Scripting News for 8/9/2008

Disconnecting the ‘Annex’ 

On 2/7/06 this blog got an annex on wordpress.com that mirrored the content here.

The purpose was twofold: 1. It allowed people to comment on my writing and 2. It would trackback to blogs I Iink to. Over time these functions became less important. People don’t pay so much attention to trackback, and I added Disqus to this site for comments, and don’t even watch the comments on the annex. That’s bad cause I miss important stuff, and people think I don’t care. Oy.

So it’s time to bid adieu to the annex, it’ll stay there as long as Matt & Co keep wordpress.com running (thanks!) but this will be the last post to be mirrored there.

If you’re subscribed to the feed you should redirect your reader to this feed:

http://scripting.com/rss.xml

And since the first post there had a cool picture of comedian Jack Benny, I thought it was fitting that the last one should have that picture as well. :-)

Edwards scandal idicts MSM and political bloggers 

This morning two editorials one in the LA Times and the other in The Moderate Voice, a political blog, provide a fresh perspective on the Edwards scandal.

The story broke in the National Enquirer, months ago, long before the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, yet mainstream press and bloggers failed to carry the story and investigate further. So far the stories have only been about the failure of mainstream press, but bloggers failed too.

CNN interviewed the editor in chief of the Enquirer, David Perel, yesterday.

Tim Rutten, writing in the Times says that this will “dethrone” mainstream media and “signals the end of the era in which traditional media set the limits of acceptable political journalism.”

Shaun Mullen, writing in The Moderate Voice says: “The mainstream media let us down yet again by failing to take seriously first rumors and then credible accounts of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair.”

Neither statement goes far enough.

The reports were out there, there was tentative coverage in MSM and blogs, but the story we all took the word of reputable sources over the disreputable Enquirer.

Rutten is right, it’ll never be the same again.

Update: I’ve Been Banned At DailyKos Because Of John Edwards.

That’s what happens when you “blog” somewhere you can be banned for saying something unpopular.

Blogging is the unedited voice of a person.

Kos is definitely not a blogging platform, if this story is true.

Scripting News for 8/8/2008

What if Country Joe was right? 

What if Edwards had been the nominee? 

Shudder to think what would have happened if Edwards had come out on top after the primaries. No doubt he would have had to withdraw in disgrace, the way Eagleton withdrew in 1972. Could he have made it all the way to the nomination without it coming out? Hard to imagine, but if it had he might have destroyed the Democratic Party.

Stunningly self-destructive, for a guy who seemed so utterly in control, unshakable, willing to do anything to be President. He had it in for himself. Amazing that his wife knew and supported his run for President.

Did he coordinate the timing of this with Obama or is it a coincidence that he went on vacation the day the story broke, with a request that the press not pay any attention to him in the coming week? Or did Edwards spring this on him as well?

This should put to rest any thought of HRC being the nominee for vice-president. The skeletons in her closet are much worse, and some of them aren’t even hidden. The press gave her a pass in the primary. It wouldn’t happen in the fall, she’d be held to account for them, there was outright bribery in the last days of the Clinton Administration, and she was part of it. Not a bystander.

BTW, one more little bomb waiting to go off is the verdict in the Hamdan trial which came out yesterday. The question is — will he be released when his term is up in 4.5 months. Let’s see, that’s just about the time the Bushes are leaving town and Obama or McCain is taking office. Could the jury possibly have been thinking of this? Is McCain getting an ad ready saying “Hamdan will not get out as long as I’m President” and throw the hot potato over at Obama. This will be a campaign issue, for sure. The Dems better get ready for it.

Could Vista fail? 

I was thinking about Vista yesterday when I was working on my Asus Eee PC, getting it ready to be my media workstation during the Democratic Convention later this month.

I was having a bunch of problems with XP, one of which was related to the fact that it came of age before wifi did. The helptext and troubleshooting guide that’s built into the system make no mention of wireless configuration, beyond a confusing wizard that creates a wireless network that emanates from my computer (I think that’s what it does, I’ve gotten lost in it many times over the years, and the terminology it uses is incredible weird and IT-ish). XP has no help to offer when you’re trying to figure out why there’s no icon in the Network Properties window for wireless. (The manual for the Eee PC has less of an excuse, it was written way after wifi existed.)

This got me thinking about Vista, and why this computer came with XP, and why I wouldn’t have bought it if it came with Vista. Why? Why won’t I try Vista?

There are a lot of specific reasons which I’ll touch on, but first, the main reason is this: Vista has the smell of death. I don’t believe Vista will be around much longer. I don’t want to be one of those people who has a computer that runs Vista, anymore than I wanted to use OS/2 when Windows 3.x was in its heyday. I remembered too well what it was like to use an Apple III when it failed to take over, as expected, from the Apple II. Operating systems can fail, and Vista shows every indication that it is one of those operating systems.

Now, what led to this feeling? Well let’s work backwards.

1. They are running a campaign to try to prove, despite what people believe, that Vista really is a great operating system. They can try to appeal to our intellect, but it only validates the gut feeling that something is very wrong. The only way I’m convinced something is hot is if I hear from people using it how hot it is, all the time, repeatedly. I know one or two people who use Vista, and mostly they say it’s okay, no one says it’s great.

2. I think Microsoft is in bed with Hollywood, and when they improve an OS they’re adding more locks and security cameras for the entertainment industry to control us and spy on us. I like computers that mind their own business and work for me, not The Man. If Microsoft came out with a marketing program for Vista that said “This is your operating system, not ours or Hollywood’s” — that would catch my attention. (They aren’t saying that, and I don’t think they can.)

Update: Netflix’s DRM Turned Me Into a Pirate.

3. Microsoft lost me, bigtime, over their lack of defenses against malware. It was when I switched to Macintosh that I realized how painful Windows had become.

4. Vista was troubled in development (it was called Longhorn), kept being delayed, people that worked on it weren’t enthusiastic, their marketers kept saying it had killer features, but never could say what they were and they never materialized.

5. Everything is happening in the web browser now, and Microsoft completely dropped the ball there. I use Firefox now, and I have very little interest in an OS designed to run IE better.

6. And finally, there is no demand for new operating systems. Little improvements, tweaks, defenses against new malware, support for new gadgets, that’s what we need from OS vendors. The days of excitement happening in OSes is long past. I don’t believe Apple can deliver there either, btw. Just keep it working, that’s your main job, no one is going to be blown away by new stuff in the OS.

Update: As always an interesting discussion has started on FriendFeed. Another thing — in the 90s, before blogging was big, Microsoft had a big outreach program to build buzz around its products. It was really impressive. Now that blogging is established — nothing — silence. Esp when there’s so much buzz around Apple, this may be the biggest mistake they’re making with Vista.

Scripting News for 8/8/2008

 

Could Vista fail? 

I was thinking about Vista yesterday when I was working on my Asus Eee PC, getting it ready to be my media workstation during the Democratic Convention later this month.

I was having a bunch of problems with XP, one of which was related to the fact that it came of age before wifi did. The helptext and troubleshooting guide that’s built into the system makes no mention of wireless configuration, beyond a confusing system for creating a wireless network that emanates from my computer. It’s of no help when you’re trying to figure out why there’s no icon in the Network Properties window for wireless. (The manual for the Eee PC has less of an excuse, it was very much written after wifi exists.)

This got me thinking about Vista, and why this computer came with XP, and why I wouldn’t have bought it if it came with Vista. Why? Why won’t I try Vista?

There are a lot of specific reasons which I’ll touch on, but first, the main reason is this: Vista has the smell of death on it. I don’t believe Vista will be around much longer. I don’t want to be one of those people who has a computer that runs Vista, anymore than I wanted to use OS/2 when Windows 3.x was in its heyday. I remembered too well what it was like to use an Apple III when it failed to take over, as expected, from the Apple II. Operating systems can fail, and Vista shows every indication that it is one of those operating systems.

Now, what led to this feeling? Well let’s work backwards.

1. They are running a campaign to try to prove, despite what people believe, that Vista really is a great operating system. They can try to appeal to our intellect, but it only validates the gut feeling that something is wrong here.

2. I think Microsoft is in bed with Hollywood, and when they improve an OS they’re adding more locks and security cameras for the entertainment industry to control us and spy on us. I like computers that mind their own business and work for me, not The Man.

3. Microsoft lost me, bigtime, over their lack of defenses against malware. It was when I switched to Macintosh that I realized how painful Windows had become to use.

4. Vista was troubled in development (it was called Longhorn), kept being delayed, people that worked on it weren’t enthusiastic, their marketers kept saying it had killer features, but never could say what they were and they never materialized.

5. Everything is happening in the web browser now, and Microsoft completely dropped the ball there. I use Firefox now, and I have very little interest in an OS designed to run IE better.

6. And finally, there is no demand for a new operating system. Little improvements, tweaks, defenses against new malware, support for new gadgets, that’s what we need from OS vendors. The days of excitement happening in OSes is long past. I don’t believe Apple can deliver there either, btw. Just keep it working, that’s your main job, no one is going to be blown away by new stuff in the OS.

Scripting News for 8/7/2008

Next stop Denver! 

I’ve got about one and a half weeks before I start the roadtrip to Denver, and in that time I want to do some prep, if there’s interest, with other bloggers who will be there, or people who are covering the convention remotely, or are just interested in what’s happening there.

I have a great toolkit, code that can connect all the blogging and micro-blogging environments, Twitter, Identi.ca, FriendFeed and RSS of course, and probably most other kinds of connections you can think of.

I want to do photos, audio and video.

I’ll have two computers with me, a 17-inch MacBook Pro, fully loaded; and an Asus Eee PC.

I’ll be driving to and fro, with stops Salt Lake and Boulder. I’m going to try to stay on the grid the whole way, let’s see if it works. Last time I made this trip, in 2003, Sprint didn’t have much coverage except in the cities.

I’ll be staying in downtown Denver, very close to the Pepsi Center.

I’d love to meet as many people interested in technology and politics as possible. I was at the 2004 convention in Boston, when all this was very new, and that trip was mostly awe — amazement at being there, amazement at the spectacle and the incredible post-9/11 security. My guess is that the security will be tight this time as well, but we’ll still have fun!

Let me bring back your wishes from the political blogosphere to TechLand. I’m hoping to come back brimming with ideas and positive energy.

Did you wonder what #dontgo means? (I did.) 

I’ve found the hash tags people were putting on their twits really annoying, never thought they would catch on, until a few days ago I started hearing about #dontgo — and until this morning I didn’t know what it was about.

Read this e.politics post, it explains.

Republicans have been using Twitter to organize.

An innovation that came from the tech community is being used by the political bloggers on Twitter.

Let’s pick a day and all inflate our tires together 

I love how Barack Obama picked up the ball and threw it back in the Republican’s faces. Indeed, they do annoy with their ignorance, they’re not really that stupid, but they delight in provoking a reaction.

It’s not even smart politics as Maureen Dowd pointed out yesterday in her eloquent NYT column, where she nailed it about McCain and former President Bill Clinton, and former #1 black political leader Jesse Jackson. A generation of alpha males has been left behind in the Obama juggernaut, and they’re not happy.

Obama did something very good, if it’s true that properly inflating our tires would save up to 4 percent of the oil we use. That’s actually a lot of savings. If we spend $700 hundred billion a year on oil, 4 percent is $29 billion. We’re not so rich that we can look the other way at an opportunity to, as a nation, save that much money.

And listen to this carefully — we need something positive we can do together to help all of us. It’s been a long time since we had a national project. The Republicans laugh at Jimmy Carter’s sweater, but that just tells us one thing, they’ve been running things too damned long. (And Bill Clinton was no better, with his “depends what is is” bullshit.) It’s time to get smart.

We need to find more ideas that can make us $29 billion, again and again. We need to think like a corporation that wants to return to profitability because that’s what’s going to heat our homes and keep us moving. We’ve run out of frontiers to exploit, and now we have to face the reality that we must learn how to live with each other. The sneering and bullying must be over, and Obama did what we all have to do when faced with willful ignorance — tell it to fuck off, we don’t have the time for this nonsense, we’re busy solving problems, no time to argue with idiots.

So I suggest we pick a day, next week or the week after, and help each other check our tire pressure and fill those tires and start saving the money — now. It would be something nice the oil companies could help with too. Get on our side for a change.

Micah: “How do we make this something real so that others sense they’re part of something larger?”

Scripting News for 8/6/2008

Wifi in BART 

I rode the BART into SF last night for a dinner near Moscone, first BART trip I’ve taken with the new Asus Eee PC 901 with XP. It’s a fine little computer, so little in fact that you can almost think of it as a cell phone or an iPod, maybe a big iPhone, esp if you add on an EVDO modem, which I have.

I had a 20 minute wait for the train returning to the East Bay at the Montgomery St station, so I whipped out the Asus, thinking I’d listen to some music or watch some video, but I noticed there was a wifi signal. Odd, since we were about 50 to 100 feet underground. Turns out it was an official BART wifi signal, a free trial, so I signed up, logged on, and downloaded the latest episode of Fresh Air and listened to it on the train home.

Now get this — the wifi signal went about 1/2 the way across the tunnel under the bay! After the signal went away, with the lid closed the Asus makes a fine podcast player. All my podcatching software runs on it just fine. We may be getting somewhere interesting. (If only Apple had made a cell phone that ran Mac software, I know it’s something like the Mac, but I’m lame and have no patience for platforms that are “something like” platforms my software already works on.)

Anyway BART’s on board. Nice! (And yeah I know they’re going to charge for it, and that’s fine.)

My to-do list for Identi.ca 

I had a great phone conversation yesterday with Evan at Identi.ca. It was just an hour, but we covered a lot of ground. And Evan is an open kind of guy, so I’m pretty sure he won’t mind me saying what I was lobbying for him to do next.

1. Cosmetics. I want to spiff up my presence on Identi.ca the same way I have with my presence on Twitter.

2. Payloads. We never got them from Twitter, so as a result every time you want to push a picture or video through Twitter, it involves showing the user a URL. Over time it fades into the background, we forget how ugly this is, but when you use FriendFeed, you don’t see so many URLs cause it understands a few common data types, and does something intelligent with them. This should be formalized before it gets out of control, and RSS enclosures are the obvious way to go. Thumbs for pictures, embedded MP3 player for audio, same for video, where possible.

3. Threaded discussions through a plug-in with Disqus et al.

4. Plug-ins! (This is killer. I would write some right off the bat.)

5. Let’s play with RSS clouds for lightweight federation. Again, I would definitely ship code that connected with Identi.ca on this level. It’s been years since I did anything with clouds in RSS, but it’s a feature that’s been there for a half-decade, ready for someone to pick it up. This one was Evan’s idea, but I obviously support it.

Anyway, there were some other things we talked about, of course, that I don’t want to make public at this time, esp things Evan is going to do that are cool but didn’t come from me. Gotta leave something to tease about. :-)

Scripting News for 8/4/2008

Micro-blogging meetup in September? 

Following up on yesterday’s piece about fragmentation in the micro-blogging world; on my walk yesterday I took a Steve Gillmor podcast with me, an interview with Dustin Sailings, the developer of TwitterSpy. All three of us, like Rafe Needlman at Webware, and many others, are trying to sort out the “micro-blogging” world we live in now, how we got here, and where we’ll be. Is this like the first Iraq War, or the second? Is it like Instant Messaging, where interop has always been a problem, or like blogging and RSS, where it wasn’t (much of) a problem. I’d say we’re at an inflection point — a lot of it depends on what people do, actually the technology doesn’t seem to be the issue, it’s what people and money do that will make the difference.

That’s why I suggested to Steve, on identi.ca, that maybe a micro-blogging camp-style meetup in Sept would be a good idea. I also sent an email to Rafe with the same suggestion.

We could do it in Berkeley at the Hillside Club, lots of great restaurants nearby, easy to get to from BART. Or we could do it in San Francisco, or down in the valley, or in NYC, or Montreal. I think it should be in North America since almost all the development is happening in the US and Canada.

What’s cool about where we’re at is that users understand what’s needed this time, before the technology has arrived.

I’m anxious to hear what everyone thinks and I don’t think there’s any substitute for a face to face meeting.

It would be great to keep it small, but it must also be open to anyone who wants to participate. No way can this be an invite-only “Friends Of Someone” type gathering. No one must be able to say they weren’t allowed to come.

Anyway that’s the idea. What do you think??

Update: After saying most of the development is happening in North America word of a Japanese Twitter-like service just popped on TechMeme.

My kind of blogging and the 2008 campaign 

Not that anyone is paying attention, but I seem to disagree with almost everyone about what blogging is. To me it’s the empowerment of the individual to speak for him or herself, not through filters of the press.

I learned first-hand about those filters when I briefly took a professional job in the mid-90s. Some editors are great and some really interfere. Add enough editors, and what the author thinks gets lost. So does the man or woman in the street or the experts who were interviewed for a story.

It got really bad toward the end of the 20th century, but as the cost of publishing tools went down, and their ease of use went up, and as people got more familiar with the technology, the rules started to change. The gatekeepers lost a lot of their power. And now when the media starts to go along with a corrupt campaigner wanting somehow to make Britney Spears and Paris Hilton figures in this election, like WIllie Horton was in 1988, well — guess who speaks up and calls bullshit on it.

Paris Hilton’s mother!

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

If you see bullshit, call it. If you’re the mother of one of the celebs who happens also to be a donor to McCain’s campaign, it has extra ooomph when you say the ad is a waste of (your) money, money that should be spent improving America, because that’s what we want from our President.

No I’m not going to vote for McCain, but Kathy Hilton is. McCain should pay attention. He can manipulate the press, for sure — they love to be whipped into frenzy (it’s what they do, they live for it) but the rest of us are truly sick of being on edge during these campaigns, wondering if some crazed scream is going to end up flushing our chances down the toilet. But there’s a new safety valve now, and it’s my kind of blogging, not the professional’s that’s going to save the day. I hope.

BTW, what hypocrisy for McCain to boast that he’s always put America first. To say Obama would rather lose a war to win an election. If McCain were putting America first, he wouldn’t make a mockery of the process. Take the Presidency seriously. We do, so does the rest of the world. He snickers — “we’re just having fun.” Take up a hobby, play golf, get a dog, a puppet, do your mischief in private. (Funny how he sounds just like the dirty tricks pranksters that worked in the Nixon White House).

Scripting News for 8/3/2008

American Airlines wifi? 

I heard that AA has wifi on some cross-country flights. Thinking I’m going to NY sometime in the next week or so — therefore — I want to figure out which flights are the ones blessed with wifi so I can try it out and report on the quality and performance, etc.

Any ideas would be most appreciated! :-)

I bought a fun domain! 

I bought a fun domain just for fun.

http://rep.ublican.com/

Started it off with Joe Trippi’s post today, whcih was most excellent!!

Twitter will kick themselves for missing this 

Imagine if the world of Instant Messaging had been under one roof, if one vendor had invented it, and had 100 percent market share. Further, what if that vendor had the foresight that there would be other vendors and that compatibility between their services would make a huge market, and that incompatibility would keep the market fragmented and relatively small. What would that vendor have done?

Now think about the opportunity that was before Twitter in 2007 and may even still exist in 2008, to do the same for micro-blogging. Imagine if Twitter had rolled out a blueprint for how to tie up a compatible micro-blogging service to Twitter’s service, in such a way that I could use one vendor’s service and you could use another, but somehow I could still follow you and you could follow me. That’s the nirvana we’re all seeking as new services come online and finally start attracting users.

I think it’s good that Steve Gillmor is using Identi.ca as his micro-blogging home. Given the amount of enthusiasm he has for Twitter, I’m sure this decision didn’t come quickly or easily. Me, I’m using FriendFeed these days, and to the extent I post to Twitter it’s done by some bridge software I wrote that watches what I do on FF and posts new stuff automatically to Twitter.

When we move to different systems we’re creating a mess, because there are differences in these systems (and that’s good, I like the ways FF is different from Twitter and Identi.ca) so bridging them requires some thought, experimentation and consideration. I’m sure Steve would like to be able to communicate with people who use Twitter (can he?) but I can follow Steve fine over on FF, which has the ability to subscribe to feeds from other users.

I’ve had to turn off FF’s monitoring of my Twitter feed, because it would catch “echoes” of messages my bridge sent to Twitter which then appeared a second time on FF. This meant having discipline to only use FF to post now. Anything I post on Twitter will not be seen on FF.

This is chaos but it’s good, because now users are understanding the issues of federation, and will know a solution to the problems when they see it. Users can even participate in the discussion, because they are becoming so familiar with the problem.

Would it have been better for Twitter to anticipate it? Absolutely, because the chaos could have been avoided; and it would have been better for Twitter because they could have been the Network Solutions of this space, the name authority, and there would be their elusive business model. Your name on the micro-blogging network would cost $5 per year, payable to Ev, Biz and Jack, Incorporated. That would add up to quite an annuity. It still could happen, but there isn’t much time left.

Update: See the discussion on FF.

cgerrish: “I once wrote that it wasn’t possible to rebuild New York city somewhere else. But Twitter has stopped doing some of the things that made it the New York City of social media. Its streets are filled with potholes, there are abandoned buildings and broken windows, squeegee guys trying to clean your windshields, trash on the streets, basic services not working and periodic power outages. People won’t migrate individually to other services, they’ll leave in tribes. And every tribe is connected to many other tribes.”

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