Archive | August, 2014

A note to browser-makers

31 Aug

A note to browser-makers

I’ve been working almost exclusively on apps that run in web pages for the last couple of years. Because of this I’m pretty sure I see a way that browsers could be smarter about loading these apps.

Consider an app that’s launched by a bookmarklet.

The user is likely to accumulate more than one tab running this app if they use it a lot.

Each of these tabs has a copy of the app’s data in memory. It’s possible to keep them in synch using localStorage. It’s pretty cool the way that works. It’s not hard.

But it would be *even better* if there’s a way to signal to the browser to re-use tabs for this app. So if there’s already a tab that contains this page, just bring it to the front and reload it.

It would be nicer for the user, and perhaps a little more reliable.

How to stimulate the open web

31 Aug

How to stimulate the open web

In macroeconomics they teach about stimulus. If you want the economy to grow, increase government spending. Print money, use it to hire people, hopefully to do productive work, that creates capital. Education, road building, renewable energy, these are all investments that a society can make that pays dividends in growth, efficiency and happiness, for a long time to come.

The Internet was such a creation. The US military made the initial investment, followed by universities. The result was a booming economy 40 years later. But now, a few years after that, the Internet is becoming owned by corporations, which are behaving as all corporations do. They’ve monetized the once public resource, and they’ve hired lobbyists, and their former employees are holding important government positions, overseeing their former employers. They’re locking themselves in. This is no longer the Internet we loved. But it’s not over yet, not if we invest in the open web.

Create systems that are ambivalent about the open or closed web. If I create a tool that’s good at posting content to Facebook and Twitter, it should also post to RSS feeds, which exist outside the context of any corporation. Now other generous and innovative people can build systems that work differently from Facebook and Twitter, using these feeds as the basis, and the investors will have another pile of technology they can monetize.

If you don’t like the way the algorithms in Twitter and Facebook work, then this is how to counteract that. Re-create the level playing field we used to have. Stimulate the open web. Give us something new to play with.

It isn’t “either/or” — it’s “and.”

The key point is this — in everything we do we must treat the open web as equal to the private networks. Maybe we don’t have to depend on the government to do this for us, maybe we can be a bit more systematic about encouraging the wild chaos of the open network, knowing that it leads to new tools and new opportunity to profit.

Hyperlapse question

30 Aug

Hyperlapse question

I did another video of a bike ride. Had to do it vertical, because that’s the only way I could safely mount the iPhone on my bike handlebar without risking losing the phone. I’m not willing to lose that for art. 😉

So now I have a beautiful video on the phone, it really is — but if I upload it to Facebook or Youtube, it will shrink it down and it will be awful. Just not worth the trouble.

I want to get the video off the phone, and I admit I have no idea how to do it. It’s too big for the phone to mail. Dropbox only syncs photos, not videos (apparently). I don’t use syncing for my iPhone, I copy stuff onto it manually. I never really figured out how its syncing works.

Anyway — I have the video on the phone. How do I get it onto my desktop?

American Girl by Tom Petty

30 Aug

American Girl by Tom Petty

Well, she was an American girl
Raised on promises
She couldn’t help thinkin’
That there was a little more to life somewhere else
After all it was a great big world
With lots of places to run to
And if she had to die tryin’
She had one little promise she was gonna keep

O yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

Well it was kind of cold that night,
She stood alone on her balcony
Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by,
Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach
And for one desperate moment
There he crept back in her memory
God it’s so painful when something that’s so close
Is still so far out of reach

O yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

The Mets!

30 Aug

The Mets!

What a great game. It was 1-1, going into the bottom of the 7th. The Mets got the bases loaded, two out, the Phillies switch pitchers. The batter pops an easy fly to left, which the left fielder drops. Two runs score. Runners on first and third. On the pitch, the runner on first breaks for second, the catcher forgets (I guess) there’s a runner on third and as he throws to second, the runner on third breaks for home. The throw to second is too late. He throws the ball back to the plate, safe! Double-steal. You don’t see that too often. And it was executed perfectly.

Mets won 4-1.

Note to Fargo users…

29 Aug

Note to Fargo users…

I know we must have the Facebook connection.

I really feel it. It’s very high on my list now. 😉

I hate it when people say condescending stuff, and I know what I’m about to say *sounds* condescending, but it’s really an observation, in a strictly academic sense. Something I’m learning from watching @JayRosen build up his Facebook juice. Which is a technical term for basically seducing the algorithm, in a way that is fair, ethical, and actually makes sense if you take time to get to know it.

29 Aug

I hate it when people say condescending stuff, and I know what I’m about to say *sounds* condescending, but it’s really an observation, in a strictly academic sense. Something I’m learning from watching @JayRosen build up his Facebook juice. Which is a technical term for basically seducing the algorithm, in a way that is fair, ethical, and actually makes sense if you take time to get to know it.

I just read something by Jay, who I have re-engaged with, now that he’s no longer spamming. It was fantastic. Pure Jay, and it contained a link to a video from Jon Stewart, which I will watch, because it comes recommended by Jay, for sure, and also because he introduced it in such a compelling way.

I also will share it. But I notice that it’s already been shared. Less than two minutes after it’s been posted. What Jay is doing is talking to his friends now, not over our heads, and we will take care of telling the algorithm that what Jay is saying has value. That’s how Facebook works. It’s like arguing with the post office, saying they should work differently. They do what they do, and it’s different from Delta Airlines, which is different from Penn Station, even though they’re all involved in communicating packages of information. Like Twitter and Facebook.

I much prefer, as a friend of Jay’s and a user of Facebook, if he works with the algorithm instead of gaming it. This is a very basic concept, this one seems to apply across all communication media. It’s why I don’t like the musicians who play in a crowded subway car whose doors are closed. It’s why I don’t like email spam or Twitter spam. Spam seems to be universally disliked. But hearing genuine ideas from people we admire? Bring it on! 🙂

Ideas about TV-watching and Facebook

28 Aug

Ideas about TV-watching and Facebook

A while back I asked my friends on Facebook for recommendations of a TV series that’s binge-worthy. I got a bunch of recommendations and acted on some of them. I tried watching Tyrant, and while I despised the show, I got through all 10 episodes. If I had to sum it up: Hurts so good. The first and last episodes were good. The in-between ones were crap.

I tried watching Halt and Catch Fire, but I lived through those times, in the PC industry. I know all about the clone market. I did deals with a bunch of near-clones. Funny how there was no need to do deals with the cloners. No wonder they won! Anyway, I made it through two episodes, and just couldn’t take it. It’s such bullshit! Esp the scenes with the marketing guy giving shit to the programmer. Please. Read my piece about coders and PHBs. I was thinking about this show when I wrote it.

I will watch Firefly. I’m very optimistic about it. Sounds like a great show. That’s why I wallowed in BattleStar Galactica today. I even watched the last ten minutes of the last episode on YouTube. It was so beautiful. I know a lot of people didn’t like the ending, but I did.

Anyway, switching to a different angle.

It seems Facebook has the ability to do recommendations of shows. If I tell it I love The Wire and Six Feet Under and didn’t care for Boardwalk Empire and liked the first seasons of Dexter but couldn’t get into later seasons, that a recommendation engine could determine with a fair degree of confidence that I would like Breaking Bad, for example (I do, I loved it). They do ask for that kind of info. Maybe not enough people do it? Or maybe they have the recommendation engine and I haven’t seen it??

There’s also a need for a moderated discussion system that’s attached to episodes of shows. After I watch a show that aired 5 years ago, I’d like to go back and read what other people said about it, and also meet people who are watching it now. Moderation keeps the spoilers out.

Are you a coder?

28 Aug

Are you a coder?

I don’t like the term. Sure there are lots of anachronistic words in the language, and sometimes you use a word knowing that it sucks, but there just isn’t a better one available (e.g. user, content).

But “coder”? It’s not the word I’ve *ever* used to describe what I do, nor until recently has anyone referred to what I do as coding. It seems as if this is a deliberate marketing campaign to try to keep programmers in their place. We’re powerful people because of what we do, but we don’t get much a chance to make progress because it’s impossible to be a programmer and have the respect of non-programmers, I guess.

I wrote one piece to explain why I think it’s a bad word. And now I have something to point to, I can move on. If we’re all going to be coders so be it. I’d rather us be something with more meaning.

http://scripting.com/2014/08/27/whatCoderMeansToMe.html

Happy Thursday! 🙂

When a Time-Warner outage knocks millions offline, it’s a reminder that centralization makes the net fragile. That’s why it might not be the *best* idea to let the merger of TWC and Comcast to go through. Maybe it’s to their advantage to grow bigger, but given the monopoly each has in the areas they serve, it’s definitely not to our advantage.

27 Aug

When a Time-Warner outage knocks millions offline, it’s a reminder that centralization makes the net fragile. That’s why it might not be the *best* idea to let the merger of TWC and Comcast to go through. Maybe it’s to their advantage to grow bigger, but given the monopoly each has in the areas they serve, it’s definitely not to our advantage.

I speak from experience. I had a terrible time dealing with Comcast in Berkeley because I was a software developer, and sometimes my experiments would have bugs and do lots more net access than others. A simple way to monitor network usage would have fixed the problem. But there was no incentive for Comcast to find out what was going on. They warned me once, then shut me off. I was stuck with DSL because they own the cable wires to my house.

I now use TWC. With the merger, guess who becomes my network service provider? Talk about having no choice. Moving clear across the country didn’t save me from the beast.

Let’s exercise a little self-interest here, people — speak up. Let’s stop this.