Howard Rheingold has been running a great news site SmartMobs focusing on a lot of the issues covered in the SmartMobs book. I feel the circle has now been closed. The book was kicked off by mobile usage and pervasive computing, which spawned a site, and has now given rise to a fully mobile site that can be accessed using a phone, PDA, or desktop browser. This site is one of the best mobile sites I’ve seen so far, and makes me want to run off and add a lot more to the Open Palm Environment site. There are brief overviews of the topics in the book, a bunch of surveys, forums,, and a recast of the SmartMobs desktop site blog.
Two articles I’ve been poking through today:
Slashdot mentions a paper about applying information theory analysis and economics to the Spam issue. I think the paper raises some pretty good points. I’m most interested in seeing a system like this applied to SMS however. For a long time I’ve been bitching about how the lack of peer to peer communication between mobile networks and the Internet is a major hinderance to the expansion of mobile applications. What I mean by that is that there should be a basic and uniform way to send a message from an IP based network to a handset on the SMS network, and vice versa. The major problem there is Spam. If anyone on the Internet could just send an SMS to your handset at will, I’m sure they would. So there has to be some mechanism there to block Spam.
A post at Emergic pointed me to an explanation of terms used by venture capitalists when funding a company. I’ve been at lots of startup companies in the past, and been through the funding process, but I’ve never been in on the terms negotiation. From the little bit I do know, this looks like a simple yet informative overview of what the terms really mean.
Dan Gillmor has a post about Lindows using P2P distribution networks to get the Lindows Live CDs out to users. As he states in his article, this is a great example of the positive use of these networks. With music and movie companies spreading fear and doubt far and wide, it’s great to have an absolute positive example in the business arena. Like others have said before, what really scares the music and movie industries isn’t really piracy and theft of IP, they are afraid of losing their control of the means of distribution. Once people can output music that they’ve made by themselves and it can reach thousands of listeners, the music industry has lost their dominance of their niche. If that happens they can’t ensure the margins they demand and keep the sales numbers they want. So they fight to keep that channel controlled, using piracy as the smokescreen legal gambit.
I’m walking home from a presentation about Technology Opportunities for Humanity, and it was really very good. I was afraid that it would be a whole bunch of talk about charity work and how we as Big Powerful Silicon Valley Residents can help out the poor slobs everywhere else. It definitely was not that. It was what I considered an extremely well informed discussion about the general topic of businesses providing technology and connectivity to developing nations (or the underprivileged within some developed countries). I think the presentations did a fantastic job of both providing information about the topic and raising some interesting questions. I’ll mention two of the high points that really hit me.
Jon Udell has a post about the two techniques used to reduce bandwidth when downloading feeds. Those examples were pretty cool. I knew there was a header that could be used to check if a site had changed, but I never looked it up before. This is something I should add into the OPE download tool, presently called PalmTorrent. It would be really cool to have your apps setup so that you could update them online, the way that SoftwareUpdate allows for, but running through the whole catalog to see what has been updated.
An article from O’Reilly talks about some open source PDA projects. It does bring up some pretty cool points which I hadn’t previously given all that much thought to, such as being able to move binaries around to different systems. That is a pretty kick ass point if you’re trying to create some open source tools. I’ve been working on a very early stage project to get together some open source tools for Palm devices. But that’s because I use a Palm device for day to day stuff. At some point I expect Linux devices to be perfect for day to day work, but still I prefer Palm devices for the PIM functions. I have tried out a few of the earlier Linux based PDAs, and I’ll probably end up with a Zarus at some point soon. For now however I have been fooling around with Palm apps. And coming back to do some Palm programming after having been away for almost 4 years is a pretty revealing. The Palm platform has grown quite a bit, as one would expect it to as it matured. But I don’t think it has scaled very well. There are a lot of platform parameters now (hardware that may or may not be present, screen resolutions, color capabilities, networking, operating system support, and so on). It has become a lot more like programming for any other operating system. It used to have an elegant simplicity, but in order to take advantage of these capabilities programs can no longer be simple. There is a lot that a programmer might have to take into consideration to ensure that their application works smoothly on all platforms, or in some cases to make sure that it works at all.
There’s an article at the BBC with some interesting comments in general about open source. There is one section in particular that I think helps to summarize the case for open source in developing countries quite well:
Gordon Bell is going to be speaking in Palo Alto on Feb 19th at 7PM. The topic seems to be a wonderfully geeky melange of old ideas with new implications and forward looking applications. I’m gonna have to watch Lain a few more times before I go to this one. Anything that feels it can invoke the name Vannevar Bush without trying to joke about it is at least worth a look. Plus Gordon Bell is no lightweight either. I would think it would be worthwhile to hear him speak, but that’s what I thought last month about going to see Whitfield Diffie, and I was really wrong about that. So this time I’m not going to make any speculations. I’m going to see the presentation and I hope it’s good. There will definitely be bloggage from me no matter what.
subscribe via RSS