Hey, Jason! How Ya Been Lately???
(Note: The image is back, thanks to some ARCANE MAGIC shared with me by none other than Chris Locke via e-mail by which I was able to snag a legit copy of my very own…)
(Note: The image is back, thanks to some ARCANE MAGIC shared with me by none other than Chris Locke via e-mail by which I was able to snag a legit copy of my very own…)
Media Matters caught an interesting segment from Fox News on Wednesday in which they interviewed a woman from Florida who had been the alleged victim of a “road rage” attack.
The reported cause of the attack? Her “W the President” bumper sticker! Apparently it caused some insane librul in a subcompact displaying its own anti-Bush adornments to try and run her SUV off the road.
Of course, there may be more to it than that, as this brief exchange from near the end of the interview suggests:
HOST: Now, he claims… ahh… that you gave him the finger.
MICHELLE FERNANDEZ: Right.
HOST: What do you say to that?
FERNANDEZ: And you know, it’s possible that I did; it happened so fast, that I honestly — I mean my hands were back, flailing, and I was screaming back at him, and it’s possible that I could have, I just can’t be 100% sure.
Nice refusal to take responsibility for her own behavior there. No wonder she’s a W fan.
And after she’s done stumbling about, the terminally incurious host comes back with:
HOST: Not that that excuses anybody being run off the road either!
Of course not. But it might cast some doubt on the wisdom of running a live story with this woman with the title “PRO-BUSH BUMPER STICKER MAY HAVE SPARKED ROAD RAGE”… unless you work at Fox, that is.
And did they talk to the “road rager” to get his side of the story? Of course not. Here’s a nice steaming cup of fair and balanced for ya.
The sad thing is, despite the fact that the woman’s weak-ass story doesn’t even hold up under Fox News questioning, despite the obvious slant, millions of people will have seen this and come away thinking that there’s an army of dirty hippies out there waiting to sideswipe them (AND THEIR CHILDREN!!! WHO WILL THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!) at any moment, just for showing their GOP colors.
Which of course is bullshit. But this is just one example of how — even today, when we are under real threat from foreign terrorists, and at war in two countries abroad — powerful people are pitting us against our neighbors for their own profit. Think about that the next time you wonder who your real enemies are.
Over on her blog, my friend Ginger is making the argument that “Democrats are whiny babies” based on an indisputable scientific source: random perusal of postings on Craigslist.
[Y]ou would not believe the amount of ads I’ve seen saying “Roommate needed. Must be easy-going, be OK with my pet, and not make too much noise late at night. NO REPUBLICANS.” I have not seen one single one saying “No whining Democrats.” If I post an ad, I just might, though. I mean seriously, people. Get a life. Whiners.
Yeah! You never hear those nice Republicans going on about how bad Democrats are…
…. and on and on. Yeah, those Republicans sure are nice.
I spent Thursday and Friday at George Washington University’s 2005 Politics Online Conference.
I could write up my reaction to it, but why bother when Rex Hammock has already ably covered all the bases for me?
It never ceases to amaze me how slow the thinking is in this sector. People are more interested in having meaningless “debates” about confected questions like whether blogs are going to destroy “old media” than they are in looking hard at real issues.
Example: I took a ton of flak last year for saying that e-mail was broken as a tool for constituency communications. And yet, at one panel I attended, a panelist noted that it had been impossible for many organizations to do any e-mail communication with their membership on the recent prescription drug bill because the ubiquitous SpamAssassin throws any e-mail with “prescription drugs” in it into the bit bucket. And everyone in the room hearing this nods their heads and starts talking about “how do we get around SpamAssassin?” rather than the more obvious question of “why the hell are we so dependent on a medium where our messages get drowned out by those of criminal bottom-feeders?“
That’s not to say it was a total wash; I did pick up a few good ideas, and it was nice to see the usual suspects and meet a few new people as well. But oof, if this is the state of the art in thinking about political technology, all I can say is that 2001 called, it wants its ideas back…
No energy to blog lately… will be back soon, I promise.
In the meantime, a recommendation: I am really digging the Creating Passionate Users blog. Check it out.
It’s really cool to read stuff like this 🙂
Jef was the prime mover behind the start of the Macintosh project at Apple (though it was eventually taken from him by Steve Jobs, and the Mac that ended up shipping didn’t look much like Jef’s original vision). He also designed the innovative Canon Cat, and distilled the lessons learned from those experiences into what he called “The Humane Interface“.
Jef was a tireless advocate for systems that were adapted to fit the the user, rather than the other way ’round. In our world, where a distorted marketplace leads users to spend millions of dollars every year training themselves to use baroque software rather than demanding better, his spirit will be sorely missed.
… Virtual Stan, that is.
Who said Flash wasn’t useful?
To the crossword editor of the Washington Post:
I’m sorry I called your comment line this afternoon and griped you out for the clue in today’s puzzle that read “Mortise’s partner,” on the grounds that everyone knows that the partner of a tenon is a mortis, making a “mortis and tenon joint”.
Furthermore, I’m sorry that I continued on to indicate that your careless spelling caused five people in our breakroom at work to waste half an hour trying to figure out what a “mortise” is while doing the crossword over lunch.
Additionally, I’m sorry that I indicated that the editor of a crossword puzzle for a major newspaper making such a mistake was evidence of a severe lack of synaptic activity on the part of said editor.
I’m sorry about these things mostly because it turns out that the word is indeed spelled “mortise”.
Anyway, please disregard my call. Thank you.
Doesn’t my friend Rachael have a pretty smile?
Man, I wish I was as brave as Jason Kottke is. What a cool adventure he’s setting out on! And there’s already a big list of “micropatrons” backing him up… though I’m sure he still needs plenty more to float him, so don’t let that stop you from pitching in if you like his site.
If only there were enough of y’all out there to float me to work on my dream projects full time… (sigh) 🙂
Of course, Bill’s dead, so it’s not “live”. But it’s still cool:
Bill Hicks Live: The “Revelations” Concert
XM Comedy – XM 150
10PM ET (Friday, Feb. 25)
XM Comedy is pleased to present the genius of the late Bill Hicks in his “Revelations” concert from the new DVD Satirist, Social Critic, Stand-Up Comedian, uninterrupted and uncensored.
If you don’t know who Bill Hicks was, you should. Why? Because he was a fucking genius, that’s why.
A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks – you think when Jesus comes back, he ever wants to see a fucking cross? Kind of like going up to Jackie Onassis with a rifle pendant on, you know?
I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’
The worst kind of non-smokers are the ones that come up to you and cough. That’s pretty fucking cruel isn’t it? Do you go up to cripples and dance too?
What do atheists scream when they come?
We always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus murdered; Martin Luther King murdered; Malcolm X murdered; Gandhi murdered; John Lennon murdered; Reagan…. wounded.
And here’s a giant archive of Hicks material in RealAudio, courtesy of Rykodisc.
Imagine my shock to open the paper this morning and discover that one of my heroes blew his brains out yesterday:
Hunter S. Thompson, whose life and writing, vivid and quirky reflections of each other, made him one of the principal symbols of the American counterculture, shot and killed himself yesterday at his home near Aspen.
Thompson, 67, was celebrated as a practitioner of an outraged form of personal journalism, offering off-beat ideas and observations in a style that was wildly and vividly his own and that brought him cult-like status and widespread recognition…
Part of what created his image of outlaw independence and defiance of norms and conventions was his claim to intimate familiarity with a variety of drugs and mind altering chemicals.
“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone… but they’ve always worked for me,” he once wrote.
The thing about the good Doctor Gonzo was that he could write in a voice so personal, so unique, that it jumped off the page and grabbed you by the throat. His signature work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, remains an American classic — a kind of Polaroid snapshot of flaming ’60s excess, written just as that decade was dying and the “Me Decade” was being born. But Fear and Loathing isn’t for tie-dyed, freeze-dried hippies — it’s as fresh and vibrant today as it was when it exploded on the world in 1971.
To illustrate, here’s one of my favorite passages from that book. Thompson (as “Doctor Raoul Duke”) and his Samoan attorney, after days of insane drugging and boozing up and down the Strip (and after completely blowing their original reason for being in Vegas in the first place, to cover the Mint 400 road race), have been hired by Rolling Stone magazine to cover the National Conference of District Attorneys’ seminar on narcotics and dangerous drugs (!), which is happening across town. So they proceed to get loaded, disguise themselves (as best they can) as D.A.s, and enter into the Belly of the Beast, prepared to fuck with the minds of as many people as possible…
Here’s to you, Doctor Gonzo, wherever you are.
So since I spent a big chunk of blogspace griping about my old cellphone, you might want to know what I ended up doing to replace it.
Long story short, I got a Nokia 6600 and new service from T-Mobile. So far the service has been great, and the phone is fantastic; it runs on the popular Symbian Series 60 platform, so there’s a ton of nifty software you can get for it. And the built in camera is nice too; here’s my first attempt at a self-portrait using it:
(I know the light levels are screwy — I’m still working out the settings for light conditions, so cut me some slack!)
I’ve got a remarkable story of bravery and heroism in Fallujah for you today.
“We were moving down the street, clearing buildings,” [Marine First Sergeant Brad] Kasal recounted. “A Marine came out wounded from a building and said there were three more wounded Marines trapped in there with a bunch of bad guys (insurgents). As we entered, we noticed several dead Iraqis on the floor and one of our wounded.”
Kasal said there was no question of what to do. “If I was a general I would still think my job was to get the wounded Marines out of there,” he said. “So we went in to get them.”
As soon as he entered the two-story stucco and brick building, Kasal found himself in mortal combat…
While Kasal and a young Pfc. Alexander Nicoll were taking out the insurgent behind the wall, another one with an AK hiding on the stairs to the second floor began firing at the Marines on full automatic. “That’s when I went down, along with one of my Marines (Nicoll). Then I noticed the hand grenade.”
Sgt. Kasal shielded the wounded Nicoll from the grenade’s blast with his own body — and then, stunned and wounded on the ground, took out his sidearm and laid by Pfc. Nicoll for forty minutes, exchanging fire with insurgents (and getting shot again in the process), to protect him until a rescue team arrived.
When Kasal got to Landstuhl hospital in Germany, they found he had taken seven gunshot wounds (five in the right leg, which he may lose, one in the foot and one in the butt) and up to 40 pieces of shrapnel from the exploding grenade. He’s at Bethesda Naval Hospital now, recovering.
And Pfc. Nicoll? He lost his leg – but he survived.
Sgt. Kasal has been nominated for the Medal of Honor — the highest honor a soldier can receive. He’d be the first Marine to win one since Vietnam. I’d say he deserves it.
Scoble and the IE blog break the news: Internet Explorer 7 is on the way.
BUT: only for users of Windows XP SP2. Those of us still on Win2K get… weasel words:
I’ve also gotten questions about support for Windows 2000. Right now, we’re focused on XP SP2. We’re actively listening to our major Windows 2000 customers about what they want and comparing that to the engineering and logistical complexity of that work. That’s all I can say on that topic.
I’m sure this has nothing to do with the upcoming end of mainstream support for Windows 2000 in the Windows lifecycle roadmap (Win2K Pro goes into “extended support” only on June 30).
“Extended support” means “no more patches or service packs except for urgent security issues”, so this is probably the harbinger of Microsoft’s push to get all us laggards onto WinXP. Never mind that 2K and XP are architecturally, essentially, the same OS, and that limiting new releases to XP only is an artificial limitation of the most obvious kind.
I already dual-boot at home between Fedora and Win2K, and I can do everything in Fedora I can do in Windows except play some games. If the curtain is gonna go down on Win2K, I’m more inclined to switch to Linux full time (or yes, Sandy, a Mac) than to pay up for an XP license just because Microsoft thinks it’s time I oughta.
It’s official — today the Democratic National Committee unanimously elected Howard Dean as its new Chair.
What does that mean? It means that he’s now the official leader of the entire party apparatus across the country. And he’s got big plans for bringing our withered party structure back into something that can compete with the GOP in every single state.
I’m ready. Let’s get started!
The first thing we can do is help show Gov. Dean our support by contributing to the DNC. He’s committing the Democratic Party to being an organization that is funded by its grassroots; that means we have to be willing to step up to the plate.
Daily Kos has set up an ActBlue account where you can donate to the DNC to show your support for Gov. Dean’s new agenda. You can contribute to that account right from here:
Let’s show Howard that we’ve got his back — chip in and help get this movement started today!
In North Korea, Dear Leader ratchets up the pressure:
North Korea on Thursday declared itself a de facto nuclear power, claiming in its strongest terms to date that it had “manufactured nuclear weapons” to defend itself from the United States and saying it would withdraw indefinitely from international disarmament talks.
I’ve decided to write a book about my last few dating experiences. Why not? Always wanted to be an author.
I’ve even got the cover art all ready to go:
Coming soon to a bookstore near you!
(In case you care: image taken from here.)
Prepare to be impressed:
Because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll take a moment and do the exercise I recommended for PalmOne earlier of simplifying their bloated product line.
Let’s start by thinking about who PalmOne’s customers are. As I see it, you can basically slice them a couple of ways. One way is by use environment — people who use their PalmOS device primarily in the office vs. people who use it primarily on their personal time. Another way is by use scenario — people who need an integrated phone (smartphone), and people who don’t (PDA).
Anyone want to start up a pool on how long it will be until PalmOne goes out of business?
That’s not something I take pleasure in writing. I’ve been a fan of their products since back when they were a division of 3Com (anyone remember those days?). But their current management seems bound and determined to run the company into the ground. Anyone who looks at TiVo or Google and says “they’re bound to be successful, their name is synonymous with their product category” should take a long hard look at how PalmOne managed to screw things up.
Once upon a time, “PalmPilot” was synonymous with “PDA”. This was back in the late 1990s, when the company’s products were omnipresent in business.
But as phones got smarter, Palm missed the curve, milking their Palm III and V cash cows for years while their original founders left to found Handspring — where they created innovative devices with pretty low build quality. Eventually they sussed out the phone threat and started working on the Treo, which they brought back with them when they returned to PalmOne.
Today the Treo is the only product PalmOne has that shows any promise — its sales are brisk, while PDA sales continue to drop. So how does PalmOne react? By screwing their Treo customers — this time it’s by jacking up the price of the latest model, the GSM-based Treo 650, by $100 just 2 days after launch.
So PalmOne has serious problems relating to customers. But that’s not the only problems it has. Its product line is out of control. Take a look at this screen shot from their Web site:
Look at all those models! And more tellingly, look how they overlap. Who is the customer for each one? If I am a home user with some money to spend, is the Zire 72 for me, or the Tungsten T3? If I am a business user looking for an inexpensive device, will I be losing something important if I skip the Tungsten E for the Zire 21? Why is there no inexpensive and mid-range Treo?
It’s a mess.
Palm needs someone to clean house. Their sales story right now is reminiscent of Apple’s in the early 1990s — a profusion of models, all blurring into one another. Perhaps the smartest thing Steve Jobs did upon taking the helm at Apple was throw out all the product lines and replace them with a simple quadrant of four products:
This dramatically simplified Apple’s sales story, and it sold products based on how people use them rather than on spec sheets and features — which is how people prefer to buy. (Not to mention that it probably cut Apple’s manufacturing and distribution costs, too.)
Palm needs a Steve Jobs to do this exercise for them. Considering that PDAs are a shrinking market, do they really need seven different PDA models? And why is there one model (the Tungsten C) whose only distinction is that it comes with built in WiFi? (Adding WiFi to any other Palm device requires shelling out $100 on an add-on card.) Is there anyone out there for whom “must have WiFi” is the #1 priority on their PDA requirements list, overriding all others?
Palm needs to get their hands on the tiller and steer before it’s too late. They’ve already managed to squander a huge lead in market share and public goodwill. Maybe they’ll be able to steady things before they deteriorate further to the point of outright collapse. I hope so.
UPDATE: See the next post, in which I take a stab at fixing PalmOne’s product line.
I received an e-mail a few days ago from a reader in Europe (hi Sisi!) asking me if I could put together a short tutorial on how to add support for Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature to a Web site. I’m always happy to help people get the most from Mozilla, so I thought, why not? (Especially since I am one of the “Mozilla Wordsmiths” referenced on the page linked above, it’s a little embarrassing to have people coming away from it more confused than they were when they found it!)
So, without further ado, I give you a HOWTO on making your site Live Bookmarks-enabled.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
First, though, I should probably describe what Live Bookmarks are for those of you who don’t already know. Live Bookmarks are a neat feature of Firefox 1.0 that uses the power of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) technology to let you see at a glance what’s new at all your favorite sites.
The way RSS works is that sites offer “feeds” that you can subscribe to, with appropriate software; these feeds are updated whenever there’s something new, and the software that monitors the feeds for you tells you about the update and usually lets you get directly to it with one click.
Here’s how Live Bookmarks fits in. If you’re browsing a site that has Live Bookmarks support, you’ll see this icon in the address bar of your Firefox window:
Click that icon and you’ll see a list of all the RSS feeds that the site offers; selecting a feed will add a Live Bookmark for that feed to your Bookmarks list.
Then, whenever you want to see what’s new at that site, you can just look in the Bookmarks menu — when you mouse over the Live Bookmark, it will show you the latest list of stories from the site the Live Bookmark points to.
So Live Bookmarks are an easy way for Firefox users to keep up with your site. But how do you make it so that little icon appears in the address bar? Let’s find out.
ADDING LIVE BOOKMARKS SUPPORT TO YOUR SITE
Thankfully, making your site Live Bookmarks-enabled is actually pretty easy — assuming that you are already publishing at least one RSS feed, that is. (If you’re not, talk to whoever provides your content management system, as RSS support is cheap, easy, and very high-value.)
Given an RSS feed, all you have to do to make that little icon appear in your user’s Firefox window is add a tag to theblock of your pages. This is the tag:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="..." href="..." />
For “title”, put in whatever text you want the user to see for that feed when they click the icon. For “href”, put in the URL of the RSS feed you want them to subscribe to.
That’s all there is to it! Just add that tag to theblock of any page you wish to Live Bookmarks-enable, and you’re good to go.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate how simple this is. Here at Just Well Mixed, we publish a feed in RSS 0.91 format at the URL http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.xml. So I could make the icon show up, and provide the option to add a Live Bookmark for this feed, by adding this to my pages’ <HEAD> blocks:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Subscribe to Just Well Mixed Updates" href="http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.xml" />
Notice I added a title — “Subscribe to Just Well Mixed Updates” — and a URL — http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.xml. This means that when the user clicks on the icon, a menu will pop up with one choice, which reads “Subscribe to Just Well Mixed Updates”. If they click that choice, a Live Bookmark will be created for this site that pulls from the RSS feed at http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.xml. They’ll then see all updates published via that feed in that Live Bookmark.
“But,” you ask, “what if I publish more than one RSS feed?” Not a problem — you can have as many feeds in there as you like. For example, we also publish a feed in RSS 1.0 format for JWM. What if I wanted to give users the option to choose one or the other when creating a Live Bookmark? Here’s how that would go:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Just Well Mixed Updates -- RSS 0.92" href="http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.xml" /> <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Just Well Mixed Updates -- RSS 1.0" href="http://www.jasonlefkowitz.net/index.rdf" />
Now our user will get two options when they click that icon — one that reads “Just Well Mixed Updates — RSS 0.92” and pulls from the RSS 0.92 feed, and another that reads “Just Well Mixed Updates — RSS 1.0” and pulls from the RSS 1.0 feed. Of course, since Live Bookmarks can read both of these formats, there’s not much point in providing multiple feeds in the menu if the only difference between them is the feed format. But if you provide, say, category-specific feeds, or feeds for comments, or any other feeds where the actual content is different, you can use this to let your users add Live Bookmarks for that content too.
(But what, you ask, if your feed is an Atom feed, rather than RSS? All the instructions above still apply for Atom; the only difference is that you need to make sure you put “application/atom+xml” as the value of the “type” attribute, instead of “application/rss+xml”.)
And that brings us to the end of our tutorial on enabling your site for Live Bookmarks. I hope this has cleared up any confusion you may have had on the subject! If it only made things worse, feel free to drop me a line and excoriate me, though I would ask that you consider that I’m writing this at 1:20 on Monday morning before you turn the flames up too high 🙂
And don’t forget to leave your questions and suggestions in the comments, that’s what they’re there for!
UPDATE (3/25/2005): A reader wrote in and pointed out an error in my tags above — the type=”” attribute should be set as
type="application/xml". I’ve made the correction, sorry for the confusion!
UPDATE (8/24/2006): The advent of Atom means that we now have an alternative to RSS for Live Bookmark feeds. I’ve updated the text above with the (minor) things you need to do differently to set up an Atom feed as a Live Bookmark.
UPDATE (9/27/2006): A reader points out that this HOWTO was out of date — it was still describing the icon as displaying in the browser window’s bottom right corner, when in fact Mozilla has moved it up into the address bar. I’ve updated this document with that correction. Thanks!