If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Bolts of Fabric

I used to work in Woodley, a small town on the outskirts of Reading in the UK. The town center has a pub, a café, a newsagent, etc. It also had something truly remarkable – two shops that combined fabric and general haberdashery with pet supplies.

I never found out exactly how this came to be. I imagine that there was a fabric shop and a pet shop. The fabric shop was struggling and decided to start selling some dog food. The pet shop responded in kind. Both businesses ended up with no real focus, chasing the competition instead of doing one thing really, really well.

Either that or there was a really messy divorce…

Catfood: WebCamSaver and PdfScan

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two new Catfood releases.

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.10 adds support for simultaneous updates in 4 and 16-cam modes. The WebCam Directory has also been completely overhauled. WebCamSaver is a rather voyeuristic screensaver that lets you watch live feeds from around the world. As well as a screensaver the feed is available in my World Webcams Google Gadget.

Catfood PdfScan 1.20 follows hot on the heels of 1.10. The main update is showing a preview of each scanned page which is super handy if you always forget which way pages are supposed to go in your document feeder. Mentioning no names…

Twitter: Put some status in status updates

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Paragraph Symbol

Give me an extra character for every year that I’ve been with Twitter.

Another extra character for every tweet that gets retweeted more than a couple of hops outside my social circle.

Ten more characters if I #AskObama and he answers.

Etc.

Circles

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

 A Circle

I just got on Google+, and the Circles concept definitely moves the ball forward, but my heart sinks a little at having yet another disconnected social identity. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again – social networking needs to be an open, core internet standard like email. You can live on Facebook, Google, Twitter, wherever but your social graph should be independent of any specific service.

I don’t mean this in any (well, OK, a little) granola crunching open source way. Companies should compete to the death on their social graph implementation and added value. But the actual data on who your friends are should belong to you and should be both portable and interoperable. I should be able to friend someone on Google from within Facebook and share core items in both directions. If I get fed up of Facebook I should be able to move my graph and central identity elsewhere.

We’ve got OpenSocial, strangely not mentioned in the same breath as Google+, and Open Graph which is open for things but not people. Also FOAF, XUP, and other possible foundational standards. Of course the barriers here aren’t technical.

Altly wants to be Pepsi to Facebook’s Coke. I’m waiting to see what it tastes like, but it doesn’t sound like they’re itching to change the game.

Diaspora is an interesting project, but running instances (pods) of a social network is the wrong level of abstraction.

Of course ‘owning’ the graph is tremendously valuable and it’s hard to see Facebook giving this up anytime soon. If Google really don’t want to be evil they should use Google+ to liberate us from the tyranny of walled social gardens. Unless it turns out to be another Buzz or Wave in which case it’s down to us.

High-Frequency Trading

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Fibre optic cable

Algorithmic trading is getting a little out of hand:

“For high-frequency trading firms that use powerful computers to pop in and out of positions in milliseconds, so-called collocation, or "colo," is a pricey necessity. That's because trade times are approaching the speed of light, and the only way to make light reach its destination quicker is to shorten the trip.” smartmoney.com

This kind of trading accounts for an estimated 70% of US market volume. It’s completely disconnected from any kind of intrinsic value and only creates a benefit for the HFT firms and the exchanges that pocket the fees and exorbitant server hosting fees.

It’s like installing an ATM skimmer on the capital markets.

I think we need some way to enforce a hold period to discourage this business model. It could be an actual window that forces you to hold stock for a few days before selling (actually a few minutes might help), more likely a tax or fee that is prohibitively high at the millisecond turnover rate but ramps down to nothing after a week. 

Reviews and links for June 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

5/5

A new must have parenting book. The giant pangolins of Madagascar are inspired, move over Eric Carle. The only problem with the book is that as soon as Kate can read I'm going to have to permanently worry about where this is hidden...

 

Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4) by Kate Atkinson

4/5

Better than When Will There Be Good News although no less depressing. Jackson Brodie (curiously now on Twitter as @JacksonBrodie) is back at the center of the action, investigating the origins of a woman in New Zealand who was adopted under mysterious circumstances. Needless to say it wasn't a harmless mix up. Typically discursive and character rich. Humorous with a black, black heart.

 

Links

- Robot Armpit Prototype from jwz (At last!).

- Scottish domain name bid launched from BBC News - Home (.scot is silly though, should nab .off which could power the economy post independence...).

- Parents 'influence teen drinking' from BBC News - Home (Funny how that works both ways ;)).

- Heat and light from BBC News - Home (Will a drop in solar activity counter global warming? Apparently not enough).

- High court spurns atheist's 'under God' challenge from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Pretty feeble arguments for why the phrase isn't discriminatory...).

- Sarah Palin on Paul Revere from Boing Boing (Got to love the Paul Revere head slap).

Catfood: Earth, PdfScan and Weather

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Three recent Catfood Software updates:

Catfood Earth 3.10 includes rotation to longitude / solar time, volcanoes, a screen saver, time zone updates and more. Catfood Earth uses satellite imagery and a variety of data feeds to render jaw-dropping live desktop wallpaper.

Catfood Earth 3.10

Catfood PdfScan 1.10 saves your selected paper size and feeder choices. There is also an option to keep PdfScan open after saving a scan, something that had been bugging me when slogging through large digitization projects. PdfScan is a free tool for scanning stuff into a PDF file.

Catfood PdfScan 1.10

Catfood Weather 2.00 includes weather alerts and an updated UI. Catfood Weather provides a free, taskbar based weather forecast for US locations.

Catfood Weather 2.00

International Date Line Longitude, Latitude Coordinates

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

International Date Line

I’ve been working on an update to Catfood Earth. Several people have asked me to draw the International Date Line on the time zones layer but I’ve struggled to find a decent source for the coordinates of the line segments. I finally ended up manually digitizing the version of the line that appears on Wikipedia. The original is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported so I’m making the coordinates below available under the same license:

Longitude Latitude
180.0000 90.0000
180.0000 75.0000
-169.2500 67.7356
-169.2500 65.0189
170.0500 52.6863
180.0000 47.8353
180.0000 -0.9000
-159.6500 -0.9000
-159.6500 2.9000
-161.8500 2.9000
-161.8500 5.0000
-155.9500 5.0000
-150.6500 -7.8000
-150.6500 -10.0000
-156.0500 -10.0000
-156.0500 -7.8000
-178.0500 -7.80000
-172.7500 -15.0000
-172.7500 -45.0000
180.0000 -51.1815
180.0000 -90.0000

This looks great for Catfood Earth. Please take the coordinates with a pinch of salt if you’re designing a cruise missile guidance system or something.

Reviews and links for May 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

3/5

The first couple of chapters are hilarious and then it's a solid, sprawling family drama with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I just couldn't click with any of the characters and ultimately didn't care how things turned out for any of them.

 

Links

- S.F. bus driver marks 40 years behind the wheel from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (A career spanning nearly three blocks of Mission ;)).

- Obama, in Europe, signs Patriot Act extension from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Need to stage an addiction to emergency powers intervention...).

- Sarkozy questions 'neutral' net from BBC News - Home (Right, because someone might see a photo of someone in a burqa).

- Many baby items found to contain toxic chemicals from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Goes up to 100% once baby has actually used them.).

- Preview Coming Bay Bridge Road Change With New App from KQED News Fix (Android users smart enough to drive without an app preview...).

- In 3D - ants as you have never seen them before from BBC News - Home (Um, no. Unless you're a cyclops this is exactly how you see ants.).

- Magna Carta: Live! from KQED News Fix (Should really go and see this...).

- Police called as dog bites voters from BBC News - Home (It's a case of 'first past the pug').

- Photo: Obama and National Security team during Osama kill operation from Boing Boing (That looks like one lame situation room.).

Apparently you can’t build an alternative to Facebook without Facebook integration…

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Altly - We are working on an Alternative to Facebook