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

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008. Thursday, January 31, 2008

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

A picture named twittybeerd.gifOver the last 24 hours Twitter has been down as much as it's been up. As always this gives us a reason to think about what the world would be like without Twitter and then those of us who are engineers or would-be engineers, start thinking about ways to fix the problem, whatever it is.

The Twitter folk say that the recent problems are related to an infrastructure overhaul. Of course I believe them, I take it at face-value. I think the MacWorld Expo outage was about traffic, I don't think last night's Republican debate took Twitter down.

Anyway, I'd like to really understand what's going on behind the scenes at Twitter, Inc. They say they're confident the new infrastructure will hold up better, I'd like to understand why. Can we have a meeting, with a few people from the tech community who actively use Twitter and a few people from the company, to be briefed on what's going on. The same way the President briefs Congress when there's some kind of international crisis.

Twitter wouldn't exist without its users. Everyone wants to know what's going on. Let's have some real honest direct communication?

PS: I was going to post a link to this on Twitter, but arrrrgh!

PPS: I'd like to try the Jabber interface. Does anyone have a server I could have an account on. Yes, I know Gmail is a Jabber server, but I want to run scripts against it, and they use interfaces my scripting environment doesn't support.

PPPS: Andrew Baron's Twitter-down art colletion.

Who is Gore for? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

David Weinberger asks a question I've been wondering about, who does Al Gore endorse for President in 2008?

Micro-Digg, oy -- honeypot for idiots Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I should have known...

The idiots want to rule the Reddit I started for Scripting News readers. I couldn't figure out how to delete it, and while trying, I deleted my account, so forget the experiment, and if anyone at Reddit is listening, could you please delete it for me. (I sent an email but there was no response.)

Still diggin! ;->

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, January 29, 2008. Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FlickrFan belongs in schools Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Lance Knobel: "I'd install FlickrFan in every middle school and high school social studies class. I guarantee it would provoke endless discussion and ensure engagement in the issues of the day."

I totally agree. It would be great to see it at checkout lines in supermarkets and on kiosks in BART stations too.

Covering eTech in March Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'll be covering the eTech conference in San Diego in early March. It's been a few years, last time I went was just before my surgery in 2002. I'll be going as a blogger, not presenting. Many thanks to O'Reilly for approving the press pass. I look forward to catching up with many old friends.

Light posting Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I have a juicy project I'm working on, a new source of great pics for FlickrFan. In the meantime Stan Krute did a new version of the Obama poster, to the right, with the "Progress" swapped out and "Make change" in its place.

Update: Jim Posner suggested the original was better, on reflection I agree, so I switched it back.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, January 28, 2008. Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm a California voter for Obama Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've got an Obama poster in the right margin of the home page of Scripting News. It'll stay there for the duration as a virtual equivalent of one of those signs people put on their front lawns. I live in California, one of the Super Tuesday states and I'm an Obama voter. That's what the poster means. Pass it on.

After Google indexes Scripting News, this query will have exactly one match. Right now it has none. Let's load up Google with lots of blogs with Californians voting for Obama. And of course every other state in the union. ;->

PS: This is where I got the poster.

A picture named obamaLawnSign.gif

Chris Matthews said something intelligent Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Most of what Chris Matthews says is mindless trash, but today he pulled out a great analogy immediately after Ted Kennedy's stirring endorsement of Obama.

A picture named amadeus.gifHe compared Hillary Clinton to the character Salieri in the movie Amadeus. Until Mozart came along he was the leading composer in Vienna, but he was just a workman, a technician. Mozart had inspiration, feeling, the spirit. Salieri, even though he lived a long life and Mozart died young, is a footnote to Mozart's lasting greatness.

Matthews nailed it.

Maybe this makes up for his calling the voters of New Hampshire racists because he and every other pundit read the polling data wrong. ;->

Bill Clinton as Trent Lott 2.0 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday's piece, lightly edited, on the Huffington Post.

I think it looks pretty good over there! ;->

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, January 27, 2008. Sunday, January 27, 2008

Find a shared vision, v2.0 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It was an interesting election until the Clintons started calling Obama the nice young African-American candidate. Yeah, I lived in the south long enough to understand what that means. When I went to Tulane I was often explained as soandso's Jewish friend Dave. It meant that I could come over for dinner, but there would never be a marriage.

I should say The Old South. The problem for the Clintons is that the country has changed, as recently as the generation that's now in its early 20s. Because of my experience at Harvard, I know quite a few of them, and I promise you, race doesn't mean to them what it meant when I was their age. To them, this country is a melting pot where we've not only accepted blacks and Hispanics, but people from incredibly far away with incredible complexions, hair, clothes, traditions and names. Amazingly, it's still America.

A picture named whitewashingthepast.gifThis time around a young African-American with a funny name is very mainstream, so much so that the blatant appeal racism of the white-haired old man is as ridiculous as the praise Trent Lott gave to the almost-dead holdover from the Old South, Strom Thurmond.

The problem for Clinton is actually much worse, we now saw how she'd govern. Let's say a young African-American Senator from Illiinois got in the way. Would she argue the issues with him in a respectful way? Why bother when you can smear him into silence. Now she spins around like her husband oblivious to what the rest of us suspected, and now knows for sure. If there isn't now a landslide of support for Obama, from all segments of the Democratic Party and from many Republicans, then our country truly is without hope. I suspect that's not what will happen, and we'll see the same kind of weak attempt at redemption that Trent Lott tried after his fiasco. It won't work, because, as with Lott, we've seen too much.

Now do we know that Obama would be any different? We don't. My cynical side says of course he's just like the Clintons say. "Give me a break" -- it's a "fairy tale." (BTW, I'm quoting the Clintons accurately, a form of respect they don't practice.) Maybe they're right. Maybe this is the last (futile) gasp of hope in America for America. Okay, maybe so. But I'm willing to give it one more try. I think it would say to the rest of the world that America has caught up with reality. Look at how we've changed. Maybe they'll put pictures of Obama in their public buildings as they did with JFK. I could think of worse things. (Caroline Kennedy thinks it's possible.)

What a fantastic way to recover from Bush, who so completely represented the greed and arrogance and uglyness of America, to reinvent ourselves in the image of our best, in the image of hope.

Hope, that's the difference, and it's not just a word. We've all been disempowered during the Clinton and Bush years, sidelined. I remember when I gave up on Clinton, it was during the brightest period of hope for the web, when they passed a compromise that said that the First Amendment didn't apply here. There are some things that are so important that you can't compromise on them. It was then that I knew that Clinton (and Gore) were phonies. Maybe Obama isn't. I never thought I'd get another chance to use my vote to say, along with so many other Americans, that we still believe the bullshit they taught us in school and that our grandparents taught us, and that the flag says to us every time we think of what it means. There's a reason this country is so great. We forgot it. Let's remember.

Bill Clinton wanted us to think well of him when he spoke at Davos in 2000. I choose to remember what he said then, Find A Shared Vision. If by any chance he should read this, I'd say it's time for you to not just say those words but to live them.

A Reddit for Scripting News Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's the new Reddit for Scripting News...

Please, if you're a regular reader of this site, bookmark it, and when you want to contribute a link to the community, add it there. Do the normal thing you do with Reddit or Digg, move articles up or down, according to your opinion of how relevant they are to the community defined by this weblog.

Warning: I will moderate, heavily if necessary, to keep it from being abusive or overly immature. Sorry for having to post the caveat, but you know how it goes. ;->

Hitchhiker's Guide to Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If there were such a book, it would say, instead of Don't Panic:

No need for anyone to suffer.

Twitter is not a mail list or a chat room. No one has an investment in anyone else's manners. If what someone says causes you too much angst, just unfollow. It's a single click.

More advice for Twitter newbies? Please post a comment. ;->

Update: A pretty long list from The Last Podcast blog.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, January 26, 2008. Saturday, January 26, 2008

Barack Obama for President Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named progress.gif

Don Park made a Barack Obama postage stamp.

Everybody's diving bell Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I met an old friend for coffee in San Francisco yesterday afternoon, and had a few hours to kill before stopping in at the Wired reunion party. I didn't want to drive back to Berkeley because the weather was so crummy, and I was just across the street from a movie theater and was just in time for the start of a movie that lots of people had been telling me to see. So I went.

A picture named butterfly.jpgThe movie -- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I had no idea what it was about until the movie started, then I remembered hearing a Fresh Air show about it and finding it too painful to listen to. Now here I was in the theater, not just being asked to listen to it, but being asked to live it. Through some very wonderful film-making, you feel as if what is happening to the main character is happening to you. Or more accurately, probably, you get the slightest hint of what it's like to be this person. My immediate impulse, one which I gave serious consideration to, was to pack up my things and leave. Anything would be better than spending three hours living this guy's life.

Two things happen over time: 1. You get over it. 2. They change perspective, and instead of being inside his body, you move outside it.

I think those two things are the story we all live as we mature and learn to live inside our own bodies, with their limits. You learn to step outside and see the humor in your predicament. The main character says he lives in a diving bell because it's as hard for him to communicate with other people as it would be at the bottom of the ocean inside a diving bell. The movie teaches that it's not much easier for the rest of us, even though we can manipulate symbols better. On the other hand, of course it is.

The film develops a relationship between the hero and his father, between the hero and his own children, his ex-wife, his lover. Each of them reflects off some part of his struggle, and each of them has to learn a new language to communicate not only with the man in the diving bell, but to communicate through their own diving bells. All the acting is great, esp Max von Sydow who plays the hero's 92-year-old father.

We strive for deeper understanding of ourselves and each other. But it may be ridiculously easy to find the only meaning that exists, without language, without intellect, by just being.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly should probably be the picture of the year for 2007, it's that good. But like all great art it shows you something truthful about yourself, and you may or may not want to see it.

Update: Jim Forbes on life after a stroke.

Find a shared vision Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named divingbell.jpgNow after a few days at Davos our correspondents, Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington, are starting to get into the groove. I'm sure much has changed there since I went, in 2000, but I can tell that some important things haven't.

For a first time Davoser, the most important thing is to build your network. Until you have a way to share the experience, you're not really there yet.

At first it's all about being star-struck. Look there's Henry Kissinger (in my year it was Madeline Allbright). And there's Yassir Arafat (he's dead now). Shimon Peres was there in 2000, but now he's back in power. As was the king of Jordan, but he was very young, now like me, he has more gray hair. ;->

My year was the year of "How Do You Make Money on the Internet." So that's what I wrote about. And it was also the valedictory year for Bill Clinton. His struggles were behind him, he could now look forward to one more year in office and then a lifetime as a former President. John McCain had won New Hampshire while Davos was on, and the nastiness in South Carolina was about to start.

You could tell that Clinton had the weight off his shoulders. He still had Air Force One for a year, he could become a statesman, and he was doing a great job of it. Jet-lagged and with no American TV cameras recording the speech he said "Find a shared vision," his formula for finding peace in the Middle East. I was inspired. He can be a great speaker, almost as great as Barack Obama. I tried to take his message to Bill Gates and Steve Case, both whom are off the tech stage now, replaced by Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg. FASV is still the challenge. Seems BillC could use a dose of his own advice. Amazing that the Democrats can't find a shared vision. I always thought Clinton was a phony, I gave him the benefit of the doubt in Davos in 2000. He didn't deserve it, he's proving in 2008.

When Scoble and Arrington come home let's hope they can help us find a shared vision. The great thing about Davos, imho, is the elevation and the clean mountain air can improve your vision, and inspire you to great heights. The trick is to bring that home with you, hold it and nurture it, and build something from it. I think the great leaders on stage don't get that feeling as much as the newbies do. You only go to your first Davos once, Mike and Robert, let it work its magic on you.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, January 25, 2008. Friday, January 25, 2008

Tennessee Rex Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Hammock: "My blog still doesn't 'carry' advertising -- it is advertising."

8/3/06: "I have put ads on some of my sites, but never on Scripting News."

Note that Mike Arrington, who started this thread, doesn't have ads on Crunchnotes. Curious to know why no ads there. Screen shot.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, January 24, 2008. Thursday, January 24, 2008

$100 to Obama Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Fed up with lies from the Clintons, I gave $100 to the Obama campaign.

I was totally on the fence until they started saying he said things he didn't say. Maybe I could have ignored it if he hadn't been saying things we need him to say, imho. The reason people running for office don't try to express complicated ideas is because people like the Clintons will spin it with confusion, and try to convince us he said something idiotic, corrupt or naive.

And even that wouldn't be so bad, but the insult of the Clintons isn't that they're playing unfairly to defeat a good candidate, but they're insulting our intelligence or saying we're ignorant. The only way we could misunderstand what they're doing is if we didn't understand what Obama said, or if we didn't bother to listen. Speaking for myself only, neither are true.

To be clear, Obama said something that Pat Moynihan said first, a NY Democrat known for his intellect. He said that the Republicans had become the "party of ideas." Neither Moynihan or Obama said the ideas were good, or supportable, just that they had some.

A picture named thinkUsa.gifThe Democrats, Obama said, were not known for having ideas. I would agree with that. Further, the most effective Presidents have been those who could express simple important truths in ways that got people to listen and act. The greatest Presidents are the ones who did that, and who led us to a good place or a necessary one. The two outstanding Presidents in recent history are Roosevelt and Kennedy, both Democrats. That we have a candidate this year who aspires to be a Roosevelt or a Kennedy is something I support. If he doesn't win because the electorate prefers a technocrat and workhorse (Hillary Clinton) so be it. But I'll never forgive the Clintons if they win by dragging our aspirations down into the mud, which after all is what they did when they were in office.

Who knows how their marriage works, and after all this time, who wants to know? I sure don't. But that's becoming a central issue in the 2008 election, as it becomes more clear that the Clinton family is running for a third term, circumventing the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution. It's a bad idea.

If we want to do a great job of digging out of the Bush mess, we're going to need great leadership and we're going to have to rally behind and support our leader. Now that the primary campaign may well be entering its final phase, it's clear we're now at a fairly historic moment. My vote goes not just for change, but for hope. Obama might not be the most qualified at a technical level, but we can make up for that. We the people, this is our country, to make something of, or to give up on. A vote for the Clintons is giving up on our greatness. A vote for Obama says "Let's keep going."

Postscript: Ways we can help.

What woke me up about the Clintons Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A couple of weeks ago I didn't really think Bill Clinton would be a problem if HIllary was elected. I thought he might be a curmudgeonly joke of a First Lady. "There he goes again, he's so funny."

Yeah uh huh. Sure.

I didn't think it was an issue until Bill started throwing the mud so aggressively. Then I noticed that Hillary was talking about the first two terms as a plural accomplishment, as if she were in office then. The more he attacks and the more she takes credit for the first two terms, the more I think they're fucking with the Constitution.

Further, there are good reasons why the first lady (or first spouse) isn't actively involved in running the government, so we don't have to understand how good their marriage is, and they get a tiny bit of privacy. Then we remember how their marriage was in the middle of everything when they were in charge, and god damn we don't need that mess now. We've got so many other things to deal with.

I'm so opposed to them that depending on who the Republicans nominate I could actually see myself voting for a Republican if Hillary is nominated. I can't believe that after listening to her on Meet The Press a couple of weeks ago I was almost ready to vote for her. What a mistake that would have been.

Ways we can help Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had two ideas of ways people can help the US, maybe there will be more.

1. When the President and Congress announce their stimulus package immediately give your share to the Obama campaign. Even if you haven't gotten the check yet. You can be sure that they'll spend the money immediately, and that will stimulate the economy. And maybe we can get the candidate in the mood again to give us some of those inspiring speeches he's so good at. I find that stimulating, I don't know about you. ;->

2. This is a missed opportunity. John Edwards, in the debate on Monday, could have said to Hillary in his famous southern drawl. "I don't know how y'all up there in the north do it, but down here we try to quote people accurately Hill. We both know that Barack may not be the perfect candidate, god knows I'd be a better president, but sheeeeeyit, he didn't say what you said he said. How about sticking to the facts?" He might have got my vote then and there. He didn't do it. He should be kicking himself for it now.

3. Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards should challenge Bill Clinton to a spouse's debate. Both women are eloquent and forceful advocates, as Hillary Clinton said so well. This would position Bill Clinton in a legally accurate manner, and would expose the farce of the Clinton candidacy. No time to waste here.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, January 23, 2008. Wednesday, January 23, 2008, retired Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named diggin.gifWe turned off yesterday, for good, as far as I know. It was a good idea, but we never got it together to make it the powerhouse I wanted it to be.

Now that Google and Bloglines both have discovery mechanisms, based on what you and others like, there would only be a future for SYO if it were a thriving and growing community, and it isn't.

Normally, we'd leave a site like that running indefinitely, but this one needed its own server, and I wanted to cut expenses now that the S3 bill is going up, serving some big JPEGs and generally being the back-end for a community that is growing, the people using FlickrFan.

If there's a big demand to bring it back, we can -- but that's going to require cash flow to go with it. At this point, I don't think it's a good investment for me.

Still diggin! ;->

My Digg clone -- from Reddit! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named diggin.gif11/26/07: "I wonder if we could start a Digg-like community with the readers of Scripting News."

It would be the editorial system of a community formed around this blog. Eventually, every blog with even a small number of regular readers would have one. The bigger the blog, the more like Digg it would be. That's not necessarily a good thing, because as these things get large, they move away from the eclectic and toward the humdrum

1/22/08: "You will be able to make three kinds of reddits: public, restricted, and private. A public reddit is just like the current reddits: anyone can view and submit to them. A restricted reddit allows anyone to view the content, but only invited members may submit, comment, or vote. A private reddit is like a restricted reddit, but with the additional restriction that only members can view the content as well. Moderators of a reddit will be able to remove posts and ban users from their reddits."


Scaling is like memory management Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named v8.gifContinuing the thread on commoditization of scalable server software, the third installment.

Matt Tucker said: "I'm not sure that S3 magically kills off the scaling priests. It certainly makes it easy to turn on more storage resources, but writing an application to scale efficiently across multiple virtual machines is no easy task."

To which I responded... It won't make scaling obsolete, but what it does do is commodify it.

Right now I can't buy a Jabber server that scales without also hiring someone who will scale it for me. But in a few years I should be able to buy a Jabber server that, when it needs more CPUs, just asks for them all transparently to the user, the same way my word processor asks the OS for more memory today.

I remember word processors that didn't do memory management, you got a 64K buffer and that's it. One document. When you filled it up, you started another.

Technology will go forward and scaling won't be a black art, it'll be something built into the software you license.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, January 22, 2008. Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The UGC limb, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Following up on yesterday's piece on UGC as a business model.

Lots of commenters, including John Furrier, who asked what I meant by: "We could and should be cutting more fair deals with the people who create the value on the net."

A picture named v8.gifHere's what I meant...

We should be sharing more than kudos with the creative people and more than revenue too. That's the next bubble that bursts, imho, it'll soon be possible for people to set up their own server systems and route around the scams that get people to write stuff that's worth $100 and get paid $10 (and often $0).

It always works that way throughout history with technology. What's difficult and mysterious in 2002 is commodotized in 2008.

I think Amazon S3 and SimpleDB and EC2 etc point in that direction. Scalable apps are quickly becoming commodities. The priesthood of developers who can make scalable apps is about to burst into flames. I've been around this loop too many times to not recognize it.

Now, what would be more fair deals?

A picture named yummy.jpg1. First and foremost -- equity. If I'm going to pour my creativity into your business, I want the same upside you give a key engineer, or the massage guy or cook at Google. There's an invisible line that Silicon Valley hasn't figured out how to cross, yet. Some startup will figure it out, they'll give equity to their key users and community members, and their business will get all the good content.

2. Control of my own data. The clearest sign that a company thinks I'm a sharecropper and they're the bossman is that they won't let me move my data where I want it to go. If you give me the power, that doesn't mean I'll use it, btw. It might mean quite the opposite -- empowered to use my data in more meaningful ways, I might be happy to leave it where it is. Imagine if Fidelity wouldn't let you move money to Schwab. I don't imagine too many people would put their money there. Great writing and art work the same way.

Now what are the key trends to watch for?

1. As I said above, the key elements of scalable systems are being commoditized. It's amazing how many apps are migrating to S3. Why Microsoft, Google and Yahoo, to name just a few, aren't getting into this business is a mystery. It can't be much longer before one or more of them do.

A picture named hope.jpg2. The next step after that will be packaged applications that deploy through Amazon that you can buy for shrinkwrap prices. Yesterday I downloaded a Jabber server from Jive Software. Nice, but it would be so much nicer if, instead of installing as an app that runs on one of my machines, it deployed to run on one of Amazon's. If would take care of backing itself up, controllable through a web interface of course, to S3. Give me a small, simple desktop app that burns a DVD of my data, so I can have something local to put in the safe deposit box, guarding against the possibility that Amazon goes away or S3 loses data. This is so rational, we have to be going in this direction. When we do, it'll mean that the magic of the backroom scaling expert will become a commodity you can buy cheap. Another priesthood goes poof.

And here's the key point, all that will be left will be the creativity. The users won't need you. So you'd be better off investing in users instead of priests. Or hedge, and invest in both.

Sit down Bill Clinton Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If Bill Clinton doesn't get off the campaign trail, other leading Dems should get out and stump for Obama, to level the field.

I said this on Twitter and Adam Wygle sent a pointer to this site, that says it better than I could.

22nd Amendment: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice..."

FlickrFan update Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Change #28: Roll back the clock on updates.

A new page that lets you set the date for updating. We install all new or updated parts since that date.

Screen shot.

NY Times on the Internet Permanent link to this item in the archive.

AT&T makes a deal with the NY Times for their mobile site on their "operator portal."

Curious speculation that Google could buy the NY Times.

They could, easily. Google's market cap is $185 billion. The Times is worth about $2 billion.

iPhone as photo gallery Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Kevin Tofel explains how to use an iPhone as a portable handheld photo gallery using the beautiful AP wire photos and FlickrFan.

I did a Qik video demo using my Nokia N95. Lots of computers involved, the quality ain't great but the idea is pretty neat. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Monday, January 21, 2008. Monday, January 21, 2008

Out on the UGC limb Permanent link to this item in the archive.

About the business with Jason Calacanis last summer.

Let's be clear about what happened there, because it happens so often.

He's a vendor with a product.

I reviewed the product unfavorably.

His response was not about the product, it was about me personally. At the time I said "I've never seen an entrepreneur with a product he's supposedly proud of try so desperately to change the subject away from the product."

I still feel now, as I did then, that Mahalo is a bad product, and that its stated premise is a lie. It's not a search engine, it doesn't compete with Google, and his claims that Google is clogged with spam are a smokescreen, because his actual target is Wikipedia. It's obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought, but it's not said publicly on the blogs of people in Silicon Valley. Why? Because criticizing Jason is a messy business. It's easier to say nothing.

It happens so often in discourse on the net, there are so many subjects that are taboo, people you can't talk about without provoking personal attacks. The net is just as good at distributing personal attacks as it is at distributing accurate information. I guess it's not a big surprise, given the course of every other medium, that as the blogging world matures, there are more attacks and less accurate information.

But when we don't say anything we give up a bit of our future. And when you factor in that there are many products, people and companies who are poison in this way, what you end up with is another bubble, created out of the things we don't want to talk about.

I think it's better to take the hits in little increments than continue to build flawed businesses, built on incorrect premises.

Consider this a preamble for more to come, because I think we've gone way too far out on the UGC limb, we could and should be cutting more fair deals with the people who create the value on the net, and we're not doing it. That Mahalo continues to be unchallenged with its nonsense plan is just an indication of how bad discourse is in this medium that was supposed to clean up these kinds of messes. Instead, it perpetuates them.

And, by the way, I've said nothing here that deserves a personal attack. But my guess is that they'll come anyway.

NYT: For Old Rhythm-and-Blues, Respect and Reparations.

XMPP as the basis for interop in TwitterLand? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Matt Terenzio: "Why we wouldn't use XMPP as the basis for a decentralized microblogging platform?"

Good question. I'd like to play with some simple systems on XMPP. I tried to get started with some scripts connecting to Google's Jabber server over the weekend but wasn't able to get a conversation going. I'll try again soon.

Update: Joe Beda from Google on GTalk & Twitter interop.

Tracking FlickrFan updates Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A long-standing loose-end.

A feed that tracks changes to FlickrFan.

If you're running the software you'll get the updates automatically, this feed is for the documentation of the changes.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, January 20, 2008. Sunday, January 20, 2008

Almost ready to back Obama Permanent link to this item in the archive.

After listening to Meet The Press today I'm almost ready to support Barak Obama for President in 2008. Here's why.

FlickrFan events navigator extended Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In previous versions of FlickrFan you could only see today's picture downloads and code updates on the Events page.

A feature request came in saying it would be nice to be able to go back in time, and I totally agreed. That's the way it works in version 0.43, released this morning.

Details, screen shot.

Update on NYTimes on iPhone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's something coool -- I was able to give the NYTimesRiver an icon on the iPhone desktop.

Russell Beattie explains how it works.

Pretty simple. You just put a file named apple-touch-icon.png in the top level of the website. It must be a 57-by-57 png image.

If you added the icon before this update, you might want to do it again to get the graphic version. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, January 19, 2008. Saturday, January 19, 2008

NYTimes on iPhone Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named iphone.gifWith the new version of the iPhone software, v1.1.3, you can put web pages on the home page of the phone.

This is good news for NYTimes news junkies, because you can now put a river of NY Times headlines one click away at all times. It's that easy to find out what's going on in the world, just as easily as you check your email.

1. Click on the Safari icon

2. Visit

3. Click on the plus sign at the bottom of the screen.

That's it! Now the NYT headlines are always right there. It's really killer, imho. ;->

PS: Phil Torrone is a NYTRiver/iPhone user.

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

Thanks to everyone at Yahoo who helped make the first public demo of FlickrFan a success on Thursday night. The meetup was well-attended. There was only one glitch in the demo, otherwise every feature showed off well. There was a lively discussion. Got some great feature suggestions, met some cool new people and reconnected with some old friends.

Yahoo had a video camera there, not sure when they'll publish it, but there will be a link here as soon as it is online.

Thanks to Chad Dickerson, Salim Ismail, Bradley Horowitz and all the Brickhouse people for helping make this happen.

No one asked this question Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Amazingly no one asked this question at the meetup, but it just came up in an email from a journalist who works at a gadget site you've heard of and probably read.

The question goes like this.

Now that Apple is reading Flickr feeds in AppleTV, maybe there's no point continuing to develop FlickrFan.

I always wonder what's behind this question. Does the person think that people who use FlickrFan will stop using it because AppleTV can read the RSS feeds that Flickr produces? How would that work? I don't understand.

A picture named mini.gifI bought an AppleTV, I tried fitting it into my lifestyle, but it didn't. Apple's vision of how the Internet connects to the living room is a very controlling one. They attain a certain ease of use, true -- but the trade-off is too great. I like all the special effects, but I like to be in control of my own experience. I want to be the programmer. And I despise DRM as much as my customers hated copy protected software in the 80s. It does nothing positive for me, as a user, and I don't think it works for the vendors, but then that isn't my problem, it's theirs.

I much prefer the Mac Mini to AppleTV, and to everything else. But this question has always been the stinkbomb lurking over the whole Mac market. The reporters don't stand up for the vendors. What does this guy want me to do? Would he prefer if I stopped developing FlickrFan? Will he say I'm stupid if I do. Maybe I am. Hey, I don't ask for any money for it. Basically I do it because I want to help create a DRM-less environment for us to enjoy networked living rooms.

A picture named fired.jpgFlickrFan is one of the things I'm working on. Sure it's crazy to think that I could actually contribute a little to the Mac platform. Apple surely is going to crush me tomorrow, maybe they already have. But why do users care? Why do reporters? It seems to me that we all benefit from choice. When it's a single-party system things stagnate. When there's competition, new ideas can gain traction even if it doesn't fit into the Apple vision for its users. (Which is fairly limited, read this Doc Searls piece written in 1997, it's every bit as true today as it was then.)

Hey if you think building on Flickr is crazy, think about this. My next product competes with iTunes as a podcatcher! I must be out of my mind, eh? ;->

Finally, I could ask this guy, who I respect enormously and whose work I read practically every day, a similar question. Hey Apple writes about gadgets on What does that say about YourGadgetSite? Got any plans for a new job? Perhaps a new career? Now that would be just rude, wouldn't?

How about some respect for developers?

Can't believe we're still having this discussion in 2008. Can't we get past this?

Permanent link to archive for Friday, January 18, 2008. Friday, January 18, 2008

What is Coral8? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Continuing the thread on decentralized Twitter...

I read this story on DBMS2, as part of the initial discussion, that explained there is commercial-grade software used by the financial industry that they believe can handle, reliably, much greater traffic than Twitter is handling now.

The category is called CEP, an acronym for Complex Event Processing.

This evening, a comment from Mark Tsimelzon, the CTO of Coral8, one of the leading companies in this area. He offers a pointer to their developer site, a download of the software, and help when needed.

An interesting turn!

FAQ: Is decentralized Twitter just IRC? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In the recent vigorous discussion about decentralizing Twitter, a frequently asked question was What's the diff betw that and IRC.

Now I could be missing something, if so, I apologize in advance, but I think the answer is No.

A picture named elephant.gifSomething that's fascinating about Twitter is that everyone's experience is different. Some people subscribe to 100 people, others 5000, I've even seen people who follow 0 people. No one subscribes to exactly the same people you do. And just because you listen to someone doesn't mean they listen to you, and vice versa. There's a tremendous variety of different experiences. Yet each of us feels as if we're in a chatroom. That's the paradox of Twitter. It kind of feels like IRC while it is nothing like IRC.

What Twitter is most like, imho, is an RSS aggregator. The people who work on Twitter call it a micro-blogging system, because to them, that's what it's like, even if the users don't see it that way. I understand what they're saying, as I think through the possible ways to decentralize it, invariably I'm led down paths I've already walked in implementing blogging software and RSS software.

But IRC is very symmetric -- if I listen to you, then you listen to me. And vice versa. There are ways to block someone in IRC, but it's an opt-out, where in Twitter listening to someone is by default off, and you have to opt-in. Very different experience. In IRC it would be considered a drastic measure to block someone. In Twitter, there's nothing offensive about not subscribing to someone.

Further, you rarely see trolls or flaming in Twitter, because it doesn't work, just as it doesn't work in blogging. Unless you flame someone in an interesting or funny way, you're not going to get many followers. So guys like Loren Feldman, who is funny, gets a lot of followers on Twitter. And the normal grouchy and anonymous trolls who dominate mail lists rarely gain followers on Twitter (or blogs).

Twitter is fascinating, it's like the elephant and we're all blind men feeling our way around unaware that other people see it completely differently.

FlickrFan for iPhone? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I was talking with Bijan Sabet, an early user of FlickrFan, and he asked a question that I didn't know the answer to.

Bijan: "I'd love a way to have FlickrFan photos on my iPhone."

Early-on, I turned off synching for my iPhone, but it should be possible to synch one or all of the FlickrFan folders with the iPhone. I'll investigate, but I'm interested in knowing what other people think.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, January 17, 2008. Thursday, January 17, 2008

A blog post in a comment Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Doc Searls: "My main long-term concern is with The Environment."

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

Interesting comments continue to appear in the thread we started yesterday. sure sounds interesting!

How are you feeling? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named tramp.jpgOkay, if the mind is powerful, how is your mind making you feel today? It's worth thinking about -- with the stock market down this year, every day worse than the last, many of us are losing lots of money, I know I am, and it's not a good feeling.

I keep arguing with myself, even though I'm losing money at a huge rate, I'm still in good shape financially, I have a nice house, I can pay the bills. But it doesn't help. Inside I feel unsettled, poor, I'm having trouble concentrating.

Does it help that I've been through this before? The crash of 1987 was much worse than this downturn, and then I had no cushion, nothing to fall back on, I wasn't even employed when it happened. I was a lot closer to being broke around the turn of the century, even though the market was doing very well. But it doesn't help. No matter how many times I've been through it, I've always known that it's cyclic, that the outlook will likely improve, but knowing isn't the same as feeling. The feeling is much stronger, it can't be counteracted with logic. I can't reason with the feeling, you might say it's un-reasonable.

Then I heard that a friend of mine, much younger, with a lot less at stake in the market, is having trouble sleeping because of this feeling. I realize I'm not alone, probably millions of people have a heightened sense of insecurity right now. Does that make it better? Not really...

Anyway, I thought, let's post something and find out how others feel about the economy and how much of an impact is it having on our state of mind.

The power of the mind Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I heard a report on NPR a couple of weeks ago, and thought it was very interesting.

A study of a group hotel maids found that even though they lead active lives, get lots of exercise, their health isn't good. High blood pressure, overweight, body-mass index, the usual signs of a sedentary life.

They interviewed them, asking if they were active -- no. Did they get exercise? No. (The correct answer was yes to both.)

So they formed two groups, with one group they did nothing, with the other they had a series of classes where they showed them how doing maid work compared to other forms of exercise. The kept going until they understood that they were active and living a healhty lifestyle.

A few months later they checked blood pressure, weight, BMI and amazingly the group they had educated had become healthy!

FAQ: Why only 20 pics? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named fresca.gifWhen you first subscribe to a feed in FlickrFan you generally will get 20 pictures in the folder for the feed. People wonder why this is and how they can get more.

The reason for this is that Flickr keeps the 20 most recent pictures in the feed for each account. So when I post a new picture to my Flickr account, it replaces the oldest picture in my feed. Then, anyone who has subscribed my feed, will get the new picture next time they scan. It works the same way RSS works for blogging or a newspaper -- you only get the last few posts or stories, not all of them, in the feed.

I think this is the right way to do it. You might feel that 20 is too small, but people would probably also want more if they just got 100 pictures.

So the answer is over time you will get more pictures, if the person posts more pictures.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2008. Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Library of Congress Flickr feed Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Wow, this is really really coooooool.

The Library of Congress is partnering with Flickr, releasing pictures that it believes are not copyrighted, through Flickr.

One of the fantastic side-effects of that is that there's an RSS 2.0 feed of those pictures that connects perfectly to FlickrFan.

If you click on this link on the machine that FlickrFan is running on, you'll automatically subcribe to the Library of Congress feed on Flickr.

This is one of those moments when the standards are working, really well. ;->

PS: If for some reason it doesn't work, try clicking on this link to get the latest update (v0.42), then click on the link above again.

Video for tomorrow? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I know it's the last minute, but it's worth a try...

A number of people have asked if there will be live or recorded video for tomorrow's FlickrFan demo at Yahoo in SF.

The answer -- yes, if we can find a way to do it.

If you have a camera and laptop and are willing to webcast it tomorrow, please post a note here in the comments, or just show up tomorrow a few minutes early. ;->

A picture named ducttape.jpg

A decentralized Twitter? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named water.jpgAndrew Baron is a smart guy, and he's not a techy, so when he explains technical issues he does it in a way non-technical people can understand.

Dembot: "If you hosted your own Twitter, just like you host your own website, you could put your twitter anywhere."

Twitter is doing us a service, with its lack of stability, in illustrating the dangers of centralized systems. We do need to figure out how to build a Twitter-like system with all the advantages of centralization and none of the disadvantages.

And like Andrew, intuitively, it seems to me we could do it with RSS. Of course RSS is not very nice to edit by hand, so a little bit of software would be needed to handle the editing. We would also need a place to store our RSS (easy and cheap), and a discovery mechanism, but none of this is impossible or even very hard, considering that Twitter already exists. If it didn't, discovery would be a mess. Because it does, discovery would just be inconvenient, and would require foresight -- the kind of foresight that tells you to keep a bunch of bottled water in the garage so you won't die when there's a big earthquake. You do have bottled water in the garage? ;->

The problem is, of course, when Twitter goes down, it's too late to use Twitter to bootstrap the decentralized Twitter-like system. Heh. Just like after the earthquake it's too late to go to Safeway and buy a crate of Aquafina.

Larry Dignan: "Twitter is a classic case of a neat little tool that wasn't built to scale but now has to because it has become a big deal."

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

Tomorrow in SF: First public demo of FlickrFan.

Congrats to Scoble on his new job at Fast Company.

Gcast: "Record your podcast via a toll-free call from any phone."

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, January 15, 2008. Tuesday, January 15, 2008

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

A picture named hebrewHunk.jpgThis landing page is part of the new app that I'm working on, which is a tool for subscribing to and downloading podcasts, otherwise known as a podcatcher.

When you set a pref in this app, links to new podcasts are posted to a Twitter account as they arrive, so that people you know can know what you're listening to, and may choose to listen themselves. There's a place to comment, of course.

The cool thing about it, I think, is that if you share a podcast and I do, they both point to the same landing page, so our communities intermix based on who liked that podcast. Who knows where this goes? But it's interesting, imho.

PS: Just as we had a cooool partner for the launch of the photocatching app, we have a surprise for the podcatching app too, and it's probably not what you think it is. ;->

PPS: We're still hoping and waiting for Payloads for Twitter.

Happy birthday, Martin Luther King Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named mlk.gif

Mac fatigue Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named imac.gifInitially I wrote in my keynotepost that I'd buy one of the new MacBooks for sure, then a minute later I selected the sentence, hit backspace and save. A commenter asked why.

Mac fatigue. 2007 was a fun year, I spent a lot of money on Mac stuff, and then found at the end of the year that they're a shit company that treated me like shit. Left a really ugly feeling, really sore about that.

So when I thought of all the extra expenses, a second battery (later: ooops, no can do), AppleCare, and then the likelihood that it was going to break, and then I'd be stuck waiting for a repair wondering where my data was going, I thought maybe I won't be so quick this time.

Also the fact that the stock market looks like it's about to crash probably contributed to the feeling. :-(

Steve Jobs keynote Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm "watching" it from home.

A few minutes before it started someone on Twitter asked how long before the rate of updates on Twitter brought it down.

Well, it's down now (9:22AM).

I'm watching the updates on Engadget, far from an optimal experience. Somone ought to make live-blogging a bit easier on the reader.

So far he's announced "Time Capsule" -- a hardware device that backs up any Mac in the house over wifi. It's like a router with a hard drive.

The market is down, and so is Apple, almost 4 points at 175 at 9:30AM.

They've sold 4 million iPhones. As an Apple shareholder that makes me happy.

5 million Leopards. He quotes quotemills, Mossberg and Pogue.

Twitter is still down at 9:37AM.

Maybe they took the system down so they could demo it at Moscone without any load? -- much better! Thanks!! ;->

A picture named netflix.gifMovies on iTunes, this is what Netflix was worried about. Lots of questions. Only 1000 titles. 30 days after release on DVD. What's the quality? HD? I don't think Netflix has much to worry about, they have much more than 1000 titles (I think I've probably already watched 1000 movies on my Netflix account) and they get them the day they come out on DVD, and ahem, I have to say this, so does BitTorrent. Hollywood is still scared of the net. They didn't give a great deal to Steve, or so it seems.

Ahhh -- AppleTV 2.0. No need to synch with a desktop or laptop. Why don't they just sell the Mac Mini. Perfect product for the living room.

Community movie features. Just like Netflix.

Just checked Twitter at 9:52AM -- it's up.

More stuff about AppleTV. It's a software upgrade. Does pictures from Flickr and .Mac. That's good everybody, good. RSS everywhere.

At 10:05AM, Twitter is dead again.

I see they came out with a thin sub-notebook, MacBook Air. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Eleven days ago I wrote a blog post describing a call-in service that I'd like to use to create a podcast with my friend and fellow blogger Robert Scoble.

A new service (or one that I just became aware of) comes achingly close to doing what I want. Maybe it goes all the way there, but I've not seen how to do it.

First, here's how it works.

1. Call 646-495-9201 x 49763.

2. Talk.

3. Hangup.

There will be a new recording here.

Looks good!

But there are two problems.

1. The RSS feed doesn't have an enclosure, and even if you were willing to scrape the HTML there's no pointer to an MP3 file.

2. There's no pointer to an MP3 file on the landing page, although there appears to be one if you don't look at the HTML source. Tricky. It was enough to get Mike Arrington at Techcrunch to think it was there. I have a call into Mike to discuss.

A caveat, I am also in touch with the folks at BlogTalkRadio. I want this service, and we're close to having it now. doesn't go quite far enough, they clearly want to drive traffic to their site, and appear unwilling to let the MP3 out into the wild.

Interesting stuff!! ;->

Update: I did a podcast with Robert and Patrick Scoble using I was able to download the MP3, although it pretty well hidden, and upload it to my S3 account.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, January 14, 2008. Monday, January 14, 2008

About to ship a new app Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named diggin.gifOnce you ship a product you immediately start getting feedback, and if you're paying attention you can easily find the trends.

One of the big pieces of feedback about FlickrFan relates to branding. When you download the app and mount the disk image, where's FlickrFan? It isn't until after you figure out that you need to open the folder and click on the OPML app that you see FlickrFan. (I need to add a Readme file that makes this much more obvious.)

I knew this would be confusing. I could have renamed everything FlickrFan, it wouldn't have taken much work, or testing, and the chance for breakage was nil, since it was a new product.

I didn't do it for a simple reason, the engine that runs FlickrFan will run other apps, and I knew I would be shipping one such app within a matter of weeks. Once there's a second app running in the same engine, it may still be confusing. But there will be more after that.

Maybe there won't be millions of users, but my goal is to bootstrap a community of networked living rooms. For that I don't need more than a couple hundred households who want to play and I already have that.

I will soon tell you more about the new app, and if you're paying attention on my Twitter feed, you'll get a pretty clear idea of where this is going. It's all about communities, social features and big media. FlickrFan is about beautiful pictures on high def TV. The next one is about...

Stay tuned! ;->

East coast snow pics Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's snowing in Boston (where else?).

Here are some pictures from my friends on Twitter.

CKelly in Cambridge, MA.

Brad Searles in Allston, MA.

Colin Grady found these pics, unknown location.

Ethan Bodnar has snow pics from Connecticut.

Corey Goldberg from Back Bay, Boston.

Heh. It's snowing in Italy too. ;->

If you have snow pictures or stories, please post a comment below.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, January 13, 2008. Sunday, January 13, 2008

The place on the Net for Flix Permanent link to this item in the archive.

They are running for the hills but the end of the trail is Little Big Horn, where Custer made his last stand, and lost his life. Of course the Indians didn't do too well either.

AP: "Girding for a potential threat from Apple Inc., online DVD rental service Netflix Inc. is lifting its limits on how long most subscribers can watch movies and television shows over high-speed Internet connections."

Please oh Netflix strategy gods, get a copy of Marketing Warfare and read it.

Netflix owns what used to be a great hill, for some it might still be one, the movies-by-mail hill.

They obviously feel they need to be in the Internet movie business, and in that they have a huge head start that they aren't using. They are being too damned fair to their competitors.

A picture named netflix.gifGive the users the ability to grant other sites access to their movie ratings. Build Netflix into the social network of movies. You're already there, but you need to make every other social network connect up to Netflix. You need to be the hub for movie-watching on the net. You're lucky that so far that's what you are. But soon you will have to fight for that too, and then it will be too late to try to force your competitors to connect to your site. They will have data that you want. Then the nature of the negotiating will change. Right now you have the data. Use that power!

Make the users everyone think of Netflix as the place on the Net for Flix.

How Hillary hit a nerve Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named hillary.jpgShe may or may not have been acting, but either way, when she sighed in New Hampshire and almost broke out in tears, and said how she feared that our country was heading from a bad place to a much worse place, she came close to expressing how many of us feel. Close but not quite there, because unlike the rest of us, she has a chance of being able to do something about it. The rest of us, Republican or Democrat, are going to have to sit by, and hope (there's Obama's word) that someone else can straighten out the mess, and really means it when they say that's what they want to do.


On Twitter, a reminder from Republican diehards from the south, of the supposed discourse we've had over the last five years.

"Cut and run."


It's all positioning, appealing to fear. Of course I don't want to cut and run. Nor do I want to micromanage.

Can we macromanage, or do we have to shut up and watch?

Our president used the term World War III, he actually spoke the words, as an optional American-started thing. This is the horror that makes us feel like HIllary did that day in New Hampshire.

In the sixties, the hardhats used to yell "America love it or leave it" to protestors. They had no clue about the country they were defending. Its strength is that you can love it, disagree with the people who run it, and not leave it. Even better, come Election Day, you can overthrow them, in a bloodless coup, and march down Pennsyvlania Avenue to celebrate. It's all right there in the Constitution. (But you don't get to hang the guy you overthrew.)

A picture named ronpaul.jpgWatching the Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, SC on Thurs night, the loutness of the Republicans was striking. First, the way they shouted down Ron Paul, who like HIllary, raised questions that most of us have. Why are we in Iraq? They laughed when he asked. Not only didn't any of them answer it, but none of them had the presence to realize that the majority of Americans who wonder the same thing might be offended by their laughter. I certainly was. When did dismissing an opinion you don't like become a proper response for someone seeking our vote? Any one of them could have said "I may not agree with Ron Paul, but please let him speak, and let him have our respect." Any of the others could have closed the deal in that moment. None of them had the guts to do it.

I also was struck by the gungho rhetoric about going to war with Iran. It was like one of those war movies where the young guys rush to sign up wanting to teach the Kaiser a lesson, or the Commies or whoever the demon du jour is. The movies almost always teach that war is hell, by the time the war is actually underway everyone wishes it were over. The way wars start is with spit and vinegar, vim and vigor, talk of pride and honor, but they quickly devolve to misery, futility, death, devastation. My generation learned that early-on, with Vietnam. I don't remember anyone thinking we should be there. I missed being drafted by luck. I thought for sure that my generation would never choose to go to war. I was wrong. But I didn't imagine that, after creating such a quagmire in Iraq, which we still haven't extracted ourselves from, we would be so quick to conjure up another futile war.

War with Iran is a crazy, crazy idea. All evidence is that Iran has actually been trying to work with us since 9/11. Even if they weren't, as Ron Paul says, they're a third world country, no threat to us. That the Republicans would contemplate war with Iran, with such colorful gunghoisms (gates of hell, introduce them to their virgins), this is where HIllary hit the nerve. Could we be in for another four years of lunacy? Will those who object be called unpatriotic?

Could a Republican actually win this year? Who thought Bush could actually be re-elected at this time in 2004?

I heard on one of the Sunday talk shows that the reason Republicans don't like Ron Paul is they think he's anti-American. I've listened to him, if you take him at face-value, which I do, his ideas seem radical, unimplementable, but un-American? He's fervently pro-American. He says we should fix our own house, it's falling apart, instead of trying to control others (which doesn't work). How would we feel if our country were occupied by foreign troops? Would we do everything we can to expel them? (Of course.) Why should we expect any other country to be different? I've been saying the same thing since our invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ron Paul has the guts to say the madness is mad. He's the only one in either party who does that, though Obama comes close, and in her New Hampshire moment Hillary did too.

I want someone to win my vote by telling me how good I am, not how bad the other guy is. I see through it, I know the Dems don't want to micromanage, they don't wake up in the morning looking for ways to lose. I know they're not cowards. All this sloganeering has done is make us weary of ourselves. I want to get started fixing things, if not now -- when? That's the nerve that Hillary hit.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, January 11, 2008. Friday, January 11, 2008

Political links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Salon: "What Huckabee has lacked is a top-level adviser to layer some intellectual heft and policy realism onto the candidate's make-it-up-every-morning improvisational style."

NY Times: "The Democratic presidential primary in New York on Feb 5 is shaping up as the state's most competitive since 1992."

Amazon SimpleDB followup Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I spent a few days over the last week trying to get a connection between Frontier and Amazon's SimpleDB.

I got connections going with: CreateDomain, DeleteDomain, ListDomains. They all use the same basic code to handle authentication, and all three work.

But I hit a dead-end with the PutAttributes call. At first I thought I had found a problem on their end, because their JavaScript scratchpad app (a life-saver) had exactly the same problem as my code. I got in touch with the Amazon people, they asked me to download a new version of the scratchpad app, and it worked, but of course my app still doesn't. I compared my parameter list to theirs, and except for the signature and time-stamp they are identical. So there's something wrong with my code, clearly.

Here's a link to a plain text listing of the code. All four of the interface routines use this code to call the Amazon web service. This is the place the problem almost certainly is.

And here's the interface for PutAttributes.

As often happens, the geeky readers of this blog may spot the mistake that I don't, so all suggestions are welcome. I really want to get past this and start building applications that connect with this new web service.

A picture named bigGulp.jpgUpdate: Problem solved? I got an email from my contact at Amazon, he suggested maybe I wasn't sorting the parameters before generating the signature. I checked, he was right. At one point I had been sorting them, but in an attempt to solve another problem, took a different approach which left the parameters not-sorted. Had I taken another look at the docs I would have seen that the params must be sorted before generating the signature. When I re-coded it so that they were sorted, PutAttributes worked! Heh. So now I have to do some more testing to be sure I really have the answer, but it looks pretty good. ;->

The debate about the worth of podcasting Permanent link to this item in the archive.

There's a mini-debate going on about whether podcasting is a success or worth it, or whatever, I'm not sure exactly what the issue is, but it's framed this way --> if you can't get advertisers to hitch a ride on your podcast then podcasting is not worth much if anything.

I'm having a slow Friday so far, it's cloudy and chilly here in the Bay Area, we're in the January doldrums, so I thought maybe I could liven things up a bit by saying both sides of this argument are wrong.

Let me explain.

My phone doesn't have a business model. Neither does my porch. I still like having a phone and a porch because they help me meet new people and communicate with people I know. Same with my blog and podcast.


There's another mini-debate about bloggers playing pranks at CES. The Gizmodo guys ran around with some gadgets that turn TV sets off. At CES is this a big deal because much of what goes on there is TV. They were being assholes, interfering with people's ability to do their jobs and make a living. As a result bloggers get a bad rep.

A picture named gecko.jpgThe problem is that they're not bloggers, they're reporters and they work for a company that's not a blog, it's a publication. Publishing stuff on the web with blogging software says nothing about the people and what they write.

A blogger is person who has an idea, expertise or opinion who wants to convey that to other people. The unedited voice of a person. What makes a blogger interesting is that they do something other than writing a blog. If all you do is write a blog, and if you want or need to make money from your blogging, it's really hard to distinguish what you're doing from what professionals who don't use the web (are there any left?) do.

Same with podcasting.

I do a podcast from time to time because I want to say something. Whether I can run an ad on my podcast means nothing to me because I would never do it. And if I went crazy and let someone put an ad on there, it would only be to reciprocate for them having hosted the podcast, as a way of paying for the podcast itself (I'm contemplating doing exactly that right now so I had to include the disclaimer). I would never burden my podcasting with the task of supporting me. It's not why I podcast.

We keep having this argument. Amateurism is good and there's lots of it. Professional writers and broadcasters probably have a place, I don't know, it's not my problem. But let's be clear blogging and podcasting exist independent of a professional's ability to eek out a living using the tools of blogging and podcasting.

Now I'm going to try to get some work done. ;->

Bob Stepno: "Podcasting lets people sing to each other again."

See also: Podcasting News, Mashable.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, January 10, 2008. Thursday, January 10, 2008

What if you had a $300,000 hole in your pocket? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Chris Brogan asks a question...

What if you had $300K to spend on a luxury, an impulse buy, not something you need, what would you spend it on?


I just answered -- I'd buy 30 full-page ads in the NY Times.

What would you buy?

FlickrFan update Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I can see from the public list that a number of FlickrFans aren't updating. The most recent version is 0.41.

If you want to get current, click on this link on the machine the software is running on:

If there are subsequent problems, please post a comment here.

Still diggin!

Worth watching every so often Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, January 09, 2008. Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What if our political process became conscious? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named think.gifI think something pretty amazing may be happening with our political process that mirrors what's happening on the Internet, in the blogosphere. I've been talking about it on and off since the Howard Dean candidacy in 2003, which I think most people misread or misunderstood, seeing it only in the existing context of how it can be used to make a candidate more competitive in raising money to buy ads to run on TV. Perhaps that's what was going on from the candidates' point of view, but it was not what was going on from our side of the tube. What was happening was we were flexing our political muscles using a new tool for organizing, the Internet. We were waking up, saying Hello World to the candidates. One of them heard us, Dean, although he misunderstood what we were saying.

It's as if we, collectively were tapping a microphone and tentatively asking "Is this thing on?"


Let's summarize what's happened so far in the 2008 political process.

1. We had a long run-up of a year or so, with candidate debates, lots of punditry, two front-runners, one in each party, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.

2. The Democrats outraised the Republicans for the first time in a long time. Obama actually raised more money than Clinton did.

3. Huckabee, a candidate who raised little money, and who was never considered a front-runner, won the Iowa caucus on the Republican side. Money didn't choose the winner in Iowa for the Republicans.

4. McCain, a candidate who in the end spent very little money and had almost no organization, who had long since been forgotten as a front-runner, won the Republican primary in New Hampshire. Again, money didn't choose the winner in NH for the Republicans.

Now, in the aftermath of New Hampshire, the pundits on TV, most notoriously Chris Matthews on MSNBC, are quickly snapping back with new crazy theories on why what happened happened, but we shouldn't believe them or pay much attention, because they don't see what's happening in the electorate. Neither does Clinton, but the Republicans may be beginning to get a clue (and Clinton will soon too).

My belief: The electorate is waking up. Maybe it's just my hope speaking. Can't tell yet. ;->

A picture named uma.gifThe electorate doesn't need messages, just as Doc says there is no demand for messages. What the electorate needs is to hire someone to lead us for the four years between elections. It needs someone who will ground our collective behavior in something resembling reality, so we deal with the problems that are collectively in front of us: 1. The honor and prestige of our country (the equivalent of goodwill for companies, settle the wars we started, accept that we have to protect against terrorism, stop hyping it in terms of conventional warfare, that's insulting). 2. The integrity of our homes (everything from disaster response to changing behavior on a global level to respond to global warming). 3. Caring for ourselves (health, education, protecting the Constitution).

We've gone crazy in the last seven years. The 2004 election was amazingly crazy. The candidates appeared to be running for President of Iraq, that's all they talked about, what was good for the people of Iraq. The lunacy of the electorate is that we didn't throw it back in their faces saying "Let us know when you have something to say about the USA."

We need to communicate with each other and with the pols and pundits without going through the polling process. When they quote blogs on TV they're quoting people who used to be print columnists who now publish on the Internet. That changes nothing.

I'm not expecting very much from people who live "Inside the Beltway." I don't live there, never have, don't even like visiting the place. To me it's much like the arrogance of Silicon Valley. You can't pop out every four years get us to vote for you and then go back into your nest. Politics belongs to all of us, in this country, the people are the government. We really lost our way, now it's time to come back. It's the change that's happening in everything, decentralization, disintermediation. Obama speaks of a plurality, his campaign isn't about a mere election, it's about changing the way we do things.

A picture named jfk.jpgMy advice to candidates going back to Dean was and is to start implementing the change you seek before the election, while you have the full attention of the electorate. Ask us to give money, not to buy ads, but to buy health insurance for 50,000 uninsured people in a particular state, so we can see how powerful we are collectively, how we can do good, starting right now. We yearn for this, to feel our muscles flex collectively, and individually to make a difference, not just in your hype, but in real terms. Hillary Clinton could have gotten up yesterday and said "There's no time to waste. We can't wait until January 2009 to solve the problems. Let's start right now."

Maybe she won't get elected, but getting us organized now would make it more likely.

JFK: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

See how that works??

Ten red pens Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I ordered ten red pens but they sent ten dozen. Oy.

A picture named pens.jpg

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

Flickr: My election return desktop.

Brian Bailey: Bloomberg wins New Hampshire.

Newsgator's RSS products are free now.

Podcasting News: Podcasting comes to TiVo.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, January 08, 2008. Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Glued to the TV Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgFor the last 24 hours or so I've been glued to the TV, watching MSNBC, Fox and CNN, listening to the pundits and campaign flacks, reading various articles on the web, and thinking a lot about what is happening. I'm glad I'm not at CES or in New Hampshire, I didn't want to miss this process, as I did in 2000 when I was in Europe during Iowa and New Hampshire, another period of a couple of weeks when things changed a lot.

At this point there's absolutely no doubt that the candidacy of Barack Obama is a movement. Whether it's like Martin Luther King or JFK, I can't say -- I am not old enough to remember those (I remember their deaths, but nothing else about them).

So if it's a movement, what is it about?

I think it's this -- there are a lot of Democrats and independents and even quite a few Republicans who feel that the Bush II presidency has been a disaster because of the war we started, the incompetent response to Katrina, the trampling of the Constitution, the cynicism, secrecy and arrogance of the government.

A picture named lostCause.jpgBut it's not fair to just blame the Republicans, the Democrats must be punished too -- for their complicity. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards voted for the resolution authorizing the war. Neither of them spoke out against it as we were going to war. I do remember those times, and had they spoken out they would have been crucified, but when you're running for President that doesn't excuse you. While many of us didn't stand up and object either, we now have to choose someone to lead us, and we're not going with someone who compromised when it came to our national honor (the war), our homes (Katrina), and the integrity of our political system (the Constitution).

In a normal year, the Edwards plea to fight special interests would be welcome and enough, even radical, but in 2008 it is not radical enough. True, the war was started because both parties are owned by the defense industry, Edwards claims he doesn't receive their money, implying that Clinton does (and Obama?). The hypocrisy of Support the Troops really translates into Pay off the Defense Contractors. We must place part of the blame for the Iraq debacle on the defense contractors, who fund all our politicians, of both parties.

So Obama may not in fact be the leader we're looking for, but the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa have annointed him anyway. He may have waffled on whether he would have voted to support the war, but it may have been, as he says, not wanting to make trouble for Kerry and Edwards in 2004. He may have received money from the defense industry, if so, that had better stop right now.

Obama, like Carter in 1976, may be our pennance for having re-elected Bush in 2004. We're taking the medicine we deserve for having been crazy enough to re-elect someone who was so bad for us. The only president of the past even remotely in Bush's league was Nixon, who we followed with a smiling preacher who didn't accept the ways of Washington. We didn't like him either, it turns out. ;->

A picture named grandpa.gifObama is also, apparently, the medicine that the 20-somethings are forcing the elders to take. I confessed to a friend that my discomfort with Obama comes not only from not trusting his record, but also what it says about me. If elected, he will be the first President who is younger than I am. Thus begins yet another step in the long decline. As I said the other day, our choice of president is someone who most closely validates our view of ourselves relative to the country and the world. Obama is dissonant to me, because in my mind, the President is older than me. Maybe not any more.

We could do worse, much. And maybe those who say that Obama is easy prey for Karl Rove and his brothers, lurking in the shadows, waiting for someone to work for, are right. Maybe for that reason those of us who will vote Democratic this time should hope for McCain over Romney or Giuliani. It's hard to imagine McCain using the tactics of the Swift Boaters, but hard to imagine the others not using them. Huckabee? Interestingly he says the Republicans shouldn't be so quick to attack Obama, because he represents something good about the people. That is a refreshing idea -- a political leader focusing on the wants of the people. I still think Huckabee may be the first DIY candidate, the first one who embraces the 21st Century VRM model for co-existing with your customers (pols call it their "base.") Even Obama isn't so eloquent about the people.

This week things are changing. Things were pretty bad before, so change must be good, right?? ;->

New FlickrFan feature Permanent link to this item in the archive.

1. Be sure the OPML app is running.

2. Update to get version 0.40 of FlickrFan.

3. Now, when you upload a picture using the drop folder a web page will display with HTML text that you can copy/paste into a blog post or other web page. Screen shot.

4. You can disable this feature on the Drop Folder prefs page. Screen shot.

If you have any questions please post a comment here.

Why Yahoo should buy or merge with a TV network Permanent link to this item in the archive.

As I said above I'm glued to the TV, but I'm also on Twitter, and blogging, and email, and IM and I'm subscribed to hundreds of RSS feeds, and I've been noticing that slowly the TV news organizations are integrating new Internet services with their TV offerings. They're all getting started, and eventually I'm pretty sure they'll be where Yahoo is now. The thing is, it works. For example, newmediajim is a cameraman for NBC News and he's on Twitter and sometimes I'm watching the other side of his camera on MSNBC and twittering with him before and after. A guy named creepsleepy is a radio guy in Manchester, interviewing presidential candidates, wouldn't it be great if I could listen to his interviews while he twitters his progress? Well, there's no doubt that soon we'll be doing that.

We're finally really at the convergence so many have predicted for so long. With the help of a few members of the community Yahoo can get there first.

BTW, I read on the NY Times site that Yahoo is going to open up more to developers. Hmmm. If you want to impress end-users and shareholders run it in MSM. If you want to get through to developers, use the developer blogs. Let us have the story first, otherwise you don't seem very serious about it.

Why it's the last possible moment for Netflix to open up Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Comcast announced a service at CES that sounds an awful lot like Netflix. I already pay Comcast over $100 a month for various services. I pay Netflix $20 per month, and what Comcast is proposing is even more useful and easier than what Netflix offers. If it actually is, it would be easier to turn off the Netflix service.

Netflix has a unique opportunity with X years of preference data for users that they still have active relationships with. Open the service up so that other websites can integrate their services with yours, the prototype being a dating site that matched people with others who like the same kinds of movies. Build a network of utility to lock users in with a feather instead of a deadbolt.

The uniqueness of Netflix is about to go poof. Time to build a new kind of uniqueness. It might be too late, but let's hope it's not. I don't really expect Comcast to share data with other service providers. It's not in their nature. Netflix -- zig while they match your (old) zag.

Jimmy Carter in 1976 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Scott's next book Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Berkeley neighbor Scott Rosenberg announced yesterday that he has a contract now for a book on the story of blogging. I've known he wanted to work in this area for a while, now I'm glad he's got a publisher and a contract. I have no doubts it will be a great book, and a foundation for future work.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, January 07, 2008. Monday, January 07, 2008

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

Charles Arthur: "You can meet Major Olmsted in death as you could in life. The blog, and his site, is still there."

CESgram Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Scoble checks in via Twittergram from CES.

Prefs for Flickr desktop upload drop folder Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This morning a new feature for FlickrFan users.

When you drop a picture into the desktop "drop folder" it's automatically uploaded to your Flickr account. Now you can set preferences for tags, the default description, access controls and content categories.

Change Note #24: Upload defaults.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, January 06, 2008. Sunday, January 06, 2008

Two FlickrFan change notes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Two new bits of news for FlickrFan users.

1. Change Note #22. If FlickrFan is opening in the wrong browser, there's a new preference that tells it to open the desktop website in the default browser, and not to bother launching a browser. You should use this feature if you find it annoying that FlickrFan launches Firefox or Safari. Eventually, if everything goes well, we'll phase out the feature. Didn't want to do it all at once because it's a dangerous place for breakage. One step at a time. ;->

2. Change Note #23. If for some reason your copy of FlickrFan isn't updating, you can always get the latest version, quickly, without losing any of your data or prefs or downloading any pictures again. (Key point.)

ABC News/Facebook debate fiasco Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named abc2.gifThe Internet doesn't have time zones, and while my colleagues in the blogosphere who happen to be located in the Eastern or Central time zones were watching the debate live on TV, we in the western states were left to either wait three hours, or DIY a Ustream webcast of the debate, which we did. About half way through we figured out how to make the local New Hampshire ABC affiliate webcast work on a Mac, and it was a little easier to understand what was going on.

In 2008, sixteen years into the web, there's no excuse for not broadcasting a political event live to the world. If ABC News hasn't got the ability to do it, then ABC News shouldn't be running it. That Facebook lent its name and reputation to this fiasco is amazing. Why didn't they speak up?

BTW, otoh, Charles Gibson was a great moderator and the format was, in every way, fantastic. What a shame we all couldn't experience at the same time.

Open source hardware in the news Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bug Labs moves closer to shipping. Yesterday they announced pricing for their component, open source gadget hardware kit.

NY Times: "Neuros Technology International, creator of a new video recorder, has decided to go in a different direction. The company, based in Chicago, is providing full documentation of the hardware platform for its recorder, the Neuros OSD (for open source device), so that skilled users can customize or 'hack' the device -- and then pass along the improvements to others."

Phil Torrone, a longtime champion of open source hardware, must be happy.

Me, who's always looking for, and never finding the perfect podcast player, has more hope if the users get to develop the products.

Logitech Squeezebox Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This product makes big claims, but it's hard to tell through the hype how it works or even what it actually does.

Here's what it sounds like to me. It's an iPod-like device with a built-in hard disk that somehow synchs with a desktop or laptop PC (or Mac?). It also has a transmitter of some kind (FM, wifi, ???) and proprietary receivers can be anywhere in the house, with speakers attached, and you can control any or all of the systems with the hand-held unit.

Screen shot of the back of the unit.

CNET Australia has a review (they seem to like it).

There is an Amazon page for the product ($299) and 11 user reviews. So this isn't a new product? Huh?

Update: There's a new version of the product that's apparently quite different from the previous version. The comments have the scoop, from users, who love the product.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, January 05, 2008. Saturday, January 05, 2008

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

A picture named w.gifYou can do a pretty good job of following the politics leading up to Tuesday's New Hampshire primary from television in rain-soaked California.

CNN has an excellent program running all afternoon called The Ballot Bowl. The format is really simple. They have cameras following the candidates and they're broadcasting their town hall stump speeches. They're authentic, based on my experience in the campaign for the 2004 New Hampshire primary.

The NY Times has an excellent resource (no RSS feed apparently) that lists the candidates' schedules. It's also possible to import the schedule into Google Calendar as an overlay.

A picture named donkey.gifABCNews is hosting two 90-minute debates, one for each party, tonight starting at 4PM Pacific. Tomorrow Fox News is hosting a controversial Republican debate, which the Republican Party has withdrawn from because they won't let Ron Paul participate. He's polling third among the Republican candidates in New Hampshire. For once the Republicans got it right.

Update: Apparently ABCNews isn't broadcasting the debate live to the west coast, delaying it three hours to 7PM. Grrrr.

In the very limited time betw Iowa and New Hampshire there's a lot of action and drama. Romney all of a sudden is shamlessly the candidate for change. There was an Ahmadinejad moment when I thought for sure he was doing parody, but he was serious. He's changed his attire, but his pitch is still the sleazy VP-Sales who got promoted to CEO. Change change change, I can change too, just watch. Please die now. I don't think anyone stands for Romney.

Giuliani and Thompson are still nowhere to be seen.

Edwards is doing a good job of keeping the game on.

McCain is earnest and honest, but he's old and small and tired.

A picture named elephant.gifObama has the aura of a front-runner and Hillary seems to believe that if only Iraq were still the big issue she would be where Obama is. Even so, according to recent polls she's likely to win New Hampshire.

A lot of my friends on Twitter dismiss Huckabee, and to be clear, I could not vote for a Republican this year, no matter who their candidate is, but he is a fantastic American personality. Elections are all about feelings, not policies or positions or even records as the pundits insist. Who you vote for is a function of how you feel about the country and the world in relation to yourself. The candidate who comes closest to validating your feelings is the person you vote for. I think we'll tire of Obama quickly, and we're already tired of HIllary. I think the rational choice for each party, although many disagree, is Edwards and Huckabee because each of them tap into the well of frustration Americans feel about everything.

A picture named bucky.gifBut my guess, which will probably certainly turn out wrong, is that the Dems will nominate Obama and the Reps will nominate Huckabee, and Huck will win.

PS: After writing this, I wonder if George Lakoff would agree. I think I've just used a very Lakoffish process, unwittingly. ;->

PPS: I went to UW-Madison. Bucky Badger is the school mascot. Our favorite cheer and T-shirt said Fuck em Bucky! It occurred to me the same slogan would work for Huckabee.

How to open a web page in the user's default browser Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On the Mac, in a Frontier or OPML Editor script.


I want to be able to find this tidbit later in Google. Please ignore.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, January 04, 2008. Friday, January 04, 2008

Trade Secrets 2.0? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Just got off the phone with Scoble.

He told me about a blog post he just put up, entitled Erased.

He says something really simple. When Facebook had an issue with him, they erased his presence.

Seems they could have frozen his account leaving his presence as-is until they could figure out what to do about it.


A picture named love.gifWe want to do a podcast from our phone conversations. I'd love to use Twittergram, but we're limited there to 30 seconds. I wanted to use BlogTalkRadio, but their service does so much more than we want, and you can't just call it when you have an idea you want to record. I'd like to try something other than Utterz, so if you know of something, please let either Scoble or myself know.

Think of it as Trade Secrets 2.0. It's the same idea that got me doing a podcast with Adam Curry in 2004. We were having interesting private phone conversations where we'd get around to saying sheez why the fuck aren't we recording this stuff. Scoble and I are at the same place now.

So if you know of some service we could use, or if you can convince the BTR guys to give us the service we want (that would be my first choice) please let me know.

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

The harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all!

And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Though I know that when you're dead you can't
But I'd rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet or a slave

Jimmy Cliff, The Harder they Come.

FlickrFan public demo Permanent link to this item in the archive.

At the public demo on the 17th, I will talk about the idea of the Networked Living Room built on RSS. Low-tech, open, all moving parts replaceable. Not just photos, that's step one.

Sign up on Upcoming. Still some space left. ;->

Question about Amazon web services Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm working with the new Amazon SimpleDB web service, and have found the docs kind of useful but as often is the case, the one piece of info you need is impossible to find. Here's what I'm looking for.

1. I can use their Javascript "scratchpad" app to create a URL that creates a domain. When I paste the URL into a browser window, the domain does in fact get created.

2. When I try to do the same from a script, using the Unix command line curl tool, I get a response that seems to be saying (not sure) that the GET method is not supported for this web service. Here's the exact text of the error message. And here's the command I used. (The signature is obscured for obvious reasons.)

3. This is what a good response looks like.

Update: Charlie Wood came up with the answer. ;->

Quote of the day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Huckabee: "People would rather elect a president who reminds them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off."

More 10-year anniversaries Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In April of last year we celebrated ten years of Scripting News.

December was the 10-year anniversary of scriptingNews format along with Netscape become what we now call RSS. The first applications started coming online in January 1998. Roughly ten years ago, more or less. ;->

And we're approaching the 10-year anniversary of XML-RPC, a format whose Wikipedia page says "the entire description can be printed on two pages of paper." And it's one of the few bits of Internet work that I've done that has withstood attempts to muddy its origins and confuse its developers.

Today's XML-RPC is exactly as it was 10 years ago, which, if you were developing XML-RPC apps means that your apps still work, and that's a good thing. Nothing that's come along before or since rivals XML-RPC for simplicity and utility.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, January 03, 2008. Thursday, January 03, 2008

FlickrFan public demo, Jan 17 in SF, 5PM Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named california.gifIt's totally appropriate that the first public demo of FlickrFan will be at Yahoo in SF during MacWorld Expo. We have room for about 85 people, we'll have soft drinks and pizza, it'll go for an hour-plus, including discussion.

Yahoo's San Francisco office is at 500 Third St, near Bryant, the old Organic offices, in the same building as Wired.

If you want to come, sign up at Upcoming.

Thanks to Salim Ismail, Chad Dickerson and Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo for graciously hosting my humble product and self. ;->

Om is my brother now Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I knew this was going to be heavy when I saw the title, and it sure was. Heart disease is serious, but you can live with it, as I've found out. I had bypass surgery in 2002, and I'm still here. You can also quit smoking, it's easy when you have motivation.

A picture named om.jpg

Om, when you're feeling better let's go for a walk.


Update: Valleywag shows it has a heart.

Yikes it happened again Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday a funny thing happened with a package on its way from Amazon to me. Today they found it and it went on the truck "out for delivery." I waited and waited, but alas, it never arrived.

And the other package took a similar trip. Dallas to Rockford to Oakland to San Pablo to Lost by Carrier. Oy oy oy.

A picture named laurelAndHardy.jpg

0 for 2, Amazon. :-(

Scoble and his Facebook data Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named scoble.jpgThere's a fascinating debate today going on about Scoble and his Facebook data. Here's the story so far. Plaxo, on behalf of Scoble, ran a screen scraper on his Facebook account to download information about at least some of his Facebook friends. Facebook detected the scraper and turned off his account, with an email explaining that he had violated their terms of service.

The debate: Who is right -- Scoble or Facebook?

While there are certainly arguments that Facebook has some rightness, most of it, imho, is with Scoble. Sure, some of the data may "belong" to his friends, like their birthday and mail address. Technically of course the data doesn't belong to anyone, it's data about them, and many organizations have this data. Are bloggers really saying that organizations have more rights than people? Isn't blogging all about a level playing field? My bank knows my birthday and my email address. Why shouldn't Scoble? (Maybe he shouldn't.)

Scoble called a few minutes ago. I asked what the consensus was. He said it was about 70 percent in his favor, 30 percent in Facebook's. I think we can win over the 30 percent by saying that there should be a system whereby people can decide how much information they want to share with Scoble, or people like Scoble, or me, or people like me, or BofA or the DEA, KGB or CIA. Further, that system is not Facebook, unless they change.

Now, I think there's a pretty good chance that Facebook will change and give Scoble his data and turn his account back on. I think Facebook wants to give us access to our data, but if they just turned the feature on, there would be a shitstorm, kind of like the one that's raging right now. Except this time Facebook has defenders, which they must find refreshing, because every time there's been a shitstorm around Facebook they've always been seen as 100 percent evil by most people. (Not by me, btw.)

Maybe they're getting smart there over at Facebook. Maybe they will relent, kind of admit they were wrong, and secretly be happy that they got to open their network up some more.

A picture named kgb.gifHowever, if Facebook doesn't open up and allow people a system to say who can access what information, we still have to create that system somehow. Google could have done it, but they didn't. Same with Yahoo or Microsoft. These companies don't want to empower the users, but if they studied history, they'd see that the evolution of computers always comes in fits and starts. A period when the technology is new and people are snowed by the companies and let them have full control. Gradually people understand what's going on, and figure out they're being screwed but they accept it. And then explosively the whole thing disintegrates in a new layer of technology.

It's a big effin loop we're in. One of these times around one of the companies that feels (incorrectly) that they have a lock on their users, will voluntarily give it up and be a leader in Generation N+1. I've never seen it happen, but in theory I think it could.

In other words, Apple and Microsoft could have invented the web instead of TBL. DEC and Data General could have invented the personal computer instead of Apple and Microsoft (I know this is a simplification, there were lots of individuals and small companies that did it.) And IBM could have invented the minicomputer instead of DEC and Data General. And btw, the NY Times and CNN could have invented blogging, Youtube and RSS. ;->

So Facebook has the opportunity to be a crossover company, part of the next generation -- or a last gasp of the generation that's about to run out of gas. It's their choice. And it's fitting somehow that Scoble is the poster child for users in this cycle.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, January 02, 2008. Wednesday, January 02, 2008

From a former Apple genius Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Of all the comments on the hard drive, and there have been hundreds, this one explains it best.

I'm sorry to hear about your experience at the Apple Store. I was a "genius" for a year and can assure you that the policy regarding HDs was frustrating to us as well. In warranty it wasn't so hard to justify, but out of warranty customers often had a problem with it. My recommendation to them (and to you) is the same. AASPs often do not have the same contractual obligations with HD manufacturers that Apple does, so they may very well let you keep it. If you still wanted to have it done through an Apple store, take a magnet to it before you hand it over. The techs have better things to do than trawl through your personal data (there are exceptions, of course), but if it sets your mind at ease- go for it. Honestly, I would do this in your position because I have read of people getting reman drives with other people's data still on them. But that would have nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with the companies contracted to remanufacture the HDs.
Not much more to say after that. I will probably write a summary tomorrow.

Twitter's business model Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgWhen I was in college, professors used to ask questions that are much harder than the question Allen Stern asks in this piece.

The NY Times crossword puzzle is harder.

Geez, installing a new hard disk in a MacBook is harder, and as I've found out that's pretty easy. ;->

Okay what is Twitter's business model?

They give away access to the API only to find that add-on devs have a business model selling Twitter clients while Twitter itself is left sucking air.

And this is some kind of problem?

We should all be so lucky.

Here's what you do if you're Twitter.


How much you want to bet that Twitteriffic reaches a very small number of Twitter users.

Twitter, of course, reaches every Twitter user.

So what could be easier than to offer to sell everyone a client that makes Twitter work a lot better?

And of course Twitter would be entitled to some of that money.

Now, imagine that Twitter was really ambitious and they wanted to design a cell phone around Twitter. One that could make phone calls and play MP3s and do SMS but also had Twitter baked in.

Okay, so you can't imagine Twitter getting into the hardware business or being a cell phone service provider. But what if one of those did a deal with Twitter, or even bought Twitter? Then you'd be paying a monthly service fee to use Twitter, and might have chosen TMobile or Sprint over Verizon or AT&T because they have Twitter and the other guys have Microsoft's ripoff of Twitter. Or Google's. I think there's a premium for being the original guy, if you play it right (I never do, but Evan Williams does this pretty well.)

Anyway, there are lots of ways for Twitter to make money once there are enough users. And right now their business is to grow and their first priority is to stabilize their service. This isn't based on inside knowledge, but comes from reading the tea leaves and applying common sense.

I never learn Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Okay I wanted something for Christmas and I didn't get it, so I decided on 12/31 to buy it for myself. I opted for one-day shipping which meant it would arrive on 1/2, which is today.

So I was following it on the Amazon site, as it made its way from Louisville to Oakland to San Pablo, to oooops.

I don't know, is it just me, or are we getting too deep into this computer thing.

New FlickrFan feature Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Change #21: Subscribe to a Flickr tag.

Makes it easy to subscribe to new Flickr pictures that are tagged with snowstorm, for example.

FlickrFan and the Mac desktop Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's an interesting Howto on connecting FlickrFan to the Mac desktop. I love this stuff. ;->

Here's a movie that demonstrates this coolest of hacks.

Update on the missing disk Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Looks like I'll get the drive back soon.

Update: I got the disk. ;->

First I got a call from the Emeryville store, then I got a call from a person in Apple Executive offices (she gave me her name and number, but I'm not going to publish it here).

I'll report back when I have more info.

PS: The number of idiotic comments has gone way up.

Mike Arrington told me... Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Mike told me it would be okay to use Firefox 3 beta on the Mac.

So I am. So far so good.

Firefox 2 was starting to hang every five minutes.

But one of my critical plugins doesn't work in Firefox 3.


Software sucks.™

I just realized something Permanent link to this item in the archive.

There are no more big holidays looming over the horizon.


Glad that's over!! ;->

PS: If I could be Emperor of the Universe for five minutes I'd outlaw all holidays in November, December and January and would declare that everybody should be nice to everyone all the time, no matter what season it is!

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, January 01, 2008. Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's a security issue, folks Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named tramp.jpgIn 1980, I signed a deal with a company to market a product I was developing. The contract required me to turn over the source code, which I did. One day I went to a meeting at the office of the company, and there on the product manager's desk, next to a door that opened to the outside, was a floppy labeled "Dave Winer's source code" in big letters.

If you own a Mac you may soon find out what that felt like.

It's amazing to me that the tech blogosphere doesn't treat Apple's policy re broken hard disks as the huge gaping security hole that it is.

Think about it. We worry about bad people getting their hands on little pieces of data that, when added together, give them the power to be us in banking and credit transactions.

Think about what you would do if your laptop was stolen.

Well, if you own a Mac and its hard disk goes bad, and you make the mistake of bringing it to Apple for service, you will turn over all that data to Apple. Not "may" or "might" but "will." What Apple in turn does with that data is none of your affair. They don't sign anything or offer any guarantees that they won't sell the disk to a data miner. Think it can't happen or that it's unlikely? I don't gain much comfort from your feeling of security.

I've been writing about this issue since December 22. Usually when I write something critical of Apple, the results are mixed. Some people are supportive, but far more people attack. This time the ratio is very different. Almost everyone who has commented gets that there's a huge problem here.

Some say that other vendors do this too. That gives me less comfort, not more. That means there's no escaping this crazy way of treating user's confidentiality. Ultimately it hurts the vendors because people can't use their computers for things the manufacturers say we can.

Further, it's got to be an issue for the banks, brokerage firms, credit agencies. If you are a newspaper and you employ reporters and they use a computer, how exactly are you guarding the confidentiality of your sources? If you're a confidential source, don't you have an interest when the reporter gives their computer manufacturer all their data to do with as they please?

Imagine what you would do if it turned out there was a bug in a Netgear or Linksys router that allowed, under special circumstances, a mailicous person to gain access to the full content of your hard disk at any time. Would you have a problem with that?

This is worse than Microsoft's neglect of malware that got me to stop using their computers. In that case it was Microsoft being neglegent. This time Apple itself is the source of the problem. It's as if they planted a virus in their operating system that entitled them, under special circumstances, completely out of your control, to gain access to everything on your disk, with as much time as they want, with no way for you to prevent or even detect the intrusion.

See also: My letter to Steve Jobs.

Re yesterday's post, Apple does not have a store in Shanghai. I assume the customer is sincere, he thought he was at an Apple-owned store. Here's a picture of the place he probably went to. BTW, I'm 100-percent sure that the store in Emeryville is owned by Apple. You can find it on Apple's store website.

Cole: "Apple sent me my new hard drive and instructions stating that I had to send the old one back within 10 days to avoid being charged $250."

Chuck Shotton says that Apple used to return failed drives with sensitive data for an additional cost.


I'm a California voter for Obama.
I'm a California voter for Obama.

A picture named dave.jpgDave 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: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998.

January 2008
Dec   Feb

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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