Archive

Archive for September, 2002

Pet Peeve #438:

September 30th, 2002
Comments Off

People who use style sheets to set fixed pixel sizes for their fonts. Gee, that 11 pixel high font might look great on your 800×600 CRT screen, but I can barely see it on my 1400×1050 LCD screen. Making it gray doesn’t help — gray fonts on a white background frequently just disappear on a backlit LCD display, unless you’re at the right angle.
I picked on Missy, but I could have pointed out a bazillion other sites with the same problem, especially weblogs. C’mon, people — fixed font sizes are so 1999. If you use relative sizes, I can enlarge (or shrink) the fonts to something that’s comfortable in my computing environment.
Had I know that an LCD panel is tied to a specific resolution, I wouldn’t have gotten the high end screen. Sure DVD’s look nifty, but most text is tiny tiny tiny. It hurts my eyes.

Uncategorized

How can you oppose auto-discovery? By calling it something else.

September 29th, 2002
Comments Off

Ray Ozzie and John Robb have argued against the need for pingback auto-discovery. Robb: “If I wanted to host a discussion group, that is what I would have instead of a weblog.” Ozzie: “So, how long before someone implements a blog UI that resembles a standard topic/response outline/tree discussion format?” (Uh, Ozzie, ever heard of Slashdot and all it’s clones? Sheesh.)
Two incorrect assumptions by these guys:
1. “Auto-discovery = discussion.” If your blog posting auto-discovers other blog posts that reference it, one outcome could be discussion. But it’s still up to you whether you respond or not.
2. “Auto-discovery is for the blog author.” Even if the author isn’t interested in engaging the referring blogs, auto-discovery providers the *readers* with an opportunity to explore the various other thoughts on the blog posting.

Uncategorized

What webloggers are reading:

September 29th, 2002
Comments Off

Paul Bausch of OnFocus created this nifty web service called, Book Watch. Basically, it scans the Weblogs.com list of recently updated weblogs, visits those weblogs, and scrapes out the links to books listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powells. It collects that data, then lists the most-linked-to books.
Mockerybird has taken it a step further. Grabbing the OnFocus list, he uses the Google API to do a Google search on each of those books and retrieve the top five news items for each book. Cool!

Uncategorized

Great idea. Doesn’t scale.

September 29th, 2002
Comments Off

The CD Mix of the Month Club is a great idea. Send this guy a mix CD you’ve burned this month and he’ll send you a copy of his. [link via Molly]
Great idea, that is, until he got some free publicity. Now the poor guy is gonna spend all month burning CD’s. If he starts to get 250+ CDs a month, he won’t even have time to listen to all of them while he burns 250+ copies of his own mix.
There needs to be a peer-to-peer method (or chain letter method?) to manage this, so that it’s not one guy sitting by himself in his apartment copying the same mix CD over and over and over again all month. That’s kinda sad.

Uncategorized

Who needs the web?

September 29th, 2002
Comments Off

Just start a doorlog. [link via Jill/txt]

Uncategorized

Now things might get interesting:

September 27th, 2002
Comments Off

According to MSNBC, the first AOL computer is hitting the market. It’s a low-cost box from Microtel powered by a Cyrix C3 processor and comes installed with the Lindows OS, a Linux distribution designed to look and work as much like Windows as possible (so much so that Microsoft (unsuccessfully) sued them). Lindows uses WINE, a Windows emulator, to allow it to run many Microsoft Windows applications. The default browser is Netscape 7, and AOL is creating a version of AOL 7.0 (the application for accessing the proprietary AOL networks) for Lindows. I presume this must mean that AOL is re-coding their application to use Netscape’s Gecko rendering engine as the browser instead of Internet Explorer’s.
I’ve long been a skeptic about Linux on the desktop. Linux’s strenth — diversity and customizability — is precisely what makes it a poor choice for the average consumer who buys their computer at Sears. It will take:

  1. standardization* of a GUI interface ,
  2. an easy migration path from Windows applications to Linux applications, and
  3. a big pot of corporate money to assume the risk of taking on Microsoft.

At one point, several years ago, I though Corel Linux might have enough oomph to get it done, but Corel (and Corel WordPerfect Office Suite) had already become a bit player by that point. SUN’s acquisition of StarOffice was a clear move in that same direction, with the next step being SUN’s recent announcement that they’ll begin shipping a personal computer with Red Hat Linux as the OS. But Corel didn’t have the capital to pull it off, and SUN doesn’t have the consumer recognition. If AOL gets off its ass and embraces a simplified Linux distro like Lindows, it could poke into some of Microsoft’s market. Don’t get me wrong — it won’t unseat Microsoft. Gates’ fortress isn’t the consumer market, but the business market — all those machines on everybody’s office desk run Windows, and that’s not going to change because of AOL & Lindows. But eating away at Microsoft’s consumer market — something only Apple has made an effective run at — is still a Good Thing™

* By “standardization” I don’t mean “adherence to open standards,” I mean “everything the same.” This is the sticky issue that open source zealots don’t understand. Consumers aren’t interested in source code and, for the most part, they aren’t interested in choice either. Consumers are interested in sameness. It’s an ugly fact, but it’s true. Choice — difference – complicates purchasing decisions. The more complicated the decision, the less likely a consumer is to purchase it. When we’re talking about operating systems, this means that they want an interface that’s the same as everyone else’s. Consumer’s don’t care about the code; 99.98% of humans don’t understand it and don’t want to understand it. Nor do they want to make decisions between KDE, Gnome, tvm, or the command line. They just want what their neighbor has.

Uncategorized

Mobilization for Useless Justice:

September 27th, 2002
Comments Off

I have to drive out of Washington, DC, this morning. I’m not driving a limousine. I’m not on my way to impose oppressive loan repayment terms on impoverished African nations. I’m not stopping at a Starbucks, although I might get a bagel at the local Whatsabagel. But some people in black bandanas apparently want to stop me. They don’t appear at all interested in telling me why they want to make it difficult for me to get out of town, for other people to get to work. It apparently alternately has something to do with this week’sWorld Bank meeting, Starbucks, the IMF, the upcoming war on Iraq, McDonald’s, oil companies, the Gap, Dick Cheney, capitalism, neoliberals (whatever that means), violence against women, George W. Bush, and bad art.
Now, let’s be straight — if I sat down and had a discussion with some of the more intelligent members of the so-called “anti-globalization movement,” I’m fairly certain I’d find myself in agreement, at least in principle, with more of their views than the average American. I’m not an anarcho-syndicalist, but I’m closer to their end of the spectrum than to, say, a Fox News commentator. And I know some of this gang. One of the leaders of Mobilization for Global Justice, the DC activist group that organized much of this weeks activities, used to hang out at my house (my ex-housemate and he are friends). I even spent New Year’s 1998 at a party at his apartment. He’s really bright and not a bad guy. But his “movement” is a pile of crap.
The ideology has its merits; the activist practices, though, are muddled, ineffective, and do more to generate misinformation and misguided anger than to educate and focus the issue. Few DC residents understand what they’re protesting. No one has explained to the public why they are marching on the World Bank, but threatening to ransack Gap stores as well. Too many targets of protest are rolled into one. The ideas are never communicated effectively; instead we see predominantly young and white (a point that should not be quickly dismissed) protestors with puppets, effigies, and vague posterboard messages. Their manipulation and use of the media is pathetic (Newscasters on the local Fox station are There are no charismatic leaders to provide a voice to the ideology and communicate it to the less politicized masses. There is none of the dignity or seriousness of the civil rights movement or even the anti-Vietnam protests of decades past. Instead, this batch of wannabes only succeed in looking like a bunch of privileged college students toying with activism.

Uncategorized

Pingback take two:

September 25th, 2002
Comments Off

Ray Ozzie on the idea of pingback:

“I don’t have a ‘discuss’ link on this blog for a reason: I think that it’s a Good Thing that this blog medium is different than a traditional electronic discussion medium – relying on human mechanisms to ’spread the word’ about interesting referrals, rather than technical mechanisms.”

A purely anecdotal observation: it seems to me that the bloggers who are so enamored of weblogging’s ability to speak without the “hindrance” of actual response or discussion are those already in positions of prestige and arguably power, whether in journalism (Andrew Sullivan) or technology (Ray Ozzie, Dave Winer).

Uncategorized

Working toward AutoDiscovery for weblogs:

September 25th, 2002
Comments Off

A couple of weeks back I wrote:

“Because weblogs are decentralized…, without an effective means to discover the other components to the conversation…, the the original blogger writes in isolation and only includes other voices as he/she sees fit. Sound like any traditional media you know?” (read the whole post)

It looks like some other people have been thinking about how to solve the problem. [link via Scripting News]

Uncategorized

Imagine what the French Revolution would have been like with cell phones…

September 23rd, 2002
Comments Off

SmartMobs.com is the companion site for Howard Rheingold’s upcoming book, Smart Mobs.
What’s a Smart Mob? Imagine hundreds of Japanese teenage girls dispersed throughout Tokyo, all in near-instant contact with each other via wireless technology. When one of them spots their favorite teen idol (say, me, for example) browsing the latest anime at a newstand, she can message the others, allowing them to triangulate in on my position. Within minutes I’m surrounded by hundreds of my screaming teenage fans.
Okay, so that example got a little twisted, but you get the picture. That’s a smart mob — an emergent cooperative phenomena brought about by near-instant communication in the hands of dispersed, unrelated individuals. I’m eagerly awaiting Rheingold’s book.

Uncategorized