Archive for August, 2007


August 30th, 2007

This is why law suits look like government-supported coersion. This is theatre of the absurd: viacom is threatening the producer of a video that they ripped off without permission in one of their own shows. And who has the presumption of guilt now? Get the blow-by-blow in Christopher Knight’s own words and watch to the bizarre campaign ad that is at the center of this contraversy.

Update: Another good example is this video demonstrating that the NFL requires that you seeks it’s permission to talk about what you see on your TV (“”all accounts and descriptions”). The video was placed online by a law professor as an example of corporate overreach, and well, you guessed it. She received a nasty lawergram insisting that her clear fair use was actually a violation of copyright law.

1. technology , ,

Oh, the power of youtube!

August 30th, 2007

An Internet phenom! Ok, this is silly but still enjoyable in its authenticity.

3. et cetera

Gulf coast

August 29th, 2007

The Obama campaign just sent me an email with a link to this video about Barack’s position on New Orleans. It is compelling to watch. But here’s my thought: why doesn’t Barack pledge to contribute 10% of all his fundraising dollars to help New Orleans directly? That could be anywhere from $50mm to $100mm — not chump change. Wouldn’t that be a great way to do avoding wasting more money on tv ads and to prove his resolve to fix this tragic national blight?

2. politics ,

Choosing a content management system…

August 29th, 2007

On a different project, I wanted to have a simple sales web site. My web host,, seems to have a nice suite of available tools that you can install with a single click. The top three that I have been experimenting with are: Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. I also wanted some simple form processing, and the ability to integrate some strange vbscripts that I found.

What a mess! Joomla and Drupal are *very* complicated. They are essentially frameworks, which means that they supposedly can do lots of things but none of them easily. I really wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to start from scratch with the elegant Ruby On Rails or even a hacked PHP solution. WordPress is probably ok, for example, it powers this web site.

But my friend David, a real developer, suggested radiantcms. It looks like the right level of complexity for my needs, so I’m going to give it a go. Again, I’ll post an update with my experiences…

1. technology

Choosing a web designer…

August 29th, 2007

Recently, I conducted a search to find a web designer to redesign our Voter Guide Toolkit web application. My ideal situation was to find a free-lance designer who had experience making sleek “web 2.o” apps, preferably civic-minded, possibly local. It was a frustration process, but I think it has a happy ending now.

I had a three-pronged attack. My first instinct was to place this uninspired posting on craigslist. Second, I sent it to three developers I know to send on to any designers they might now. Third, I conducted a web search.

So, here’s what happened. The craigslist posting was a waste of $75; I only received generic responses from recruiters, design shops, people seeking full-time rather contract work, etc. Word of mouth at first yielded no results. In my web search, I came across this great resource that is a central listing of designer portfolios worldwide called coroflot.

Before things got better, things got worse. By looking at hundreds of portfolios, I figured out that the real core competency I wanted was icon design. (We have a pretty good handle on the user interface design.) I found this interesting site, and as a bonus the designer lived in San Francisco. He responded with a nice email, and I hired him. But after a week or so without any real progress, he begged out of the project because his dog died. So back to square one.

Finally, I got a response from a neat shop called TurboMilk based in Samara, Russia. I liked their sensibilities and process, all of which is documented in their blog. They use basecamp to manage interactions. It is necessary to have something like that, because we are 12 time zones apart and essentially never available at the same time.

I’ll post a follow up when the project is completed so you can see the results for yourself!

1. technology

Image processing – wow!

August 28th, 2007

Right now, everyone knows that pictures may not tell the truth because they can be “photoshopped.” But the ease, speed and accuracy of this technique is stunning. Can you imagine all the creative, practical and nefarious uses of this technology? Via techcrunch with useful other links.

UpdateYou can process your own images here. Works well with natural scenes, although it was somewhat less impressive than the video demo when I tried it. Now, I want the people removing technology!

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Amazing Americans

August 28th, 2007

As I wrote as a comment to this article on, we are lucky to have country full of such men and women ready to defend us, and a few such souls who can express the reasons why so well. Enjoy this video:

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Which candidate is the closest fit to you on the issues?

August 15th, 2007

Here is an interesting tool that ranks the candidates based your issue preferences and issue priorities. Apparently, I agree with Kucinich on something like 28/30 issues. Among the major candidates, I am closest to Obama and then Clinton.

You can try it out here:

And then cut ‘n paste the results as a reply all. It shows where the candidates differ from your ideal position. (See my answers and those of other members by follow that link.)

2. politics

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