Away Message

Just a quick heads up that I won’t be around much the next few days (until about Thurs evening) as I’m moving back to school, and don’t have a working laptop (IBM didn’t really repair it, just said they did). Hopefully IBM will redeem themselves by providing good customer service and getting it back quick. Phone support has been great, but this last “depot repair” experience was a bummer. I left a nice long letter in the “Inventory Control Sheet” for the tech who gets it. I’m shipping it tomorrow, meaning they have it Thursday morning, so hopefully by Friday they finish and ship so Saturday it’s at my door. I’m not holding my breath, but do hope it happens. Between school and catching up on some coding… it’s a system that I rely on.

So hopefully someone at IBM ‘s Depot repair will ensure my laptop comes back in working order (for real this time), and quickly.

I do like my Thinkpad (despite being a Mac Zealot) it’s a hearty laptop, well constructed as typical of IBM’s quality and craftsmanship, but I don’t really like sending it for service, and getting it back without it being fixed correctly. I don’t think that’s such a high standard I’m holding them to is it? Phone support is very helpful though. They did go the extra mile trying to help me out, giving me the info I need and everything. It’s just getting the machine physically repaired.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina took part of the gulf coast and smashed it yesterday. I remember a little over a year ago in Environmental Biology watching a video about the effects of the marhes near New Orleans erroding could cause a Hurricane to have catastrophic effects. Yesterday those theories became 100% solid fact. New Orleans being below water levels didn’t even the the protection of some extra land around it. Rather sad.

It’s amazing that the media can have so much bias while giving the news (Found this via Fark and expanded on it). Take a look at the following two examples:

FindingTwo residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)
From Yahoo


LootingA young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday. (AP/Dave Martin)
From Yahoo


It’s absolutely amazing to see something like that. Because the indidual is white, it’s theoretically impossible for looting to be involved, just like it’s bonified fact that only African Americans particpate in looting activities. [pause for collective sigh) Just shows how the media loves to influence the American public.

Update

The author of the ‘finding’ caption responds.

The above photo’s and captions are copyrighted and copied here for the academic purpose of illustrating media bias

Ad Free Opera

According to download.com:

For one day only, you can get an ad-free version of Opera. Simply e-mail registerme@opera.com to obtain a registration code. This offer is valid from 12 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 to 12 a.m. Wednesday, August 31 2005 (PDT).

Now is a great time to fire off that email, it’s a great offer for a really good browser. There’s a rumor Mozilla will follow by providing a similar offer for an ad-free browser withing a given time period. It will be something you don’t want to miss.

Ok, Firefox is always ad free. But seriously, give it a go. Opera is a really good browser, especially for low end computers that don’t have much CPU. It’s fast and standards compliant.

Reporter, the next generation

Now that I’ve basically stabilized the new reporter tool for the branch, I’ve been planning for what will come in the next version. Quite a few neat little enhancements, some small, some larger.

Client Side

  • Screenshots – you will be able to attach a screenshot when sending a report. The option will be disabled by default (likely a button or a checkbox on send) to prevent submitting screenshots of things you shouldn’t for security reasons, you can send when you want.
  • Remember Email Address – I’ve been debating if this is necessary. It would just remember your email address for you so you don’t have to type it in again and again.

Server Side

  • Adjustable Columns – you can choose what columns to show in the results page, making it much more useful to analyze. [Done]
  • Reporter Proxy – this will give the ability for a company to host it’s own reporter server, capture reports within their intranet, and forward the rest to the mozilla reporter server. Perfect for companies who want to improve the Firefox experience on their intranet. [Work In Progress]
  • Screenshots – see above, this is pretty much the same thing.
  • Mark Invalid – some reports are on occasion totally bogus. We don’t need them in the database. We’ll have an option to report bogus reports, and an admin can confirm and get rid of them. This will keep everything as accurate as possible.
  • Bugs for Host – we’ll have the ability to view related bugzilla bugs on a particular host.
  • Reporter Toys – yea, I’ve been tinkering. I won’t say what this exactly is, but it’s a variety of extra code and stuff that could be fun to play with.
  • Templating – on the technical side, were moving to templates so the html is separate. Much easier to manage from a programming point of view. [Done]
  • Bug Fixes – during the above templating, a bunch of bug fixes and other small changes. [Done]
  • Stats – some statistics are always fun to have. Basic right now, we may expand as time and ideas become available. [Done]
  • CSS Design Love – reporter’s webtool is rather pathetic visually. I’m the first to admit it. I’d love an improved stylesheet. Something that makes reporter look cleaner, and more professional.

Roadmap

Some of the server stuff already landed. Some is in the works (in particular proxy). I’m not promising any particular feature in any timeframe at this point. Some of the above may be bumped to another milestone, or scratched all together. If you have any ideas, or feel like contributing, feel free. I’d love to get some good css, or perhaps some patches for reporter.

That basically serves as the roadmap/status update of where the tool is right now. We’ve got some great feedback, and close to 5000 reports already (and were only at alpha 2 in the release cycle).

Copyright Office Compatibility Update

Macworld notes that the W3C objects to the Copyright Office Browser Compatibility plan (I mentioned this a few weeks ago). There are two particular quotes I wanted to share:

While stressing that the W3C is not criticizing Internet Explorer, the W3C officials said the office would be placing limitations on users of the Mac OS, Linux and Unix, who may have incompatible browsers. Cell phone and PDA users, and persons with disabilities also may be affected, Berners-Lee said.

So well said of Berners-Lee. What about Linux users? Where do they download the latest Internet Explorer? The Mac version is the same as the PC version in name only.

The W3C also stressed that the Web “was born and achieved widespread use only because of a commitment to open, vendor-neutral standards.”

I think that sums things up rather well. Not just about the problem with this proposal, but the problem facing the Internet in general. It applies to some patents, and to some monopolies.

You can find the complete W3C letter here.

Flying Spagetti Monster Redux

An ironic quote in this article about the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

“Clearly, these are just supreme satirists. What they are doing is pointing out that there is no more sense to intelligent design than there is to a Flying Spaghetti Monster,? Wagnon said.

That’s right. He called Flying Spaghetti Monster satire. I’m curious why he feels it’s OK to dismiss other’s belief as “satire”. One could say the same for any other belief: Creationism, Intelligent Design, Darwinism. I think it’s time people bombard him (you can get his email address there) with outrage demanding an apology for dismissing people’s beliefs as satire.

Baby Bell’s Nightmare: Google

According to Google:

Google believes that users should have a choice in what applications they use for communication. Built to support industry standards, Google Talk enables Google users to connect to the Google Talk service and exchange IMs using any client that does the same, including Trillian, Adium, iChat, GAIM, and Psi.

The company is also committed to working with other service providers to create a federation model that enables users on any member network to talk to users on any other member network in a secure and abuse-free manner. Google is currently working with EarthLink to federate with their Vling communications service and with Sipphone on federating their Gizmo Project.

A very interesting statement. First we know it’s based on Jabber, a popular open source IM product. It’s open, many products support it. What’s more interesting is the Business side of things:

Could Google be the one to unite the currently fragmented Instant Messaging market? It seems entirely possible. Google is the only company who sees that as a good idea, and currently the only company who has suggested it, and has enough market power to possibly push for that to happen. If Google could get 2 out of the big 3 (AOL, MSN, Yahoo) to sign on and unify: the other would be forced to participate or face a declining market. Personally I think not only AOL would be the biggest win, but the most likely to participate (mainly because of ICQ).

I’m still surprised Google didn’t buy Skype, I still wouldn’t be surprised to hear it happen any day. Not for their IM, but for their amazing voice chat capability. The quality and compatibility has yet to be beat (I haven’t had a chance to try Google Talk, but from what I hear it’s on the level of SIP). Skype is cross platform and has a rather well designed client. A perfect item for Google’s arsenal. If I were Google, I’d buy it. Skype is to IM what Keyhole is to Mapping (Google bought Keyhole a little less than a year ago and renamed it Google Earth, as well as integrated it with their mapping service).

On it’s own, I don’t see much value to Google Talk. Jabber is cool, but why another client? I have GAIM anyway, so no extra client for me, but I still wonder what the selling point for Google Talk is right now. Unless this is just a taste of what’s to come. Personally, I think this is just the start of what we will be seeing from this. I expect integration with existing services, and new services to be based on it. This is just an extension to the Google Platform.

Best for Consumers?

The thing I hope for is Google buying Skype and freeing up their paid services, and making it ad supported. Skype voice mail, perhaps even SkypeOut (at a much lower rate). There is so much potential for Google in the VoIP arena it’s amazing. It even makes a Tellme a potential target for acquisition. Integrate that with VoIP, instant messaging, and Google’s capacity (bandwidth, and servers), and you have a massive communications platform that rivals any communications company.

David Tenser has the issue of multiple VoIP/SIP clients (same as we had with IM). Google peering with other VoIP providers, and unifying by perhaps acquiring Skype and opening things up a bit would greatly resolve this. If all of Skype’s users could co-exist with other VoIP solutions VoIP would stand a chance. Right now, the market has potential but no real chance of taking off mainly because of this issue. Not many will settle for a phone that can only call certain people. Nobody would buy a cell phone if you can only call people with the same plan. Why? Because that’s stupid.

Making money? Oh there are plenty of ways. VoIP opens the doors to many things. Take a look at 1-800-555-TELL (TellMe’s free demo). Imagine Google Adwords integrated into that. Could be done very tastefully. Next look at Google’s SMS effort. Think how well voice services and Cell phones go together (check your gmail on the phone, get directions via phone, etc.). Google could essentially take the phone companies by surprise virtually over night.

Who will Google buy next?

I suggest the following:

  • Skype
  • Tellme
  • perhaps one or two more other VoIP providers.

OK, I’m done talking about Google… for now.

Even MORE Hard Drive fun

Still having problems with my laptop. I don’t think it’s went more than an hour without a restart in June (though to be fair I haven’t used it to much this summer either). I put my old hard drive back in, and am zeroing it again. The new hard drive did the same as the old one, making me think the HD is no longer the culprit (I could have sworn I diagnosed it right). So the next bet may be the Motherboard. That’s pretty bad considering school starts soon.

Looks like I may be spending many a late night in the computer labs.

This week’s pet project: organization

It seems like everybody’s doing it. This next week before school starts up again, it’s about organization. I got fed up about a month ago. Last week I started some work on it. This week I get serious. Papers need to be filed (quite a bit laying around), CD’s need some organization (I got a stack of them sitting right under my display for some reason). All data on computers needs to be filed away (desktop is cluttered, everything is all over). I’ve still got old textbooks to deal with as well.

So this week is about cleaning up, and getting ready for the upcoming semester.

Oh yea, a little cleaning of the reporter database is planned as well (you can nominate for deletion by leaving a comment in this post, and yes we will have an automated way in the future).

Also need to get a new can of air and clean out my keyboards. It’s about time.

Danny Tanner Danny Tanner would be proud.

If you can’t tell, I’m somewhat of a neat-freak at times, and the backlog finally got to me.

Now hopefully with some new file folders, organization, a CD organizer, and a cleaned up computer, I can manage to keep it that way for a while.

Oh yea, will be spending some time cleaning up my Sony Clie PDA. Already put my schedule for next semester on there.

Email on the other hand has been pretty well managed all along. No clue why (especially considering how well spammed it is), but it’s very organized and taken care of.

If you have any tips for me, feel free to leave a comment. Oh yea, if anyone has an idea for a new header image for this blog, let me know. I think it’s time for a change, though I’ve been putting it off for a while.