A good addiction. Wikipedia.

I just introduced my mom to Wikipedia, and spent the next 1/2 hour updating and creating pages relating to fiber arts (her specialty).
If there’s any project that truly represents the spirit of the Internet – global sharing of information for anyone and everyone who wants it – it’s this project.
I encourage everyone who believes that Information Should Be Free, and wants to participate in the group-think that we all dreamed a connected world should be to hi thee to Wikipedia and contribute. Everyone has some information that’s not there already. What do you know that someone else hasn’t documented and shared already?

Bloggers are taking over the media!

Reuters has published a quicky bit about how blogs have become a real force in politics, opinion, and commentary:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry (news – web sites) has prompted a frenzy of gossip and conspiracy theories among Internet bloggers, hybrid online sites that blend news, gossip and opinion.

In particular, I like how the debunking of the CBS memo is attributed to bloggers who aggressively attacked the authenticity of them. Initially, I was very skeptical of the criticism being levelled at the article, but in this case, the skepticism was valid, the memo was indeed a fake.
The current bruhaha is about George Bush’s ‘bulge’ that showed up in one of the debate pictures. It looks as if GW is wearing something under his jacket, and people are speculating wildly that this was a ‘wire’, and he was being prompted off-stage by Karl Rove. Personally, I think this is pushing it, but who knows how this will pan out.

Palm Browser

On my cell phone (a Kyocera 7135 I’m sure ya’ll are tired of hearing about), I had a wide range of browsers to choose from when doing webstuff. The Kyocera built in something or other was the one I chose first, and it was ‘eh’. Palm phones aren’t known for their screaming horsepower, and trying to render 150k jpegs down to something legible just brought the poor machine to its knees.
I rummaged around and found the Eudoraweb browser. It’s a HECK of a lot faster than the browser I was using, perhaps because it never loads images unless you ask for it. It shows byte progress as pages are downloading, and it’s bookmark system is nice and simple. I’ve switched to using it full time now, browsing Slashdot, my blog, a few other blogs, and various Livejournals seems to work perfectly, as long as you keep in mind this is a 33mghz CPU with 16meg of RAM trying to render pages that were designed for osmething with a lot more horsepower. Useable, but not quite the same as the desktop experience.

Dancing robots!

This was just passed to me by some folks on IRC. It’s about 3 minutes of a demonstration of choreographed dancing by 2′ tall robots. I had heard about this particular piece a while ago (the file is dated 12/18/2003), but had sort of dismissed it as “yea yea, dancing robots, Marvin does the hoochee koochee. Big deal.
This is MUCH better than I expected. These robots are apparently built by Sony, and are called Qrio (also spelled ‘Quro’ some places). They are some of the most articulate robots ever made, able to run, jump, roll, pick things up, do visual face recognition, have tactile feedback in their hands, etc.
As noted on several other sites, Japan (Honda and Sony in particular) are YEARS ahead of anything the US is producing in this arena. The Qrio site above has many videos and pictures of the robot in action. Truly inspiring stuff.

Blog design changes.

Well you’ve probably noticed that Planet Geek is going through some changes. The original layout and design I had was aging, and my CSS-fu has improved greatly, so I’m taking a stab at building my own look and feel. The first couple changes are in place, and I’m going to continue tinkering over the next few days. Feedback is always welcome, but comments in particular regarding the wicky-cool tabs for the date headers will be given the most lavish attention. They were rendered in The Gimp and laid into the stylesheet. GEEK GEEK GEEK!

RIP Rodney Dangerfield

As reported on Yahoo News, via Reuters:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rodney Dangerfield, the goggle-eyed comic famed for his self-deprecating one-liners and signature phrase “I can’t get no respect,” died on Tuesday at age 82, his spokesman said.

A lot of folks didn’t like his style, but as a fan of the 80’s goofy movies, things like Caddyshack and Back to School were wonderful and really let Rodney shine. He’ll be missed.

Mac Geeks fall in! Help!

Well, I’ve been stymied. I call on the blogosphere for assistance here.
I bought and built a purple gumdrop iMac for my mom about 4 months ago. This was to upgrade her from an ancient wheezing G3 running OS9 that was driving me nuts to maintain. This was my first experience with OSX, and I found myself liking it an awful lot.
Now comes the problem. I upgraded the machine to > 512meg of RAM and a 40gig HD, and installed OSX 10.3 on it. It was running fine up until a few weeks ago.
Now we can’t start the Finder. No desktop, no nothing. If we didn’t have the dock, the machine would be useless. Nothing I’ve tried has fixed it – neither starting the Finder from the command line (sorry, don’t remember the command we tried, but it resulted in a crash), nor running system update, nor running Repair Permissions. A reboot will return to the dock-without-finder. I’ve tried switching users, but the machine wedges when trying to get to the ‘select user’ screen.
I’ve tried moving the ~/Library/ tree out of the way and rebooting, no dice there either.
The last problem is… well, it’s at my mothers house. So working on it has to be limited to the 2-3 hours I’m there a week visiting. I’ll be there tonight (7pmish east coast time), and on IRC and AIM. If anyone wants to help me debug this, either drop a message here, or be around tonight while I’m at the machine. Let me know though so I can msg / mail / poke ya when I’m online again 🙂

Once more into the breach!

The New York Times is reporting that one of the administrations bits of ‘irrefutable evidence’ that Saddam was starting his nuclear program up, that being the acquisition of thousands of high stress aluminum tubes, was considered implausible by most of the top nuclear consultants, and that the administration routinely ignored all the arguments and evidence that showed these tubes were most likely being aquired for small artillery rockets:

    But almost a year before, Ms. Rice’s staff had been told that the government’s foremost nuclear experts seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons, according to four officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and two senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. The experts, at the Energy Department, believed the tubes were likely intended for small artillery rockets.

It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out. I’m sure the bushies will immediately cry “The liberal media is trying to get us again! This is just more fabricated stuff!” Yeah, this the same liberal media that <a href="http://www.e-thepeople.org/article/35573/view?viewtype="completely fabricated a report of Kerry making off-color comments after the debate, without even a modicum of fact-checking, posted that Kerry had made off color remarks. FoxNews later retracted the story with what amounts to a shrug. “Oh, it’s okay, we posted a retraction, so no harm done, right?”. The author of the article was simply reprimanded.

Journey into RSS, and Firefox bites it.

After spending the weekend at Gnomedex, I’ve been bombarded with publishing, security, and blogging technologies. The biggest of these is of course RSS, which by all accounts is changing the face of online publishing.
I’ve naturally been using RSS for my syndicated feeds, browsing blogs using the Sage RSS aggregator within Firefox.
As I add more and more feeds to my view list, I’m starting to hit some problems. First of all, why is it that folks do not put RSS links on their blogs? This should be a given. “Click here for the RSS feed URL”. Chatting around at Gnomedex, if someone doesn’t have an RSS link on their page, you generally view the source of the page, and look for a ‘link rel=”alternate”‘ entry in the source code, and that will point out the RSS feed.
FireFox 1.0 has a nifty little tool in it for doing something called “Live Bookmarks”. If an RSS feed is detected on a webpage, there is a small box in the tool bar that says [RSS]. If you click on it, you can subscribe to the RSS feed for that site, and updates from that site will show up in your bookmarks folder automatically. I tinkered with this for a bit, and found it cumbersome, not to mention seeming to ‘hack’ the concept of a bookmarks folder, which to me is generally static.
Sage does in fact update bookmarks, but all within a special folder (‘RSS Feeds’), and it doesn’t in fact add bookmarks for postings, simply gives you a quick link to view the feed. Also, the Firefox RSS handler doesn’t summarize the feed, it links directly to the articles, so to view the article or the summary, you have to hit the site directly. Good for click revenue I suppose, but defeats the purpose of an RSS feed in my opinion.
But the really annoying thing is there’s no easy process for bookmarking, into Sage, an RSS feed, unless the person who has the site has added the link into their page. The [RSS] button in Firefox can -only- update the ‘Live Bookmarks’ page, and manually adding a simple bookmark URL is difficult in Firefox (Bookmarks->Manage Bookmarks->Select RSS Feeds->New Bookmark, fill out the info, click [Ok], then close the bookmark editor). What is really needed is a [right click] ‘View this URL’ or ‘Bookmark this URL’ or something similar, so it can be added into the Sage bookmarks folder.
So, in a nutshell, why have the RSS marker in the toolbar, if it’s useless for anything but Firefox’s idiotic implementation of an aggregator?