• Power Outage

    I was going to post earlier, but apparently a lot of Los Angeles was without power today and my hosting provider was in an affected area. I realized my mail client was complaining about dropped connections, so I checked and my site was down, so then I went to file a trouble ticket and realized their site was down, so then I went to the offsite status page and found a link to that story. When I saw the reference to al-Qaida in the story I joked to a co-worker that one should never attribute to malice that which can as easily be explained by incompetence. Looks like I was right: “It began after workers installing system upgrades incorrectly cut several cables and stretched from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific coast and north into the San Fernando Valley. Neighboring cities connected to the LADWP’s power supply also were affected.” (via Mercury News)

  • Mobile Monday New York

    It’s really exciting to see the idea of Mobile Monday picked up and expanded. A team out in New York:

  • Sound with Linux 2.6.13 on Thinkpad X32

    I had a problem with the X32 running Linux 2.6.13 where the audio device was there, but I couldn’t always hear the output. I found this post mentioning that the headphone sensor and line jack sensor both need to be muted, which worked for me. Here’s the card info from the model I have:

  • Innovation Disconnect

    I see stories like this one about 4G cell phone services being worked on with gigabit data rates and this one with doubts about consumers really wanting digital homes and overall I’m left wondering about the ability of the market to deliver innovation. Would I like gigabit data rates to my phone? Of course, why not? Would I be willing to pay the equivalently scaled up cost of $200K per month in order to do so ($20 per month for 100Kbps being vaguely equivalent to $200,000 per month for 1,000,000Kbps or 1Gbps)? No, of course I wouldn’t. In many ways the technical achievement in these fields has outstripped the ability of markets and products to deliver them to end users. Innovation is good, seemingly unrelated discoveries sometimes lead to fantastic breakthroughs, and the only way to get that to happen is to let the passionate people keep hacking away on the things they love. But there’s also a very real sense of doubt when I hear about this stuff. I was supposed to have gigabit wired connections available at home. It was supposed to give me instant access to all the world media at the click of a button. I think it would be fair to say that vision was unrealistic. So when I hear that I could get gigabit to my handset soon I can’t help but think “Wow, I would like to just consistently get my 100Kbps all the way from Palo Alto to San Francisco on the train without constant service drops.” And think sarcasticly that the real driver for the enhanced data rate is that telcos think their profits will scale with the data rate because now people can download more ringtones. When in reality if they want to sell more ringtones the limiting factor has nothing to do with bandwidth. It has to do with user interface and cost and customer awareness and compelling product. I would guess that bandwidth is somewhere down around 20th in terms of contributing factors.

  • SoloSub

    I just saw a post over at Techcrunch about SoloSub, a service to allow subscription via multiple mechanisms but using a single button and link. I posted an example of something that was much the same at the beginning of the year. Feedback was a pretty mixed bag, with people giving all sorts of reasons for and against it. The main takeaway though is that I should have just put the thing up and gotten it ready. Cause despite all the reasons against doing it, feed subscription still sucks. Some people just like to talk and talk and talk and tell you why it’s a bad idea to do whatever it is that you’re about to do. Screw that. I say good luck SoloSub, making RSS subing easier is a great goal and I hope you can make it happen. I’ve added a button here (down at the bottom, but it’s down there :-)

  • Open Source Flash Runtime?

    I keep hearing people talking about Flash as an open platform, but every time I’m faced with Flash on a website even Firefox takes me to a download for a binary component from Macromedia with no source available. Definitely there are tons of interesting open source tools out there, like Ming and OpenLaszlo, but I’ve been holding off cause there’s no open runtime. There’s work going on in the mobile end too, but the flash player there is definitely closed source. In my opinion the platform isn’t open until it’s end to end open, open source development tools emitting publicly speced formats and languages being executed through an open runtime. I’m not a Java fan for precisely this reason, no open source runtime. So did I miss the open source Flash runtime somewhere? I know very little about Flash and associated systems, so maybe I’m just not looking for the right terms in my Google searches. Is there something that I can download in source form and compile and install on my Linux laptop that’ll work with Firefox that’ll allow me to see sites like Interspot?

  • How Not to Keep Customers

    Unfortunately sometimes I have to access sites using a Cisco VPN. Today I’m at the tail end of setting up my new laptop, so I figured I would go see if there’s updates to the VPN software for Linux. I find I need to register in order to download the client software. Annoying, but not crippling. I fill out the form, and another form (which I actually fill out three times before I figure out that I NEED to give them my work address, despite what seems to be a “choice” in their interface), and another form, and then the final form, get the email, click the link, get presented with a login prompt. Then it says “Cisco has determined that password protection has been compromised”. Wow, that was quick. I just signed up, what’s the deal with that? So I email the account they tell me to, get a random password, login again… same error screen. I’m not that bright, but I recognize an infinite loop when I see one. It’s crap like this that gets me up and evaluating alternatives. Come on, you don’t even have to convince me to use your stuff, unfortunately someone already decided to. All you have to do is not piss me off as I continue to use it, and you keep a customer for your firewall + VPN product. You have switching cost on your side, you’re in a position of advantage. Put the damn software up in a public download area, you’re not charging for it anyway.

  • Wiki Wednesdays

    The Socialtext folks have kicked off an event called Wiki Wednesdays. I haven’t made it over to one yet, but the next one in my area is Sept 7th at Socialtext, which is right around the corner from my office. I’ll have to drop by, I didn’t really get a chance to talk to Chris Messina during BARcamp, and I missed Eugene Eric Kim completely. And ice cream, you can’t realy go wrong with ice cream!

  • WPA on Linux 2.6.13 Thinkpad

    I installed 2.6.13 on my Thinkpad today (it’s magically changed from an R51 to an X32, you’re not gonna hear me complain). I figured I would follow up on my initial WPA Linux post and mention that the Wireless Extensions version 18 are included now, and the ipw2200 driver uses the wireless extensions instead of custom ioctl()s now. Net effect: compile wpa_supplicant with CONFIG_DRIVER_WEXT=y in the .config file, and run wpa_supplicant with -D wext to use the wireless extensions when wpa_supplicant is running. If you don’t you get an errors something like “ioctl[IPW_IOCTL_WPA_SUPPLICANT]: Operation not supported” when you run wpa_supplicant. The support seems to be a little rough on this new laptop, it takes a few tries sometimes to attach to the access point, and for some reason I can’t get DHCP replies. Though if I keep trying till it connects and then setup the interface by hand it works. I’ll have to dig into it at some other point and see what’s going wrong.

  • Infrastructure

    I need to echo some of the stuff that Russ says about New Orleans and Jon Udell as well about the wireless infrastructure. Some stuff, not all of it. I actually don’t much care about New Orleans. I was there before it flooded and got to see it. Great place, too bad it’s underwater. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t live there, but if you live there you’re taking certain risks. And when those risks becomes reality it’s your problem. HOWEVER, I do feel that my taxes have paid for a certain degree of “disaster preparredness”. The folks on the teevee keep telling me that. Our nation is apparently prepared for anything. Which is why I’m kinda concerned that it was caught offgaurd by a storm system. They’re usually not easy to miss. They don’t even sneak really. They just kinda roll up and do their thing. So what is it exactly that we didn’t expect? And why is it that we can’t deal with it?

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