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June 26, 2002

Right-Handed Socialist Diabetics Unite

Public Protests NPR Link Policy

Asked if a link from someone's noncommercial homepage would bother the company, Dvorkin said: "It depends on your homepage -- what if you're an advocate for left-handed socialist diabetics? We wouldn't want to give support to advocacy groups."

They're really very sweet people. Get it? Hyuk, hyuk.

More Cyclist Road Rage

Forgot to mention that the day before yesterday, as I had just settled into cruising speed on the Brompton about 100 yards from my building, a guy pretty much stopped in traffic and screamed at me "Get OFF the fucking ROAD!" This is on North Ave, a pretty wide street with 2 lanes in either direction. What's more, his stopping almost caused an accident as other cars had to slow down while he delivered this urgent message.

I still don't get this type of behavior. My wife attributes it to insecurity: that people don't know how to deal with a cyclist on the road, find them unpredictable, and thus they get anxious. Some people react more strongly to this anxiety. I don't know. The intensity of it is really quite frightening - his anger seemed way out of proportion. I mean, I am taking one lane, but I hang to the right, keeping out enough to avoid being doored, and I am passable. In any case, his screaming (he was red in the face) was unnecessary. However, I have smartened up enough to not respond to this type of abuse. Last thing I need is some nut deciding to come at me in a car.

That's Dr Blog to you.

Chuck Shotton buys into DW's "bite the hand that just saved your life" meme in Doctors vs. Geeks

Unfortunately, geeks have done too good a job of simplifying what they do for users, hiding the complexities of the systems they build, and their ultimate value to society...Geeks do a job that is likely far more important to the safety and welfare of a larger number of people than the medical profession does. They just do it in a quiet, unassuming way that doesn't require elevating individual accomplishment. And people do take it for granted. That should be a tribute to the geeks for a job well done.

But I couldn't help comparing and contrasting this unassuming bit of understated, yet massive egotism with this:

Rage against the Machines

Chuck, get over yourself already. For those of you keeping score: technologists are more important than journalists, and now doctors. I expect lawyers to be coming up strong any day now. Or maybe they're just a given. The sad thing is, I'm a technologist myself and I can't believe the arrogance of these nerts.

June 25, 2002

Sifry's Google-It

I have added the code from Dave Sifry's excellent MT Google hack to this site. One limitation is that I guess I need to start writing better titles, but, hey, what the hell. Serendipity and all.

The code, incidentally (duh) is creating those related stories boxes underneath the entries, based on a Google search of the entry title.

June 22, 2002

Common sense

What Do I Know: NPR: Hype and Paranoia

Someone with experience in the industry says something sensible about the latest tempest in a teapot, the NPR linking form (see various BigBlogs for outrage and shock and the usual condescending "they don't get the Web, man" horsecrap:)

Do they really expect people to use it? I say no.
Then why bother? Because by providing the form NPR legally insulates themselves against any controversy or misunderstandings that could arise from questionable groups associating themselves with the network. The perfect alibi, if you will, and nothing to get all excited about.

June 19, 2002

Dee-vo-lution

I also notice lately that the original A-list generation are beginning to have less and less time to actually post to their weblogs, seeing as how they are too busy scoring book deals, speaking engagements, etc etc about blogging that take more time than actually doing the damn thing. I'm still not entirely sure, for example, what the motivation for Blogroots was besides a marketing tool for the book - really, it's just reskinned MeFi. And as a result I'm seeing less and less, shall we say, playfulness from the A-Team - witness Megnut's title line, which usually been something at least semi-clever but has now settled into the looks-good-to-the-suits "a weblog by Meg Hourihan." (That "a something" construction has always fascinated me - I've been mulling over stuff like "Bennington's, A Restaurant" for years. It seems such an odd way of phrasing it. Why not just "Bennington's Restaurant?") Maybe the first generation has used isself up and now we have to wait to see what the next will bring. For the lifeame, I have no idea what it is yet.

The Doctor is...

Jeezum Crow, does Doc Searls do anything but travel, break Powerbooks, make up stupid puns utilizing "blog," ask people to do his Google searches for him, and shit his pants over where his next WiFi is coming from? I mean, fuck, here you have a guy who is ostensibly a senior editor at Linux Journal, who as far as I can tell, doesn't even use the damn OS, ever, writes articles on Mac OS X for LJ, is still fucking dining out on the Cluetrain Manifesto. I mean, what exactly does this guy do? Genug, kitty.

Update: On further reflection, what this suggests to me is that the reason the BigBlogs complain about the BigPubs is that they're not the BigPubs. If this guy has no real connection or qualification for being a senior editor of Linux Journal, how did he get the job? Answer: it's an inside job, boys. There is cronyism, handholding, and an old boys' club in the Valley, kids, and if you don't believe it, you're nuts. That sort of thing is rampant in the Eastern media, too, of course, but at least they attempt to maintain some semblance of objectivity. These guys scream about the corruption of the press while never disclosing any of their friendships or sweetheart deals. What disclaimer? Everybody knows who my friends are...

June 11, 2002

Somebody call RMS

Scripting News

Also on that day: "If you support developers who don't patent, one of the best things you can do is give them credit for their inventions, and do this carefully and completely. Almost all creative people want recognition for the risks they take. When they are generous with their ideas and don't patent them, extra recognition is a good idea. This is something positive everyone can do to encourage generosity from developers."

Man, how open source does this sound? Though there's always this weird Field Guide to the Commercial Developer tone in there. Besides, what, that money that we're supposed to cheerfully fork over to hard-working commercial (read proprietary) developers isn't recognition enough? I also have to toothpick up their fragile egos?

June 10, 2002

Dorkalia

Daniel Berlinger's Archipelago News Weblog

My take on this article is that the same people are quoted as in all the other BigPub articles. Do all Big Pub journalists share the same rolodex?

Doesn't this seem lazy to you? Or are these folks the real story every time and I'm off base?

I know that in any medium there are Rock Stars who gather and project a great deal of attention. I don't ever expect to be one of those folks. My site, like my music, is more like jazz than rock. I expect a smaller more sophisticated audience. It's a connoisseur's site. That's cool by me.

You know, I was thinking that this starts out as sort of a good comment, but then that "jazz" and "connoisseur's site" bs turns it into a bag of pretentious piffle. Yeah, the BigPubs all talk to the same weblog people because they're the BigBlogs, Daniel. Hey, my own coinage!

June 7, 2002

A correction, sort of

Damn it, Jim, I'm a whiny developer, not a journalist

The first comments I read said that I should have disclosed that Dan Gillmor used our Manila software to edit his weblog, and is now using something else. It's true, but there are related things I could have disclosed, for example that we didn't charge Knight-Ridder for the service we provided, even though they ran ads on his site, and if Dan had wanted to take Manila or UserLand to task for technical issues, he could have kept his site, and his job.

Well, there's the problem with disclosure. When you don't do it, you lose your cred, and people think you have a different agenda. Of course, you do have a different agenda, but you could have saved a good deal of face had you said so. Now you just look like you're pissed off about KR switching to something else.

We did quite a bit of free development for Dan and the Merc, our compensation was learning, and having a great example of a pro using our technology to publish on the Web.

And the free advertising you milked it for. I'd say you were probably well repaid, given that Gillmor frequently mentioned you in his weblog while seldom also mentioning that he was using your product to write his column. I saw little complaint from you regarding that lack of openness.

No regrets about doing it, and when it came time for Dan to try something else, no regrets about that either.

Oh please. Just the very fact of this piece gives this sentiment the lie. Since this happened you've bitched and moaned about it using the convenient straw man of broken links. Best reach was the claim on the Knightridder forae that these 404s constituted a "loss of a significant part of the history of the Web." This is really about UserLand losing free high-profile advertising. Nothing more.

A software continuum?

Yahoo! News - The very real limitations of open source

For the most part, this article is just another rap on OSS for not being able to attract developers due to lack of incentive (i.e., money.) But what's sort of interesting about it is that he actually argues for a symbiotic relationship between the two, saying that proprietary software tends to provide a supply of developers into the industry, some of whom will then be attracted into OSS development. OSS serves to provide a steady stream of software for proprietary developers to use and adapt (can you say Winsock?). This is interesting and a more balanced view than I'm used to seeing from ZDNet. Worth a read.

2 points, though:

1. I notice that nowhere does he talk about the quality of the software produced by proprietary companies;

2. and I still at times don't get why proprietary companies seem to think that GPL'd code is somehow a violation of their rights. Why should they have a right to take my work and then sell it in a proprietary closed format? I agree that BSD-style licenses are literally the most free, in that you can do anything at all with the code, including roadblocking it via closed releases. But if the fundamental question is property rights, then I have a perfect right to decide what is done with the code I produce, including whether or not you can close its source. You have a recourse: hire a bunch more geeks and write the code from scratch yourself. Or maybe I'm missing something.

And lastly, someone at ZDNet might want to proofread the copy alittle morecarefully, if you knowwhat Imean.

June 6, 2002

Gabba gabba sigh

Dee Dee dead. OD. Damn.

June 5, 2002

Now push for the McVeggie

ABCNEWS.com : McDonald's Apologizes for Fry Labeling

And agrees to donate $10 mil to relevant groups.

The apology.

Also from the article:

McDonald's says it has created a Dietary Practice/Vegetarian Advisory Panel consisting of experts in consumer dietary practices that will advise McDonald's on relevant dietary restrictions and guidelines.

Contact McD's and tell them you want the McVeggie to go national. BK's got one (though not very good from what I hear), why not them? I tried finding a contact email on the site, no go.

UPDATE: I posted this story to Mefi, where amidst the usual handwringing over litigation and fratboy "I'm eating a big greasy burger while I read this. nhyuck, nhyuck" dorkishness I found out that the BK Veggie is supposedly not that good. Also a number of vegetarians put forth the argument that what the hell is a vegetarian doing in McD's in the first place? There's an interesting discussion of this at vegan.com. Read the articles linked under the BK logo on the front page, though I think that this one seems the most germane to this discussion. I personally think that any increase in the number of places I can get vegan food is a good thing; I live in a mixed veg/carnivore household, and when we're on car trips and we stop at McD's, it would be good if there were something there I could eat. Though maybe we should just not take the kid there, right? I know, I know...

Tutorial != Advertisement

Semantic problems over at Scripting News:

I love writing tutorials. Last year on this day I wrote a dandy.

Which link leads to nothing which purports to teach you anything but how to whine about the lack of attention your product's getting, bullied as it is by those BigBadCos and those pesky OpenSourcistas. Maybe the confusion's because Dictionary.com's been down?

June 4, 2002

kill -HUP the presses

Why do I sometimes get the impression that what the "blogs are too journalism" types (see previous entry) really want is one of those fedoras with a press pass tucked into the hatband. If the Times interviews me for a story, that doesn't make me a reporter. Kapish?

Or to put it another way: primary sources are not journalism. They may be fascinating to read, they add another perspective, and in areas where the blogger has domain expertise, it may even be relevant. But given the fact that most tech webloggers never disclose anything regarding their conflicts of interest, while feeling perfectly free to rant about the integrity of journalists, there is an exceedingly long way to go before they have any credibility whatsoever. Until then you're the Cabbage Patch Kid wired to the front of the Cluetrain.

Lily-livered

Doc Searls leaves room for media deals:

That's why there is more good news and commentary within two clicks of this post than in all the morning newspapers and broadcast news reports put together. And I'm not saying this to knock mainstream journalism, or to say there isn't stuff you can only find there. (That's why I still get the morning papers and listen to NPR.) I'm just giving full credit to the abundance of journalism growing wild, free and linked all over the Commons. It's fucking huge.

Bullshit. If you're going to burn your bridges, burn 'em the fuck down. What's this "not to knock mainstream journalism" crap? It is to knock, Doc. Put up or shut the fuck up. Kalifornyuns.

June 3, 2002

Bon Mot of the Day

Smart comment at zeldman.com:

Its tough to advocate good craftsmanship to people bent on being artists at whatever the cost to the medium. A.S Kadu, after reading Style vs. Design.

Compare and contrast

Compare this:

Thank you to everyone who has been working on making this come together in the past few days. It has been surprisingly painless and friction-free. Together, we have come up with a new standard that is useful, elegant, forward-thinking, and widely implemented. In 4 days.

with this:

Try to imagine what victory looks like, and when you get it, bury the hatchet, acknowledge, and move forward. Anything other response, imho, is just stop energy and counter-productive. We won't do this again if people continue to write us out of the story. If there's no upside for us, we'll stick with our plan and not divert. And maybe take a weekend off every year or so.

And now try a little imagining yourself. Try to imagine how anybody ever works with such an ungenerous childish person at all. It's all a matter of perspective. For all the "UserLand is a SmallCo" stuff, remember that for many of us, what appears to be a SmallCo is a BigCo. And an amazingly ungracious one at that, said ungraciousness going a long way to explain the reluctance of many to work with said WhatverTheHellSizeItIsCo. But now we'll get the usual - committees of one "adding" new features, and then acting as though the whole thing were his idea in the first place. What a baby.

June 2, 2002

More RSS Changes

Lots of stuff going on this weekend in the RSS autodiscovery world. The format of the tag has changed as per Mark Pilgrim, and I have implemented the changes here.