Monthly Archives: December 2005

Anyone want to sponsor Philly Future’s hosting?

Philly Future may have outgrown its hosting for the second time in six months. Now it is going to incur a far greater financial commitment from me. Dreamhost’s support has been fantastic, they have been very patient with us, but I know they cannot continue to host us with the continuous CPU warnings we get from them.

Here goes the stats for the 29th.. a relatively slow day I think:

13,350 total page requests, 349.79 MB of bandwidth, doing 7246 database connects, doing 607,236 MySQL queries. That comes to about 45 queries per request. Believe it or not – that’s about right for site with features like PF’s. The database stats are still troubling. The math shows that Drupal’s caching isn’t operating as it should. I think I’ve figured out the cause, and may have a fix (yes – this is what I’ve been doing during my holiday), but that doesn’t eliminate the traffic/bandwidth/cpu demands. They are unacceptable to all shared hosting providers I’ve contacted – so it’s time to go dedicated.

Anyone out there want to sponsor our hosting? You’ll be helping us continue to provide a service to our community. 1 & 1′s Managed Server II package sounds about right for what we need.

Whomever decides to step up – we will be in your debt and will make sure to mention you promenently on the site for as long as the sponsorship is in effect.

Contact me at kmartino at pobox dot com if interested.

A year in review

I hate lists, I love lists. Ever see “High Fidelity”? There’s a little of that in all of us. So with that caveat, here goes what I thought was notable in the news of 2005…

1. From the Boxing Day Tsunami to Rita and Katrina, mother nature showed how ineffectual we are to stand her wrath. In response people gave a lot – in record amounts sums were raised and volunteers went into action. But time is passing and Katrina raised questions that go unanswered: If we could not be prepareded to handle hurricane relief with days warning – what of a terrorist attack? And is that level of poverty acceptable in America? Anywhere in the world?

2. Speaking of which, Live 8 helped refocus hearts and minds on poverty as a world wide fight. AOL’s coverage of Live 8 was notable and may be looked back on as a turning point in streaming video.

3. There was an election in Iraq. A great thing. A sign of progress. Then again, it’s an election that brought it closer in alignment to Iran. Speaking of which….

4. The President of Iran revealed himself a raving war-monger.

5. Bin Laden – still free. The American people? Revealed less so.

6. Pope John Paul II passes. Joseph Alois Ratzinger is named Pope Benedict XVI.

7. The mass media is dead. While this New York Times article is focused on music, the same trends are on the move in TV broadcasting, radio, newspapers, movies – all forms of mass entertainment and news. If something can be transmitted digitally – delivered over the net – and there is a social aspect to it (what doesn’t have that?) – it will feel these effects. Participatory, on demand – media and software – were the story of the web this year – and will continue to be into the next.

8. Fox buying MySpace for $580m, and MySpace’s terrific growth, are but a precursor of what’s to come (think distributed) but it definitely opened the eyes of many.

9. Digg, del.icio.us, and Memeorandum exemplified new ways to share and get the news. All largely thanks to RSS and its ubiquity.

10. There is a growing realization that while we are gaining much in terms of choice and personal control – we are losing more than we thought:

10.1 Following announcements of Knight Ridder’s self-destructive, staff slashing buyouts, and rumors of a sell off that might lead to the Philadelphia Daily News’s closing – the Daily News’s Will Bunch posts a courageous request for conversation – The New Philadelphia Experiment: Saving the Daily News. Challenging the notion that paper is product, he coins the phrase “norg”, short for news organization. His ongoing series, and conversation among many big thinkers, implementors, and pundits, that is largely being chronicled on Philly Future is a must read. It has been painful following so many great writers leave both papers these past two months. It has been said that newspapers used to write the ‘first draft’ of history. Speaking of which….

10.2 Users editing their own bios and histories at Wikipedia lead Dave Winer to ask: “we need to determine what authority means in the age of Internet scholarship. And we need to take a step back and ask if we really want the participants in history to write and rewrite the history. Isn’t there a place in this century for historians, non-participants who observe and report on the events?”

10.3 The coverage of Katrina, in particular from The Times-Picayune, showed just what news organizations can do at times of crisis. The the good and bad of it will be a topic of discussion for a long time to come. But hopefully the work of The Times-Picayune doesn’t get lost in in the debate.

11. All systems – even systems where control is seemingly passed to the edges – can be – and will be – gamed.

12. Web 2.0shmo. “Web 2.0″ looked like to be a phrase that defined participatory, control pushed out the edges, social software and media. Now it is a marketing slogan used by firms that want to flip. In anycase, there were a large number of efforts this year that exemplified using the web and the net itself as the platform for software and media. From Google Maps mashups to Yahoo!’s embrace of social web services – the old Sun slogan – “the network is the computer” and my raving to fellow software engineers at work years ago – “the URL is the command line, the URL is the command line!” – has come to fruitition. And that has concerned the old guard.

13. Speaking of the old guard – Microsoft is no longer looked at as the evil empire – it’s Google. Imagine that.

14. Democrats start to realize, they aren’t top dog in the blogosphere.

15. The troubles with Diebold and electronic voting machines start to make waves in the media – finally!

16. Podcasting got big. Then didn’t. Videocasting on the other hand….

17. There is a growing realization that Wal-Mart and organizations that use practices like it, might just be bad for America. I guess that counts upon your point of view however – doesn’t it?

18. 80s-style Metal is back. It might not be called it, but it’s definitely back. See YouTube: Children Of Bodom – In Your Face Music Video, Coheed and Cambria (listen to Welcome Home) and Avenged Sevenfold. Soaring vocals, guitar solos, lyrics about evil. Yes indeed. So there.

19. The Philadelphia blogosphere rocks. Gothamist, Metroblogging both launched blogs in our area to compete with Philly’s home grown Philebrity. The Daily News, Inquirer (and) and the Philadelphia Weekly have let lose terrific writers as bloggers that show not only do they get the medium – they’ve embraced it. PhillyBurbs.com has some of the most popular ones in our region. And most important – a huge number of independent voices have joined us online as our growing monthly meetups show a glimmer of.

20. The Eagles made it to the Super Bowl! and lost. And we’re not going back for a long time. Thanks to big egos and greed getting in the way.

21. Philly rocks! The news has been non-stop about our fair city and how it is now a tourist, business, residential, and buzz destination. Meanwhile, just outside of Center City, gun deaths climb at an extreme rate. Philly has always been a city of small neighborhoods, very distinct from each other, yet connected. Lets hope the prosperity the core is starting to enjoy spreads past Fishtown, to Kensington, past Old City, to South Philly, past University City, to West Philly, past Spring Garden to North Philly.

If I were to compile a personal list of notables…

1. My wife graces my life still.

2. My friends and family are still together and healthy.

3. I’m still am decently healthy. Knock on wood. Still need to do something about my back.

4. I’ve started to go to college. Next class begins in January.

5. I’ve played two shows in one year. Wow. Can we do three next?

6. I’m still at Comcast. And I’m getting happier here believe it or not. It’s a good place to work with some huge challenges, opportunities to tackle, working with some great people.

7. The Philly blogosphere rises. Philly Future and the team of volunteers helping maintain it rock. New partners. New friends.

8. I decided last year to be far more bold in 2005. To not restrict myself in reaching out. I’ve done that. I need to do some more.

A picture…. of myself….

I’m notoriously shy, so it’s with hesitation I put a thumbnail pic of my recent self up here in a spot where folks can see it. However, I think it’s become a kind of necessity. I’ve started to meet many folks who I talk to online, and this can help mitigate the shock some folks have putting a face to the voice.

Black, grey, 1999 all over again

Minimalist. I admit I am more than a little influenced by Black Flag’s logo. Add a 1k Flash widget for some wisdom, and remove the 100k header graphic for some speed. I think I’ll stick with this for a bit.

Now I need to get around to doing a write up on the widget and release it. Some techniques used:

It has a transparent background and is resizable without scaling its display, so I can place it wherever I want.

It uses an external CSS style sheet for the text.

It uses an external XML file to define the quotes.

I extend MovieClip and link the class to a library item symbol for maxium re-use and to enable managing code outside the Flash IDE. In fact, I could, with little work, move to use an open source Flash compiler and development model.

Big News: Google to offer feed API

Niall Kennedy of Technorati: Exclusive: Google to offer feed API: Google plans to offer a feed reader API to allow third-party developers to build new views of feed data on top of Google’s backend. The new APIs will include synchronization, feed-level and item-level tagging, per-item read and unread status, as well as rich media enclosure and metadata handling….Google’s new offering is direct competition to NewsGator’s synchronization APIs but are easier to code against (no SOAP required). Google currently does not have the same reach across devices as NewsGator but an easy-to-use API from the guys who brought you the Blogger API and “Blog This!” might really shake up the feed aggregator ecosystem.

Robert Scoble of Microsoft: Google announces feed API:Here’s another note to Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Ray Ozzie. Hey, I asked you guys to acquire NewsGator three months ago. If you had done that you would have taken the wind out of Google’s sails. But now that Google has a feed API, we’ll need one too and right now NewsGator looks pretty good

I was writing a tool that would have used Newsgator as a feed update service for Philly Future. Would have saved considerable bandwidth. Lets see where Google goes with this. Bloglines could and should release similar functionality. It would have been my first choice as a stable platform to build from if it were already available.