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

google's power

A special report (what makes it a "special report, I wonder?) from News.com: The Google gods

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 31, 2002 at 6:28 PM

open source licenses

Reading on open source licenses I found these two links to be interesting: this chapter from The Art of UNIX Programming by Eric Raymond, and this page from opensource.org.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 31, 2002 at 6:23 PM

a new look at warmbrain

A new design at Warmbrain. Looks excellent! -- and it's Mozilla compatible, too!

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 30, 2002 at 1:44 PM

another screenshot -- more complex html

Keith was wondering how spaces handled HTML email and I posted the screenshot for an RSS Entry feed from Scripting News. He then commented (here as well as an update of his original entry):

Hey cool! I'm not trying to be disparaging, but how's it handle e-mails from places like Amazon.com?
No disparage at all :-). The question is valid because Amazon (and other places--and many email clients) don't send simply HTML email with a "text/html" MIME type, they send "multiplart/alternative" or "multipart/mixed" messages that are more complex to parse and require a bit of special handling. Spaces can handle them too though. Here is a screenshot of an autoresponse from Amazon:

spaces-amazon-msg-small.jpg
(click on the image to see a larger version, 1000x700, ~150KB).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 11:37 PM

prisoners ... of war?

From the New York Times: Afghans Freed From Guantánamo Bay Speak of Heat and Isolation

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 10:23 PM

and here we go again

From Salon: Salon.com Technology | Microsoft's media monopoly

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 10:21 PM

the limits of transparency

A weblog entry from Jon Udell from a while back on how distributed communication tools like weblogs expose internal information. Very interesting. (Here's a comment from Dan on Jon's entry as well).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 3:26 PM

new feature

Just got an email regarding a spaces feature question: are 1:N relations between contact entries possible (similar to what can be seen in this screenshot of a web-based groupware product from SUSE). That feature is not included right now, but it sounds like an excellent idea. It might even make the release next week. :-)

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 3:24 PM

spaces and html email

Keith comments on Spaces and wonders:

Anything that would help me move from a Microsoft e-mail program I'd like. Although, come to think of it, being written in Java I don't know what it'll use to support HTML in e-mail.

Spaces supports HTML email through standard java components and my own extensions. And since an image is better than a thousand words, here's a screenshot with Spaces reading an entry from today's Scripting News with HTML and an image (and of course, even though this is from an RSS feed, the same applies for email):

spaces-html-msg-small.jpg

(click on the image to see a larger version, 1000x700, 150KB).

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on October 29, 2002 at 2:02 AM

on open source

Don has posted some thoughts on open source:

My issue is with the word 'proper'. Open source extremists belive all software should be open source. Extremists on the other end believe that source code, like dirty underwear, should be kept proprietary.
I agree. I would also take a moment on the definition of "open source." It seems to me that often these days "open source" is being equated to "free," which is not the case, although they often go together. So before I continue with my ideas on open source in future posts, I would like to clarify what are (in my opinion) the two main points of discussion:
  • The dilemma of open-source software: namely, that anyone can take the sources and sell the product on their own, or incorporate it into their own product without properly rewarding the person/group/organization that created it in the first place. Additionally, innovations can be deprived of their inherent value by widespread copying.
  • The dilemma with free software: if all software is free, how do programmers/developers/designers make a living? How does the industry foster innovation?

  • Note that these are what I think are the problems under discussion. It doesn't necessarily mean that they are something inherently "bad" about open source, i just means that we haven't yet figured out if they are bad or good, and in truth not that many people have been discussing this publicly (although I expect most people would have an opinion formed one way or another).

    The benefits of open source (and of free software) are manifold: good for education, for non-profits, for people/groups that simply can't afford them (think Africa, Latin America, etc) and that would be greatly benefited by using it, good for security products, etc, etc.

    I will continue posting other ideas in the next few days... and refining these.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 28, 2002 at 9:32 PM

    one more on spaces

    Russ says: Spaces: Chandler Done Right:I checked out the home page and it looks great. From what Diego says, it's working and handing his 7000 emails already... 100% Pure Java, it's got a UI that looks like a native app. Add me to that list of people super-curious to check out the code! Too bad it's not going to be free as in beer... oh well.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 28, 2002 at 9:18 PM

    on spaces

    Adam Gaffin, from Network World Fusion has commented on the upcoming release of spaces. He says: "Another anti-Outlook coming". :-)

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 28, 2002 at 5:50 PM

    the brain attic

    Interesting article on PIMs at O'Reilly Network: The Brain Attic [October 27, 2002].

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 8:14 PM

    comment on spaces

    Gary, has commented on the upcoming release of spaces. Interestingly, he rented the room I lived in when I just got to Dublin more than a year ago. It's a small world!

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 2:40 PM

    back to writing

    Plan B is back after a mini-hiatus of about a week. Hopefully now working on spaces and the Thesis won't interfere again... it's always a question of adapting to how the change of work-requirements on one daily task affects the others, and sorting it out. Problem is, it takes a while...

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 2:30 PM

    remote access on local apps

    While working on a spaces feature (spaces web access, which allows you to access your data/application remotely through a web browser) I have been thinking about how our understanding of what an "application" is has been shifting. These days, many people regularly use applications that are distributed web services in nature (even though it might not be obvious to the non-technical users) like Radio or MovableType.

    However, many of these applications are still depending on a server somewhere. What kinds of things will be possible when we open the same doors (e.g., XML-RPC interfaces) on all local applications, even, eventually, the OS (I'm not holding my breath for that one, though)? Assuming proper security (ie., authentication + encryption) something like the publish/subscribe Internet would be just the beginning.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 12:59 PM

    the new season of '24'

    A New York Times article on '24': the challenges and implications of using the real-time storytelling format.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 10:35 AM

    more on plan b

    Two comments: by the nextelblogger, birth of the blognovel and at sigsegv.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 27, 2002 at 2:39 AM

    palladium

    An article on Palladium from the MIT technology review:

    The software, which is slated for future versions of the Windows operating system, looks on paper to be an all-good system for increasing privacy and security. The consequences of its deployment in the real world, however, will likely be decreased user control over the contents of their computers and a serious increase in Microsoft’s stranglehold on desktops.

    Palladium is a big deal. It will require a major re-jiggering of how computers are built and run, with changes to hardware, software and even the data itself. First, it establishes a secure computing space, which means that as a computer starts up, the software will verify that the hardware components such as hard drives can't be read by unauthenticated programs under any known circumstances. Palladium will also check the computer’s central processing unit’s serial number before kicking into operation; both Intel and AMD have already said they're willing to include such identification. Before any program is run, Palladium will make sure it's authenticated via a digital certificate. Stored data will be encrypted and will only be decrypted by authenticated programs. Apparently, however, it will not require a new mousepad.

    Chris sent me a pointer to this Wired article:
    Eager to allay fears about the scope of Palladium, Biddle [Microsoft's Product Manager for Palladium] insisted that the impetus behind Palladium was solely to secure digital entertainment content and that he knew of no way that it could be used for the enforcement of software licensing. This assurance was made while he spoke on a panel at the USENIX Symposium.

    Skeptical that this was actually the case, fellow panelist Lucky Green quickly filed two patents soon after the conference. The patents described methods for using the Palladium infrastructure to assist in the enforcement of software licensing. Green has a third patent application on the way.

    The twist is that Green has no intention of implementing these techniques himself -- and in an interview with Wired News, declared his intention to "aggressively enforce his patents," if granted, to prevent anyone else from doing so.
    This is an interesting "spin" but I think that Microsoft being stopped by a patent of something they themselves are developing is an impossibility. They have some $45 billion to spend in legal fees (since they don't seem to be doing anything else with it at the moment).

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 26, 2002 at 11:02 AM

    Charles Cooper on OSAF

    Perspectives: Mitch Kapor's impossible dream - Tech News - CNET.com. He says, among other things:

    there can't ever be enough software diversity. Truth be told, however, I think Kapor is too late to make much of a difference.
    I disagree. It's never too late. There is a lot of innovation happening under the radar. We just need to create good software.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 7:27 PM

    don park replies to larry lessig

    Don has posted this detailed response to Larry Lessig's comments on the OSAF situation.

    Documents about Chandler talks about various "killer features". Killer features are intended to kill something. If Chandler kills Outlook, we'll have Chandler where we used to have Outlook. Nothing really changed except now no one is making a dime instead of the Bully making all the money. The consumers will love it of course and learn to take free software as the norm. How dare you charge money for what should be free? The service sector will eventually get nothing in return because consumer software will be so easy to use and customize that they won't need any help. The book industry will live a little longer. No wonder Tim O'Reilly is so strongly pushing open source and free software. How about free books too Tim?

    Frankly, I don't know where the software industry is going. I know Microsoft is causing serious harm, but I also understand their position which is "you can't punish us for being successful." Understanding or not, I am willing to sacrifice my sense of fairness in return for the well-being of the software industry. I think the appropriate solution is to break them up and implement preventive steps such as a) requiring software companies to place file format in the public domain, b) outlaw harmful bundling, and c) strengthening industry associations to maintain the well-being of the software industry.


    This is similar to what I was saying in this entry yesterday although I am not completely sure that the final conclusion, where people "get used to free" so they never want to pay again, is something that would necessarily happen. One example comes to mind: Opera. Browsers have been free for a while now, with good OS integration, and relatively good products. Yet Opera survives and improves, sometimes creating UI or app innovations. Whether they can keep it up in the long run remains to be seen, but they seem to be ok so far.

    I guess that a part of me really wants to believe that it's the best products that win, eventually, or at least manage to survive and prosper even if in niches.

    Additionally, the service/product dichotomy is big and creating a growing rift, companies like IBM and Sun depend on services while Microsoft depends only on products. For services-companies, the best thing is open-source. For product-oriented companies, the best thing is closed source. Small developers, who could benefit from a healthy mix of both, simply get crushed in between.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 12:59 PM

    plan b

    Plan B has crossed the 30,000 hits "line". Cool.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 8:30 AM

    more comments on spaces

    Phil of Python Community Server and Second P0st (who built the excellent Blogging Ecosystem) has posted a comment on spaces.

    Sanjay has commented as well.

    Thanks for the comments!

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 8:29 AM

    surviving the downturn

    [from BusinessWeek online]: Can Sun get Hot Again?

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 1:21 AM

    david and goliath

    Don has posted a comment on spaces and my previous post about OSAF. Don says:

    Diego Doval voices his own perspective as a potential Chandler competitor. He is building a product called spaces that looks interesting. It overlaps somewhat with my own effort called Docuverse Daily.

    I have received many private feedback similar to his from small developers. Unlike Diego, they have chosen not to respond publically for obvious reasons.

    This is probably the most problematic effect of OSAF, as I mentioned before: Small developers that would have been inclined to try something new might now feel discouraged given that OSAF has such resources. In fact, in a recent posting on his weblog Mitch Kapor explained:
    One thing CNET did get right -- we're not aiming Chandler at the large enterprise market. As shipped, I'm certain it will flunk the checklist because we are not doing the work to make it scale to an organization of 1,000 or 10,000 people. Selling to large enterprises is where Microsoft rakes in the big money for Exchange server(s) and license fees. In that sense, as CNET reported accurately, we're not a threat to Microsoft's business.
    . If not a threat to Microsoft, if their target is specifically small organizations or individuals that might be inclined to try different, better, cheaper things, then they are clearly a threat to small developers who for obvious reasons target the same market. It might be that the possibility of tilting the field in the long run against Microsoft's dominance is enough to risk that chance, but I am not sure (and when I say I am not sure, I mean that I actually haven't made up my mind about it). To put it in context, could Lotus have gotten off the ground if Dan Bricklin would have made a 1-2-3 alternative open-sourced? (and yes, I know the situation is different, but let's put our "imagination hats" on for a second :-)). Maybe it would have risen anyway.

    I guess that the bottom line is that small developers have always seen open source as their friend, and now it appears that we might actually end up fighting each other. Personally, I think that a solution will be found, since I doubt that Mitch's goal with OSAF is to crush small developers, and certainly exposing people to alternatives makes them more open to try even other new things. In any case, time is on our side. Don's comments have sparked a good discussion that should continue and we should try to find alternatives, and the one thing that I know for certain is that the people that say that the discussion is over are just plain wrong.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 25, 2002 at 12:39 AM

    OSAF design notes

    Mitch Kapor has posted some design notes on OSAF. Cool.

    My design for spaces takes a similar tack, although I've chosen to start with an interface that feels more familiar, while gently easing the user into seeing the information more as connected data rather than disparate pieces. The data structures feel more familiar too even though in the background spaces is making all those connections between data items. Additionally, it seems that OSAF won't have the equivalent of the concept of a "space," which is an abstraction that defines an additional level of correlation between information, something that users clearly see but that might not be obvious for the program, simply by looking at the interconnections between the data. Again, the idea of a space is an evolution of the concept of a folder, but the space will become less and less relevant as more connections are formed ... so eventually it won't be necessary at all (something that can be seen in spaces when using the "Search Space", which provides free-form (for now) and eventually data-graph searching on the data.

    It's great that these issues have finally surfaced in the popular consciousness. ;-)

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 10:31 PM

    no comment linked

    The following article on weblogs for Telepolis links to //no comment under the International Weblogs section (on the right). Gracias!.

    Related to that, weblogs haven't made a huge dent in Latin America, although they are making waves in Spain. In the case of Latin America, people have more immediate worries: poverty, unemployment, and such. It's a difficult and unstable time for the subcontinent, and cool technologies are not, shall we say, top priority (even though the improved communication they bring might help solve some of the problems).

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 8:16 PM

    The publish/subscribe Internet

    A Jon Udell article:

    Remember when GUI programming came along, with its notion of an event loop that didn't really control anything but reacted to everything? Programming in a world of distributed Web services is going to be a lot like that.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 7:33 PM

    decentralize!

    From News.com:

    What's the connection between Wi-Fi wireless networks, Weblogs and Web services? They are among the few technologies thriving amid the industrywide downturn. What's more, they are examples of the trend toward decentralization.

    So true. One of my goals with spaces is to decentralize groupware in a sense, move it from the server into people's desks, make it resilient and transparent. Of course, along the way the basic infrastructure had to be done first, which I think is that is keeping self-organizing concepts from getting into everything faster: things have to be designed from the ground up to support it, or they don't fit.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 6:20 PM

    unsafe at any speed

    A Salon interview with the author of a book on SUVs and the problems they have, and their rise in popularity in the US. Highlight:

    There's another advantage for the full-size SUVs. If you get a vehicle that weighs more than 6,000 pounds when fully loaded, then it is subject to more lenient environmental rules and it can be written off against your taxes. It's a big loophole in the American tax code. If you're a realtor and you buy a luxury car, you can only write off the first $17,500 of its value against your taxes and only over five years. That's a pretty limited deduction if you're buying a $50,000 car. If you buy a $50,000 or $75,000 luxury SUV that's over 6,000 gross vehicle weight, you write off the whole thing. It's a rule written for farmers to write off farm equipment, but any light truck qualifies and all these SUVs do. It's an example of how the federal government, with lots of lobbying from the auto industry, has tilted the playing field against cars and in favor of less safe, less efficient, more polluting vehicles like the SUV.
    Jeez...

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 5:56 PM

    Dave on open source and OSAF

    Dave's comments con the OSAF and competition discussion, which I think is important for various reasons, and it affects me personally in more ways than one.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 2:12 PM

    first blog entry on spaces :-)

    Dylan has commented on the announcement of spaces. Thanks Dylan!

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 8:36 AM

    spaces is here... almost

    I am close to releasing the first alpha version of spaces, and as a result the dynamicobjects homepage suddenly underwent a radical transformation at 12:00 am Zulu Time... :-)

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 24, 2002 at 12:07 AM

    Dan Gillmor on OSAF

    An article by Dan Gillmor on OSAF: "this might be crazy enough to work."

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 23, 2002 at 11:47 PM

    Cobain's journals

    A review of the recently published excerpts of Kurt Cobain's Journals, which will be put in print later this year.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 23, 2002 at 11:15 PM

    attack on the net's core fails

    A news analysis from News.com on the failed attack against the DNS roots of the Internet yesterday:

    A widespread but unsophisticated attack on the computers that act as the address books for the Internet failed to cause any major problems, but experts warn that more security is necessary.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 23, 2002 at 11:03 PM

    Scott Rosenberg on OSAF

    Scott Rosenberg comments on OSAF and the argument over whether it will be good or bad for the industry. He says:

    To me the key thing here is that this market segment is dead already. Outlook killed it. No one will fund commercial PIM software, and brilliant, wonderful pieces of software have withered on the vine. So how else can we get good software into users' hands?
    The answer?

    Watch this space over the next few days.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 23, 2002 at 3:05 AM

    the haves and the have nots

    From The Economist:Technology companies are dividing into two camps: those that are recovering and those that are still losing ground. While a revival in the fortunes of some is welcome, it is not yet a sign that the industry has cured its ills.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 9:02 PM

    why, why oh why?

    Publisher to commission 'Godfather' sequel.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 9:00 PM

    cold cold cold

    The winter hasn't even really started but the cold these past few days has been a bit extreme. The rain doesn't help much. In any case, I've been working a lot, so the climate helps. With storms racing over the island every now and then it makes for great skylines though. Every cloud does have a silver lining.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 8:59 PM

    Office 11

    [From News.com]: Microsoft set to release first preview of Office 11.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 6:02 PM

    A.I.

    Yesterday I watched Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence again, and I looked at it a bit closer. I noticed several interesting things, but the most striking of all was to see how good Haley Joel Osment's acting is. It's spooky. For example, throughout the entire film, he doesn't blink once. This attention to detail is of course the responsibility of the director and producers as well as of the actor. I'm pretty sure I found a slip-up however: at the end, the narrator says: "And so as the light outside dimmed David drew down the shades without even being asked." Yet one of the final images is the house, seen from outside, and the shades are not down at all.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 3:42 PM

    the open source applications foundation

    Some parts of blog-land seem to have stirred in the past few days with the appearance of Mitch Kapor (Lotus founder) and his announcement of a "progress blog" on how his Open Source Applications Foundation evolves. The goal of the OSAF is, according to their webpage:

    Our mission is to create and gain wide adoption for software applications of uncompromising quality using Open Source methods. Our first product, now under development, will be used to manage email, appointments, contacts, and tasks and easily allow information to be shared with friends, family, and colleagues. It will be free and will run on the Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms. It will not require a server or complex administration.
    This of course has created excitement, but also a bit of controversy, well put by Don Park on his weblog (here, here and here):
    What I am afraid of is the erosion in the sense of value for software. If OSAF succeeds, consumers will have access to a wide array of high quality software for free. Most likely, every PC will start to ship with them preloaded. Every time a new OSAF product ships, a market segment will dies. OSAF paints a picture of the future where consumers are expected to pay for contents and services, but software is free.

    [...]

    If the only path with reasonable chance of success leads to destruction of value, a cornerstone of market economy, should you take it? My answer is no.

    It's a valid point. Everything has its place, including fee-based software, free software, and open source mixed or not with the two. Instead of destruction of value, probably a better path would be to create a good product, at much lower price, maybe make it open-source and give Microsoft competition--something similar to StarOffice/OpenOffice. But destruction of value, as Don puts it, seems to amount to "dumping", which will first and foremost affect the small developers, and only later the monopoly itself.

    Other comments on it include Jon's, Dave's (here and here) and Chuck's.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 22, 2002 at 3:13 PM

    challenging the growth gurus

    An article about Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-prize winning "arch-enemy" of the IMF.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 21, 2002 at 5:54 PM

    telecom competition

    Chris sent me me the following comment on my previous post regarding telecoms and competition:

    Competition from wireless in Ireland... yeah sure!

    I do agree that the only route towards lower prices in telecommunication services is through increased competition, but you can't have competition in a country of 3m people! This is not a market worth spending any money on the infrastructure required for all these improved services and at the same time offering them to customers in US prices, let alone having more than two companies fighting for this meagre market. This leads to a typical oligopolistic situation, where a steady state is reached and the "competing" companies get to have the same tariffs and more or less the same number of customers...

    As a matter of fact, there are quite a few countries in the EU (Ireland, Portugal, Denmark and Greece, the country that I come from, included) that do not have the critical mass of prospective customers to justify the investment of so much capital for services with a low turnover. At the same time countries like Greece and Ireland, separated from mainland EU (Ireland is an island, Greece doesn't border any other EU country) are not easily included in the business plans of big european companies.

    Might that indicate a need for multi-national european corporations, companies that would operate throughout the common european market as a single entity? What's the purpose of the european monetary union if economic development is not facilitated through the adoption of such a scheme? Does anyone think that AT&T Wireless would have offered such connection plans had it been a company operating only in Oregon?

    Yet, we have the ludicrous situation of Vodafone, having subsidiaries all over Europe with no association to each other! It's more like a franchising business, similar to a fast-food restaurant chain, with each local Vodafone being a different economic and legal entity, only sharing a common logo and sometimes a common, and usually ill adapted to each region's peculiarities, ad campaign. Actually, roaming is probably the only service offered by this network of companies to those customers of their affiliated companies who are travelling accross Europe!

    I think I'm raising a multitude of questions. But I think that Europe won't achieve parity with the US in telecommunications services (not to mention almost any other sector of economic activity) unless this "Common European Market" becomes something more than a simple phrase...
    I agree. The EEC part of the EU hasn't yet lived up to its name, mostly because of state protection on industries and competition. Until the EU streamlines the economic relationship between countries so that it matches (or at least) approaches) the relationship between states in the US, the 'common market' will actually be just a bunch of related markets. I don't know if a stronger 'Federation' is implied in this, but certainly lower trade barriers and less local protectionism, that only ends up creating more problems than it solves.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 21, 2002 at 1:47 PM

    seti@home in trouble?

    I had read before that SETI@Home was in trouble, but apparently this is not the case. However when senior people in the organization start contradicting each other so blatantly, it can't be good. Too bad if they go under. Someone should be doing it...

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 20, 2002 at 7:49 PM

    ireland says yes to EU expansion

    The results are in: 'Yes' won in yesterday's referendum here in Ireland.

    Not that this will solve the governance issues of the EU, which are many likely to get more complicated with more countires in the mix. Well, at least the Yes/No campaigns here will stop with their vitriol.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 20, 2002 at 7:11 PM

    a lover of literary puzzles

    An article on Umberto Eco on today's New York Times.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 19, 2002 at 8:37 PM

    sprint offers unlimited wireless web

    Sprint is is offering to some subscribers unlimited wireless Web surfing for an additional $10 a month.

    Here in Ireland broadband has no penetration because there's no competition. An ADSL line costs $110 Euro a month (with a 3GB transfer limit!!!)--utterly ridiculous. And the government doesn't seem to be doing anything at all to make it happen. Maybe competition will come from wireless eventually.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 19, 2002 at 8:33 PM

    on extreme programming

    An excellent summary of the advantages and pitfalls of eXtreme Programming (XP), as told by someone actually using it in their project.

    Having used XP myself, I can only say that I totally agree. XP is good, but mostly for small teams, and in any case it requires a lot more than just using the method: it requires change in the way of thinking of the people in the organization, its structure, and crucially in management. In fact --although it might be just the cynic in me saying this-- I think that if it's not part of a change initiated by management itself at the highest level, it has no chance of success, despite the best efforts of the developers and low-level managers (it might work for a while, but it will eventually disintegrate), and even if you do have complete support from upper management, there are still huge hurdles to overcome.

    Writing good software is a difficult task. Those who believe that "it's just code" need to take a look at the crappy programs running in their machines.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 10:00 PM

    more comments on Microsoft's power

    Scott Rosenberg adds his comments on yesterday's discussion on Microsoft's power.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 8:42 PM

    DVD "analog protection"

    Got the new Electrical Storm singles ahead of schedule. There's one that's a DVD... and media player refuses to play the entire audio track set... complaining about some "analog copy protection" problem. Sigh.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 6:56 PM

    software licensing

    A News.com article about a new software licensing law on software licensing.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 6:53 PM

    electrical storm single

    Just got the new U2 singles Electrical Storm. One of them is a DVD, with the video of the song, the others are standard CDs. Funny thing, they are supposed to be released on the 21st but HMV had them today!! One of the advantages of living in Dublin I guess. :-)

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 6:47 PM

    more on patents

    A patent that could be dangerous for e-commerce. One hopes the courts would see how ridiculous it is that someone, in 1994 "invented" the idea of "a buyer computer, a merchant computer and one payment computer".

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 18, 2002 at 1:32 PM

    the rules of attraction

    Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction has been made into a movie by the writer of Pulp Fiction and Killing Zoe.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 17, 2002 at 10:54 PM

    Gillmor on Microsoft

    [via Dave] Dan Gillmor comments on Microsoft's effect on innovation through its monopoly, and through the astonishing profits it continues to make (4.4 billion dollars of profit on sales of 7.7 billion in this quarter) which give them money to outspend and destroy anyone who tries to do something interesting--that might therefore be a threat.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 17, 2002 at 10:43 PM

    on aol

    Two articles on AOL and what it's facing, from Salon and Wired.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 17, 2002 at 10:37 PM

    on user's preferences

    Scott Rosenberg comments on the Wired redesign:

    Douglas Bowman of Hotwired and Terra Lycos [mentioned that] What's interesting about the negative feedback is that, aside from the aesthetic -- which is always subjective -- none of the feedback is consistent. One user wants one thing, another user wants it the exact opposite.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 17, 2002 at 2:30 PM

    generation wrecked

    From fortune magazine: Generation Wrecked, how "Generation X" first got it all, then lost it.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 17, 2002 at 8:39 AM

    the "xcopy deployment"

    [via Jon]

    Ken Bereskin talks about my favorite feature in Jaguar. The Archive Install always tickles me, since it saves a lot of time. Could Microsoft ever come close to something like this? Probably not, because user stuff is still half in the registry, half on the hard drive. Plus, Microsoft is still working on what they call "xcopy deployment," something that we call "dragging shit from a disk image to your Applications folder and having it just work." [Brian Jepson's Radio Weblog]

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 8:05 PM

    blogs in class

    Just saw that Plan B is being referenced as a "resource" for an assignment in the "Core Seminar in Knowledge Media Design" at the University of Toronto's Knowledge Media Design Institute. Cool.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 8:02 PM

    down on tech

    In the High-Tech Sector, Optimism Is Just a Faded Memory [NYTimes]. Dave comments on the article. I agree.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 2:40 PM

    vigor

    Just found this add-in to VI/VIM in Unix/X Windows: Vigor, the "Clipit" for VI. Here are some screenshots of Vigor in action, being helpful with questions like "are you sure you want to move to the left?" or "Don't go! The text needs you!"

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 2:21 PM

    office 2005 to be available before office 2003

    Hilarious. From Fake News:

    REDMOND, WA -- In a move that has been declared "unfortunate but necessary", Microsoft today announced that its productivity suite Office 2003 will again have its shipping date pushed back 3 months. This puts the shipping date on Office 2003 later than the estimated release of 2005.

    [...]

    While this move has been expected for some time, it did cause much discussion among industry experts. It was an anonymous user on the Internet that first pointed out that the new shipping date would be after the November 2004 date that Office 2005 will be available for beta testing in.

    [A company] spokesman defended the beta test, saying, "It's important to Microsoft to keep the release date for Office 2005 on schedule. In order to do this we need feedback from the users as early as possible telling us what improvements over Office 2003 they most liked." In order for the feedback on Office 2005 to be collected, analyzed, and implemented the estimated release date of Office 2005 must be eight months before the shipping date.

    The obvious difficulty in this is that there is no way for the beta testing to show improvements over Office 2003 if Office 2003 is not yet in use. To work around this problem Microsoft has announced that a special beta-testing team is being put together.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 2:05 PM

    "elections" in iraq

    From CNN:BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Saddam Hussein won another seven-year term as Iraq's president in a referendum in which he was the sole candidate, taking 100 percent of the vote, the Iraqi leader's right-hand man announced Wednesday.

    All 11,445,638 of the eligible voters cast ballots, said Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council that is Iraq's key decision-making body.

    "This is a unique manifestation of democracy which is superior to all other forms of democracies[...]"
    100%... they had millions of voters with paper ballots... it must be the most efficient vote counting system in the entire world... although that wouldn't be surprising, given that it's the only dictatorship I know of that calls itself a democracy.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 1:50 PM

    inventing customers

    Microsoft campaign that went wrong. Here is the full story and here, here, and here are Dave's comments on it.

    Essentially they invented a story of a person switching from Apple to Windows, then presented it as an actual "life story." How could they do something so stupid? As Dave said:

    “You’d think Microsoft could at least find one real person to say they made the switch from Mac to Windows and were happy about it.”

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 16, 2002 at 12:13 PM

    US retailers avoid new videogame

    From CNN:

    Three of the nation's top retailers, including Wal Mart, have refused to carry a new video game billed as the first major release to feature full-action nudity and with prostitutes and pimps as major characters.

    Using the tagline "Keep it Dirty," video game publisher Acclaim Entertainment Inc. is gearing up for the Nov. 19 launch of "BMX XXX," a game that also features copulating pink poodles and a variety of racing bike stunts.

    Copulatng pink poodles? LOL

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 15, 2002 at 6:20 PM

    IBM Flushes restroom patent

    [via Chris, from a News.com article, here is a link to the patent filing]

    IBM's restroom reservation patent describes a system that would determine who is next in line for using the facilities on an airplane, passenger train or boat. As envisioned in the patent, the system would be run by a computer that would assign customers a number based on a first-come, first-served basis. The system would give customers an estimate of their waiting time to use the restroom and would notify them when the restroom was available and allow them to cancel their reservations.
    "Because of the shortage of restrooms on board, it is often necessary for passengers (on an airplane) to stand for quite sometime in the aisles while queuing to use the restroom," IBM said in a description of the patent, No. 6,329,919. "Standing in the aisle of a moving aircraft creates safety hazard and inconveniences for both the passenger and other people on board. Likewise, a passenger may lose a great deal of his valuable time or miss a significant portion of an entertainment program because of waiting to use a restroom.

    "A need therefore exists for an apparatus, system, and method for providing reservations for restroom use in places such as on an airplane, a passenger train or boat where safety concerns exist."

    But the need for a patent on this method of restroom reservations was questioned soon after the patent was issued. In February, a petition was filed on it, and the patent office was asked to re-examine it, according to patent office records. Later that month, IBM decided to renounce the patents, according to the records.

    Superfluous patents such as this stem from a drive inside corporate research labs to measure productivity in number of patents filed (IMO partially a leftover from the early nineties when the Japanese where "taking over the world" and using the patent system to their advantage) and the floor of patents created affects the entire system; the USPTO simply can't keep up... which makes it easy for patents such as this to get through.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 15, 2002 at 11:54 AM

    going to war over an asteroid

    It could happen...

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 14, 2002 at 11:40 PM

    Atlantis or Anomaly?

    From the Washington Post:

    Images of Massive Stones 2,000 Feet Below Surface Fuel Scientific Speculation.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 14, 2002 at 5:31 PM

    a mortal microsoft

    A CNET report on the industry shift against Microsoft. First article today (in a series of four).

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 14, 2002 at 5:05 PM

    AOL vs. Microsoft

    An article in today's Wall Street Journal wonders: "Could America Online get 'Netscaped'?"

    Highlight:

    In the late 1990s, Netscape Communications lost its seemingly unbreakable lead in Web browsers under the weight of a relentless assault by Microsoft Corp. Microsoft turned its Internet Explorer into the industry standard in part by steadily adding features. Netscape has been reduced to 12% of the market, now as part of AOL Time Warner Inc.

    America Online is facing a similar assault from a Microsoft Internet-access service that has long trailed far behind. No one is accusing Microsoft of antitrust violations, as in the browser wars. But just as in that battle, Microsoft is steadily adding features and slowly gaining ground. Now it's about to launch a new version that could increase its competitive threat.

    So could AOL get Netscaped? With Microsoft's money and market power, and their patience to go at something they want until they get it, no matter how many years it takes, I'd think that yes, they could.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 14, 2002 at 10:45 AM

    groove and the web

    Some people are blogging about their experiments in integrating Groove and the Web (here is the first post, and here and here are updates).. Ray Ozzie comments on it.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 14, 2002 at 8:21 AM

    copyright laws

    "Anti-hacking" copyright law to be reviewed. [CNET].

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 13, 2002 at 9:29 PM

    texas on the tigris

    A good summary of the contradictions that are now raging through the US's political system.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 13, 2002 at 9:27 PM

    google your email

    Something that has been on my mind for a long time... and there's a program that does it: Zoe (Too bad it requires you to use that and a regular email client. I tend to think that these kinds of programs eventually make it harder for you, since they require you to use two UIs instead of one). Here a link to the program, and a column on it from Jon Udell and a comment from Scott Rosenberg as well.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 12, 2002 at 9:09 PM

    salon stops bad reporting

    An interesting story has been developing for a while, Salon had to withdraw an article they had published (written by a freelance reporter and published by Salon). It seemed a relatively simple problem. It's not, it seems the most explosive claims in the article where simply a full-out fabrication by this guy. Here is Salon's story of what really happened.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 12, 2002 at 9:05 PM

    another movie

    A review of 'The man from the elysian fields.' Sounds interesting. Too bad US releases are usually happen earlier (sometimes much earlier) than the releases in the rest of the world.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 12, 2002 at 7:59 PM

    tangled in .Net

    A CNET report on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 12, 2002 at 7:55 PM

    this morning

    trees-small.JPG

    Phoenix Park, Dublin. Here is a larger image (200 Kb).

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 12, 2002 at 11:59 AM

    a new movie from the director of "Magnolia"

    The Salon review of a new movie by Paul Thomas Anderson. Seems good. After what he did in Magnolia and Boogie Nights I wouldn't have expected less.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 11, 2002 at 9:02 PM

    worldwide literary network

    Cool: A "virtual" network of literary artists... created by a single man. First thought that comes to my mind: The context of art, rather than art itself, can be as important as the art itself, enriching it. Good art, however, should stand on its own.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 11, 2002 at 7:52 PM

    no more boom

    From CNET: why the roaring 90s are dead and gone.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 11, 2002 at 7:49 PM

    a platform for closed minds

    An attack on artistic freedom through lawsuit and media persecution: Prize-winning French novelist Michel Houellebecq is being sued by four Islamic organisations while being disparaged in the media and in public for the behavior of a character in his latest novel and some personal remarks made during an interview.

    Salman Rushdie comments on the matter with his excellent Guardian op-ed A platform for closed minds.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 11, 2002 at 8:02 AM

    The pioneers are...

    ... usually, at least the ones that are face down in the mud, with arrows on their backs.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 11, 2002 at 12:06 AM

    note on a book

    Karlin Lillington comments on a book and mentions that by 1910 the Catholic church would have excommunicated any Catholics that graduated there. Interesting.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 10, 2002 at 8:51 PM

    xdocs

    Microsoft announces xDocs (here is the official Microsoft page). Dave notes that what the product actually does is incredibly confusing, and Don Parks mentions how hard it is to go against FUD.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 10, 2002 at 8:47 PM

    darwin awards nominee

    A nominee for the Darwin Awards: Man dies after playing computer games non-stop

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 10, 2002 at 5:50 PM

    more on the good software surchage

    Chris commented on my previous entry regarding Microsoft's plans to charge for future OS security features and their admission that "we didn't think about security until customers told us to and were prepared to pay for it".

    Chris said:

    "No, I think this is good business practice. And besides that, I think that everyone might be better off had Microsoft not decided to go into the "secure software" business.

    First of all, whenever Microsoft offers a new service or utility for free as a standard option of its, admitedly, overpriced software, a series of companies that were addressing this field suddenly lose the reason for their existence, and a bunch of lawyers all around the world start suing Microsoft for monopolistic practices.

    Second, the security model that people at Microsoft have on their minds, is an all-encompassing scheme addressing security both as an issue of unauthorized access to one's data, and as an attempt to fight degital media piracy. If Microsoft ships the next version of its OS with support for that security scheme which will be implemented in hardware, I'd rather pass on the option.

    For most people, security is something that can be achieved even by using freeware programs. Yes, it might be better if this was incorporated in the OS, and of course security is the No. 1 issue for servers, but are we willing to lose yet another piece of our digital freedom by delegating responsibility for security to Microsoft?"

    Partially good points I think. For one, Microsoft is going into this market, and they always start like this: external product, tight OS integration, low price, and then they integrate it into the OS and destroy the competition. Remember in the early 90s when there was real-time transparent compression software sold as an add-on to operating systems? No longer.

    On the other hand, it's apalling to think that Microsoft, will all the money (what was it at last count? $45 billion in cash, plus some $15 billion in long-term securities?), market share, and power they have, are not willing to "push the envelope" and give customers something more than "what they are ready to pay for." But then, maybe Microsoft is successful precisely because of that. Aim for the lowest common denominator, and out-market everyone else.

    As for innovation, Microsoft clearly is, partially by design (i.e., innovate less to minimize risk), and partially by necessity, locked into a market-protection spiral like those described in Clayton Christensen's excellent book The Innovator's Dilemma. They ask their customers what they like, and their customers don't want change. So they don't give it to them, and innovative projects (which of course exist within Microsoft) fail to get the resources they need, since all the projects that have customers and revenue have priority.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 10, 2002 at 12:19 PM

    the 'good software surcharge'

    According to this News.com article:

    "Microsoft is considering charging for additional security options and acknowledges that it didn't move on security until customers were ready to pay for it."
    I'm speechless.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 9, 2002 at 11:45 PM

    when magazines were literature

    A great article on Salon by Charles Taylor, about the time when magazines where for more than eyeballing.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 9, 2002 at 8:03 PM

    formats and standards

    XML's ticking time bomb and a related entry from diveintomark, in praise of evolvable formats.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 9, 2002 at 8:01 PM

    bell labs withdraws patent applications

    Bell Labs is withdrawing the patent applications related to the "scandal" in which one of its researchers falsified tons of data.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 11:33 PM

    the weak link...

    ....or one of the many at least. I thought this would get solved quickly, because of its implications, but it hasn't. A dispute of union workers at west coast ports is causing tons of damage to the US enonomy, not to mention the other economies, particularly in Asia, that are having problems over this. Some of these dock workers make more than 100,000 dollars a year in base salary, so I thought they were already a bit greedy. No one seems to care about how this affects poor nations. Goes to show how fragile "globalization" is.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 9:26 PM

    the indirect slashdot effect

    Today Plan B was getting a few hits a minute from a journal entry somewhere that mentions it in a ... not too flattering context, shall we say. However, this entry was from two months ago, which probably meant it had suddenly been linked from somewhere with many, many readers. I was curious. For that many hits to get to Plan B you'd need at least an order of magnitude more hits on the originating site. So I thought: "Slashdot". And lo-and-behold, even though it's not on Slashdot, there is a new posting on slashdot about Rebecca Blood's book The Weblog Handbook and the entry is mainly about disparaging the weblog handbook. And one of the first replies to the Slashdot review is a link to the "bad review" of the book, which happens to contain the link to Plan B at the end. So the people arriving at Plan B have been "filtered" three times, once through the Slashdot home page, then once through those that bother to read the comments, then those that bother to read the entire linked review. And it still delivered about 100 hits in one hour.

    The "Slashdot effect" is always amazing to see in action...

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 6:12 PM

    1,000,000 broadband users in the UK

    The UK has now officially one million broadband users. Meanwhile, here in Ireland the number hovers in the low thousands. Why? Because of the price. Getting an ADSL connection in Dublin costs 200 Euro in installation, 200 Euro for the modem, and then 110 Euro a month with a limit on transfers of 3 Gb/month after which (gasp!) you have to pay the excess transfer by the megabyte. No wonder it's not taking off. The consequences of monopolies, again.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 5:53 PM

    saddam's puzzle

    A New York Times Op-Ed on Saddam Hussein's contradictions and manias.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 2:11 PM

    RIAA taking on KaZaA

    It finally happened: the RIAA is going head to head with Sharman networks, the company responsible for KaZaA. If they do win, it will be difficult to enforce, since KaZaA seems to be set up almost as a mob facility of some sort. I mean, they can't even find the programmers, according to the article... how can it be that you are not able to find the programmers?

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 8, 2002 at 2:07 PM

    the shield

    Just watched the first episode of The Shield.

    Wow.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 7, 2002 at 10:50 PM

    jdk 1.4.1 released

    Javasoft has released JDK 1.4.1 (here is the list of changes from 1.4 to 1.4.1). They have fixed over 2,000 bugs (!!). Too bad they still haven't solved the problem of multiple overlapping Java versions in a single machine.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 7, 2002 at 4:34 PM

    10 years of thinkpad

    The IBM Thinkpad line of notebooks "turned 10" last saturday. CNET covers it here. All but one of the notebooks I've had have been Thinkpads, and they are all still being used somewhere. Having worked at IBM Research I might be a bit biased :-), but it's truly a great machine, and one that has consistently come out with innovations on the notebook field (e.g., first TFT, first trackpoint device, first DVD, first full-size keyboard, and on and on...).

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 7, 2002 at 11:20 AM

    slow email? it's an upgrade

    Last thursday Internet traffic slowed down considerably. Chris sent me this link to a wired news story on why it happened. Apparently someone decided to upgrade the software a relatively large portion of the routers at UUNET without properly testing it first. Smart.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 7, 2002 at 10:14 AM

    greed and materialism in the 90s

    A big part of the background of American Psycho (previous entry here) is the rise of Wall Street as the definitive center of power in the world economy and the appearance of all sort of financial manipulations--the creation of money out of thin air, so to speak, but hedge funds, mergers, acquisitions and so on. It was the time of the "Masters of the Universe" depicted on the excellent Wall Street by Oliver Stone.

    Now, the late 90s were, on the surface, different. "The world was going to be changed" according to what most people felt or said, and therefore the speculation, the instant millionaires and the resulting crap was somehow justified. In the new world order, everyone could, and would, be a millionaire.

    Or so the excuse went.

    I realize now that it was an excuse because what was being done, for the most part, was a replica (amplified) of what went on in the late 80s. In the 80s, however, there was no pretense, it was just the race for money at any cost and with no need for reasons. Money for money, Greed driving it all as the "greed speech" of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street explained: "Greed is good."

    By the 90s we had "learned" to hide the greed behind a slick veneer of world-changing proclamations, and we convinced ourselves that money was a by-product, and no one talked about greed. Yet Greed it was, and nothing can prove it better than the current world-wide financial crisis (which is hanging in the balance right now, and anything --say, a war?-- might tip the balance over and make things a lot worse).

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 6, 2002 at 7:16 PM

    it was only money

    [via Karlin Lillington] According to Java creator James Gosling, .NET's threat to Java is financial, not technological. I agree, of course, but I wonder, when you have (at last count) 42 billion dollars in cash in the bank, plus an estimated additional 15 billion in securities and investments, the financial threat can easily become technological if they get the right people.

    They certainly can out-market you, as they demonstrated with Netscape, but as they also demostrated with Netscape, they can come up with a better product (IE 4 was much better than Netscape Communicator). Only now Mozilla has surpassed IE, after 5 years, but IE now controls the market.

    For the moment, though, even though they seem to be out-marketing Java at least they haven't surpassed it technologically, Java is still the main platform used to innovate in web applications (think about EJBs for example), and in smaller measure, smart cards and many portable platforms, as well as multiplatform development for PCs. As long as Sun continues supporting it the way they've done so far, Java will remain relevant as "the other" platform.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 6, 2002 at 3:55 PM

    american psycho

    Ten years ago I read Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho when it just came out. At the time, I could only marginally understand the harsh criticism to the 1980s and american consumerism, partly because I was a teenager with science fiction and fantasy on my mind, partly because I really didn't know a lot of the things the book talked about. As far as I was concerned, a lot of what was said there was fiction. Regarding the violence in it, I remember at times getting so disgusted that I just skipped entire pages.

    About 4 weeks ago I wandered into a bookstore and found it, somehow buying it without thinking. Now I could read it as it was meant to, with full knowledge of the society (and particularly, a certain strata of society) the book was talking about, and I just finished reading it.

    And what a read. The gems are many, from the obsession with designer clothing to the fact that everyone looks so much like everyone else that they spend most of the time confused, talking to people thinking they are someone they are not, waving to acquaintances that are total strangers. The chasing of reservations at cool restaurants, the 90-dollar pizzas, the constant working out to appear perfect since appearance is everything.

    The violence (and the sex) are possibly the most explicit that have been included in a serious book (even Fight Club published a few years later, pales in comparison). At times it is sickening. However, because of the banality of the context and the people that surround the narrator, the lack of real humanity, the trap that he is in, it is probably necessary to go to such extremes: anything less and it would be put in the "thriller" or whatever.

    Maybe it will be another ten years until I read it again. It would be interesting to see what my view is then.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 6, 2002 at 3:23 PM

    going to extremes

    Two editorials (one from the New York Times, the other from the Washington Post) today about the recent attacks on Islam by the Christian far right in the US.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 6, 2002 at 9:42 AM

    worms

    The bugbear worm seems to continue to propagate very fast. I received at least 30 copies of the virus in the last 2 days. On top of spam, having to deal with these email-transmitted worms is incredibly annoying. And the worm trend is beginning to hit Linux seriously as well.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 6, 2002 at 8:11 AM

    bureaucracies

    If you believe conspiracy theorists, there is "something" behind the failure of the US Government to study the survivors of the Anthrax attacks. My opinion is that it's simply bureaucratic stupidity. Dangerous bureaucratic stupidity, true. But is there any other kind? I suddenly have an urge to watch Brazil again...

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 5, 2002 at 11:54 PM

    subversion

    Looking for other things I found subversion an open source project that aims to create a "better CVS". It doesn't seem to provide support for SSH tunneling though... (it goes through HTTP-based WebDAV/DeltaV on Apache) which as far as I can tell means that you have to rely on HTTP-S installed on the server side. Really interesting in any case.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 5, 2002 at 6:00 PM

    Internet2

    It seemed to have gone away... but Internet2 is still alive and kicking.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 5, 2002 at 4:24 PM

    full entries on the RSS feed

    Dylan alerted me to the fact that ARF's RSS feed was sending out just the excerpts of the entries instead of the full body text. Since the excerpt was being automatically generated by Movable Type, this ended up creating 20-word entries that were not very useful if what you want is just to use the RSS Feed reader. So I just changed them to include the full text and tested it. Seems to work ok. Fixed both the RSS 0.91 and 1.0 Feeds, and did it for //no comment as well.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 5, 2002 at 1:20 AM

    Coming up: beta of the new MS Office

    According to Charles Cooper, Microsoft will soon release the beta of the next version of Office. he says this:

    "MS Office and the holy grail The beta version of the next version of Microsoft Office will be out soon. (Click here to read CNET News.com's interview with Office boss Jeff Raikes.) If Microsoft can make things easier for users, mazel tov. Usability remains the holy grail of the software industry, and the successful pursuit of it should only mean good things for regular folks. But I positively shudder at the prospect of some mad scientist in Redmond, Wash., dreaming up new ways to stuff even more "functionality" into the software suite when we're already choking on feature-overload as it is.

    The track record there to date isn't promising. (Any surprise that there's a veritable cottage industry of tech authors writing books about powerful features nobody ever uses?) I spend most of my time inside Microsoft Word, but I don't have the foggiest notion how to use most of the bells and whistles in the application. Know something else? I don't think I'm in the minority."

    No Kidding. A lot of the features in Office are truly useless. Some that aren't are buried in the seemingly endless menus and toolbars. In his article, Cooper also links to a related Interview with Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's top manager for Office. My favorite bit of the Interview is this:
    "But Microsoft makes software with big footprints. Doesn't it make sense to come out with smaller versions that use just fraction of the total features now found in Office?

    That's where customer education comes in--we have to do a better job on that part. When it comes to footprints, there was a point in time when I would have agreed with you. But the size of hard drives has outstripped our ability to fill them up. "

    Wow. So the problem is not that they make big software. It's that we're stupid enough to demand small software. Good thing they're all for "customer education."

    Incidentally, Cooper seems to be writing more and more articles with many disconnected pieces. Maybe he needs a weblog? :-)

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 4, 2002 at 9:14 PM

    tigerland

    Just watched Joel Schumacher's Tigerland again. What a movie. Shot like a documentary, with a lot of use of handheld cameras (and apparently sometimes digital cameras as well--or maybe it's all shot digitally?) with excellent photography, and a great story. Hopefully Schumacher will do more films like this (or even the not-too-bad A Time to Kill or Flawless).

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 4, 2002 at 9:09 PM

    weblogs and the permanence of links

    Weblogs are supposed to be, in a sense, "online diaries" of thoughts, ideas, events, etc. Sometimes what's written in weblogs is commentary on other people's posts, or news articles, or sites we found on the Internet. But we all know how "ethereal" websites are. Sites go offline. Companies collapse, and disappear. People die.

    I wonder: are we building a house of cards made of bits that will be meaningless in only a few years? Will we have to revert to do our own local copies of everything we link to? Or will we end up linking only to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine?

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 4, 2002 at 3:47 PM

    clinton's speech to the Labour conference

    This Salon article has the transcript for the entire speech Clinton gave to the Labour conference in the UK. Very, very good speech. Here is reaction from The Guardian and The Mirror (linked from the article as well).

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 4, 2002 at 3:43 PM

    a new UI

    An article on the ever-more-frequent use of mouse gestures as a user interface.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 4, 2002 at 11:22 AM

    charging without docking

    A startup called MobileWise has announced a new technology to charge devices without docking. This article from CNET on it seems a bit confusing however, saying it's wireless and then saying it doesn't emit any radiation of any kind, or emit any field of any other kind for that matter (one way of transmitting electricity would be, for example, to create a moving magnetic field that could be "cut" by the receiving chip), which would imply the transmission happens by contact, and not wirelessly.

    A quick perusal of the products section of MobileWise's site shows that they call the technology "wire-free" rather than "wireless." In effect, the section "how it works" of the site explains:

    " MobileWise wire-free technology uses electrical contacts to transfer power from the surface of the Wire-free Electricity Base to the mobile device, allowing safe and efficient power transfer -- over 95% efficiency! -- without making use of harmful radiation or magnetic fields.
    It would seem that News.com's editors should tone down the hype a little bit. From their headline it would seem that Tesla's dream of wireless transmission of electricity had been achieved.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 11:45 PM

    warwalking

    Did some "warwalking" today, using Network Stumbler for PocketPC (ARM processor) and an iPaq Handheld (running Windows for PocketPC 2002 --- I know, I should install Linux on it :-)) with an Orinoco WiFi card. It was interesting. Found a few places, one right outside my apartment but (damn!) signal strength drops off to nothing when I get into the building. Oh well. It's surprising in a way to discover access points, gives you a measure of how the technology has become more widespread "invisibly" so to speak.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 8:26 PM

    pre-bubble idea in a post-bubble world

    According to this article, Ryze.com is asking for personal information--and then claiming ownership over it.

    Haven't we been over this already?

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 5:16 PM

    double check before pressing ENTER

    A slip of the finger... and there go four billion dollars.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 5:11 PM

    brazil's elections

    Brazil will hold presidential elections on October 6. This article from The Economist talks about what is expected and what might happen given different outcomes. Given Brazil's weight in Latin America, elections there are quite important for the whole subcontinent, and could have a direct effect on Argentina's situation.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 3:26 PM

    new outlook and exchange

    According to this CNET article Microsoft will disclose more information on the new versions of Exchange and Outlook.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 3, 2002 at 2:03 PM

    emerging (?) markets

    A good article on the problems emerging markets face. Having been in Argentina only a few days ago, and having seen the latest iteration of the destruction that is happening in the country, it seems to me that the international community isn't really owning up to its part of the problem.

    The World Bank and the IMF are interested in getting their money back first, and then they might consider worrying about the effects they are having on the population (but it's not entirely their fault of course, there are many other factors, such as local history, corruption, etc). In particular, Argentina should have a deal in place before November 5, because if it doesn't, and it is forced to make some payments owned to the IMF and the World Bank at that point, it would have to deplete its hard currency reserves completely to do so.

    Conversely, if it doesn't pay, then the World Bank would be "bankrupt" (!) since it would have to mark the whole of Argentina's debt unpayable, which would make its credit rating fall creating a domino effect on the rest of its debt. A bad outcome either way.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 7:51 PM

    wardriving in dublin

    An interesting Wi-Fi survey of Dublin that has been making the rounds of the tech-oriented community of the city.

    On the topic, I am planning on doing a bit of "warwalking" (as I don't have a car) using a Compaq iPaq PocketPC with an 802.11 card. Should be interesting.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 7:44 PM

    canada and immigration

    An article on the latest attempt of the Canadian government to spur immigration.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 3:48 PM

    blogging from afar... not

    Yesterday I started writing Plan B again (related entry in no comment is here), and it made me think a bit about blogging, writing, technology and when it all simply becomes too much and should be ignored.

    The main reason I couldn't write while traveling was a combination of time and space: not having enough time alone to concentrate, and not have a place to sit down quietly to do it (maybe those two are strongly related).

    Technology was also a small factor even if I did have some "downtime" in which to write, I would have connection problems every now and then, for example.

    Still, it's interesting to me that the main reason was not technological but personal, that is, I didn't allow blogging (or anything else for that matter) to interfere with being with family and friends.

    24/7 email access, anywhere, anytime? Worldwide connectivity? Sure. But it felt good to back away from that for a while.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 3:45 PM

    longer range wi-fi

    From CNET: Wi-Fi stretches its boundaries.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 10:54 AM

    plan b -- part 2

    Now that I'm back from traveling I've begun writing Plan B -- a blognovel again. Scott Rosenberg notes the appearance of the newest episode here.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 2, 2002 at 10:51 AM

    google news

    While I was traveling, Google launched Google News (I was far enough in another world that I didn't even find out until I came back). Now I found a couple of articles and comments, here, here and here.

    As with any new technology there's been the usual profecies of "the Death of XXX" XXX being, in this case, News Editors.

    How ridiculous. What caught my attention was that no one whatsoever was mentioning the fact that Google is pooling news from sites that have editors. In a sense they are simply choosing what editors are choosing, more or less. So how does this make editors obsolete? If you ask me, it makes them more necessary. But you can't stop the hype machine...

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 10:32 PM

    Rhizome.org

    Today I found this New Media/Arts community site: rhizone.org. Still have to explore it more, but it looks interesting.

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 7:55 PM

    more on patents

    On my previous entry on the subject of patents, Chris pointed at two articles from The Economist (here and here). One of them I had seen before, one I hadn't. I also spent a bit of time reading other related material, and found two more articles from CNET that are the most relevant to the patent situation as it relates to the W3C (here and here).

    It's still not clear to me what is the best solution. Patents are (supposedly) good for smaller companies, since they can be used to defend their property. However, smaller companies, by definition, won't have the resources to fight a long, drawn-out battle in the courts. In that sense the smaller companies might benefit more by making the idea public and becoming the main implementors. Because the idea is public, it will encourage other developers to do implementations and further the technology.

    Hm.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 7:43 PM

    blade desktops

    A new trend: since PC makers can't seem to design a computer that can compete with Apple in terms of style, a new company has decided that people should just get rid of the boxes and put them in the back room. Probably useful in some environments (e.g., huge call centers, where your "desk" is shared with other people) but less so in offices where people consider the computer something that is part of their tools, and thus something they have to be able to see, touch, plug, unplug, modify, etc.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 1:55 PM

    secular humanism

    From an excellent Salon article on Salman Rushdie (with a related Interview):

    Rushdie the cosmopolitan is a defender of an idea even less fashionable, at the moment, than moral relativism -- secular humanism. It's a cause some of our best thinkers, such as Hitchens and Martin Amis, are increasingly taking up. Though hardly politically expedient, the fight against religion's tyranny makes intellectual and emotional sense right now. It could even replace the struggle against first-world imperialism as the organizing principle of radical thought, encompassing as it does the fight against the lunatics of al-Qaida, the butchers in Gujarat, the hard-line settlers in the West Bank, the rapists in the Catholic Church, the bombers of abortion clinics and, of course, our own attorney general.

    Amis said it best in a June essay for the Guardian: "Since it is no longer permissible to disparage any single faith or creed, let us start disparaging all of them. To be clear: an ideology is a belief system with an inadequate basis in reality; a religion is a belief system with no basis in reality whatever. Religious belief is without reason and without dignity, and its record is near-universally dreadful." Rushdie echoes this sentiment -- as he writes in an enraged reaction to the killings in Gujarat, "[I]n India, as elsewhere in our darkening world, religion is the poison in the blood ... What happened in India, happened in God's name. The problem's name is God."

    But elsewhere Rushdie goes beyond mere denunciation, turning atheism into a celebration rather than a rejection. In a delightful 1997 letter to the newly born 6 billionth person in the world, he encourages us to join Voltaire's battle, "the revolution in which each of us could play our small, six-billionth part: once and for all we could refuse to allow priests, and the fictions on whose behalf they claim to speak, to be the policemen of our liberties and behavior." He ends hopefully, "Imagine there's no heaven, my dear Six Billionth, and at once the sky's the limit."

    Right on!

    Categories: personal
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 1:51 PM

    fraud in science

    Remember cold fusion? An article from Salon (and a related op-ed from the New York Times) that describes the latest scam to make the rounds in the world of physics. This time, however, the fraud originated at Bell Labs, with papers published in the scientific journals Science and Nature among many others. Shows how broken the current system is.

    Categories: technology
    Posted by diego on October 1, 2002 at 9:18 AM

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