Thursday, 31-Aug-06 15:12
Kaivathan koekaniinia

Oletko web 2.0 -kaniini? Käytätkö aktiivisesti Flickriä, last.fm:ää, Frappria? Teetkö itse omia Google Maps mashuppeja? Vedätkö menestyvää verkkoyhteisöä? Kehitätkö (tai haluaisit kehittää) uusia internetpalveluita? Bloggaatko niin että hitaampia heikottaa? Vietätkö iltasi korjaten Wikipediasta virheitä? Onko elämäsi verkossa yhtä tärkeä kuin sen ulkopuolella?

Jos tunnistat ylläolevasta itsesi (tekninen tietämys on bonus, mutta ei mitenkään välttämätöntä), ja olet 18-30 -vuotias pääkaupunkiseudulla asuva luonnollinen henkilö, niin Etnoteam saattaisi haluta haastatella juuri sinua. Käy ilmoittautumassa käytettävyystutkimukseen osoitteessa http://www.etnoteam.fi/tutkimus/. Laita lisätietoihin neljä palvelua, joihin lisäät materiaalia aktiivisimmin.

(For English speakers: I'm just helping out a friend here to find Web2.0 -people for an interview. Carry on.)

Tuesday, 29-Aug-06 16:59
Wikicreole.org is live!

One of the major achievements of the ~WikiSym conference was that a bunch of us agreed to do at least something to the ~WikiMarkupMess - you know the one where each and every wiki has their own special syntax?

Well, the idea is to become a bit more visitor -friendly: Wikis should provide an easy-to-use markup which is the same across wikis, so it would be easier to contribute to a random wiki. We agreed on the basic syntax at ~WikiSym, and the work is now live at http://www.wikicreole.org.

The idea is not to replace or diminish the markup that expert users are used to, but to provide a "friendlier" version. Which, I think, is a good goal: there's a lot Wikis still need to do to become more friendly. WYSIWYG is probably the eventual goal, but implementing it is very complicated and error-prone.

Sunday, 27-Aug-06 19:55
AAAAARGH

One of the more most infuriating things in open source is when you realize that you've hit a problem that appears in only one installation, yet it works perfectly in all other installations. You tweak and tweak and try to figure out what is different between configurations, and just can't figure it out.

So, you think about emailing the author and asking WTF is going on, and realize that you are the author.

Saturday, 26-Aug-06 12:23
Drop an iPod, go to jail

This bizarre story describes how a man drops an iPod in the airplane toilet, and ends up being suspected of terrorism.

I waited in total silence for about 10 minutes as he kept searching and searching, until I finally asked him, "What are you looking for?"

"Contraband," he said without looking up at me.
"Such as?"
"Child pornography, hate propaganda."
"Child porn I can understand, that's illegal. But hate propaganda is protected speech."
Now he looked up. "What country do you think you're in?"
"Oh, it's illegal in Canada?"
"I honestly don't know. But that doesn't matter. I get to decide what goes in this country. Do you have a problem with that?"
I paused for a long time while I thought about what I should say to this. "Yes."
"Yes, you do have a problem?"
"Yes, I do. If it's illegal in Canada I'll understand, but saying 'I don't want it in my country' isn't good enough when you're a government official."

(via can't remember anymore...)

Saturday, 26-Aug-06 12:15
Windows Media DRM cracked

So says Engadget. Interestingly, apparently nobody cares. It's too easy to already get all the music that you want, and if you need it un-DRM'd, you just burn it on a CD and re-rip it.

However, I have to say that the availability of that tool makes it more appealing to use non-iTunes music shops, since it means that I could play the purchased music on my Mac and move it to my iPod...

Friday, 25-Aug-06 16:29
Apples ain't too green, says Greenpeace

Greenpeace has published their new Guide to green electronics. Nothing much new here; I'm glad to see that Nokia is doing pretty well. But I am disappointed to see Motorola and Apple scraping the (dirty) mud. Apple scores 2.7 out of 10, well below the average. The commentary is pretty devastating:

"For a company that claims to lead on product design, Apple scores badly on almost all criteria. The company fails to embrace the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated substances and provides no timelines for eliminating toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and no commitment to phasing out all uses of brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Apple performs poorly on product take back and recycling, with the exception of reporting on the amounts of its electronic waste recycled."

This is no way to conduct long-term business. Apple has and is constantly building a very strong brand, and as we all know, brands can come and go in a wink. Maybe they'll get away with this for a while, but I hope not. If you're an Apple user, you should go and tell them what you think about their policies. Hopefully they hear their users. Assuming, that is, that the users care.

(Thanks to Jarno for finding this.)

Update: Just out of interest I submitted this story to Slashdot, Macrumors and I also dugg it. Slashdot rejected it, Macrumors is saying nothing, and there are incredible No InterWiki reference defined in properties for Wiki called '12 diggshttp'!)... At least The Unofficial Apple Weblog is covering the story.

Thursday, 24-Aug-06 19:21
Good to be back

Woke up at 2.30 am. Walked to train station. Slept on the train to Copenhagen. Got to airport two hours early. Went through check-in and security in 8 minutes. Wrote a 20-slide presentation. Fell asleep in airplane while leaning on hand. Woken up by drool dripping into sleeve and rolling down the arm. Took a taxi to the head office. Gave the said 20-slide presentation. Maybe managed to stay coherent. Cannot remember. Took a taxi back home. Hugged Outi. Collapsed on the sofa. Ate. Talked. Blogging.

Remember: A wiki is like Soylent Green: it's made of people.

Wednesday, 23-Aug-06 10:16
Managing programmers is like herding cats

I was so reminded of that old saying at the wikimarkup standard workshop... But luckily someone gets it, too! Thanks to Chuck :)

Tuesday, 22-Aug-06 17:50
It's all just in your mind

See for yourself.

(Thanks to Outi.)

Tuesday, 22-Aug-06 12:15
At Wikisym

WikiSym is an interesting conference. It's not very big, but it has certainly great spirit! I was totally wasted after yesterday from all the energy and enthusiasm (and the fact that I did company email until two in the morning). It's got a lot of big ~WikiNames from the industry, but I am rather surprised to see how few of the commercial wiki companies are bothering with these conferences - SocialText probably being the only one with any representation. Where's Atlassian? Where are the German companies who're integrating Wikis in their software (I know you're out there)? There are no people from Microsoft, IBM, Sun or other big companies that are using Wikis in their everyday life.

Are wikis that uninteresting to the people who use and develop them?

Blogger conferences are ripe with people who are trying to figure out ways to make money out of them or how to better apply them in their own work. Maybe that is the reason why blogs are far more popular out there (55 million public blogs vs 3000 public Wikis are the numbers I've heard) - they attract far more the kind of self-obsessed, greedy entrepreneurs that make the world go around. Blogs feed on the only two infinite natural resources: greed and ego - wikis don't score high on either chart.

There is a lot of talk about usability issues on wikis here. However, even that discussion is largely technical - whether WYSIWYG is better than WikiMarkup, do we need the WikiMarkup at all, etc. Unfortunately, I see no designers, UI experts, graphic artists, or anyone with an inkling of an experience in the field of user experience here - only a bunch of geeks discussing what they believe that the average user wants. This usually leads to great technical innovation, but it won't really work. Fortunately, there are a bunch of teachers here, who're keeping the discussion from going too technical. That's exactly what the "wiki community" needs, in my opinion: more regular people who're applying wikis to their everyday life and problems, and can feed that information back to the wiki developers. Wikis are a geek tool, primarily, yes, but so were the blogs originally. Maybe it's time to step out of the bounds?

Sunday, 20-Aug-06 12:29
On roaming charges

Oh, by the way, I checked how much it's going to cost to use data traffic while I am in Denmark. Cheapest price is 8.18 €/MB, the most expensive is TDC Mobil at 14.82 €/MB. So, making an average synchronization of my work Outlook email (guess a couple of Powerpoints at 2 MB/piece; and a bunch of other emails for a 5MB total, and syncing usually moves about double the amount) would cost the company about 80 - 150 euros. A week of traveling could easily result in a bill of a thousand euros.

Cell roaming is insanely and outrageously expensive. Any WLAN is cheaper, no matter how expensive it might feel to pay 30 euros / day - but that's for unlimited data.

Sunday, 20-Aug-06 12:09
Finncon visit

Hey, there's a Totoro behind you!
Yesterday, I managed to clock a few hours in Finncon, the biggest European Science Fiction / Fantasy convention (according to their website anyway). I heard that they were expecting 6000 visitors - partly due to the fact that the AnimeCon was at the same time at the same premises. Too bad the fire safety limit of the venue, Paasitorni, is around 3500 people. So the place was totally packed, hot, and smelly, and if you left, you couldn't get back in until you had queued for a while, as they were letting people in only after others had left. All seminars were so overbooked, that they filled up about 20 minutes before the previous program was even finished.

So, the end result was that I and many others spent the afternoon outside, drinking beer at the adjacent terrace restaurant. Wa-hey. But, as some seasoned con-goer pointed out, that is, ultimately, the deeper Finncon experience anyway.

What I found somewhat ironic was that I realized that a role-playing convention such as Ropecon - considered by many to be the ultimate freak show - looked downright conservative compared to the average Finncon participant. Now, I like Gothic Lolitas and furries as much as the next guy (not to mention Totoro), but, you know, too much is just too much. (Flickr has some pictures).

Friday, 18-Aug-06 12:25
Free art? No way, kiddo

Apparently, the 12-year old singer Amy Thomas was banned from a school-oriented music chart, because her record label does not support BPI's stance on file sharing. The record label is running a petition, which says evil things like: "The music industry is a creative industry that should be exploring ways to earn money for its artists from p2p, not using the destructive force of litigation."

So, apparently the game is "if you're not with us, you're against us."

This reminds me - I had a weird-o-dream last night. Four angry musicians broke into my apartment and threatened me and my life because they had heard that I don't support DRM, "and therefore I want them to starve". They also wanted to break some of my things to compensate for the loss of sales they face due to file sharing. After a long discussion (during which I nearly cut one up with a sword I keep handy) we ended up amicably on my couch eating chips and watching Babylon 5.

(Via Boing boing. Of course, this could all be a marketing trick, considering that her target audience is exactly the kind of people who would get worked up on something like this.)

Update: BPI says it's not true.

Friday, 18-Aug-06 01:01
Macbook update

Software Update has a new update, "SMC Macbook Firmware Updater", which apparently will change your Macbook fan parameters so that the laptop will run cooler, though it will also make more noise. So at least Apple is acknowledging the issue. I'm not sure if it makes my Macbook run cooler (using the entirely subjective hand-under-the-laptop -test), but at least it gives the impression of trying to work harder at cooling itself.

(By the way, it was a delight to be at Aula and meet all the people, especially Niko and Matt. Hopefully a video of the talk will be available in the future.)

Tuesday, 15-Aug-06 15:52
Matt Biddulph at Helsinki HTC on Thursday

From Ulla-Maaria:

You're welcome to the next Aula Talk on open data movement by Matt Biddulph. Time and place: Thursday August 17th at 18:00, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology (HIIT), 6th floor, Pinta-building, High Tech Center (HTC), Ruoholahti, Tammasaarenkatu 3, Helsinki

"Open data movement – the next wave of open source"

The Wikipedia is only the tip of the iceberg of information that is becoming freely accessible on the internet. Following the success of open source, an open data movement is occurring online that seeks to gather, publish and enable the reuse of rich machine-readable datasets - like all programs ever broadcasted by the BBC.

By opening up these wellsprings of information, which were previously only accessible to large institutions, the open data movement has unleashed a new wave of creativity on the Web. Programmers, students, and companies are building mashups by overlaying photos, blog posts, and other objects to open datasets like the BBC Programme Catalogue, Wikipedia, Open Streetmap, and Thinglink.

As a case in point, Biddulph will describe how the BBC's database of programming from the 1950s to the present day was transformed from an internal green-screen application to a public Web 2.0 service using Ruby on Rails. Expect to see some playful examples of what you could do with it and other open datasets.

Monday, 14-Aug-06 16:57
Next week, Denmark

By the way, I'll be participating on a workshop on http://ws2006.wikisym.org/space/Workshop%3e%3eWiki+Markup+Standard creating a Wiki Markup Standard next week at WikiSym in Odense, Denmark. Feel free to poke me, if you see me around. I have a hat. I was going to print some JSPWiki T-shirts, but it sort of... well, I was lazy, okay?

I just learned that I will be sharing the stage with Ward Cunningham, the father of Wikis. Egad!

My position is simple: The current wiki markup mess is alienating lots of good people. I am interested in grabbing some low-hanging fruits to unify the markups or otherwise ease users' life. I know WYSIWYG will be the answer eventually, but that is neither a fruit, nor does it hang particularly low. In the mean time, we should be able to do something. There does not need to be a single WikiMarkup for all purposes, but the basic things should be similar enough from wiki to wiki, so that the users don't have to use their cognitive storage to keep remembering trivia like what was bold today. While the technologically adept have a knack for that, it's still a waste of perfectly good braincells. And confusing as heck to anyone who does not share that knack.

Monday, 14-Aug-06 16:09
Happy Near Field News

First of all, the first four specifications have been released by the NFC Forum. They cover the common data formats and a couple of applications, but they don't unfortunately cover the whole stack yet (e.g. how do you actually put the data on a tag). In addition, things like how to add metadata to a basic URL are sorely missing. Well, I'm very hopeful that it's all gonna be in the next batch of released specs. ;-)

Second, I got an NFC paper accepted to NordicCHI! It's short, and it's just a position paper for a workshop, but it made me feel good.

Slow moves, Ellie. Slow moves.

Sunday, 13-Aug-06 00:30
Ropecon, engines, and shit

Just returned from the 'con, and realized that I'm in a mood to reflect upon my life over a beer with friends, but darned it, I just got back and I can't be bothered to cycle back to Dipoli...

Ropecon is great because you see friends you don't otherwise see. But people grow and change, and every year the experience seems to be more and more shallow, and I feel more and more like an outsider. I don't even really play games during the weekend, (though that has always been so), but I like the talks and the general atmosphere too much to skip the thing.

A particularly brilliant presentation on the highlights of the Nordic LARP scenes and 360 "immersion" by "Joc" Koljonen made me realize that my gamemastering and playing style is pretty much stuck in 1995. And, cycling home, I also understood that it is because I haven't really put any effort into it - it's as good as it's going to get, unless I really work on it. And that goes to a lot of things in my life. I have a tendency to start new things, work on them as long as my natural abilities reach, and when it comes down to really working hard on something, the wind just goes away, and I limp along for a while before letting it go.

Now that I look around, I see that I have a lot of things that I could do better - from cleaning the desk to working more on JSPWiki. At this moment, I don't have anything that I would be really putting effort to. Something - anything - that I would really want to work my ass off for. Not even at work, because even if I believe in and like my work, there are enough naysayers to discourage even the most stubborn and brilliant person. After a few years of banging your head against a wall, you just sort of stop caring, grab a couple of painkillers and leave the wall alone. And then it becomes "just work".

I feel like an idling engine.

Or maybe I am just a lazy asshole.

Sunday, 13-Aug-06 00:07
Notes from Star Wreck

My notes from Samuli Torssonen, Timo Vuorensola and Jarmo Puskala (the crew behind Star Wreck:

  • 4M downloads
  • DVD sales top-10 in Finland (without advertising, direct web site and convention sales only)
  • Active fan community participated in making, hundreds of extras were recruited on the net
  • Subtitling currently to over 20 languages (incl. klingon)
  • Internet is different from DVD, theatres or TV because it is not tied to locality (local distribution agreements), time nor the ownership of physical copies, all of which are limitations on distribution.
  • Net distribution means that you can have your target audience all over the world; therefore more possibilities to do niche stuff
  • Internet community generates and amplifies ideas
  • Star Wreck, the roleplaying game: two months development time, released under a CreativeCommons license
Saturday, 12-Aug-06 16:04
Notes from Kenneth Hite's speech

Just some quick jots (mobile keypad):

  • Roleplaying market is 20-40 Million dollars (very tiny
  • Only viable model in future is small press printing (get books to bookstores, not gaming stores), but it's a hard road
  • gaming stores are dying out.
  • Electronic sales (pdf) market is already 10%, growing
  • microtargeting, 1000 customers is enough, but you must know them
  • print-on-demand is pretty darned good, and getting better
  • the ones who realize change first win, no matter how crummy your other production values might be (example: chaosium)
Friday, 11-Aug-06 15:40
Ropecon!

Ropecon, the big, beautiful roleplaying convention is back and it's on right now here in beautiful Espoo!

I'll be there most of my waking hours this weekend, and join fellow geeks and nerdlings in this great event. If you pass by the info counter, say hi - I'll be there tonight between 23-03 and on Sunday morning as well.

Thursday, 10-Aug-06 15:46
No more anything in planes

UK is now forbidding any hand luggage in airplanes. Only wallets, passports, tickets, medicines, glasses, sanitary items and some keys allowed.

Pretty heavy stuff, and since it also means that high-paying business travellers can't carry their laptops or secret documents, it may mean a big loss in revenue.

Also, imagine flying a long flight in coach with twenty kids around you who didn't get to bring their toys. Boredom in a narrow tube - what fun!

Update: as an afterthought: won't this kill tax-free sales at the airport, too?

Tuesday, 08-Aug-06 18:07
OSX Leopard goes Wiki

Everyone's probably sitting in their doodoo already over the excitement of the new Apple OSX Leopard, aka. OSX 10.5, but what I found to be interesting is that they have integrated a wiki server in OSX Server.

Maybe this is the time that Wikis start hitting mainstream?

Monday, 07-Aug-06 09:45
Share your books

How does peer-to-peer apply to physical objects? John Buckman, who runs the premiere record label Magnatune has launched BookMooch, a place where you can share your used books with other people all over the world.

The idea is simple: you type in the books you want to share. People can then ask for a particular book, and when you mail that book to them, you earn points, which you can then redeem by asking books from others. They also keep a "reputation" score, just like eBay, to weed out the fraudsters. You can even donate your points to charity!

Our goal is to make more use out of all books, to help keep books from becoming unavailable. The worst thing that can happen to a book is for no-one to be able to read it.

I like these kinds of ideas a lot. I am probably a bit too lazy to participate, but I love books, and I certainly agree with the sentiment above.

(Via Joi.)

Sunday, 06-Aug-06 10:26
Imagining the tenth dimension

The physicist in me (yes, I have a dark and complex hidden history as one) loves this flash animation on the ten dimensions we might be living in. It's a well-performed explanation that does not require you to have an advanced physics degree to comprehend - just basic curiosity on life, the universe, and everything.

Thanks to Clive Thompson. Read his blog, it's good.

Hannu points out in the comments that the flash animation does not agree with the current theories on string theory, and throws in M-theory as well. I can only defend myself saying that when I was a physicist, the string theory was still considered something only found in bad wannabe Italian restaurants that serve overcooked spaghetti.

Tuesday, 01-Aug-06 17:48
Cutting down on the habit

Today, for the first time in a long, long time, I managed to cut down my blog feed list to under 100. I've realized that I actually have to close Bloglines window completely if I want to get anything done, because otherwise I'll keep flicking back and forth to see if anything new has arrived - but thanks to my totally corroded brain, it's "out of sight, out of mind". There are advantages to being harebrained, you know...


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