Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

FOSS Abhors a Vaccuum

You know, I could have sworn we already had a Linux-based, mobile-optimized operating system, with a HTML/Javascript-based application development environment.

I guess purgatory isn’t the same as open source.

Fire – Amazon Launched Their Sputnik Today

At the beginning of the month – before I knew anything of today’s Amazon Fire announcement – I announced that Amazon (along with Mozilla and Samsung) were going to be tomorrow’s tech innovation leaders.

Scanning through the Amazon Fire page I was immediately struck by how it neatly integrates everything Amazon has been working on to date; eBooks, streaming media, frustration-free packaging, Amazon Prime – it’s all in there. (I’m sure will be there next week)

Undoubtedly, this is a Sputnik from Amazon to Apple. The iPad was once the most vertically integrated, commerce-oriented, mobile device. Today, it’s the Amazon Fire.

Every single interaction with the Amazon Fire is a commercial one. Even just browsing the web..

“…Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the privacy and data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here….In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence.” – Chris Espinosa

Which means the Amazon Fire is also a Sputnik to Facebook and Google. There’s no need to encourage web publishers to include +1 and ‘Like’ buttons on their websites when every single request goes through your servers. There’s no need to get called on the carpet for dropping more cookies when someone logs out when – again – every single request goes through your servers. There’s no need to announce redesigned, more marketer-friendly page layouts when – lastly – every single request goes through your servers.

Many years ago, I smiled when I was crunching server logs and all the traffic seemed to come from northern Virginia. Tomorrow it may come from a small handful of EC2 zones. Maybe Amazon will be generous enough to forward the geolocation data in the Silk browser requests.

Yes – I have one on pre-order.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Extracting iCalendar feeds from embedded Google calendars

This is an update to John Utell’s 2009 post with the same title.

If the Google embedded Calendar URL something like:….

The iCal feed is

Now you know.

(It should be – – If only Google cared about good URL design)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Friday, 23 September 2011

Tracking you like it’s going out of style

“This means that Twitter has the ability to even track surfing habits (on Tweet button enabled websites) of users that have no Twitter account and have never visited a Twitter website before. When using the same browser to create an account at Twitter afterwards this collected data of the past can theoretically be linked to the freshly created profile then.” – Christian Schneider

  1. Read the whole thing.
  2. Delete your cookies
  3. Tell your browser to refuse cookies
  4. Tell your favorite website publishers you resent being opt-ed into multiple third-party behavior tracking programs without a way to opt-out.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

For that Impulse Nap (and so much more)

Now at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

First off – sleep pods were part of the dystopian future I was promised so I’m super excited they’re a reality.

Airports are a great first deployment for these – lots of people with hours of unexpected time on their hands – but the potential deployments are fascinating.

  • Create a cluster of them on corporate campus (Google, Apple, YCombinator) for summer interns
  • Install one next to each rental storage space for instant apartment complex
  • Put a bedroom in your spare closet
  • Slightly more upscale accommodations at summer festivals, state fairs, etc
  • Start a drop-in-sleep franchise like SnapFitness/Curves/etc for out of town travelers
  • Create a cluster of them on a Google or Apple campus for summer interns
  • Have the smallest cabin on the lake
  • Combine with shipping containers (and a little plumbing) for an instant house

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Yes, This is a Vacation From You

“I’m on vacation, and I’ve deleted your message —really” – Dave Thomas

Now, imagine you’re going on a multi-week vacation. You visit the USPS and ask them to not just put a hold on your mail – just burn every piece of it.




It’s consistent with my view that the more important/busy/valuable/highly-paid you are – the less direct interaction with technology you’ll have.

Yes, All Software Should Have a Philosophy.txt File

As you may know – I’m working on an email-based project that’s sending me into the bowels of email.

In my research tonight, I discovered ‘Sup’ – an email client that is clear and explicit about it’s point of view.

“Should an email client have a philosophy? For many people, email is one of our primary means of communication, and email archives are an integral part of our long-term memory. Something so important ought to warrant a little thought.”

Makes me want all projects included a Philosophy.txt file along with the README.txt and License.txt. It’s far more useful and people-oriented than humans.txt