Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006
Long Snout Book Buying
O'Reilly has released a 'rough cut' version of the book Flickr Hacks in what it's calling the 'long snout.' (Like the other end of the long tail, you see. It applies to product creation and tracking the development curve, not just the demand curve. Read more about it here.) It means that the book is not done and you're purchasing a rough edit which you can then help edit and shape towards the final version. At point of purchase, it may not even be a full manuscript. (Will they have an RSS feed to notify you about new chapters posted?)

From the FAQ:
Rough Cuts is a new service from Safari Books Online that gives you early access to content on cutting-edge technologies -- before it's published. It lets you literally read the book as it is being written. The beta version of the Rough Cuts service is debuting in January 2006, with four works-in-progress from O'Reilly Media. We'll be adding features and titles throughout the year.
There are three purchase packages available including an online-only package ($12.99) that will include one download of the final manuscript. For $27.99, you can have online access and feedback as the book is written and O'Reilly will ship you the print version. Or if you don't have time to help edit a book, place a $16.99 advance order and just get the print copy when it ships. It's a deal as final retail price is $24.99.

For technical books, this is a fantastic idea. You can have the community help in ferreting out bugs and typos in the text. Coding examples can be tested and corrected before book release. O'Reilly is good about soliciting feedback for their books and providing erratum Web pages with corrections. This process should insure a better quality print version and less erratum.

Just about any non-fiction title could benefit from this process plus you build a community and ownership around the book itself. I could see the system helping in designing the book's structure and focus. As the community of local bookstores are supplanted by the BIG B's (Borders, Barnes & Noble) and Amazon, maybe this type of editing community, based globally on the Net, will take shape.

Besides Flickr Hacks, they are also rough cutting Ajax Hacks, Ruby Cookbook, and Ruby on Rails: Up and Running.

I have absolutely no time to try and play with something like this but I am sorely tempted.

See Also:
O'Reilly publishes free books for downloading under Creative Commons license. It's called the Open Books Project. The first edition of CGI Programming for World Wide Web is available here. It's an excellent resource. tags:

Thursday, January 26, 2006
How to Be Creative
Common sense on being creative. Good stuff.

How to Be Creative by Hugh Macleod at gapingvoid tags:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
MPAA Can Copy But You Can't
Via ars technica.

The Motion Picture Association of America, guardians of intellectual property, made unauthorized copies of the film This Film is Not Yet Rated (directed by Kirby Dick). The film looks at the MPAA's motion picture rating system.

The unauthorized copies may be legal according to Stanford law prof Mark Lemley because they were not for financial gain (huh? read the article). But this group should have done everything within their power to publicly state why they felt the need to make these copies and they should have done it before they made the copies. (Especially since Dick requested that they not make any copies.)

Many believe that the MPAA's motivations for protecting content is much more about financial gain than any respect for artists. This kind of behavior reinforces that view.

thanks tech.memeorandum. tags:

Saturday, January 21, 2006
How to Intimidate the Washington Post
Deborah Howell, I'm sorry that some twits said mean, stupid, and nasty things to you.

You said:

... it is profoundly distressing if political discourse has sunk to a level where abusive name-calling and the crudest of sexual language are the norm, where facts have no place in an argument.

Did you miss the last election?

The LA Times set up wikis and got people saying nasty things and shut down the wikis. Now WaPo closes down commenting for the same reasons. You guys aren't getting it yet. Opening up your site to all the people means, well, all the people and some of them are jerks and because of free speech, they can say dumb stuff. Please suck it up. Erase the bad stuff if you want. I don't want to read dumb stuff anyway.

The Firestorm Over My Column tags:

Unawareness of RSS
I use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) via Bloglines and Google Reader. I think it will change the face of the World Wide Web... some day. For today, I think a major hurdle is how much time people have to deal with this stuff. None of the current browsers make it really easy. But if you take a few minutes to visit Bloglines and set up an account, you'll save a lot of time in the long run as you can read all this Web stuff in one place and not have to click, click, click links and wait for pages to load and reload and reload.

This quote sums it up for me: "In as much as RSS sucks, it'd suck more without it." Daniel Nerezov's comment at Paul Kedrosky's blog.

Here are more thoughts on the matter. These thoughts sway towards the geek end of the meter.

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0, How to Fix RSS.

Paul Kedrosky at Infections Greed, RSS Sucks. tags:

Forgot What You Searched For? Google Didn't
I'm worried about how much information Google has about my Web travels. So is Leslie Walker at the Washington Post.

Forgot What You Searched For? Google Didn't tags:

Monday, January 16, 2006
Stardust Blogging
Susan A. Kitchens blogged the return of the Stardust probe. Good stuff.

via Asa Dotzler's Firefox blog. tags:

Sunday, January 15, 2006
US Probe Stardust is Back!
I have always been really interested in astronomy and space exploration. In sixth grade, I could name all the planets in order. I also attempted to build a six-inch reflector telescope, grinding my own mirror. (Never finished.) So this news is pretty exciting.

After a seven-year mission covering 3 billion miles, US probe Startdust jettisoned it's capsule and it came down relatively gently in a Utah desert. The probe rendezvoused with Comet Wild 2 at the edge of our Solar System in January 2004 and captured some dust from the comet's tail. Scientists think the dust may date back to the formation of the Solar System, 4.1 billion years ago and could contain "chemical building blocks required for life."

Source: BBC story (with video).
Wikipedia article

Let me take a moment to congratulate all the scientists and technicians who pulled this off.

This is an incredible scientific achievement. It also resembles the beginning of a multitude of stories and films about some kind of alien invasion. Maybe those building blocks are more like viral agents. Maybe the comet is seeded with intelligent life forms. Maybe the comet is alive and pissed that we took some it's tail. Or maybe the particles of the live commet will attempt to return to the comet. Or maybe a new comet will begin growing from comet seeds. tags:

Friday, January 13, 2006
Windows on a Mac
After first reports that Windows probably won't run (easily) on the new Macs-with-an-Intel-Chip-Inside, new reports dispute this and say maybe.... It's all about EFI vs. BIOS with EFI the new chip stuff that will eventually replace BIOS on the Windows systems.

Check here and here.

via tech.memeorandum. tags:

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Is Apple Holding Back?
Cult of Mac reports that Steve has something better than the Macbook. tags:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Goodbye Hello Powerbook
On December 11, on our way to San Diego (Mary and me), my Powerbook G3 got left behind on the bus or at the light rail station. We did not recover it.

I don't recommend starting a vacation like this but the upside was that this was such a big deal that we could only console each other.

We will skip the personal data issue for now. (This Powerbook didn't have a lot on it. Still not good.)

This post is about getting a replacement. Home owners insurance usually covers stuff like this and ours did with a $1,000 deductible.

So what happened yesterday? Steve Jobs announces the MacBooks, Intel inside, laptops. Do I jump for the latest technology or stay with tried-and-true older stuff.

I decided on tried-and-true and smaller. I ordered a 12-inch Powerbook today. It was a refurbished model that was the same (even processor speed) as the current new model but $200 less. The insurance check just about covered it so we didn't need much out-of-pocket.

It's on its way. The first thing I will do is configure the firmware password in case this one disappears like the last one. tags:

Schneier on the Sony Rootkit
The story to pay attention to here is the collusion between big media companies who try to control what we do on our computers and computer-security companies who are supposed to be protecting us.
Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit by Bruce Schneier.

Mr. Schneier points out bad this Sony thing really is. Sony was distributing the CDs that installed the rootkit since 2004. I didn't know that. Since the rootkit revalation, the industry has been strangely quiet. If the rootkit were the work of an individual, I'm pretty certain that person would be hauled up on charges.

I got another post about this in the works but M. needs to send an email. Stay tuned. tags:

Google Earth Released for OS X Tiger
This is quite an amazing tool. I'm sure it's been blogged about ad nauseum in the Windows world where it appeared a while ago.

It's like the online except on steroids. As I move my pointer over my neighborhood, I get the elevation of the terrain and my 'eye altitude,' how high up I'm floating.

Zooming down results in a blurry image. There must be a way to find the optimum viewing altitude for a particular area. Well, it looks like certain areas have closer views available than others.

Clicking or searching for new locations results in a scan from where you are to where you want to go. There is a physical sensation of traveling which is nicely done.

Whoa. Clicking on the Google Earth Community layer over Richfield, MN resulted in a wifi placemark for Dunn Brothers appearing.

Thanks, Google.

Check The Savvy Technologist for some links to a podcast and some cool views of the Earth. tags:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Educated Guesswork: The Rapture Index
from Wikipedia: "The Rapture is a post punk influenced rock band with elements of acid house."

Oops. Wrong Rapture:
The Rapture is a term most commonly used to describe an event in certain systems of Christian eschatology (study of the end times) whereby all true Christians are taken from Earth by God into Heaven.
Are we close to The Rapture? EKR at Educated Guesswork found a site with a Rapture Index. Know that an index of 145+ means it's rapture season and current index (from Jan. 2) is at 151.

Holy Smoke! tags:

Public Access Surveillance
Educated Guesswork: Surveillance camera security tags:

The Firefox Extension
If you use for socially bookmarking
you should install the Firefox extension.

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Tiny Linux Browser
Filed under Letter to Santa, 2006.

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
with Linux OS under the hood.

Where can I test drive one? According to the Nokia 770 blog, CompUSA stocks them and has even reduced the price.

Here's a second 770 blog or a cross-post of the other one. Hard to tell.

And just to be comprehensive, here's the popular list for the Nokia770 tag (RSS feed available).

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The Circus by Marcelo Montecino
Photo of circus clowns in Chile.
The Circus in Spring, Santiago, Chile 87
Originally uploaded by Marcelo Montecino.
Every so often I blog a photo by Marcelo Montecino who is pouring a body of quite excellent photo documentary work into Flickr. (Not to mention some of the artistic photography included at the same price.) He is from Chile and his work is about Latin America, especially Chile.

This one is from a short series on the circus. Click the image to enter his world. tags:

How to Whistle Loudly
Education is listed as a major theme of this blog and thus I offer "How to Whistle Loudly."

The instructions are very clear and I was making a louder (though not sustainable) whistle after a few tries.

via Jason Wong

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Microsoft + Yahoo?
There is a rumor that Microsoft offered $80 billion for Yahoo and Yahoo refused saying it wasn't enough.

I hope Web 2.0 isn't going to be about these types of giant mergers. Yahoo has bought two of the major 2.0 players in the last year: just recently and Flickr in March of 2005. For those of us who like to see the smaller players around, this was sad in itself. But so far, at least with the Flickr purchase, Yahoo is not getting in the way or changing the rules (at least in any significant way). And Yahoo is a Microsoft competitor, as is Google.

So if Yahoo bands with Microsoft that leaves Microsoft and Google. Neither is known for transparency and both seem to strive for world domination (at least some of the time).

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Monday, January 02, 2006
Art Sales Today
Tim Bray has a thoughtful posting on the art sales scene in the 21st century. First, he goes over what he believes can't work (and I agree) -- serious DRM, hardware solutions, arresting customers -- then moves on to some possible systems that just might work, like subscribing to an artist's work.

The artists seems to be the missing link in the copyright discussion. They seem to become shills for the industry (Metallica) or are strangely silent, maybe fearing corporate retribution. Let's hope that 2006 brings enlightened artists who test the pure Internet distribution waters or have enough clout to demand to remain outside the DRM soup.

(For a longtail distribution idea for the (likely-soon-to-be-cancelled)TV show Arrested Development, check here.) tags:

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