Thursday, July 9, 2009

Laws of Attraction

This is probably one of my favorite things about the movie Anastasia was that song. One thing I wonder is this: in how much detail is okay to write about her on-line? I probably would've run over the damn thing and left its remnants in the parking lot here at work. Anyone who has been reading this web page for a while knows that I am a dedicated observer of human quirks and oddities, particularly the collection of human quirks and oddities that rides Chicago public transit. I guess I should thank them, really, for showing me that even a dedicated amateur anthropologist like me has limits.

I guess I just wish that I had that experience or that feeling that puts the little extra spark in someone's eyes, and makes their smile just a little wider, even at the mention of their name. I mean overall it was a good vacation, I got to hang out with my cousins CorCor and Kny and JB and Nato, but the other baby cousin that I have is driving me up a wall.

That just freaked me out for the rest of the time I was there so I had to put that in this journal so someone could feel the same way that I did when I found out, that person is fine though, they just walked away from the hospital with cuts and bruises which is something to praise God for cause it coulda been way worst then it turned out to be. And someone came by my grandma's house the next morning and told us that someone was driving down the road that night and fell asleep, lost control and ran into the pole and knocked all the power out on the whole street, and that noise we heard was that person hunched on over the horn of the car knocked unconscious.

Oh oh oh I have to say this too cause it freaked me out when I found out what the deal was.

And while all this was going on we heard a noise like someone was just constantly pressing on the carhorn of a car.

The thing is was that I was being civl to him as nobody else in the group will even talk to him because none of them like him. She was getting on my nerves.

Remember, he was being seduced by The Ring, as was his brother and other characters before and after.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Organized Waste of Time

"I experienced the web as a powerful tool of organizing life and at the same time as a toy for organized waste of time." These are the words I bookmarked[1] when I read Elliot's The Screen Generation at cDc.

Web as a medium of communication, hence a mere tool, cuts both ways. The underlying difference that sets it apart from other media is participating in content creation. Unlike TV for example, where you are forced to consume whatever the producers broadcast, content can be generated collectively.

I consider any attempt that tries to push content, a state where the user is passive just like a TV viewer, as hostile and destructive for Internet culture. Sharing, participating, recommending, including your own input, searching, etc are the trademarks of Internet, they are what make it tick, and wonderful.

I have recently come across a discussion about copyright, for comments to be specific. Who owns the copyright to a comment made for this post, the author or the domain owner, i.e. me? I believe neither does. Together, we have collectively produced something new. This is the area where the so-called tamers of the Internet fail to understand, or deliberately ignore. When they succeed, we will have a big toy organized by them so that we can waste our time while they reap the benefit. Sad...

[1] One of the reasons I have been using Opera since version 3.x is its Notes functionality. You highlight some text and copy it to your notes, just like a bookmark, but you know why you bookmarked it; an indispensable tool for researchers and collectors.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Through the Electronic Dust

The world wide web is rich. Even by the best estimate, search engines can only crawl one fourth of it. The rest? It is waiting for you to be uncovered by other methods so that they can see the daylight in the dark and dusty recesses of this cob web where they silently weep. Hidden treasures, interesting sites, rarely heard games, articles that few read... Some do not even use the hypertext, i.e. HTTP protocol. They are all waiting to be discovered, unhidden so to speak.

Some might have already been found by spiders or bots, if only you could type those weird keywords in a search form...

Some had their day. They cherished the victory, enjoyed the glory, only to be forgotten again. A spark, a momentary fame that did not last.

Some can only be accessed via Internet Archive; if they were fortunate to be archived, of course. The servers that hosted them have probably been scrapped or thrown to a junk yard.

They are all part of our culture. If we lose them, we also lose a part of ourselves, our history. They had their share in making us who we are today.

So let us venture to the land of the awkward without further delay. We have a long road to walk; before all trails disappear, all signs removed, when there is still a chance to ask someone for direction.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Death of a Seeker

fravia logo

Once a palm reader, a gypsy true to tradition said, "You will live until 2032, 80 years of age." She was wrong this time and a swan sang out sorrow.

Web is a strange place. You cry for a friend whom you never met; yet you like him, just as sure as you will miss him.

A +seeker has died yesterday.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Chalk Animation by Schreiber and Kronenberg

My fixation on digital video recording seems to open up new horizons and discoveries these days. While trying to hone my long gone theoretical knowledge on cameras, frames, slow motion and similar concepts, I come across such great artwork that it is impossible not to get distracted.

One such example I'd like to share with you is the chalk animation of Lucinda Schreiber and Yanni Kronenberg. The video took six months from start to finish, four of which being full time. With 1900 frames shot and variable rates of 12fps, 8fps and 6fps, music of Firekites, a band from Newcastle, Australia accompanies the video (Autumn story). Absolutely stunning.

Firekites - AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.


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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Virus in the Net

Swine flu has finally spread to cyberspace. Shocking as it may seem, visitors to INMI, the Japanese infectious disease center, have begun receiving mails titled "Information about Swine Flu," which reportedly contain computer viruses. No explanation has been given as to how the virus harms PCs.

I usually take virus news light heartedly and always with a smile. Despite the harm they cause, they are also a symbol of human ingenuity for me. But this time, I have to say it is plain wicked, unnecessary and evil. We are on the verge of a serious epidemic and people are just trying to be a little more informed. Would it not be better if we tried to help them instead?

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DVR: Digital Video Recording

our every move digitally recorded

The number one reason why people use digital video recording, DVR for short, is security. From small shop owners and families to big financial institutions, digital cameras are used everywhere and recorded tapes (a misnomer here obviously) or other media are stored for inspection purposes later. Though it is difficult to claim it stops abuse or theft, security by DVR has three immediate benefits:
  1. It is considered as a deterrent
  2. It drives down insurance costs
  3. Data stored occupies less space and is extremely portable.
 Now, include other gadgets in e.g. stations, airports, city halls, traffic lights, subways, stores and whatnot into this cameraverse, it will not be wrong to say unless we decide to live in caves, our every move is under surveillance.

Still, as far as our privacy is concerned, one can safely assume that it is intact just because of the sheer amount of data collected. Unless it is narrowed down, we are just one of the millions of pixels residing in those images, despite the fact that significant improvements have been made in facial recognition software and the like.

I tend to believe that our assumed safety is an illusion because we ignore the fact that millions of gigabytes of data is collected by other means as well, though not necessarily visually. What is more, it has important political implications if we do not place safeguards to access this data, assuming of course, there really is a good reason to collect it in the first place. This will be the main issue I will be focusing although some technical information or pointers to it will be given. It is time to think about what should be done to keep a free society free.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Under Constant Surveillance

As threats to public security increases day by day, there is a growing demand for more surveillance in all aspects of our lives. E-mails, Facebook profiles, search queries, surfing habits, you name it, are all recorded and used.

Now, considerable amount of that data is for marketing purposes and it can be viewed either good or bad depending on its exact purpose. Some of it are in the hands of the law enforcement agencies for apparent public safety.

Still, I can not help but be concerned. If you told me a country like Australia would propose a country wide Internet censorship, I would not believe you, or Germany would shut down sites like Wikileaks, no, I would say it was unlikely, either. Nor would I believe copyright treaties would be negotiated behind closed doors. And, no, I would not think it was possible for a company like Airbus, or any company if that matters, to spy on staff bank accounts for due diligence. Not in those parts of the world anyway. But they all happened.

I have never been comfortable with tracking, tracing, digitally recording everything on the streets and whatnot. But I thought my paranoia was a result of my upbringing, my personal experiences and deeply, and adversely I should say, affected by the places I had to live.

Let's see: I was shot at a few times, survived a couple of explosions, and OK, enough examples, already. Suffice to say that I had to live in a military regime for four years, and...

If you ask me what I value most, I will promptly and without hesitation say: FREEDOM. And I'm concerned, very concerned. Unlike most of you, I know, I feel, what oppression is very well, first hand.

And this increasing number of cameras, dvr, security, etc have started to bother me big time. I am planning to get deeper into this surveillance thing, why it is done, how it is done, the trade off of privacy in return for safety, its political implications, so and so forth. It might at first seem this will inevitably shift the focus of this site from cyberspace. Not quite! When it comes to intelligence, information gathering and similar activities, it is the cyberspace that interconnects them. Just like sound waves need air to travel, it is cyberspace that helps all of above function properly.

Let me end with a teaser. Cory Doctorow had once written a short story, Scroogled, trying to imagine what would happen if Google gone bad. I had taken great pleasure in reading and translating it to one of the obscure languages listed in his post (Sadly, I changed the permalink structure and the software so the link pointing to it will not work). More interestingly, the original story seems to have vanished from Radar Magazine, who published the story. So I had to link through web archive. Funny, isn't it? Even permanent links, the so called permalinks are not so permanent.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity

A precious item for anyone who cares. Carlo M. Cipolla's "The Basic Laws of Stupidity" is a short essay I can heartily recommend. You can read the full on-line version at Fravia's. I am inserting just the headlines here, only to remind myself of the foolish mistakes I have done in the past and will undoubtedly do in the future. "What about present?" you may ask. Everything seems sooo right now that one should later look back in time to judge.
  1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.
  3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.
    Corollary: A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

 O wheel of time! Why don't you try turning backwards for once?

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yahoo Closing GeoCities

geocities yahoo logo
"After careful consideration, we have decided to close GeoCities later this year. We'll share more details this summer. For now, please sign in or visit the help center for more information."

Those are the words that welcome you if you visit GeoCities main page. Established in 1994, the free hosting service helped many to take their first steps in the cyber world. Yahoo bought it for $3.6 billion in 2001.

I still have a few accounts there. Many incomplete pages, trials, experiments, some stuff I like to keep on-line but not want them easily found reside in GeoCities. I even remember using the service for image hosting.

There are legendary sites disguised as innocent personal pages there. From mirrors of once popular cracking tutorials to +ORC's secret gateway, GeoCities helped the dream, the dream of a place where people and information will flow free, regardless of which sex, race or religious affiliation they belong to.

Curtain falls, an era ends.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Searching What is Thought

Yesterday, I finally took the plunge and registered an account with Twitter. Since you had to follow at least one person, or so I assumed, I picked Onion, only to regret it approximately ten minutes later. True to its fame, Onion was at the top of its form and more than 100 tweets filled my home page in no time. You can waste/spend your entire life by following Onion only. Despite the fact that I follow the magazine for years, I will delete it.

Another side effect is my account seems to have been all screwed up, today. Apparently I am somebody else now, a Frank Grangetto to be exact, a Matt Schwartzwalder and Rachel Leggett are both me, and whatever... Leave it to another day to sort it out.  

This experiment provided me some insight, though. Search engines make a very good job of what they are supposed to make: searching what is already written. But how do you search what is thought but not written? For that I believe, Twitter can be a very good alternative.

I had this novel but possibly not new idea of setting up landing pages for your blog. Failing to come up with other than a few basic ideas, I wrote a tweet pointing to the post in the hopes that somebody can make a contribution of some sort, either by leaving a reply or adding a comment to the post.

This whole process is the area where Twitter may rise and shine, after they correct their problems with account management, of course: finding what others think, sparks to expand later, so and so forth. Now, my Twitter persona (Frank) who seems to be in the real estate business, is frantically tweeting new opportunities and Matt and Rachel (i.e. the real me) are fortunately silent. Following me(s) can be entertaining.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Towards the Invisible Internet

i2p anonymous network
As attacks on privacy exponentially increase and censorship attempts go uncensored, a few optimistically try to accomplish what the cyberspace dream once promised. The pendulum swings, each swing being a bit closer and more threatening, deafening the ears of a handful while millions cheer with joy. The digital imprimatur does not even bother to knock our door. As daring as the times may be, the faint light of hope still lingers. Version 0.7.2 of I2P Anonymous Network has just been released.

I2P is an anonymizing network, offering a simple layer that identity-sensitive applications can use to securely communicate. All data is wrapped with several layers of encryption, and the network is both distributed and dynamic, with no trusted parties.

It is an effort to build, deploy, and maintain a network to support secure and anonymous communication. People using I2P are in control of the tradeoffs between anonymity, reliability, bandwidth usage, and latency. There is no central point in the network on which pressure can be exerted to compromise the integrity, security, or anonymity of the system. The network supports dynamic reconfiguration in response to various attacks, and has been designed to make use of additional resources as they become available. Of course, all aspects of the network are open and freely available.

You never know when you will need it.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pros of Short Domain Names

Life is a good teacher. Up to now, it has never occurred to me a short domain name could be an advantage. I have always assumed, because I do it that way, people could bookmark a site when they like it regardless of the length of its name.

Though I do not use it, social networking sites like Twitter changed my mind. I suddenly realized how difficult it must be to write a tweet about an article on this site without the aid of URL shortener services. Just writing the part "experimentsincyberspace/2009/04/" with the protocol prefix consumes 52 characters. I am not saying you will not be found. I am talking about the extra step, often tedious, of the necessity of shortening the URL. A very good idea could be having a short URL handy beneath or above your articles so that people can easily use it. Rather than having your visitors do it, you can take the extra step and place a short link yourself.

In addition, keeping your URL intact can be a marketing and branding advantage. Now that a myriad of domain names will be available with ICANN's new proposal for top level domains, it can be beneficial to keep that in mind. If you are planning to buy a domain name in the near future, think about it.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Wikileaks.de Suspended by Germany

Germany's registration authority has suspended investigative journalism site Wikileak's Internet domain registration without a notice.

The action comes two weeks after the house of the German WikiLeaks domain sponsor, Theodor Reppe, was searched by German authorities. Police documentation shows that the March 24, 2009 raid was triggered by WikiLeaks' publication of Australia's proposed secret Internet censorship list. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told Australian journalists that they did not request the intervention of the German government.

The publication of the Australian list exposed the blacklisting of many harmless or political sites and changed the nature of the censorship debate in Australia. The Australian government's mandatory internet censorship proposal is now not expected to pass the Australian senate.

It is also worth mentioning a secret draft of international copyright treaty negotiated behind closed doors by some governments representing unidentified entities has been successfully uncovered and made public by Wikileaks.

I find this trend (secret policy making, nation-wide censorship attempts - some already in action, therefore not attempts) extremely annoying. I can understand parents' concern for their children and similar arguments but I believe this issue can be tackled at a user level by commercial or free software. This is not regulation of Internet, it is regulating freedom of expression. Power corrupts, great power corrupts even more.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Goldman Sucks Dot Com Domain Available

Goldman Sachs has instructed Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to pursue blogger Mike Morgan, warning him in a recent cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website goldmansachs666.com. According to the C&D letter, dated April 8, the bank is rattled because the site 'violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights' and also 'implies a relationship' with the bank itself. Morgan claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank.

The uninitiated can read and learn what Streisand effect is while those in the know may wish to purchase goldmansucks.com domain which is still available at the time of writing this post.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Real Value of Twitter

After reading and reading again what I wrote about Google's proposal to acquire Twitter, I started thinking, and thinking again. What makes Twitter valuable commercially?

If you had told me people would frantically post and follow short messages 5 years ago, I would have laughed at your face. Yet, here they are, swamped in a frenzy of 140-character texts. But does that make it worth spending millions?

Said post, probably under the influence of bright analysts, claimed an information value for businesses to realign and improve their products and services existed. True but an incomplete judgment, because it misses an important element: Mobile connectivity.

Teens of my generation had one electronic tool: computers or PC's. It was new, it was cool and it let us go to places not seen or heard before (I stopped short of writing where no man had gone before). The promise or prophecy, -correction- dream of Gibson's cyberspace locked us in basements and dark rooms for many an hour. Our biggest concern? Evasion of phone charges due to now-can-be-called ancient modems. But the dream was there. The dream of a cyber experience, let us say, an electronic astral projection in zeros and ones persisted. A place that is anonymous, filled with our other personas, a second life, an electric heaven free from the boundaries and annoyances of the real world, an anarchy of our own. We all know what that dream has turned out to be.

Today's generation has a different toy: mobile or cellular phones. They are not the creatures of dark-lit rooms. They have their backpacks and cell phones and are always on the move. Their dream is different. I do not know what that is but it is not the same with ours. They can type a full article while I am desperately trying to punch a simple SMS with a phone.

I am certain that you must have seen the hidden value of Twitter by now. We are all trying to assess its value using the tool we are most accustomed to: our computers. Give yourself a moment or two and think about Twitter with respect to mobile phones, and see if you can come up with a price.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Rush for Top Level Domains Begins

It will shortly, if ICANN's new proposal holds up, that is. According to Paul Levins, VP corporate affairs, any domain name will be possible, subject to your imagination,

The familiar .com, .net, .org and 18 other suffixes — officially "generic top-level domains" — could be joined by a seemingly endless stream of new ones next year under a landmark change approved last summer by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, the entity that oversees the Web's address system.

Tourists might find information about the Liberty Bell, for example, at a site ending in .philly. A rapper might apply for a web address ending in .hiphop.
[...]
To beat a competitor to the punch, a company might decide it needs to control a new generic domain, such as .cereal or .detergent, but it would be costly. The currently proposed application fee is $185,000, plus an annual "continuance" fee of $25,000. If more than one company wants a suffix, there could be a bidding war.

I can imagine the porn industry fiercely competing for domains like ".ass", ".tits" and you name it, or spammers and scammers getting popular names with a ".corn" ending.[1]

Be prepared and grab a name before it will be too late.

[1] These spectacular examples are from Slashdot commenters.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Paid For Posts (PPP) and Google PageRank

After Google's April 2009 PageRank update, there has once again been a commotion and confusion about the issue of links in paid-for-posts and how they affect PageRank. As far as Google is concerned, their stand is crystal clear. Their webmaster guidelines dictate a nofollow attribute on such links as Google's Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye explain,

Our goal is to provide users the best search experience by presenting equitable and accurate results. We enjoy working with webmasters, and an added benefit of our working together is that when you make better and more accessible content, the internet, as well as our index, improves. This in turn allows us to deliver more relevant search results to users.

If, however, a webmaster chooses to buy or sell links for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings, we reserve the right to protect the quality of our index. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank violates our webmaster guidelines. Such links can hurt relevance by causing:
  • Inaccuracies: False popularity and links that are not fundamentally based on merit, relevance, or authority
  • Inequities: Unfair advantage in our organic search results to websites with the biggest pocketbooks
Cutts also discussed the issue in his own blog, saying,

Many people who work on ranking at search engines think that selling links can lower the quality of links on the web. If you want to buy or sell a link purely for visitors or traffic and not for search engines, a simple method exists to do so (the nofollow attribute). Google's stance on selling links is pretty clear and we're pretty accurate at spotting them, both algorithmically and manually. Sites that sell links can lose their trust in search engines.

At an earlier post, he went on,

Yet another "pay-for-blogging" (PFB) business launched, this time by Text Link Brokers. It should be clear from Google’s stance on paid text links, but if you are blogging and being paid by services like Pay Per Post, ReviewMe, or SponsoredReviews, links in those paid-for posts should be made in a way that doesn't affect search engines (emphasis mine). The rel="nofollow" attribute is one way, but there are numerous other ways to do paid links that won’t affect search engines, e.g. doing an internal redirect through a url that is forbidden from crawling by robots.txt.

Links above will help you find numerous sources discussing the issue and guide you in the right direction.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bedtime Stories by Grisham with an Enron Tea

I am not adding anything. Joice and rejoice to better understand the financial crisis we are in, as seen by Mark Mitchell in his book The Story of Deep Capture:

The Columbia School of Journalism is our nation's finest. They grant the Pulitzer Prize, and their journal, The Columbia Journalism Review, is the profession’s gold standard. CJR reporters are high priests of a decaying temple, tending a flame in a land going dark.

In 2006 a CJR editor (a seasoned journalist formerly with Time magazine in Asia, The Wall Street Journal Europe, and The Far Eastern Economic Review) called me to discuss suspicions he was forming about the US financial media. I gave him leads but warned, "Chasing this will take you down a rabbit hole with no bottom." For months he pursued his story against pressure and threats he once described as, "something out of a Hollywood B movie, but unlike the movies, the evil corporations fighting the journalist are not thugs burying toxic waste, they are Wall Street and the financial media itself."

His exposé reveals a circle of corruption enclosing venerable Wall Street banks, shady offshore financiers, and suspiciously compliant reporters at The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, CNBC, and The New York Times. If you ever wonder how reporters react when a journalist investigates them (answer: like white-collar crooks they dodge interviews, lie, and hide behind lawyers), or if financial corruption interests you, then this is for you. It makes Grisham read like a book of bedtime stories, and exposes a scandal that may make Enron look like an afternoon tea.
[...]
Some mainstream journalists will not like this story. They will perhaps disapprove of our methods or decry the advent of vigilante journalism. But most of all, they will not like this story because it is largely about them - a tale of reporters who seek to be players, but instead become pawns - a tale of prominent journalists who help cover up a massive financial crime while toadying to some of Wall Street's slimiest operators.
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Friday, April 3, 2009

Will Google Acquire Twitter

Rumors have surfaced up that the number one search engine Google is in late (early according to some) stages to acquire Twitter for an undisclosed price above $250 million. Twitter has recently rejected an offer by Facebook for $500 million worth of Facebook shares.

Why would Google want Twitter? Michael Arrington argues Twitter's real value is in search. It holds the keys to the best real time database and search engine on the Internet, and Google doesn't even have a horse in the game:

More and more people are starting to use Twitter to talk about brands in real time as they interact with them. And those brands want to know all about it, whether to respond individually, or simply gather the information to see what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong. And all of it is discoverable at search.twitter.com, the search engine that Twitter acquired last summer. People searching for news. Brands searching for feedback. That's valuable stuff. Twitter knows it, too. They're going to build their business model on it. Forget small time payments from users for pro accounts and other features, all they have to do is keep growing the base and gather more and more of those emotional grunts. In aggregate it's extremely valuable. And as Google has shown, search is vastly monetizable - somewhere around 40% of all on-line advertising revenue goes to ads on search listings today.

Frankly speaking, I have never used Twitter and it is extremely unlikely that I will post my feedback there about the products and services I happened to buy. Nor will I base my future buying decisions on Twitter data. The opinion of one person that I know and trust is more credible for me and is more likely to affect my decisions rather than the aggregate feelings of the masses, but that's me. For all I know, some companies like Starbucks for example, regularly scan blogs for customer feedback and critics, and they take it very seriously. Write something negative about Starbucks, someone will contact you. Hence, there is value here for companies, not for marketing but for realigning and improving their products and services.

Another reason for Google can be protective action. Just like they bought Feedburner and Blogger, we can assume that it is better in the long run if Google owns Twitter rather than a competitor; it is a popular service and has some search and market analysis value.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wolverine Leak: Hollywood Confused

x-men wolverine surfaced on bittorrent sites
A high-quality, full-length work print of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - the movie is to be released on May 1 - has hit the bit-torrent sites last night.  Not unexpectedly, the film industry's responses have demonstrated how confused they are.

One producer behind another major summer franchise insists that while piracy is a serious problem that needs a "focused and visionary response" from the movie industry, a leak like this may not actually cut that deeply into Wolverine's ticket sales.

Well, what can I say? Although English is not my mother tongue, even I know the difference between piracy and leak: Piracy is done by an outsider by any means necessary, whereas leak is by an insider with a discrete motive. It is somewhat absurd to blame people with piracy when you leak something voluntarily or discretely.

And this comment probably makes all arguments of Hollywood (RIAA) about piracy null and void:

People who are going to download and watch it on their computer were either never going to pay to see it anyway or they're the type of super-fan who was going to go 10 times in the first week. Seeing a spectacle movie like this one on your computer is not the same as seeing with a communal audience, and I don't think this is going to hurt them that much.

Did all those charged with hefty penalties deserve a refund now? You decide.

And here comes the juicy stuff:

On the other hand, a high-ranking theater exhibitor sees much more dire consequences for the franchise. "This is a disaster," he says, referring both to the free downloads resulting from the leak and to the subsequent bad reviews (emphasis mine) making their way around the Web. "It's tens of millions of dollars lost."

This is the crucial part. After all the marketing hype, a leak or piracy helps people see the packaged crap without paying; something that can not be undone.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blank the Movie Released on Bittorrent

blank movie fşrst torrent release
Here comes a new and brave experiment in the wild wild web:

Annodam Films has released the feature film 'Blank' from writer director Rick L. Winters, with leading characters played by D'Angelo Midili, Darlene Sellers, Jason Adkins on March 21, 2009 on several popular torrent sites for everyone to enjoy. It is our concept that if people like the movie they will go back and make a donation or purchase the movie at www.blank-movie.com, thus allowing us to make another film and release it in the same manner. After the end credits of the movie BLANK there will be a trailer for one of the next feature films we are planning to film and release Peer to Peer.

The thing that makes this film unique is that it is a co-op based concept where the entire cast and crew worked on a deferred percentage of the films gross. In other words, the cast and crew own a percentage of the films gross, so the profits are not going to Hollywood executives but instead into the pockets of the filmmakers themselves. Again the objective is to use profits from this film to make another movie and release it in the same manner. No one should have to pay for a film they did not like. No one should be denied the right to enjoy the art of film.

I sincerely wish to see more ventures like this and their success.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Organic Material to Speed Internet Access

The next time an overnight snow begins to fall, take two bricks and place them side by side a few inches apart in your yard.

In the morning, the bricks will be covered with snow and barely discernible. The snowflakes will have filled every vacant space between and around the bricks.

What you will see, says Ivan Biaggio, an associate professor of physics at Lehigh University resembles a phenomenon that, when it occurs at the smallest of scales on an integrated optical circuit, could hasten the day when the Internet works at superfast speeds.

Biaggio, is part of an international team of researchers that has developed an organic material with an unprecedented combination of high optical quality and strong ability to mediate light-light interaction and has engineered the integration of this material with silicon technology so it can be used in optical telecommunication devices.

The material, which is composed of small organic molecules with high nonlinear optical susceptibilities, mimics the behavior of the snowflakes covering the bricks when it is deposited into the slot, or gap, that separate silicon waveguides that control the propagation of light beams on an integrated optical circuit. A description of this material was published on the Nature Photonics Web site March 15.

Just as the snowflakes, being tiny and mobile, fill every empty space between the two bricks, Biaggio says, the molecules completely and homogeneously fill the slot between the waveguides. The slots measure only tens of nanometers wide; 1 nm is one one-billionth of a meter, or about the width of a dozen carbon atoms.

The nanophotonic device obtained in this way, has demonstrated the best all-optical demultiplexing rate yet recorded for a silicon-organic-hybrid device.

This research has got me thinking for a long time. I have never questioned what has to be researched. What I mean is I am not for meaningful research, which as some presume, is directed to areas that will be beneficial to humanity. Science, time and again, has proved that you start with, say how frogs jump, and end up with computer tomograhy. All kinds of research is meaningful and bears an inherent good for the mankind. Yet, sometimes I really wish someone can give me an uninterrupted internet connection, cheap and not necessarily ultra fast.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fuel Cell Hybrid Bus from Mercedes

mercedes benz fuel cell hybrid bus
Renown auto maker Mercedes-Benz will start offering hybrid buses under the brand of "Citaro" soon. The bus will be be manufactured under the initiative of Daimler's "Shaping Future Transportation" with an aggressive target of zero emission.

The initiative started in the mid 90s first with diesel-electric hybrids and continued with today's fuel celled ones (lithium-ion) as part of a research project called NEBUS.

The reason I am interested in this technology is because I favor hybrids more than hydrogen-based vehicles where food supplies are at stake. It seems to me using plants or crops to generate energy is a bad idea. They are scarce or will be so in the near future.

I am not into car tech and I could get it all wrong. So, take it with a grain of salt.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Social Bookmarking

It is no secret that I am not a big fan of social bookmarking. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing stuff with friends. I simply missed the train of stumbling, twitting and whatnot; or to put it more correctly, I had gotten used to a system of my own long before social media services were scattered all around the web.

Yet, they have been a fact of our lives. I have just added a few bookmarking buttons here in the hope that they will be useful to those who are accustomed to the phenomenon and can't live without it. I hope I did the coding right. I included a few bookmarking sites which I thought to be popular and beneficial.

The real purpose of this post, however, is to thank the developer Joost de Valk of Sociable, a popular Wordpress plug-in. I sort of shared his styling and ported here.

I really do not like others where, after an accidental mouse over a pop up springs up, an event I find highly distracting. Others make a call home and if there is a problem there, your blog begins to crawl.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pictures from a Fractal Dimension

Back in the days when USENET was USENET, I collected a lot of fractal pictures; from alt.math if my memory serves me right. The year should be 1998. The term fractal was coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975, with the Latin root "fractus" meaning broken or fractured and many did not hesitate to slip into the fractal dimension in the newsgroups.

Then occurred a frenzy of posting fractals, geometric shapes based on iterative equations where each part was a reduced copy of the whole. Here is a small selection from my favorites:

fractal jungle 
Jungle


fractal bluebird 
Bluebird

fractal demon 
Demon

fractal fetus 
Fetus

fractal napkins 
Napkins

fractal poem 
A poem

fractal snail 
Snail
Hope you enjoy them.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Traps to Avoid in Blog Design

I have made a small experiment for the last two days. I visited some 50 blogs yesterday and bookmarked only the ones that I had no desire to read for any reason. Today, I revisited them. To my surprise, at least 10% of them turned out to be very good. This led me thinking, how come did I miss them?

The following video in which a corporation is assigned to design the traffic stop signs we all love to see might help:



Believe it or not, I have been to such a meeting!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winter Camp - Amsterdam, 03-07 March, 2009

When a network settles down, and is not so new anymore, it can be quite a challenge to keep it’s activity level. Should a network then transform into a so-called ‘organized network’? Organizing a network does not necessarily mean decreasing the level of spontaneity to make way for rules and hierarchy: it can provide a place for sustainable knowledge sharing and production. As Ned Rossiter argues in his book Organized Networks (2006), face-to-face meetings are crucial “if the network is to maintain momentum, revitalize energy, consolidate old friendships and discover new ones, recast ideas, undertake further planning activities, and so on.” Network Cultures Winter Camp is therefore meant for those networks and (potential) network members that need support to gather in real life, conspire, discuss and make the necessary steps forward. Winter Camp does not have an (academic) educational or training component, but there is a lot to learn.

Winter Camp will be organized by the Institute of Network Cultures and is a mix of presentations and work spaces with an emphasis on getting things done. Networks like Blender, Bricolabs, Creative Labor, Dyne.org, Edufactory, Floss Manuals, freeDimensional Network, Genderchangers, Goto10, Microvolunteerism, MyCreativity and Upgrade! will be participating. Although it is a closed event, there will be an open session on Saturday. Besides, you may hack your way in, if you are creative enough. :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pirate Bay Trial a Huge PR Success

For whom you would ask. Well, definitely not for the so called copyright holders. Riyaz Jariwalla a solicitor who specialises in contentious matters sums up the trial nicely,

Swedish filesharing providers Pirate Bay yesterday celebrated a victory in only its second day of its trial for allegedly assisting copyright infringement. The rights holders were unable to prove to the satisfaction of the court that files which were illegally distributed had been used on Pirate Bay. The prosecution which represented Warner Bros, MGM, Universal and EMI had to abandon the majority of the claims.

Even if the case unfolds differently, the big labels lose ground on the public relations front. There is a growing dislike towards them thanks to ridiculous I should say charges pressed to individuals in the USA and I witnessed a fair amount of people who stopped buying any product from those big corporations. I am aware that making such a generalization is often wrong but that is what it is. Riyaz puts it better than I do,

PR is hugely relevant to both parties as they fight for the positions. To date we have seen many cases of file sharing which ought never have been brought against innocent individuals. These PR set backs have resulted in significant damage being done to the rights holders interests. It is therefore essential that if you are going to issue a letter of claim against anyone suspected of file sharing then you have to be super confident that the person you are claiming has infringed your copyright is the person who has infringed and it is not a housemate or Mr anonymous. The backlash will be severe and while it is off the media's agenda at the moment it is likely that the blackout will only be temporary.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pirates of the Bay Face Trial

pirate bay stockholm sweden
The ever notorious bit-torrent tracker The Pirate Bay trial begins in Stockholm, Sweden. Three years ago the police raided the Bay's headquarters and seized their servers on the grounds that the Pirate Bay helped distribute copyrighted material. The popularity of the site steadily increased from then on and there is even a political party (The Pirate Party) defending alternative copyright laws.

The accusations have been summed up in a 4,000 page paper. One particular note worth mentioning is Jim Keyzer, one of the police officers raided the peer to peer tracker three years ago is now an employee of Warner Bros.

The curious may check the Pirate Bay blog. I am sure they will give some details about the progress of the trial from time to time.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Burhan Marketing

buy vista get a free update to windows 7
Burhan was a phenomenon, to say the least. He was the most successful "on board" marketer doing business on the ferries crossing the Bosphorus. He was so popular that people deliberately delayed their purchases to see what he would be selling  on that day's voyage. His secret?
  • quality merchandise
  • money back guarantee
  • and above all, an interesting combination of goods.
Last item on the list was particularly important. He never sold a single item alone. There was first the prime product of the day, the flagship so to speak, and a secondary one, which was definitely intriguing. It was hard to resist the temptation. The bargain was there, together with the trust which was earned over the course of years Burhan conducted his business, a track record hard to beat. He refused all offers to build a company, saying he was making more than enough. He really was.

Microsoft is planning a campaign or so I have heard, a free update to Windows 7 for buyers of Vista, which reminded me Burhan. But the similarity ends here. The flagship product sucks and the secondary product is a promise. Burhan would probably do better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Floss Documentation and Manuals

It is a fact that free, libre and open source software (floss) use is on the rise. Still, the momentum is not as steep as developers want it to be. One major handicap for propagation of floss applications is the lack of clear and concise documentation. Some may argue that there is enough documentation to get anyone going. Not quite so!

A few months back I wrote a how-to about uploading a favicon to a Blogspot blog. Yesterday, I asked a friend who had a blog, if he could upload a favicon according to my instructions in the article. He tried and came back telling me he was unable to understand it. What went wrong?

Apparently I failed to put my feet into the shoes of a completely novice user. What was clear for me, was not so clear for him.

It is really a sort of black voodoo to accomplish such a task. Human mind plays tricks and thoughts outpace words.

I came across Floss Manuals a few days ago, and that is why I arranged the aforementioned test.

FLOSS Manuals make free software more accessible by providing clear documentation that accurately explains their purpose and use. Each manual explains what the software does and what it doesn’t do, what the interface looks like, how to install it, how to set the most basic configuration necessary, and how to use its main functions. To ensure the information remains useful and up to date the manuals are regularly developed to add more advanced uses, and to document changes and new versions of the software.

You can find quality documentation for various floss applications like Inkscape, OpenOffice, Firefox, Muse, NvU, Audacity, Blender, etc. Definitely worth a look.

Friday, February 13, 2009

$250,000 Bounty for Virus Hunters

conficker downaddup sasser kido virus worm
Obviously the Conficker virus is going stronger than I thought. 20 technology firms including Microsoft, Verisign, Symantec and F-Secure have joined forces to find the source and/or the developer of the virus also known as Downadup, Sasser and Kido. They are offering $250,000 to anyone who can provide the information needed.

Conficker is still spreading at an alarming rate of 2.2 million computers a day. Those who are running Windows operating system are strongly encouraged to apply the patch Microsoft released late October.

It is also worth noting that the algorithm of the worm (this is the correct term) is still a mystery in spite of all the efforts by anti-virus companies.

69 Computers Missing in Nuclear Research Lab

los alamos national laboratory new mexico usa

The authorities from Los Alamos National Laboratory, a nuclear arms reasearch facility in New Mexico, USA have finally admmitted 69 of their computers are missing.

Leaving aside the significance of the number 69, the lab spokesperson Kevin Roarke has said that there was no important information stored in the computers. Surely, I am not in a position to dispute Roarke's claim until I am finished with all the files (this is the joke part).

All in all, I feel much safer now. I know that researchers in Los Alamos are simple souls just like me, surfing internet with their PC's. What a relief!

Nova Linux: From Cuba with Love

nova linux distribution of cuba

Cuba is soon to get into the list of countries with a national Linux distribution. The interesting government of Cuba, which until last year did not allow her citizens to own a PC or a cellular phone, has made a quantum leap according to our man in Havana.

The distro has been introduced in 13. International Technology Fair to the enthusiastic spectators. Hector Rodriguez, Dean of Faculty of Open Source Software at University of Havana said:

"Linux is ideologically more convenient for us."

Closed sourced commercial  operating systems like Microsoft are not allowed into Cuba because of U.S. embargo.

Bloggers to be Imprisoned and Flogged in Iran

blogging is dangerous in iran
Gods must be hungry as they are looking for more pain and misery. Nine Iranian bloggers (five of them ethnic Azeris) will be jailed and whipped for good measure to satisfy and feed the ever starving Gods so that stormy weathers will cease, crops will flourish and harvests will yield record levels of produce.

What did these bloggers do? I really can't tell as my Persian is rusty and the damn alphabet is not Latin, but apparently they upset a few religious figures with colorful turbans with their articles in their blog, which is usually blocked or temporarily closed so that they will behave.

Go Gods!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's Day Viruses

bug of valentines day striking at your pc
Protection is not confined to your bedroom or another convenient place as this year's Valentine's Day approaches. Those old, sorry mature enough to remember the havoc caused by the cute "I Love You" and "Love Letter" viruses will sadly remember. How time flies, doesn't it? The damages had exceeded 6 billion dollars, then.

You can of course say "it's worth it," or a similar cliche but better be protected rather than sorry. Possible names for these lovely bugs to reappear on or around this naughty day of February might be "You are beautiful", "From me to you", "I wanna hold your hand", "Only you", "Love at first sight", "I am addicted to you", "Our song", "Save the last dance for me", "Helter Skelter" (O.K., this one's a joke)... But you get the drill.

Be vewy vewy careful!

The Vienna Document

Some headlines from the Vienna Document by the Open Cultures Working Group hosted by "Towards a Culture of Open Networks" - a collaborative program developed by Sarai CSDS (Delhi), Waag Society (Amsterdam) and World-Information.Org (Vienna).

While global information cities increasingly resemble neo-medieval city states, market concentrations establish a dominion over knowledge. On the way to information feudalism, diversity seems to loose out.

We applaud all initiatives that reclaim the benefits of new communication technologies for the common public.

We know that the future is too precious to leave it to experts; digital human rights in everyday life are everyone's concern.

We trust nodes open of information cultures to explore the diversity of choices in the shaping of information societies based on semiotic democracy.

We recognize that street level open intelligence is of high public value and a cultural process that is highly dependent on information climate and environment conditions.

We do not accept a world where popular culture and human heritage is fenced in and IP restriction management separates us from our own thoughts.

We appreciate the fact that boundaries between users and producers become permeable in new communication environments and new practices dissolve traditional notions of authorship.

We are committed to critically observing the mindsets of possession and the creation of scarcity as processes implementing control in the information economy.

We refuse to live in an information society where nothing belongs to all of us, but everything is owned by cartels, locking human knowledge into the vaults of private interests.

We acknowledge that knowledge is for those who do, not for those who don't, because cultural progress implies that ideas emerge from exchanges, from communication, from interaction.

We do not want a world where you need a license to whistle a song or access your own memories.

We value information as a human resource of cultural expression rather than a commodity to be sold to consumers.

We anticipate a silent spring in Information Society's landscapes when even a bird's song becomes subject of copyright control.

We realize that intangible information resources raise the issue of a digital ecology, the need to understand ecosystems constituted by information flows through various media.

We urge to ask who benefits from technology that is never neutral, empowerment and participation or domination and containment.

We reaffirm that security concerns are not an excuse for pervasive surveillance and control environments linking personal profiles and producing social sorting and segregation.

Just to remind myself...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

penumbral lunar eclipse 
Tomorrow we shall witness a penumbral (not full) lunar eclipse. It will be visible in Eastern Europe, Middle East, Western Africa while the Moon is rising, and in North America while the Moon is setting. In places to the east of Iran, the event can be observed all night.

As you may know 2009 is World Astronomy Year and I invite everyone to participate the observation.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheap Laptop Sakshat

the only known picture of shakshat, cheap laptop
Here is the only known picture of the so called 500 Rupee / 10 dollar laptop, the Indian Sakshat. Unfortunately it is anything but a PC. It can connect to a network, has limited disk space and can make a calculation or two.

Apparently, the digital divide is to stay with us for some time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sousveillance - Aarhus, 8-9 February 2009

sousveillance conference logo aarhus denmark feb 08-09
Sousveillance, original French, as well as inverse surveillance are terms coined by Steve Mann (Toronto, Canada) to describe the recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant. "Surveillance" denotes the act of watching from above, whereas "sousveillance" denotes bringing the practice of observation down to human level (ordinary people doing the watching, rather than higher authorities or architectures doing the watching).

If you are in Aarhus Denmark around or on Feb 8-9 and do not know what to do, Sousveillance, the art of inverse surveillance conference is an event not to be missed. From the web site:

Moving away from cameras and directional microphones, face and voice recognition, the pervasive technologies offer not only the ability to gather and organize huge amounts of dissimilar data, but as well on grounds of these to predict probable patterns of behavior. Commercial mobile variants of Google Maps, YouTube or Facebook are by far the only ones to make use of these possibilities. Urban games, locative art, flashmob art, pervasive games etc. all represent new forms of observational and aesthetic experiments with how we through technology perceive and make use of the urban space itself.

The conference will be held in conjunction with two digital art exhibitions in the city of Aarhus (one at ARoS and another at Skive Art Museum) and aims to create a platform for sharing and discussing the topic of surveillance, privacy and control of information, analyzing different creative, artistic and political strategies to produce fluid zones of interventions, both in the urban space and on the net.

Learn to create your own minority report as Philip K. Dick would say.

The Pink Internet is Soon Due

Four Google executives in Italy is facing trial over a video shown in that country. If found guilty, they will be sentenced up to three years in jail.

This is an interesting case. Let me sum up:
  • The video recorded by a cell phone was about four male high school students in Turin harassing a 17-year-old boy with Down syndrome.
  • Google removed the video in 24 hours after receiving the complaint.
  • All four offenders were caught, possibly with the help of the video.
  • The lawsuit is not against Google but the people working for Google.
As you might have guessed it, what makes this interesting is the last item in the list above. Apparently, it is getting riskier to work for Internet companies as you can all of a sudden find yourself looking at the judge because,
  1. a co-worker slipped and some unwanted content is uploaded;
  2. some may think you deliberately allow the content be distributed;
  3. you did not remove the content right away and spent some time with your family instead;
  4. this will teach everybody a lesson.
Seriously, I am all fed up with people trying to regulate something that cannot be regulated. Since the new Internet protocol IP6 is soon due, why don't we allocate a sufficient number of IP addresses and call it "The Pink Internet" so that everyone is happy? It must be trivial to make sure that no packets will be routed from one Internet (the dark one) to the pinkie one and vice versa.

500 Rupee/10 Dollar Laptop from India

xo pc of olpc project
Too good to be true? Well, after 100 thousand rupee (2000 usd) car Tata Nano, 800 rupee (15 usd) L10 mobile phone, apparently India managed to make a 10 dollar laptop, in spite of criticism by many experts.

The concept of cheap laptops which will abridge the big digital divide between rich and poor, is the dream child of Prof. Nicholas Negraponte of MIT with his OLPC, One Laptop Per Child Project. The OLPC's XO PC costs roughly 200 dollars and has been sort of a huge success in South American countries.

The Sakshat laptop PC, if true can really be a dream come true for many living in undeveloped countries.

Like in every wonderful story, there is a catch. I have seen some sources citing the price of Sakshat as 5000 rupees or 100 dollars. We shall see the actual price tomorrow at the press conference. Still, even a hundred dollar price tag is good enough.

Google Ocean, Google Mars, Google ...?

view of google mars layer 
Google's popular geography program Google Earth's new version offers users to explore oceans and the red planet, Mars. Google Earth 5.0  has been introduced at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, to a group of spectators including former U.S. vice president Al Gore, (the man who allegedly invented the Internet among other things).

Joke aside, the new version is really cool, especially the ocean layer. Not only it gives viewers an amazing 3D experience of our oceans, you can find interesting stuff ranging from informative articles and photographs provided by National Geographic, BBC Earth, etc to ship wrecks - an indispensable tool for will-be treasure hunters. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Weaving the Blueful Web

blue web by vivienne kelly
You have a message to pass, you want people hear you out. Do you really think blogging is the only way?

Web offers a variety of means to distribute content, your ideas and your thoughts, if you are creative enough. But why use one if you can use them all?

Take a look at the Blueful way (requires Java, JavaScript, Flash, sound and a modern browser) and let me know what you think.


Image: Blue Web by Vivienne Kelly

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Search Engine Popularity vs. Social Media

As readers of this blog are aware, my view of using social media is not mainstream, or should I say it is unorthodox. I strongly believe that achieving higher ranks in search engine results will yield more positive returns in the long run, as opposed to getting to the front pages of social media sites. Although this opinion is based more on intuition rather than raw data, I do have some statistics albeit limited in depth and scope.

I paid a visit to an internet cafe whose owner is a friend of mine. After a full day's observation, here are my preliminary findings:
  1. From a total of 54 customers, none visited a social media site.
  2. 60% of those said "yes" when asked if they had made a query using a search engine that day.
  3. The most popular application was MSN's instant message service.
I will go on and speculate that,
  • a considerable percentage of social media users is made up of bloggers themselves and commercial site owners.
  • For any blogger who wants to target casual internet users, the major source of traffic is search engines.
These findings are subject to the constraint whether my sample truely represents the behavior of typical home broadband users or not. I made a few on-site experiments here and will publish them soon.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Entire Web is Harmful, Google Says

this web site can harm your computer says google 
Either Google is onto something - a new experiment perhaps or a hack- or entire web is harmful and full of malicious content according to Google. The image shows the lame search for "MSN". However, if you click the link, rather any link on search engine result page, this is the screen that welcomes you: "Warning - visiting this web site may harm your computer."
Do you really think we cannot trust the world wide web any more? Do children need protection to such an extent? I do not know, you decide. :-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Zombie Alert in Texas

traffic signs hack in austin texas 
Here is my nominee for best hack of the current year. Traffic signs in Austin, Texas have been hacked by a group of anonymous horror movie enthusiasts!

The electronic signs at Lamar and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards had a surprise for today's drivers. For starters, they were not boring. One could even say they were stimulating. Do not ask me what they stimulate! The signs read this morning "Caution! Zombies Ahead.", "Run for Cold Climates", "The End is Near", "Nazi Zombies Run!"

A good thematic selection, I should say; horror, environmental, apocalyptic, and classic WW-II.

Don't drink and drive!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Memoirs of a Ninja Byte

Woke up, got out of the bed. A bitwise shift to the right, there am I, ready and charming than ever. Checked the mirror. No, one bit is slightly off. A shift to the left and another to the right; click, clang, it is O.K. now. Good! First impression is important.

After the dusting sectors of the ever-spinning hard drive, I am loaded back on memory. Threw myself on Information Highway, my journey begins. Got the time from an NTP server. How come did I sleep this long?

Something is wrong, terribly wrong. The handles, they are NOT right. Where is everybody? Phatal Error, Acidic Nature, Corruptor, Social Distortion, MalHavoc, Manifest Destiny, Mind Shadow... Where are they?

A few routers more. Here is a crowded place. With a funny name: Facebook. Who would name his site like that? Lame... But they can be here. Worth a look. Oh no! Real names, real information? Don't they know? Didn't anybody tell? I'd better forget the masses and concentrate. Can they be here? No, don't think so.

A few more hops. I am desperate, now. Kind of scared. And lonely. Very LONELY. What happened? Did we lose? Where are they?

I have to go back and get more information.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Kinesthetic Experience

Chris 'The Falcon' Han has compiled the songs with "love" in their titles. The point, however, is his use of sequencer interface. It acts as the visual of the mix for a functional and aesthetic experience. I cannot say I agree with the songs chosen but I have to admit I liked the feeling while watching it.


Love Songs from Chris 'The Falcon' Han on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New York Times Afloat with Carlos Slim

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim will invest $250 million in the New York Times. "Slim's money will be used in critical pay-backs that are due late Spring this year," Janet Robinson of Times has said. So far, so good. I am glad for the newspaper but who on earth is Carlos Slim?

Reportedly, he is the owner of Banco Inbursa and Inmobiliaria Carso among other companies. And he suddenly felt the need to invest in a troubled industry, media; not in a TV, a dot com or an initially shining technology co.

Call me a skeptic but I attribute the erosion of trust in journalism to mostly such deals. A newspaper is only as good as it is critical, the more the better, and my experience with such financing methods in this part of the world is not very pleasant. Such money is poured into media to provide leverage for creditors against competition, their competition, not the newspaper's. Let us hope this one does not turn sour.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Conficker Worm Still Going Strong

According F-Secure's latest report, this lovely worm going with the names Downadup, Kido and Conficker has so far affected close to 9 million computers (figure does not include corporations who forgot to patch their systems and hiding the fact they are infected). Since this place is not a technical site, we will not go into details like how to remove it, anti-virus software, on-line scanners and such. Instead, we will try to tackle the urge for writing such a magnificent (in spite of the damage caused, its code deserves recognition) program.

In his article "Ethics and the Urge" [1], Guido Sanchez of VIPER (Viral Inclined Programming Experts Ring) discusses about lame boards [2], several ways to dispose of them, and also the ethics involved in making someone's life miserable just because they are evolutionarily ranked just below slime mold:

There's a certain board in Colorado, called the Sound Doctrine BBS {303-680-7209}, and I call up... After downloading some nice french utilities, I realize that the board is a religious board, sponsored by some church.  Yes, the kind of religious board that carries the Adam's Rib echo, and has an on line "game" called 'The Beast' which finds the numerical hex value of any word you type in i.e. JESUS=444, SANTA CLAUS=666, LUCIFER=444, etc. This sickens me, as I am an agnostic who believes that religion should not mix with modeming.  Of course there's only one thing to do.  I shell to DOS, unzip 'WHALE.ZIP' from my \NASTY directory, rename it 'JONAH.EXE' (some of you can see this coming from a mile away), go into the VIPER Trojan Horse Construction Kit [3], create a fake 'JONAH.DAT' file of about 48k length, and write up a 'JONAH.DOC' file which goes a little something like this...

"Thanks for downloading 'Jonah and the Whale' from your local bulletin board system!  Here are the instructions of the game.  Simply make sure the JONAH.EXE and JONAH.DAT files are in the same directory, and then type 'JONAH'. It's as easy as that!
How to Play:
Simply use the arrow keys to help Jonah avoid the whale.
VGA/EGA/CGA SB/Adlib support
Please send me money!
Mathurin Picard 1234 fake address"

OK now I pose the question to you.. Is what I did chronicled in the above lines funny?  Damn straight. Is it ironic? Of course!!  Now here's the biggy.. Is it RIGHT?  ooooh.. lets see why or why not, shall we?

He then goes on to describe how he crashed two more boards and here comes the interesting part:
  1.  I asked myself, before crashing these boards, three questions.
    • Do they deserve it?
    • Why?
    • Do they have any way of finding out it was me?
  2. The only boards worth crashing are those that misuse our Ambrosia,  knowledge. They do this by..
    • promoting unfounded beliefs (such as ANY religion except Discordianism)
    • using the knowledge (i.e. bytes and bits) to get sexual gratification
    • devoting their life to such mind candy as Wing Commander II etc at 2400
In essence, crashing boards in these fashions is a sort of Cyberpunk Euthanasia for us.  I do it because I believe that these people are misusing knowledge, and if they continue to do so, it will result in harm to themselves and others (including possibly myself).  Others just do it for fun.  And that is to be respected, cause, hey all, lets face it.  There's nothing more gratifying than persuading a lamer board's SysOp's little brother or sister into giving you SysOp access, resulting in the board's demise.  Now if only they'd figure out a way to allow us to see the sysop's face...

Sadly, the puritanism of Sanchez and his friends has long since disappeared.

[1] Anaconda #001: The Official VIPER Electronic Mag.
[2] It is a BBS, a bulletin board; the article is dated 1992.
[3] Viper did release that kit.

Elephants Behave with SMS and GPS

elephant in nairobi kenya
Jake Wall's software AnimalLink uses SMS and GPS technology to prevent elephants hoarding the farms in Kenya. So far, 44 of these lovely and big creatures have been tagged with the software that reports their current position to authorities.

Wall estimates thousands of dollars of damage have been avoided after the elephants were tagged. AnimalLink sends the exact position of the elephants to a server in Nairobi and if the animals are getting close to a farm, rangers are dispatched to prevent the incident.

The software cannot unfortunately do much against illegal hunters and poachers, however, Wall is upgrading it so that AnimalLink will send a text message if an elephant does not make a move for more than five hours.

Image: Save the Elephants

Sunday, January 18, 2009

National Drag Queen Month

Sun Sentinel reports that January 2009 marks the first-ever celebration of National Drag History Month! This month-long event salutes the richness of drag culture and pays tribute to the courageous queens & kings who have fought for equality while inspiring, educating & entertaining us all.


Taking this opportunity, let me recommend you a movie, if you have not watched it before of course: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert [B&N]. Directed by Stephan Elliot, with Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Bill Hunter in leading roles, it is a beautiful road movie across Australia. The performances of Stamp and Pearce are not easily forgettable. The film received a best costume award in Oscars if I am not wrong.

Pokia Retro Phone Handset Rocks the Shelves

pokia retro cell phone handset

The ultimate mobile/cell phone gadget is finally available for the masses. The new Pokia Retro Phone Handset with an answer-end button from Retrogismo will no doubt be the best selling accessory of 2009. "Add the charismatic tone and style of the product, it will surely attract pleasure- and distinction-hungry eyes," Retrogismo says:

This timeless model will most definitely reflect your sense for style, originality and unconformity while serving your communication needs.

Rush and order it before supplies are depleted.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where to Find Un-Collectables: NUCA

nuca network of un-collectible artists
Web is a fun place. What is not imaginable twenty years ago becomes achievable at the push of a button. As publishing software improves, contributing to the cyberspace gets easier, even for the novice. The creative genie is out of its bottle in spite of all the efforts of some. This is from the web site of NUCA,  Network of Un-Collectable Artists :

NUCA is a nation-wide affiliation connecting those who gravitate towards ephemeral projects, participatory experiences, illegal art actions, and activities that oddify everyday life. Some members make unwieldy installation projects, while others alter billboards, project images in abandoned spaces at night, or exchange ideas rather than objects. Some simply make dead ugly paintings that would never sell.

Because such artworks are often fiendishly tricky to document, they seldom grace the columns of "recognized" publications. NUCA is building a publicity machine of its own, so artists may exchange essential info about their activities, collaborate on new projects, and connect with Uncollectable others.

Go join the ranks of NUCA. Decrease entropy,  increase anarchy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Prado Museum Closeups with Google Earth

garden of earthly delights by hieoronymous bosch 
 Art lovers all around the world will from now on be able to see fourteen of the Prado Museum's masterpieces in very high resolution with the launch of Google's Prado layer on Google Earth. From the Prado site:
The Prado Museum has become the first art gallery in the world to provide access to and navigation of its collection in Google Earth.  Using the advanced features of Google Earth art historians, students and tourists everywhere can zoom in on and explore the finer details of the artist's brushwork that can be easily missed at first glance.

The paintings have been photographed and contain as many as 14,000 million pixels (14 gigapixels). With this high level resolution you are able to see fine details such as the tiny bee on a flower in The Three Graces by Rubens, delicate tears on the faces of the figures in The Descent from the Cross by Roger van der Weyden and complex figures in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.
Of course, not everyone is happy about it. Contrary to the Prado Museum's Director Miguel Zugaza who is more than thrilled with the project, for example Jonathan Browne, an art historian from New York University, has defined the digital experience as "like looking at a corpse". Still, we necrophiliacs are happy.