Scripting News for 2/11/2007

John Roberts: Who actually covers local news? 

Mike Arrington wants to know who created MyBarakObama. “It launched basically feature-complete and bug free, which would be very hard to do without an extended beta.” 

Steven Levy: “The way Zune handles its song sharing, its draconian DRM is slapped on tunes indiscriminately, whether the artists want it there or not.” 

Ed Cone on Google’s strong-arm tactics in North Carolina.  

Jason Calacanis: “If I was CEO of StumbleUpon I would raise $10M and pay the top 250 folks $500 a month for contributing to the system.” 

Biz Stone likes the changes I’ve made to Scripting News in the last few weeks. More are coming. I have some ideas about RSS feeds. I’m also going to do something bizarre for the 10-year anniversary, coming on 4/1/07. 

Iranian weapons? BFD 

The NY Times ran this story on Saturday, today there’s a mysterious US press briefing announcing that they had discovered that weapons imported from Iran to Iraq are killing American soldiers. So what exactly are we supposed to conclude from this? They don’t say.

On the Sunday talk shows, the politicos don’t say what’s obvious to this voter.

1. If you don’t want Americans blown up by Iranian weapons, get them out of Iraq.

2. It’s a big surprise? We’re calling them names, threatening them, moving our aircraft carriers into their ports, and we’re supposed to be shocked that they’re helping people who are fighting with us in Iraq? I would be surprised if it were otherwise, if they weren’t helping them.

3. Who’s providing more weapons to our enemies, Iran or the U.S.? I don’t have the slightest doubt that the American taxpayer is the largest single source of support for people killing Americans in Iraq. We’re pumping billions of dollars into Iraq every month, a lot of that must be in the form of weapons. Our supposed allies in Iraq are actually Sunni or Shi’ite militia. There are virtually no non-partisans in Iraq, everyone is on some side, and aside from the Americans and British, they’re all trying to blow our guys up.

4. We’ll leave behind a power vacuum in Iraq if we leave now? Seems doubtful to me. The place is already in chaos. We have 150,000 troops in Iraq (or thereabouts) in a country of 27 million people. How many of them are armed? Even if it’s only ten percent of the populace that’s still about 15 Iraqi combatants for every American. We’re not keepting them from killing each other now, we’re not keeping the peace, but we are getting killed. And here’s the thought that scares me the most — it could get a lot worse.

5. Reality-check. Does the U.S. government have any credibility on such things? The people doing the briefing did it on the condition of anonymity. That the Times, of all the publications, is willing to report this as a straight news story is unreal. How stupid are we supposed to be, according to them? Pretty damned stupid, it seems.

Route this to Wikipedia 

For the podcasting page on Wikipedia (which I don’t edit because I’m one of the people it talks about, or should).

Here’s a screen shot of the RSS enclosures prefs page from Radio 8. As you can see from the timestamp at the bottom of the page it was last modified on 11/24/2001. It was created some time before that. Adam Curry, who wrote iPodder, three years later, was an avid user of this software.

Credit matters 

In most intellectual and creative fields they call taking credit for someone else’s work plagiarism. It’s an ugly word, which is good, because it is an ugly act.

For some reason programmers are supposed to not care about credit for their accomplishments. The idea almost certainly came from someone who wanted to take credit for someone else’s work. Creative people of all ilks share this one thing, they want credit. That’s why the credits in a movie or an album are so long. That’s why when someone receives an award they thank the people who made it possible. Credit matters.

When a reporter makes light of this, and I’ve seen them do it, ask how they’d feel if you ran their most popular article on your website with your name on it. 🙂

This really came home when I met with Richard Stallman a couple of months ago. I was surprised to find out that he cared who created a piece of software. To him the act of authorship was important. I had been led to believe the opposite. How about that.

Google saved my ass 

This is pretty technical.

I needed to find out where in the sea of software that’s the OPML Editor I’m installing a listener on port 5335. It should be easy, set a breakpoint in the inetd.startOne glue script and give me a stack crawl when it’s opening that port, and it’s not impossible, but it was easier to just give the string to Google and see what came back. It was a long shot and a couple of years ago it wouldn’t have worked, but today it did. I found out which root file was making the request and from there it was a simple search to find the bit of code.

Good work Google! 🙂

Oh the humanity 

I’m doing a careful review of all my servers, trying to reduce my monthly spending, and improve the durability of the sites I care about, and I’m finding some amazing things.

For example — each of my servers that runs Frontier automatically has a copy of the Radio Community Server installed and turned on. One of its features is that it takes compatible pings from (supposedly) sites in its community, by design it was supposed to also support a community of Radio users. At least that was the design, five years ago when the software shipped. Anyway, there is no community gathered around most of these servers, but they’re ready if one should pop up. And the Internet being what it is in 2007, they do pop up, selling their wares, the usual stuff that spammers are interested in.

Of course now that I know, I’m shutting them all off. 🙂

Here’s a screen shot.

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hieronymous Coward on February 11, 2007 at 9:12 am

    > I’m also going to do something bizarre for the 10-year anniversary

    …switch to Atom? 🙂


  2. Uhhh, no. Guess again. 🙂


  3. Does this imply that a lot of your monthly hosting fees were getting sucked up by the ad-hoc communities that had popped up under your RCS installations?

    It’s somewhat fascinating that these little microcosms popped up.


  4. David, absolutely not. I have no idea how much bandwidth they use, but it can’t be very much, of more concern is how the database clutter that results from their pinging effects performance of teh servers. And the karmic annoyance of backing up every one of their useless pings, which the server was doing!:-)


  5. Not sure I have the guts to do battle on the podcasting page at Wikipedia, though it looks like there’s now a History of Podcasting entry covers credit to people, and it looked pretty objective to me, on a skim.

    I did wonder why the RSS icon on the podcasting page. I guess they like to illustrate with something. Something like this might be more specific:


  6. Dave, generally when I want to search the Editor’s code, I open up opml.root, hit Apple-F, type in what I want and let it search for a moment. I did this and typed in “5335” and it took me straight to newsRiverSuite.init

    It’s cool that Google has indexed the root files.


  7. One of that screenshot’s links has been visited…


  8. Posted by Adam Butler on February 11, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    I think it’s fantastic that the only link visited on that page was “Pregnant sucking preggo suck” and I think it’s even more fantastic that Dave posted it…


  9. Posted by karl on February 11, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Heh…did ya have to click that one to know what it was?


  10. Dave;

    Not to nit-pick (well, maybe a little), but wasn’t iPodder written by Eric de Jonge, Garth Kidd and Andrew Grumet, based on prior art and concept by Adam?

    Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but since you were just writing about credit….


  11. I thought it was written by Adam and they picked it up from him.


  12. Posted by John on February 11, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    Are you trying to Googlebomb the misspelling of Barack Obama’s name (i.e., without a ‘c’)? I noticed that you always spell it wrong. Google says that you only spelled it correctly is 2004.


  13. I agree with you on the N.Y. Times story from Saturday (on Iran’s supposed role in providing “super IEDs). An anonymous briefing? On a subject that’s been making the rounds for at least a year and a half? NPR’s live back and forth with its reporter in Baghdad this morning questioned the significance of the government’s assertions, pointing out that among the total U.S. casualties in the period these things have allegedly been in play, the fraction from super IEDs is small (ballparking it myself, it’s about 8 percent of U.S. hostile fatalities since June ’04).

    NPR’s reporter also pointed out that the U.S. has been trying to sell this “new” information for some time (some example below).

    USA Today: U.S. blames Iran for new bombs in Iraq

    ABC News “exclusive,” November 30, 2006

    Bush detailed the same allegations in a talk last March 13:

    MSNBC: ‘Most sophisticated of roadside bombs reportedly coming from Iran’
    August 4, 2005


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