Archive for January, 2005

Bits and bobs

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Google Browser and Google OS ?

US to use RFID tags to track tourists.

Turn every word on a webpage into a search query and info query. Would be a good application for the Google Browser.

The Philosophy of Heraclitus.

Trailer Trash Doll

Reminds me of Childhood.

Other forms of search

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Cultural change cannot be governed

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Sent this to the All-Party Commiteee on the Constitution

To the Committee:

Changing the constitution of this country is going to be a difficult and at times thankless task. The constitution needs to be updated to take into account a world we live in now that was not contemplated when the constitution first came into being. To change a constitution is a serious task and something that rarely happens. I would like to see changes made, as outlined below and it is my hope the new changes will ensure that it is another few decades before the constitution needs this area modified again.

No doubt there will be people sending in submissions who are afraid of change and want to still live in the land our grandparents grew up in, but that was a far different time with a very narrow view of the world and of life. Some decisions might prove controversial and may not be what the majority want, but enhancing the constitution is not just for the present people of Ireland but for future generations too. Sometimes in a democracy decisions need to be taken to protect a minority from groups that claim to represent a largely silent majority.

I wish to let the committee know that they have my support in their decision making process and I urge them to stay strong.

* how should the family be defined ?

Cultural change cannot be governed. Society’s model of a family, like that of a Heraclitean Fire, is a constant succession of transitory states. Society changes and with it do families. This is a symbiotic relationship though and so changes in family structures will also change society. The traditionally defined family unit of mother, father and children is evolving into something more complex and
interesting.

Families were never simple but they were simply defined. These binding definitions need to be re-examined and the flux-like nature of society and family needs to be catered for in order to future proof our constitution.

Just as the law criminalising homosexuality did not prevent homosexual acts but instead marginalised homosexuals, any law with strict rules for what a family is can only marginalise some families. The legislative framework surrounding the family is one that should be inclusive, rather than exclusive, it should act as a guide to the values that are important, while being flexible enough to encompass the diverse range of relationships that are part of our modern society.

* how should one strike the balance between the rights of the family as a unit and the rights of individual members ?

As much as possible all members of a family should be equal. Children too should be allowed a say and a voice.

* is it possible to give constitutional protection to families other than those based on marriage ?

In my answer to the first question above I stated that this new culture, almost 100 years more evolved than when the constitution was created, now has a different understanding of what a family is. All families should be protected whether some contain married couples or not. Families are very important in society and very beneficial to stability and social care. In return for this the state needs to provide a means to allow these families to continue and grow.

* should gay couples be allowed to marry ?

I am proud to say that Ireland allows it’s citizens great freedoms and the government cares about the social needs of the people. However there are still some inequalities in this state and like Orwell’s Animal Farm – some in Ireland are more equal than others. Same sex relationships are a reality and are not so uncommon or shocking anymore, as it should be.

With all the talk of catering for the needs of all these alternative relationships from various political parties it was only in the 2004 Civil Registrations Act that saw the first mention of same sex marriage in Irish law but it was to ban same-sex marriage. Political parties need to back up their words with deeds.

It’s not a question of whether gay couples should marry, it’s a question of whether the state should adapt and allow all it’s citizens to be equal. In my view the state needs to make sure all citizens are equal.

* is the Constitution’s reference to woman’s ‘life within the home’ a dated one that should be changed ?

This is indeed outdated. The reference should be changed to provide for any spouse or partner or guardian. Any role that strengthens a family and makes it better needs to be recognized.

* should the rights of a natural mother have express constitutional protection ?

The rights of a parent/guardian and not just a natural mother need to have equal protection once it is deemed that these people are fit to associated with the child and to look after the child. In regards to cases of unborn children and abortion, the rights of a father need to be considered once he is deemed fit to be a parent. However the mothers well-being may be needed to be the deciding factor and she should have final say, but the father should be allowed to give testimony and have it on record.

* what rights should a natural father have, and how should they be protected ?

See answer to last question.

* should the rights of the child be given an expanded constitutional protection ?

See answer below.

* does the Constitution need to be changed in view of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ?

Ireland needs to adhere to this convention. It should have done a long time ago. This convention significantly improves the rights of children and gives them the ability to choose their future. I don’t see why it might have to be enacted into the constitution though. As much as possible I think the constitution should remain unchanged, it is meant to be something that binds us through generations of change. The rights of a child need to be mentioned in the constitution but they should be defined in law.

Brad Left Jen for Moi

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

bradLeftJenForMe.jpg

Nuff said.

Amazon brings Yellow Pages to the 21st Century

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

Amazon brings Yellow Pages to the 21st Century

Amazon today is after launching via it’s A9 search engine, a 21st century version of the Yellow Pages. Yellow page style listings now take a massive leap forward thanks to exhaustive work by Amazon. This new service allows Amazon customers to get local. Looking for a shoe store ? Type in “shoes” and Amazon will show you the showe store nearest to you, complete with picture of the store front and the ability to connect to the store via phone with the click of a button. The new “Block View” feature allows users to see storefronts and virtually walk up and down the streets of currently more than 10 U.S. cities using over 20 million photographs. You can see what stores are adjacent to the current listing, a map of the area to see what parking might be like and see are there any other shoe stores in the area.

“We’re doing something that has never been done before,” said Udi Manber, A9.com’s CEO in a video address on the A9 website this morning. “It’s like taking a virtual stroll around the block,” added Manber. “We believe this is going to expand the user experience significantly.”

Just like other Amazon product listings, user experience is a significant driver of sales. Users are able to read and contribute reviews of the stores as well as their own photos. Amazon customers can also leave notes for themselves on the listings so that they can come back to them later. The businesses too can submit photos and additional information and Amazon has mentioned potential premium services in regards to this. While reviews have only just begun, Amazon’s 44 million active customers will soon populate the A9 listings adding a massive amount of data about these businesses without any additional work from Amazon.

To get all these photos and block layouts A9.com used special trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system (GPS) receivers, and proprietary software and hardware. A9.com drove tens of thousands of miles capturing images and matching them with businesses and the way they look from the street.

While these innovations are nothing new, the integration of all of them into Amazon’s existing service will make significant impact and eclipse the Froogle service offered by Google. This announcement is the second big search news item this week following on from the “Google Video” announcement earlier this week.

More information on A9 Yellow Pages
Amazon Video on Yellow Pages here: mms://wm.amazon.usa.speedera.net/wm.amazon.usa/upload/a9-yellow-pages-video-press-release-sm.wmv

Casualties of War

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

Utterly horrific pictures from Iraq.

Check out the rest of thisIraqi blog which isn’t very pro America. He has some insight into Fallujah too. Chemical weapons, tonnes of soil removed, streets washed down by the army…

You stop telling lies about us and we’ll stop telling the truth about you.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

I read this quote on the IMDB and found it quite interesting. Today I decided to Google it to see was it mentioned anywhere else and I noted that it was a variation of a quote from Aldai Stevenson, a former Illinois Governor and twice failed democratic presidential candidate.

He was an interesting statesman and had some impressive quotes attributed to him. So this is something new I learned today.

His original quote was “I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” but the quote from the IMDB is when a gay rights activist takes on some homophobe. Fantastic that his quote can be reused and still have the same power.

Google gets into Video

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Google introduced late Monday night a prototype of a service to search American TV programming, a move which was been rumored for a while. This comes after much recent talk of Google hiring someone for dark fibre provisioning. Google Video lets people search over the text of TV shows. The service works by searching the text from the closed captioning of each program as it airs. The service presently searches and catalogs programming from PBS, Fox News, C-SPAN, ABC, and the NBA, among others, making broadcasts searchable the same day. More TV sources will be added in the future.

Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s vice president of product management, has gone on the record stating that they may in the future integrate advertising into this service but for now are being conservative with the service.

Speaking of the content partnership with Google, Brian Lamb of C-SPAN stated “Our mission is to give viewers complete access to public affairs programming and we are committed to use new technologies to enhance the value of our services. This partnership with Google further demonstrates how new technologies will expand our audience and make it easier to conduct online searches of our content for information most relevant to them.”

The service will probably expand to Google UK and other local Google sites as happened with their shopping service “Froogle”. The service however doesn’t actually allow you to view the full shows or even video from them, something which rivals such as Yahoo and Blinkx allow you to do. Currently Google is in negotiations for content licensing.

Yahoo is already reacting to the Google service by adding a button on their main page to their existing video search service and they will also be offering searching of closed captioning of Bloomberg and BBC programs. Blinkx has recently done a deal with Fox and Sky which has given it access to the massive archives and now allow users to search them online.

The BBC has itself been putting video content online which it licenses to other vendors. There had been talk that eventually the BBC’s entire archive will be digitized and put online. The BBC archive houses some 500 million feet of film and 350,000 hours of video dating from 1934, with more than 200 hours of new content added every week.

More about Google Video here and here.

Dream Well

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Dream of things past and dream of things new. Dream so real that it becomes true.

For Aoife

Tuesday, January 11th, 2005

you rock my world,
you make it better,
you make the day brighter,
you’re a hangover cure,
you’re the holy grail,
you’re the first snow,
you’re the excitement when someone is naughty,
you’re a warm hug,
you’re the euphoric feeling just before sleep comes,
you’re more than words.

I am done with great things and big plans

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

“I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride.” – William James

I found this on William Gibson’s Blog. Never heard of this guy before. Now I have. A very good new year’s resolution.

Hack yourself.