What’s a good place to start if I’d like to do some DIY projects connecting stuff to a computer. Like, having a lightbulb light up when an email arrives. The basics (I am bad at electronics, duct tape is my friend!). I can’t seem to find a good place to start with this stuff.

A Cheap, Elegant, Digital Picture Frame: “Digital Frames hang on the wall and pace through pictures and videos. They are a great idea. Unfortunately, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of digital frame technology to date, it is disappointing. This led me to make a small project of a digital frame that costs less than two dollars.”

Michael points to: Reuters Corpus: “As a service to the research community Reuters is making available large quantities of Reuters News stories for use in research and development of natural-language-processing, information-retrieval or machine learning systems.”

Jon Udell: “It reinforces my hunch that the combination of easy-to-create blogs and easy-to-create narrated screen videos could put users in charge of software marketing, education, and training.”

Joho the Blog: [pcf] User-created content. I’ve recently become interested in users creating and sharing content. I’m especially interested in the sharing of pictures.

I’ve been experimenting with various consumer packages. The most successfull one I’ve seen is Microsoft’s Photo Story. It is not perfect, but it definitely points the way. It makes it very easy to pick a set of pictures (say, baby pictures, or a holiday), put them in a sequence and then talk over them. It then creates an AVI file that can be played in an average media player that shows the pictures (slowly moving and zooming, which adds enormously to the emotional impact).

Sharing pictures will be a huge market, and the first company to figure out the easiest to use hardware/software combination should make a decent buck. Now if only thos digital picture frames would drop in price soon!

A Pattern Language for Living Communication: “The Pattern Language for Living Communication project is a long-term, participatory project to create a useful, compelling and comprehensive collection of knowledge which reflects the wisdom of people from all over the world who are developing information and communication systems that support humankind’s deepest core values.”

India Still Waits: Rural Poor Not Yet Ready For the Promise of Radio: “They’re ready and raring to go. But for development workers wanting to launch their own micro-powered community radio stations, it’s like a case of shouting with their mouths gagged.

Since the mid-nineties, community groups have expected permissions to come for them to set up non-profit ultra low-powered FM radio stations. But till date, this has not come, leading to some protagonists to try everything short of pirate radio to get themselves heard.”

Musings: Review of SchemaLogic: “The primary use for SchemaServer right now seems to focus on Controlled Vocabulary Management. […] Changes to a vocabulary can be made through an automated voting process.”

Has anyone used voting in a real life environment to manage changes to a controlled vocabulary?

Better Living Through Software – Normalization == good?: “I’ve debugged scalability problems in a wide range of systems, and one of the most frequent causes of scalability and manageability bottlenecks in the state management tier is excessive normalization. These are fun problems to solve, because the DBAs have been conditioned with normalization religion and often don’t see any way out of their problems. When they come to realize that normalization is just a technique meant to serve a particular purpose, and not a universal law, it can be liberating.”

Most valuable asset [dive into mark]: “It’s like when I smoked, and all my friends were smokers. If someone quits smoking, you stop socializing with them, not because you hate them for quitting or they’re actively avoiding you (although both are probably true), but simply because all your socialization happens around cigarettes. It’s not even something you necessarily notice, until you quit, and you realize you have no friends to hang out with because all your hanging out happened at smoke breaks.”

Six Apart is the first company I know of that understands the power of creating open standards. Microsoft creates standards and then tries to keep them proprietary and exert full control. Six Apart seems to understand that you can create a totally open standard (like TrackBack), and still profit substantially from it. You profit because you are the first one to implement it, and you (at least partly) control its evolution. Others are continually playing keep-up, not only in their development departments, but also in the minds of the public.

When I created XFML, I felt some of those possibilities. XFML is a totally open standard, but its evolution is controlled, mostly, by me. (Even though anyone can develop a new version of XFML.) Not because I want to, but because, of the few people that truly, entirely understand it and its purpose, I’m probably the only one interested in evolving it. If I were to start creating tools using that standard, others would continually have to play keep-up. The more I were to make it open and promote it as a standard, the more others would be forced to stay at least compatible.

I need to think this through a bit more, but these were my initial thoughts after seeing TypeKey: “TypeKey is a free, open system providing a central identity that anyone can use to log in and post comments on blogs and other web sites.” From Six Apart, Typekey is kinda what Microsoft was trying to do with Passport, but without the money. I wonder how it compares with SharedID (I haven’t looked into that too much).

Ah – a business model! “We’ll be providing documentation on how to integrate TypeKey authentication into your own applications shortly after the service launches. At that point, there will also be information about what is required to make use of TypeKey services in commercial applications.”

I had missed many of the discussions (summary, questions by Dave Winer, Shelley’s comments) already going on about TypeKey. In short, people are naturally suspicious of any centralized identity technology.

XML.com: The Library of Congress Comes Home [Mar. 17, 2004]: “Let’s assume that I’ve convinced you to consider implementing a classification scheme at home. Which one should you use? There are several possibilities: Library of Congress Classification (LCC), Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), Colon Classification (CC), Bliss Classification (BC).
The problem with only arranging your collection physically by alphabetical order is that, without a computerized index of the collection, you can’t form queries like, “show me all the resources that are about Spanish anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism” or “show me all the resources that are about Buddhist folk magic”.”

This does not make sense to me. If you’re going to organize your books, make your own scheme. Don’t re-use a library scheme that was created for different purposes alltogether. Will it let you look up books by your favourites? By the ones signed by authors? By the ones you’re using for you rennovation project?

Kendall also doesn’t mention Amazon’s book search. Why classify your books for retrieval if you can already search them using Amazon, and then just use a simple scheme (alphabetical, …) to retrieve the book?

Who knew there were experts in mouthfeel (The way that a food product feels inside a person’s mouth.) You really don’t want to get into food product design (this site seems to be the B&A of the food design discipline). (I hereby promise this will be my last post about mouthfeel ever to see the light of your monitor.)

Second International Conference on Trust Management 2004: “A trust management conference looking at trust from multidisciplinary pespectives: legal, pyschology, philosophy, economic, sociology as well as information technology. The Second International Conference on Trust Management will take place at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, UK, from 29th March to 1st April 2004.”

Experimenting with BitTorrent and RSS 2.0. So that’s how that works.

You include enclosures in your RSS feed. An enclosure is not text, but a small-ish (25k) file that contains all the information needed for BitTorrent to download a big file. So you don’t download a huge file within your RSS, just a pointer to a huge file.

Now, you can distribute large files by including small pointers to them in your RSS feed. The users who have the right stuff on their computers will then automatically download, P2P, your large files overnight to the users computer.

Your computer isn’t hit too hard because of the way Bittorrent works (it’s P2P). And you can distribute (push, almost) large audio or video files.

Very nice. I’m impressed.

Yesterday riding home on the train in NJ, USA, there were lots of police on the tracks and in the train.


Lazyweb: a spider that spiders any weblog against a master list of comment spam. So:

– I go to http://despam.org
– I enter my weblog’s URL and click “Despam me”
– It tells me if I have any comment spam, and tells me what to do next.
– I can ask it to despam me weekly and email me the results.

If you’re using MT-Blacklist to stop comment spams, feel free to copy my blacklist.txt file in your list. I searched for blacklist files and copied about 20 of them into my master file. Each had at least 10 domains the previous ones didn’t have. Afterwards, I ran the despam, and it found a bunch of spam my manual efforts had missed.