1. I wish I could stop hearing about the fake “Cyber Monday”

    jake on 2005.11.30
    at 05:26 pm

    I started getting frustrated by Mr. Kottke’s blind regurgitation about “Cyber Monday” but luckily he was put straight by a couple other readers.

    “Cyber Monday” (Notice those quotes?) is in fact a press release from an online retailer. It’s actually a wonderful work of fiction. Business Week sets us straight (from Forevergeek)

    For most online retailers, the bigger spending day of the season to date was way back on Nov. 22, three days before Black Friday. What’s more, most e-tailers say the season’s top spending day comes much later, between around Dec. 5 and Dec. 15.

    DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE. So what’s up with this Cyber Monday idea? A little bit of reality and a whole lot of savvy marketing. It turns out that, an association for retailers that sell online, dreamed up the term just days before putting out a Nov. 21 press release touting Cyber Monday as “one of the biggest online shopping days of the year.”

    Gotta love how all the news outlets follow blindly after reading a press release. Anyone have a good idea for a ludicrous press release we can send out?

    Posted in: Rant · Recent Events

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  2. A look inside North Korea

    brian on 2005.11.22
    at 03:20 pm

    There’s an interesting interview with a Time Magazine photographer on He received rare access to the closed country, termed the Hermit Kingdom in the story.

    The link at WBUR has both both the interview in Real Audio format and a link to the flash gallery on

    Posted in: Media · Photography

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  3. DMB at Fenway Park in 2006?

    brian on 2005.11.21
    at 09:03 pm reports the Dave Matthews Band may join the elite list of musical acts with the great honor of playing at Fenway Park.

    Very cool. Sign me up.

    Posted in: Music

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  4. More on the $100 Laptop

    brian on 2005.11.21
    at 05:57 pm

    If you’ve been following the One Laptop per Child initiative as I have been, then you maybe interested in this 8 minute video interview with one of the engineers on the project, from the machine’s unveiling at a recent UN conference in Tunisia. (via )

    I continue to be fascinated with this project.

    They also suggest that some of the companies contracting to build the units may make a commercially available version for purchase by the general public, for perhaps $200.

    Why is this interesting to me, someone with access to dramatically faster and technically advanced computers? It’s the network, as Sun might say. The units, even when powered off, continue to act as WiFi mesh network nodes. Only one or two of the machines need to have a connection to the outside internet for all of them to.

    If this happened in your neighborhood, you would have a peppy and robust shadow internet, even when the power goes out. Imagine the implications for public safety in times of inclement weather and other emergencies. A whole neighborhood or city could keep up to date, with out everyone requiring a generator.

    Oh, the possibilities…

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  5. Aardvark'd DVD

    brian on 2005.11.21
    at 03:33 pm

    Watched Joel Spolsky’s documentary trailer today on Google Video. Looks like an outstanding film I’d very much like to see. However, I will not be buying the $20 DVD.

    To me, to see a film once is not worth $20. I have no desire to keep a copy of this potentially interesting film, and even if I loved it, I would never watch it again, and thus have no need for hard copy.

    I might go to a movie theater once or twice a year, and own no DVD movies I bought myself. I put my money where my mouth is. I do watch movies when they come to the small screen, but would watch more if I were allowed more control of where and when I could watch them. I would call this an untapped market.

    I’m certainly not saying everyone (or anyone) shares my views, but I feel Joel, as a leading software business mind, is missing on a big opportunity. Funny that its lacking considering his last entry on digital media distribution!

    I would have, in his shoes, chosen an H.264 download (with BitTorrent ) option alongside the DVD purchase option. There will be folk who want to keep a high-quality hardcopy, and they should get to have that. $20 is reasonable for that.

    However, I would like to download a copy for a more digestible $5. I think the sheer volume of downloads would offset any cannibalization of the DVD sales, in addition to the saved costs due to no packaging, two rounds of shipping, manufacturing… and BitTorrent would make the bandwidth very reasonable (ask Cringely ). Sounds lucrative.

    Afraid of piracy? Well, the tools to buy that DVD and change it into the format I described above exist in abundance. People will invite friends over to watch the movie, even! Gasp!

    If anything, a legal download provides a reasonable and easy alternative to piracy. It’s working for Apple right now. I don’t think FairPlay will be the end all of digital media rights management, but its a solid, first reasonable and reasonably successful attempt. The only thing I’d add to a download like Joel’s would be the downloader’s email address, which the downloader would a) know was attached, b) have to enter into the purchasing webpage to get emailed a link to the torrent file.

    Yes there are easy ways around these small features, but that’s the point. They keep honest people honest… if you share this on P2P nets and we see it, we’ll know you put it here. You can’t worry about those who will just strip it out, because of the DVD ripping issue I mentioned above.

    Piracy will be a given, but you can’t criminalize all your customers because of it. Give reasonable people reasonable options to stay above board, and this will put the piracy percentage to its minimum. That will net you all the profit you deserve.

    I cannot believe that digital delivery was not strongly considered by Joel. He’s a sharp mind. So even if we don’t get a downloadable option, I’d hope he’d post his thoughts on what made him go traditional in this case on his blog.

    Joel, I look forward to seeing your film, if you give me the opportunity to!

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Software · Technology · Web

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  6. SSE is to RSS as...

    brian on 2005.11.21
    at 03:13 pm

    MS announces today SSE, Simple Sharing Extensions, a way to make RSS two-way communications. It was released under the same Creative Commons license as RSS.

    As I am not a developer of this sort, I am not qualified to say it’s a good spec or not, but the promises look… eh-hem, promising. Common, open specs are good all around. I’d love to see it integrated so that it can work with the vCard format for syncing contacts, and the iCal (.ics) format for lightwieght, standards-based calendaring.

    I propose that SSE is pronounced “Essex.” (Here’s what Essex is.) This would also help distinguish it vocally from Intel’s SSE. The next letter after the “E” in Extensions is an “x” so it would be a natural. Saying “Ess” gives a nod to the two “S’s” and avoids the trouble-prone option of calling it “sex.” The last thing anyone needs is more “sex” on the internets.

    Posted in: Standards · Technology · Web

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  7. iPod Porn?

    jake on 2005.11.16
    at 07:28 pm

    I was kinda upset that I didn’t get to this topic sooner because Techdirt already picked it up. That always seems to happen.

    Now that iPod’s can display video people are starting to discuss what to do when all the smut comes along. There are a few problems with this line of thinking. It’s very alarmist and uneducated.

    However, the ability of parents to monitor is seriously undermined if their children quickly can download adult content onto their iPods and then take it away from the home for easy viewing elsewhere.

    Sure it’s a little easier now, but you could already do this with things like CD’s. And never forget how resourceful kids are. Thirteen year old boys have had hidden stashes of Playboys and VHS tapes of naughty things for years. Of course kids aren’t going to be watching this in school or something. The only thing this adds is now instead of taking a CD to Jimmy’s house, you can bring a device with the display built in.

    Yet, iPods are becoming so ubiquitous and are so small, they are an easy vehicle for bringing pornography into the workplace. Employees discreetly could try to view pornography away from the watch of others. By engaging in such behavior, they often could be distracted from their true work functions, and problematically, they might contribute to an inappropriate and potentially hostile work environment to the extent the iPod porn is seen by others.

    OK, again, we’re just changing the medium in which the content is carried. Sure I have a little screen now but the only thing work can actively prevent you from doing is downloading NSFW material. They could never stop you from viewing it as long as you don’t get caught. A person could just as easily download pornographic material at home and bring it to work on a USB thumb drive.

    Obviously you should not be bringing pornography to work. Well I guess maybe if you work in the porn industry you get a by. But in general, it’s already not allowed, so you shouldn’t do it. But banning a piece of technology just because it could be used in an inappropriate way is ridiculous.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  8. Happy Birthday Re¢ently!

    jake on 2005.11.16
    at 12:17 am

    I’d just like to point out that it was four years ago today that Brian and I started writing this weblog. We’re up to almost nine-hundred posts and I’m counting down the days till I can make an announcement of our one-thousandth post.

    Brian and I have been a little busy to finish off a reworking of the site. I’m a fan of Cameron Moll’s concept, but not buzz words. We’re planning on reworking a bunch of things but not just for the heck of it. We want to improve. We do not want to make everything flashy. We fall under the aligning group but I don’t think you’ll see me use that word again unless I’m talking about text.

    Posted in: Service Announcement

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  9. Local News Blog

    brian on 2005.11.15
    at 04:35 pm

    Local blogger Lisa Williams, author of H20Town has a great write up on her experience producing the local news site for fellow suburb Watertown. Long and interesting. Love to see someone with this kind of time start up in Medford. It certainly could help newbies like myself learn more about my surroundings.

    Posted in: Web

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  10. Firefly and Scrubs link dump

    jake on 2005.11.11
    at 02:01 pm

    Just a couple quick links before I go out to lunch.

    Posted in: Television

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  11. Explorer Destroyer

    brian on 2005.11.10
    at 08:03 pm

    The authors of this blog wish to bring to your attention:

    Explorer Destroyer

    Heehee. And don’t miss its sister site, Kill Bill’s Browser. which is a checklist of the best reasons (in their opinion) to leave IE. I laughed out loud at reason number eight.

    We will not be employing any draconian devices to entice our readers to not use Internet Explorer. We support the use of any web standards compliant browsers, especially ones derived from open source projects.

    Personally I spend most of my time in Safari, with the rest of my time split between Camino (for you Windows users, that’s a Mac-only derivative of Firefox) and Firefox. I usually use the original Firefox when viewing image-intesive websites so i can use its Linky extension. I also use the Web Developer’s Extension toolbar for design and development.

    So if you haven’t got the gist yet, and you use Internet Explorer… get a clue.

    And tabs!!

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology · Web

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  12. Open Letter to Trey

    brian on 2005.11.10
    at 07:15 pm

    Album Cover of Trey Ananstasio's 'Shine.'

    Dear Trey, *

    I’m writing you on my blog because you have no contact information at your website. Also, the topic of my letter is one that’s in the public eye at the moment.

    I’m very interested in buying your new solo album, Shine. However, I was very disturbed to learn that it is at the center of the Sony/BMG rootkit scandal.

    Read on to see why Brian won’t be purchasing Trey Anastasio’s lossless digital music when it employs sneaky malware that cripples his fair use rights.

    Read More

    Posted in: Music

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  13. Recommended

    brian on 2005.11.06
    at 12:01 pm

    How to connect to your Mac securely from anywhere.

    A great how-to video from Mark Pilgrim who is all-too unheard of these days… I could do with a lot more of these.

    Posted in: Apple

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  14. Adirondack Images Posted

    brian on 2005.11.03
    at 05:05 pm

    Finally posted my images of our short trip to the Adirondack this October. You can find them in two locations:

    Total set —

    dotMac Photo Album ADK 2005

    Limited, higher-resolution size set with CC-license

    Flickr: ADK October 2005

    The Flickr set has a resolution up to 1280px so you could use as a desktop picture, should you choose.


    Posted in: Nature · Photography

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