Monthly Archives: May 2006

Various stuff

Jeremy Zawodny theorises that NoFollow was a waste of time, making no difference to comment spam, and discouraging legitimate commenters.

Coding Horror has some more details on the Microsoft anti-piracy (Ahoy!) nag screens that we mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Google Australia has jobs available in Sydney.

I’ve been thinking… I wonder if someone would write a Greasemonkey script to correct Charles Wrights’ personal pronouns? we -> I; us -> me; our -> my; ours -> mine.

Tim O’Reilly responds on the fuss over O’Reilly partners CMP sending a cease and desist letter over the use of the term “Web 2.0″ for a conference.

Windows Automatic Updates

The following question is clear, with the answers easily and quickly selectable.
Ask me once, fine. Ask me every fricken ten mintues, I kill you! I kill you!
But if you pick “Restart Later”, it obviously means “Ask me in another ten minutes”. Which is tiresome over an eight hour day.

I now understand how toddlers get all that candy they eat.

DIY Digital Picture Frame

Full, step-by-step instructions (with pcitures) on building your own cheap and easy Digital Picture Frame. Answering an unasked question on the selection of componentry, the author says:

Why a toggle switch? Because toggle switches rule, that’s why. We don’t want no puny sliding power switches. Oh no, this power switch is 25 percent functional, 75 percent hardcore awesome.

But why do this? You can buy one for a few hundred bucks. I guess it’s just the whole DIY thing, isn’t it? I guess you’re also recycling unloved tech into totally hardcore awesome tech.

The 25 worst tech products of all time

According to PC World, here’s the 25 worst tech products of all time.

My quick rants about some of the top 25:

The all time number 1 is AOL… the ISP whose damn software still shows up in unlikely places. Such as the free copy of Broderbund’s 3D Home Architect that one of my kids convinced me to try out the other day (came with the latest issue of Australian Personal Computer). Hint: I’m in Australia… I don’t need, want, nor can use, an America Online trial. I’ve certainly had a few AOL coasters in my time, too. (By the way, the short-lived AOL Australia got bought by Primus. I like the way the info page for their dialup offering is broken.)

#2 — RealPlayer. Oh yeah, I hate RealPlayer, but some of my favourite content providers (such as ABC and BBC) still use it. Fortunately there is now a reasonable alternative (a codec for Windows MediaPlayer).

#10 — dBase IV. I had a theory years ago that version 4 of anything wasn’t very good. It happened with DOS 4.0, VB4, dBase… and others, I’m sure.

Anyway, have a read of the entire article.

Wow, how did I miss the Mechanical Turk?

Amazon Mechanical Turk is an astonishing idea – an Artificial AI marketplace. Basically, there’s an API you can call to get humans to do tasks (oddly enough, they want to be paid). Currently, a big favourite for the tasks is transcribing podcasts. I can see that it would be a cheap way to truth a set of training data for AI systems, like number plate detection / recognition.

An artist has used the Mechanical Turk to acquire 10,000 hand drawn left-facing sheep and put them on a site for your viewing pleasure – plus, there was an exhibition of the collectable stamp sheets etc (you can buy the as stamp-sheets for only $20 a sheet). Given the images cost less than a cent each to acquire, he may be a bullshit artist.

The Turk is an example of what Wired calls Rise of Crowdsourcing – Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D. It’s about the markets, people. These are markets for micro-transactions – micro in their repeatability, or micro in their value.