“KYOU is the first radio station in the world to get all of its programming from podcasts. Everyday we’ll feature new, innovative and cutting edge programs produced by people like you. Your original thoughts and sounds will be broadcast in San Francisco on the revolutionary 1550 KYCY-AM and streamed worldwide at KYOURADIO.com. ” From KYOU’s website.
Oh, and its the most underperforming VIACOM station in the SF/Bay Area.
|30 Apr 2005|
Inkscape for Maps - Nicu took me up on my idea to use Inkscape for making game maps, and posted an awesome example. Nice work Nicu!! Proves my point, that map is beautiful. :-)
GOPchop - yesterday helped Kees work on GOPchop. Created the website (derived from the original at his outflux site). Also helped him lay out a development roadmap. The nature of this project is quite different from ones I usually get involved with, in that it's already had its 1.0 release, and all the principle functionality has been coded. The work from 1.0 to 2.0 will revolve around "finishing" - debugging, documenting, etc. I think having the roadmap will help, since sometimes that kind of work can feel overwhelming if you don't have a tangible goal in sight.
WikiNews - Ted discussed a talk on Monopoly, Media, & the Right to Know discussing the over-corporatization of the news, the rise of blogging, and the cost of investigative journalism today.
I have found the intersection of news and the internet to be absolutely fascinating. I first learned about the WWW back in '93, before there were any news organizations out there. Today, only a decade later, the Internet has become a primary source of news for many people.
When my dad comes and visits, we have to drive down to the minimart to get a Sunday newspaper (he has to have his 'fix', he jokes). Meanwhile, I'm off in the computer room doing basically the samething, except with mouse clicks and photons instead of newsprint and ink... I sometimes wonder which of us is getting "better" news? I'm able to quickly filter through to exactly the stories I care about, but he probably gets broader insights. I can put my finger on *more* news, but he probably has the edge on local news. It's a tossup whether either of us is getting anything resembling truth; I know some people are concerned about newspapers becoming corporate dominated, and others worry that blogs are inadequately researched. But heck, news inaccuracy is nothing new; if I remember my U.S. History correctly, truth and the news media have been fickle bedpartners at best, and bias comes with the territory. The only realistic solution is the same one we were taught in school: "Think critically."
A while back I was watching a series about the history of communication mediums (newspapers, radio, tv, etc.) and it struck me that each medium has a principle "style" or "mode". When a new media technology comes along, it takes a while before people figure out how to use that mode. For example, when TV started it was used sort of like radio-with-pictures - advertisements were just radio jingles with some dancers for show. News programs were simply a well educated guy sitting at a desk reading the day's news stories. It took them a while to work out that the principle mode with TV is as a "window on the world", with live footage and on-location journalists. Once they did, it relegated radio to a secondary role for news reporting.
The program didn't really cover the Internet much that I recall, but if you think about it, the principle mode of the Internet is "interactivity". Anyone can be a publisher. We can (often) comment directly on stories. Through tools like CVS, Wiki, Blogs, and so on we often participate in *making* the stories.
With this view in mind, I'd conclude that the cnn.com style news sites (basically just a newspaper with hyperlinks), is a quaint attempt to adapt the principle mode of the printed world to the online world, and that things like Blogs, that allow the audience room to interact with the news, were inevitable.
We're already seeing the power of this new mode in other areas of culture/society/knowledge. The Open Source software movement is an easy example, but it's even having an impact outside of software circles. Wikipedia is probably the classic example of how tapping the principle mode of the Internet medium (interactivity) can be very powerful. It's weird that it worked so well; writing an online encyclopedia seems like the proverbial Sisyphean task, yet today it seems to have become the online world's primary source of fact. It's imperfect, but info in it is probably more reliable than you'd get from a random googling, more relevant than that antique set of tomes sitting on my bookshelf, and more up-to-the-minute than the local library.
Anyway, with all of the above in mind, I ran across WikiNews late last year. Basically the premise was simple - do for news what Wikipedia had done for fact. Even I thought it was a bit crazy - and I'm definitely no stranger to crazy ideas. But I'd just seen Outfoxed, and felt like we needed to start experimenting with some new ideas for news. I pitched in with a few articles, but found it a bit more time consuming than I was ready for. I figured it'd fizzle out eventually - I mean, who has time to write news articles every day?
Yet here we are, half a year later, and WikiNews is not only going strong, but I'm finding myself starting to use it as my primary source of news. They don't always have every article that cnn.com might have, but I actually like that; the bulk of stuff on the big news sites like CNN just seem too biased and corporate to me. But it does cover the important stories, with more factual integrity than you could expect from a blog. I think the thing I appreciate most about the stories is that I know they're getting scrutinized by many lovingly obsessive people with a passion for stomping out bias. I'm sure each of the news authors have their own axes to grind, but I'm also confident that the news that's there is (by definition) representative of things that real people care about.
Some day soon someone's going to figure out a way to combine Wikinews (for accurate up-to-the-minute news), blogs (for editorials and personal journalism), and Wikipedia (for peer-reviewed factual background). The public will be able to get involved in adding to the stories and correcting biases, share their own opinions directly on editorials, and when something newsworthy happens to them, be able to report on it in detail, directly. If corporate news is worrying about the impact of plain old blogs, wait 'til they see this...
|29 Apr 2005|
CRM Discovered the LUGradio planet today. Was quite fun to see that Jono is not looking into CRM like I was a while ago. His greatest frustration with Sugar was the same one I had, that it was lacking in existing client support, which caused me to start looking into opengroupware and Noodle, which in the end lead to my effort stranding a bit.
Office cleanup After buying a truckload of new hardware Thomas ended up cleaning up the office today in terms of getting cabling more sane. I ended up going out to buy more power extension cables which means that Edward and me can stop fighting over power sockets as a scarce resource. Between 3 laptops, 2 cell phones, my usb mouse dock, firewire cameras and a printer, 5 sockets was simply to little. We also got a new 64 bit server which enabled us to merge a 64 bit fix from Zaheer into Flumotion and verify it worked. Yay Zaheer!
Norwegian taxes Did my Norwegian tax declaration yesterday. Not that it was much to do as the Norwegian system is very highly automated these days. The government collects all data about you from your employeer, banks, stock traders etc., then sends you a report which you either accept as correct or edit if there are some mistakes. If you are ok with the version they send you (and you are legally responsible for it being correct) you can just send a SMS to a specific number with a pin code that came with your declartion and you are done. Or you can do what I did and submit it through the tax authorities web page. (snail mail is also possible for those not into modern technology :) Happy to find that according to the government estimates they will pay me back 11 000 kroners in June.
Barcelona Temprature is increasing quickly here now and daytime temprature is going above 20 almost every day now. Since the legendary Ralph Giles is moving into my appartment with his familiy in June I have been trying to find a suitable place for myself to stay while they are here (my place is to small for 4 people). Found one on Wednesday, with a young couple here in Barcelona. If I don' t find something else before middle of next week I will take that (the reason I am still looking is that it will probably be more fun to share an appartment with someone for a month who do not have a small infant kid). Not that I don't like kids, but they are not the most suitable companions for going to bars and getting drunk.
GUADEC Put some work in to clean up the GUADEC speakers page, now you can look at it without the text jumping up and down as the images load and all the images are the same width. There are even images of Wim and Ralph there now. Think we have a good set of speakers for GUADEC this year and I am sure we will manage to have as good a time as we had earlier years. Some unhappines on my own part and others due the way the fee system is set up, but hopefully everyone will get the message that they can register as hobbyists if they want and that for next year we can make sure the pricing and presentation has a clearer message.
So, as I'm sitting here listening to my MP3 player I'm thinking: These earbuds could be so much smarter. I think that they need to embed a small heat sensor into the actual earpieces so that they could detect whether they are in your ear or not. By using this information the MP3 player could handle common user interactions more completely. For instance, when someone walks up to me and I take my earbuds out, it pauses the music. Or, if I take one of the earbuds out (because I want to hear some ambient noise) the player should switch to mono, and stop wasting energy on that earbud. All of this sounds like something Apple would do on the next iPod. They like these advanced user interactions (and so do I).
The most difficult part of dealing with this problem is dealing with the existing interface for headphones. You basically have three wires, left, right and ground. How will the heat sensor signal the player? How will the senor get power?
I think that the best solution is one where the switch doesn't use electricity. If you can bind together two metals that expand at different rates, you can get a primitive switch based on the temperature of the metals. This is similar to how the old circular thermostats work (I wouldn't recommend the mercury switch in them though).
To signal back to the player the earbuds can either short out the connection, or hold it at high impedance. Both of these can be detected at the player, but the high impedance situation also corresponds with removing the headphones -- which should have similar user interactions. So, if the player detects no current on one of the headphones, it should assume that it has been disconnected and stop outputting music to it. If both earbuds are in this state, it should pause the music (and probably rewind a couple seconds - the sensors won't be that accurate).
Man, this would be cool.
You may have noticed that on my 16th, apart from looking especially handsome, I was wearing a cowboy hat. Well, that was my present from Alice, because a week after my birthday, her younger sister Genny was going to turn 14 and have a cowboy party. Thus, I am now posting two more pictures of Alice and myself looking sexy, clad in cowboy clothes. They would have been posted sooner were it not for Alice’s unfortunate loss of internet connection, courtesy of Wanadoo Broadband.
So, here we go:
|video editing with gopchop|
Well, in the last few weeks, after finally getting MPEG2-PS streams out of my series 2 TiVo, I’ve been actively using gopchop again. It had stagnated, but it seems that people with hardware MPEG2 encoders continue to use it. I should have realized sooner that they are gopchop’s audience. It’s traditionally been a rather fragile bit of code for software-generated MPEG2-PS streams, but pretty stable for the more regular hardware-encoder streams. Between my recent increase in its use, and two large patch bundles I was sent, I’m trying to pick up development again.
One thing that has been particularly frustrating when dealing with MPEG2 video has been dealing with the rendering of the pictures. MPEG2 stores its pictures “out of order”. And by “order” I mean display order. They’re in order for decoding, but not for display. libmpeg2 handles all this for me, except for the part where I need to stop on a specific picture. For an accurate GOP splitting UI, I need to display the last picture of a GOP. Depending on the stream, libmpeg2 may not have rendered the last picture, since it’s waiting for more B or P frames before it knows the decoding is done. (For example, B frames depend on frames in the future, so you can’t render them until you see further down the stream, etc.)
My plan to deal with this is to force-feed libmpeg2 with End-Of-Stream packets, and not render stuff until I’m on the picture I want. For example, to display the initial B or P frames from a GOP, I may need to process the entire prior GOP first. For some types of streams, this may end up being very CPU expensive, since they may have hundreds of pictures in each GOP. But, this is why MPEG2 editing is hard.
|27 Apr 2005|
I got a new lens for my camera today. It is very exciting. It is a Cannon 70mm to 300mm telephoto with image stabilization and built with defractive optics. It is much smaller than a comparable lens, but should be very cool to work with.
I feel just like a little kid, I'm excited to go to the zoo this weekend and check this little guy out. I'll make sure to post those pictures.
|26 Apr 2005|
GUADEC flight in order Edited, seems we got screwed over by Lufthansa on the tickets. Withouth warning they cancelled our tickets, forcing us to rebook at a much higher price. So we got the GUADEC rebate, but not only for some expesive tickets. Anyway thanks to Tim for quickly sending us the needed document so we could prove to Lufthansa we where going to GUADEC (which they demanded to give us the rebate in the first place.
Patent madness There have been some hope that the patent review process that the US senate is starting will fix some of the worst deficiencies in the system. Unfortunatly it seems things might instead just get worse, according to this article California Senator Dianne Feinstein considers wanting to make patents last beyond 20 years. I urge all Californians who voted Democratic to contact Dianne and clue her up.
Wine and Cheese With Edward now working at Fluendo we have a fresh inflow of french culture in the company. So when Edward celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday we got a wide selection of wine and french cheeses. The cheeses had to be good cause even Wim who is an announced cheese hater seemed to eat them.
Sending Wingo into exile We had to send Andy back to the US today as he needed to get his passport stamped in order for his spanish work visa to go through. Hopefully being back there with access to grits and french...eh...freedom fries will not cause the demise of his plans to return in 10 days.
Totem for older distros Ronald made a patch yesterday backporting Totem 1.0.1 to work with GNOME 2.8. Thomas have already made packages of that and put into the GStreamer's apt/yum repository so that people running not so bleeding edge distro's can get access to all the nice improvements in Totem. Nice work Ronald!
|Game map editing|
Bryce, of course it would be a breeze to create in Inkscape maps like those described in the Slashdot article.
|Festival of Books|
This weekend I went to the Festival of Books up on the UCLA campus. It was a fun event, and an excuse to spend sometime outside in the beautiful weather. Of course, I took pictures, you can expect them online sometime in... probably 2006. There were tons of book vendors and publishers there; from the crazy liberal to the moderate liberal, what else do you expect in California? They also had several panel and author presentations, a few of which I went to.
Brave New World: Monopoly, Media, & the Right to Know
This discussion basically boiled down to a discussion of the changing media landscape between new media (blogs and the Internet) and old media (network news and printed newspapers). All of the panelists thought that news was changing its face to the average American, but how fast, what it means, and why was definitely up for debate. Several interesting facts and observations came out of the discussion.
One of the facts that seems to be effecting news today is how it is becoming increasingly corporate. The reality is that corporations want to play it safe, they don't want to be tagged anything disagreeable so they will avoid stories that offend large segments of viewership. When politicians have 70% approval ratings, media companies are unwilling to run exposes that offend that large a segment of the potential market. An example is how the Los Angeles Times got labeled as "Anti-Arnold" when it ran stories that uncovered negative details about the now Governor Schwarzenegger. This made his supporters (he won handily) disfavor the newspaper.
One statistic that was used to support this was that when the state of California's population was 19 million, there were 900,000 subscribers to the LA Times. Now that the population of the state is over 30 million, there are still 900,000 subscribers. People are looking to different sources to find their news. Hugh Hewitt believed that they were looking for more conservative sources of news like the Wall Street Journal (to which an audience member yelled out War Street Journal -- gotta love California). I'm not sure that that's the case. It seems like more Americans are turning away from traditional sources of news, and to sources like The Daily Show.
Americans used to get 90% of their news from the big three network news programs, now that number is closer to 40%. An interesting point that was derived from this statistic is that the American public used to have a common set of 'facts' from which to make decisions. Now, there is no common understanding, and in fact this makes the entire country more fractured in its outlook at the world. I thought that this was an interesting perspective into how politics are today, everyone is avoiding truly understanding the other side, they don't have to anymore. But, it was also brought up that even in the editorial section of the newspaper, people tend to read the columns of who they agree with (and have for generations).
A point that Ken Auletta made is that investigative reporting is expensive. It takes a lot of money to allow a reporter to go off for several months investigating a story, and even more to leave that reporter in an international location for months at a time. With increasing demand on news rooms to maintain a profit margin, it becomes harder and harder to justify those expenses; but, this is the kind of money that bloggers don't have. If we are going to get truly in depth reporting on complex issues, someone has to spend the money.
Something that Arianna Huffington kept saying was that she loved blogs because they were so "obsessive" (I think she meant persistent). She loved the fact that in the blogosphere, people don't forget that Wolfowitz said the war in Iraq would pay for itself. She was disgusted how the mainstream media just ignored the fact and ate the government line. I thought it was interesting, and I think I almost prefer "obsessive" when describing blogs.
Of course, any discussion of the media today brings up the War in Iraq and the Bush Whitehouse. One comment that I hadn't thought about was that: "The Bush Whitehouse doesn't believe that the media represents the people anymore." Which is an interesting thought. One one hand, I'd have to agree that ABC, CBS and NBC have squandered the public trust; but who else should question the President? Congress doesn't seem to be doing a very good job. I doubt he's worried about condemnation from my blog. The feedback simply isn't there, we need to figure this out.
I can't say that I learned nearly as much from Kevin Smith, but I laughed much harder. I'm surprised that they didn't move him a little bit farther away from the kid's area, his sole prepared material was reading a letter from Hustler. All in all, seems like a fun guy to just hang out with, of course, you'll have to turn your sensitivity meter up a little bit first.
After reading Jarod Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steal I was very impressed, and was interested to go his presentation. The presentation was mostly about his newest work, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Collapse is about how civilizations collapse, and he found that most were after destroying the environment in which they lived. For most ancient times, this was through deforestation, through that was not the only factor in their demise.
One case study he presented was that of Easter Island. There, an advanced civilization had lived, but eventually destroyed itself. The biggest reason for this was through removing forests, and thus they were unable to fish without canoes. When he presented this to his students (he's a professor of Geography at UCLA) they asked: What was the person who cut down the last tree thinking when it happened? While no one can really answer that question, he said that many of his students have hypothesized the answer: "Your environmental models are incorrect, we need to study this further", "Protecting the environment isn't my problem" and "Do not worry, God will provide for us".
One of the things that surprised me in the discussions was the first question, from a African-American, about how he felt that Africa wasn't given a fair shake in Guns, Germs and Steal. This was funny to me, because I found one of the underlying themes of the book to be an attack on racism. It felt like that was one of Diamond's goals. Now, I don't expect a liberal professor from California to hurt the recruiting of the KKK, but I do believe that he laid a significant amount of evidence down to discredit any intellectual basis for racism.
When Diamond was talking about societies that succeed, one thing he mentioned was the ability to reevaluate core values of the society. People must look at their values and change. (When talking about the Norse in Greenland he described them a "hopelessly conservative", which got a laugh) One value that he thought must change in America was consumerism. Coupled with the fact that an average American uses 32 times the natural resources of a member of the third world, it seems pretty obvious that the resource usage is unsustainable. But, I'm curious if we don't just have to move our consumerism from things like furniture to temporal collections like ring-tones.
Wonderful event. I got the chance to walk around in the beautiful weather, take pictures, and listen to interesting speakers. It gave me a new perspective: all the time that I was in Arizona I was constantly surrounded by everything conservative, at the festival, I got to see the ugly side of liberal too. It's kinda fun being in a state where I can be called a conservative.
|Ejabberd vs. Inkscape Development|
I have to say that Inkscape’s low barrier style development is exceptional compared to other projects I try to work on/with. I really think that allowing small to medium scale easy access to the working development source code repositories with one or two patches, or contributions, really is the way to go compared to kernel style dev.
I’ve been adding some infrastructure to ejabberd, a scalable erlang-based jabber server. I’m reminded, as Bryce has commented previously, how the Inkscape style of development is successful, as this project only accepts patches, and I really just need to dig in hardcore to adding simple things like daemon init scripts, make directives etc, to make it very easy to use for developers, and administrators.
NOTE: I also understand that different styles of development are useful for different situations and scales of developers and users.
Yesterday Katie and I went to Oxford. It’s a really nice place with lots of beautiful buildings (and a University, I’ve heard) — I’m jealous of you Oxton. But that’s not what this post is about. You see, I had two experiences which left me in wonder about the general mental state of the British population, and whether I’d make people pass an IQ test to vote, were I the King.
We were walking along to Oxford train station and roughly six chavs atop their L-plate mopeds came by. We had done absolutely nothing to provoke them, we were — literally — just walking along. But still, they decided to swear at us. Why? Seriously, I don’t get it.
A few observations:
A twelve year-old boy tried to mug me. Fer real. There I was, sitting at Reading station this time, waiting for my connection to Pangbourne. I’d just bought a meal from Burger King, and up comes this young boy (12 years is just a guess). At first he asked, semi-politely,
World of Warcraft is the best game! I played today during lunch at a PC Bang. Koreans are generally attracted to group and collaborative games where the physical group network is mirrored in a PC Bang by the augmented virtual characters in games like Starcraft and the aforementioned. So cool!
|24 Apr 2005|
Inkscape for Game Map Editing
Slashdot is running a story on Map-Making Software for RPG Campaigns. I found it odd that there was no mention of Inkscape; one of the main reasons I started using SVG way back when was for game maps. Anyway, here's the comment I posted:
I'd suggest looking into using SVG for game map creation, because there's getting to be a lot of Open Source tools out there (like Inkscape, that I help develop) that can edit, convert, etc. them. I've done some map making with it and while it lacks many of the advanced features that commercial map tools have, it's got the basics, plus if you can code, you gain the option of adding the feature in yourself. ;-)
|23 Apr 2005|
I wrote earlier about task management, and chatting about it with Kees and Mike Day.
One of the aspects I'm interested in is generalizing a list of tasks that implement something, and having those 'procedures' be published in a way that lets people add to them. I've set up an OpenProcedures Wiki for doing this.
Inkscape Senior Projects
Ted posted an idea for an SVG difference tool as a project for college students to do with Inkscape. Here's some other projects that I think might be useful to consider:
There are more detailed writeups of the above in the Inkscape feature request tracker, or drop me an email.
|Seoul Club Scene|
I started reading a bit more about various activities in Korea and came across an article about Club Night. The thought of those club nights just makes me tired now. While traditional Korean food is geared towards health, I think much of this is undone by the cultural penchant for vices.
|23 Apr 2005|
Gthumb: Infrequently Asked Question
Glade for Windows
Films so bad you'd only watch 'em on Telly Vision
Tool of Globalisation
The orthodox Easter will be celebrated in about one week, this gave me the opportunity to see what I consider the kitchiest thing in the world (thanks God I'm an atheist, otherwise i would find offended :p )
|Senior Project Time|
With my last senior project finishing up (which is really cool) it is time to propose another senior project. Here's what I'm thinking, comments are welcome (though I don't have long before this needs to be final).
|22 Apr 2005|
In the good old days the rule was that JPEG was free and GIF was not free. Today it seems like GIF is free while the freenes of JPEG is under fire. Forgent is trying to use an overly broad patent to assert patent rights on JPEG. Our unlikely champion in this case is Microsoft who is taking them to court trying to get the patent found invalid.
Feelings on the subject is mixed. As someone who is against software patents I have no love for people like Forgent who leech on the industry through patent blackmail. On the other hand if Forgent is sucessful in their lawsuit then it could help push PNG forward and also work as another wake up call for the world about the problems of software patents. I think Microsoft and its owner would ake up on the beauty of software patents if they are forced to shell out billions in the Eolas and Forgent cases.
We started to convert Inkscape tutorials into DocBook, with SVG and HTML (and potentially other formats) generated automatically by XSLT stylesheets. The Basic tutorial in English was the first to be converted; here it is in HTML.
If you want to help, pick your favorite tutorial (drop a note to the devel list first, to make sure it’s not yet taken), check out the doc-docbook module from our CVS and follow the instructions in the file README to convert it into DocBook and extract illustrations as separate SVG files. This is simple work but it will be great help to the project, since it will make much easier to update tutorials, translate them into other languages, and write new ones.
|National Self Criticism|
Another quote of Friedman's that I like:
Blaming someone else is not a substitute for analyzing or coping. ... Only in a society that embraces self-criticism can the political process produce real facts to cope with real problems. (p. 176, Longitudes and Attitudes, Thomas L. Friedman)
From reading that you'd think he was talking about the post-9/11 analysis of intelligence gathering, right? He was talking about how backwards Arabic dictatorships blame all their problems on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I feel so ... backwards.