Sunday, October 30, 2011

Intertubes refreshed...

I've switched hosting plans at 1and1 from Windows to Linux, and in so doing I lost a lot of customization related to domains I have for various ideas. is back on the air, though there isn't much there right now...  here's the latest writeup which I posted in a comment to a story by Dave Winer over at Scripting News.

A while ago, I came up with the idea of a "tube" of stuff (at the time the internet was being described as a "set of tubes") and thus begat

The basic idea is to have a metadata file which keeps track of the files that belong to it, and synchronizes those changes to / from other copies of the tube. Example use cases include being able to share all of my photos (currently 336,637 files in 460 Gigabytes), in a sane manner... like this...

I give someone a copy of the tube containing all of my photos, it's basically just a metafile, taking a few k to hold the root information, and a revocable key which allows the holder of that copy to access some or all of the original tube. This gives them access via an api (hand waving here...) to get a list of all the files, and pointers to resources such as a thumbnail connector which can generate arbitrary sized thumbnails and send those instead of the originals.

Once the person I've given a copy of my tube has it, they can start to browse, at first they just see the list of folders, then they could start to dig (assuming an internet connection on both ends)... they would see thumbnails once they went into a folder (retrieved using their copy of the tube's key), which would then be stored locally, or however their policy decided to handle it.  If they liked a thumbnail, they could get larger sizes, or the original.

Once they actually view the photo, they might wish to tag it, add notes, etc.... this new metadata would be synced back to the original tube, if they had the proper permissions. (why not, it can be revoked?)

Thus, I could share all my photos, and not have to give someone a 500GB drive and pray they were willing to wade through it.

This concept of a shared metadata pool extends the idea of RSS (as I understand it) to be a two way communicating container of objects AND their metadata. (The metadata is the valuable part that always gets lost when you have to push single files to people)

This could work for any number of types of files, video, music, documents, etc. It would just be some text files and API calls, it would be totally transport agnostic. Sneaker Net, TCP/IP, HTTP(S), FTP, BitTorrent, whatever works.

I think that you, Dave, have the wisdom to push something like this past the crazy idea stage towards something that people could actually implement and use... I'll keep the idea alive as much as I can as well.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1% above the law, NOT the top 1% pay grade

There seems to be a lot of (deliberate?) confusion in the media as to what the Occupy Wall Street movements around the world are about... here's a reply I posted to one person's story about it.

No, it’s not about money, it’s about CRIMINALITY…. the blatantly unequal application of the law for the use of state insiders against outsiders.
Trying to make this an income issue is an interesting propaganda tactic being pushed by higher levels of the media, etc… but doesn’t reflect the views of anyone who thinks about it for 2 seconds, as you so forcefully pointed out.
When Bankers sell investments they know are going to implode to their “clients” and then make big bets that the implosion will happen, nothing happens outside of a small fine that might be 1% of the profit they made, if it ever does happen to get investigated.
Corporations got a special law passed which makes it impossible to find out what they are using in industrial quantities when they hydro-fracture the bedrock under the water tables of our nation, yet when an Amish farmer tries to sell “raw milk”, which used to be commonplace, the get a swat raid.
It’s about 1% being above the law, not the top 1% pay grade.

A letter to the editor that I hope helps...

I just emailed this to '', and I hope it helps them relate to the internet better...

I have some friendly advice, and I hope this helps you make sense of some things you might not have expected...
It's now getting lots of inbound links from the internet, bypassing all of the navigational structure that your regular readers would use to find replies, updates, etc.
If the opinion of your paper hasn't changed.... say so in an update, if not, you really need to add it to this story... at the same URL, not a new one.
As it stands, everyone is going to assume you have no sympathy at all for those harmed last night.
Like I said, I hope this helps.

More censorship on the way

Well, the 0.1% are at it again, they've decided we need to pay for the White Album a few hundred more times, and are willing to destroy the internet to make it happen with a new "Protect IP" act.

I'm tired of worrying about this stuff, and I've come to realize that we are going to win in the end, as this will just take a few more bricks out of what is left of the "consent of the governed" they still have left as a foundation in Washington DC.

We're nearing a tipping point, it's going to be long and ugly, and you can't count on winning.... just worry about your survival, and helping your friends and family make it through... just like during the first Depression.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting for a Lytro

Ever since I heard of Lightfield Photography, I've wanted IN. You can focus through objects, focus after the fact, and a lot more that I haven't discovered yet. While I've wanted my own microlens camera to do experiments, the cost was just too far out there for me.

So I did what any good hacker would do, I started experimenting with my single camera from multiple view points. At first the photos really sucked, but they've been getting better over the years.

You can see some my virtual focus images (which is the end result of all this) in this gallery at Flickr.

SO, The Lytro camera has finally been announced. I'm ordering one as soon as I can.

It's a consumer appliance version of a camera, far from what I expected, but also FAR cheaper than I expected, and much more user friendly.

The big feature of this camera is that it captures a "light field", which is to say that it takes multiple photographs of the same scene from slightly different angles, all at the same instant. The raw data is then stored for later processing (later being milliseconds or years)... to render it into a 2d image along a selected focal plane.

They chose a configuration which doesn't require any mechanical focus system, which means you can grab images as soon as the CPU in the camera is ready... no hunt and seek focus in the dark. This is a big time plus if you've been frustrated with the shortcomings of "contrast detect" focus used on almost every "point and shoot" compact digital camera.

There are a lot of design choices that I don't get, but I don't have one, and I haven't used one, so I'll have to wait and see how well it actually works.

It will be fun, even if we have to wait until version 2.0 of this technology.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Snitch who was a cover story

I don't believe the story about the Guy who Snitched on the Occupy Wall Street protests...I have a different theory...

I think there is a much simpler explanation, that we're not supposed to figure out, because if we do, we can route around the damage, which would tip the scales towards justice, and we can't have that now, can we?

Remember Echelon?
How about Carnivore?
How about the secret rooms at the Telephone Company offices?

The Onion (which is a satirical publication)... has the best illustration of this in their story about the CIA funding Facebook.

(Update) - I think they simply scan everyone's communication for keywords which indicate dissent, and then dig in closer... it's quicker and cheaper, and more effective than random human offers of information.

Total Information Awareness is what they used to call it...

If my thesis is correct, and this is the result of monitoring and not human factors, instead of just mis-trusting each other, we simply need to encrypt our communications, and prevent this system from working against us while maintaining its advantages of quicker communication.

It's a theory... and words are cheap...   take this with a grain of salt....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Chicago Ban's cellphone use while bicycling

Chicago has banned the use of cell phones while actually riding a bicycle.. (not at rest).

Here is the source, which I include a copy of below. I'm a big believer in linking to the source documents, which nobody in the media is apparently willing to spend the time to find.

Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety
September 8, 2011 City Council



SECTION 1. Chapter 9-52 ofthe Municipal Code of Chicago is hereby amended by adding
a new Section 9-52-110, as follows:

9-52-110 Use of communication devices while operating a bicycle.

(a) For purposes of this section only, the following definitions apply:

"Communication device" means a device, including but not limited to a wireless telephone,
personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, which is designed to transmit and
receive electronic messages.

"Electronic message" means a self-contained piece of digital communication that is
designed or intended to be transmitted between communication devices. An "electronic message"
includes, but is not limited to electronic mail, a text message, an instant message, a command or
request to access an internet site, or talking or listening to another person on the telephone.

"Using" means composing, reading, sending or listening to an electronic message.

(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, no person shall operate
a bicycle while using a communication device. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (d) of
this section, any person who violates this subsection shall be subject to the fine range set forth in
section 9-4-020.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to a:

(1) law enforcement officer or other emergency responder, when on duty and acting
in his official capacity;

(2) person using a communication device with a "hands free" device or in a voice-
activated mode, which allows the person to talk into and listen to the other party
without the use of hands;

(3) person using a communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an
emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel
during the emergency situation; or

(4) person using a communication device while maintaining a bicycle in a stationary

(d) If a violation of subsection (b) of this section occurs at the time of a traffic accident, the
person operating the bicycle may be subject to a fine not to exceed $500.00 which shall be
assessed in addition to the fine provided by section 9-4-020.

SECTION 2.  This ordinance shall take effect after its passage and publication.

Margaret Laurino
Alderman, 39th Ward