Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Twitter – another room with another mix of people

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

So what is Twitter? It’s a way of describing your current situation in 140 characters or less. That’s the basic premise really but it’s also a way of responding to the updates/descriptions from other people. It’s a tool for conversing with people, again in 140 character limits. Very recently I started cutting back on my usage of it and who I follow as it was getting too noisy for me and logging in to it every morning and reading through 20 pages of status updates was too much. This is solved easily by just turning down the noise via removing people you sub to. Yes, you might miss something but it’s great for the brain.

I like Twitter for a few reasons. It’s not a blog but it has a format like a blog. Fire in a few words and send it out to the world. Handy way of updating yout friends. People can subscribe to you and you can see who they are, mostly. You can see who replies to you, even if you are not subbed to them. Jaiku used to be the alternative and a competitor but now that Google pretty much killed that off, Twitter is doing very well. I actually think the lack of functions for it are a good thing. Scarcity breeds ingenuity and Jaiku was just turning into yet another mailing list/discussion forum. Some clever stuff being done on Twitter but I think the cleverist stuff is still what gets said in 140 characters.

Look at the news feed on Facebook. A very easy way of getting updates on friends. It started years back on MSN when people used their sign-in names to add more information, from fav lyrics to what song they were listening to to their moods. GMail chat/GTalk allows you to do the same too. Twitter fits into that niche as well as the niche where you IM your friends or email them with quick quotes or “haha, check this out, this is funny” or “Did you hear about this? … blah blah blah”. It allows you to get information out into a public space without having a blog or website of your own, sign up and shout it out. No comments, no upgrading, no feeling you have to respond to comments. No having to tackle spam. It’s just another way to communicate and to listen.

Twitter reached a tipping point for me of late and it happened when I started to add non-Irish people and people that I didn’t really know or interact with much. I started by adding people I know via their blog and this gave me more insight into their daily and minutely utterings and then it was good to see who they interacted with. As I immersed myself by going deeper out into the Twitter ocean, other names started becoming familiar to me and I started adding them too. It was a bit random but fun, finding new people and seeing what they were saying and linking to and over time I would unsubscribe from them or leave them on a list. It felt like the good old days when I found new exciting blogs with viewpoints that were left field for me. The mysterioulsy attraction to the unexpected and the random. Sometimes I unsub people on Twitter because they have the same viewpoint and read and share the same information as me. I’ve got me to hear me. That was to echoey for me, so bye they went. Others talked about too much of one boring topic that when they did send out gems there was too much noise to appreciate it. It’s very pot luck I suppose but you do have to reach a number and distribution of people before the service becomes valuable.

By the way, JP Rangaswami has some great blog posts about Twitter in the enterprise that are worth reading fully. So in the end Twitter for me is about the people. Lots of interesting voices there and I have in effect my personal volume switch which is great. There are so many other ways of interacting with people though, Twitter is just another room at another event but you can mute others in that room. The rules of the room might not suit everyone but for me, they do and it’s fun. I’m damienmulley on Twitter.

Is there life left in the old Yahoo! dog?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Salim showed us around Yahoo! Brickhouse and also Yahoo!’s HQ in Sunnyvale (We couldn’t find Buffy anywhere) during Paddy’s Valley and the overall impression I got and I think others got too was that Yahoo! is a people company. They like people more and seem to understand them more than their competitors. When you think of Google, you think of them trying to remove people from every process and replacing them with an algorithm but with Yahoo! they seem to acquire companies and let them be, let them work the way they always work and help them where they can. Delicious and Flickr are fine examples. Owned by Yahoo! though we never really are forced to acknowledge this.

There’s been a lot of change in Yahoo! in the past few months with Jerry Yang coming back in and changing things around and a lot of dead wood has been removed. John Furrier thinks something is big on the way and Techcrunch reported that there could be a cull of 20% on the way. Google however is still giving us the best search experience around and their ad system (which I think is getting worse, not better) is still the best out there. According to the FT blog, the ad revenue generated from Google last quarter was more than Yahoo!, AOL and Microsoft‘s ad revenue combined yet Yahoo! properties get more traffic.

Yahoo! to me is the warmer, more friendly, tech company compared to Microsoft and much warmer than the entirely sterile Google. It would make sense to me for Yahoo! to work on all their sites and services that are very people centric. Yahoo! Answers shows how good they can be. There seems to be talk coming out of Yahoo! about them opening up their services. It would be great to see APIs for everything they have and allow people to create clever Mashups and of course give them an option of selling ads on these new services or if these services charge then have Yahoo! work as the merchant for the transactions. John Furrier also thinks they should join Open Social. They should be doing something on the social side and not letting Facebook et al get all the attention. Of all companies and with their mixed bag of offerings, they could do very well on the social side, either by opening up all their services so any social network can tie into them or create a platform for all their services. It seems odd that they are not there yet.

I have a fondness for Yahoo! as when I started surfing the net, they were the kings and it would be nice to see them make some kind of comeback while making the web better for me to traverse. There needs to be competition in the search space and in the ad space, maybe Yahoo! can get things sorted and compete in there.

My love of the iPhone, it grows stronger

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Fred Wilson is not at all impressed by the iPod Touch and thinks more highly of the standard iPod models. Me, I like the idea of the touch and like the idea more of the iPhone. I bought an iPhone in December in Palo Alto and it was a while before I really started to use it*. Since I started using it though, I’ve really started to like it and it is without exception the best way to experience the Internet on a phone or Internet table type device. Safari and touch screen is a total joy. Over Christmas I also played with the new Nokia N81 and in comparison it’s total junk. So is the N95 and it’s 14+ buttons. I’m not the biggest Apple fan but they’ve kicked the ass of the mobile manufaturers with this and it might make them all cop on and use a bit of imagination and stop letting engineers design the outside and interfaces. I too was sceptical at first about it, especially because of the way you input text, but the more you use it, the better it gets. Because of it’s jailbroken too I can put a hell of a lot of applications on it, that Apple would say no to. Sorry Steve. It’s my phone, let me hack it.

The camera isn’t great but it’s not entirely crap either. Yes the N95 and most other phones have better cameras but for what I want, it does the job. Looking at photos and synching it with the computer too are amazingly easy. Shame it can’t be said for their competitors.

Of course the iPhone I got can’t be software unlocked to get it on the networks over here and I wasn’t going to spend 80 quid more on turbosim to do so. So right now I only use it at home and in hotspot areas to surf the net and everywhere else it’s pretty much just an iPod, though video works so well on it. I watched the latest episode of The Wire on it on the train on Friday. But it seems hope is at hand as someone is after hardware unlocking the version of the iPhone I have and I expect a software unlock to become available soon enough. Happy days. I think it would take off a lot more in Europe if it wasn’t for the insane pricing and contracts that you have to lock yourself into, in order to get it officially working over here. Madness.

*Zaniac actually unboxed the phone for me and helped me jailbreak it. Watch the very excited video he made. Warning, extreme Apple loveathon.

One iPhone per child, forget laptops and broadband – Wikipedia on iPhone/iPod Touch

Monday, January 21st, 2008

(note as of publishing this, Patrick’s site is down, oops)

Patrick Collison has created an app for the iPhone and with it that stupid debate about laptops in schools and maybe even the broadband in schools debate can be killed off. It will also be the best pubquiz hack ever too. For Patrick has created an offline version of Wikipedia with a search engine sitting on top of it.

iPhone iWiki

Handy if you’re not in a WiFi area which in Ireland is a lot of places. Why not give all the kids one of these instead of a laptop, since it’s an iPod and a phone too? They’ll always have it with them then. 2 Million articles of knowledge right there for them.

iWiki search

I know I’ll find it handy. And not just for pub quizzes. The install file is BIG. 2 gigs big because afterall it is the whole of Wikipedia really, compressed down. Don’t hammer his site too much. 🙂


“The World’s Thinnest Notebook” – MacBook Air – Fits inside envelope

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008


Image from Gizmodo
MacBook Air

MacBook air goes from 0.76 inches down to 0.16 inches at the thin end. It’s 3lbs. It fits inside an envelope.
Magnetic latch, 13.3″ widescreen display
Multi-touch trackpad
Display is LED backlit. iSight is built-in. MacBook-like keyboard, but with an ambient light sensor
Otellini from Intel: The processor is as thick as a nickle and as wide as a dime.
1.6 GHz Standard Intel Core 2 Duo
80 GB hard disk standard, or 64 GB solid state if you are loaded
1.8″ Hard Drive
802.11n + Bluetooth
2GB memory standard
Price: $1799.
Music from the new ad for the MacBook Air is done by Yael Naim.

Yael Naim – New Soul

We can bullshit for you wholesale – The DCMNR and TIF edition (again)

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Broadband in schools and the people that exploit schoolkids to make themselves look good, an ongoing series…

So TIF (Telecoms Internet Federation) aka eircom’s mouthpiece have been talking up broadband in schools. Right. The unchallenged bullshit that was peddled in SiliconRepublic is that 98% of schools in Ireland now have broadband. BULLSHIT. First I do not believe anything TIF sends out so doubt it is 98% and second, half of schools have a satellite dish that gives them 512k Internet speed. That’s not broadband and this connection is shared between a whole school. That’s if schools actually use their broadband connections or have teachers trained to use the connections. Once again I see Eamon Ryan tacking on his crap to a TIF release too. Good man Eamon, that’ll really help the future of our country by perpetuating lies. Not everyone can go or afford to go to Gonzaga like yourself.

Discovery Orders now cover electronic data and creation of data from larger sources?

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Something that is slightly interesting (maybe more for me and some law nerds) is a recent Supreme Court decision which if I interpret this corrently now means that under discovery you can request the creation of documents and the filtering of data to create new datasets/documents. eircom and Dome Telecom had a nice banging of heads in the Courts and one argument about getting stuff under discovery went all the way upstairs to the Supreme Court. Both the High Court and Supreme Court said that yes, under discovery you can demand the creation of documents and data sets from much larger sets and while a document did not exist, you can in fact have one created so you can get the data extracted that is needed for your case. Apparently this is the first time that electronic data on harddrives can be requested under discovery. Sounds like an awful amount of work too for eircom.

Here’s what eircom were arguing. Severe legalese alert:

In bringing this appeal the defendant argues that the learned High Court judge erred in law or in fact, or on a mixed question of law and fact, in holding:-

(1) That the power of the High Court to order discovery of documents extends to directing a party to create documents for the purpose of the within proceedings

(2) That the power of the High Court to order discovery of documents extends to directing a party to create documents that do not exist at the time the said order is made.

(3) That the creation of the documents directed by the High Court does not impose a disproportionate burden on the defendant /appellant where in order to comply with the said order it would be required:

• To extract in excess of 20 billion call data records from the tapes on which they are currently stored

• To record the said records onto a parallel database

• To collate and analyse the records on the parallel database in order to collate them with the 1800 freephone numbers the subject matter of the said order for discovery

• To create therefrom a document containing a report of the total monthly volume of freephone minutes trafficked per month from 31st day of August 1999 to 23rd day of December, 2003, in respect of each 1800 number by reference to access method by the defendant to international carriers- limited for the time being to those identified and set forth in the schedule hereto where the volume of minutes trafficked to that international carrier in any given month exceeded 5,000 minutes;

Dublin again – Young Scientist Exhibition

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Off to Dublin til Sunday for the Young Scientist Exhibition. Some good stuff there. Give me a call if you’re about.

Meanwhile, chew on this via XKCD:

Google Kills Jaiku?

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Another dodgeball it seems.

When Google snapped up Jaiku, the first thing they did was to stop sign-ups to the service. Over time the service with Jaiku has gotten worse and worse with no new iterations at all. You can see from various messages that the Jaiku boys are working hard and learning loads but it has been ruminated that Jaiku was purchased for the brains and not the service. A recent comment from one of their people in the Jaiku Dev channels seems to suggest that it’s true and Google is just letting them tank:

we’re pretty much at the end of our rope as far as scaling goes, i’ve been in discussions internally as to where to proceed but things go slowly, and it seems like any path forward requires radical architecture/database restructuring

it’s a lot of work and there are some major pieces of the process that i am unable to do on my own but i’m trudging along, just feels like it isn’t going quickly enough 🙁

Jaiku has a strong community and a nice feel to it and while people can still sign up via invites most of the public still won’t avail that way. Anyway, I left this week as the service is really awful and there is no fresh blood and am sure many more feel the same. Their blog has been dead too since they were purchased. It’s understandable in a way that Google would get these guys sooner rather an expensive later but jeez, why let it die? Just so Yahoo! or Microsoft could not build it out?

The iPhone by David Lynch

Monday, January 7th, 2008

In case you are one of the 7 that didn’t see this:

Update: My video reply