All entries for Thursday 17 March 2005

March 17, 2005

Life Hacks

Danny O-Brien, Merlin Mann

(DoB: last year's summary)

  • hackers ♥ plain text
  • my other app is in ~/bin ( keep your own scripts; make lots of glue)
  • network, network, network. Share everything. Social organisation rules

This year: It's not just for α-geeks
great apps:

  • decent email search – gmail, lookout, tiger spotlight
  • social file sharing for everyone – flikr, novell iFolder, Groove
  • easy web scraping – RSS
  • keyboard macros for win/linux: c.f. quicksilver

(MM: What's popular on 43Folders right now?)

  • GTD - especially implementing it in real life
  • lo-fi hacks: whereover possible, think about the simplest way to solve a problem – paper
  • make failure difficult (the 'forehead ticket hack')
  • quicksilver: like a GUI bash – minimise distractions
  • remind
  • more people wanting to tailor their own working environment

(DoB: What crossed over, and why?)

  • text editors – didn't make it into the mainstream
  • keyboards: people like them. When you're using the keyboard you can get into the 'zone', mousing disrupts flow
  • novice users never get 'flow' so the keyboard doesn't mater for them
  • why big screens? (c.f Mary Czerwinski). big screens are more productive and reduce cognitive load – no overlapping windows
  • there's no muscle-memory to alt-tab – this is why quicksilver is so much better
  • The dark secret of life hacks: turn off the sodding computer. Eliminate navigation, eliminate distraction

this years killer apps

  • google suggest (p=1)
  • passive informants – dashboard, emacs remembrance, IRC - background info (p=0.7)
  • unified notification (Growl API) (p=0.6)
  • the nightmare of desktop search (p=0.3)

MM: what is a life hack?
A) It's a way of patching around a problem. What happens if you fix, rather than patch? What comes after the hacks ?


Lawrence Lessig: The country of the blind

Writing about web page http://www.lessig.org/blog/

  • Stop telling the world that we've invented something new and different: There's nothing new here
  • cultures have always evolved by remixing
  • In order to evolve and remix individuals need to be free to act creatively
  • When the tools of remix change, the freedoms must change too
  • Right now reuse of technology is not sufficiently free, because a remix requires a copy
  • Either we reform the law, or we reform the technology
  • ideas:
  • connect: to the old guard; call "piracy" wrong; we are not defending the right to copy against the copyright holder's wishes
  • teach: show people what technological remix is about
  • change: teach people how to change, not abolish, laws that don't work

Programme Information Pages

Gavin Bell, Matt Biddulph, Tom Coates (BBC)

Identifiers If you give something an ID, it becomes addressable. Bar Codes --> MS Aura project, ASINs-->Navigable site + API, Postcode -->maps, UpMyStreet.com

BBC are rolling out UIDs for their programmes: PIPs – a database of information about all the BBC's programmes

problems
Packaging and grouping programmes is complex – they fit into a large variety of different categories. Programmes are sometimes nested e.g. a particular event within Grandstand.
The data is scattered between about 15 assorted systems, with no common key
Logistical problems – last minute scheduling changes, legal rights, size of the bbc

solutions
core element: the episode
extra info: brand ('the office','absolutely fabulous'), groups ('season 1','book of the week'), versions.

The web product (done for radio 3 now)

  • A page for every episode of every programme that the bbc creates
  • structure was a simplified reflection of the data structure to enable navigation between episodes and brands
  • every episode uniquely identifiable and addressable for ever
  • persistent schedules
  • starts to put the infrastructure in place for av-on-demand

Data architecture: inputs

  • most consistent source of data is EPG (Electronic programme guide) – but the data here is very sparse – just time and title
  • SMEF - Standard Media Exchange Format – very detailed logical model for broadcast info data
  • Local production data may be added in automatically, and can be added by hand

:outputs

  • Read-only ReST
  • Have an RDF rendition because the data is highly linked

Forgiveness, not permission: Retro–fitting the Semantic Web onto British Democracy

Writing about web page http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/et2005/view/e_sess/5947

Stefan Magdalinsky

  • hansard went online about 1997
  • it's website is utterly utterly lame
  • TheyWorkForYou.com are trying to fix some of this by grabbing the output of hasard and re-purposing it
  • They parse hansard text and create hyperlinks – e.g. to people, wikipedia, a user-defined glossary
  • exposes RSS for everything to allow other people to build on top of it
  • supports email alerting for all kinds of events
  • generates voting records for each MP
  • link in the register of interest for each MP

  • In theory parliamentary copyright doesn't allow reuse that may bring parliament into disrepute – but in practice they backed off from issuing a cease & desist about unmoderated comments

  • runs on LAMP (except with F-BSD).
  • Input files are very dirty HTML with no semantic markup
  • parse process works by maintaining a set of diff patches against each day's record to clean up textual errors
  • gathering the stats picks up errors in hansard that would otherwise go uncorrected


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