Monthly Archives: September 2005

Monday morning web tech bits

Anyone have tips or tools to help move a MovableType blog to a new host? So far I’ve found TypeMover a MovableType plugin that: “adds backup, restore and migration features that let you get your data in and out of your servers”.

Gallery 2.0 is out, and from what I hear, it is a great upgrade for the venerable PHP based photo gallery organizer. There is a module that enables Gallery to Drupal/CivicSpace integration, so maybe I will use this at Philly Future down the line.

WSFinder.com is a Wiki for finding web service and open APIs. 109 APIs at last count.

Good fonts + sIFR = typography goodness? Or a mess counting upon your point of view.

Huge list of Flash examples for download at sephiroth.it.

And this is very, very interesting: Neighbornodes:

Neighbornodes are group message boards on wireless nodes, placed in residential areas and open to the public. These nodes transmit signal for around 300 feet, so everyone within that range has access to the board and can read and post to it. This means that with a Neighbornode you can broadcast a message to roughly everyone whose apartment window is within 300 feet of yours (and has line of sight), and they can broadcast messages back to you. Boards are only accessible from computers that go through the local node.

Additionally, Neighbornodes are linked together, making up a node network to enable the passing of news and information on a street-by-street basis throughout the wider community.

Oh I gotta play with this.

Another articles of note:

O’Reilly.net: Opening the potential of OpenOffice.org. How to get involved in helping develop the open alternative to MS Office.

Speaking of Microsoft: BusinessWeek documents some employee defections that must be concerning. Mini-Microsoft, a blog written by an anonymous Microsoft employee, gets some press in the article. One thing is for sure – I would expect some bold moves out of MS. One rumor floating about is buying AOL. Yep, you read that right – and Google is thinking about it too -follow the coverage at PaidContent.com.

More on Memeorandum and Google Blog Search

Yesterday a news story hit, an editor was near my station, and overhearing the discussion I went to Memeorandum to find out if it was breaking among bloggers – and it was. Memeorandum has quickly become a must visit site for me, multiple times a day.

Now for some thoughts on Google Blog Search….

Lets get something clear right away – it isn’t blog search – it’s RSS/Atom search. Google is indexing RSS and Atom outputs to build this search engine. Our RSS and Atom and only that. It places heavy emphasis on titles and seems to ignore tagging and categories assigned to posts. There does not seem to be a PageRank-style algorithm at play here. It is fast, and it gets updated far more frequently that Google’s main search index by taking advantage of the fact that most blog toolsets automatically ping third party services when posts are made. For more see Google’s FAQ.

Some are arguing that how this works will actually diminish blogger influence. Some think that it foretells removal of bloggers from its main search index (Joël Céré). Others believe that Google didn’t go far enough and should include results from this new engine in its main search output (Dave Winer). Some are saying this is marks the end of tagging (Jeff Harrell).

A few things are clear however:

It is not fully baked yet, many features bloggers demand are missing.

Full-text feeds have an advantage (rc3.org) over partial summary feeds, since only content in feeds are indexed.

And lastly blogs have a new source of traffic and for those who care – a new source of recognition that they matter. For far too many I personally know – if it is not on Google – it doesn’t count. That probably makes a lot of you uncomfortable. Believe me, I understand.

Bush ‘sounded’ like a Democrat – while speaking to his base – sends Rove to oversee rebuilding

Some of my friends will disagree, but I feel Bush sounded the perfect tone last night, even if, embedded in his speech, were many troubling items like money funneling from the government to churches, and a refusal to raise federal funding via keeping taxes stable or increasing them, and an increased military role on domestic soil. Cognitive dissonance will keep many from keying in on those. My bet was late – I expected a 10% approval rating bump two weeks after Katrina – it’s on the way now. Especially with putting Karl Rove in charge of the reconstruction effort. The man behind his talking points. His political advisor. His brain. This move, I’m afraid, will slip by the press and will get mentioned as an aside – which is terrible because it reveals all you need to know about this President and his motivations. Read The All Spin Zone, Talking Points Memo, Billmon and Metafilter for more.

Joshua Micah Marshall: This is a time when the country needs an opposition party. Every Democrat should be hitting on this. Take the politics out of the reconstruction effort. He put his chief spin-doctor in charge of the biggest reconstruction and refugee crisis the country’s probably ever faced. That tells you all you need to know about his values.

In related/unrelated news employer-sponsored health insurance is becoming scarcer and more expensive. A report out says premiums for job-based health insurance rose 9.2 percent on average nationwide in 2005, about three times the general rate of inflation and the percentage of businesses offering health benefits to employees dropped to 60 percent in 2005, down from 69 percent in 2000

The beat goes on.

Some tech/media/online community/citizen journalism bits

Google blog search launches in beta! More at Om Malik’s and at Paid Content. I have no opinion yet. Got to do some digging.

The Columbia Journalism Review was with the Times Picayune in New Orleans as it produced its powerful and amazing coverage during the course Katrina and the devestation wrought afterwards. Read their report. More at Metafilter.

Congrats to Jeff Jarvis, who will be starting a a new job heading the City University of New York’s new media program.

Roland Tanglao has a recipie to build your own Memeorandum: Drupal + Aggregator2 + Algorithms = Memeorandum.

On Martin Luther King and The Other America

Jim Gilliam: Martin Luther King

It’s as if he was standing in the rubble of Bush’s Katrina debacle. Masterfully, and inspirationally, he ties together race, war, poverty,values and the military into one sweeping narrative that defines the best of what liberalism could be.

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” Amen.

If he were alive today, King would be chewed up in the right-wing character assassination machine, but things were more straightforward 40 years ago… they just straight up assassinated him — one year to the day after giving this speech.

Read or listen to it. Even the parts about Vietnam — they are eerily appropriate in the context of today’s Humvee democracy.

Related: Newsweek: The Other America:

It takes a hurricane. It takes a catastrophe like Katrina to strip away the old evasions, hypocrisies and not-so-benign neglect. It takes the sight of the United States with a big black eye—visible around the world—to help the rest of us begin to see again. For the moment, at least, Americans are ready to fix their restless gaze on enduring problems of poverty, race and class that have escaped their attention. Does this mean a new war on poverty? No, especially with Katrina’s gargantuan price tag. But this disaster may offer a chance to start a skirmish, or at least make Washington think harder about why part of the richest country on earth looks like the Third World.

“I hope we realize that the people of New Orleans weren’t just abandoned during the hurricane,” Sen. Barack Obama said last week on the floor of the Senate. “They were abandoned long ago—to murder and mayhem in the streets, to substandard schools, to dilapidated housing, to inadequate health care, to a pervasive sense of hopelessness.”

The question now is whether the floodwaters can create a sea change in public perceptions. “Americans tend to think of poor people as being responsible for their own economic woes,” says sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University. “But this was a case where the poor were clearly not at fault. It was a reminder that we have a moral obligation to provide every American with a decent life.”

Katrina stories

I think a turning point in Katrina coverage has been reached. There has been some good news of progress being made in the relief effort. Parts of New Orleans are reopening shortly. Newsmagazines and newspapers have detailed and blasted the response to the catastrophy. And yesterday, finally, Bush admited some responsibility. A dangerous point. Now folks need to keep in mind Duncan’s call to keep light here as the stories grow more complicated and sometimes more repetitive and mundane.

The chorus of activists and pundits that have called for the armed forces to act sooner, have raised questions over the domestic use of troops (USAToday). A dangerous and scary discussion needs to happen here. Let’s not hope for a new Patriot Act that permits rapid use of the armed forces on American soil. Let’s hope for a National Guard that is used as it should be.

Daily Mail: We had to kill our patients: Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Related Metafilter discussion.

USAToday: Nursing home owners charged in 34 deaths: Neighbors described a horrible scene that unfolded on Aug. 29… Floodwaters rose to the roof of the one-story nursing home in St. Bernard, outside New Orleans, trapping elderly and infirm residents… Neighbors came in boats and smashed a hole in the roof. “We tried to get out as many as we could,” said Steve Snyder, 29, an oil rig worker. “All we could go by was the hollering and screaming, ‘Help, help!’ ” “We got 25 to 27 people out alive,” Snyder said. “And then we didn’t hear any more screaming…The Manganos surrendered to authorities on Tuesday and were charged with 34 counts of negligent homicide.

A couple tech/media/online community/citizen journalism bits

EBay buys Skype

In a deal that has a lot of folks scratching the heads, EBay buys Skype for $2.6 billion in cash. That’s a lot of money, but I’m not so sure this is a bad idea. It gets EBay and PayPal on folks desktops and gives buyers and sellers a direct way to communicate. Check out the investor PowerPoint pitch. Privacy definately is a concern, but at this point, Google knows more about me than my mother.

Inequality and Blogging

Shelley Powers, by critiquing a guest list, hosts a great discussion about the hype machine says our technology solves problems of inequality, while the reality is quite different.

Memorandum revving up

Tech Memorandum and Political Memorandum resemble a Google News for blog driven content. Very impressive. Robert Scoble gave them a heaping of hype and visibility yesterday. There are a number of services that have already been working this space from different angles, three of which are daily visits of mine that I would like to mention: Findory, BlogRunner, and Digg. They try and bring the web’s conversation to you in different ways.

It should be interesting to see how Memorandum vs. Findory vs. BlogRunner vs Digg plays out. Aggregation that recognizes the web as the editor, as Gabe Rivera Memeorandum developer says, is very powerful, as Google News demonstrates.

Update: Memorandum updates real, real, real fast. It even caught my small non-influential post. I’m very curious about how it works.

Interview: Hilary Schneider, Senior Vice President of Knight Ridder

PaidContent: Media Executive Interview Series: Hilary Schneider, Knight Ridder:

Q: How do you view the citizen journalism movement, and where does that fit within your company?

A: We are very intrigued with consumer generated content, and we are actively experimenting with it. At this time, we have in excess of 55 blogs, and we are adding approximately 10 per week. I think that consumer generated media, especially blogs, will be part of the core capability that consumers will come to expect from content providers.

Given this expectation, it will be imperative that we label and brand content that is sourced and edited by KR, so that it is very clear to our readers that we are providing the content, after putting it through KR’s editorial process, especially to protect “truth in advertising.”

It is highly interesting that consumer generated content changes the provision of news from a monologue to much more of a dialogue, in which the consumer has an ability to advance any discussion.

Brown Resigns, and Bush Didn’t Know In Advance

If you can’t keep track of the comings and goings of your staff…. well wow. Check out the video. The guy should have been fired. Hopefully Brown is not just the sacrificial idiot and a deeper look will take place into what went wrong.

Speaking of which, Digby looks into who the administration will eventually cast blame to and how the race card will come into play. Susie Madrak, in a great post, challenges Democrats to wake up:

I’d like to know when Democratic liberals are going to address this particular problem with some kind of plan to turn it around. But no, racists are always “those people�? who live somewhere else, preferably south of the Mason-Dixon line, and liberals want nothing to do with them because “we’re better than that.�? (Remember the heat Howard Dean took for saying he wanted the guys with the pickup trucks and the Confederate flag decals? And how the liberal establishment was all a-twitter? He was right, goddamnit.)

Such horseshit. Really.

Most people are racist out of sheer ignorance and fear. Most of that fear is grounded in resentment at their own narrow economic options. What I want to know is, when are liberals going to address that particular issue instead of tsk-tsking the afflicted and insisting they all stay quarantined somewhere else?

The road to racial equality lies somewhere in the general vicinity of economic prosperity. The Republican agenda has the working poor of all colors fighting over very small slices of an ever- shrinking pie. No wonder racism’s so effective – the poor are so busy fighting each other, they don’t even notice the thieves at the top. (emphasis mine – Karl)

Damn if that doesn’t get to the heart of it. I opined in her commetents for a movement to support and unite poor, the working poor, labor, the infirm and the elderly of all colors and religions. Our parties are more interested in pursuing votes – after all – these segments of our country don’t – then in pursuing justice and common good. Imgaine what would happen this changed?