December 16, 2002
The Power of Voice

This article by Jon Udell is a really scary look at the future of audio processing.

Cheap storage makes it feasible to save voice recordings of many of our meetings, teleconferences, interviews, and other conversations. In some environments -- call centers and certain sectors of finance and government -- that already happens. But audio surveillance isn't yet routine, and the thorny legal, social, and cultural issues it raises haven't yet been widely debated. That's because, until now, there was no practical way to mine voice data.

As with other forms of practical obscurity, this artificial barrier was bound to topple, and now it has. Fast-Talk Communications' revolutionary phonetic indexing and search technology brings the magic of full-text search to the formerly opaque realms of audio recordings and video soundtracks. If you consider the way in which Google has already become everyone's indispensable "outboard brain," and extrapolate that to all the voice data that exists -- and to the vast quantities that soon will exist -- it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Fast-Talk is one of the most disruptive technologies in the pipeline.

Posted by adam at 11:26 PM
Google vs. Evil

If you haven't read it yet, go read the Wired article: Google vs. Evil.

Posted by adam at 09:39 PM
Weird Flash Stuff

Take a look at some weird/interesting flash stuff here. And then some more artistic flash here.

Posted by adam at 09:30 PM
License Fun

The Creative Commons has launched their first project: The Licensing Project. Here's my license:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Posted by adam at 05:00 PM
December 12, 2002
December 11, 2002
Tons of Stuff to Read

The staff of Boxes and Arrows published a big list of book recommendations on information architecture, interaction design, user centered design, design, usability, and more!.

Posted by adam at 09:56 PM
December 10, 2002
Is the Computer Desktop an Antique?

Steven Johnson wrote an article on the death of the desktop metaphor.

Posted by adam at 04:50 PM
December 02, 2002
Mini-Review of New Michael Crichton

Steven Johnson posted a mini review of Prey the new Michael Crichton novel.

Posted by adam at 03:52 PM
November 28, 2002
Video Lectures
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs has been MIT's introductory pre-professional computer science subject since 1981. It emphasizes the role of computer languages as vehicles for expressing knowledge and it presents basic principles of abstraction and modularity, together with essential techniques for designing and implementing computer languages. This course has had a worldwide impact on computer science curricula over the past two decades.
  • Linear Algebra: Basic subject on matrix theory and linear algebra, emphasizing topics useful in other disciplines, including systems of equations, vector spaces, determinants, eigenvalues, similarity, and positive definite matrices. Applications to least-squares approximations, stability of differential equations, networks, Fourier transforms, and Markov processes.
  • Video Lecture Showcase: a site with a whole bunch of links to other online video lectures in lots of different subjects
Posted by adam at 10:58 AM
November 22, 2002
Web Services in Mac OS X

The Apple Developer Connection site has a good article on Web services frameworks in Mac OS X 10.2. It does a good job of defining web services and describing both XML-RPC and SOAP. Then it goes into explaining how to actually integrate web services into Mac OS X programs. Good stuff.

Posted by adam at 11:37 PM
November 21, 2002
Kevin Mitnick's Missing Chapter

When famed hacker Kevin Mitnick wrote his book on computer security, The Art of Deception (John Wiley & Sons, 2002), the first chapter was autobiographical in nature. It was included in the advance galleys that were sent to reviewers, but when the book itself came out, that chapter was not included.

And, here it is.

Posted by adam at 09:00 PM
Linkidy Link Link

kryogenix has a comment about links between other places and says:

"I remain unconvinced that we need yet another addition to the sprawling world of XML-based formats that are trying to make the semantic web happen."

(This is in response to Simon Willison's posting about wanting to have a way to indicate that two links are related besides just linking to both of them in a weblog post)

Well, I'm happy to report that we don't need another XML format, it already exists: XLink. People already have a name for this idea also, its called a Linkbase

Posted by adam at 08:38 PM
November 20, 2002
Lifestreams, Microsoft, and Aggregators

Every so often I go back and try to wrap my brain more tightly around the concept of Lifestreams.

We contend that managing one's own electronic world can be a frustrating task for most computer users, requiring too many separate applications, too many file transfers and format translations, the invention of too many pointless names and the construction of organizational hierarchies that too quickly become obsolete. What is needed is a metaphor and system for organizing the electronic ``bits of paper'' we all so easily collect, whether we create them ourselves or they come to us in the form of email, downloaded images, web pages, or scheduling reminders. Lifestreams is such a system.

Lifestreams uses a simple organizational metaphor, a time-ordered stream of documents, to replace conventional files and directories [3,4]. Stream filters and software agents are used to organize, locate, summarize and monitor incoming information. Lifestreams subsumes many separate desktop applications to accomplish the most common communication, scheduling, and search and retrieval tasks; yet its machine-independent, client-server architecture is open so that users can continue to use the document types, and viewers & editors they are accustomed to.

A lifestream is a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create is stored in your lifestream, as are the documents other people send you. The tail of your stream contains documents from the past, perhaps starting with your electronic birth certificate. Moving away from the tail and toward the present, your stream contains more recent documents such as papers in progress or the latest electronic mail you've received---other documents, such as pictures, correspondence, bills, movies, voice mail and software are stored in between. Moving beyond the present and into the future, the stream contains documents you will need: reminders, your calendar items, and to-do lists.

This idea seems right in so many ways, but we haven't gotten near making it a reality yet. Now Microsoft wants to get in on the action:

Engineers are working on software to load every photo you take, every letter you write - in fact your every memory and experience - into a surrogate brain that never forgets anything, New Scientist can reveal

It is part of a curious venture dubbed the MyLifeBits project, in which engineers at Microsoft's Media Presence lab in San Francisco are aiming to build multimedia databases that chronicle people's life events and make them searchable. "Imagine being able to run a Google-like search on your life," says Gordon Bell, one of the developers.

News Aggregators could get in on this also with a few properly placed advances in the tech.

  1. We need to snap out of the idea that aggregators are only for news, they can also be lists of the latest mp3s you've downloaded or orders placed on your e-store.
  2. I shouldn't have to go get feeds, feeds should come to me. When I launch my aggregator it should ping the feeds it is subscribed to telling them that it is listening. Then, when a feed generates something new it should nearly instantly tell my aggregator. Besides the effects of making aggregation a real-time task this also would greatly reduce bandwidth. You'd only be downloading the new item, not the whole feed, only when it was updated.
  3. Applications need to generate these feeds for events that take place, like receiving an IM or new mail in your inbox or a friend visiting your website.

This can all be accomplished with the existing technology, xml-rpc seems the logical choice for communication between applications (either web or local) and aggregators. Yea yea, I know I should get off my ass and do it myself but I can't make application authors implement it unless I stir up some interest so thats what I'm doing right now.

Posted by adam at 11:36 PM
Inbox Buddy 1.0

Scott has finally released Inbox Buddy 1.0. Congratulations!

Inbox Buddy is an addon to Outlook that adds features like color coded email, spam filtering, relationship based email management and notification right into the Outlook interface. So if you run Winblowz take it for a spin :)

Posted by adam at 10:55 PM
When Good Interfaces Go Crufty

In Vernor Vinge’s sci-fi novel A fire upon the deep, he presents the idea of “software archeology”. Vinge’s future has software engineers spending large amounts of time digging through layers of decades-old code in a computer system — like layers of dirt and rubbish in real-world archeology — to find out how, or why, something works.

So far, in 2002, this problem isn’t so bad. We call such electronic garbage “cruft”, and promise to get rid of it someday. But it’s not really important right now, we tell ourselves, because computers keep getting faster, and we haven’t quite got to the point where single programs are too large for highly coordinated teams to understand.

But what if cruft makes its way into the human-computer interface? Then you have problems, because human brains aren’t getting noticably faster. (At least, not in the time period we’re concerned with here.) So the more cruft there is in an interface, the more difficult it will be to use.

Read the rest over at The Weblog of Matthew Thomas

Posted by adam at 10:31 PM
November 18, 2002
Electric Souls

A story over at kuro5hin explores some of the potential consequences of direct neural connections and living in virtual reality.

The year 0, Universal Space Calander was the year that humans first visited Pluto, the last planet in the Solar System to be visited by humanity. People had moved into space in large numbers for the plentiful solar energy and raw resources. By then there were many small community space vessels that did nothing but roam around mining asteroids and the occasional comet.

It was already common in those days for astronauts on long voyages to travel in virtual reality couches. Their brain was connected by a direct neural interface to a virtual reality while their bodily functions were handled by machinery, and tubes fed water and food directly to their stomach. Many of them had jobs they could take with them and do entirely in virtual reality when the ship did not need tending. And when the ship needed tending they would not wake up bodily to do it, but rather animate a mech through their VR connections, and do the tasks remotely. With this strategy, much less living space was required and the astronauts were less likely to suffer from claustrophobia. Their virtual reality could be as big and open as they desired.

Posted by adam at 05:31 PM
November 17, 2002

Wow! Watson is one of the coolest programs for OS X I've seen. It really is hard to explain so if you have OS X, download it and take it for a spin. It gives you 18 different tools which include, local weather, movie showtimes, Amazon and Ebay searches, TV listings, stock quotes, all in a beautiful GUI without having to visit websites in your browser.

Posted by adam at 11:35 AM
XML On The Brain

I've been doing quite a bit of XML reading lately. First off is XML in a Nutshell (I only have the first edition, anyone know what's new in the 2nd edition/). Then I found the amazingly cool Annoted XML specification which I'm about 1/3rd through.

Once I make it through those two I'm going to try to grok this whole RDF thing. I might need to do a little reading up on URI's and other related things first.

Posted by adam at 11:30 AM
October 24, 2002
Its a bird! Its a plane! No, Its Superworm!

Curious Yellow: The First Coordinated Worm Design:

This paper proposes the first design for a worm which utilizes efficient communication between worm instances for an optimal infection strategy.

Posted by adam at 09:54 PM
October 21, 2002
Please don't abuse this :)

So, Aaron Swartz did something so cool that I couldn't resist copying it. He set up a page where you can input text and his computer will speak it.

Here is where you can make my Mac talk to me. As the title implies, only use it to wake me up if you want to suffer the consiquences :)

[update] I added a "Speak to Me" entry on my sidebar on the front of this blog so people can quickly talk to me. [/update]

Posted by adam at 11:07 PM
October 20, 2002
Microsoft: "Where do you wan to go today? Tell us so we can stop you"

Natural Born Hackers has an article titled Microsoft Wants To Own The Internet. Its a bit old (July 15th) but its still a good introduction to TCPA / Palladium and DRM and how evil they really are.

Posted by adam at 06:18 PM