Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Satellite radio quickly causes changes in traditional radio

According to The New York Times > National > As Satellite Radio Takes Off, It Is Altering the Airwaves, the quick rise of XM and Sirius satellite radio has caused some changes in local radio already...shortening the time of commercials in an hour from 11.7 to 11 minutes and changing of playlists.

I stopped listening to music radio years ago. In the car I listen to mostly news or business, when I'm not listening to the iPod we keep in the car. At home it's a blend of iTunes and Bloomberg Radio.

In the interest of full disclosure, I own stock in Sirius.

e.p.c. posted this at 02:19 GMT on 5-Apr-2005 .

Too many drones in the sky

The number of drones (Unattended Air Vehicles or UAVs) in the air over Iraq has increased to 700, causing a variety of problems ranging from stress an d burnout for the drone controllers (pilots? don't think so) to collisions between drones and other aircraft: The New York Times > International > Middle East > U.S. Drones Crowding the Skies to Help Fight Insurgents in Iraq: At a command hub spread among a half dozen dimly lit trailers at this air base just off the Las Vegas Strip, the future is now. Small teams of remote-control warriors nudge joysticks to fly armed Predator aircraft 7,500 miles away. Once the Predators take off in Iraq or Afghanistan for missions, the air crews here take over. Perhaps they could rehire some PATCO controllers to help out.

e.p.c. posted this at 02:24 GMT on 5-Apr-2005 .

Ten Reasons why China should move its peg and pull the plug on the US reckless policies

Continuing my education on China and the US economy: Nouriel Roubini's Global Economics Blog: Ten Reasons why China should move its peg and pull the plug on the US reckless policies: it is increasingly in the interest of China to pull the plug on the US as maintaining the peg and accumulating increasing amounts of forex reserves is increasingly costly.

e.p.c. posted this at 02:57 GMT on 5-Apr-2005 .

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Triple J podcasts

I haven't played with podcasting much, for no particular reason. I tend to use my iPod sporadically, mostly while driving, ocassionally when working out. That may end soon. Triple J is an Aussie radio station (network?) which I listened to when in Sydney. Even today, years later, I buy the yearly Triple J Hottest 100 CD collection (though this year's is getting decidedly negative reviews). Triple J has apparently started podcasting: triple j podcasts, I'm going to grab a couple and try them out on a drive to Poughkeepsie tomorrow.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:09 GMT on 7-Apr-2005 .

Friday, April 8, 2005

Vital Cities: an interview with Jane Jacobs

From Whole Earth: Vital Cities: an interview with Jane Jacobs: It [the internet] interests me as one more remarkable self-organized system, but there are lots of other self-organized systems. When the civil mail system began, it was self-organized and was only later taken up by institutions and systematized. It got quite organized by people who would go to taverns where they knew that travelers were and earn a little money by picking up letters to deliver, especially around waterfronts or coaching stations.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:49 GMT on 8-Apr-2005 .

The archivist

From Slate: The Archivist - Brewster Kahle made a copy of the Internet. Now, he wants your files. By Paul Boutin. It's a brief history of the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/) and an even briefer mention of the Ourmedia project, a free archive for all content (video, audio, text, etc), the catch, if any, being that you have to make the content available to anyone for free.

e.p.c. posted this at 02:15 GMT on 8-Apr-2005 .

Saturday, April 9, 2005

The Amazing Adventures of Lethem & Chabon

Via Making Light: The Amazing Adventures of Lethem & Chabon: Yes, our favorite dynamic literary duo is back again, folks; saving the world from the clutches of bad literature... or are they???

e.p.c. posted this at 09:51 GMT on 9-Apr-2005 .

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Tagwebs, Flickr, and the Human Brain

Article on tagging I just came across via del.icio.us: What if we could tag not just photos, but also other tags? We could start to build a tagweb. When a tagweb is created from your tags, that tagweb works perfectly within the realm of what makes sense to you.

[…]If you build a system that puts importance on the structure of the word, you're creating a system based around your own language. You must create a system based around your own thoughts if you want it to simulate your own thoughts.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:25 GMT on 10-Apr-2005 .

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Surowiecki: worry, but not too much, about the drop in the US dollar

James Surowiecki writes on the decline of the US dollar against foreign currencies in: In Yuan We Trust, basically saying that while there's cause for worry, the impact of a collapse in the dollar or a hard landing for the US economy would be as devastating if not moreso for the holders of US debt (Japan and China being the top two) that it's in the debt holders best interest to prevent a hard landing or collapse.

In the past three years, the value of the dollar has fallen by more than fifty per cent against the euro and twenty-five per cent against the yen, and, a recent rally notwithstanding, most analysts say that the dollar is only going to get weaker in the months to come.
We don’t have enough money at home to pay for all this spending, so we borrow from foreigners to make up the difference. Because we keep piling on this foreign debt—more than three trillion dollars so far—and have no clear strategy for paying it back, people are made anxious about the United States economy; this anxiety encourages them to sell dollars, and that drives down the value of our currency.
The currency market is a great example of what George Soros calls “reflexivity”: people’s predictions about what will happen to the dollar end up having a major impact on what actually does happen to the dollar.

e.p.c. posted this at 13:58 GMT on 12-Apr-2005 .

Heading to France

Lisa and I are flying to London on Thursday for a day, and then taking the Eurostar to Paris on Friday for a short weekend in the City of Light. Lisa has to go for work, I'm tagging along until Monday when I fly back.

I haven't been to Paris since some time in 1998 or 1999. I love wandering around the city, occasionally glancing at a guide book but really just wandering aimlessly.

I first visited Paris in May 1995 as part of an unexpected, whirlwind tour of several IBM offices in Europe. My first night in Paris included a fire (which, I have to admit, I all but expected as fire seemed to coincide with every www.ibm.com related meeting). The next day I had to cobble together a working demo of www.ibm.com to run off an OS/2 laptop. Since IBM Paris barely had network connectivity, let alone internet connectivity, I had to use IBM's PVM passthru application to log onto KGNVMC in the US (a mainframe), and then use VM FTP to grab a tarball I'd made of www.ibm.com's content, snarf it back to my laptop in Paris using some sort of host transfer protocol I've long since forgotten, and then run a variety of editing operations to get all of the links to work. Amazingly, the demo worked fine. As I recall the meeting, the demo was the least of our problems (as I recall, IBM's European employees were not at all happy about this “web” thing, nor that us Corporate types were being so heavy handed about the look and feel of IBM's web sites).

After Paris I spent a couple of days in Stuttgart at IBM's Boeblingen lab. I remember absolutely nothing about that trip other than that the offices were quite nice, and no one could believe that I didn't drink coffee.

London and IBM Hursley followed next. I vaguely recall Sean Martin abusing me with some sort of stout.  I'm fairly certain I made a fool of myself at Hursley (I'd thought it'd be a nice informal chat with some techies, instead I faced off a room of maybe 30-40 people from the lab; of course I had no presentation ready and could barely answer the rapid fire questions about strategy and the various issues facing the Internet).

I caught a brief side trip to Ireland to meet up with my mom and grandmother who were in the midst of a multiweek tour. Met up with the cousins in Dunlavin and then headed back to the UK.

All in all it was a fun, but exhausting trip. I ended up going to the UK about twice a year for the next couple of years, and managed to return to Paris a couple more times.

Anyway, we're heading that way this weekend. I'll try to post pictures to my flickr account but may not be able to do so until I return since, for the first time, I'm travelling abroad without the stinkpad.

e.p.c. posted this at 21:21 GMT on 12-Apr-2005 .

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Notre Dame


Notre Dame
Originally uploaded by epc.


flickr posted this at 09:27 GMT on 17-Apr-2005 .

Paris in the Springtime

We're in Paris at the moment. The weather had been gray and cold Friday in London and yesterday in Paris but it's nice and sunny today, in the 50s or 60s (high teens centigrade).

I'm posting pictures on flickr and created a new set: Paris 2005 for them. Nothing stunning...

We're just ambling around, we've both been here enough to have seen most of the touristy things. We brunched with our friends Goldie & Yisraela in the Latin Quarter this morning. They then took us on a nice walk through their neighborhood market.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:31 GMT on 17-Apr-2005 .

Monday, April 18, 2005

LHR 2005.04.18

I'm at Heathrow....waiting for my flight in the American Airlines lounge. On the one hand, I'm glad that they have some public access computers with internet access. On the other hand, they are all hardcoded to use MS Internet Explorer in brain–dead mode, eg you cannot cut and paste a URL, most URLs I type in are rejected as host not found yet if I click on the same URL off a web page it navigates quite fine.

This is, I think, the first time I've been at LHR without my own laptop. I don't really need one here...I'm not working and no one is trying to reach me to complain about getting a URL redirect or that the ibm.com search engine is down. However, I do have several hours to kill and had absolutely no interest in sight seeing in London, and did my tour of duty free shops with only a couple of bags of Smith's crisps to show for it.

So...I arrive in the US later tonight, am hoping to get in in time to retrieve Frisket from Monstermutt but that is highly unlikely unless the travel gods are with me and look down with kindness as I try to make it from JFK to downtown Brooklyn in under 30 minutes.

Paris was lovely, wish I could spend more time there. Also wish that I had converted dollars to euros when the exchange rate was USD$1.00 = EUR€0.83. The exchange rate was a tad painful, though less so than the UK/US exchange rate currently is. I have some more pictures from ambling about yesterday which I'll post on returning home. Lisa is stuck at IBM's Tour Descartes in La Defense for meetings this week. Hopefully they have banned indoor smoking since I last was imprisoned at La Defense.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:25 GMT on 18-Apr-2005 .

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Infoworld upgrade includes related tags

Many-to-Many: Infoworld goes tagalicious: On the articles pages they’ve moved from a fixed taxonomy that took them a lot of time to develop to a semi-structured tagging system:

What I like most in this new architecture is that the related links are now driven by del.icio.us. Our edit team is tagging content in del.icio.us. The engineers are pulling down the del.icio.us RSS feeds. And then we create matching logic based on the common tags. We also link back out to del.icio.us pages via the tags for the article on display.

e.p.c. posted this at 07:44 GMT on 19-Apr-2005 .

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Wow: Using Google Maps to display Chicago CTA routes

Google revolutionized the online map world when it launched Google Maps. Another revolution is brewing with a Firefox extension called GreaseMonkey. GreaseMonkey allows one to client side JavaScript scripts which can modify various aspects of a web page (gross oversimplification). Combine the two and you get things like the Craigslist-Google Maps mashup of a couple weeks, and now this: Chicago Transit Authority map on Google Maps which combines Google Maps and Greasemonkey to add a CTA map option.

What I find fascinating is that there's a growing ability of interested and incented users of web sites to customize (and in theory improve) the user experience of a web site. Now, the ex-Corporate Web thug in me is a bit horrified at the notion that users can change the experience of my web site without any intervention (and perhaps, any control at all) on my part. On the other hand, it's a nice example of one of the lessons of Internet and networked technologies: routing around the problem. If your user experience sucks but your customers are interested (your site apparently has some value to your customers), then they will tailor, fix, and change your site's user experience to their benefit.

Now, there's several drawbacks, the biggest being that this only works with Firefox. I use Firefox almost 99.999% of the time on all the platforms I use, however I know that most of the world is still stuck with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Second, I think there is a subtle danger to web sites which are extended in this manner in that people tend to forget where they get such modifications from. If the code stops working with your site, for whatever reason, more likely than not you'll get blamed, not the developer of the code. It spreads the maintenance burden of your site beyond the factors you can control. This isn't a bad thing in and of itself, it just adds to the burden of running a web site. A compromise: if your clients, customers, users of your web site are finding such extensions to be valuable, endorse them and make them a formal part of your site (to the extent possible depending on licensing restrictions, phase of the moon, temperament of your Corporate Communications execs, etc.).

The revolution isn't Ajax, it isn't XMLHTTPRequest, it isn't Greasemonkey; it's the movement of interactive application functionality to the user's desktop. It's not new, Flash and Java have been able to fill this role for years, but they have always operated in a different space from the browser. You know when you're using a Flash or Java application, you see it load, you take the hit to download the JVM or player. Netomat tried (is trying?) to fill this niche but hasn't taken off. What I see in the combination of Firefox, Greasemonkey, and Ajax is the creation of a new platform for rich networked applications, which can enhance and extend the user experience of existing web sites with minimal revision on the part of the web site maintainer. To successfully take advantage of this platform web sites will need to be more XML/XHTML compliant since the pages need to be parseable and well-formed.

My interest as well is in the push of interactive application functionality from the server, where it doesn't belong, to the client. This allows servers to focus on serving content, and processing data; not on maintaining state information, trying to work around all the possible ways an interactive experience can be broken by splitting display off from application processing.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:28 GMT on 20-Apr-2005 .

Sunday, April 24, 2005

t-mobile local coverage check

T-Mobile has released an application which allows you to see the GSM coverage for a specific area in the US: T-Mobile Personal Coverage Check. Here's the map for our neighborhood:

e.p.c. posted this at 15:29 GMT on 24-Apr-2005 .

Monday, April 25, 2005

Taxonomies and Tags: From Trees to Piles of Leaves

More on tagging, taxonomies, folksonomies, etc.: Taxonomies and Tags Big concepts contain smaller ones that contain smaller ones yet. Over the millennia, we have fashioned the structures of knowledge in just such tree-like ways, from the departmental organization of universities (liberal arts contains history and history contains ancient Chinese history) to the hierarchy of species. The idea that knowledge is shaped like a tree is perhaps our oldest knowledge about knowledge. When it comes to innovation on the Internet, metadata is becoming the new content.

But traditional taxonomic trees aren’t something we can throw away without a thought. They are an amazingly efficient way of organizing complexity because they enable us to focus on one aspect (e.g., that’s an apple) while keeping a universe of context (it’s a fruit, part of a plant, a type of living thing) in the background, ready for access.

Traditionally, people have been loath to attach metadata to objects, because it felt like a chore without immediate benefit.

Both trees and faceted systems specify the categories, or facets, ahead of time. They both present users with tree-like structures for navigation, letting us climb down branches to get to the leaf we’re looking for. Tagging instead creates piles of leaves in the hope that someone will figure out ways of putting them to use[...]

e.p.c. posted this at 14:38 GMT on 25-Apr-2005 .

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Market populism in the folksonomies debate

In Market populism in the folksonomies debate : Atomiq, Gene Smith compares the discussion (ranting, evangelism, hysteria) about tagging and folksonomies to the concept of Market Populism, the notion that markets are inherently democratic. At times it's been hard to separate out the practical enthusiasm for tags and folksonomies (which I share) from the ideological enthusiasm which suggests that tags are the One True Way.

e.p.c. posted this at 11:58 GMT on 26-Apr-2005 .

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

On new media subsuming the old

Next: The Google Street Journal

Working at a major metropolitan newspaper these days can feel a bit like working for the East German Politburo, circa 1988. It's a good gig with great benefits, and people seek you out at cocktail parties, but you have this sense that your days are numbered.

Old media continues to fret over the rise of new media, the dividing line being the presence (or lack of) in the digital world. Old media continues to garner most of the advertising spend, while new media must make do with $0.01 CPM rates (I wonder what the CPM is for a typical ad in the LA Times or Chicago Tribune these days...oh wait, they don't use CPM but column inches. Hmm.).

Old media continues to lock away online content behind registration screens, and archives behind pay-per-article walls. While I don't have a problem with some sort of registration (they need to make money somehow, and with people frequently zapping their ads, registration is at least one way to gauge their audience), registration blocks these sites from appearing in search results. I don't know anyone who uses a portal these days, at least on the open Internet. My portal is either my bloglines page or the results from a Google search. I go days without reading a given site's home page, RSS and Atom give me deep links to the content I want to read. For all the fights over deep linking over the past decade, there seems to be no concern about the loss due to deep linking from syndicated feeds.

I read more online these days than I used to, I credit (or blame?) Bloglines for increasing my content throughput. I skim hundreds, if not the low thousands, of articles per day, opening new Firefox tabs for the articles which seem interesting (which means I still read the article in the context of the web page, unless the gist of the article can be had from the content in the syndicated feed).

The only problem I have is when I fall behind: it's easy to fall way behind. Clearly I don't want to sift through and read two-three-four days of syndicated feeds to identify the ten or twenty I'd have read had I seen them initially. Instead I need some way to identify these key articles… attention.xml (see: here, here, or here) might be a solution (basically, from what I've read, it's another feed of sorts, except it is a feed of your feeds and articles in those feeds, and possibly a rating or "read/not-read" rating attached to each article. Or not.).

I wonder if the decline (alleged, but I believe it) in old media audience share is reflected in advertiser's success rates?

e.p.c. posted this at 17:00 GMT on 27-Apr-2005 .

Saturday, April 30, 2005

I blame the French

… for making me sick. I've spent the past week with an on-again, off-again head cold which both Lisa and Nancy also appear to have picked up on our sojourn in Paris. Admittedly it could have been the flight over to Heathrow, or the soggy weather in London on the 15th, but it's much easier (and more American) to just blame the french.

Oh well, it gives me an excuse to drink NyQuil on a regular basis.

While in London, I picked up some good CDs, and even considering the exchange rate, they were cheaper to buy in London than in the US (using Amazon.com as my reference point).

I picked up From Croydon to Cuba: An Anthology by Kirsty Maccoll for £18.99. MacColl sang solo and with The Pogues, and had been married to Steve Lillywhite, known for producing many U2 albums. She was killed in 2000 by a drunken speedboater in Cozumel, Mexico while swimming with her children.

Speaking of The Pogues, I picked up The Ultimate Collection for £13.99. It's two CDs, with the second consisting of 22 tracks recorded live at the Brixton Academy.

Also bought: Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd for £11.99; Buddha Lounge, and Arabic Chillout for £4.99 a piece.

All are being ripped to the mp3 library and stored for posterity.

e.p.c. posted this at 14:19 GMT on 30-Apr-2005 .

Slightly acerbic and eccentric dog walker who masquerades as a web developer and occasional CTO.

Spent five years running the technology side of the circus known as www.ibm.com.

More about me here.

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