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Otis School Picnic

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Tyler’s school had a school-wide picnic today. Jello eating, three-legged racing, water balloon toss, potato sack racing, and pot luck picnic. Tyler’s making some good friends.

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Current Events

NJ Mother thrown out of Laura Bush Rally

Not local news for us anymore but Sue Niederer, a mother who lives up the road from our old house in Pennington, was thrown out from a Laura Bush rally in Hamilton, NJ.

When Bush mentioned the troops abroad, Niederer shouted, “When are yours going to serve?” referring to Bush’s 22-year-old twin daughters, who aren’t in the armed services.

“Seth died for President Bush’s personal vendetta” his mohter says in a seperate interview with the local paper. Seth Niederer was married less than six months before he was shipped out to Iraq and leaves behind a 25 year old widow.

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Office

Firefox moves into 1.0

The popular alternative to Microsoft Explorer, Mozillla’s Firefox, released it’s 1.0 preview on Tuesday. There’s been a steady increase in the number of Firefox installs as folks start to move away from IE in the wake of all its security problems.

On my personal site, I’ve seen Mozilla and Safari traffic grow to where it now represents over 25% of all the hits coming to the site.

Upon initial use, I see no significant changes except a for finding text on a page now brings up a cool little finder bar at the bottom and the words are highlighted on screen. Also, when you are on a secure site, the address bar changes color which is visually more noticeable than the little padlock icon which is the common convention.

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Office

The much overstated demise of RSS

CNet today sums up the current debate of the future of RSS. Robert Scoble at Microsoft set off a firestorm when he claimed that RSS is broken because of the bandwidth spikes set off by readers everywhere that are set to go off on the hour.

Dave Winer, defender and champion of the protocol, quickly jumped in to say the reason bandwidth was a problem for Microsoft was because they had aggregated all their MSDN blogs into one gigantic feed with a high probability of new content always being there and thus greater attraction of (a) everyone subscribing to the mega-feed as a one-stop shop and, (b) everyone setting their RSS readers to pull this feed more frequently in order to stay up to date.

Large file + pulled by many people around the world + with great frequency = expensive bandwidth bill

The debate is still ongoing but I think we’re always going to see the tendency to aggregate feeds into collections. As much as Winer rails against it, the tendency of humans to aggregate for convenience and knowledge sharing coupled with the other tendency of humans to be lazy and go for the pre-packaged is going to win over the ideal which is to require everyone to roll their own.

Despite it being cheaper and better for you, no one catches their own fish anymore.

I read somewhere that Scoble reads something like 1,000 feeds a day. It makes me think that maybe RSS has now gotten to the point where we’re downloading and caching whole segments of the web for individual perusal which seems grossly inefficient. Perhaps it’s time to push it back out again and layer a RSS search engine on top of the “living web” of blogs and their feeds and layer a semantic filter on top of this engine which only feeds you what is of interest and relevant. Ah yes, please define a static filter of what is of interest and relevant. . .

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Current Events

Crazy Weather, Man

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Watched an entertaining report from a CNN weatherman “reporting live from the eye of Hurricane Ivan” as he tried to hold an intelligent conversation while holding himself up with one hand on a rail and another on his microphone. He kept getting swept off camera with cries of, “whoa bessy” and then clawing himself back on screen to continue his live coverage as the forces of nature stormed around him. Emergency staff had been ordered off the street but here was this poor fellow, wiping his eyes from the stinging rain, pant legs flapping madly, desperate to bring us this the latest news which basically was – he should get the hell indoors. My question to CNN is, does he get hazard pay for his report?

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Current Events

The Dark Voice of Internet Evil

A new worm is making the rounds of the internet and this one speaks to you.

The Amus worm, which may be Turkish, uses the Windows Speech Engine, embedded on Windows XP, to play the following message:

“How are you. I am back. My name is Mr. Hamsi. I am seeing you. Haaaaaaaa. You must come to Turkey. I am cleaning your computer. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. 0. Gule gule.”

“Gule gule” means “bye-bye” in Turkish.

Click here for an audio file.

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Soccer

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Today was Tyler’s first day as a member of the Alameda Soccer Club. I have to say that they take things a bit more seriously here. It certainly isn’t Pee Wee soccer where the kids basically all run around chasing a ball or picking dandelions when they get bored. The uniforms are the first indication but there’s also a full set of rules and a very enthusiastic group of parents as I found out when I volunteered to play referee for the one of the games. In the photo Tyler’s in a drill but during the 10 minute games (they played two) he did quite well and the team got the hang of working the ball down the field and basic concept of zone defense.

UPDATE – a summary email just arrived from the coach.

We’ve completed our first game. It was definitely a little chaotic out there. As the season progresses, it will hopefully become a little more organized. Each week I’ll try to introduce a new skill. For this week, I will be focus on dribbling the ball. In addition, emphasize which goal our team is trying to kick the ball in.

Subject of the note was “Stinging Wasps” which reminded me of the vote on the team name at the end of practice. We narrowly missed being called the the “Singing Bears”

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Current Events

North Korean Nukes?

Mushroom Cloud Reported over North Korea – do we have another member of the nuclear club, was it an accident or a test? Or is it just a forest fire?

What disturbs me more than anything in this ever-connected world is that no on knows for sure and this is something that happened on Thursday!

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Fairyland

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I’ve posted a few photos from our Labor Day outing to Oakland’s Fairlyland.

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Office

Monitoring Blogs

The San Jose Mercury News did a piece this week on companies turning to new tools to track consumer opinions on blogs. More and more people are beginning to realize that the right blogs, if monitored correctly, can serve as an early warning mechanism for the PR flacks everywhere. With their finger on the pulse of “the next big story,” the more popular blogs can amplify little known facts and points of view to the point where they can get picked up by the popular media and broadcast to the world at large.

So how does a company keep track of the sentiment of what’s being said in the blogsphere about their product and brand? One of the more interesting tools highlighted in the article is Blabble. Founded by Rochester, NY based web designer, Matt Rice. The concept is called “thought parsing” using natural language processing to aggregate opinions expressed about a set of user-defined keywords to get at overall sentiment.

Existing software products aggregate listings from blogs, but require the user seeking a view of overall trends or opinions as represented in blogs to read through all the blog listings to make that determination manually.

Rice says Blabble goes a step farther by incorporating natural language processing that parses blog listings returned in a search into parts of speech so as to extract from them words, phrases and constructions that indicate opinion. “50,000 people may write about a topic, but you don’t have time to read 50,000 listings,” says Rice. “And I probably don’t care about one individual opinion; it’s the aggregate that I care about.”

Internet Retailer.com

UPDATE : as of January 2006, the Blabble service will no longer parse the blogosphere. According to the site, “we don’t know what we’re going to do with the technology.”