PoliTechs Ramblings

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New Home

I should mention that I have moved this blog to my own space at http://pt.lifewiki.com.

Please use that URL from now on.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Wikipedia - I told you it was Huge

My favorite site for random information, Wikipedia has just reached 1,000,000 articles.

Wikipedia is in more than 100 languages with 14 currently having over 10,000 articles. It is ranked one of the ten most popular reference sites on the Internet according to Alexa.com (trumping Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times). At the current rate of growth, Wikipedia will double in size again by next spring.

Congrats to Wikipedia, and all those involved. If you have never used Wikipedia before, go explore!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Why 3,872,561 "guys in their pajamas" are better at sorting the truth than big media

Tech Central Station has a great article which briefly touches on why the "blogosphere" was able to have such a seemingly large impact on the recent CBS controversy. In Hayek Smiled: Why Blogging Works TCS explains the phenomenon by relating the blogging community to the theories of the Nobel Prize winning economist F.A Hayek.

Hayek theorized that markets worked better primarily because of their ability to facilitate the use of 'on the spot' knowledge, knowledge that is very unique to a particular person or place. Steve Jobs knows more about making iPods than George Bush. Everyone has something he knows more about than just about anyone else, even if that something is as basic as his own car. A command system requires the person with the knowledge to wait on the guy without it. A market system gives the person with knowledge the freedom and power to act on it.

I think most bloggers, and readers of blogs, recognize that when it comes to the media, the most thorough understanding can come from a combination of the market (blogs) and command (big media) systems.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Spinach May Soon Power Mobile Devices

And, of course, this just begs for a Popeye joke...
Slashdot | Spinach May Soon Power Mobile Devices

"For the first time, MIT researchers have incorporated a plant's ability to convert sunlight to energy into a solid-state electronic "spinach sandwich" device that may one day power laptops and cell phones."

At time of posting, I believe the site has been Slashdoted. Slashdot really needs to host mirrors for the poor souls it decides to bombard.

Harris Poll Shows Tight Presidential Race

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a recent poll indicates Bush and Kerry are once again neck and neck.

The Harris poll, conducted by telephone Sept. 9-13, shows Sen. Kerry leading Mr. Bush 48% to 47% among likely voters nationwide. The poll also found that a slender 51% to 45% majority doesn't believe that Mr. Bush deserves to be re-elected.

So the question is, did Bush's convention boost wear off, is Kerry finally turning is campaign around, or has recent news and world events caused a change in some public opinion?

Airbus tests in-flight mobile phones

I know this idea has been floating around for a while, and now it looks like Airbus wants to make it happen.

Personally, I don't feel the need for phone access in flight. I am sure it might serve a business purpose, but what I would much rather have is affordable wireless access on planes. In flight phone calls would only be a way to pass time for me, and I would much rather do that on the Internet. Not to mention with something like Skype you could do both with just the wireless Internet. Granted this article discusses both, I am just saying if they need to focus on which one to really make work, I think it should be Internet.

The technology here is not what I am looking for, how hard can it be? What I want to see is how much it costs. I really feel that no matter how advanced your technology is, if you can't make it available to the masses by making it affordable, than it is simply a technology demonstrator.

"Reading everything"

I just couldn't let this post at Joho go by.

So, what do kids do now? Is there any known landscape of knowledge that an insecure, overly-intellectual, never-gets-picked 6th grader can traverse? Or is he left simply to googlebate?

While humorous, it is a good point and decent question. I would say a decent answer would be to turn somewhere like Wikipedia.

CBS acknowledges questions about documents

After a great deal of pressure from the GOP, other media, and bloggers, CBS is finally acknowledging that there may be some questions about the legitimacy of the documents.

In the meantime, however, they are maintaining their position that the information contained in the memo is absolutely true, which, surprisingly, no one, not even the GOP has tried to argue. Obviously, CBS, and Rather, have their back up against a wall. However, they clearly quote the commanders secretary in their article as confirming the facts of the allegedly forged documents.

“I did not type those memos. And it’s not the form I would have used. And there are words in there that belong in the Army, not to the Air Guard. We never used those terms,” says Knox. “I know that I didn’t type them. However, the information in those is correct.”

Knox says she didn’t type these memos, but she says she did type ones that contained the same information.

The rest of the mainstream media seems to be mostly ignoring this fight. I would argue they need to get involved, especially after all the time they dedicated to the Swift Boat controversy. The GOP is calling for CBS to retract their story. Wisely, CBS is shifting the story to the idea that the facts are still true and is at least trying to extend the public discussion to what Bush was doing during the war. The fact that the media and public are focus on the one or 2 medals Kerry should or shouldn't have been awarded, while ignoring that Bush simply skipped his way into the Guard and did not really show up, is quite surprising.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Developing Power of Blogs

James Pinkerton has an interesting column on the increasing influence of the blogging community.

Sept. 9, 2004, will be remembered as a paradigm-shifting day in media history. That was the day the "blogosphere" took down CBS News.

While it is certainly time we heard about the other side of the Vietnam service issue, it is unfortunate that CBS had to try and push what are potentially unverified and false documents to back up their story.

Florida 'to list Nader on ballot'

The BBC is reporting that Ralph Nader is to be listed on Florida ballots.

"In a memo to Florida county election supervisors, Florida State Elections Director Dawn Roberts said Mr Nader's name should be included on ballot papers."

This is a potentially major development as many believe that Nadar cost Gore Florida, and hence the election in 2000. This is going to court today for a permanent injunction, and then to the State Supreme Court after that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Who is a Republican?

Interesting post over at Amy's Robot, on the politics of being a Republican.

Today in the Times, Joyce Purnick examines the politics of Republicans like Giuliani and Pataki, and speculates on their future in the Republican party. These men's views on issues like gay rights, gun control, and abortion diverge from the party platform, and while Arnold says that you can disagree with the Republican party on a number of issues and still be a Republican, some of the party's more conservative figures disagree.

Firefox 1.0PR Release

The Mozilla team just made the Firefox 1.0 Preview Release available for download. This is the latest version of the excellent, free, open source browser. It has all the amazing features of previous versions plus some great new additions. I made the switch to Firefox about 3 months and have not looked back since.

In addition to some smaller UI and bug fixes and updates, Firefox now sports Live Bookmarks. Any page which has XML or RSS syndication can be bookmarked in Firefox, and the latest headlines from the site will be available from your bookmarks. While not as helpful as Sage for your everyday news sites, Live Bookmarks are perfect for Furl, or any site with updating content that you do not check on a daily basis, but would like quick, easy access to. Another improvement is the new pop-up blocker. While the older versions of Firefox ran a pop-up blocker, 1.0PR supports a far greater level of integration. I also love the new find feature. Older versions of Firefox allowed a non-intrusive, inline search of pages, although it was difficult to navigate between results. The new version is still far better than the annoying Find popup of IE, but allows inline searching and navigation between results.

Get Firefox!

Also, the Moz team released Thunderbird 0.8. Thunderbird it the firefox of email. I never used Outlook because of the endless security issues, and recently dropped Eudora Pro for Thunderbird. Thunderbird has a cleaner UI, loads quicker, runs better filters, and has the same extension ability that helps makes Firefox so amazing.

$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda

$3 Trillion Price Tag Left Out As Bush Details His Agenda (washingtonpost.com)

Does it bother anyone else that we just now hear about this in a side page "analysis" column? Shouldn't this kind of thing be brought up by mainstream media when the candidates first discuss it?

(Use BugMeNot.com or BugMeNot firefox extension to bypass annoying registration links)

Friday, September 03, 2004

Zig Zag Zel and the GOP convention

If you have followed the convention at all, then you are aware of Zel Miller, the Democratic Senator from Georgia, who was the keynote speaker for the Republican Party's convention this past Wednesday. Miller ripped Kerry, his own party's candidate, many times and in many ways. Tim Russert referred to the speech as "slash-and-burn attack" and a "full-frontal assault" on Kerry. George Stephanopoulos described it as "red meat for the red states."

My problem is not with the simple fact that a Democrat gave the address, I do not think party-loyalty is all that important, certainly not as important as loyalty to one's values. However, when someone so clearly goes back and forth in matters like this it is simply appalling. Not to mention in a time when we hear about Kerry's accused "flip-flopping" I am amazed the Republicans would call on Zel.

This is the first time in history that someone has given the keynote address at both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention. In 1992 Zel was the keynote speaker for the Democrats and voraciously attacked the first Bush. It is bad enough that he made this much of a turn around. However, I can understand changing your position over the course of 8 years and with new players on the political scene. That, apparently, is not the case however.

On March 1, 2001 Senator Zel Miller introduced Kerry at the Democratic Party of Georgia's Jefferson-Jackson dinner. His introduction was not one of polite, political talk but one of outright praise and respect.

"My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of the nations authentic heroes, one this party's best-known and greatest leaders, and a good friend ... John Kerry has fought against government waste, and worked hard to bring some accountability to Washington ... John has worked to strengthen our military, reform public education, boost the economy and protect the environment."
In the span of three years, Zel Miller has gone from a good friend and supporter of John Kerry to the Republican Party's pitbull. Again, I could understand growing frustrated with your own party, and supporting the other side, and their candidate, in the span of three years (especially with all that has happened in the past three years). But what makes someone turn 360 degrees and attack, both personally and professionally, a "friend" after praising them so heavily 3 years before. I doubt Kerry's positions and accomplishments have changed that much in the last three years.

On a bit of a separate note, it was downright outrageous how Zel practically called Kerry unpatriotic because he and his party felt it necessary to question both the need for and the execution of the war in Iraq. Questioning the actions of our government, and especially the President, is one of the most patriotic and American things you can do.

Furthermore, I am suprised at the actions of the Republican Party after Zel's speech. Fine, bring in an "insider", a Democrat to criticize Kerry. Then move on. That's not what happened though; they have continued to attack Kerry. I think the conventions should be a springboard for the campaign's platform, and rallying point for the party. I don't think Americans like negative campaigning at all. I could care less why you don't like Kerry, I do care what you plan to do with this country, then I will decide who I like. Apparently, the opinions of both side are questionable, otherwise we wouldn't have an election. So let me make the decision.

It is also very unfortunate that the GOP chose to make this speech the keynote address. The Democrats had Barack Obama as their keynote speaker. His speech was an impassioned, on-target, well-delivered speech that offered hope and direction. It was the sort of speech that rallies a party to the cause and to their values. Which is what conventions are all about in the first place right?

UPDATE: Shortly after finishing this post, I ran into another blog entry about the whole situation, with some interesting links. First, MSNBC reports that the Bush campaign had tried to move away from Zel's comments after the harsh criticism they received from both sides of the aisle. There is a Slate column with an outstanding analysis and debunking of the lies in Miller's speech. And, for those who are interested, the full text of the speech is also available.

New Blog

Over the last few days I have there have been several stories that I wanted to say something about to no one in particular. Also, everywhere I read, I keep hearing about the blogging trend. No I have never been one for blogs. Some people may consider sites like Slashdot and SpaceWar blogs, but I think of them more as news posts.

Either way, I have had a lot of downtime with my new job, so I figured to start looking into blogs, and I have liked what I found. I also figured I might as well start my own.

As the name and description reads, basically I will most often comment on political happenings, or tech developments. I am also quite interested in internation affairs, so major happenings around the world may get a mention from time to time.

One other thing I like to see is links. I really enjoy sites like Wikipedia which link just about everything in the article in case you want to learn more. Basically this saves the reader the time of typing in links, but more importantly of looking for relavent pages on the internet.

Glad to have you, and look for more. The less I have to do at work, the more I will post.