But does it get you in the HOV lane?

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

But does it get you in the HOV lane?

Interesting but highly disturbing alternative fuel source...

Mission:Explore Food - Crowd Fund It!

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

My brother is part of the Geography Collective, the team that make the Mission:Explore site and books. The first book won the Hay Festival and National Trust Outdoor Book of the Year in 2011. 

The latest in the series, Mission:Explore Food, is being crowd funded at PleaseFund.us. There are a variety of levels to choose from, most of which will get you a copy of the book and your name in print. You can also get yourself included as an illustration (or surprise a friend). This is going to be a great book for kids and the young at heart. Check out the sample pages (PDF) and sign up as a backer today.

Carr is Wrong: Costolo is Wrong: Wikipedia’s SOPA Blackout is a Great Idea

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I was very happy to see TechCrunch 2.0 launch today as Pando.

Much less happy with Paul Carr’s applause of Dick Costolo’s tweet that Wikipedia's support of Internet Blackout Day is “…just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish”.

Possibly a smart position for Twitter. It would be expensive to shut down for a day, and it’s hard to infringe copyright in 140 characters so of the many sites that depend on user generated content Twitter could very well be the least likely to fall foul of SOPA/PIPA.

Carr says:

And, you know what? He’s right. Whatever your stance on SOPA, closing down a global business to protest an American law is foolish.

It happens to be an American law that seeks to unplug foreign sites from the Internet, even if they’re not breaking any local laws. And then:

Arguing that a one-day closure reminds everyone of the importance of net freedom is like burning down one church to underscore the importance of the First Amendment for all of the others.

Really? Nobody is burning down anything. But if there was a potential law that allowed churches to be repossessed, say on the basis of claims of false scripture from other religions, without requiring a trial and say with a specific exemption that no legal challenge could be brought against any repossession made in ‘good faith’ compliance with the law then it might be worth it for a church or two to self-immolate.

And then:

The trouble with taking a political stance on one issue is that your silence on every issue becomes a stance.

There’s a difference between fighting an existential threat and throwing in the towel on neutrality. I’m very glad to see Wikipedia join the blackout.

Yet more on breaking the Internet

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

January 18th is Internet blackout day to protest against SOPA and PIPA. As I'm writing this post 6,988,056,464 people still don't read ITHCWY, so I'm taking part by blacking out my software site, catfood.net, which gets substantially more traffic.  

Better Paperless

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I've just spent several hours scanning and then shredding tedious statements, medical documents and other nasty paperwork. This is even after I've gone paperless with as many companies as possible. Very tedious, not to mention a monumental waste of time and money.

The companies that are paperless vary in what gets stored, for how long and in what format. And if I ever need some statement from years ago I may not even still have an account. I seem to change medical insurance at least twice a year at the moment. 

How about a common standard for pushing paperless whatevers out to a third party storage service? These could go directly to Evernote, SugarSync, etc and bypass the post-scan-shred cycle of doom. Just send a PDF, a date, a summary and maybe a service type. Make it easy (or mandatory) to opt in when signing up to each new bank account, health insurer, wireless carrier, etc. Make the world a slightly greener and slightly less boring place. 

Misplaced Outrage

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Misplaced Outrage

The video of US Marines urinating on corpses is shocking and counterproductive. But it's not the worst thing that happened to the victims that day. More shocking, and more damaging to the US is that at the same time Guantanamo marked its 10 year anniversary. While the Republican Presidential hopefuls fight over who will be the first to invade Iran. But go ahead, spin up the news cycle for the sideshow.

Photo credit: stroud4341

Farallon Islands

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Farallon Islands

A rare clear day where you can see the Farallon Islands from Fort Funston.

More on breaking the Internet

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I finally got round to actually reading SOPA and PIPA

I make my living from intellectual property, it's my hobby as well. I also used to work at Macrovision, at the time the leading anti-piracy company for Hollywood, software, music and games. I understand the sentiment behind the legislation and agree that theft of IP causes real harm. I'd love to see the pirate sites vaporized. But not at the expense of undermining the fundamental architecture of the Internet. 

The most controversial penalties are removing sites from search results and DNS combined with a shield from prosecution for sites that comply with requests voluntarily or even preemptively. 

It's an insidious infrastructure tax comparable to requiring the phone company from removing you from their directory and taxi drivers to shrug their shoulders and pretend they don't know where you live. It also inverts the DMCA approach of holding sites harmless provided that they respond to take down notices.

Worse still, the legislation would make it illegal to provide a product or service that circumvents these penalties. Because the proposed remedy to piracy is censoring the Internet this equates to making anti-censorship software illegal. 

It's not even like mucking with DNS will be effective. People who want to steal movies will still be able to find them. These are bad laws. Sign a petition and contact your congresspeople to help put the brakes on.

This brings me to a piece on KQED where Rick Cotton from NBC says: "But these new forms of distribution that all of the content providers are embracing cannot compete against stolen, cannot compete against free.

Which sounds like bad news for a company in the business of competing with free. Luckily this isn't true. People happily pay for speed, quality, convenience, features, support, kudos, reputation, collection. Yes, some people will never pay. It's not worth the decreasing returns to go after them both to your company and as with SOPA/PIPA to society as a whole. 

Instead of having Congress censor search results for you grow a pair and use some SEO. Fill the search engines with legitimate ways to access your content. Invent new windows. Treat piracy as market research for unmet needs. 

How about a streaming service for parents who can't get to the cinema that often? I'd happily pay a premium - two tickets, parking, popcorn equivalent - and it's money you're not getting now while I have to wait for a film to eventually show up on Netflix. 

Release raw footage for an episode every season and have a competition for who can cut together the best episode. Embrace the Internet rather than fighting it. 

Don't spend your time and energy and money on SOPA/PIPA and other attempts to fight a battle that can't be won. 

Installation: Early and Often

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jiri Novotny at Dextronet wrote a great post this week on improving installers for micro-ISVs.

One essential that I'd add is writing your installer early and including it as part of the build process. It's the first thing that potential customers see and leaving the installer to the last minute is a huge mistake. You should be testing with a complete installer as pretty much the first milestone in any new project.

For Windows products I'd recommend WiX. It's easy to learn, and easy to include in your build. The latest beta includes Burn, a bootstrapper to install dependencies before the main MSI runs. I'm sick of having to do this part myself and I can't wait for Burn to become a stable part of WiX.

Moon on a Wire

Updated on Saturday, June 23, 2018

Moon on a Wire

Testing posting by email with a picture of the moon from last night...

I've extended BlogEngine.NET to post by email. Not horrible for the very specific case of this blog and a short list of email clients. I shudder to think of extending it to the general emails and different templates.