Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forSeptember, 2003 | back to home

29 September 2003

Prospect Magazine has an interesting article – “Europe is Strong”:http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/ArticleView.asp?accessible=yes&P_Article=12246 by “Philippe ‘globalization is good’ Legrain”:http://www.philippelegrain.com/ on why you shouldn’t necessarily believe what you may have read about America being the economic powerhouse and Europe being a basket case. Turns out that once you factor in that Europe’s population is not growing while America’s is and Europeans work fewer hours, much of Europe is more productive than the US, hour for hour. I also didn’t realise that cross-border investment within the eurozone quadrupled in the first two years of the Euro.

Thanks to “Crookedtimber”:http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000586.html for the link

… Then as I was about to post this up, “Arts & Letters Daily”:http://www.aldaily.com/ led me to a columnist in The Daily Standard who argues the more traditional “neocon anti-Europe case”:http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/123ezraq.asp. Neither article alas gives the key detail that would definitely enable me to decide one way or another – what’s the average European produce in an hour, how fast is that rising and how does that compare to the same measure in the US?

I find it interesting that “Irwin M. Stelzer”:http://www.namebase.org/xste/Irwin-M-Stelzer.html (the columnist) argues (correctly) that Europeans may find it difficult to trade less leisure for more income without acknowledging that Americans probably find the reverse even harder to do. I would also like to see the evidence that, “millions of Italians, Irish, Germans, and other Europeans have voted with their feet in favor of America’s balance between work and leisure, with no discernible flow in the opposite direction.” But maybe that’s because I am one of those shirkers who moved from Canada to Britain at least in part because of the work/life balance issue.

28 September 2003
Filed under:About the Internet at8:57 pm

I have been visiting friends of mine – “William and Mona”:http://www.rahul.net/akerblom/ – and found to my delight that William had a ‘first edition’ (fifth printing) copy of Ted Nelson’s two part book – “Computer Lib/Dream Machines”:http://www.digibarn.com/collections/books/computer-lib/.

It was written back in 1974 and included a basic description of his Xanadu project as well as many other prescient musings, rather loosely organized. Here’s an excerpt of a singing commercial for Xanadu as overheard by Ted Nelson at the National Joint Computer Conference in 1973:

It’s got everything to give
It’ll get you where you live
Realms of mind that you may roam
Grasp them all within your home.
The greatest things you’ve ever seen
Dance your wishes on the screen.
All the things that man has known
Comin’ on the telephone
Poems books and pictures too
Coming on the Xanadu
Xanadu – the world of you!

Sounds remarkably like the Internet doesn’t it?

26 September 2003
Filed under:Personal,Travel at9:40 pm

A “page of captioned images”:http://www.erin.utoronto.ca/~w3pkota/sabbatical_webpage/sabphotos10.html of a recent journey to my family’s birthplace, Norton-Sub-Hamdon, as interpreted (in their customarily ideosyncratic fashion) by our fellow voyagers, “Peter Kotanen”:http://www.erin.utoronto.ca/~w3pkota/ and “Leslie Ambedian”:http://www.wiznet.ca/~ambedian/.

I have hundreds of digital photos of various trips knocking around but have yet to get around to organizing them into galleries let alone providing witty captions. Oh well…

Filed under:problems with technology,Spam,Weblogs at1:29 pm

Tom Coates comments on a phenomenon that I hope will not turn into a real problem – people posting spam as comments on weblogs. I’ve had some of that (which I have promptly deleted) but what I find odd is that none of it seems to have been automated – it’s actually been typed in by hand. I can’t imagine it would be worth anyone’s time to do that. But if someone finds a way to automate posting comments to popular weblogs it could start to become a real hassle.

I also seem to get a lot of people just typing stuff like ‘hi’ as a comment. I delete those comments as well since I can’t see anyone else being interested in reading it. If you do just want to say hello, please send me an email via my “contact me page”:http://www.davidbrake.org/contact.htm and if you can, tell me where you are from and how you found me.

18 September 2003

I “never thought it would happen”:http://blog.org/archives/cat_online_media.html#000861, but here’s a major media organization that is going to produce and promote its own peer to peer application. The BBC’s new media director Ashley Highfield just revealed plans to produce, “a fully flexible, platform-neutral, super EPG… that will allow TV content to be recorded TiVo-style.” I’m guessing that it won’t be designed to allow general p2p file sharing – only sharing of BBC content. It’s a little unclear at present whether we’re talking about a set-top box application or something for PCs or both. I hope more detail will emerge soon…

I’m even more delighted that the BBC is going to try to produce ‘ultra-local TV news’ accessable via iTV. I hope this move will not be led merely by the local radio stations but will also give a variety of local groups access to the media.

Thanks to “Techdirt”:http://techdirt.com/articles/20030918/068232.shtml for the link

17 September 2003

A good idea to encourage Internet use from the UK Government – a downloadable “information pack”:http://getting.ukonline.gov.uk/oee/getstarted.nsf/sections/angels/$file/angels.htm that helps people help their friends and colleagues to get online for the first time.

I have to say I was rather hoping it would turn out to be something even more ambitious – a scheme to recruit volunteers to donate their time to be online and answer new users’ inquiries there. Perhaps that could be phase two? I have a suspicion that something like that is already out there if only one knew where to look but government publicity would be needed to make sure enough people knew about it to make it a success.

Of course people are more likely to turn to their friends and relations than to absolute strangers for aid getting online, and if you’re able to use a chat tool while surfing you are already a fair way along the road to Internet mastery so perhaps a programme like that would have limited effectiveness.

Thanks to Matt Jones for the link.

16 September 2003

I have just finished “a simple guide to email use”:http://www.davidbrake.org/dealingwithemail/ for individuals or companies to accompany my book, “Dealing with E-mail”. It features additional material and numerous web links covering anti-spam and anti-virus techniques, legal issues, using email sensitively and effectively to market your products or services and simple ways to organize your old e-mail messages for easy retrieval.

I hope you like it – if you have any additional ideas, comments or (heaven forbid) corrections, please comment below.

Carrying the Internet over the electricity grid is a solution to problems of broadband availability in rural areas that has been long-discussed but ran into persistent problems with radio and radar interference in earlier trials. Now, apparently, trials in Crieff, Campbeltown and Stonehaven in Scotland “have been successful”:http://www.vnunet.com/News/1143183 and Scottish Hydro-Electric is expanding its coverage to Winchester in England. It is charging £29 per month which is competitive with “conventional” ADSL but offers 1Mb of bandwidth in both directions instead of the 512Kbps download/256Kbps upload speed offered by BT and others. Another benefit is that you can plug into broadband anywhere in your house instead of relying on a single access point.

Filed under:Search Engines,Software reviews,Weblogs at12:15 am

I know I am coming late to this but I have finally gotten around to using an RSS reader myself and I have been tweaking my template settings now that I can see what my weblog looks like in that format. You may note I now have a link to “FeedDemon”:http://www.feeddemon.com/ which is the best RSS reader I have found so far and I now have two feeds – one “RSS 1.0 compliant”:http://blog.org/index.rdf and one “RSS 2.0 compliant”:http://blog.org/index.xml. Enjoy!

If you’re wondering what I am talking about, RSS is, “An XML-based format for headline syndication, in which headlines and links to the actual content are made available to other Web sites” (TechEncyclopedia). Interestingly I couldn’t find a definition in the “Foldoc”:http://foldoc.doc.ic.ac.uk/foldoc/index.html tech dictionary or “Whatis.com”:http://whatis.techtarget.com/ which suggests to me this stuff is still not mainstream (though you’d think everyone was using it if you read some weblogs)….

15 September 2003

Simon Bisson has written a handy piece for the Guardian giving an overview of the software available to protect your business’ e-mail and how and why to deploy it.

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