“America Will Survive”

My club cancelled indoor soccer pickup at the last minute – so much for a much-needed blow-off-steam opportunity and some beers with a soccer buddy afterwards.

So, fresh from listening to keynotes at Web 2.0 in SF, I found myself settling for a nice beer and catching up on the latest 1 trillion initiative with a NYT at a bar, ordering some too-many-carbs food.

A gentleman had settled down on my left. He made some comments about the food I had ordered and that there was too much food. Well, of course there was. This is America. There’s always too much food. He asked if maybe he could have some – or at least that’s what I thought he asked. I smiled and said “no I don’t think so”, and went back to my NYT.

Shortly after there was some debacle. The man was trying to communicate with the bartender, who in turn was quietly laying down the law.

“What’s the problem,” I asked. “I think he’s on drugs or something,” the bartender answered. I looked at the man again and thought some suitable variation of “there but for the grace of God …” and told the bartender, “don’t worry, I’ll pick up his tab.”

The bartender took a second look at me and asked if I was sure, and I said Yeah, I got you covered.

The man thanked me profusely and we started talking.
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Google vs Cable

Google may have lost the debate on whether they are violating their “do no evil” motto, but they’re still a friend of the small guy in other areas.

Today they announced their Measurement Lab, an effort to make more data available for research on Internet performance issues.

Hidden in this set of announcements is Glasnost, an effort to estimate how much your ISP is interfering with your Bittorrent traffic. Of course, the US has no laws on the books to prevent your ISP from pretty much doing what they want with your traffic. The article on their initial results notably shows that the US is the least free country in the world in this regard – at least as far as data is available.

Furthermore, they demonstrate quantitatively that when Comcast testified before congress on the matter and claimed they needed to do this for performance reasons, the lack of variability between low-audience and high-audience periods demonstrates that (gasp!) the cable companies were flat out lying.

They had published much of these results in October at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference 2008, but the Google announcement gives their result much higher visibility.

Which, no doubt, is very much Google’s intent.

[UPDATE] The Reuters story made no mention of the fact that the researchers had disproved the notion that the Cable companies needed to do this. Imagine that.

Best Free Windows Antivirus Software, anyone?

I go hunting for truly free, yet decent, antivirus software for Windows, and I find four reasonable alternatives
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Program for the Future: Day 1

On the day celebrating the birth of the modern personal computer (summarized by main stream media as the invention of the computer mouse), i blogged from the seat next to Doug. I’m still digesting my thoughts from those two great days.
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Collective Intelligence

I’ll be attending the Program for the Future events on Monday and Tuesday, and blogging a bit about the events, as well as being on one of the panels. The conference is prompted by the anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s “mother of all demos” which took place on December 9th, 1968.

The event itself is mostly remembered as being a huge leap forward in not just what the concept of a computer is, but a manifest demonstration of how one might go about building it. Doug demonstrated early incarnations of the first computer mouse, tele- and video-conferencing, e-mail, hypertext, and shared-screen collaboration, as well as more geeky firsts such as object addressing and dynamic file linking. And that’s just the highlights. (The phrase “mother of all demos” was first used by Steven Levy in 1994 when documenting the history of the Macintosh.)

What is generally forgotten is the context for the work. As expressed in the original flier for the event: “The system is being used as an experimental laboratory for investigating principles by which interactive computer aids can augment intellectual capability.”

Collective Intelligence (“CI”), or Collective IQ, is when the behavior of a group of individuals exceeds the cognitive abilities of any single individual – at least that’s one way to try to define it. Exactly what CI means remains a key topic of CI. Today the discussion is part of the “wisdom of the crowds” thoughtbase as well as (more vaguely) the rise of global social media.

Lord knows I have opinions about the topic. But let’s first see how the talks and discussions unfold. There is a very impressive line-up of smart and thoughtful people in the program, spanning locations at Stanford, SRI, and the SJ Tech Museum. Speakers include Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Steve Wozniak, Thomas Malone, Peter Friess, Paul Resnick, Andy van Dam, and Robert Taylor.

This will be fun.

Virtualization meets Virtual World

World of Warcraft shows a new blend of the classical narrative – a mix of the linear personal viewpoint and the communal persistent world. It portends new forms of entertainment.
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Why Obama Won: It’s the Economy, Stupid

The day before the election, online odds-making markets peg Obama’s chances at 90%. But what’s more interesting is how correlated those odds have been with the stock market over the past year. If the market had not crashed, would Obama have won? (Update: McCain agrees: he pointed out in an interview today (12/14) that his poll numbers dropped with the Dow.)
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Election might be over at 4:35 PST

Two days before the election, yours truly correctly predicts that it will be over very early in the evening
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Gasoline prices will stay below $3

Yours truly not only correctly predicts that the price of gasoline will fall, but that it will stay below $3 for the foreseeable future, for some fundamental reasons.
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Apple TV 3.0 with Blu-ray and HD tuner (I wish)

A wish list for what Apple should (but won’t) announce for the Apple TV for this year’s holidays.
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