22 Jul

The Word of Notch – On Patents

But there is no way in hell you can convince me that it’s beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve.

via The Word of Notch – On Patents. Notch (the guy who started Minecraft) has a really good piece on why patents are a bad idea. My opinion on patents has slowly changed from thinking that just software and business process patents to getting more convinced that patents in general are a bad idea.

28 Feb

Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order

Now I’d like to modify this into what I’ve named Machete Order on the off chance that this catches on because I’m a vain asshole.

Next time you want to in­tro­duce someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch the films with them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI

Notice some­thing? Yeah, Episode I is gone.

via Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order. Really enjoying this idea, going to try it out I think this weekend, as I’m due for a Star Wars marathon. The arguments in favor are really strong, both in terms of the order and in throwing out *shudder* The Phantom Menace.

05 Feb

Living World – How Did LEGO Become More About Limits Than Possibilities?

Rip open that new LEGO set and your mind races at the possibilities! A simple repertoire of piece types, and yet you can build a ninja boat, a three-wheeled race car, a pineapple pizza, a spotted lion… The possibilities are limited only by your creativity and imagination. “Combine and create!”—that was the implicit war cry for LEGOs.

So how, I wonder, did LEGO so severely lose its way? LEGO now fills the niche that model airplanes once did when I was a kid, an activity whose motto would be better described as “Follow the instructions!” The sets kids receive as gifts today are replete with made-to-order piece types special to each set, useful in one particular spot, and often useless elsewhere. And the sets are designed for constructing some particular thing (a Geonosian Starfighter, a Triceratops Trapper, etc.), and you—the parent—can look forward to spending hours helping them through the thorough yet thoroughly exhausting pages.

via Living World – How Did LEGO Become More About Limits Than Possibilities?. It’s a little depressing when I pick up a Lego kit and have to turn it down because of this issue. It used to be that no matter what the theme of the set, I could always use the vast majority of pieces from the kit, not so much anymore.

19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

19 Jan

Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best

Today, we watch in awe as the Internet rallies to fight dangerous blacklist legislation, the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. The originality, creativity, and magnitude of action we’re seeing represents exactly what these bills would harm most: the value of a vibrant and open Internet that fosters these activities.

As the day goes on, we will continue to update you on Twitter (@EFF) and in this space. In the meantime, here are some of today’s #SOPAblackout highlights. Thank these organizations for their participation and go here to make your voice heard!

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best. EFF highlights some of the largest sites that participated in the SOPA/PIPA blackout.

16 Jan

O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.

via O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge. Cory Doctorow has a wonderful saying “Copying is never going to get harder than it is now.” The idea that we’ll be able to go back in time and make it harder for people to get digital information/media/anything is just wrong. Businesses (hello entertainment industry) seems to ignore that fact time and time again. Businesses can either accept that getting media via the internet is getting easier and easier and try to make it simpler for consumers to get it legally or they will fail.

16 Jan

ArsTechnica – Wikipedia to join reddit in SOPA blackout Wednesday

Seeking to “send Washington a BIG message,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the English version of Wikipedia will go dark on Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, anti-piracy bills now being considered by Congress.

“Student warning!” Wales tweeted on Monday. “Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

He said the blackout, which is expected to last 24 hours, was a decision of the Wikipedia community.

via ArsTechnica – Wikipedia to join reddit in SOPA blackout Wednesday. I’ll also be posting a message to protest and inform people about PIPA and SOPA, though I imagine Wikipedia will have a much larger influence. Stop American Censorship is your one stop information portal to find out more about SOPA and PIPA and how these bills hurt the internet.

02 Jan

kickingbear – Learn to X

Jalkut wrote this piece, Learn to Code. Read it, it’s well worth your time. Simmons linked to Jalkut’s piece adding this, “I’m reminded of Matt Mullenweg saying ‘Scripting is the new literacy.’ Matt’s right.”

I appreciate where they’re coming from. I can, from a certain perspective, agree with the argument. But, let’s not kid ourselves, literacy is the new literacy. The ability to read, comprehend, digest and come to rational conclusions — that’s what we need more of. We don’t, as a society, need more people who have the mechanical knowledge to turn RSS feeds into Twitter spam. We don’t need anything more posted to Facebook, we don’t need anything we photograph to appear on Instagram and Flickr. If “scripting” is the new literacy then we’ve failed. We’ve become Mario drowning on a Water Level.

Scripting isn’t the new literacy, it’s the new tinkering with the engine, the new re-wiring the house. The new DIY for the digital age. These sorts of skills are incredibly valuable, but they’re not now, and certainly won’t be in the future, anything close to being an art form that stirs our souls.

That’s what literature does — it communicates to humans by leveraging our understanding of words and our grasp of narrative. And, sometimes, it mixes them all up but we still get value from it. That’s not how writing code works. Writing code is a craft, we build upon the capabilities of the compiler, the libraries and the hardware. We don’t have the freedom to innovate, as an author would, unless we control the whole stack. And we don’t. We swim upon a shallow surface, we perform what amounts to an act of synchronized swimming. At times it’s beautiful, but we’re in a pool, and we can’t control how wide or deep it is.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late. I’ll say to you — don’t Learn To Code, just Learn. Whatever it is you’re good at, whatever it is that calls to you — do that. And do it again and again and again and again.

Learn to X.

via kickingbear – Learn to X. I really enjoy that line “Learn to X”. There’s a problem among programmers it’s the classic when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Programming/Coding is our hammer, perhaps a really advanced hammer but still just a hammer. I’m not going to predict that programming will never be a part of a basic grade school education, I will however be shocked if it ever occurs. There is a reason the tagline for this site isn’t something like “learning to be a better programmer ever day”, programming is a career choice but not the only thing I want to be skilled at.

16 Dec

The Year of C.E.O. Failures Explained – NYTimes.com

Last spring, I taught a class at the Columbia Business School called “What Makes a Hit a Hit—and a Flop a Flop.” I focused on consumer-tech success stories and disasters.

I distinctly remember the day I focused on products that were rushed to market when they were full of bugs — and the company knew it (can you say “BlackBerry Storm?”). I sagely told my class full of twentysomethings that I was proud to talk to them now, when they were young and impressionable — that I hoped I could instill some sense of Doing What’s Right before they became corrupted by the corporate world.

But it was too late.

To my astonishment, hands shot up all over the room. These budding chief executives wound up telling me, politely, that I was wrong. That there’s a solid business case for shipping half-finished software. “You get the revenue flowing,” one young lady told me. “You don’t want to let your investors down, right? You can always fix the software later.”

You can always fix the software later. Wow.

That’s right. Use your customers as beta testers. Don’t worry about burning them. Don’t worry about souring them on your company name forever. There will always be more customers where those came from, right?

That “ignore the customer” approach hasn’t worked out so well for Hewlett-Packard, Netflix and Cisco. All three suffered enormous public black eyes. All three looked like they had no idea what they were doing.

Maybe all of those M.B.A.’s pouring into the workplace know something we don’t. Maybe there’s actually a shrewd master plan that the common folk can’t even fathom.

But maybe, too, there’s a solid business case to be made for factoring public reaction and the customer’s interest into big business decisions. And maybe, just maybe, that idea will become other C.E.O.s’ 2011 New Year’s resolution.

via NYTimes.com – The Year of C.E.O. Failures Explained. I’m not certain if business school teach that only thing matters is the profit you can make or if it is the result of something else. However, business schools seem to create an environment that rewards not making happy customers, not doing the ethical thing, not doing the thing that protects the environment down the road. One of the ways in which Apple succeeds is by releasing products when they are fully finished and not half-baked.

13 Dec

BBC News – Cambridge University puts Isaac Newton papers online

The notebooks in which Sir Isaac Newton worked out the theories on which much classical science is based have been put online by Cambridge University.

More than 4,000 pages have been scanned, including his annotated copy of Principia Mathematica, containing Newton’s laws of motion and gravity.

Newton wrote mainly in Latin and Greek, the scientific language of his time, and was reluctant to publish.

The university plans to put almost all of its Newton collection online.

The papers mark the launch of the Cambridge Digital Library project to digitise its collections.

As well as Principia and Newton’s college notebooks, the Newton Papers section of the online library contains his “Waste Book”.

The large notebook was inherited from his stepfather, and scholars believe it helped Newton to make significant breakthroughs in the field of calculus.

via BBC News – Cambridge University puts Isaac Newton papers online. One of the geniuses of all time.