Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Shopping centre wireless internet

We're getting to the point where WiFi should be a service provided by shopping centres to their tenants. Too many have their own set up, and I'm sure it's causing problems in some areas. The added bonus is that customers can also use the wireless internet, either for free or through some kind of charge system.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Then again, that might almost put those internet booths out of business.
PPS - The funny thing is, you never know what side-effects a move like this might have.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Christmas light attachments

Every year, when we put up Christmas lights, we struggle to find a good way to attach them to bricks. Usually we use tac - sticky blobs of goop designed for temporary attachments - and every year they fall down. Tape doesn't stick long enough either. What I'd like to be able to do is 3D-print some custom brackets that snap onto my brickwork somehow and allow me to thread the light cables through. That way they should stay put, the lights work properly, there's no gunk on my bricks afterwards and I can reuse them next year. If I had the modelling software, I could probably order them straight from Shapeways or something.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - But then again, for the sake of easy attachment, it might be too expensive.
PPS - I haven't really looked into it.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Road Ahead

The motorcycle purred to a stop outside the rickety-looking diner and motel, wheels crunching on the car park gravel. Something about the road beyond made Hank, the rider, stop, unwilling to go on, at least for a while. He couldn't put his finger on it, though. It even looked like a good road - smooth and well-maintained, varied scenery and enough dips, hills and turns to be interesting. But somehow it felt like a one-way trip.

He headed into the old diner instead, carrying his helmet with him. The waitress looked him over, then said with a smile, "You're taking the road, aren't you?"

"I don't think I've decided yet," replied Hank.

"You will," returned the waitress, and presented him with a plate of steak and a cup of coffee. Hank didn't even wonder about how he hadn't ordered. He just tucked in, hungry from his journey.

"How long you been travelling?" asked the waitress.

Hank opened his mouth to speak, then drew a complete blank. How long had it been? He couldn't remember when he started, couldn't remember how far he'd travelled. It's not just that it was a long way, a long time, but that there was literally no beginning to the journey in his mind.

"Take your time, hon, it'll come to you," she said, topping up his coffee.

Pushing back from the old dining counter, Hank considered a while. Was it days? Weeks? Months or years? Maybe he'd been on the road for a century or more. Who could say?

Then suddenly an image flashed in his mind. A whole life he had nearly forgotten. His wife, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, endless hours of riding familiar roads and days filled with watching sports on that old recliner.

And with that, he knew now where he was, and why the road ahead felt like a one-way trip. He'd crossed a border between lives, and that was the one he had lived, but now had to leave behind. They would remember him, and he them, but he couldn't go back. He was headed on, along that clear road, toward the white mountain on the horizon.

The waitress smiled and nodded at the door, and Hank knew it was time for him to go. He turned and left with a "thankyou", swung his leg over his bike and took off down the road. The waitress, still smiling, picked up the helmet he had left on the stool behind him, and placed it reverently on a shelf next to other remembrances of other travellers who had passed through. Hank wouldn't need it again. Not on that road to the mountain.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I lost my uncle this week.
PPS - This story is dedicated to him.

Ebook format war

With Google, Apple, Amazon and others all selling ebooks, you need different software for each one. This is because each seller has their own DRM to lock you in, and you either need a different device for each store or a general-purpose device with apps for each store. And you'll notice that each vendor does provide free apps for desktops and phone operating systems, too. That tells you the devices and software are not the major revenue stream; it's the books themselves. So each camp wants to get you hooked on their format and locked in so you only buy books from them, and book sales is where Amazon rules the roost.

Cross-compatibility would help any one camp win the format war. It is in Amazon's best interests to break or even support ePub DRM, making the Kindle compatible with Google Books and the Apple iBookstore, but the Digital Millenium Copyright Act means they're not even allowed to try. However, if someone were to publicly demonstrate that the ePub format is cracked, publishers might be less willing to support ebook sellers other than Amazon.

Now, for publishers, before any one format emerges as the winner, it is worth their while to support them all, and that's pretty easy, so they'll keep doing so. That means there's no differentiation between the ebook stores. Since there's no incentive for publishers to support one store over another, you can bet each store will be negotiating for exclusivity deals with publishers. That's when the wheels start to fall off for consumers. If some books are only available from certain locked-up ebook stores, but you want them all, you'll end up having to work with both, in much the same way as dedicated gamers own an XBox, a PlayStation and a Wii.

I really hope we can sort out this format war sooner rather than later, and I hope in the meantime I don't spend too much money on the losers. I don't want to get locked to a format that will die in a year or two, with a ton of ebooks I can no longer read. In the end, I support Amazon, because even if they fail, they can just switch to the winning open format, ePub. Any books I bought before their victory should be converted and still available afterwards on the same platform.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really don't like that situation.
PPS - But what can you do besides not buying any ebooks?

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Self-paced education should never stop, throughout your entire life. What we need are skills for which people will pay, and that means education, but the baseline for the meaning of "skilled" is always rising. So in your spare time, you can teach yourself things through practice, or through websites like Khan Academy. For your personal gain and your personal skill set, it's pretty important to stay on the ball.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I feel like I don't get enough practice in a lot of things.
PPS - I could, though, and I should.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Thunderbird folder compacting bug

I've been having a bit of a bug with Thunderbird at work, and since nobody else seems to have even posted about it, I might as well mention it here. I keep my email archives in Dropbox, and this has saved my life twice now, but Dropbox is also part of the problem. Two times over the past weeks I have received errors from Thunderbird either claiming that my archive folders are "full" or else they have just disappeared entirely. Upon examination, those files have been deleted - an entire year's worth of email vanished silently. Fortunately for me, Dropbox has an undelete feature, so I was able to recover the files without much trouble, once I noticed they were missing.

My best guess at the cause involves a kind of conflict of timing between Dropbox and Thunderbird and the folder compacting process. At various times, Thunderbird decides that a folder needs to be compacted, which probably means resuming empty space left behind by deleted messages. It is possible that during these times when the folders are being automatically compacted, the file is deleted on disk. When this fact is noticed by Dropbox, it dutifully syncs the file deletion action to their servers and that becomes the official state of the folder. When Thunderbird goes to check again, the file is gone and there are problems.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My solution was to make Thunderbird ask before compacting, and pause Dropbox while it does so.
PPS - It's not great, but it works.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dropbox on my phone

I think the reason, or one of the reasons, I like Dropbox so much is that it makes my various computers and my phone feel more like one platform focused on me, rather than several different machines with different files and different software, disconnected across various sites and separated by firewalls. One thing I particularly like to do with Dropbox is manage my podcast playlist. I download podcasts on my desktop - any one - into Dropbox, then use the Dropbox app on my phone to copy them there. When I delete them from Dropbox on my phone, they're gone from my desktops as well. Very handy. I use it in a similar way to manage my free ebooks that I read on my phone too. Killing time is the killer app on my phone, but using Dropbox makes the process much easier, and even fun.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't know how I'd do without Dropbox now.
PPS - Possibly with some arrangement of a flash drive and sync software.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Kindle and Amazon wish lists

How come I can't access my Amazon wish list through the Kindle store on my phone or even my Kindle, for that matter? It only shows recommendations, but I already have some recommendations for myself. Apparently those aren't good enough. Also, if I don't mind whether I get a book from my list as a Kindle ebook or a print version, why can't I specify that on my wish list? As it is, I have to add the print and ebook editions to the list, then remove one version if I get the other one.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The second feature is not affecting my life much.
PPS - But it might be handy.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Magic Book

On a little-used street away from the centre of town, in between a Chinese massage parlour and an all-night pancake restaurant, there is a solid wooden door with flaking green paint and a shiny brass letter slot. Behind the door, some people know, is a bookstore with shelves stacked from floor to ceiling haphazardly, sometimes two or three rows deep, in apparently random order. Customers range from school librarians to aging bibliophiles to young hipsters looking for something to show off at the cafe. They navigate around the piles of books on the floor and browse the shelves over two floors, passing each other up and down the rickety old staircase that is also jammed with books under the steps and, occasionally, a reader engrossed in a story she couldn't wait to get home.

Many of them, for whatever reason, do not know that there are further mysteries inside the shop, such as the one shelf off in the back, hidden behind piles of dusty encyclopedias - the magic bookshelf. It doesn't hold books about magic. That would be too obvious. What it holds is books that contain magic, like a gardening guide that will make your vegetables grow, or a photography book that will make you capture a golden moment on film by chance.

Even though the bookshelf was magic, it didn't look like it, so Emily didn't realise she'd picked up a book that would change her life. The shopkeeper behind the counter gave it a quizzical look, like he couldn't remember stocking that title, and Emily stood with a sheepish, slightly embarrassed grin. The shopkeeper found the hand-written price in the back cover, took Emily's money and put her book in a paper bag.

Outside, Emily pulled out the book and opened to the first page, walking as she read, and immediately bumped into a tall, dark, handsome stranger.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I had a magic book similar to that once.
PPS - Sort of.

Kinds of fun

There are some people who play games because they're fun. There are other people who play games because winning against real people is very satisfying. Then there are those people who define "winning" in this context as "inciting red-hot rage". I work with one of those people, and I do not play games anywhere near him.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's called "griefing".
PPS - I don't understand it, though.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Kindle and DRM

I have a kind of hard line about buying anything locked up with DRM. I don't buy it, because it only encourages them to tighten their hold, and I don't like paying that much for things I can't keep. I am breaking this rule for books on Kindle. If I am unlikely to read a book a second time, then I don't necessarily need to keep it, and the ebook versions are half the price of paper versions. That's a win.

Also, I would accept them as gifts, because it doesn't feel like directly supporting a DRM scheme, even though it really is. Somehow it just seems different if it's not my own money going to Amazon. And there are other advantages as well, such as instant delivery, no matter where you are in the world. They take up no space and are with me everywhere. The disadvantage of ebooks as gifts is that there's nothing to wrap up and physically hand over, which does make it feel less like a real gift.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - So owning a Kindle hasn't made me change my mind about DRM.
PPS - I've just changed my rationalisation.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bad customers

Why do the worst customers get the best service? It's just something I've observed, and I assume some of you would have too. I guess it's because you want your big problems to go away faster. It still doesn't seem right.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I try to be a good customer.
PPS - Even through bad service.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

TV show subscriptions and discovery

If all our TV came via downloads (paid subscriptions, of course), you'd only ever see the shows to which you subscribed, and that leaves a gap: discovery. You'd need a service that allows you to browse for new show-feeds based on your interests or search for them by name, but you also need to be able to advertise them easily and recommend them to people based on the feeds to which they subscribe. Of course providers would want to insert ads to promote other shows, but viewers wouldn't want them interrupting their paid shows. We would, however, like suggestions such as at Amazon - "customers who bought this also bought...".

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Though of course in this case it would be "people who watch this also watch...".
PPS - And "suggestions for you" works best when it's genuine, not just ads.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Streaming music as standard ISP inclusion

Before too long, we may see Internet providers start to include services such as unlimited music streaming in their plans, as a little added incentive. They'd just need to do a deal with one of the growing number of services offering unlimited music. TV and movies might be a bigger draw card, even if a standard contract only includes two movies a month for free. That kind of price war can only end in one place: unlimited streaming for movies, TV and music included as standard in all internet service contracts.

That would put the pay TV operators almost completely out of business. They'd need to change drastically, perhaps becoming one of the preferred providers for ISPs for online offerings, while still selling sports-only packages for enthusiasts and certain businesses.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The full transition would take a while, though.
PPS - iiNet is the most likely Australian ISP to try this first.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Guardian of Fire

I hitch a ride into the city on an apple cart, pulling my red and orange robes closer around me. They are warm for my body, but the cold air threatens to turn my ears to frostbite. Not for the first time, I wish I was allowed to wear a hat, or at least to grow my hair for the journey. The icy wind gusts over my bald head again and I shiver while I try to meditate, thinking warm thoughts.

Through the gates of the city, I thank the apple farmer and lean on my walking staff, waiting for the feeling to return to my numb feet. As the youngest avowed member of the monastery, this task is mine, mostly because some of the older monks would not survive a journey like this through the winter forest and back again. At least the city is a little less cold, thanks to the walls blocking the wind.

I breathe deep and feel for the spirit line through the streets, as the old monks have taught me. In my mind, a yellow thread unrolls, rounds a corner and wanders off between the buildings. Perhaps it is coming easily to me because of his nearness, or perhaps I am imagining things again. The only way to know is to follow the invisible thread.

The neat, even cobblestones near the gate gradually change to mismatched and recycled ones as my sandalled feet take me into the poorer sections of the city. Where the streets are dirt tracks between wooden hovels, I stop to look around. The spirit trail has grown faint, but nearby there is an obvious glow coming from a tavern. The new Guardian of Fire is clearly inside, and he will not want to come with me. They never do.

I enter the tavern as quietly as I can, but all eyes turn to me as soon as I step through the door to the relative warmth. The patrons are huddled around the only light in the room, and the warmth coming from it is obvious, even from this distance. I stand, waiting, and nobody seems certain what to do. Several avoid my gaze, but soon they part at some unseen signal in their midst.

There on the floor sits the Guardian of Fire, dressed in cheap, simple clothes. His eyes narrow as he sizes me up, and my feet reflexively take a defensive stance, echoing years of training. The Guardian stands in one fluid motion and flicks his dark black locks out of his eyes.

"You must come with me," I say. "To the temple, where you are needed."

In response, he aims a swift kick at my midriff, parried by my staff, and follows it up with an elbow that knocks me out into the street. My lungs struggle to take in air, and I see the snow begin to fall down into my eyes, which I blink away. Down past my feet I hear the snow hiss as the Guardian takes off on hot bare feet, down the street. When I can stand again, I will follow him. The balance of the world depends on it.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - There's obviously a bigger world behind this one.
PPS - But I'm not sure what its shape is yet.

Novels to finish unfinished TV series

When a TV series is cancelled, but the stories unresolved, the studios could, conceivably, farm out the unfinished production notes to authors to novelise the closure of the story and sell it as an ebook. The costs are almost nil, especially if the author is only paid in royalties, and it gives fans at least something to finish. The upside is that the novel sales, if they are particularly good, could go on to fund a new season of the show, with the sales numbers as a prediction of audience size.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - And if you have the novel, there's your new season plot.
PPS - See how it can all come together?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Trust by proxy

You know what would be a really effective way to burn down a building? Get on the emergency PA system and say "This is only a test. Please disregard all alarms", then start your fire.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We tend to trust whoever gets on that system.
PPS - And in our building, it seems to happen once every few months.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Common sense is learned

I don't think I believe in "common sense" as it is usually invoked, and before I start, this is not a rant about how "people are stupid these days". This is more about what we mean when we say "common sense" and why we get so surprised when someone doesn't behave the way we expect.

As I understand it, "common sense" refers to a set of learned observations about how the world works, and our ability to apply that knowledge to new situations. This can go wrong in a few ways. First, someone's experiences may differ significantly from yours, making their observations of effects very different from yours, making them interpret events unusually. For instance, imagine that someone has only ever seen other drivers speed up at yellow lights, to beat the red, and has never had any other guidance on the meaning of that colour of traffic signal. What would their "common sense" interpretation be? Well, obviously, yellow means "speed up". It's just common sense: everyone does that. They are wrong in their conclusion, but they are being 100% consistent with the evidence they have observed, and therefore they are being sensible.

When we are surprised by an interpretation like that, what is actually happening? We bring a lot of observations to the table when we try to make sense of an event, and those are different for all of us. Our common sense when we are very young and still learning how a lot of the world works becomes very different as we grow up and form a more complete world view. But since that world view is formed through experience and education, it is different for everyone, making everyone's common sense a little bit unique.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is my excuse for why I'm a little weird.
PPS - Feel free to use it for yourself, too.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Thin operating systems

While I think the idea of a faster operating system for netbooks and tablets is a good thing, I don't know whether the Chromium approach by Google is the right one. It takes as much control away from the endpoint as possible and urges you to keep absolutely everything online. It turns your computer into nothing but a web browser, and while I appreciate that's all most people do with their machines, I worry about that idea. You are, at that point, completely at the mercy of online service providers. If you want to do something that is not provided online, or a service changes in a way that doesn't suit you, then too bad. This kind of device would also be 100% useless in offline situations, like flights, or anywhere network connections are spotty, like my daily train commute.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In short, the sentiment is good, but the execution is too much.
PPS - You would have to limit functionality, but not this much.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Post-industrial unemployment

Unemployment is an industrial word that doesn't make much sense in a post-industrial world. Post-industrial unemployment is more like being unskilled. These days, we do not need jobs, where we go and do the bidding of others. What we need is skills for which people will pay, and a way to find those people. It's messing with the industrialised efficiency of the mass market, but if the mass market has already disappeared in favour of custom solutions for every client, then that efficiency won't apply any more.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think the mass market has disappeared yet.
PPS - And maybe we need some artisan's guilds to help find people with the right skills.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Wales

Micro-realities, fed up with our law of gravity, or the colour of the lightning, or the way rabbits go about without waistcoats, sometimes splinter off, declare independence, and live happily without us in their tiny subspaces. And whether they be called Oz, Wonderland, Narnia or what have you, they are all of them real, just "real" in different ways to here.

That's what happened to Wales that day. We should have seen it coming, I suppose. Their language had always been kind of an outsider, and then one day, somehow, all those awkward Welsh place names just decided to be elsewhere. Somewhere they were appreciated.

The rest of the land around there just sort of folded up or spread out to use the available space. Hereford and Shrewsbury became coastal towns. Liverpool got somehow closer to Dublin and further from Manchester. The Severn Road Bridge ended mysteriously at Beachley. The BBC found new actors for Doctor Who (normally filmed in Cardiff) and restarted production in White City, London.

And apart from that, the world continued much as it had before. Some modern-day druids claimed to be able to see Wales from the new coast, sort of thin, edge-on, and only when they held bundles of specially-selected herbs and twisted their heads in certain ways. They set up booths and charged people to teach them how to look, but what is there to see in a paper-thin sliver of Wales?

A year later, most people had forgotten about Wales, except the druids, and a rather vocal minority in New South Wales who argued they should just be called "Wales" now that the original was lost. Some biologist in Germany claimed to have it figured out as some kind of cellular fission.

The druids suddenly started claiming something was happening, but nobody paid much attention except for the tabloids. Then the weather turned strange around the fissure. Rolling clouds seemed to fold in on themselves, the wind blew in from all directions, but not out again. Plants and trees leaned in towards where Wales used to be, and there was an almighty thunderclap, heard around the world... then nothing. As far as anyone could tell, nothing at all had happened.

Only the druids, holding their bundles of herbs, standing on one foot and turning their heads this way and that, claimed that anything was different. Wales, so they claimed, had separated for good - broken its umbilicus and ventured off, completely independent now. A new world of its own making, born from ours like a soap bubble dividing in two. Some tourists still came to have the druids show them the thin sliver of Wales through the crack in reality, but all they found were charlatans and t-shirt salesmen. The real druids, clearly, had better things to do than go looking for Wales when it didn't want to be found anymore.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Inspired by the micronations of the world.
PPS - And also, probably, in counterpoint to A Heretic By Degrees, by Marie Brennan, about where worlds go to die.

Minecraft 0.3 review

I tried to get into Minecraft on my Christmas holiday, mostly because I had heard good things, I saw many impressive fortresses built and thought I might like to give it a go too. Because I wasn't ready to commit just yet, however, I opted to try the old 0.3 version in-browser. It's not quite like the current version, of course, lacking even the resource-gathering aspect, but it was adequate to show me whether I had enough spatial imagination to build things in the game.

I wandered around adding soil cubes to make land bridges for a bit, and I hollowed out a stone cliff into a boring square grey room. I dug down to get to bedrock, fell in some lava and got stuck. It seems that "death" was also not part of the 0.3 version, but neither was jumping out of lava again. So I had to restart, losing everything I'd done, which I admit is not what would have happened had I bought the full game.

Next I laid a foundation for a small castle and built up some short walls and ramparts, with an underground entrance. It looked like rubbish, and making it felt really awkward from a first-person perspective. The last thing I did was build an arbitrary tower as high as I could. I fell off many times, got bored and logged off for good.

This might not be your experience with Minecraft, and it certainly shouldn't be taken even as a review of the full game. All I mean to say here is that, as a demo, version 0.3 is entirely inadequate and did not inspire me to buy the full game, even though I have been thinking about it for over a month now. Maybe it will encourage you to buy the full game, but for me it did the exact opposite.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's still possible I would enjoy the full game.
PPS - But I still have other games to play before I try that.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Tea vs coffee

What makes tea so much more civilised than coffee? They both come from plants, they are both prepared with a mix of hot water, sugar and milk, and they both come from "faraway" lands (India and Ethiopia). They both contain about the same amount of caffeine. The only thing I can think of is the subtlety of the taste of tea vs coffee. Coffee is a strong taste, robust and powerful, while tea is more subtle. And obviously people who prefer subtle things are much more cultured, aren't they?

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Some people get awfully snobbish about their preference for tea over coffee.
PPS - Personally, I haven't got a taste for tea.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How I spent my holidays

Today is my last day of leave from work. I've had two weeks off, and during those weeks I've been tracking the time I spent on various activities. I did have a plan, to start with, where I had allocated up to 90 minutes a day for exercise, 1 hour for chores, 2 hours for general recreation and so on, but I didn't quite stick to it. In the end, I spent a lot more time on general recreation and a lot less on editing my novel than I had planned. Over two weeks, I spent approximately:

10 hours on household chores
4.5 hours running errands
5 hours on exercise
2.75 hours editing
37.5 hours on general recreation

Recreation consisted of:

13.75 hours reading
12.75 hours playing City of Heroes
9.75 hours watching Mythbusters
1 hour playing Minecraft (I just couldn't get into it)
and a 15-minute TED talk

I was only tracking time while I was on my own, too, so this is not a complete breakdown of my 24/7 holiday lifestyle, but clearly I have a much greater affinity for reading and playing games than keeping my house in order, and I find it very difficult to knuckle down and edit my novel.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wonder if there's a way I can trick myself into focusing on editing.
PPS - But if I need to be tricked, it's probably not going to be done well.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Quickflix WatchNow not yet worth it

Technically, I was part of the free trial of Quickflix's WatchNow streaming service, before it went fully live, but I didn't watch anything during that time. Why? Two reasons. First, during the trial, it was only open to Sony Bravia TVs and DVD players connected to the internet. Since I own neither one of those very specific devices, I was unable to participate. It is possible that access to ordinary computers was opened up later during that free trial, but I didn't notice whether that was the case. It is now, if you're wondering. The second reason is that not one of the movies in my queue was available for streaming. From a glance at the website, the emphasised launch titles were Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Batman (the 1989 Michael Keaton one). I've seen those already, and using them as a trial for a streaming service seemed a waste of bandwidth.

I'm sure the Quickflix team would be dismayed at my shallow engagement with their newest, shiniest service, but the library just wasn't comprehensive enough for me. I'm also sure that's not Quickflix's fault - I'm guessing movie publishers are holding back their catalogues for their own reasons. By my calculations, for the big launch, less than 1% of the Quickflix catalogue was available for streaming, which is pretty disappointing. That means, if you've got a queue with 100 movies waiting to be sent to you, you might find 1 to stream, if you're very lucky.

I'm not saying all this to bad-mouth Quickflix at all. I've been a customer for quite a while now, I enjoy the disc-by-mail service and plan to continue using it for a long time yet. I'm just saying that for me right now, the streaming service is not worth it, because of a limited catalogue and lack of device support.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I do want a movie streaming service.
PPS - But if the catalogue is going to be artificially limited, I'm not sold on it yet.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Federated social network software

Social networks need to be interoperable. If it's not an open platform that anybody (meaning a new social network website) can join, then one site will gather all the users as other sites die off, and that site will become impossible to budge from its monopolistic position. To keep any one site from becoming too powerful, we need them all to operate on one free, open source protocol.

To an extent, however, you can fake that if you have good enough desktop software that presents one interface across all social network sites. It would need specialised plugins for each service, and they might be difficult to write if the sites are deliberately uncooperative, but it could be done. After that, the barrier to entry for new sites is much lower, since the desktop software can work with any of them, and you don't need to stay exclusively with one just because your friends are still there.

Yes, it would be complicated behind the scenes, but doing complicated things while presenting an easy user interface is what computers are for.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I don't think this should be provided as a website.
PPS - But that's a different rant.