Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

July 2005 Archives

I bought a discounted IBM T42 ThinkPad and installed Ubuntu on it. I decided that I would try to get switched over to Linux (for now) before I headed off to OSCON later this week. It was amazingly easy to install and wifi, suspend and various hardware goodies seem to work. I still haven't gotten my printer set up or my DVDs to play... Anyway, we'll see if I'll be able to make this trip without bringing my PowerBook.

I was recently elected to the board of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). I had been a member for quite awhile and have been the Treasurer of the Japan chapter since we started it in 2002. CPSR has thousands of members and has incubated a number of important projects including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). I hope that I can help CPSR mobilize more members for what I believe is a very important mandate that CPSR has. I'll keep you all posted on the activities, but take a look at the web page if you are interested in getting involved.

Karen Copenhaver, Black Duck Software, speaking at Mass Open Source Special Interest Group

And since there are a lot of attorneys in the room, I always tell this story, but it's just to level set everybody, because sometimes I'd look out and see a sea of attorneys, and they're acting like you developers that put this Open Source into the source code, like you're drunk and disorderly or “Oh! They're out of control, putting all this source code into their source tree.” But if I ask the lawyers in the room how many of you would ever start writing a contract with a clean sheet of paper? I mean, how many of you, if you had a contract to write, and you had to get it done on time, which developers, believe it or not, have very, very tough time schedules, just like you, and you had to bring it in at cost, would you rewrite every piece of boiler plate in the contract?

And if I had a tool that could recreate every contract you ever read and scan every contract you ever wrote, how many clauses would I find that were copied from Microsoft contracts? [laughter] And what would your defense be? Let me give you your defense. Your defense would be, “I didn't notice the copyright notice.” [laughter] Which Microsoft has, I'm not sure if they still do, but for a long time all their contracts were copyrighted, and if you're an attorney you know the're copyrighted anyway, right? Then you'd say, “No, no, it's purely functional, [laughter] that little piece, that export clause, no expression in there, purely functional.” If you didn't get away with that one, you'd go de minimus, quantitatively. But you copied it for a purpose. And you know why you copied it? You copied it because it was peer reviewed. You copied it because it's something that's been out there, and many, many eyeballs have looked at it, and it's passed the test of time.

Nice example. Reminds me a bit of the lawyer who was trying to assert copyright of his C&D letter saying it was original expression.

via Groklaw via Michael

UPDATE: Met Karen at OSCON and took her picture.

All I wanted to do was forward my telephone calls. I decided to dive into Asterisk. I realized that all of the "easy configure" setups were limited for my purposes. Then I realized I should probably get my head around what Asterisk is actually doing and play with Linux. Before I knew it, the folks on #joiito had convinced me to install Ubuntu Linux. I finally routed my first call from my bottom-up install of Asterisk.

What a Yak shave.

So... what's the best laptop for running Linux?

Copyright Pieter Hugo
Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing Blog
Pieter Hugo's photos: Hyena people of Nigeria

The thought that popped into my head when I first saw this incredible photo was, "next time you feel smug or badass, remember this and say -- no you are not tough. This is tough."
Pieter Hugo
's photo series "Hyena People of Nigeria" is the result of a ten-day trek the South African photographer took with a group of wandering minstrels and their animal companions: three hyenas, two pythons and four monkeys. Shown here: "Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria, 2005"

Here's a snip from a "making of" interview with Hugo:

‘Last year I saw a picture on a website that was taken from a car window in Nigeria,” says Pieter Hugo. “It showed a man with a hyena on the streets of Lagos.”

Seated on a restaurant balcony overlooking Cape Town’s city bowl, the tall, athletic photographer says it was this crude photograph that motivated him to visit Nigeria. “The caption said he was a debt collector,” he continues, a glass of wine and salad placed in front of him. “The photograph really intrigued me.”

Through a local researcher Hugo was introduced to Adetokunbo Abiola, a Nigerian journalist who emailed him to say he knew of the men (there were more than one) in the picture. A few weeks later Hugo nervously exited Lagos airport on his first visit to the country."

Link. See this post on Clayton Cubitt's blog for a slew of additional links about Hugo's work.
Previously on Boing Boing: Hyenas and baboons for pets
I remember linking to a picture of these Hyenas last year. The picture was amazing, but honestly, it didn't motivate me to visit Nigeria. I'm glad it motivated Hugo though.

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Spain was beautiful. Dry and sunny. Last night Paris was a bit wet, but nice. I landed today in a hot, muggy Tokyo lined up for a direct hit by a Typhoon. (Technically, I think it's a tropical storm.) I am about to head out to go to a Ryuichi Sakamoto concert where my cousin Cornelius will be joining him. I am trying to figure out the route that is least likely to get shut down. Various trains routes have been shut down. I can already imagine the frustrated crowds of Japanese office workers stranded in Tokyo, sloshing around in the hot wetness with broken umbrellas.

I wish I could shutter my house and just stay home, but tonight is the last night of the performance. Anyway, the show should be great and the trip... interesting.

The War on Terror - As viewed from the Bourne shell.

Some geeky fun for a serious issue.

via MetaFilter

AP via Yahoo
Man Killed in London Not Linked to Blasts

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer Sat Jul 23, 7:16 PM ET

LONDON - Police identified the man who was chased down in a subway and shot to death by plainclothes officers as a Brazilian and expressed regret Saturday for his death, saying they no longer believed he was tied to the recent terror bombings.


The man shot at the Stockwell subway station was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27. Witnesses said he was wearing a heavy, padded coat when plainclothes police chased him into a subway car, pinned him to the ground and shot him in the head and torso.


Police initially said the victim attracted police attention because he left a house that was under surveillance after Thursday's bungled bombings, in which devices planted on three subway trains and a double-decker bus failed to detonate properly. Stockwell is near Oval station, one of those targeted.

"He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behavior at the station added to their suspicions," police said Friday.

Adds new meaning to "false positive". He attracted attention, behaved in a way that added to their suspicions, and was pinned to the ground and shot in the head and torso. Police express regret. I don't know the details, but I sure hope the this isn't just swept under the rug. It reminds me of a particular line from Kofi Annan's speech in Madrid in March. "Upholding human rights is not merely compatible with a successful counter-terrorism strategy. It is an essential element in it."

And speaking of false positives, I read in an aviation magazine today that the US is proposing to force all flights that fly through US airspace to require clearing their passenger manifests with the notoriously noisy and full of false-positives US no-fly list even if the flights do not take off or land in the US. Obviously, some airlines are upset.

Note to self: Don't wear baggy clothes in London, don't associate with people who have names that might sound scary, and don't go to flight school.

via Boris

I am on the island of Menorca attending a friend's wedding. Right now, all I can seem to connect to is expensive gprs. My apologies if my blogging is a bit light and email responses slow and terse. I'll have real connectivity again on Monday on my flight back to Japan. ;-)

Until then, I'll try to moblog some pictures.

I have tried very hard not to delete comments, even if they are abusive. I believe in free speech and don't like the idea of censorship. However, I've recently received numerous requests from readers of my blog to address the issue of abusive and hateful comments.

Here is the rule. If you have something to say, say it without racial slurs. Otherwise, I will consider deleting it. If you post a comment which does not contribute to the conversation or is completely off-topic, I will delete it.

And a special rule for Mr. ICANN Troll. Please limit your criticisms of ICANN to posts about ICANN. You're always saying the same thing and I already get your point. Any random "ICANN sucks!" posts on non-ICANN related posts will be deleted. This also applies to the "Kill Japs!" and "Japs suck!" comments. I will leave them on Japan related topics, but will delete them from unrelated topics.

I will generally tolerate abuse against myself or entities I'm involved in more than abuse against other people commenting or other companies and groups of people.

Have I left anything out?

One hour left of my Connexion service. I was using my PHS and Narita Airport wifi before I boarded the flight and they were both slower than this connexion service aboard this flight. I have a feeling Frankfurt airport will be about the same, but it will be more expensive. (I only paid $30 for 12 hours of access on this flight.) I'm on my way to Menorca for a friend's wedding, where the last time I was there, even GSM was spotty. Anyway, gprs roaming, as I found out awhile ago, is ridiculously expensive. Connectivity, at least for this trip, will be better in the air than on the ground... It's a very strange feeling to think, "I can't wait for my flight where my connectivity will be good and cheap." ;-)

UPDATE: Here is a list of airlines and flights that offer the service. Quite impressive.

I just completed my first successful Skypecast from an airplane. I used Audio Hijack Pro, Skype and the Boeing Connexion service on Lufthansa flight 711. Special thanks to Jeremy Wagstaff for being the guinea pig for this experiment.

Joi-JeremyLH711.mp3 (1.7MB)

GNU Free Software Definition
The Free Software Definition


"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

Actually... Free as in beer.
Vores Øl
How can beer be open source?

The recipe and the whole brand of Our Beer is published under a Creative Commons license, which basically means that anyone can use our recipe to brew the beer or to create a derivative of our recipe. You are free to earn money from Our Beer, but you have to publish the recipe under the same license (e.g. on your website or on our forum) and credit our work. You can use all our design and branding elements, and are free to change them at will provided you publish your changes under the same license ("Attribution & Share Alike").

via karlDrunkCow

I am on the advisory board of and an investor in TelEvolution which has just announced a device called the PhoneGnome. PhoneGnome is the brainchild of David Beckemeyer. He was co-founder of EarthLink, where he was Vice President Engineering and Chief Technology Officer. I first met David on #joiito and got to know him when he built the Hecklebot.

Later, he approached me with his PhoneGnome idea and I was immediately fascinated. The PhoneGnome is box that you connect to your phone line and your Internet connection and attach a phone to. The magic happens when PhoneGnome figures out your phone number and auto-configures everything so that in the future, all calls to other PhoneGnome users go over the Internet instead of the phone line. "Auto-configure" is a non-trivial thing and is the difficulty standing between normal users and SIP/Asterisk goodness and freedom. Under the hood, PhoneGnome is open standards based and is extendable in various ways, but David has kept it EXTREMELY simple so that anyone can use it and doesn't require you to have your computer turned on. You just pick up your phone and call like you normally would.

As you can see from my endeavors with trying to configure Asterisk and pushing the limits of Skype, I'm extremely excited by voice over IP. So far, nothing I had seen had passed the following test:

1 - Easy to use
2 - Open standard
3 - NOT a service model (no monthly fee)

I think that voice should be easy to use. It should be a piece of hardware or an application, not something you have to pay extra for. It should be open standards and allow innovation and interconnection.

Skype passes 1 and maybe 3, but not 2. It is extremely easy to use (yay!) but they are not open standards based.

Asterisk passes 2 and 3, but not 1. Asterisk and other SIP servers are EXTREMELY hard to set up (at least today) and SIP phones generally suck and/or are extremely hard to configure.

Vonage passes 1 and maybe 2, but not 3. Vonage and other so-called VoIP phone companies are still charging you a monthly fee and seem to me to be wannabe phone companies that are trying to lower costs by using VoIP. Now they're having trouble with having to act like a phone company and provide 911 etc.

I think that we can keep the plain old phone system in place as an emergency backup system when other things fail. Let them have 911. All other nifty voice things should go over the Internet and should be open standards based and free. Don't use voice to make "internets" like we have with instant messenger. Don't cheat customers and charge for a service that costs nothing. Let's use VoIP as the killer app to drive further broadband and network service adoption in the same way that email and the web did and not let it become yet another victim of walled gardens and telco FUD.

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Global Voices
Blogger Khalid Jarrar, author of Secrets in Baghdad, remains in custody of the Iraqi intelligence service, known as the Mukhabarat.

As we reported yesterday, Khalid’s brother Raed says their family was relieved to hear on Thursday morning that Khalid is still alive after going missing for two days. On Sunday, Khalid described on his blog how his apartment in Baghdad had been broken into and his hard drive was stolen. Soon after that he disappeared.

Khalid’s family are calling for his release, or at very least that he be charged and tried for something. Raed says: “Our goal now is to ask the mokhabarat to take Khalid to court and reveal what exactly he is being charged with (if anything).”

The Committee to Protect Bloggers supports the Jarrar family’s appeals.

Please show your support for the Khalid Jarrar by posting supportive comments at Raed’s and Khalid’s latest posts. If you’re a blogger, please help spread the word by linking to them.

At least they found out that it's only the secret service...
If your child or sibling vanishes for two days then calls from the secret service jail in any other place on earth, that would be considered a disaster and a violation of human rights…

In Iraq, however, it’s Happy News.

Because the other options include: To be tortured, executed, and thrown in garbage by SCIRI and their Badr brigades. To be held by the Iraqi police and left to choke to death in one of their cars. To be held by the US troops then disappear and be mistreated for months in one of their many prisons. To be kidnapped by one of the countless criminal gangs and cost your family some tens of millions of Iraqi Dinars and/or your life.

I wish there were more that we could do than just hope Khalid makes it home safely...


6- nofrills @ July 24, 2005 04:26 AM

Just a quick note... His mom says he is now free.

Read his mom's blog (Saturday, July 23, 2005):

I just Skyped from the plane using the Boeing Connextion system. It worked. ;-) It was a bit laggy and I probably should use a better headset, but it works. Yay!

The Working Group on Internet Governance has issued its final report. The WGIG is a group of experts tasked by the United Nations to think about and come up with a report about Internet governance. Many people were concerned because the meeting was kicked off by the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) saying that this was about questioning ICANN. The comments gave me the sense that the ITU was trying to take over ICANN's role and wanted a report to justify this. In fact, the group of experts represented a broad range of opinions and have produced an interesting report. It recommends several possible scenarios for the future for ICANN. Only one of the four scenarios calls for starting from scratch without ICANN. According to Kieren McCarthy of The Register, "UN report to leave ICANN’s balls intact". ;-P

For those of you who have difficulty understanding the report or don't have time to read it, Wortfeld has a wonderful graphical visualization of the scenarios. I am not a WGIG expert. Can anyone tell me if these visualizations are accurate?

Also, it's interesting to note that the ITU is not mentioned in the report. I suppose that the ITU is part of the "UN Anchor" that is referred to, but they are not discussed in the report. Or maybe they're supposed to appear later like Mighty Mouse.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who put effort into creating this report.

Sorry about the light blogging the last few days. It's been a tough week at the ICANN meeting and it's finally over. I would like to express my appreciation to everyone in the community who took the time to explain their issues and gave us the opportunity to try to address these issues. I think we took a step in the right direction, but we have a large number of outstanding issues still left to address. I appreciate everyone's continued participation in the process. My commitment will be to deliver on the various promises that I have made this week. I look forward too seeing everyone again in Vancouver. For anyone who is new to ICANN but interesting in learning more, the next meeting is in Vancouver on November 30 - December 4. Everyone is welcome to join the meeting and I'll be happy to provide a guided tour. ;-)

I'm leaving Luxembourg for Tokyo today.

I'm an advisor to Eyebeam R&D and they have recently posted a Call for Fellows.

Call For Fellows

Eyebeam R&D seeks inaugural fellows to work on creative technology projects in the Eyebeam Open Lab. The fellowship is a unique opportunity to participate in a new kind of research environment and contribute to the public domain.

The Open Lab is dedicated to public domain R&D. We are seeking artists, hackers, designers and engineers to come to Eyebeam for a year to develop pioneering work. The ideal fellow has experience creating innovative creative technology projects, a love of collaborative development, and a desire to distribute his or her work as widely as possible.

Participation in the R&D Fellows program includes:

* One year fellowship
* 4 days/week commitment
* $30,000 annual stipend + health benefits

Public Domain

Work created within the Open Lab will be widely distributed and freely available under open licenses. All code will be released under GPL, media will be released under Creative Commons, and hardware projects will be released with Do-It-Yourself instruction kits...

There's more on their site. Take a look if you're interested. I have a lot of respect for what the Eyebeam team have done and look forward to seeing some cool stuff from this program.

There is a very important and interesting IDN Workshop going on right now. There is a web case. If you're interested, I suggest you tune in. We're talking about it on #joiito and #icann on

Full transcript of press conference where the press batter McClellan about the Rove/Plame link. 41 questions about one issue in 35 minutes.

via Lessig

Global Voices has undergone a redesign. Nice look. Congrats to all involved.

Raincoast Books
Raincoast Books Obtains Injunction Against Early Disclosure and Reviews of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Madam Justice Gill of the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted to Raincoast Books Distribution Ltd., Bloomsbury Plc and JK Rowling, a John/Jane Doe injunction against the copying or disclosing of all or any part of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or any information derived therefrom including without limitation the story, plot or characters of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to any person prior to 12:01 a.m. local time on July 16th...



We know that many children and adults around the world cannot wait to read the new book, but we urge anyone who may have bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at The Real Canadian Superstore, 3000 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam, British Columbia on Thursday July, 7, 2005, where it was temporarily placed on sale early or who have otherwise obtained it before July 16th 2005, to return their copies to Raincoast Books for just a few more days to preserve the excitement for all Harry Potter fans alike...

I wonder how they are going to embargo the Internet...

UPDATE: FLickr photoset of librarian processing Half-Blood Prince.

I don't know how much deep thought was involved when George Bush called the Internet "the internets" but this reflects a real risk that we face today. If you look at the traffic of many large countries with non-English languages, you will find that the overwhelming majority of the traffic stays inside the country. In countries like China and Japan where there is sufficient content in the local language and most people can't or don't like to read English this is even more so. I would say that the average individual probably doesn't really notice the Internet outside of their country or really care about content not in their native language.

Physical mail inside of these countries is delivered with addressing in their local language. It's not surprising that on the issue of International Domain Names (IDNs) there is a strong and emotion position inside of these countries that people should be able to write URLs in their native scripts. Take my name for example, the same Chinese characters for my name can be transliterated into English as either Johichi Itoh or Joichi Ito. This problem is aggravated in languages such as Chinese where there are more dialects and many more readings for the same set of characters. Why should these people be forced to learn some sort of roman transliteration in order to access the company page where they know the official Chinese characters for the names.

Similarly, there are people who don't like the policies of the Internet and either want to censor or otherwise manage differently THEIR internet. Others who don't like the way DNS works, have proposed alternative roots. This is possible and easy to do, but you end up with "the internets".

It is the fact that we have a single root and that we have global policies and protocols which allows the Internet to be a single network and allows anyone to reach anyone else in the world. Clearly, allowing anyone in the world to reach anyone else in the world with a single click introduces a variety of problems, but it creates a single global network which allows dialog and innovation to be shared worldwide without going through gateways or filters. This attribute of the Internet is a key to the future of a global democracy and I believe we need to fight to preserve this.

Since more and more people are using the Internet, there are more and more diverse views about the policies and control. This is clearly making consensus more difficult and ICANN is one of the groups which is having to adapt to the increasing number of inputs in the consensus process. This is all the more reason to work harder to keep everything together. Please. Lets fight to keep the Internet and not let it turn into the internets... It is a difficult process with various flaws, but if we give up, it will be very difficult if not impossible for all of to talk again very soon.
ICANN Posts New gTLD Questions Paper

6 July 2005

In September 2004 ICANN published a strategy for the implementation of new top-level domains (TLDs). The strategy called for the implementation of a strategy that would appropriately take into account many relevant technical, economic, socio-political and cultural issues. In light of several new developments regarding DNS operations and structure, ICANN has developed a plan to facilitate implementation of the strategy for the designation of new TLDs.

The staff paper has been drafted to inform about the current status of the implementation of the "New gTLD Strategy". It is also intended to solicit public comments on the completeness of the list of questions therein as well as on the consultation matrix enclosed.

Please also note the following: The paper is a draft and does NOT foreclose any procedures or outcomes of consultations. The draft questions in the question list are open and are NOT to be read as implying particular preferences. Future consultations will welcome contributions from ALL and the draft consultation matrix does NOT imply any exclusivity provisions.

Please submit your comments to You can view comments at Deadline for comments is 1 August 2005.

This is part of a long process of trying to decide if and how new top-level domains should be allocated. Many people complain that ICANN decides these things behind closed doors without taking input from the public. In fact, ICANN tries very hard to solicit input to develop consensus. The question about whether and how new top-level domains should be allocated is an important issue. ICANN is currently soliciting input on whether we are asking the right questions. If you have an opinion on top-level domains, I urge you to read the document above and submit your opinion. I promise you that we read all of the comments and will try to address and include them in our discussions.

For those not familiar with the debate, there are proposals including 1) no more top-level domains, 2) auctions, 3) sponsored top-level domains and 4) a first-come first-serve laissez-faire approach. Each of these proposals have interesting arguments for and against them and the questions we are asking help define the debate. Please take a look at the questions with these various scenarios in mind.

Dennis Howlett brings up a good point. Do US visa requirements for journalists cover bloggers? Foreign journalists visiting the US, even from friendly countries, have to obtain a special "I visa". This is a rule from 1952 (according to Slate) which hadn't been enforced until the Department of Homeland Security took over INS in March 2003. According to the same Slate article, "at least 15 journalists from friendly countries have been forcibly detained, interrogated, fingerprinted, and held in cells overnight—with most denied access to phones, pens, lawyers, or their consular officials."

This is something to consider before declaring ourselves journalists or having others do so. I have a basic question for anyone who understands this policy better than me - why is the US singling out journalists for special visas? Maybe the answer to this question will help shed light on whether DHS would consider a blogger a journalist.

via Loic


From the US State Department web site:


A citizen of a foreign country, who wishes to enter the United States, generally must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. The type of visa you must have is defined by immigration law, and relates to the purpose of your travel. The "media (I)" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily who are representatives of the foreign media traveling to the United States, engaging in their profession, having the home office in a foreign country. Some procedures and fees under immigration law, relate to policies of the travelers home country, and in turn, the U.S. follows a similar practice, which we call “reciprocity”. Procedures for providing media visas to foreign media representatives of a particular country, consider whether the visa applicants own government grants similar privileges or is reciprocal, to representatives of the media or press from the United States.


Under immigration law, media visas are for “representatives of the foreign media,” including members of the press, radio, film or print industries, whose activities are essential to the foreign media function, such as reporters, film crews, editors and persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S. to engage in their profession.


Other examples include, but are not limited to, the following media related kinds of activities:

* Primary employees of foreign information media engaged in filming a news event or documentary.
* Members of the media engaged in the production or distribution of film will only qualify for a media visa if the material being filmed will be used to disseminate information or news. Additionally, the primary source and distribution of funding must be outside the United States
* Journalists working under contract- Persons holding a credential issued by a professional journalistic organization, if working under contract on a product to be used abroad by an information or cultural medium to disseminate information or news not primarily intended for commercial entertainment or advertising. Please note that a valid employment contract is required.
* Employees of independent production companies when those employees hold a credential issued by a professional journalistic association.
* Foreign journalists working for an overseas branch office or subsidiary of a U.S. network, newspaper or other media outlet if the journalist is going to the United States to report on U.S. events solely for a foreign audience.
* Accredited representatives of tourist bureaus, controlled, operated, or subsidized in whole or in part by a foreign government, who engage primarily in disseminating factual tourist information about that country, and who are not entitled to A-2 visa classification.
* Technical industrial information- Employees in the United States offices of organizations, which distribute technical industrial information.

When I enter the US with my Japanese passport, I use a visa waiver that asks me if I am coming to the US on business or as a tourist. Even if I am a businessman, if the purpose of my trip is for tourism, I am supposed to check the tourism box. So I would assume that even if bloggers are considered journalists, if the nature of your trip is not to engage in "news gathering" then you're probably OK. On the other hand, I suppose if you're going to the US to cover the President's speech, maybe you're getting close. I also wonder if bloggers who are not professionals would be considered "news media representatives/employees". Does anyone have a more informed opinion?

UPDATE: From a friend of a friend in the US State Department

The "I" visa category for journalists is really an employment-related category - it allows professional journalists to pursue their work as "representatives" of foreign media while in the U.S. I don't know that we have yet addressed the issue of bloggers. I think the key question is whether they would be receiving pay for their work in the U.S. or not. A blogger who represented an e-journal, for instance, might fit this description. Otherwise, they would travel on regular B-1/B-2 visas.

This widget suddenly become a bit more interesting...
Lufthansa just upgraded the plane they use for LH711, the flight from Tokyo to Frankfurt. This is the flight that I use for nearly all of my European travel. The new seats are nice, but more importantly, they now have they have Internet on the flight as well as a multi-standard AC plug. Many of my friends have already been on flights with wifi, but this is my first time. I'm also excited because LH711 is probably one of flights I take the most. It's $29.95 for the whole 12 hour flight. See you online!


A few observations. I'm online right now when normally I would probably be sleeping. I usually try to crunch through my email flagged for followup during the flight. It's a bit slower now since I'm not as focused, but I just realized that the mad rush to sync my email when I land will be gone. It is going to be odd getting off of the plane without, "where should I connect to the Internet" being the main thing on my mind...


I also just realized that my habit of staying up late the night before doing a lot of work and sleeping on the plane is now a out-dated practice. I should sleep at home and work on the plane...


I unfortunately didn't bring my headset or I would have tried Skype. Warcraft worked, but was showing a red alert for latency. I transfered a fairly large mp3 to someone over iChat without much trouble. (Sorry, didn't check the speed.) I'm trying BitTorrent now, but it doesn't seem to be finding peers... Pings to Google are taking about 770 ms and it takes 11 hops to get out of Boeing and 14 hops to get into Google. Bandwidth Speed Test says I've got 137.7 kilobits per second of bandwidth.


I lied. The first thing I did when I got off the plane was look for wifi...


I reviewed a picture I took of the jacks and it is 110V 60Hz power. It also seems to have a USB plug in addition to the ethernet plug. I wonder if you can mount the plane as an external device...

I am glad that Europe has once again rejected software patents by voting 648 against and 14 for the ruling of the patent - software directive.

I hear that arguments have been made that software patents are helpful for innovation and that venture businesses may in some way benefit from software patents. I can of course imagine cases where software patents might be helpful for startup companies, but from my personal experience, they are generally more of a burden on innovation at the venture level than a benefit.

Generally speaking, filing for patents is an expensive and time consuming task. Most startup CEOs don't understand and can't afford a patent strategy. I have done a number of calculations on the cost of filing and maintaining software patents, and one estimate we did for a company that I am working on was that it would cost about $750,000 to file and maintain a single patent in the major markets over the lifetime of the patent. Most companies I invest in raise only $1M or less their first round. In addition, to properly protect a technology and continuing developments around a technology, a portfolio of patents must be filed or you can be "surrounded" by application patents and derivatives filed by competitors. In away, filing a patent is practically like putting up an ad balloon for people to see where you are focusing.

Some startup companies I have looked at and worked with have in fact, invested in a portfolio of patents, but from my experience, most of these companies end up spending so much time on their patents that often the products never make it to market. The patents just become fodder for some large company when they are purchased in the bankruptcy fire-sale.

For companies who are working in a patent riddled space, I definitely do a mental calculation of the added risk of litigation and subtract that value from the valuation of the company or decide to not invest at all. I've heard to software patents referred to as land-mines in this context. The problem is, big companies gobble up patent portfolios from bankrupt startups and then have teams of lawyers who use these to go after competition. There is a measurable chilling effect. (Note also that some of the technology oriented anti-file-sharing bills that have been proposed will have a similar effect.)

The only practical use of software patents that I have seen are defensive. Many Internet companies that I have worked with have one or a few broad software patents that they wield to threaten potential assailants. Typically, these company spend very little or no time trying to extract license fees from competitors, but just use the patent like some sort of legal scarecrow. Patents are supposed to be an incentive to innovate and this defensive use really is just a cost and does not serve to cause innovation.

I personally believe that software patents are primarily the tool of large companies with portfolios of patents which they cross-license with each other. Generally, it serve to keep competition out of the market and allows those with patents to push those without patents around or cut them out of markets entirely. A number of open source licenses are now dealing with software patent issues by creating incentives for participants not to litigate against each other. A focus on open standards is also another important way to try to keep innovation unencumbered by patents.

I am not against patents generally and I have worked in materials science and manufacturing technology companies where patents serve as a strong incentive for innovation and royalties provide a fair return for the investments. I just believe that the notion that software patents somehow help venture businesses is a red herring and that software patents are primarily a tool for software monopolies to stay keep the little guys out.

I am basing my opinion on personal experience. Your mileage may vary. I would be interested in the opinion of any VCs who feel strongly that software patents generally increase innovation and investment in venture businesses.

Anyone who is tuning in right now... about 2 hours ago a series of explosions were reported in London involving the Underground and a bus. The BBC reports "Large numbers of casualties have been reported after at least six explosions on the Underground network and a double-decker bus in London."

UPDATE: Most big media sites are slow or down. You can get to many of the blogs post via Technorati for queries such as "London explosions". Lots of pictures on the Flickr London Explosions Group / Flickr Bomb tag. Wikinews article. (Note: I think Wikinews has had the fastest and most substantive news so far. Good job folks.)

UPDATE 7/7/2005 10:50 UTC

#joiito @
antoin - there's someone on the irish radio says there were warnings about bomb scares as early as 7am.
JoiIto - Can I quote that on my blog Antoin?
antoin - sure. i should stress that it's a person who rang into the station, recounting
antoin - so it's a bit third-hand
We're having a real-time global discussion on #joiito on Freenode if you want to join us.

UPDATE 7/7/2005 11:03 UTC: Blair says G8 will continue.

I notice that the Japanese news has just started picking this up. I just remembered that I was listening to a Japanese radio station just about when this was happening. They were reporting about how GW Bush ran into a policeman on his bike and fell over and was saved from injury by his red helmet. Doh.

UPDATE 7/7/2005 11:08 UTC:

jbond - heard on radio4. "sources who follow Al Qaida, are saying it's likely they were involved"

UPDATE 7/7/2005 11:32 UTC:

[11:32] felix - we are jammed in between aldgate station and whitechapel hospital it's a bit like a war zone
[11:32] felix - RJ and mischa live right above aldgate station they are not allowed to leave the house
[11:33] felix - seems like the carefully crafted emergnecy plan works smoothly
[11:35] felix - like I said london is cool
[11:35] felix - everybody is really calm.
[11:36] felix - as the shut the whole public transport down
[11:37] felix - it's kinda weird how everything is so business as usual
[11:38] felix - I would have thought there would be more panic

UPDATE 7/7/2005 13:10 UTC: They have just closed the bathrooms on BART. (The California Bay Area Rapid Transit.)

UPDATE: Lots of good links on Boing Boing.

UPDATE: Roundup of Muslim bloggers responding to London Blast on Global Voice by Rebecca MacKinnon. Dedicated page on Technorati for posts about the London Bombings.

UPDATE: Loic blogs about John Gibson from Fox News saying that he wished it had happened in Paris. Ugh.

UPDATE: Julio points us to David Horovitz writing "And now as then, one suspects, the response of the targeted nation will be resilience and a determined response, rather than capitulation. London is not Madrid." in the Jerusalem Post.

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I was just reading an email from the ProMED medical mailing list I'm on. It was a monthly report on Avian flu outbreaks in Eastern Asia. Part of the report reads:

Source of outbreaks:
- introduction of new animals/animal products;
- illegal movement of animals.

Control measures

A. Undertaken:
- quarantine;
- movement control inside the country;
- disinfection of infected premises/establishment(s).

B. To be undertaken:
- partial stamping out;
- vaccination.

Treatment of affected animals: no.

I read in the Wall Street Journal in the "We think this is sort of funny" section of the front page the other day, abut some guy who had invented a mass chicken slaughtering machine that picked up chickens by their feet and dragged their heads through electrified water. The machine could kill tens of thousands of chickens and was in high demand in countries where slaughtering these chickens has become an enormous task necessary to try to contain the outbreak.

Then I remembered reading that scientists are really worried that this flu is going to mutate into a version that spreads between humans as rapidly as it is spreading between birds.

Start nightmare:

Source of outbreaks:
- introduction of new people;
- illegal movement of people.

Control measures

A. Undertaken:
- quarantine;
- movement control inside the country;
- disinfection of infected premises/establishment(s).

B. To be undertaken:
- partial stamping out;
- vaccination.

Treatment of affected people: no.

Scary thought. Sorry.

As Wendy says... Grokster...

EFF: MGM v. Grokster

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Ethan Zuckerman has posted roundups on Africans talking about Live 8 here and here and blogs about it himself. Please do read these. They are an important voice.

Ethan is clearly weary and skeptical as are many of the Africans. I can understand this. However, I think Live 8 is a good thing. Although the concert may not have the effect on the G8 meeting that some people hope it will, I think that the concern will reach a broad audience and increase awareness. We should not forget how few people even realize there is a problem in Africa. I understand the arguments about nuances and stereotyping. They are valid. But I believe the benefits outweigh the costs in such an effort to "get the word out". The average person won't get the nuance. Not yet at least.

Also, I don't think it's fair to slam people for having fun or for the promoters for trying to add to their career. I think it's all part of getting things like this to happen. If you read any of the books or diaries of leaders of the various political movements and protests in the 60's, most of them were having a lot of fun. That didn't make the movements less effective or relevant.

QTVR Photo of Live 8 goers having fun in Philadelphia by Hans Nyberg

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Us-Visit Logo Sm2
I'm sure many people who have been traveling in the US have noticed the US-VISIT kiosks. The exit kiosks are scattered around various airports. When you go to an exit kiosk, it asks you to insert your passport and it takes your fingerprint. Then it spits outs a "receipt". These exit kiosks appear to be placed randomly and are not in any critical path between you and your gate. If you look carefully at the signs, it says you "must" go through exit procedures.

I was curious about why they were saying that it is mandatory, but not enforcing it so I looked in the DHS page. It appears that they are rolling the system out across the country now and that eventually, they will check your receipt when you board your flight. So it's not REALLY mandatory yet. However:

What happens if a visitor checks in at an airport where the entry procedures are operational, then tries to leave the United States from an airport where the exit processing is not yet in place?

Checking out of the country using the US-VISIT exit procedure is mandatory where an exit solution is in place at the port of departure. If visitors fail to check out through these facilities, it could affect their ability to re-enter the country.

I wonder what "affect their ability to re-enter the country" means. When I leave, they take the visa stub from my passport that confirms that I have left the country. Although US-VISIT maybe more efficient, it seems redundant with the data they are collecting from the visa forms. I suppose the US Government doesn't have to have much legal or logical requirement to explain what "affect their ability to re-enter the country" means.

When I asked a DHS officer what I should do with the receipt, he said, "Keep it. You may need it later." I'm not sure what that meant, but I didn't probe further.

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After some begging, Nokia sent me one of their new 6680 phones. (As one of my business partners used to say, "never beg... unless it helps.") Thanks! I'd been trying to get my hands on one because it runs Symbian, is fast, and works on 3G networks. (My old 7600 worked on the Japanese 3G network too, but it wasn't Symbian and was a bit clunky to use.) Since J-Phone/Vodaphone and NTT DoCoMo have rolled out 3G in Japan and have roaming agreements with carriers like T-Mobile, which I use, I've been hoping that I could get a good phone that would finally allow me to have a single phone number everywhere.

So far the phone is great. It's faster than my older Symbian phones, has an application that imports data from your old phone (yay!), has 2 high quality cameras and a logical keypad. (The keypad on my 7610 was a bit too "fashionable".) The main camera has a sliding cover, which I think is a good thing. The only thing I don't like about the design is that it looks a bit like a small Treo.

I just looked at the international coverage information for Japan and it says that the "Voice Rate" is $1.99. I assume this is $1.99 / min. Hmm... Then it says the "Internet Rate" is $1.50. I looked around and haven't been able to figure out what that means. Does that mean $1.50 per packet or something? It's still expensive and I'm not sure if I'll use it much, but at least I know I can. A friend of mine mentioned that if Japan had gone with GSM instead of DoCoMo's funky PDC protocol, Japanese handset manufacturers may have had a better chance competing internationally. As it stands, the foreign markets are dominated by non-Japanese handset companies. Maybe with NTT DoCoMo's announcement that they are going all 3G by the end of the year, we'll see some of the handset guys in Japan start making cooler phones for the global market. On the other hand, I have a feeling that DoCoMo will continue to force the handset guys to cripple their phones. Right now you can't SMS anyone outside of DoCoMo from a DoCoMo phone, even though they are finally using the UMTS standard. According to a friend of mine, this is very difficult to do. You actually have to spend a lot of energy to break the system and limit SMS to your own network.

Here is a matrix comparison of the various Nokia phones. As you can see, only the 6630 and the 6680 do WCDMA 2100 which is the 3G protocol that works in Japan.

The other thing I just noticed is that I was able to navigate bluetooth and the email setup and get all of my data moved over to the new phone in minutes. I thought about how much easier things have gotten, but then I realized that the jargon and the interface were practically the same. I remember only a little while ago when I couldn't make heads or tails of any of this. I was the one who had adapted to the phone. Eek. Lock-in.

Dan Gillmor and crew have announced HonorTags. This builds on his citizen journalists pledge, but is basically a way to tag posts to describe context and role of the author. Currently they have: HonorTagJournalism, HonorTagProfessional, HonorTagAdvocate, HonorTagPersonal, HonorTagFiction, HonorTagUnTag. They are soliciting feedback. Maybe I should suggest HonorTagJoker.

Micah Sifry has written a nice piece about why wifi and cheap broadband is an essential enabler and more important than direct aid for communities which need help. He references various examples and source. I completely agree. I remember speaking to a UN diplomat who said that the Internet has changed the face of global policy making. He told us that the Anti-Personal Land-mine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for email and the ability for NGOs to get information, organize and pressure governments and the UN using the Internet. I believe that at every level, it is essential to empower individuals and communities with a voice and the Internet is in a position to enable people for the first time at a reasonable cost. It is about global voices.

I believe that it is easy enough to run a basic Wifi, Internet and Voice over IP network that in many cases municipal governments can run them. I realize this hurts competition and this is what Verizon argued when they tried to stop Philadelphia for setting up their own Wifi network, but I think it would be better than what we have now. In many places broadband is controlled by organizations that are effectively monopolies anyway. See for example the new ruling in the US that cable companies don't have to allow others to provide access through their network. Would you rather have the network run by a monopoly that is controlled by a bunch of greedy shareholders or a local government that the people at least have some control over?

People will argue that allowing local governments to operate networks will stifle innovation because of lack of competition. I think that the benefit is worth the cost of providing cheaper and more universal access. The network is becoming less and less a "service" and more and more a "thing". You can buy a bunch of routers and hook them together and you have a pretty good network. You do need maintenance, but you don't need some huge company with a bunch of bell-heads running the thing. Simple access is more like a road than a full-service hotel. It just has to be cheap and work.

I agree that this isn't for all municipal governments, but I think the central governments of the world should try very hard not to give in to the pressure of the telco lobbies and stifle the attempts of municipal governments to provide network services including voice. I also believe that non-profits and NGOs can play a huge role in helping provide access in addition to municipal governments as well as helping municipal governments set up such networks.

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