Friday, December 29, 2006

Google Talk + AIM

From the press release:
Under the strategic alliance, Google and AOL will continue providing search technology to AOL's network of Internet properties worldwide. The agreement's broad range of new features for users and advertisers include:
  • Creating an AOL Marketplace through white labeling of Google's advertising technology - enabling AOL to sell search advertising directly to advertisers on AOL-owned properties;
  • Expanding display advertising throughout the Google network;
  • Making AOL content more accessible to Google Web crawlers;
  • Collaborating in video search and showcasing AOL's premium video service within Google Video;
  • Enabling Google Talk and AIM instant messaging users to communicate with each other, provided certain conditions are met;
  • and Providing AOL marketing credits for its Internet properties.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Windows Gadgets, Dashboard Widgets

Building Windows Vista Gadgets

Building Mac Dashboard Widgets

So Microsoft appears to be adopting a route similar to Apple's, in that their Gadgets framework leans heavily on HTML and CSS. Rather good news for us web-heads.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Samsung NV3 Digital Camera

i just bought the Samsung NV3.

It comes with 15MB internal memory, so you'll likely want to spend some dough on an SD card if you want to take those 7 mega pixel shots at superfine resolution. A 1GB SD card should fit about 250 of those.

As many cameras do, it has a dial on the top that lets you toggle between various modes. Two of those are "auto" and "P"(aka program) modes. The "auto" mode tells the camera to do all of the settings when taking a picture, aka "no-brainer photography", and doesn't let you override granular settings such as ISO, exposure, RGB, white balance, etc.

The "P" mode, also figures out settings automatically, but allows you to "set"/override each one. And it remembers them.

By simply turning the dial, this allows you to effortlessly switch between "no-brainer photography" from the "auto mode" and "full-control photography" from the "P"/program mode with all your last settings.

Monday, November 13, 2006, Zune's Website is Up

"Zune", Microsoft's attempt at an iPod competitor is launching today or tomorrow, and appears to be the online destination for this new ecosystem.

I'm thinking Microsoft's approach is likely to be far more successful than other big players' past attempts at dethroning the iPod, because Microsoft is approaching this market as an ecosystem.

While the "device" may be the object of public and media obsession, everything that goes behind making the device actually useful and interoperable, is what makes-up the ecosystem, and the ecosystem is what attracts and keeps users. iPod is useful because of iTunes. iTunes is useful because i can just stick a CD in my computer, watch the tracks auto-import themselves, rearrange everything at will, then watch the iPod auto-update itself, or I can just click a button to burn my own compilation CD. Remember "Rip. Mix. Burn."? Then came the iTunes music store, the first viable online digital mainstream music marketplace, all integrated within iTunes, not some clumsily implemented web site.

Sony wasn't selling an ecosystem with their various cryptically-named devices.

Microsoft is.

With that said, it looks like a brick, much like the very-first iPods ... which was okay 5 years ago, and is available in black, white and ... diarrhea-brown.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sweet Irony

A a couple of friends pointed me to this article:
The Investor: Jim Breyer, partner, Accel Partners

What he's backed: Brightcove, Facebook, Prosper

What he wants now: Social-networking sites may be sprouting like weeds, but none yet operates as a bona fide marketplace, with members buying and selling their own creations as much as they blog, link, and post. Breyer, who sits on Wal-Mart's board, is interested in backing an international network for indie artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, designers, and other creative types from dozens of countries.

Ideally, the site would have the download and payment features to create what he calls a "micromarket" for members' wares. "There might be a Chinese student filmmaker with a five-minute film who wants to reach a niche of U.S. users," Breyer says. "He could find people willing to buy his films, and maybe a producer willing to bankroll more." Transaction fees would supplement ad revenue.

Breyer wants a five- to 10-person team to build a prototype using a peer-to-peer structure that would reduce bandwidth costs, and to identify core groups of users that would get traffic moving to the site.

What he'll invest: $10 million
I'll be damned if this doesn't sound exactly like a concept i've been developing and pitching over the past two ... three years. This article i wrote on dijjer (controversially dugg for having dared to suggest that something out there might be more appropriate than BitTorrent for certain use cases) a while back reflected just one of the latest strategies I was exploring to build a scalable ecosystem.

How did I get into this? Being in L.A., quite a few good friends of mine are struggling artists. Jazz artists. Blues. Independent filmmakers. Upon pitching the ecosystem to them, their response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and they've contributed a lot of great ideas. But I've so-far been letting them down though. Yet, applications of this concept don't stop there. The rabbit-hole goes deeper, much deeper.

The problem is, ideas, no matter how thoroughly-developed, and pitches, are dime a dozen. I've learned the hard way that nothing moves forward until you've built something palpable for people to poke at, get their hands-on, and understand your vision. But by the time you've gotten to that point, really, what the hell do you need investors, or anybody else for?

You ought to just go it alone. Screw investors. If you've got a sound business model, with a well-thought out application built from the ground-up with scaling in mind, you can buy the hardware and bandwidth you need, when you need it. You need investors when what you're looking to build is yet another buzzword-compliant web2.0-taggy-mashuppy-socialnetworky-hotmeme'o'the'day-y with no plan for a strong revenue stream, which in the end will die as yet another fad, but will have made a few investors rich because they got Yahoo! to purchase the user base.

At the last eBay developer conference, i got the chance to meet Shannon Sofield, from, who gave us a presentation of his digital marketplace. He's figured out the tough part: facilitating transactions and fulfillment for the purchase and delivery of digital assets. And he's currently doing it without the assistance of any peer-to-peer framework. If he starts adding a social framework to his ecosystem, he'll have it made in the shade, not that what he currently has, doesn't already pay his bills quite handsomely. My hat off to Shannon, for having a vision, and superbly executing on it. And there's a lot of heat around his ecosystem, the dude could not rest for a second at the conference.

Let's hope that in 2007, I put an end to the pondering, and start delivering. If i don't, someone else will. And in the end, it'll be okay. Sad for me, but okay. I believe humanity is in dire need of an alternative to today's media distribution. Far too much of what we see, hear, read is controlled by a handful of corporations that call all the shots, and what rises to the top, is too often not even close of being anywhere near the cream. Widest possible audiences are being catered to, leaving little to no room for niche interests.

Money today is flowing in a highly inefficient and wasteful funnel pattern, from the unwashed masses to BigMedia, so many revenue opportunities are simply not being catered to.

We're missing out on so much. And it's sad.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Get Work Done with Blossom for OS X!

Round 3 of voting for MyDreamApp has just begun. Consider voting for Dan Lundmark's Blossom project.

Ever wonder where all the hours go? Blossom tracks how much time you spend on each app, web site, or document, and visualizes the data as a beautiful blossoming plant. Meet your goals and see your virtual plant blossom! Vote for the Blossom concept at and see your productivity blossom!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PPK On JavaScript

In the process of paying a visit to PPK's site while writing my previous blog entry, i stumbled upon his first book. As I sift through its Table of Contents, I'm feeling this incredible urge to buy it, and tell every engineer I know to do the same.

Done. Ordered it.

New .Mac Webmail Coming Soon

The following message from Apple just came in our .Mac mail with this .Mac Webmail Illustration:
The new .Mac webmail is coming soon, and you'll feel like you've seen it before.
With its smart use of the latest web technology, it'll remind you of the Mail application on your desktop, with a simple and elegant interface, drag-and-drop capability, built-in Address Book, and more.

A new look

Everything is within easy reach. Your mail folders are next to the Inbox, and you can read full messages and access your contact info without leaving the page.


Manage your Inbox easily, by dragging and dropping messages, just like you do on your desktop - even multiple messages at the same time.

Message pane

Read entire messages in a pane located right below your message list, just like you do in your desktop Mail application.

Smart refreshes

.Mac webmail keeps page reloads to a minimum, by refreshing only the portion of the page that needs updating, instead of reloading the entire page.

Quick Reply

A .Mac webmail exclusive. Dash off a response without leaving your Inbox, by clicking the Quick Reply button next to the message to which you're responding.

Built-in Address Book

It's fully integrated, so you can quickly access and search your contact info. Start typing in a name, and all your matching Address Book contacts appear in the address field.

Message previews

The .Mac webmail Inbox displays the beginning of every message, so you can quickly scan your messages without opening them.

Message flagging

Flag and unflag messages with a single click.

Keyboard shortcuts

Save time with keyboard short-cuts for common operations like composing new messages and searching your mailboxes.

Thoughts: Whenever we try to replicate desktop-like functionality within web documents, that's typically when web browsers are pushed to their limits of web standards support. It's rather feasible to achieve fairly advanced functionality in a cross-platform manner. But it's obviously far from trivial, and most often an exercise in pulling one's hair out. Cross-browser research and advocacy from guys like Peter-Paul Koch is invaluable to the developer community.

Building advanced user interfaces often requires going to the edge of CSS support, and Windows Internet Explorer's horribly broken box model and many missing advanced CSS features sure don't help. I've often noticed script execution speed issues in Safari, even when compared to OS X Firefox on the same machine. And when we start manipulating too many cross-referencing objects, I recently learned that Win/IE will leak memory. The list goes on.

It's reasonable to expect that Apple's web-based email will have to work flawlessly, with its most advanced features in Safari. I'm curious to see whether Apple will also strive to keep their application working flawlessly in other browsers, such as Firefox, Opera, and Win/IE. After all, the whole point of having access to .Mac Webmail, is to be able to access our mail from any machine, even if it isn't a Mac.

Brandy and

Based on Ernest's Photoshop mock-up, and after tweaking some content, the new is up and running.

The slideshows are semantically marked-up, and brought to life through a modified version of a pretty simple, yet effective reusable CSS/JS concoction i'd put together a while back.

The tabbed navigation *and* its content are wrapped into HTML List Items, which is a bit of a crazy/overkill way of doing this, but i figured it'd be fun for content to be tied in the markup to the section it corresponds to. A more classic approach might have been to have a UL block that describes the headers, followed by a succession of DIV blocks for the contents of each section.

My approach does make things clumsy in the sense that I have to "manually" position content blocks with negative "left:" absolute positions within a given LI block. This results in the little dots between the headers not always being centered. But it's not too horrible :) It does look better on a Mac than on a PC, with the "Zapf Chancery" font.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vote for Blossom / Dan @ MyDreamApp

Dan says:
Round 2 voting is open at . I need votes! Vote for Dan and my idea Blossom. I'm hovering at 4th and 5th place - let other ppl know if you can, thanks
Blossom is Dan's concept for a productivity application for Mac OS X. If his idea wins the MyDreamApp contest, the application will get built, and he'll share in the profits it generates. If you believe his idea to be valuable, you ought to vote for it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ode to Ernest

I don't know many developers who are sharp coders, and amazing designers. Ernest is. He can wield Photoshop with great mastery to develop a vision for coders to execute on. Being a coder himself, his designs always lend themselves to efficiency and sensical implementation. He'll also happily turn around and code the whole thing himself, as web standards bear very few secrets to him.

I started building our web site, a few weeks ago, focusing on content, as i knew that whatever i'd come up with would look horrendous. And I sure delivered. Ernest once again, was gracious enough to bestow his vision upon me. I just received a Photoshop document from him, and I just can't wait to start hacking at it. It looks nice, very, very nice. Brandy's jaw dropped.

The Shopping Widget was also his design.

In the end, having strong design skills in a development team is an invaluable asset, and I sure am glad to have Ernest on mine. In the process of building applications, it's a common mistake to dedicate too little attention to user interface design. It's a true challenge, and one well-worth solving, that'll lend added credibility and a competitive advantage in a cut-throat market.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

RIP, Lilo

Rob Levin, aka Lilo, who has for many years so gracefully run, passed away this morning :(, from injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident.

This is beyond tragic.

I'm not sure I've ever known someone more dedicated and passionate about the free exchange of ideas for the advancement of technology. As many of his friends have, I've often tried to convince him to go for a more comfortable lifestyle with a high-paying job, but he lived by a set of higher principles, offering his talent to PDPC, with, in his own words, the awe-inspiring support of his wonderful Wife and Son.

Freenode is an IRC network where many of the sharpest engineering minds regularly congregate to discuss various technology topics. Many open-source projects have their official discussion channels on freenode. It's easy to take all of it for granted. It's free. It's always there. it's always reliable.

Yet we all knew Lilo was always tirelessly slaving, behind-the-scenes, constantly improving the network, scrounging donated hardware and bandwidth, raising money every year.

The world needs more humans like Rob Levin. Not less. Saying that God works in mysterious ways, in this instance, would be an under-fucking-statement.

I for one will continue to look-up to Rob and his wonderful family as shining examples of what outstanding character can achieve.

Monday, September 11, 2006

ServletRequest.getParameter and UTF-8

When we get a parameter from an HTTP request in the Tomcat Servlet container, the String object returned isn't UTF-8-aware. If this bugs you down, you can work around it:

String value = request.getParameter("key");
if (value != null) {
try {
value = new String(value.getBytes(),"UTF-8");
} catch ( uee) {
//wrong encoding!
I don't know whether this is behavior expected from the HttpServlet spec.

update: 09/13/2006: the above code doesn't quite work. I'm now pretty sure it was a useless attempt, heh. getParameter URLdecodes the value for you, but it doesn't do it in a UTF-8-aware way, and my "workaround" can't possibly work around that limitation. duh.

You just want to request.getQueryString() to get the raw UTF-8 URL-encoded query string sent by the HTTP client. And then you want to manually extract the value you need from the key, and run it through,"UTF-8");

If you want to pass this value to an XSLT transformation parameter using Xalan, you'll also run into utf8-awareness limitation. You'll want to pass a UTF8-URLEncoded version of the $encodedValue to the transformation. Then inside the XSLT stylesheet, declare a variable like this: xsl:variable name="decodedValue" select="$encodedValue, 'UTF-8')" ... assuming you've enabled "java" as an extension by declaring its namespace.

update: 09/26/2006 Upon reading this article on UTF-8 and request.getParameter from jGuru, a better approach appears to be:
if(request.getCharacterEncoding() == null)
paramValue = request.getParameter("paramKey");
Basically, the servlet engine needs to be told to retrieve parameters using UTF-8, as browsers don't always send accurate information as to what encoding is being used in a form submission.

update:12/05/2006 Anonymous poster below points us to this discussion about setCharacterEncoding having no effect

Friday, September 08, 2006

Google Apps for Your Domain is Live :o

Google has just released "Google Apps for your Domain". Say you own "somedomain.tld", and you have some sort of control over its DNS settings.

Google lets you specify an MX record that points to their SMTP servers, to handle all incoming mail to your domain. It's GMail, of course, and it works very well. Say hi.

Google lets you specify CNAME entries for anyhost.somdomain.tld, that points to one of their web servers, with good ol' "Host:" HTTP header-based virtual web hosting. Check out Guess what they let you create pages with? None other than Google Lab's

But there's more I've not yet played with:

- Chat: XMPP federation for your domain.
- Calendar sharing.

Screenshot? Yup, right here.

Want your own? Google appears to have limited sign-ups available right here. Not sure how long that's going to be available :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

TomiZone: Share your Internet

This looks like an interesting way to make some extra cash from sharing your broadband Internet connectivity. I believe Seattle Wireless has been attempting similar, but Tomizone seems to be adopting an easier, far more automated approach. They provide custom firmware for linksys routers. I would imagine they'll support other routers later. I've also been meaning to look into Speakeasy's WiFi NetShare Admin.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Apple G4 PowerBook and iBook Battery Recall

Apple G4 PowerBook and G4 iBook Battery Recall (Coral Cache Mirror) - Check your model now. Some will catch on fire!

I just checked my G4 AlBook, it's not affected. And Brandy's iBook is a G3 iBook, not a G4. So we're in the clear! :)

Apple Announces Recall of Batteries Used in Previous iBook and PowerBook Computers Due To Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announces the following recall in voluntary cooperation with the firm below. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries with cells manufactured by Sony for certain previous iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 notebook computers only.

Units: About 1.1 million battery packs (an additional 700,000 battery packs were sold outside the U.S.)

Battery Cell Manufacturer: Sony Energy Devices Corp., of Japan

Computer Manufacturer: Apple Computer Inc., of Cupertino, Calif.

Hazard: These lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Apple has received nine reports of batteries overheating, including two reports of minor burns from handling overheated computers and other reports of minor property damage. No serious injuries were reported.

Description: The recalled lithium-ion batteries were used with the following computers: 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4. Consumers should remove the battery from the computer to view the model and serial numbers labeled on the bottom of the unit.

Computer model nameBattery model numberBattery serial numbers
12-inch iBook G4 A1061 ZZ338 through ZZ427 | 3K429 through 3K611 | 6C510 through 6C626
12-inch PowerBook G4 A1079 ZZ411 through ZZ427 | 3K428 through 3K611
15-inch PowerBook G4A1078 and A11483K425 through 3K601 | 6N530 through 6N551 | 6N601

No other Apple notebook computers are involved in this recall.
Sold Through: Apple’s online store, Apple retail stores nationwide, and Apple Authorized Resellers from October 2003 through August 2006 for between $900 and $2300. The batteries also were sold separately for about $130.

Assembled in: Japan, Taiwan and China

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled batteries immediately and contact Apple to arrange for a replacement battery, free of charge. After removing the recalled battery from their iBook or PowerBook, consumers should plug in the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives.

Consumer Contact: : Contact Apple at (800) 275-2273 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT Monday through Sunday or log on to Apple’s Web site at to check the battery’s serial number and request a replacement battery.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Traffic Shaping in Mac OS X Tiger

"Tiger finally has dummynet support in the kernel. What this means to you is that now you can do traffic shaping with no additional software."

read more | digg story

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Introducing SIPCasting - Broadcasting for the Masses

What is it?

It's peer-powered broadcasting leveraging the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and a few SIP-enabled tools and services to relay streamed data across multiple peers. It's currently not a "software package". It's a methodology, that might one day motivate the community to define key protocols, perhaps one day leading to the development of software packages dedicated to broadcasting over SIP. Until then, we'll explore what can be done today using freely available SIP software and services and start pinpointing limitations to be addressed.

Why not just use PeerCast and other dedicated P2P Broadcasting technologies for streaming media?

I can't think of a reason! They're worth trying out, and if this post does nothing but bring them publicity, we'll be off to a strong start. Check out projects similar to PeerCast.

Why Peer-to-Peer for Broadcasting?

While the vast majority of "content" can be consumed asynchronously, such as with podcasting, certain timely events and massively shared experiences warrant more "real-time" coverage.

P2P's already actively being used for digital asset delivery: thanks to pioneering peer-powered digital asset distribution frameworks such as BitTorrent, RedSwoosh, and Dijjer, it's becoming easier to leverage aggregate "visitor" bandwidth to more effectively deliver content.

Broadcasting in real-time to large audiences needs more P2P-love, as it remains today too onerous for independent authors to broadcast in real-time to masses. Leveraging peer-to-peer technologies for broadcasting is a fascinating human evolution in further freeing ourselves from our dependency on Big Media.

Phone, Cable, Media companies, are working around the clock lobbying legislators to keep a choke-hold on distribution of content, and the way we use broadband. Smart, legal, exciting applications of peer-to-peer technologies can further help legislators understand the importance of unfettered broadband connectivity.

When was SIPCasting first more or less successfully used? And how?

Well, in theory as early as the first time a group of people connected together in a SIP audio conference. The SIP RFC is dated circa 1995 so there had to be some geeks back then trying some cool stuff on local networks. But most recently, during the Apple WWDC 2006 Keynote, by a few TheAppleBlog readers, eager to listen to live spoken updates from a field correspondent, as a complement to textual coverage performed elsewhere. Here's an outline of the logistics of setting-up a basic SIPCast.

How is SIPCasting different? What does SIP give us?

SIP enables slightly different use cases: When two peers have established contact via SIP/STUN, both peers can exchange data in real-time over UDP. Data can go both ways. This enables SIP to power many forms of real-time communications. Traditional "broadcasting" is very-much a one-way process: Data flows from one source, to be passively received and consumed. SIP provides a strong framework for content consumers to also send data back to the "broadcaster". In essence, in a basic SIP session, there is no real such thing as a "broadcaster" and "consumer", but rather a tacit agreement between two peers, designating who "talks" and who "listens". In the specific use case of a live audio broadcast, a "listener" might choose to "speak up", in a more interactive framework. This may often not be desirable, and dedicated software would seek to provide a measure of control over available interactivity.

SIP provides a standard framework to execute the dirty work: SIP, STUN, SDP already define the low-level mechanisms for peers to find each-other, agree on the logistics of the session, and exchange media RTP packets over UDP, even through the vast majority of NAT configurations. Many peer-to-peer frameworks keep reinventing their own protocols to solve these problems.

SIP is versatile: SIP enables a slew of peer-to-peer applications based on mature, open standards. A while back, EarthLink R&D released a proof of concept SIP-powered peer-to-peer file sharing application written in Java: SIPShare.

SIP is highly interoperable: If something speaks SIP, chances are just about anything can conceivably connect to it. You've got a SIP-based radio broadcast? A Zyxel wifi phone user just might give you a ring from an airport Boingo hotspot. Perhaps a MindSpring, GizmoProject, or Free World Dialup user might plug your SIPCast address into their phone. Heck, if you mapped an 360 area code phone number to your SIP address, anybody with a plain old cell phone would be likely to dial you up and listen-in.

SIP addressing is powerful ... and convenient: Consider one of many possible forms of SIP addresses: Looks familiar? Just like an e-mail address. SIP also supports "session forwarding". I can arbitrarily decide to forward calls to my SIP address to another SIP address. Domain name registrars need to capitalize on this today, and add this as a feature alongside wild-card mail forwarding @somedomain.bleh. This is achievable by declaring your SIP proxy host as a handler of SIP traffic via DNS SRV records.

What Now?

We need to attempt more practice-runs of larger-scale audio SIPCasts using SJPhone, and/or perhaps even asterisk.
We need to document the many obvious and not-so-obvious limitations of this ad-hoc setup.
We need to define some use cases for SIPCast software that allows control over interactivity levels, and streamlines the peer discovery and media relay processes.

Monday, August 07, 2006

off to San Jose

off to San Jose
Originally uploaded by chrisholland.

TAB Audio Party Line Relays

This is a follow-up to this post.

For those interested in being an audio party-line relay:

We're still looking for more standby relayers for the audio partyline.

1) Configure SJPhone with a SIP account following these directions

2) in the Preferences menu, "Call options" tab, check [x] automatically accept incoming calls.

3) Make sure the conference button is clicked,

4) e-mail your SIP address to In the e-mail, also tell me what your upstream/downstream speed is on your broadband connectivity ... if you know it.

For everybody else interested in audio party-line:

1) Install MindSpring (PC Users), or GizmoProject (Mac, PC, Linux) or run any other SIP-capable program.
2) plug the following sip address in your SIP program:
3)Find the mute button and keep it pressed unless you need to speak-up :)

If all you have is a phone, try this:

(360) 526-6161

For those interested in a text chat with live keynote updates:

Head here! Go to AIM Chat Room: TheAppleBlog

Sunday, August 06, 2006

WWDC 2006 Live Keynote Coverage/Chat

Chat with hundreds (if not thousands) of other mac users during The Apple Blog's live keynote coverage and chat.

read more | digg story

Friday, August 04, 2006

FCC Supports Broadband over Power Lines

"The Federal Communications Commission decided Aug. 3 to reaffirm its stance on the deployment of broadband-over-power-line technology." "By adpting this order, the FCC rejected requests by several groups, including the amateur radio community, the aviation industry and broadcasters, to either limit the service or to disallow it completely. "

read more | digg story

Apple may restate profits amid accounting scandal

The accounting scandal engulfing Apple deepened today as the computer company warned Wall Street that its earnings figures over the past four years "should not be relied upon," sending its shares tumbling.

read more | digg story Traffic Plummets

Unique visitors have dropped by 22%, and page views
have dropped by a whopping 75%, erasing all gains in traffic this
year. is effectively at the same traffic levels as they
were when it was acquired in December 2005

read more | digg story

Chad Vader - Episode 2

awesome! :)

"Strike me down with your hatred, and claim your refund".
"Chad, vomit clean-up aisle 5".

Chad Vader

1st episode.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Beyond AdSense: A Business Model Checklist

Brian Oberkirch of Like It Matters offers a useful list of "the various business models available to developers of live Web apps & services."

read more | digg story

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Daily Show (TDS): Net Neutrality With John Hodgman

Learn all about the upcoming Information Supertubes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dodgers vs Padres

dodgers lunch
Originally uploaded by chrisholland.

Padres won, i think ... we didn't stay 'till the end. It was fun hanging out with the crew for a couple of hours. Back at the office now :o

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Inconvenient Truth: Go See It

It hasn't shaken me to the same dramatic extent it has shaken my sister Alex, whose sole mission in life since her early teens has been to save the planet, but I believe it's a movie very well worth seeing. It clearly lays out the science behind global warning, with very precise claims that can be easily verified by even the most skeptics, all leading to the very logical conclusions overwhelmingly adopted as fact by the scientific community.

If you haven't already, find a local showing of Inconvenient Truth. And head over to

TrackThePack -- fast, easy and stylish all-in-one package tracking

Package tracking has long been given the cold shoulder when it comes to cool tools to help organize your life. TrackThePack is a simple, but extremely useful web application. Check it out!

read more | digg story

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Prodigem Becomes MoveDigital

Gary Lerhaupt, the guy behind just sent this e-mail:
Following Prodigem's acquisition back in March, I've been hard at work working with a great group of folks to retool Prodigem for rerelease as a new service. I'm happy to report that today that new service launches, and the web service formerly known as Prodigem is now known
as MoveDigital.

The focus of the service is centered on moving your digital data (hence the name). So beyond just publishing BitTorrents, the service also does direct download publishing as well as mobile phone video and audio publishing (just like our publishing of torrents, we convert your video and audio to mobile phone format for you, and then also take care of the streaming to your 3G cell phone).

So do stop on over and check it out. All Prodigem user accounts and content have been transferred over. Your usernames are still the same, and all Prodigem users also get a free 1 year membership. We're pleased also to announce that Senator John Edwards is our first official customer, not only using MoveDigital to distribute his videos for the mobile phone, but also to be distributed for the first time via BitTorrent.

There's a lot more too. We've created this very cool web widget that makes it very simple to reblog your MoveDigital links. And included with this web widget, via its 'Share' button, is a notion we're calling 'social bandwidth sharing' which allows other users to directly add bandwidth into your account from wherever you may have placed your widget. Moreover, MoveDigital bandwidth is different than what you'll find anywhere else. For direct downloads, we only deduct bandwidth from your account for completely delivered files. You don't get penalized if someone stops downloading half way through. As well, your bandwidth always rolls over to your next membership period, so it's always there for you.

Look forward to seeing you at MoveDigital,

Gary Lerhaupt

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Jon Stewart on Net Neutrality

Learn all about the tubes and gerbils that power the internetS

Thursday, July 13, 2006

RSS Reader and Social Bookmarking: EarthLink Going Web 2.0


It looks like Steve's found out what these guys, among many others, have been obsessively slaving at for the past few months :)

Mega kudos to them and everybody else involved, they're very passionate about building insanely useful applications, and it's very gratifying to see them deliver on their vision. It's a labor of love, and i for one argue it shows.

Mad shouts to Scott Frost too, you know why. \m/

Both those products are available to the general public. You do not have to be a paying EarthLink subscriber to start using the Reader and Favorites applications.

Stay tuned to for more coverage from Dave, including some subscribe/save tools for web site and blog authors.

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Amazon's S3 storage

Great information on the trend towards web based storage and falling costs of web site development.

read more | digg story

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Zidane Kombat

Zidane Kombat
Originally uploaded by chrisholland.

Found here, where the poster mentions "Stolen from Coys".

Also, check out this fun Flash game.

Italy wins. Blech.

I'm not sure what was up with Zidane and that player he head-butted, but he must have really pissed him off. Still, bad move on his last career game.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

30 years.

man. is it already time to go buy a corvette or something? or is that when you turn 40?

I've spent the last 3 days off from work, doing stuff around the house and yard ahead of the celebratory beach-bash, and enjoying the beach in late afternoons. The water's been very nice. Not too cold. Beautiful sunny weather.

Brandy finished picking-up the house and making snacks. We're about ready for the party :o

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gnarls Barkley kid :-)

This kid's got moves.

WebKit adds a JavaScript Debugger

There is a new addition in the Webkit nightlies � a JavaScript debugger. Drosera, named after the largest genera of bug eating plants, lets you attach and debug JavaScript for any WebKit application � not just Safari. One of the unique things about Drosera, like their Web Inspector, is that over 90% of it is written in HTML and JavaScript.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Net Neutrality: Clear Disclosure?

Issue #1: Charging Consumers Extra for "Atypical" Network Usage

On one side of the net neutrality camp, there are those who argue that providers of broadband service should not discriminate against "how" broadband users who pay X dollars for Y "service", actually make use of the service.

In other words, we currently purchase what we've typically known as "unlimited broadband service" at a "given speed". That speed is made of "upstream" and "downstream" speed. When you browse the web, or do e-mail, you typically consume more "downstream" speed than consume "upstream" speed, and the typical consumer service packages offered by most broadband providers reflect this assumption.

And it's not insane to assume that many broadband providers are to some extent "overselling" their capacity, assuming that aside from certain peak usage hours, most people don't use their broadband service on a sustained basis. If they can provide the illusion of a reliable "web browsing" experience during those peak hours, they've thus-far believed they'd be ... "okay".

And all was pretty-much, indeed, "okay", as long as we broadband consumers were nice little pawns, and only did two basic things: browse the web and do email.

Then ... with various advancements in media delivery, communications, and file sharing over the Internet Protocol, many are starting to make the most of that service. So ... broadband consumption patterns are evolving from short peak bursts, into sustained network usage, as people watch online videos, exchange files, and do voice and video conferencing, at no extra metered cost.

So obviously, that doesn't make the network operators too happy, because it starts eating at their margins. Just how comfortable those margins are, is hard for us consumers to tell, but any sound corporation will fight tooth and nail to walk the profit margin line, while keeping-up enough smoke and mirrors to not alienate existing and prospective consumers. Fair enough.

Here's the other snag though. As many consumers are leveraging their Internet connectivity for communications, and slowly phasing out their phone service, network operators who also happen to have a highly profitable traditional phone service business (say Verizon, AT&T), are really starting to freak out.

Imagine a possible eery scenario:
"Oh you want to use Skype for all your phone calls instead of our phone service? We just might "prioritize" your Skype traffic differently from your web browsing traffic, in such a way that your Skype call quality will go to crap, and you'll go back to using your regular phone service, like the nice little consumer you are, thankyouverymuch. We won't let un-metered communications happen under our watch! NO SIR."
I've seen little proof out there that phone companies that offer broadband services are doing this today, but, as many consumer advocates fear, there is currently very little that would stop them, and from the mouth of a few telco execs, they appear to have every intention to find creative paths toward this goal.

Possible Resolution to Issue #1:

If they want to pass those costs on to consumers, i'd say bring it on.

In this specific instance, a good Net Neutrality bill would enforce those broadband providers to disclose CLEARLY, and EXACTLY to consumers what type of service they're offering. Such as: "You are getting unlimited broadband service to surf the web and do e-mail for $X/month, at speeds of Y downstream and Z upstream. All other activities are subject to extra costs.". Picture a mandatory warning label akin to what you'll see on cigarette packs: "WARNING: This 2nd-rate Internet Service will keep you in the broadband stone-age, while everybody else in the world communicates in real-time for free."

From here, this opens the door to competing, more progressive broadband providers (EarthLink, Speakeasy, Covad, your local mom and pop DSL or Cable) to clearly distinguish themselves as the providers of "unbridled Internet" for $X/month.

Think about the myriad of Credit Card companies out there. When you apply for a credit card, there are a number of "gotchas" you've got to look out for. They'll advertise a 0% introductory rate that might lure you in, unless you notice that the rate will jump up to 19% after the introductory period. No thanks. Some also have annual fees. Cash advances are often subject to a different APR. It would be nearly impossible to compare credit cards, if the key terms of an offer were not clearly, disclosed to us, in a sheet that always comes with each credit card offer I've ever seen. That sheet is easy to read, and allows me to compare offers side-by-side. I can't imagine this type of information disclosure is "volunteered" by credit card companies. My guess is that at some point, a law was passed to regulate the clear disclosure of key credit card offer information.

update: those disclosures and motivations behind them are explained here.

I'm asking for the exact same modus operandi from all broadband providers. Give me a clear, easy-to-read, uncluttered disclosure sheet before I sign-up for your service. Let me know exactly what it is I'll be able to do with my so-called "unlimited" service.

Rather than a Net Neutrality Bill, should we instead be discussing some sort of Internet Connectivity Disclosure Act (ICDA)?

Issue #2: Charging Web Site Operators for Driving Broadband Usage

But of course, telcos are not dumb, they realize that passing costs on to consumers just might not be too popular and/or enough. We've heard certain telco executives threatening to charge companies who make substantial profits providing content to broadband subscribers, for the right to serve that content to them. For example, if i watch a lot of video from, Google might start getting slapped with a bill from SBC/AT&T. NOW THAT would be totally frickin' insane. Google, and all other "content providers" pay their own ISPs for the bandwidth they consume. Those ISPs in turn pay their own ISPs for the bandwidth consumed by their clients. And so forth and so on. They're "peering agreements".

In such instances, consumers would have no power to influence the market with their dollars, because Google would be getting billed without my knowledge, without my consent. Heck, Google might raise awareness to this fact, by detecting the fact that i'm coming from an SBC/AT&T-owned IP address, and warning me? Or simply blocking me? Can you imagine the nightmare it would be for content providers to catalog IP addresses coming from broadband providers that charge them? And selectively refuse service to those users?


I don't see one, beside the ultimate collapse of the incentive to build anything on the Internet. If anybody were to be far enough out of their mind to even consider such compensation model, a good Net Neutrality bill might explicitly allow content providers to request from the phone companies to flat out BLOCK all traffic to their sites, rather than being automatically slapped with a bill. Let's just see how long SBC/AT&T will stay in the business of offering broadband once their users can no-longer go to or even use Skype.

They seem to forget that people purchase broadband Internet connectivity to you know, actually, do things on the Internet. If people were only interested in surfing text web sites and do e-mail, they might as well stick with $10/month 56K dial-up.


As a consumer, I'm perfectly willing to be open to the idea that the way in which I use my Internet connectivity can have an adverse impact on the profitability of the business that provides me with this connectivity. In which case, I, the consumer, should be the only entity being billed extra for "Atypical" usage on the network, and such extra charges should be clearly disclosed to me before I sign-up for the service, and those charges should be clearly outlined in my monthly bill. Only then can I make an informed decision as to who should provide me with broadband connectivity. And I believe a Net Neutrality bill should enforce this.

When it comes to the whole Net Neutrality debate, i don't believe we'll get anywhere trying to see what's true and what's untrue on the realities of operating a network, and by determining whether or not we should "allow network operators to prioritize traffic and charge more for certain types of traffic". Let them do what they want and focus enforcement on clearly disclosing their practices to consumers, so we consumers can make informed decisions. Let competing network operators expose phone companies' suspected deception by offering unbridled connectivity at the exact same price-points or heck, lower.

Well that is, assuming we do have a competitive broadband landscape in the U.S.. But that's a different issue.

See also: Fire your Phone Company. Today.

See also: If we build it, they will come.

On July 1st ...

France plays Brazil.
and i turn 30.

winning that game would be like ... *totally awesome*.

I would like to thank / Mes sinceres remerciments

... Spain for the lovely workout they gave our French boys. Fond memories to take away before Brazil spanks us on my birthday.

... a l'Espagne pour l'entrainement avant qu'on aille se faire tuer par le Bresil le jour de mon anniversaire :o

P'tit message pour l'equipe de France

Question: Qu'est ce qu'ils y connaissent au foot, les espagnols?
Reponse: Que dalle!

Mettez-leur une bonne raclee! >:]

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Shopping Widget: Insanely Useful

One key aspect of online shopping that’s often frustrating is the amount of leg work required to perform basic comparison shopping, across multiple marketplaces and retailers. I’ve often found myself opening-up many browser windows, and many tabs in each browser window, to pursue multiple shopping tracks. Few sites bother to save your shopping history, and once your browser windows are closed, you’ve lost most everything.

Another frustration is the amount of information thrown at me on traditional web pages. With all this real-estate available, and quarterly revenue pressures, we start seeing more ads, links, and clutter.

The Most Insanely Useful Shopping Tool Ever Built

.... in an attempt to bring a measure of Zen to online shopping, rumor has it, there's this shopping widget thing, that was just released ... for us, Mac users.

There have been fabled reports of envious PC users rushing to a nearby Apple Store to pick-up a Mac Mini and KVM switch, to share in the insanely useful awesomeness that this widget is.

Then again, i just may be talking crazy ...

Either way, if you've got a Mac running any version of Tiger, check it out. Stick bugs, wished features and virtual filet mignons in comments to this blog entry, and/or write a review on MacUpdate.

In my frenzy to get this thing out the door and get the word out, I almost forgot to give mad props to Ernest for the visual design of this widget!@. Ernest. totally. rocks.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Story

1 week, 1 hour and 20 minutes ago, I got up on stage to propose to Brandy in front of about a hundred people, including half her family.

Every year since 2000, employees of Phillips 66, near the little town of Sweeny, TX, organize a BBQ cook-off contest, as a benefit for one of their families in need. They raise money through raffles, live and silent auctions. It's a very fun event which a good chunk of her family attends every year. We were there last year.

We'd been planning to attend this year again.

Last Sunday, I dropped Brandy off at LAX so she could attend a work conference the whole week, at the end of which I would meet her for the event, kicked-off on Friday evening. It gave me time to plot in peace.

I picked-up Mr. Bling on Tuesday morning, on Tuesday night asked her Dad and Mom for their blessing over a one-way iChat Video conference, where they could see me, and I couldn't see them. It was the most nerve-wracking step of this whole week, including, surprisingly, getting-up on stage. It was a very important moment for me, and of all things, I didn't want to mess that up. It's her parents, their baby-girl. They'd both been very nice and welcoming to me in the past, and, as i'd hoped they did give me their blessing ( \o/ ). We proceeded to plot the whole thing.

I flew up on Thursday night, and it took every bone in my body to try to act in a semi-normal fashion around Brandy until Friday night. I almost delivered on that one, heh.

The plan was this:

- By 8PM, I would have Brandy near the stage, with her whole family nonchalantly hanging around nearby, supposedly watching the live auctions.

- At 8:30PM they would announce the winners of the silent auctions, at which point "Brandy and Chris" were going to be on the list, and we would have had, for some "unexplained" reason to "pick up our lot on stage", at which point I would have grabbed the microphone, explaining to Brandy that we didn't actually win something, but that instead *I* was trying to win something ...

What happened ...

We were all hanging out around the stage, 8:30 came by and they announced the winners of the silent auctions, but we weren't on the list because ... nobody could find a microphone. In what were very .... long ... following 10 minutes, Brandy, impatiently ready to head back to the BBQ area, started no-longer buying the excuses I was making for hanging out by the Stage ... "c'mon Chris, let's go back, you didn't win anything". "Uhhh .. Yeah ..uhhh let's hang ... *twitch* ... there's still ... a chance". She started putting the pieces together pretty quickly, at which point she asked "Uhm, Chris, you're not going to do anything crazy are you?". "Me? What? Naaaaah, just hanging, having fun!" (thinking "gameover man, gameover, i'm all guna die").

8:40 comes around, I see the microphone making its way onto the stage, glad I didn't eat anything, they call us, I grab Brandy's hand ...

and there we went. You will need quicktime (Mac or PC) if you care to view this.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Helio Launches! 888-88-HELIO

From the Helio press release:
Helio is now available through, 888-88-HELIO, and will roll out from nearly 1,000 retail locations by the end of May to an expected 3,000 plus retail locations nationwide by the end of the year. Helio's distribution partners include leading national and regional stores such as Fry's Electronics, FYE, Sam Goody, Wherehouse, Strawberries, Coconuts and Tower Records. Helio will also be found at over 100 college and university campus bookstores across the nation through distribution with Douglas Stewart, as well as authorized agents including Wireless GIANT and Wireless Toyz, and key master agents nationwide such as ERC Inc., Horus, ING Wireless Inc., Interactive Wireless Services, InTouch America, Top Notch Communications, Top Up Solutions LLC and WDI Wireless. Consumers can find a retail location nearest them by visiting

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

Get a Mac

Apple is at it again.

Cleverly crafted, i say.

Sphere Launches

Sphere allows people to perform special searches on timely topics, and gets results back pointing to semi real-time online discussions ... pretty much what has been doing for a few years, but they seem to shoot for better execution. we shall see.

EarthLink Ads Air on RocketBoom

Dave has the skinny. Whoa. Rocketboom's audience has grown to over 300,000. Way cool. I'm no marketeer, but this seems to me like some of the smartest use of advertising dollars.

The interesting thing about "online video" is that it's not as much tied to a "time slot" as Live TV is. Once an ad lives in given movie, it's there to stay. People will eventually download it, and very likely watch it.

There is a huge overhead with operating broadcast television or a cable network. To subsidize this overhead, those networks need as many advertisers as they can get.

Amanda and Andrew's operation has very little overhead. They should be able to make significant profits from their advertising partners, while helping them craft a message that makes sense for their audience.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Toward a Unified Software Platform?

XAML: Coming soon to Mac OS X.
"...a fascinating aspect of XAML, is that it’s getting Microsoft even closer to this ultimate abstraction layer of their User Interface Framework, that just might, beyond Mono and Cocoa#, dramatically simplify the process of “porting” a Vista application to Mac OS X, and other platforms."

Blogging is Cooler than a Firetruck?

not a chance in hell :) but still.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Katie Strand @ The Cat Club

Brandy and I just came back from watching an awesome performance by Katie Strand at The Cat Club on Sunset blvd. She's got an amazing voice, a unique sound, and an engaging collection of original songs.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Noteworthy Service Launches: Zillow-Killer, Frucall recently launched a Zillow-killing home valuation engine. I'm liking better than because they work in Safari, their interfaces and features feel more intuitive and not nerdy. Oh and they do appear to have a little thing called a business model, imagine that: juicy realtor and home-lending referrals. The fact that they value my home slightly higher than Zillow ... doesn't hurt either heh. Kudos to Joe's team :)

Someone dropped me a note about Frucall. It lets you call them up from your cell phone to get comparison shopping information for just about any product. Sounds pretty useful! :)

Friday, March 31, 2006

News for Non-Nerds, Usable Stuff

This piece tries to understand design requirements for bringing usable applications of RSS content syndication and aggregation to a less tech-savvy crowd, not as quick to adapt to a flurry flexible and powerful features.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

TV Listings Launch!

TV Listings have launched, thanks to the blood and sweat tirelessly poured by some incredibly cool dudes and dudettes i know :) Congrats guys :)

It's possibly one of the best broadcast programing trackers out there. It's supposed to get better though. Give it a whirl, register for free, share your thoughts in comments. If that "register" link doesn't work, just go here.

PhoneGnome Developer Community Launches

David Beckemeyer's PhoneGnome, a neat little box that makes your home phone actually useful, and gives you a slew of features phone companies typically charge you up to $30/month for, is launching its User-Contributed Library. It will feature a collection of tools built by enthusiastic developers leveraging PhoneGnome's open API, to get the most out of their little box.

The first contributor to the library is Dr. Mark Petrovic, with a little handheld phone interface to the Phone Gnome. In David's words:
This little demo app is an application of real-world convergence in the here (hear?) and now. I can use my mobile to access and control my home phone, to make calls using my PhoneGnome Internet plans, and to do stuff like send a voice message (click a contact, my phone rings, and I record a message into the phone and PhoneGnome sends it to that contact as a WAV attachment in an email). that way I can send a long message, say even when driving,
without getting into an accident trying to enter it into the phone keyboard.

See also:

Alec Saunders


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Mod_Expires: Apache httpd

Victor just pointed me to Mod_Expires (apache 2.0, apache 1.3).

This looks like a very simple and effective way to be very cache-friendly for certain resources.

I've really gotta spend some time catching-up on all the mods available:

apache 2.0 mods
apache 1.3 mods

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wacky Weather Weekend

CBS says "wacky weather" to hit the southland.

It's about 2am, and the wind is blowing very cold. It's getting nippy inside. Decent insulation would be useful just about ... now.

Where's Dennis Quaid when we need him!@

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

GMail Gone Mobile

Point your phone's web browser to

Going to this URL from your desktop computer's web browser will likely yield some weird results. That's because you're not supposed to access it from there. So don't. I know you want to. But don't.

It works on my Treo 650.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rocket Boom Poised to Launch First Ads

Amanda and and Andrew are hard at work.

BarCamp Los Angeles Wrap-Up

Tags: -

Beyond getting my quick presentation out of the way, i got to meet a lot of cool people doing very interesting things, and missed a lot of good ones too.

Check out the BarCamp LA Wiki for what people presented, and hopefully they'll be updating the grid with links to their material.

Sean Bonner and Jillian Tate from have been thoroughly covering the event.

We were privy to some really cool demos of home-media-stuff that Yahoo is currently working on. Some sort of healthy, usable, alternative to Windows Media Center.

I got to chat with Travis from They were around way before dijjer, and are offering a very interesting framework for distributed content delivery, aka P2P CDN. Which is how i should have framed my dijjer review in the first place, versus pitting it straight against BitTorrent, which really fits different use cases. Travis mentioned they'll have a Linux and Mac OS X client available soon. Big name media companies are already leveraging them. They've built a business around turning the companies that used to sue them for billions, into rabid customers, by building a compelling framework that would cater to their needs, and to the needs of anybody who wishes to distribute content without footing high bandwidth bills.

Kent Nichols showed us all about (AAN), and gave a very good presentation on various strategies to build podcasts with zero budget and focused ideas. AAN is insanely funny.

Matt Homann asked very pertinent questions on building effective conferences.

Chris Messina showed-off Flock. It's not a web browser. And that just may well be a very good thing. Its goal is to treat your online as an event stream, and Flock is meant to harness it, organize it.

Steve Myers showed-off a really cool Java-3D Peer-to-Peer application that leverages JXTA.

Debi Jones and Patrick Neeman led a very convivial discussion about myspace's popularity and some of its key drivers. One interesting thought i took away was that, for a certain younger demographic, being able to offer a highly personalized online representation of themselves matters more than just about anything else. No matter how unusable the page may be. See the report that sparked the discussion.

Eric, in his Things Left Incomplete presentation, showed us interesting work he's doing with RDF to model relationships from graphs, into an RDF store, managed and queried by custom-built perl tools, and presented thru XSLT transformations.

I caught some stuff on the Viral Marketing session, I need to go over the materials again, as soon as they put it online :)

I also caught a glimpse of Ilya's Web 2.0 without the web presentation. I really like his analysis, resonates spot-on by me. I'm also voting his presentation the coolest presentation format. I love it. Very effective.

Jason Calcanis wasn't there. With his really cool pooch. And he didn't call bullsh*t on a lot of companies and people out there doing bad stuff. None of this happened. In fact, i'm not even writing about this. ;)

Ian C. Rogers did a great presentation on physics of Media 2.0. I need to start reading-up on XIPF, XSPF.

I hope I can get my grubby paws on the material for most presentations I completely missed >:|

Additional shouts out to:

Nicole Simon, aus Deuthschland, for so-rightfuly pointing out that U.S. companies ought to be mindful of their international audiences when sponsoring podcasts, and brainstorming about some potentially nifty ways to help podcasters be in closer touch to their audience. Nicole didn't get to do her official presentation but has engaged many of her fellow geeks in thought-provoking discussions. Thanks Neezee :D

Jason Cosper, for showing me JabPhone, and showing a few lucky participants who hadn't gotten sucked into Jason Calcanis's rant (that didn't happen), how to get free sh*t for writing about stuff you like.

Ori Neidich for having attained UberGeekdom at Digital Domain, and for being The Curator of this guy's baby.

James Gross and the folks from Feedster.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Net Neutrality Bill Introduced by Sen. Wyden

IP & Democracy tells us about Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) Net Neutrality Bill:
Broadband providers will not be allowed to interfere with, block, degrade, alter, modify or change traffic on the Internet;
Sounds good to me! :)

The telco lobby machine is probably going nuts ... just ... about ... now :)


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Say Hello to Hero and Kickflip

South Korea is light-years ahead of us with their handheld device market.

Now we can do more than just envy them. Helio shows us how.

Play MPEG4 and H264 Movies on your phone? Yup. Music? Yup. Gaming? Oh yeah. WiFi? Coming soon.

big momma's ... what?! :o

big momma's ... what?! :o
Originally uploaded by chrisholland.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

His Magazine

His Magazine
Originally uploaded by chrisholland.

Dijjer: Future of Online Media Distribution?

Josh just pointed me to Dijjer.

It looks fantastic. Here's why I think it's better than BitTorrent, keeping in mind i've only read their FAQ, and haven't done extensive testing of it.

BitTorrent doesn't work through NAT. It actually works, but only in leech-mode. Which means, if you're an average non-techy user behind a broadband router's default-configured NAT, install BitTorrent and download files from other peers, you actually do not contribute any bandwidth back to the rest of the network, because other machines on the Internet don't have a clue on how to reach you. Of course, it's very easy for someone with a little bit of tech savvy to do the necessary port forwarding. But realistically, on a large scale, who ever bothers?
update: ok it would appear the above paragraphs are angering armies of geeks. Take a deep breath as I concede your collective point with the following: Yes, if your BitTorrent client already has an active connection while downloading from a peer, that peer will be able to get data from you, and you're therefore indeed "contributing bandwidth" back, to some extent. I've experienced this first-hand. It's nice. But if I'm behind NAT, and I don't have port forwarding, and you're behind NAT, and you don't have port forwarding either, then our BitTorrent clients won't exchange data directly from each-other. Period. Is this a big deal? Obviously not, as there are enough people out there with properly set-up connectivity to keep BitTorrent a successful and vibrant community ... of mostly geeks who know what they're doing. I'm looking at a different market. I'd like to see a peer-to-peer solution that enables a wider audience to become first-rate bandwidth contributors. With some maturation and polishing, working out a few kinks, it would appear dijjer just might get us there.
It's not impossible to defeat the vast majority of NAT issues in the wild. The STUN protocol, released around 2003, tells us how to do it. Most SIP-enabled client software and devices make use of it, to avoid having to relay RTP packets between peers.

Dijjer claims to be able to defeat most NAT issues. And I wouldn't be surprised if it used many of the techniques outlined in the STUN protocol.

It also looks far easier to deploy than BitTorrent, as most of the work of finding peers seems to be handled by the clients. It may or may not be a good thing, it looks like they use some "seed peers" to establish initial contact. But they've removed the need for the content owner/deployer to create anything "special" on their server. They just need to link to their a file a bit differently. And as their FAQ mentions, the file's presence on the original HTTP server is used for policing its distribution over the dijjer network: If a file lives on your web server, and you decide to link to it via dijjer, then subsequently change your mind, you can just remove it from your server, and nobody on the dijjer network will be able to download it.

On the peer's machine, it appears to expose a lightweight http interface on a high port. When you're downloading a file, the browser actually retrieves it over normal http from localhost, over port 9115. If you've installed dijjer, try this URL: http://localhost:9115/. It seems to be a technique vaguely similar, in principle, to what certain "web accelerators" do. The fact that as a user, I don't have to "switch" to another application to merely download a file, before resuming web browsing back into the web browser, makes the whole experience more usable, less clunky, less nerdy.

It also opens the doors for 3rd-party applications to interface with Dijjer via straight HTTP, without having to write custom components that comply to a different protocol. These folks might one day likely be interested in switching from BitTorrent to Dijjer.

One thing to keep in mind is that dijjer wants to keep running in the background. When double-clicking that .jar in Mac OS X, it's not readily obvious that dijjer is running. You can easily shut it down via http://localhost:9115/, or, on the Mac, a "killall java" from the terminal. I haven't tested Linux and Windows yet. Their FAQ also mentioned that dijjer might pre-emptively start "caching" stuff on your hard drive, stuff you may have never requested, but that's useful to other people on the dijjer network. But again, a peek at http://localhost:9115/ tells you what it's doing, how much space on your hard drive is being used, and your download/upload activity. Before putting-on the tinfoil hats, remember that dijjer is 100% open-source, and verifiably crap-ware free.

In contrast, with BitTorrent, you'll only ever seed files you've previously downloaded, or are in the process of downloading. BitTorrent is very-much more of a "foreground" process.

Going forward, dijjer will likely mature and become more polished. It's already very usable, and very promising.

A few replies to some comments in the digg submission:

I *did say* you *can* make BitTorrent work through NAT to enable other peers to 1) discover you 2) connect to you without your having previously connected to them, *if* and only *if* you do port forwarding, as outlined in the BitTorrent FAQ which i linked to in the article. As i mentioned in my review, it is simple enough for us geeks, but not for your average newbie. Having out-of-the-box NAT traversal support dramatically increases your potential user base.

When you look at peer to peer frameworks, you've gotta distinguish a few aspects of the peer to peer features. Two of which are: 1) file and peer discovery. 2) distributed file transfer.

Some peer to peer frameworks have a highly decentralized file and peer discovery mechanism, and those are nicely suited for illegal sharing of files.

Other peer to peer frameworks, such as BitTorrent and Dijjer do not seek to make the file discovery aspect decentralized, because their designers didn't seek to build a rebel or illegal file sharing network. That's why it's so easy for the RIAA to go after torrent sites today. And Dijjer is even more tightly coupled to the source than BitTorrent is, as it is a feature.

There are people out there who don't use peer to peer technology to share illegal content.

The folks (Nicholas Reville, of fame and many more) behind have embedded their own BitTorrent client within their TV player to save bandwidth for the various content providers. And that's already very cool. Integrating Dijjer instead of (or in addition to?) BitTorrent into their client might make their platform even more efficient. One of their developers has mentioned to me they've indeed been looking at dijjer.

The end-game of legal use of peer to peer technologies is a new framework for content distribution. Profound disruptions of today's media. Pretend for a second that something such as dijjer, or something better, gets wide adoption, among the masses. And i'm talking about the real masses, our Moms and Dads, with their home broadband connectivity and plenty of bandwidth to share.

Say you suddenly decide to become your own movie producer and director, and you manage to make movies people are actually interested in watching, and perhaps eventually buying. In a dijjer-enabled world, you could likely serve your movie from any normal web account with a low bandwidth quota, but link to it through a dijjer-ised link.

Unlike with bittorrent, you didn't have to purchase a special hosting account at a BitTorrent provider (prodigem are cool guys), nor did you have to set-up your own BitTorrent server/tracker. You just uploaded the file to your web account, but instead of giving this url to your friends: , you gave them this url: .

I'm interested in peer to peer technologies to replace traditional media. Not to illegally share the crap they shove at my TV. Hence the title of this blog post.

Esme Vos, Wireless Warrior

The Wall Street Journal offers a great introduction of Esme Vos, possibly the most effective advocate of Municipal Wireless efforts in the World. I know she helped us out advocate our way past Cable and Phone Companies-backed fear-mongering, back when we first deployed our WiFi Network in Hermosa Beach in 2004.
In the future, she sees wireless networks nearly everywhere, not just for Web access but for voice services as well. "It will shrink the traditional business model dramatically," she says. Traditional telecom companies, she argues, will be forced to form partnerships with Internet companies to offer next-generation services. "They'll have to change," she says.
The article gives you a good insight into how far your local Telco will go to protect their monopoly, and offers good counterpoints to their typical rhetoric.

See also: Net Neutrality and the Sorry State of U.S. Broadband

Friday, February 03, 2006

Net Neutrality and the Sorry State of U.S. Broadband

Most French citizens can get 24Mbps/2Mbps Internet connectivity that includes unlimited local/long distance calling, plus TV and Cable channels, for 30 Euros per month. Japan? Fiber everywhere. All those services are available from many fiercely competing companies. Just take a walk in Parisian subways and look at the various "Haut Debit" (high speed) advertisements to see just what i'm talking about: Wanadoo. Club-Internet. Cegetel. Claranet. To name a very few.

Many countries such as Japan and France have succeeded in the broadband field, paradoxically, precisely because of Government intervention: at some point they decreed that copper phone lines to their constituents' houses were no-longer the sole operating property of the local phone company. After all, phone companies have in most countries throughout history consistently enjoyed comfortable government subsidies to deploy their infrastructure, when not owned and operated by governments themselves.

The Industry jargon defines this process as Local Loop Unbundling. It provides a framework for allowing competing companies to leverage today's infrastructure to offer their own broadband-internet-powered services: Voice and Video communications, interactive, custom-tailored entertainment. E-mail and "the Web" are "so" 1995 and no-longer the "killer applications" of the Internet. They're insanely useful starting points.

Having enjoyed comfortable taxpayer-subsidized monopolies for the better part of a century, such competitive landscapes are a direct conflict of interest for the traditional phone companies.

In the U.S., they've been rabidly lobbying to keep their monopolies intact, under the guise of preserving our cherished capitalistic principles, by parroting feel-good phrases in the wrong context: "Government Involvement is bad! Let market forces do their thing!". But in this case, we're talking about network infrastructure. It makes perfect sense for local government to largely subsidize and work with the private sector on the deployment of such infrastructure, and lease access to it, at cost, to all businesses willing to compete. It is a far more efficient approach, at long last enabled by today's technological advances and the Internet Protocol.

Consider another type of infrastructure: sidewalks. A municipality might happily front costs, or work with private developers to build sidewalks in an affluent area to attract new tax-revenue-generating businesses. In today's broadband landscape, we're looking at a narrow sidewalk with a 2-story Verizon shopping center on it, and perhaps an SBC shop 2 miles down the road.

As we blindly grant "right-of-way" to companies such as Verizon, letting them pony-up all the costs of digging trenches in our streets to deploy fiber connectivity in a few lucrative areas, we can't refuse them the right to solely own and operate this network. But few, if no other companies can afford similar deployments on their own, and Verizon will hence have very little incentive to compete on the quality of services they offer, because after all, they're the only ones in the game.

Nothing will prevent them to limit what it is we can do with the bandwidth they offer us, such as obtaining phone or video service from 3rd-party providers.

And this touches on the issue of Net Neutrality which Dave Coustan is covering quite well over at EarthLing.

See also: Fire your Phone Company. Today.

See also: Net Neutrality, Clear Disclosure?

See also: If we build it, they will come.

update: 2/15 See also: this great comment on somebody else's blog:
v) Network neutrality
I don’t know if you misunderstood the network neutrality concept or not, but your analogy is way off. If major airlines were allowed to act like telcos on network neutrality then the airline would be allowed to charge different prices on the same seat on the same flight depending on your FINAL destination. “Going to France after spending the weekend in NY with your sister? That’ll be $500 extra, ’cause we don’t like them frogs at United.”