May 2007 – Stay N Alive

2007 – the Year of the New Internet Revolution?

I see a buzz lately on the web on what seems to be the beginnings of what could be “Web 3.0”, or “the Social Web” as I’ll term it (we’ll see if that name sticks). I see a buzz like none other in awhile where software developers seem to be the ones with the power to make some serious business moves, as in the days of Microsoft and Apple, the dot com boom, and a slight blip of Web 2.0 (I wouldn’t call that a boom).

It seems to have started with the advent of Social Networks, such as myspace, facebook, and digg. These came about in response to the Web 2.0 craze (note that the first revolution occured when the internet came into place and people had connections fast enough and accessible enough to grasp the limited technology available), started in my opinion by Google and Gmail. With the sudden increase in internet speed and much faster computers, businesses could now afford to introduce new technology, such as AJAX and streaming video. Libraries were built around this, and all of the sudden new sites came about with very large user bases. A new form of Marketing (as Seth Godin teaches) came about in which typical cold calling was no longer possible. As data became more public, and SPAM more prevalent, people began to trust their friends and family more than the average Sales Person.

Out came the social networks. A long used marketing technique called viral marketing was put to use to its fullest at this point, launching a grass-roots effort of content publishing and linking like never before. All of the sudden people could trust the internet again!

These social networks have huge user bases, and grow very fast, if popular. A hit from a site such as Digg is known to bring a site to its knees. Facebook has become a way of life – your own “Personal Internet”. Twitter has become the new addiction.

A huge event happened recently. Paul Allen brought the excitement of it to my attention. You see, recently Facebook announced they were opening up their API to developers. This is a huge opportunity for developers like myself and others to come up with new business opportunities in a grass-roots effort. Developers again have been given control, if we take it.

I notice Twitter has become one of the first apps to jump on the Facebook API bandwagon. I’m willing to bet others will soon too – there is a huge user-base on Facebook with a shared revenue model. They will become most peoples’ view of the internet in the future. There are so many applications for this I can’t begin, and it’s only in its infancy.

One more thing you may have noticed. Today Google announced a new set of libraries along with a browser extension, that until now could only be obtained in proprietary formats such as Flex, or else they were really hard to learn (in javascript libraries such as Dojo). They announced a technology called Google Gears, which will now allow users to view a website or use a web technology in “offline mode”, saving all content to a local database or file system on your local computer’s hard drive. This, again, is huge. Think of a genealogy app such as PAF running on something like this. Google Reader has already implemented an “offline mode” using this technology. The possibilities for new business applications for this are endless.

As you can see, there are endless possibilities out there for software developers to start their idea and make it big. Google and Facebook are only the beginning. They are starting a new revolution of a new, higher level internet, which will open up a new way of viewing the internet world as we see it, in “the Social Web”.

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My Brother, the Film Guru

If you’re into the Indy film scene, and enjoy very creative and humorous writing, you might enjoy my brother’s blog, He runs his own film company, Faber Films (Luke – do you have a url for that yet?), and has done behind-the-scenes technical work at various conferences in Las Vegas and now New York. He’s done work behind-the-scenes for some pretty famous celebrities and comedians, if I understand correctly. You can see a few of his films at

So now you know the arts background in my family – my brother, the film writer and producer, and my sister, the Theatre Owner and Stage Manager. I have another sister that’s a singer.

CAPTCHA, Not Just for SPAM Anymore

I came across this article today:

In the article, it overviews a new technology produced by a student at Carnegie Mellon University called reCaptcha, which allows bloggers and the like to make good with the Captcha images they are using on their sites to combat Spam. Captchas are little images of randomly-generated text that would be hard for any bot or the like to determine what it says. The user must read the image, type in the text in the image, and only then can their submission, comment, or subscription be validated. It ensures a human is actually the one interacting with your site.

The developer of the reCaptcha technology has worked with to instead of just randomly generate text like most Captchas do, take actual images from archived texts, and slowly but surely allow users to transcribe those texts to searchable text, whether they are aware of it or not. It presents 2 words. One of those words is an unarchived picture of an actual word in an image of an untranscribed book on The other word is a word they already know the meaning of. When your users enter both, if the known word is right, it assumes the other word is right, and sends it on to a couple other users until they can be sure it’s a pretty accurate transcription. So in the likes of SETI @Home, normal use of process is being used to help a good cause. It makes me wonder what other types of processes, UI designs, and other technologies we use every day could be used in similar manners. I can only imagine the applications of this software towards Family History archives, Genealogy, and the like. I hope the LDS Church could consider getting involved in this endeavor some how, or perhaps they could provide an API so applications such as this could tie into their imaging project.

I liked this project so much that I’ve decided to implement the reCaptcha in the comments on Stay N’ Alive. This is not to make commenting harder (aKismet does a great job at keeping the spam out), but rather to allow my users to participate in a good cause and encourage you to comment more. Now, when you comment on Stay N’ Alive, know you’re contributing to a good cause, perhaps without even realizing it.

So, if you see a blog using Captcha out there, please encourage them to use this technology instead! It is a very easy fix for WordPress, and should be easy to implement into other blogs. If you see a blog that uses this, comment! Use the reCaptcha! Help spread the word!

NASA: Just Lose the Shuttle, Will You?

I was just at Seth Godin’s Talk, and somehow the topic of NASA came up. Seth mentioned that if he were to suggest one thing for NASA, it would be to remove the Shuttle program. He said that the Shuttle program we know is unsafe, costly, and has issues. He suggested that were they to get rid of it, it would create an emergency situation, and the Government and NASA would be forced to enter “A Dip”, and come up with something way better. I think I have to agree with him on this one.

BTW, if anyone is interested in a free copy of the Dip, write me a story of why you want it, what you would do for it, etc. and I’ll post the best stories here and give the best their own free copy.

Google to Enter Health Care?

I saw this post by Adam Bosworth, a Google VP, on Google’s blog today:

“I gave a speech today at the 2007 American Medical Association of Informatics (AMIA) Spring Congress. I used this opportunity to suggest a vision of what I think consumers should expect from our health care system over the next decade, including three core principles of a future health care system”

My first thought is, why is Google talking at the American Medical Association of Informatics? Is there a Healthcare future at Google? Working for a Healthcare company myself, I can attest, there is certainly a lot of money and information in the field. I wonder if someone like Google could help clean some of that information up.

I work a lot with Healthcare EDI in my position at work. In fact, a lot of what I do involves similar matching algorithms to what Google would use in order to match a normal user’s search. I think Google, whether for profit or not, could be a huge contender in such an industry and have a lot to provide. I sincerely wonder if this is where they’re going.

Fingerprint-based Home Entry On a Budget?

We have a couple doorknobs in my house that I need to replace here soon. I’d like to replace them with a fingerprint-based system. Preferably, I’d like one that can send authentication to a computer via network and let the computer determine who has access and who doesn’t. WIFI is definitely a plus, but I haven’t seen anything of the sort. I’d also like something as cheap as possible. My question is, is anyone aware of such a system, and if so, what do you recommend? Have any of you had experience setting up such a system?

“That’s So Gay” Lawsuit Warrants No Money

I just read this article:

So, a girl’s friends get offended by Mormons, causing them to make inappropriate comments about Mormons. Then, Mormon Girl gets offended by those comments and says “That’s so Gay!”. School Administrators get offended (are they gay?), and suspend the girl for her comments. Girl and her parents get offended by School Administrators by her suspension, and file suit against the School District.

Thank goodness the judge put a stop to this! Should the girl get justice for her offense? Maybe, but when will this stop? Were she to win, would the school administrators be offended and file counter-suit? What happened to forgive and forget? I feel bad for the girl – I’ve been offended myself over similar comments about Mormons, never punished for my reaction for it, but I understand her feelings and reaction – I still don’t see the need to push this any further. Good for the judge – what’s done is done.

Chucky Cheese Runs Linux!

I was at Chucky Cheese a couple weeks ago with my kids, and was having mine and my kid’s picture drawn by Chucky Cheese at the little Picture taking machine when it crashed on me. We called the man over to look at it, he opens it up, reboots it – lo and behold, it’s a Redhat variant of Linux booting up in front of my eyes! The pictures are hard to see, but you will probably find the boot sequence looks very familiar:

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What I Would Have Written About Last Week if I Had the Time

I am on a crunch to finish a software release at Work, so haven’t had an opportunity to blog in the last week. Here are some items I would have blogged about if I had the time. Maybe I’ll still write about them: