Rainbows End- Vernor Vinge

Having been a bit cranky and just wanting to get away from it all a bit, in the past two nights I’ve plowed through Rainbows End, by Vernor Vinge. It is typical Vinge in some senses (the renegades who want to stay free of government surveillance use the HURD), but very near-future- set in 2025, just like True Names. The characters aren’t his best, but the ideas are all over the place, and most are just far enough out there to be challenging, but also close enough to be plausible. Anyway… I thoroughly enjoyed it, and anyone who likes Big Ideas scifi should definitely pick it up.

weekend link bouquet

Random-ass links from a weekend spent mostly being totally unproductive:

  • Does anyone really wander around thinking ‘you know, I really wish nytimes.com looked more like a newspaper’? That MS and NYT have apparently been working on just this ‘feature’ makes me think that something is deeply, deeply broken. The only good thing about this as far as I can see is that it makes Open Office chasing the Office UI look positively brilliant.
  • If you follow the NFL, but missed the NFL draft somehow, there is only one article you need to read. It tells you everything you need to know about the only thing about this draft that anyone will remember in 20 years, and coincidentally, it is the shortest and funniest draft article I’ve seen.
  • Apparently there is still hope for the Malone UI.
  • This is probably the most interesting piece I’ve seen about the conference I attended on Friday- extrapolating from the discussions at the conference to ponder what legal scholarship will look like in 20-30 years. Lots of fields would probably do well to navel-gaze similarly at least once in a while. [This is the best overall wrapup, and not just because it cites me ;)

Sat, 18 Mar 2006

One of the primary reasons I’m in the process of moving from my old hosting (with no SQL) to my new hosting (the so-far excellent rimuhosting) was to set up gallery 2. Has been a bit of a PITA, but has had some nice payoffs- coolest toy so far is the Google Map Module. Hopefully find some similarly fun toys when I set up wordpress tomorrow.

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Fri, 17 Mar 2006


Whoa. Stormy Peters is blogging. For those who don’t know, Stormy was with the open source group at HP, and on the GNOME advisory board. Very cool, very sharp.


Spent a big chunk of yesterday at the JOLT symposium. My panel went well, I thought, though turnout was slightly disappointing given the great group of panelists. The second panel was also interesting. It seems the OLPC guys (or at least Walter) really get it- the next wave of educational innovation and creativity can come from the bottom up, instead of from the ivory towers, if we give students the right tools. My favorite line of the day was from him- ‘I believe there is intelligent life outside of Cambridge.’ It feels like (to me) that MIT and Harvard have a choice- they can lead that innovation, and extend their brands and hegemony even more (the interest on Harvard’s endowment, applied to creating top-quality, low-cost online educational materials, could put every high school textbook publisher out of business, or they can sit on their hands and get made even more niche. More rumbling on this some other time, probably.


Steven O’Grady was talking about Tomboy’s lack of tagging the other day, and I agreed wholeheartedly, so it was particularly awesome to wake up this morning and see Juri’s post on leaftag and tomboy. This is exactly the kind of experimentation I was hoping for when I talked last April about exploring new ideas incrementally– someone hacking up a lib, and others playing with it and seeing what happens. Looking forward to seeing similar things happen around gimmie (particularly the currently under-loved ‘people’ tab, and around the potential of a document-centric UI), and around the totally awesome Abiword collaboration. If all these chunks of code become centers of experimentation and innovation, we’ll be having a damn exciting time soon- and we’ll finally be well on the way towards the 3.0 we’ve been punting around forever, in an organic, sustainable, hacker-oriented way. Yay us. :)

Thu, 16 Mar 2006

Most Bizarre Technological Thing I’ve Been Involved In This Week. Still have no idea how the feed is both being served and generating a 404.

On the occasion of the release of GNOME 2.14, I hope everyone in GNOME steps back and takes a moment to appreciate each other. We snipe sometimes, we’re immature sometimes, there is no cabal, and of course, we’ve got to deal with all the other projects in the world who may or may not see it the way we do. All that said, we’re still a bunch of people who overall are fun to work with and are doing something we love and are passionate about, and doing it (primarily) because we want to make the world a better place. That is pretty rare, and should be appreciated. I know it is easy to focus on the conflict, and on the trolls, but if you take a deep breath and focus on the bigger picture, it is a positive and motivating place to be.

Tangentially, I have something pretty similar at work right now, in my work environment- lots of people who really love what they do, working together to do good things- but man- grappling all day (mentally) with the sleazeballs who put out badware is depressing stuff for me.

Wed, 15 Mar 2006

Last night I resurrected Krissa’s web site at krissa.org; the site had been AWOL since krissa.net (don’t go there!) was allowed to lapse and bought by a porn network. She hasn’t actually updated any content since then, but hey, at least she can now start the long climb back up the google index, and hopefully I’ll get her a new blog and gallery soon. I’ve also transferred ownership of tieguy.org from liv@acpub.duke.edu to my current email address, so I’ll be changing DNS and moving tieguy.org to a new home Sunday or Monday. So far I’ve been very happy with my new home at rimuhosting, but we’ll see how that goes.

Had an enlightening moment at work yesterday. In theory, the Berkman Center’s ‘mode of operation’ is described as ‘entrepreneurial non-profit’. I think perhaps, though, that the Harvard name and reputation have made us (or at least me) too afraid to fail, and too afraid to grow incrementally. There is some sense (again, possibly something I’ve made up in my head) that we must spring from the forehead fully formed and ready to do battle, because, hey, we’re Harvard. So, on the one hand, we’re entrepreneurial, because we’re trying new things and living on the edge. On the other hand, at least in my head, the expectations are so high that we’re afraid to fail and afraid to develop incrementally- both of which are killers for real entrepreneurs.

Burgundavia: You missed what is potentially the worst part of that whole problem, which is that the status of all the dup’d bugs are ‘Confirmed’ and not ‘Resolved’. Search must give you useful, reliable information if a bug tracking system is to be useful, and that means properly categorizing bugs, which apparently Launchpad doesn’t yet. [In this case, if I search for open bugs, the dups should not show up as open/confirmed- they are clutter and reduce effectiveness. I should get only the bug they are dup’d against, and in fact it should be highlighted because of the number of dups- information currently sort of hidden in Launchpad’s bug view.] Despite the critiques, though, Ubuntu must have a functional Launchpad (particularly Malone) for their model to succeed, so kudos to that team for continuing to plug away and doing a pretty decent job so far.

Tue, 14 Mar 2006

Just used Cowbell to fix some slightly awkward tags of mine (a CD marked ‘Doors’ instead of ‘The Doors’, to be specific.) Hadn’t used it in ages, probably nearly a year, at which point it still needed love but showed promise. It is now very, very nice stuff- Simply Worked, and when combined with the muine inotify plugin, the songs automagically updated their tags in the muine playlist as I updated them. Sexy, sexy stuff. Thanks, Brad :)

Mon, 13 Mar 2006

Last month a couple of my blog posts were mysteriously eaten by some weak link in the chain of blog software. One of those posts contained the Shocking Revelation that Yours Truly had been accepted to the Lego Mindstorms Developer Program. Of course, I’m under NDA, so I can’t really blog anything until $MAGICAL_DATE. But I did get my box today. :) I’m thinking I’m going to keep it under wraps until I’m done with a big deadline I have next week and then rip it to shreds. It is weird- it has been almost exactly since I moved to Boston since I last played with Lego. Will be fun to get back into, especially if the improvements to the NXT are all they are cracked up to be.