Thursday, June 2, 2005

Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents

Have to wonder how many of these parents voted to reelect Bush in 2004: Growing Problem for Military Recruiters: Parents - New York Times: Two years into the war in Iraq, as the Army and Marines struggle to refill their ranks, parents have become boulders of opposition that recruiters cannot move.

Military officials are clearly concerned. In an interview last month, Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commander of United States Army recruiting, said parental resistance could put the all-volunteer force in jeopardy. When parents and other influential adults dissuade young people from enlisting, he said, it begs the question of what our national staying power might be for what certainly appears to be a long fight.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:04 GMT on 2-Jun-2005 .

Friday, June 3, 2005

Drove up to the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack for lunch with Pete Fiorese, fellow ex-Olympian and IBMer. Palisades Center Mall is a gargantuan monstrosity of big-box stores stacked upon each other. It has to be one of the largest, if not the largest, in terms of size, malls I've ever been in. Lots of stores, but not so much to buy.

I did pick up a pretty nifty gadget for my ipod: a Griffin Airclick (Amazon link). It's an RF based remote control for the latest generation (dockable) iPods. It clips into the top, with the receiver getting juice from the iPod. The handheld transmitter comes with a battery already installed (it appears replaceable, but not easily). Anyway, I tried it out on the drive back and it worked great, though this is probably not good news for anyone who gets frustrated at my tendency to listen to all tracks on random shuffle, skipping frequently from track to track until I hit a sequence I like.

I also picked up Photoshop elements for the Mac so I can do some hideous design work for a project I'm working on.

e.p.c. posted this at 23:30 GMT on 3-Jun-2005 .

Friday, June 10, 2005

Reading 'n Writing Week

I've escaped to the Hamptons for a week of solitude away from the various distractions in the city. Those of you who know me know I have the attention span of a gn...ooh, look, a shiny object.

ahem, anyway, I brought a box of books of which I expect to read two, and a bunch of notes I've been scribbling about yet another social bookmarking tool which, if I'm lucky, only infringes about ten thousand patents and has been invented and reinvented ten or twenty times.

The drive out was mostly uneventful, if not excruciatingly long (I left Brooklyn at 2:00, had made it to the Southern State by 3:00. 27 and the LIE were both apparently closed for portions of the afternoon. After a quick rest stop at the Buzz Chew Carvel, I took the Head Pond Road / Scuttle Hole Road bypass to East Hampton, arriving in Amagansett just before 6:00 for an average speed of 29 mph.

Usually we drive out Thursday night or early Friday but for reasons I can't post just yet, we were out having an absolutely delicious dinner at Public in NoHo. Food was delicious, service was great. The wine list seemed good, though we didn't actually try any, as we were drinking a fine bottle of Veuve Clicquot instead. We plan to make it a regular monthly venue for food consumption.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:03 GMT on 10-Jun-2005 .

Monday, June 13, 2005

USPS Privatizes Postage Stamp Printing

After 111 Years, Postage Stamps Go Private: … private printers will produce all the nation's stamps, a decision that U.S. Postal Service officials say will save tens of millions of dollars a year. The bureau will concentrate on printing currency, its other major product.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:03 GMT on 13-Jun-2005 .

Record of Tsunamis Can be Read from sand cores

The Boxing Day tsunami raised interest in tsunamis and how cataclysmic their effects can be. The SF Chronicle has an article about how soil cores can help determine when a tsunamic occurred in the past and give some sense as to its magnitude: Ancient sands reveal traces of huge tsunamis / Layers in soil cores could help predict future disasters: Typical evidence is a sheet of beach sand sandwiched between younger and older layers of ordinary soil, like a slice of ham between two slabs of sourdough.

e.p.c. posted this at 10:10 GMT on 13-Jun-2005 .

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Keeping people informed as an antidote to disasters

Keeping in the disaster track for another day, an article about using the Wikipedia as a way of communicating information about Avian Flu as a means of keeping people informed before an outbreak occurs: WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Getting Smart About Disasters: In the days and weeks following, questions of how best to identify, communicate and report on the possibility of disaster consumed many weblogs and media outlets. What tools could be used to make sure that a tragedy of this magnitude could not happen again?

The tsunami wasn't an instantaneous disaster, many people were killed or injured hours after the initial event. There were two problems: how do you tell people that there's a 10 metre wave approaching, and what are they actually supposed to do?

The most important tool we have, of course, is information. Knowing what to do before disaster strikes makes smart responses far simpler, as can having access to good information once a crisis is underway.

What I find interesting in this use of Wikipedia is the rise of informal, collaborative information systems as the authoritative source of information about subjects. There are blogs which are the authoritative source of information about given topics, usually maintained by a few individuals if not simply a single person. They obsess about the topic, covering a variety of angles.

The professional media will claim that informal, amateur sites like these are not objective or thorough, that they don't present “both sides” of a dialogue (as if there are always only two sides to a problem).

But these sites are authoritative. They're linked to as the authoritative site, they turn up in the top ten on search sites, and in the case of sites like Wikipedia, corrected or normalized to an attempt at a neutral point of view.

The professional media is losing relevancy because content is short, trite, repetitive, and transitory.

News articles are tied to their publication times...they appear briefly then slip away into password protected, sometimes pay-for-access, archives. Some news sites even just delete old content.

Some time in 1995, maybe 1996, my boss at IBM had a notion of domains of information. I'm thinking it was 1995, because otherwise a professional would have created this graphic: Graphic ca April 1995 for “domains of information” rather than myself using MS Paint.

Anyway...the intent was that we (IBM) should create various portals of information around topics to draw people in, then you tout the various IBM products and services available related to the content of the portal, but as a supplement to the content not as the content. I don't recall it being rejected out of hand and for a brief time there were such portals, but in the end the marketing and sales side of the house won out. And that's the general problem for business & professional media sites: they can't see a direct line between providing the information “for free”. Although the usual goal of their presence on the web is to draw readers to their site to take some sort of action (be it order a product, download something, or click on an ad), they keep trying to draw readers using pre-web methods, ignoring (still) the benefit of seeding good content into search engines and letting it act as a draw into the rest of your site.

Getting good information from others presumes that other people have access to good information.

How do you tell when information is good? Number of citations (inbound links)? Comments from users? Unless you've been reading an information source for awhile (an indeterminate amount of time greater than a few minutes and less than a decade), how do you get to know and its reputation for value, utility, and authority?.

Via Boingboing

e.p.c. posted this at 10:22 GMT on 14-Jun-2005 .

Bugged

I am sometimes known for hyperbole, but the following is a truthful statement: every stinking mosquito egg in Amagansett apparently hatched today. The last several nights I've been able to go outside at night unmolested...tonight? Tonight I can't step outside without getting divebombed by mosquitos left and right.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:52 GMT on 14-Jun-2005 .

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why the Wombat Smiles

On our 2001 trip to Australia, Lisa noticed that various road signs warning of wombats made the pictured wombat appear to be smiling. I think it's because the womabt knows, tohugh it will likely die immediately if you hit it, you're not going to do so without significant damage to your car if not yourself: Australians in freak wombat crash: Two men in south-eastern Australia have survived unharmed after their truck hit a wombat before crashing off the side of a bridge.

Police have said the airborne vehicle then landed in the top of a tree above a river.

The vehicle careered violently out of control, smashed through a guard railing and over the side of a bridge.

The men and their truck then landed in a tree.

After some precarious teetering, they crashed back to earth, falling about 20 feet (6 metres).

Another article: Wombat crash pair survive bridge plunge

e.p.c. posted this at 09:28 GMT on 21-Jun-2005 .

Head down to the pub for a cuppa nice warm beer

On one post-Webahead jaunt to London, Todd dragged me into a pub near Covent Garden. He really, really, really wanted to try warm beer. Now, I'd been to the UK a couple of times before and had enjoyed most beers I'd had and found they were cool, not ice cold as in the US, but definitely not warm. As I recall, we ordered two pints of Bass and, I have to admit, it was warm. Not sure if we even finished the pints, as I recall it wasn't exactly a bar for tourists and I think we moseyed on out pretty quickly.

Anyway, a recent UK assessment team found that many beers are being served literally hot, from 20° C to 35° C (68-95° Fahrenheit): British beer 'too hot to handle'The recommended temperature for a hand-pulled pint is from 11C to 13C but assessors found 44% of pints bought in 2,000 UK pubs exceeded 13C.

e.p.c. posted this at 09:37 GMT on 21-Jun-2005 .

Real-time Forecast of Earthquake Hazard in the Next 24 Hours

Via Science Daily: Real-Time Forecast of Earthquake Hazard in the Next 24 Hours. It presents a USGS generated map of California which uses color coding to indicate the change in earthquake probability for various zones. It also explicitly states that it's not to be used as an earthquake prediction system, it's just a statistical mapping of data based on past data and recent events.

e.p.c. posted this at 20:59 GMT on 21-Jun-2005 .

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Pitching on Acid

From the Dalls Observer, how Dock Ellis pitched a no hitter in 1971 while on LSD and Benzedrine: Balls Out

The hardest part was between innings. He was sure his teammates knew something was up. They had all been acting strange since the game began. Solution: Do not look at teammates. Do not look at scoreboard. Must not make eye contact. His spikes--that's what he concentrated on. Pick up tongue depressor, scrape the mud, repeat. Must. Clean. Spikes.

e.p.c. posted this at 19:29 GMT on 25-Jun-2005 .

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Does the web change reading habits?

How the Web changes your reading habits | csmonitor.com Computers and the Internet are changing the way people read. Thus far, search engines and hyperlinks, those underlined words or phrases that when clicked take you to a new Web page, have turned the online literary voyage into a kind of U-pick island-hop.

In grad school I read Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word, which is about how the technology of writing changed how we perceive the world. It created written history, different from oral history. It codified dialects into languages. Writing made it possible for news to spread far and wide. I've written about it here before, but it's a good book to read to understand how technology (not information technology, just the mechanization of things) can impact how we communicate, interact with and understand the world.

e.p.c. posted this at 22:00 GMT on 26-Jun-2005 .

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

LGA-MCO in a day

Flew to Orlando, FL today to meet with our new accountant. Why our accountant is in Florida is a long story involving citrus which I just can't get into right now, however some notes from the trip:

  • If you are flying out of LGA and your flight leaves at 8:00 a.m., you'd best get into the security line long before 7:40 a.m. If you do get into the security line 20 minuets before your flight and whine that you're about to miss your flight I will glare at you, harshly.
  • If you are at LGA and are trying to push your way past others who have been quietly standing in the security line, claiming that you have an 8:00 a.m. flight and you've been in the airport since 6:00 a.m., again you will be glared at harshly, and I may also snicker at you.
  • Lesson: leave at least twenty minutes to get through the security at LGA's Terminal B D gates.
  • On arriving in Orlando, understand that a firehose will be sprayed at you nearly non-stop for the duration of your stay. This is apparently called sunny weather.
  • Orlando does not have an Admiral's Club.
  • Said lack of Admiral's Club would not be a problem if your flight left on time. Ours was pushed from 7:35 p.m. to 11:something p.m. before snapping back to an 8:40 p.m. boarding for 9:10p.m. departure. Something about weather in New York or missile testing off the East Coast, or both.
  • The distance from the food court to the American gates is just enough to be a pain to walk quickly with bags and freshly greased food, but close enough to make it and cause everyone to glare, harshly, at your fresh French Fries.

e.p.c. posted this at 01:04 GMT on 29-Jun-2005 .

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A complete waste of time

Sometime in the last century, a forgettable video game was written for the Sega Genesis. An even more forgettable translation from Japanese to English was done. The game is long forgotten, but the translated introduction lives on in the All Your Base Are Belong To Us meme.

I want to emphasize that this is a complete, utter waste of time before we proceed.

First, there's a website dedicated to the meme.

Now, via Expat@Large, I've wasted ten minutes watching AYBABTU set to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody: All Your Base Rhapsody.

Don't say I didn't warn you (I'm looking at you, Todd).

e.p.c. posted this at 23:40 GMT on 30-Jun-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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