Scripting News for 7/29/2008

Streamfile looks really cool 

It solves a problem we all have.

http://www.streamfile.com/

I want to send a big file to someone who may or may not be very tech savvy. Look at all the steps they save, assuming you have a place to store a 2GB file, which most people don’t.

I just sent a song to NakedJen in Salt Lake City where, according to Jen, it’s 111 degrees right now.

Luckily it was a cooooooool song. 🙂

Obama to announce VP pick tomorrow night? 

If so Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia looks like the choice.

What is a liberal? 

I listened to part of Fresh Air today in the car and they were talking about arms control in Reagan’s presidency, and were throwing around terms like liberal and such as if they were technical terms that had well-established definitions.

Then I realized I had no idea what it meant. What makes a liberal different from a conservative? What I’m looking for is an explanation that takes into account the derivation of the words. Aren’t conservatives liberal too? Forget the labels — explain the words.

BTW, it’s an interesting question because in the United States the term liberal and conservative ought to mean the same thing. We are a liberal country. Our philosophy is that if it’s not illegal you can do it. In an older country to be a conservative means you want to bring back the king, pope or ayatollah. The United States is what conservatives in other countries hate.

Landing at Logan 

Scripting News for 7/28/2008

Knol is Google’s Wikia 

Wikia is Jimmy Wales’ dream of doing to Google what Wikipedia did to Britannica. Unfortunately for Wales and his investors, Google had a 10-year lead, and a huge ecosystem had been built up around it. Google is a thriving coral reef, and one doesn’t just show up one day with an idea and compete with an ecosystem. That’s why Wikia didn’t, and isn’t likely to work.

It’s amazing how balanced the arrogance is, because the same thing that makes it so hard for Wikia to gain on Google is going to make it virtually impossible for Google to catch Wikipedia with Knol.

The thinking is likely just as superficial and greedy as Wales’ hypothesis that the approach that could unseat Google is the secret sauce that makes Wikipedia work, as if that had anything to do with Wales. It doesn’t, anymore than Google needs Larry and Sergey to keep on rolling as a coral reef ecosystem. See, Wikipedia is a coral reef too, and you don’t just open shop one day and think that because you can drive flow into your version of Wikipedia that the coral reef will magically assemble on your plot of ocean bottom. Instead what you attract are spammers, as Duncan Riley observes in his writeup on Inqisitr earlier today.

Google is going to keep being the coral reef for search, and Wikipedia is going to be the coral reef encyclopedia. Ironically, Knol probably would have fared better if instead of having the appearance of Google tilting the table in its favor, search engine-wise, they had put something in its robots.txt file that kept the Google crawler away, so that the opportunists would have stayed away too. That would have given them some time out of the spotlight to build up some real momentum, giving it a chance to compete with Wikipedia. Not sure what Wikia could have done, the idea seemed doomed from the start, because search isn’t like a Wiki, and human-authored search results are something of a contradiction.

Random stufffff 

Via Doc Searls, Google runs a registrar, without the gunked-up cross-selling choked process of other registrars. I’ve gotta try this out, I’ll transfer one of my domains there.

I added VMWare Fusion to my Amazon wishlist last night, just as a reminder to myself, and this morning got an offer for a review unit from a product manager there. I accepted, of course. It’ll make it much easier for me to prepare the Windows version of the OPML Editor, and of course I will write about it here, exactly as if I had paid for it. (I installed the Beta of v2.0.)

It’s really cool that Amazon wishlist items are reflected on FriendFeed.

Wasn’t last night’s season premiere of Mad Men fantastic!

Fred Wilson thinks blog comments should make it on TechMeme. It’s true that some comments are better than many blog posts, and I check TechMeme several times a day, but I’m hoping we escape the grips of centralized thinking and remember that what made blogs work was that everyone gets their own platform to speak their mind. TechMeme takes us back to the place that didn’t work, where everyone fights for scarce attention. Aside from that, as Wilson notes, TM has made its mind up about us, relative to others, and what’s important, vs what’s not. (To which I add we’re the sentient beings, and TM is a piece of software. What irony that we care what something that is incapable of thought thinks. We’ll wait a long time for recognition that way!)

Disabling Sprint interference with wifi 

I posted yesterday, in desperation: “So far I love the Sprint 3G EVDO modem. Works great on Mac and Windows, no install CD, comes built-in. But… It takes over my wifi configuration on XP, keeps popping up dialogs that don’t mean anything to me (and there’s no reason for them, everything’s working).”

The 3G Store support staff provided the answer.

To disable the Sprint SmartView as your default WiFi utlility:

1. Open SmartView.

2. Click Tools.

3. Select Settings.

4. Choose the Client tab in the settings window

5. Un-check Use this tool as my default WiFi Management Utility.

6. Click OK.

The screen on the Asus EEE PC is very short, so the OK button was hidden under the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. If you right-click in the taskbar, choose Properties and uncheck Keep the taskbar on top of other windows you’ll see the OK button so you can click it.

After that, whew, the normal Windows way of managing wifi is back.

All in all, it seems it would be smarter, if Sprint has to interfere with wifi management, to have it default to off, so the first-time user experience would be a little more focused on the wonders of EVDO and less on how to disable its interference.

Scripting News for 7/26/2008

The coolest thing about DirecTV 

At first it was a little unsettling getting used to a new way of watching TV, but I’m beginning to like the way DirecTV works. The coolest feature so far is the ability to program the DVR over the web. I don’t know if Comcast has this, I never found it (if it does), but it works really intuitively on DirecTV.

Here’s a screen shot (click for a larger version):

Clicking the Record to Receiver button does what you think it would: it sends a message from their server to the DVR to add Mad Men to the schedule for tomorrow at 10PM.

I’ll let you know if it works. 🙂

Listening, respect and teamwork 

Scoble writes about Silicon Valley VC disease. I almost wrote a comment there saying that I’ve tried many times over many years to get VCs to invest in ideas I had for products, some of which turned out to be quite successful, but I thought better of it. Why single out the VCs, when the problem is much broader. Here’s what it is, from my point of view.

There’s not enough respect, listening, or teamwork.

After years of banging against the brick wall, one day, in a meeting with a VC, it came to me, clear as a bell. This person wasn’t listening to my pitch. Every time I’d pause to take a breath, he’d start taking the story off in some other direction toward some vision he had.

The VCs are the superstars, not the entrepreneurs, even though the hype is the other way around. So far everything I’ve said coincides with what Scoble said. Here’s where we diverge.

The entrepreneurs have the same damned disease. They don’t want anything from the VC other than their money.

The reporters have the disease too, so do the bloggers.

Silicon Valley is a really small place, getting smaller all the time, but it hasn’t figured that out yet. To make products that sell, it has to reach out into the world for wisdom, and that requires a lot of listening, respect — teamwork.

Listening, respect and teamwork.

Back when Scoble worked at UserLand, when I wanted to ship a product, I made everyone at the company listen to Al Pacino’s fantastic speech in Any Given Sunday.

When you think that way, VCs, entrepreneurs, developers, everyone –> You’ll start making really great products that mean something to real people. Until then, everyone will just be trying to be heard over the din of everyone else yelling how great they are.

Update: Here’s a podcast that explains why, if I were David Hornik, I’d invest in iPhone apps and wouldn’t worry about other platforms right now. (Later, yes, but not now.)

Airport Extreme router question 

Posted on FriendFeed: “Most routers give you a way to see a list of attached devices, a feature I need to locate some devices with web interfaces on my LAN (like my receiver). Recently I switched to an Airport Extreme, but it doesn’t seem to have this ability. Does it? If so how do I access it?”

And of course, the answer came thanks to Paul Grave and Jamie Wilkinson.

Heads-up to OPML Editor users 

I’m guessing that there aren’t many people using the OPML Editor on a daily basis, but to those who are, I’m about to make some changes in the menu structure and the default behavior. I don’t expect anything to break, what worked before will continue to work, however, what someone gets when they download the app will change, it will be simpler.

Here’s the thing. The OPML Editor as it ships today comes in one of two forms: 1. The app that was released in 2005, that has a blogging tool, an upstreamer, instant outliner, and a few other gadgets. It hasn’t received a feature update since mid-2007, and that was just to add Twitter support to the blogging tool. 2. FlickrFan for the Mac, which was released early this year, and is doing fine, not taking the world by storm, but it’s useful.

Now I want to do some more stuff with the OPML Editor, and history is in the way, so I’m going to do a house-cleaning of the menubar and of the Tools folder. Ideally the new editor will ship with an empty Tools folder. Pretty sure I can get there. There will be an easy way to view the available tools through a web interface, and quickly download and install them. So it will be possible for the same platform to serve many purposes without any one of them getting in the way of the others.

This should make it possible, for example, for there to be a FlickrFan release for Windows, since it’s the original functionality (the 2005 stuff) that’s preventing compatibility with IE7.

Now, on the downside, if you have become used to the Community menu and the NewsRiver menu, they will not be there after the update. There will be a new Misc menu (name might change) that contains some of the commands from the ProgrammersMenu tool. There may well be other changes.

So if you see these menus go away, that will mean that some digging is going on, and (we hope) some cool new stuff you can do with the OPML Editor, as well as new uses and users.

Scripting News for 7/25/2008

Nice to get support from the Guardian 

We’re all on our own when a BigCo decides to throw its weight at us, but being a well-read blogger has its advantages, esp when a columnist at a big newspaper believes you. Thanks to Charles Arthur for the air cover. Contrast this to the NY Times piece that describes bloggers as “complaining” and makes Comcast out to be a hero. The Times didn’t do their homework, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Eliason isn’t empowered to circumvent Comcast’s native hostility to its customers.

Note: This time it wasn’t about FlickrFan, as Arthur says, I had scaled down my home use of it. That was the cause of the first deliberate Comcast outage. This time it was probably because I was backing up lots of content from scripting.com on local hard drives and had made some mistakes and had to download stuff twice. Lots of gigabytes up there, I’ve done a fair amount of podcasting over the years.

The disruption caused by the outage is over, thanks in part to the fact that I planned for it, and had backup TV service and Internet service from DirecTV and AT&T respectively. I was able to configure the SlingBox to work with with DirecTV and now I have John McCain giving a speech on my second monitor (the sound is turned off, he’s hard to listen to). The only difference is the image of a DirecTV remote control instead of one from Comcast. I also have to learn the new channels.

Scripting News for 7/24/2008

Chin-dropping photo 

An astounding AP photo of Barack Obama waving to his fans in Berlin earlier today. I saw this one scroll by on a large HDTV and couldn’t believe my eyes. There’s so much detail in the picture, so many stories, so many cameras!

This is the really cool thing about FlickrFan, btw — the best photographers in the world, with the best equipment, at the most interesting events. And lots of pixels. People who think it’s just a screen saver must think that Obama is just a politician (and many do of course).

But when you see this picture, think about all the pixels your displays have today, and how much of the photography that comes to you takes advantage of it, and you’ll realize why I pushed so hard to get the AP and AFP to partner with me to get these photos for you. Yet so few have taken advantage of it.

Anyway, this picture gives you some idea of what you’re missing.

PS: All those American flags, in Germany, give me goosebumps. 🙂

A word about Comcast 

Technology is fragile. Systems go down all the time because someone forgot to maintain something, or someone deleted a file or a variable that they thought no one was using. In other words with Murphy’s Law there are plenty of opportunities to put all the pieces together again after all hell breaks loose. Just ask the Twitter folk, who are doing the best they can to hold it together.

But there’s a special place in hell for vendors who deliberately knock their customers off the air, without warning, just to get them to call. The thought is as abhorrent to a computer professional as it would be for a surgeon to leave a scalpel in a patient to be sure they pay their bill.

Comcast is going to get sued some day for what they do, and they’re going to lose billions because of it. I tend to be an outlier on the leading edge. If they’re shitting on me today, you can bet they’ll be shitting on hundreds of people next year, and thousands the year after that. One of those shittings is going to cause an oil spill or a nuclear accident, or some horrible thing we haven’t imagined yet. Maybe soldiers will die because of their deliberate outages. Maybe children. You just don’t fuck around with some things, the kinds of things Comcast is fucking with. If you’re going to turn a paying customer off deliberately, it seems you should do it slowly and carefully and covering every part of your anatomy while you do it, not the roughshod way they do it now. (And what would be so hard about slowing down the connection so it’s impossible for someone to use too much bandwidth?)

That there are engineers inside Comcast willing to do the bidding of some very poor thinking business people says we don’t have adequate professional standards. Some professions don’t allow their members to do harm. You can’t find a doctor who will administer the death penalty, or even advise on what would be a humane form of the death penalty.

Comcast shut me down again 

Oy. This is probably the end of the line for me and Comcast. About an hour before today’s Obama speech, I was upstairs, with Slingplayer on the 2nd monitor, Audio HIjack Pro ready to record, when the net went down. I figured it was another outage, we had one here in Berkeley last week.

So I posted a twit to comcastcares, saying we had another outage. The response said it wasn’t an outage.

Net-net, it’s some kind of “security” thing, so says Frank Ellison, the comcastcares guy. I told him if this isn’t a legitimate security issue, then please close my account, both Internet and TV (for which I now pay $183 per month). I have redundant service for both, with an AT&T DSL line and a DirecTV dish, I’m hardly watching any TV at all these days, other than MSNBC and a little CNN, and while their Internet sure is fast, if they keep taking it down and insisting that I grovel and listen to lectures to get it turned back on (or worse, who knows what they have planned for me this time) — no thanks. I don’t think groveling and being a valued customer go together.

Ellison also volunteered that he liked me. My response was you’re a company rep, you don’t get to like or not like me.

It’s with a little bit of anger and frustration that I realize that Comcast paid $175 million to get Joseph Smarr to work on their network, and their answer to me is: 1. Pay $183 per month. 2. I should care whether they like me or not. 3. They’ll shut me down when they want me to call. 4. They don’t care if it’s right before Obama’s speech in Berlin or not. 5. Fcuk off Dave. (I threw #5 in there for attitude, they didn’t literally tell me to fuck off, it’s more in the body language.)

Oh yeah, they paid $75 million for a bunch of newsletters today. I’ll end this piece the way I began it. Oy.

PS: Here’s the writeup of the issue with Comcast in April.

Update: Their issue isn’t with the security on my net, it has to do with how much bandwidth I use. Can’t work with them when their method of getting me on the phone is to shut off my service, without any warning. I told them to close the account. I’m no longer a Comcast customer. I’m sure they’ll send me another bill, adding insult to injury.

Inching toward federation 

I have a problem that a lot more people are having.

I use three “micro-blogging” platforms.

1. Twitter

2. FriendFeed

3. Identi.ca

Each has strengths. FriendFeed can thread a discussion under each mini-post. It works better for me than the discussions on Twitter. Twitter is still where most of the people are, but — well you know the rest. It’s become unreliable. Leave it at that. And while Identi.ca has fewer of the people I care about, it’s catching up, and its commitment to be open, and the fact that I can get Evan on the phone and he’s easy to work with, well that makes me want to invest in it.

So in my mind, as of July 2008, Twitter is waning, Identi.ca is rising and FriendFeed is useful.

But using three systems presents a problem to which no one knows the solution. When I post on one of these systems, should the other two get the post too, and if so, how?

Right now, today I’m using an approximation to the ideal system. I try to enter my original post on FriendFeed, then I have an agent script running on one of my machines that routes it to Twitter and Identi.ca, with a pointer to the discussion thread on FriendFeed, shortened by bit.ly.

But this is temporary, it’s not the last word in how this will work. Somewhere in here is nirvana, a system that makes sense, that makes it possible for people who base their work on one system to communicate effortlessly with people who base their work elsewhere. When we reach this nirvana, we will have the federated network of micro-blogging systems. To the extent that we’re confused about this, and we are, is the extent that we’re not ready yet to say what federation means in micro-blogging.

Losing followers on Twitter? 

I stopped keeping track of the number of people following me on Twitter, I know it was pretty high, but I also know it wasn’t a true measure of how many people were paying attention to what I said there.

Some of them, I assume, are people who tried Twitter and for some reason didn’t become a regular user. I can tell beause when I post a pointer to a picture on Twitter, somewhere between 100 and 500 people click through. How many people are reading the stuff? I don’t know, but it’s less than the reported number would suggest.

A new kind of outage started on Twitter last night, it started losing track of the connections between users. I haven’t seen this quantified yet, just various posts that indicate there’s some kind of problem. I’m sure as the days goes on we’ll learn more about it. I started this blog post in part to try to gather information.

Scripting News for 7/23/2008

TechJunk picking up steam 

Tech.NewsJunk.Com was born on the 4th of July, just like the United States of America. I chose a holiday so the expectations wouldn’t be too high, cause I knew at first it would be hard to find the kinds of stories I was looking for, news about products. Not interested in mergers or trends or personnel changes at tech companies. Just product news and reviews, that’s all.

http://tech.newsjunk.com/

Well, it’s starting to pick up. Maybe we’re learning where to look.

And the flow is up. It’s not even remotely in the ballpark of TechMeme, but a link from Tech might get you 250 page reads. That’s not bad. I’d take it. 🙂

And now we have the JavaScript include, so if you want to include the latest links from TJ in your blog you can. Just add this bit of script into your page.

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://tech.newsjunk.com/js/recent5.js”&gt;

And if you know a good source of tech product news, please post a comment or send me an email. Thanks!

PS: A frequently asked question is does the news have to come from a famous blog or blogger — and the answer is an emphatic no way! I want to hear from real users, and when possible from the designer of the product. I care about what people think. Now, that said, it’s okay if you write for a big publication too. There’s just no bias against individual bloggers.

Scripting News for 7/22/2008

Poster for Obama rally in Berlin 

Future-safe archives, again 

I was on a cleanup and backup binge today, and came across a folder on one of my disks entitled Trade Secrets in a place where it didn’t belong. I did a search on my LAN and found it was my only copy, not just here, but on the net too.

I had made a point of blogging about this folder in October 2006, that much showed up in Google, but the folder was on a machine that I shut down some months later, and it pointed to a folder on the new owner of the IP address’s machine. There was no evidence of the files anywhere on the net.

So I’m rescuing it again. Back shortly with more info.

The links work again.

http://secrets.podcatch.com/ is the folder.

And http://secrets.podcatch.com/tradeSecrets.zip is the archive.

But this highlights something. Even when you make an effort to make something permanently available, less than two years later, it’s gone again.

If we want the web that we’re creating to last, we’re going to have to be deliberate and systematic about it. It’s not easy.

Time for an EVDO sidegrade 

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that when it’s time to make a technology decision, I get advice from the best informed most opinionated and smartest people in the business — you!

Anyway, last year I got a Sprint EVDO card for my MacBook laptop. It was probably the wrong decision, I figured the card version would be faster, but then I wanted to use it with my new Asus EEE PC that of course just has USB.

So the question is this…

What should I get to replace the card?

I want something that works with both Mac and Windows. USB-based. Reasonable price and performance, for the occasions that I’m out of range of wifi but want to connect to the net.

Here are the products the 3GStore is recommending.

1. Sierra Compass 597 USB Modem.

2. Sprint Novatel U720 Rev A USB Refurbished Upgrade.

3. Cradlepoint CTR500 Cellular Travel Router.

I think they all look pretty interesting esp #3.

We won in Iraq, a long time ago 

I know this goes without saying, but it keeps coming up.

Remember when our troops marched into Baghdad, took the place over, drove Saddam into a hole and arrested or killed the government. Then we disbanded their army.

When you go to war that’s what victory looks like.

Then came the occupation. There is no such thing as winning an occupation. You either continue to occupy or withdraw. It’s semantic nonsense to apply the verb “win” to the noun “occupation.”

Winning in war or sport is not vague or ill-defined. When the clock runs out in football the team that’s ahead wins. When two runners are in a race the first to cross the finish line wins. When you fight a war, when you take the other guys’ capital and disband their government and army, that’s winning.

As I said it goes without saying, but it keeps coming up in the news, this weird idea that there is such a thing as winning an occuption, when there isn’t.

Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.

Vanity Fair covers The New Yorker 

Click here for the story.

He’ll make a cool president 

How to for Time Machine? 

I have a surplus of disk space, so I decided to give Time Machine a try.

I have a 500GB disk that’s empty. I designated it as the Time Machine disk.

I have one external disk that I want to keep backed up. I don’t care about the internal disk, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to tell Time Machine not to back it up.

The internal disk has 95GB of data on it.

The external disk has 193GB. Its name is Ohio. This is the only disk I want backed up. I don’t mind copying things onto it to be sure they’re backed up.

Yet Time Machine reports that there is 1.4 terabytes of data that it wants to back up.

Of course it fails when it tries to do this. (Only 500GB on the backup disk.)

The Help docs don’t cover this circumstance, nor do any of the articles I have found on Google. What gives. Hasn’t anyone had this problem yet? Where is it finding the 1.4TB of data to back up and how do I tell it not to bother.

Here’s a screen shot of the Options panel for Time Machine.

Never mind. I didn’t understand the UI. The + in the UI means exclude something from the backup. Dumb old Dave. I thought a plus would mean “add it.” Why would I think that? (Sorry for the sarcasm.)

Credit where credit is due 

It was very gratifying to see Twhirl support Identi.ca yesterday. They got some glowing press for it, but let’s make sure a fair amount of the credit goes to the two companies that went for compatibility and helped create what’s beginning to look like a standard — the Twitter API.

First, to Twitter for having the guts to put an API on Twitter, and making it open and clonable. And second, to the team it Identi.ca who made complete compatibility the goal, so much so that you just need to change the address in a client and everything “just works.” My initial testing showed that they did attain that level of compatibility, and it was confirmed by the experiences of the developers.

When people say they don’t care about APIs, they miss the point that if developers do it the right way, as these guys did, then compatibility is not a competitive issue, users have choices, and products compete on virtue: performance, features and economics, not lock-in. It’s the exception not the rule in the tech business that APIs and format compatibility is respected by the vendors, and it should be celebrated when it happens, as it did here.

Bravo! Everybody who made this happen. Good show. 🙂

MacBook Touch coming soon!?!? 

There’s much speculation about a refresh on Apple’s laptop line, a permanent thread in tech bloggerland, we’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Here’s my bet. The MacBook Air was the leading edge of a new form factor at Apple, the low-end of a new lineup of super-thin laptops.

In the next round you’ll see one with two or three USB ports and a removable battery as well as a tablet version. Both will run the iPhone software at least as an option. The tablet might run it as its only option.

Mike & Nik will have what they want but it won’t cost $200. 🙂

BTW, my guess is they extrapolated the same thing, and their challenge is a clever way of getting an I Told You So when Apple announces the tablet MacBook Touch™ in Sept.

Scripting News for 7/21/2008

VPs coming soon 

Friends close to both campaigns say the announcements of the Republican and Democratic choices for vice-president are likely coming within the week. At that the announcements will be unusually late.

No speculation on the choices from the sources, however — I have a strong feeling that McCain will pick Romney. Seems like an obvious balance to McCain. Younger, but not too young. Tall and healthy, conservative. He might be smarter than McC, but not by too much.

Obama will pick someone safe, not too famous, not flamboyant. Easy on the eyes and easy to forget.

McCain, who is the full-hour guest on This Week on Sunday may choose that venue to make his announcement, opposite Obama who is the full-hour guest on Meet the Press.

April Fool in July? 

I don’t know about those guys over at TechCrunch, they always get me with their April Fools jokes. Now here comes this piece that announces they’re getting into the hardware business! Could it be for real? I don’t know!!

I’m reminded of this post by Mike this weekend where he reviewed a service by the former editors of Uncov, and said, quite accurately that you always understimate how hard something is when you look in from the outside. Making something easy to use is a lot more work than making soemthing that’s not, although to the non-engineer this seems counter-intuitive.

Now, Nik is an engineer, so I don’t want to be appearing to talk down to him, cause that wouldn’t be appropriate. But this does either seem completely utterly unrealistic or a damned good off-season April Fool joke. 🙂

PS: This post suggests that it’s serious. In which case it’s a good thing — thinking big is how you get big things done. Best of luck. I’ll buy one for $200 for sure. Maybe even more. 🙂

Catching up with the Junks 

A couple of minor updates from the Land of Junks.

1. NewsJunk and TechJunk are now available on identi.ca, thanks to its new wonderful API.

2. Both feeds are available in OPML as well, for applications that like OPML.

Scripting News for 7/20/2008

Amazon S3 down all day 

As you can see, we host most of our images on Amazon S3. As do many other sites.

It’s been a marvel of uptime, until it goes down. And today’s outage is the worst so far (there have only been two others). I’m sure they’re working their butts off to get it back on the air, but as probably a lot of others are doing today, I’m thinking of ways to avoid these outages in the future.

It seems there is a business opportunity here — it would be easy to hook up an external service to S3, and for a fee, keep a mirror on another server. Then it would be a matter of redirecting domains to point at the other server when S3 goes down.

It would be a smart service to combine with a DNS service, or a registrar.

That solution would work for Scripting News, since all the images are hosted on Amazon through an alias called images.scripting.com. That could easily be pointed to a different server that hosts a mirror. Of course that will have to wait until Amazon comes back. 🙂

Update 6:30PM: S3 is working again.

Scripting News for 7/19/2008

Feature suggestion for Twitter 

“Like” Is a FriendFeed feature that Twitter should have. It’s a misnomer, it’s not about liking something. When you like something that means you recommend it. Everyone who follows you gets the recommendation.

How it would work in Twitter.

1. You’re reading something I wrote in Twitter.

2. You say you “like” it — which is like adding it to your Favorites (same UI).

3. It goes on your output stream. All the people who follow you see it too.

People are doing this manually now — “retweeting” — but this is one click and the system remembers where it came from. If it were possible to hang stuff off a tweet (as it is in FF) then there would only be one place.

Twitter should have this. It’s a very important feature.

PS: From now on when I say something should be in Twitter, it should also be in all Twitter clones, for now that’s identi.ca.

PPS: I’m sure Twitter-only people are sick of hearing it, but FF has mystical qualities that I’m not sure anyone fully appreciates. It reveals little bits of itself to you slowly over time. Not sure it’s always the best way, but it’s like a puzzle, a story that you want to know how it will turn out. You can’t get it from a quick look, you have to immerse yourself in it. Not saying everyone should, but I’m glad I did. 🙂

PPPS: I’m started to develop systems on top of FriendFeed that I initially thought I would develop on Twitter. Their reliability and performance make it thinkable, where Twitter has become flaky, not only technically, but also in the way it deals with developers. Could happen with FF too, but then my fallback is identi.ca, where worse comes to worse, I could operate my own net.

PPPPS: I am however using identi.ca for something I thought I would use Twitter for. As a lightweight identity system. For the project I’m working on, I’m requiring users to have an identi.ca login. This little thing has huge implications in the identity space. A lightweight low-security login that’s accessible via API, it’s something I’ve been asking Google and Yahoo to do for ages. They can’t seem to wrap their minds around it. Along comes identi.ca and boom, problem solved.

Mini-blog posts 

I never agreed that Twitter is what some people call a micro-blogging service. Just didn’t feel much like blogging to me. But FriendFeed is another story. I am using it more like a blogging tool than Twitter. For example…

1. Yesterday I snuck out to see the new Batman movie on its opening day. I wrote my first review on FF. In the morning (now) I have more thoughts. If Heath Ledger hadn’t died, and if there were two other big performances like his, it might have been on the same level as The Departed, and that’s high praise. The other characters and the actors who portrayed them weren’t anywhere near as interesting as Ledger’s Joker, who unlike Nicholson’s or Romero’s — wasn’t funny, at least not in the normal way. He is a pathetic character, wonderfully pathetic. Really something to see. So my first impression last night was pretty lukewarm, but after a few hours it seems more masterful. You could have cut out most of the other scenes and made a movie just about the Joker and that would have been great. Too bad Ledger died. He was becoming a really fine actor.

2. As you may know I bought a cute little Windows laptop on impulse the other day. It was a good move. And on FF last night I asked for help networking it with my Macs. Glad i bought it. Gotta keep up on what the other guys are doing. Apple has been doing pretty well, the iPhone was risky, and they pulled it off, not easy to do. Microsoft usually takes three tries to get it right, Apple got it right the first time. But in ultra-portable laptops, Apple isn’t cutting it. This little EEE PC thing is a marvel. There are some really crappy things about it, like the uncontrollable trackpad and the keypad is tiny, and squinting at the tiny screen hurts my eyes, but it really is a joy of a product. If only it ran Mac OS. 🙂

What about blogging? 

Publishing keeps getting cheaper.

That’s been the constant push, the practical application of Moore’s Law in my neck of the woods. I’ve always been a publishing guy, and that’s always been how I viewed computers, and it’s why I got into them in the first place.

Most people don’t get this, the real story of blogging is just the continuation of the process. You could just have easily focused on the laser printer, Aldus Pagemaker and local area networking in the 1980s, or the web browser and Netscape in the 1990s. Blogging is the leading edge in publishing in the first decade of this century.

Here’s what Clay Shirky says on the subject. “Forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this — the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast.”

Well put, and definitely worth passing along.