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June 30, 2008

Favorite Microsoft instructions of the day

My Windows Vista Ultimate 64 installation is now telling me that my license will expire in 14 hours. This is confusing since the Control Panel tells me that Vista is activated and gives me a product number.

I tried to use the Windows support chat, but when I entered the n-digit product number, it told me the support period was up…yet another indication that my product is indeed activated.

So, I called telephone support, hoping they wouldn’t charge me the required $59. After asking me too many questions, they transferred me to Windows Activation, with the instruction — and this is the part I like — to answer the telephonic robot’s questions:

Transfer me
Transfer me
Transfer me anyway

That worked fine, except after telling me that it was transferring my call, the robot hung up on me.


So, I tried to get the Activation Support center’s phone number, but for that you have to use the Windows Activation program on your PC … which isn’t where it’s supposed to be … because I already activated my product.

Another call to Windows Support, another round of answering questions, and they actually gave me the number for U.S. Windows Activation: 866-740-1256.

Unfortunately, that group was unable to help. They gave me the phone number for the first tech support group.

I only use my Vista machine for home accounting and for games. Is Microsoft purposefully trying to discourage casual users like me?

Eventually, a tech support person told me that the problem is that I installed Service Pack 1 in January or February. If you did, you have to uninstall it (find Windows Update and click on Installed Updates. Select the service pack and uninstall it. Then, when that doesn’t work, you’ll have to uninstall it by hand.) I’ve spent two hours uninstalling and trying to reinstall:

– Don’t forget to run the System Update Readiness Tool.
– Don’t forget that the System Update Readiness Tool doesn’t have a file name that’s intelligible by users
– Don’t forget that when you run the System Update Readiness Tool, it will call itself something else. I think.
– Don’t forget to run sfc /scannow. (Didn’t work? Run it as admin.)
– Don’t forget to run msconfig and turn off the right start-up programs.
– Don’t forget to yes, transfer me, transfer me, transfer me anyway.

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The next day, someone called from Microsoft to make sure that my problem was resolved satisfactorily. Ten minutes later, his manager called to make sure that the guy who checked on whether my problem was resolved was himself courteous and thorough. I told both of them that Naveen – the tech support person who solved my problem – was fantastic, but the first five people I talked with ought to be taught what Naveen knew about diagnosing my problem.


Daily (Intermittent) Open-Ended Puzzle: Stub

Do barefoot cultures have a word for stubbing their toes?

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June 29, 2008

Government by these people

Matthew Burton on working with the people who are our government…

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Coach potatoes in the age of YouTube?

Would we not then be YouTubers?

(Amazingly, the query youtuber “coach potato” only turns up 4 hits, none of which are making this bad joke. Am I getting my Google syntax wrong??)

(And if it’s not clear why it’s a joke at all, look up “tuber.” See? Hahaha.)

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June 28, 2008

The website is down: The video

Very funny nerdy YouTube, via Dave Winer.

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Ethanz on PDF and GV

Conference coverage like this and this makes me sorry that Ethan Zuckerman is chairing the Global Voices meeting instead of live blogging it. We need an “and,” not an “or” here. Clearly it’s time that Ethan cloned himself.

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June 27, 2008

Brad to suck again

You can now pre-order BradSucks’ new album. And why wouldn’t you? (You can answer that question by giving it a listen…) [Tags: ]

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[reboot] Jyri Engestrom on “Nodal Points”

Jyri Engestrom, whose company, Jaiku, was bought by Google, is talking about “Nodal Points: The emerging real-time social Web.” About four years ago, I heard Jyri talk about “social objects:” at Reboot, a talk that really stuck with me. Now Jyri works on social tools at Google.

Nodal Points is an homage to William Gibson, he says, and especially to a character who can predict the future by seeing patterns in human amounts of data.

Jyri says that social networks don’t explain why people are connected socially. He talks about the importance of social objects — objects that connect people in a social network. “Good web services allow people to create social objects that add value.” Mobile devices can help because they provide sensors that let us capture more data. This will be increasingly true.

Then we need to think about the verbs that people perform on objects. E.g., Flickr’s aggregation of what people have done with your photos. We should be surfacing the available actions.

“Social peripheral vision” lets you see what’s next. If you are unaware of other people’s intentions, you can’t make plans. “Imagine a physical world where we have as much peripheral information at our disposal as in WoW.” Not just “boring update feeds.” Innovate, especially on mobiles. We will see this stuff in the next 24 months. Some examples: Maps: Where my friends are. Phonebook: what are people up to. Email: prioritized. Photos: Face recognition.

Structurally, there are “object lockers” and on top of that a set of “activity aggregators.” “What’s key is filtering out what’s irrelevant.” Pattern recognition matters … hence, nodal points. “It’s not that different from Web search,” except the query is constant and consists of contextual parameters, e.g., who is copresent in the space, what’s in the calendar. “Imagine it’s all funneled into one big query” that runs constantly.

Detecting nodal points: “What should I be aware of that’s happening around me? Was what just happened significant to someone on the network.” And then deliver it to people at just the right time, perhaps via push. “Discovery is becoming social.” “It is the end of the era of search,” i.e., of querying for stuff. From browser to search to share (citing former ceo of paypal). From pagerank to “facerank” where what counts is friends in common, physical proximity, shared taste, shared objects.

He points to OpenID (identity), OAuth (authorization), and OpenSocial (interoperability).

Whe you develop a social service, your questions shoudl be: What is your object? Whare are your verbs? What are your nodal points?

Are we creating echo chambes?
An empirical question. Still open. In my own experience, no. We can build into the software the ability to prompt you with what would be interesting to you even though you would never have thought so. [heavily paraphrased]

[Great talk. And undoubtedly giving insight into Google’s plans for socializing its software.] [Tags: ]


A photo from Reboot

I don’t usually post photos of me, for obvious reasons if you’ve ever seen me in person. But this one by Euan Semple is un-non-postable.

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June 26, 2008

[reboot08] David Isenberg on the end of bandwidth limitations

David Isenberg shows a fiber optic cable with 864 fibers. Each can carry 155 frequencies that each can carry 10 gigabits. That means three of the fibers can carry the entire busy hour traffic of the USA. If everyone on the planet had a phone and was making a call at the same time, that one cable could carry it, and 100 of the fibers would still be dark. [I’m sure I screwed up some of the numbers, perhaps seriously. Sorry. I’m multitasking because I decided this afternoon that my after dinner talk — entirely new — needs slides.] “The answer to the question ‘How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’, the answer is ‘How many do you want to dance on the head of a pin?’.”

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