Archive for August, 2005

Katrina – Who’s Going to Help?

August 31, 2005

As a break from the normal subject matter I write about: I was in a project meeting today and during a break we were discussing the Katrina situation. One comment that came up immediately by someone was this:

“just watch as no one offers help to the Americans in their time of need…everyone [as in other nations] expects them to pony up tons of relief cash when they are in trouble, but they [the Americans] will be expected to solve this one all by themselves.”

I am assuming that they are contrasting the current situation with the Tsunami last year. Is this a fair comparison? The US is a relatively wealthy nation. Should they be expected to be more self-reliant than say Malaysia? Does it sound a little bitter?

I am Canadian. I am of the opinion that we as a country should offer assistance (monetary or otherwise) if there is a need. But will it be asked for? Should it just be offered? Do they really need the same kind (not necessarily amount) of emergency relief that the world provided during the Tsunami? Do they want it? I have always figured Americans to be people who pride themselves on self-sufficiency and resiliency (and that is not a shot – but a compliment). There might very well be many Americans who don’t want outside help to solve their problem. (and of course I might very well be wrong in that assumption!)

It’s a little different this time around. You have a million people in serious trouble and it looks like the problems will last months and not weeks. You WILL NOT be able to turn a blind eye after a week of news coverage. It’s in everyone’s back yard, and not halfway around the world. I feel so sorry for those affected, truly sorry.

MSN Searches RSS Deeper?

August 31, 2005

Sounds like the MSN Search Engine now searches fully within RSS and Atom feeds. I will give it a try. I still hop around between Technorati, Feedster and Bloglines to do this stuff. Adding one more will not hurt (even if it is from Microsoft..). Where is Google in this space? I’m surprised they are not providing the standards to which others are judged. Do they not care? Or are they working on something vastly better?

Free Culture on the Cheap

August 21, 2005

My local grocery store sometimes has a bargoon table with assorted childrens books and trinkets for sale. Yesterday I decided to browse the table for any deals on story books for my 3 year old daughter. Digging around a little, this softcover book with a zebra-like stripey patterned cover caught my eye. It turned out to be Larry Lessig’s Free Culture in new condition. Needless to say, I forked over my $3.99 and picked it up. Now you know for sure that Internet culture has hit the mainstream when it makes the bargoon table at the local IGA store in the boonies of Southern Ontario. I’m sure I will enjoy the read.

OS X running on 3 Year Old Cell Phone!

August 17, 2005

Not to be outdone by the prospect of running OS X on a PC, I managed to get Apple’s OS running on my 3 year old Audiovox CDM8300 cell phone. The install was pretty easy, but the screen is very hard to read and that joystick control is not very good for point and click. Sorry for the fuzzy photo, it was taken with my Palm Zire72 camera. I plan to outfit the PDA with the image sensor from a Canon EOS-1Ds-MarkII that I’ve got lying around here somewhere, so hopefully sharper pics will be available soon. Somebody get Steve Jobs a set of Depends…I think he just made a burger. 😉

EVDO, Earballs and Bob Newhart

August 13, 2005

I just finished listening to one of the most entertaining podcasts I’ve come across in some time. Steve Gillmor’s one to one conversation with Doc Searls regarding EVDO and the ‘incumbents’ reaffirmed the true value in podcasting to me. It felt at times like Ralph Kramden having an argument with Bob Newhart. Both sides of the conversation were smart and perhaps more importantly passionate. You will not find this kind of stuff on mainstream broadcast. And besides, where else would you hear the term ‘earballs’? Another one to add to the ever-growing list of adapted metaphors and catchphrases.

The Last Bastion of News..was it really?

August 11, 2005

Dave Winer laments the loss of the ‘one last bastion of news’ at CNN. Truth be told, I never much liked Aaron Brown myself anyway. My opinion is however, solely based on his coverage during the invasion of Iraq. I always felt that he was on the verge of breaking into an all-out smirk – even when he was dealing with serious subject matter. Just a peeve of mine I guess. Nonetheless, I wonder if Dave had a chance to check out Canadian television news during his recent trip through the country. Undoubtedly he would have seen the stark contrast of CBC or CTV network news coverage as compared to their American counterparts. Even more stark is if you take many of our local newscasts and compare them with, say, a local Buffalo newscast. The difference is shocking. I always feel as if I’m put in a state of crisis or panic when watching many American newscasts. Everything has to be shocking, tragic and many times over the top. Canadian news might seem a bit boring at first glance, but it is nice to get the information without all (or at least with significantly less of) the hysteria and hype. CNN has built a strong reputation on being the place most people (even Canadians) turn to for late-breaking news coverage, but they’ve never appealed to me for anything but crisis coverage.

On a mostly unrelated note, I just saw that Peter Jennings was named to the Order of Canada prior to his death.

Top 100 Lists – Ho Hum

August 4, 2005

Jason Calacanis has an post about Technorati’s Top 100 and it’s pro’s and con’s. In fact, he’s offering 50 grand in advertising for a “better” top 100 list. Pfft. And I can say Pfft because I have nothing to advertise at this point -unless anybody is interested in buying half-finished amateur attempts at python programming ;). Personally I’m not a huge fan of top-whatever lists when it comes to blogs or podcasts. I am finding more and more that new and interesting online content arrives in my brain in two different ways. By chance and by search.

When I say chance I mean that if something is interesting to me, or something is really important, chances are that it will find it’s way to me through the people I read or listen to. Or, someone I regularly read will point to the source of the info – and this may become a new source of content for me in the future. I’m not one of those people who feels scared that they might miss something. The beauty of blogs and linking is that 99% of the time that important information will get to me.

By search I mean that if there is something that has sparked my interest that is not necessarily part of any of the blogs or podcasts in my aggregator then I will search it out. And many times I find great sources of information and many times new blogs or podcasts that merit my subscription.

I don’t need someone telling me what the 100 most influential blogs are, or what the top 50 podcasts are. Where is the excitement in that? This is a new medium, shouldn’t we be exploring it freely instead of expecting someone to package it up the way they think is best and hand it to us.

Of course I’m not going to sit here and say that I don’t subscribe to ‘A-List’ bloggers. Of course I do. But I personally find that the five or six in my aggregator do a pretty good job of pointing me to enough interesting content to fill my spare time (and then some). The really nice part is when one of them points to some obscure blog that turns out to be my cup of tea.

Dave Winer has summarized his thoughts on the subject in his usual efficient way:

Jason Calacanis wants to shake up the Top 100. Why bother. Just blog what you find interesting, what you believe in, and everything is fine.

Well said.