Joho the BlogSeptember 2007 - Joho the Blog

September 30, 2007

Web 2.0 via Web 2.0

Ed Yourdon has created a mother lode of a Google docs presentation that gathers tons of info about Web 2.0. Plus, he’s inviting bunches of people to add to it, edit it, put in a nicer background, etc. [Tags: web2.0 ed_yourdon ]

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Backup BradSucks

BradSucks has posted the main track of his new song “Out of It,” and is asking you to provide the backup vocals. [Tags: ]

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Your info or your job

David Michaelson and Joy Romanski post at HuffingtonPost about Homeland Security Presidential Directive Number 12 which basically requires everyone at NASA to open up their financial, medical and personal records to government scrutiny. As the post points out, this is simply Bush issuing a ukase.

Remember when liberty was worth a risk? [Tags: homeland_security privacy bush ]

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High School of Self-Parody

Our sixteen year old son is being required in his junior year to memorize the state capitals. This is at the excellent public Brookline High School. It’s like the educational system is trying to give us examples of how bad it’s become. What next? Have them spend a month making a papier-mâché recreation of a fort? Grade them on how well they cut out paper snowflakes to decorate the classroom?

The amount of time our son is being required to spend memorizing whether Bismarck is the capital of North or South Dakota will dwarf the total amount of time he would spend in his lifteime looking it up at Google. This is information that adds nothing to this comprehension of the world. Memorizing the dates of the states’ admissions to the union might at least sometime in his life help him notice a relationship of some consequence — that Texas was admitted before the abolition of slavery has some possible effect on his understanding, whereas that Austin is the capital will only matter if he runs for governor of Texas and doesn’t want to look foolish in the debates.

It especially hurts me that this sort of crap education is going on in history, a field essential to filing away our natural human arrogance by showing us that we got where we are because of what other humans did. And what could be more fascinating than our own story? Obviously, then, we want to teach it by telling students that there will be a quiz on Monday, so could they please memorize the fricking state capitals.

Aarrrggghhh! [Tags: education history state_capitals ]

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September 29, 2007

Beginner-to-Beginner: Recovering your WordPress password

Ok, so I forgot the password for a WordPress installation I was playing around with. That makes me an idiot, but just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill idiot. The built-in WP idiot-guard, which sends you a copy of your password, didn’t send me anything.

In googling around for a solution, I found lots of info about installing phpMyAdmin, a powerful tool for managing your SQL install. Except I don’t want a powerful tool. I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to install it, and failed.

More googling, however, revealed an extremely simple php script at (appropriately) You install it into your WordPress directory, you visit it in your browser, you enter a password, and then you immediately delete the script. Couldn’t be simpler.

Thank you, Village-Idiot! [Tags:]

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Picnic O7 presentation and (sort of) debate

Here’s a video of the full session I was at at Picnic ’07. It includes Walt Mossberg’s introduction, my 40 minute keynote (very similar to the presentation that I did at Google, although with a short section on the importance and difficulty of the implicit added, and some references in anticipation of the debate to follow), and then the half hour or so of my debate with Andrew Keen, moderated by Walt M.

I haven’t watched the video beyond the first few minutes — the production quality is high — but my sense of the debate was that Andrew was on an oddly anti-intellectual track, attacking me as a “professional philosopher,” which I’m not (I was an assistant professor of philosophy 22 years ago), and even if I were, why would that be a criticism, especially coming from a guy who is out arguing for the importance of credentialed authorities? Not helpful to discussing the actual topic. Frustrating. My feeling coming out of the discussion over all was indeed frustration. I didn’t think we were able to pursue points sufficiently.

BTW, somewhere in my presentation you can see me very carefully get left and right confused. Also, I’m going to plug again my more coherent attempt to explain and evaluate Keen’s argument: Andrew Keen’s Best Case. [Tags: everything_is_miscellaneous picnic2007 taxonomy folksonomyk ]

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September 28, 2007

British Airways blocks BoingBoing

In the British Airways lounge at Heathrow, If you use their free computers to connect to, you instead get a page that says it’s been blocked. Here’s a copy-and-paste of the page (because the PC has been crippled so that, among other things, I can’t do a screen capture):

Internet Access to this site
has been BLOCKED

British Airways Plc prohibited website information

Airways has blocked access to certain Internet sites which may be considered
to be illegal or offensive. This site is currently on the barred list.We
understand that the Internet changes constantly and that the decision
in respect of this particular site may no longer be appropriate. If
you would like us to review the decision to bar access to this site,
please give the website URL and a contact e-mail address to a member
of staff at the Lounge Reception. The response will be written confirmation
that either the ban on this site has been lifted, or that the site continues
to contain material that is inappropriate and, therefore, the bar on
access will continue.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Date/Time: 2007-09-28 – 07:29:54
Category: “Nudity;Personal Pages”


September 27, 2007

The price of copyright

John Palfrey, Wendy Seltzer and Angela Kang have an op-ed in the Harvard Crimson about the Harvard bookstore’s kicking a student out for recording the price of six books. The bookstore claimed that that information is protected by copyright, a wrong and frivolous attempt to extend copyright to cover, well, everything.


September 25, 2007

W’s fund-raising appeal

Just in case you’re not on the Republican National Committee’s email list, here’s a message that came “personally” from President George W. Bush:

During my six and a half years in office, you and I have worked together to advance the Republican Party’s principles to keep America safe, strengthen our economy, protect our values and extend the American Dream to every person who’s fortunate to be a citizen of our great country.

In just over 13 months, Americans go to the polls to elect the next President. We have an important mission: to keep the White House in 2008, and retake the U.S. House and Senate. It is critical we do so and your help is needed today to ensure a GOP victory.

Next year, Chairman Mike Duncan and the Republican National Committee (RNC) will have the job of organizing our Party’s national grassroots campaign effort.

Mike and I both are counting on your support to help lead the Republican Party to sweeping victories in the 2008 elections.

We know it is grassroots activists like you who put up the yard signs, knock on the doors, make the phone calls and do what’s necessary to win and elect a Republican president and Congress.

And it is people like you who give generously to ensure our candidates have the resources needed to run effective campaigns and win. That is why I hope you will make a special online gift of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or $25 to keep the RNC’s 2008 election programs moving forward.

Winning the 2008 elections will be the toughest test our Party has faced since we won the White House and added to our numbers in both houses of Congress in 2004.

To accomplish our mission, Republicans must make clear how we will meet the challenges of defending America and extending our prosperity.

Republicans have a solid record when it comes to protecting the United States of America.

After the enemy attacked us, I vowed I would rally this nation and use our resources to protect you. And that is exactly what we have done. We have reformed our intelligence services to make sure we can find the enemy before they strike. We have fought to deny them safe haven in Afghanistan and Iraq so they cannot plan and plot again.

The fight for freedom in Iraq is the fight for the security of the United States of America and we must prevail. If we leave before the job is done, the enemy that attacked us would be emboldened. I believe if our candidates take the message of doing what is necessary to protect the American people, we will win in 2008.

Republicans also have a solid record when it comes to growing this economy.

Republicans cut taxes for everybody who pays taxes. We understand that if you have more money in your pocket to save, spend, or invest, the economy will grow.

If you look carefully at the budget the Democrats proposed, they want to return to the days of tax and spend. [Coming from the administration that has created the greatest deficit in our history, we have here a new definition of chutzpah — DW] They will raise your taxes and figure out new ways to spend your money.

If our candidates remind the American voter that tax cuts have worked, that the economy is strong as a result of the tax cuts, and instead of raising taxes, we ought to make the tax cuts permanent, we will retake the U.S. House and Senate and hold the White House in 2008.

You can win most elections based upon strong national defense and good economic policy. But the RNC needs Sustaining Members to get this message out and support our Republican candidates.

Please support our cause today by making a special online contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or $25 to the RNC to help elect Republicans at all levels in 2008.

David, Republicans believe in doing what’s right for America. We believe that the best days lie ahead for our country. And I believe that we’re going to succeed in 2008 with your support.


President George W. Bush

I’m actually surprised that they would use Bush’s record and name to raise money. File this under “Pleas to the Core.” [Tags: politics bush republicans ]

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Denmark: Programmers wanted

After my presentation in Aarhus as part of ITForum.DK’s get-together, I chatted with Babak Djahari, a lobbyist for the tech sector. I asked what his issues were, half afraid he was going tell me how Net neutrality is a communist plot, but then I remember that, oh yeah, I’m not in America. He said the industry’s main issue is a shortage of programmers. The pay is excellent but, he said, programmers are considered nerds. Also taxes are very high (65-70% at the high end) and the weather is less than ideal; he says there’s only fall and winter, and during the winter there are only six hours of light. (Since when do geeks see the sun anyway?) On the other hand, you get to live in Denmark, the beer is great, there are lots of Danes here, English is the second language, the Danes rescued my people during WW II, and you’ll be just in time for when nerds become the new cool people, just like in the US.

After the meeting, I bicycled from the hotel to Aarhus, about 5k along the bay. I used one of Aarhus’ free public bicycles and had an exceptionally pleasant ride. After returning the bike to one of the stands, I wandered aimlessly, i.e., I got totally head-facing-backwards, wasn’t-I-just-here lost. The part of the city I saw — which included the pedestrian section — was quiet, old, unpretentious, possibly student-y. I went to an Asian restaurant, thinking I might find something vegetarian there. There was nothing on the menu, but they wokked up some vegetables. Then I wandered, trying to find the bay because my only way back to the hotel would be by biking along the water, although first I would have to bike a few miles to figure out I’m going in the wrong direction, since my experience has consistently taught me that the right direction is always the second direction, and no amount of figgering or trying to cheat the system (“Which is the way I wouldn’t go? That must be the way!”) circumvents this law of personal physics. Amazingly, I fell into a worm hole that brought me directly to the hotel, where “worm hole” = “taxi.”

Now I’m on my tiny balcony overlooking the bay, from which I can see the loading docks, carbon paper clouds, and lights drifting toward my family. [Tags: denmark travel programming ]


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