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                          Archive for Apr 2008


                          IIW Is Just Around the Corner

                          If you are wondering what the Internet Identity Workshop is all about we have a new articulation posted on the main wiki page for our upcoming conference. It goes into the range of topics covered along with the technology and social issues. This is our 6th event and I think it will be a great one. MONDAY IS FREE (beginning at 1PM) We have Monday’s program figured out and Monday afternoon is FREE to anyone who wants to come and check out the emerging field. We will open at 1pm. We will open with a ‘newbie’ perspective from Ryan
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                          Gin and Television: Using Our Social Surplus

                          Clay Shirky has posted a transcript of his Web 2.0 talk "Gin, Television, and Social Surplus." In it Shirky argues that television was the safety valve that society used to sponge up all the excess cognitive capacity that we developed after World War II. In effect, the mindless activity of watching television kept people from going crazy with all the spare cycles that they had. Shirky says that with the Internet and Web, we're starting to re-use that capacity for social good, finding ways to create value from what was previously wasted. So how big is that surplus? So
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                          Web Authentication with Selective Delegation using SRP

                          Bryant Cutler and Devlin Daley developed a methodology for adding selective delegation to relationship-based identity systems. This afternoon I presented that work at WWW2008. The talk went well. There were probably about 40 people in the room. There were some good questions afterwards, so all in all, I'm pleased. Here are the slides (PDF) if you're interested.
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                          Tyler Close: Using Promises to Orchestrate Web Interactions

                          Tyler Close answers questions after his talk(click to enlarge) Tyler Close of Waterken fame presented a way of using promises to produce succinct JavaScript (and Java) code for doing multiple asynchronous requests with a Web server. The idea of promises in asynchronous systems was developed by Barbara Liskov in the late 80's. Tyler has a tutorial online. I also found this description from Brian Lothar of Web calculus which discusses promises in that context. Very interesting stuff. I think this was my favorite presentation of WWW2008.
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                          WWW2008 Conference Dinner at Great Hall of the People

                          Great Hall of the People (click to enlarge) We just got back from the WWW2008 conference dinner at the Great Hall of the People, China's parliment building and center of state ceremonial activities. How the conference got permission to have the dinner there, I don't know. I do know it wasn't cheap. Extra tickets were $150 and they said that was cost. In any event it was quite an event. The banquet hall was huge, the food was first rate and quite varied, and the entertainment well planned. I enjoyed the whole evening. I've posted some pictures of the
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                          Computational Advertising

                          Andrei Broder of Yahoo! Research(click to enlarge) I'm in a talk by Andrei Broder, a Yahoo! Fellow and Vice President of Computation Advertising on, what else, computational advertising. I was drawn to the talk by the title. Find the "best match" between a given user in a given context and a suitable advertisement. Context could be click stream, page content, or something else. Key ideas: The financial scale is huge. Small constants matter. Advertising is a form of information Finding the "best ad" is a type of information retrieval problem. Classic advertising falls into one of two camps: brand
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                          Taking Search to New Frontiers: Dr. Harry Shum (Microsoft)

                          Harry Shum(click to enlarge) The Web can be divided into three components: content (pages, images, videos, blogs, feeds), people (readers, writers, creators, commenters), and actions (queries, clicks, pageviews). Current search engines have taken advantages of "keywords" to link those three components together. But the keyword model has reach it's limits. One phenomenon that's challenging keywords is the explosive growth of content. Multimedia content is especially difficult The scale requirements are huge. Another challenge is that the Web is becoming more dynamic: people want to interact. Search engines have a long way to go to satisfy user needs. To make
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                          Runaway Daemons in OS X

                          This morning, my MacBook Pro was hot--the fan was running--and sluggish. A look at the activity monitor revealed that syslogd was consuming all of one CPU (apparently it's not threaded) and the other CPU was taking all the load. A reboot would have fixed it, of course, but I like to find ways to fix what's wrong without resorting to restarting the machine when I can. First thing to try: just kill the process. OS X is pretty good about recognizing when critical processes are down and restarting them. Unfortunately, simply restarting syslogd didn't solve the problem. There was
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                          Trust-Based Recommendation Systems

                          Reid Andersen from Microsoft Research is talking about trust-based recommendation systems (PDF). To build a personalized recommendation, you need a trust graph among users. What system should you use to determine the recommendation? The researchers use an axiomatic approach. The context of their axiomatic system is social choice theory (see Arrow's impossibility theorem for voting systems from 1951). More recent treatments are Webpage ranking systems (Altman, Teeneholtz, '05). The details are fairly complex, but the basic idea is that by proposing axioms until you get an inconsistency in the axiom set and then backing off and exploring other axioms
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                          Planetary-Scale Views on a Large Instant-Messaging Network

                          Collect 150Gb/day of compressed log files from MSN instant messenger over thirty days (June 2006) and you find on a typical day you get 1 billion conversations, 93 million users logged in with 65 million of those actually engaging in a conversation. This is the basis of research by Jure Leskovec and Eric Horvitz. The demographics of MSN users shows that, not surprisingly, they're far younger than the general population. The probability of any two users having a conversation with each other isn't largely affected by their repsective ages or genders. One interesting finding is that people are more
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                          Cloud Computing: Dr. Kai-Fu Lee of Google

                          Main hall where keynotes were held. I love the red slip covers on the chairs. They were more comfortable than your standard hotel chair. (click to enlarge) The opening keynote at WWW2008 is Dr. Kai-Fu Lee of Google. Before the keynote, we were treated to a presentation that featured dancers in blue Spiderman uniforms, a dancer in what I assume was traditional dress, and a guy with a "Welcome to Beijing" banner running through them all. Somehow, it seemed to fit perfectly even though it was the first of it's kind at any tech conference I've been too--especially one
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                          Exploring Beijing

                          Parking attendent(click to enlarge) I'm in Beijing for WWW2008 which starts tomorrow. I came out early (last Saturday) because I find conferences much more enjoyable when I'm not suffering from jet lag. I'm pretty well adjusted now and I'm looking forward to the talks tomorrow. In the meantime, I've taken some time to explore Beijing a bit. Sunday I was quite tired and other than going to church, a fun experience in Beijing, stuck close to the hotel. It was rainy both Sunday and Monday, so the weather wasn't up to outdoor activities. Because of that, I decided that
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                          Following Up on MacBook Pro Memory and Freezing

                          Almost two weeks ago, I wrote that I suspected that a memory issue was causing my MacBook Pro stability issues. I bought a new 2Gb memory stick ($70) and haven't a single problem with my MBP freezing. Maybe the old memory was bad, maybe it just wasn't working well with the MBP (memory can be finicky), or maybe it was running hot and causing a thermal problem. I don't know. But for now, replacing a single memory stick seems to have solved the problem.
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                          Starting a High Tech Business: Getting Five Clients

                          I’m starting a new business called Kynetx. As I go through some of the things I do, I’m planning to blog them. The whole series will be here. This is the fourteenth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way—if so, please let me know! Most days lately, I've been getting dressed up and talking to people about Kynetx. I'd rather be in jeans writing code, but when you're raising money you're going to dress up more and code less. Raising money is a distraction from running a business and so should be
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                          Google App Engine at the CTO Breakfast

                          Not Getting Things Done(click to enlarge) There was a pretty big crowd at this morning's CTO Breakfast. Sam Curran had spent some time building an application on Google App Engine, so we had him demo his app and show us the code. Overall, Google Apps looks like a very nice piece of infrastructure for building Web applications. The database integration with Big Table and Google's authentication platform add some good tools for quickly building applications. We got into a pretty large discussion of the pros and cons of Google Apps, Amazon Web services, dedicated hosting, and so on. None
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                          Utah CTO Breakfast This Thursday

                          It's time for another Utah CTO Breakfast. This Thursday at 8am at the Novell cafeteria (building G). We're a little early this month due to my imminent trip to China. Please bring any topics that have struck your fancy this month. All are invited--the only entrance requirement is an interest in high-tech companies and products. Here's a schedule of future events: Apr 17 (Thursday) May 30 (Friday) June 27 (Friday) July 18 (Friday) No breakfast in August Sept 25 (Friday) I have created a Google Calendar with dates for the CTO breakfast that you can subscribe to. Or if
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                          NewsGang Fantasies: The Dream Team

                          I enjoy the News Gang, The Gang, the Gillmor Gang, or whatever it's called. Actually, I think Steve's starting to call it all the Gillmor Gang again and that's good. That's the right name and brand for Steve's podcasts. I usually listen to the Gang, as I can, while I'm driving. There's quite a flow and I can't listen to them all (after all, I have all the IT Conversations stuff to listen to). So, I usually just pull up the latest. Today that was Friday's show. I found myself laughing out loud as it devolved from a discussion
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                          Persistent Storage for Amazon EC2

                          With Amazon's Web services, you've been able to store stuff in S3 or SimpleDB. You've also been able to fire up as many machine instances as you liked with storage that went away when you shut the machine down. Anything you wanted saved better be in a database somewhere else, or you had to painstakingly copy it out to S3 yourself. Last night Amazon announced persistent storage on EC2. Now you can create disks in S3 and attach them to EC2 instances. You want a terabyte of storage for your machine, just create it in S3 and mount it.
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                          Starting a Small Business: Active Paticipation or Passive Resentment?

                          I'm starting a new business called Kynetx. As I go through some of the things I do, I'm planning to blog them. The whole series will be here. This is the twelfth installment. You may find my efforts instructive. Or you may know a better way--if so, please let me know! Every business makes a choice, often implicitly or by default, about what kind of relationship they want to have with their customers: will their customers be active participants or passively resentful? We all know business in the latter category. Cell phone companies spring to mind with almost no
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                          Belay My Last! Parallels Found Innocent!

                          Well, maybe not completely innocent. Here's the story: A little bit ago, I claimed that uninstalling Parallels from my system had solved some instability problems I was having. Not so fast. I'd gone five days when I wrote that post without seeing any evidence of the instability after removing the drivers. The next day they came back. What did change was that my erratic mouse problem went a way permanently, so I still believe that vmmain.kext was the cause of that. But it wasn't causing the freezing. As I said, that returned and kept happening. I began to suspect
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                          Spimes on Technometria: Transcript Available

                          A few weeks ago, I talked to Roberto Ostinelli and David Orban, founders of OpenSpime.org, an open source infrastructure that supports spimes, small objects that can be tracked in space and time (hence, "spime"). Bruce Sterling coined the word. You can hear the interview or read it, if you'd rather thanks to David making a transcript available.
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                          Is Office 2007 a Pig or What?

                          Update: Its really Office 2008... Microsoft Office 2007 on OS X is a complete pig. I was so looking forward to finally having an Intel native version of Office so I wouldn't have to put up with long start times and the SBOD (spinning beach ball of death). With Office 2007, they're worse! I've rarely been as disappointed in a software product. Office 2004 is a better Office--even in Rosetta. Heck, Office on XP running in Parallels is a better Office. I'm glad BYU has a site license because I'd be really mad if I'd actually paid for this.
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                          What's the @ in Twitter?

                          Pretty much everyone at Kynetx has started using Twitter. That led to a new crop of my other friends starting to tweet as well. Today @fulling asked my "what's the @"? He didn't know he was opening up a can of worms. Steve Gillmor refuses to use the @. He rightly points out that the Web client moves those out of the tweetflow and that while thick-clients do a better job of that (I use Twitterific, for example), that's not a solution for people who want to use the iPhone or other mobile platforms. Now I'm getting pushback for
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                          Top Ten IT Conversations Shows for March 2008

                          Below are the titles and descriptions of the top ten shows on IT Conversations for March 2008. Michael Lenczner - Interviews with Innovators: Community Wireless (No rating yet)Michael Lenczner is one of the founders of Ile Sans Fil, Montreal's community wireless network which comprises over 150 hotspots and serves almost 60,000 registered users. By any standards the project is a huge success. On this episode of Interviews with Innovators, host Jon Udell asks Lenczner whether Ile Sans Fil has really enhanced community life in the ways the founders hoped it would. Raph Koster - The Core of Fun (Rating:
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