Iacta alea est

Well, the half-a-site I had mentioned before is now up: my new blog, here, in conjunction with my new homepage. Yes, I've decided to de-anonymize. I expect to have a higher online profile soon, as a result of the projects I'm working on, so I wanted a site to go along with it. I expect the new blog will be more think-y and less random than the current one (although making it any less random than all the unfocused crap I've put up here over time would probably have taken a real effort). It'll probably be less political, although I haven't written the political stuff here in a while. Let me say it'll be less partisan.

Please update your links.

One other thing: don't be alarmed if I have a link to you here but not over there; I'm still trying to work out the whole blogroll on that side.


Sign o' the times

This is how I work at the computer... or is this how everybody works?


Pluto apparently no longer a planet

Well, the world didn't end, but it appears that today might be the day we lost Pluto. Well, I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted, because this thrill ride is coming to a close. Yeah, aren't you regretting you didn't sign that petition now? Too little, too late.

Then again, it was always a bit of a weak excuse for a planet - as we learned in school, just a big, dirty ball of ice that's essentially a glorified comet. If it were any closer to the sun, if it would have just melted. Can planets melt?

Also, it's the only planet named in part after a person - Percival Lowell (that's the "Pl"), who predicted it before his death, based on the movement of nearby planets. That doesn't seem like one for the ages. In time, I bet it'll look like one of those ideas from the 30's that seemed good at the time but then just went on too long, like farm subsidies.


World to end tomorrow?

Tomorrow, August 22... the day of an Iranian nuclear-powered endgame involving an attack on Israel or the U.S.?

Or is it all, as the Guardian's Middle East editor puts it, "utter tosh"?

We'll find out tomorrow... hopefully tosh is the word.


Not everyone's a slacker

I spent the week working on my various projects (three-and-a-half sites right now, it's really getting ridiculous). Apparently I'm a bit of a nomad, too, by my count I worked at two apartments and five different internet cafes over the week.

And clearly I'm also such a slacker that I didn't notice until today that Chainik Hocker got engaged! Though he announced it over a week ago, and he was dropping mega-hints before, so I should have seen it coming. Click the link for the lovely photos, including some first-class hat-rocking.


Post-birthday wrapup

Ivan is too kind. Well, just to me; on my girlfriend he's strictly an objective reporter.

I had a very good time. Though it's too bad about news of the major terrorist plot coming out right on my birthday. Not to mention a really torrential downpour that happpened during the early part of the evening. Frankly, I question the timing.


By the way

It's my birthday tomorrow!!! Yay for me. 29 years young. My girlfriend and I and some other people are going out to a bar tomorrow night... let me know if you're in interested in going and I forgot to email you.

What I saw at Wikimania

Posting's been sporadic... I had somewhat of a long journey home from the Wikimania conference, including a stop at my parents' house, and now I've been trying to catch up on everything I was doing before the weekend.

I had grand plans to move everything to a new blog, a real one with my full name on it and such, and have the Wikimania post be the first one on it, but that's not going to happen. No time, and too many things going on. Maybe that'll happen next week...

So, Wikimania was neat. Something like 400 people from all over the world coming together to discuss a single piece of software technology. But, of course, as technology wikis aren't even all that impressive - they're basically yet another content-management system, like a message board or any community site. So what people were really coming to discuss was the idea of open content creation, having a large group or in some cases literally everyone in the world be able to modify a document at the same time. The talks ranged from the anthropological (what are the current barriers to acceptance in various cultures?) to the policy-based (how best to handle vandalism and disagreements?) to the entrepreneurial (how do you create your own successful wiki?) to the quasi-political (the closest there is to a unifying message among the wiki crowd is "information should be free"; in practice that comes out to limits on copyright protection).

In between there was some technical discussion, which was what I had mostly come for (little tidbit: the most important new change coming to Wikipedia will be a URL field you can add to give you the "most recent validated" (as in, vandal-free) version of a page. Coming soon, and it should help a lot with the credibility problems some people perceive with Wikipedia and wikis in general.) What I was really there for was all the "semantic wiki" stuff: plugins that allow contributors to add computer-readable data to a page, instead of just text. For instance, IMDb is pretty neat, but what if there were an IMDb-like site that was a wiki, allowing anyone to add or modify all the information, in a way that could be accessed and searched by any other site? The technology is already there (well, pretty much), so all you'd have to do would be to create the site and the structure and let the contributor community fill in the content. Maybe IMDb wasn't the best example, because that one already exists and works quite well.... but you could imagine any other kind of data.

So I went to all those talks, and spoke with the semantic wiki creators, who are all German guys, and swapped some ideas with them. Quite a lot of Germans at the conference, by the way. Apparently they've really embraced the wiki thing over there; the German-language Wikipedia is the 2nd-largest.

Photo not by me... stolen randomly via Flickr "wikimania" tag

I felt nicely retro with my pen and notebook there; everyone else seemed to have a laptop and sometimes a camera too, and were simultaneously blogging, IRC'ing, emailing, listening to the lectures and looking up things the lecturers were talking about. Well, I'm blogging now.



I haven't posted in a while, and I probably won't be posting again till next week: tommorow I'm heading off to Boston for the Wikimania conference tomorrow. It'll be my first-ever conference, at least for me to personally be attending; my parents used to take me to their scientific conferences a lot when I was a kid. I probably won't be able to see anybody from Boston (I mean, among the people who read this) while I'm there, unfortunately; it's sort of a packed schedule. I'm going because, besides the fact that I do some Wikipedia editing, one of the projects I'm working on involves a wiki-based online database... it'll be pretty neat, I think. All will be revealed soon, I hope.

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