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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Only if people are like sheep

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 23, 2009

Over the years, Tim O’Reilly’s publishing house has served as a definitive source for computing information. He’s commonly cited as a top leader in the Web 2.0 movement. So when O’Reilly recently warned that big corporations are jeopardizing the internet as an interactive and collaborative medium, we should take note.

O’Reilly’s comments appeared in this report from Information Week.

The report states that the web is in danger of “segmenting into a federation of closed camps led by a handful of increasingly powerful vendors” and that O’Reilly believes vendors should focus more on benefits for the user instead of enhancing their competitive position.

We can certainly hope that vendors will become enlightened enough to realize it’s not in their long-term best interest to create walled gardens out of their products and services. I’m thinking of ISPs and companies like Apple and Google. But the other side of that coin is the possibility that people will go on accepting products that restrict their freedom as if that’s the way it must be. Will we allow ourselves to be herded into pens, or will we support those vendors who promote an open system?

Posted in Internet, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Twitter information management and Seesmic

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 17, 2009

Since I began using it, Twitter has proven to be increasingly useful for me to get news on subjects I’m interested in (it isn’t necessary to follow the noise, you know), and the recently developed Twitter Lists feature has enabled me to topically organize and filter relevant sources. It’s just a matter of identifying a good source to follow (and study who they follow and who follows them to identify more good sources).

When Seesmic Desktop was announced recently, I thought it might be a useful tool for using Twitter and it is. Being able to open and display several lists at once is quite nice. No need to jump around as much. With Twitter alone, I also found I sometimes missed seeing a reply that got buried in my home page timeline, but that’s no problem with Seesmic because it can gather all replies together in a column just like any other list. Below is a Seesmic page with three lists showing, navigation bar on the left.

Seesmic has a user-oriented feedback system too, one that social services like Facebook and, um, Twitter, should take note of. As you type on their feedback page, your keywords are instantly matched with previous comments and displayed, so that you can see other comments on that topic. Then, instead of entering a duplicate comment, you can enter a vote on the previously submitted comment to show how many people support that idea. If you wish, you can continue and submit your own comment. Nice touch, and clearly one that benefits the Seesmic team as well. I think more services should use this technique. In the picture below, I was going to suggest that they make their columns scroll smoothly rather than incrementally by post, and this came up after I entered “smooth scrolling”:

I’m not suggesting that Seesmic is the best tool (TweetDeck would have to be a contender although it doesn’t support Twitter lists yet)[Nov 30–it does now, update just released], as there are plenty of other Twitter apps out there. I just happened to try it and it turns out I like it.

Posted in Internet, Technology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

S4ve.as file sharing service is back…for a price

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 15, 2009

A few months ago I discovered a file sharing service at S4ve.as/. It was a free service that allowed you to upload a file of any size, receive a URL that you could share with others for 24 hours, after which time the file would be deleted. This seemed like a good idea for sharing extra large files that might not be conveniently shared through email. I tried it a few times and it worked fine.

However, about a month ago the website suddenly went out, with a message that they were working on technical difficulties but would be back soon. After repeatedly checking back in subsequent weeks with no updates posted, I decided the website was down for good.

Today I see the site is working again, but it’s now charging $.99 per file uploaded, still subject to the 24-hour limit. It might be an attractive offer if the file remained permanently accessible, but not if you can only use it for 24 hours. I doubt they’ll find many takers.

[on second thought, even permanently, for one file it wouldn’t be worth it. There are too many other ways to do it for free]

Posted in Internet, Technology | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

East County wind farms

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 15, 2009

San Diego’s U-T reported today (Wind farm plan irks activists) that “a remote corner of East County is shaping up as a battleground between companies pushing wind farms as clean and cheap power generators and activists who view them as a blight on the landscape.”

East County was shaping up as a battleground over wind power quite a while ago, as reported in a well-documented three-part account from East County Magazine last February (Part I, Part II, Part III). That report thoroughly explains what’s already done, what’s in development, and what’s being proposed from a variety of perspectives.

One of those the newer projects being planned, the Invenergy Campo Project was announced June 11 with Invenergy’s press release coinciding with a U-T story on the project.

The latest U-T article mentions Iberdrola Renewables as having the plan “drawing the most attention” but doesn’t clarify if that means there are other proposals for that specific site and Iberdrola is getting the most attention, or if Iberdrola’s project is just drawing more attention in comparison to the other completed or in development projects (Iberdrola’s website has no mention of its own plans either).

I’m also curious about the possibility of alternative-style wind turbines such as those produced by Helix Wind and described in this SD Daily Transcript article (a design that greatly reduces the risk to birds). Are alternative designs such as these being considered in any of the new proposals?

 

Posted in Environment, Land use, Technology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Getting our values around copyright right

Posted by George J Janczyn on November 5, 2009

I think everyone would benefit from and enjoy watching this presentation that Lawrence Lessig gave this morning at the Educause 2009 conference. He illustrates how the extreme application of copyright to all aspects of our lives corrupts the rule of law in a democratic society, and promotes the Creative Commons approach to a legal infrastructure for avoiding the damage to science, education, and culture inflicted by copyright.

LessigCopyrightTalk

Click the picture above to see the video. Lessig’s talk begins at minute 35 26, just use the time slide control to bypass earlier talks.

Lessig is the Director, Edward J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics, and Professor of Law at Harvard University

Posted in Internet, Politics, Technology | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Paying the price for water

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 31, 2009

In last week’s VoSD water panel discussion, some people wrote how they are bothered by operating expenses in their water bill. While there are differences of opinion whether operating expenses should be through a separate fixed fee or be included in the the price of water itself, at least the money goes to cover those expenses.

What about other services we use? We not only pay steep fees to other service providers, we often pay them for nothing. Got cable TV? Internet service? Landline? Cellphone? Mobile of any kind? We have no choice but to pay high fixed monthly fees for these whether we use the service or not. This practice makes these companies enormously profitable.

While some corporate entities whip up fears about government control, they’re perfectly happy to use government to force people to use their services. Take the obvious, health care: insurance corporations want government to force every individual in the country to buy their for-profit plans. Forcing the entire country into their revenue stream should be good for profit margins. As for cable TV (and sometimes internet service), consumers in many neighborhoods have no choice due to corporate monopolies granted by the government.

Even without government assistance, these services minimize consumer choice by default. If you want a particular kind of cell phone or mobile device, there’s usually no choice of carrier. Put another way, if you like a particular carrier, your choice of cell phones is limited and you’re usually forced into a service contract extending for a period of time. Of course this is all good for the bottom line: David Rohde describes wireless profits thus: “AT&T posted a 40.9% margin out of its wireless business for 1Q09. Verizon Wireless is doing even better, with a 46.0% margin. Forty-six percent! Hmmm.”

I think we’re in no position to complain about water prices when we live in such a precarious situation, far-removed from our water sources. It’s amazing we can live here at all. And if we didn’t allow ourselves to be bullied by greedy corporations running these other services, paying that water bill would be much less painful.

Posted in Health care, Politics, Technology, Water | Leave a Comment »

Online search results can be misleading

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 25, 2009

Search engines such as Google and Bing return results in a format that shows a snip of the page title and a short string of text appearing on that page. That is often helpful, but it can sometimes be misleading. In the search result shown below, it could be interpreted that I made a somewhat derogatory statement about Mr. Kindle. I did not. On the page in question (also shown below) I made a comment on a news article, someone made a comment immediately after me, and it is that person’s remark that shows up on the search screen. So, be careful when viewing search results, all may not be as it appears.

The search:
GoogleAnomaly

 

My comment:
GoogleAnomaly2

 

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Offshore airport idea for San Diego

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 22, 2009

One of my daily must-read blogs, Aquafornia, found this “crazy or brilliant” plan for an offshore airport for San Diego at The Infrastructurist. Read it here.

Posted in Environment, Land use, Technology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Cox Cable’s interruptible Internet service

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 13, 2009

Cox Communications Internet service includes some webspace, which is where I keep my website and other files. Guess what that webspace service includes? 8 hours of downtime twice a week.

CoxOutage

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Miramar Air Show

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 3, 2009

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The Miramar Air Show opened Friday. The afternoon sky was perfect: clouds drifted in from Tropical Depression OLAF in the Eastern Pacific off Baja but the ceiling was high and the viewing was good and we were shielded from the hot sun.

 

The show included a Russian MiG-17F, the red “Oracle Challenger,” an F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Patriots L-39 4-ship jet team, an AV-8B Harrier vertical landing and takeoff demo, and the Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets.

 

Photos and video below (click images to enlarge in a new tab). Watch carefully at the end of the first video, the F/A-18 performed an amazing about-face.

Heavy Cargo

 


 

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Posted in Miscellaneous, Technology, Videos | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »