erikars: (Default)
Now that Chrome has been announced, I can say that it awesome. Super fast JavaScript and super stability. All I need is the Linux version.
erikars: (Default)
Through daily lit, I stumbled upon the article The Corporate Toll on the Internet. The article started bugging me on the third page when it gave an example that conflated two separate issues. The example was explaining how there exist applications that may perform better if the network is able to treat packets differently. For example, for video, latency is important, but perfect delivery is not. For downloading a file, the opposite is true. It is possible that users could benefit if packets from these applications were treated differently.

The article seemed to imply that the only way to make this work would be to have a non-neutral network. However, neutrality of the network is a separate issues. A network does not fail to be neutral just because it treats different packets in different ways. What determines neutrality is who decides which packets have different properties. If the end points that decide what kind of packet they want to use and the network honors that decision, the network is neutral. If, however, AT&T decides which packets get special treatment and which do not, the network is not neutral.
erikars: (Default)
The subject matter of the Ars Technical article "Gates' digital utopianism no match for China's realities" is certainly serious, but I could not help but laugh at the RSS feed summary of the article:
At a Stanford speech yesterday, Bill Gates trotted out some remarks on how the Internet couldn't be censored or controlled. No word yet on just how hard this made Chinese officials laugh.
erikars: (Default)
Folders are inadequate. I am an advanced Amazon wish list user. I have 16 private wish lists. I add things to one list and then periodically process them into the 15 other topical lists. Deciding what list to put a book in can be very difficult. Does a book on affluence in America go in the finance or simplicity or culture category? Does a book on edible landscaping go on the food list or the interior and exterior design list? What I really want is for books to go into all relevant categories.

And that only explores one useful axis. Even if I could uniquely pigeonhole each book, I still want to be able to add other information. For example, I want to distinguish between books I might want to buy someday, books I want to check out from the library, and books I should read if I ever start looking deeply into a particular subject but would probably not read otherwise.

Tags, of course, are the obvious solution. Tags are not perfect. I want them to be hierarchal (I like hierarchies dagnabit!). I want them to be prioritized/weighted (e.g., this book is more about finance than simplicity). I want to be able to combine them logically (it is annoying how few systems allow me to form tag queries such as "tagA AND tagB"). I want to be able to search on all item attributes even if the items are tagged (again, it is annoying how rarely I can do this). For the advanced wish list scenario, I think that tags are strictly better than the lists that Amazon provides.
erikars: (Default)
Lately Pandora has been doing an overly good job of finding songs similar to songs that I like. Twice today Pandora has followed a song by another version of the same song by a different artist.
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Finished The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society by Manuel Castells. I originally got this book for a science, technology, and society class I took my sophomore year. At the time, it was very up to date; now it is about 6 years old, but still a worthwhile read because it is one of the most fact based books on the Internet and its interactions with society that I have read. Catells makes heavy use of studies and surveys done by himself and many others to try to cut through the hype that always surrounds musing on the Internet. I will only highlight a few of the most interesting chapters.

Castells discusses e-business and the new economy. His claim is that the biggest impact of the Internet on the economy is not the .com's; it is normal business extending onto the online world and adopting networked models of interaction. For example, many networked businesses do not every see the products they sell under their name. Castells gives the example of Cisco; Cisco itself is (was?) the main node in a network of companies that do the actual manufacturing and shipping of their hardware. Such arrangements bring up issues of liability and accountability. Is it Cisco's responsibility to make sure that the companies they work with operate according to the values and standards they want? In principle, yes, but how much can they really be held responsible given the difficulty of monitoring everything? (I am reminded of the recent pet food contamination.)

In the chapter on community, Castells discussed how studies have found that, despite popular intuition, internet participation does not, in general, decrease one's connections with those one knows in real life. In fact, technologies like email (and today blogs and photo sites, I would guess) tend to bring people closer together. Studies have also found that Internet users, on average, participate more in their local community than non-users. This may be because internet use tends to replace television watching (thus not decreasing time available for community participation) while providing a means to find out how to get more involved in the community.

Castells also makes some observations on the digital divide. Although studies show that there is a large disparity in Internet use between different economic groups and races (in the US) and between countries, these gaps were (in 2001) closing. Internet use by under represented groups was increasing at a higher rate than that of other groups. However, not all is rosy and hopeful. In under represented countries, the technological infrastructure needed for Internet access was not being built on public infrastructure because it was not modern enough. Instead, companies would build their own infrastructure. Corporate money going into infrastructure that could be shared with the public was considered likely to delay the propagation of the Internet in those countries.

Although a bit old now, this book is still a worthwhile read. I certainly got more out of it this time around than I did the first time (it was one of six classes; I was busy!).
erikars: (Default)
The time has come for me to make a big life change.

I am switching browsers. Yes, after years of using Opera, I am switching to Firefox (but I will still use it on my Wii and Nokia 770!). Why the switch after all these years? There were two motivating factors. (a) Gmail and Google calendar do not work very well in Opera (nor do any other sites that heavility use JavaScript). (b) Opera started segfaulting on start-up yesterday.

Now that I have switched, however, I have another reason (yes, after just one day). I will admit that although I used Firefox at work and grad school, I never installed any extensions beyond those necessary to make Firefox work like Opera. Yesterday, I discovered the It's All Text extension. I can use Gvim to do things like write this LJ post! It is amazing! It is wonderful! (It is also a little slow, but not annoyingly slow if the amount of text is large enough.)

But I still feel guilty.
erikars: (Default)
A mailing list I am on has been discussing the harassment of Kathy Siera (one of the many articles on this for those of you not familiar with the topic).

Someone posted the question "What can we do?". Here is my response:
One thing we can do is to cut off such behavior on our own blogs. When we see comments that are violent and abusive, delete them. If someone keeps posting such things, ban them. They may come back under a different name, but eventually they will get tired of us.

The limits of acceptable behavior should be stated as clearly as possible in a comment policy for the blog. We do not want to hamper discourse, seem arbitrary, or be accused of restricting free speech. However, a commenter on your blog is a guest, and it is appropriate to set out acceptable standards of behavior.

In my opinion, one reason many online discussions turn into pools of competing threats and insults is that the medium does not convey the silent disgust of the majority that is more effective at silencing trolls and creeps than responding to their spew of hatred. Do not let them speak, and they will leave. If we work hard enough, they will eventually have no where to go.
erikars: (Default)
If I enter a UPS tracking number into Google, I can go straight to the status page. If I try to enter it through the UPS website, it will not show me the status until I agree to their terms and conditions (by which I mean check a checkbox). So if I use the Google page am I (a) implicitly agreeing to the terms and conditions that I did not even know existed, (b) getting around the terms and conditions, or (c) showing that the terms and conditions (which I never read in the first place) are completely irrelevant?

I vote for (c)
erikars: (Default)
This evening I read "Tussle in Cyberspace: Defining Tomorrow's Internet" by D. Clark, J. Wroslawski, K. Sollins and R. Braden. It is a very good paper.

A long summary )
erikars: (Default)
Occassionaly I will follow a link trail to a blog for stay at home wives. Other times I will follow the link trail to a blog for working women. Why is it that, to varying degrees, nearly all of these blogs seem to look down upon people who make the opposite decision? Oftentime it is subtle, but other times it is blatant, and it always bugs me.
erikars: (Default)
The W3C has an interesting note on CAPTCHAs and their interaction with disabled users. It is an interesting problem. Most methods of making the web accessible rely on making it more machine readable. That is directly contrary to the goals of the Turing test. The note discusses several methods of human authentication that address the limitations of CAPTCHAs and the weaknesses of those methods.
erikars: (Default)
Spam tells you a lot about what is currently considered to be cool or interesting or what is the current terminology for things. I was cleaning out my spam box today and I noticed that cameras seem to be having an upswing (10.3 Megapixels. Woo hoo!), dating sites and Paypal fraud are as popular are as ever, and spam companies expect people to know what anime is (as illustrated by the fact that what use to say "adult animated movies" is now "adult anime").
erikars: (Default)
Google has introducted local transit planning all in one site! Just for the Portland area so far. I like to use public transportation when I travel, and it can be a pain figuring out what websites will give me the information I need for the area I am travelling too (e.g., it took me 30 minutes to discover how to get from the University of Oregon to the bus station). Having it all accessible through a single interface would make life much easier. Yay!
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For months and months I have been wondering why I could not sign into Yahoo! messenger with Gaim. I finally decided to try using Yahoo!'s actual messenger client (the Linux version of which sucks, I might add). That worked fine, so I used it for awhile. Yesterday I had a revelation. I had never updated the password Gaim had saved when I changed my Yahoo password. I am smart!
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I was doing a google search for myself to see how many of the hits were actually me. I found that I have even more dominance than I use to. Yay! I think...

But more amusingly, I found some blog entry about a paper I wrote for Scientific Computing at Mudd. How do people find these things?

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Erika RS

May 2012

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