24 November 2005


Originally uploaded by the earthling.
On Flickr's Guess Where SF group, "the earthling" posted this grea Tow Away picture.

Flickr now has Guess Where NYC, Guess Where LA, Guess Where London, Guess Where SF, and even a group I started, Guess Where Berkeley.

I love these groups. People submit pictures they've taken of local unusual and recognizable places; the other members then try to guess where the pictures were taken.

Following the SF group, and occasionally posting a picture or a correct guess, has made me pay more attention to the city. Now, when I walk down a street, I'm looking for interesting images and also for places that someone might have posted to the group. I notice the details and colors of buildings and alleys.

23 November 2005

Just an ordinary BART commuter

Atypical commuter
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
I took this picture a few months ago on BART on one of the trains out of San Francisco. This guy was asleep and had an electric lawnmower. He must have gotten on before San Francisco, maybe in one of the stations south of the city. I can't imagine him pushing this mower into the Powell St or Montgomery stations.


Originally uploaded by ptufts.
The car was beautiful.

They say that AJAX is in great demand

AJAX is in demand
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
AJAX is the hot programming buzzword right now. It's a good way to create a responsive application without putting too much burden on either the client or the server.

In the tech world, the term AJAX is used so heavily, I'm sometimes surprised to see it in other contexts.

07 November 2005

US Tech Productivity to drop precipitously

Amazon now lists a 212 DVD set of every Star Trek movie and TV show ever made released on DVD (no Star Trek Animated Series for you). It goes on sale Nov 15.

For people who call in sick for a 24-hr marathon or a convention, this release is going to be a serious blow to their accumulated personal days. Amazon doesn't list the total number of hours, but it's got to be over 100hrs of Star Trek goodness (and badness, lest we forget Star Trek V).

04 November 2005

FEMA director emails during New Orleans crisis (pdf)

A congressman published some of former FEMA-director Michael Brown's emails during the crisis. Here's an exchange between Brown and one of his people on the ground (pdf):

From: Marty Bahamonde
Date: Wed Aug 31

Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical. Here some (sic) things you might not know.

Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food and water, Hundreds still being rescued from their homes....we are out of food and running out of water at the dome ...

Brown's response? "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"


Full email here: brown.emails.pdf (pdf)

03 November 2005

Free the Dictionary

Free the Dictionary
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Wikipedia spoke at UC Berkeley this afternoon. Wikipedia is now the largest encyclopedia. In terms of number of entries and number of words, it is larger than the Encyclopedia Britannica and Microsoft Encarta combined, and has more readers than the web sites for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, the LA Times, combined.

The Wikipedia runs on 120 servers across multiple data centers. The main one is in Florida, with the others in the Netherlands, France, and South Korea.

All of the hardware is managed by volunteers, with no formal schedule and no hierarchy. All coordination is done via IRC -- whoever's on takes part. In an emergency, the admins have each other's phone numbers.

Like most open-source projects, there's a core set of users who do most of the work. 615 users (0.7%) account for 50% of the edits. I believe 0.7% means of all editors. Anonymous users account for 18% of all edits.

Wales says that one of the key features of the Wikipedia is real-time peer review. The recent changes page is watched by hundreds of people daily, and users have created tools to monitor these feeds and automatically detect likely problem edits.

He then talked about the decision-making process, pointing to the Votes for Deletion page. While users "vote" for whether or not to delete a page, the vote is actually a dialog where they come to an understanding of whether the page has merit or not. The vote isn't automated or formally counted -- there's no 2/3rds majority rule -- instead the process is flexible and reasonable.

Wales says that almost every programmer who sees this wants to automate it, but doing that would lose the human dialog and community while at the same time making the process easier to game.

01 November 2005

The photo so nice, they had to print it twice

Alan Greenspan is so photogenic, not only does he makes the covers of Smart Money and The Economist, but it's the same photo.

I can hear the editors doing the "D'Oh!" smack now.