Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

of plugs and adaptors

I haven't left yet, but the electrical outlets that I will encounter already haunt me.

Since I am going to present a paper at a conference, I'm taking a notebook (I'm taking printed slides too, you never know). I'm also taking my Rio 800 (MP3 player).

I bought the notebook and the Rio when I was living the US, so they both have US-style prongs (flat, rectangular). Here in Ireland the plugs are UK-style, contraptions the size of a Buick with three huge prongs that require a hammer to he inserted into a socket (the center plug is not only ground but also used to "open" the socket so the plug can go in, for safety reasons). So now I'm traveling to Italy, where the prongs are thin and cylindrical, and just two. Which brings me to the unpleasant subject of adaptors.

I hate adaptors.

(Is there anything else to say?). I am carrying all these adaptors from 2 to 3 prongs and back again, 110-220/240 V transformers.... it all ends up taking about the same space as the notebook itself. Wireless power transmission (ala Tesla) will probably not happen, so how about getting the world to agree on the shape of a plug? It's a pipe-dream, I know, but this is one of the many UI issues that commonly go ignored.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 5:40 PM

travel

Getting ready for my trip tomorrow to Sardegna (Italy). The flight will be slitghtly nightmarish (three planes, four airports, just to do 1200 miles or so). Still, the fact that I don't have to worry about currencies, exchange rates, and then disposing of the miriad of coins that you inevitably end up with is refreshing.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 4:08 PM

how the world didn't change

After Sept. 11 the phrase on the tip of everyone's tongue was "The world will change." How did we succumb to such wishful thinking? This op-ed from the New York Times reminds us of all the things that were supposed to change, and haven't, and of all the things that have in fact taken a turn for the worse, like the reduction of civil liberties.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 3:35 PM

more on thinking twice

About two weeks ago I commented on a post by Ray Ozzie and how it suddenly vanished. Apparently I'm not the only one who noticed. Here is another comment on the event and on the practice of some bloggers have of "rewriting history"

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 1:17 AM

the politics of isolation

A Salon article on how the US administration is playing the isolationist game by ignoring international forums such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development (a.k.a. Earth Summit) this week. From the article:

"Not only have delegates repeatedly been quizzed on U.S. policy and its impact, but some of the most vocal criticisms have in fact been delivered in American accents. Furthermore, instead of asserting America's independence, its refusal to agree to any binding commitments here has suggested to many participants that it is suffering a bout of myopia."

One would wish it was only myopia and not arrogance or maybe even ignorance on the part of some US decision makers...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 12:59 AM

cooper on p2p and baseball

CNET's Charles Cooper compares the self-destructive attitude of professional baseball in the US, threatening strikes that alienate their fan base, and the self-destructive attitude of the music industry with regards to P2P. Shows that stupidity is not confined to the "content-creation industry".

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 12:49 AM

what's in a name?

In the case of Windows Server, a delay in its release. Isn't marketing funny?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 12:38 AM

knowledge streams

Related to K-logs, John Robb on Knowledge Streams.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 31, 2002 at 12:36 AM

WTO slaps $4Bn tariffs on the US

From CNN-Money: WTO defines Tariffs in EU-US trade dispute. Expect another round of "outrage" in the US at the role of international organizations, simply because this time it's going against the US...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 30, 2002 at 6:21 PM

groove usage analysis

Ray Ozzie has posted a short comment regarding an analysis of Groove usage they made. Excerpt:

"The analysis does indeed validate that the 2-25 design center of the product is precisely the sweet spot of where it's being used in practice: approximately 35% of shared spaces are between a single pair of individuals, 60% of shared spaces are between 3 and 25 individuals, and 5% of shared spaces have more than 25 individuals. Amazingly to me - given the design center of the UI - I found that within this 5% there are actually hundreds of spaces with 100-250 members each; I'd surely never have expected this.

One other incredibly fascinating tidbit: 25% apparently use shared spaces with only themselves as a member, using Groove as a "briefcase" to transparently and securely synchronize files across multiple computers that they own - e.g. Office documents being synchronized between home and office PCs."

Now, I have a question: do people use it in the sweet spot (2-25) because that's the "natural" use of groups, as Ozzie suggests, or do they a) use it like that because the interface is optimized for it and hence pushes the users there or b) simply because huge groups of collaboration are almost nonexistent in the business world, where Groove is selling? Which is cause, and which is consequence?

Interesting ideas anyway :-)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 30, 2002 at 5:27 PM

more on spam

More on spam (a topic I was thinking about yesterday), Bryce has an entry with a ton of interesting links related to spam and spam-killing projects.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 30, 2002 at 11:54 AM

alternative displays

Polymer organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays are of the best of the new types of displays being developed to replaced LCDs in the medium term. News.com interviews the CEO of CDT, one of the major patent holders in this area, that's working in a venture with Seiko-Epson.

Another alternative is e-Ink, which was quite hyped in the bubble days.

Displays have to improve, use less power and go down in price. Hopefully one of these technologies will make it.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 30, 2002 at 8:33 AM

you've got spam

Two interesting articles on spam from News.com one with a a more high level view of how it affects networks and corporations, and the other one on how it affects users. Clearly, spam management is going to have to improve in the future or it's going put the usefulness of email in danger.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 11:04 PM

the end of napster

According to this article, Napster is at the end of its bankruptcy negotiations be absorbed by Bertlesmann.

Another one of the bubble poster-child disappears...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 7:52 PM

blogging metadata

Something new: The blogging meta data initiative. Finally! Hopefully it will develop into something good. Maybe blogs will be the channel to a more semantic web? It would indeed seem that weblogs already have enough structure (categories, ecosystems that link them, etc) so that a step in that direction would not be so hard.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 10:13 AM

a perfect email client

It's been more than six months since CNET came out with a description of their perfect email client. (Google shows links to related discussions, and more features that people would like to see).

I am amazed that the centerpiece of our connected world, email, is basically controlled by Outlook and Outlook Express. Outlook in particular has no credible competitors that properly integrate PIM, email, and some form collaboration (although there are many other things that would be interesting to see). It will eventually happen, inertia notwhistanding. And then it will be time for Outlook to feel the heat.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 9:38 AM

why imacs are better

In this article in the New York Times the writer explains why iMacs are better than "all-in-one" PCs that are designed to compete with it.

The bottom line, IMO, is, Apple cares about design first, then about price. PC makers care about money first. Different priorities is what makes all the difference.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 9:14 AM

weblogs, hype and extremism

Ray Ozzie writes:

"PUBLISHING IS DEAD. Gone, a relic of the past, dead as a doornail, breathless, buried. According to police reports, one-way publishing was killed off by a technology - Weblogs - that has reshaped journalism forever. According to observers, there was formerly but a single effective way to get messages out to an audience - through major mass-market publications that possessed exclusive control of the final form of those messages. "Add Weblogs to that mix", one highly-respected and influential journalist recently wrote, and an entire industry's "world view was shaken". Indeed.

Say what?

Publishing is dead? Just because half a million people have weblogs?

What about the maybe four billion people on the planet that have never touched a computer? What about places where there is no electricity, much less Internet access, and newspapers are the only thing you have? What about TV? Do you think Americans will swarm to read weblogs and leave behind the New York Times and 60 Minutes all of a sudden?

Please. This kind of hype is what hurts new developments. For one, we should try to be measured in what we expect, and what we tell others to expect, from a medium.

In all fairness though, Jon Udell says that this is a response to Dan Gillmor's article "Notes is dead". But althought the title is an indication, Ozzie doesn't provide a backlink. So we don't really know. It certainly doesn't sound like he is being cynical and saying the opposite. In any case, Jon has it right: blogs have made discussions in the internet more civilized (something I commented on a few weeks ago), and extremism is dead. And if it isn't, it should be.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 29, 2002 at 7:58 AM

more on blogging and its consequences

Bryce commented on my previous post regarding "blogging, writing, and its consequences." Specifically he zeroes in on my mention of "western society" as hypocritical because we can't avoid sugar-coating or just plain avoiding the truth, and specifically because acts of personal expression many times go counter to what we expect from people.

He's absolutely right in what he says, that eastern societies have similar aversions to unpopular thoughts, and that they do it for different reasons. Just to clarify, my intention was not to single out western society as the only culprit, but mostly because we, with our "market economy" many times pretend to have it all figured out.

There's one more difference. (And this is simply a note, no judgment included!) Eastern societies, when they lie because of face-saving or honor or these kinds of things, they know they are doing it. They have evolved a complex system to deal with the ambiguities of private and public life. They do it consciously. It's all surface, and in reality, they accept that things are screwed up under the surface. In Western societies PCness eventually becomes reality. Example, when a government official suddenly is shown to be having an affair, everyone is shocked, shocked! as if the guy wasn't human. This is a problem for us; we are letting pretensions and lies dictate what we expect from reality.

That said, some eastern societies also have the problem (particularly in the younger generations) that they deal with these ambiguities like they were taught but they don't know why. So we're back to nothing. And in the interest of fairness, let's not forget how Eastern societies tend to crush the individual at the expense of the greater good, socially, politically, and mentally.

We look at the past, and we keep hitting blind alleys. We are at a point where we have to come up with something new.

Corporations give us one advantage in that sense: they are mini-environments with their own law, so they let us experiment. We will be able to create a corporation that puts the good of its employees first, the planet second, and huge profits at a distant third. I mean, shouldn't people be happy, motivated to work at a place like that? And wouldn't that mean that they would out-work and out-smart everyone else? Isn't all this just common sense?

And, who knows? maybe if it works there, then the same principles could be applied to other organizations.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 28, 2002 at 11:54 PM

notes is dead

Dylan sent me a link to an article by Dan Gillmor on Ray Ozzie's recent discussions on his weblog, and the way he sees Notes as been vastly superseeded by Groove. What Ozzie says is true, but from there to saying that Notes is dead... come on. People are still using Windows 3.1 in some places.

Notes is dead? No.

But there are better things on the way. And not just from Groove, which is a good product, but too dependent on Microsoft products to be truly easy to use, and as expensive as any Microsoft product.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 28, 2002 at 8:37 PM

mozilla

I've been using Mozilla for several days now and it's just great. Amazing. IE is gone. Gone I tellsya! Later I'll enumerate some of the advantages Mozilla has, but for starters, you can configure whether pages can launch pop-up windows. No more pop-ups?

Now I'm installing Mozilla 1.1 (News.com mentions some reviews).

If you've never tried mozilla, try it. It's better than IE, and as one of the people in the News.com article say, it has Good Karma.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 28, 2002 at 1:13 PM

rushdie on anti-americanism

Salman Rushdie writes in an op-ed for the washington post today: Double Standards Make enemies. My point exactly.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 28, 2002 at 9:05 AM

water

Related to "monkeys, sticks and water", here is a Salon interview with the author of Water Wars. In my previous entry I referenced the New York Times article on Argentina's problems with "privatized" water, and here is the link to the full series of articles.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 28, 2002 at 8:56 AM

a guide to writing emails?

A good review of a bad book. Truly, who are these people to say how others should communicate? As if they have a direct line to the god of grammar to "get it right"...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 5:16 PM

k-logs

A good description of what a K-log is along with comments on their potential. Basically (if I understood correctly) a k-log is a weblog used within a company or organization for the purpose of sharing information rather than personal amusement or expression. The concept is great, but I am not so sure about the constant pushing of the browser as the next great interface.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 5:12 PM

weblogs and the offline world

via Dave, John Robb comments on how weblogs have changed the way he meets new people.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 5:05 PM

open source politics

A good article from Salon analyzing the current idea that some people are pushing of making open source software of mandatory use for the state of California.

Me, I agree with the "libertarians" of the article. I think it's a stupid idea. People should use it because it's good and cheap. They shouldn't be forced to. If you have to force people to use something, you've already lost, and they will find ways around it. Besides, mandatory use would turn developers into complacency. The open source community would become no better than Microsoft, happy in its entrenched markets.

But I do think that leaders and software/high tech corporations ought to "participate" more in the political process, otherwise it will always be co-opted by the same old players. They have the money, they need to start spending it, and fast. A related note: an interesting discussion on "the weblog candidate". I think it is kind of weird that all of this hype is being generated just because she has a weblog and because she is on "our" side on one issue.

It's easy to think that the technology you are creating is going to change the world and get lost in the hype. Not even the internet has delivered its promise of world-change yet, which as far as I'm concered would imply an improvement (not just a change, and getting real-time news doesn't count as an improvement) in the lives of regular people everywhere, not just the ones with means in rich countries.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 11:56 AM

in Yoda we trust

In Australia, more than 70,000 people responded to last year's census stating their religion as "jedi". Hilarious.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 11:49 AM

argentina

An article that talks about a potential "secessionism" in Argentina. There is talk, true, but what the article doesn't examine is the wider political picture. The rest of the country would never let that separation happen, Patagonia has too many natural resources and no people. On the other hand, any move in this direction might be instigated by people who don't want Patagonia to separate, but who actually want the government to respond. Such a move would likely mean the rise of a dictatorship to quash the "rebellion"... and maybe even civil way.

And all of these thanks largely to importing the concept of a "market economy" without being able to grow into it, like the US (and in smaller measure, Europe) did, and without the power to control the corporations that come with it.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 6:44 AM

hp dumps office

Interesting: HP is dumping Microsoft Office in favor of Corel/Wordperfect Office in its consumer PCs. Maybe both customers and partners are fed up with Microsoft's aggressive pricing strategy (if that's what overcharging can be called) and they are really beginning to take steps to rein them in. Competition is a good way to start.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 27, 2002 at 12:12 AM

pakistan

Via Instapundit: Pakistan observations.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 8:48 PM

electrical storm

The new U2 Single was broadcast yesterday for the first time in BBC1. Here's U2Log's entry about it, including links for downloading.

"Dreaming it all over again".

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 7:58 PM

business blogging

Dan Bricklin on business blogging and what blogging means for small businesses. Great article.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 7:33 PM

monkeys, sticks and water

Poor countries are usually called "developing countries" in the West. They have been "developing" for quite a while apparently. What they don't say is developing into what. Mass graves?

It's all about money. The money that most people don't have.

Half the planet's population lives on less than $2 a day.

About one fifth of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

In Kubrick's 2001 the monkeys with the sticks controlled the water supply. The ones that didn't have weapons would eventually starve and die. It's a parable of man, but I wonder if Kubrick would had been surprised at how close to reality it would be, two years after Discovery was supposed be orbiting Jupiter.

About half the population of the planet doesn't have access to running water.

One fifth of the population doesn't have access to clean water.

It's not a coincidence these people are the same that live on $2 and $1 a day, respectively.

If you average the consumption of US citizens and compare it to an average of the rest of the world, americans consume 10 times more water, coal, oil, or electricity than the rest. The next year, the US will spend close to 400 billion dollars "defense," more than a billion a day. Half of the military spending in the world.

Just monkeys, sticks, and water.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 7:31 PM

A weblog for the Earth Summit

A weblog on the Earth Summit starting today.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 4:51 PM

the debasement of cyberspace

An article on the danger the Internet is in, of becoming a place where we are surrounded by spam, pornography, advertisements, and government surveillance.

Bruce Sterling says that "civil society" has broken down online, and that "it's not just a digital problem, it's the digital reflection of a global problem."

But is it really a problem? As the article notes, this has happened with every technology. The Internet just makes it harder to ignore. But I think that eventually we'll learn to separate one thing from another properly withoutdestroying the nature of the medium.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 4:47 PM

the shift in IT spending

An interesting article in The Economist this week analysis the changes in IT spending and how they will probably evolve once growth returns. It ends with an interesting comment:

But technology has a way of surprising the world. It may not be long before some proverbial teenager in a garage invents the next killer application, and gives the industry back at least some of its legendary buzz.

Something that would simplify collaboration maybe?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 11:17 AM

the row over ICC

More US pressure on Europe to get exemptions from the International Criminal Court. "We can judge others, but no one will judge us." Similar to this.

I wonder, is this what they mean when they talk about "asymmetric conflict"?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 7:36 AM

innovation and inertia/2

Related to my previous posting on a Salon article, here are the readers' letters about that article. Many good replies, making some of the points that I was making.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 26, 2002 at 7:29 AM

how often to update?

Dave replies to a question from a Michael Rogers: how often to update a weblog?

His reply is good. There is one bit that bothers me: the Hemingway comparison. I think Dave is overusing the analogy. Weblogs and novels are different. I understand the point, and it's a good one, but for some reason it bothers me slightly that the Hemingway analogy keeps coming up replies to a question from a Michael Rogers: how often to update a weblog?

His reply is good. There is one bit that bothers me: the Hemingway comparison. I think Dave is overusing the analogy. Weblogs and novels are different. I understand the point, and it's a good one, but for some reason it bothers me slightly that the Hemingway analogy keeps coming up in different contexts. ">in different contexts.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2002 at 7:56 PM

the Dell machine

Dell continues its expansion, starting to attack markets dominated by HP and IBM, and slowly entering the area of services instead of just manufacturing. Risky. However, it's amazing how their bottom-up approach (start with PCs and then move up) is similar to Microsoft. There is one key element however that is a big part of Dell's efficiency that is very unMicrosoft. Direct Sales.

I wonder, why hasn't a software company been able to grow big just by using direct sales yet? As soon as some profits start coming in, the salesmen start appearing...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 25, 2002 at 3:06 PM

the fall of enron

A Washington Post series on one of the greatest business falls in history.


Part 1: Coming Storms


Part 2: Warnings


Part 3: Cutting Losses


Part 4: Crisis


Part 5: Catastrophe


About the Post Series

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 6:51 PM

the earth summit

The Earth Summit gets under way on Monday, August 26th in Johannesburg. This article from The Economist has some interesting comments on it, for example:

"Environmental groups have already been heavily critical of the summit’s size, noting that the numbers going to Johannesburg will ensure it has a damaging impact on a region already facing huge environmental problems."

or
"[...] even with caviar and champagne off the menu, the contrast between the well-fed delegates and the millions of people in southern Africa now starving, as their region is caught once more in the grip of a famine, will be striking."

I don't doubt that the people behind the Summit have good intentions at heart, but Maybe it's time to rethink how we achieve consensus on things like the environment, where local policies alone aren't enough. Not that I have good answers... but at least we should be asking these kinds of questions more often.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 6:12 PM

guidelines for blogging at Groove

Ozzie on his blog: guidelines for public blogging at Groove. Very much on topic with my previous posting.

In general it seems to be ok, it simply says that you have to be respectful of other people, make sure that people understand you're not a spokesperson for the company, and that you're not revealing trade secrets, etc. The only problem is this paragraph:

Finally, please be aware that the company may request that you temporarily confine your website or weblog commentary to topics unrelated to the company (or, in rare cases, that you temporarily suspend your website or weblog activity altogether) if it believes this is necessary or advisable to ensure compliance with securities regulations or other laws.

Now, as far as I can see, it says that the company can shut you down whenever they please. I mean "securities regulations or other laws"... that covers everything, doesn't it?

Not too good then. On the bright side, they have a policy, and their employees know which rules they must follow, like them or not. That's a step in the right direction, because whatever is on paper can be discussed without fear of misunderstandings.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 5:15 PM

blogging, writing and its consequences

Once more, I've been thinking about what it means to blog, to write, and why it is so hard in our oh-so-advanced western society to simply tell the truth and deal with it. Political correctness, they call it. I call it hypocrisy.

I went down this road once more after reading Bryce's entry on the social issues in blogging. There I found a link to an old Salon article on how people get fired for expressing themselves, and, more importantly, a link to Mark's account of how he was fired for his weblog, not just for writing a personal and excellent description of what addiction is, but for "rebelling" in an amazing response against the stupidity of his boss to try to stop him from writing.

It's a common tale: management somehow assumes people don't have a life, don't talk to each other, don't have an interest in friendship, or expression, or don't want anything out of life except sit in an office for 8-10 hours a day and type and do what they are told. They might say they do. But they don't. The fact that companies commonly ask people to work more (even when they are already working more than their share) proves it. The fundamental flaw in the worldview of these people comes down, I think, to a combination of two things: a misplaced sense of what "profesionalism" is, and the belief that people are "assets" like a chair or a keyboard. The second one is I think quite widespread and it doesn't need much of an explanation. The first one implies that when you're at work you should behave "profesionally," that is, never express fear, or exhaustion, or confusion, in short, emotions. You should always be in charge, in control, and doing what's good for the company. Screw the person, it's all about our collective future, and if you happen to shoot yourself in the process, well, too bad. We'll be sure to send stock options to your family.

We need to create a new "social contract" between organizations (corporations, governments, etc) and individuals. The individual matters. We are better than in the middle ages, but right now we are not much better than at the beginning of the industrial age. The point of a company, for example, should not be an end in itself, it should exist to provide work for its employees. Not to generate money in abstracto.

Change.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 3:41 PM

adventures in css

Interesting CSS/Mozilla related section of a blog: Adventures in CSS, a part of Bryce's Radio Experiments.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 2:36 PM

mozilla imports outlook

A while ago Jon Udell mentioned how he'd used Mozilla 1.0 to get his data out of a PST. Actually, reading a PST is not a big problem if you're on a Windows machine, since you can use MAPI to create a (relatively) simple program to read the data and dump it in any format you want. Mozilla is convenient though.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 2:27 PM

no more Microsoft software

Is it possible to live without IE, Office, etc? Of course it is. But is it possible for me?

It seemed not. When I installed Mozilla (pre 1.0) I kept clicking on the button for IE and never gave Mozilla much of a second look.

But why? I knew it was just inertia. Well, screw it. Now I have installed Mozilla 1.0 and I'm determined to try to switch. I have just switched the default browser for the OS. I will soon get an alternative Office (e.g., OpenOffice) and replace the rest of the tools. Eventually, the OS should go too right? Well, maybe not. Some for my research requires Win32 development, and so far the best solution for that is Visual Studio.

Let's see if I can live with a monopoly-free machine.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 2:14 PM

borland back in the fray

Borland has announced a new suite of development tools that will compete directly with Visual Studio .Net. My first programming environment was Turbo Pascal in DOS and it was a long time until I found an environment that was as easy to use and as versatile as that for C/C++ and then Java. In the case of Java in particular the original Visual Cafe came close, but the best one for me until recently was JBuilder.

Right now my favorite (by far) is IDEA from IntelliJ. Once you've used the refactoring features, you never look back, particularly if you use part or all of the development guidelines of Extreme Programming.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 24, 2002 at 9:41 AM

A new OS X... on the Win95 Anniversary

Apple will release the latest OS X (codenamed "Jaguar") on the 7th anniversary of the launch of Windows 95. This is all well and good, but think about it...

Today's UIs are flashier and they certainly require a lot more power, memory and drive space to boot, let alone to do anything useful. The web has been the main qualitative change since Win95 came along (And to think the arrogant codecutters at Microsoft didn't even include a TCP/IP stack in it, because MSN was going to take over the world!). And in a way it all goes back to the 70s and the Xerox Alto and even the late 60s and Doug Engelbart's astonishing 1968 demo of a fully networked environment with Windows and a mouse.

Which is to say, we need a paradigm shift. Now. I can't bear the possibility that we'll get to the year 2010 and, instead of being on a mission to rescue Discovery and see what had happened to that Monolith after all, we'll be using Windows 2010 on a machine with 10 Gb of RAM to run... Microsoft Word.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 7:46 PM

Lessig's ideas

Dave has an excellent short opinion piece today on Scripting News regarding free software, Lessig's position on it, and why software can't be entirely free. People (and yes, software developers qualify!) need money to buy food, clothing, etc. Well maybe not so much clothing. CNET's Charles Cooper makes a slightly different argument but touches on similar points.

I agree with what they say, and in particular the attack on the comparison on Hemingway. And I would add, isn't that analogy a bit overstretched? Literature is not software. Lessig's take is that:

When the system protects Hemingway, we at least get to see how Hemingway writes. We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed. We can see this because it is the nature of creative writing that the writing is public. There is no such thing as language that conveys meaning while not simultaneously transmitting its words."

Let's look at the centerpiece of his argument here: "We get to learn about his style and the tricks he uses to make his work succeed." This is a very strange argument to make. If what Lessig says is true, then this "exposure of the inner working of the book" would mean hundreds of Hemingway copycats. Ditto for anything else, like Joyce or Pynchon or whatever. Yet the works of these authors is unique in history. Hmm. Intriguing, no? Maybe "what we learn about the tricks these people use" is not that much eh?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 3:13 PM

controlling content

Ray Ozzie on nondiscretionary content control, and its implications for UI design, software development, and any technology that manipulates or displays content in general. A very interesting read. And these problems will only become more and more complicated as DRM (or worse things, like Palladium) become more widespread.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 2:56 PM

typing -- with your eyes

This article reports on another article on this week's Nature magazine about Dasher, software that predicts which letter is most likely to come next in a piece of text, and an eye-tracking interface to the software that lets people type up to 25 words per minute using the software. Best of all, Dasher is language independent and it adapts to the user's habits (vocabulary, writing style) over time.

Tons of applications come to mind, but the most intriguing of all would be its integration into a PDA or a cellphone. Maybe it will be a way of getting rid of the "palm alphabet" once and for all.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 2:15 PM

the open source developer lifestyle

It had to happen: someone did a survey of open source developers, which, surprise, turn out mostly men in their twenties. Not too surprising.

One interesting thing though: most of the open-source developers prefer Debian rather than Red Hat. Sounds about right... :-)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 10:07 AM

the destruction of the amazon

There's been some progress in reducing the rate of destruction of the Amazon, but economic forces could easily reverse it, as this article in today's New York Times clearly shows.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 23, 2002 at 10:00 AM

the west wing

what is it exactly about The West Wing that makes it so good, I wonder? Almost every episode I've seen so far (maybe 10? 15? mostly from the second season) is excellent. Great writing and acting. Great photography.

It doesn't compare to the intensity of 24 true, but it's just as good.

I guess TV is good for some things.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 22, 2002 at 11:56 PM

bizarre

It turns out the NRO had scheduled an excercise last year in which an airplane crashed into a building after a mechanical problem, to test their response to the emergency.

The date? Sept. 11, 2001.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 22, 2002 at 8:15 AM

of innovation and inertia

Some thoughts fueled by a Salon article written by a woman who confesses that, after switching to an iBook, she wants to go back to Windows. An excerpt:

what's with this "intuitive" malarkey? What's so intuitive about error screens that refer to some obscure code that the Mac techie on the help line can't even decipher? ("Are you sure it says 'error -7531'?" "Yes, I'm sure." "Macs don't do that." "Mine's doing it." "Well, just be glad you're not getting the blue screen of death." Thanks a lot.) Very well, I'll admit that it is slightly better than finding you've unwittingly performed an illegal operation that forces the system to shut down. (By the way, why "illegal"? Why are PCs constantly breaking the law? And who are they afraid of that they have to shut everything down in the middle of my document?)

and another one:
Maybe you could help my forefinger get through its withdrawal from the left-click option on Windows mice. Maybe you could tell me why AppleWorks has omitted my beloved Tempus Sans font and always forces me to use this darn Helvetica. Maybe you could help me sort through all these impossible formatting options when I save my document (two versions of AppleWorks, two ClarisWorks, two Word Macs, and two Word Windows? Come on!). Maybe you could help me manage that cryptic little Apple key with the funny symbol on it -- the key that can't seem to make up its mind about what it wants to do except cause me grief.

Now, her comments are understandable, but what she doesn't realize is that Windows is even worse. The difference is, she's gotten used to the stupid error messages that Windows gives. (And even more, it's almost certain that the error messages she's seeing are on OS 9 and not OS X).

This is one of the big problems that innovation faces today. It's not that software developers don't innovate. It's not that new things don't appear in the marketplace (take The Brain or Enfish for example, two systems that I've used occasionally over the years and that have been around for a long time). It's just that sheer inertia is a huge force in defining what users actually use. Part of the blame, as usual, goes to Microsoft, which has done everything in its power to squash the software industry that doesn't do what they want or that might develop into competitors for Office or the Windows Shell or whatever. If there was more investment, more of these products might break through more often.

So this means that new software has to be creative (to give users a reason to switch), cheaper (ditto) and not only format-compatible but also user-interface compatible with Microsoft's programs. Easy eh?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 22, 2002 at 12:00 AM

"quick! grab him!"

The FBI is looking for a Saudi apparently connected to the Sept. 11 Hijackers. And only a year or so after! But that's okay, this guy probably spent a whole year doing nothing and waiting for them to catch up...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 4:46 PM

share files, go to jail

The US Department of Justice is getting ready to start prosecuting file traders in P2P networks.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 1:05 PM

on the newsweek article on weblogs

Burningbird comments on Steven Levy's article on weblogs in this week's Newsweek Magazine. I agree with her in principle but I think that Levy is being more balanced than most, and still there's a limit to what you can say when presenting something new to such a wide audience for the first time. Most people have no idea of what a weblog is. So the explanation has to start somewhere.

I was intrigued by this comment in the newsweek article:

There are blog short stories and a blog novel in progress.

I wonder if he he talking about Plan B? Mmmm...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 11:07 AM

a new morpheus

Streamcast has released version 2.0 of Morpheus, now based in Gnutella technology after its fallout with Kazaa a few months ago and their disastrous "pre-release". But with little money and more lawsuits hanging on them than Microsoft, there seems to be little hope that they will survive.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 10:50 AM

chips with two brains

An article on some new techniques that are being probed at microprocessor labs to improve performance and reduce power consumption, now that the limits of Moore's Law are finally on sight (not that we're there yet, but eventually we will be using nanotechnology for manufacturing, and that will be it, until qubits come out of the labs at least).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 12:33 AM

a simple question

A thought: scientists are trying to extend life (e.g., telomerase research) and create better quality of life (e.g., cancer research). They are trying to push the lifespan of humans to more than a hundred years.

Personally, eternal life (a very distant but not ridiculous possibility) and very long life (a not so distant possibility) seem to me to be slightly undesirable even. I mean, can you imagine living forever? Pain multiplied by infinity? And even if we find a way to live with our demons, where, exactly, are humans going to live if nobody is actively trying to maintain a reasonable environment? H.G. Wells might have gotten it right with the Morlocks...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 12:23 AM

the economics of ecology

A Salon article on the area of "ecological economics" which tries to measure ecological impact in purely economic terms (and therefore tries to make more obvious what impact environmental changes have in the economy). I have my doubts about some of the analysis they mention (I am skeptical of anything that puts a certain value in, for example, "weather patterns") but as a counterpoint to the idiotic view that "it can't be measured at all, and therefore it doesn't matter" it's certainly interesting.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 21, 2002 at 12:19 AM

free speech, free beer and free software

A Sun executive writes on the hidden costs of open source, talks about the impact of corporations on open source development and compares the different types of management in open source models (e.g., Apache vs. Linux). Interesting.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 11:27 PM

me too

Privacy group warns of massive EU surveillance plan on the works. Is this just done so the EU Commisioners can say to the US that they aren't the only ones? I can see EU diplomats telling the US diplomats at the next UN meeting: see? We can trample on civil rights too!

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 9:43 PM

it's not just the weather

This article from the Economist lists some reasons that contributed to the harm created by the recent floods in Central Europe, including lack of maintenance of flood defenses that were in place, simply because floods hadn't appeared in a while. Global warming might be proved to play a part in this, but local factors are certainly at work here as well.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 3:46 PM

humans and the environment

Two examples of how we affect our environment; regardless of whether we are trying to fix a problem (e.g., anti-whaling laws that can end up letting a species become too dominant) or simply behaving like the stupid primates we are, and then destabilizing local ecologies that can end up creating what could turn into global epidemics.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 3:33 PM

Risk and reward: the state of music

Would the rise of a band like U2 be possible today? Industry experts at a world music conference reply unanimously: no.

So sad. To think that most of the new music that should rise in the future will be robbed of its place in the spotlight by a bunch of well-groomed idiots chosen simply because they fit some market-based profile.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 12:21 PM

the risk of creativity

Two years ago, Dave had a great entry on Scripting News on the risks of being creative. It's true. In any field, creating something means you are exposing yourself. And with exposure comes risk. No question about it.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 12:07 PM

fear of criticism

From Salon: Too hot to handle. How the media has failed to ask the right questions about the problems the NY Fire Department had on Sept. 11, and why problems that had already surfaced in the 1993 bombing hadn't been fixed by last year, possibly ending up costing dozens if not hundreds of lives.

This is part of the more general problem in the US post-Sept. 11 where people are wary of criticizing the government, as if criticism would be equated with supporting terrorism (a line that the Bush administration has been happy to use time and again to stop honest questioning). Why is it so hard to some people to see that precisely it's things like these that make democracy good?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 11:33 AM

new company buys PGP technology

From News.com: PGP Corp aims to simplify PGP. Will they finally do it?

Encryption in email in particular has the problem of requiring everyone you communicate with to support it. Until an email program includes fully integrated transparent encryption on the messages (and so if you want someone else to communicate securely with you, you just tell them to use that email program) it's unlikely that the situation will change.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 20, 2002 at 11:29 AM

wireless hackers take to the air

BBC reports on a group of Australians that use airplanes to fly over the city (Perth, in the south-western tip of Australia, if I remember correctly) and find open Wireless Access Points. Cool. With the advent of ad hoc, these practice will hopefully be unnecessary: everyone will have a node close to them that will be ready to act as a secure relay. It won't happen tomorrow, but it will happen sooner or later.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 19, 2002 at 11:29 PM

latin american backlash against "free markets"

The Economist has an article this week about the perceived backlash in Latin America about free markets. As they say, its it's not that simple. But there is a lot of suspicion for IMF-led policies that have obviously not worked in the past and that many times are geared more to helping banks (US-owned mostly) and target abstract "macroecnomic" goals rather than trying to make better the lives of the people. That's the real problem. Purely macroeconomic approachs just don't work. Time for new ideas.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 19, 2002 at 11:19 PM

baby steps in mass-produced nanotech

A first step: NEC confirms that they will begin mass-production of carbon nanotubes within the next 3 years. Still a long way from a nano-assembler, but it's a first step.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 19, 2002 at 3:39 PM

future portables

Notebook computers will, in a few years, be faster and smaller. Oh, and they will run on methane.

While the methane bit is probably the most attention grabbing element of this News.com article, the really interesting bit I think refers to wireless. Once all notebooks come with for example Bluetooth and 802.11 as standard, ad hoc "edge" networks will explode. And then things will get really interesting, methane or no methane.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 19, 2002 at 3:37 PM

finally an apple handheld?

Rumors on Apple releasing a handlheld have been making the rounds for years (although they seemed to quiet down a bit after iPod was released). Well, here they are again. Will this be it--finally? It's probably. Considering Apple's success with iPod, a similar repackaging of an old concept (Handheld+cellphone) might also give them a successful product.

If they do it, one thing will be for sure: we'll finally have a cool-looking, easy to use cellphone/PDA.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 19, 2002 at 10:00 AM

refugees, terrorism and the US

An article on the situation of refugees and how the new "security measures" put in place after Sept. 11 have impacted on their lives (basically making them much worse, and slowing down the rate at which the US accepts refugees).

Funny. One would think that the US should be actually increasing its speed to make refugees feel better, and so avoid turning them to desperation and terrorism. But I guess that's just me.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 18, 2002 at 10:01 PM

microsoft eats the dog food

An article in Fast Company that talks about how the Microsoft Project team improved its software by using it. Example:

Microsoft Project included as a regular feature a time-sheet tool that helped project managers stay on top of their team's hours. Particularly for teams working a regular 9-to-5 shift, it was a useful feature -- or at least the Project team always assumed that it was.
Until, that is, Capossela's own software engineers learned that they were going to have to start filling in time sheets.

Now, this article has to be MS-spoon-fed drivel. No mention of the fact that Microsoft changed this in the latest revision of the product. That means that they didn't use the software up to that point. How is that supposed to be "cool" as the article implies? Microsoft is eating its own dog food, great.

But maybe they should have started eating it a long time ago.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 18, 2002 at 9:44 PM

ozzie thinks twice

Yesterday I commented on an entry in Ray Ozzie's weblog. I was reading his weblog today and I realized that the entry had changed; his "innovation is the vehicle, drivers wanted" phrase, and the whole argument about how developers should be innovating instead of working on StarOffice and Linux (things that he more or less said were a waste of time) was not there anymore.

All gone, silently, like it never existed.

Second thoughts, Ray? Maybe you should explain why you backtracked on it?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 18, 2002 at 3:36 PM

Iraq and Russia close to signing agreement

CNN reports Iraq and Russia are close to signing an economic cooperation agreement worth $40 billion through 5 years. If they sign it, one has to wonder what will Russia do then if the US eventually attacks Iraq. Would they just stand by the wayside and see $20 billion go down the tubes? Don't bet on it.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 17, 2002 at 7:32 PM

MS vs. Linux

CNET's Charles Cooper wonders if Linux can survive the Redmond death ray. There doesn't seem to be any reason for Linux not to survive in some form, specially with IBM, Sun, et al, behind it. The real question is whether it can survive as it is, or if it will be co-opted by a few big corporations (like IBM, Sun, etc.) and lose its current "grasroots" model. The cynic in me says yes, but I certainly hope it doesn't happen. Regardless of its use Linux is a balancing force in software and if we don't have it then something else will have to emerge to save the world from becoming a Microsoft subsidiary.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 17, 2002 at 7:26 PM

innovation

Ray Ozzie says: "innovation is the vehicle, drivers wanted."

His entry is inspiring if you will, but his "disappointment" that people are not pushing the "state of the art" in office applications, etc, is a bit misplaced. He should not be disappointed at the developers. He should be disappointed at monopolists like Microsoft who do their best to obliterate anybody that even remotely challenges them. He should be disappointed at the VCs and Investors that won't touch the software business with a ten-foot pole. He should be disappointed at the OEMs who will not install anything except what Microsoft or AOL gives them, because they can pay. Nobody thinks of the users, to them it's just "market share" and revenues.

Innovation depends on developers, yes. But it also depends on the current people "in power" (so to speak) to allow innovation to happen.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 17, 2002 at 3:41 PM

on paid content and weblogs

Karlin Lillington, a fellow Dubliner, comments on one of her first weblog entries: if part of the idea of blogging is linking and commenting, what will happen as more and more content becomes paid content while the blogs remain free-for-all?

If a lot of content from high-quality sites would suddenly become off-limits to anybody without a credit card, it would certainly be detrimental. But I don't know if we'd just revert to just writing things about each other as she (perhaps half-jokingly) fears, but rather weblog communities might become more "attuned" to the media around which their participants swarm, creating many more-loosely connected sets of highly-connected weblogs.

Personally, I link to paid-content sites sometimes, simply because a weblog is as much (or maybe more) personal as it is public. So it would be going against the nature of the weblog to censor paid content links only because other can't access them. On the other hand it would also be going against the nature of the weblog to create something that's not publicly accessible. A paradox! What matters most?

The public side or the private side of a weblog? It depends on the writer I guess.

Something to think about...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 17, 2002 at 12:17 AM

ozzie on security

Ray Ozzie comments on a washington post article and says: "it's not the user's fault". Precisely the point I made in an entry two days ago.

The burden should never be on the user; if people don't use something properly, then it's our fault, a problem of design. We need to do better.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 17, 2002 at 12:07 AM

an email program that works

Through Scott Rosenberg: "All I want for christmas is an email program that works."

Christmas eh?

His wish may yet be granted. Stay tuned...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 16, 2002 at 10:50 PM

secure semi-public collaboration

Jon Udell comments on Ray Ozzie's and others postings on security, colaboration and weblogs. He says:

Weblogs don't yet offer an architectural solution to secure semi-public collaboration. Wrapping SSL and passwords around your blog can work, but the administrative hassles involved push this option far off the path of least resistance. Groove-style "always-on" and "complacency-immune" security sounds appealing, but it's not a solution yet either.

Exactly the same problem exists in ad hoc networks (specially wireless ad hoc) and weblogs and ad hoc nets have many similarities (a point I was making a few days ago). So a solution from one should eventually find its way into the other.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 16, 2002 at 8:41 AM

health care for the poor

A survey that analyzes what changes would be possible in health care in poor countries with only a bit of money, and how to give good use to the limited resources they have (by targeting specific disease groups that are more prevalent, or adapting treatments geographically)

In Tanzania, for example annual health spending is about $10 a head (five years ago it was $8). Shows what a really small world-wide redistribution of wealth would really do.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 16, 2002 at 8:22 AM

wardrobe on the net

A CNET interview with the CEO of Phillips Semiconductor. What's the next market chips? Wardrobe, it seems.

We have a major retailer in the U.K. that is labeling all its materials with smart tags. We have a clothing manufacturer that we can't announce that is going to incorporate the tags in all of its products. The neat thing about it is that it is not only for inventory tracking and so forth, but they will also use it in the stores for checkout and tracking that. And it also guarantees the genuineness of the product.

Nice. No mention of tracking after the store. That would never happen. Of course not.
Sure. And while we're at it. in the process of making millions of dollars selling clothing that can tell the manufacturer where it gets stored in your house, maybe someone would care to consider the hundreds of millions of people that can't buy any food, let alone clothing. Will we ever start to think about technology in terms of what it can do for the 95% of the world that doesn't live in a sea of luxury?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 16, 2002 at 12:18 AM

9/11 families sue for $1 trillion

It's finally happened...

There is something about this that gives me a deep sense of unease. Why look for money? Will $1 or $1 trillion give people anything back of what was lost? Yes, the standard line is "we want to bankrupt the terrorists." But given that the only thing they might bankrupt (if they win) is a few banks, who are they kidding? Is feels like a morbid extension of the US's obsession with lawsuits...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 15, 2002 at 11:48 PM

floods in central europe

More on the floods that are making their way south through Central Europe. Prague water level is now falling, but Dresden might suffer the worst tomorrow. (Previous entry on this here).

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 15, 2002 at 9:13 PM

two weeks of Ozzie

Ray Ozzie comments on his first two weeks of blogging. Fun read.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 15, 2002 at 12:50 PM

the inventor of Simula passes on

Kristen Nygaard, the inventor of Simula, the first Object-Oriented computer language (way, waaay ahead of its time) has passed on. I studied Simula as an undergraduate along with other early OO languages such as Beta, both clean, advanced languages with some things that many languages today (think Visual Basic) don't yet have, and, as far as I know, it was the first high-level language that didn't use a pre-processor, and was all the better for it.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 14, 2002 at 8:46 PM

the myth of cybersecurity

Ray Ozzie writes on News.com on why security is almost nonexistent in today's networked environments. His article is related to today's posting on his weblog. In part he advocates "cellular" approaches to security, which is (unsurprisingly) something that his company's product (Groove) does.

Security is non-existent, right. But whose fault is it? It's not a problem with the users. Users end up circumventing security because it's too hard to use, slow, cumbersome. Once security is embedded into everything and transparent, then people will use it... without knowing it. It's on us to provide it.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 14, 2002 at 1:14 PM

u2log

I just found u2log.com a "u2 weblog". It should get interesting with the impending release of the new album (rumors put the radio release of the single at 15 september, and then release of single in October with the CD following a few weeks later). The first two songs are said to be called Electric Storm and The hands that built America.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 14, 2002 at 9:19 AM

the next microsoft office

An Infoworld interview with Jeff Raikes (VP of Productivity and Business Services) on the future of Microsoft Office and how it will interact with Sharepoint services and Groove.

Comparing this to the rumors that appeared about two months ago relating to Office 11 (ie., post Office XP, which was O.10) and "Office NGO" or "Office .Net" (which might have been simply concepts floated out as FUD or simply as the result of infighting at MS) it seems the interview doesn't seem to contradict them, but how close these two visions end up being is anybody's guess.

Regardless of how difficult to use Office 11 will be (hint: even more difficult than Office XP, since it has all these new collaboration features) I am always impressed that Microsoft can manage to churn out these incredibly complicated products, mixing client, server, products from other companies, etc, and in the process making sure that they are obliterating the competition, whoever they are and making a bundle.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 14, 2002 at 6:50 AM

more from the oh-my-god dept

Microsoft recently promoted a lawyer to the top ranks of its management. Now Sun will apparently announce that a marketing guy is going to manage the Linux/Solaris software teams.

Am I the only one that there is something very, very wrong with this trend?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 13, 2002 at 4:10 PM

Prague under water

Prague is in danger of being buried by floods. Global warming or natural cyclical behavior? Maybe a bit of both.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 13, 2002 at 2:23 PM

On Groove and Windows

Dan Gillmor tracks a discussion with Ray Ozzie. The question is, could Windows take away what Groove provides, in terms of information sharing, etc?

At the beginning, I'd say no. Ultimately, I'd say yes. In the end, anything that ties itself to Windows too tightly will eventually become part of it and fall under Microsoft's "Windows Everywhere" strategy. Other systems would be left out. More monopoly. And that can't mean real sharing, since it would mean that to "participate" you'd have to be a Windows creature.

Any environment that aims to be good for information exchange should be platform-agnostic, I think.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 13, 2002 at 2:20 PM

udell on open source

Joun Uddel comments on Open Source and some reasons why it hasn't impacted on the desktop (Evolution is mentioned in passing as an example).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 13, 2002 at 1:13 AM

the madness of war

We'd all heard about the man in the Highlands who was "building his own gook," parts were the least of his troubles. In Chu Lai some marines pointed a man out to me and sweore to God they'd seen him bayonet a wounded NVA and then lick the bayonet clean. There was a famous story, some reporters asked a door gunner, "How can you shoot women and children?" and he'd answered, "It's easy, you just don't lead them so much." Well, they said you needed a sense of humor, there you go, even the VC had one. Once after an ambush that killed a lot of Americans, they covered the field with copies of a photograph that showed one more young dead American, with the punch line mimeographed on the back, "Your X-rays have just come back from the lab and we think we know what your problem is."

on the Vietnam War, from Dispatches by Michael Herr.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 8:43 PM

why weblogs are good

Ray Ozzie comments on why weblogs are good for discussion. His point is basically the same I was making a few days ago. Maybe we are all reaching a better understanding of what weblogs are, and then we'll be able to improve them along these lines.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 7:45 PM

plan b

The Plan B experiment continues, and I am compiling a list of things that seem to constrain the narrative. It's been interesting so far... A few minutes ago it passed 20,000 hits total in the Salon Rankings page(accumulated in a little more than two weeks), with the Slashdot effect accounting for about 60% of that, in only two days. Many good ideas came out of the slashdot discussion.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 6:38 PM

A client-friendly Java

While Java seems to have established itself well in the server side, it doesn't appear to have made much of a dent on the client side. People say this is because Java is too slow, because Windows doesn't include Java, because Java programs don't integrate well with the local desktop...

All of those reasons are good, but there's one that rarely gets press and that should be the starting point for any "attack on the desktop:" Installation.

The only solution we have today to create an easy-to-install Java app is to bundle the JRE with the application and set everything up in our own installation.

Consider what would happen if you didn't: You have JAR files, optional packages, JREs. If you have multiple JREs, they step on each other, and there's no clear way of specifying one over another programatically (from inside the Java program). If you install both JRE 1.3 and then JRE 1.3.1, they reside in different directories. Installing JRE 1.4 creates another one. And so on.

You could use Java Web Start. But then people have to go to a Sun Micro page with a 5,000 word disclaimer, instructions and more instructions only to install something that has no relation to your application: it's the runtime, but why should the user know there is a runtime?

The Java Runtime should be an invisible component. A user should never see a program group that says "Java Runtime Environment 1.3.1". Why would they be interested in that? They aren't, of course.

So how to fix it? Well, Java Webstart is already close to a good solution, it just needs a few changes. Make it so that if it finds an older version (e.g., 1.4.1 installing over 1.4) the older version will be removed. Make it so the installation is a one-click deal, just like the Java-Plugin for IE.

Then allow the JNLP (Java Network Launching Protocol) to bypass the "Java Webstart mini window" completely. It only adds confusion and groups Java programs together, another thing that an end-user won't understand: people don't care about programming languages.

If this was in place, the cycle to install a Java program would be like this:

A user goes to a webpage and clicks on a link to download the program they want. A script checks on the local machine for the necessary Java Webstart/JRE version. If it doesn't find it, a dialog appears informing the user that a runtime component will be downloaded and installed. One click: Yes or no? If yes, the JRE/JWS downloads and installs automatically, then passing control back to the script. The script then downloads the JAR, creates an icon and a group for the newly installed program, and presto: It's ready to run.

Some day...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 12:04 PM

portable pollution

The UN Environment Programme released a study of a cloud of gases hundreds of square miles in surface and two miles thick, which could travel around the world in a week, doing everything from affecting temperatures and crops to creating acid rain. Just send your request and they'll send some pollution your way...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 12, 2002 at 11:24 AM

the cost of IMF policies

How IMF aid affects brazil's future, from today's New York Times. Nothing new here, this has been going on for years but only now (post-bubble) it has been clearly identified as a problem: IMF policies and large dependence on external investment, in developing countries, mean high instability and loss of control over their economies.

Time to start rolling back a bit?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 11, 2002 at 2:58 PM

ozzie on cross-platform development

Dave comments on Ray Ozzie's post about cross platform development with Notes, Groove, and other products.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 11, 2002 at 2:55 PM

ad hoc world

Robert Cringely writes on the coming world of WiFi, UWB and ad hoc networking (called Mesh networking by him). This is definitely where things are going, particularly for small "edge" networks (i.e., home, small business) that can't depend on a single server.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 11, 2002 at 10:35 AM

more on the US and the middle east

Related to my previous posting, interesting articles from Time Magazine here) and The Economist (here) on various aspects of the possible invasion of Iraq and US views on the Middle East, and from the Washington Post (here) on the "saudis as the enemy" view.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 10, 2002 at 2:11 PM

why not gore

"We love you, you're perfect, goodbye" an op-ed in today's New York Times argues for Gore not running in 2004. Aside from the good arguments and summary, a phrase caught my attention:

When was the last time that, two years before the election, the assortment of candidates didn't make your heart sink a little? You want Martin Sheen, but he's not the president, he just plays one on TV. Let Mr. Gore stand down, and one of the others will rise to the occasion.

Somebody should try running the Bartlett campaign for real, using the fictional characters and everything. They could then record it (think The Osbournes) and broadcast it as a series. At the very least, the actors in The West Wing appear way more professional at their jobs than most government officials these days.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 10, 2002 at 10:42 AM

tanstaafl

As Heinlein said, "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". From News.com: the end of the era of free. What the article says is true, but I wonder how it will affect use of the Internet? How many people in poor countries will not be able to access information and news from anywhere in the world anymore?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 10, 2002 at 9:57 AM

the evolution of software development

In a recent entry on his weblog Eric Raymond replies to a critique of open source by Steven de Beste. If we are reaching a limit of "sustainability" in software project sizes and are therefore about to "hit a wall", is open source the only answer to it?

Personally, I don't think so. Both open and closed source have their place, and large software teams exist for both development systems, some even with "mixed environments."

Now, what I really would like to know is where Raymond gets some of his "facts" such as "Software project sizes are roughly doubling every eighteen months." How, exactly, is this estimate reached? Size regarding what? Lines of code? Classes? People? In which context? And even if some measure of software was growing at that rate, that might not necessarily mean much. Lindes of code, for example, rise possibly by an order of magnitude when switching from procedural to object oriented code, and yet the code ends up being cleaner (since the interfaces used are more abstract) and easier to maintain. So maybe somebody should define what the terms of the discussion are before everybody gets all worked up about these things.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 10, 2002 at 2:19 AM

phrase of the day

The algorithm is mightier than the equation.

from "The Man Who Cracked the code to everything," in June's Wired Magazine.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 8:49 PM

with surgeons like these...

A Boston surgeon walks out of surgery to go to the bank. Back in a Jiffy! he said. He was operating again in only 35 minutes. Not bad. He could be a marathonist too, while he's at it.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 8:04 PM

america's prisons

From an article in The Economist this week:

"Some 600,000 inmates will leave prison this year—more than the population of Washington, DC. After quadrupling its imprisonment rate in just 30 years—America now has 700 people in every 100,000 under lock and key, five times the proportion in Britain, the toughest sentencer in Western Europe—the world's most aggressive jailer must now confront the iron law of imprisonment: that those who go in almost always come out.
The result is a society that, statistically at least, is beginning to look a little like early Australia. Nearly one in eight American men has been convicted of a felony—and thus, in many states, has been automatically deprived of numerous rights, including the right to vote. One in 20 men has been to jail. The average is much higher among some groups (one black man in five has been to prison, one in three has been convicted of a felony)."

Related to this one, another article focuses on "life after prison" or lack thereof.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 4:32 PM

dave on weblogs over discussion groups

Dave Winer comments today on why Trackback (in movabletype) won't become generally useful, and why discussion groups will be replaced by weblogs for civilized discussion (a topic I previously touched here).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 4:10 PM

qubits in circuitry

This article on Scientific American contains a summary of recent advances on creating circuitry with quantum bits.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 2:35 PM

nation building lite

I just found this report on Afghanistan's current situation, published in the New York Times Magazine. Shows why "nation building" is an oxymoron. Nations are not "built," they grow by themselves or not at all.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 12:45 PM

checking for prime numbers

Three computer scientists announced a breakthrough method to accurately compute wheteher a number is prime or not. It's slower than approximation methods, but it's still a big advance.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 9, 2002 at 9:25 AM

multi-context namespace completion

Jon Udell comments on ActiveWords, a namespace completion software for Windows, but what's really interesting about this entry is not the comment on ActiveWords but the idea he proposes at the end of the entry: a system-wide, internet-enabled namespace service that plugs in to any app, and that can then be used by any other app and that can, in particular, sit on top of the keyboard I/O to process keystroke combinations more intelligently.

A really cool concept.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 11:54 PM

for your ears only

A company is testing a device that projects sounds up to a hundred feet away by transmitting two separate ultrasonic signals that combine at a particular source to create sound anywhere you want it. As usual with things that sound too good to be true, there are many skeptics. But if it's a hoax, it's a cool hoax.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 9:48 PM

global ecophagy by nanoreplicators

Just re-read Some Limits to Global Ecophagy
by Biovorous Nanoreplicators
, an analysis of the threat of molecular nanomachines converting the planet into a large swarm of... more nanomachines. It won't happen tomorrow, but nanotech is coming, so we'd better be prepared.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 7:59 PM

hyping .net

This News.com article makes a reference to Gate's assertion that building .Net is more difficult than getting to the moon. (My previous comment on .Net is here).

Going to the moon? That really must be the pinnacle of hype... I wonder if they are planning to have a few MS programmers sit inside a computer running .Net software, name it "Apollo 1" and then let them burn as well...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 5:21 PM

light was faster than... light

We might be going faster every day, but light appears to be slowing down.

Cool. With so many things going on in the world of physics, we might be about to peel another layer off the universe.

Let's be half-serious for a minute: My theory (maybe overly simplistic, true) is that we'll always find new theories. And if I want to get really confused, I can say that as we always find new theories we will eventually find a theory that disproves the idea that we always find new theories, which invalidates the original theory (that says that we always find new theories).

I haven't had anything to eat yet, that might be why I'm babbling like this.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 1:27 PM

work hours in Europe and the US

The Wall Street Journal today compares the environment for employees in Europe and the US (e.g., number of maximum work hours per week, vacation time, sick time, etc) and arrives at the conclusion that Europe grows less than the US simply because people are working less, because of the new laws.

I don't think this is the whole story, but I agree that this is certainly an issue. All things being equal for a particular company or industry, whoever can produce more with a similar number of employees is going to win.

However, one could say that the people in Europe will have better quality of life, because they are more relaxed. But then, if that more relaxed quality of life results in higher unemployment, lower economic growth and eventually lower quality of life, what's the right answer?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 10:04 AM

appeasing warbloggers

Dave Winer explains a bit more about earlier comments on the war on Iraq, and why some people have gotten confused about what he was actually saying.

This is one of the things I like about weblogs: they allow you to have a truly civilized conversation. No flaming. And even if there is flame, people will eventually have to click on the site that originated it, and the flame will be gone, in the previous webpage. Gone long enough for the readers to form an opinion without having to deal with the fire raging around them.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 8, 2002 at 1:41 AM

weblogs as distributed consciousness

This sort of expands on this entry from no comment: why weblogs are better for discussion than the alternatives. (Related to Dave Winer's explanation for warbloggers).

Weblogs are a sort of mythical beast in the distributed world. They have not been catalogued as distributed creatures, but they are. Their existence lives in whispers followed by "I'm not sure what they are." Some people deny they exist, pretending they are simply a re-hash of an already existing form of communication: a diary, a newsgroup, whatever. Many people that comment on them have never seen one.

Nessie on bits.

Weblogs are loosely coupled in the sense that weblogs use hyperlinks to give the reader a 'hint' into the link that originated the entry or the original posting on which the entry is commenting. But they don't force the reader to go there. Furthermore, if the reader actually goes there, he/she/it will be taken to a different context. If the previous entry was a flame, the context will be lost partially: the ideas behind the comment will remain, but not the flame.

The signal, not the noise.

Very much like what we do in our heads (unless "we" are psychotic :-)).

And while they are loosely coupled as a distributed conversation, they maintain a strong sense of internal logic and linearity, given by the author.

This is a definite improvement from discussion groups and such (think Usenet) where an interesting discussion could be blocked out by angry postings discussing the evils of Microsoft and whatnot.

Sometimes the Internet and the technologies spawned by it feel like nothing but a big, long experiment to find new ways to communicate after the previous media had shown their limits.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 11:52 PM

writing on weblogs

Dave Winer explains why sometimes he is pollitically in-correct. The web has given us some wonderful things... including real-time editing.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 11:35 PM

friends and allies

from a speech by Bush today:

"Before any action is taken, Mr. Bush said, "I will promise you that I will be patient and deliberate, that we will continue to consult with Congress and, of course, we'll consult with our friends and allies."

In this particular case, who exactly is a friend and not and ally? Maybe he's saying "friends and allies". So every friend is also and ally and every ally is a friend. So is Saudi Arabia a friend? Pakistan? Anybody that pledges "friendship"?

Wouldn't it be nice if speechwriters would stop beating language to death in the hopes of sounding grandiose and intimidating?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 11:29 PM

spreading the word

Jon Udell's weblog is now at InfoWorld, the latest publication to start dipping its toes in the WWW (Wonderful World of Weblogging). Dave Winer comments on the move here.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 3:36 PM

the US and iraq

Scott Rosenberg referenced a discussion that has been recently going on regarding the reasons for the interest of the US in creating "regime change" in Iraq. They are discussing mainly whether the reason for an invasion is simply to humiliate Islamism.

I think it has nothing to do with Islamism, or humilliation, or anything like that. There are four main reasons why the US cares about Iraq:

  • Oil.
  • Oil.
  • Oil.
  • Security (which concerns middle east stability which in turn, coincidentally, then affects Oil) rather

Yes, this statement is rather simplistic, but the question is what is the main reason. You don't go to war over an idea. You go to war over territory, or money, or goods, or oppression, or all of the above. Iraq controls one of the biggest Oil reservoirs in the world after Saudi Arabia. Now, if the US had a friendly (i.e., puppet) government in Iraq, they could ignore Saudi Arabia and maybe even stop treating them with kid's gloves, something they are forced to do now.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 3:30 PM

health forecasting

This article discusses an upcoming implementation of a "health forecast" system. The idea would be to forecast the incidence of certain ilness after for example temperature drops or raises dramatically. Since I am always affected when that happens (specially when the temperature drops quickly at night and I have the windows open) I know that this is a real problem.

What we really need however, is some device to tell us what to do to avoid getting a cold for example based on the evolution of the climate and our own propensities. I'll have to keep waiting for that one, though.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 1:43 PM

from the oh-my-god dept

Since April, Microsoft has had a lawyer from the Justice Dept. (and from a Republican administration, no less) as its "Chief Security Officer." In this interview this lawyer babbles about "initiatives" and "concepts."

Is this the next evolution in software? Lawyers at the top of software corporations, involved in the design and development process? What's next? Ex-politicians coding Visual Basic?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 7, 2002 at 7:18 AM

ray ozzie on collaboration

Ray Ozzie has posted a story on why he is interested in collaboration, and why blogs are the next step to explore for him (related to this entry I posted a couple of days ago). Very interesting read. He is still considering the value public and private spaces bring, and how to handle them. For some reason, I never saw much of a conflict there (related to blogs at least). As far as I'm concerned, a blog is pretty much like a space where your comments could be overheard and then repeated (except blogs have the advantage that when they are "repeated", or linked, there is, hopefully, no distortion of the message.)

In any case, a few other things to think about.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 6, 2002 at 7:43 PM

Oracle's sales culture

Business 2.0 has a really interesting story on the sales culture at Oracle Corp. It seems that they are bringing all the niceties of car salesmen to the process of selling software. One example: a saleswoman threatening a client to sue if they lost a bid. What will they think of next? Moonroof and alloy wheels as an option?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 6, 2002 at 12:22 PM

an opportunity lost

Time magazine today published an article with extensive research on the plans the Clinton administration had prepared to stop al-Qaeda. Joe Conason and Scott Rosenberg commented on it (links here and here). Very interesting.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 5, 2002 at 9:40 PM

the history of weblogs

Just re-visited Dave Winer's History of Weblogs document. Very cool. This entry of Klastrup's Cataclysms also contains a few interesting pointers on the matter.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 5, 2002 at 7:22 PM

rebuilding history

An article in today's Wall Street Journal talks about the increasingly bitter fight in Greece over the reconstruction of the Partenon. Apparently some elements are being replaced with new materials outright, and even some new statues are being put in place. Other strange "compromises" are being made:

Mary Ioannidou, director of the Parthenon Restoration Project, wanted to re-erect each of the six columns that once graced the east porch, while minimalists argued for only one. The council decided three would be recreated and three left as stumps. The three new columns were recently raised, and now workers are experimenting with tea, mud and a ferrous-oxide solution to age the new marble.

This is ridiculous. It's one thing to restore a painting by cleaning it (as it was done with the Sistine Chapel), it's another to simply rebuild something and pretend you are recovering the past. When you rebuild it, you lose what made it impressive. Even its destruction was a part of its history.

Erasing history like this, basically in the name of tourism, is idiotic. However we can all look forward to the time when the whole world looks like some kind of twisted theme park.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 5, 2002 at 4:12 PM

bruce sterling on open source

Yesterday Dave Winer commented on an excellent speech Bruce Sterling gave a week or so ago: A contrarian view of open source. I mostly agree with Dave's comments. Small developers can't afford to give everything away. We are, after all, living in a Capitalist system (for the moment at least). A good balance is slowly emerging.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 5, 2002 at 3:38 PM

and on it goes

More middle east violence, as two terrorist attacks today killed a dozen people or more and injured more than 50. This is clearly a"response" to the Israeli airstrike that killed a dozen innocent Palestinians about a week ago. Now we can certainly expect another "response" from Israel...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 4, 2002 at 4:06 PM

politics and p2p

This News.com summary for the past week includes a few interesting links related to the recent legislative push in the US Congress to make hacking legal when done for the purpose of copyright protection. In response, somebody unleashed a DoS attack on the RIAA's website. Will this kind of cyber-guerilla warfare become the norm in the future, replacing the oh-so quaint idea of having a civilized discussion? It seems that the more technology and wealth we have, the stupider we get.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 4, 2002 at 12:30 PM

human rights and the US

A few days ago an egyptian "court" sentenced a man to seven years of hard labor. His crime? Teaching university students what a ballot was, and other crazy ideas. Like in Saudi Arabia, the US seems to condone anything and everything as long as it doesn't collide with its strategic interests (usually, oil).

On this subject, T. Friedman writes in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times (quoting a human rights activist from Sri Lanka):

"America as an idea [...] is critical to the world — but [...] Americans seem to have forgotten that since 9/11. [Americans] stopped talking about who [they] are, and are only talking now about who [they] are going to invade, oust or sanction."

Well, not all Americans. But its government (and maybe a growing percentage of the population) is certainly following that path.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 4, 2002 at 12:16 PM

more on .notyet

CNET's Charles Cooper sounds off on the state of .Net (here's my previous comment on it) -- and Microsoft's and Gates's Clintonesque responses to simple questions like: what is .Net?

An answer Gates recently gave to that question:

"It's one of those great questions that people can say, 'Yes, it's come into focus at the infrastructure level,' but a little bit where we go beyond that has been unclear to people."

Say what?

Why can't they just say that they have no idea? I'd say that nobody in the computer industry is certain of what the next hot thing will be or where everything is going. So why not just admit that they are "betting the farm" on everything between web services, distributed applications, and games while at the same time updating their "monopoly apps" (Windows, office)?

"We really know what we're doing" ... yeah right ... well... Not that they are alone in the charade...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 4, 2002 at 12:45 AM

fast-food lawsuits

Related to my previous entry The Economist this week has an article commenting on fast food lawsuits. About two months ago salon ran a story on the same topic.

In essence some idiot is suing the fast food industry accusing them of selling him (and getting him "addicted" to) food that made him fat. Sure. Did they force-feed it into him too?

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 3, 2002 at 8:16 PM

public and private spaces

A couple of days ago Ray Ozzie was considering why he should use a weblog. In particular, he was wondering why it would be useful to have to "split his mind" between public and private expression (in particular, I suppose, regarding Groove Networks). Jon Udell from Byte replied in his own weblog with an excellent summary of the uses of a public space. After that response and several others, Ray decided that it was indeed worthwhile.

This is clearly a question that the weblogging community will have to address, and clearly, sooner or later: people are a bit afraid of "exposing" themselves through a weblog. Ray's question what, I think, a bit more abstract. But the larger issue remains in the background.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 3, 2002 at 7:58 PM

usability

For some reason today I am more angry than usual at how bad current systems are in terms of usability. Simple tasks such as knowing how much free space is there aren't simple anymore: there is regular free space (which could the fragmented and thus maybe affect performance), if you are close to the limit and have many files to copy you have consider cluster size on the disk, and then in the case of Windoes some free space is reserved by the OS for System Restore and such things. All part of a race to provide more features so that more money could be charged for the products so that the investors would be happy, etc etc.

I think that the dot-com craze might have contributed (in bad ways such as what I mentioned before, and with more crazy examples like this) by putting money above anything else. It also seems that in terms of technology (and save for a few examples such as the Palmpilot) we have yet to seriously consider how to provide software and hardware for the masses. Systems that will do what they have to do and won't need replacing for years. That will be easy to use. That will not blame the user. Is this too much to hope for?

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 3, 2002 at 1:20 PM

magnolia

Just watched Magnolia for the ... third time I think. Such an incredible story. So well done.

Why is reality stranger than fiction?

Hard to say more. The images and emotions are too immediate. Maybe more tomorrow.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 3, 2002 at 12:34 AM

apple and intel?

Or Sun and Dell, for that matter... this article quotes some analyst predicting apple switching to intel chips for example. Now that would be interesting.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 2, 2002 at 11:28 PM

you can't run

(via Scripting News): Burning Bird is back. (and I only found out two days ago that she'd "left"!)

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 2, 2002 at 8:23 PM

bailout for brazil and uruguay

The 'gaffe-a-minute' US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill announced yesterday that the US would not oppose efforts from Brazil and Uruguay to obtain more money from the IMF to stabilize their situation. Argentina was purposefully ignored, after the country has been chasing the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick for the better part of the year. At least the European Union should take action...

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 2, 2002 at 11:59 AM

software and Sun Micro

An interview with the new VP of Software at Sun. He says something really strange:

"We have an extraordinary breadth of [software] assets, unparalleled in the industry, even by Microsoft."

No Kidding.

I mean, Sun obviously has a lot of software assets. A lot of their software is of great quality. They might have a lineup to challenge Microsoft or IBM. But to say that they are above them seems to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 2, 2002 at 12:53 AM

uruguay's crisis worsens

This hasn't really made news in the "international" sites, like CNN, but it's on latin american news sites like Clarin. Uruguay, which had to declare a bank holiday to avoid a run on banks, has suffered its first attacks on supermarkets by poor people trying to get food. The tension is building up to be something similar to what happened in Argentina last year. And Brazil might not be far behind.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 2, 2002 at 12:32 AM

feuilletons and Plan B

In the recent slashdot discussion about Plan B a few people have compared it to serialized novels, also refered to as feuilletons. Some famous serialized novels include works by Dickens (Great Expectations), Tolstoy (Ana Karenin) and Joyce (A Portrait of the artist as a young man).

In the discussions on Plan B, some people have said that it's impossible to create good serialized work, or that before serializing it they must have had it written in advance. I know that this is not the case at least in the A Portrait..., a novel that contains incredible style and technique aside from being an excellent read.

At the slashdot comment related to this discussion I posted the following:

"The connection with serialized works is strong yes, but I sense the blog structure might have other things to add to it. In any case, the idea is not to replace a novel. You can't replace a print novel with anything, not an ebook, not hypertext novels, not websites. Each has its category. In blogs (as in webpages) the content mixes in part with the user interface, and this is probably where the most interesting things are to be found: how navigation changes content, and viceversa."
.

It seems to me that in the 100-year period starting around 1820 (when the first serialized works appeared) it was much easier to reach a large audience through newspapers rather than through books. After all, how many people could afford a library, much less books? Newspapers, on the other hand, are cheap, and common. Also, newspapers of large distribution were a relatively new medium then, which also increased the interest of people.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on August 1, 2002 at 9:09 PM

antigravity

A recent article written by Nick Cook for the Financial Times talks about Boeing's efforts in the field of antigravity. Cook is an editor for Jane's, a highly respected military journal. He recently published the book The hunt for zero point which is excellent.

Something could be about to happen...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 1, 2002 at 4:03 PM

plan b slashdotted

Plan B -- a blognovel was slashdotted today... its readership went through the roof, logging more ran 9,000 hits in about six hours (and counting). I had read about the slashdot effect before but never experienced it. Quite incredible. And the comments were pretty good (some flame aside). Many new good ideas and references.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on August 1, 2002 at 1:50 AM

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