Cheap computers

oooooh. This is a mac mini clone with linux-friendly hardware. If there was decent software to stream music over wireless, it would make a great kitchen PC. Or since it has ethernet and wifi, it’d be a great little home server. There’s always a need for little servers and firewalls, and this looks like a great choice for those uses.

“I don’t use the internet, I have a staff that uses it for me!”

RE: Why The Web Is Hitting A Wall in BusinessWeek.

The 47-year-old Princeton University grad thinks the Net is largely a waste of time. Assistants print out e-mails for him and researchers give him paper copies of Wall Street analysts reports from the Web.

Gee, you don’t have to browse the internet at all, just as long as you have assistants and researchers to print out every page you need to read. What a simple solution to all this complicated clicking and googling business!

The article does go on to talk about other people who reasonably don’t use the internet either, but some of the reasons are pretty lame. Hatred of email seems to come up a lot. Protip: don’t start your email program — there’s more to the internet than email. Someone else is paranoid that Big Brother is going to steal her privacy. I think someone’s been watching too much local news.

Overcomplication is also a big complaint, which is totally understandable. But then one person says:

“We’ve had so much time to come up with a computer and Internet that are easier to use and work better, but we haven’t done it.”

Um, no we haven’t. The World Wide Web as most people know it only got popular 11 years ago. Graphical user interfaces are really only 20 years old, but computers weren’t even capable of rich color and smooth motion until the last couple years. Compare that with the television — close to 60 years old, or the car — over 100 — the two common comparisons for “easy-to-use” consumer items. Computers will eventually be easy to use, but we’re still in the “adjusting the vertical hold” and “cranking the front of the car” stage of development. I think people mistakenly correlate rapidity of technological development with usability development. One goes as fast as engineers can think up new ways to make things fast, but the other requires longterm study and user testing.

I think internet penetration will continue to slowly rise as old people die, as rural areas get network coverage, and as usability progresses. I don’t know if it’ll ever be near-100% like television, but it could approach that. Television is a one-way medium, and nothing is simpler than sitting on your ass. It’s hard to compete with that.

Olympics and Television

This is a point-by-point discussion of the LA Times article found here.

TURIN, Italy — As Olympic TV ratings sagged over the last two weeks and viewers switched channels from the Games to “American Idol,” NBC got one piece of very good news.

The network’s website for the 2006 Turin Games,, recorded 338 million page views through Saturday, more than doubling the number of hits from the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

And that, some experts said, was promising not only for broadcasters but for the entire Olympic movement. “We are clearly in a new era,” said David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute. “We have to see a new model for how the Olympics are delivered.”

The Internet could lead straight to a group that broadcasters and the International Olympic Committee covet most — young fans. Enmeshed in a world of text messaging, chat rooms and instant news, this demographic appears to be turned off by nightly packaged programming.

Actually, everyone was turned off by nightly packaged programming. This isn’t some reaction of the hip youth against old fogies, it’s the reaction of a country with a lot of channels to choose from against a ludicrous idea that people would watch 4 hours of olympics every night for two weeks.

For the last summer olympics I tried to record sports I wanted to see, but they were lost in gigantic 3 or 4 hour blocks that often didn’t even contain the sports they claimed would be shown. When I saw this year that it was the same thing, I didn’t even bother scheduling recordings.

With the time difference in Italy, that meant waiting around to watch events that had finished hours earlier.

“They’re saying, ‘What do you mean I can’t see it now?’ ” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

Not only are young consumers hungry for quick information, experts said, they are accustomed to paying for it.

I thought the internet was full of blood-sucking pirates who wouldn’t pay for anything?

Unlike their parents, who grew up watching over-the-air television and listening to the radio, the newer generation is comfortable with monthly cable bills and pay-per-view and spending money to download music.

In an odd way, putting more of the Games online with streaming video would hark back to the “Triplecast,” an old broadcasting experiment gone awry.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, NBC offered a subscription package that gave viewers live and greatly expanded coverage. There weren’t many takers and the “Triplecast” flopped, considered something of a joke within the industry.

Yet, more than a decade later, the model might be updated.

“The notion of what it represented is not a bad idea in 2006,” Swangard said. “This idea that someone is willing to pay for the Olympics when they want it, how they want it.”

The tricky part will be figuring out how to package myriad events and how to charge for them.

NBC, I’ll save you millions of dollars and tell you the answer: Set up a TV schedule that lists exactly when events occur so that a Tivo or other recording device can record only the sports I want to watch. Then upload every single event as separate clips online, so I can watch everything.

Should viewers have to subscribe to the entire Games? Might they be able to order specific events or days? And how can the IOC protect itself against piracy in a wide-open medium?

Another free answer: a one-time fee for access to everything. It should cost 10$. After I pay my 10$ I can download and stream every single clip of every athlete in every event. Piracy will be a non-issue if you make it work on all three major platforms, provide decent resolution, and make it painless to search for whatever I want. Customizable, authenticated RSS feeds with enclosures would mean I could download just Jamaican Bobsledders, or only Sasha Cohen. This is all doable right now.

“It’s an incredible challenge and an incredible burden,” Carter said.

In light of television ratings the last two weeks, it might be a challenge worth facing.

“For generations, the media has supplied [the Olympics] on their own terms,” Carter said. “Now consumers are demanding how they want it, and it’s about time the industry woke up.”

The crazy thing about this discussion is that it’s only happening after the Olympics, after the poor ratings that everyone predicted. Everyone knew the Olympics were going to bomb, and they did. How bad are the ratings going to have to get until NBC decides to try something different? Or will we have to wait until someone else buys the Olympics rights before anything changes?

Testing Meme Propagation In Blogspace: Add Your Blog!

This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: — results and commentary will appear there in the future.

Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate — the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)


To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

(1) I found this experiment at URL:

(2) I found it via “Newsreader Software” or “Browsing the Web” or “Searching the Web” or “An E-Mail Message”: “Browsing the Web”

(3) I posted this experiment at URL:

(4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 03/08/04

(5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 16:32:00

(6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Boston, MA, USA

OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

(7) My blog is hosted by: my dad

(8) My age is: 24

(9) My gender is: Male

(10) My occupation is: Online Editor

(11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: Straw

(12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Movable Type

(13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): 18/5/2002

(14) My web browser is: Galeon

(15) My operating system is: Linux


I didn’t even know this was in development, although it would seem an obvious idea. Behold, video footage of Worms3D.

Henry will no doubt complain that this 3d version compromises the “purity” of the Worms experience, but he’s the guy who refuses to play anything except the Worms2 demo because having more than one level also pollutes this purity.

This file is served with BitTorrent. It’s a special method of transferring files that maintains high download speeds with popularity. The downside is that if you wait too long, the file will become unavailable. So grab it now!

A Fair and Balanced look at the ten commandments issue

For Fair and Balanced Friday, a fair and balanced report from NPR. It concerns the Alabama judge who is refusing to remove the 2-ton monument to the ten commandments from the courthouse. It’s a fairly normal fair and balanced npr piece, that is until the legal expert chimes in with his opinion. Very funny stuff.

(Note: WMP9 is supported by the latest version of xine, so this file is playable in linux. You might need binaries from avifile)