Thursday, 30 August 2007

Justice, Irish Style!

Now this, I like! Pity no-one here has a spare piece of cardboard emblazoned "I am a bad PM and Mr T says I need to get s some nuts..."
Vigilante Justice, Belfast-style, for drug dealer

STREET vigilantes tarred and feathered an alleged drug dealer
because police refused to take action against him, it was
claimed yesterday.

The victim, in his thirties, was subjected to the humiliating punishment
in a loyalist stronghold in south Belfast.

But despite the heavy influence of Ulster Defence Association men within
the Taughmonagh estate, the paramilitary organisation's advisers insisted
they were not involved.

Frankie Gallagher, of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), claimed:
"The UDA told the local community to go to the police about this.

"The community responded in the way it did because it had no confidence
in the police."

Mr Gallagher claimed that frustration over inaction by the authorities had been
building for weeks. Police were given information but failed to intervene, he said.

The degrading punishment, reminiscent of IRA-style retribution on those
accused of crimes against their communities, provoked a horrified reaction.

The victim was tied to a lamppost, then masked men poured tar over him and
covered him in feathers as women and children looked on.

Rumors have it that next they will tie some cops to lamp posts, "tar" them
with molasses and decorate them with donuts, if they don't get some action
beyond blaming things on political organizations.

Go to Dear Webby for the source of this article...

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Cult of the Professional

The trouble with Andrew Keen's book The Cult of the Amateur is that it's all been done before. The collapse of preservation of information as we know it has been bemoaned, the number of untruths that would be published, the information dilution, the way it will take us all to Hell in a handbasket - 500 years ago. Shortly after Gutenberg developed the printing press which allowed "just anyone" to publish a book. Which, *gasp* might not be pure philosophy or mathematics or mechanics!

See, when books were written by hand and copied by hand, they were of course more valuable. A book was likely to be handed down among generations of students and teachers, so those handwritten manuscripts were Law with a capital L. Once books were able to be printed in quantity, the idyll was that it would put that Law, that valuable education, in the hands of the masses. What was less obvious to the idealistic printer, was that all that education encouraged many of the masses to also write, and - now their books in turn could be distributed far and wide.

And - *gasp again* - these new writers might not have the same beliefs as the early manual copying brigade. Heresy! What happened, of course, was that the noise to signal ratio went up. Early handwritten MSS had to be pretty good otherwise no-one would bother to copy the entire thing out by hand. Printed books, well, anyone could suddenly throw together a book and have it achieve wide readership. Andrew Keen is now in the same boat as all those other fuddy-duddy luddites in bemoaning how everything is heading rapidly shitbasketwards.

Trouble is, of course, if we hadn't gotten a printing press, and all those books, then Albert Einstein would have probably been a brilliant farmer with a keen grasp of seasons and rainfall... If we hadn't gotten printing presses, we might still believe that the Universe revolves around the Earth.

Those printed mass produced books sparked us across an intellectual revolution in the space of maybe eight generations. The early manual manuscripts shaped the direction we began thinking in, the first printed books accelerated us along that path. And yes, there were bullshit books in among those - but we're big kids, and we can usually make up our own minds what's crap and what's not. We've done pretty good at it so far.

And when you're talking Internet publishing, yes the volume of diaries has increased astronomically, but so has meaningful content. And (aside from Andrew) we seem to be coping with that and sorting our truths from the dross.

Lastly, think about traditional book publishing cycles. You had an idea, it could take years from putting the first thoughts on paper, to someone picking up your book and reading those thoughts. Now think about blogging. You think it, write it - and I read it. Sometimes within minutes. The speed of reinforcing ideas and thoughts has jumped another whole order of magnitude, and the progress of the last 500 years will seem a snail's pace compared to what will now come out of the dialogues we are able to carry on thanks to the Internet.

Here are some else's thoughts on Commander Keen's book.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

can spam now has bacn?

Nice, concise, description of what "bacn" is.

Spam is unwanted email "adevertising" (in the loosest sense of the word) all the dubious scams and cons that some humans unleash upon other humans in their earnest endeavours to make a living off someone else's hard work and income. It's funny, because spammers often spend as long working on setting up their email bots as the person they're trying to scam. And they stand to lose more. But then, only the very stupid think they are smarter than everyone else, and they eventually do lose it, and then the ultimate scammer, someone's government, ends up with the proceeds...

Bacn, "not quite bacon," is the mail you do want, only it's not real email from a real person about their real lives, not quite. It's the mail that dealsdirect and and other such places send you, at your request. It's email that cron and the webserver monitor send you, if you're in IT. And the notifications that fellow Facebookers unleash every time they add an application and forget to click the "Forget It" link. You aren't pissed off at these as you are at spam, but they still clutter your inbox up. is a group of people who "are doing something about it" as they say. I haven't seen anything positive, so let me give you a clue: If you don't automate, you perish.

I'll explain that: I have several email accounts and I direct them all to one account, Google Mail. In Google mail I have a very good spam filter, that automates throwing away the real dross, the spam-spam-spam-spam...

I then set up a filter rule to bypass the inbox and apply a label of "crp" to the crap emails, "dealsdir" to the catalog and sales brochure type emails, "jokes" to the cartoons and joke lists, and so forth. In all I've built up a ruleset of a hundred or so rules. One at a time, as something new cropped up and crept in.

A handful of real people are what's left, and those I manually tag and read and put away.

So - it might look like hard work, but one rule at a time is how anything like this gets built...

Monday, 20 August 2007

Smart Alex Tries to Downer Rudd, Australia Gets The Giggles

Let me join Kevin Rudd and, I think, about 95% of Australians in laughing hard at Alexander Downer.

Honestly, if I was a Liberal supporter I'd be burying my head in my hands at your ineptitude. Thank the powers that you're batting for the other side...

Is Your Company Overlooking the Value in New Tools?

So Facebook is The Next Big Bogeyman to business. I'm not surprised. I'm amazed at how many businesses are throwing away an opportunity, but this wouldn't be the first time they've done that would it now?

I remember dimly (I was a kid then) the furore about telephones on each employee's desk. The amount of time spent calling personal contacts was going to decimate productivity, cost the companies millions in lost time and even more on illicit phone call costs. Honest! This was when I was very very young, so in the early 60's, and I remember my parents talking about it with friends over dinner one night. That image stuck with me, of some big boss wringing their hands while all the workers gabbled incomprehensibly into thousans of phones, creating a Tower of Babel in dusty offices.

Was it ever so? Patently, no. A desk without a telephone today is such a rarity. Obviously, the telephones on people's desks are there for a good business reason, and those early knee-jerks (used as a noun here not a verb people) were wrong in their assumptions, so far wrong that they missed the first big paradigm shift in business in a century, since the typewriter.

Then it was computers. OMG OMG OMG!!! Put a computer on everyone's desk and there's no knowing where that would end! People playing Minesweeper from clock-on to knock-off, People using that word processor thingie to compose crap poetry, letters to their lovers, spouses, and mistresses! It was the end of office productivity as we knew it, the end I say!

Again. What's on every desk today? Yep, you guessed it... Business as we know it would slow to a grinding halt if there weren't any computers on desks.

The age of the office LAN (Now people are going to use the network for all sorts of terrible personal things, waste even MORE work time!) came pretty much together with the other revolution in personal communications, the cell phone. (I'm not even going to start on what those cell (in Australia == "mobile phones") phones were going to do to office productivity, O Noes! It was the tragedy to end all tragedies, that management was no longer going to be able to control their employees' slacking off on phones, without banning mobile phones from the workplace...)

I just have to say that A) offices with LANs are the norm these days, because there is simply no way more convenient to share and collaborate, and centralise documents. And B) in regard to mobile phones, how many people use their own mobile phone out of work hours to make themselves more available? And use the mobile phone at work to short-circuit long-winded procedures and produce results faster?

There's more, as they say. Internet. Business went to great lengths to "protect" their employees from the Internet so they wouldn't waste their entire working lives surfing listlessly from one porn or lolcats site to the next, wouldn't spend the whole day browsing from one news site to the next.

Oh yes - Instant Messaging. Once shunned as "the biggest waste of productive employee time ever," it's at the stage now where I do half my business online via IM, keep in touch with colleagues, share solutions, and ask tough questions. I also use it to talk to my workmates because that way their phone stays open for customer calls, and is far easier to use and costs less in terms of interruption than the phone. I ask a question, and wait. When my colleague has time, they answer my question.

Now it looks like it's Facebook's turn. Rather than realising that this way, an employee is available at home and has the same resources at their disposal at home and is thus likely to do odd work related things from home, thereby increasing their value to the company, managers have become knee-jerks again.

I think it's because they trumpet stuff like that "IM is going to ruin us all!" and then when it doesn't happen, they either pat themselves on the back and say "Gosh we sure stopped that, how did we do it again?" or else, they blame the lack of productivity on the next thing - "Sheesh, we just got things back on an even keel, and then this Facebook thing comes along..." After all, they would never lay the blame where it fairly and squarely belongs, at their own feet...

65% of workers in big (>1000 employees) companies rely on each other, not management, to solve problems...
37% ignore company policy rules because they have a better way to get things done...
- The Informal Organisation, Katzenbach Partners, July 2007

Management is clearly not up to speed, and not listening, not keeping a finger on the pulse. if they were, those employess would have no need to go elsewhere for solutions, would not have to do things differently just to get things done.

86% of workers use an unsupported tool at work to boost productivity...
- Zen and the Art of Rogue Employee Management, Yankee Group, July 2007

And that's just a tip to the iceberg, working as a System Administrator for the last 15 years I can tell you that those "unsupported tools" are what drags many a company out of the gutter and into productivity.

As long as management is allowed to do this, companies will always lag behind, always lose productivity compared to the more avant garde companies. Instead of condemming each new advance, and then playing catch-up when everyone else is using that particular tool, it is part of a manager's job to evaluate the tool, find the positives, and find a way to use it.

One other thing. As a System Administrator I've long wondered why most companies have an IT Policy at all. It is a management tool, a tool designed to prevent the 10% of employees who will always find an "alternative" for each of these tools from abusing the system. It seems to me that it's always easier to pinpoint and warn those individuals than to penalise the whole workforce.

In most organisations, there is a Policy to not steal or damage Company property. If someone has stolen items of equipment from the Company, they are sacked, and often prosecuted under Law as well. If someone has stolen IT resources such as bandwidth, computer time, and IT staff time in blocking them, what happens is that everyone is penalised, and the culprit goes on to find another way to circumvent the system.

It's why, whenever I could, I'd let people know that bypassing the IT Policy is fine with me provided it doesn't happen all the time. I've explained it in various offices I freelance in, thus:

"If you see someone wasting time and IT resources day after day, talk to them about it. If necessary, tell your next in line. Because if you don't, that's another thing I will get told to shut down for everyone, and then you lose as well as that person."

Invariably, in every place I've been allowed to enforce IT Policy my way, it has resulted in employees who are happier, who have access to more tools, and I've had to block and prevent far fewer legitimate tools and applications than at organisations run by knee-jerks.

I could not find that dubious reference to a blog post about "having better things to do at home than waste my time" so I suspect that this is a bit of a furphy. Yes, I used that big evil search engine Google to look for it, if you find this reference please let me know because I suspect that it will be a highly tongue-in-cheek article which has been misquoted.

And secondly - did you notice the VERY current dates on the research quotes above? That's because I'd spotted this slideshow on that "Evil Facebook" and remembered it - and bingo - there's support for my article! Oh yeah and I did it from my sickbed, where I could be working for my employer right now if they only embraced similar tools more....

UPDATE: And now here is the first of no doubt a few similar articles following mine which you may enjoy. Another one. And another one. Hehehe - watch out! Disaster looms! .

Friday, 17 August 2007

German scientists claim to have broken speed of light

Great, just great! Now how are we supposed to see anything coming?

And what's the speed like now that they've totally broked it? Am I going to be stuck watching old re-runs on TV? No, wait...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Kitty Litter Times

In what seems to be a move to create more work for the recycling and rubbish collection services, our community newspaper got delivered to us this evening from a station wagon swerving across both sides of the road, which is a bit faster than the old hand delivery into the mailbox, to be sure.

Bear in mind that this is a local paper, delivered free, whether or not we want it. There is no way to stop the publisher wasting our share of the forest, it is delivered anyway. I'd much rather see it online but obviously talking about the environment is easier than doing something about it to these people.

Now to add insult to injury, this unwanted paper is delivered to us not by bicycle to the mailbox as before, but by someone's not-so-late model station wagon, in low gear, wasting petrol. Said station wagon being in front of us as we came home, not concerned one little bit that he was blocking traffic in both directions, and especially not concerned that we were waiting patiently for him to pick a side of the road away from our driveway...

Doesn't stop there though. Not content with wasting paper on a publication we don't want, and then delivering it at an environmental cost, the paper is landing on the driveway, just a piece of sanctioned litter that can get blown around.

Oh yes. Almost forgot. Because the paper is delivered by a polluting car, they can't put it in the letterbox any more, so to protect it from the rain, it's stuck in a plastic bag which has been knotted shut. Yep, if you're going to be an environmental disaster you may as well make it a good one!

Oh yeah - and then I thought I might look in the paper - what is so precious that it has to be placed in manufactured plastic bags, tediously hand knotted shut, and then delivered in the evening so it would have to survive the longest time before being brought in, and left laying around like litter on every driveway?

Oh yeah - seven more included flyers and catalogs, that's what. That a waste of more paper, probably more pages than the paper itself has, and a way to get around our "No Junk Mail Please" placard. Seems like it's okay to do shit like this if you put "community" in your name...

Do things like PayPerPost represent opportunities?

I'm testing if Pay Per Post has anything to offer me in terms of making the odd tenner from blogging about things that might be interesting to me and all of you out there. In order to do that I need to have their "tools" installed on the blog, but I'm loathe to do so unless there's a compelling reason to do so.

Problem temporarily solved by placing the tools link into this post - it will stay on the main page long enough to see if there's any advantage to be had, will drop off the queue soon enough, and if I like it I'll place a permanent link down the foot of the blog. To differentiate PPP postings I'll also add a buttonette to those articles, should that be the case, and perhaps place the link directly into the relevant articles.

I'm not selling out, but I am becoming ill more often and regular 9 to 5 paid work is becoming harder to get to so I need to see if I can find other income streams. One thing I'll do, is include a review of PPP for you so that you too can give it a try if it proves to be an honest enterprise.

Twitter hits 11

"Engineering. Engines at Warp Factor 9!"

"Och, ah cannae gie her any more Cap'n, she's gonna blow!"

And yet every time the good old Enterprise not only didn't blow as hard as the plot, but actually pulled the rabbit out of the hat and managed to find the mythical 11 setting.

Well, Twitter has just painted another number on the dial, with the volume of tweets officially hitting a level at which I can no longer catch up on what happened in the last eight hours. Of the just under 260 people I keep an eye on, I can say that there's 20% who form the core of those messages, say about 50 or so. At this point, is where Twitter should be looking at letting me put my friends in groups so that I can start watching relevant feeds.

For example, I have a dozen folks who are in Perth type of local, and a further dozen that are Australia local. Then there are exceptional friends around the world whose messages I wouldn't like to miss for the world. I can think of an easy two dozen of those. And there are news/blog release sites, which just announce the latest articles of interest, and again, I don't want to miss those but when around 80 - 150 articles hit my one bulging RSS feed in a day, I'd rather view them as a separate group please.

I was talking in a previous recent article about the future of social messaging, communications - with especial regard to IP telephony and voice messaging - imagine a scenario where you wanted to follow a conversation between your friends, and there were five irrelevant messages between each friend message - pure babel. So grouping/prioritising (such as Particls already does) for your pareticular things that you pay attention to, will be a must. If Twitter doesn't soon build some attention filtering in, in the form of groups or a similar mechanism, they stand to be abandoned because of the sheer impossibility of following a conversation.

A new thing that Twitter now has to try and accommodate. More Bluebirds of Crappiness in ur serverz. But it's the next step and it will have to be taken.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Facebook is down.

Two days ago - Facebook code leaked. Today - Facebook down. Is there a connection? I strongly suspect so...

All I wanted was to Answer A Question dammit. Now I'm sitting here having to ask one.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Communicating in the Noughties

A quick look at your future communications.

Several weeks ago I started to put together a list of things that I could foresee in communication and interaction. It was all started by an email from an IP telephony company so a lot of this relates to IPtels.

First, IP telephony is one place where I expect my comunications to change. A lot. At the moment there is crossover between telephony and IP traffic, in the form of 3G cellphone services and the crop of "m.whatever" mobile websites, and a few apps that let me VoIPfrom my cellhpone using GPRS, 3G, or sometimes, WiFi. Telcos are still not able to deal with a device that can evade their toll meters and find the cheapest way from my phone to yours, but some of the WiFi multiband phones now coming t the market are going to force a rethink there.

But that leaves it at still just tough tits for landline users isn't it? Here's an idea, big telcos:

VoIP based fixed phones are now routinely installed in offices, why keep selling analog handsets? Take the big leap, go on - commission an IP phone with built in ADSL modem, CAT 5 outputs, and a WiFi router. At one stroke, you've put digital data on the last mile, aggregated your customer's voice and data, and provided them with a broadband connection, all in one. You not only have their voice calls, you can also claim their broadband dollars, and with the WiFi you can permit cellular/WiFi roaming because you can track and charge any cellular handset, and you own those WiFi APs as well.

Bonus points if you spotted that you can put a few of these little babies into public phone boxes etc to provide more coverage.

Double bonus: If you can see that you also get a geolocation service like no other and could sell THAT information to a Google, or whoever is going to be interested in placing their ad on the touchscreen of every IPphone within 20 miles of their business.

IPtels: Start planning for that to be happening, or even start developing and making these devices yourself. If every home that currently has an analog landline phone changes over to IP based broadband phones, and you can capture even 1% to 5% of that market, you have got quite some income there. Imagine a world where each fixed phone consists of much the same as a mobile phone. Hell, add a USB port or two to this IP handset and you can often bypass the PC of the customer! iTunes downloaded directly from the fixed handset, attach a printer/scanner MFP for fax service - the list is endless.

Bonus points: If you can see a Bluetooth style earpiece and voice dialling on fixed line phones, with a capability to read any designated text (such as Instant Messenger messages or Twitter tweets) to that BT headset.

Then plan for the babel to be tamed - in more ways than one. If I want to talk to 2 dozen of my friends via voice, consider how a chatroom works. People's messages aren't delivered all intermingled, they are delivered as a series of discrete messages, serially. Same with SMS. You have the capacity to store a voice message and then release it in an RSS feed - so why am I not seeing this service available yet?

Better still, why isn't the phone/software that my friends are using to send those messages also transcribing the messages using a voice typing system and posting the text to that same RSS feed in parallel so that I can receive the gist of it in my Instant Messenger of choice? Making each phone responsible for speech to text means the servers only have to receive, store, and forward - all the tricky stuff is done at the client ends.

Bonus points: If you can see how podcasts and vidcasts can become just another feed into and out from this stream which is getting delivered to my cellular, portable, and fixed phones.

And that leads to the other thing. IP telephony providers give you - joy of joys - yet another bunch of numbers for people to remember if they want to reach you. Do you know why? Because they must occasionally cross calls to the old traditional network, which was born from plug and socket switchboards - and then the infrastructure was put in place for a pulse dialling system that only understood the digits 0 to 9.

In this day and age there is no reason whatsoever to still use this system, and in this age when a simple software like DNS has provided us with the capability to type "" and have the DNS automatically and transparently connect our browser to, why isn't there a WPNS to do this for White Pages so we don't have to worry if we mean " on MSN" or "2427127 on ICQ" or "409249807 on Australian cellphone service," or all the other places I can be reached at, and instead the WPNS can work backwards through all the last known points of my presence and eventually to my answering/presencebot service. If someone knows any one of my public names, WPNS will deal with it and find me, or at least find where I want the message to go to.

Why can't I access my Facebook messages from this fixed phone here via text to speech? Because there is no - none - zero - zip - zilch - nada - integration or seamlessness whatsoever between the Internet and the traditional telephone services. Oh yes, I can check some things, but it's going to need me to carry a seriously awkward and hard to remember series of cryptic number strings around with me. An IP based landline phone, on the other hand, with a touch screen, now that would rock at this kind of thing. (As would a cellphone, yes, but let's be serious here, I don't like paying through the nose for social networking. Maybe if telcos pull up all the copper and rely only on cell, and adjust prices to match - but until then, not economical.)

Anyone can come up with communication's next killer app - but someone has to take the plunge and start shaking hands with the other contestants, start grabbing all those disparate threads and weaving the next Twitter or Facebook out of them.

When someone does, we'll be waiting...

Errol's - and exception's - included in course.

Firstly, apologies, this is not a spelling/nazi grammar/nazi attack, merely an observation. I use the term "nazi" not to offend any fascist regimes, but only in the sense that 'netnerds have used it for over a decade now, to label anyone that is a pedant, a stickler for detail, someone who actively pulls down another's work and points out all the flaws. Because, somewhere in this paragraph, is the key to what I'm seeing here.

An article, you've probably read it by now, bewailing the fact that net coding standards are slipping, the "old schoole" (read "HTML strict nazis" but I use the term "nazi" not to offend any fascist regimes, but only in the sense that 'netnerds have used it for over a decade now, to label anyone that is a pedant, a stickler for detail, someone who actively pulls down another's work and points out all the flaws) coders are way to busy to mentor the new ones, and Oh My Gawd the new ones are so sloppy with their work! and so forth.

In that spirit, I skimmed the article for grammar and spelling. After all, one of the primary purposes of Web x.0 (whatever version we are up to while I've been sleeping) is to communicate and in order to do that we in the Western world generally use "English 101" as the baseline. It too has its standards and constructs, and if one is to effectively communicate using English 101, we the Olde Schoole who grew up in a time when English still deserved capitalisation need to teach these young whippersnappers a bit of a bloody old lesson, I say!

Herewith the ten most obvious errors that leapt off the screen at me as I read:
  1. seen it to
    seen it too - In this paragraph the meaning was as in "he has seen it also," not in the sense that "he has seen it to do something."
  2. are loosing out
    are losing out or are loseing out - How many times one sees this error defies belief - I "lose" count of the number of times "loose" cannons do this.
  3. took it’s time to
    took its time to - The next most common confusion: "Apostrophatropy," a condition where one's knowledge of where to place the apostrophe atropies to the point that we get just put them everywhere, and leave them out everywhere, at the same time. Unfortunately these two conditions never seem to agree with the rules of English 101...
  4. people . . . where young
    people . . . were young - This is just confusing two words again, like "loose" and "lose."
  5. and it’s needs
    and its needs - More Apostrophatropy. Enough said.
  6. leaders, that had aspired them
    leaders, that had inspired them - Unless their leaders were wielding an Oxy-Viva at the time, it was inspiration, not aspiration, that the writer was trying to convey here.
  7. where not forefilling
    were not fulfilling - Two for the price of one, and in a three word sentence fragment, even!
  8. they tool theire
    they took their - Spelling errors known as "typos") are common, these are both caused by keyboard layout - the spell check key is obviously on another keyboard just out of reach...
  9. dream the turned it
    dream, then turned it - Two errors here, for correct syntax this needs a comma, and a dropped letter which the spell checker would have picked up.
  10. happen on mass
    happen en masse - One of those "intruding ethnic groups" which forever changed English 101, the French, gave us several words and phrases which were adopted into common useage but which are still spelled the French way. I'm sure the author of that phrase did not mean "happen on top of a congregation of people celebrating a religious custom."

I'm not the person that should speak on this - I rarely use spell check, use unusual and ungrammatical constructs to highlight my meaning or distract the reader away from my meaning as dictated by whatever I'm writing about - but I know my English 101. Am I so different from the people that speak "HTML 4.0 Strict" or "Web 2.0?"

We of the old English 101 guard see new words in the dictionary every year, and then when we talk to people or correspond with them, we discover that what's being spoken in the street is entirely different to the sacred Merriam-Webster, and apostrophatrophy is in full swing whether (or wether or weather) we cry about it or not. The common argot is what people are using to communicate, and we the elite Olde Schoole can just stick that in our Macquarie and file it.

Dictionaries are what publishers use to ensure that their documents are readable by the public. Language is what people use when they discuss that document, when they write in their diary, when they write a best seller, and when they talk to one another. The Olde Schoole at the places that publish dictionaries spend much of their time tracking down new word useages, deciding if they are mainstream enough for inclusion yet, and then either include them or exclude them.

In the same way, instead of railing about tables and iframes and 1pixel margin errors, what the W3C and other bodies need to be doing is to get into browser coding. Not to make theor own browsers, but to see how the lingua franca is changing, what tags are being used despite not being in The Sacred Code, what coding balls-ups the hoi polloi make, and analysing new web documents to see what an author (note how I said that - it's important - it has gone from being a "web programmer" to being a "web author") is trying to achieve versus what it actually looks like in various browsers.

In other words: stop picking on whether the writer is using Megaron or Helvetica - and doing it all wrong in your opinion - and see that they are filling a space with words and they just want those words to fit next to that pretty picture without overflowing.

There is no "standard." There will never be (despite everyone's most fervent wishes) a "standard." Everyone has a different idea of how to achieve their ends, everyone pronounces and spells "it's not certain whether the Cows will lose" with their own particular and idiosyncratic combination of apostrophes and spelling errors and syntax errors. What the different web steering bodies need to be doing is looking at how to adapt to that and how to make Internet content fit with useage.

A big clue: The web we know and love is still arguing about how to deal with text, and the users out there are filling YouTube to overflowing with videos... Start rethinking the paradigm right now, or become irrelevant in a few years,,,,

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Johnny Broke An Egg!

Hmm an ad from our glorious Government says that trying to get rid of all the oppressive Industrial Relations laws which John Howard's government put in place would be like (and I quote) "unscrambling an egg".

What they are saying is that the Howard government broke the egg and removed the natural borders between yolks and whites. I.e "We fscked it up and no-one can sort our mess out ever again! Nyah!"

And this egg will take us decades to get rid of, and stink up the country for all that time. Another fine mess you've got us into Johnny!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

KEVIN07 Launched!

What can you say? Kevin Rudd does have the Libs rattled. He's using the Internet as it's meant to be used, scoring points for net cred, and as far as I'm concerned, the new "KEVIN07" site is one of the smartest things a political party candidate has done in years.

I do tend to agree with visitors to the site, in the hundreds of comments already there, that the sub-slogan should hark right back to another great old Labor slogan "It's Time!" - because it's well and truly time to try and claw back some of the rights and services that have been steadily eroded out from under us by Mr Howard's tender ministrations for far too long.

And I know it's not really my place to get all political but in this case, my readers will remember that I have always said to watch out for your rights, or watch them disappear. I've sat back and watched our little loser leader whittle away too many rights, crush too many freedoms, and supervise the dismantling of too many services, to stand by any more. The sneaky old git with the eyebrows and glasses has to go!

Also considering a sticker campaign, just one single word, see how long before all Australia knows the tagline that's most relevant and applicable to our PM - "BULLSHIT!" . . .

MOO. Stickers. Ooh Sticky!

One of those fortuitous things that happens from time to time is when some company gives away free stuff and I happen to be there for the event. In this case I found a link for a free Moo stickerbook around the place, and followed it. I was expecting some catch but there was none - Moo are giving away a bookful of stickers with your choice of picture(s) on them, no catches.

I provided two pictures and my address and clicked the Submit button expecting to wait for ages, if at all, since I am in Australia and we never seem to get included in these free offers. And to my surprise, today my Moo Stickerbook showed up in the post, almost to the day that the Little Moo Robot informed me by email that it would. Less than three weeks from clicking Submit to placing the first sticker reverently on my mobile phone.

By the way these are quality stickers, look to be splashproof, stick very well, and in general seem to be well worth it. Now that I've seen them, I can already think of a heap of uses for them and am busy planning what to have printed in my next few (paid) books.

For example, my Zen Cookbook site - why not print up a bookful of stickers with the logo and URL? That's a lot of publicity if I use them to seal envelopes and stick notes or compliments slips to things...

And I have had a great idea for a Twitter game which I'll now see if I can't get happening, if so details will be on Twitter and this blog, stay tuned. There's more - Put the faces of your friends and family on these stickers and use them to mark their anniversaries on your kitchen calendar. Put pictures of yourself in thinner days and stouter days on them and use the stickers to mark your weight loss (or gain) on your chart, as an incentive scheme.

IR Law Passes Into IR Lore

In what can only be called an ironic turn, more news emerges to vindicate my total distrust and dislike of the Howard Regime in Australia. Mr "Bullshit" Howard, remember, has told over six lies a year in his time in office, that's one broken promise or outright lie every seven weeks, not bad for an old fart.

In this latest twist it's been revealed that one of the people fronting in the Workplace Relations ads assuring us that IR laws give youth a fair go has himself taken advantage of the IR laws to profit off one (maybe more) of his young employees.

Not bad Mr Howard, you've stolen our pensions and our futures, crippled our education system, done irreparable damage to the health system, made us look like a banana republic run by a pocket dictator to our overseas friends, meddled in fights that are none of our business, allowed your government cronies to fritter and squander our taxes, single handedly led the fight to ensure that the world dies an environmental heat death, screwed us for petrol excise and taxes, shown yourself to be gutless and ineffectual in the case of Japanese whaling and other ecological issues, dodged your responsibilities in regard to illegal immigrants, disempowered the working population, and you're still sitting in office. Not too many total screw-ups can claim that record. You are truly one of a kind!

Monday, 6 August 2007

Twittering In Emergencies

Also known as "Missed It By That -><- Much!," this article by John Johnston is very much a thought-provoking read. I agree - I found out about the Dallas steam explosion on Twitter, hours before websites and mainstream media got hold of it. And JJ's post helped me focus those things I'd been trying to work out, such as "what is Twitter good for?" Twitter is indeed an indication of the future of communications. But you have to think about this slightly differently.

For a starter, I found out about the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Facebook, in the form of a recently shared news item from one of the local news services, also hours before other mainstream media had that news.

Twitter also seems to place quite a strain on the hardware. If you remember, there was a period when Twitter was down as much as it was up, and the sheer volume and speed of our uptake of the service must have caught them quite unawares. Do you really want to be at the scene of an emergency, whip out the trusty WiFi PDA, and see "I'm in ur serverz makin things better"? Probably that is not a good situation to find yourself in. Just sayin'...

But Twitter is also based on RSS, and thereby hangs what would make it one of the best emergency information dissemination networks ever. Set up a server at each major emergency services centre, and let the updates flow out and in to those node servers. Base this on a good swarming algorithm, and allow RSS updates to be prioritised, i.e. keep local stuff local, if it escalates then send it to nearby or relevant other nodes. You have a service that scales with the emergency, and gives first responders a quick sitrep.

Now embroider it a bit. I'm pretty sure cellphone networks can broadcast an SMS to any cellphone within range of a tower. Make that a requirement just like having a 911 service. And then if the Fire Chief wants to evacuate anyone with a cellphone (say) around my house he could send a message "D 911|riverton102 Smoke alert around 29 Whatever St, please move to a safe distance" and everyone with a cellphone in range of riverton102 tower (or whaever cellphone providers call them) will get that.

It's a bigger emergency? Well signal nearby emergency services servers to start swapping RSS feeds with us and broadcast our message a bit further: "D 911|local Smoke and Toxic Fumes alert around 29 Whatever St, please move to a safe distance"

Meantime, the firefighters are in a group that still receives messages such as "HALP! I iz stuk in rubble under 29 Whatevs!" which I send as a reply to the message. The server can send me a stern rebuke not to use the messaging service for anything other than a true emergency, but I will pay the fine if it gets me found under the toxic rubble at 29 Whatever St...

This would provide a pretty useful system. Imagine what it could do, for example, in the case of tracking contraband across borders. An unofficial server or two that the information is "leaked" out about, for Crimestoppers type tips. "TaxiTwitter" where you can use a location code and hail a taxi.

So - there may soon be a lot of different services based on this convergence of RSS, SMS, and other as yet un-thought-of systems. Anywhere there's a need for a swarming type network that crosses system borders, that finds its way to you, and that can be "custom tuned" for senders and recipients, you could find a little lolkitty fine tuning ur serverz...

Old and Sneaky

I'm loving the fact that the Libs' own research has found that people consider John Howard to be old, and sneaky. People consider him dishonest and untrustworthy, I've said said all along that he lies like a pig in the mud, and it's good to see that far from being a long shot outsider, I'm a trendsetter. %)

I also liked that he immediately looked straight down the barrel of the camera and said "uh those results were recorded some time ago..." and went on to say words to the effect that he was sure the situation was much improved by now. I couldn't help myself. "BULLSHIT!" hehehe...

I began to wonder how things would go in Parliament for him now:

"uhUhuh good morning..." "BULLSHIT!"

"ah uh ah come on fellers I have feelings ya know!" "BULLSHIT!"

Serves the little bullshit artist right....

Saturday, 4 August 2007

U took Ur Mega 2Dai?

Please - I know, I know - spam jokes are the lowest form of wit. But this one is a bit special. Once you read it, I'm sure you'll agree, this is finally one that works, and has a GREAT name you'll admit:

from "Janell U. Dove"
to "Evangelina Q. Call"
date Aug 2, 2007 12:08 AM
subject Significantly increase penis length

Womens always giggled at me and even guys did in the public toilets!
Well, now I laugh at them, because I took Mega Dik
For 5 months and now my dick is much bigger than "average" size.

Go to ....

I mean, (and you did read the email addresses didn't you?) this one grows dicks on chicks...

Friday, 3 August 2007

I Haz Buttenz! Yayyy!

After almost four weeks of feeling like the proverbial shyte on a shyngle, waking today to realise that I am down to only common cold symptoms was an epiphany. Kthx! But better and better was still to come! After waiting for the day to warm up, I went and collected my scooter from VMoto's workshop in East Perth and rode that home, in stages as I felt tired, but still a good 20km meandering ride.

Then I arrived home, put the tools and spare oil and wet weather gear in the bike, and decided to check teh intarsnailmail. Hmmm, wats in dis envilop I see dere?

Got inside and sat down comfortably in front of the laptop. Pikshas! I gots to has pikshas! Something in the envelope was definitely affecting me and making me wanna go MOAR MOAR lolcat lingo! MOAR!
I mean

So I tipses out teh envilop to find:

YAYYYY! No moar wtf, now I iz verry hapi! Iz mah bukkit of lolcat buttenz!

So anyway - the buttons from the icanhascheezburger people have arrived and are a little bit small, at "button sized" but definitely worth it I reckon. If I'm going to spend my hard earned dollars, it may as well be on something like this that makes me chuckle and as a bonus, is kinda cool too.

Buttons came sealed with a cute kitty sticker, there are nine buttons, plus a "thank you for giving us your money suckah" note written in lolcat, and even a Wordpress sticker in case I wanted to switch platforms. I can has bukkit?

I will now wear my WTF button with pride, Trish has already claimed the "Halp!" button, and I'm sure I'll need to order another set for the memory chest.