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 Sunday, April 4, 2021

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

CAPTCHA advertising

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Norton 360 CAPTCHA ad

It’s kind of clever because not only do you have to read the ad but you also have to type part of it in so their catch phrase is more likely to stick.

It’s mostly throw up in your mouth, because it takes a while to even figure out that this is a CAPTCHA and because you know that you could be digitizing books instead.

Spotted on boxbe, although some light Googling suggests that this has been around for a few years.

Lake Merritt

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA Hike on May 5, 2011

The path around Lake Merritt is a pleasant hour-ish hike in downtown Oakland. In addition to a startling variety of waterfowl (apparently it’s the first official wildlife refuge in the US) Lake Merritt is the home of Fairyland which I fear I may be forced to visit in the not to distant future.

Birds at Lake Merritt

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

(3.76 miles, 1 hour 2 minutes, average 3.64 mph, view in Google Earth).

Hike starts at: 37.808922, -122.263224.

Dog First Aid

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

After decades of ethnographic and quantitative research into the medical skills of Canis lupis familiaris I can finally publish a detailed guide to canine medical lore:

  1. Lick it.
  2. If, for any reason, step 1 fails to work eat grass until you throw up.

Universities wishing to bestow an honorary DVM should contact me at @abfo.