Greg Gershman from Blogdigger is in town for a little bit and wanted to do a get together. The plan is to meet up at Jing Jing downtown Palo Alto at 6:30pm on Wed Feb 16th. Here’s a map for those who need one. Getting to Jing Jing from the Palto Alto Caltrain station is a snap too, for those coming in by train. Take Lytton the only way you can, left onto Emerson, Jing Jing is visable from that corner less than a block away.
Jeff Clavier is speaking at the BMA roundtable on Tuesday morning. Eleanor organizes the event, and I’ve been to a bunch of them. The discussions tend to be very good. Maybe events that start at 7:30 in the morning attract only those highly dedicated to the cause.
There’s a “Feed Of The Day” feature on the Feedster home page. See the thing in the middle of the page, right above the ridiculously large count of feeds in the system? Basically, it’s a feed that someone at Feedster thinks is interesting. The responsibility had been falling to Chris and Beverly for a long time, and they had to spend a bunch of time every night casting about for a good feed to feature. Yesterday we decided to rotate the update, so that we take turns picking the feed of the day. My days are going to be Tuesdays and Thursdays, and last night was my first update. I put up Eleanor’s blog EllementK, apparently sleeping with the judge does work :-) (For those who might not know, Eleanor is my girlfriend and we live together, just a little disclose there for those who are into that sort of thing). She’s working at NEC America doing research, and puts up a bunch of information about the projects she runs across in doing research, which ranges from Enterprise IT (high availability infrastructure and grid computing) to mobility.
Dave McClure asked imagine for just a moment that you’re Ballmer, Semel, or Schmidt and you’ve got a couple billion burning a hole in your pocket– what companies would you put on your shopping list?. Interesting question. I would probably pick a ton of mobile companies. Flickr, Buzznet, WirelessInk, LifeBlog, Audioblog, WaveMarket, and the list would go on for a while. And that’s just the first wave of services pretty much, looking to mobilize the existing practice of blogging. There are companies like Caterpillar Mobile looking to evolve the models that started in the desktop-centric world into something more suited to personal devices situated in a larger environment. One or two billion dollars would sure get you a long way, but I’m not sure it would make it to complete buyout of the sector.
I went to the 106miles event last night. A big part of the Geek Krew were there: Niall (who took audio and should have that up on his site at some point), Eleanor, Russ Beattie, and Brendon Wilson. We’re starting to form a pretty consistent traveling discussion group. Michael Fagan and Nick Heyman from Feedster came also. I got to meet Jeremy Zawodny (who has some comments up already) and Mark Jen (see this Slashdot post for some background on why meeting Mark is interesting, and these comments from Jeremy after meeting him last night also for some additional info. Mark was fired by the way.). There were a ton of great people there, thank you Joyce!! I took a few pictures. They came out pretty poorly but they’re there at least.
I’m just catching up on some posts I’ve had sitting around as drafts (there are a lot of them actually). I saw this article about Infected, a wireless game for Playstation Portable that has some viral dispersion features. That got me thinking about a whole bunch of different things, mostly around artificial life, the suitability of a wireless network to simulate a resource constrained environment for competition, and the modeling of distance in genetic programming. However, I realized the more fundamental question here might be how hackable are these interfaces? Could I, a normal unlicensed Linux developer with a decent background in wireless interfaces, write a program that ran on a Linux system and interacted with a Playstation Portable game? Could this be used to write plugins and enhancements for the games in the same way that people used to hack the description files for Doom? I think it’s just an 802.11 interface, so it would be technically possible. But are the protocols closed off to allow only PSP to PSP communication? And how about the game data, protected or open?
On February 15th starting at 6pm is a Future Salon event titled Future of Art and Technology. I’m not really familiar with any of the efforts or organizations listed there, so I’m going to learn about the stuff. For a while I’ve been thinking about hooking together biofeedback systems with the electronics commonly found at live events, spurred somewhat by reading The Diamond Age by Stephenson a while ago. It’s the merger of art, technology, and social systems like that which really gets my interest up. That’s one of the aspects that draws me to mobility, and technologies like mesh networking, TinyOS, and hacking RFID to do more interesting stuff than it’s deployed to do. When you allow the dialog of creation that the artist and audience engage in to compress to a realtime exchange (when the feedback loop is closed and direct) I think a state change happens. It’s a lot like the change in communication styles that happen between asyncronous and syncronous dialog everywhere else.
I got an email from Russ the other day saying “Hey, why isn’t your phone accepting calls?” Sounded pretty weird, but not beyond belief, I normally have bad luck with billing systems. I have an account at Washington Mutual, and for a while they seemed to be rejecting autopayments for no reason that anyone inside or outside the organization could determine. I dialed my number from a landline and sure enough there was a message: “At the subscribers request, this line is no longer accepting incoming calls.” Very odd, I was DEFINITE I had not requested incoming calls be shut off. I logged into my Washington Mutual online system and checked the transactions on my account. Weird, it did show a payment processed to T-Mobile just the week before. So I assumed this was just some glitch in the T-Mobile system and set about getting in touch with someone.
Randy seems to have some momentum going for his Universal Subscription Mechanism proposal. The basic idea is that we deal with some content types specific to RSS and Atom so that the browser can shove the handling off to an external app that then push the subscribe URL into something that knows what to do with it. Not a bad idea, but I like my idea for a subscription service better. However, if people think that the proposal Randy made is the way to go I don’t want to be a bad sport. I just want things to be simple and work by default. So I hacked together a Python USM handler that works for me under Linux using Firefox. I’m on the train right now, and testing it out against a lot of feeds is a pain over this GPRS connection, so I just tried a few. Using it should be pretty simple. Right now it only handles launching a browser with the Bloglines subscribe URL, but the hackers out there can change that if they want I’m sure. I’ll make it config file driven with some command line options to set the subscription action at some point.
The most major news item in mobility yesterday seems to be the new release of Symbian OS. The 9.0 version doesn’t really include many new features that affect the end user, as called out in a post at TheFeature. The USB mass storage feature will actually be pretty cool, but doesn’t really affect me all that much because I use Bluetooth to fling files over to my phone. The 3D graphics are nice to see, lots of people are really enthusiastic about the games market. But personally I’m more into the location based and alternate reality games than high framerate 3D. This release seems to concentrate a lot more on the capabilities meant for network operators, and I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed in the article from TheFeature. There’s been a lot of talk about the openness of mobile platforms, the most recent bump in activity seeming to start around Mobile and Open from Howard Rheingold (something I already commented on). During the past few days I also happened across two sets of commentary from Cory Doctorow, the first an article titled Take Back Your Cell and the second an interview with Cory at TheFeature. This is a drum I’ve beat plenty of times in the past, that openness is necessary for innovation. Interesting applications come from users seeing new possibilities, not from manufacturers pushing out incremental features. So I’m kinda concerned that the Symbian 9.0 release seems to be tending toward more closed instead of more open.
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