Scripting News for 8/2/2008

Playing the race card 

Obama plays the race card when he takes the stage. Look at his face. He’s an African-American. There’s the race card. Can’t be hidden. It’s right there. Next issue.

PS: When McCain takes the stage he plays the “age card.”

PPS: When McCain says he has more experience than Obama he’s playing the age card.

PPPS: Don’t forget he’s playing the Bush card and Republican card.

PPPPS: And the veteran card.

PPPPPS: And other times the ridiculous old fart card.

PPPPPPS: I almost forgot. When McCain shows up the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant card is being played.

Make some of your own 

Scoop Nisker said, famously: If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.

That could be the anthem of blogging. With the tools so cheap, there’s no reason to sit around grousing that you don’t like the way the news is reported. You can always be a reporter. What’s stopping you?

Duncan Riley points out something obvious, TechMeme is skewed toward TechCrunch. I agree. It’s completely observable.

At the moment he has a story that should be #1 on TechMeme, in his humble opinion. It would be if it were written by a TechCrunch person (which Riley used to be, he ought to know). No doubt.

BTW, other sites have the same story. I first heard about it on redstate.com.

This is a problem!

The solution is to “make some of your own.”

It would be a simple matter to write a program that regularly reads 20 or 30 blogs, aggregates and ranks the stories they’re linking to and publishes the result. It’s so simple it should be done.

I predict that if the combination of TechCrunch/TechMeme is Coke, this aggregation would become Pepsi. And once that happened, there would be a lot of grousing about how this new thing misses important stories, and we’re off to the races!

Such an effort would certainly give Gabe an incentive to broaden the perspective of TechMeme, which would be a good thing, imho, for everyone.

Update 9AM: Duncan’s piece appears on TechMeme.

Is this Rocketboom 2.0? 

If so sign me up! 🙂

Scripting News for 8/1/2008

Puppet finds new home 

Scripting News for 7/30/2008

I feel great! 

Point of View! 

It’s all about where you’re lookin at it from.

Remember that awesome picture of Obama speaking in Berlin on July 24?

Did you see all those digital cameras?

Did you wonder what their pictures look like?

Check it out. 🙂

Watching them watch Obama watching Obama watching them.

McCain runs a cowardly sleazy ad, early 

0. Here’s a blogger doing what a blogger should do.

1. McCain is running an ad that, without saying anything that can be rebutted, shows images of promiscuous or crazy young white women in a commercial filled with imagery of Barack Obama, a black man.

2. Marshall says (and so far is right) that the press will, during the campaign, say the ads are controversial and hard-hitting, and after the campaign, as they did with the same tactic used against Harold Ford, a black man running for the US Senate in Tennessee, will say that what they were doing was transparent and unfair. (So far the attacks on Obama are tame and mild compared to what was run against Ford in 2006.)

3. It’s good to have bloggers in the mix, being listened to, because the candidates and their backers should be held accountable for what they say and do, while the campaign is going on. McCain should take the hit now, not after the election.

4. The press has done some nasty sleazy hits of their own in recent elections. The Dean scream was manufactured by the press; only after he withdrew did the mea culpas come. The Swiftboat ads, unsubstantiated smears, were run nationally, for free, by the networks. That should not be tolerated.

5. The ads were backed, we find out, by people who now want our respect. Shouldn’t smears be two-way? Why not expose the people who created and financed the ads while the ads are running? Isn’t the job of the press to seek the truth? Isn’t that what we’re told they do better than mere bloggers do?

So thanks to Josh Marshall, who has the attention we don’t, for using it for a good cause.

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.