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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

robot journalists

a new hope for file-sharers around the globe: the emergence of a new religion

torrentfreak has a very interesting story about the emergence of a new religion: kopimism, which aims at spreading the new gospel: Thou shall copy all around.

The collision of competing liberal values is always a sight worth watching. One does not have to ponder much to asses which shall win - private property or religious tolerance, but it is a very nice attempt. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

now, that is what i call useful user feedback

Wired reports that Google is asking U.S residents to help complete & correct its Maps. Google MapMaker is the tool for this job, and as an Israeli, all I can say is that we impatiently wait for our turn at correcting some of the online maps of the Holy-land.

When we talk about user input, the modern web and the roles of users in generating input, Mapmaker is a great example of the the way mass feedback can improve shared knowledge.

Maps, in a way, are a demonstration of the usefulness and elegance in which knowledge can be summed up in a universally clear manner. If only we could find more tools like maps, to handle the floods of data the information revolution has created.... 

Friday, April 15, 2011

the wonderful world of guano

Sometimes you bump into something on the Internet, and find yourself humming "mmm.... what do you know....I'd never thought this issue could be so broad".

The cause for this evening's humming, was my encounter of the Wikipedia article about Guano.  Personally, I did not know much about this stuff, and was exposed to its existence only in Jim Carrey's Comedy Movie Ace Ventura: when nature calls.

But this Eve's venture into Wikipedia-editing (something I occasionally sin at) was quite rewarding, at least as far as Esoteric Knowledge goes. I also learned about the USA Guano Island Act, an act legislated in response to the mid 19th century Guano Crisis, and about many Guano island claims made under that act.

It is discoveries of this nature that make the Internet so wonderful. One goes out on a random search for knowledge (with the possibility of improving that source of knowledge), and finds oneself enriched in bits of information one will probably never have any use to, but which are still making life more interesting.

I guess it is time to go to sleep...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Google +1 is here, and it is a Facebook competitor

Google has launched "+1",  a competing feature to Facebook's "Like", in the web-content ranking category. Tech-Site NewsGrange has doubts how popular this service will become, without a social network to be the target of this ranking.
My first thoughts were similar. It seemed like Google has launched this service despite its failure in the social networks field, out of despair, fearing to lose further ground to Facebook. But at a second glance, It might be a very smart move. Users may find the "+1" symbol more appealing for one or more of the following reasons -

  • the power and appeal of the Google brand over users; 
  • learned habits from other Google tools, like Youtube;
  • "+1" being more intuitive than "like";
  • Not wanting one's social network to be updated in every aspect of my life, but wishing to notify the world I "Liked something" so that more "somethings" of this category shall be made; 
  • "+1" and "Like" being services that enable a user to bookmark content he liked, for personal use; 
  • the random nature of user behavior;
  • the power and appeal of Google over the people who make web-content; 
And if "+1" gets popular enough (and popular does not mean dominant at its first stage of life. Just large enough to be considered having a market share that shouldn't be ignored by greedy advertisers), it might just turn out that those Input gadgets are just as desirable in the eyes of social networks, as the content of social networks is desirable in the eyes of advertisers... 

The last point to remember, in my mind, is that "+1" and "Like" are not relevant only to Social Networks, but to any virtual space where people have virtual Identities.

So, taking everything into account, my personal estimate is that "+1" is going to give Facebook's "Like" a good run for its money. It might even win the race, without a Social Network standing behind its back.

Now all that remains is to wait and see if I'm right, or if another hat will be added to one of my meals... 

המשטרה בפלורידה משתמשת בסקייפ להוציא צוים כבר בזירת הפשע

the important numbers of windows 7 mobile

Microsoft tells of the REALLY important numbers of Windows 7 Mobile. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if they are right in the priority standing behind this story. The one thing I've learned over my years in the field of Information Technologies is Never Underestimate Microsoft. Never. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

protecting one's privacy from inference in data

Techdirt has an interesting discussion on the importance and problematic nature of inference from data, that growing capability corporations have, as more data about us, consumers and citizens, is gathered. in a recent post the usage of such data from one's cellphone was demonstrated.

Although it appears to be one of the necessary evils of the information revolution I believe that a solution to the growing uncomfortable feeling "too many entities know too much about me" will not be unpopular.

I know that some might claim that I'm too old to accustom, but facts are that teenagers display a similar awareness to this issues and invent solutions which help them control the flow of information about them, at least where they can have some control.

As the solution to which I have implied in the past, of hiding oneself completely, as suggested in Roger Zelazny's "My name is Legion", is quite hard to achieve, and bears with it a very high price,  It is high time for the development of a "privacy shield", some technological solution to protect one's privacy, when needed and wanted. Something like the scramble suit of Bob Arctor in Philip K. Dick's Book "A scanner darkly" (you might have seen the movie).

Now, how do you develop such a technological feat ?

התנ"ך במרשתת

פרוייקט מעניין וחשוב - כותבים את התנ"ך באמצעות האינטרנט. רעיון מעניין של ממשלת ישראל, שבהחלט מהווה דוגמא יפה כיצד אפשר לנסות ולקרב נפשות לתנ"ך.
אני כבר בחרתי לי פסוק ו'כתבתיו'. ואתם ?

(קרדיט כיאות: שמעתי אודות השקת הפרוייקט הודות לבלוג "רשימות מן התיבה הלבנה" של יהודה בלו)

IE10 preview 1 is already here

As if Internet Explorer 9 hasn't been shipped just recently, Microsoft continues its strategic adoption of HTML5, and its establishment as the leading player on the web, with the introduction of a first preview for Internet Explorer 10.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

כתיבה כנשימה

סקירה מעניינת בהארץ  של ספר חדש, "עברית אינטרנטית" (מאת כרמל וייסמן ואילן גונן) מעלה היבטים מעניינים על תרבות הכתיבה באינטרנט. הכתיבה באינטרנט מתברר,
"משקפת אוריינות מסוג חדש. לא רק ידיעת קרוא וכתוב, אלא אוריינות מדיה ואוריינות מחשב ויכולות חדשות, כמו יצירת טקסט שיתופי. רצויה גם שליטה במיומנויות תנועה מורכבות, כמו הקלדה עיוורת". 
לעומת זאת, על פי הכתבה, נראה שדווקא הכתיב הנכון הולך ונעלם מהעולם, ככל שעגות אינטרנטיות הולכות והופכות פופולריות.

שווה קריאה. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wikipedia and Politics

I ran across a blog of a Wikipedia veteran, telling the tale of political values and the editing combats that surround them. Worth taking a look, for anyone interested in the dynamics of the internet communities. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

איך להציל את העולם באמצעות פוטושופ

באמצעות פוסט של עו"ד יהונתן קלינגר העוסק בדיון בישראל לקראת בואו של Google Street View אלינו, למדתי על שימוש מופלא שנעשה בפוטושופ, לביטול אפקט טשטוש מסויים של תמונה, שאיפשר זיהויו של פדופיל.
אז אולי בכל זאת אפשרי שימוש חיובי לטכנולוגיה שפוגעת בפרטיות  ?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The problematic nature of the Cloud

An Excellent article by Advocate&Blogger Jonathan Klinger, analyzing the risks of storing sensitive information on the cloud. A must read for anyone who plans deploying his storage to the cloud.

Although I concur with the article's immediate conclusions, I personally believe that there is a current answer which is simple, straightforward, and cumbersome as ever - specific files encryption, before they get uploaded to any public storage, be it a "local" storage or an "on-the-cloud" location. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the problem with people nowadays is that they just don't have the patience to read it through....

The Motley Fool, one of my favorite financial investing advisory services, announced it was offering a new service: a day-trading system it was secretly using and improving. Sadly, I've reached the Motley Fool's April Fool's prank of this year too late. Thus I can't really boast that I'd known immediately it was a hoax. But considering some of the funnier bits of this joke, and the fool's past April 1st jokes, I believe I would have spotted it somewhere in the middle of my reading, even if I did not remember it was Fool's day.

Therefore, I was quite surprised at the number of Fool members who admitted they have fallen for it and requested to join in on the Fool's new day-trading operation. It is really hard to explain, if one assumes rationality as a qualifier of financial investor. But even though I know financial markets display investor's emotions much more than investor's cold analysis, one has to suspect at least one of the following claims is required to explain a behavior that is not just irrational, but actually quite foolish:

  • People don't believe a word they are being told by advisory services they seek. Therefore, discovering that the Motley Fool supports short-term trades appeared like nothing to be suspicious of, despite the Fool's long history of long-term investment advocacy. It might be that they have suspected such a thing all along... 
  • Some people will always take a suggestion for a shortcut to richness, regardless of who makes the suggestion, the terms of the suggestion and its likelihood. It seems like people's brains shut down at the first glimpse of the imaginary accumulation of wealth. 
  • Some people do not learn from past lessons, and regardless of what happened only 365 days ago, they perform very similarly to newborns or toddlers, as far as experience and knowledge are required. One may explain this phenomena not by refusal to learn, but by being too submerge in the NOW, in the current doing, and thus the knowledge acquired in the past becomes worthless in any practical view.    
But the one claim I'm sure of, is also the most understandable. I don't believe anyone who  has meticulously read the Fool's faked documents, prepared for this April 1st Jest, could have fallen for it. Therefore, it is clear that people did not do a thorough reading of the documents they were provided with, before making the decision to join the new service. 
The fact that financial investors, who should be aware of the importance of costs at the process of making profits from investing, make such rash decisions, and do not invest their time wisely in reading, is just another proof that the main problem with people of our age is that they don't read properly. It might be that the burden of the information revolution has taken that ability away. It might be that they are just too tired, or too stressed. As jokes always carry a lesson with them, I think that this joke's lesson is simple: To make sure that the offer you are given is not a joke on your account, read it through.