Thursday, January 31, 2008


While performing a mobile Google search for my favorite (and recently oft-repeated) word "twittout," I accidentally discovered it at the URL. is a hashtag-tracking service, but I don't know yet what differentiates it from .

Sphere: Related Content

Now I really feel informed

Unbeknownst to me when I was writing my Twitter post, there was some information that was coming out regarding Twitter's internal plans. TechCrunch links to a statement:

Twitter has been officially off Joyent since 10PM last night. This may come as a surprise to some after yesterday’s posts...regarding the two companies working together. Those of us at Joyent appreciate the opportunity we had to work with the talented folks at Twitter. It is a great service. We wish Twitter every continued success.

TechCrunch has subsequently noted that Twitter appears to be hosted by Verio. But all that I've seen so far from Twitter is an email that was sent to TechCrunch by Biz Stone:

We’re still very much engaged in our efforts to bring solid reliability to Twitter. Achieving our goals is a sustained effort, not an overnight fix. Performance is our most important measure of success and we appreciate both the patience and frustration folks are sharing with us.

With regard to discussing technical specifics about last night’s efforts, we’ll be more keen to do that once we have a chance to come up for air and cover it with some perspective.

Nothing new on the official Twitter blog.

But you can monitor the Twitterverse if you want to. (You can leave your friends behind. 'Cause your friends don't tweet and if they don't tweet, well they're...probably sane.)

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Danzig with Fears in Disguise

We are shaped by things that happen to us in our formative years.

Those who grew up in the 1950s were shaped by air raid drills and getting underneath desks.

Those who grew up in the 1960s were shaped by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Then things took a decade off, and people like me who grew up in the 1970s were shaped by Tony Orlando knocking three times, the Dolphins beating the Redskins, and other peaceful activities during the decade of detente.

But then we get to the 1980s.

Regular (or irregular) blog readers might have noticed a previous reference to the Ultravox song "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes." The song is on my playlist, but I had not seen the video until today.

What's more instructive, however, are some of the comments that were recorded on the YouTube page. Here's a sampling:

SpenTK421 (1 week ago)

Wow, havnt seen that since 1984, still remember it though. It scared me back then-I was 12. Nuclear war seemed a real possibility back then.

metalleeca (5 days ago)

I was 12 dude and I remember the threat of nuclear war gave me nightmares, this tune summed that all up pretty good, well done Midge Ure!!!

So how were those who grew up in the early 1980s shaped by this? Remember that the same people who watched Midge Ure's video may have also watched this television show:

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Whatever happened to the fourth Brady brother?

The Greg Brady Project reveals the truth about why little Tom Brady was kicked off the show. (Hint: Marcia Marcia Marcia.)

Although I have to admit that the slo-mo version (see my previous blog)

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Politics Stove Top, 31 January 2008

If you're wondering who would make a good Vice President, whether or not John McCain is a conservative, all about the Schwarzenegger/Guiliani/McCain troika, how True Discernment feels about Mike Huckabee raising money in church sanctuaries, how Extreme Mortman feels about John McCain's "banana" line (note that Mortman obviously didn't hear John & Ken during the 2003-2004 southern California grocery workers' strike), or who Al Gore will support, follow the links.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

More Twitter and General Stuff in a Technology Stove Top, 31 January 2008

Looks like a missed a couple of things in my earlier Twitter post More on the January 30-31 #twittout.

For example, I neglected the post in which Biz Stone bragged how wonderful Joyent is. Some people may doubt this.

And I also neglected to blog about Chris Brogan's question about whether Yahoo should buy Twitter.

And, just within the last few minutes, Dennis Howlett wrote Why Twitter's Failing.

And Zoli blogged about' claim that an online primary would be much better than those stupid voting machines. Zoli then demonstrated how easy it was to cast multiple votes at (Incidentally, I voted twice, taking care to put Duncan Hunter in first place each time, and was informed that both votes had a "credibility" rating of 100%. I'll keep on voting for Hunter this afternoon and see how long I can get away with it.)

Doug Meacham talked about a customer service hall of shame, which includes a lot of tech-related firms with very little competition.

Another one from Zoli: a business sign proclaiming We remove Vista - We install XP.

Finally, Mack Collier talks about something I don't have to worry about: Does the size of a blog's community affect its conversation?.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Another perspective on the January 30-31 #twittout

Ah, but the heck with Twitter.

The most important thing is that, Twitter or no Twitter, I need to have one of my early morning tweets preserved, even though it didn't make Club140. I realize that people read me for my "Donna Douglas nude" (sorry, it's not what you think) and "Cheeseburger in der Dose" (sorry, it IS what you think, at least if you speak German) posts, but frankly, this is the stuff that excites me.

off to work, singing chorus to ultrashocks song "danskin with beers in my thighs"

Heck, John Lennon made a second career out of that kind of junk. Sample:

In the jumble...the mighty jumble....Whide Hunter sleeps tonight.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

More on the January 30-31 #twittout

Perhaps you've seen my earlier post that detailed how last night's scheduled Twitter outage went into some unscheduled territory, which ended up influencing the way that I do things.

I thought I'd collect some other perspectives on what happened last night...and this morning.

Let's start with Dave Winer:

Over the last 24 hours Twitter has been down as much as it's been up. As always this gives us a reason to think about what the world would be like without Twitter and then those of us who are engineers or would-be engineers, start thinking about ways to fix the problem, whatever it is....

I'd like to really understand what's going on behind the scenes at Twitter, Inc. They say they're confident the new infrastructure will hold up better, I'd like to understand why. Can we have a meeting, with a few people from the tech community who actively use Twitter and a few people from the company, to be briefed on what's going on....

PS: I was going to post a link to this on Twitter, but arrrrgh!

I'll give Twitter two voices in this matter. Let's start with Ev, on the official Twitter blog:

I just left the office, at 6am, with most of our engineering and technical operations team. That's only a handful of people, but we were all there all night.

You may have noticed we had an outage last night/stretching into this morning. This was a planned maintenance project, not a surprise happening for us. But we did go far beyond our planned time window, which sucks. What sucks more is the series of outages (planned and not) we've had lately. We know this makes Twitter frustrating to use, and we want you to know, we hear (and share) your frustration and are working really, really hard to fix it.

The good news is we finished a major infrastructure project tonight, which we've been working on for months and that we think is going to help a lot. I'm sure there will be some glitches in the coming weeks, but we've laid some important foundation that's going to help us build toward the future.

Thank you for your support and patience.

Update (8:30a PT): We're still experiencing patches of slowness service-wide. Some of our systems are not cleanly restarting. We're watching closely, bringing things back up manually, and fixing our automation tools accordingly!

Now let's turn to Biz Stone in his personal blog, in response to Dave Winer's post:

Twitter service is sometimes interrupted because we're working on it. We're concentrating our efforts on creating a reliable, global communication utility that can be depended on 99.99% of the time. Our team made a significant achievement last night but but it's important to note that our goal will not be achieved in just one night.

Reliability will be achieved by sustained effort and strategic decisions like hiring Lee and building out our technical team which is currently just four brilliant programmers and two awesome operations folks. The all-nighter Twitter pulled last night was part of a major project to get us closer to our goal.

We'll be able to share more of the specifics of our latest infrastructure project when we've successfully completed it and can write about it with some perspective.

We don't get into deep, technical specifics on our main blog mostly because I'm the one who usually updates it and I'm not really that deep or technical. For more technical discussions we hope people will visit our developers group and developer blog.

Which raises the question - is Dave Winer's request reasonable?

I'll give you the somewhat anonymized example from the bowels of MegaCorp (my otherwise unidentified employer). Several years ago, MegaCorp did not perform well on a certain external test, and our existing customers were naturally concerned and wondering if they would need to find a new vendor. At a previously scheduled meeting with our customers, we put one of our research and development guys on the stage (i.e. a "shirt" instead of a "suit") who acknowledged that we did not perform well, and assured the users that we would take steps to perform better in the future. However, we did not give specifics about what we planned to do, and I think it's fair to say that we didn't do this for two reasons: (1) we didn't want our competitors to know our plans, and (2) since this was a research exercise, we couldn't precisely say what we WERE going to do. The story has a happy ending, because we did do some stuff and are now kicking butt. (Rah rah.)

Perhaps Twitter has similar reasons for not opening the kimono, worried about stuff leaking to its competitors, and worried about the reaction if they were to tell their entire customer base "We have an idea, but we don't know whether it will work as we envision it. We may have to change." While a certain segment of Twitter users would understand this, some may react negatively - "What? You don't know if something is gonna work? Why don't you talk to my friend in the garage who wrote a Visual Basic program that manages our entire ham radio network!"

But there's another part to the MegaCorp story that I haven't discussed yet. While we do not provide a ton of confidential information to our entire user base, we do have a small group of users under non-disclosure who are privy to confidential information, including future release plans and internal technical accomplishments.

Does Twitter have a customer advisory board that is under non-disclosure and can provide an external evaluation of Twitter's plans, both for scalability and for monetization?

This is especially critical (or, you could say, obvious) if Twitter has such a small staff. In that case, outside perspective is necessary; don't think that you can do it all yourself.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Does this mean that creationists can't use text formatting technologies?

KMWorld sent me an email that discussed its DITA Maturity Model Seminar:

UNLIKE THE “BIG BANG” ENTERPRISE INITIATIVES of the past, XML and Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) hold the promise of incremental adoption — using select DITA capabilities to start quickly and easily, then investing more over time as your content strategy evolves and expands. But every enterprise is different and every organization is at a different level of readiness for full DITA adoption. How do you know where to begin? How do you plan for and manage the required investment and associated ROI? How do you move the enterprise content strategy from the back room to the board room and develop a framework for success?

In this timely webcast, Amber Swope of JustSystems, and Michael Priestly of IBM Corporate User Technologies, co-authors of the DITA Maturity Model, will provide you with first-hand insights and a hands-on framework for implementing DITA and organizing for success. Learn how to manage DITA adoption and investments, understand how to mitigate the risk of project failure and accelerate the time to full migration.

I love things that assume that you know what they're talking about. At least KMWorld spelled out what the acronym meant. But what is the Darwin Information Typing Architecture, and why should I care? At least JUST Systems provided a little bit more of an explanation:

DITA, or Darwin Information Typing Architecture, is one of the most popular information models to suit today's content-rich, multi-channel environment. It provides a standardized, technological foundation, which helps organizations better control and manage the creation, translation, workflow and publishing of information as a business asset.

But does it let us optimize our potential and synergize our externalities? I don't know, but JUST Systems went on and bragged about incremental adoption capabilities.

Luckily for me, there was also a FAQ. Here are some excerpts:

What is DITA?

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is a comprehensive framework for authoring, managing, and distributing topic-oriented information in XML.

First developed by IBM, DITA goes beyond any previous approach in helping organizations overcome barriers to XML adoption, maximize content reuse, and reduce information redundancies.

Today, DITA is a widely supported specification managed by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), the industry body responsible for many other business-oriented XML standards....

What kind of deliverables is DITA best suited for?

DITA is suitable for any kind of deliverable, including printed books, but is best suited for topic-oriented content such as:

Online Help
Computer-based training and testing

IBM says a little more:

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an XML-based, end-to-end architecture for authoring, producing, and delivering technical information. This architecture consists of a set of design principles for creating "information-typed" modules at a topic level and for using that content in delivery modes such as online help and product support portals on the Web....

At the heart of DITA, representing the generic building block of a topic-oriented information architecture, is an XML document type definition (DTD) called "the topic DTD." The extensible architecture, however, is the defining part of this design for technical information; the topic DTD, or any schema based on it, is just an instantiation of the design principles of the architecture....

This architecture and DTD were designed by a cross-company workgroup representing user assistance teams from across IBM. After an initial investigation in late 1999, the workgroup developed the architecture collaboratively during 2000 through postings to a database and weekly teleconferences. The architecture has been placed on IBM's developerWorks Web site as an alternative XML-based documentation system, designed to exploit XML as its encoding format. With the delivery of these significant updates, which contain enhancements for consistency and flexibility, we consider the DITA design to be past its prototype stage.

I figured that someone named Darwin was in on the creation of this standard, but IBM's listed experts are Don Day, Michael Priestly, and David Schell. So I guess that there was no creator named Darwin, which leads me to believe that the standard just spontaneously appeared and evolved over time to best deal with the technical environment. Presumably, non-flexible and useless portions of DITA became extinct as the standard evolved.

But if I wanted to truly find out how Darwin got involved in DITA, I had to go to the authoritative, inerrant source for such matters - Wikipedia.

The name of the architecture was derived as follows:

Darwin: Named for the naturalist Charles Darwin, DITA uses the principles of specialization and inheritance.

Information Typing: DITA capitalizes on the semantics of topics (concept, task, reference) and of content (messages, typed phrases, semantic tables).

Architecture: DITA provides vertical headroom (new applications) and edgewise extension (specialization into new types) for information.

Which brings us to Vernon Kellogg (and yes, I'm still absorbing this, inasmuch as I've never heard of Lamarck):

Sixty years of active study since Darwin, of evolutionary phenomena and of technical discussion among specialists, do not leave evolution just where it was when Darwin and his coadjutors had to drop it. For example, Darwin saw in natural selection a satisfying explanation of the origin of species. We do not see this now. We see in natural selection an important factor in the control of evolutionary lines of plant- and animal-development, and a restraining sieve for the too unfit species, but not a sufficient unaided cause of species-transmutation and -adaptation. There is no mere 'survival of the fittest'; there is a survival of all not too unfit.

But this does not mean returning whole-heartedly to an acceptance of Lamarck's proffered explanation of species-transmutation as caused by adaptive individual modifications and the inheritance and cumulation of these 'acquired characters.' Nor does it mean accepting exclusively the mutations explanation of species origin, despite the general agreement that mutations (rather large, immediately heritable variations) do occur and do make some new, plant and animal forms. Nor, finally, does it mean seeing in, the. Mendelian juggling and recombining of unit characters in the ease of hybridizations a sufficient explanation of new species and adaptive specialization.

What it does mean is that, despite the much additional that has been learned confirmatory of the actuality of evolution, and the new wealth of knowledge that has been gained about the manner and mechanism of some of the principal basic factors of evolution, notably heredity and variation, biologists to-day are less agreed among themselves, or, better put, are more agnostic concerning the causal explanation of evolution now than they were just after Darwin and Huxley had made evolution a household word and natural selection its widely accepted explanation. Of course, natural selection, or Darwinism, never was a unanimously accepted evolution explanation. There were always Lamarckians; but after Weismann, the post-Darwinian champion of Darwinism who out-Darwined Darwin in his insistence on the All-macht of natural selection, had made his fight on the inheritance of acquired characters, Lamarckism went largely into eclipse. Yet there have always been Lamarckians since Lamarck, and are to-day, although there are but few who adhere to Lamarck's own naive form of Lamarckism, with its assumption of the direct inheritance, in photographic replica,' of bodily modifications acquired during the, lifetime of the individual....

The Lamarckians of to-day are Neo-Lamarckians, with various forms of explanation of how parental modifications may cumulate in successive generations by heredity. And new examples of such claimed inherited modifications are every now and then put forward. Among the more recent and important of these claims are those of Kammerer of Vienna; whose accounts of his experiments in inducing changes by environmental influence in the mode of reproduction of various salamanders and in the color of various amphibians and reptiles, with a claimed definite hereditary transmission of these changes in later untreated generations, excited much attention at the last meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Also those of the Americans, Guyer and Smith, who have reported the positive inheritance of certain eye-defects induced in rabbits by a toxic serum, and whose unusually carefully conducted experiments and elimination of alternative explanations give their claims a very serious importance. And, finally, those of Pavlov the great Russian physiologist, whose white mice, trained to come to their food by the ringing of a bell, produced young who learned their lesson much more quickly, and in turn produced young still more quickly responsive to the signal. However many carelessly claimed instances of modification of species-character by an inheritance of acquired characters can be proved to be uncertain, and thus to be useless as evidence for the Lamarckian explanation of evolution, any single one that cannot be, otherwise explained will have the gravest consequence in the search for the actual causes of evolution.

As a matter of fact, despite the inability of the Lamarckians, or of biologists in general, to offer any indubitable cases of Lamarckian inheritance (unless the most recently advanced cases are of this character), and despite. the heavy weight thrown against the Larmarckian explanation of evolution by almost all that has been learned in the recent years about the physical basis of heredity — in spite of all this, many reputable and thoughtful biologists remain convinced in their own minds that any satisfactory causal explanation of evolution, especially adaptive evolution, must contain as an important fundamental element some form of the Lamarckian assumption. There must be more than just chance variation in successive generations out of which adaptive modification and specialization are to arrive. Almost all the paleontologists believe, on the basis of their knowledge of animal and plant series extending through long periods of time, in some form of orthogenesis, or determinate variation. There must be something, they believe, that drives evolution on in more or less fixed lines, even though these lines lead, as they have led in the case of the crinoids, the ammonites, the great dinosaurs, and various other highly specialized lines, to over-specialization and extinction. Now unless the paleontologists accept some mystic inherent driving factor, such as the Èlan vital, or other, to explain this phenomenon, they must find in environmental influence and the impression on heredity of the changes caused by it, the explanation of the initiation, if not the maintenance, of this evolutionary movement.

But there's another view of specialization:

"Darwin did not know how heredity really works," wrote Dr. Carl Wieland in 101 Signs of Design: Timeless Truths from Science, "but people today should know better. He did not know, for instance, that what is passed on in reproduction is essentially a whole lot of parcels of information (genes) or coded instructions." Dr. Wieland continues:

"It cannot be stressed enough that what natural selection actually does is get rid of information. It is not capable of creating anything new, by definition."

"The price paid for adaptation, or specialization, is always the permanent loss of some of the information in that group of organisms."

"Natural selection, by itself, is powerless to create. It is a process of 'culling,' of choosing between several things which must first be in existence."

"Perhaps if evolution's 'true believers' really had convincing evidence of a creative process, they would not feel obliged to muddy the waters so often by presenting this 'downhill' process (natural selection) as if it demonstrated their belief in the ultimate 'uphill' climb--molecules-to-man evolution."...

In other words, natural selection can only select options from the pool of information already available. Only God could create this world from nothing and design its amazing creatures -- each with its own set of instructions or DNA. He alone has watched our beginnings and measured our changes through the millennia.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Here endeth the reverse gaming experiment, but at least I got a spelling lesson out of it

NOTE TO READERS: I apologize in advance, because if you are not a Twitter user, and perhaps even if you are, most of the material in the following post will be completely incomprehensible to you. Perhaps I'll come up with the annotated explanatory version of this post later.

Recently I've become interested in reverse gaming various services, primarily because people are so interested in forward gaming them.

I remember that someone demonstrated how easy it was to game Tweeterboard to end up at the top of the list, which got me interested in trying to reverse game Tweeterboard to send my reputation score down into single digits.

So far I've failed at doing this - just when I seem to be approaching success, one of my tweets gets someone's fancy and they respond - but I'm usually able to keep my Tweeterboard reputation in the teens (with occasional zoom-ups, some of which even place me in the top 100 for a few hours).

But I've had more fun reverse gaming Tweet140. Now Tweet140 seems like a very nice, fun thing, but what they don't tell you is that they insult you every three days or so.

A couple of days after joining Tweet140, I found that my profile was at "Duck" level, so I decided that I'd see what lay below that level. Heck, "Duck" sounded bad enough - was "Frog" next? So I intentionally started writing short tweets, and (mostly) refrained from twooshing (which incidentally removed me from visibility on Club140 for a few days).

Not only did I successfully decline to "Pigeon" level, but I got a whole new wonderful insult from the Tweet140 folks:

@oemperor You tweet like a pigeon. You're just getting in our way with a 77 avg and 11 twooshes. Fly away and stop begging for a real tweet.

After this success, I had to decide whether I wanted to continue to explore the depths below "Pigeon," or whether this was the time to head back upward, through "Duck," "Swan," and possibly even "Falcon."

Twitter made my decision for me last night.

Last night Twitter advertised a #twittout that was supposed to last from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Pacific time. I happened to wake up around 4:00 am or so this morning, grabbed my Motorola Q, and thought I'd cruise through a few pages of messages. In mobile Twitter terms, this involves going to the bottom of the web page and clicking "Older."

I clicked "Older"...and got the same messages that I had the first time.

Because I am extremely intelligent, I figured I'd edit the URL and change the page number from 2 to 3.

Still got the same messages.

This is where the ego part (which is present in some high degree in all bloggers/tweeters/wikiers) kicks in - MY PROFOUND MUSINGS CAN'T BE SEEN ANYWHERE. I mean, I know that Twitter is ephemeral (or, as I misspell it, ephermal), but that's a little too ephemeral/ephermal for me.

This is where Dave Winer's little tool came in handy, because even if my stuff couldn't be seen on Twitter...IT COULD BE SEEN ON CLUB140.

So I began twooshing like mad, and my ego worries were calmed.

Things seemed to be back to normal an hour later, but then I went to Twitter to grab some references for this post and ran into another #twittout.

And I'm still a pigeon, not a duck.

So, courtesy Club140, here are some of my most recent profound musings:

6. Ontario Emperor discombobulated. motorola q holster broke yesterday morning, have to put q in shirt pocket. still reach to belt. new holster ordered online. 6:35 AM

11. Ontario Emperor hey, miracle of miracles, recent is now letting you get to older stuff. for the moment. assuming no #twittout - we'll see if all remains ok. 5:45 AM

16. Ontario Emperor @peterdawson i've noticed it also. using mobile twitter, page 2, 3 have same content as page 1. search tweetscan for "recent" for anecdotes. 5:15 AM

17. Ontario Emperor saw fakemor at club140 that twitter lost db of past tweets. in truth, such a move would solve performance issues by reducing users #twittout 5:15 AM

18. Ontario Emperor @trollbaby the advertisers (other than religious firms, who don't have THAT much cash) wouldn't pay to advertise on a tv show called "found" 5:15 AM

19. Ontario Emperor @khokanson i haven't visited truemors in months, but don't they have voice to text capabilities? you may want to find out what truemors uses 4:55 AM

21. Ontario Emperor twitter giveth, and twitter taketh away. like the fact that mobile users can't click on @ names. i should add that 2 the wiki platforms page 4:55 AM

22. Ontario Emperor so i guess that in my case, the "bug" is that mobile twitter web recent page HAS an older button. i guess that it's not supposed to be there 4:55 AM

23. Ontario Emperor checked tweetscan to see if others were having my mobile twitter web recent problem in which "older" doesn't work. others don't have "older" 4:45 AM

And here are my current Tweeterboard stats:

Updates every < 1 an hour
Last Polled 01/31
Reputation 17 Points
Reputation Change 0 Points

And here is my up to the minute rolling and overall tweet140 scores:

oemperor tweets like a Pigeon

In the last week
Total Tracked Tweets 324
Tweets per Day 47
Total Twooshes 18
Avg. Characters per Tweet 76
Twooshrate 5%

Total Tracked Tweets 361
Tweets per Day 42
Total Twooshes 19
Avg. Characters per Tweet 78
Twooshrate 5%

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I have to watch movies more often

Then I could understand this.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

New method to increase facial recognition accuracy?

From Science:

By replacing the standard photo on a person's ID with an image generated by combining several shots of the individual, a team from the University of Glasgow in the U.K. dramatically boosted [facial recognition] accuracy....

[P]sychologists Rob Jenkins and A. Mike Burton came up with a model of how the mind constructs an image of a face from repeat encounters, distilling the essence of its features into a reliable mental representation. The researchers wondered if applying the model to a face-recognition system would improve its performance....

Using a computer program, the researchers...produced an "average" image for each of the 25 celebrities by merging each person's set of 20 pictures, which had been taken over several decades under various light conditions. When they fed the averages into the system, it recognized the faces with 100% accuracy. The researchers then put the technique to a more difficult test: They constructed the average using only those images of a celebrity that the system had failed to recognize during the baseline performance test. This new average image was recognized correctly 80% of the time....

Face-recognition experts say the technique is worth exploring but needs to be tried on larger data sets. "This is too small a test set to make the claim that 100% accuracy has now been achieved," says Anil Jain, a computer science professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Read this. Now.

The Last Girl on Earth, and her dog, visit terminally ill patients in the oncology ward of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. This excerpt touched me:

The second floor I went to was the oncology ward. There were quite a few terminally ill people there. It was so very intense for me to make the rounds there. But once again, Rosie [the dog] was AMAZING. It was like she KNEW these people didn’t have long, and she was going to do everything she could to make them smile. I put her on several beds and she licked and loved her way into the hearts of a few people who couldn’t tell me enough how much it meant to them to have her visit them today.

One woman in particular touched me to my core. Her family were all there with her, and when I put Rosie on this woman’s bed, she didn’t hesitate to trot up to this lady’s chin and give her a big ‘ole lick. Her son got a picture of Rosie giving his mother a kiss. It was such a touching, emotional moment for everyone in the room.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Cheeseburger in der Dose!

You may have seen Julia Roy's request to receive blog URLs from a number of Twitter users, which she plans to incorporate into her reader feed.

Just the fact that this blog may be added to said feed indicates Roy's masochistic tendencies (although, to be fair, just because a blog is in a feed doesn't necessarily mean that you're obligated to READ the blog's posts).

I tweeted the URL to her, but then I got curious regarding the others who were sending her their blog URLs (the information is available via Tweetscan, at least for those like me who sent public messages). One of the tweeters was Kevin Donahue, whom I ended up adding to MY feed.

I think I'm gonna like this blog. Here's a recent sample:

Do you like cheeseburgers? Sure ya do! Who doesn't?!

What if you could have a cheeseburger any time you wanted it, anywhere in the world? Well now you can.

Straight from the sharpest minds in Germany… it's the cheeseburger in a can.

There's a link to Gizmodo's ponderings on the product:

I honestly can't figure out how I feel about this: is it the greatest achievement of mankind thus far, or is it an abomination of foodstuffs that deserves to be hucked back into the gaping maw of whatever food processing plant it was spewed from?

And you can buy it too, for less than four Euros.

The Deutsch product name, by the way, is "Cheeseburger in der Dose."

I'd ask my German Eurodaughter about the product, but she's more of a salad type of person. And even if she weren't, I can't see her opening up a Dose for a burger.

Strangely enough, you would think that the Americans or the Japanese would have come up with this idea before the Germans would. Just goes to show that innovation is worldwide.

P.S. The reference in my tweet to Julia possibly already subscribing to my blog is based on the fact that she commented on at least one of my posts last year. However, that doesn't necessarily mean she's a subscriber. I think she can find better things to read.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Decisions, decisions (#capolitics)

The California Republican primary occurs in less than a week, and I haven't made my choice yet out of the eleven candidates.

The one thing that I do know is that I will vote for the candidate that I judge to be the best. I will not worry about "throwing my vote away" by voting for an unpopular candidate, or even a candidate who has already withdrawn from the race. This is my opportunity to state whom I would prefer for President, and I'm not going to settle for casting my vote for second best.

You can tell how lukewarm I feel about McCain and Romney.

Matt Munson isn't so hot on the leaders either.

I am not voting for Rudy or Mitt because they sold out to run for president. They gave up their dreams for inclusion and equal rights for all Americans straight or queer....

I am not voting for Huckabee because he’s a big government loving theocrat....

One thing that makes me not want to vote for McCain is his love for open borders and amnesty for the undocumented illegal alliens that reside in our country.

So where did Munson end up?

Ron Paul stinks on the war on Iraq or civil rights and equality, but I agree with him on all the other issues.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Is Health Insurance Dedicated to Promoting Health?

True Discernment links to a Daily Telegraph debate about British medical care:

Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.

Have your say: Should lifestyle play a role in deciding who gets NHS treatment?
Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.

Fertility treatment and "social" abortions are also on the list of procedures that many doctors say should not be funded by the state.

The findings of a survey conducted by Doctor magazine sparked a fierce row last night, with the British Medical Association and campaign groups describing the recommendations from family and hospital doctors as "out­rageous" and "disgraceful".

About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions most common in hospitals battling debt.

Managers defend the policies because of the higher risk of complications on the operating table for unfit patients. But critics believe that patients are being denied care simply to save money.

And lest you claim that this is a socialized medicine issue, John Edwards would be the first to remind you that denial of health care occurs in our privatized system also. Edwards' (suspended) campaign blog links to this story (which, if I recall correctly, Edwards mentioned after the Iowa primary):

An insurance company that initially refused to pay for a liver transplant for a 17-year-old Northridge girl who died in a hospital should face criminal charges and pay civil damages....

Cigna HealthCare "literally, maliciously killed" Nataline Sarkisyan, attorney Mark Geragos told reporters in downtown Los Angeles....

Geragos said Cigna twice took Sarkisyan off the liver transplant list and purposely waited until she was near death to approve the transplant because the company didn't want to pay for her after-care....

In a statement issued yesterday after it had approved the transplant, the company said the procedure "was outside the scope of the plan's coverage." "... and despite the lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of such treatment, Cigna HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case, and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nataline and her family at this time."

Actually, this raises a scary thought in me. Could Mark Geragos run for President? But I digress.

Perhaps Christians and others who believe in "quality of life" issues will be moved to state that doctors should abide by the Hippocratic Oath, instead of denying claims for the old and infirm. But before you start preaching the Hippocratic Oath from the pulpit, you may want to read it. Christians, feminists, abortion advocates, and anti-child abuse advocates in particular may have severe problems with it.

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfil according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art - if they desire to learn it - without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

So we're supposed to swear to Satan, to ensure the continuance of male-centric domination, to refrain from abortions, and to keep all secrets, including those from dying child molesters. Watch out what you swear about, or to whom you're swearing.

Needless to say, Louis Lasagna updated the Hippocratic Oath in 1964. We're not swearing to the Greek gods any more, and some other changes were made also.

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Message (not Stowe Boyd's, but Hillary Clinton's)

I was listening to the Chris Wallace interview of Hillary Clinton last night, and was struck by a few things.

First, the need for a politician to stay on message no matter what. Clinton certainly demonstrated that in a couple of her responses to Wallace.

WALLACE: Senator, let's talk about, as we look forward toward Super Tuesday, the track of the race tonight. The exit polls indicate that among people who made up their minds in the last month that you won by an overwhelming margin, 57 percent to 32 percent. But among those who make up their minds in the last week, it was a dead, flat tie, 35 percent, 35 percent between you and Obama. Doesn't that indicate that he is closing the gap with you here and perhaps in other big states around the country?

CLINTON: Well, I don't know about that. I really don't pay a lot of attention to anything but the final numbers...


and the final numbers were overwhelming. But what's really at stake here is who could be the best president for our country and who can be the best nominee for our party. And I think voters of Florida joined voters of New Hampshire, Nevada and Michigan in saying very clearly that I'm that person.

She echoed this "who could be the best president" later, when asked about the Kennedy endorsements.

WALLACE: I want to ask you about the endorsement by Senator Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy yesterday of Senator Obama. One thing is that Kennedy said that Obama was ready to serve as president from day one. Perhaps even more significantly, he said this campaign is a choice between the old politics of polarization and the new politics, and basically laid the mantle, the torch of new -- passing the torch to a new generation, on Barack Obama. On some level -- I know you've all had endorsements, but on some level, does that sting?

CLINTON: No. You know, Chris, we all have had endorsements. I was endorsed tonight by Senator Bill Nelson here in Florida. Earlier in the day, I was endorsed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California. And I'm very proud of my endorsements, as I'm sure other candidates are of theirs.

But ultimately, this is not about our endorsements. It's about the American people. It's about what they want in the next president.

After reading this, you get the idea that if Clinton were to show up at an In N Out Burger over the next week, the conversation would go like this?

GUY BEHIND COUNTER: What would you like?

CLINTON: It's not important what I would like. It's about what the American people would like....

The second thing struck me while I was tweeting about the first. And that was Clinton's "experience" line. Again from the Wallace interview:

...having been privileged to serve in the White House...

Now, to be fair, there are two ways to interpret that statement. The one that Hillary's opponents will latch onto is the interpretation that Hillary believes that she's being RE-elected President of the United States, that she already served as co-President for eight years, and now she's going back. Gore Schmore; 1993 to 2001 was the Bill and Hillary Show.

However, Clinton probably meant to imply the other meaning of that statement, that she served as an advisor in the White House, as part of the (pardon the expression) kitchen cabinet that often serves as the closest advisors to a President - much closer than Cabinet members, and in some cases even the de jure chief of staff. Therefore, Clinton's claim to have served in the White House is just as legitimate as the claims of Karl Rove, Michael Deaver, Hamilton Jordan, H. R. Haldeman, and Sherman Adams.

One thing's for certain. Although Clinton's experience in elective office is fairly short, her political experience goes back much farther.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Talk about foot in mouth disease

For the record, I actually was serious when I made the suggestion I'm about to discuss below.

Jake Kuramoto is in the midst of an internal Oracle summit, and since the subject is Web 2.0, he thought he'd solicit some help:

Our first challenge will be to brainstorm every 2.0 technology, method, or philosophy that we have experienced, seen or read about that appears innovative and effective. A pretty tall order for some, a short order for others.

So, in the spirit of New Web, I’ve decided to crowdsource (not to be confused with crowd surfing) this initial phase to give my team a little headstart, and with me as their facilitator, they’ll need all the help they can get. After all, crowdsourcing is one of the hallmark methods of New Web.

Anyway, I’d like your help. In comments, list every 2.0 technology, method or philosophy that you can remember....

A 2.0 technology example is wiki sofware, a method example is crowdsourcing, and a philosophy example is “Wisdom of Crowds“.

Hmm...I thought of a method, and perhaps you did too. Especially if you were reading my blog some time ago and remember how Jake Kuramoto read an item on my blog, continued a meme, and incurred the wrath of one Howard Rogers.

So, Here's my suggestion:

If you truly want EVERY method to be considered, how about the good ol’ meme?

The *opt-in* meme.

I’m serious.

If you remove the viral nature of a meme, and instead let people view it and choose whether they want to participate, a meme can be a valuable method for networking and sharing.

Something to think about, at least.

Let's face it, no one else was gonna suggest this to him.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Think of Laura

And the Laura Lepisto news continues to flow in.

One site shared a video.

As did another.

And the people also weighed in, quoting from Aamulehti:

Kiira Korpi could just swallow her disappointment and rejoice about her teammates great debute on the Euros. Korpi had all the chances for a second medal, but skater who otherwise was in top condition couldn’t keep her program in order....

The first international competition of their career for both Korpi and Lepistö was right here in Zagreb when they were 11 years old. From that trip Korpi learned that drinking too much soft drinks on a competition day is not a good idea, it makes your feet stiff.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Various Hillary and George posts

As Hillary Clinton prepares to claim victory in Florida, further angering the EOH's (enemies of Hillary), it's time for me to stovetop some various Hillary posts.

Extreme Mortman noted that Bill (Hillary's husband) previously discussed sleep deprivation.

Real Clear Politics ran an E.J. Dionne piece entitled "Hobbled by Hubby."

Jack Kelly chose to highlight the Republican disunity with his piece Only Hillary Can Reunite Republican Party.

OK. Some guy named George W. Bush, who was elected President a few years back, gave a speech last night. But Eye of Polyphemus uncovered the real speech that Cheney wouldn't allow Bush to give. Excerpt:

I presided over the largest, most deadly attack in US history. Even bigger than the Day That Will live in Infamy. I had greatness thrust on me that day. Sure, I spent over twelve hours in seclusion running all over the country before Vice-President Cheney, a great American, hauled me in front of the cameras to assure the American people that not only was Rudy Giuliani not actually the president, but we were surely going to bomb the hell out of somebody, even if it meant thousands of Iraqis were going to have to die.

(Pause for standing ovation.)

Meanwhile, Extreme Mortman wondered not why Al Jazeera was allowed to cover the State of the Union address, but why they got a plum spot for their coverage.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

It's all in the game, it's all the same

I've talked about InfoWorld's Save XP campaign before, and you know that they're not going to stop talking about it. In fact, it was mentioned again recently in a post entitled "A Tale of Two Microsofts."

Since InfoWorld launched its petition drive to save Windows XP two weeks ago, we've had over 75,000 people sign up. That's a strong message to Microsoft that people don't want to be forced to into buying Vista if Windows XP goes belly up on June 30, 2008....

The point of all this is not to slam Vista. The aim is to keep XP alive, because businesses should be able to choose where they put their resources. If they want to upgrade to Vista, they should go right ahead. If they have other priorities they feel will yield more bang for the buck, then they should be able to continue to buy XP licenses and put their resources into something else.

Then Eric Knorr claimed that there was another Microsoft:

Microsoft may have its ups and downs on the desktop, but when it comes to serving its developer base, the company knows its customers and keeps trotting out more crowd-pleasing goodies.

Just check out this week's in-depth review of Visual Studio 2008 by InfoWorld's Martin Heller. Is there another IDE that even compares with Visual Studio in its vast scope and emphasis on ease of use? As Heller says, Visual Studio has become "so big it's hard for any one person to keep it straight in his mind."

In this version, the highlights are support for Vista, .Net Framework 3.5, and Web 2.0 technologies (including Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation). Developers will also be glad to learn that data queries have been integrated into .Net languages.

After listing all the goodies, Knorr reached this conclusion:

See? Microsoft can still hit the nail on the head. Let's hope for more of that good aim in the future.

In a comment, I differed with the entire "two Microsoft" thesis:

This is not a tale of two Microsofts. This is a tale of one Microsoft, and is true for all software companies (including my own).

Vista and Visual Studio 2008 are both new versions of software. All software companies trot out new versions of software, wait for the "exclusive reviews" and praise for the new "goodies"...then ax the old versions, leaving current users in the lurch.

Microsoft is going to can Visual Studio 2005 in the same way that it is canning Windows XP, and they're going to point toward InfoWorld's praise of Visual Studio 2008 and say, "See, InfoWorld says you should upgrade. Pay up."

As long as we keep on demanding the latest and greatest, and as long as the computer magazines pander to our desires, software companies are going to keep introducing new goodies and obsoleting the old ones.

Or perhaps InfoWorld is already planning its massive "Save Visual Studio 2005" campaign, which will launch on the day that Microsoft announces THAT software package's end of life.

Or perhaps not. I don't think InfoWorld would get as many webpage hits for a "Save Visual Studio 2005" campaign.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Off on a tangent

As I was thinking about matters of control (see my four part series of posts that begins here), a particular song popped into my head.

I couldn't embed the video when I first thought of it, but I can now.

Joy Division, "She's Lost Control."

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Where to Err? Religion

(Read the Introduction if you haven't already done so.)

I saved religion for last, since (at least theists hold that) it is the most critical. You say the wrong thing in business, you lose your job. You say the wrong thing on politics, you lose your office. You say the wrong thing in religion, you lose your eternal life.

Especially since, taking the perspective of a Protestant, all of the non-Christian religions are downright liars. If you believe that John 14:6 is absolute truth...

John 14:6 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

...then any way to God other than Jesus is by definition heretical.

But what would the effects be if all of the "wrong" religions were suppressed?

First off, it wouldn't work from a human perspective. If you go around and ban Religion X, it is going to immediately become attractive to a certain segment of the population. Trust me, the best way to ensure Muslim domination of a country would be to ban Islam in the country; this would ensure an increase in membership. Same would hold if you were to ban Buddhism, Scientology, Christianity, or whatever.

Second off, it wouldn't work from a Godly perspective. We humans can run around and ban whatever we want, but God has other ideas. Gamaliel explained this:

Acts 5:34-39 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Ah, you say, but you're a Christian and you therefore naturally support the idea of God supporting Christians. But He wouldn't support non-Christians, would he? Well, actually, He would:

Judges 2:11-15 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

And there are plenty of other examples of God using the non-Godly for His own purposes.

Back to my points. Third off, the Body of Christ itself could be destroyed if its opponents were silenced. I don't have the source in front of me, but I believe that it was Halley's Bible Handbook that stated that the worst tragedy in the history of the Christian Church was when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official state religion. This led to excesses in the Church itself and a pride that ironically removed the Church from dependence on God, so that it instead depended upon itself.

So I've come to the conclusion that we Christians should not be shutting up the Mormons and the Jews and the Muslims and the Scientologists or whoever when they claim that they can save themselves, or that someone other than Jesus Christ can save them. To do so would be counterproductive.

The truth will win out soon enough.

Religion - err on the side of MORE information

P.S. No, I didn't talk about trade secrets here. I'm not a Gnostic.


[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Where to Err? Politics

(Read the Introduction if you haven't already done so.)

OK, let's move on to politics.

Again, some of the same "trade secrets" items apply to politics, just as they do for business. In this case, let's look at the most notorious breach of political trade secrets (from Harry Rosenthal):

Watergate started on June 17, 1972, as a Keystone Kops caper. Five men dressed in suits and ties surprised in the act of rifling the office of the Democratic National Committee, their hands sheathed in surgical gloves and their pockets stuffed with sequentially numbered $100 bills....

Strangely, 25 years later nobody is sure what the burglars were looking for. What is known is they were attempting to repair a telephone bug they had installed three weeks before, and they were rifling through files, photographing some.

OK, so let's dispense with the illegal activities. What should politicians say, and what should they not say?

There are many documented instances in which politicians have been accused of saying too much:

Racial slurs cost Ford administration Agriculture Secretary Earl Butz and Reagan Interior Secretary James Watt their jobs. Vice Presidents Spiro Agnew and Dan Quayle had to apologize for ethnic affronts. So did presidential contenders Jesse Jackson and Ross Perot.

Presidents Bush - both father and son - blurted out things they regretted. Both former President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore had to recant statements.

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was shown the door in part because of incendiary ad-libs that rocked financial markets and antagonized Wall Street.

Speaking without thinking is a common malady for those in public life. In some cases, as with Lott's comments suggesting sympathy with one-time segregationist policies, the damage can be severe.

But in some cases, the damage isn't that severe. One can argue that Poland and "no new taxes" cost Ford and Bush 41 their jobs, but those were not the only reasons that Carter and Clinton got elected. More from the article:

In some instances, the utterances - such as Hillary Clinton's March 1991 lament, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies" - turn out to be more politically embarrassing than career-threatening.

When he became Ronald Reagan's running mate in 1980, George H.W. Bush had to renounce calling Reagan's tax-cutting proposals "voodoo economics."

Both Hillary Clinton and George H.W. Bush survived the episodes above. Jesse Jackson still has a constituency, even after "Hymietown."

I'm not too worried about politicians putting their feet in their mouths. Frankly, I'm more worried about the alternative - the cocooned President or candidate whose appearances are so restricted that you don't know what's going on. Take, for example, the redefinition of the term "town hall":

I find it difficult to view Governor Schwarzenegger's visit to Escondido on Sept. 30 [2005] as a town hall meeting, although that was how the governor's office described it. How could it be a town hall meeting when it was held for (as reported in the next day's North County Times) "an invitation-only audience that seemed to dote on Schwarzenegger's every word?" Anyone who has been to real town hall meetings knows they are seldom love fests. In communities that have a long tradition of town hall meetings, the Escondido event would have been viewed as a partisan political rally. By definition, a town hall meeting can't be restricted to one point of view.

This is tantamount to a debate between one person, a dialogue involving one speaker or a panel discussion with one participant.

Do we want our leaders - Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, whatever - to lead their lives behind a firewall of friendly audiences, with the handlers always worrying that the leader may insult someone, somewhere by a random comment?

Frankly, I'd rather be in a situation where politicians say what they're thinking, and if one of their statements draws fire, they either explain themselves or apologize. Much better than the Ozian politician, hidden by the handlers.

Politics - err on the side of MORE information


[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Where to Err? Business

(Read the Introduction if you haven't already done so.)

For alphabetical order and other reasons, I decided to start with business. Again, we're looking at the question, "What level of control is appropriate for a given information source?"

When looking at business, one has to bear in mind the whole "confidential information" scenario. A company may choose for strategic or other reasons to designate some information as confidential. Provided that the "confidential" tag isn't being applied to hide illegal behavior, the company can argue that a completely free flow of confidential information may impede the company's ability to do business, and could harm or bankrupt the company.

Let's look at an example. On October 23, 2003, Michael Hanscom posted a picture of a Microsoft loading dock, along with these comments:

took this shot on the way into work on the loading dock (MSCopy, the print shop I work in, is in the same building as MS’s shipping and receiving). Three palettes of Dual 2.0Ghz G5’s on their way in to somewhere deep in the bowels of Redmond.

Six days later, after Hanscom lost his job, he reflected on the episode:

My posting of a photo taken at the Microsoft campus was (most likely) a breach of contract. The only reason I qualify that with “most likely” is that, due to my particular employment situation (a temp worker contracted to a vendor who had an account at Microsoft), I never went through any Microsoft-specific orientation or “rules and regulations” session, so I can’t say for certain that there is a “no cameras” clause as a condition of working at or for Microsoft....

[I]t may very well be that the picture itself is not what caused Microsoft to decide that I was no longer welcome on their campus....[I]t appears that it was the combination of the picture with the information about what building I was at when I took the picture that prompted them to make the decision that they did.

I think that most of us, including Hanscom, will agree that this type of information should not have been shared.

But what about Joyce "Troutgirl" Park? In her case, her "crime" appears to have been her two blog posts of June 29 and August 14, 2004, in which she referred a Friendster platform rearchitecture that was intended to remove "unacceptably poky site performance." (In a bit of irony, I tried to go to the original posts, rather than my own subsequent post that is linked above, but it took too long to get to them. This could be an issue on my end, however.)

Anyway, Friendster fired Joyce Park, resulting in a non-unanimous condemnation of Friendster from the blogosphere. TDavid was one dissenting voice at the time:

What is the saying: loose lips sink ships? I’m clearly in the minority on this recent Joyce Park AKA troutgirl firing from Friendster because she blogged about her job apparently without a disclaimer or advance permission. I think she should have gotten permission to be doing PR, because she seems to have been hired to do coding, not PR.

Jeffery McManus agreed with the majority:

The clueless choads at Friendster fired my good pal Joyce on Friday. The reason, as near as she can tell, was for judicious blogging about her job. One of the things she did there was replace their Java infrastructure with PHP and she was pretty candid on her blog about the decisions that went into that, but she certainly didn't say anything bad about the company on there....

So Friendster took the "control" road...and look what happened to Friendster. No, I don't think that anyone is claiming that Park's firing led to Friendster's decline, but it's interesting to see what Brady Forrest does cite as causes:

I have always attributed Friendster's decline to two issues. One was its performance issues (well-addressed in the article). The other was that Friendster fought its users. Its users wanted groups and Friendster tried to stop them from making it happen. In Friendster all of the nodes were people. To connect to another person it had to be through other people and their set of relationships. Some people wanted to cut through this and have nodes that represented interests, locations, or celebrities.These were known as Fakesters and were routinely deleted by Friendster for not being real human beings and for connecting formerly disparate nodes of Friendster's social network. It was a chance for Friendster to listen to their users and learn what they wanted instead of sending them off to, Orkut, and eventually MySpace -- all of which allowed groups from the beginning.

In my view, if Friendster had erred on the MORE information side of things, then perhaps the performance issues may not have had such a negative effect on Friendster's user base. If your company had people such as Joyce Park running around saying, "Yes, performance is abysmal, but we're working on it," isn't that better than keeping the cone of silence over your performance issues?

Business - err on the side of MORE information


[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

Where to Err? Introduction

This series of posts (yes, it will be a series) was inspired after thinking about the two posts [1] [2} that I wrote about the Twitter Packs episode.

Specifically, if you look at my second comment to my second post, you'll see that the second point in the second comment to the second post linked to a tweet from @yndygo:

...hate the fact that it's going down paths I feared might happen - good intent doesn't always result in good outcome :(

This relates to a series of tweets from Connie Reece regarding Twitter Packs, all of which pretty much state that unrestrained content, without either moderation or some type of explicit input from the community, is undesirable. For example, here's what Connie said in response to @yndygo's tweet above:

A wiki was the wrong format to do this in. Should have been a blog post that asked for recommendations.

Here's something that Connie subsequently tweeted to Chris Brogan:

No way to tell if self-identified & potential for abuse is too high IMO.

An aside: it doesn't seem to be implemented for the Twitter Packs wiki [CORRECTION: IT IS], but the Twitter wiki does allow you to view all changes, see who made the changes, and see what changes were made. For example, it shows that I made the following addition to the "Platforms" page on January 26, 2008 at 8:44 pm:

One feature that is available (at present) only for mobile SMS users is the trackingfeature:
"Tracking is an SMS or IM only feature that allows you to receive all twitters that match a word you're tracking. For example, if you send track Obama, you will receive all updates that match "Obama." All updates sent from tracking will begin with parenthesis. You can easily stop getting these messages by sending untrack Obama."

Anyway, back to topic. What level of control is appropriate for a given information source? The two extremes each have their own deficiencies:

  • Total control can lead to, well, total control, in which Chris Brogan unilaterally decides to ban New York Yankees fans from the wiki or some such.

  • Total freedom can lead to, well, total freedom, in which nude pictures of Barbara Bush (Dubya's mother, not Dubya's daughter) get plastered all over the wiki.
In such a situation, where you're going to get someone mad, where do you err?

I will address this question in the following posts, looking at the issue from the business realm, from the political realm, and from the religious realm.



[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

The East Midlands Lesson on Engaging Your Customers After a Takeover

Time will tell if deeds match words, but the new owners of the Derby County Football (soccer) Club are saying the right things.

The new American owners of Derby County have vowed to follow Randy Lerner’s lead at Aston Villa and ensure that they do not alienate supporters....

The 45-year-old chairman of General Sports and Entertainment (GSE), whose sports management company has bought a 93 per cent share of Derby, is acquainted with Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr, who have borrowed against Liverpool’s future success and attempted to line up Jürgen Klinsmann as a replacement for Rafael BenÍtez, the manager.

“We’ve got some lessons to learn - to be more in touch with the fan base – and I think we’ll be very good at that,” Appleby, who offered total support to Paul Jewell, the manager, said.

“We believe there’s no reason why we can’t make Derby County an iconic worldwide brand and if we do that, we should be able to generate increased revenue streams, which will enable us to put more resources into Paul and his team. We are absolutely in it for the long term. We will leave English football to the experts.”

Minority owner Adam Pearson compared Liverpool and Aston Villa:

“You’ve got a situation at Liverpool and you’ve got a situation at Aston Villa. One is remarkably successful, the other is going down a different route. When you’re injecting debt into an institution that is Liverpool Football Club, you’re going to have problems. We’re looking at a completely contrary route to that.”

Of course, the new owners have challenges in engaging the fan base, since Derby County isn't doing too well.

Paul Jewell felt the fans were fully justified in venting their anger during Derby County's embarrassing FA Cup display against Championship strugglers Preston North End.

Sections of the crowd booed the team and chants of "what a load of rubbish" rang out as the visitors sailed into a three-goal lead before running out 4-1 winners in the fourth round tie at Pride Park Stadium.

"If I had been paying money to watch that, I would have done exactly the same - I don't think I'd have been as patient as these people have been," said the Rams boss, who has been impressed by the fans' loyalty.

QUESTION: How does Derby County engage their fans to ensure that this loyalty will continue, even when (as expected) Derby County exits the Premier League at the end of this season?

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content

There is no leader of the pack. That's the point.

Let's start with what Chris Brogan told me. Actually, let's start with me. [NOON: LINK CORRECTED.] This is what I said.

@chrisbrogan thanks for http://twitterpacks.pbwiki.... announcement. what is derivation of the term "pack"?

In the course of the @whymommy post, I said this.

I'm still digesting the meaning of the word "pack"...

Chris Brogan clarified:

In this case, "pack" meant like a pack of cards. In non-sports card games, there are things like "Expansion packs" for games like Magic: The Gathering. That's probably where I got that from.

In my younger years, my games were played with twenty-sided dice, so I was unaware of the derivation.

But let's get to some other things that Chris said:

Wow. I don’t think I’ve seen something go from interesting and collaborative to reviled so quickly. Less than 16 hours after its beginnings, there are villagers with pitchforks at the gates of the Twitter Packs project.

But people weren't really worried about the term. People were worried because things were too untidy. Or too tidy. Or something.

So lists are bad? I guess if someone puts someone else on a list with which they disagree, that could be bad. If I’m on the “boring guy” list, I’ll probably feel sad. But I’m not selecting the groupings. I did ask that people try to be objective on the main page.

One list on there has spooked a few people: Identity. On that list, are races and sexual preferences and religions. I’m not sure about that page, but then, I didn’t put it up. I looked and saw that MOST of the edits for that page were done by j.brotherlove. I don’t know him well, but I’ve heard good things about him. I imagine it was done with good intentions.

But forget about how you're labeled. And, for the record, if someone puts me in the "Raving Idiot" list, I am perfectly capable of performing a subsequent edit to remove myself from said list, since I don't rave. Ask my Swiss Eurodaughter.

I seem to have digressed. (Put me on the digressers' list.) People really freaked out about the idea of being in a list or not in a list - or, to put it another way, in an expansion pack or outside of an expansion pack.

People got angry pretty quick, talking about the clique-ish nature of Twitter, of the lists being a clique, of them being exclusionary.

Think about this: ANYONE has the password, ANYONE can edit the list. (Same with Wikipedia, though there are more people there to patrol). That’s the opposite of exclusionary. Anyone can be part of any list they choose to identify with.

Frankly, I'm not a super-huge wiki person (either in the public web or behind the firewall), but I'll make some wiki contributions on occasion, if I believe that I have something to say. Which reminds me - I need help with the Platforms page in the Twitter wiki, in which my goal is to talk about Twitter uses that relate to the platform that you use. I think I have SMS and mobile Twitter web access covered, but are there specific issues in Mac or Linux (or Windows) Twitter access that need to be highlighted?

But I guess I don't understand how Twitter Packs could engender so much hostility. So I read Grant Robertson's take, which led me to Connie Reece's comment:

Race, religion & sexual orientation added to TwitterPacks? Really going too far. Notice: I'm removing my name/company from the wiki.

Obviously I felt differently about the "Identity" list, since I added my name under the "Protestant" category. (Inasmuch as there were only two Protestants before I joined, I felt it wouldn't be prudent to add a "Lutheran" group, or an "LCMS" group.)

Yes, I acknowledge that the "Identity" pack COULD be misused, but as far as I can tell it HASN'T been misused. And even if it WERE misused, the Net tends to be self-correcting about such matters. (Of course, once the Borg ganged up on the misuser, the misuser could then start his or her own wiki listing all the Borg idiots who restrict freedom bla bla bla...dang, this is like Usenet and the Cabal (TINC) all over again.)

With one exception (the Oracle people), I chose not to add people other than myself to the Twitter Packs list, even when I thought they wouldn't object. For example, that same "Identity" page had a "Mormon" category with no Mormons listed. I had recently read Louis Gray's obituary for Gordon B. Hinckley, in which Gray publicly stated he had been a Mormon since birth, so I obviously could have added him, but I didn't.

So why did I add the Oracle people? Should I have created the Database Pack? Does Justin Kestelyn want to be so narrowly defined? Are the database people that I forgot mad that I left them out?

I hate when I second guess myself.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content