Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Geek Chic, Blogging and Me

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Some of you may have noticed I’ve been posting a lot less lately.  It’s true.  I have.  It’s because I’m more than a little bit confused about the blogging.

I originally created Geek Chic primarily as a way to share things I thought were cool.  Usually snagged from my daily trolling of the internet, I’d post a few gems that caught my eye.  Call it re-blogging, call it regurgitating.  Call it whatever you’d like.  I saw it as an electronic way of curating and sharing a collection of things I thought more people should see.

With the advent of Twitter, the evolution of Facebook and now the more social integration points of Google Reader (my primary means of ingestion / procrastination), there seem to be more and more ways to share things you think are cool with the rest of the world.  And it’s becoming easier and easier — for example with Google Reader, all I have to do is click one button and I can share a post I think is interesting.  Clicking another button, I can instantly post a link to Twitter or Facebook. Done.

So the question arises, what good is this blog?


New York Times – Please Fix Yourself!

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

The Daily Show’s Jason Jones systematically dismantled The New York Times in a segment on last night’s show:

I’m certainly of two minds about the recent buzz around the death of the newspaper industry.  I agree with what NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller says at the end of the interview — that firsthand journalism is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.  And that organizations like the NYT are the only ones who can pay for international journalism on a large scale (when was the last time you heard of any bloggers reporting from Afghanistan?).

But, man.  These guys have to come up with an innovative business model.  And quick!  And I have yet to hear any viable proposals from anyone.

It doesn’t make much sense, IMHO, for the Times to adopt WSJ’s online paying model.  With all due respect to Rupert Murdoch (not much), the WSJ has a completely different audience. And it’s required reading for business types, who all probably write off the paper as a business expense.  Or have their firms buy it for then.  Who is going to pay for The New York Times?  Sure.  Some people will. But not an entire generation that’s used to getting its news for free.

I don’t know about you, but when The Times has tried this in the past and I came across a “you can’t see this article unless you pay for it, buddy” screen, I went to find the story somewhere else.  And in most cases, a similar story had been posted — via AP or wire services — circulated, and reblogged to the extent that it was pretty ubiquitous.

I certainly applaud NYT’s drastic measures to try to stay afloat.  And I certainly don’t have any answers for them as to how to keep their newspaper in business — there are no easy answers.

Is it time for more drastic measures? Cut paper circulation entirely? Charge a lot more for the actual paper — turning it into a luxury item? Cut entire department/ sections? (Opinions — which are a dime a dozen these days, Times Magazine, Classifieds… all of which are limited in reach and/or covered better by the internet).  Probably.

Either way, someone needs to come in and drastically rethink the entire business model.  Looking at it in a positive way, this whole crisis is a great opportunity for The Times.  They are an industry leader.  They have been for years.  Who better to teach the rest of the industry how to do investigative journalism in the 21st Centuary?

Like I said, I don’t have a good answer on this one.  But I certainly hope someone does.  The Times (and other papers like it) is a really important news source.  I’d hate to see it disappear.

Official State Rock Song?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I just saw this on my ride up the elevator:

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has signed an official order making the song Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips as the state’s official rock song.

“The Flaming Lips are great ambassadors for the state of Oklahoma, all over the world, and they are fiercely loyal to the great state of Oklahoma,” Henry said before signing the order.

First off, thanks USAToday for making my elevator ride more entertaining.

Second, dibs on Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues for New York.  Or really any state.

Facebook Not So Dirty After All?

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Alright.  Not to speak too soon here, but maybe I was wrong about Facebook yesterday.  And If so, I’ll gladly eat my words.

Read this: Results of the Inaugural Facebook Site Governance Vote

As always, the proof will be in the pudding.  But this sounds to me like FB is going to go with the majority of the 0.32% of active users that voted — and adopt the new user agreement (tossing out the Evil Terms of Service).

While there’s talk in the post about their disappointment at the low turnout, they do acknowledge this is a Faceboook First (as well as an internet first), and are considering lowering the 30% threshold necessary for any future vote to be binding.

First of all, I offer my non-binding, conditional apology to Facebook.  Maybe they’re actually interested in protecting their users’ rights after all.

Second, I still maintain this vote was not nearly as transparent as FB believes it was.  The language was confusing.  The voting period was too short.  And there should’ve been more user notification (eg. ‘Hey! You haven’t voted yet! Only one day left to vote!’) if they wanted this whole process to actually be more democratic.

Still, from the looks of it, at least their heart is in the right place…

Crazy Bike Stunts (if by crazy I mean AMAZING)

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

This video just takes my breath away:

I can’t even imagine how many collective broken bones these guys have between them. But the outcome is unbelievable.


Cyber Attack on Morgan Hill?

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

This is really weird for a number of reasons:

A Cyber-Attack on an American City

The long and short of it is that an unidentified group of people cut 8 fiber cables in Morgan Hill, CA (my hometown) on April 9th and basically everything went down.  Internet, phone, ATMs, emergency services, burglar alarms…

The most disturbing hing about it, I think, is that this is the first I’d heard of it — 2 weeks after the fact.  I partly paid attention because I’m from there.  But still… shouldn’t this have been reported by someone?  Like, maybe, CNN?  Or at the very least, the fearmongering FOX News?

Equally disturbing is the fact that they don’t know who did it.  It seems like they needed to have been fairly familiar with the city’s communications grid to do it.  But I bet a bright high school kid could get the paperwork he or she needs to do that.  Then all s/he’d have to do is organize a group of friends from Live Oak to all cut the wires around the same time.  It wouldn’t take much.

On the more mildly disturbing front (but still fairly disturbing), one of the casualties of the attack on the city’s fiber cables was the hospital’s local network.  Their local network!  Which is a pretty essential thing to have up and running at a hospital, don’t you think?  Who’s idea was it to make a local network in the hospital that was entirely dependent on its connection to the internet?  Is this the only hospital like that?  Or are there a lot more whose network engineers weren’t looking at the bigger picture?

On a mildly entertaining (and fairly educational) note, what did not fail is CB communication.  In order to relay radio calls for emergency services, they woke up the president of the local ham radio club and he and his buddies basically made up for the missing communication services.  This is a good lesson to learn — that it’s good to have a healthy relationship with a fair number of ham radio folk.  They may be the only way people can communicate in an emergency.

Look.  I’m not one to play into doomsday scenarios.  I don’t believe the premise of the latest Die Hard movie, or Fight Club’s ending, is actually realistic.  But I definitely believe we’ve gotten lazy — relying on technology working flawlessly and very seldom exploring possibilities of selective or total system failure.

I would hope that, with the changing of the guard in Washington, that we’d take a bit of time to explore our telecommunication system’s vulnerabilities and the ways that we can compensate in emergency situations.  I’m not saying that we need armed guards at every manhole, but we should definitely have a plan if someone were to stage an attack like this on a larger scale.  Morgan Hill has a population somewhere around 30K (and, all things considered, they seemed to come out reasonably unscathed).  If someone were to stage a similarly coordinated attack on New York — or New England — it would be a big, big mess.

Once again, I’m not saying we should be cowering in fear.  But we should definitely take a hard look at what happened in Morgan Hill and do some serious thinking — and planning — about what we would do if something like this happened on a larger scale.

It’s obviously a possibility.

UPDATE: As my friend Paul pointed out (also a Morgan Hill native):

a) actually this attack was in South San Jose and its effects stretched as far out as Santa Cruz (where Paul lives)

b) Perens’ characterization of Morgan Hill, with all of its ‘brokerages, and investors in the very wealthy community’ was… to be nice… maybe a little bit off the mark.  Anyone who’s been there will tell you — MH is literally 3 freeway exits between San Jose and Gilroy.  If you’re driving south on 101 and you sneeze, you miss it entirely.  And while it’s a town with a healthy upper-middle class, we’re no Los Altos Hills.

So I don’t imagine the attackers would’ve gotten very far trying to ‘manipulate the stock market’ from Morgan Hill when the wires were cut.  I’m sure they could’ve done more damage with an iPhone and a tethered laptop from an uncomfortable booth at Lyons.

Partial What Now?

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Check this:

A team of eight surgeons at Brigham and Women’s Hospital performed a partial face transplant yesterday, which is only the second time such a procedure has been done in the United States, according to the hospital.

What?  I’m sorry?  Partial Face Transplant?

You learn the weirdest things on that ‘Captivate Network’ in the elevator…

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