October 2007

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Boo

I’m not only missing Red Sox celebrations in Boston, but also Halloween in both New England and our other home in Santa Barbara. Every year there we’ve enjoyed the annual Halloween Journey at the Waldorf School. Still, we have memories. And photos. Here’s one photo from the last year’s Journey, with linkage to the whole set:

Been following the Alum Rock #earthquake via Twitter. Not surprisingly, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) front page has no news about it, even on its newsroom page, where the most recent item is a promo for a podcast recorded Monday. But the USGS in fact has lots of stuff.

Here’s a map showing all the quakes, including this one, in the last hour/day and week:

Here’s the same data and graphics on a map of faults in the Bay Area.

Here’s the report for this earthquake, with lots of links to other pages, including shaking intensity maps.

ABAG, the Association of Bay Area Governments, has long had very helpful maps showing what earthquakes could do to you, where you live, depending on where the quake is located. I haven’t looked at it in years, but just did and found it is “best viewed with Internet Explorer”. Feh. The “static maps” work better anyway. Here’s one that shows what an earthquake on the North Hayward Fault can do to Oakland and Berkeley:

There’s much more I could point to, but it’s 4:49am here in London, where I need to give a talk in several hours that will upstage everything else until afterwards. Hope everybody’s okay.

One of the more odd and fun facts about the way the Web works is that the graphics (or whatever) you use on your web page can be running live from somewhere else.

So, say somebody runs a graphic image off your server in their web page? What are the possibilities? That is, for you?

Here’s one.

We picked a great time to move to Boston: just as all the major sports teams — in an awesome sports town — are peaking, big time.

And I picked the worst time to be gone for two weeks. First I miss the whole final game while flying to London. (While The Kid misses it riding on a train.) Then I miss today’s parade downtown, and all the rest of the celebrating, which is always fun to be around.

There could not be less coverage here. I gotta get it all on the Web.

Anyway, the most remarkable thing to me about the Red Sox victory is that they’ve gone from being among the most cursed of baseball franchises to one of the most blessed: not a dynasty, but a well-run machine where winning is the norm. You know, kinda like the Yankees used to be. :-)

Craig Smith: The road to the Academy Awards now goes through Santa Barbara.

Dana Blankenhorn: Dump the Silo Model. His gist (quoted in the long because by shortening it I risk leaving out his full thrust and the importance of it.

  Bob Frankston says we should all own our own infrastructure. Bob Cringely calls for people to own their own last mile.

  I agree, but I’m into simplicity. I say, free the bits…

  Getting from here to there means blowing up a century of laws designed both to control content and to collect taxes, laws based on an assumption of scarcity. Regulators don’t want to free the telecomm bits because they’re on the take, in the form of “stealth” taxes (look at your own bill sometime). The same is true for cable.

  But the companies that sell these bits are also in on the scam. They make more money by defining bits as “services” and by controlling what those bits do, than they would otherwise. That’s because, by selling services, they’re able to act as monopolists, as gatekeepers, controlling both the customers and the content. If they were selling bits they would have to compete, and all their power would be gone.

  This dance of definition, taxation and regulation made sense 40 years ago, when technology was analog, spectrum was scarce, and networking was complex. But today anyone can be a network manager for the price of a $100 router.

  So you should have the power over bits, no one else. You, the consumer, and you, the producer of content defined by bits, should have the power to choose how you send them and choose how you get them, without constraint. When you want to send bits or receive bits, you have the right to a competitive market. And you have the right to define what those bits mean.

  The market, and the government, exist to serve you, not monopolists. You have the power to make this happen, but only if you seize that power, only if you demand that power, only if you organize with a single, simple demand:

  Free the Bits.

Good place to start. The key, in making the political as well as the business arguments, is to show how regarding the bits as free (as in freedom, not as in beer, by the way) will be good for the larger economy, including the carriers who will be asked (or told) to leave money on the table.

We need to show the benefits to incumbency that are not those of monopolists. What are those? If we can’t answer that question, we won’t be able to sell it.

F-Mobile

Made it to München. Munich. It’s kinda fun to dust off what little Deutch remains, forty years after I finished taking three years of it in high school, including the first year twice, then gave most of it back when I was done.

Beautiful airport, München. Wish it was clear enough to see the Alps, but a wispy mist lays across the landscape, so there’s not much to see beyond parking garages and triangular plane tails slicing through the fog.

I’m getting by wi-fi, “roaming” with T-Mobile, an international company to which I pay $20-something per month for unlimited usage. Here I’m paying an extra 18¢/minute.

Yet this is the effing Internet, no? It’s not like I’m dialing “long distance”. There is no distance any more, except in physical space, and the space being charged for here isn’t physical.

Anyway, paying on top of paying too much for something for which the first cost rounds to free is a bit of a pisser.

Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not really free. And I don’t begrudge T-Mobile making money charging for wi-fi. I just think it sucks to have to “roam” when there are no additional real costs to providing the service, other than the billing system itself.

Here’s what T-Mobile needs to know: This kinda shit makes customers hate you.

Okay, gotta get on the next plane and fly to London. I’m just hubbing through here.

Err line

So I’m sitting on the floor near Gate 8 in Terminal 1 at JFK, propped like a doll against a pole between a trash can and the only power outlet in the whole concourse, near as I can tell.* People wear strange looks when they walk over to dump something down the hole next to my head.

It’s par for this afternoon’s course, here at JFK, where I’ve become acquainted with how little even United’s high-privilege flyers mean to Lufthansa, the United Star Alliance “partner” I’m flying tonight to London via Munich.

First, it’s not possible to select a seat, or even express a seat preference, until you get to the airport. So I got here early. My assigned seat was a middle one, 37F, a middle seat in the middle of the back of an Airbus 330 Vers. A (333). The qualifying stuff (version A, 333) are from SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com, which I’m comparing now.

I asked the agent if an upgrade was possible. Only with United miles or certificates, she said. I usually use the latter, of which I have plenty; but they’re all electronic. United hasn’t issued printed certificates for years. But the agent said I’d need the physical certificates. So, how about a window seat in economy, then. There was one: 46A, in the back row. Okay, I said, and took it. Then she asked me if I had bags to check. I said “one”. Then I asked it two carry-ons were allowed. “No”, she said. “Just one”. So I spent a minute moving electronics, laptop batteries and breakables from my carry-on bag of extras into my laptop bag. (Later, somebody told me that the rule is “One carry-on and one briefcase”. I really don’t know, still.)

Then there was the lounge gauntlet. As a lifetime United Red Carpet Club member, and as a United 1K (>100,000 miles/year) flyer, and a Star Alliance Gold member (it says on both my cards), I should be able to get into the Lufthansa lounge. But when I walked in, the person behind the counter looked at my two cards as if I had handed her a couple of dirty dishes and asked if I was a “million mile member”. I’m not, as far as I know, but said “I don’t know”. After chewing on that response mentally for a short while, she said “Okay”, and let me in.

There wasn’t a power outlet in the whole place except at a few desks in one corner. Worse, the club was on the near side of Security and packed with people. So I bailed, went through security, and found my way to this spot on the floor.

I just checked with SeatGuru and SeatExpert, which showed the below (SeatGuru first), for 46A:


Looks to me like SeatGuru wins that one. But we’ll see about the seat.

See ya in the Old Countries.

* [Later, just before boarding...] I just noticed that Samsung has kindly corrected the power outlet problem by locating poles at points along the concourse, including this one in the middle of dining area. Not much better — I’m kneeling at this one, while all the nearby tables are full — but I felt I needed to issue a factual correction.

[Later again, now on board the plane, in 46A...] A few kind words for Lufthansa, now that I’m on board. First, they have clean, unblemished windows, which is HUGE for a window-sitter (and ‘shooter) like me. Their toilets are much nicer, and less beat up, than those on most United planes I’ve flown. And their seats are nicer, with much more sensible trays and pockets — and a cupholder, which makes complete sense. Okay, gotta go now…

Sitting at Britt‘s place (on his birthday, no less… happy birthday, dude!), talking with Tom Stites, who just said — approximately, but this is close enough — that is about “rehumanizing” business. I love that. Because it’s about equipping individuals, rather than just businesses. For the good of both. But the “—ization happens by, and for, and from, the humans. Not by, for and from businesses. It’s about the point of origin, the departure point for the vector. Humanization. I like that.

The Universe is 13.7 billion years old, give or take.

Earth, and the Solar System, are 4.6 billion years old, pretty much.

That means our planet has been around for a little over a third of the history of the Universe.

The Sun is a Population I star: one with high metal content, formed from matter cast off by exploding Type III (oldest) and Type II (second oldest) stars.

The Sun is about half way through its life as a star, and will become a planetary nebula in about 6.5 billion years, and a white dwarf in about 9.5 billion years, more or less. At the end of that time, the Sun will have lasted well over half the age of the Universe.

The oldest rocks in the scene above were deposited in the Pennsylvanian epoch, which lasted from .325 to .299 billion years ago.

Researching all the above (on Wikipedia, of course) followed the utterance of the headline above by Yours Truly to The Kid over breakfast at the excellent Sarabeth’s Kitchen, on Madison near 92nd.

Sarabeth’s has been around for more than a third of the age of myself, and more than twice the age of The Kid.

Better hurry over.

[Later...] Two bonus quotes, courtesy of The Kid:

  Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.Jack Handey
  Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded the skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated it.Genesis I, LOLCat Bible.

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