Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
It GPLS me not under the GFDL
I was pleased today to find that my tiny tribute to Richard Stallman, the song "It GPLs Me"
, had got linked into the online version of Sam William's
biography of Richard: Free as in Freedom
in the chapter Small Puddle of Freedom
The book notes that I hadn't given permission to use the song under the terms of the GFDL (the Gnu Free Documentation License)
well... RMS gave me permission to use it under the terms of the Comedic license.
So far as I know, that supercedes the GFDL...
And I do have to re-record It GPLS me - I have a way better studio now, and my singing has improved a lot since 1999
, tho I still need overdubs.
10x10... and It GPLS me
. Weird, but Wow. Via
Transcription ante - a way to make money from audioblogging, internet radio, and podcasting
I've been writing up a business plan for a new VOIP service that I've been calling "Transconf". I'm discouraged at the state of the market it's in, but encouraged by Richard Branson's philosophy - "The time to get into a business is when it's abysmally run by someone else".
I typed on today, trying to finish the first draft, exploring business models, relatively undaunted by the number of partners I'd have to interface with, the costs of advancing the states of the technologies I wanted to use, the backend costs, the margins, and the quality control issues... I ran the spreadsheet: I needed about 650k to get to beta, and over 12m to get to cash flow positive. Although that latter figure didn't include realistic margins for actual revenue I got kind of discouraged, and went outside for a nicorette. It's hard to think, 24 hours into trying to quit smoking....
An idea dropped out of the sky. It wouldn't take much to develop, and would end up profitable for everybody. I'd drop everything and work on it if I didn't have so much invested in the core ideas of transconf... I still might get to work on this....
as I'm way behind on podcasts, with radio recordings, and on my favorite audio site (IT Conversations
Audio Transcription Antes
: Transcription services have a cost of about $180.00 per hour of recording, even with computer assistance. As Doug Kay points out
, a basic transcription can be had for much less in India.
: Much audio content on the net is not being transcribed, and much of that is not worth being transcribed
: Text information has more value than purely voice information (it's more easily linked to, googled for, reused, etc -)
: If the cost of transcription could be scaled to meet demand, everybody would enjoy metcalfe's law effects in supply and demand for moving voice to text.
The idea is basically - have a service that wraps around any given audio file
that allows writers and readers to ante in on having a transcription of that recording available.
Add a "Transcribe This" button to any given audio feed, and it's rating system. Clicking on that button gives an ebay-like status on how close it is financially to getting transcribed, and allows readers to "ante up" to get it closer to being transcribed. "Transcribe this" could also be built into mp3 players and the like...
When the ante reaches the minimum required to get the recording transcribed, the audio gets sent off to the transcription service, it gets transcribed, the transcription gets emailed to the audio owners and the people that ante'd up (conveying a first mover advantage), and a few days later the transcription can be made public...
... thus lowering the costs of the audio -> text conversion for all...
does that work for anyone? Press? Public? Podcasters? Politicians?
Physics Geek: Great American Smokeout
Physics Geek: Great American Smokeout
Attention all smokers! Put the following date on your calendars: November 18. That is the day when smokers struggling to kick the habit can prove to themselves that it IS possible to quit smoking. How? By abstaining for a single day. Once you've accomplished that, try another day. Repeat as necessary.
Good luck, everyone. I have confidence that you can do it. Remember: it's just one day. You can do anything for one day."
1) For beginners: Start with 1 minute. Put the stogies across the room and tie your shoelaces together. It should take at least 60 seconds to retrieve a butt.
2) More advanced: Tie your cigarettes to a cinderblock and dump the whole kaboodle into the middle of Lake Superior. Dive into the lake sans breathing apparatus. If you can get your smokes back, you deserve 'em.
I more or less managed to quit smoking cigarettes a while back (I still bum them), but I picked up a tobacco pipe instead, which smells better and tastes better. Until today I justified still smoking the pipe because I love getting double takes from cops - "what the heck is that guy smoking?")
I also believe that smoking raises IQ by 5 points. Example - In the 60s, everyone in NASA smoked. Result: We got to the moon in 9 years. In the 00s, no one in NASA can smoke on duty. Result: We can't get back to the moon in less than 16 years.I've just learned that even if I quit smoking that I'm still at least 14 IQ points smarter than either Bush or Kerry
. I also scored 40 pts higher on the SATs than Al Gore. This proves to me that IQ is not
a indicator of success in life or politics - that other factors, environment(Yale, marrying rich), heredity (the blue blood kind), discipline, and just plain luck - are far more important than IQ. Damn it.
So the smart thing is to quit smoking and clean up my immediate environment - and then start to hang around places like Yale.
I've got to put 7 more years, dumber, on the tail end of my life if I want to get to the asteroids.
Labels: iq, nasa, smoking
Odd applications for genetic engineering
Deer that glow in the dark
and Hypoallergenic cats
A correspondent reacts:
Where here in God's name do you find this shit????????????????Slashdot
My first thought is that there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture, along the lines of, say, creating Frankenstein and playing God.
On the other hand, too many people just get rid of their cats after they discover that their new baby, or their new boyfriend or girlfriend, or their mother or whoever, has an allergy to the cat. So, if this would decrease or help to prevent cats from being abandoned, then I guess it has some value.
My gut doesn't like it though. I think the whole premise about "improving" a pet is bothersome. It has the potential to become out of control very quickly.
".........buy now while supplies last....the new and improved hypoallergenic cat..........if you act now we'll throw in the magnetic super-chip, allowing you hours and hours of enjoyable purring by your pussy, whether he wants to or not................................"
"Tired of changing that litter box? By-golly, you don't have to anymore... get yourself the super new and even more improved hypoallergenic cat that doesn't eliminate waste product... yes, you heard me, no more messy clean-up, why you don't even have to feed the damn thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
What next? I was rather struck by the tone of allerca's web site, no matter how hard they tried they seemed to be straining at presenting their "product" as a loveable animal. They might have done better by trying to talk about it as a new breed of cat... and taking rhetoric from cat breeder sites.
I can't help but wonder what sort of testing was done to create these animals. And, what happens, when, inevitably, they escape into the wild and cross breed with other cats.... Is it a monsanto scenario? Does the genetic modification persist across generations?
An overdose of death takes a good writer
Iris Chang was found dead in her car in Los Gatos tuesday. I'd probably driven right by it on my way to San Jose that day.
She'd written a few powerful books, notably the "Rape of Nanking", which I'd read a couple years back. She was working on a new one about the Bataan death march, when the overdose of old atrocities began to overwhelm her.
Links: Mercury News
Note to self: Keep watching those G movies, it helps cope with all the things man has done in this sorry world.
The true american demographic
A more fair-minded independent voter sent in a copy of the democrat/republican demographic, showing the voting pattern of urban and rural voters. It's the city dwellers vs the rural dwellers, not the north vs the south.
It's about where the food comes from....
Immediately the sarcasm started going around the office:
"Mission Accomplished", said one.
"get out while you can still flee the country", said another - and
"I never thought I'd say anything nice about Janet Reno, but I've missed her so!"
And without further comment:
So, in the course of yesterdays DNS rants
, I let slip my low opinion of ICANN
- which I don't believe is a democracy, unless you're using American democracy as an example -
burst forth in a plea for personal responsibility in the commons - which changed how I've been coping with postmaster email. It's not every day that a discussion changes how you're thinking, so, here's Chip:
I wanted to get on a tear about this.
(Mike, careful, you are becoming a MS Droid, top-posting and everything.)
I don't have time to write all my own material!
I was blaming ICANN and ARIN for all of our woes. Then I went to some public ARIN meetings, kept my mouth shut, and listened. I heard some folks presenting who knew a lot more than I ever will about this stuff, who work really hard at trying to do the right thing.
The main point they stressed was, This is OUR internet.
It doesn't belong to ICANN, it doesn't belong to AOL, it doesn't belong to the US Congress, and it certainly doesn't belong to ARIN.
ARIN/ICANN is a democracy.
If you (I) don't like something, then get involved, and try to make it better.
It was a sobering set of talks.
So, for my part, I am lurking on the public ARIN mailling lists, and reviewing them when I have the time. And keeping my mouth shut until I have something "real" to say, and not just my usual bitching rants.
The problem, as i see it, is the co-option of ICANN by the "big" isps. The Time Warner cable companies, the huge spam shops and such. The folks who are run by marketing MBAs and have no clue about the fact that the internet is a common. That don't even know what a common is. They equate common with communism, and they hate communism only because they think it exists to keep them from getting rich, without understanding anything about it.
My big thing is this:
Every domain must have a postmaster, EVERY SINGLE DOMAIN must have a postmaster, and a hostmaster, and a webmaster.
Those addresses postmaster@, hostmaster@, webmaster@ must go to a REAL PERSON. Now, that real person can be a pool of tech support people, but there must be confidence
that every email sent to those addresses will be reviewed in a timely fashion (within 48 hours) by someone who has a vested interest in the domain in question.
Every Single IP address must have a technical contact.
EVERY SINGLE IP ADDRESS MUST HAVE A TECHNICAL CONTACT.
Now, that technical contact can be a pool of technical support staff, but there must be confidence that any email sent to that technical contact address will be reviewed in a timely fashion by someone who has a vested interest in the IP network in question.
*IF* emails addressed to postmaster@,hostmaster@,webmaster@ or technical contacts go unaddressed for an unreasonable amount of time. Then the big dogs, ARIN/ICANN should
pull the allocations. PERIOD.
Yes, this means Verisign/NetSol loses their "all your domains belong to us" monopoly status.
They should lose it, because they have demonstrated a certain lack of concern about the overall health of the commons.
Unless of course, such a resonable proposal was adopted and Verisign/Netsol stepped up and honored their status.
*THIS* WOULD stop spam, would reduce the load on the dns system, and would speed things up considerably because our packets would have real purpose instead of just being mostly garbage.
Long ago, I mean, LONG AGO
I stopped reading my postmaster email due to being overwhelmed by spam, and this is a violation of the social compact that email is supposed to be
. I blog now, because I can't handle my email volume as it stands.
I checked. I had 17361 messages in my postmaster mailbox! 99.9999% spam, I thought. It's too much, I can't deal with it
I tried an experiment today - although it adds to the packet overhead that Chipper is bitching about, I started forwarding my postmaster email to my gmail account, where I can at least report the spam to a service that will attempt to block it.
Or so I thought, briefly. All I'd be doing by forwarding it all to gmail is blocking messages from my own domain. There has got to be a better way... maybe I should implement razor.... I don't have a technical solution, but blaming network solutions, or ARIN, saying "ICANN'T", is not the solution.
I went back and looked at that mailbox again. It wasn't all spam, 17,223 messages were messages from my local cron daemon - I used to keep statistics on my router's utilization and the code has been broken for months. I just spent 10 minutes fixing that. Deleting all those messages crashed mozilla (note: this is the first time I've crashed mozilla in months)...
118 messages were from another daemon - only 19 messages were spam... and one, exactly one, explained why I hadn't got a response back from a friend when I'd emailed him a few weeks ago.
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
jefe AT blaize.org (reason: 553 5.3.5 system config error)
----- Transcript of session follows -----
553 5.3.5 127.0.1.50. config error: mail loops back to me (MX problem?)
554 5.3.5 Local configuration error
Not one single mail was directed by a human at postmaster. Not One
No one bothers to send mail to postmaster anymore
!! Not network people - Not even spammers. Perhaps that's the answer - that postmaster has returned to being a valid, usable, email address, that we can, once again, use as a standard to communicate about network problems.
I put security, hostmaster & postmaster back into my aliases files. I'll be a better netizen from now on.
Paul Vixie, originator of the bind DNS system
, still answers his postmaster email
Maybe Jefe has fixed his mailer problem. Maybe I'll send an email to his postmaster to find out... nope, blaize.org is still broke...
But then I realized that I was sending that email to the wrong domain and the wrong email address, that I'd got his account and address reversed in my mind -
Heh. Being a responsible postmaster is a good thing. I'd forgotten that.
Just for the hell of it, I fired off an email to postmaster AT mci.com -
"Why on earth do you have a TTL of 0 on global.mci.com?"
DNS performance goes to hell... to fight spam?
A couple internet veterans griped at me today:
Remember the days of sub-50ms DNS queries for just about any site?
With all of the extra TLDs/roots/etc/nonsense, plus all the crap that
akamai and others try to sell as load balancing... we see shit like:
www.uu.net. 285 IN CNAME global.mci.com.
global.mci.com. 0 IN A 184.108.40.206
;; Query time: 2068 msec - SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(localhost)
;; WHEN: Fri Nov 5 17:47:46 2004 - MSG SIZE rcvd: 206
2 SECONDS!!!! This is on a machine that is in Dallas, Tx on tons of
fiber acccess to the world! WTF, over?
Whoever is the genius that thought a TTL (time to live) of 0 seconds was sooo cool should be shot.
The world's most distributed database is breaking down, because people are afraid to cache anything... and we're still not using good crypto. It's SPF
, says one...
There's nothing wrong with txt records, BUT now all the weenies who are out to "Stop Spam" (which spf has nothing to do with) are doing an A,PTR and TXT, not the mention the AAAA with EVERY SINGLE smtp, and the sheer bulk of the smtp connections with all the viagra, rolex & virus spam, well, it isn't making things much easier, ya know?Self centered stupidity
management wants control of their data and can't imagine numbers bigger than 3, much less a the few million machines that act to move the data closest to the customer - that kind of knowledge only comes from visiting countries like Belize, where all the mistakes we are making to overwhelm the bandwidth of the Net at the furthest edges becomes apparent
It's the collapse of the commons
! sez a third...
With all of the CNAME refs and bounces, and making things authoritative for single hosts (e.g. www.domain.com) that want to lookup where I am coming from so that they can refer me to the closest mirror.. That plus the TTL of 0 does it.
It is hard to sell things and show how much better our service is when we still have that initial 2-4 second hit on DNS lookups for www sites.. I used to get mad at IE for maintaining its own DNS cache.. Now that may be the only thing that saves us from a real collapse.
The internet. No one owns it. Everybody can use it. "Everyone can improve it".
Although I gain clarity in my DNS files by using CNAME chains, I cause two or three DNS lookups for every access to my web site and mail server. The packet overhead isn't much, but the added latency does add up. Note to self - REFORM! do a global search and replace on my DNS records so I return to a 1 to 1 match between IP and name... And:
Big sites using a TTL of 0 completely thwarts the intent of the several million DNS caches on the internet, to what end? There are far better load balancing solutions. If millions of sites set TTL to 0, the Net would
Virgins in flight - Gonzo Branding
FastCompany does a profile of Richard Branson
. Choice quote:
"The time to go into a business is when it's abysmally run by other people"
I've daydreamed of sleeper class in airline flight for years. What knucklehead thought that people wanted
to travel for 5 hours in a half reclined position? Far better to have a few tiers of bunks - windows on the ceiling and base of the plane to see the stars and the ground from a perfect angle - and instead of the inane question at the front desk of "isle or window seat?", the question would be for the beds - something more like "Married or Single? Sexual preference?"...
Branson knows from experience just how unforgiving the airline business can be. Four years ago, Virgin Atlantic introduced new first-class sleeper seats, but customer feedback revealed that "we didn't get it quite right," Branson says, because the seats didn't fully recline. "Rather than living with it for 10 or 15 years, we just decided to start again," discarding an investment of $68 million. "It's important to acknowledge that you haven't gotten it right and then not keep your head in the sand but get on with it." The cost this time around was another $127 million.
Ahh, the courage to try something, and then try it again until it's right. I love that. And to go against the flow...
Virgin Mobile offers a bunch of features that make cell phones more playful and fun, such as VoiceMania (voicemail greetings from campy celebrities such as William Shatner and Adam West), Rescue Rings (to save yourself from a bad blind date or a boring meeting), wake-up calls, ringtones from the latest hit songs, and music news and celebrity gossip from MTV. Virgin Mobile USA's risque marketing inspired The Wall Street Journal to give it an award for the worst ad of the week. "The last publication I want endorsing our ads is The Wall Street Journal ," Schulman told his people. "Your goal for the fourth quarter is to win that award again."