Tagging takes extreme discipline

But it pays off. 

Rather than storing documents in folders, tagging those documents with extreme discipline and using smart folders (and/or quick searches) makes it much easier to findlocate yer stuff.

Cool article on metatagging on OSX; Vista is similar.

Big Box web

I live in a town that's grown from about 20,000 people to about 65,000 people in six or so years. It's a suburb of Toronto; or, in a sense, a suburb of the Toronto suburbs.

I think, of the 45,000 people who just moved here, most came from the nearby suburbs. One thing you notice about this town is how few people shop on its traditional main street -- it's a pretty street with traditional shops, but at peak times it's dead. My theory is that, these people who came from other suburbs return to those suburbs to shop; they are used to the big box stores with big value. To the locals, it may seem odd to drive for 45 minutes to buy meat, but to suburbanites that's an average Saturday (ie. hell). You could say that main street has been disintermediated by people whose commute has conditioned them to long drives.

I think something similar occurs on the Web. I was listening to Cat Stevens on youtube (ie. the universal juke box) and wanted a listing of tracks on a cassette tape that I likely lost five years ago; I wanted to listen to the songs on YouTube in the same order as the album/cassette.

What did I do? Until recently, I would have gone to hmv.com, because that's a Canadian website at the online source for physical music media. But before I started typing,  I realized that Amazon is better than HMV. I don't really care that much that it's in the U.S.

I don't care about the more local option; all that I care about is the one big answer that I can store in my head. I can keep a few dozen URLs in there, and Amazon.com covers off a lot of products.

So, as far as the web goes, maybe things are spiky and not flat. Maybe there's only room for one Amazon, and one eBay and one Google, etc. The Network Effect supports this, too.

But the flat Earth argument would be that sophisticated searches could flatten all of the Amazon competitors and provide me with a list of prices. So Amazon becomes where I research and price determines where I buy. But maybe Joe the plumber/surfer doesn't use that type of thing.

The FridgeBook

Have you read about the Asus Eee? For well under $500 ($300 on Amazon at the moment), you can get a pretty basic, really small, Linux laptop. 

You're not meant to audit GE on it, but by relying a bit on the cloud, you can do quite a bit, for really not very much. Great for students. Good as a "household junker" laptop; I'm sure a few will find their ways to garage workshops or on whatever floor of the house currently lacks a terminal.

But, let's by frank, at 7" the thing's still a clunker. If it were a search engine, it'd be Yahoo, not Google. 

I think that, somewhere between the iPhone -- which sits in pockets on street corners, and comes out in meetings and bathrooms -- and the Asus Eee, is an untapped market that I call the FridgeBook (or fridge computer ... whatever).

FridgeBooks would be like iPhones, but with much larger screens. They'd have magnets that would let you stick 'em to your fridge. They'd be always-on and always on wifi. So as families do what families do at home -- more often than not in and around the kitchen -- they have a device so efficient and close, it can tell them:
  • what to wear outside
  • what movie to see
  • family TTD
  • grocery list
  • family calendar
  • a recipe ...
  • whatever TV has/will become
  • visual voicemail(R)(C)(A)
I've said before: the difference between getting that type of information in 3 seconds or 10 seconds is critical. Go grab your Vista or OSX laptop and try one of these searches ... walking, booting up, etc ... it's 2 minutes or more. Asus Eee may be closer to 10 seconds. I'm saying, I want 3.

This FridgeBook(D) will be a seamless part of every nuclear family, just like cooking with radiation.

For now, the iPod Touch makes a pretty good substitute. Goods: wifi, Web, touch screen. Bads: small, no frigg'n magnets.

Google automates creativity with Google Sets

Writing is output, and you need to load up your brain with ideas every so often or your output begins to look like bad copies of your previous output; like the dumber cc's of Michael Keaton in Multiplicity.

I'm a writer and my tool box is a set of bookmarks I drag around from computer to computer, browser to browser. I think I use rhymezone, onelook and a list of idioms the most.

But the ever innovative Google Labs -- in which 1000 PhD's are locked deep within Cheyenne Mountain for 18 months at a time to develop world-changing web tools -- has released a new tool called Google Sets.

It's simple: you think of a few concepts and let Google Sets derive common themes between the concepts. They should have called it Google Triangulation; either way, it does some of the creative thinking for you.

Pink Floyd vigorously defending the introduction of electronics into their music; Geddy Lee had a trite saying about that. In both cases the view was that electronic instruments don't replace the creative process; they're just new tools for a musician to work with.

But I think Google Sets, etc., perhaps does replace a bit of thinking. It obfuscates derivation, but doesn't filter it through the mind. Okay, so is filtered derivation creativity? I think this just got a bit too philosophical.

Google Sets: makes it darn easy to come up with stuff!

If you like your politics with math ...

The U.S. race doesn't get more quant than:


Two unlikley Obama supporters.

In Colin Powell's talk endorsing Obama, I was struck by his credibility; he seemed entirely un-partisan. Entirely objective and paternal, cutting through the partisan swipes with a very decent case for electing Barack Obama.

He's also a conservative. National Security Advisor to Regan, architect of the first Gulf War, and enabler of the second. 

Chirstopher Hitchens is also an enabler of the second war, though I'm not quite sure anyone can nail down his small-letter affiliation. He's anti-Clinton (Bill), anti-Bush II, pro-Gulf II, anti-Kissinger, and anti-Mother Teresa. Seriously. The title of his book on her: "The Missionary Position." 

Hitchens was, or became, a rampant supporter of Gulf II, based on his liberal fear of totalitarian strains of Islam. But this principle led him to defend neo-cons and oppose those who questioned the war. I think he lost his way quite a bit after 9/11, and that's not forgivable because one should be right, or pretty close to right, in a crisis. He was way off. 

But Hitchens all but endorses Obama, albeit in his rambling, Oxford-intellectual prose.

Hitchens first came to me as a sort of un-hippie liberal. He called himself a contrarian, and I've always appreciated his arguments, wrong as they sometimes are.

Ken Adelman is essentially the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld-Nixon you've never heard of. He too endorses Obama in a New Yorker article.

To be fair, both of these men reject McCain's most-recent record as much as they endorse the alternative. But for two men with a seat at the table of neo-conservatism, or a variant thereof, to support one of the most left-wing Presidential candidates in U.S. history is striking. I can't explain it, really: likely these are decisions based on the character of each candidate and not on the policies the country will be under. But I wonder if it's deeper; Buckely's similar statement may allude to an unrecorded undercurrent among conservative intellectuals?

3-second film review -- Bella

A sad man with a long beard is weighted by an old event. He senses an opportunity to do something good; to help a girl who was just fired, and amid Latin culture in NYC he seeks redemption.

Ballmer Peak

The recently named "Ballmer Peak" has been known and exploited for years. 

VPN; Green Room; riding the peak.