Saturday, December 31, 2005

Yum can't find public key

When using Fedora Core, I couldn't get yum to find the correct public keys. Ends up that it's something with rpm. Just do this:
rpm --import /usr/share/rhn/RPM-GPG-KEY
rpm --import /usr/share/rhn/RPM-GPG-KEY-fedora

And it'll work.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Human Area Networks and Communications with Context

Human Area Networks are just a name for using human skin (while the human is alive) as a transmission medium.

But to me, the most exciting aspect of communications over human skin is that it gives communication devices "context".

So a post-it note stuck to nothing that says "trash me" will mean just the same action as a piece of paper that says "trash me". But when a post-it reading "trash me" will mean different actions when stuck on a book versus a cabinet.

In the same way, devices in the vicinity of each other can communicate, but it has no context other than geographic closeness (which sometimes is enough). But with communications over skin, it gives the context of an intent by the human to interact with the device they're touching.

This kind of thing could be applied to "needies"
Which are "attention-starved stuffed animals" Each one knows when they're being touched, and broadcasts that information to other needies in the room. The ones that aren't being touched will complain, and say things like, "hug me instead!", or "Throw him! Throw him!" So instead of always broadcasting, they will have extra information about the state of the world by which medium they can communicate through.

As another inane example, personal devices being held by the same person running a screensaver can have fish swim from one screen to another screen of a personal device.

Again, the medium of human area networks gives the communications context by human intent, rather than just by geographic vicinity.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What would you do with a Terabyte?

It wasn't too long ago that having 256MBs of memory or even 1GB of disk space was a big deal. At the time, I thought "Wow! 1GB! What am I going to do with all that space?" Well, as usual, software engineers can never get enough speed or memory. When mp3s and mp4s came about, along with higher bandwidth, suddenly 1GB didn't seem like enough for all the movies and music. Applications themselves took on more complexity and layers of abstraction, and required faster hardware and bigger hard drive, not to mention the operating system.

As one Terabyte looms ahead, the question is, what would you do with 1TB? What would you be able to do that you aren't able to do now?

I imagine that beyond movies and music, there will be other forms of high bandwidth data that aren't available yet. Olfactory data and tacile data should be immense in bandwidth, though currently, we do not have input devices for those senses. If personality-based artificial intelligence becomes commonplace, then that might also be something that requires a large amount of storage. Sensory information for bio implants as well as simulation of augmented and virtual reality will take more and more storage.

I'm not sure how other computing architectures would fit into this, but quantum computers might generate a lot of data due to the sheer parallelism of the architecture.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Authorship and Insect wings

I went to two talks today. The first one talked about using statistical analysis, principle component analysis, and singular value decomposition, to be able to tell if it's the same or different author compared to other text that you ran through the math by computers. It's pretty neat, actually, though the talk was less technical than I'd like. The guy did analysis on the original Hebrew and Greek text versions of the Bible to determine whether it was probable that there were different authors under the same name. There's other things that you can use this for, some invades into privacy, and others don't. You can also use this to analyse source code in order to determine whether it was the same author that wrote something, and whether the person likely wrote code in other software.
The second talk was much better, quite neat, and still on going. The guy was a much better speaker, and he talked about micro air vehicles that mimick the use of controls and aerodynamics in wing design in insects. The problem is more complicated than you can think of first hand, but the most interesting conjuncture that he had was that it was a sensor-rich feedback control system, rather than a controller-rich feedback control system.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bachelor cooking

This is a show about easy cooking for bachelors. Really, it's a blog with a videos of how to cook certain things. I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty amazing, especially when you think about what was impossible just 10 years ago. For those of you in your twenties, or older, to have your own cooking show, you needed to pretty much go through one of the networks.

Now, with the advent of blogging and widespread connectivity, I'm repeating what lots of people have said already; we might be moving into a world where you can get started on very little. Granted, you get more crap, but crap is filtered by the commons, and there's a lot more niche markets, as argued by the long tail.

And these could be people you know! I found these two through a friend of a friend.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Amazon Mechanical Turk - Welcome

So we've come around full circle. I think this is a break from normal thinking, and it's not too bad, actually. I wonder if you can make a living off of just being human?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Coding up that if/else

Something that really irks me in code is when I see something like this:

if (result == FAILED)
print "failed!\n";
// do whatever

You don't need the "else"! If the "if" statement evaluated to be true, then there's no reason why it would jump out of it. Therefore, there's no reason that the //do whatever part of the code should be inset! Do this a couple times, and you'll have a nightmare of nested code. Keep your code as shallow as possible. Don't nest if you don't have to.

Sharing places in Google Earth

Google earth's coolest feature (imo) is not the stunning visuals, but rather, the image overlays you can put on it, so you can overlay, subway maps, apartments up for sale, etc.

But in addition, and even cooler than that, is that there's a KML format that you can export from google earth that's an XML file that let's you share and transfer waypoints from inside the app. So if you and I belong to the Stonecutter's secret society, and we need driving directions to our secret meeting place, someone in our group can actually change that waypoint, and we would be updated automatically.

This, I think is in line with their aquisitions in the mobile industry in the last year or so. I think that we'll see some type integration between mobile users, and global knowledge and coordination of places.

Yahoo maps in response to google maps

The yahoo maps beta is significant because it's yahoo's response to google maps. And it chooses to use Flash instead of AJAX, which is receiving a lot of hype right now. So that's something to think about in terms of the choice between the two. The argument I've traditionally heard about not using flash is because it has long load times, user's not guarenteed to have it, and it might be over kills. But the fact that it loaded up fairly quickly makes me think there's something more than meets the eye w/ flash.

Friday, October 28, 2005


I think once again, something's brewing under the scope of the net. And it falls under the name of Hoodwink.d It's a bit esoteric as to what it is and what you'd use it for, but I think that's part of the charm/lure. It's definitely for first adopters.

I haven't tried it, but basically, it's an RSS feed for commenters of blogs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Remote Influence, more than Remote Control

I think this is actually a pretty neat technology, even if it has horrific implications as to what you can do with it. But it's like any new technology, you'll have people for and against it for any number of reasons.

But don't be quick to jump the gun. It is more of a motion influencer, rather than an actual mind controller. It makes you feel like in order to keep your balance, you need to swerve left or right.
The technology is called galvanic vestibular stimulation — essentially, electricity messes with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.

I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced — mistakenly — that this was the only way to maintain my balance.

I think there is potential for good and evil here. I think the article mentions some more evil ways to use it. I will ruminate on the good ones.

Humans are social creatures, and generally like to feel like they're coordinated, to be a part of something bigger. An example of this feeling that I'm talking about is the euphoria of band members or dancers after a performance that went well. A more advanced version of this technology can centrally orchestrate collaborative movements, whether it's a game or performance. And eventually, it would become an experience, when everyone's in sync. Some will like it. Others won't. Just as some like bungee jumping, and others don't.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Shut the door, you're letting all the cold air out.

It's commonplace for me and every other fool to stand in front of the fridge with the door open, trying to decide what to eat....and being yelled by our mothers in the process.

So it came to me today...Why are refridgerator doors at home not made of glass, so you can look at food without opening the fridge?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The essence of tagging

Chris and I had been arguing about the nature of tagging. He believes that tagging should be an activity that's private. He never looks at tags that other people have. I'm more on the side that tagging is an activity that's public. The fact that you have thousands of people labeling things, there will be some overlap in calling it the same thing. In that way, you can find other related things.

I think I just realized the main difference between our philosophies is what type of keywords that we think we would employ. If the tags that you put on an object are intrinsic properties of the object, then there's no problem that it is public. However, if the tags that you put on an object are properties of how it related to you, then that's how they could be seen as private.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Machinima and more evidence that amateurs can create quality content

The long tail blog talks about Machinima, "The Codex" series. Machinima is basically people using 3D games as an acting platform, as most games allow you to change the camera angle and move the players around. So the video games becomes a movie set of sorts. This allows amateurs to make quality content for cheap.

At a glance, it seems like "The Codex" has really stuck a chord with people that watched it, so I'll prolly spend the bulk of this weekend downloading and watching it. The classic is Red vs. Blue, which is an absolutely hilarious comedy about bored space marines, and you can buy their DVD in gaming stores now. Also in an article in the new york times. Well, you know if the papers got wind of it, it's pretty old news already. I didn't catch on to Red vs. Blue until pretty late in the game, like ep 42 or so, and I got it through Rux. Good call Rux.

To me, this is one of the many pieces of gathering evidence that amateurs can create quality content, as most people can attest to right now. I think the vision that people have about video and TV is that they will eventually merge. I'm hoping that the concept of 'flipping through channels' will be outdated, and rather, you subscribe to RSS feeds of shows that you want to watch, and there will be links and recommendations to other quality amateur video content down the long tail. On Demand needs to meet Amazon. And I'm thinking that people are moving in this direction. This way, people can not only watch high budget shows, but also see what low budget ones are doing that's edgy and innovative. I look forward to this transformation of visual media.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Django and TurboGears - web app frameworks for Python

As usual, the feeds let me hear about something, and then I go to wikipedia, or technorati to see what people have been saying about it. I've been one of the many that have been using Ruby on Rails for the past 3 weeks now. I have to say that it's been fairly easy to get things up and running, with the exception of having to deal with many to many relations.

Despite the hype that Ruby on Rails is getting, there's also other web application frameworks that you might want to check out, such as Django and TurboGears for Python programmers. Here's a little history on Turbogears. There's also Seaside for Smalltalk programmers. I haven't looked at any of the demos so far, but it seems like people like it so far.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Isolation and Technology

The isolation and self containment that technology has inflicted on society at large. Ppl are more and more detached from thier surroundings and more linked into typing/talking into thier phones or scrolling through thier mp3 library.
I saw a woman walk into another pedestrian b/c she was so intent on Texting someone while perambulating. We are quite literally in our personal Pods.

I read this from Keimay, and I have to admit, at first it seems like technology is bearing its claws down on us once again. With cell phones, iPod, and other personal communcation devices, it seems like people are isolating themselves by paying attention to their devices, rather than their physical surroundings.

However, I really beg to differ on this point. Technology really HASN'T made you do anything. It has only given you the option to isolate yourself. And it's only certain technologies that do that, and some of them, before the iPod and cell phones came out.

As a citizen of a first world country, if not a semi-urbanite, we're constantly surrounded by people we don't know, and advertisers throwing sensory simulation on us to pursuade us to buy things. Until the latter half of the 90's, most people had no choice in what they were surrounded by (people or otherwise), other than to change their physical surroundings. Presence only had the physical context to it.

Come cell phones and IM on personal devices. Presence no longer has only a physical context. One can be connected to friends and family; even if they aren't in the physical vicinity. With these communcation personal devices, one can create a virtual vicinity of friends and family layered on top of the strangers in the physical vicinity. OF COURSE, nothing yet replaces face-to-face interaction, but sometimes one would rather talk to friends and family than with strangers next to you.

"But there are plenty of interesting people around! You just have to talk to them," one might argue. Sure, some of us are more privy to talking to strangers to a pleasing effect, but not all of us are by nature gregarious. Given the culture of certain areas of the country (east coast), it was hard to talk to strangers without iPods or cell phones in the first place. And again, the fact that you have a cell phones doesn't mean that you can't try talking to strangers either.

And finally, there are technologies that Keimay was born with, but I wonder if he's ever thought of it as isolating. Cars, for example. People use to socialize on their way to the corner market store, because they had to walk there. But with cars, you don't really need to talk to anyone you don't know. Television, one can argue, makes kids sit inside instead of playing outside with each other.

Honestly, I hate television while eating with people. It takes the socialization out of eating meals. But that's not to say that technology can't be made to create social contexts. Cars drive you to places where your friends are. Superbowl party with a 60" TV is where you share moments. Sharing iPod music between people. Trading junk and treasure on Craigslist. Meeting up with people of the same interests with And for cell phones, try

I venture to say that no matter what technologies comes to fruitition, people will be social animals for a long time to come. What context and the form of the social interaction might change, but people will always long for each other.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Anil Dash: Well, don't *not* be not evil....

This post was talking about google's "Don't be Evil" mantra, and then talked about Bill Gate's reaction to Google's motto. Anil quoted:
Q:So that would be the philosophical difference between Microsoft and what Google is up to at this point?
Gates: Well, we don't know everything they are up to, but we do know their slogan and we disagree with that.

Which is misleading, because if you actually read the article, Bill Gates was actually talking about Google's other motto, "Organize the world's information", which was stated in the previous paragraph
So Google is not offering development capabilities yet. Of course, I expect they will. But they're not in that game at all today. In fact, they have this slogan that they are going to organize the world's information. Our slogan is that we are going to give people tools to let them organize the world's information. It's a slightly different approach, based on the platformization of all of our capabilities and not thinking of ourselves as the organizer.

Media, where ever it comes from, can sometimes bend things, intentionally, or unintentionally. Better check your facts. I'm afraid that the same thing always happens during the elections.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The significance of the number 43

As some of you know, there's a folksonomy web application called 43things. It's a web site that lets you make goals and see the other people that also have the same goal. It's a goal setting website, and you can see what everyone else sets their goals as.

Now why 43? It seems to roll off the tongue pretty well, but I just ran across it today. 43 Folders | Oh, yeah...the name explains that in comes from the number of folders in a Tickler Filing system, where you have 12 month folders and 31 day folders, for a total of 43. Clever.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

We need a car development platform

While I don't know if Anil (and Co.) is right about web trends, since predicting the future is always...well, one should always be wary of those that say they know the future.

Upon saying that, I'd like to bring up what I think there is a future for. I think there is a potential market of electronically customizable cars. If there was a car company that made a car that had a programming platform that provided access (in forms of drivers or APIs) to non-critical components of the car, I think developers would be all over it. While it would be a niche market at first, it would be something that developers and hackers would find interest in playing around with. And in playing around with it, they will build tools for it. If they build something that the average consumer will like, then there will be more of a drive to buy the cars that run the software.

This is mostly the usual platform vs. developers dilemma, much like the chicken and egg. Why write a platform if there are no applications for it? And you can't write applications where there's no platform.

The parts that are required for this to take off are almost there. Wireless access to the internet is becoming more prevelant with Wifi and also 3G, and mapping software is becoming more readily available with google earth. When that happens, and a platform is built, perhaps the price of positioning systems will go down, and other applications be developed for them.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 tab completion and the replacement of the pulldown menu

Alright, I've converted. From spurl to The interface is so much more FUN to use and visually simple. Spurl's bookmark isn't as RESPONSIVE as, and because when I'm browsing, I want to bookmark and be on my way.

But the thing that won me over was tab completition and suggestions of popular tags. Of course! Folksonomy would work much better if there was a convergence of names for things. Some things are easy to name, but articles and webpages are multifaceted and talk about various things. And sometimes, what they are do not get mentioned in the article. does that, and Spurl does not. And this cuts down on my bookmarking time, and lets me get back to web browsing.

And while this is not the catalyst, but I had been thinking about a 'new' widget, a command line w/ tab completion widget, where there is a textbox, and an icon or text window below. It would work much like's tab completion or linux's command line tab completion.

Essentially, this is a replacement for the pulldown menu, which I never found particularly fun to use, since you have to aim more carefully to select options, and usually, when you're filling out forms, your hand are by the keyboard filling out text fields anyway.

It would be more fun, I think, if the tab completions showed icons or pictures tagged a certain thing, so if you were looking for a searching functionality, typing 'search' would bring up all icons related to searching tools, and while you're typing 'sear', it would bring up all icons related to functions that start with 'sear-'.

Buttons that afford to be pushed

the mouseover on the map of local yahoo gets you a bigger map. I'm not sure how this is done, other than javascript, but it might be a way to make it easier for small tool icons to be clicked on, in say, a menu tool bar, as long as those tool icons don't move when one of them gets bigger due to a mouseover, or the tool icons don't overlap.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Goovite: Easy Online Invites

Goovite: Easy Online Invites
Finally. Something easy other than eVite. Cuz eVite really really sucks.

Gestalten mit digitalen Medien

An interesting project about putting projects on the subway trains.

Welcome to Angie's List: The Best Source for Local Home Improvement Contractors!

Welcome to Angie's List: The Best Source for Local Home Improvement Contractors!

It seems to be a grass roots list of contractors for home owners.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Getting emacs to syntax highlight rhtml files

For adding rhtml ruby mode:


;; eRuby
(setq mmm-global-mode 'maybe)
(setq mmm-submode-decoration-level 2)
:submode ruby-mode
:front "<%"
:back "%>")))

(add-hook 'html-helper-mode-hook
'(lambda ()
(setq mmm-classes '(eruby))
'mmm-default-submode-face "gray28")

(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.rhtml$" . html-helper-mode))
(add-to-list 'mmm-mode-ext-classes-alist '(html-helper-mode "\\.rhtml$" eruby))

You'd prolly also need:
Multiple Major Modes for emacs

Monday, August 08, 2005

Ruby: Install emacs extensions and major modes

Emacs is great. Except when you're trying to install extensions or find help on it. So last time, i had trouble adjusting font size. This time, it was adding ruby syntax highlighting. So here it is!

1. Download ruby-mode.el in the stable-snapshot. It was added in 05-2004 and after. It is located in misc/ruby-mode.el

2. Put the ruby-mode.el file in a directory that's searched by emacs or xemacs. One such directory is ./emacs/site-lisp. If you are on FreeBSD machine it is in /usr/local/share/emacs/site-lisp/.

3. Add the following lines to your .emacs file:

(autoload 'ruby-mode "ruby-mode" "Load ruby-mode")
(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.rb\\'" . ruby-mode))
;; uncomment the next line if you want syntax highlighting
;;(add-hook 'sql-mode-hook 'turn-on-font-lock)

[David Ross, Bruce Murphy, Sergei Gnezdov]

Shouldn't that be: (note the $ rather than \\' on the regexp for the filename and asking for font-lock on ruby-mode)

(autoload 'ruby-mode "ruby-mode" "Load ruby-mode")
(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.rb$" . ruby-mode))
;; uncomment the next line if you want syntax highlighting
;;(add-hook 'ruby-mode-hook 'turn-on-font-lock)