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URL is the new command line

Flash forward to where we in this debate today. John Gruber points out in his post The Location Field Is the New Command Line, that web-based applications are leapfrogging hardware-specific applications, despite their inferiority.

What they’ve got going for them in the ease-of-use department is that they don’t need to be installed, and they free you from worrying about where and how your data is stored. Exhibit A: web-based email apps. In terms of features, especially comfort features such as a polished UI, drag-and-drop, and a rich set of keyboard shortcuts, web-based email clients just can’t compare to desktop email clients.

But.

With web-based email, you can get your email from any browser on any computer on the Internet. “Installation” consists of typing a URL into the browser’s location field. The location field is the new command line.
from Daring Fireball

He concludes that Microsoft missed the boat by targeting Netscape. It’s not the company that was a threat, not even the browser, it was the applications that were enabled by the URL concept that is a threat to the Windows monopoly.

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The Web as a Platform

Today I’m starting a new weblog that will focus on a discussion that has been gaining momentum over the past two years. As web services gain favor and companies, customers, vendors, and providers begin to communicate via these standardized APIs, we all realize new economies of scale as well as lowered barriers to entry.

My initial “aha” moment was during a trip to Redmond where a Program Manager walked us through a demonstration of the .NET version of Visual Basic and showed how in 30 minutes with something like 5 lines of code he was able to build a simple web application.

The scenario was a CTO talking with his IT guy on a plane ride. The CTO asks the IT guy what all the bug-a-boo over web services is about. Jacking into the net via the seat back phone, he strings together three separate applications that pipe their results to each other to bring back a result that confirms the obvious.

1. Input your flight number >
2. Flight number acts as an input to geo-tracking service like Flight Tracker >
3. GPS coordinates of flight act as an input service that translates GPS to Zip Code >
4. Zip Code acts as input into weather tracking service for radar image of weather conditions.
5. Look out your window and confirm weather conditions

No jokes about Bob Dylan and not needing a weatherman for such an exercise, this was just an example to get the juices flowing. If you think about various web applications as something that can be negotiated with the http equivalents of “grep” and “|” then you’ll begin to appreciate the transformative (and one could say, disruptive) power of this model. Add RSS feeds to automate the connections and it’s like adding oil to the machine – everything starts to run even more smoothly.

So, to kick off this discussion/weblog I’m pointing to Tim O’Reilly’s original posting that sums it up very nicely:

Bit by bit, we’ll watch the transformation of the Web services wilderness. The first stage, the pioneer stage, is marked by screen scraping and “unauthorized” special purpose interfaces to database-backed Web sites. In the second stage, the Web sites themselves will offer more efficient, XML-based APIs. (This is starting to happen now.) In the third stage, the hodgepodge of individual services will be integrated into a true operating system layer, in which a single vendor (or a few competing vendors) will provide a comprehensive set of APIs that turns the Internet into a huge collection of program-callable components, and integrates those components into applications that are used every day by non-technical people.

From Inventing the Future, April 9, 2002

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Should the FBI be renamed the FIB?

More on my theory that key indicators to the Al-Qaeda threat were lost in the shuffle due to a lack of trained Farsi translators posted by boingboing.net Quoting an interview in Government Executive magazine with Sibel Edmonds, a translator hired by the FBI,

Edmonds said she was hired to retranslate material that was collected prior to Sept. 11 to determine if anything was missed in the translations that related to the plot. In her review, Edmonds said the documents clearly showed that the Sept. 11 hijackers were in the country and plotting to use airplanes as missiles. The documents also included information relating to their financial activities. Edmonds said she could not comment in detail because she has been under a Justice Department gag order since October 2002.

It gets even more disturbing. Instead of investigating its shortcomings and learn from its mistakes, the FBI has been actively discouraging full disclosure to the point of coverup. In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Ed Bradley, Ms. Edmonds mentions cases where her investigations were actively hindered.

This story is gaining legs and is starting to bubble up into the popular media in a way that could explode in Senior Bush Administration officials. Should the FBI be nicknamed FIB?

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ugoff.com

Boing Boing points to another mini-site put up by the Miami-based ad agency behind Subservient Chicken. These guys are re-writing the rules of Western advertising with their deconstructionalist, tongue-in-cheek dig at stereotypes and creative use of new and old media to position their clients’ products. I’ve been the bemused recipient of some of their other materials promoting the mini and Virgin Airlines.

Their New Employee Handbook which you can get to by clicking the “employment” link is both inspirational and a good read. It also is a shining example of how to set the right tone at a young, vibrant company looking to take on the world. From the guide:

We Ask that you Don’t

Throw sand.
Be selfish.
Disparage others.
Talk shit.
Duck responsibility.
Play the busy card.
Leave others hanging.
Make excuses.
Disappear.
Make promises you don’t keep.
Say it can’t be done.

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Lost in Translation?

“Al Qaeda Link To Iraq May Be Confusion Over Names” carried in the Washington Post made the Top 20 emailed articles list for today so it will be interesting to see if it gains more traction in the press.

There was another instance of possible mis-interpretation that unfortunately I cannot link to because it came to me from source connected to a military insider based in Japan. In his case, when the story about the famous August 6, 2001 Daily Presidential Brief and the lack of response started making the rounds, he recalled a memo that was sent to all military installations in Asia with instructions to be prepared for a possible terrorist action in the region. His thought was perhaps the intelligence community mis-interpreted chatter that was indicating an “attack in the East” to mean an attack in the “Far East.”

One can only wonder.

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Wanna join the RNC?

Junk Mail

Today I received an envelope in the mail not unlike those junk bank mailings that ask if you’d like to borrow money from them. It even came with one of those flimsy, fake credit cards with your name embossed in gold. Yet, this one was different, it was from George W. Bush.

Dated “Wednesday Morning” the letter went on to thank me for “all you do as a long-time friend and supporter” and asked if I would like to verify my membership to the Republican National Committee with a donation. Pretty presumptious I’d say – I’ve been a Democrat all my life.

Wondering how I made it onto the rolls of “supportive Republicans,” I noticed that the letter was addressed to “Ian T. Kennedy” – Bingo! Thank you Verizon, you made another dime off my name. When they signed me up for my phone number, they got my middle initial wrong and ever since have provided me with a useful tag to track all the places they’ve made money off of my name and address. Now they’ve profiled me as an ideal prospect for Republican campaigners. I wonder what tipped them off? All those phone calls to Japan?

Anyway, I would never think of giving money to this administration after what they’ve allowed to go on under their watch. You’ve got Ashcroft thinking he’s above the law & constitution (click here for a hilarious clip from the Daily Show) and now you’ve got Rumsfeld trying to explain reasons why they can ignore the Geneva Conventions and international law by hiding a prisoner from the Red Cross for seven months.

It’s embarassing and disgraceful and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world. Is this the kind of “democracy” they want to bring to Iraq?

No, I do not think I will become member number 574842516-P623 of the RNC.

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Mad Ernie Fletcher

plane.jpg

Kentucky Governer Ernie Fletcher was the source of widespread panic in the Capitol yesterday when the Governer’s Beech King Air 200 lost its transponder signal 13 miles away from the DC area airport. The air traffic controllers with the FAA knew about this but neglected to inform the folks that run air security for the Capitol who took the Governer’s plane for an incoming bogie.

Lawmakers, dignitaries and mourners preparing for Ronald Reagan’s funeral ceremony raced from the Capitol Wednesday after police feared an airplane was headed for the building and warned: “You have one minute to impact.”

Police in the Capitol had urged people running down staircases to run faster. An officer shouted at one photographer trying to look back through a camera, “You don’t have time to look back.”

“Incoming plane!” another police officer shouted at reporters asking what was going on.

Women, many wearing formal dress for the Rotunda ceremony, kicked off high-heeled shoes to enable them to run faster.

Don’t be suprised to here of reductions in Kentucky’s federal assistance.

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BloggerCon II

I’m in Boston at BloggerCon II. This is following a week vacation in Cancun. The cycle of travel has picked up quite a bit as we’re then off to Tennessee to visit Uncle David and Grandmother.

I still need to post pictures from the Cancun trip and share some of the comments – Tyler’s happy to be back in a country where he can drink the water freely.

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AOLiza

This is pretty rich. Remember the old AI program Eliza?

AOLiza Using a publicly available Perl version of ELIZA, a Mac with nothing better to do than play psychoanalyst, a few applescripts, and an AOL Instant Messenger account that has a high rate of ‘random’ people trying to start conversations, I put ELIZA in touch with the real world. Every few days I’ll put up the latest ‘patients.’ Names have been changed to protect the… well, everyone.

Call it a honeypot for the bored and loney.

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Blogs

Blogs have now entered into the mainstream. AOL is releasing a blog package for all its subscribers and now Doonesbury has picked up on the trend as well.