Thursday, February 24, 2005

All Tech Gets Used For Porn First

I just want y'all to know that right now Dean is entering dirty words into Merriam-Webster online and giggling like a little boy when he clicks the "pronounce it" icon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Need Distraction

If my friends really were my friends, they would be sending me porno MMS to my mobile right now in this meeting. Of course nobody knows my number and fewer know MMS, so I forgive you all for abandoning me.

(Posted through email from phone.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gawd I Want To Be These People

Look at this site. They make you think they are actually looking for mystery shoppers to anonymously rate stores by spending a $1000 bucks in one, and you get to keep what you bought. Finally, a way to get what has to be a retail-junkie's coolest job -- and my flist shows me a lot of people engage in retail therapy.

Well, knowing from page one this had to be a scam, I read the terms. You have to disclose personal info, which actually has to be validated. It is validated by signing up for four offers available on the page, and from the terms I could see they are things like credit cards and subscriptions, and you can't immediatly cancel. If you do that you will get a gift-certificate for the amount between $25,- to $1K. And oh yeah, did you enter your zip-code on that first page and found out you were in high demand? So did people who entered 00000. I tried.

So, will many sign up? I found this ad on, a blog/personals site seemingly populated by young singles too hip and happening to hack it on LJ, with many, many, many women who look like they frequent malls, so my guess is "hell yeah!" Will they not read the terms? You betcha. Will they disclose the demographics? What, and lose out on being a msytery shopper? Will they take part in the four promotions... well, iffy. Will the site have to spend on every person who gives them their info? See the last question. Will the site be sending out many $1K gift cards, or even many of the $25,- ones? See the last question and use common sense what amounts you would spend on gift cards if you were in the CEO's shoes. Will the company have a fabulously sellable list of personal data? Woo-fucking-hoo! In days! Before people can warn each-other what kind of a spam-creator it is!

It is brilliant. It's the whole "free iPods/ mini Macs / other schwag" ponzi scheme thing, but getting people to buy in into 4 of your marketing partners (ka-ching) getting their data (ka-ching!) and barely needing to reward the schmoes (ka-ka-ka-ching!).

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Why We Like This Gig

"Yeah, we actually bought the Nintendo DS to experiment with performance testing of non-Nokia devices. The first test is giving it a full charge and recording how long it lasts with non-stop play. Do you want to?"

Yeah, like he was getting out of my cube without having left that thing with me.

"BTW, when the Sony PSP comes in we'll have to do the same."

They actually pay me money for this. Well, not this playing thing, but the pretty cool actual work that allows me to hang around this group. And they consider my tendency to give informed opinions and prognoses about gadget culture an asset -- well of course it will be informed if you make me play handhelds all day long!

I've almost got them convinced that this year's actual project will require at least a Nokia 7710 and 6680 for proper validation of the media ideas. Hey wait, I was bombarded the project manager because nobody else wanted it -- all I have to convince is me! Aw fuck, now I am going to be all conscientious again.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Yeah, Well, I Shipped

Had a binge of reading up. Three Dutch weekly newspaper wrap-ups (NRC Weekeditie Voor Het Buitenland), three Queues, assorted Communications of the ACM. Still have two issues to go plus the latest issue of Interactions (SIGCHI publication).

Dunno if it was the editing of the interview, but the way Alan Kay talks about JAVA, or actually most of commercial mainstream computing,  makes him sound really bitter. The kinda guy that, if you are a software pro like me in an industrial setting actually making money off deliverable products, you dread having to sit next to at a dinner party. Every time you answer some question about your daily work he will just use it as a way to discuss at length how primitive and wrong-headed your tools are, and thus how your cool ideas about how to solve problems are actually a waste of time, subtly trying to imply pity while being oblivious to the condescencion he projects, dismissing the working end results.

I wonder if he has the drony voice that usually makes that scene complete.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Popular Musiks

I just recived my iPod Shuffle, on the same day I had an epiphany: Napster-To-Go's rental model of music doesn't suck.

It hit me this morning while I was driving to work, listening to the CD of forgettable pop I created from iTunes downloads. And I was thinking that paying 180 bucks a year for renting an unlimited amount of music was actually not that a good deal, because the thing with Napster-To-Go is that when you stop paying the 15 bucks a month, everything you downloaded stops being playable. Over. Gone. You stopped renting and you got kicked out. You don't get to keep your stuff like iTunes lets you at a buck a song.

And then I thought "Like my iTunes are these keepsakes?" Not really. They aren't losslessly compresed from the original masters, they aren't in the FLAC format. They aren't even encoded at a high Variable Bit Rate encoded with a floor of, say, 192kbps. No, it is an average 128 kbps encoded AAC. My keepsakes are my CDs, the music I have carefully encoded and now archive the originals of. These iTunes? This is not encoded into perfection for the ages, this is music I expect to have to repurchase at some form again when there is a format shift.

Yes, format shifts have become a fact of life, and I think iTunes will be susceptible to it hard. In a way I am renting from Apple to: to keep devices authorized to play the music I bought -- and I can't authorize more than 5 devices at a time or so -- I need to network a device with Apple's service for a key. My music still depends on another company, and its software, and its licensing. So far its software is great, but it is only one company. The stuff I buy there is most likely not my last and final purchase of this music.

Well in that case, 180 bucks a year to try everything I could possibly want to try just doesn't sound that bad. With Audiogalaxy I used to select to download everything from an artist or group,overnight, listen to it by day, and keep the one or two things I liked. A far superior way of selecting that just getting 30 second previews like on iTunes, where I do feel some of those previews have misled me. Napster-To-Go would be like that; I could check out a massive amount of new music on my portable device wherever I am, without worrying I may mispurchase. I could really get to know a lot of new stuff, with repeated listenings. Get into a whole catalog. Then I can choose what I really want to keep, and when I let my subscription lapse for some reason, buy those items in a more permanent form. Which might not be easy or economical if what I like is just one song off a whole CD. But hey, that is what iTunes is then for.

It's all trade-offs, balances. The new millenium has for now has brought us what I was afraid it would bring: new headaches of not just having to navigate formats like CD and LP and tape, but rights and restriction packages. There are trade-offs. It is just that I realize that Napsters trade-offs aren't as bad as I thought because their main comparison, iTunes, is actually not as guaranteed futureproof as we'd all like to think, neither in format nor in licensing.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Electronic Health Privacy

Well, so the mega-hospital conglomerate (BIDMC) my health-center (Fenway HC) is affiliated with has created it's patient website. You can apply to register with your main doctor, and then they send you your name and password and your web account is linked to their system. I can request referrals, get reminders for my appointments, exchange secure email with my clinician, etc. Should save everyone a lot of time.

Viewing the demo, however, I recognized a name from my years being in a clinical software lab that would create something like this. I actually did make a number of systems that went live. And since I worked for a children's hospital, I didn't know anyone involved. Hmm. The director of the lab who built this knows me. He built something based on my early work. We worked together. And now he can find out with no hacking just why I am asking for a referral to some specialists.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


So I am finding out people are now writing plug-ibs for Eclipse, the Integrated [computer programs code] Development Environment, that have nothing to with developing code. Like data organizers based on semantic metadata that will categorize your mailboxes, and stuff like that. Basically, Eclipse is the new emacs -- all we need is an Eliza plugin. And a Zippy one. To output on the console view. To each other.

Then again, emacs can retaliate by releasing a version based on the Gecko rendering engine instead of the current text buffers. I am sure you can make Gecko fit right, and emacs would then have native everything, including markup of all kinds and the whole web and all its content as long as Gecko understood it. Eliza could come with a flash animation of a shrink.

Quictime inside emacs. Somebody's head somewhere would explode.