Monday, August 30, 2004

Interactive Tele-Journalism

Shawn Van Every outlines a very interesting system for Interactive Tele-Journalism.

I'm looking forward to the day where "TV stations" will be as pervasive and diverse as web sites.

This is big. Really big.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Influence this Ad

Ross Mayfield and John Battelle are dreaming-up a really cool new advertising model. "Put the consumer first". Empower them to promote your product. Jeff Jarvis is also extensively commenting on this model.

I believe these guys are on to something insanely hot.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Pictures! There are Pictures! is an insanely great service. It's a very-well thought out and constantly improving photo sharing web site. There appears to be virtually no absolute limit to the number of pictures you may place. It is a monthly quota. They're encouraging people to use their site as a constantly updating "Photo Stream", while making it very easy to manage pictures in batches.

Based on textual information associated with pictures, the site serves mostly relevant ads from Google's AdSense program, which appears to be a part of how they're planning to subsidize their service. Members can easily associate an unlimited amount of arbitrary "textual tags" to each picture, which instantly builds various "views" of one's album:I'm looking forward to see what else Ludicorp comes-up with :)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

iTunes, Copyrights, RIAA, Good Music

Many pundits are spending large amounts of energy putting down the mostly symbiotic relationship between Apple and the RIAA, materialized in the form of the iTunes Music Store.

One piece of conventional wisdom often brought forth claims all RIAA-owned music is crap. Ergo, most music on iTMS is crap. Ergo, one shouldn't waste their time and money supporting those big evil corporations and do the politically correct thing: support the local garage band. Or steal the music on a P2P network.

Surely they've got a good plan outlining where I'll be acquiring music from Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, Louis Prima, Nina Simone, Big Mama Thornton, Elmore James, Ray Charles to name a very few. There are a lot of great artists on iTunes. It's a matter of looking beyond the "front page" and dig. I've discovered a lot of great artists through other people's "iMixes" and various searches.

The next set of complaints revolves around the RIAA screwing artists over their cut of the profit pie. Apple is being tried for not putting an end to the RIAA's hegemony when they released iTunes. Those detractors fail to understand that there is nothing Apple can do to coerce the RIAA into doing something they don't want to do. They're trying to drag Apple's iTunes into the whole RIAA vs P2P fight, which is pointless. All Apple is doing, and can ever do vis-a-vis RIAA is offer consumers a compelling alternative to acquire digital music, without infringing copyrights.

Beyond RIAA, Apple has made many deals with small, independent record labels such as "CD Baby", precisely to promote independent music. In a near future, anybody will be able to create their own record label, in the iTunes Music Store sense of the term.

All this controversy is giving some geeks a false sense of moral high-ground, as they reverse-engineer Apple's protocols and DRM scheme, posing as defenders of the "oppressed" P2P-sharing masses. Instead of spending their time and energy building their own online music marketplaces, they set themselves out to compromise the integrity of someone else's marketplace.

I find the iTunes Music Store to be quite useful. I like it. I also buy CDs from Amazon. It depends on my mood and whether I'm interested in shopping for songs or albums. I'll gladly evaluate all legal avenues of obtaining music. The key here is choice. You're not protecting my freedom by compromising the iTunes Music Store, you're hurting my choice.

Get a life kids. Build something cooler. Exchanging copyrighted music over P2P networks is not cool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More GMail Invites

If you add yourself to the queue, chances are I'll hook you up. This time around I'll be favoring people with blogs and people who link to my blog from their blog. I'd love to unseat the Brit Actor Dude when googling for Chris Holland.

GeekStuff: OS X Software: FileChute

I stumbled upon FileChute

This looks like a really nice alternative way of attaching files to e-mail. Instead, it would appear FileChute uploads the file to some online account you may already have, and includes a URL reference to that file in an email you're composing.

I really really like this idea. In fact, EarthLink should integrate such a feature in their software.

I've just downloaded and tried it with my EarthLink account, and it worked very well: Upon launching the application, you are greeted by a welcome screen. At the bottom of that screen, click set-up. Choose the type of account, in my case, "EarthLink". Enter the username and password, and you're done.

What you'll likely want to do is drag FileChute's icon to your Dock. After having set-up the application, I was trying to drag files anywhere in that window, and it wouldn't do anything, a minor usability gripe the authors might want to address.

From this point, you can drag any file to the FileChute icon. This will compress and "copy" the file onto your online storage, in my case, my EarthLink FTP account. You can then control-click, or right-click on the "link box", to compose an email with a link to the file you've just placed online.

This is really quite cool.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Friday 8/20: Man Appreciation Day 2004

Man Appreciation Day 2004
Man Appreciation Day 2004,
originally uploaded by chrisholland.
Brandy and Linda treated Daryll and me to "Man Appreciation" day on Friday. It was an evening filled with things Men like to do. We need to make this a national holiday. It was so totally awesome. Brandy and Linda rule.

See more random pictures to the right, or here.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Phroggy B. Goode

Friends who have passed certain initiation rituals call me "frenchy" or "froggy". Ernest is one such friend. Once in a while, he gets a wild silly creative midnight itch, takes a popular song or movie tirade, and adapts it to someone from the office. Maybe one day I'll post his Pulp Fiction - Ezekiel 25:17 bit. But for now, behold his latest creation:

Deep down in Pasadena close to New York Drive
Way back up in the hood among the evergreens
There stood a frog cubie made of glass and wood
Where lived a frenchie boy named Phroggy B. Goode
Who never ever learned to drive in traffic so well
But he could hack the web just like ringing a bell

Go Go
Go Phroggy Go Go
Go Phroggy Go Go
Go Phroggy Go Go
Go Phroggy Go Go Go
Phroggy B. Goode

He used to carry his Powerbook in a gunny sack
And sit beside the beach where he liked to hack
Old engineers used to see him sitting in the shade
Hacking to the rhythm that the ocean made
People all around the web would watch his website load
Oh my that little frenchie boy sure can code

His mother told him someday you will would be a frog
And you will be the writer of a big ol' blog
Many users surfin' from miles around
Will see you hack the web when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name'll be on Google's site
Saying 'Phroggy B. Goode tonight'

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I can't believe it's not Tofu!

I can't believe it's not Tofu!
I can't believe it's not Tofu!,
originally uploaded by chrisholland.

The California Loaf Substitute.*

* As seen on TV in a not-so-distant future.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Gotham Gal Ribs

Gotham Gal Ribs
Gotham Gal Ribs,
originally uploaded by chrisholland.
A VC points to Gotham Gal's Ribs in his blog. This all sounded way too succulent to pass-up, so I e-mailed the recipe to Brandy who wholeheartedly agreed. We picked-up the racks and ingredients last night and Brandy started the marinating.

This picture shows the ribs 40 minutes in the oven today. We're planning on having them for dinner with Daryll and Linda tonight.

Brandy wishes me to add this disclaimer: since I'm a big slacker, I don't own a cookie sheet! As she couldn't put them all on one sheet, the ribs are cooking on 2 different racks in the oven, which is likely to add to the challenge.

Update: Those ribs were good. Pure ... animal ... bliss. I want more.

Hermosa Beach: Free WiFi Internet for Many!

update: This is turning out to be a resounding success.

Our city has deployed Wireless Internet for its residents, scheduled to be rolled out in phases, this first phase covering about 35% of the population, according to the press release.

I'm not sure the signal is reaching my house quite yet but this is very exciting. I'll likely be sauntering around the Pier area over the weekend and make my first blog entry from a free broadband connection!

This project is the brainchild of Council Member and former Mayor Michael Keegan. Keegan, a successful entrepreneur, has had very interesting ideas on absorbing costs, the most obvious ones being related to advertisements on the home page, the more interesting ones revolving around educating local businesses on leveraging this local network to better connect with prospective customers, while enlisting their sponsorships. offers a good insight into similar efforts substantiated around the globe.

I think this movement is big. As various connectivity models and associated technical and business blueprints are put together from efforts such as this one, we're looking at a much lower barrier to entry to setting-up Internet broadband infrastructures.

Community wireless networks such as this one open the door to many things:

1) Internet access for all, limited in speed and quantity by the amount of bandwidth offered by the "backbone" that links our little wireless community to the Internet. This "backbone" is typically provided in the form of "T1" and/or "T3" lines by some of the major telco companies, and the amount of bandwidth used is typically billed to the customer (in our case, the City of Hermosa Beach) on a monthly basis. Once the infrastructure equipment has been paid for, this "backbone" usage is a key permanent ongoing cost the city must absorb, which shouldn't be too difficult.

High speed Internet connectivity opens a wider door to typical uses: ultra fast web browsing, ultra fast email. The other obvious use is "Voice over IP", aka, VoIP, aka "telephone over the internet". While an exciting prospect, we, as a community, should be mindful of not driving our "backbone" costs too high with too much VoIP usage. It is, after all, a shared resource.

But "internet traffic" only needs to go thru our "backbone" if, and only if, our computer attempts to communicate with a computer outside of our local community. This is where it gets really frickin' cool:

2) Virtually unlimited, superfast, unbridled use of our "local" network. The speed and usage of our "local" network is only limited by the amount of traffic that can be handled by our local Wireless Community equipment, without driving costs up: we own the equipment that makes up our local network. When would your machine throw a lot of a traffic at the local network? Simple: when "calling-up" someone. VoIP is, of course, the most obvious aspect. But companies such as Apple coming-up with "insanely great" software such as: iChat AV are also painting an exciting picture, particularly with regards to Video Conferencing. This is already being done over the Internet, across various ends of the globe, but keeping things "local" should make the whole experience a whole lot more exciting and cheaper for all parties involved.

Hermosa Beach businesses ought to look for companies that would host their web sites "inside" the "local" Hermosa Beach network, for faster access for their local customers at dramatic costs savings, on-top of retaining seamless access from the Internet at large. The key is to leverage your local community network and ensure people who seek to communicate with you, do so from within the local network, without going to the Internet thru the backbone and back inside.

Example: I have EarthLink DSL connectivity. My neighbor also has DSL. If I want to "give them a call" using VoIP, my computer will be sending data to the Internet thru my ISP, at an upstream speed of 128Kbps, at which point my ISP will find his ISP, relay packets all the way back down to him. If instead, we both belong to the same community network, we benefit from far higher speeds and lower latency which result in much higher call quality, and further enables the use of Video.

Possibilities are endless. Think of a new era of telecommunications.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Horrible Accident Near Work

On my way to work this morning, I saw a bunch of fire trucks and cop cars gunning-it like crazy up Rosemead Blvd. I was coming from way South, off of the 10 freeway. Here's why.

Ugh. This is horrible. I can't believe what I'm reading. Ugh :( Those poor People :( That poor kid :( Ugh.

I don't use the 210 freeway in my daily commute. Only when I actually need to go to downtown Pasadena.

Monday, August 09, 2004

GeekStuff: Digital Ordnance @ SIGGRAPH

Today Daryll set-up his booth at SIGGRAPH, to showcase the latest version of his "2k film and HDTV content" playback system: The FrameThrower.

I'm hoping he'll find some time to update his blog to tell us how it's going. I'm planning to take a day off from work this week to check out his booth.

There's also a whole segment of SIGGRAPH dedicated to web graphics. Dave Shea, creator of CSS Zen Garden will be there too. Damn!

Hey maybe by this time next year I'll have some interesting to show in the field of rich web standards-based user interfaces.

Meet Harley

Meet Harley Harley is not my cat. Harley belongs to Joe, Brandy's roommate. I don't have pets. I haven't spent centuries reincarnating myself up the food chain to be scrubbing a pet's doo-doo. I do love pets. And pets love me. But I'm not one to deprive a pet owner from the privilege of tending to said pet's fecal matter. Developing ties with "other people's pets" clearly brings me the best of both worlds.

Thru wisdom and experience acquired in past lives, not the least of which were likely feline, I have developed the MagicScratch™ technique. I've already said too much.

Harley is alright. A cat with real flair and a slight penchant for goofiness would be Simon, Brandy's cat.

meowmix meowmix please deliver.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Friday, August 06, 2004

From the Dodgers Stadium

this is an audio post - click to play

We were actually 11 rows from the field, aisle 29. We were so close to the action I could almost hear the players spit. Hardcore fans were everywhere, people of all walks of life. During breaks, Parents and Kids would turn into Court Jesters in desperate attempts to appear on "The Big Screen". My own grimaces fell short of being a hit, to say the least. However, competition was rough. The owner of the Dodgers (I failed to catch his name) walked by our aisle while signing autographs and chatting with fans. As he signed an autograph for this adorable little girl who couldn't have been more than 8 years old, she started lecturing him about his trading some player, most articulately sharing her thorough disappointment. He empathetically apologized to her. She acquiesced and proudly mentioned she's a catcher in her softball team.

What happened to little kids being clueless, naive, and innocent?

There I was sitting with Brandy in those amazing seats we got for "free" thru the company she works for, barely knowing anything about the game, the players, the team and its politics, while this little kid was next to us, dressed in Dodgers gear from head to toe, and schooling this businessman on how to run his team.

I think the last time I had set foot in this stadium was back when I first moved to L.A., in the summer of '95, during orientation. USC's ESL department had set-up all those trips to get us acquainted with American Culture. A "Dodgers Game" was one of many excursions. That game wasn't at all high profile, the stadium was near empty, and I could barely make out silly little flies aimlessly hopping around on a green surface, while desperately reaching for an imaginary oxygen tank in the nosebleeds.

We were wise enough to have avoided the 110 freeway on a friday evening. We took the 710 to the 5. The 710 is turning into a steamy pile of crap, but I'm not either looking forward to traffic disruptions caused by the State fixing it. When the sun is lower, colors more saturated, smog becomes palpable. But we don't call smog "smog" here. We call it "Haze". It's a prettier word, more politically correct. You don't want residents of those bazillion dollar homes in Pasadena to start thinking of this yellow tinted persistent fog as "smog". "Haze" is okay. How bad is smog in Pasadena? Consider this: Our work offices sit at the foot of a mountain we cannot see beyond its immediate flank, despite the weather being dry and not a single cloud in the yellow-tinted blue sky.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Booking Cheap Flights and the Miles Game

I've just booked a round trip to Paris for $611 on delta/air france, direct flights each way. Had I done it a few months earlier I might have landed a deal just under $500. Keep in mind that fares quoted on web sites are usually over $100 less than what you get after adding taxes and fees. I'm always talking in terms of "final price". This beats the $1300 i'd pay had I booked it in November. Traveling reasonably cheap is all about planning early and flexible dates.

Miles and Frequent Traveler Programs

If you are a regular and/or frequent traveler, you should be enrolled in at least a few mileage programs. I've got United Mileage Plus and Delta Skymiles. Take the time to keep a handy list of which other airlines participate in your mileage program. Here are the Delta Skymiles Partners. Here are the United Mileage Plus Partners. Those partners will come-in handy when hunting for cheap Air Fares.

Lately I've been a great fan of Delta SkyMiles, and here's why: I use the Amex card very heavily to make the most of their Membership Rewards. Those reward points can be transferred to Delta SkyMiles any time. If you do it at the right time of the year (for me, a couple of months ago), you might get some promotional deal where you get an extra 15% on Amex points you transfer to Delta Miles. No matter what you do, strive to link all your billing relationships to something that can eventually translate to miles: credit/charge card, long distance phone, car rental, etc. I've also found delta's web site to be far more usable than united's, as far as their mileage programs go. There's one thing I've also recently discovered on delta skymiles: their partnership with iDine. Now that's a brilliant concept: thru iDine, you create a profile and register a credit card number with them, provided you're like me and crazy enough to trust yet another entity with your credit card info, oh well. Every time you go to a restaurant that participates in the iDine program and pay with the credit card you've registered, you earn SkyMiles. So check this sample use case: Pay for dinner with american express, which gives you Amex reward points, which you could eventually transfer to SkyMiles, but on-top of that, SkyMiles points automagically get credited to your account thru iDine! I had registered for this service a while back ago, but their site seemed buggy, so I never dug further. Last night I look at those mysterious Skymiles credits I received and trace them back to iDine!

Hunting for Fares

Based on fairly flexible traveling plans, you need to look for "deals" in the traveling month you're looking for. Those "deals" are usually not directly surfaced on the front page of any traveling site. It might be one or two clicks away. I've been using Travelocity for a while now, and it's always served me reasonably well. I'm sure there's the same thing on and expedia, I happen to be familiar with travelocity so they'll be my example. The key is to find a "travel search interface" that lets you pick "flexible dates". That interface should offer you a range of traveling months you can specify.

From that point you should eventually see a list of Air Fares offered by various airlines. Picking the lowest fare at the top of the list is one aspect of the game. Another key aspect is to consider which airlines you have "frequent traveler" relationships with. I won't mind a few extra bucks for a flight that'll earn me miles. I'll also look at direct flights versus connecting flights. On travelocity, try to right-click on the "select" button next to the airline name and select "Open in a new window". Having a specific airline booking interface in a new window allows you to more easily come back to your main list of airlines. A first set of screens will help you pick your "departure date" for the given promotional fare. The following screens will cover the "return date". At the end of this process you should have a clear idea of which specific flights you're hoping to catch.

From this point, you can stay with Travelocity to go thru the entire reservation process. Your other alternative is to go directly to the airline's web site and book those specific flights thru their site. Delta is right now offering 1,000 miles to people who book flights thru their site. My Delta profile happens to also be more up-to-date than the one I have in Travelocity, this tends to make things easier. The flight also came to $10 less on delta's site than on Travelocity's. However, if I remember correctly, Travelocity lets me "hold a reservation for 24 hours" without paying for it, which Delta hasn't allowed me to do.

And yes, I've paid for the flight with the amex card. heh.

Meet Boren Consulting

My good friends Brandon and Oakley have just started a PC Consulting business, aiming to bring the love back into the relationship between humans, enterprises and their computers. Check out "praises" Brandon's already received. As He and Oakley build-up their business, I wouldn't be surprised to see this section grow. While I've never directly worked with him, I can vouch for Brandon's passion and enthusiasm for his craft.

Both Brandon and Oakley are warm and friendly people, which should bring a refreshing departure from the typical facelessness that plagues the I.T. consulting field.

Mad props to the both of'em :)