Monthly Archives: October 2005

Unfairly flagged as spammer by Google

I was afraid of this: Edward Biolodeau:

…I’m abandoning my Blogger blog after anti-spam features Google added this morning flagged me as a spammer, destroyed data from two posts, and made it impossible for me to post.

I was going to write more about this, but its a waste of time. The bottom line is that Google treated me like crap, and there is no reason for me to put up with that kind of service, or lack thereof. The fact that there is no way to contact a human via the Blogger site speaks volumes as to what Google thinks of their users.

So, I’m closing the chapter on Blogger. The podcasts will probably resume at some point, but they’ll just be interspersed along with the other posts. Hopefully this won’t inconvienience anyone.

via dangerousmeta

Previously, Philly Future inappropriately was blacklisted by Google. I am digging up the info as to how it was resolved.

Dreamhost problems for Philly Future

I hope it’s not a case of you get what you pay for (probably is – we shall see), but since migrating to Dreamhost, Philly Future has had some downtime. There was a hardware failure. A few reboots. In any case, far more than what I experienced at its older, more expensive host. We went with Dreamhost for its low cost, combination of features – and most importantly – they were one of only two shared hosting solutions (them and Site5) to promise they could handle a primary requirement – the capability to handle 30 simultaneous database connections. High traffic, occurring during aggregation runs, which occur every hour where we consume up to 250+ RSS feeds across the community, would bring us to that limit at our old host. We had downtime during Live 8 at noon due to this and on a couple of other occasions. When inquiring at new hosts, everyone except those I mentioned, including TextDrive and BlueHost, told me they had similar restrictions.

The bandwidth consumption for a site like Philly Future is expensive. And since it is a grassroots effort – we are bounded by the limited resources we have – which um means – my wallet. I have not aggresively pursued ad revenue.

Any ideas out here?

Web tech, citizen journalism, and more

Sometimes information is all that stands between eating and starving (Philly Future).

Must read: Dan Gillmor’s talk at the University of Michigan: Grassroots Media’s Potential: Better Journalism and Democracy.

Labs Macromedia launches and gives a sneak peek at upcoming releases. Check it out. Macromedia stopped by work the other day to give a few of us an intro to Flex and let me tell ya – it’s going to revolutionize web app UI development. The first time – the first time – I have seen a technology that comes close to the simplicity of old fashioned desktop client server app development (with tools like Delphi or VB) for the web.

Seth Finkelstein: Cites & Insights: Recently, Yahoo search started pointing to some blogs for “News”. Now, I am arguably the world’s expert on censorware – and if not, certainly up there. What I write is likely orders of magnitude more accurate than popular pundits. But my material won’t appear in those search results (a yes/no decision). For the simple reasons that I don’t have the voice that A-listers do (and, no, personal tone isn’t the reason, that doesn’t exclude the big blogfish). Which means the hierarchical organization just got a little stronger.

Related: Inside Google: How Weblogs Inc. Games the System. Which I think is perfectly fair to tell ya the truth. It’s simply applying the power of their network to spread attention across their other blogs. Nevertheless – what of folks who are not part of such a powerful network who deserve to be heard?

John Gruber in “The Life” describes why it’s so hard being an independent software developer – who is successful: So the conundrum is this: once a developer gets enough paying users to consider quitting his day job so he can devote full-time effort to writing code, he’s quite possibly got so many paying users that he’ll spend much of his time helping customers in ways other than writing code. That’s why so few developers pull this trick off.

Barry Diller plans to challenge Google: NYMag.com: Diller’s Foxy Strategy.

Best open thread intro ever: A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the thread and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

A fundraiser to get behind – Web 2.0 takes a hit – and Philadelphia loses one of its greats

Project H.O.M.E.’s Inaugural Young Friends Event is October 27th, 2005 from 5:30-8pm. In order to raise awareness of Project H.O.M.E.’s efforts I decide to lay it on the line and share more of my personal history then ever before to express the homeless aren’t who you think they are.

While Nick Bradbury shares some thoughts about what Web 2.01 should entail (good post btw), something occured on Friday that is not being discussed in the corners of the web I would exepect it to: Craigslist has asked Oodle to stop using its classifieds. See here and here. Neither post has outlined the reasons for the request. I’m very sure that Craigslist is within its rights to do so – lets not argue that – publishers must maintain their rights – but can Web 2.0 work in what Lawrence Lessig calls a permission culture? Was Oodle properly giving credit for the classifieds? Since I run an aggregator at Philly Future, this discussion is a good one to have. Where will it lead?

In a related conversation Dave Winer, commenting on the recent massive growth of splogs, says that “Links are now devalued”. Think about it. He’s right. PageRank is under attack. Those who have most to lose might be the ones speaking up right now – but in the end – like Dan Gillmor sayswe will all will lose if sploggers win this fight. Chris Pirillo really jump-started this conversation yesterday. I just hope that in the effort against splogs – aggregators like ours don’t get mistakenly included. The aggregator is part of Philly Future – an important part – but not the only part.

Ed Bacon (yes Kevin Bacon’s father) – Philadelphia planning directory for 21 years – 95 – passed away this Friday. He left an indellable mark on this city and helped Philadelphia avoid the fate of Detroit and others.

Daily News: EDMUND BACON: THE FIRST CITIZEN:

Edmund Bacon was the father of modern-day Philadelphia. As the city’s chief planning director for 21 years, he left his mark on this city like no politician or captain of industry ever could.

He took a city that, through its haphazard growth, was betraying William Penn’s plan for a town in harmony with nature and with the nature of man. Bacon dragged Philadelphia kicking and screaming into the 20th century, rescuing it from its own worst instincts.

Just take a walking tour of the city and behold his works.

From the office high-rises of Penn Center, to the retail magnet that is Market East and the Gallery, to the charm of Society Hill that brought a vibrant middle- and upper-class to Center City, to the vastness of Independence Mall, Bacon had a hand in creating all the modern spaces that now define Philadelphia – for good and for ill.

Inquirer: Inga Saffron Inquirer Architecture Critic: Flaws and all, Edmund N. Bacon molded a modern Philadelphia:

It is not too much to say he invented planning in Philadelphia. After World War II, he returned home from several years of traveling and working elsewhere and helped draft the bill creating the city’s first Planning Commission. With his appointment as executive director in 1949, he dominated all discussions about the city’s form and function until his retirement in 1970. No planning director since Bacon has been so influential, and today Philadelphia suffers from too little planning.

Bacon’s single-minded vision played a giant role in saving Philadelphia from the fate of other old cities, such as Detroit or Cincinnati.

For Philadelphia to compete in the modern world, he understood that it would need to upgrade its urban infrastructure. During his 21 years as the city’s chief planner, he forced Philadelphia to create a modern, high-rise office district (Penn Center), a modern retail center (the Gallery), and a modern downtown neighborhood (Society Hill).

Too often, Bacon’s grand visions didn’t turn out as well as he hoped. The Gallery was never meant to be a blank-walled, suburban-style shopping box. The Market Street office corridor was never intended to be devoid of shops. According to Gregory Heller, who runs the Ed Bacon Foundation, Bacon focused more on the big picture than the details.

Sometimes, Bacon’s conflicting visions undercut one another. He was way ahead of his time when he proposed converting Philadelphia’s dying industrial waterfront to a leisure area called Penn’s Landing. Then, just as it was being completed, he allowed I-95 to cut off the new waterfront playground from the city. He was similarly prepared to strangle Center City with the South Street Expressway, which thankfully was never built.

Society Hill is generally considered Bacon’s greatest and most influential achievement. During the ’60s, when other cities were using federal money to level their historic cores, Bacon rejected wholesale clearance. He adopted a more sensitive plan to prune the Victorian structures and leave most of the Colonial ones. The city used various strategies to encourage urban homesteaders to renovate the surviving structures. Today, Bacon might be faulted for creating a fiction that the area was entirely colonial.

It is ironic that Bacon’s greatest projects – Society Hill, Penn Center, the Gallery – are flawed. It’s one of the things that makes it so infuriatingly hard to evaluate his historic legacy. He was imperfect, but it is hard to imagine what Philadelphia would be like without those imperfections.

Inquirer: Edmund Bacon:

“Great cities are not great because of individual buildings. They’re great because of the way things fit together,” he said.

When he first proposed the concept of Penn Center, he said, “I was chastised by the Philadelphia chapter of the American Institute of Architects because I presumed to make a plan where there was no client and no program. You’re not supposed to do a design for a building unless someone engages you to do it. Everything I did was unconventional.”

Friday Citizen Journalism, Web 2.0 bits, and getting overlooked where we shouldn’t

I give our local main stream media some blogging tips at Philly Future, more important, I introduce a new section of particpation on the site – Breaking the Cycle.

Anil Dash: “Web 2.0 is pretty much made of white people. I’m not used to any event in a cosmopolitan area being such a monoculture.”. I’d bet by far mostly men as well. That has to change.

Speaking of that, OJR gives an overview of various citizen journalism efforts in “Grassroots journalism: Actual content vs. shining ideal” (via Craig Newmark).

Speaking of that list, Philly Future was overlooked again. I am starting to feel that this talk of a grassroots participatory movement by some is a ruse. Whenever I see one of these lists – like the one above – they are comprised of funded efforts, or efforts comprised of folks that earn a living doing this, or efforts backed by a larger media concern. I hope I’m proven wrong.

A Habit of Giving

Shelley Powers: “we need to establish a habit of giving”:

…No one is to ‘blame’ for being in the way of catastrophe, and as we know, any one of us could be the next victim. There are no safe spots where nothing is likely to happen; no places of invulnerability. To help others is to help ourselves; the days of geographical isolation are at an end and we have a responsibility to each other regardless of country, race, or religion.

But if we react to each event in a frenzy, soon we’ll burn out and truly catastrophic events will go by with barely a blink. We’re seeing this with Pakistan: it’s not that people aren’t caring; it’s that we’ve just been through one cycle of frantic giving following another a short 8 months ago. It may get to a point where a country would gain help for having an ‘early’ disaster, as compared to a country having a disaster later in the year. Perhaps these countries could stage their catastrophes close to Christmas.

Rather than react impulsively (and stop reacting just as impulsively), we need to establish a habit of giving that will hopefully provide enough support for organizations that meet the needs of people in stricken communities. We should budget in a monthly donation, even if it’s only a few dollars, and contribute consistently: both to international relief organizations and those that are domestic. We should also look at organizations that help in the longterm: with education, family planning, support of basic human rights, and other means to improve overall quality of life.

We should also learn to apply filters when listening to much of the news. Stories from New Orleans match stories from Pakistan where the number of dead leaps by tens of thousands by the minute, and people searching for food in stores become tales of rampant crime and looting. The news emphasizes the worst in all matters, and it’s easy to either develop a sense of despair or disappointment. What’s important is getting help to people, and providing what support we can-facts will fall out later.

She goes on to describe what charities she plans to support international and national, immediate need and long-term. She suggests all of us putting a a ‘giving ribbon bar’ in our sidebars for permenent display. It’s a great idea. Check out Albert‘s. I’ll have a related follow-up tomorrow.

Tuesday Yahoo vs Google: Who’s been listening to customers?

Moves these past few weeks by Yahoo! and Google are revealing.

Google has launched, in beta, their RSS reader and reviews have not been good. Most have criticized it’s interface as being pretty, but complicated. I’ll add another critique: it’s evil. Like the best RSS readers out there, it gives you the option of taking a post and emailing it to others, or posting it to your blog. Guess which applications it forces you to use to do so? Google founder Sergey Brin in a recent interview: “We believe in sending folks to other sites. We’re not about trying to create our own content to keep people on Google, we’re about sending them off.”. Yeah…. right. Did you see Google Reader before it went public Sergey?

Yahoo!? Well today it just integrated blog search with news search! That’s right. That’s respect. That’s forward thinking. That’s listening to customers. It’s not perfect. But it’s a real start. More in PaidContent, in Search Engine Watch, and in Yahoo!’s Search Blog.

The contrast here is amazing. Yahoo! embraced RSS early on. And now properly integrates blogs into news search results. Google took ages to recognize RSS, and it’s blog search is tucked away, like a dirty secret or something.

Jason Calacanis explains why he’s staying at AOL.

Ebay is acquiring Verisign, who just the other day acquired Moreover and Weblogs.com. Does this mean that Dave Winer… will work for eBay!?!

And I wrote a long piece (for me that is) on local blogging, the A-list, ConvergeSouth at Philly Future yesterday.

It’s a bubble – no it’s not – Monday morning bits

The Register calls it “Bubble 2.0″, and Seth Finkelstein yells “Bubble, Bubble, Bubble”, but come on now – is it really? Bill Lazar nails why it’s not: “most of the comments I’m seeing appear to be missing a key difference from the last go round: IPOs.”. I think that’s spot on. Call it a “bublet” if you will. But not a bubble. Not yet.

However, I know a few of us are probably feeling as Shelley is. So much talk about money, instead of innovation and tool building can be distracting from what’s really important.

Speaking of which, as Seth notes a power law among bloggers definately exists. See Technologies du Langage and the Ask Jeeves Blog. A very small number of bloggers are read by the vast majority of RSS subscribers, and most feeds go un-read.

There is an opportunity to build tools that surface and connect the great many voices that should be – and deserve to be – heard. Sites like Philly Future, which attempts to do this with local bloggers, are launching here and there, for a great example see Greensboro101. The infrastructure being built can help empower Philly Future and sites like it to do so much more. Wanna help?

Speaking of local blogging: some thoughts on ConvergeSouth: Duncan Black on local blogging, David M. Johnson on blogs and community building, David M. Johnson on business models, Roch Smith Jr., Ed Cone summarizing, and Ed Cone responding to Duncan.

There was a huge win for free speech last week: Court defends a blogger’s anonymity: read Dan Gillmor’s thoughts. He pretty much summarizes my own as well.

Shelley Powers will be speaking at SxSW!

Yahoo! launches a podcasting portal. More on their blog. At a glance, nicely done.

Watch the first 9 minutes of Serenity!

Some tips on applying for a job from a Craigslist ad.

Some software I use

A few folks have been asking me to share what software I use for different purposes lately. Just thought I’d share a small list here:

jEdit – All purpose text editor. Especially for editing remote text files over FTP. Free and Open Source.

Emacs – When I need to edit something fast – and jEdit is choking – Emacs is always reliable. Was my favorite text editor. Free and Open Source.

Eclipse – My favorite IDE. Used all day long for work in Java and Flash. Free and Open Source.

Flash – The Flash IDE. Still the easiest way to compose Flash based applications, however Flash Builder, aka Zorn, looks to be amazing. Check out this video of Kevin Lynch’s Web 2.0 onference presentation. More on Flex Builder on Mark Ander’s Blog. $

If I was still working on desktop apps I’d be joining Nick Bradbury in proposing a “Thanks to the Delphi R&D, QA, and Doc Teams” Day. Delphi was amazing.

AVG Free Edition – Anti-virus. Not a resource hog like Norton. Free.

Sygate Personal Firewall – My favorite firewall utility. Required to protect your PC from malicious access, and from spyware and trojans attempting to send data. Free.

Spybot Search & Destroy – Removes spyware. Not as required as it used to be since I switched to Firefox for my browser. Free.

FileZilla – FTP/SFTP. Free and Open Source.

Putty – Telnet/SSH client. Use it every day. Free and Open Source.

7-Zip – Alternative for Winzip. Free and Open Source.

MWSnap – Screen shot utility. Free.

ifranview – The simplest GIF/JPG viewer around. Free.

VLC Media Player – Plays almost every video format. Free and Open Source.

ffdshow – DirectShow and VFW codec for decoding/encoding many video and audio formats, including DivX and XviD. Free and Open Source.

Winamp – My favorite media player. Free.

Ulead DVD MovieFactory – DVD authoring. $

VSO DivxToDVD – Convert Divx and other video formats to one that can be easily used by a DVD authoring package like DVD MovieFactory. Free.

Audacity – Audio editor and recorder. Crashes here and there. Free and Open Source.

HTTrack – Used to download entire sites when you want to archive them. Free.

Azureus – Bittorrent client. Free and Open Source.

OpenOffice – Free alternative to Microsoft Office. Free and Open Source.

FeedDemon – The desktop aggregator I use to keep up with the over hundred RSS feeds I subscribe to. Syncs with Bloglines. $

Bloglines – The web based aggregator I use when I am on a box which FeedDemon is not installed. Free.

Gmail – Google webmail. I like how its threaded conversation view. Huge time saver. Using POP I download Gmail locally. Free.

Pobox – Service that allows me to have a permanent email address no matter what or who I use.Worth the yearly cost. $

Thunderbird – Desktop email client. I download mail from Gmail and keep an archive with it. Sometimes use it to compose longer emails. Free and open source.

Firefox – My favorite web browser. From tabbed browsing, to the many time saving extensions available for it, I can’t work on the web without it. Free and Open Source.

Gaim – Instant messaging client that allows me to communicate with my Yahoo! and AOL buddies. Free and Open Source.

Firefox Web Developer Extension – Adds functionality to Firefox that I use daily in my work, for example, editing (and previewing) CSS live, keeping the browser cache cleared, or quickly validating HTML. Free and Open Source.

IE Developer Toolbar – Adds similar functionality to IE that the Web Developer Extension adds to Firefox. Not as complete. But it is a great start. Free.

Firefox LiveHTTPHeaders Extension – A terrific extension that allows you to follow requests and responses from servers. Free and Open Source.

Kevin Langdon’s ServiceCapture – Similar to LiveHTTPHeaders – it helps to see, in detail, requests and responses from servers. The great thing about it is how it helps you quickly observe parameters being passed. $

Ethereal – ServiceCapture and LiveHTTPHeaders have removed the need for me to use Ethereal on a regular basis. But if I need to sniff traffic from an app on my machine to the Internet, and its not HTTP, this is the way to go. Free and Open Source.

Chatzilla – An IRC enabling extension to Firefox. Free and Open Source.

Firefox LiveLines Extension – Makes it trivial to add feeds to Bloglines (and in my case that means FeedDemon as well). Free and Open Source.

Friday morning web tech

ConvergeSouth begins today. Of the three conferences taking place this week – this is the one I miss not going to the most. As Ed Cone says, not better, but different. Grassroots. Bottom up. I’m sure attendees will have a good weekend.

Speaking of conferences, Om Malik gives a summary of how this week’s Web 2.0 conference went.

BrightCove, in the wake of a great demo, from what I hear, at Web 2.0, is adding board members. Jeff Jarvis says he’s impressed and might want to join as well. More in the NYTimes.

Related: Wired: Are You Ready for Web 2.0?

Weblogs.com gets acquired by Verisign! More at PaidContent here and here. More at Roland Tanglao and Verisign and Dave himself. Congrats Dave! Whadda week!

Are we seeing a bubble? Sensible folks like Rafe believe this is the case. I don’t know if it’s a bubble. There has not been the same growth in jobs that occurred in the late 90s. Maybe that’s to come. There has been a lot of money flying about. This week’s buyouts and acquisitions have shown investors and larger companies waking up to what’s been growing around them these past five years. Efforts that, in many ways, call back to what the web was supposed to be in the first place, and what visionaries were calling it to be ten years ago – a participatory medium and platform – not a one-way publishing tool. These efforts are no where near where they should be – but you can see evidence of that early promise – and I gotta tell ya – it’s a great time to be doing what I do for a living. It’s exciting to look around at what’s taking place. But am I seeing this from the wrong perspective?

PaidContent: AOL-MSN Start Talking Again On Combining.

Tony Pierce interviews Ev Williams.

An overview of the the Eclipse Web Tools project at O’Reilly.