April 23, 2010

A content voting microformat

There needs to be a standard specification for adding user voting to content. Currently, there are a range of disparate methods for valuing content:

  • Up- and optionally down-votes for an article or comment
  • Link click-through count, relative to other links on the page
  • Unique views per page
  • Average view duration per page
  • Page popularity based on region

Microformats are used to semantically tag information on a page (rss feeds, business cards, etc.). A microformat should be created to mark rated content, specify it's rating value, and specify how it's been rated. The act of rating, currently, requires specific tracking by the web site designers themselves. A third-party site could be created, similar to visitor tracking sites like Sitemeter or validation sites like the W3C's Markup Validation Service, to manage the vote logging.

Such a standard and complementary web site would make it easy for web developers to add customized content voting without implementing complex server and database support code.

posted by sstrader at 4:34 PM in Programming | permalink

This week's movies

Every now and then, I get the urge to watch a movie every night of the week. Here's this week's:

  • Kick-Ass [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | 4/5 ] (watched last Friday at a very busy Atlanta Film Festival-packed Landmark) - Very pleasantly surprised. Humor, gore, and some nice serious moments. Clips along nicely. Still can't figure out why so many people I talk to thought that this was a kids movie. It. Most. Certainly. Was. Not.
  • La Strada [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | 4/5 ] - Second Fellini I've seen including La Dolce Vita. Had more of an Antonioni feel a la Il Grido; both philosophical road movies.
  • Les diaboliques [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | 5/5 ] - Stunning French suspense. Should have been predictable, being 55 years old, but kept us guessing.
  • The Square [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | 4/5 ] - Australian noir, again at the Atlanta Film Festival. Written/directed by two brothers who I'm sure are sick of being compared to the Coens, but it really had a Blood Simple vibe without the boredom.
  • Onechanbara [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes | 2/5 ] - (portmanteau of "big sister" and "sword fighting") Minor zombie entry. Expecting more gross-outs than it delivered. Nice bikini though. Purchased with Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl (both of which I've seen and recommend), and still waiting on Vamprie Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (with Onechanbara's lead as FG) and Samurai Princess ordered from YesAsia.com. Poker Industries disappeared and so my Asian flicks now come from this much more polished, and more expensive, site.
onechanbara_flyer the_machine_girl_poster
posted by sstrader at 12:15 AM in Cinema | tagged asian cinema | permalink

April 20, 2010

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood; Peter Biskind

Borrowed from Matt and ~1/2 way through. Making me want to watch and re-watch every one of those early 70s movies and convincing me that, without exception, every director at the time was an unmitigated asshole. Also a good argument that art is best created in conflict.

Continue reading "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood; Peter Biskind"
posted by sstrader at 11:32 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

North of NOLA

Two Tuesday's back had an excellent test dinner at Bill and Tedra's to prepare for their upcoming restaurant North of NOLA. Rick Watson will be the chef.

posted by sstrader at 11:17 PM in Where was I? | tagged restaurant | permalink

Overwhelming feeds

I'm trying to understand the hatred that comes from people who dislike cell phones or text messages or (especially) Twitter. A few days ago, there was an article on Slashdot about Twitter and I noticed how commenters there have an ole fashioned befuddlement with social tech like this. A highly modded comment, responding to the news story that all public Tweets post March 2006 will be archived by the Library of Congress, quiped Your tax dollars at work...Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you have to! And this was modded insightful.

Typical, and common in the geekier online communities where members have jobs that make the most of knowledge connectivity, is a distaste for social connectivity. If code we're writing spits out some esoteric error, we grab the nearest search engine and work our best search-fu keyword combinations to find someone, somewhere who has seen the error and blogged about it. This is generally a successful research technique relying on others' chattiness. In contrast, if people we don't know and whose missives will never come up in our browser window choose to blog about some esoteric eatery, many geeks will become livid at such a waste of bits. The common arguments against such public activity streams are always the same and always self-satisfied: "I don't need to tell people what I just ate," "I'm not so vain that I need to be always in touch," or simply "I don't want to be interrupted by phone calls." There's always a certain pride in declaring this non-use. Few feel the need to declare that they don't read mystery novels.

(Is ranting against the iPad similar to this? Is preferring an open source tablet over a closed source one the same as banishing cell phones or Twitter?)

As I was pondering the Slashdot/Twitter oil-and-water thing, someone showed me what's possibly the preeminent example of curmudgeonly ranting over at The Old New Thing blog. The blog entry itself is a short denouncement of cell phones in the "in *my* day" fashion. The real gems are in the comments where veritable Old Person Hallelujahs can be heard praising the author: I love this; I've been anti-cell phone for years, I have been a computer programmer for 34 years ... I do not have a cell phone, and I don't want one, And when my cell rings and I don't recognize the number, I silence the ring. Do that often and I'll put you on my junk contact list. These people seem helpless before communication technology. Instead of not purchasing what they don't need, they have to be "anti". Their credentials are presented either for (1) proof that geeks can survive without tech or (2) proof that their opinion should be weighted more highly. They don't just ignore calls when they're busy but instead treat the callers aggressively, as if the caller knew they were busy and were purposefully interrupting them.

The blog entry criticizing cell phones is a pretty lame pseudo-excuse to say that technology weakens people. Cell phones make people dependent on communication systems. Google Maps makes people dependent on maps. Hammers make people dependent on tools? But it reveals in otherwise tech-savvy people a weakness for an idealized past. And, I'll admit, I'm surprised that my social group is susceptible to such nonsense.

posted by sstrader at 1:01 AM in Internet | permalink

April 15, 2010

Group identity

Simple thought experiment about group association:

  1. I believe X
  2. Group Y also believes X
  3. I agree with Y and now consider myself a Y
  4. Y, being made of individuals, changes over time
  5. Group Y no longer believes exactly X

At this point, the individual can either (1) realize that individuals change, group membership changes, and group median identity changes, or (2) insist that the group "lost its way" (from an idealized past) or that they aren't a valid representation of the beliefs (its members being no true Scotsman).

posted by sstrader at 10:10 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

April 13, 2010

iPhone, the platform most hated by developers

The new TOS for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 introduces additional restrictions on how developers can create applications for the device. Any application must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine. In other words: no cross compilers. Cross compilers provide a single development environment that compiles a single code base to multiple platforms such as the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. This saves developers hundreds and thousands of hours of development time they would otherwise have to spend creating multiple code bases. The biggest company affected is (natch) Adobe and their upcoming release of Creative Suite which adds a much-touted Flash-to-iPhone compiler. Several smaller, but no less important, tool makers are affected as are the many developers that make a living off of games and whatnot written using those applications. Developers are now faced with the choice of supporting multiple code bases or being locked in to iPhone development.

Apple's choice, if we can divine intent, was a strategic move to lock developers in to the iPhone over other mobile platforms. Cross compiler companies' choice is to lock developers into their cross compiler over other, single platform compilers. Developers are offered a clear benefit by choosing the latter's lock in, not so with the former's.

I don't have a dog in this race, but I'm a developer and love the tech and social aspects of our mobile web present and future. Apple can do whatever it wants with the iPhone/Pad, just as Microsoft did whatever it wanted years ago to attempt to lock in developers with the Visual J++ mutation of Java. However, it's important to note the costs developers should consider when choosing the route of lock in. Short-term gains may have long-term drawbacks.

Some reading:

Geeks insist the iPad is for "their moms" to use as they stand in line to purchase one (or more) for themselves. This self-deceit is used to justify the purchase of what would otherwise be considered a grossly limited netbook. When developers choose to develop on the iPhone for the chance to get rich (many do), they also choose to navigate the capricious business dictates of Apple. Developers generally don't seek out arbitrary corporate limitations when choosing projects either fun or profitable, but with "do what works" as a common mantra, neither are they an overly principled bunch. We'll see if Android benefits from this.

posted by sstrader at 12:25 AM in Phones , Programming | tagged android, iphone, mobile development | permalink

April 8, 2010

Last symphony until June

Just found tickets from last November at the ASO where we heard a chamber group performing Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue and Riffs". Outstanding mix of jazz; one of the more respectful of his borrowings. World premiere of Wynton Marsalis's Blues Symphony. I felt it was just nice. Also Olli Mustonen performing Ravel's Piano Concerto in G maj. Prompted me to purchase the score and learn the slow movement (done, working on memorizing now).


Last Thursday, Bach and more Stravinsky (this time Pulcinella and Firebird, matching previous concerts' Petroushka and Rite of Spring). Beautiful performance of Bach's keyboard concerto by Dinnerstein with a pared down string orchestra.


Created a playlist of Marsalis discussing his symphony at the keyboard (no entry yet on Wikipedia):

posted by sstrader at 4:40 PM in Concerts | tagged piano performance | permalink

Where was I?

Random places.




posted by sstrader at 12:18 PM in Where was I? | permalink

April 5, 2010

First issues of Micronauts comic book

Digging through our storage I found the other half of my comic book collection which included most of the first 32 issues of Micronauts plus the two annuals. Yes, it *is* pretty cool.

posted by sstrader at 9:56 PM in Art | tagged comic books | permalink

Desire, life, and gadgets

Quinn Norton recently examined iPad ownership based on the needs of the poor and middle-class poor. In contrast to a coworker who, when I told them of the $500 price tag, said stunned: "wow, that's cheap," QN elaborates on the truly affordable tech that ends up in the hands of the poor. When you can get a $250 netbook (sub $200 used) that does everything the iPad does and more, the decision is easy. Comments on her blog dig in w/r/t the definition of "poor" and the need to own an internet device at all. Could you job hunt without a phone? How easily? Could your kids keep up in school without the internet? On an equal footing as their classmates?

A later tweet pointed to a John Scalzi blog post titled Being Poor, written five years ago in response to discussions on Katrina victims and containing nearly 500 comments stretching to this year.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

The urge to purchase the first game console of my adult life included a non-specific yearning that some hole of my life I hadn't yet recognized would be fulfilled. (Sadly, I've had commitments most nights since I received my PS2, and haven't had a chance to dive in seriously.) This is a manifestation of the standard consumer/religion gene that we all carry and from which we chase after nebulous desires. I was reading a review of a Smiths concert video from many years ago where the reviewer noted specifically of a fan who broke from the front rows and ran onto the stage. Prior to security grabbing him, he rushed up to Morrisey, paused in the realization of his desire, and broke down crying. How could it possibly have gone any other way?

My choice to try out this crazy world of video games was paired with an undefined want: the unknown has unlimited potential for epiphany. Is this what drives everyone's gadget lust? Reddit recently posted a link to a watch from Amazon.com costing $88,000 (still not the most expensive one) and we all had a good laugh at how the wealthy will waste their money.

[ updated the next day ]

Forgot about a conversation I had with a hardcore conservative recently who, not mincing words, likened Katrina to the flushing of the toilet bowel. He elaborated that all of the poor who lived in houses they couldn't repair were finally forced out of town. We were talking jazz piano technique (both of us as pianists) so I didn't dig further to clarify whether his idea of "couldn't repair" really meant "were too lazy to repair," so do your own between the line readings. His was a perfect expression of the contempt some have for the poor (and one I have never seen firsthand).

posted by sstrader at 7:29 PM in Home Network & Gadgets , Phones | permalink