Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Reverend Al, Thrilling One Side of the Aisle.

This may be the rough transcript of Al Sharpton's speech, but it fails to capture the incredible fire that Reverend Sharpton brought onstage with him. We watched on C-SPAN, and I worry that the networks missed his speech entirely.

Powerful oratory has always made my eyes water, and Sharpton's delivery put a lump in my throat. It strikes me that the little guy will always have an advantage in public speaking, for his social standing permits him to nearly yell behind the podium. People in power can't bellow. Reverend Al can really bellow.

Go get 'em, Al.

9/11 Commission Report is Available for Free on iTunes

...well not all 600-pages; however, you can download the 61-minute executive summary here.

You'll need iTunes to make it work, which you can get here.

Only 97 More Shopping Days Until the Election

...and the Democrats are throwing a party.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader would just like to remind the world that he's part of the problem, and tricky Dick Cheney gives a speech that can be summed up in one word: Boo!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The World Is Flat

I built a little map of the world, using my company's Honeycomb technology.

In the coming months, I'll throw together some similar views for data sets like the periodic table.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Cassini Star Wars Reference: Mimas

Normally, I'm not that amused by NASA mission website humor, but the caption to Cassini's photo of Mimas made me smile. (Warning: You need to have quite dorkily memorized large chunks of Star Wars dialogue for the previous link to be remotely humorous)

Now, if only Cassini could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Old, New Thing: On-Demand, Public Domain Book Publishing

Yesterday, I had a tremendously disappointing trip to Barnes & Noble. No, it wasn't as part of my WiFi scavenging across New York -- I was actually in the bookstore to buy a book.

For a host of reasons (but mostly the feeling that I'm still working my way through the collegiate corpus) I'm drawn to time-tested works of literature. In search of the what amounts to Ye Olde Fictione section, I took the escalator to the third floor.

That's when I saw it.

Barnes & Noble has a Barnes & Noble Classics section, a row unto itself populated with rather inexpensive editions of some of the world's finest literature, published under Barnes & Noble cover. I grabbed a Chekhov, since I've somehow managed to avoid reading Chekhov up till this point.

As I departed the bookstore, the gravity of this purchase dawned on me. Chekhov is free. I paid a publicly-trade entity for something that I already own.

For those unfamiliar with copyright limitations, I'll tell you as much as I know. The US copyrights have expired on all works produced before 1923. Twain, Melville, the first jazz recordings, everything -- it's in the public domain. Everything after 1923 is still under protection (thanks to the utterly nefarious Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act), but I digress.

My point is that I paid $9 to have Anton Chekhov's work bound and distributed by Barnes & Noble, and to have a professor add a forward and afterward to a handful of Chekhov's short stories.

Many of my readers will be familiar with the politics of the eBook industry & how the major players in that industry (an industry with this issue firmly in its sights) were gobbled up and subsequently decimated by Gemstar. Absent a healthy eBook industry or electronic paper of breakthrough quality, I don't think a new computer presents a solution here.

Let's put paper books in local coffee shops & local bookstores

I want On-Demand Book Publishers to link up with Project Gutenberg and create a book printing and binding system that would fit in a kiosk that would fit in a bookstore or coffee shop. The kiosk would be directly linked to Project Gutenberg, and you could only print public domain literature.

I'll have a latte, a brownie, and The Brothers Karamazov.

Let's have the Gates Foundation (or Soros) write the check to get it started. Split the proceeds between Project Gutenberg and the local businesses.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

How Many Nodes Must A Man Walk To?

I am a hermit. A cave dweller. A migrant.

I have become... a wireless internet person.

Allow me to explain.

My wife is working in New York City this summer, and I'm visiting her for a couple weeks. Since taking a two week vacation is out of the question, I'm working while I'm here. I was out here for a long weekend back in June, and used my boss's T-Mobile Hot Spot account to log-in from a Kinkos & a Borders Bookstore.

In preparation for this trip, I signed up for a month-to-month Hot Spot account, figuring that I'd use it for the 10 working days of this trip. I've only weathered a few days Hot Spot hopping, but here are some of my observations.

  • Hot Spot of choice: Borders

    Unlike Starbucks or Kinkos, Borders doesn't open until 9 -- so you're not competing with the early bird crowd. Get there at 9 and be one of the first in the door and you're golden. Why am I worried about being first? Well, the ol' laptop doesn't exactly sip power, and only 4 tables have access to an power outlet. It's all about being near the plug-in. Sans plug-in, I've got about an hour of juice.

    On top of all that, talking on the phone in Borders is easy. Starbucks is too loud. Kinkos is too quiet. Borders is the perfect porridge.

  • I spent yesterday morning in the Kinkos near Bryant Park, seated at one of the laptop desks. I felt like I was stealing something. You see, Kinkos still charges people $6 an hour for internet access -- that is, people that aren't connecting through T-Mobile. I'm not paying Kinkos $6. I'm not paying Kinkos anything. The only nickels Kinkos makes off me are those sent their way as part of the T-Mobile deal.

  • ...which brings me to an important point. I'm nobody's customer. I'm not buying books. I'm not printing copies. At the Borders Cafe (my most frequent haunt), I feel obligated to buy a drink in the morning and in the afternoon, but would they kick me out if I didn't? Would I be a loafer if I was only using their wireless internet connection -- a connection that I pay another company to access? I don't see a posted policy. Should there be one?

  • Borders gets a lot busier in the afternoon, so you really can't get up to use the restroom -- that is, if you want one of those tables with access to a wall outlet. See, there are others like me: people dressed for business, typing on their laptops like Clark Kent shooting for a deadline. Also, there are some unfortunate souls who unintentionally saddle up to a table who aren't looking for a wall outlet.

    They are the objects of our nasty stares.

  • We mobile desk jockeys aren't quite clogging the cafe, but it's close. As work ceases to be a place and becomes an activity, anywhere with wireless internet is gonna be a like a bug light, drawing in these fireflies. But whose customers are we? Is Borders better off for providing this access, or are we detracting from the ambiance?

  • A great future cell phone feature for we techno-hermits: WiFi detection. Not necessarily the ability to do anything useful with the WiFi, but just to act as a WiFi divining rod, letting me know when an unprotected node is within reach. Since warchalking never really caught on, this is the best urban option. For optional humor effect, this feature would make submarine sonar noises.

  • Kinkos is a little depressing, since the business types working out of their computer center don't exactly exude success. I'd prefer to be among people thumbing through art books than grey suits between paying gigs.

Anyway, I'm here at the Borders on Park Avenue @ 57st Street. All the choice tables are now full, and the cafe has started to fill up. I clack away at my keyboard, one of the wireless internet people.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Chief NASCAR Dad

Does it surprise you that our current President is the first Commander-in-Chief to invite an Indy 500 winner to visit him at the White House?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Tanned, Aged Face of Commodities & Discrimination

Pat Boone is not just an aging 50's rocker trying to make a payday. He's an aging 50's rocker with diverse interests trying to make a payday.

Not only does Pat Boone want to encourage you to buy gold,

Source: Swiss America

...he also wishes that our Constitution prohibited gay marriage.

Source: My Way

Nice jacket, Pat.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Beware, Pierre

According to the current headline photo at, Bin Laden is once again targeting...

South Dakota!


Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Smart Money Says...

After trailing Bush since day one in the Iowa Electronic Markets, shares of the Democratic nominee are finally trading higher than our incumbent President.

Source: Iowa Electronic Markets

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Firefox vs. Internet Explorer

After my home machine fell prey to the remarkably nasty Virtual Bouncer malware, I'm experimenting with a transition to the open-source Mozilla Firefox browser. Experts far-and-wide cite that using Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser on a Windows machine has become tantamount to inviting trouble, and the switch to Firefox has (thus far) been great.

I still will use Internet Explorer to error-check webpages that I build, but I think I'm done browsing with it. If you use Windows + IE, maybe you should consider making the switch.

I'll use the comments in this post to catalog any additional Firefox vs. IE thoughts.

Friday, July 02, 2004

America the Beautiful

Living in a nation currently/perpetually on a war-footing (with a warhorse national anthem) it feels quaint to think back to times -- the early 90's, the late 70's, the early 60's -- when various Americans proposed that we replace The Star Spangled Banner with America the Beautiful as our national anthem.

Keb' Mo's inspired version (iTunes link) has me meditating on the tune as we enter our national weekend.

Here's the third verse, each line worthy of reflection:

O beautiful for heroes
proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.