Saturday, 29-Mar-08 09:45
You can't negotiate with protocols

Ed Felten raises a wonderful point:

This property of protocols — that you can’t get a meeting with them, convince them to change their behavior, or make a deal with them — seems especially challenging to some Washington policymakers. If, as they do, you live in a world driven by meetings and deal-making, a world where problem-solving means convincing someone to change something, then it’s natural to think that every protocol, and every piece of technology, must be owned and managed by some entity.

Engineers sometimes make a similar mistake in thinking about technology markets. We like to think that technologies are designed by engineers, but often it’s more accurate to say that some technology was designed by a market. And where the market is in charge, there is nobody to call when the technology needs to be changed.

This is something which really needs to be hammered down into policymakers and engineers head. This is how many companies think - big companies which are used to driving technology forward. But many innovations do not work that way - on the internet, companies form around these inventions, and the technology drives the companies.

There's something pretty deep here, and I can't articulate my thoughts really well on this subject. Maybe later. Now I'm off to my first go tournament in what, three years?

Wednesday, 26-Mar-08 08:44
Two wrongs...

Here's an interesting article - some scientists speculate that, because of Peak Oil (i.e. the fact that there are limited carbon-based burnable things buried in the ground), global warming might not be a complete disaster. It'll still be one big whopping major problem, but oil and coal will simply run out before the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere get to runaway levels.

So, in a way, one disaster might save us from another. That's comedy.

(Via Matt.)

Tuesday, 25-Mar-08 20:51
They lie to you

Of course, nobody is surprised to hear this, but it was still wonderful to see this project of photographing 100 product packagings and their contents.

(Via BB.)

Wednesday, 19-Mar-08 16:57
The Burning Question

Polttava kysymys is a campaign to demand a law which forces the country to reduce its carbon emissions yearly. If you would like to support this, please go to http://www.polttavakysymys.fi/ and send a card to your MP. If you don't know what to do in the face of the looming environmental catastrophy, do at least this simple act.

If you're not Finnish, but still live in Europe - go to http://www.thebigask.eu/ for further info to see if concerned people in your country are running a similar program. UK is already getting there, I see.

(Via Jyrki J.J. Kasvi)

Wednesday, 19-Mar-08 08:34
Arthur C Clarke is gone

RIP.

Man, he had such an impact on my life. I probably wouldn't be who I am now without his books.

A true visionary.

Tuesday, 18-Mar-08 21:13
L18N, the :-) way

(Sorry, only really obscure, narcissistic Finnish jokes here today.)

Jostain syystä tämä jaksaa naurattaa minua aina. Oma vitsi, paras vitsi.

JSPWikin kielitiedostot, englanti:

edit.locked=User "{0}" has started to edit this page, but has not yet \
    saved.  I won't stop you from editing this page anyway, BUT be aware that \
    the other person might be quite annoyed.  It would be courteous to wait for the lock \
    to expire or until the person stops editing the page.  The lock expires in \
    {1} minutes.

Suomi:

edit.locked=Huppistakeikkaa! Käättäjä "{0}" on mennynnä muokkaamaan tätä sivua \
    mutta ei oo vielä kehanna tallettaa.  Minen sinnuu estä, jos nyt väen vängällä tahonnii \
    sivua mennä mulkkamahan, mutta suattaapi tuo toinen vähän hermostua. \
    Jos nyt vielä viittisit vuottaa {1} minnuuttii, niin eiköpähän tuo ruojake sitten ole \
    lopettanna.

Vapaassa softankehityksessä on se hyvä puoli, ettei tätä tarvitse aina ottaa niin vakavasti.

(Jos keksitte, mitä murretta tuo on, niin hyvä. Minä en nimittäin tiedä. Minä en edes muista kirjoittaneeni tuota; se vain pullahti joskus hyvin myöhään yöllä versionhallintaan ja siellä se on tyytyväisenä asustanut jo monta kuukautta.)

Tuesday, 18-Mar-08 13:59
Measures of Success

You know that your managerial day has been successful, when both your phone and your Bluetooth headset run out of juice at 2 pm.

Gng.

Monday, 17-Mar-08 00:38
Blogs just entertainment, says the newspapers

The Finnish blogosphere is buzzing about an article in Helsingin Sanomat, which is deriding the blogs having become mostly entertainment, and not citizen journalism, as was touted a few years ago.

You know what? They're right.

And it does not matter. At all.

I am reminded of the early days of Linux. People said it would kill Windows and all other operating systems. But, if you look around today - Windows is still here, and going strong.

But the other operating systems are pretty much gone. The dozens of operating systems from the time - Xenix, SCO, IRIX, HP/UX, BeOS, Amiga - they're no longer contenders. Linux killed all other mid- and low-range operating systems. (The different BSD variants survive because they are works of love, not money. I would argue the same for OSX as well.)

Linus Torvalds has repeatedly said that he does not care too much about his competition - that he did what he did just for fun, not to kill other operating systems and assure dominance of the world. And this passion about doing the right thing is what made Linux what it is now - a very serious contender. It's not killing Windows - but it's certainly making a splash.

And to me blogs are much the same thing: they're about passion. In the long run, things that people care about tend to survive.

If blogs crush the mainstream journalism in the next few years, it's by accident, not on purpose. I doubt that they will (getting crushed by blogs would require some massively dumb sticking to 19th century practices), but if I were the editor of a small science journal or a handicraft magazine, I would worry. The readership of those is moving to the web - because it's cheaper, it's better, and there's more selection.

Stephen Eley pointed out in one of his podcasts that the listenership of his science fiction audio podcast, "Escape Pod", is already exceeding the subscriber amounts to almost all other science fiction periodicals. And why shouldn't it? It's of excellent quality, free (both as in speech and beer), and it even pays the authors. And clearly, it is a work of passion.

Just give it time, and passion. And ignore whatever other people are saying.

Build whatever matters to you.

Monday, 10-Mar-08 10:38
Censorship isn't really about freedom of speech

(Short recap: Finland is using secret, police-made lists to block foreign child pornography web sites. Unfortunately, the list has been proven to be wildly inaccurate, and its legality and efficiency have been heavily questioned.)

A lot of people (me included) have been talking about the internet block-lists as a freedom of speech-issue. To be precise, this is not exactly true. Because the sites are blocked at the ISP level, this means that they will still be there. People are totally free to write whatever they want - it's just that someone will choose what other people can read. A subtle distinction, but important nevertheless.

You see, I think it sends out a dangerous message. These block lists are saying that "yes, it's okay to rape and pillage and do whatever you want to minors, as long as nobody else knows about it." And this is exactly the wrong thing to say. We should expose these atrocities, and make sure that the web sites themselves are permanently shut down, and the people responsible taken to justice, not try to hide the fact that this sort of stuff is happening in the first place.

The unfortunate thing is that block lists are cheap for the government. They require half a person to maintain, and the actual cost of filtering is born by the operators - but even that is mostly a one-time cost, which can be amortized over a longer time. Finnish police is facing losses of 600-700 jobs until 2015, because their work needs to be more "efficient". Efficient in government lingo meaning doing the same job for less money, not better results.

This is the result of this "efficiency" demand. With respect to the internet, we will get the cheap and "efficient" alternative. It looks like something is being done, so that the people can feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they are told that the kiddie porn is gone from the internets, and the police is protecting you. But in reality, the illegal activity keeps going on and growing.

When you can't hear the cries of the children, you can't help them. When you don't know someone is in peril, you can't care about them. This is why blocking is bad, and being pro-blocking is actually damaging the children. If anything, people should be demanding more money to the police to help fight international crime instead of just nodding blithely at the eradication of our constitution at the interests of "efficiency".

(France is now, by the way, extending their child pornography blocks to information on making explosives or chemical weapons, terrorist propaganda and racial hate speech. It is only a matter of time before Finland follows. We wouldn't want to be pro-hate speech, now would we?)

Thursday, 06-Mar-08 18:07
Standing on two stools

Let me just state first of all that I like meat. And fish. And plenty of other things which go about their daily life until it ends with a hatchet buried in their necks. I don't see anything morally wrong in eating other creatures - in fact, that's pretty much what those other creatures do to survive. So why not me?

However, I do hear the arguments that vegans and vegetarians make. From economical and energy-efficiency point of view, it does not make much sense to use grain to feed a beast, when you could use the grain directly to feed people.

So, from the beginning of this year, I've sort of switched to being a half-vegetarian. I try to keep two-three days a week when I don't eat meat or fish products - or at least I don't have them as a main meal. I wanted to blog about this earlier, but I wanted to check that I could actually keep this promise to myself for a while before I went all public with it. I don't know about you, but at least for me it's always been too easy to just pick whatever meat or fish the corporate cafeteria is offering. This decision is making me actively choose other things now, and it's kind of working.

I'm not seeing any health benefits though, nor any other effects, except that I've started to be a bit picky about the beef I eat - it needs to be cooked just right; be the juicy, succulent, tender variety that you can slobber at by just thinking about putting it in your mouth... Not the "generic meat" that is so often served in places calling themselves restaurants. Makes you appreciate the good stuff more, when you don't ruin your taste with crap.

Actually, now that I think about it, the cause-effect relationship might go the other way, too - maybe I've just become too picky first?

Update: corrected terminology.

Wednesday, 05-Mar-08 12:03
Using less to sell more

Nine Inch Nails released its new album for free - there is even an official, fully legal download at Pirate Bay. High-quality MP3, Creative Commons licensed, completely free.

They way this record is supposed to make money is to give nine first songs for free, and then ask people to pay for the 25 other tracks. It's not much, just $5 for a direct download, but there are multiple other download options, the most expensive of which is $300.

Why would you pay $300 for something which is free?

Turns out that many people do just that, and within about two days, the entire set of these exclusive $300 packages is sold out, which turns out to about $750,000. Minus packaging, postage, etc, I would still imagine that everyone should be pretty happy.

It's encouraging to see people trying out these new internet business models - and that they are working!


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



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