Category Archives: North America

Geeks rule the world

This warms the heart.

Here’s proof that geeks now rule the world: the USA election result shows the winner is the one with the better database. This fascinating article shows how the Obama campaign gathered and used demographic data — and how the Romney camp mis-stepped.

The Obama campaign had pulled off a trick political professionals normally fantasise about. Using some of the most sophisticated campaigning technology ever created, they reshaped the electorate to suit their candidate.

Victory for technology

New York Times paywall

The New York Times will shortly introduce a paywall. It won’t include front and section pages, but will include most other articles.

But it’ll include a feature whereby most users can read up to 20 articles a month without subscribing, and will include free access when following links from social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

We’ve set the limit high enough that many readers won’t encounter it. But if you’re a regular reader, we hope you’ll consider subscribing.
NYT web site

For many non-US readers, 20 articles per month is reasonably generous I suspect.

But I wonder how they count up your tally. By IP address could cause issues with people behind corporate firewalls. By cookies could be circumvented.

Subscriptions will be USD $20 per month. Will be interested to see how this goes. I reckon it’s the sort of model the Australian Financial Review should switch to… its current paywall is all locked up, and provides almost zero access to casual readers.

(via The Australian’s media blog)

McCain vs Obama.com

johnmccain.com and barackobama.com are both registered with GoDaddy, but McCain appears to have registered through GoDaddy India via Domains By Proxy… (Why does his campaign need to use Domains By Proxy, which is designed for anonymous domain registration? Maybe they just love outsourcing?)

JohnMcCain.com has been around since 1998; BarackObama.com since 2000.

McCain uses IIS running on Linuxhypoallergenic wet dog fooda> (?). Obama uses PWS running on Linux.

And the running mates? joebiden.com has been around since 1998; sarahpalin.com is not owned by the campaign, but is registered through the same proxy company as McCain.

Sarah runs Linux with Frontpage extensions (yeuch!); Biden's running Apache.

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H-E two sticks?

From a recent interaction with a Canadian:

Accordingly, we’re trying not to get too far ahead of everyone while still innovating like H-E two sticks.

“Huh?” says I.

No worries, I can shuffle around this odd bit of language. I’ll Google it.

Not a lot of people (16) using the term. Then it twigs:

H-E two sticks
Hell

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Disproportionate Response?

Aussie software pirate extradited to the USA because enough people downloaded software cracked by him and his cohorts that, had every single copied program been sold would have generated retail revenue of $US50 million.

In a fun aside, the article points out that anyone accused of pirating software worth more than USD$1000 could also be extradited.

Now I don’t know about you, but every time I’ve seen commercial software cracked it’s so that it could be used as shareware – try before you buy. Which I see as a perfectly reasonable thing to do, given the returnability and fitness-for-purpose clauses within commercial software – i.e. if it sets fire to your house, it’s your problem not ours. So testing before dropping hundreds of dollars on something seems sane. And those who would steal the software rather than test it were never going to buy it in the first place, even if it was impossible to pirate software. I really don’t see what the problem is.

In the meantime, the USA is the only country which voted against a resolution for an arms trade treaty to control the proliferation of small arms in areas of conflict.

I think the places that copyright law is taking us will lead to an uprising. This is getting ridiculous.

Phone numbering schemes

Raymond Chen writes about the notoriously complicated North American telephone dialling rules.

It would appear that despite the huge population growth over the decades, leading to more than 10,000,000 phones in many major cities (less than that actually, given phone exchange limitations and so on), nobody’s had the guts to change the (xxx) xxx-xxxx phone numbering system that’s been in action over there for the past 50 years. And apart from the issues with cities blowing the limit and getting multiple area codes, they’ve also got problems with cell-phones being tied to regions, rather than being truly nationally mobile.

In Australia we went through short-term pain for long-term gain, migrating from a phone numbering system that was mostly (xx) xxx-xxxx in the big cities (and a lot of variations in rural areas and for mobiles) to being uniformly (xx) xxxx-xxxx, which should allow for plenty of growth over several decades. Perhaps longer if fax machines and dialup modems (and separate lines for them) and even fixed-lines continue to die-off. It’s meant that dialling is pretty consistent.

On the other hand, it has to be pointed out that the North American numbering plan covers some 24 countries and territories, so I appreciate revamping it would be a helluva job.

Starfire Optical Range Eyeball

Check it out! The US military is trying to blow stuff up with lasers – project starfire, I think it’s called. They’re trying to use atmospheric distortion to focus a wide laser onto a teeny-tiny satellite. Of all the stupid ideas… oh well, at least all they’re doing is spending buckets of money.