September 29, 2003
Phones Phones Phones

According to the Guardian, the bidding process for the new Iraqi phone system is winding down. This has been mired in politics from day one, of course, with reports of Qualcomm personnel lobbying heavily for their technologies, and it looks like the end game gets no cleaner.

My favorite part in the piece, however, is the aside about the Bahraini company that set up - for a couple days at least - a rogue GSM network in Iraq. The audacity and boldness of that is striking.

Posted by esinclai at 09:04 PM

One of the things I most like about going to London is the ready availability of...

Chicken Tikka Sandwiches!

If Subway did this, they'd have another customer....

Posted by esinclai at 07:28 AM
ETCon 2003/2004 Thoughts

So the deadline for ETCon 2004 proposals has passed now and true to form my idea came a day late (and possibly a dollar short...)

During the conference, there was an afterhours BoF on the LazyWeb. Ben Hammersley corralled as many people as possible into a room, we sat in a big circle, and dozens of ideas (see the list linked above) came out. Some were big, some were little, and some were solved in situ.

But what happened to the ideas that left the room? How many got picked up and worked on? How many were actually solved in the intervening months, as peoples priorities and projects shifted? How many are running code, how many are still in proposed paperwork form? How many are now stale and unwanted?

I'm not accusing the community in any way of being a Sourceforge with 3000 html editors, but I am curious about how well the methodology worked. As we move forward on resolving problems and seeking solutions, how good are we doing on fixing our own messes? Can we keep the visceral excitement of sitting in a room alive as we go back to our keyboards, weblogs, wikis and irc?

In the Lazyweb site, when proposals come up, there's an immediately available stream for feedback and comments. You can see what has resulted, and what solutions come up after proposal from the hivemind. In the live-world LazyWeb, we never implemented and integrated a full trackback and commenting system. Is this distinction critical? Are there valid comparisons to be made between the result sets of these conjoined projects? Should each of the lazyweb-in-person ideas been copied to the "real" LazyWeb?

For example, one of my requests, "more purple numbering" stares back at me from the list. Has this happened? Yes, the purple-aware wiki and MT plugin are available, but are they being widely used? For my own part, I've fallen down on integrating this into my work. What are the proximate causes of this reduced adoption? Is this too abstract a concept, not seen as useful by the inexperienced?

Other items - which had strong traction going into the conference, like ThreadsML, have moved forward to a fair degree. Was their secret of success to have enough of a pre-existing support structure (and loud enough champions) to make the cut?

But it's a bit late to propose this now. It'll have to be a project outside the scope of ETCon 2004, I expect. So if you had a wish on the list, drop me a line. Have you seen anything come out of it yet? Do you still want to? And if anyone has already proposed this for this year, I look forward to reading (and I hope seeing!) the results.

My second proposal is a LighteningTalks session.

At ETCon 2003, the sharing elements were well exposed. These were soft but critical elements, the community of people and sharing ethos that took place in the hallways and aisleways of the conference. Meeting people offline and online in hydra, shared table conversations in the lounge.

This elements work great and will naturally continue, but one could never get enough ideas. One of the fine elements of the OSCon series (and YAPC) is a set of Lightening Talks. Five minutes each in a conference room, few or no slides, to share an idea. It's like the LazyWeb BoF on its head, only a bit more structured and with a bit of room to breathe. Individuals or groups come in with their current pet project or pet musing that either didn't get a full session, or isn't yet ready for a full session. Talk it up, walk away with new champions and ideas. It becomes another element in the shared knowledge that we all take away from ETCon.

To feed the fire for ETCon 2004, Eric Sigler has created a TopicExchange channel for ETCon Proposals. Watch that space...

Posted by esinclai at 05:52 AM
September 26, 2003
Curious Art Project

Looking for a new piece of tattoo? Take a look at Shelley Jackson's INERADICABLE STAIN : SKIN PROJECT as a source for your new piece, as well as a way to participate in what seems like an intriguing project.

It seems like a rewrite of the old disappearing text idea, though with increased randomness and motility.

I mean, if a text never exists in a location, is it still a text?

Posted by esinclai at 09:30 AM
September 25, 2003
more London thoughts

A couple quick thoughts....

Why is it so difficult to find Riesling in London? For whatever reason, it was never on a wine list. Is this echoes of previous rivalries with continental neighbors?

Indeed, since Riesling is spoofed in PoshNosh, maybe it's considered a snobby drink, not likely to be served in the sorts of places AZ and I would go...

Also, we're sorry about David Blaine. If necessary, you can keep him, or ship him back in the handy container provided.

Posted by esinclai at 10:23 AM
September 22, 2003
More consolidation

More consolidation in the collaboration space. One of the companies we used to track, Intraspect, has been snapped up by Vignette. For a fairly cheap price, though more than other deals I've heard about.

Documentum has eRoom in their suite now as well - so the content and collaboration management realm could be getting more interesting in the near future...

(Vignette/Intraspect link courtesy Scripting News)

Posted by esinclai at 05:54 AM
September 21, 2003
Oddly Eccentric

Is this an only in Britain kind of thing? The site of Angle Grinder Man.

courtesy the Guardian's weblog

Posted by esinclai at 03:32 PM
September 18, 2003
London and Out

One of the best things about our trip to London has been the ability to dive into our ex-English-Major-philia.

Just walking the streets of authors (we're staying in Bloomsbury) is a delight. Following the intense coverage of the Booker Prize (runups to literary awards in the US? Bah!) on television and newspaper...

But our trip to Rodmell Village was probably the best treat thus far. There the National Trust has maintained and opened the country home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf. It's in Sussex, about an hour's trip by rail (and then a bus ride) out of London (while it's fashionable among our friends here to bemoan the state of the British Rail industry, for americans like us, it's made life easier and better. Gift Horses, one supposes).

Lewes itself is a small town on a hill, complete with castle (which we didn't have time to visit). Art galleries, bookstores, cafes, it's a very nice place. Rodmell is about 5 miles or so away through the countryside.

You best arrive by stopping off at the 17th century tavern at the end of the road, and walk down the lane, passing houses both old and new. Then you get to the little cottage known as Monk's House. It's small and cozy, complete with a couple neighborhood cats roaming the grounds and bounding after prey. A silent churchyard next door, a small (and jealousy-inducing to me, productive) orchard and koi ponds complete the picture of contemplative contentment, a place to get some work done.

We spent a couple hours milling about, walking the grounds with various other tourists of differing degrees of understanding "So, does he still live here?".

Recommended without reservation.

Pictures to follow.

Posted by esinclai at 10:53 AM
September 13, 2003
English Breakfast

I'd forgotten what an odd contrast the English Breakfast (classic - is this only served in hotels any more?) is.

From an American perspective, it's like a Denny's Grand Slam gone awry. Two meats, some fried bread, a tomato and some egg. Occasionally you are served another starchy protein in the form of baked beans.

The meats themselves are amiss. You have a terrifically salty ham/bacon wedge, and then what is always a bit bland sausage. It just all comes out a little backwards.

Still, the protein is a kickstart to the day, for which the traveller is thankful.

Posted by esinclai at 05:48 AM
September 09, 2003
Two Bits To Read

Two bits to read today.

First, Andy Lester on the dangers of the unwitting and plagiarism.

Second, in looking for some dining information, I came across a fairly nice essay by Rick Bayless on health, food and enjoyment. Less hardcore than the Body For Life work people like Sean are doing, it's an interesting perspective.

Finally, the kittyjoyce crew (well, the two legged ones) will be travelling for a bit. Tales will be told, pictures taken, but mostly upon our return.

Posted by esinclai at 02:42 PM
September 08, 2003

Well, it comes as no surprise that Warren Zevon has died this weekend past. He outlived his reputation and doctors' expectations, which should be of some comfort, but which at the same time isn't.

This is a part of a much longer piece here about music and memory, and for me how Zevon's work is tied together with various memories of my friend Dan and some times we had. Not times in any imitation of Zevon's work (we're too midwestern for that round here), but times where Zevon was the background to the drive or to the talk.

Posted by esinclai at 06:56 AM
September 06, 2003
Belated Birthday

Happy 4th Birthday to Me!
Happy 4th Birthday to Me!
Happy 4th Birthday to Meeeeee!
Happy 4th Birthday to me!

I really should move those to kittyjoyce, though the value of such juvenilia may be somewhat suspect.

Anne has pointed out that since these posts were even more sporadic than my current so-called-schedule, they form a less than full view of what I was reading and finding at the time. So be it. But there were a couple gems in there that I still go back to - as I mulled attending the upcoming Chicago Tufte seminar, I went back to the Mappa Mundi review of a previous episode. The MSFT research in Virtual Worlds ()now named Social Computing) continues to be of interest. And I still dip into CoverPages periodically...

Indeed, it's the continued worth one finds that should encourage deeper diligence in documenting discoveries in future. Bit-rot or no, a temporary recollection must be better than none.

Posted by esinclai at 10:33 PM
September 01, 2003
Library Radar

On one of the lists I'm on, the Distributed Library Project has come across the wire. It's an interesting idea, although currently isolated to the SFBay area.

Conceptually it's intriguing - members of the project develop catalogs of their owned resources into a centralized database, which is then available to participating members for searching. I spent a little time thinking about similar things a while back (well, a good while back it seems...).

The DLP is conceptually similar though not as distributed as I had in mind, though. Certainly something to be looked at along the lines I had been thinking. I do fear it's frontloaded with a bit of political cant about libraries as non-communitarian which troubles me... Because at least in my memory, libraries can be hubs of community and shared knowledge resources. Some of the political aspects at the high levels may appear to be conflicted about this role, but when we go to the library, we take part in that community. The libraries in Chicago are part of reading group programs, host homebuyers workshops, provide space for tax assistance every year, and more.

Technologically it would be interesting for DLP to interact with the or folks as well, though the aims are somewhat orthogonal; they have sorted out some of the issues in vending isbn or asin oriented data, though, which could be a help to the DLP.

And any way I look at it, I still don't have a catalog of my many owned media items....

Posted by esinclai at 09:41 AM