The Blog

01 Jul 2014

So, farewell then, Orkut

10 Years ago, there was a rush to invite your friends and sign up to each new social network (remember Ryze, Tribe, Pownce, Jaiku, Plaxo, Plazes, Xing, among others? [1]). +Marc Canter invited me to Orkut and I joined just days after it launched. For a a few months I created and moderated 4 communities and put effort into them, before drifting away. Then Google took it over and later combined the logins. And in the process I lost my profile and somebody else hijacked my communities. It took ages to recombine my profiles but I never did manage to retrieve the groups. Like this one. It's still got my words and the image I added to it.

I know Orkut gets ignored in the USA and UK, but it's still huge in South America and especially Brasil. And note of course that it is still much richer in terms of functionality than G+, especially around the communities. 

So where will G+ be when it's 10 years old?

Meanwhile the mailing lists I started on Yahoogroups in the last millennium are still going strong. At least 15 years and counting.

[1] Also remember RDF. FOAF[2], Semantic Web, the RSS 1.0 wars.
[2] DnaCheckSum as a proof of ID is nearly here!
 Tchau Orkut - Orkut Blog »
The latest news from the orkut team

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23 Jun 2014

Series 2 of Orphan Black has been fairly irritating compared with Series 1.  But most irritating has been it's airing on BBC America in the USA 10 days before BBC3 in the UK. Which means spoiler headlines on several sites I read, at least once a week on what for me is next week's episode. If the BBC can do globally synced Dr Who, why not their other global properties? 

I see Utopia is coming back for a second series next month. Hooray! But will they have screwed it up because series one was perfect right up to the last 5 minutes. But then I've lost count of the number of TV dramas that had you entranced until the final wrap up which ended up being too obvious. eg, Shadowline. But not Fargo. That was just perfect!
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22 Jun 2014

So who was flying a big drone quadrocopter above Stonehenge in the hour before sunrise on the Solstice day? It had two green and two red lights on it to show orientation and seemed to be pretty fast and powerful. Was it:-
- An enthusiast
- A journalist from a TV or newspaper
- The Police playing with their latest crowd surveillance toy
- The (Salisbury Plain) military playing with their latest recon toy

And yes, Stonehenge was a laugh. Just a bit different from '74, '75, '76, '81 when I've been before. Although crowd control was pretty organised, it's a fairly acceptable compromise that keeps a lid on the mayhem with the actual presence from the authorities being hidden in the background and pretty low key. That was an exhausting 36 hours though!

There's a certain amount of conflict between the people who just want to have a party and those who want to use the spiritual baggage of the place to change their brain state through the power of dressing up, music and dance. I lean towards the first, mainly because I don't really understand the second and keep trying to rationalise it. Getting upset because there are too many people not showing proper respect does seems a little pointless though, on that night, in that place.
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19 Jun 2014

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the excluded middle.
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11 Jun 2014

The "Beckham goes to the rain forest" documentary on BBC was quite entertaining. But would you choose a custom Triumph Bonneville for that trip and then ride with almost no safety gear or even a jacket? This isn't Shoreditch High Street, you know.
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10 Jun 2014

Where can I go to find definitive maps of UK council and district boundaries?

Because I've just run up against a problem where there's some fly-tipping practically underneath a "No Fly Tipping" sign. The sign is put up by one district council with one phone number but it turns out the site is well within the boundary of another district with a different reporting phone number.

If I follow this up to find the maps, I get put through to some obscure land registry department in the councils and still can't get the information. I've tried this with both district offices and the county council offices. As far as I can tell the Ordnance survey maps don't have these boundary markings either.

Meanwhile the fly tip waste is still there 2 weeks later. It's household builder's waste, some of it in rubble sacks. Why, how? It's on a Restricted Byway with quite a lot of walker, bicycle, horse traffic. And yet none of them seem to want to report it or do anything about it. So is this a society problem, council problem or landowner problem? Who's supposed to deal with it? And equally, who's job is it to maintain the track and keep the overgrowth under control?
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Is that it for ? It's 3 days now and counting and it's still down.
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09 Jun 2014

From my privileged position I get to read Rudolph Rocker on Anarcho-Syndicalism, and laugh ironically at Dilbert making fun of the capitalist system. Without worrying too much about having enough to eat or having adequate health care.


Rocker: The portentous development of our present economic system ... sacrificed the general interests of human society to the private interests of individuals, and thus systematically undermined a true relationship between men.

[from: Google+ Posts]

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Did you forget about Woodfest 2014 on Sat 14 June? Just off the A10, just N of the M25.

If you didn't get an invite then drop me a line.
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06 Jun 2014

I do have a special weakness for deep future speculation inspired by a lifetime of reading SciFi. It brings a little perspective to present day here and now issues. The problem is that my consciousness won't see any of it.

So what might the Earth look like in a couple of hundred thousand years? From the perspective of whatever hominids are still around; assuming they are still around.

If 200,000 years (Homo Sapiens) is too near term, how about 2 million (Hominids), or 20 million (Primates)?
 Deep Future: the ultimate destiny of humankind »
In the 1950s, we knew what the future would be: an age of prosperity and unprecedented wonders. Energy too cheap to meter, flying cars, vacations on the moon, and the conquest of space. Then, space heroes would return to Eart...

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05 Jun 2014

On the NSA's RFT for an internet-scale sarcasm detector

Did you hear the one about Epimenides' Cretan friend who said "So all Cretans are sarcastic?, Yeah right!".

When they've done the weaponised sarcasm detector, can we please have a weaponised irony detector as well. Seeing as how irony is nearly as hard to cure as Herpes or Malaria. Once you've caught it, it keeps coming back. Which makes you wonder, does Quinine cure Irony? Hmmm, maybe it does.

Please note that Google auto-added the hash tag "sarcasm" to this post.
 We need a pony. And the moon on a stick. By next Thursday. - Charlie's Diary »
Background: the US Secret Service has two main jobs (three, if you include persecuting Role Playing Game companies, but let's leave Steve Jackson out of this for the time being): combating currency counterfeiting, and protecting the President Of The United States, an office that for some reason ...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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03 Jun 2014

So Farewell Then
Alexander Shulgin.
Fare the'e well.

We Have Known And Loved one or two of your children, but by no means all.
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A portrait of an artist at work: Punting down an industrial canal on a wooden bed with oil drums strapped to the bottom and handing out daffodils to random passers-by.

Glad to see the spirit of English Eccentricity is alive and well.

Not very political though, is it.
 Gallery: Bill Drummond 'The 25 Paintings' »
KLF legend Bill Drummond takes his artistic project, The 25 Paintings to the world through a new touring touring exhibition

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29 May 2014

Sad that series 2 of Elementary has ended. But happy that series 3 has been green lit and is due in the autumn.
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Mary Meeker on the State of the Internet.

Much to comment on here!

Glad to see the X market is still projected to increase by Y% in Z years!

Note: Laptops are mobile devices but not counted in the comments about smartphones and laptops. And mobile page views is still under 25% of total page views. This may be a "post-PC world" but clearly PC is still very important and 75% of the total. My sense is that PC total is not declining but the growth in the total is from mobile. So mobile's rising share is growing the whole market.

Digital Universe growth 50% y/y. That's for end user generated content. I'd suggest that total data generation has passed 100% growth y/y. Exponential growth with a doubling period under a year (or two) is very hard to get your head round. TL;DR, there's no past (it's tiny proportion of now) and no future (now will be  a tiny proportion in only a year or two). Now is getting shorter and shorter.

We need a new name for a "data generating consumer"! What do you call an end user who generates more data than they consume? That's not the internet as glorified TV channel any more. And when did we stop lurking? Does that mean that it's not "90% lurk, 9% comment and 1% post" any more.

Tencent (and alibaba and ) is huge. it's just not that visible because there's no need for them to try and expand into the English speaking world.
 2014 Internet Trends — Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers »
Partnering with great entrepreneurs to build the next big thing.

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27 May 2014

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19 May 2014

Here's a puzzle. How do (UK) camera vans work with motorcycles that have no front number plate? Somebody[1] might well be doing an alleged 40 towards them in the 30 limit or 85 in the 60 limit. But by the time the bike has passed them and they can get a readout of the speed superimposed on the picture of the rear number plate, the bike is doing 27 and 57 respectively. So there's no record of the speed that would stand up in court. Is that how it works? Or if you're seriously taking the piss do they have a signed judgement call that the bike in the two pictures is the same one? Or is it all fully automatic and the intention is not to catch anyone (except the very stupid) but to get the public to pay more attention and stop playing silly buggers?

So that's St Neots - Higham Ferrers, Mkt Harboro- Melton Mowbray and Melton Mowbray - Kegworth roads where not only have they got loads of signs that say "MOTORCYCLE DEATH ROUTE" and "BIKER ACCIDENT HERE" along with long stretches of 50mph limit, but also camera vans out on a Bank Holiday Sunday evening. This modern world, eh?

[1]Somebody else I was following. Not me. Obviously.
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11 May 2014

Facebook Nearby Friends
I see Facebook is introducing some new location features that let you publish a rough location and to see rough locations for your friends, especially the ones within a small radius.

And like Google Plus, it's iOS/iPhone and Android only. For some bizarre reason it's unavailable from laptops, Chromebooks, or other devices. There's no desktop browser or mobile browser interface. Why? I can understand a small company with limited resources only rolling out a new feature on certain platforms. But why do these big companies only do half the job?

Location does seem to be something that everyone assumes is only interesting from a smart phone. That just assumes:-
- Nobody travels with a laptop. And yet I still see people using laptops in cafes and out on the road
- Chromebooks aren't portable and used on the road. But they are.
- Nobody would ever want to get an overview on a real browser. But then why is the big browser version of Google Maps used so much.
- That people never want to add a location to a post when using the most convenient interface for long form posts; The Browser version.

I don't get it. Do the people making these decisions and setting the development plans never use a laptop?
 Nearby Friends | Facebook Help Centre | Facebook »
Turn on Nearby Friends to choose who sees when you're nearby or on the go. They will only see this information when they also share theirs with you. To see friends who are nearby on an iPhone or Android: Tap More; Tap Nearby Friends; Choose who to share your location with (ex: Friends, ...

[from: Google+ Posts]

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10 May 2014

Apple's plan for Beats assuming the sale goes through. It's a 4 stage process.

1) Change the b to an a
2) Change the red to white
3) ???
4) Profit!

Now come on Apple, where's my 1TB iPod Classic by Beats by Dre ?
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08 May 2014

So Mr Bond,

This one made my day.

My idea for an anti-bond story is along these lines: Bond discovers villain is setting up a tremendous under-ice colony in Antarctica. He's planning on global warming upending the world economy and ecology and the return of tropical conditions to the frozen continent. He's handpicked 50k bright, handsome youths to make the colony a success.

Bond is like "You're going to destroy the world to conquer it? You're mad!"

The villain is all like "What? No! I've sunk half my fortune into fighting global warming. But I don't think I'll make any headway against these jackass governments so Plan B is the Antactic colony. I'm not trying to destroy civilization, I'm just trying not to be crushed in the debris when it collapses. So, you look like a handsome gent of good stock. I think I could find a place for you here."

Bond considers. "How are you stocked for gin and olives?"
 The prospects of the Space and Freedom Party reconsidered in light of the crisis of 21st century capitalism - Charlie's Diary »
The current buzz-topic of the month is Thomas Piketty's magisterial tome, Capital in the 21st Century—currently at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, #5 in the UK, and in the sights of every right wing pundit, goldbug, and economic quack globally. I have not read Piketty (yet) so I am ...

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