Friday Follies

Much correspondence with Dave and Lawrence from Userland today on this and related issues…more to come!

Error message of the day [thanks, Brad].

The weather is a bit cooler today — should be a nice weekend.

I’ve joined the RSS auto-discovery party, not that there’s usually much worth discovering here. But it’s nice to see HTML features used properly!

More later, probably.

Shabbat Shalom!

Powerful Magic

[Mom, you can stop reading today’s entry here. It’s all gonna be acronyms….]

I tried a little experiment with my Radio website today — I tried to convert it to publish on my intranet instead of into the cloud.

First, I tried using the “upstream by FTP” option. That didn’t work, but not through any fault of Radio; we’re having some sort of bizarre FTP problem on the server I’d be using.

So then I decided to be clever and use the new “FileSystem” upstreaming driver. I added a second <upstream> element to my #upstream.xml file, pointing to a server I’d mounted via Samba, and all hell broke loose.

The first problem was simple; when Radio rendered my pages, it always appeared to use the URL for my intranet; I was hoping it would render with the appropriate URL for each destination, but it didn’t seem to.

And as a second problem, it never seemed to copy files into the local filesystem (whether on a Samba-mounted server drive or my local drive didn’t matter).

So I gave up and restored the original #upstream.xml. But the pages being sent up to the cloud still had the intranet URLs. I did a search-and-replace in Radio for the intranet URL and changed it to my cloud URL; that would have helped, except I got the cloud URL wrong, leaving out an initial zero.

I tried fixing that, but screwed up again. Eventually, I downloaded a new copy of Radio and registered it; that put me in position to fix the problem with even more find-and-replace and also got me a few new Tools which weren’t in the 8.0.7 copy I’d upgraded to 8.0.8.

When all was said and done, I had my old Radio site back, complete with all of my content (for what little that’s worth!). Next time, I’ll back up the Radio directory before I start playing.

But I sure wish I knew what I’d done….

I should probably feel guilty

Currently, we’re discussing the situation in Israel; I see that
Dan Gillmor has arrived there to report on the Israel high-tech industry. I am afraid he’ll have no problem getting into nice hotels and restaurants; tourism in Israel is very weak these days.

Better to bore the boss than the whole team

I gave a talk (via teleconference and e-meeting) about the IBM Academy of Technology to my team at work today. I’d planned to use a slightly-edited version of a presentation prepared by the Academy Office, and by happy coincidence, sent it to my boss yesterday along with some slides for him to use in introducing this series of talks.

He liked the slides I’d prepared for him, but had some pointed questions about the Academy presentation — such as asking whether it was suitable for this audience, since the interesting stuff began at about the 20th slide. And after thinking about it for a few seconds, I agreed with him…and not because he signs my appraisal. So I spent some time writing a brand new presentation intended for the team, and I think the people who called in appreciated it. The saddest part of the story is that it took me less time to write a new presentation than I’d spent trying to adapt the other presentation!

Jews in Space

Jerusalem, we have a problem.

As if weightlessness, cramped conditions and the enormity of the galaxy were not worrying enough, a crew member of the next space shuttle mission is facing an additional problem: How do you observe the Sabbath when it occurs once every 10 1/2 hours in orbit?
[via Jenny]

Shortwave Radio Makes Major Media

Night after night I was in hotels where my modem became useless after the switchboard was closed down for the evening. I might have saved myself the pain of watching too many talk shows on French television had I brought a shortwave radio along.” [New York Times]

Cranking back up

The song for the morning: “91 pieces of spam in my mail, 91 pieces of spam…you take one down, pass it around, there’s 91 pieces of spam in my mail.”

The Battlebots tournament was great fun; we sat in an area loaded with contestants, who knew more about what was going on than I did (and even had a list of the upcoming bouts). There was plenty of robot carnage, and the food was still good, too. I had to sign an NDA, so I can’t reveal any results, but I will warn you to watch out for Evil Cheese Wedge when season 5.0 finally airs on Comedy Central.

On the way home, even though it was quite late, we stopped at Krispy Kreme in Union City for a pick-me-up (giving tired kids a sugar infusion at 11pm is a good idea, right?). It took forever to find the Krispy Kreme (it’s way back in the back of the Union Landing complex), and then there was a long line, giving us plenty of time to see the hot doughnuts being made. As we approached the registers, a nice lady handed each of the kids a free hot doughnut…then she gave one to each of the adults, too. We had originally only planned to get one doughnut each, but walking out after getting the free ones seemed like it might be slightly tacky, so we wound up buying a dozen doughnuts instead and eating more in the car. Good marketing!

Time to get back to work; unfortunately, not all of my e-mail over the weekend was spam, and I need to do something with the rest of it. Where’s the delete key?

Discovering our indigo child

We’re just back from an expedition to the Wilds of Berkeley — specifically, Telegraph Avenue.

The goal of the trip was the Mensa Monthly Gathering at Cody’s Books; the speaker was Bob Steiner, CPA, quackbuster, magician, Fellow of The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and author of Don’t Get Taken: Bunco & Bunkum Exposed How to Protect Yourself, who gave a dandy magic show (except for the one trick he cancelled partway through, when the audience member accidentally shuffled the Oreos instead of cutting them), and then responded to audience questions about magic, bunkum, John Edwards, Miss Cleo, cold readings, and other related topics. It was an enjoyable and educational session (I was amazed, though, to find Mensa members who seemed to really want to believe in psychics, such as “telephone medical diagnosticians”), well worth the drive. It would have been nice to have had time to explore Cody’s Books…and Moe’s…and Shakespeare and Co…and the others on that block of Telegraph. But we didn’t.

Before the session, we had dinner at Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat), four blocks down Telegraph. We picked the place pretty randomly — they’re not even in the AAdvantage Dining Program — but were very happy with our choice. Our waiter was honest and told us he was there to help us spend more money (we’d started out by asking for the coffeehouse menu rather than the full-blown restaurant menu), and he did a good job of it by mentioning Chocolate Mousse Cake. Tasty stuff! In fact, everything we had was tasty; I’d go back cheerfully.

While we were there, we heard a person at another table talking about being an “indigo child”. I figured it was something strange, but I was confident I could find out about it on the Web, and I was right. That combination of attributes doesn’t seem that distinctive or amazing to me, but perhaps I’m a skeptic.

Shutting down and cleaning out

No, it’s not because of a layoff. It’s because of a poweroff.

Twice a year, on a three-day weekend, IBM powers down the whole Almaden site for major maintenance, and this year, Memorial Day weekend is one of those weekends. So I have to shut down my computer so it doesn’t have problems when power bounces; I also had to shut down and clean out my refrigerator so my office won’t stink on Tuesday morning.

In previous years, I also lost Internet connectivity on these weekends, because IBM was my ISP. But now I have my own Internet service at home, so I don’t necessarily have to disconnect for the weekend. But we’ve got lots of other plans which don’t involve sitting in front of a keyboard, so I hope to be mostly disconnected anyway.

One of the firmer plans is a return trip to Battlebots, which is filming their Season 5.0 this weekend at Treasure Island. We’ve bought the tickets, so we’re committed.

And other than that, we’ll see.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thank you, Mercury News!

So I lept up from the seat, washed my hands, and went to the computer to check Sci-Fi’s schedule. Sure enough, there’s a showing of The Star Wars Fan Film Awards at midnight tonight, so I zipped to my TiVo to program it to record the showing, and I’m looking forward to watching it this weekend.

Technology is wonderful, but sometimes, there’s no substitute for paper.

Speaking of TV

We watched the season finales of both Smallville and Enterprise last night. At one point in one of the shows (I won’t say which one), I was afraid they were going to pull a Dallas by declaring the whole season to have been a dream, but fortunately, they didn’t. Both did follow the Dallas tradition of ending with a cliffhanger, though! Next season should be fun on both shows.

I'm going to miss Wednesdays

Jeffrey’s school doesn’t start until 9:30am on Wednesdays (giving the teachers a chance to work and plan together, I guess). So whenever I can, I work from home on Wednesday mornings and then walk with him to school — it gives us a little time together. But the school year is coming to an end soon, which will mean an end to those walks. *sigh*

And speaking of Wednesdays, tonight’s the season finale of Enterprise. We’re looking forward to it — we won’t watch it live, of course…that would require seeing the commercials…but we’ll probably start watching it by 8:15 or so. I’ve even set up the VCR to capture it as a backup — boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve had to program the VCR! Did I mention I like my TiVo?

Links…getcha hot links….

Pepsi Blue news and updates: just one of the strange weblogs I’ve found by browsing through Recently Updated Weblogs!

Paul Graham: Revenge of the Nerds. “The disadvantage of believing that all programming languages are equivalent is that it’s not true. But the advantage is that it makes your life a lot simpler. And I think that’s the main reason the idea is so widespread. It is a comfortable idea.” [via Hack the Planet]

The Illustrated Guide to Acme Products” [via X-Ray Net]

News I don't want my child to read

Scary news in today’s online NYTimes:

Nintendo Cuts Its GameCube Price: Nintendo of America announced Monday it will cut the price of its GameCube video game system by $50 to $149, the latest shot in the ongoing console war that includes Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox.

South Bay Triviots News

I got the results of our CultureQuest adventure; we scored 145 (of a possible 400!). The top 20 teams have scores of 151 and up, so I don’t feel too bad, but it would have been nice to have finished in the money.

Wait till next year!

Somewhat to my surprise, I liked it!

But once the trailers started, I was much happier. The crowd was definitely ready — there was applause for a couple of the trailers, and then when the Lucasfilm logo came up, there was loud applause. Followed by a respectful silence for the movie itself. And more applause at the end.

I thought this movie was much better than the Phantom Menace — though I wish they’d found someone with more oomph to play Anakin. I won’t say more, just in case there’s someone reading this who hasn’t seen the movie yet — there aren’t many surprises (we all know where it all ends, after all), but I don’t want to spoil the few that there are.

We saw the film version of the movie; I want to go back and see the digital version, maybe next weekend. And we now need to re-watch Episode I (so we have to buy it), as well as the original trilogy (so I have to dust off the laserdisc player). We watched Hardware Wars as soon as we got home, but now I just discovered that they’ve released Hardware Wars – The Collector’s Edition on DVD. Diane and Jeffrey are pleading with me not to get it (Diane is even calling it the “Nuts’ Edition”) — but their pleas may well fall on deaf ears.

Art was pretty good, too — it was very funny. I didn’t like the first half-hour much, but it got better, and I quite liked the coda. The play is rather short (80 minutes, no intermission), which surprised me — but it was just about the right length. The play was originally written in French and took place in Paris, and they left prices in francs in the translation; I think they should have changed the unit to dollars, because the shock value of “200,000 francs” isn’t as strong as “30,000 dollars” would have been (and that’s for an all-white painting!).

Lotsa stuff happening this weekend….

Tonight, Diane’s Intermediate Hebrew class graduates by reading the Book of Ruth as part of Shabbat evening services.

Tomorrow, Jeffrey’s Daled Hebrew class graduates by leading Shabbat morning services. Then we go to San Jose Rep to see Art.

Sunday, it’s the last day of Sunday School for this school year, followed by a trip to the movies to see Episode II.

And maybe we’ll even make a dent in our TiVo backlog. Or go get some exercise. Or both.

But if I’m smart, what I won’t do is turn on a computer.

Shabbat Shalom!

Not what I want in my morning paper

Today’s Mercury News had a bunch of discouraging headlines and leads:

  • Sharks Eliminated in Game 7
  • IBM to Lay Off Thousands
  • They Can’t Blame Jar Jar for This One

To which I say:

  • Wait till next year
  • This, too, shall pass (I hope)
  • We’re going to see it anyway

Then I get to work and find that, as part of the yearly “nominal adjustments” in cafeteria prices, the cost (including tax) of my morning Starbucks has gone from 75 cents to $1.01. Oy!

Another way to wander the Web

Doc says he’s been getting a lot of visits from URLizer, which converts horrible URLs like this: into more reasonable ones like this:

I suspect that changing the numbers in the URLizer-generated URLs might lead to interesting random pages, like this: (I have no clue what that page points to; I hope it’s not overtly pornographic).

Yet another way to sense the Web’s zeitgeist and avoid doing real work.

No shakin' tonight

But moving East wouldn’t avoid quakes — as the 5.3 quake on April 20th showed. Or the 2.6 in Manhattan. I’d hate to be there when a big one hits!

It’s been quiet here tonight; I didn’t feel any aftershocks from yesterday’s quake (which has been reclassified as a 4.9), either yesterday or today, and that’s just fine with me.

In other news

In case you were relying on me for reports on WWW 2002, I’ve finally gotten around to writing up my notes for Wednesday afternoon’s final session. I tried to do it at the conference, but ETP glitched at just the wrong time. Life is like that sometimes.

Did the earth move for you?

It just did for us — a 5.2 near Gilroy (about 25 miles from here). Jeffrey and I felt it fairly clearly; Diane (who was standing at the time) didn’t feel it at all. We all heard noises, though.

No damage or injury reported, which is good; according to the USGS, there was a 2.5 in almost the same place a few seconds later.

I reported it to the USGS “Did you feel it?” page immediately — before they had the event plotted, in fact. So my report won’t show up on the map until they manually transfer the information.

Now, it’s back to buying tickets for a movie. Unfortunately, all of the digitally-projected showings on Sunday are sold out, so we’ll have to settle for watching the film on film. And paying full price, because the early shows are too early to be sure of getting there on time — this time around, I decided we’d see the film on the Big Screen at Century 22 instead of the small one at the Century Capital 16.

Hi, Honey, I'm home!

I woke up only five minutes before the alarm clock this morning, and surprised myself by going out for a jog. A slow jog — I didn’t leave the hotel until nearly 7 and it was quite a bit stickier than yesterday. The beach was a lot more crowded, too, with kids on surfboards, but there was plenty of room on the sidewalks for me.

Then I had breakfast at Moose McGillicudy’s (I kinda like macadamia nut pancakes), did a bit of shopping, packed, and took a taxi to the airport.

Honolulu Airport isn’t the most exciting place to spend a couple of hours, but at least I was able to spend them inside the security perimeter instead of waiting to go through lines — when I got there, the screeing lines were short, but when I looked later, they had gotten substantially worse. I did more shopping, got on the plane, and got off in San Francisco. Surprisingly, the pilots kept going in and out of the cockpit, and the cockpit door was sometimes open for nearly a minute while that was happening — I guess they decided there wasn’t any chance of a Honolulu-San Francisco plane being diverted.

My luggage was one of the first ones on the conveyor (but it still felt like I was waiting forever!), then I grabbed my rental car (Hertz put me in the “President’s Circle”, which meant a shorter walk than usual) and drove home, where I am typing these very words.

Hawaii was nice, but being home with Diane and Jeffrey is really Paradise.

WWW2002 — Day Three (a cloudy day in Paradise)

The subconscious mind is a funny thing.

This morning, I had a breakfast appointment at 7:30am, and so I thought I wouldn’t be able to go jogging beforehand. But just before I fell asleep last night, the thought flitted through my mind that I could jog if I just woke up an hour early.

Bad idea. At 5am this morning, my eyes flipped open of their own accord, and stayed that way, despite my efforts to turn over and go back to sleep. After a while, I gave up, got dressed, and went out for a jog.

The weather was notably cooler than it had been when I’d left the hotel at 7, and so my speed was better — not great (and nothing I’m going to admit in public!). I’m amazed at how busy Kalakaua Avenue (the main drag in Waikiki) is at 6am — and how many stores are open by 7. I don’t think downtown Los Gatos comes to life so early.

The morning plenary session was good; the first speaker was Rich DeMillo from HP, who talked about “new foundations for Trust and the Web”. He made some interesting observations — one was that “more content will be generated in the next three years than in the previous 40,000 years of human history.” But he was measuring content strictly in terms of bytes, and so horrors like PowerPoint presentations, streaming video, and this very web page contribute to the flow — and let’s face it, it’s very easy to create a presentation with no actual meaning which requires more bytes than, say, the entire works of Shakespeare plus the Torah!

Pamela Samuelson from Berkeley gave the second talk, on copyright and why it matters to “normal” people now. She pointed out that, until recently, copyright law basically only affected content creators and publishers, not the vast majority of people — but with the advent of digital media and the potential for widescale copying (even before release), copyright law will extend into our homes and the devices we use, endangering “fair use” and privacy. She urged us to contact our legislators and join the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and suggested that Hollywood might do better to stop hating their customers.

From there, it was back over to the Royal Hawaiian for the day’s first session in the Global Community track, “Making information useful with metadata”. We had three rather different presentations.

Jane Hunter talked about Rights Markup Extensions for the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge, a way to allow, for example, aboriginal peoples to control the use of their “traditional” knowledge even after converting it to digital form. She talked about the needs of such peoples and how they differ from Western copyright law — for example, the tribal knowledge is owned by the tribe in perpetuity (contrasting with the fixed term in copyright law). And the tribe needs to be able to control who has access to the information, and in what form (as an example, only tribal elders might be allowed certain information). What struck me was how similar these constraints are to those which Hollywood wants, and which Pam Samuelson had just called unacceptable!

Greg Fitzpatrick then gave a very different talk. His paper is Universal Directories: Web Services as Human Services, but the talk didn’t really cover the paper. Instead, he gave a rather philosophical talk on knowledge, entropy, and energy, coming back at the very end to touch on “Power of Presence”, which in turn hearkens back to some of the discussions about weblogging triggered by Robert Scoble’s presentation yesterday.

Finally, Kathi Martin of Drexel University talked about Data and Image Standards of the Open Archive Initiative: A How and Why for Small Collections, showing what the Drexel Digital Museum has done to put their fashion collection online and make it usefully accessible — though not in the sense of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), since it uses Flash, animation, and other techniques which just plain don’t work for many users.

Lunch was the same sandwich buffet as the past two days, but with different breads. I decided I’d rather have interesting discussions than different food, and stayed in the hotel.

After lunch, we had the final Global Community session, “Accessibility’s Many Dimensions”.

Judy Brewer of the WAI kicked off the session with a backgrounder on accessibility, including debunking of myths about accessibility being a luxury that developing countries can’t afford.

Lisa Seeman gave a rather interesting and somewhat controversial talk on Inclusion Of Cognitive Disabilities in the Web Accessibility Movement. Some of the steps she called out will be very difficult (for example, marking up ambiguous or figurative language so that someone with a specific cognitive disability could request a literal translation), but could have a big payoff if done right — can you imagine being able to get a simplified, accurate, and unambiguous translation of laws and proposed legislation? There’s a long way to go before we reach that point — even non-controversial ways of improving writing, such as Strunk and White’s advice from 1918 to “use active voice” is often ignored (such as in this very sentence!).

Finally, Jan Richards of the University of Toronto’s Adaptive Technology Resource Centre talked about how tools to help authors make their work accessible should and should not work (example: don’t wait until the document is ready to publish and then put up a dialog box saying something like “498 accessibility problems — do you want to fix them now?”; instead, make it easy to avoid creating the problems in the first place and provide authoring assistance whenever possible). He showed A-Prompt, which is an attempt to make it easier for authors to fix accessibility problems (but, of course, it’s not integrated into common authoring tools such as WordPro or Word).

And so ended the Global Community track for this year.

I had planned to go to a panel titled “XML: Cleanly Layered or Badly Bloated?”, but it was cancelled. There’s not enough time before the closing ceremony and post-conference “thank you” reception for the chairs and staff to go to the beach…and besides, it’s cloudy anyway.

Tomorrow, I hope to get a little shopping done and then it’s time to go home!

Shabbat Shalom!

WWW2002 — Day Two (another lovely day in Paradise)

I probably shouldn’t admit this in public, but I didn’t make it to the first set of talks this morning. I had a hard time getting started today, so I had to choose between a morning run and the early talks. The run won, largely because the Global Community track didn’t have a session in the first slot.

But I did get to the conference early enough to have some good discussions with people while catching up on my e-mail (wireless networking is a wonderful facility to have here — I’m glad, though, that I’m running a firewall and antivirus software). I spent a few minutes in the Cybercafe (misnamed — you’re not allowed to bring food or drink in), and couldn’t resist looking at what was on people’s screens. Probably the most common type of site was a news site…what was interesting, though, was to see that most of those sites were not in English. We really do have a global community here at the conference.

The fourth Global Community session was somewhat uneven, and plagued by technical problems.

Charles McCathieNeville (the only person I know with a tri-capitalized last name) gave what I think was a good talk on The Role of Community in Technical Development. I say “I think”, because I spent much of it trying to get the sound in the adjoining room turned down so that we could hear Charles — neither the hotel controls nor the mixer I found on the floor worked. Eventually, a tech person showed up and fixed the problem, but by then, I’d missed most of Charles’ talk.

Robert Scoble talked about weblogs; I would have blogged his talk as it happened, but the server handling my weblog was down at the time. He did a bit of demonstrating, but if I weren’t already involved in weblogging, I’m not sure I would have gotten a strong message from the talk. But since I am, I felt free to disagree with one of his claims of weblogging’s strengths — that Google now aggressively crawls and indexes blogs, and gives them extra weight in the results. I’m not sure that’s entirely good — as an example, whenever I look at my refer logs, I see hits for the phrase “things to do in Paris”. And when I Googled that phrase today, I found that my weblog entry from 25 March 2001 is very near the top of the list of results (it’s the seventh item right now, but that’ll change over time — and as a result of typing this entry, I’m likely to have another top hit). Much as I enjoyed my trip to Paris last year, I am far from an authority on things to do there! My observation led to some lively discussion.

I had to run out during the Sophie Lissonet’s talk on using metadata to support building an educational community, so I have no comments on it.

Lunch today was, again, make-your-own sandwiches, so a colleague and I decided to test the free market and wound up at Duke’s Canoe Club, two hotels Diamond Head from here, where I had an excellent (if slightly overcooked) piece of ahi tuna, Duke’s style. That makes two meals at Duke’s this trip, which is probably enough, though I won’t really complain if someone suggests it again tomorrow.

Having a full lunch made the afternoon plenary session a bit more challenging than it might otherwise have been. Ian Foster gave an introduction to the Grid, and Alfred Spector gave a talk about the need for, and a possible approach to, creating an Architecture for Knowledge Middleware.

And now I’m back in the Cybercafe, feeding my computer electrons and bits. In a moment or two, I’ll declare victory and take the bus over to the Bishop Museum for the conference banquet and luau; fortunately, they’re not just having kalua pig and poi (though I guess poi would qualify as a vegan alternative)!

WWW2002 — Day One

And now it’s far later, and I find that my brain is rather fried and overloaded. But I’ll probably never get around to writing about today if I don’t do it now, so here’s what I can still remember at this moment.

Tim Berners-Lee’s keynote speech was unusual — he didn’t talk about the future of the Web. Instead, he talked about how “bits matter” and how the various specifications which make the Web possible all depend on other specifications, all the way down to the physical layer (at least). Tim also made a good argument for royalty-free standards for the Web — while not denying the usefulness of patents.

I chaired two sessions on “A Global Society?”, kicking off the Global Community track, where we are trying to explore how the technologies developed by the folks talking at the rest of the conference affect people around the world — both those who use the Web and those who don’t.

I was pleased at how many people took the trouble to find our track — we’re in the Sheraton Royal Hawaiian (most of the conference is in the Sheraton Waikiki, about 100 meters away), and at the far end of the hotel. Getting to us requires a concerted effort to ignore the wonderful weather and the beach. But the first session was standing-room only until they got us an extra 30 chairs, and the second session was also pretty full.

The first speaker was red keith bradley, who talked about Design Considerations for a Global Audience. Much of what he said was old news, but the message needs to be repeated until it’s heeded — you can’t assume that the person using your site is your clone. There are cultural issues (example: the Fed Ex site for the United Arab Emirates, which rotates through a number of pictures, including one of a picture of a woman in a short-sleeved Fed Ex uniform — not a likely sight there), language issues, bandwidth issues, cost issues, and many many more. Site designers need to consider why people are visiting the sites — in most cases, it’s probably not to admire the designer’s cleverness! A lively discussion followed.

Ashley Tucker then presented work done comparing Internet users in the UK and Egypt, especially when presented with VRML pages. He talked about reasons, other than the obvious economic ones, for lower Internet penetration in the Arab world. Discussion followed.

Libby Levison of MIT finished the session with a wonderful paper on enabling Internet search by e-mail for users in low-connectivity countries. By making the search asynchronous, you can greatly reduce the costs to the user — and do a better job of qualifying the results. This could be useful for “high-connectivity” users, too — imagine being able to submit a question, then go do something else (like watch a TV show or fly across the country), and then receive answers when you next fetch your e-mail. It could be almost as effective as asking a librarian! And again, a lively discussion followed, running on into lunchtime.

This year, the organizers have decided to omit sit-down lunches with speeches; instead, they’re setting up buffets and allowing people to mingle and talk during lunch. I’m not sure if this is for cost reasons (ah, for the glory days of 1999…or even 2001) or not, but I think it’s a great idea (though I hope we move on from sandwich makings for tomorrow’s lunch).

After lunch, it was back to the grind; one of our invited speakers didn’t take us up on the invitation, so we only had two talks in a 90-minute slot.

Linda Jackson followed up her talk last year with a report on Home Net Too, this time with some analysis of the data they gathered from the low-income families they provided with computers and Internet connectivity. There were some surprises — for example, there was hardly any use of the Internet for job training or seeking! They have lots more crunching to do, and I look forward to another report next year. Once more, there was plenty of discussion and debate.

Stu Weibel of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative closed the session with a presentation on technology development as a conversation, and the need for standards and shared terminology. And, yet again, we had a lively discussion.

And there ended my hosting duties for this conference.

The final session of the day was hosted by my co-chair, but it didn’t help me take decent notes. And when I tried posting soon after the session, I had system problems, so this is a second attempt, almost a week later, with a fuzzy memory. *sigh*

The first speaker was Karima Boudaoud of the University of Geneva, who talked about Electronic Communication Issues related to Online Dispute Resolution Systems, an overview of the state of the art at using online techniques to assist in alternative dispute resolution systems (mediation, negotiation, and arbitration). She paid special attention to the needs of confidentiality and data integrity. One point of note — she didn’t know of any attempts to automate the actual dispute resolution process, just attempts to make it possible to handle most of the communications online instead of in-person.

Our second speaker, Manuel Oliveira of University College London, probably belonged in a different track. His paper, “Causing Mayhem on the Internet with Virtual Environments”, is a rather technical paper dealing with a Java-based system which can be used to build online distributed virtual environments (games!), and it’s worth reading. But he realized that presenting the details of such a system wouldn’t be terribly useful in the less-technical environment of the Global Community track, and so his presentation focussed on the social issues (such as the problem with trusting code on the client — believe it or not, people cheat!).

Finally, Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News gave an invited talk: “Will Hollywood Capture The Internet?”. He discussed the problems that the DMCA has caused and that the CBDPTA could cause — see his weblog for more.

Honolulu Sightseeing, 7 May 2002

1308 Pearl Harbor Plaque: Besides the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin are anchored nearby.

1311 Bowfin: The Bowfin is a submarine which served with distinction in the Pacific Fleet during WWII, and the Missouri, of course, is the battleship on which the Japanese surrendered.

Because the weather was threatening, the crowds were pretty small, and we only had to wait a few minutes before entering the theatre for the film presentation about the attack. At peak times, the wait can be two hours!

The film, narrated by Stockard Channing, was well worth seeing, and gave quite a bit of perspective to what led up to the attack. Then we boarded a boat to travel to the USS Arizona Memorial itself.

1318 Approaching Arizona Memorial: The memorial is built atop and at right angles to the wreckage of the Arizona; most of the Arizona is underwater, of course, but some parts do protrude from the water.

1322 part of the Arizona: When the Arizona went down, she was carrying thousands of gallons of fuel oil; that oil has been slowly leaking out ever since 1941, and it is visible on the surface today.

1324 Oil still leaks: The government and environmentalists are worried, because the ship is deteriorating, and if the tanks should breach, there could be a major spill in Pearl Harbor. But any attempt to drain the oil is a sensitive topic, because 1177 men are still buried on the Arizona, and their families are concerned about disturbing their remains. One wall of the Memorial shows the names of all of the men who died on the Arizona.

1328 Shrine: After a few minutes on the memorial, we boarded the boat and returned to shore, to await the return of our bus (and to give us a chance to visit the rest of the museum and the bookstore). I got photographic proof that I’d taken this trip (though the value of that proof isn’t what it was in the days before digital image manipulation) instead of staying in the background on all the shots.

1338 me and anchor: We then started back for Waikiki via Punchbowl National Cemetery. Tour buses aren’t allowed to stop there, so we drove through very slowly. The grave markers are all flush to the ground, but if you look closely:

1343 Onizuka Memorial: you can probably read the name of Ellison Onizuka, who was one of the Challenger astronauts.

Our final stop was in Honolulu’s Historical District, where we got a chance to take a quick walk through the grounds of ‘Iolane Palace. The Palace itself was too big for me to get a decent photo, but the Barracks were a better target.

1351 Iolanthe Guardhouse: Then it was back to the conference for another bout of e-mail and some planning for tomorrow.

1355 state seal:

On from WWW2002

The flight was uneventful, if a little bit bumpy 15 minutes before landing. First Class was loaded with people coming to the conference; so was coach. So it was easy to fill up a taxi on the way to the hotel.

And now I’m sitting in the second floor lobby of the hotel, taking advantage of the wireless connectivity laid on for us. It beats sitting in my hotel room on a slow phone line.

My first stop, though, was at the Reyn’s store in the lobby, to exchange the aloha shirts I bought back in January — as soon as I took them out of the suitcase, Diane said, “that’s not a good color for either of us”, and so I put them aside to bring back on this trip. I hope I’ve found better colors this time around…because it may be a long time before my next trip to Honolulu.

Time for bed — my computer claims it’s after midnight, and so does my body!

The next morning….

I changed the computer to believe it was on Hawaiian time, but I’m not sure I’ve been as successful with my body.

When I woke up, the weather people on TV were talking about the flooding on the windward (North) side of Oahu, but claiming that the weather would be fairly decent in the Honolulu area. So I went out for a jog…it was very humid and warm, so my time was not very good!

Then I got back to the hotel to shower, only to discover that the handle on the hot water tap in the shower was broken! I called maintenance and they took care of it promptly, but I wonder why the previous tenant hadn’t complained.

After that, I had a pleasant breakfast at Moose McGillicudy’s — yes, it’s a bar, but they don’t require that you have beer with breakfast, and the cost was about half of what I would have paid in the hotel!

Then I registered for the conference and did some e-mail; I confirmed that there were no obvious disasters for my track (I’m sure I’ll find some non-obvious disasters tomorrow) and decided I could safely leave the hotel for a while.

So I took a sightseeing tour out to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. I had wanted to do this in January, but time didn’t permit it, and I was happy that the conference schedule gave me the chance today.

Of course, I took pictures! If you want to see them, take a look at my photo essay.

Tomorrow, the conference itself begins. I get to chair two sessions, both of which I hope will be interesting!

Aloha for now.

Off to WWW2002

Even though the track and the formal conference don’t start until Wednesday, I’m leaving today, giving me tomorrow to panic on site if necessary. And if it’s not necessary to panic, I have a list of things to do anyway, even including handling my daily dose of e-mail (though I have to admit that’s not top of my list of things to fly to Honolulu to do).

I’m hoping for good connectivity from the hotel and, with any luck at all, a chance to post some pictures.


We know you have a choice when you give blood….

This morning, I gave blood at the semi-annual Shir Hadash blood drive. It’s a much nicer environment than giving blood at work — instead of being in a cramped conference room on hard tables with minimal refreshments afterwards, we were in the sanctuary/social hall on very nice reclining chairs (I wonder if they were dot-bomb castoffs?), and the food afterwards was almost excessive: Krispy Kreme doughnuts, bagels and lox, freshly-baked cookies, and plenty to drink. The next Shir Hadash blood drive won’t be until November (Thanksgiving week, when the demand is high and the supply is low), so I’ll probably give blood at work before then, but maybe I’ll bring in my own goodies for afterwards.

We just got back from seeing Spider-Man; the ticket lines weren’t too bad, but I’m still glad we bought our tickets in advance, since they were selling out most of the shows. We got decent seats, too. But the screen seemed awfully small — I think I’ll plan on braving the horrible parking at the Century complex on Winchester Boulevard so we can watch Episode II on a properly-sized big screen.

Oh, yeah…I should have said something about the movie, not just the theatre, shouldn’t I? It was a good movie; I liked the web-swinging a lot, and the rest of the movie was worth sitting through. I don’t understand why Peter walked away from MJ at the end…she’s already in enough danger by being his friend! But I have to admit that, when MJ awoke on top of the bridge, my first thought was, “wait…she’s not Gwen Stacey…what’s she doing on the bridge?”

Strange combination of cuisines

Jeffrey is with the Kids’ Youth Group tonight, taking a guided night walk through Sanborn County Park. Part of the deal was that we had to keep the nature of the event secret from the kids, which was fun…what was a little less fun was finding the actual assembly point in the park! We carpooled, and the other family will be picking up; I hope I gave them enough information to find the kids at the end of the evening. In the dark.

BattleBots has just put tickets for Series 5.0 on sale — time to get a group together and make plans!

Friday night quickie

I hope the Userland crew can get the static server and the XML feed up soon — I miss BlogTracker! But as we all know, Murphy rules, and we get things done only at his pleasure.

We’ve been watching the Nero Wolfe series on A&E and enjoying it a lot. But I guess we’re thieves, because we use TiVo and skip the commercials. Of course, I don’t remember signing any kind of contract requiring us to watch the commercials in the first place….maybe the contract is secretly encoded in the vertical blanking interval, along with the closed-captioning.

We have a busy weekend ahead of us — there’s Torah study and services tomorrow morning, then Jeffrey has a Secret Activity tomorrow night with the Kids’ Youth Group at shul; Sunday, there’s a blood drive, then we’re going to see a movie, and then there’s a concert at shul in the evening. I’ll be ready to rest on Monday, but I have to fly to Hawaii that afternoon.

Shabbat Shalom!

A technological puzzle

Nobody ever dies on Enterprise!

In contrast, on the original Star Trek, you could almost count on at least one Security corpse (or mysterious disappearance) before the first commercial break, leading to that well-known rule of survival:

Never wear a red shirt!

So my question is simple: with all the improvements in technology between Humanity’s first steps into the Universe (as shown in Enterprise) and the glory days of Starfleet (as shown in Star Trek), why did the life expectancy of the crew (especially those dumb enough to join Security) decrease so radically?

May Day

Mostly links today, I suspect.

A Fabled Place Forsaken, Contaminated by War [NYTimes, free registration required] I’m glad we got to go to Petra in 1999, back when peace seemed at hand in the Middle East. The place is spectacular and was well-worth the trip and hassle. My pictures didn’t do it justice, but they help to trigger memories.

54 Ways You Can Help Israel [via Ilana]

Other than that, it’s been a quiet day here — the weather improved enough at lunchtime that I could walk over to a nearby restaurant and meet a colleague for a discussion, then walk home again and still stay comfortable and dry. I got sucked in at Whole Foods, though — I made the mistake of looking at their bakery, and a Mint Chocolate Cookie jumped out at me and said, “buy me! eat me!” and so I did. It was OK, but not worth the price or the calories; I would have been better staying with my usual, a fat-free chocolate chewie (which, in case it matters to you, is also leaven-free, and therefore OK during Pesach).

Pizza Hut sponsors Book It!, a program to encourage reading by bribing schoolkids with free pizza coupons (and, not-so-incidentally, encourage their parents to have a pizza and buy highly profitable sodas for the whole family while they’re in the restaurant). Jeffrey doesn’t need any bribing to read, but we usually redeem the coupon anyway (and fall into Pizza Hut’s trap by doing so). The last coupon of the school year expires on May 1st, and the restaurant was packed with families redeeming that coupon — including us. There are worse things to eat, and definitely worse places to buy pizza. And we had water instead of sodas anyway.