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Expensive Tastes

Julia, who often sleeps between us, woke up this morning and let us know her breakfast wishes.

“I’m hungry. I want sushi.”

Yikes.

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Office

MSN Newsbot expands coverage

Depending upon your perspective, Microsoft is either dancing around or zoning in on perfecting their news searching technology with their launch of six new regions of their Newsbot beta.

Belgium
Germany
Ireland
Switzerland (French)
Switzerland (German)
US (Spanish)
Indonesia
Philippines

This brings the total to 17 regional views of the news.

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Office

24 Hours Non-Stop Blogging

Hooray to Mie and Dav who just finished 24 hours of non-stop blogging.

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Tokyo & New York Photos

I finally got around to posting pictures from my trip to Japan and while I was at it, a weekend trip to New York City where Tyler asked another good question.

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Current Events Office

Wonderful Web World

As I look for the cross-section of schools and interesting-but-reasonably-priced places to exist (does such a thing exist in the Bay Area?) I found myself wanting for a school district map overlayed on top of a map showing available placed to live. I’ve found pieces of the puzzle:

SF School District Map
greatschools.org
SF Zip Code Map

If only I could overlay the available listings which you can pull up in realtor.com or apartments.com using a zip code then I would be set.

move.JPG

In the course of looking for a tool that could tie zip codes to neighborhoods to school districts, I ran across this wonderful site by MIT Media Lab doctoral candidate, Ben Fry. His interactive Zip Code tool is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in awhile.

UPDATE: Now 10 years later Google Maps has started to layer this information as an extension of their Google Maps service. Check out the mash-up of greatschools.org ratings and Google Maps.

Check out more mashups at the Google Maps Gallery.

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For Sale

On Wednesday, the real estate agent’s “For Sale” sign went up on our home. I knew this would be traumatic for us all but I had no idea how much. Of course we had prepped the neighbors but seeing the sign out there, with it’s brash “Buy Me” red letters really drove a stake through the neighborhood. Izumi called me at the office to tell me the sign was going in and she sounded so sad, “It’s happening. . .all the neighbors have come out to look.”

Tyler took it the hardest. We have been talking to him about this move, why it was necessary and why he would have a great time in San Francisco (“They have sea lions there! Right in the harbor!”). Yet this home is all he really knows. The friends he’s made on this blocks are his only friends. San Francisco is too far away for them to come play. “Do they speak English there?” he asked.

When the sign went in, he ran outside and tried to tear the sign out of the ground so no one would buy this house and take it away from us. I know he’ll be fine. Heck, I barely remember where I was living when I was five. But hearing this ripped a hole in my heart.

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Office

Click Fraud

Write up in CNet on a dark secret known amongst the interactive advertising industry. There are a number of sites out there which artificially generate banner clicks from automated bots and use that to scam Google, Overture, and other ad syndication networks which serve up advertising and pay out commissions for clickthroughs.

This pay-for-performance gaming of the system has a counterpart in the music industry. In London, I heard cases where a record company would hire students to hit the record stores around town and buy up copies of an artist they would want to promote. The volume in sales would push that artist up on the charts and generate a hit. In the US this practice was applied to radio stations where a radio syndicate would be paid to play a hit song more regularly than other songs. This practice was called, "payola"

Another slant on this story on tainted metrics is the Mozilla plug-in Bug-Me-Not which "liberates" sites that require registration by providing a collective pool of user accounts that can be shared among its members. I always wondered why Factiva.com had customers in Afghanistan until I realized that this country was the first (and thus default) country on our registration drop down. Users listed from this country were probably just too lazy to pick their own.

With Bug-Me-Not shared IDs, it’s even easier to share such skewed profiles. I wonder how many Accountants from Afghanistan are part of the nytimes.com demographic?

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Office

On things being in more than one place

Infoworld’s Jon Udell posts outtakes from his interview with Quentin Clark, the director of program management for Microsoft’s WinFS that will serve as core technology of the next generation of Windows code-named Longhorn. Of particular interest is his take on Outlook’s current limitations and the problems posed by trying to work through this:

. . . The limitation of Outlook 11 is that it doesn’t allow you to put an item in more than one user lassoing. We want to allow multiple lists, or folders, where you can put the same thing in both. We’re removing that Outlook limitation.

We encountered significant design challenges around user experience and expectations, and also problems around the DAG (directed acyclic graph). Consider security. I take an item, it lives in a bunch of folders, what is the security on that thing? Folder 2 has it too, then moves to folder 3. All the way back on folder 1, does the owner have any way to know what’s happened? Then there’s naming. If I have a doc, call it “jon’s doc,” created in a single folder, then I want to have it appear twice in that same folder, what is it called? If it’s in a second folder, and I delete it from folder 1, then at some point I rename folders and put the doc back, calculating namespaces becomes complex.

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Office

LexisNexis Total Search

Lexis, the legal research division of Reed Elsevier, announced enhancements to a product called Total Search. Included in the enhancements is the ability to hook into a firm’s document management system and bring back an aggregated set of search results.

LexisNexis Total Search also identifies, correlates, and links case citations appearing within internal work product and LexisNexis search results. These citations are noted, and access to the internal work product is provided, through a “correlation” icon appearing next to a particular case or code citation within an internal document result, LexisNexis full-text document or in a LexisNexis cite list.

Not clear from the literature how easy it is to integrate Total Search as either an outbound feed to downstream search engines or as a platform to receive and integrate inputs from other systems such as email and newsfeeds.

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Office

New Category – Browsers

Today I’m launching a new category to follow the march of progress of alternatives to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. After following Mozilla Firefox for several months, I’ve now made Firefox 0.9.1 my default web browser on my Windows machine. I’m impressed with the speed of it’s rendering engine and the open source aspect has added a healthy suite of plug-ins and extensions. The tipping point for changing the browser default came when I ran across an extension that allowed me to right-click on any web page viewed using Firefox and view that page within IE.

As a first post on Browsers, I link to a post on BoingBoing which outlines how quickly (31 hours!) the open source community was able to react to and patch Firefox in response to discovering a security vulnerability. This turnaround time is especially significant when put into context with all the recent hubbub over security holes for those using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer including an official warning from US-CERT.