Friday, 30-Jun-06 08:56

Collision Detection (great name!) writes about a device that can record smells, currently being developed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

I can't even begin to imagine the copyright problems with that one... Will there be armed guards frisking you at the door when entering ~McDonalds so that you can't steal their signature smell and use it in your own burger joint?

(Yeah, it's Friday.)

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 20:55
Developer feedback

My first name sounds feminine in many languages, so on occasion people get confused as to my sexuality. Which sometimes leads to fun situations with hotel clerks scrambling to change my reservation when I introduce myself. (I wonder whether they remove or add something in the room.)

You might know that I am an open source developer. I get a lot of emails from users. Most of them are nice, some of them are incomprehensible, and a few of them have really made me scratch my head. Like the one I received a few days ago: Someone felt obliged to tell me that they stopped using JSPWiki, because they found out that I am a man. Apparently woman-made wikis are better in some respect which I cannot fathom.

Oh well. "Nice" to be on this end of the stick for a change.

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 11:02
Google Authentication launches

Now this is rather interesting... Google launches Google Account Authentication, which allows you to use Google's user database for authentication in your own web apps. I.e. if an user has a Google account, like GMail, they can use that password to access your web app.

This is exactly what Microsoft did with their ill-fated Passport, which seems to have fallen into disuse except in Hotmail... It will be interesting to see whether Google will be treated in the same way as Microsoft was.

I see immediately some uses for this e.g. with spam protection on blogs and wikis. However, in a way that eerily reminds me of the fight against terrorism and civil liberties being sacrificed in that arena, wouldn't giving identity federation to a single company just to combat spam - the terrorism of the blogosphere - be a tad over the top?

Thursday, 29-Jun-06 10:40
Boten Anna

Everybody's probably aware of this already, but in case you ain't... Basshunter's Boten Anna, a song about an IRC channel and it's overguard bot is now #2 on the Swedish single list.

A Karaoke version + subtitles in multiple languages are available as well. And it's very, very catchy. In fact, it's one of those things that will simply run around in your head like a lost bird in a sports hall...

(How geeky can you get? "Hon kan banna dig so hårt...")

Wednesday, 28-Jun-06 16:59
Aamulehti lainailee blogeja, mutta onko se luvallista?

(Sorry for Finnish content; local copyright issues yet again.)

Lyhyessä ajassa suosikikseni noussut Viides rooli kertoilee yrityksistään selvittää Aamulehden tapaa lainailla blogeja viikkoliitteeseensä, sitaattioikeuden rajoja hivotellen. Kannattaa vilkuilla ja käydä kommentoimassa siellä.

Onko blogi kokonaisuus, ja merkinnän lainaaminen vain sitaatti; vai onko yhdenkin merkinnän kopiointi jo ongelma? Monellehan tällä ei ole väliä, koska bloggaus on vain harrastus, mutta bloggaavia ammattilaisia tämä voi hyvinkin siepata sydämenpohjasta. Suomessa on nykyään erinomaisia käsityöblogeja, joiden omistajia voisi korventaa melkoisesti, jos joku alkaisi lainata esimerkiksi vaivalla väsättyjä käsityöohjeita ja kuvia sanasta sanaan omaan kaupalliseen lehteensä "sitaatin" hengessä. (En nyt ota kantaa siihen, ovatko esim. koruohjeet tekijänoikeuslain tarkoittamia teoksia. Tietty tapa kertoa ohje kyllä todennäköisesti on...)

Lainaamisen selkeyttämiseksi suunnitellut CreativeCommons-lisenssit voivat ehkä jopa vaikeuttaa tilannetta, koska ne voivat antaa kuvan siitä, että sisältö olisi vapaasti käytettävissä kaikkiin tarkoituksiin. Näinhän ei useimmiten ole, ellei sitten kyseessä ole PD-lisenssi. Creative Commonsin idea on luoda helppo tapa antaa hieman enemmän oikeuksia kuin mitä kovin tiukaksi suunniteltu tekijänoikeuslaki muutoin antaisi - esimerkiksi vaikka oikeuden tehdä kopioita vapaasti, kunhan ei muuta tai käytä kaupallisesti (ns. Non-Commercial, Non-Derivative -lisenssi). Joka tapauksessa isoilla päivälehdillä on oma maineensa varjeltavana, joten en usko, että kovin kauheita ylilyöntejä tässä tapahtuu. Parempi vain, että hyvät kirjoittajat pääsevät esille ja kasvattavat omaa mainettaan... ja että hyvät mielipiteet pääsevät esille. Tässäkin on mielestäni parempi suojella yhteiskunnallista keskustelua ja yleistä sananvapautta kuin yksittäisen kirjoittajan hypoteettista tulonmenetystä.

Minua jutussa lähinnä korpeaa se, että Aamulehden verkkopainoksen ilmaispuolella noita "Blogosfääri" ja "Verkossa" -palstoja ei ole. Jos siellä olisi lainaus ja linkkaus alkuperäiseen, niin sillä saattaisi bloggaaja saada edes lisää lukijoita... Symbioosi on parempi kuin loiselämä, nääs.

Tuesday, 27-Jun-06 16:09
NFC Joint Venture formed

From the Nokia press release:

"Munich, Germany and Helsinki, Finland - Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), the world's second largest producer of smart cards, and Nokia, a world leader in mobile communications, today announced an agreement with intent to form a joint venture. Giesecke & Devrient will own 57 and Nokia 43 percent of the new company. The joint venture will provide services to the NFC ecosystem by enabling consumer applications, such as credit cards or transport tickets, to be securely and easily downloaded over-the-air to NFC enabled mobile devices. Over-the-air management of the consumer applications is a critical part for the emerging NFC ecosystem, and the joint venture will work closely together with other stakeholders when bringing these services to the market."

Um. Maybe that's a bit of a mouthful. Simply put, it means that Nokia and G&D form a company which will develop solutions which allow you to put your credit card in your cell phone and use it for payment by simply waving it at the cash register, and invite others to join the party, too. Good things ensue: you can turn your credit card off, you can see directly from your cell phone what you have bought, and you don't need to carry that much stuff with you. The difficulty is getting the credit card into the phone, as there are quite a few players in the game who have their own view of how things should work: the credit card company, the bank, the operator, the mobile phone manufacturer, the user himself... You need someone to make it all click.

The downside of all this integration being, of course, that once you put everything in your cell phone (or shoe for that matter, though Nokia gave up shoe business a long time ago), losing it will cause you a bit more trouble than today.

But the thing is, some people like to cram everything into one device so that they don't need to carry everything they own, whereas others are happy with a bunch of different things - one thing should perform one function: a phone is a phone, a music player is a music player, a credit card is a credit card, and a shoe is a shoe. The problem is that at the moment the latter people are well catered for, the former ones not at all...

And yes, it's more complicated than that. And no, these guys are not alone at it. But I wish them good luck anyways.

I'm excited. Are you excited? Well, I am excited.

Tuesday, 27-Jun-06 10:17
Cashing Adsense Checks Is Worth Nothing?

Here's an interesting tidbit - Tuomas Rinta was trying to cash in a Google ~AdSense check, and it turns out his bank takes 85 € to turn it into hard currency. With today's exchange rate, that's about USD 107. Therefore, since Google sends your check at every $100, you'll end up with pieces of worthless paper in your hands...

I haven't hit that problem yet - I've had ads on this site for almost a year now, and so far haven't yet hit the first $100. (So as a method to get rich quick, ads on a website are not terribly good.)

Why checks are so expensive then? My guess is that it's because they're not used in this part of the world at all, and therefore handling them is a pain in the butt that the banks just don't want to deal with. No matter what the reason, I would recommend everyone with a Nordea account to put a tick in their "hold the payment" box until Google can do Electronic Fund Transfer to Finland. Unless, of course, you're making significant amounts of money from ~AdSense.

(That, or switch banks. But that's a huge hassle for mere 85€.)

Monday, 26-Jun-06 16:23
Software process management revisited

Forget Agile! Forget XP! The Waterfall Model is making the rounds again, and this time in the Waterfall 2006 conference, with such exciting topics as:

  • Pair Managing: Two Managers per Programmer
  • User Interaction: It Was Hard to Build, It Should Be Hard to Use
  • Ruby On Snails: Slow Down Development With This New Framework


  • Development Driven Development and Test Driven Testing

This is a must for every self-respecting programmer!

"Waterfall - put testing where it belongs: in the end."

(Via Tuomas. Thanks for the laugh!)

((If you're not a software engineer, this all is very funny.))

Wednesday, 21-Jun-06 15:36

I'm not much in a mood to blog about anything right now. But I'm certainly going to try to peel a potato in 1 second. (via Boing Boing.)

Monday, 19-Jun-06 19:33
Mentos & Coke, old trick

OK, so maybe it's an old trick to put a Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle and watch the foam burst out, but some people still make art out of it.

(via IRC).

Monday, 19-Jun-06 11:20
Happy morning!

...wake up you sleepyhead, you can sleep when you're dead.

I know I have sometimes trouble waking up in the morning. Something like this would make me homicidal instead of just grumpy.

(via Boing Boing.)

Friday, 16-Jun-06 19:26

I've been quiet all week because I've been away doing my semi-obligatory military training. Oh well, another country saved.

Maybe I'm getting old, but a lot of the way the military works is starting to make sense to me. When you first go there at the tender age of 19 or so, you don't really know shit about how the world works, but the older you get, the more you realize it's not just random bullshit, but there is really a reason behind it all. You might disagree with the reasoning, but there is logic. Serious logic, which comes from the fact that military is very, very serious business.

Anyway, I'm really miffed I missed the Aula Movement 2006. Sounds like it was a good party... Now I have to figure out how to get to WikiSym 2006. At the moment the situation looks a bit grim.

Sunday, 11-Jun-06 23:36
Forum Nokia Blogs Major Suckage

I was a bit too hasty on congratulating the Forum Nokia folks on starting blogs - it turns out that the platform they're using is some totally awful crap. So says Anina, and she certainly knows what she is talking about. In addition, it appears that the first time she posted about it on her Forum Nokia Champion blog, the admins asked her to remove the post.

This is a good example of how a part of a company can get it, whereas another part of the company just has no clue whatsoever (Yes, I recall talking to these people. No, apparently I was not vocal enough). Let me give you a couple of whacks with the clue stick:

  1. Don't develop your own blog platform! You don't have to reinvent the wheel. You can do it, but then you have to be prepared of the criticism, because your system will take years to be as good as everyone else's. This is okay for individual hackers, but for corporations where blogging is not the core activity - it's simply not a good idea. Use something that is out there on the market.
  2. If you get criticism, you listen to it. You don't try to hide it.
  3. If you ask for someone to blog on your site, be prepared for the time he will say something you don't like
  4. When someone says something you do not like, you don't make them remove it.
  5. Especially if that person is an A-list blogger, and her real blog is far more famous than your own crappy blog.
  6. If you're going to have a sucky blog platform, don't ask well-established bloggers to use it. They know what blogging is far better than you do.
  7. And for chrissakes, if you want to be hip and follow the new trends in blogging - don't develop your own blog platform! (I have done it, and this is why my blog sucks. But at least I'm pretty much the only one using it...)

There ain't nothing complicated about blogging. But it's not "just like" PR. It's not "just like" marketing. It's blogging. And you're gonna have to treat it differently. Or not do it at all.

Friday, 09-Jun-06 18:51

As you can see, my visitor count went up by a factor of 11 on last Tuesday. During the highest load, JSPWiki and Tomcat were serving up to five requests per second... Talk about stress testing. Click on the image to get a better view.

(And it only crashed once.)

Again, thanks heaps everyone. It's been great seeing old friends pop up to say their congratulations - you should comment here more often! :-)

Thursday, 08-Jun-06 14:34
Web 2.0 for your cell phone

Widsets beta allows you to have similar functionality to Yahoo Widgets or Apple Dashboard on your Java-enabled mobile phone. It should be compatible with quite a few phones, not just Nokia ones, even though it's a Nokia project. I've been playing with it for some time, and it's a pretty cool concept.

The idea is that you use a very AJAXy web interface to manage the configuration of your widgets, and then they get automatically synced to your mobile phone. Yes, this means that there typically is a server side component which preprocesses the information, so that the mobile phone does not have to do everything. Some templates are provided so that you can make your own, basic Widsets easily, but the SDK is also available from the web site.

And, in the true Web 2.0 style, they've got a blog and it's in beta :-).

(Yes, this was one of the big news I was referring to earlier this week. This, the NFC Forum thing, the Forum Nokia blogs and the proposal, obviously. I've been sitting on all of those for quite a while, so it feels great to let it all out :-D. Truly an unforgettable week has this been. Did I have any other big news? Can't remember anymore...)

Tuesday, 06-Jun-06 06:06
Outille / for Outi

Liki kaksi vuotta sitten toimitin postittamatta jääneen Kultaisen Kuukkelin Ouluun, ja olen kiittänyt laiskuuttani siitä asti. Muistan kirkkaasti ensimmäisen IRC-viestini ("Perse-Janne tässä moi"), ensimmäisen tekstarisi ("You're doomed :-D") ja ensimmäisen yhteisen tapaamisen Elektroniikkatien insinööriluolaston synkässä katveessa.

After our first meeting I managed to ignore my work and keep chatting and talking with you with such a fervor, that I knew something special was on. Then, the next Friday afternoon, without any planning, I just bought a flight ticket and... the rest is history. I fell deeply and madly in love in just a few measly hours.

Kosit minua ensimmäisen kerran tekstareitse Islannissa - olin juuri istahtanut rentoutumaan pitkän ratsastuksen jälkeen ja avattuani puhelimen, siihen tipahti viesti sinulta: "Moi kulta! Eropaperit tuli, mennäänkö naimisiin?" Ja minä nauroin, heleästi ja syvältä, onnellisempana kuin koskaan aikaisemmin. Se oli puhdasta ilon naurua - joskin Islannissa on nykyään jokunen ihminen (ja useampi pahasti säikähtänyt lammas), jotka pitävät minua aivan kahjona.

One of my happiest days was the day you moved in with me. My fault: I said that we should probably live a bit together first. These past 16 months have truly been the happy days, and not for a moment have I regretted the decision. You light up my day, even when you're down.

En enää osaa kuvitella elämää ilman sinua. Haluan nukahtaa viereesi ja herätä vierestäsi nyt ja aina. Haluan vanhentua ja nähdä maailman ihmeet kanssasi. Sydämeni pakahtuu, kun yritän kuvata, kuinka paljon rakastan sinua. En tiedä, mihin tämä johtaa, mutta siitä olen varma, että tämä on oikein ja parhautta:

Outi, rakkaani ja oma pörröpääni: tuletko vaimokseni ja elät kanssani hamaan loppuun asti?

Outi, my dearest, will you marry me until death do us part?

11:18 - YES, YES, YES!!! I can finally ease off on the "reload" button :-D

14:52 - Oho.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 18:51
Forum Nokia starts blogging

Yup, Nokia's developer guys have also started a blog, aimed squarely at other developers who are interested in Symbian, S60, S40, Mobile Java, Python and other thingamalingies you can use to torture your poor cell phone with.

I think it's about time - my feeling has always been that Nokia's developer programs have been lacking a lot of the enthusiasm of other platforms. Partly, this is due to Symbian and S60 being so... difficult to work with; partly because cell phones are not seen as mobile computers (Witness the Geek Haven Slashdot, where every new Nokia press release is treated with "but I just want a phone". Bah, near-sighted luddites.); and partly because getting your program on someone's cell phone and getting money wrenched out of the user is just not very easy.

The Forum Nokia blogs won't solve everything, of course, but I like their approach: they're also allowing quite a few other guys, not just Nokia employees, to write those blogs. Makes sense; there's more knowledge outside the company than inside, and this is really about members of a community blogging to other members of the same community, under a corporate umbrella - not a corporate bullhorn feeding pre-chewed items for the press to digest. Now, if I could just figure out which Enterprise blogger category those external guys belong to...

More interesting stuff still to come along - this is beginning to look like a very busy week.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 18:35
NFC Forum goes public

Yup. Many months of hard work, and the egg is finally hatching at the NFC Forum:

WAKEFIELD, Mass., USA – June 5, 2006 – The NFC Forum, a non-profit industry association advancing the use of near field communication (NFC) technology, today unveiled its technology architecture and announced the first five Forum specifications, at a Web news conference. Forum officials also announced the initial tag formats for which support is mandatory in NFC Forum-compliant devices.

In addition to the press release above, NFC Forum also released a FAQ. Though, I have to say, I would far prefer a HTML-formatted FAQ than crappy PDF. But hey, this is good old-school engineering and not that Web 2.0 hippie crap ;-). Unfortunately, the real technical specs aren't quite out there yet. But one thing at a time...

Simply put, under all the marketing lingo the aim of Near Field Communication is rather simple: to mobile devices easier to use. Want to use a new Bluetooth headset with your phone, but can't figure out the pairing? Just turn on the headset, and touch the two together. Let the device worry about all the details. Want to send a picture to your TV set? Just touch your digital camera to the TV set, and watch the blinkenlichts go and your picture appear. See an interesting thingy advertised on the street? Just touch the logo, and your device will figure out how to get connected to their web site. Want to pay with a credit card? Wave your phone at the reader, and type in the PIN code.

I know some of the examples quoted in the FAQ sound cheesy, but that's what always happens with new technology. The geeks who dream up this sort of stuff usually have little idea as to where their invention ends up - it might be in a forgotten dumpster in a lost city, or it might be in the Hall of Fame. Who's to know?

In fact, NFC is not really new either. It's built on existing technologies (ISO 14443A,B and ~FeliCa, each of which has an install base counted in tens of millions), and all sorts of interesting things have been out there for a while. The cool thing is that now there is at least one standard, and people don't have to make their own, proprietary solutions anymore.

For me personally, the single greatest thing about Near Field Communication is its inherent hackability. The technology is pretty versatile, open and cheap - perfect for lone guys in their garages to do interesting stuff with. While there is a big payment industry out there that screams "waaaa" and waves their tiny hands up in the air whenever anyone mentions hacking, there is lots of room for the little guys as well. Just not in the payment stuff.

I have great hopes. There are people already looking into this stuff, such as Timo Arnall and his Touch project at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (note: it's not a technology school. NFC is far too interesting to be owned by technologists, in my humble opinion.)

(Disclaimer: I'm deeply involved in NFC Forum's work. In fact, I am the editor of several of the specifications... So blame me.)

Update 19-Jun-06: there's now a HTML version of the FAQ online.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 15:23
Public humiliation gone from law

Good news (in Finnish)! The Finnish Parliament voted to remove the controversial article from the next revision of the copyright law, which would've made it possible to publish a defendant's name along with his crime at the defendant's cost, should he be found guilty of violating the copyright legislation. The law was heavily criticized on being medieval in allowing public humiliation of people.

(By the way, there should be some interesting announcements in the next 24 hours. Stay tuned...)

Edit: It was too good to be true. Digitoday covers the story far better - the articles are still there, just subdued and hidden.

Monday, 05-Jun-06 02:54
The Swedish Pirate Bay Raid Reeks To High Heaven

Just look at this list of civil rights violations performed in the raid on Pirate Bay's ISP a few days ago. Confiscating and searching through random servers who just happened to be in the same room? It also seems that the server hosting was among those confiscated - how convinient is that? (The site is up again, I see.) It seems that it's not the King that's leading the country, but US copyright organizations...

I understand there's a big commotion about this over the pond. Good thing, too.

This kind of bullying tactics is only going to cost the anti-piracy organizations lots and lots of good will, which they might have had before. You can't shut down pirates this way - Pirate Bay is up and running again, this time in the Netherlands.

Anything which can be digitalized loses its uniqueness. Whether we're talking about text, music, movies, or even whole web sites - anything can be copied, transported, cloned and distributed. It's like fighting the Hydra; when you remove one of its heads, two grow back. If it's important, it won't die.

I really see only two ways out of this situation:

  1. Turn the Internet into a closed system: anything that is put online must be reviewed first for copyright infringement. This is nearly impossible, for rather obvious reasons.
  2. Embrace and Extend: A media consumption tax on broadband, collected by Teosto and Gramex. 5€ on every broadband system/month. Make trackers legal and P2P networks legal, and ask the guys nicely to put in tracking code so that they get accurate info on whose songs and media gets downloaded, then distribute the 5€ accordingly.

I like #2 for quite a few reasons: Finland has 1.1 million broadband connections. Five euros on each would generate 66 Million € / year of copyright revenue, which is about double the amount of money that Teosto currently collects from public performances. This would mean an increase of about 200% to any musician's copyright-levy based income.

Of course, getting music for free off the internet would probably diminish CD sales. However, it's my understanding that they're not that significant income, unless you're really famous - making CDs costs money, and the artist gets about 4% of the retail price anyway, roughly 1€/sold CD. My totally back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the increase in the income should more than compensate for the CD sales loss for most artists.

However, the people who would lose would be the record companies, who make most of their money from CD sales. So, it's very unlikely that #2 would ever be accomplished, even if it was better for the artists, simply because the people with the money do not want to see their profits fluster away to the artists. Bah.

Frankly, I would be happy to pay a 5€ "media consumption tax" on my broadband, if it gave me free access to any and all music in the world. I would not need to worry about backing up DRM'd files, because anything and everything could be trivially re-downloaded in the event of a catastrophe. New innovations on finding new music and rediscovering old would flourish. And perhaps we would be freed from the tyranny of the hits - being forced to listen to the same songs in the same radio stations all over again. Perhaps even it would be a true rebirth of radio on the internet?

What if you're not downloading music? Heck, you're paying for music already in the form of CD levies and MP3 players. Why not broadband?

Monday, 05-Jun-06 01:52
Russian parkour

Parkour, aka freerunning, still keeps amazing me. It's incredible what humans can do when they really put their mind to it (and supress any self-preservation instincts they might have). These guys from Russia have made it to look like a music video...

It is no wonder that myths about people running up and down the walls, flying, going through walls, and disappearing without a sound still persist. In a world where magic was commonly the explanation for anything that was out of the ordinary, a band of highly trained warriors would create more legends than your average fiction writer during his career.

Friday, 02-Jun-06 12:27
One more reason blogs are good for enterprises

This is an old reference, but it didn't really hit me until during lunch today. As Tommi points out, blogs drive traffic to your site. Why? Because they are constantly refreshed with new material and it is very easy to find the new material - it's on the top of the page. This means that people return frequently to your site because they like it, not because they have to.

That point alone should get any marketer's toes tingle with excitement.

Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.

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