Thursday, August 31, 2006

Amazon aStore Beta

Now Amazon makes it easy for anyone to create a custom Amazon-based store front.

Demo Store

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time-shifting Internet Radio Receiver

A friend of mine mentioned some shows that are on KPLU after midnight on Internet radio, and I started wondering, how could I possibly listen to those shows?

There is the radio SHARK that lets you TiVo broadcast radio waves.

But, I can't think of any such tool for Internet radio. I know there are, probably illegal, tools for capturing the audio signals on computers, but none specifically made for time-shifted radio listening.

Seems like such an obvious, simple-to-create tool.

Of course, maybe recording radio broadcasts for personal use over pipes, as against over the air, would be a copyright violation....

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Law, enforceability, pride

Wired has a recent article about the Swedish "Pirate Party," and the issue of copyrights in the digital age.

It is truly a very painful issue, because it does seem clear that long-term, business models are just plain going to have to change in order to cope with the implications of digital technology. Short of totalitarian measures such as embedding DRM (digital rights management) chips in humans, to analyze and throttle what our senses take in, it won't be feasible to enforce copyrights in the future, and it's already becoming close to impossible in practical terms.

And, while the laws stay as they are, we're in a situation where only those who police themselves will respect copyright law, putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not, because paying current terms for copyrighted material is a significant economic (and time) drain, and slows down self-education, enjoyment, productivity, etc.

The only value obtained by those who obey the law is pride, self-respect, self-love. This is a huge and important value, which I personally hold close to the top of my hierarchy of values, but it is extremely dangerous (i.e., it's not historically sustainable) to put people in a position where they need to choose between a clear consciousness, peace of mind and self-respect on the one hand, and social competitiveness and prosperity on the other.

I sincerely hope that businesses will come along very soon that will economically beat existing business models while providing sustainable solutions to producers and consumers alike. For example, maybe Google-like ad systems will enable artists to remove most middlemen and directly receive micro-payments for each time someone listens to their works, perhaps even when excerpted and re-mixed, by using fingerprinting techniques to identify sources of material at a highly granular level. And, maybe digital technology will also create a renaissance of creativity and the satisfaction of more individualized tastes through "long tail" principles.

Text Game Nostalgia

Wired mentions that a documentary is being made. I'll have to check up on that when it becomes available.

My favorite is still The Magic Toyshop, by Gareth Rees, that won 3rd place in an interaction fiction competition in 1995. Can you solve the Tower of Hanoi in (2^n)-2 moves?

Thanks to the magic of Z-code, it's possible to enjoy Infocom games wherever you are, whether in front of a Mac, BeOS, Linux, Windows, PocketPC, Palm, etc. device. I was even able to rescue my defunct Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy floppy by extracting the ZIL file and running a generic Z-machine on it, before I bought a few copies of the Activision CD with Infocom games, before it disappeared from the market.

Multi Touch (new touchscreen technology)

Multi Touch (new touchscreen technology)

This appeared on Slashdot quite some time ago. I love the photo interaction. Imagine using something like Apple's Aperture with this sort of display.

(Hmmm. YouTube didn't post a title.)

Another Awesome UI

Since I'm collecting some interesting videos, here's another one.

Cool Overview of Desktop UI Developments

Croquet: A Collaboration Architecture

This description is from Google Video, just to be clear (I'm still learning the blog posting UI, which is a bit fragile at present):

Croquet is a computer software architecture built from the ground up with a focus on deep collaboration between teams of users. It is a totally open, totally free, highly portable extension to the Squeak programming system, a modern variant of Smalltalk. Croquet is a complete development and delivery platform for doing real collaborative work. There is no distinction between the user environment and the development environment.

Croquet is also a totally ad hoc multi-user network. It mirrors the current incarnation of the World Wide Web in many ways, in that any user has the ability to create and modify a "home world" and create links to any other such world. But in addition, any user, or group of users (assuming appropriate sharing privileges), can visit and work inside any other world on the net. Just as the World Wide Web has links between the web pages, Croquet allows fully dynamic connections between worlds via spatial portals. The key differences are that Croquet is a fully dynamic environment, everything is a collaborative object, and Croquet is fully modifiable at all times.

Croquet is a joint project being developed by David A. Smith, Alan Kay, David P. Reed, and Andreas Raab. More information is available at:

Squeak and Croquet Demo Etech03

Alan Kay and David Smith demo Squeak and Croquet

Cool Computer Science Videos

I haven't figured out how playlists work in Google Video, but linking to this video seems to also bring along a bunch of other very cool demos and presentations of computer technologies, such as Squeak and Seaside.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

YouTube the next MTV?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Animals Just Want to Have Fun,71556-0.html?tw=rss.index

New Wiki Venture

A new entry in the JotSpot, WetPaint space, i.e. commercial wiki sites.

We've come a long way from "Wiki? Huh? What?" when is a hot commodity.

Employee Engagement

I've started to read Neville Hobson's blog, and he had particularly interesting post today about employee engagement. This type of concept is very important to us at Exbiblio, as has been commented on in previous posts (1 2 3).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Microsoft Opens up Xbox 360 for Indie Development

Skin-Sensing Table Saw

This is too cool! A skin-(or sausage)-sensing table saw....

The link has a demonstration video. From the article:

'To sense the touch of flesh, the unit employs a signal generator to induce a 500-KHz electrical sine wave current on the saw blade. When a woodworker touches the blade, that finger “becomes part of the blade,” Gass says. An electrode adjacent to the blade serves as a sensor and sends that signal back to electronic circuitry via a wire. In the circuitry, a Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP) with an analog-to-digital converter then digitizes the analog signal. Every 6 µsec, the DSP samples the voltage at the blade, “looking” for a characteristic drop that would indicate a human body has drawn some current off the blade.'

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Barber Profile

A friend at work mentioned that he always finds it difficult to describe what he wants for a haircut. I've had that problem innumerable times myself, yet I've never addressed it. I've never taken a photo of how I like my hair, or of someone else whose hairstyle I like.

I solved it by letting my wife cut my hair to her liking. Works great!

But, maybe it's worth a web site. Say you get a haircut, exit the shop, pull out your camera phone, take a picture, upload it to a site, then star-rate it and put a tag and a comment on it. For example, I liked it 4 out 5, it's a "summer" hairstyle, and "I thought the stylist talked too much".

Then, next time you go to a barber, you give them your barber profile ID, and you can discuss your next haircut.

The Dark Side of Invention

Imagine all your keystrokes being transmitted to hacker sites through variations in the timing of keyboard event signals, and consequently network data packets, even if they're both encrypted.

It's similar in concept to identifying computers based on timing signatures, in that it relies on using data as a "carrier wave," and encoding or decoding further data based on the "time derivative" of the data flow.

Parallels Now Supports C-Pen 20 Better

I've been able to get the C-Pen 20 drivers to work under Parallels and Windows XP SP 2 before, but it's been rather finicky. The new beta seems to have addressed the issues I was having.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Exbiblio & Blogging

Today my first external blog post appeared on the Exbiblio blog site.

We blog extensively at Exbiblio, to capture meeting notes, ideas, discussions, etc. It's a great way for people to verbalize their thoughts, and keep a searchable records of their work. We call the blogs "lab books," which is a very apt name.

I've often advocated the use of blogs, wikis, newsgroups and mailing lists at other companies, to create good communication channels and searchable repositories of up-to-the-minute corporate knowledge. Intraweb search tools are a great adjunct.

So, it took me a little by surprise that Exbiblio already had extensive IT systems around blogging and wikis when I started, in April. Exbiblio is actually a bit weird that way. I often feel I don't need to say anything, because someone else is sure to speak my thoughts any second now anyway (if they didn't 5 years ago).

Exbiblio has been a great influence in getting me blogging. Before I joined, going back to the early RCFoC (Google it) days, I've kept lists of interesting links to articles and quotes, and have taken extensive personal notes on ideas and events, ranging from how to change the business model of the retail industry to notes on novels I want to write some day, to my daughters' first words. But, I never got in the habit of formulating things for external consumption. Since I joined Exbiblio, I've blogged pretty frequently. I estimate I've posted about 200 entries to the internal blog (about 50 per month), ranging from single links to 24-page documents. It's a fun habit. You should try it.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

MS Drops VirtualPC for Mac

VMWare for Mac

VMWare announces they are developing a port for OS X.

Friday, August 04, 2006

In the News 060804

Gui Scaling on OS X:

MacBook WiFi Exploit:

Japanese Moonbase by 2030:

Mac Windows Games Porting Kit:

Big Planets Without Suns:

Net Over Power Lines:,71527-0.html?tw=rss.index

YouTube vs. MySpace Statistics: and

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Car Karma

Ever long for the days when people you passed in cars were creeping along at slow speeds and waving at you, much like motorcycle, boat and Corvette owners do? Then you may dig Car Karma.

I think anonymity in traffic is a big reason why so much hostility exists (sorry, I'm not solving dense traffic and unrealistic schedules today ;-) ). If you knew the owner of the car in front of you lived on your street, would you curse and shake your fist at him or her? Would you risk your relationship with your neighbor by dangerously cutting in front of them?

Wouldn't it be a great way to foster friendliness in traffic if you could bestow kudos to other drivers? Remember the license plate of a car that let you into the lane when you goofed and got stuck in the wrong one, or slowed down as they were passing you and a crowd of children jumping on the sidewalk. Then enter it into system and give them some good karma.

People could then enter their license plate into the system, and see whether anyone appreciates their driving, or they could show their insurance agency what a low risk they are in traffic.

Skeptical? OK, so am I. I think a system like this would be terribly abused, and there might be on-line car rage as well as road rage to deal with.

And, I tried it out by taking pictures of cars as a way to capture their license plates, but it actually gets quite dangerous at 60 miles an hour in busy traffic. To make that part work, you'd really want cameras built into the cars with automatic license plate extraction—and why not a display in the back of the car, where you can give the car driving inches behind you a precise piece of your mind. It would be great for back seat drivers....

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Exbiblio Bootleg Shirts

Adam Behringer created a cool shirt to wear at the upcoming WWDC 2006. I'll need to give creating one a try too.

I've only done iron-ons and fake ones so far.