSS aggregator in 2002. Only this time we're working with photographs, and we think, the best news photographers in the world. And the pictures are beautifully high-def, they look really great when displayed on LCD and plasma screens. I use it with my 52-inch Samsung and 46-inch Sony. Of course what looks great on a wall, also looks great on a 15-inch Macbook or 24-inch iMac. ;->

And while we connect those pros with your TV, it's equally important that we connect your friends and families too. One of the early testers found the pictures that Doc Searls uploads to Flickr a great revelation. Me too. That's because Doc is not only a great photographer, he's also a great story-teller. I find that I can follow the lives of far more friends visually than I can through text messages (which I love to do too!).

Viewing great photos on bigscreen TVs, desktops and laptops -- that's one focus, but not the only one.

I wanted to provide a complete two-way tool for people who love Flickr, as I do.

Why Flickr? Well, they've got this great thing called an API. It makes it possible for people like me to make software that runs on a desktop computer that does things like automatically backing up your new photos every night, and providing a drop-folder on your desktop for quick uploads. (It understands tags too, it's incredibly simple.)

We also made it easy to post pictures you like to Twitter. Why Twitter? It's that API thing again. They made it easy for us to love them. I wish more network service developers understood how powerful this outstretched hand is.

But that's not all!

Not by a long shot.

The reason all this will be so familiar to Radio 8 users is that it builds on the same engine, the one that was released as open source in 2004. So I've been working on other tools to drop into this base platform and once we have a good-sized base of people using it for "really simple photos" on the desktop, there will be other tools. And because it's an open platform, other developers can do the same. Not saying they will, but they can. ;->

Anyway, I'm in the last stages, preparing the download site, and a FAQ, and tweaking the installer.

One caveat, the first beta release is Mac only. That's because I'm doing all my work on the Mac, and this is a one-man show. Later we will work it out for Windows too, and with a bit more work and a bit more luck, for Linux.

It should be ready before the sun goes down today. ;->

Phil Windley: "The XBR4 already has a DVI input, so hooking up ought to be a breeze and getting good pictures on the thing would be wonderful."

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, December 26, 2007. Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I want to know the intent of the product Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've been saying this ever since I started blogging.

When you have a product to announce, start a blog (if you don't already have one) and announce it.

Before there were blogs, I wished Infoworld or PC Week would give space to the lead developer of the product, whether he or she is a marketer or technical, even the CEO if they wouldn't assign a former reporter or ad guy to write it, and tell us what you meant when you designed this product. Who were you thinking of and what would they do with it. And where does it go? What does 2.0 look like if it's 1.0 or 3.0 if it's 2.0.

I like it when people like Zuckerberg, Andreessen or Canter write a blog post that tells you without pulling any punches what the intent of the product is, in their own words. I'd like to hear what they said to the team that worked on it. I'd like to use my imagination. That's why I don't like Steve Jobs' keynotes, he's telling you what Eddie Haskell would say about the product to Mrs. Cleaver.

You never get the intent when it's filtered by the press. And many of the people that call themselves bloggers, love them and bless them, aren't anything like bloggers, and they're everything like the bored hired writers that used to work at CNET and Fortune. In fact, many of them are exactly like them (because they are them). ;->

We live in the age of DIY, that means if you have something to say, just say it.

PS: Here's a picture of three child actors from Leave It To Beaver, taken when they're in their fifties. From left to right, Eddie Haskell, Beaver and Wally. Time Waits for No One.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, December 24, 2007. Monday, December 24, 2007

Blogger of the Year Permanent link to this item in the archive.

There was a time, a long time ago when I thought we'd have awards here on Scripting News. I'd nominate several blogs in different categories and the readers would vote and we'd have winners, and could celebrate, and prepare for next year, with some idea of what we value in blogging.

But the first year I did it, 2001, there was a huge outcry of anger at my hubris in thinking I could play a role in defining some form of blogging excellence. The anger was so loud that we only did it that once.

We're getting close to the end of another year, they go so fast these days, one of the last things my departed Uncle Ken said to me was that it gets ridiculous near the end, time runs so fast, it's December just after it's January and then of course it's January again, until there's no more time.

A picture named albumCover.jpgThis morning I was doing some work at my desk in the upstairs study, looking out over San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. On the stereo I'm listening to old George Harrison tunes, and decided to catch up reading Naked Jen's blog. After reading the last three posts, my eyes welled up, and my heart so proud of her for being so true to herself and sharing so much of her feelings so nakedly, at the very same time just by coincidence Harrison's All Things Must Pass is playing.

Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It's not always going to be this grey

How funny. These are exactly the words I want to say to Jen. I've been where you are, honey. When it feels so bad you don't know how you're going to go on, one foot follows the other anyway, at first you're just going through the motions, but then, you start to heal and without marking it with any special ceremony, you find life is flowing. You still miss what you lost, of course.

Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

Truth is, while it feels like you're stopped, you never really are as long as your heart keeps beating and you keep breathing. You want to stay where you are, but you don't, you can't.

I've often described Jen to others as the perfect blogger. What she does is exactly what I hoped people would do with the medium many years ago. Holding Hands in Cyberspace. Not being celebrity, just being yourself. A new form for a human body, not only intellectual or physical or emotional, all those things and more. Something new.

So I'm giving an award this year, Blogger Of The Year to the person who I feel exemplifies the best of blogging.

Not because she's sad, or hurt, rather because she is herself.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 23, 2007. Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday greetings! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named tree.gifTomorrow and the next day are big Jewish holidays, it's the time when we all go out for Chinese or Indian food, and talk about anything but Baby Jesus. On Christmas Day I'm going to Santa Cruz to hang with Naked Jen, who has a tradition of seeing three of the movies that come out for the holiday, and then we're going out for a Jewish celebration probably with Chinese or Indian food. ;->

To celebrate the holiday I've brought back the photographic Scripting News banner. It chooses a random graphic every time I update the home page. I may have some fun with a CGI script that chooses a random graphic every time you refresh the page. Let's see. (Update: done!)

A picture named book.jpgIn 2004 I recorded a podcast for the holiday that was the telling of O Henry's sweet story of love and generosity, The Gift of the Magi. I was reminded of it seeing several interviews with Carolyn Kennedy, the daughter of President Kennedy and Jackie O, who wrote a book about Christmas that included this story. It seems appropriate tonight to link back to the telling of the story. I was in Seattle when I recorded it, about to leave for Florida. It was the year of podcasting.

Speaking of podcasts, I just listened to a podcast of today's Meet the Press interview with Presidential candidate Ron Paul. What a refreshing person to be running for political office. He's very intelligent and talks back when Russert tried to corner him. I probably won't ever get a chance to vote for him, and I don't endorse him as a candidate, but I do endorse listening to the podcast. It's excellent politics. Refreshing.

What I learned about security, privacy and Apple Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mac.jpgFirst, thanks for the great comments on yesterday's post about Apple and the hard disk of my MacBook. People were universally positive and helpful, and I can say I really learned some really important things as a result of the discussion.

First, the cost of the data on the hard disk swamps the value of the value of the disk and even the value of the computer. There was source code on the computer, and other information, which if it fell into the wrong hands, could cause some serious problems for me.

I have no agreement with Apple that covers the security or privacy of the data. As far as I know they think they own the contents of the disk as well as the disk itself. The experience I had with them actually makes me think they probably do feel its theirs. This from a company that takes the security of its own private information very seriously, they seem to have almost no regard for the security of its customers' information.

You have no control over when a hard disk will crash, or any foreknowledge of when it's even likely to crash. So there's no way to protect against this kind of security issue. And that's what it is. What kind of sense does it make to invest in firewalls, and of what value is Apple's claim that Macs are inherently more secure, when all the data on one of my computers is now completely out of my control forever?

I'm not so concerned about the privacy issues, but I could imagine that other people might be. And if identity thieves are not aware of this backdoor way to get access to private information, how long before they are? Security experts always warn us that obscurity is not a good strategy for security.

So what to do?

Basically I've given up on trying to get Apple to do the right thing and give me my disk back. Some people at the Emeryville store are well-itentioned, and are just naive about the problems that can come when you trust people with all your data. Others just don't care. Either way it seems unlikely that I'm going to get it back, and even if I do, it's been out of my control for too long.

I'm going to go through the tedious job of changing the passwords on all my sensitive online accounts. That was overdue anyway. And next time a laptop blows its hard disk, I'm either going to replace it myself and shred the old disk, the same way I'd shred any sensitive documents before throwing them out, or just throw away the whole computer. I know this isn't green, but there seems to be no other course that's anything close to secure.

And always be aware that you could lose a laptop, or it could be stolen. So far it seems that this is not yet an identity theft concern, but you can't be sure, and it won't be long before it is.

Thanks again for all the good info, advice and vibe. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 22, 2007. Saturday, December 22, 2007

Macs are even more expensive than I thought Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named blackmacsmall.jpgWhen I got back from Europe my black MacBook wouldn't boot, it just sat there with a disk icon and a flashing question mark. So I made an appointment at the Apple store in Emeryville to have it looked at.

When I got there, there was no wait, they were calling my name. The repair guy opened the Mac, took out the disk, went into the back room, and came back saying the disk was bad, I'd need a new one. How much? $160. How large? 80GB. I've been buying disks lately, I bought a 500GB disk for $150 a few weeks ago, and just bought a 1TB disk for $280. So I knew that $160 for 80GB, even in a portable form factor, was probably a ripoff, but I figured here I am now, I can get the computer working, so I said OK and shrugged it off.

The new disk went in, I signed a form, and was about to leave and asked for the old disk and the clerk said it was his not mine. They were going to send it back to the manufacturer. I figured it would be refurbished and sold cheap to someone in a third world country. Little did I suspect.

A picture named dan.jpgHe got his supervisor. She insisted that the drive belonged to Apple, even though I had paid an inflated price to buy a new one. She showed me the language on the reverse side of the form I signed. It was even worse than she had said. There was no guarantee that the drive they had just put in my Mac was new! It might have been someone else's defective drive. I said it was outrageous. I grabbed a copy of the agreement and left.

I scanned the agreement, highlighting section 4, the part the store manager cited.

Now there are a lot of speeches I could give. Here are a few.

1. I buy Macs knowing they're more expensive, but I expect to be treated better. I drive a BMW for the same reason. Luckily there's Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, et al to keep BMW customer service in top form (which it has been so far, I'm on my fourth BMW). I always say this -- Apple service is outstanding when you buy something, but it falls down, often, when you need it fixed. Not always, but often.

2. There are consumer protection laws that require auto repair shops to offer you the old parts. Why doesn't that apply to computer repairs? Or maybe it does.

3. Apple prices are ripoffs, but this is an unusually heinous ripoff. To charge such inflated prices for used parts, they should have some shame.

4. They don't seem to have any fallback when there's a dissatisfied customer. As an Apple shareholder, I think it would work better if store personnel felt they were guardians of the company's reputation. Consider for a moment that you are ripping off the customer. What tools can you offer the sales person to make good with the customer? Could you let the customers who object take their drives home? Could you offer a discount coupon on the next purchase, or free premium support for a year? That they let me walk out of the store, a person who spends thousands of dollars with Apple, feeling like I had been abused, says they haven't got all the glitches out of their retail process.

5. Falling back on the fine print is really lame. I think they should tell you up front, before they do the work, that you're not getting the old drive back. What if the data on the drive can be recovered? What if there are credit card numbers and other personal information on the drive? Source code? Trade secrets? Does Apple really want to treat their customers privacy so shabbily? For what? Don't they already make enough money off the $160 price for the new disk? It's amazing that a company can make it this far, having such special customers, and rarely if ever acknowledging it.

Note to Doc Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Blogs are one of the few Vendor Relationship Management tools we have that actually work.

Someday we'll have elaborate information systems that allow a negative customer experience, one with privacy and security implications, to propogate far and wide, quickly. The vendor will feel pressure from customers immediately. Today our ability to influence vendors is very limited. But it isn't going to stay that way for long.

I note that there's never any fine-print gotchas when I'm about to make a $3500 purchase from Apple. It's all smooth sailing. It's only when my only power is to blog the experience that they hit me with the bad news. So our response has to be to make the blogging experience more powerful. (Interestingly this is where the Edgeio idea might have had some sway, not in selling products to customers, but selling information about vendors to customers (and of course competitors).)

This became part of the discussion in the previous post. I wanted to make sure Doc Searls saw this since he's been carrying the torch on VRM.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, December 21, 2007. Friday, December 21, 2007

My Long Bet with Martin Nisenholtz Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In March 2002, I made a bet with Martin Nisenholtz about the relative importance of weblogs and the New York Times. I was and am a blogger, and Martin worked then, as he does now, for the Times. For the actual terms of the bet, read the piece on the LongNow site, and a story I wrote to announce the bet.

A few comments.

1. It seems now is the time to decide who won the bet, if either of us did.

2. The world that I hoped would come about did not. While blogs have broken many stories, they have not, in general, turned into the authoritative sources I hoped they would in 2002. When the blogosphere resembles journalism it's often the tabloid kind.

3. I wouldn't mind losing the bet. That is, I wouldn't mind if the Times fully embraced the web, and I suspect Martin wouldn't mind if blogs rose to the quality of the Times.

4. If the bet had been held a year later, it seems there would be a pretty good chance that Martin would have won the bet because they recently took down the firewall at the Times, allowing search engines to index the full content. In the past, articles would remain visible for a couple of weeks then you'd have to pay money to access them. I believe they have a special deal with Google and other crawlers that allow them to get past the membership wall. For most of 2007 the Times articles were behind the firewall, and were less likely to be pointed to (which is how they rise in rank at Google).

5. It certainly is fun to speculate, but the decision about who won belongs exclusively to the Long Now Foundation. They have to decide who determines what the top stories of 2007 are, and imho they should consult with search experts to determine how to do the queries. Apparently it makes a difference how you do it. But ultimately it's their decision.

6. Whether Wikipedia has more or less results seems to be a sidebar to the bet, which only talks about blogs and the Times.

7. Another interesting sidebar is rich media. In 2002, before podcasting had taken hold, before YouTube existed, it would have been hard to forsee the story of the South Carolina beauty queen, or the Don't Tase Me Bro guy. Questions about the future are always framed in the context of the past. Did the question Martin and I asked have any value in 2007, or did it just say something about the world of 2002?

Update: Paul Boutin who arranged the bet, apparently in conjunction with Google (I didn't know this) in 2002, weighs in.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007. Thursday, December 20, 2007

Could S3 be an end-user product? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named accordion.gifI've not made much of a secret of the fact that I've been working on a new product, and am getting close to offering it as a public pre-alpha thing for Mac users only.

It's fairly Flickr-centric, sucking photos down from Flickr in a variety of ways and pushing up photos in others. Like Radio 8 and Google Reader, it has the ability to maintain an output feed of stuff you want to pass on to friends and associates.

As I was developing this I wished that Flickr had the ability to store simple text files, because I needed a place to put an RSS 2.0 feed with enclosures on behalf of each user. Of course I used Amazon S3, but I had to implement my own lightweight identity system so that Juan couldn't accidentally or intentionally replace Alice's feed. If only every user had a place where they could store stuff that's net accessible so that once and for all we could stop inventing new places.

I was inspired to write about this when I read an Uncov review of Pownce where they reminded me that they were reselling S3 storage at a big markup. What if the users had their own S3 storage that they paid for themselves?

Then it occurred to me to ask if people thought S3 could be an end-user thing. I'd like to find out, so if some non-technical users who have Amazon accounts would like to try setting up an S3 account, I'd be interested in hearing how it goes. Here's an idea of how you get started.

1. You must already have an Amazon account. Nothing special about it, if you buy shirts or books or stereo equipment from Amazon, you use the same account for S3 storage. Already that's pretty easy, millions of people have Amazon accounts, right?

A picture named signupforthiswebservice.gif2. Visit this page on Amazon, ignore all the stuff about objects and buckets. In the right margin is a big button that says "Sign up for this web service." Click the button. A very familiar page appears, asking you to sign into your Amazon account as if you were going to buy something (you are!).

3. From there, I'm not sure what you see, because I have already enabled my account. But the end result of signing up is that you get two strings with weird names: Your Access Key ID and Your Secret Access Key. Any software that would save a document in S3-space on your behalf would need these two strange strings. In return each document would have a URL just like any other document on the web. Nothing strange about that. ;->

4. You could also use the space to store stuff using an FTP-like app that runs in Firefox called S3 Organizer. It's about as hard to use as the Mac Finder or the Windows Explorer, i.e. it's no challenge for a moderately geeky user. The cool thing about it is that you're able to share anything you upload into S3 space with anyone else. You can even use BitTorrent to access any file to save you bandwidth bills and distribute the load round the net. It's all very easy to do, imho.

As a developer who has to pay for his users' storage needs I would very much like to see users learn how to use S3 to store their stuff, so I can focus on writing software and fixing bugs instead of paying to store your stuff. ;->

I'm with Rex Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Of course Apple is fascist scum for shutting down Think Secret.

Rex Hammock said the one thing that I as a Mac user have to say about the news.

"There's nothing positive about this settlement for my side."

Amen brother. I keep thinking "Someday Apple is going to regret that they took their customers so much for granted." But I know better. I used to say that, and then I switched to Windows in 1997 (that'll show em!) only to switch back in 2005. Every day I think of a new excuses to waste spend more money on Apple hardware. Apple doesn't pay for it, we do.

But we can hate them for what they did to Think Secret, as if they care, but we do anyway.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2007. Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CES, here we come! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named jewWrestler.jpgThanks to PodTech, I'm going to CES again this year, and I'd like to see whatever it is that I should see. Suggestions please, in the comments.

I love devices that can be used for podcasting, for example something that fits in your pocket, has a battery, and wifi, and either is programmable by developers or includes a podcatcher. Is this the year of the podcatcher breakthrough?

I'm riding down on the PodTech bus with Scoble and ValerieWag and probably a lot of other coooolio bloggas (Marquis de Canta?). This time I hope to arrange my press pass in advance, and I want to meet lots of vendors who can send me review units through the year, so I don't have to pay for all the stuff I review. (More likely so I can save my money for Uncle Steve.)

And if you're a blogguh and you'll be there you might want to check out the BlogHaus that PodTech is hosting 24-by-7 at CES at the Bellagio.

Let's hope it's not too commercial, and we can have some good meetings and schmoozes and get some great work done.

Alternate theory: If they want to be overly commercial, go for it, then every blogger should get a free 1TB Seagate drive. ;->

Frozen peas Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Boobs on Ice: What's with the peas?

A picture named peas.jpg

RSS makes Google Zeitgeist this year Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This year RSS was the third-most asked-about "what is" term on Google, after love and autism.

Parking meter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named meter.jpg

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, December 18, 2007. Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Does Twitter do enough? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named pdp11processorhandbook.gifEvan Williams, the Blogger guy and Twitter co-founder, gave a talk at LeWeb3 about keeping software small, and how sometimes you can create a product by removing features from an existing product. He showed how Twitter is less than Blogger, no titles, comments, templates, etc. It's almost nothing compared to Blogger, but we're using it and liking it.

It's not a new story. When I was coming of age in computer science, the newest computers were minicomputers. They were called that because they were smaller and did less than the mainframe computers that came before. They were followed by microcomputers which did even less and were a lot more popular than minicomputers (which of course were more popular than mainframes).

Scaling things down can make them more useful. But it's a paradox because once a feature is in a product you can't take it out or the users will complain so loudly that you put it back in right away. I know, I tried, a number of times to back out of features that I thought of better ways to do. You can always add features to products, it will make the existing users happy. But it often comes at a cost of making the product more complicated for first-time users, and they don't have a voice, they can't complain, they just go somewhere else, usually quietly.

A picture named typewriter2.gifSo Evan has a point. Software design, if you're creating wholly new products, is like haiku. Find the smallest subset of a mature product that will attract people and ship it.

But there are certainly features they could add to Twitter that would have no impact on the steepness of the learning curve (i.e. how easy it is for a new user to get started). For example users are good at skipping over prefs they don't understand. But you have to think carefully about what the default should be, so there's no penalty for not caring.

Also features that only appear in the API have no cost in complexity of the user interface. They might make it possible for a developer to build a new product on top of the existing one. Since the user of the base product can't see the feature, it can't make it harder to learn. An example -- Flickr lets you build an RSS feed of recent pictures that have a certain tag, say snowstorm. It's nice to have, but only if it doesn't get in the way of other more basic features.

Some users say they don't want new features, but I bet most of them would be very happy to use a new feature that made Twitter more fun or useful. And there are alot of users who don't say anything about it, and don't think much about it. Most people aren't interested in theories about why products catch on, they like it or they don't, and don't know why they do or don't.

It's always good to ask questions about why things work, but if I could offer the Twitter folk any advice, I'd say don't hesitate too much to put in new features that will make users happy. Ultimately users like new features in products they use a lot. There's a reason why products tend to bloat over time, it's because users demand it. The trick is to not compromise too much on ease of learning.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, December 17, 2007. Monday, December 17, 2007

A flashconf on fair use? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named united.gifThere's been a mostly fantastic discussion about fair use in this neighborhood for the last few days.

It started when a photograph of Lane Hartwell's was used in a video spoof of the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire."

The first I heard of this was in a Twitter post of hers where she said she was turning off access to her entire Flickr collection because this picture was used without permission. A series of communications with the people who did the video resulted in the video being taken down.

Later Mike Arrington, who is a lawyer, wrote a piece saying she didn't have right on her side, and that the video's use of her picture was probably fair use. I found Mike's piece compelling. Others took offense. It thought it was a useful part of the discussion.

I understand Ms Hartwell's point of view. I hate it when people copy a whole post of mine and paste it into theirs. But then I grab bits of images and put them on my blog and people rarely complain. The blogosphere is built on being loose about copyright and fair use.

I'm doing a deal with a content company and all these issues are coming up. We haven't been able to write a contract that covers all the things they want covered and make it possible for me to do what I need to do, and they want my product to work. It's a real mess we're in. Bloggers are supposed to be radicals when it comes to fair use and copyright, but that generalization doesn't work with many creative people. Hartwell's position in some ways is like the RIAA or MPAA, who bloggers often dismiss as clueless. How can we have it both ways? How can some defend her position yet not defend the entertainment industry?

A picture named airplane.gifThere's a lot to discuss here, and a lot of the discussion on the blogs has been informative and respectful. Not all of it, but to an unusually high degree.

So, I am interested in doing an in person "flash conference" on the subject of fair use in a few weeks.

I'd say next week if it weren't Christmas.

Most conferences are so boring. I want to do a conf on a hot subject when it's still hot in the blogosphere. This may be a good subject for such a quickly organized conference.

What do you think of the flash conference idea for this??

How spam will likely enter the Twitter community Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named spaceWoman.jpgI think I know how spammers are going to enter the Twitter world. It'll come in the form of replies, which basically function like email. You can direct a message with a url to anyone as long as you know their username.

Here's a screen shot that illustrates spam being sent to a hypothetical user. I didn't send it of course.

Another problem, the destination of the url is likely masked through the use of a shortener so the user could be clicking through to some really nasty place, with no way of knowing in advance that's where they're going. (Such messages probably wouldn't alert you in advance that they're about meds or poker or sex.)

The press and bloggers will run stories saying "Spam Comes to Twitter" and they'll be right, even though it won't be the main part of Twitter. Users will expect the company to do something about it, but I don't see what they can do other than eliminate the feature. Users will certainly want the ability to completely opt-out of replies.

PS: I received direct messages saying that the JetBlue account is spam (screen shot), but it is not spam, it's commercial information. Big diff. I would have to opt-in to see these messages in my stream. And if I got tired of it, I could opt-out. Spam is stuff that intrudes that you can't easily turn off.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of blogging Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a zip archive containing the source of the last 10 years of Scripting News.

Since Scripting News existed before blogs were invented, I went ahead and included the stuff that I blogged before there were blogs.

I hope this isn't too confusing! ;->

A picture named deeeeee.gifPS: Scott Karp asks if blogs can do journalism. Try this question. Can journalists do journalism? At best they seem to be able to copy each other, so mistakes propogate.

We've made so many accomplishments, both before and after the coining of the term, Karp for example starts with VIgnette. In 1997 if you told someone the functions of Vignette could be provided to millions of people virtually for free they wouldn't have believed you. (This is factual btw, I did, and wasn't believed.)

They also thought syndication would be done by the big publishing companies, something unweildy called ICE. We thought it should be simpler so that anyone could support it on both ends, and we won. The journalists have no record of this probably because they believed the big companies behind ICE and ignored the low-tech stuff. Jorn Barger used my software to do his "web log" -- why isn't that part of the story? Well it isn't if all you think is important is the choosing of the name.

Scripting News is 10.71110623 years old today Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a formula that calculates how many years old Scripting News is on any given day.

double ( () - date ("4/1/97")) / (60*60*24*365.25)

The answer is: 10.71110623.

It counts the number of days since its inception and divides by the number of days in a year. It accounts for leap years, assuming there is an extra 0.25 days each year.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007. Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bathtime in Clerkenwell Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Video thumbnail. Click to play

Click the pic to play.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 15, 2007. Saturday, December 15, 2007

Okay let's get viral! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Fred Wilson did it, I had to do it tooooo. ;->

In NYC, the Second Ave Deli is coming back Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Ed Levine writes a remembrance of the newest deli to open in NYC, with the same cast and food, at a new location, uptown (on 33rd St) and not on Second Ave.

New York sighs in relief. So does every deli fan in the rest of the U.S. and the world.

That seals it. I'm headed back to NYC before the end of the year.

PS: A funny thing happened when I entered Second Avenue Deli into Google Maps.

Amazon removes the database scaling wall Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named augustusCaesar.gifWhen Amazon introduced S3 in March 2006 I knew I would use it and I was sure a lot of other developers would. I saw it as a solution to a problem we all have -- storage that scales up when needed, and scales down when not. Otherwise we all have to buy as much bandwidth as we need in peak periods. With S3, you pay for what you use. It makes storage for Internet services more rational. Later they did the same for processors and queuing. And a couple of days ago they announced a lightweight scalable database, using the same on-demand philosophy and simple architecture and API. It's going to be a huge hit and forever change the way apps are developed for the Internet.

I was explaining the significance of this to Scoble on the phone this morning. It's worth repeating here.

When I developed Frontier in the late 80s and early 90s my target platform was a modern desktop computer, a few megabytes of RAM, a half-gig of disk, a few megahertz CPU. A system capable of running Quark XPress, Hypercard or Filemaker. It would be used to develop apps that would drive desktop publishing. Later, it was used to generate static websites, then a demonstration of democracy (a multi-author ultra-simple CMS), then news sites, which became weblogs, then blogs, and, Manila,, and that's when scaling became an issue. (Later we side-stepped the scaling issue by moving most of the processing to the desktop with Radio 8.)

As we approached then cracked ease of use in web authoring, scaling became an issue, then the issue.

A Manila server would work fine for a few thousand sites, but after that it would bog down because the architecture couldn't escape the confines of a single machine it was designed for in the 80s. (Before you say it's obsolete, there still are a lot of apps for single machines. Perl, Python, JavaScript and Java share the same design philosophy.)

Same with It worked great when there were a few thousand blogs. Once we hit 50K or so, we had to come up with a new design. Eventually we were tracking a couple million, and Frontier was hopelessy outclassed by the size of the problem.

If only Amazon's database had been there, both Manila and could have been redesigned to keep up. It would have been a huge programming task for Manila, but it would have made it economically possible.

A picture named radioBoxSmall.jpgToday, when a company raises VC, it's probably because their app has achieved a certain amount of success and to get to the next level of users they need to spend serious money on infrastruture. There's a serious economic and human wall here. You need to buy hardware and find the people who know how to make a database scale. The latter is the hard problem, the people are scarce and the big companies are bidding up the price for their time. Now Amazon is willing to sell you that, to turn this scarce thing into a commodity, at what likely is a very reasonable price. (Haven't had time to analyze this yet, but the other services are.) Key point, the wall is gone, replaced with a ramp. If you coded your database in Amazon to begin with you will never see the wall. As you need more capacity you have to do nothing, other than pay your bill.

Further, the design of Amazon's database is remarkably like the internal data structures of modern programming languages. Very much like a hash or a dictionary (what Perl and Python call these structures) or Frontier's tables, but unlike them, you can have multiple values with the same name. In this way it's like XML. I imagine all languages have had to accomodate this feature of XML (we did in Frontier), so they should all map pretty well on Amazon's structure. This was gutsy, and I think smart.

They're going down a road we went down with XML-RPC and then SOAP. There may be some bumps along the way but there are no dead-ends, no deal-stoppers. All major environments can be adapted to work with this data structure, unless I'm missing something (standard disclaimers apply).

Their move makes many things possible. As I said earlier, if it existed when we had to scale, we would certainly have used it. One could build an open identity system on it, probably in an afternoon, it would be perfect for that. A Twitter-like messaging system, again, would be easy. It's amazing that Microsoft and Google are sitting by and letting Amazon take all this ground in developer-land without even a hint of a response. It seems likely they have something in the works. Let's hope there's some compatibility.

Twitter takes a break, we're awake, and wondering... Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named offlinetwitter.gifThere's a big yellow bar on the Twitter home page today saying it will be down for maintenence betw 10AM and 10PM today. I haven't heard any grumbling about this, but it's worth a bit of a grumble.

What other basic form of communication goes down for 12 hours at a time?

What if the web went offline for 12 hours at a time? It's unthinkable, because the web is built on the Internet and is decentralized and redundant. A single router or server can go down for a few hours, days or forever, and the web keeps working.

Same with the phone network. Imagine if all the cell phones and land lines went down for scheduled maintenence for 12 hours. Again, it's unthinkable.

Even when there's a good excuse like a big snowstorm in the east, when the airline system goes down for 12 hours, a lot of people are upset, and it never happens as a scheduled thing.

If Gmail started having twelve-hour planned outages, as much as I like Gmail, I'd switch. I can't be without email for any extended period of time.

Okay, let's give the guys at Twitter credit -- they stopped being flip about Twitter taking naps or showers. No one likes jokes when a line of communication is down. Now I'd like them to take another step.

Explain to us what these long outages are for. I can take a guess -- something about the database needs changing, and all the data in all the files must be processed to implement the change. Any updates made while such a process is running would be lost, so the server must be shut off. But this is just a guess.

Another guess -- maybe they've hired a scaling expert who needs to make one final major adjustment before these outages are a thing of the past? No one would want to make such a promise, that's offering too much temptation to Dr Murphy, but that would be good news. Maybe Twitter is getting on to solid ground, finally. If so, I'd like to know.

Meanwhile it's fairly amazing that there isn't a viable Twitter clone out there yet, one that does exactly what Twitter does, and runs all its applications.

I'd also like to see something much more decentralized, based on static files, available to any Twitter-like system. It doesn't seem that far out of reach. With all the scaling troubles Twitter has had it's surprising that there haven't yet been any entrepreneurs willing to enter the space to compete with Twitter.

Users and developers are learning first-hand why centralized systems are so fragile. I'm sure they're doing a heroic job at Twitter, the best they can with what they have, but it's not good enough when the service takes a 12-hour break while many of the humans that depend on it are awake and working.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, December 14, 2007. Friday, December 14, 2007

It can only mean one thing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named blacmac.jpgMy black MacBook, purchased in May of last year, a day after the product was announced and a day after the computer it replaced, a white G4 iBook, died -- died itself earlier today. There was an evil clicking sound coming from the back. The spinning rainbow cursor. Reboot it to see a disk with a flashing question mark.

The death of the black MacBook can only mean that there's a new sexy Apple laptop coming soon. Somewhere between a fat version of the iPhone and a Sony Vaio. Hope it has a real keyboard, not a virtual one.

Amazon's database Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A note from Jeff Barr that Amazon has announced the database companion to S3.

No doubt I'm going to use it.

I signed up. It's not open yet.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, December 13, 2007. Thursday, December 13, 2007

U.S. Blues Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm Uncle Sam/that's who I am
Been hidin' out/in a rock and roll band
Shake the hand that shook the hand
Of P.T. Barnum/and Charlie Chan

Glad to be back home in the good ole U.S. of A.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2007. Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best wishes to Scoble Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I was in the audience yesterday when the one dramatic moment of the conference took place. Scoble was on stage. Mike Arrington was sitting to my right in the front row of the second section (on the right). Mike showed me a piece he was writing, and I gulped. It said Scoble was leaving Podtech and probably going to FastCompany to start a TV network for them. Since Scoble is my friend, I knew that there was some truth to this, but was disappointed to see it was coming out, esp at a moment when Scoble wouldn't have a moment to think and consult with friends before formulating a response. HIs laptop screen was being projected as we watched him edit his comment on TechCrunch. At one point Mike asked if I thought he knew we could see what he was typing. I didn't think he did.

Anyway, Scoble lets it all hang out. And somehow he gets away with it. What would kill most people just stings him, and he smiles through it all, in his bumbling Scoble-like way, and it always amazes me how he makes lemonade out of the lemons. This isn't the optimal way to announce you're leaving a company, and his deal with FC isn't final yet. But somehow I think he'll navigate this transition and come out in a better place after the dust settles.

Bebo has the right idea Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I don't know what Bebo is, I guess it's a social network, they say it's #3 in the USA, #1 in the UK, but they just did something that's pretty likely to work, if it's technically possible. They're cloning Facebook so that their service will run Facebook apps. What this means, if they can pull it off, is that they won't have to fight to get support from developers. That's a big deal.

Google could have done this with OpenSocial. Watching the panel assembled by Marc Canter at LeWeb3, I was reminded of every tech conference I've been to for almost 30 years. Some big company sitting in the center, and lots of smaller ones sucking up to them, not daring to say what's obvious, that the big company is only interested in limiting the growth of an upstart (not present on stage of course). That's where the Fear comes in Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. We don't say anything because we're too scared to. Even the outspoken Marc Canter, who's smart and has been around this block many times, doesn't dare say what's obvious.

Now Bebo decides to get in lockstep with Facebook, not Google. Of course! Facebook has the juice. But this is a dangerous place to be if Facebook doesn't want them there, and being a big company, they probably don't. The only value of having clones to FB is that it negates the threat from Google. Sometimes having clones is a good thing, but usually the clones take over the market. Witness MSIE and Netscape, and then Firefox. Compaq et al and IBM. dBASE and Fox. It's possible to depose an installed leader if it's possible to clone them. As a user and developer, I'd like to see FB be open to cloning. If I were a FB shareholder I'm not so sure.

One constituency that's sure to like the existence of clones are Facebook developers. Without choice in platform vendors, they have nowhere to go when the sole vendor decides to take over their market. With a viable alternative, unless FB is incredibly aggressive and builds its competitive features so they can run on competitive platforms, at least developers will have a place to run their apps when FB encroaches.

Platforms are a game, like Risk, with rules and strategies. Google did not play the game wisely with OpenSocial. I chalk this up to inexperience on the part of the strategists. So far Facebook has been doing what's needed to keep its dominant position. Bebo deciding to clone the Facebook API ratifies that position, it's a gutsy move, but the best one available to them, and to other would-be Facebook competitors.

PS: The news is slow to reach Europe. Facebook said yesterday that they support what Bebo is doing. Very enthusiastically. That should be the end of OpenSocial.

Why I use Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named nokia.jpgI use it because it helps me keep in touch with people I want to be in touch with, without taking very much time. It serves a function that the links on Scripting News used to serve, but that was just a one-way thing. Now I get links and ideas from other people. It's an equalizer, a playing field leveler. It's useful the same way a cell phone is useful. Sure some conversations on cell phones might seem dull. So hang up. But don't get rid of the phone (and certainly don't make general statements about phones based on some people's conversations).

Arc de Triomphe Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As the cab was heading back to my hotel it turned down an avenue and there was the Arc. I grabbed the camera and got a movie as we approached the circle around it.

Future-safe archives, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Phil Wolff on things for bloggers to do before they die.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, December 11, 2007. Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Was TechMeme hacked? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's a screen shot of the HTML source.

Looks like it's trying to serve some kind of ActiveX control.

Happy to be using a Mac. ;->

PS: Scoble just showed up and TM works on his cell phone so there's something weird going on.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, December 10, 2007. Monday, December 10, 2007

Future-safe archives Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I just woke up in Paris, it's 5:34AM here, but back in California, it still never ceases to amaze me, the day hasn't yet flipped. You guys haven't even gone to bed yet! Now that's amazing to me. What perseverence! Keep up the good work everybody. ;->

I just started posting a couple of twits that really should be a blog post, so let's get started.

First at some point, after a suitable period of mourning, I'd like to rasie the issue of what's to happen with Marc Orchant's web presence.

Which of course is a way of focusing attention on all of our web presences.

None of us like to think of it, but truth is none of us are going to live forever.

Yet if you read this, it's likely that you're creating a digital body that can and imho should continue to exist even after your physical body stops existing.

A picture named monalisa.jpgPeople are humble, no one wants to come out and say their work has any value that's worth preserving past their death, but come on, we know that's not true. If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd be writing on the web. As would Hemingway or Faulkner, Vonnegut or Mailer, John Lennon or Dylan Thomas, Carl Sandberg or Robert Frost. Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. You think there isn't any great literature out there on the web? I wouldn't be so sure about that. What if there is? And what if a baby born today becomes a great creative force? Or what if there's a social disaster like the Holocaust? Did you know that there are preserved diaries from pre-revolutionary America? Writings of ordinary people can be of enormous help to historians. And if we believe in citizen journalism (I do) why not citizen historians? Shouldn't we be thinking out into the future? We should!

With all possible humility, I'd like to tell you that a few days after I die my entire web presence will likely disappear. My servers require some attention from me from time to time. The first time that happens, poof, there goes 10-plus years of Scripting News, and all the docs for the OPML Editor and the OPML spec, the XML-RPC site, to name just a few. Anyway, within a couple of months it will all certainly disappear, unless someone pays my hosting and DSL bills. Maybe someone will, but isn't it ridiculous that that's what it depends on?

And when my sites disappear so will my uncle's. He died in 2003. His site is still accessible because I keep it that way. When I die, who will will take over for me? I'm sure the world will survive without his writing, but why? If I love the memory of my uncle, and I do, what can I do to reserve a place for him in the archive of the future. It seems such a small thing, but it's most of what remains of his life.

And what of academics, Nobel Laureates and others? I know for a fact that a great university (Harvard) has no plan to protect their web-based work after they pass. It's so ironic that the web offers an archival solution for non-digital work, yet the web information is more fragile than the physical stuff.

Preserving our digital heritage is going to require some foresight, some planning, but it seems possible and we surely can do much better. Marc's fate awaits us all. While we're still alive, there's still time to solve this problem. When we're gone, it will be too late. Part of his legacy can be that he helped focus us on this issue, and his life work could be a great test case. Do we want to see his work preserved? And if so, how will it be done?

PS: The RSS 2.0 site will likely persist, because I gave it to Berkman, and then used it as a test case to learn about future-safing. It seems likely to continue to exist, knock wood, praise Murphy, as long as Harvard exists.

Tonight's speakers dinner Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In Paris, we're ready to go to bed (it's still just 2PM in Calif) and I have some pics from tonight's speakers dinner.

Delia Cohen of Pangea Day and the TED conference.

Doc Searls and Erik Stuart (eBay).

Henri Asseily, founder of Shopzilla.

Doc Searls shooting a picture of me. ;->

Marc Canter and Loic Le Meur.

Louvre and Eifel Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Today's pics from the Eifel Tower and Musee de Louvre.

A hypothetical uber-contact manager Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Paolo hypothesizes a much-needed tool in a post yesterday, and a follow-up today.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 09, 2007. Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dinner with friends at Chez Clement Permanent link to this item in the archive.

These pictures were taken at Chez Clement, in Paris, this evening. A good time was had by all! ;->

The tag for photos from this conference is leweb307.

Greetings from Paris! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The train ride was easy.

London was rainy and cold.

So is Paris.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 08, 2007. Saturday, December 08, 2007

Jemima Kiss Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named jemima.jpg

Scoble and Son Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Riding the escalator in the Leicester Square station of the London Underground.

A picture named scobles.jpg

Aunt Anita & Scoble Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named auntie.jpg

Permanent link to archive for Friday, December 07, 2007. Friday, December 07, 2007

London Underground Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named londonUnderground.jpg

Complete New Yorker archive on a hard disk Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named newyorkerdrive.jpgI saw an ad in yesterday's NY Times that offered the complete New Yorker magazine archive, including all the cartoons and ads, going back to 1920-something for a bit more than the hard disk would cost. The ad was from J&R, the company that makes the product is Pexagon. $149. Sounds like there might be DRM.

I asked for something like this from the music business. A hundred gigs of popular music for $500, all pre-installed on the disk without DRM.

Someone at the New Yorker had this idea too? It's a good one. Bulk content for collector types. Another source of revenue. I want to run my own personal radio station, so having every song of a certain genre or from a certain period makes the diff.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, December 06, 2007. Thursday, December 06, 2007

A new way to get in Club140 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bonjour mes amis!

If you post a twit with my name in it following an at-sign that is exactly 140 characters in length, my little script will pick it up and add you Le Club 140. (Practicing my French!)

For example...

@davewiner, you are a very nice person and I enjoy sending you replies. I have actually nothing to say, but when has that stopped me before?

If you posted that, your name would appear here...

Of course you will be more original, won't you? ;->

Meanwhile, in other news, Club 140 has caused at least one person to swear off Twitter forever. Too bad so sad! :-(

I found the watch! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named watch.jpg

Normal life can now resume. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, December 05, 2007. Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Club 140 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Just for fun I'm keeping track of people I follow who have posted "perfect" Twitter messages, ones that are exactly 140 characters long.

Here's the announcement, which of course, is a perfect 140. ;->

The number one feature request for is our own RSS feed, so of course, that's exactly what I implemented. Everyone happy?

Lost my watch Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named gshock.jpgLost my watch somewhere in the house, and now I wish Apple sold one.

Where is Apple's watch.

Who makes the iPod of watches?

What's the real story?? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bush and Cheney knew what was going to be in the NIE for months. That's not a stretch. It's completely unbelievable that they didn't ask or weren't told what was coming.

They tried to drum up support for a war anyway.

Hoping to rush us to war. Then the NIE would come out and they'd say that no one knew that there was no nuclear program in Iran.

The only question is why they didn't start the bombing.

Could it be that they gave the order and the military didn't do it?

In the meantime one has to wonder why the French president Sarkozy was saying the same things about Iran along with Cheney and Bush.

There's a back-story we're not hearing.

Bowling for gold Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My mom sent a news clipping about some seniors who have bowling tournaments with their Wii's. Of course it's on the web too, but there's something nice about getting a clip in the mail from mom. ;->

Zune as a podcast player? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A discussion of Zune as a podcast player has begun under the late November Casting in 2007 piece.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, December 04, 2007. Tuesday, December 04, 2007

NPR radio debate Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I caught a bit of today's radio debate between the Democratic presidential candidates.

NPR is providing it as an MP3 download. Much appreciated.

One thing's for sure, we dodged a big World War III size bullet today with the National Intelligence Estimate. Looks like the military didn't want to go to war with Bush, again.

Now a question for the electorate, how do we make sure that the next president gets the message loud and clear -- no more bullshit wars. I think a late-term impeachment and trial of Bush and Cheney would help make the point to future presidents. Fuck with the people again and we'll have your ass.

That Bush even thinks about legacy is a travesty. He belongs in jail. That's his legacy.

The creative process Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named cabinetBowler.jpgI've been focused for the last 1.5 months on creating something new. It's amazing how much work it takes to do this. In the end you strive to make it look so simple and install so easily that it seems obvious and trivial. But after all that, if it worked, people are creating in ways they weren't before. That's the gratification available to creativity. These days it's rarely rewarded with money. Okay, that's the way it goes, and in some sense is the way it's always been. The reward of art is insight. The reward of achievement is the possibility of more achievement. Having done it once, you always want to do it again, the next time on your terms, but it never works out that way.

Creativity is a process like seduction. The idea has to be teased out, you have to come at it straight on, then from the side, then sneak up from the rear. It isn't until you understand all facets of a problem that the solution is revealed, and then, if it's really a solution, it reveals a whole new class of problems. (The joy of platforms.)

I think I got there this time. I have to wait a couple of weeks before taking the next step. Now I have to get ready to get out of town. There may be more writing here, maybe not. We'll find out soooon enough! ;->

Want something more to read? Check out this piece about different things we've done with RSS. Think about it. Moving the ball forward in one of these directions is what's next.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, December 03, 2007. Monday, December 03, 2007

Odd fact Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A one-night stay in a relatively nice hotel in a European capital costs an American about the same as a Mac Mini.

A picture named mini.jpg

It's left as an exercise for the reader to determine which is a better deal. ;->

Greenspun Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I miss Phillip, a real agent provacateur if there ever was one.

As reported by the NY Times, he's offering payments to illustrators to spiff up Wikipedia articles.

"It occurred to me that when the dust settled on the Wikipedia versus Britannica question, the likely conclusion would be 'Wikipedia is more up to date; Britannica has better illustrations.'"

Just $20K (less than 30 nights in a European hotel for an American) and he's given the publishing world something to think about.

That's called leverage! ;->

This is just a test Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named rrr.gif

Best wishes to Marc Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Best wishes to Marc Orchant and his family.

Marc had a heart attack yesterday, not a small one, and he's in a coma after surgery, and fighting for his life.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 02, 2007. Sunday, December 02, 2007

This is a test Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jeff and Bill Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's fascinating to watch the back and forth between Bill Keller, a top editorial guy at the NY Times, and Jeff Jarvis, a NY blogger who they look to for an authoritative view of blogging as it relates to journalism.

I don't want to presume to speak for Jarvis, but I share his obvious frustration at the way Keller spins the blogger position. God help us if the bloggers replace professional journalists, but also god help us if the professionals don't start taking their jobs seriously. Someone needs to watch the people who run the show, who manage the US budget and military, run the education system, keep the trains and garbage trucks running. If it's not the Times, who would it be? I don't trust any of my fellow bloggers to do it.

Keller's comments are about as irresponsible as our President's insistence that Congress is to blame for his mistakes. It's a joke -- you don't have to look very deeply to see that Congress was Republican for most of Bush's tenure, and the bloggers are, like Congress, looking for some leadership from the professionals. Keller, if you want permission to keep doing the same sloppy business in the future that you've been doing in the past, you won't get that from us bloggers. We want you to do better. And you can start by quoting Jarvis accurately. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, December 01, 2007. Saturday, December 01, 2007

Non-competes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bijan Sabet, a Massachusetts VC, wants to get rid of non-competes.

Bay Bridge Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named baybridge.jpg

PS: Whenever you see a pic like this on Scripting News, you can click on it to see the full picture and comments.

PPS: Pictures taken recently in San Francisco.


A picture named tree.gif

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.

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My most recent trivia on Twitter.

On This Day In: 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

December 2007
Nov   Jan

Lijit Search
Things to revisit:

1.Microsoft patent acid test.
2.What is a weblog?
3.Advertising R.I.P.
4.How to embrace & extend.
5.Bubble Burst 2.0.
6.This I Believe.
7.Most RSS readers are wrong.
8.Who is Phil Jones?
9.Send them away.
10.Negotiate with users.
11.Preserving ideas.
12.Empire of the Air.
13.NPR speech.
14.Russo & Hale.
15.Trouble at the Chronicle.
15.RSS 2.0.
16.Checkbox News.
17.Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.
18.Twitter as coral reef.
19.Mobs of the blogosphere.
20.Advice for Campaigns.
21.Social Cameras.
22.The Next Big Thing.
23.It's time to open up networking, again.
24.Am I competing?
25.Time to shake up conferences?
26.Bloggers working with journalists.

Teller: "To discover is not merely to encounter, but to comprehend and reveal, to apprehend something new and true and deliver it to the world."

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