March 31, 2014
Duh Bums!

The Atlantic has a great map showing all of America’s favorite baseball teams by county. The downside? The NY Mets don’t even lead in their own back yard! If you ever wanted to see gentrification’s impact in stark relief, there’s your proof! REAL New Yorkers root for the Mets! Duh Bums!

March 29, 2014
A Couple of Long Over-Due Posts

I’ve been telling a lot of folks on line that I was going to offer my $.02 on a wide array of topics for months, and so far I have, sadly, failed to deliver on that promise. Tonight, I’m going to see if I can get the wheels turning again.

My vintage 2006 Macbook Pro finally died last week, and my dear friend Adam Weissman was kind enough to loan me the Toshiba laptop I had spent the previous week rebuilding for him after it’s hard drive died and almost took his files with it. I got it up and running on Ubuntu booted from a keydrive, recovered his files, and then swapped out the old drive (bad boot sector was the problem) and installed a spanking new SanDisk SSD for him, and a fresh install of Ubuntu to replace his old windows install.

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that Linux’s share of the desktop has almost doubled over the past 18 months, mostly since Eric Snowden’s stunning NSA revelations. While I have my doubts about Ubuntu’s purity, I have none at all concerning my forecast that the long-predicted march of Linux to desktop/laptop prominence has finally begun. Frankly, no one trusts the big vendors like Microsoft, Apple, or Google to protect them, and while I also don’t expect Ubuntu to be any better, the odds that some random coder will bust Ubuntu if they stray from my trust is vastly greater than it is vis-a-vis the afore mentioned vendors.  Likewise, both MS and Apple seem to have lost their knack for putting stuff I want into a new OS release and seem hell-bent on taking away the very stuff that made me use their stuff instead of Linux.

That brings to my first over-due post: What I would tell Microsoft’s new CEO.

First off, get over Windows. The age of OS significance is over. It’s been over for a while, it’s just that no one at MS has noticed until now. Stop treating Windows as the crown jewel of your product line; it isn’t. Office and Back Office are. Think about how to grow them instead of how to grow or even save Windows. If  sacrificing Windows will save Office, do it. I’m not saying it will, just don’t be shy about it.

Second, you blew Windows Mobile. Forget it. Don’t even try to fix that, you can’t. Apple owns the connoisseur market, and Google owns all the rest, so forget windows mobile. Instead, I’m going to offer a crazy idea: You’ve dabbled in hardware more and more the past decade, go all the way: Make a phone with open ROM’s. Sure, have Windows Mobile as the default OS, but don’t lock the end user out of changing that. You’re company understood this back in the 1980’s, and it’s what made you the 9000 pound gorilla of the 90’s: It was customer choice then, and it’s customer choice now. Give me a phone I can completely sterilize, and install the OS of my choice on, and I will give you my $$$$. Really. See my lead-in to this article about Linux’s growth and why it’s growing all of a sudden. It’s trust. I don’t trust ANYONE anymore. Eric Snowden, in one interview, was asked if encryption was of any use in thwarting the NSA spies, and he said crypto was good “but the end points are usually weak”. Now what the hell does that mean? It means the device running the crypto is vulnerable. In the case of a tablet or phone, that should be obvious. I have no idea what’s down in the bowels of IOS, and Google has come right out and confessed that they built NSA spyware into Android since the late 2k’s at least. How can I buy one of these products? I’m an activist, for crying out loud! As a pillar of the Occupy movement, I am technically a low-level terrorist in the eyes of the NSA. Of COURSE they’re spying on me!

Now for the moment, I live with that, but I don’t like it, and I certainly won’t pay for it. What I WILL pay for is a phone I can program all the way down to the hardware level that I can buy for under $500 without a contract at Best Buy. There’s an open source version of Android out on the intertubes somewhere, without any of Google’s code in the bowels, and I can run that. Or I can run Ubuntu Mobile. See, once you give up on Windows, your possibilities are broad. Windows ISN’T your foundation, it’s your albatross.

Another example: Remember Embrace and Extend? I do. None the less, it’s been so long since I saw you do it, that I almost said “Pepperidge Farm remembers” instead of “I do”. Well, when you end support for XP later this year, you’re going to see Linux’s share double again. Believe me. It’s not a big deal, but it’s significant. They’ll go from 1.5% of the market to maybe 3%. Right about where Apple was a little more than a decade ago. Today, if we count IOS, they are neck-and-neck with you. Whod’a thunk it? None the less, it is so. So when the tiny scratch grows to a modest abscess, I have a suggestion: Lance it. Turn the trickle into a flood. A trickle will slowly bleed you to death, but a flood you can surf on. That’s what you need to do to regain the lead: surf on your own lifeblood. Specifically, embrace and extend WINE.

Really, WINE is the killer Linux app. It’s an open source project with some commercial packagers, but it’s the thing that made Linux a potential player. I can painlessly move from Windows to Linux without sacrificing anything but….Office. Your life blood. Your killer app. That’s all I have to leave behind, because Office doesn’t run real well on WINE. So go them one better. Make your own Linux compatibility suite. Charge for it. Make it better than WINE. Make it faster, cleaner, and solve the windows malware problem, which is the one bad thing about WINE: It brings all the Windows malware with it. Solve that. Buy out Avast, and build it into MINE (Microsoft Is Not an Emulator), and like I said, charge for it. You know the drill, or you once did: Free for the first 6 months, $20 for the next 6 months, $50 for a few months more, and then only available as part of Office for Linux, for what ever you charge for Office these days, and not a penny more. They not only get Office, they get a supported, reliable way to run all the legacy Windows code. You may lose the Os share, but you’ll keep, or even grow, your application share.

Look, I spent a lot of the 2K’s doing SOHO support. I had plenty of people pay me to re-install Windows on their beloved old Thinkpad or Dell laptop. It was a job I craved, because it paid really well: Lots of billable hours, my lifeblood. Why all those billable hours? One word: Drivers. Even with IBM’s magnificent support web (compared to any other PC vendors, theirs is heaven), with links to every driver for every machine they ever made, almost always up-to-date, it was an all-day affair to install a virgin copy of Windows on a virgin HD. So many drivers! How that must be costing you to support all that different hardware! CUT your losses. Remember Word Perfect? I do. It was my baby. I’m a writer, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I LOVED WP. It was ecstasy! It was also my first word processor. Oh, how I  miss it still! WP dominated in the 80’s because they had drivers for every printer known to man, and no one else even came close. Then, Apple comes along with postscript, and you come along with Word, and within less than a decade they were dead in the water. No more drivers! Cool!

Well, Ubuntu has you dead. No drivers. Installing Ubuntu is a 30 minute affair. It installs all the drivers it will ever need. Perfectly, without headaches or swapping DVD’s or whatever. It’s so easy! Like postscript. It mounts every file system known to man, right out of the, uh, USB stick. Can you see what I’m getting at here? Cut your losses. Stop wasting your life trying to hold on to the dying pool of OEM’s, they’re old news, and you will be too if you don’t get smart. MINE is postscript.

Yes, Linux still has some weaknesses. It lacks some crucial apps. I spent most of today hunting everywhere for a decent blog editor that could talk to Tumblr, and there isn’t one. But from your perspective, that shouldn’t be a weakness, it’s an opportunity! And it’s an opportunity that SOMEONE will pounce on if you don’t. The death of XP will motivate a lot of developers. It should motivate you.

Finally, turn the Xbox into a real PC. Bundle a copy of VPC with the latest version of Windows on every Xbox, but again, leave it open. Let me install what I want and let it talk to all the Xbox stuff. Win my heart, earn my trust. I’ll give you $$$$ if you do.

Nuff said.

Now, to the subject of my next overdue post.

Facebook.
Why the hell do I still put up with this abomination? Some days, it is genuinely agonizing! I hate Mark Zuckerberg (actually, I have no idea if I hate Mark Zuckerberg, I’ve never met him and I don’t like to hate people, but a year ago he was an apologist for the NSA spy program, and now he’s crying that it’s killing his business. Do I have to say right out that I have little regard for people who think it’s just fine to spy on innocent citizens except when it cuts into their bottom line? I didn’t think so.), I hate Facebook’s habit of labeling a disproportionate fraction of off-site links to progressive organizing sites as security hazards (they’re BLOGS, Zuck, not viruses!!!!), and taking down radical left content while making not so much as a boo about right-wing militia sites and white supremacist hate group’s content?

I detest the overwhelming hypocrisy of telling me I own my content but not providing any means for me to download my content and keep an off-line back up, nor any organized method for accessing my previous posts or comments I’ve made on other’s posts. Overall, I can’t think of any other website I’ve ever used that treats me like such dirt while me and my nearly 1000 friends are producing the very content he sells and providing him with “eyeballs” he can use to beef up his ad rates. Mark, me and mine have made you rich! Stop treating us like criminals! You’re as bad as the NSA!

Paradoxically, however, I love Facebook. I have a whole new life because of it. I’ve made a lot of real friends, and I’ve built a really robust community around myself and my friends. I’ve re-established contact with people I feared lost forever, I’ve found old friends, old lovers, people I hadn’t seen since childhood, others I went to high school with, the smarter people from OWS, people I thought I’d fallen out with have put aside old quarrels with me and I with them, I’ve fallen in love with the people I know there, and that’s what makes me so loath it —- Mark is using my love to hold me hostage AND I DO NOT LIKE BEING A HOSTAGE!!! GRRRRRRRRR!!!! How DARE you give me back my oldest and dearest friends, my lost loves and my social life and use it chain me to your wall?

So that tells me something about Zuck. He’s a cruel cold fish. No one with a heart could be this Machiavellian. In spite of being the designated king of social networking, I bet he’s a really lonely guy. I can’t imagine someone like that having very many real friends.

A friend of mine started working on a project a little more than a year ago. When I heard about it, I was excited; the guy is a real genius programmer, and in actual fact, he’s more responsible, IMHO, for the rise of social networking than Zuck. The difference is Dave Winer, the guy I’m talking about, builds very open systems. He was (and is) one of THE big advocates for RSS, and interop between web apps. He’s really big on open standards and synergy, and when I saw what he was working on, the firs thing I thought was “At last! The long awaited escape route from Facebook!”

The site is called smallpicture.com, and it’s main product is a web-based outliner called Fargo. You should check it out, it’s a really great app. There’s a new version called fargo2, which I haven’t tried, but I know Dave, so I know it’s going to be good. Dave doesn’t do crap.

The thing is, I haven’t been spending much time using it. At first, I couldn’t get the menuing to work right in my weird browser (at the time I was using OmniWeb), so I’d have to open Firefox every time I want to go there (now, that’s my fault and, by OmniGroup’s own admission, theirs. It’s a bug in OmniWeb, not in Fargo), but the other reason Is that the blogging component went off-line forever just as I was getting the hang of the editor.  It’s not Dave’s fault, he was dependent on another web app, and the company providing it went belly up, taking a whole big chunk of Dave’s program with it. I had been proselytizing Fargo to my journalist friends on Facebook as the alternative to everything we were all griping about (see my above comments), and just as I was thinking it was time to start prepping for the great Facebook exodus, the most important component vanished.

Now, I haven’t used Fargo 2. I will, but I haven’t yet. I’m SURE Dave has solved this, since blogging is his middle name. However, I don’t think it’s the great  Facebook killer. I like it, I’ll use it, and now that I’m mostly on Linux, I don’t have problems with the menus any more, but it’s not the app I’m dying for. Let me tell you what is:

First of all, it has no external dependencies. It has hooks that will let it talk to other apps, and let them talk to it, but it’s self-contained. None of it’s critical capabilities depend on an external resource.

Second, it’s all on the front-end. That is, the whole thing runs in the browser, and there is no dependency to a server, other than to host the web-based app. I know, the impossible app. Well, maybe not. I’ve thought for a long time about a torrent app that runs entirely in the browser, and blogs that live in the swarm. I know that’s no mean feat, but quite a few people are working on torrent sharing, and I know Dave was talking about possibly using one such, called, of course, torrentShare, instead of DropBox that now uses, or did. I’ll go on a bit about how this might work later in this post, but I want to go right to….

Third, it has privacy. Now, there’s no point in a social app that requires a key to even read it; one of the things I don’t like about Facebook is that you have to register to read anything. No thank you. But chats, and private feeds should be lockable. Tight enough that there’s a fair chance the NSA can’t read  my private stuff if I don’t want to let them. I can’t emphasize this enough: Privacy, trust, and freedom are the killer app. THE killer app.  Now, the old chestnut: Freedom that depends upon the good will of another is no freedom at all. I have freedom if I can go and take my stuff with me, all of it, including my relationships. Which brings us to:

Fourth: Everything in my account stores locally as well as in the swarm. Frankly, I no longer trust the cloud. It has betrayed me once too often. It has stranded me, and it has abused me. It takes me for granted. The swarm has no owners, the swarm has no server farms, the swarm is people like me, not people like Zuck. People like Zuck hate and fear the swarm. That’s why the swarm is my friend.

Fifth: It has discover-ability, that is, like Facebook, it can find the people I know for me, and recommend people I don’t know but might like to. That’s something I love about Facebook. It’s brought so many wonderful people into my life. Mind you, so did the blogosphere, which I also love, but no where near as many or as much. The way Facebook shows you stuff in your feed from people who are friends of friends is perhaps it’s best feature. This feature is what let me build a community of  just under a thousand in less than a six months.

Sixth: Guessability. What I mean by this is the ability to go right to using the app without having to read any documentation. The way it works should be obvious. Familiar. I’ve never read a single page of iphone docs, and I nailed everything about it in under 3 minutes. Facebook took maybe 20. I’m not suggesting there are no docs at all, but they’re there for subtle features. The core functionality is explainable in a couple paragraphs, no more. A lot of my friends describe themselves as “techno-morons”. Now, I think a lot of that is psychological. Some people get frustrated easy and expect to fail. However, the best stuff I’ve ever used, from the original Mac, to the first blogging tools (Dave’s newspage suite back in the 90’s) have required nearly no explanation.

Seventh:  It  should be highly customizable. One more thing I dislike about Facebook is the cookie cutter quality of it’s pages. I want more. Tumblr doesn’t do a bad job of this. Let me at the code, at least the portion that defines the overall look of my page. Hey, we didn’t call them home pages for nothing you know! That page IS my home on the intertubes, let me decorate it MY way, thank you.

Eighth: Livestreaming MPEG4. I hate Flash. It was a necessity back in the low-bandwidth era, but it isn’t anymore. MPEG is sharper, and it’s saveable. I keep a running clippings file of stuff I consider important and/or controversial. How many times has a video clip vanished without a trace because someone threatened someone else with litigation? Too many times. It’s why I don’t like ebooks: The distributer can delete my books without my knowledge or permission. If you really want to talk Orwellian distopianism, this is the epitome of  thought policing. NO. Give me a live stream that I can save to disk when it’s done streaming, or even as it’s streaming. I like to keep historical records. Give me saveability of everything I read or watch.

Ninth: Searchability. Not just my feed, all of them. Let me find what I posted, whether on my feed or someone else’s. Let me find who else posted on that topic. Give me some way to determine who follows what topics. Let me have both a machine searchable and visually searchable index.

Tenth and last: A piece of the action. I make Facebook money. Someone like George Takei, with his 250,000 followers, is making them HEAPS of money. Give me a cut. I’m fine with it being as little as 1%, but pay me if you’re going to spew advertising all over my home. Somehow, corporations, and not just web corporations, have decided that customers are free billboards. Nike, Apple, lots of other, splash their logo’s conspicuously all over everything they sell. I can’t buy their product without becoming part of the sales force.  If I’m going to work for you, pay me.

Now some may wonder how to make money with such a business model. I have a few ideas. One way is by being the guarantor of availability and the custodian of records. With a torrent based feed, the more popular you are, the more people are hosting you. On day one, however, you have no subscribers, and no one is hosting you but you. Put you’re phone in your pocket or shut off your laptop, and you disappear from the web. Not good. So revenue stream one is that registered users get free hosting, up to a size limit. More than that is $$$, but reasonable. Assume I’m on a low budget. Please.

Another way is the old-standby, advertising.  I’ll be happy to carry most ads, after all, I’m getting paid for it. If I want to ditch the ads, I have to pay for it. Simple enough.

Finally, custom DNS. For a fee, I can use my domain name, not yours.

So there’s a money making model for this. I’d do it myself if I had the cash. Simply, the swarm is the next big thing, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’d bet my life on it, because after all, freedom is the killer app. It always has been, and now more than ever.

January 22, 2014
Well, now that the snow storm is over….

Question: with Chris Christie in full-on self-destruct mode, is there now any reason for supporting a nafta/gatt/tpp supporter, former Walmart board member, and former Monsanto attorney (hillary Clinton,in case you hadn’t guessed already)  for president? I mean, the guys who are left, even Jeb Bush, are push-overs. If there was ever an election cycle to vote your aspirations instead of your fears, 2016 is gonna be it. Think about it.
 
 

January 1, 2014
Right Wing to Lobbyists: "Don’t Support Grayson"

alangraysonemails:

image

“It’s a Deal – No Help for Grayson”

This is so weird that I can barely believe it myself, but it’s true. Right-wingers are contacting lobbyists – yes, lobbyists! – and directing them not to support my reelection campaign. Which is why I need your support before our year-end…

November 20, 2013
Following on the NSA vs. Geeks theme

 I just started reading this, so perhaps I’m in for a rude surprise somewhere before the end of the article, and shouldn’t be posting it just yet, but he’s just making sooooooo much sense. Please read this, and then let’s do something, perhaps?

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-11/18/peter-sunde-hemlis-political-apathy

I think perhaps America needs a Pirate Party, too. Not to run presidents, but to make policy and endorse candidates who support them, and un-elect those who oppose them. Kinda like the Working Families Party or something. We could run congressional candidates in areas with no other good options, support major party progressives when we don’t have the opportunity for a realistic candidate of our own. Be flexible, and thereby, be effective. 

I’ve been having a lot of talks with Erik Tinker on FedBook about doing some radical electoral work. I’m not sure whether I’m ready to commit to it, but I’m certainly ready to start expanding the conversation. The SEIU/FDL hegemony that funded much of OWS and which, with DailyKos, dominates the NetRoots movement these days just doesn’t seem to get the issues right with the importance of an open internet and freedom to share. These are sideshows for them (which is why they still send money to Al Franken, who co-sponsored SOPA and CISPA), and we geeks are their useful idiots. It’s time we did something focused on our own needs and agenda, not to the exclusion of the people I mentioned above, but to make sure our concerns are represented. 

Just some thoughts. Anyone up to take this on?

November 16, 2013
A thought about Steve Jobs

I don’t know if it’s common knowledge hereabouts, but while Steve Jobs was alive, he refused repeated requests from the NSA for access to Apple’s data. I’ve often wondered how even he was able to put them off. 

I imagine he probably insisted that if they wanted access to Apple’s servers they had to develop their own app at their own expense in-house using only Apple’s frameworks, and complying with every one of Apple’s best practices and guidelines, and then submit it for approval to the app store, which would either approve or deny the app according to criteria known only to Apple. 

Finally, they would have to pay for all this themselves.

I think that would have worked, don’t you?

November 6, 2013
Bill De Blasio’s Big Win

First, my public congratulations and heart-felt sigh of relief at Bill De Blasio’s landslide victory! Hooray! We are free, free, at last!!!

Ahem!

What I’d like to bring to everyone’s attention is an interesting little data scrap. I think it’s worthy of note that De Blasio’s landslide numbers are nearly identical to the numbers for who benefits and does not receive direct economic benefit from wall street, here in NYC, and also the NY populations’ approval/disapproval numbers for OWS in Oct. 2011.

Keep that ratio in mind - 75/25 - it’s going to be a number you’ll be seeing a lot of in NYC in the months and years to come, I thinks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sharpen my guillotine. There’s lots of work to do now that the Guiliani-Bloomberg error is over.

 

September 2, 2013
Why we’re protesting at the Japanese Consulate today

I know. It’s labor day. Why protest on labor day? Well, right now as we speak, hundreds of gallons per day or radioactive water is pouring into the pacific ocean, containing radioactive isotopes that will remain deadly for hundreds of years, and it’s not just going to stay in the pacific, either.

There really is just one ocean. It seems separate until you look at the bottom of your world map and see this thing called the southern ocean. It’s a body of water that connects all the world’s oceans and circles around the antarctic. Slowly but surely, the wastes from Fukushima are swirling into it, like cream into iced coffee. From there, it mixes into the atlantic, the indian ocean, etc…. It’s in the south china sea. It’s everywhere, just more in the pacific, for now.

2/3 of the world’s protein supply comes from the sea. Contaminate the ocean, and you contaminate the planet. Birds eat the anchovies and herrings. Then their droppings go into the lakes and streams inland. Fish in the streams and lake eat the droppings. Then bears and other wildlife eat the fish. Then they leave droppings and urine. Plants grow on that. Soon, much sooner than you think, the water coming out your tap will have strontium 90 and cesium 137 dissolved in it. This hasn’t happened yet, but it will, unless we stop the flow of radioactive waste into the pacific now.

In all fairness, Japan is in a difficult situation trying to do just that. No country on earth, truthfully, has the resources to handle something like this alone. Chernobyl completely overwhelmed the Soviet Union, and may have been the straw that broke USSR’s back. It took international resources to bring Chernobyl under control, and it still isn’t really over, even 30+ years later. 

TEPCO, the partially state-owned utility company that operates Fukushima, has spent the past two years protecting it’s bottom line, and not protecting the people of Japan, or the pacific ocean. TEPCO has repeatedly misled the public as to the state of the disaster, as to the state of the clean up, and as to their competency in continuing to deal with the reactors and their awful effluents. It’s time for Japan’s government to take control of the disaster away from TEPCO, and move quickly to secure the spent fuel rods in dry cask storage, and to staunch the flow of water into the pacific. No other tasks should have higher priority. While we empathize with Japan’s predicament, the first law of disaster management is to create no additional casualties - this is exactly what TEPCO has failed to do. The spent fuel rods are still precariously balanced above the destroyed reactor cores, poised for even a minor earthquake to send them crashing into the ruined reactor core, igniting an even greater disaster. Japan must act immediately to secure this hazard. They must act immediately to staunch the flow of contaminated water. We will continue to protest at the consulate until they do so. Please join us! It’s your own life and the lives of your children and every living thing on the planet that’s at stake.

June 21, 2013
Who’s up for an awesome SUPER MOON party?

I’m throwing a bash! Of course, it’s a byo bash, but it’s going to be a blast! 

I’ll be getting there around sundown, and I’ll probably stay till around 1 AM. 

Tomorrow night is going to be the biggest full moon you’ve ever seen, and of course there’s no night to party like a night of the full moon!

SO, a bunch of us are going to go out to Floyd Bennet Field/Gateway National Recreation area to watch this phenomenon on the beach front. Here’s google map showing how to get there from Kings Plaza Shopping center:


View Larger Map

Anyway, to get there from Manhattan or other parts of Brooklyn:

Take the Flatbush Avenue Bus (B41) to Kings Plaza and change for the q35. Then walk about 1/2 mile to where we’ll be. 

If you’re biking, or coming from Manhattan, take the Q train to Parkside Avenue and either change for the B41 bus (at Flatbush and Parkside) or bike it from there. 

It will be an awesome evening.

June 15, 2013
Istanbul under assault again by Erdogan forces

My buddy Memet is in the middle of it once again:

 
They waited until children and the elderly would be in the park in celebration.

They declared that Gezi would be untouched until tomorrow.

They waited for the Iran elections so the foreign press would be busy covering something else!

They started the gassing from the first aid tents.

They do not allow any members of the press in.

Now, Right NOW, the trees of Gezi Park are providing cover for some of the worst crimes to humanity Istanbul has seen.
 

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