Syndication feeds are hazardous to your humor

I have found in my years of being on the absolute, outer fringes of the world of syndication, that increasing exposure to efforts related to syndication feeds, formats, development, and/or other related work can have a serious impact on your sense of humor–not to mention your sense of perspective.

That’s why I like to focus much of my effort in RDF: most of the Important People think RDF is a joke, so we RDFers feel free to spend our time having fun. No, seriously–we’re a giggle a minute. And we never dismiss those who want to chat about RDF. Heck, we’re usually grateful.

And we all have cute cats.


Don Park has been both farked and slashdotted and his site is still holding up.

The Slashdot thread is focusing on Don’s recent post, talking about the security risks inherent with having binary data attached to an XML feed, i.e. enclosures in syndication feeds. And my, aren’t the Slashdotters in rare form with this one.

Still, there are some very good comments in and among the usual. You may never look at podcasting the same way again



This is for Maria, a fellow hunter of giant squid.

One day, not so long ago, I visited Los Angeles for whatever reason and since I’d never been there before I decided to do some sightseeing.

I rode a bus out to Hollywood to look around and when I stepped off, I found myself in a swirl of motion and sound—all simmering in heat from the sidewalks that it almost made me dizzy. I remember that the colors were red and gold and a bright searing blue, all fighting for space in my sight until I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes and see white, white, an ocean of white–with maybe a little gray here and there, just to reaffirm I hadn’t died.

I moved along in a trance, pushing past people lost in their own moments; thinking I could start doing a tap dance right there in the street and no one would notice. I didn’t, though, because I hadn’t come all the way to Los Angeles to act like a fool.

I walked past Hollywood and Vine, but no movie director jumped out to claim me; I passed Fredericks of Hollywood, but the pink boas in the window scared me and I hurried past, thinking I could hear the slithering sound of a malicious snicker behind me.

I continued my walk, feet hurting from the hard, hot ground, when I spotted a Chinese building up ahead with a mess of people milling about, most looking down. As I made my way through the crowd, I kept looking at the building and all it’s intricate beauty, when all of a sudden I found myself on the ground. Yes, face first, knees dug into the unforgiving cement, and breath knocked out in one giant exclamation.

I rolled over to sit on my butt, and brought my knees up, rocking from the pain, tears streaming down my face. A nice old man wearing a straw hat and a Donald Duck t-shirt who saw me fall came over and asked in a gentle voice if I was OK.

I rubbed at my eyes to stop the tears because I’m an adult and big girls don’t cry. I laughed and said I didn’t know LA was going to have an earthquake just for me. He chuckled back and said, “Miss, that wasn’t an earthquake. You just stumbled over Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

He pointed down at the ground, and sure enough, I had stumbled over Arnold’s deep footprints–permanently dug into cement, preserved for all times…even against the clumsy stumbling of an out of town tourist like me. They were pointy shooed prints, too. Big, like the image I had of the man.

Somewhat embarrassed at my clumsiness–I can trip on lines painted on the road–I made my way to my feet and noticed that my pants were scuffed where I’d fallen down. The nice old man had moved on now that he was assured I was in no trouble. I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. Instead of the bus, though, I grabbed the Red Line back into the city.

It was still early and this was my only day to sightsee since I had work to do the next day. When I got to town I noticed there was another line that went all the way to Long Beach. Since I hadn’t seen the ocean, and my knees had stopped hurting, why not take it?

The ride seemed to take forever, but the train was comfortable, and the other passengers seemed friendly, sometimes even smiling at me when I would look at them. I rode to the end of the line, where the train let me out in downtown Long Beach. I squinted into the sun and headed west, figuring I’d eventually run into the ocean.

It was the middle of the week and in March, so there weren’t many people about. I walked on boardwalks where I bought an ice cream, and past the Queen Mary where I gazed in amazement at the size. and eventually the concrete capitulated and grudgingly gave way to sand. I looked at the cool water and the smooth beach, and decided then and there, to take my shoes off and walk barefoot in the sand. Maybe I’d even dip a toe into the surf.

I spent an hour walking slowly along, breathing in the perfume of the ocean and feeling the wind on my face. I did dip a toe into the water, I did indeed, and found the water so cold that I jumped back and then laughed at myself for being so silly. Gulls had hopefully followed my steps, and one in particular, an old dull gray lady who looked like she could barely fly, laughed with me. I wish I had kept part of my cone for her, but I had eaten it all.

It was getting late, though, and it was time to head back. When I turned around, I noticed my footprints in the sand, leading back the way I had come. Footprints that even now the tide was reclaiming; greedy lips of water licking their traces from the sand, as if the ocean liked my prints so well, it wanted to claim them for its very own.

Critters Weather

More weather talk

We are never going to get any rain. Even now, I can look at the Weather Underground radar and see a huge storm system break apart and dissipate as soon as it hits the high pressure area hovering over our city. And they’ve issued another heat alert, which means another day without walking.

But tomorrow, tomorrow the weather will be cooler and if we’re lucky, we’ll even have some rain to clean our air and we can breath. And then I’m out of here. Oh yes I am, like a shot, a bullet from a gun.

By the way, I just received an invitation to join a giant squid hunting expedition.

Blog(between-the)Lines(SM) translation: Burningbird shot giant squid.



Instead of working on my application this morning, I have been spending time reading various weblogs, as well as participating in a few; such as this one at Sam Ruby where Dare says syndication is being built into the operating system and I say I don’t care (with all due respect, because I have a lot of respect for Dare).

Oh, there’s a few quips by Mark Pilgrim in there if you’re all going through Dive Into Mark withdrawals.

I gather that Scoble’s comments are down, but he wants feedback, and someone is working on something that’s secret and only he knows about but it will eliminate the need for comments, and then we can continue the conversation.

I’m playing with some secret new technology that makes the tech blogging world even flatter. Not from Microsoft (the inventor asked me to keep it quiet until he’s ready to release it). But, it totally is going to change how I blog (and it really already has although I can’t change my style until you all get it too). It brought me Leslie’s blog, for instance.

It also will make comments unneccessary. Why? Because there are systems coming that’ll match up — in minutes — a main post and all the comments being made about that post.

I’ve always thought that alluding to ’secrets’ that others aren’t privileged to know is a conversation killer, but that’s beside the point.

Roger caught the point in a nice way in a post called Misunderstanding “Conversations”:

So when Scoble longs to turn off his comments, I understand. He’s found his limits, and wants to switch to a process that plays to his strengths… that’s a good thing. The problem is that he’s confusing his weaknesses with the technology itself.

No, I think the problem is that Scoble thinks he can have a conversation with 1000 people. If they all talk fast, and say the same thing, “I love podcasts gimme more”, I suppose you could have a conversation with this many folk.

Jeneane gets this point, which is why she wants a new style of aggregator that fits her many feeds and her limited time.

It’s called Blog(between-the)Lines(SM), a new aggregator/reader that serves up the three most important words from across all of the blogs you subscribe to each day! You can get your Blog(between-the)Lines WordPack 2005 delivered to you via email, via text message, or stamped on your head with a branding iron underneath the Free Download Code Number, 666.

You know Jeneane, if you ask nice, Microsoft might build Blog(between-the)Lines(SM) into Longhorn. Heck: it put everything else in there. But that’s beside the point.

What is the point is her sample feed. You have to check out her sample feed. I’m not going to repeat it, though: it’s a secret. So you’ll have to *guess what it is so we can continue having a conversation. Here’s a hint: Halley’s good natured response is based on it.

*Or I guess you could just go over to Jeneane’s and read the post. But that’s not the point.


I have pointy hats to sell

I’m in the middle of an application I hope to roll out tomorrow if the pieces fall into place. I’m pushing up the publication date to celebrate all the Web 2.0 activity this week (both Yahoo and Google released map APIs today in honor of the Where 2.0 conference. I imagine the MSN folks are burning the midnight oil). However, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about my new business: selling tinfoil hats to webloggers.

I already have the ideal domain: Tinfoil Project. Strange name for a photo weblog, but not bad for selling tinfoil hats, eh? And I think the market is ripe for this type of business. I mean, now that the US has become a fascist empire, it’s only a matter of time before The Party, mind-reading ray guns in hand, goes after webloggers who host their sites on US servers.

Consider the recent concerns about Flickr moving its data centers from Canada to the US. A free citizen of Canada, Tris Hussey, writes:

In the States civil liberties are truly a farce and a sham. Under the Patriot Act, the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and compel Yahoo/Flickr to open up the data doors to them on the basis of “national security” or that a “person of interest” has photos there. They don’t need a warrant. Yahoo/Flickr will not be able by law to inform you that this has happened, going to happen, etc.

And it goes beyond this. Given the right-wing politics of the day, how long will it be before Yahoo is forced to close or restrict the tags “nude” and “erotic”? This would not happen in Canada.

The U.S. has become a country where law enforcement, the people supposed to be protecting our rights, can enter your home, without a warrant or you present, search it, take evidence, close it up, and not reveal this to you. You can be held without charges, access to a lawyer, or outside communications.

I’m sure that Osama Bin Laden will close his Flickr account before the data center move is finished. But just in case he doesn’t, he should be aware that his photos, residing in data centers in California, are subject to arrest by the Department of Homeland Security.

And too bad about Penthouse–those DHS-sanctioned drapes play havoc with the photos. The new Republican Greasemonkey script, which pastes cute little tape X’s over nipples in bare breast photos is kind of cool. However, I don’t know that I agree that Howard Dean’s face looks like a nipple.

Wait! Wait! Who’s that at the door! Oh sure he says pizza man, but how do I know he’s who he says he is? Does he have a digital ID? Where’s his InfoCard?

Sigh, it’s tough to be a blogger in the US.

Damn! That sounds like a song:

My baby done left me
She walked out the door.
She’s leaving the country
Won’t be here any more

Oh I’m just a US Blogger, and I’m feeling so blue.
Yes, I’m just a US Blogger, and don’t know what to do.
The world thinks we’re crap, and the government agrees.
I’m just a US Blogger, a global disease.

Of course, as Ben Hammersley has said, thank goodness the States isn’t the Net.

We don’t need to explain what the internet is, or what the funny “http://” thing at the bottom of the article means. Even the BBC can confidently state “for more on this, go to bbc dot c.o. dot u.k. slash radio four” and not have to explain just what the hell it’s talking about. In less than a decade, this is an incredible change.

But now we need to add a new clause. There’s something missing from sentences that needs to be replaced, lest we all get the wrong idea. That clause is “in the US”.

Almost every story, written in the past few days about the Grokster case have missed this clause out. So, filesharing applications are now liable to new legal contraints. Yes. In the US. Not here. Not in China. Not in India. Not across the majority of the world. The Supreme Court of the United States of America may have made a silly ruling, or it may not, but it did it in the US. Last we checked, their bailiwick doesn’t extend outside of the fifty states.

Tell me something, Ben. You ever tried to wax the floor of an elephant cage? With the elephant still in it?

I mean no disrespect to either Tris or Ben, truly I don’t. We in the States are all too aware of the precarious nature of many of our freedoms. I am ashamed of what we have done in Iraq, and horrified about what we’re doing in Cuba. Within the country, we frisk visitors in our airports, keep brain dead women alive and 13 year olds pregnant, monitor folks who check out certain books, and hassle photographers on bridges. Word has it with the new ruling on the Ten Commandments, some church groups are collecting money to put monuments everywhere. Soon we’ll be neck deep in cheesy, mass produced, ugly as sin monuments to Christianity; monuments, ignored as quickly and completely as Sunday sermons are ignored come Monday.

(Of course, more money on monuments means less money to give to politicians so every dog has his day.)

Our fight to maintain our freedoms, though, is hard enough without having to battle hyperbole on top of it. If it’s too dangerous to move Flickr photo databases to the States, do we now remove all data centers for all technology out of the country? Not just data centers: file sharing applications, too. Of course, as I wrote long time ago, the fact that the software is created in another country doesn’t matter once its effects cross borders. After all, P2P file sharing works by placing files on intermediate machines in response to requests. This means that at any point in time, your box could be hosting who knows what: copyrighted movies, nude pictures, illegally copied music, or the plans for an invasion of Pittsburgh.

What do we do then? Or since we’re talking ‘borders’ here, and I’m just a US blogger– what should you all do? Consider the US damage and route around us? Might be hard to reach Foo Camp, Ben. And Tris: what’s the French Canadian word for ‘Gnomedex’?

If this all were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun. At any time, any number of countries will come up with any number of rules and regulations and laws and walls; some might even make sense but knowing governments most will be silly if not downright oppressive. All we can do is do what we’ve always done: the best we can. Yes, even we poor old sods in the States.

We can’t start putting borders on the internet. What impacts one of us, impacts all of us.

(Link to Tris thanks to Suw, thanks to jr. Link to Ben thanks to Julian and Euan.)