My thoughts and prayers

I wanted to offer my thoughts and prayers towards those dealing with the horror of the last few days in Mumbai.

Arpit: When terrorism hits home

NYTimes: What They Hate About Mumbai

The Atlantic: Behind Mumbai

Guardian: ‘We were told to kill until the last breath’

BBC: How Mumbai attacks unfolded

BBC: Officials quit over India attacks

BBC: The age of ‘celebrity terrorism’

“A New Media Tells Different Stories” by Bruno Giussani

“A New Media Tells Different Stories” by Bruno Giussani April, 1997:

There are also many other ramifications that the new journalist will have to take into consideration while handling information and exploiting the different tools.

quote First, the behavior of online information seekers is very different than the traditional readers: some surf, some search. The first group is satisfied which just seeing what’s there – they seek pleasure and surprise. The second group is looking for specific information – their priorities are easy and rapid access, and accuracy.

Second, geography is no longer an issue. Because of the Internet global reach, geographical audiences and ethnic audiences can overlap (for instance, Swiss readers living in the United States access our magazine online) as well as thematic audiences (say, worldwide car racing fans hooking up to an Indianapolis newspaper).

Thirdly, the development of the many different types of intelligent agents will double the human public in all of its diversity by becoming an artificial public. We will have to think of a way to present our information so that it reaches both people and robots: software which behaves according to their owners’ desires.

Forth, we will have to handle many different types of information that previously were not taken into consideration and which do not necessarily respond to the traditional definition of news: weather forecasts, traffic updates, sport results, real estate markets, transcripts of school board meetings, unedited documents, etc.

Fifth, we will have to face new competitors coming from outside the field of publishing, using different approaches and different techniques. The first name that comes to mind is, of course, Microsoft, a software company which has recently rolled out a magazine (Slate), launched a TV/Web station (MSNBC), and started projects for local Web guides (Sidewalk). But there are thousands more doing the same, becoming news publishers all the while being car manufacturers or phone companies.

Finally, and it’s an essential point, we are going to witness an explosion in the media diversity. It would be incredibly naive to envision the future looking only at what we can see today – the computer as a plastic box with a screen and a keyboard. The digital revolution is giving birth to multiple new forms of devices bringing together the quality of television images, the communication power of telephones, the memory and speed of computers, the selection and ease of use of newspapers. They are spreading out in different shapes and forms and locations: cellular phones with e-mail capability, network computers, videotext, electronic paper, digital wallets, voice recognition, audiotex, pagers, beep-watches, and so on. The future will allow us to access worldwide information, in many different forms, adapted to needs and places

Retrying Netbeans

While I live in Emacs, Eclipse won me over for Java development a long time ago. I’ve been keeping my eye on Netbeans for a while. Each major release I’ve given a try by checking out a current project from SVN and attempting some basic development tasks. Usually I’d hit a snag that would discourage me just enough to not get over the hump. Netbeans 6.5 has been different so far, so I’m going to give it an honest try now.

Some notes:

1. Choosing View | Show Versioning Labels makes it easier to cope with having multiple versions (branches) of the same project open.

2. In OSX, Netbeans, like many non-CLI applications, does not respect terminal set environment variables (.bash_profile, etc). This handly Python script updates your “~/.MacOSX/environment.plist” file from your environment variables. Set up a cron job and you’re done.

3. This handy guide to Mac keyboard shortcuts is a keeper.

The Visual GC Module looks like something to try out.

Growing demand for Salvation Army services

Kevin Barbieux, “The Homeless Guy”, takes note of the growing lines for feedings from the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army was there for my family when I was young. As a host for my Cub Scouts pack. As a place we could afford to shop. As a provider of a Santa Claus that would visit us to deliver toys when Mom didn’t have the money to afford to buy them.

So when you see those people ringing those bells and asking for money, realize, the Salvation Army helps. More than you can imagine.

Two on project process

Aaron Held, coworker at CIM, “A House With No Front Door Keeps you off the streets”:

Scrum and Agile are desinged to solve this by making it a team effort. So in Scrum it is not the “developers” that build this Dr Seuss house, but the team. I think this is why many people fear Scrum. There is no “justifiable failure”. When Agile Projects Go Bad:

Agile development also depends upon the engagement of the sponsors or customers in the process. That’s a difficult transition for some, according to Cockburn. “It looked like for a while that we were pushing all the power down to the programmers, but in fact we were evening out the power and responsibilities. Everyone gets to feel awkward about that.” In some organizations, he says, programmers ignored their bosses and built whatever they wanted.

At the other extreme, programmers expected the bosses or managers or sponsors to tell them accurately what the priorities were–not something the managers were used to. “So you get a breakdown on both sides,” says Cockburn. “The sponsors aren’t used to being asked to show up and care about the project, even [about] the requirements. … They say ‘No, that’s what we hired you to do.'” The programmers respond, ‘We don’t know; we need you to help us figure it out,'” he adds. And the sponsors say, ‘We don’t have time. Work it out yourselves.'”

Scrum – when practiced as intended, makes it hard to for CYA measures in development, planning, or management. Aaron has a point. That’s scary to some I would think.

Python links for Saturday, November 29th, 2008 Python+Scipy+Matplotlib vs Matlab?

Drawing Machines: TIOBE Index: Java on top, Python up, Ruby down and no longer in Top 10

Zea Partners: Python Shows Continual Growth in Open Source Projects

Siafoo: Python, Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

YouTube: Python Design Patterns

The Python Challenge

Alternative journalism documenting Fishtown and Kensington

In Episode 6 of “Shadow World”, David S. Kessler took a break from giving interviews to let the location speak for itself – Front and Berks – the Berks El Station.

I can still recall the elderly man following me from the train station, as the sun was setting, when I was just a kid. He propositioned me for a blow job. He said he would pay me money. I walked faster and acted as if I couldn’t hear him. Eventually, he got the hint.

Right around that corner, on a different day, maybe that same year, I was jumped and earned one of the broken noses I’d keep as souvenirs of my days in Fishtown and Kensington.

David S. Kessler’s effort, to me, qualifies as a powerful act of journalism. One that provides insight into a world many of us in Philadelphia are familiar with, but to those on the outside, would have a hard time fathoming.

He spent a year recording short, under five minute, video interviews with those he met under the Frankford El in Kensington. Philadelphia Weekly wrote about the effort last year but you can experience it yourself at

Another great piece of journalism that documents the true life story of four teens who commit murderer in Fishtown is “Fishtown”. It was was recently published in hardback. You can read more about “Fishtown” at Geekadelphia.

Update 11-30-08: Alfred Lubrano, in the Inquirer, writes about Witness to Hunger, a program of Drexel University that distributed digital cameras to 40 women in North Philly who documented their stories, and in the process exposed realities of living in poverty in North Philadelphia. Make sure to visit the site.

Imagine if the project’s next step was to enable these families to publish to Flickr and YouTube next. It would enable them to reach wider audiences and raise awareness so much further.