Thursday, July 26, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Stevens: "Let me be just the Devil's Advocate here. Could I just decide I want to keep my wireline and I want to add wireless to it? Can I have two providers on the same number?" Awkward pause: "Um, I don't think that technology exists right now." Stevens: "If I had an IP phone, by definition, I'd have to leave the wire... wireline phone to use it?" Answer: "I think that is the case with the technology today." Stevens: "Is it coming? Why shouldn't I be able to say, just by a little switch on my phone at home that's wired, I'm going off on the wireless now, I want to use this as I ride my motorcycle."Motorcycles aside, the technology to do what the Senator is asking for does exist in several companies. For example, my employer just bought a company that does exactly this. Take a look at GrandCentral's web site, and you will see that this is exactly what Tedd Stevens is asking for. It's one number that you can put in front of your Mobile, Landline, and VoIP phones. It allows you to determine which calls go to which phones, and gives you a universal voicemail service. It doesn't help with using your phone on your motorcycle, which I think is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of. [via Boing Boing]
These are really thought-provoking suggestions. I was particularly struck by Karl's suggestion of a version control system for Congress. They say you don't want to see either laws or sausages being made, but I think they are wrong. Imagine how much more transparency and accountability our government would have if it were possible to see what changes were made by whom, who inserted extraneous riders into various bills, and generally to track the influence of various interests by the new visibility into their actual control over the knobs and levers of government!I'd never thought of this before, but it's an idea that makes so much sense. I can think of at least two different ways that a version control system would be interesting. First, by looking at diffs (i.e. the changes from one version to the next) a congressperson would be better able to know exactly how a given bill has changed before she votes on it. This would essentially end the idea that someone could slip in a last minute amendment to a bill. With a system like this the congressperson could look at only the changes to the last version of the bill she read, just before she is going to vote on it. This would allow her to see things like an new clause, or important one word changes that could change the tenor of the entire bill. This system would make it much easier for our representatives to be well-informed when they vote. Second, this system would be incredibly useful for us. I would love to see any piece of legislation published in a versioned form. That way, I could go through each revision of the bill myself to see how it changed and evolved. A version controlled law would show you every change from the initial text, and it would put a name next to those changes. It's the ultimate ability to fact-check your representative.
Friday, July 13, 2007
"I took a look at three different kinds of content: a book from O’Reilly’s Safari online reading library, a Web site whose layout appeared especially readable on the iPhone, and a PDF.For a long time, I've been reading on a Palm TX using books from eReader.com. I've read hundreds of books this way, and find it a great alternative to carrying around a paper book. I'd be very happy if I could read eReader books, and PDFs that are stored on an iPhone.
The verdict? iPhone-friendly Web sites are the clear winner. Safari books take second place and are readable for about 10 pages or so at time. PDFs are as lame as ever on the small screen. Pictures, comments, and some suggestions after the jump."
[via O'Reilly Radar]
Update: I've posted a review of some iPhone 2.0 Book applications here.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Monday, July 9, 2007
?: When early scholars wrote in Latin, they would place the word questio - meaning "question" - at the end of a sentence to indicate a query. To conserve valuable space, writing it was soon shortened to qo, which caused another problem - readers might mistake it for the ending of a word. So they squashed the letters into a symbol: a lowercased q on top of an o. Over time the o shrank to a dot and the q to a squiggle, giving us our current question mark.This reminded me of a site called The Word Detective, which has similar content about the origin of everyday words. Finally there is the Online Etymology Dictionary, again great for learning about the history of a given word, but not so great for symbols.
In Friday's ruling, the court said computer users should know that they lose privacy protections with e-mail and Web site addresses when they are communicated to the company whose equipment carries the messages.These kind of rulings can be expected in the current political climate, and even if a warrant were required there is no guarantee that your ISP wouldn't just give the data to the Government. You can, however, take precautions to protect your privacy online. You can use Secure Shell (ssh) to create encrypted tunnels for your mail and web browsing. You can use PGP to encrypt the contents of your email messages (although your contract addresses aren't protected). You can use Onion routing to obscure your actions on the internet.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
a lovingly detailed virtual flower delivery service. As with online greeting card services, users are encouraged to send greetings to their loved ones. However, instead of sending a card, the person sends a one-of-a-kind bouquet of flowers that the recipient can keep “alive” through attentive care.In essence, when you send someone flowers through the site, that person can create a greenhouse account where she will see all of the flowers she has been sent. To keep the flowers looking nice and fresh you have to water them every once in awhile. This is a form of degradation in the virtual goods delivered in this site. It marks the passage of time, and is an indication for the user (and the company) of how often the site is used. Back at the radar post, Hedlund said:
I wrote an article at the time called "A well-worn staircase" about how the virtual world was missing some of the signals the real world gives us about how many people have been somewhere or used something before us: stairs that have been worn down by years of use, books with dog-eared pages and coffee stains, that sort of thing. The only way a newcomer to the Star Wars site would know someone else had been there was if the site was slow.
My friend Ben Olander later used a similar idea on the Pleasantville movie site -- like the movie, the Pleasantville site switched from black and white to color images the more you used it.
I always wanted to do something similar, but had thought of a site in slight different terms. In my idea a sight would stay clean and spiffy the more it was visited. Kind of like a metal railing on a stair case is always well polished.
So my idea for virtual degradation was to add dust, cob webs, and small graphical signs of disuses gradually the longer a page in a site was quiet. So, over time, the page would start to break down, fall apart, and give the visitor a visual indication that it was no longer being maintained.
I'd love to see more work done in this area, I think that the web increasingly needs better metaphors for freshness and well worn paths.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The question that comes to mind for me is this: Did Apple just do one of the most successful ultra-hyped consumer electronics launches in history, or did they overestimate the number of iPhones they would sell on day one?Well, it looks like I now have my answer. It seems that Apple has pulled off one of the worlds most successful gadget launches in history. According to several sites, Apple is estimated to have sold 500,000 iPhones over the weekend.