Here’s an interesting article about researchers using touch to convey text messages. An interesting concept. They call it “tactile melody”. I would have called it braille. Even though they apparently want to use different movements of pins than the letter combinations used by braille. They probably figure they can convey messages more effectively, requiring less attention from the user and less symbol recognitions. Good for them. I’m not going to say that I know for sure that they’re reinventing a number of wheels in unison, but I’ve got a pretty good feeling that they are. I take this for example:
Scott Young from Userland Software is speaking at Borders in Sunnyvale on Monday April 26th. The topic is going to be the use of weblogs and RSS for corporate communication. Event details:
SmartMobs reports on a free (and soon to be open source) urban social landscapes tool. The tool is a release from Intel, available as J2ME using MIDP but soon to be open source. Based on the info page the sensing pattern seems to be based on Bluetooth. Very interesting. Here’s one of the many tidbits from the site which caught my attention:
I’ve been trying to figure out how to include a blogroll version of the site without always putting a big long list my blog all the time. Having a list of users whose blogs you normally read is nice to do because the people who are receiving your readership can look at places like Technorati to see who is interested in their posts. I used to think this was just a form of posturing, but I’m starting to think it’s more important. It adds one kind of backlink into the system as a whole. It provides a way for a content producer to see a list of everyone interested in what they’re writing. As laid out in A Manifesto for Collaborative Tools, backlinks are important. The paper talks about document linking, but I think the idea extends to resources in general.
Still very much rough around the edges, but there’s a 1.0 release of the download plugin at the Open Palm Environment SourceForge site. The project is a plugin for Pilot-db, an open source package for Palm handhelds which allows users to create and exchange databases from their PDA. With the plugin installed you can download files in much the same way that the palm-torrent project from the Open Palm Environment project does. Acting as a plugin for pilot-db gives access to a much more extensive set of editing tools on both the PDA and the desktop. I didn’t want to write a bookmark management system into palm-torrent, so this seemed like a good option. After all, the plugin was one of the original techniques I proposed when I first wrote about the idea. The plugin still needs to be cleaned up a bunch, and there needs to be a bunch of databases with pointers to free info and programs (plucker books, open source apps, etc). I have the prc sitting in the projects area at Bitsplitter, so you can download the plugin using the URL http://www.bitsplitter.net/projects/db-download.prc if you have a copy of palm-torrent on your PDA already.
Jaron Lanier is speaking in Palo Alto on Friday April 23rd. The talk is supposed to be an update to One Half Of A Manifesto, an article written during 2000 in which he examines the beliefs of what he calls “cybernetic totalism”. He argues that the belief that Moore’s law and artificial intelligence will bring about some new class of humanity is just a form of intellectual laziness no more grounded in reality than any other religious dogma. I particularly enjoyed this quote:
Chris Pirillo has posted a blogroll of Gnomedex 4 attendees. The list is still pretty short (the conf is still a LONG way off :-) but there are already some interesting blogs on there. I even dropped the RSS feed version into my Bloglines subscriptions so I can check out the blogs of new people as they join. An excellent way to find people with like interests before we get out there. There’s supposed to be an open bar the whole time this year. Making a good impression in advance is necessary so as to preemptively counteract the poor impression that stumbling around spewing technoweenie jargon will make.
I found a three part article about web programming with Scheme linked off the Finding Lisp blog. The articles themselves are very good, and they led me to Chicken Scheme, an interesting Scheme implementation I was able to get running on my ancient laptop so I could play with something on the plane trip home. It includes what seems to be an interesting mechanism to support extension, something I haven’t seen in other implementations yet. Chicken provides a cover script that can be used to create, build, and install extensions called “eggs”. Getting the extra modules needed to do web programming was a cinch.
There’s some interesting commentary about the difference between licensing software and purchasing it in Why Free Software Matters. It’s certainly easy to forget just how much of what we do with computers actually ends up having a lot of strings attached. I would like to relate the discussion about licenses and open standards back to the Trusted Computing initiative I brought up again yesterday. There are a lot of points which people respond to with the example that Sean gives: “So what? I run MS Word/Windows. It does what I want. Why should I care? They can’t come into my house and take it away from me. Get that microphone out of my face.” This is the issue with the TCPA that I have. Under the proposed model, they wouldn’t have to come into your house to take it away. They would be able to make it so that you couldn’t use the software unless you were using a set of software that the vendor approves of, and it provides mechanisms so that the vendor can switch the functions of the software and disable it at their will. The model makes it so that the vendor not only can keep your information from you by putting it into a format they don’t give you the details for, but makes it so that they can cryptographically seal you off from your information. The TCPA model builds into the software provisioning system mechanisms to formalize all these protections. Vendors would no longer have to rely on “security through obscurity” in their formats and legal protections of licensing, TCPA would provide them with the tools to enforce their desires using the computer architecture. They’re techniques that the vendors already try to leverage against us, and blessing the behavior by supporting it explicitly is something I feel would just lead to grosser abuses.
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