Via the Culture List, UK Government public finance spending data for 2002.
[A] growing array of big-name software developers are finding they can make better software if they leave the doors open, by sharing information with potential customers from the start and incorporating their feedback into development decisions. While developers of games software have used this method for years, business software makers are now also catching on.
Web logs (commonly known as "blogs"), message boards and other online forums are becoming increasingly important vehicles for developers to attract potential customers--and development talent--well before an application even enters the beta stage. [more]
The Pentagon has a grand total of four satellites for secure, unjammable communications, said Air Force Maj. Dave Mattson. Two of these send and receive data about as fast as a T1 line. The other two work at the anemic rate of 2,400 bits per second -- one-twentieth the speed of today's 56 Kbps modems.
The satellites are reserved for the highest-priority voice and simple data communications -- like a Marine in the field, calling for reinforcements. To transmit all other information, the military must lease commercial satellite time.
But such time is scarce. When U.S. forces occupied Kosovo in 1999, for example, they maxed out all the time available. [more]
That probably explains one reason why the Pentagon was interested in Iridium.
PROBLEM: In a terrible car accident, a man is killed and his son is rushed to the hospital for surgery. As the boy is wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon looks at the patient and says, "I cannot operate on this child. He is my son." How is this possible?
ANSWER: The surgeon is the boy's mother.
SUBSEQUENTLY: Interns plead with the female surgeon, saying that her stubbornness about operating on the boy is jeopardizing his health, yet she steadfastly refuses. It is decided that the boy's broken foot must wait until another surgeon is summoned. Suddenly, the door bursts open—it is the boy's father, alive. "Just do the surgery, Elaine!" he shouts.
"Hey," she replies, "do I come to your job and tell you how to drive?" [more]
I spent some time playing with CocoaFoaf. Biggest changes: can now save FOAF RDF files and import vCards as friends. Changelog at the bottom of this entry.
Usual caveats reply: you run this software at your own risk. I make no warranties as to its performance, and strongly recommend that you really don't run it at all unless you're perfectly happy with losing any or all of the following: all your data, all your private data, all your personal secret and valuable data, your firstborn, your sex life, your car keys, your sense of rhythm, your whuffie, your 'fro, your belly button lint and your sense of proportion. You have been warned.
Download CocoaFoaf 0.2 (324kb .dmg).
That said, it does practically bugger all--you can plug in some fields and add a few friends, then it'll generate a (hopefully) valid FOAF file for you that you can use. You can't save it, and it won't import anything. There are a whole bunch of FOAF fields that aren't even catered for in the UI.
Anyway, some screenshots:
Adding my details.
Adding a friend's details.
Adding another friend's details. The table view works (woo bloody hoo)
(Hopefully) valid FOAF file
Usual caveats reply: you run this software at your own risk. I make no warranties as to its performance, and strongly recommend that you really don't run it at all unless you're perfectly happy with losing any or all of the following: all your data, all your private data, all your personal secret and valuable data, your firstborn, your sex life, your car keys, your sense of rhythm, your whuffie, your 'fro, your belly button lint and your sense of proportion.
You have been warned.
The latest version of CocoaFoaf is 0.2
As expected, Apple have launched new PowerMacs, dual G4s at 1.25 and 1.42GHz with Airport Extreme, Bluetooth and FireWire 800, and a new 20in display. I don't think anyone realistically expects Apple the G4 architecture to top dual 1.43GHz processors at this point.
An (edited) IM conversation today:
Alice has written an article, Foo, and Foo links to Bob's article, Bar.
It would be really cool if Bob knew that Alice (specifically, the article Foo) was linking to Bob (specifically, the article Bar).
To do this, Alice's article, Foo, has to tell Bob's article, Bar, that Foo is linking to it.
The way I understand it, TrackBack does it like this
Alice and Bob have Linky Things. When Alice publishes Foo, her Linky Thing reads through all of Foo and looks for all the links in it. One of these links is a link to Bar. Alice's Linky Thing goes and downloads the thing at the end of the link to Bar (the Bar article). Alice's Linky Thing thinks for a moment, and reads the entirety of the Bar article, looking for a Magic Code. This Magic Code is a snippet of commented out RDF encoded in XML. This Magic Code will tell Alice's Linky thing that it has to go and talk to Bob's Linky Thing, and that Alice's Linky Thing can reach Bob's Linky Thing at this nice supplied address: Bar's Secret Magic Code Address.
Alice's Linky Thing, by now utterly tired out, goes to Bar's Secret Magic Code Address and says "Oi! I'm linking to you! Or, specifically, Alice's article about Foo is!"
From Tom: "How Trackback works in a nutshell: So linky article links to linked article then the linky thing sends a little note to the linked thing saying I'm trying to link to you and the linked thing goes So the fuck what? and the linky thing asks Didn't I do this right? and the linked thing goes No, you don't use the actual URL you use a magic different one that you don't know and can't easily find automatically unless you understand weird magic code and the linky thing goes You're shitting me and the linky thing says No."
Right now, the Superbowl is a bunch of trailers:
Stop press: vindication of Kottke to result in massive online schism!
In possibly his most sweeping post to date about the future and evolution of Safari, Hyatt talks about the rise of an uber-browser, a friendly giant app that might contain the functionality of a feedreader--or the opposite, lean single-"use" apps, a browser that browses, a feedreader that reads. And, of course, somewhere in between: embedding WebCore into apps like NetNewsWire and an RSS api for apps like OmniWeb.
A few things to take away: Hyatt gets blogs and RSS, to the extent that he wonders whether there's room for stand-alone blog apps (or even just information management and publishing) alongside/or with browser-based apps. This isn't it: Hyatt, of course, sees the benefits of tabs (good) but files that particular feature under "page mangement (even better). Tabs might be what we're used to, but that doesn't mean there's a better way. It doesn't help that the Mac mindset is at odds with multiple document interfaces.
I am now expecting Big Things from Apple.
Upgrading the hard disk in the 12in Alumin[i]um PowerBook is not exactly a trivial task.
It looks like Stand can pat themselves on their collective backs for the time being:
Speaking at a conference on the future of ID cards organised by tech industry body Intellect, Home Office Minister Lord Falconer told delegates that the government may change its mind. [more, BBC News]
Hopefully, what with the national literacy and numeracy hour, the government is able to tell the difference between seven thousand (a large number) and two thousand (also a large number, but less than half as big as seven thousand). We shall see.
The Guardian takes a look at Sony Ericsson's P800, the phone that would've been great had it come out when it was supposed to:
If full-production models work to the specifications claimed it will be a very impressive phone. But, as with some previous Ericsson phones, there is a slight feeling that technology may have been running ahead of usability. The P800 will be coming onto the UK market within the next month or two at a price yet to be announced. Make sure that web access and email settings are working properly before you leave the shop. [more]
Doctors reattach (kinda) detached head:
Just a few months ago, Parra's car was hit by a drunken driver and his head was almost completely severed from his body, with only his spinal cord keeping it connected.
Surgeons delicately inserted the screws through the back of Marcos' neck to reconnect the first vertebrae to the base of the skull. This pulled the severed bones back into position. A piece of Marcos' pelvis was used to patch his neck and skull together. [more, ABC News]
Ah, public comment. A wonderful thing. Unless, of course, public comment is going to be nasty to you and prove to be more ammunition for the increasingly vitriolic media. This is why we are grateful for things like Stand and FaxYourMP, and why we're indebted to people like Yoz, who are doing wonderful things like making sure that the government gets to listen to what its populace actually thinks about what it's doing. Letters to The Times aren't for everyone: 200 faxes a day is not to be sniffed at.
And Yoz is right. I don't trust the government to do this off their own back. I'm glad that someone independent is doing it. I'm glad that they're making statistics available. In fact, the only people I really trusted with IT in government now no-longer exist--the team behind open.gov.uk, which meticulously detailed its standards compliance and has now been subsumed into Labour party monster and initiative UKOnline. I have an article in praise of the open.gov.uk team languishing in a textfile somewhere that I really must finish.
But I digress. What I meant to say was this: I bemoan the fact that we can't do something like Regulation.gov, another in-your-face illustration as to quite how soundly we in the UK don't Get It at all. It's depressing.
News today that plans by Gaudi are to be submitted to the competition for memorial designs on the World Trade Center site:
Gaudi's 95-year-old plans, which were originally designs for a futuristic hotel about the same size as the Empire State building, will be entered into the competition this spring by a group of art historians, architects and enthusiasts of his work. [BBC News, Guardian]
It also looks pretty cool:
They're not all acronyms - like the UN, which has horrible bastardised names for some of its agencies, the Navy also just takes a random selection from the constituent words and welds them together in a vey A-Team haphazard like manner. Besides that, though, it's all fun and games for a rainy afternoon. Might even come in useful deciphering breaking news alerts next month, too. I present to you the DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms:
From this page you can browse the DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. The DOD Dictionary and the Joint Acronyms and Abbreviations master data base are managed by the Joint Doctrine Division, J-7, Joint Staff. All approved joint definitions are contained in Joint Publication 1-02, "DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. [more]
Short version: if you don't read Tajmahal already, then you should.
Long version: read Tajmahal! Not only because Tom's just discovered the delights of having an RSS feedreader that works, nor because he just wrote about the reading record he kept when he was eleven years old and sheepishly admits that he was rather precocious at the time (weren't we all), and not even because he's probably looking lustfully at Apple's new dinky PowerBook (to which all I say is: "UK academic discount" and "you know you want to"), but because it (his blog) is just really rather good. So there.
Here's something for you to look at (don't worry, it's work safe, but you might want to go home and lie down for a bit afterwards).
My search for wi-fi access has been well documented here, progressing from an absolute lack of it to the stunning revelation of two T-Mobile hotspots, and then a triumphant post from outside a Starbucks in the DC area while queueing to see The Two Towers.
With all that mind, I'm pleased to note that the general practice of tech trends hammering through the US and Asia with the speed of a rather nasty ebola epidemic, then reaching the UK and progressing at a rather more sedate and stately walking, nay, ambling, speed is continuing with the spread of wi-fi here: Starbucks has rolled out wi-fi to another four of its stores, bringing the total to a surely impressive number of... six. Still, it's a threefold increase, I suppose. Regardless, T-Mobile UK haven't updated their hotspot location list, so you'll have to make do with this ZDNet UK report. The new stores are at Farringdon, Fenchurch Street and Wardour Street in Soho, and one on Colmore Row, Birmingham.
I hope this doesn't become a habit. Via this morning's lecture, James Bond meets the OSI 7 Layer Model:
James Bond meets Number One on the 7th floor of the spy headquarters building. Number One gives Bond a secret message that must get through to the US Embassy across town. Bond proceeds to the 6th floor where the message is translated into an intermediary language, encrypted and miniaturized. Bond takes the elevator to the 5th floor where Security checks the message to be sure it is all there and puts some checkpoints in the message so his counterpart at the US end can be sure he’s got the whole message... [more]
Clay Shirky is thinking about getting rid of all the messy analogue parts of the music business by applying distributed systems and collaborative filtering:
Thanks to software like ProTools and CakeWalk, the production of music is heavily digital. Thanks to Napster and its heirs like Gnutella and Kazaa, the reproduction and distribution of music is also digital. As usual, this digitization has taken an enormous amount of power formerly reserved for professionals and delivered it to amateurs. But the middle part -- deciding what new music should be available -- is still analog and still professionally controlled. [more]
No hidden meaning required:
Yes, yes, another dull Mac OS X post. For those who're still reading and actually care: too cheap to pay for .mac membership to publish iCal calendars? Can't be bothered setting up webdav support for apache? Then iCalX is for you - public and private calendar publishing for free, all wrapped up in a website that contains Apple's two favourite letters of the moment. Check it out by stalking me via my lecture timetable.
Freeview, that which was born from the bloated dead body of ITV Digital, seems to be doing well:
An average of 33,000 set-top receivers have been sold per week, according to figures compiled from retailer and manufacturer feedback. [BBC News]
Sigh. Is it too much to ask that ministers try and at least inform themselves so they don't end up being quite so embarrasing? Witness, for example, Kim Howells:
Mr Howells added that Williams' comments were helping "do the work for international gangs involved in drugs and prostitution who find music piracy an excellent way of laundering profits". [more, BBC News]
In other idiotic news, SBC has a new patent they're waving around.
Nick Hornby's latest book is about 31 songs that changed his life: The Observer "asked 31 music fans, including authors, musicians and artists what song is guaranteed to make their spine tingle" [more]
TerraQuest, a one-time registration fee immersive game, has been axed:
Last November MindQuest Entertainment founder and CEO Keith Griffin triumphantly declared that his company's online spy game TerraQuest was the kind of game "adults play when they grow up." Alas, not enough of them did, because MindQuest today announced that the game had been stopped.
"There is simply not enough participation in the experience to keep this version of TerraQuest going," said the company in a statement. [more]
Via Whedonesque, Anthony Head thinks Ripper still has a non-zero chance of happening:
Is there any chance that the Giles spin off show, 'Ripper', will get made?
Everybody's still keen, which is good. It got a bit sideswiped by a show Joss was making for Fox called Firefly which has unfortunately been cancelled. But 'Ripper' is still on the cards. Joss still wants to write it. We're all basically still on the map. Joss fluctuates between whether he wants to start with a two hour pilot, or whether he goes straight into a series. At the moment he's favouring a TV movie - which suits me with my schedule at the moment! I'm thankful to say I'm doing a lot of stuff, and I'd love to seal that up and do 'Ripper' as well as everything else. [more]
Popular sites filled with cutting-edge Internet cognoscenti (such as Slashdot and ShackNews) give the lie to this harmful and destructive myth: they are brimming with horrific grammar, atrocious spelling, gratuitous abbreviation and childish, arrogant attitude. To be "in" on the net, you must write like a wanker. [more]
Although the book takes place in the near future, the text itself only "surfaced" online in the 23rd Century. The entire text is annotated with footnotes so that terms like "Microsoft" and "NASDAQ" make sense to the future reader who, presumably, lives in a world beyond such things.
The book was online for over a year as an "open source novel." This meant that online readers could add their own footnotes and annotations to the text, in the voices of their own future anthropologists. 100 of these footnotes have been included in the US release of the book. [more]
The Daily Show has gone global: it's now carried as an edited-together weekend edition on CNN International, which means in the UK and Europe it's being shown on Saturday and Sunday nights at 11:30pm.
Finally, the Danger Sidekick (Hiptop, whatever) hits the UK. Or, at least, it will do this summer. I suppose this is in part the US getting back at the Europeans for being stormingly ahead in mobile comms gadgetry.
Fans of the PDA in Europe can expect to see it in the shops by mid-summer. It is planning a colour screen and improved web browser, as well redoing the way the phone works after several critiques. [more, BBC News]
An aside: I really should've been reminded of this just from the look of the Sidekick/Hiptop, but it turns out that Danger was formed from a bunch of refugees from Apple and General Magic. General Magic, some might remember, had an interesting OS called Magic Cap which was distinctly MS Bob-like, was more object orientated than something you could message and ask to call its stick throwing method and pretty much an idea that was slightly too ahead of its time. I remember reading once that if Microsoft had stuck with Bob and added its inevitable net access, the result wouldn't have been too far off AOL's client. Oops.
There's already mod_rendezvous, an Apache module that enables rendezvous/zeroconf support for Apache 1.3.x built into OS X. Signs are that Apple is also working on rendezvous support: the recently released seed for OS X Server 10.2.4 contains an Apache rendezvous module.
It took less time for me to get a handwritten reply from my MP (six days), than it did for an appointment with my dentist (over a month). Have you weighed in yet?
It turns out that staff at the Inland Revenue have been selling private data:
[The Inland Revenue] said it believed there was some "evidence" that privileged tax information had been sold onto outside agencies by staff.
Personal tax records may also have been used "maliciously" to shop ex-spouses to the Child Support Agency, it said.
BBC News has the full story.
Quite frankly, this is shocking. Not only is it bad enough that it was acknowledged that there might be a "small degree of recreational surfing", but evidently it seems that the access controls to the data held on 60 million citizens and UK entities--sorry, customers--are rather lax. I note that the story broke on the BBC at 10:47pm which, for this kind of story, is somewhat suspicious.
Now, do you really think the UK Government is ready to implement entitlement cards, with its past history on leaking private information?
No, I didn't think so.
Time is running out. Learn about entitlement cards and tell the government what you think: visit STAND.
Now this is interesting:
Researchers have discovered that on a number of occasions in the past 300 million years, stick insects have lost their wings, then re-evolved them. Entomologists have described the revelation as "revolutionary". [more, New Scientist, so will rot and die and disappear]
One thing about the SPOT data network is that it would've been cheap. There isn't blanket GSM coverage in the States, but you can be that there's an FM radio transmitter nearby, and thanks to media-deregulation, it's pretty easy to deal with just one company--ClearChannel--to get access to the transmitters. The problem is that the network--as far as I can see--is closed. [more]
Adrian talks about face recognition in homo sapiens:
It turns out that facial recognition and plain old pattern/object recognition are governed by different systems in the brain; we know this because there is something called a double dissocation between them. In other words, there are people who, for some reason, cannot recognise faces but can recognise objects fine, and vice versa. This strongly suggests that they run on different systems.
So how about we leverage our skills at facial recognition by converting other forms of information (say, spike trains, weather patterns, stockmarket data) into facial features? How might that work, eh? It could allow us to sense subtle differences in information and aid our recognition by no end. [more]
Lufthansa to offer net access on transatlantic flights between Frankfurt and Washington DC:
On 15 January Lufthansa will start offering travellers the ability to surf the net and send and receive e-mails in real time as they fly... ...For the duration of the three month trial the net service will be offered free to Lufthansa customers. [more, BBC News]
I've already written about the government's consultation period on entitlement cards, but Danny O'Brien points out the situation much more clearly. The campaign has now also been picked up by the BBC.
If you're a UK citizen and you haven't already, please take a look at STAND.
Where "they" is Apple, "it" is reserving a small amount of fury for them for doing stupid things and "hard" because of the following example:
My shiny TiBook emerged not so much blinking into the world as in a blaze of widescreen glory early February last year. I was much impressed by its practically stupendous battery life, whereby I could use the shiny thing for the best part of an afternoon--around four to five hours--with judicious use of turning down screen brightness and around three hours if I made everything bright and everything shiny.
Sadly, we all know how this story ends: batteries die. They may try as hard as they can, but a daily charge/discharge cycle, sometimes a full, sometimes shallow, pretty much breaks them. Which is why by December of last year, I'd take my laptop into university and find with complete and utter dismay that the battery would last around an hour and a half on a full charge with everything maxed out. Not Good.
I had the chance to go into an Apple Store over Christmas and steeled myself against having to buy a new battery (they're not priced for impulse buyers), but before I decided to subject my credit card to any unnecessary damage, I thought I'd check out the Genuis Bar.
Genius Bar guy, Brian, was terribly helpful. He pointed out that I might want to check my energy saver settings (I had), told me how to do a complete system reset, because that might fix my power management (I did), and then asked if I was still under warranty or Apple Care (I was). He looked me up on the customer database, expressed confusion because it was the first time he'd looked someone up who didn't have a zipcode and then announced he was going to replace my battery. For free.
See, this isn't supposed to happen. Everyone knows batteries die. I never expected that I might get a freebie replacement. As it happens, though, dead batteries get replaced and I have two more years of Apple Care.
I wonder if Sony would've replaced my battery if I'd bought a Vaio.
The wonderful thing about this country is that its citizens can, more or less, influence its direction. We have this nifty concepts of things like democracy, of (occasionally) political accountability and consultation.
Great. So listen up, because this is important.
The UK government is consulting right now on universal identity (now known by the more friendly "entitlement" term" cards. Here's a quick bullet point list for you:
This is not to say that such cards have no merit at all, but that the proposed implementation has rather large holes. What matters now is that the public is consulted.
If you're for it (and the government seems to think the public is overwhelmingly in favour, or against it, you need to get your voice heard. Now.
This is the way things work: the government has ideas, it issues a consultation paper and a consultation period follows. If you don't say anything, then you can't complain. Time is running out.
STAND is how you can make sure your view is counted. Get informed and get your opinion out there.
You might think that it's not worth it, that a campaign like this isn't listened to and doesn't result in anything. Well, that's wrong. Stand has worked before, and you can help it work again.
I've done it. It's your turn. And remember to tell your friends.
A new build (v51, 10 January 2002) of Safari is now available for download. It's rendering this page slightly better!
This week's been exam week, but here's something anyway: