Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Billion Dollars Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? Basic Human Decency

Sarah Lacy has written about how many of the current breed of silicon valley wunderkinds have been conditioned to behave like the movie version of Mark Zuckerberg, eschewing humanity and decency for personal profit and glory. Nothing either she nor I can write will reverse the trend — there’s simply too much money and power at stake. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t loudly call bullshit on those who use words like “disruption” and “revolution” and “democratization” as cynical marketing buzzwords simply to line their own pockets, only to retreat behind the barricades when the going gets rough. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mourn a not-too-distant past where technology entrepreneurs created things to make the world a better or more interesting place, not just because they wanted to make a billion dollars.

TechCrunch preaches about ethics… But it’s actually a good piece.

IE Users Have Lower IQ Than Users of Other Web Browsers [STUDY]

The results are fascinating. Users of Internet Explorer 6 have an average IQ score barely more than 80; Firefox and Chrome users fare much better, with average IQ scores of around 110, while Opera and Camino users have an average IQ score more than 120.
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I see Camino’s popularity spiking by few hundred percent last weekend. Which should translate to at least 3 new users.

Aryeh Gregor on being an editor and the W3C process

I’d been developing the spec solely at the WHATWG until yesterday, and received lots of good technical feedback there. I thought I’d post a heads-up to public-html in case anyone there was interested. Since I figured people would ask where the spec was going to be hosted, I mentioned that I wasn’t planning to host it at the W3C. The result of this gesture to date has been one public e-mail, one private e-mail, and at least one blog comment and one Google+ thread concerned purely about procedural and political issues without any concern for the technical work that I spent six months on. And zero technical feedback. This is one basic reason I’m not interested in doing any work at the W3C.

A peak at behind the scenes of creating web standards. The author of recent editing API’s specification, Aryeh Gregor, shares his frustrations with W3C process and why he prefers to work on his own and on behalf of his employer (Google).

Smartphones can do everything – except safeguard the web

What makes the internet special is that it is a magical enabler of what the Stanford scholar Barbara van Schewick calls “permissionless innovation”. If you’re bright and have a good idea that can be implemented via software, then the internet will run it for you, with no questions asked and with very low entry barriers. At the moment, there are no gatekeepers who can keep out an innovator, no incumbents who can impose a swingeing tax on an innovative idea. But an internet accessed mainly via smartphones would be a very different kind of space – dominated by giant companies determined to repel newcomers, to protect obsolete business models and ensure that innovation happens at a pace determined by them rather than by the possibilities of technology and human ingenuity.

How smarter devices put innovation inherent to the internet in danger. However, computers still enable creativity that’s not possible on smartphones or tablets. As long as that’s the case, internet innovation will thrive.

Link via @helen_off_troy.

Betraying Berlin

The city that has been stuffed full of subsidies, like a wrestler on steroids, is of course going to find it difficult to move or think straight, is going to confuse size with strength. And of course its political class is going to be more adept at spending state money than saving it, more likely to cater to its clients than puzzle out what is best for the city. And we all let that happen.
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A British expat leaves Berlin and goes back home. With no regrets.

Swimming From Cuba to Key West, Without Leaving the Water

Still, her doctor worries about hydration, starvation and keeping her body warm in the water. The ocean must be at least 86 degrees, which sounds warm unless a person is in it for 60 hours.
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61 year old Diana Nyad is getting ready for 60 hour long swim from Cuba to Florida. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could possibly pull it off. There’s also a great interview with this woman on the Science Times podcast.

Here’s to the crazy ones: a decade of Mac OS X reviews

Now here we are, a decade later, and Mac OS X has matured into a fine product. This ten-year marker presents an opportunity to do something technology writers usually avoid. I’m going to look back at some of my hopes and fears from the early days of Mac OS X’s development and compare them to the reality of today. Was I right on the money, shrewdly warning of future disasters that did, in fact, come to pass? Or do my predictions now read more like the ravings of a gray-bearded lunatic? It’s judgment day.

More of John Siracusa’s OS X writing. He gives a retrospective look to his review of the first incarnation of OS X and verifies his predictions from that period.

Mobile application combats Cameroon’s corruption

Users install the application, known as NoBackchich (no more bribes), on android phones then click to find procedures for getting services from government and some private services.

“What gives corrupt civil servants power is user’s ignorance of the steps to obtain a service,” said Herve Ndjia, the 24-year-old creator of the product.

NoBackchich application users can find details on the cost and steps to get a driver’s licence, a business licence, a birth or death certificate and many more documents.

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Fighting corruption doesn’t always have to involve complex and elaborate solutions. I wonder how effective this simple idea will be.