a view into the sordid life i lead

Thursday, September 27, 2007

oy vey

Sometimes at a loss for just how people get the time to do the monumentally time-wasting things they do, then upload to YouTube, so they can waste more of my time. Then I can blog about it and waste others' times as well. It's so great - the Internet.

BTW, i think this dude comes close to beating Maharishi Vedic Honey, but I can't be sure - leave your comments.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lessons on the [iraq] surge from economics 101

"Economics professors have a standard game they use to demonstrate how
apparently rational decisions can create a disastrous result. They call
it a "dollar auction." The rules are simple. The professor offers a
dollar for sale to the highest bidder, with only one wrinkle: the
second-highest bidder has to pay up on their losing bid as well.
Several students almost always get sucked in. The first bids a penny,
looking to make 99 cents. The second bids 2 cents, the third 3 cents,
and so on, each feeling they have a chance at something good on the
cheap. The early stages are fun, and the bidders wonder what possessed
the professor to be willing to lose some money." [read more of this article]

It's interesting how the human condition is often incapable of giving up. You don't ever want to be the bigger sucker, so you keep gambling until the other guy looks more silly. I wonder if this is uniquely an American condition?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

zoho, facebook, and more

My previous post about Zoho's Facebook app, and how they should maybe keep their eyes peeled for the Facebook community replicating their work was weirdly revere-premonitious (yes, it's a word, dammit!). Just noticed that my favorite skunkworks project Parakey has been acquired by Facebook

The question in my mind is whether it's now going to be called FaceKey or ParaBook or ParakeyFace

Actually this is really rather promising, given the talent at both companies. Check out the veture beat article about the acquisition. What's really sad is that I'm so far removed from the hot new action that I find out about this stuff 3 months after it happens! Oh, the woes of a wannabe blogger!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

zoho'ed up

After using Zoho, Google and SugarCRM for a few months I've come to the conclusion that Zoho has a great deal of potential if a few things are implemented / improved upon, specifically in a collaborative project environment:
  • Better integration between documents and projects. This means I should be able to upload documents, share them with people, then tie the document into a task or project. The benefits are pretty obvious. I suspect there may be a way to do this, but I'm not completely positive just yet.
  • Better Task management. At present tasks can only be alloted a number of days for completion. I want a number of hours. Why? Coz I use the tasks and milestones for odd jobs, and they're usually by the hour. I also need to be able to timesheet the hours for billing.
  • An invoicing tool. Basically this would allow me to combine the tasks, the timesheet and a way to generate a templated invoice, then save it in my documents and export as necessary.
One VERY, VERY cool addition to Zoho is the Facebook integration, which I'm just starting to work on. Unfortunately it seems to be broken. WHen I try to add Zoho to my Facebook, I get:
Errors while loading page from application
There are still a few kinks Facebook and the makers of Zoho Online Office are trying to iron out. We appreciate your patience as we try to fix these issues. Your problem has been logged - if it persists, please come back in a few days. Thanks!

I'm hoping they get these kinks worked out so I can facebook my zoho.

Now the think Zoho needs to fear is the FaceBook community implementing all of Zoho's featureset. Chances are not great, but I've come to learn that I should never underestimate the FOSS community!!!

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Social networkers need rights too

Given the overwhelming availability of social networks (I wonder if any of them have made me more social or worth communicating with, but that's a discussion for another day), it's interesting to see A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.
There are valuable long-term issues that the current wave of socializing is going to bring up. The one that I'm most interested in is the virtual permanance of the content.

The Social Web phenomenon mimics penpals of a distant era. I remember having a pen-pal in Palm Springs when I was a kid in Zambia. I had no idea where Palm Springs was, or pretty much anything about America (except for a pencil case which had a picture of an American Football pileup with 20 guys - and that confused me about football/soccer for a long time). That relationship ended about 3 letters in, when I got bored, and never resurfaced. The Social Web, on the other hand, maintains relationships in tube-space long after all physical connections have been buried, cremated and vaporized.

So the above linked bill of rights is somewhat relevant, and is going to be very interesting to implement.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

BarCampFairfield wiki is up

barcampffThe wiki for BarCampFairfield is up.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Best music for a while

I'm just blown away by Amy Winehouse. I can't believe I've never heard of her until this very minute:

I think I've just heard the best thing I've run across since Nina Simone and Billy Holiday. It's just unfortunate she's not a CC licensed artist.

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More bitter gouging

Maharishi Vedic Farms bitter melon at Everybody's: $4.29 / lb.
1 good looking bitter melon: 2 lb. = $8.58
The price for vedic organic produce that has no quantifiable benefit to my physiology: too much

(there should probably be a picture with this post, but didn't have my cam available)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Campy + Bar-ish = BarCamp (?)

Being on the Free/Open Source bandwagon for as long as I have been I've come to realize that the reason for my love of the FLOSS is open, unrestricted collaboration. And if there are any restrictions imposed they just stop mattering, at least from the actual implementation perspective, since the code is open, and anyone can change it.
I've been watching as companies in my fair town (fairfield, Iowa) struggle with technology and implementation ideas and re-invent the wheel constantly due to a certain amount of paranoia, unwillingness to collaborate, and often just plain lack of knowledge. There are too many people who don't know that there are options beyond OSX and Windows. There are too many people who think .NET is the ultimate say in web development. There are too many people who think a Windows Domain Controller solves the world's problems.
Ok, that was probably a bit of hyperbole, and a bit of M$ bashing. But that's not really the intent. .Net is a great platform. Microsoft creates a lot of excellent solutions. But when people don't realize that there are other, better, more appropriate solutions to their needs, something is wrong.
Lest this turn into a prostletizing of how great technology is, I'll say for the record that technology is only an enabler. Just like paper, pen and chalkboard are enablers. I want to get away from the concept of technology for technology's sake. There are a multitude of problems that can be solved by collaboration and shared knowledge pools. It just so happens that technology provides the tools to make collaboration easy.
Hence BarCamp.
Fairfield is in dire need of a regular collaboration event where the permaculturists, farmers, artists, technologists and community planners need to come together to find solutions to their needs. And make the product of their labors available for the next group to work with and build on and enrich our community. Just to take a few very obvious cases:

  • Sustainable Fairfield project needs a wiki and collaboration platform. They're using PmWiki and a few other tools. This should form the foundation for other groups in town.
  • KRUU uses a CMS and CRM (drupal and sugarcrm) to run its operations, and manage all hosts. This can be used by any group for their needs.
  • Kelly Custer has built an amazing perma-culture garden around her house, basically creating an edible landscape which can be replicated easily around town with a template. This could result in a completely fruitful Fairfield year-round.
There are probably a hundred projects like this around town. People have amazing ideas and novel solutions. But they have not had a chance to bring their visions together, have them be peer-reviewed, and create solutions that actually fit the needs of this community.
I'm not sure what will come out of BarCampFairfield, but I'm interested to find out if a step can be taken that encourages people to work towards a larger community goal.
Stay tuned for more details - I'll start bringing up the Wiki soon.