Joho the Blog » misc

October 3, 2014

The modern technology with the worst signal-to-noise ratio is …

…the car alarm.

When one goes off, the community’s reaction is not “Catch the thief!” but “Find the car owner so s/he can turn off the @!@#ing car alarm.” At least in the communities I’ve lived in. (Note: I am a privileged white man.)

The signal-to-noise ratio sucks for car alarms in every direction. First, it is a signal to the car owner that is blasted to an entire neighborhood that’s trying to do something else. Second, it’s almost always a false alarm. (See note above.) Third, because it’s almost always a false alarm, it’s an astoundingly ineffective true alarm. The signal becomes noise.

Is there any modern technology with a worse signal-to-noise ratio?

6 Comments »

September 1, 2014

End of summer photos

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 9

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 18

foggy labor day at lake 2014 - 26

end of summer 2014

(cc) Creative Commons – attribute, share-alike

 


By weird coincidence, my friend Peter Suber posted remarkably similar (but inarguably better) photos of a different lake on the same day.

3 Comments »

June 22, 2014

This Week in Law: Not all that legal

On Friday I was part of the This Week in Law vidcast, hosted by my it’s-been-too-long friend Denise Howell [twitter: dhowell], along with Nina Paley [twitter: gorgeous + righteous. You must see it. That is an order.) It was a non-lawyerly discussion, which I was relieved to find out not because I dislike lawyers but because I could not have participated except by intermittently interjecting, “I object! On the grounds of say what now?”

Anyway, I can’t remember everything we talked about, except I know there was stuff about the effficacy of online advertising, the emerging norms for privacy, Amazon’s weaponized drones, Google Real-Death Bumper Cars, and nude photos of Robert Scoble.

You can get the vidcast/audiocast here. It’s a 1:35 long, where the first digit represents HOURS.

 


A Nina sample:

2 Comments »

June 6, 2014

19 hours in the Negev

My wife and I just spent nineteen hours in Yeruham [flickr photos] in the Negev desert. We were visiting Avi Warshavsky and his family who I know through the Center for Educational Technology, an Israeli non-profit that encourages tech innovation (in Hebrew and Arabic) for schools. Avi is the head of MindCET, a remarkable ed tech incubator in Yeruham, and is a highly respected figure in the Israeli open tech field. (I was brought to Israel by Yad Hanadiv and the National Library of Israel to talk with the Library about its digital initiative. I also gave an informal talk to the Library staff, talked at a Wikimedia conference, and went to a meetup of Hasadna (a collective of open data activists), so it’s been a busy and ultra-stimulating week.)

Anyway, yesterday evening we went down to Yeruham, a town of 10,000 noted for its open-hearted culture. You come to Yeruham after a long drive through an increasingly barren landscape. Yeruham Lake announces the start of the town, which in the US might make it all the way to being a large pond, but which is the second largest lake in Israel. (I think I must have gotten that wrong since it doesn’t even make Wikipedia’s list of lakes in Israel, which is only three entries long.) The town itself is modest but full of the signs family life: playgrounds, small shops, cafes, a well-used cultural center.

That evening, Avi took us and two of his children to see "the crater" from atop Mt. Avnun. You drive up a two-way road about the width of 1.5 cars until you are on the top of a mountain. Then you walk for about two minutes to get to the edge of a cliff bounded by a trip wire pretending to be a fence. The crater is not a deep hole but more like an upside-down bottle cap, except the edges are mountains and the bottle cap would take a day of walking to cross. Also, if you or any of your loved ones get too close to the edge of this bottle cap, they will be pulled off by an invisible vortex which your host insists does not exist but you can sense through your X-Man power of Being Afraid.

It’s quite beautiful.

The next day, we started the morning by going to David Ben-Gurion‘s burial place, which is a park of green atop a bluff that looks out at a sea of bluffs. Magnificent. If only Charlton Heston were there to hold his arms out majestically.

In the park, if you go in the morning, you can see wild ibexes (ibixen?) chewing at the vegetation, birds of various sorts, and lizards scuttling about. The ibexes we saw were smaller than deer, and lovely. It was great to see the ibex outside of its usual habitat: the crossword puzzle.

Then we went to Avdat, a Unesco World Heritage site where you can wander through a mountaintop village built of stone inhabited by the Nabataeans, Romans, and Byzantines from third century BCE to the seventh century CE. It was one of 65 walled villages along the route incense caravans took to ships waiting in Gaza. It is a beautiful spot, and more of the old village remains than I’d expected. We were the only people there. (It was also the first time in my life I wished I were wearing sun glasses. After about half an hour, I had trouble seeing.)

In a total switch of context, we then went to the MindCET offices, which were closed for the Shavuos holiday. Avi and I were able to catch up on the 14 startups MindCET has worked with, the global Ed Tech competition MindCET is co-sponsoring, and more. MindCET is a great place for early stage startups, providing them with a place to co-work and mentoring. Yeruham would like to attract more tech companies, which I can see. It seems like a wonderful community.

Also, at night Yeruham has stars We should get some of those for Boston.

2 Comments »

June 1, 2014

Oculus Riiiiiiiiiift

At the Tel Aviv headquarters of the Center for Educational Technology, an NGO I’m very fond of because of its simultaneous dedication to improving education and its embrace of innovative technology, I got to try an Oculus Rift.

They put me on a virtual roller coaster. My real knees went weak.

Holy smokes.

wearing an Oculus Rift

 


Earlier, I gave a talk at the Israeli Wikimedia conference. I was reminded — not that I actually need reminding — how much I like being around Wikipedians. And what an improbable work of art is Wikipedia.

1 Comment »

May 14, 2014

Kehyboard shortcuts for Google Chrome

An article at How-To Geek explains how to create keyboard shortcuts for Google Chrome. It explains the built-in way to assign a keystroke to an extension, and recommends the Shortcut Manager extension that lets you create shortcuts for much of Chrome’s built-in functionality.

I will take this occasion to recommend Tab Rocker, by Joel Weinberger [twitter:metromoxie]. It lets you toggle between two open tabs via a keystroke. Joel wrote the first draft of it in a Thanksgiving afternoon after I whined about not having that functionality. Shortly afterwards Joel began working at Google as a security genius (which is not his official title but should be). And, yes, he is related to me: he’s my nephew.

1 Comment »

January 12, 2014

A bloggy dinner in London. Join us?

To commemorate the old days of blogging, and because we still like one another, we’re going to have a bloggers’ dinner in London this Saturday (Jan. 18) at 7pm. We think we have room for another 8 or 9 people. (This will be a pay-for-what-you-consume affair.) So, if you’re interested, enter your details in the spreadsheet. First come, first served.

This came about because of some quick emails between Suw Charman-Anderson and me. Her husband Kevin Anderson will be there, as will my wife. And it looks like Euan Semple will also come, and possibly AKMA (plus maybe Margaret) as well.

See you in London?

2 Comments »

December 30, 2013

The family album — making good on a resolution

I’ve been spending TV time taking digital photographs of every page of our family photo albums. Sure, it’d be better to digitize each one individually, but it turns out that what I’m doing is way better than never getting around to doing it right.

2 Comments »

October 20, 2013

[templelib] Anne Kenney: “Friends in new places: special collections in special communities”

At Temple University’s symposium in honor of the inauguration of the University’s new president, on Oct. 18, 2013.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Anne Kenney is University Librarian at Cornell.

For the past six years, Cornell has been building a hiphop collection. It began as the private archive of Johan Kugelberg, who recognize the cultural importance of popular music. He went in search of recordings, posters, flyers, etc. Cornell acquired the collection 2007. Cornell acquired Joe Conzo’s photographs.

But you don’t usually think about hiphop in beautiful, rural upstate NY. “So the rest of the story is about engagement.” Cornell needed to show the community that it’s a responsible steward. So, they held an inaugural conference in Oct. 2008, which included music, talks about hiphop founders, roundtables, etc. Academics also came. It began a two year period of intensive engagement. Anne shows some great photos of the interactions.

Seeing their photos on the same shelves as the Gettysburg Address was (as Joe Conzo said) “priceless.” Many of the artists themselves have gone out to spread word about the collection.

She shows some classroom use of the materials, in multiple disciplines. The artists have been spreading word. Cornell is proud of the integration of the artists into the academic environment. E.g., Afrika Bambaataa is a 3-year visiting scholar. She points about many more events and classes, some in partnership with other institutions and cities. E.g., the Class of 1945 requested a workshop.

She ends by talking about engaging the public in crowd-archiving. A gallery in SOHO was turned over to cataloging the 40,000 record collection of Afrika Bambaataa.

Anne says: “The future of most large research libraries lies…with unique and special materials” (Rick Anderson, “Can’t buy Us Love” 2013).

See Preserving HipHop.

Be the first to comment »

September 30, 2013

[SPOILERS] A Breaking Bad plot flaw

Breaking Bad Finale SPOILERS

A number of plot weaknesses, if not exactly flaws, have been noticed by many people: It was too convenient that Walter found the car keys in the first scene, it was unlikely that he could have so casually evaded the police lookouts when visiting his wife, he couldn’t have counted on being allowed to position his car so perfectly for the last scene, it was lucky that all the bad guys (except one) were in just the right range for his bullet-sprinkler system.

But I haven’t seen one particular, and genuine, plot flaw mentioned anywhere. Probably because I’m wrong about it. Here goes:

Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz were next to each other facing forward when the red laser dots appeared on their chests. How did they see the dots? Did they see the laser sources and figure out that they were pointing at them? That’s probably it. Ok, so much for the plot flaw. Carry on.

Finally, yes, I know that picking plot flaws misses the point of the Breaking Bad finale. But I have to say that I was a little disappointed by episode. It wrapped up the plot points, but I didn’t think it advanced the series’ argument. And, no, I don’t claim to know exactly what that argument was; it was too wonderfully complex for that. Still, I didn’t think the finale deepened its themes.

I agree with how others have framed it: “Ozymandias” — the third-to-last episode — was the series’ climax. The rest was denouement.

Great, great series.

 


Freudian slip of the month. From E-Online’s coverage of the finale: “Walt (Bryan Cranston) got his revenge but succumbed to his wombs.”

4 Comments »

Next Page »