Perplex City

One of the good things about procrastination is that, if you do it long enough, the thing you’re putting off doing becomes irrelevant. This recently happened to me yet again. After nearly two years, a cryptic treasure hunt played out between the real and virtual worlds has been won. That’s from the BBC’s article on Perplex City.

I didn’t get any further than registering. The email that told me that the race had been run also reminded me that I had yet to leave the starting line. “You’ve scored 0 Perplex Points. That makes you number 44995 on the global leaderboard, out of 53954 players!”

Valentine’s Day Weather

Snow DayThis is what the Northeastern University campus looked like on Valentine’s day. It’s the first real snow we’ve had this year.

On a somewhat related note, I took the commuter rail train in on Tuesday, as I do on most mornings I teach. We seemed to be heading toward Ruggles, the stop that’s pretty much on campus, at a brisk rate, when there was an announcement that the train wouldn’t actually be stopping there, due to maintenance work.

To be fair, the announcer went on to tell us that we should just get off at Back Bay and get the Orange T line back, and that worked pretty well. I’m glad to say that I don’t seem to be part of the more striking stories of Boston public transport.

Dogs, Drawn

FoxHoundHey, this looks like Betsy! Actually our dog Betsy is, we think, mainly Treeing Walker Coonhound, while this is a foxhound. But the coonhound breed was originally a mix of foxhound and some stockier dog.

The image is from the Wurstminster dog show. Perhaps my favorite image from that gallery is the Vizsla. Having found, and loved, that picture, I see that the artist lives just a few miles down the road from me, in Dedham, MA. Even so, don’t tell Betsy that “her” picture is not my favorite.

Blog Post From Scrybe!

Scrybe is an online organizer. I’ve been using the closed beta for a while. I won’t repeat here what I posted about Scrybe in my previous blog, except for noting that Scrybe seems to have lost momentum and gained resentment during its beta.

The Scrybe team has not been as communicative as it might have been. For example, today’s post to the Scrybe blog was the first in over a month. Sabika posts about the MIT Enterprise Forum Conference.

It is for the most part an excellent post. Sabika’s enthusiasm for Scrybe, the team, and the event they were just at, are very clear. The blog, and Scrybe’s image, would gain greatly from more posts like it.

On the other hand, I was disturbed to read this:

You guys pointed out that we missed our deadline without a blog entry and Magali correctly said that a lot of our replies can very well be blog entries. In one of our replies we explained that the deadline for the sharing build will be affected due to the delays in the ThoughtPad.

One of the key differences between replies and blog entries is that people who subscribe to your feed see the entries, not the replies.* Chances are that more people subscribe to your feed than regularly visit your blog, especially if new entries to the blog are few and far between.

* Since the Scrybe team has made the excellent choice of WordPress for its blog, there is a replies (comments) feed. But the “standard” feed from a blog is the entries (posts) feed.

Biggest Internet Threats: IE

You probably won’t be surprised to read that the three biggest internet threats in 2007 include malware and phishing. You might be surprised to read that “Internet Explorer heads the list of top Internet security attack targets.”

Or maybe you’re not surprised. There are lots of Microsoft-bashers out there. So who are these Redmond-ripping radicals?  Let’s continue the quote from the previous paragraph: “in the most recent joint report of the FBI and security organization SANS Institute.”

Let’s be thorough about sources: this is from an article by Scott Sanbauer of PC World; it is published at MSN Tech & Gadgets; and it was the ever-helpful Justin who drew it to my attention.

Generation Gap 2.0

The crazy kids these days are putting their lives on the web, creating a generation gap of a width not seen for half a century, according to an article by Emily Nussbaum in New York magazine (via reddit). I find the argument strengthened by the fact that, from an article full of quotes from under-30s, I am drawn to share with you the words of Clay Shirky, who’s almost as old as me.

Shirky describes this generational shift in terms of pidgin versus Creole. “Do you know that distinction? Pidgin is what gets spoken when people patch things together from different languages, so it serves well enough to communicate. But Creole is what the children speak, the children of pidgin speakers. They impose rules and structure, which makes the Creole language completely coherent and expressive, on par with any language. What we are witnessing is the Creolization of media.”

That’s a cool metaphor, I respond. “I actually don’t think it’s a metaphor,” he says.

Highrise: 37s Contact Manager

Jason twitches the 37signals kimono: Highrise is a shared contact manager that helps you keep track of who you talk to, what was said, and what to do next.

I’m in, if:

  • There is a free version, sufficient for my humble needs.
  • It’s easier to use than Yahoo email/contacts, which I current use.
  • It’s easy to use with my email, whether that be Yahoo or whatever I desert it for.
  • It’s easy to export contacts from, in case I change my mind.

I am fairly confident that Highrise will meet the first two of the above criteria, and less confident about the last two. My confidence is based on my use of Backpack.

Zlango Has a Way to Go

Zlango 1Zlango is an icon-based language. Here are a couple of recent takes on it.

I want to like Zlango, but found it frustrating to get the above very simple message into this post. What I wanted was a the URL of an image so that I could link to it. I ended up emailing the message to myself and uploading the file, which was one of four attachments to the resulting email.

I also wanted to use words not currently available in Zlango, such as share, to see the page on which “my” messages were posted, to link to that page,…

So I hope that Zlango will use the $12M of funding reported in the first of the above quotes to implent the advice offered in the second quote. Then “we help Zlango help us,” words such as we will be added to the language, and the above message won’t have to be a palindrome for ever.

Mobile Music (Station)


Rather than just providing a grumpy old answer to the hip young guy in the picture, perhaps I should provide a little more detail about:

MusicStation, an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) full-track mobile music service which will be rolled-out in partnership with major music labels, mobile operators and mobile industry partners across the world.

There, now I’ve done it. But DRM certainly doesn’t make it more interesting…


Sharing is on my mind this morning for a few reasons. I was uploading some photos to Flickr this morning, and my daughter asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was sharing them, so that family and friends in Philadelphia, California, and other places could look at them.

She protested that she wanted to look at the photos. I told her that I was sharing them in a way that allowed other people to look at them at the same time as her. I managed to stop myself launching into an explanation of the non-rivalrous nature of digital works. She is, after all, only three, and seemed convinced that I wasn’t taking anything away from her in order to share with others.

One of the things I talked about with the students in my Blogging and Business course on Saturday was Creative  Commons. I used as an example this blog, which has a sidebar heading Sharing rather than Hands Off.