Here are the blog entries from the O'Reilly Emerging Technology 2004 conference.

February 15, 2004 3:37 PM
Wi-Fi coolness

You know, there's something appealing about doing remote systems administration in a cafe in New York ;-). I just wonder if it's worth sleeping two nights in a plane.

Thanks to Foster (pictured behind the laptop) for giving me a ride around the city. :-)

February 13, 2004 11:57 PM
Mexico!

Tijuana, Mexico! A nice trolley ride from San Diego! Cheap stuff! Lucha Libre! Good margaritas!

Relaxation.

February 13, 2004 6:56 PM
Where do geeks go to die?

Answer: The Apple Store. A bunch of us decided to do a pilgrimage to the nearest Apple sales point, and unfortunately nobody got out unharmed. I survived with only some scratches (a couple of games and a TV adapter), but one of the guys who came "just to browse" ended up buying a 15" Powerbook, and a French guy could not resist buying a 23" Cinema Display.

The question is not whether we are still sane, but whether the French guy can fit the display in his carry-on baggage...

ETech is NOT a good place to be if you have ever wondered about buying a Mac, because everyone there is such an Mac überuser. You just cannot help but be sucked in after seeing how cool it is to edit documents with SubEthaEdit and chat with everyone in the same Rendezvous circle.

Using a Mac is not about speed or the latest 3D games. It is about the aesthetic experience of completeness and satisfaction.

Update (the next day): Went back. Big mistake. Now own an iSight.

February 13, 2004 10:02 AM
1 o'clock poetry

Under the slugging monk
the waiter asks
"Have you lost your little world?"

February 13, 2004 1:39 AM
Good stuff and bad stuff

The bad stuff first: The wireless connection here sucks. It sucks less today than previously, but it is still bad. The other thing is that there are far too few power strips available, and I've on several occasions had my laptop die on me.

But the cool stuff just continues: Programmable matter and quantum dots by Wil ~McCarthy just blew me (and probably everyone else) away with the visions of windows that move according to sunlight, wires that grow inside the walls as needed, walls that can produce any sort of light at command, quantum wells and artifical atoms, but especially the palm-sized, paper-thin über-PDA, which does *everything*, including cooling your drinks. And it all works on "ambient energy" - harvesting stray photons, sound and movement. When any physical object can have any functionality you desire, you get into some pretty interesting scenarios...

High sci-fi, mindblowing stuff - but the theory says it should work.

February 12, 2004 10:26 PM
Sheepaholic

Drool...
Cory's presentation was fun, as usual, though he didn't really bring on anything really new. But yeah, as he points out: "Ebooks are easy to share, and they are easy to slice and dice."

He also released Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom under a Creative Commons sharealike-license, which essentially allows others to go and create derivative works (like slash furry fiction) of it - getting a spontaneous round of applause for it.

But the really, really cool thing was the Electric Sheep presentation. An incredible, distributed screen saver system that uses other computers to create artificial life: digital "sheep". And yes, it's a reference to Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. A sort of a presentation of the digital subconsciousness of the idle time of the computers.

Sounds good, but what does it mean?

Incredibly beautiful moving pictures, that had the utterly ADD-oriented crowd stop their constant typing and just stare at the screen and drool.

Go. Now. http://www.electricsheep.org/. The coolest screen saver you will ever find.

February 12, 2004 1:13 AM
So, no oysters or alcohol

I've missed most of the morning's presentations and spent the time either hugging a pillow or the porcelaine thing in the toilet, you know, the one where you put things and they disappear with a "whoosh". It can't be a hangover - I had two glasses of wine and a beer yesterday - so I'm wagering on some sort of a food poisoning. I almost threw up during Pertti Korhonen's presentation in the morning - that would've certainly created some excitement. :-)

Gah.

I dared to have a bit of rather excellent tomato-basil soup for lunch, but I feel that we are still negotiating whether the soup should have rights to a bit of fresh air every now and then.

The crappy thing about these conferences is that if you are not in 100%, you suddenly feel like an outsider real fast. Everybody's talking about "the great presentation" from the morning, or talking about the slide... And you are completely out of it. Not to mention the precious moments you could've used to talk to the wonderful minds that have been collected here.

February 11, 2004 3:53 AM
How to run a wiki

Sam Ruby had a wonderful talk about the lessons learned from the Atom Wiki. He formulated something I would like to nominate as the "Ruby's Law":

In any project, for any given number of opinions of the technical questions, there is a larger number of opinions on how the project should be named – or on the process how name should be chosen.

It's so true.

There was also a highly interesting discussion afterwards about Wiki visualization and navigation, which in my opinion are the questions we should focus on, rather than thinking about issues with WikiMarkup transferability. Wikis would allow wonderful navigational tools - I know JSPWiki instances where the CSS for the site is available as a WikiPage, allowing anyone to change the visual look of the site. But why not also extend the same concept to the physical HTML layout of the site?

Of course, you might want to limit it to only certain people, as recovering from WikiTrolls would be nigh impossible, but still... The power of the Wikis lies in the separation of content and presentation: in fact, the JSPWiki internals are looking more and more like a database engine day by day, and some people are seriously suggesting a SQL-like query language embeddedable in the pages. So, we can do all this wonderful stuff with the content - but we still have to resort to editing HTML if we want to change the presentation. Why?

February 10, 2004 7:58 PM
I lust for a Roomba

I'm just listening to Helen Greiner's presentation of Roomba. She actually has one that she is running on the table, and the #etech -channel is filled with geeks declaring their instant love at the tiny little home robot.

Can't say I'm much different.

I seriously, seriously want one. Like now.

Update: Joi snapped a photo of me, relaxing outside :-)

Update2: I'm now a bit less enthusiastic. IRobot does in addition build the PackBot, which is a military bot. We were shown a cool video in which the ~PackBot is thrown in through a window to a building, drives off the roof, and drives directly into a river; surviving all this stuff. It was apparently used during the Afghan war as well. It's just a matter of time before they strap it with guns. And yes, she is talking seriously about "autonomous fighting robots" and "unmanned ground vehicles", with the enthusiastic glee of Susan Calvin.

Relevant quote from IRC:
20:31 < Tantek> this is perhaps the scariest presentation i have ever seen

The obvious question from the audience was: "What are the ethical constraints?" - and she really has no answer. She explained in a roundabout way about "this being the answer to the suicide bombers that don't care about being killed", and then skipped the issue with "but the conference must go on, so thank you for the questions."

What utter fucking bollocks.

February 10, 2004 5:41 PM
Fleeting identities

How do you know you are at a geek conference? People get introduced to you by their IRC nicks, and you don't actually realize until the next morning that you still don't know their real names, despite having met them in real life.

(Oh yeah, and I *do* love bagels. I only wish we could get some decent ones back home. I may have to carry a few back...)

February 10, 2004 6:57 AM
Kuukkeli on laskeutunut

(Pardon my Finnish): Kuukkeleilla on nyt oikea koti - http://blogit.fi/kuukkeli/. Kaikki päivitykset tulevat tästä eteenpäin sinne.

February 10, 2004 12:36 AM
Tutorials

Russ on phone
I attended the 'Reverse engineering' tutorial by Andrew Huang - the guy who cracked the X-Box. He had also cracked his arm, but that didn't seem to slow him down. I have to say that I got a bit bored of all the x86 assembly code flowing with a font that was just barely readable, so I spent some time tweaking the all new Finnish blog awards page, coming soon to a server near you.

For the second tutorial of the day, AT&T kindly gave us Sony Ericsson T616 phones, so that we could try some hands-on hacking. I promptly found that the screen on these babies is abysmally bad at direct, 25 degrees Californian sunlight... *grin* But Russell Beattie's cool to listen to - he's certainly the archetype for us NADD people. At the moment he's hacking at his home server using SSH on a big screen... Then he showed us accidentally his password to a web service :-)

However, I don't believe that these tutorials are really of too much value - for me anyway. Most of the stuff I am already familiar with, or could learn quickly otherwise; or it is too detailed to get me excited. *shrug* Should've gone to the Digital Democracy thing.



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"Emerging Technology 2004" last changed on 16-Feb-2004 20:31:28 EET by JanneJalkanen.

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