Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Software Category

November 2010
November 2010, before I "settled down" with a "real job."

The last blog post I wrote was about how little time I have to do email and the difficulty in coping with it. Often when I meet new people, they quickly take a look at my blog and read the top post, which in this case is a whiny post about how busy I am - fine, but not exactly the most exciting place to start a conversation. The fact that I haven't written anything really interesting on this blog since then is a testament to the fact that I haven't solved my "busy problem", but I thought I'd give you an update on the somewhat improved state of things.

After the last post, Ray Ozzie pointed out in the comments that I was looking at the problem the wrong way. Instead of trying to allot partial attention to doing email during meetings, he suggested I should instead figure out how to effectively process email where the input and output flows are balanced. I took his feedback to heart and have embarked on trying to make my inbox processing more efficient. In case it is useful for people, here are a few protocols that I've instituted.

While I don't get to inbox zero every day, I get to near inbox zero at least once a week. I feel that I'm mostly on top of things, and if I'm unable to do something or meet someone, it is because I really am unable to do it, rather than just accidentally missing it. This feels much better.

My next step will start after the new year, when I'll start scheduling exercise, learning and "mindfulness pauses" into each day and pushing my bar for saying "yes" to requests much higher to try to make room for this.

So far, I've implemented the following steps, which you, too, might find effective:


My signature file says, "Tip: Use NRR to mean No Reply Required - thank you!", and I've tried to make it a "thing" for my associates to let each other know when you are sending a message that doesn't need a reply. This cuts down on the "thanks!" or "OK!" type emails.


I use Sanebox which is a service that sorts your email behind the scenes into various folders. Only people who you have written email to in the past or people or domain names that have been "trained" end up in your inbox. You train Sanebox by dragging email into different folders to teach it where they should go or you can program domains, or certain strings in the subject line to send the message to a particular box. I have four folders. "Inbox" which is where the important messages go, "@SaneLater" where email from people I don't know go, "@SaneBulk" where bulk email goes and "@SaneBlackHole" where things go that you never want to see again.


Gmail has a nifty feature that allows you to give access to your inbox to other people. Two people have access to my inbox to help me triage and write replies. They also keep an eye on "@SaneLater" for messages from new people who I should pay attention to. Requests requiring actions or replies that are substantial go to Trello. (More below about Trello.) Information requests, requests that need to be redirected to someone else, or meetings that I can't possibly attend get processed right in my inbox. Email that needs a reply but won't take more than a few minutes ends up getting converted into a ticket in Keeping and assigned to whoever should be involved. (More on Keeping below.)


We have a Media Lab Slack channel and any interaction that can be settled on Slack, we do on Slack and try not to create email threads.


Trello is a wonderful tool that allows you to track tasks in groups. It's organized very much like a "Kanban" system and is used by agile software developers and others who need a system of tracking tasks through various steps. Trello lets you forward email to create cards, assign cards to people to work on, and have conversations on each card via email, a mobile app and a desktop app.

I have two "boards" on Trello. One is a "Meetings" board, where each meeting request starts life in the "Incoming" list with a color coded tag for which city the request is for or whether it is a teleconference. I then drag meetings requests from "Incoming" to "Someday Soon" or "Schedule" or "Turn Down."

The cards in "Schedule" are sorted roughly in order of priority, and my team takes cards from the top of the list and starts working on scheduling them in that order. Meetings where we have suggested dates and are awaiting confirmation go to the "Waiting For Confirmation" list, and cards that are confirmed end up in "Confirmed" list. If for some reason a meeting fails to happen, then its card gets moved to "Failed/Reschedule", and when meetings are completed, they end up in "Completed." At least once a week, I go through and archive the cards in the "Completed" list after scanning for any missing follow-up items or things that I need to remember. I also go through "Incoming" and "Someday Soon" lists and make more decisions on whether to schedule or turn down meeting requests. And I try to check the priority ranking of the "Schedule" list.

In addition to the "Meetings" board, I have a "To Do" board.

The To Do boards has a similar "Incoming" list of things that others or I think might be something worth doing. When I've committed to doing something, I move it to the "Committed" list. When something isn't done and instead gets stuck because I need a response from someone, it moves to a "Waiting" list. Once completed, it goes to "Completed" and is later archived after I've given myself sufficient positive feedback for having completed it. I also have "Abandoned" and "Turn Down" and "Delegated" lists on this board.


Keeping is a tracker system very similar to what a customer support desk might use. It allows you to convert any email into a "ticket" and you can create an email address that is also the email address for the ticket system. More people have access to my ticket system than my inbox. Once an email becomes a ticket, everyone on the team can see the ticket as a thread, and we can put private notes on the thread for context. Keeping manages the email exchange with the "customer" so that anyone can take care of responding to the inquiry, but the people who are assigned to the email have it show up as "open" in their personal list. When a thread is taken care of, the ticket is "closed" and the thread is archived. Threads that are still not finished stay "open" until someone closes it. If someone replies to a "closed" thread, it is reopened.

Keeping is a Chrome and Gmail plug in and is a bit limited. We recently started using it, and I think I like it, though some of us use a desktop mail client which limits features you can access such as assignment or closing tickets. Keeping also has a bit of a delay to process requests which is annoying when we're triaging quickly. Keeping also can be redundant with Trello, so I'm not positive it's worth it. But for now, we're using it and giving it a chance to settle into our process.

You can book me

I've found that 15-minute office hours are an effective (but tiring) way of having short, intense but often important meetings. I use a service called It lets me take a block of time in my calendar and allow people to sign up for 15-minute slots of it via the website, using a form that I design. It automatically puts the meeting in my Google calendar and sends me an email and tracks cancellations and other updates.


I have a number of people who are good at editing documents ranging from email to essays and letters. I use Google docs and have people who are much better than me copy edit my writing when it is important.

Danny Hillis is the inventor of the Connection Machine, Co-Founder of the Long Now Foundation and visiting professor at the Media Lab. We were at a dinner recently where Danny asserted that the world could be simulated by a computer. I asked him to come to my office so I could extract this idea from him into a video.

We talked about the ability to simulate the universe digitally which obviously leads into the future of artificial intelligence, quantum physics, "why are we here" and lots of other interesting questions.

Apologies for the crappy sound and video. My default setup didn't work on the network so I had to use the camera on my Laptop.

I streamed it on Facebook Live and have posted an edited video on YouTube and audio on SoundCloud and iTunes.

The last time I was in Shanghai was in 1981 as part of a Nishimachi International School field trip. So... things have changed in 25 years. ;-)

The architecture and the restaurants reminded me of stuff in Japan during the bubble. Everything was experimental, well designed and executed. Although it reminded me of some of the "bubble era" architecture of Japan, much of it had more class.

I visited Augmentum, Leonard Liu's software company. (I wrote about Leonard before.) The company is only just over 2 years old, but it's booming and was in the Red Herring Asia's Top 100 this year. He has hundreds of people working at Augmentum, most of them fresh out of college. Leonard has been recruiting the best and brightest from Chinese universities and it shows. Since most of their customers are currently in the US, everyone speaks English in the office. It was great seeing how motivated, proud and focused everyone was. Considering the difficulty we have finding great people in the US for the various companies I work with, seeing all of these bright people ready to go made me quite envious. Leonard is an amazing and natural leader and his guru-like presence together with these eager minds made me feel like I was watching the beginning of something really big. Anyway, you can tell I was impressed. ;-)

I also met up with a bunch of old friends as well as CEOs of some very cool startups, the food was excellent and overall I now see how people kept telling me to go to Shanghai. I'm sure I'll be back there soon. Thanks to everyone for all of the hospitality!

One of the guys I met at Augmentum took me to the airport on the Maglev. I takes 7 min to go 30 km and hits a top speed of 431 km. Japan has a Maglev, but it's still running as a trial. This one in Shanghai is the first production one I think. Many people say that the reason the Chinese chose not to buy the technology from Japan was because of the political tension between Japan and China. I could imagine that being true. Having said that, I don't really care. It worked and it was great. I took some video. (m4v / avi).

Hyperwords, which I wrote about in June last year, released a new version. Hyperwords is a nifty extension to Firefox that creates contextual menus that sends words selected on a web page to various services. It's improved significantly since the initial release and has become a standard part of my Firefox setup.

Disclosure: I've agreed to be an advisor to Frode and the Hyperwords team.

Adriaan, who works for me at Kula and is the author of the blog editing tool Ecto and 1001, just released Endo his new aggregator/feed reader. Check it out when you have a chance.

Make sure you try smart groups and don't expect it to behave like a normal 3-pane application. ;-)

More about it on his blog.


I was down at the sumptuous French National Assembly (A building that looks like a Greek temple from the outside and a livingroom overdosed with red velvet on the inside) yesterday because a group of latenight legislators this week amended a bill to include a global tax for people wishing to share files over the Internet.

Once a user (an "internaut" in French) has paid the fee, that internaut is free to share music or movies on the basis that they are for personal use only.

Result: Hey presto! Kazaa would suddenly be legal in France. What is considered piracy in other parts of the world would be available here in France.

Also: Artists would recieve payouts from the tax money raised (Systems for copyright taxation are not unusual in Europe. Germany, for example, imposes a 12 euro copyright levy on the sale of each personal computer purchased.)

Needless to say, the music and movie industry people were not terribly pleased.

Those AGAINST include the French Rambo!

"This law throws us back to before the French Revolution," said Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the Rambo series of films. "France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this Parliament wants to vote them away."

"Since the pay TV channel Canal Plus finances a huge portion of the cinema production, an attack on pay TV undermines the structure for the creation of cinema," Seydoux said. "To be in cinema you must be optimistic and I am optimistic these amendments will fail."
Not only are the amendments bad, but their implication is dangerous, said Michel Gomez, an official with the Association of Directors and Producers. "The message sent by this law is that creative works can be bought for free," he said. "This may be very seductive to Internet users, but it will bring down the structure of entire creative industries."

The arguments FOR:

Patrick Bloche, a pipe-smoking Socialist deputy representing Paris, who was a co-author of the amendments: "We are trying to bring the law up to date with reality." "It is wrong to describe the eight million French people who have downloaded music from the Internet as delinquents."

"We are only leading in a direction that is inevitable for the law everywhere," said Christian Paul, a Socialist deputy who was also a co-author of the amendments. "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."
"Artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers. "If the government and industry attack downloaders aggressively, we will just go underground with encryption and all chance of revenue will be lost."
Ridouan added that the amendments would finally legalize behavior that has become commonplace among young Internet users. "We need protection. It is not nice to feel like you are acting illegally," he said. "They cannot use the law to stop people sharing music just because the music industry missed out on the digital revolution."

If this blog-ization of the article is not clear, check out the full IHT version here.

Which arguments have the most merit and can creative industries survive in the face of peer-to-peer?

I was grounded for 2 weeks for passport renewal and another week with a sprained foot, but I'm back on the road again. I seem to notice new things when they're not in front of my all of the time. One thing I noticed this trip is how stupid the flight map software on the plane seems to be getting. Before, it was pretty simple and had all of the important information. Time to destination, time at destination, etc. Now (at least on United) they've added a stupid trivia quiz among other things. It takes longer for it to page through all of the pages to get to the page you want to see. The most distressing thing is that they've removed "time at destination" but seem to think "outside temperature" when you're flying is more important.

To the designers of this software: I only watch the map page to get information. If I had time to be doing a trivia quiz I would be listening to music, watching a movie or working on my laptop. Also, NO ONE that I know of cares what the temperature is outside when you're flying but almost EVERYONE I know cares what time it is at the destination.

I had set Mizuka up with iTunes music store on a Mac Mini with an external drive. At some point, she had filled up most of the external drive with stuff and she alleges that iTunes told her it was going to start moving stuff to another drive. Then certain songs stopped playing. I sort of ignored her mumbling until I asked her to run disk doctor on the drive. The utility told us that her disk was irreparably broken. The songs are broken on her iPod too. (The bad songs skip.) Apple says back up, or when you disk dies you out of luck.

Is there nothing we can do? I'm about to copy all of the music onto a new drive, erase any files that don't play and call it a day. Does anyone have any advice or a better idea?

UPDATE: Kevin Marks recommended Disk Warrior, which seems to have fixed the drive, but now many of the files are 0 bytes long. I guess we just lost a lot of music. Hmm...

Want to file for aid online? Better run Windows

FEMA site requires assistance seekers to use Internet Explorer 6

The good news: If you've survived Hurricane Katrina, the government will let you register for help online. The bad news: But only if the computer you're using is running Windows.

Yes, it turns out that to make a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Individual Assistance Center, your Web browser must be Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 or higher and you must have JavaScript enabled. It even says so right on the page itself. One problem: IE6 isn't available for Macintosh or Linux computers.

This is bad on many levels. I am conflicted because I'm now involved in Firefox through the Mozilla Foundation, but I think this is just rude. I think it's bad when companies argue that Internet Explorer is good enough for everyone, but the government should be held to a higher standard. The government should not be reinforcing monopolies and building such critical services on platforms that are exclusive.

danah boyd has some thoughts on this issue.

SocialText just developed Wikiwyg. A way to edit a wiki by double-clicking on a section and just editing it directly. The code is open source and they are working on getting it working with other wiki systems. Currently it only works in Firefox.

Disclaimer: I'm on the board of the Mozilla Foundation which produces Firefox and I'm on the board of Socialtext.

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.

I just created a torrent for Tex Live. Tex Live is a ready-to-run TeX system for Unix. I just set up the torrent for the TeX Users Group, but I'm currently seeding it on my laptop so I would love a few other people to get the file from me and seed it so there are a few more seeds. It's a 580M file. Thanks!


More details on the tracker.

UPDATE: Doh. The reason I'm helping out the TeX guys is because I think it's a cool project. If you're geeky and into typesetting, you should check out the project.

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I just talked to Dan Gillmor who installed the new Quicktime 7.0.1 upgrade and looks like it has broken the OS. He was running Tiger with a pretty vanilla install. Now it won't get past the end of the boot screen. This is a warning to anyone who is thinking about doing the upgrade. I would wait until there is more news.

Any information about this new upgrade would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Dan's the only one I've talked to who has had this problem so it's probably an isolated incident. Sorry about the false alarm. Wanted to get word out just in case. It seems like it is safe to do the upgrade although I'm going to wait until I get home today.

UPDATE 2: Markoff calls this "Gillmor luck".

I'm sure everyone knows what BitTorrent is, but it is the most popular peer-to-peer file sharing protocol for sharing large files. Before you had to have a tracker to create "torrents" which coordinated this sharing, but now you don't. This should make it even easier for people to make BitTorrent enclosures in blog entries and otherwise use BitTorrent to share files. Having said that, there are value added trackers like Prodigem which I'm sure people will use to charge for and otherwise track their files.

BitTorrent Goes Trackerless: Publishing with BitTorrent gets easier!

As part of our ongoing efforts to make publishing files on the Web painless and disruptively cheap, BitTorrent has released a 'trackerless' version of BitTorrent in a new release.


In prior versions of BitTorrent, publishing was a 3 step process. You would:

1. Create a ".torrent" file -- a summary of your file which you can put on your blog or website
2. Create a "tracker" for that file on your webserver so that your downloaders can find each other
3. Create a "seed" copy of your download so that your first downloader has a place to download from

Many of you have blogs and websites, but dont have the resources to set up a tracker. In the new version, we've created an optional 'trackerless' method of publication. Anyone with a website and an Internet connection can host a BitTorrent download!


Although still in Beta release, the trackerless version of BitTorrent, and the latest production version are available at

I don't think I've written a "yay I just met so-and-so" post in awhile, but today I met Mitchell Baker the president of the Mozilla Foundation. I'm a huge fan of Firefox and amazed by the Spread Firefox campaign. It's fun when someone turns out to be what you thought/hoped they would be like and it was this way with Mitchell. She has the excitement and the look of someone who is doing something great and proving many people wrong. People said browsers were dead, people said open source software couldn't be popular with average users. At 8:58 AM PST April 29, 2005, Firefox was downloaded 50,000,000 times. I am really interested in what has enabled Firefox to be so successful both as an open source project and as a grassroots campaign for adoption. I'm also interested as to why Firefox hasn't taken off as strongly in the Japanese public and what we might do to get it going in Japan.

It was also interesting talking to her about software licenses. I am trying to learn everything I can about the licenses for my role with OSI and I am finding that the narratives around the licenses are as important as the technical details of the licenses themselves. Mitchell is the author of the Mozilla Public License.

Mitchell spends time at the OSAF offices where Creative Commons is also currently based so I hope I'll get a chance to see her and learn more from her. In the meantime, I'll start reading Mitchell's blog.

UPDATE: IBM backs Firefox in-house

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Microsoft Longhorn has upgraded from the "Blue Screen of Death" to the "Red Screen of Death". Nice new look.

Via Michael Kaplan via Willl

UPDATE: Willl's friend noticed that "execution" is spelled "exectuion". Either this is a hoax, or they haven't spellchecked Longhorn. Can anyone out there confirm this RSOD?

UPDATE 2: It appears that Michael is an employee of Microsoft. He also informs us that the RSOD is not an "upgrade". Longhorn still has BSOD. RSOD is for really bad errors.

VideoLAN, or VLC, is a cross-platform media player and is my media player of choice. It plays everything and I just love it. It would be hard to live without it.

VideoLAN page
The end draws near...

VideoLAN is seriously threatened by software patents due to the numerous patented techniques it implements and uses. Also threatened are the many libraries and projects which VLC is built upon, like FFmpeg, and the other fellow Free And Open Source software multimedia players, which include MPlayer, xine, Freevo, MythTV, gstreamer.

Multimedia is a patent minefield. All important techniques and formats are covered by broad and trivial patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.

The European commission has just passed its directive on software patents, violating democratic rules and procedures to the sole benefit of big non-European corporation and Ireland and to the detriment of small and medium sized businesses (which comprise 99% of the European software industry) and free software.

The European parliament will now be taking the last stand against software patents in a voting for which an absolute majority is needed. Such a majority is hard to come by in a parliament with a low attendance level.

But not all is lost yet as long as you decide it is time to make a difference and take action. This is our last opportunity to fend off software patents worldwide, there will be no second chance for the foreseeable future.

Signing petitions will not suffice. Contact your local EU representatives and educate them why software patents are a bad idea in the first place and why they must attend that parliament session to vote against them. Make it clear that they need to stop the machinations of the EU council and reaffirm the power of the EU parliament, the only democratically elected EU institution. For in-depth information and starting points to get active visit the software patent page of the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) and

Wish us luck, we will need it.
VideoLAN - See the statistics

I've been speaking to a number of parliamentarians in Europe about the danger of software patents. This is a really important issue and here is a good example of a typical victim of software patents. I'm hoping that OSI will be able to help people avoid encumbered standards as part of the open standards initiative.

via ladi

BeOS Ready for a Comeback as Zeta OS

Posted by timothy on Sunday April 03, @12:12AM

Anil Kandangath writes "BeOS, the operating system that could have been the foundation for Mac OS X, but almost died, instead has returned as Zeta OS -- which is supposed to be fast, stable, media centric and boot within 15 seconds. Zeta is being released by yellowTAB of Germany and has applications such as an office suite and the Firefox browser bundled with it. Most BeOS applications will also run as-is. Screenshots are available." According to the NewsForge story linked there, the release could be as soon as next month.

Excellent. I was hoping that BeOS would end up as an Open Source project somehow, but I guess this is better than nothing. I will definitely be watching for this. I have a soft spot for BeOS. Frank Boosman invited me onto their advisory board when he was working at Be. I joined towards the tail end of their life when they were shifting their focus to Internet appliances. We were in touch with the Japanese BeOS users group. When Be Inc. blew up, many of the core members of the users group started a company called Beatcraft, which my company Neoteny ended up investing in. Frank Boosman went on to start Air Eight, which is now 3Dsolve, which Neoteny also invested in. I've also kept in touch with Jean-Louis Gassée. Be Inc. and BeOS attracted some amazing people and it's interesting to see this revival.

UPDATE: From the comments: Rene - They are already selling this for months in German shopping TV (

UPDATE 2: You can order it from their site too.

I've just joined the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board.

Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for the good of the community, specifically through the OSI Certified Open Source Software certification mark and program. You can read about successful software products that have these properties, and about our certification mark and program, which allow you to be confident that software really is "Open Source." We also make copies of approved open source licenses here.

The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.

We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.

Open Source Initiative exists to make this case to the commercial world.

Open source software is an idea whose time has finally come. For twenty years it has been building momentum in the technical cultures that built the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now it's breaking out into the commercial world, and that's changing all the rules. Are you ready?

It's an important time for Open Source with many governments and large organizations switching or seriously considering switching to Open Source. The people at OSI are dedicated to making Open Source successful more broadly and I'm honored and excited to be working with them for this important cause.

I had dinner with Steve Crocker last night. I met him before through David Isenberg, but since he is the Security and Stability Advisory Committee Liaison to the ICANN board, I am getting a chance to hang out with him more these days. Among other things, he's well known for being the author of RFC 1.

His explained the software that his company Shinkuro produced and I tried it today. It solves a BUNCH of needs that I had. It's basically a very cryptographically robust, cross-platform collaboration tool. It allows you to create groups and share folders of files, has a shared chat space (like IRC) and allows you to share your desktop screen with other members of the group (yes, across platforms). The shared files are transfered in the background and edits to files are sent as diffs which can be accepted into the original by the recipient. There is also standard IM with your buddy list. The great thing is that all of the traffic is encrypted. 256 bit AES and 2048 bit RSA keys. Each message is encrypted with a unique key, and the key is transmitted under the RSA key. This is very important since I know for a fact that people sniff IM and other traffic at many of the conferences and public places.

The folder in the groups is really nifty. You drop files into a folder and you can see who has received the files and see any changes that are waiting for you. This seems so much more organized than the tons of attachments and updates I receive before board meetings and conference calls.

It seems similar to Groove in some ways, but is more lightweight and most importantly cross-platform. (Mac, Windows, Linux.)

You can download it at and for now it's free. If you register it, you will get all of the features. My id is jito! if you want to invite me to be your friend or into a group. As I've said before, I think email is dead and I'm always looking for things like this that help me survive the post-email era.

Cory @ Boing Boing
Euro software patents: dead again! w00t!:

Aymeric sez, "I was at the Brussels demo [against software patents] today and the result, it appears, was slightly positive." That's an understatement: the software patent issue is dead again in the European Parliament and has to be rebooted from start if the other side wants to get it through!

The European Parliament has thrown out a bill that would have allowed software to be patented.

Politicians unanimously rejected the bill and now it must go through another round of consultation if it is to have a chance of becoming law.

During consultation the software patents bill could be substantially re-drafted or even scrapped.


(Thanks, Aymeric!)

This is great news. I wish Japan would listen to Europe on this issue.

Follow the link to Boing Boing for more information and updates.

Ross Mayfield's Weblog
IBM Opens the Patent Market

Steve Lohr reports that IBM is open sourcing 500 patents.

John Kelly, the senior vice president for technology and intellectual property, called the patent contribution "the beginning of a new era in
how I.B.M. will manage intellectual property."

Perhaps for more than just IBM -- competitors may have to follow, um, suit.  While 500 patents is a drop in the bucket for the largest portfolio (40k), this is a significant move and part of a broader strategy to commoditize their inputs, pool risk, leverage a lead in services and change the game.

"This is exciting," said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. "It is I.B.M. making good on its commitment to encourage a different kind of software development and recognizing the burden that patents can impose."
Amazing things happen when self interest is in group interest.
Although I'd like to see what those patents actually are, but I do think this is interesting and good thing to see. They're not the first to take this strategy. I recall Intel doing something similar, pooling patents around development using their chips so that developers could more easily create software without bumping into each other. I think I remember that those were not Intel's patents, but the patents of the developers. ;-) But the strategy is similar. Companies fight for intellectual property protection for self-interest arguing that without it, people will not innovate. On the other hand, many platform providers know that patents often encumber innovation. With software patents in particular, I believe that they stifle innovation more than they create incentives, especially for small companies. It's nice to see patent giants like IBM taking steps like this.

UPDATE: More from former IBM Exec, John Patrick on this.

Mike Masnick @ The Feature
Can DoCoMo Say No To Microsoft?

NTT DoCoMo made a splash by announcing a new common platform for its 3G FOMA offering that only works on Symbian and Linux phones. The lack of Microsoft isn't just a timing issue -- DoCoMo purposely shunned the software giant. Will they be able to keep it up?

It really is hard to say no to Microsoft. Most people will say you're being arrogant, stupid or insane. Many of my friends think that Microsoft will eventually take over mobile devices too, but it's nice to see that DoCoMo can afford to say "no"... for now.

Firefox extension for editing Wikipedia

I got to see an early preview of a useful new Wikipedia tool today since I volunteered to proofread the interface. Bananeweizen has created a Firefox extension to help with editing Wikipedia...

Yay! I just tested it on Firefox 1.0 on OS X and it works fine. Now my browser of choice works with my reference of choice.

Diebold ATM
Looping Windows Media Player

original image on
Midnight Spaghetti
Midnight Spaghetti & The Chocolate G-Strings
Diebold ATM Media Player

March 17, 2004

Midnight Spaghetti causing a ruckus as always.

The Scene: Carnegie Mellon University

The Event: A newly installed Diebold Opteva 520 ATM crashes, then reboots. Suprizingly, it's vanilla-style Windows XP operating system initialized without the actual ATM software.

The Result: A desktop computer with only a touch screen interface is left wide open for the amusement of the most wired university in the U.S.

Take a look at the site for details, but you can imagine how much fun they had. The picture above is Windows Media Player running on the ATM. As they point out, the scary thing is that Diebold are also making the voting machines.

via Meta-Roji

Anil points out that Microsoft Passport seems to have withered away silently.

When I was at Linz, a bunch of people made me provide a list of all of the applications that I'm running on my Mac. I realize I do this to people too. I've seen people make lists of their favorite applications on their blogs, but I realized that it might be better to do on a wiki. I've made a list of my favorite applications. Feel free to click on any of the application links and comment on the page for the application. Also, feel free to make a similar page for yourself and list YOUR favorite applications. If we can get a bunch of people on the wiki with their lists, it might end up being an interesting resource.

Is there something like this elsewhere already?

Japan Today
Creator of file-sharing software pleads not guilty to piracy

KYOTO — The creator of a program for anonymous file-sharing over the Internet pleaded not guilty on Wednesday at the Kyoto District Court to the charge that he developed the software knowing it would facilitate Internet piracy.

Isamu Kaneko, 34, who developed the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing program, is the first person in Japan to stand trial for creating software that can be used for the unauthorized reproduction of movies and video games over the Internet.

In the US, they are trying to pass a law making it illegal to induce people to break copyright law. In Japan, they act like such a law already exists. I hope the Japanese take a look at the recent US 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Grokster. It is a really bad idea to be going after the creators of technology. P2P is a VERY important technology for the future of file sharing and its application goes way beyond merely pirating commercial content. P2P architecture will enable communities to create file sharing networks without having to invest in and build centralized file servers which can be extremely expensive. It also prevents the creator of large audio and video files from having to pay for all of the bandwidth to share their work.

As PCs become more powerful and hard disks cheaper, sharing of video produced by amateurs will be a very important use for broadband Internet. P2P makes the most sense for sharing these files and banning P2P will stunt the growth of this market. It will also stunt the development of the use of large multimedia files in citizen journalism.

See the FreeKaneko site for how you can help the Isamu Kaneko.

ecto, the blogging client developed by Adriaan at my company Kula has just released the beta of the next version which has "What You See Is Almost What You Get" (wysiawyg). This means that you can now do things like drag, drop, resize images into posts. You can also create links, change font information and lots of other stuff without looking at or dealing with html. (More info on the ecto blog.) ecto 2.0 has a bunch of other cool features. Adriaan says it should be ready for general release of the OS X version in about two weeks. Until then... gloat.. gloat...


Cory @ Boing Boing
Hello Kitty flashlight for Doom 3

Doom 3 has only just come out and already the modders are revving up their engines. My favorite so far: a Hello Kitty flashlight mod that makes your gun's built-in light cast a kawaii beam on the objects it alights upon. Link

(via Oblomovka)

Doom modder culture has become truly sophisticated. ;-) How very Boing Boing.

Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python is now available as a printed book. This is the best tutorial for my favorite programming language. I wrote more about the book when Mark announced it back in September of last year.

Congratulations to Alan Kay for being awarded the 2004 Kyoto Prize in addition to the ACM Turing Prize and the NAE Draper Prize earlier. He's really "cleaning up" this year. This is cool. He deserves it.

Hope this helps the Squeak project too!

more info on the Kyoto Prize

A post about using NoteTaker, Ecto and TypePad together. Can't wait to try it.

Incredible - Perhaps Not True

Somebody tell me that the Patent office hasn't actually granted Microsoft's application for a patent on double-clicking.

This is why I don't like software patents.

this web site '' was created by official Isamu Kaneko supporters. We are consisted by software engineers who deeply concern our freedom to create and research software.

We are conducting a publicity, and fund raising. We need a lot of attention from the people of the world. You can help us by telling the issue to your family, friends, and co-workers. Also, translation volunteers (and English proof readers) are needed to let the people know this issue. marked a million hit only a day after an opening. Also, we raised 10 million yen ($100,000) in 2weeks

Isamu Kaneko is the guy who got arrested for developing P2P software. More details about that in my earlier post.

via yonderboy

Microsoft's Gates Touts Blogging as Business Tool

Gates described to his audience, which included Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, Carly Fiorina, Barry Diller and other top business executives, how blogs worked and suggested that they could be used as a tool for businesses to communicate with customers.


Microsoft, which has already amassed more than 700 employee bloggers talking up its products and software in development, is embracing blogs and RSS technology because they are yet another potential threat and opportunity, said Joe Wilcox, analyst at Jupiter Research.


Instead of RSS, however, Google is also promoting a rival syndication standard called Atom.

So, we already knew that Microsoft knows about and cares about blogs. Does the fact that Bill Gates explained blogs to a bunch of people who already knew what blogs were mean anything substantive?

Scoble, can you give us the inside skinny? Is this going to turn into a Google-Atom vs. Microsoft-RSS war as the article insinuates?

via Gen Kanai

Today, an associate professor at the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University was arrested today for developing a tool that enables piracy. The program is a P2P system cally Winny. Previously two of the users had been arrested. I got a call from Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) today asking me for a comment for the morning news tomorrow. I hope the print it. I think it's an absolute disgrace to Japan. While the US is fighting in congress, Hollywood pushing to ban P2P and Boucher et al are fighting for DMCRA, Japanese police go and arrest someone developing P2P software with a VERY sketchy case. The thing is, it's quite likely he will be found guilty.

I once served as an expert witness on the FLMASK case. FLMASK was a program that could be used to allow password protected scrambling of areas of an image so that porn sites could post pictures that passed the Japanese censors, but allowed users to unscramble them. The police were so upset that they cracked down on the hardcore porn sites with the argument that even with FLMASK'ed "clean" images, they would be deemed hardcore. The problem was, this left the developer of FLMASK free from claims that his software enabled anything illegal. So they busted him for LINKING to these porn sites that got busted as users of his software. They deemed linking to a porn site as the same as actually running a porn site. I was the chairman of Infoseek Japan at the time so I obviously had a lot to say about that. The amazing thing is... after overwhelming evidence of the stupidity of the allegations, the guy was found guilty.

Anyway, Japan is yet again leading the world in stupid Internet policing.

more on slashdot

EU Council Plans to Scrap Parliamentary Vote without Discussion


For immediate Release

The EU Council of Ministers is demonstrating that the concept of democracy is alien to the EU. This Wednesday, the Irish Presidency managed to secure a qualified majority for a counter-proposal to the software patents directive, with only a few countries - including Belgium and Germany - showing resistance. The new text proposes to discard all the amendments from the European which would limite patentability. Instead the lax language of the original Commission proposal is to be reinstated in its entirety, with direct patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions added as icing on the cake. The proposal is now scheduled to be confirmed without discussion at a meeting of ministers on 17-18 May, unless one of the Member States changes its vote. In a remarkable sign of unity in times of imminent elections, members of the European Parliament from all groups across the political spectrum are condemning this blatant disrespect for democracy in Europe.

I think software patents are a bad American idea. Japan has followed the US and now Europe is planning to pass one of the worst versions software patent law discarding many of the amendments to limit its power without discussion. Although I'm for many types of patents, I think that software patents are generally bad and in particular hurt small companies and innovation.

via xcasex on IRC (or should I say, I.R.C.)

Jibot is the robot who lives in the #joiito channel. He was originally developed by rvr and became a group effort. With everyone hacking on him, he had gotten a bit flakey. termie with the help of a few others totally refactored him and now jibot is really happy. Thank you termie!

Jibot has a wiki page, a blog and a sourceforge page for the code.

Wet talked last night with Linda Stone about her idea of continuous partial attention. She says it is different from multi-tasking.

Linda Stone

It's not the same as multitasking; that's about trying to accomplish several things at once. With continuous partial attention, we're scanning incoming alerts for the one best thing to seize upon: "How can I tune in in a way that helps me sync up with the most interesting, or important, opportunity?

This is really relevant to some of the thoughts I've been having about the UI of mobile devices and how they fade in and out of your attention rather than being on or off like computer screens. Yes, you do this a bit with computers, but not nearly as seamlessly as mobile phones are integrated in the real world by advanced users.

Also, the IRC back channel at conferences or the multi-modal distance learning projects where you have a video of the speaker, the power point presentation, the chat, the wiki and the back channel going at the same time. It CAN be very overwhelming, but I think it's because we are conditioned to think that we need to understand all of the information that is being transmitted.

I think an interesting metaphor might be the difference between loss-less and lossy compression technology. There is so much information being transmitted and it doesn't matter if you everything exactly (or if you are getting exactly the same bits as someone else). You can glean from the fire-hose in the mode that makes the most sense for you. The trick is to get a picture of what is going on from a perspective that makes sense for you in a format that compresses well for you. I think that if we stop trying to "catch it all" which we are conditioned to do, and think more in terms of lossy compression and surfing parallel streams and multi-modes, maybe it is easier.

Also, we discussed last night now human brains are adapting to these changes and how probably younger generations will continue to grow up differently and interfaces and modes will adapt again to this new generation. This has a lot to do with the discussion on ADD.

Good entry in Smartmobs with more links.

Looks like the date for the first supercomputer flashmob has been decided. Someone moblog this please!

The University of San Francisco is sponsoring the first FlashMob Supercomputer on

- Saturday, April 3, from 8 am to 6 pm,

in the

- Koret Center of the University of San Francisco.

We're planning to network 1200-1400 laptops with Myrinet and Foundry Switches. We'll be running High-Performance Linpack, and we're hoping to achieve 600 GFLOPS, which is faster than some of the Top500 fastest supercomputers.

We need volunteers to

- Bring their laptops: Pentium III or IV or AMD, minimum requirements 1.3 GHz with 256 MBytes of RAM
- Be table captains: help people set up laptops before running the benchmark
- Speak on subjects related to high-performance computing

For further information, please visit our website

Peter Pacheco
Department of Computer Science
University of San Francisco

via Markoff

Buzz2Talk is a Symbian application that lets you push-to-talk and use SIP to talk over gprs. What this means is that you can use the data channel on your phone to do voice over IP instead of making voice calls. This means that if gprs becomes flat rate (IF) then you will be able to call your friends without using the carrier telephone circuits. This looks like yet another extremely useful application for mobile phones that really throws the whole billing structure of mobile phone operators through a wringer. Does voice become free? Should they charge more for different kinds of traffic on gprs? Won't people build work-arounds?

Symbian is great because it is an open platform and allows software developers to develop obvious things that carriers won't build because of their "optimized" billing structures.

Larry showed me mozCC, a cool plugin for Mozilla based browsers that shows the Creative Commons license of a page on the browser window margin and also lets you examine the license in more detail. Can someone make this for IE and Safari?

Version 1.0 of ecto, the blogging client for Mac OS X has just been released. It was written by Adriaan Tijsseling who works for me.

What "version 1.0" means is that you can now pay real money for it.

PS In case you were wondering, this is a shameless plug.

Perl on Nokia phones? Sounds cool to me!

via skimpizu

Ecto, the OS X blogging client by Adriaan (disclosure: Adriaan works for me) is out for beta testing. Check it out.

Eeewwww... What ARE YOU THINKING Apple Computer?

I just ordered it anyway, but this is crazy. Microsoft Office is the last thing in the world I'd want to compare iLife with.

via Zeitgeist

Delicious is a social bookmarks manager. It is still pre-pre-alpha, but it's already become quite a useful part of my daily routine. You bookmark sites as you surf and you can subscribe to bookmarks of your friends and receive them as RSS feeds. It all started during a rare productive discussion between tangra and _joshua on #joiito. The two of them came up with the idea and _joshua coded it.

_joshua is aka Joshua Schachter and is also the developer of memepool and GeoURL.

If you want to subscribe to my bookmarks, I'm joi_ito on Delicious.

Adriaan, the developer of the award winning blogging client Kung-Log now works for me and has re-written it from scratch and renamed it ecto.

The Programing Language Inventor or Serial Killer? Quiz.

Can you tell a coder from a cannibal? Try to work out which of the following spent their time hacking computers, and which preferred hacking away at corpses instead.

Via Markoff

Mark Pilgrim just posted a tour of Panther, the new Mac OS X release. I'm supposed to be getting in the office today so I'll be spending the weekend doing a fresh install and reading Mark's guide.

Update: Since Panther shipped today for many people, it appears that Mark's site is receiving a self-inflicted denial-of-service attack...

I was noodling around trying to organize "the space" in my head and put this picture together. The x axis is the "context". IE low context is stuff like CD's and books which don't change, are worth approximately the same amount to most people and don't have much timing or personal context. The far right is very personal, very timing sensitive, high context information such as information about your current "state". Then there is everything in between. The top layer is the type of content sorted by how much context they involve. The next layer is how they are aggregated and syndicated. Below that are substrates that are currently segmented vertically, but could be unified horizontally with open standards. Anyway, just a first path. Thoughts and feedback appreciated.

UPDATE: Changed color to red and edited the examples to be brand agnostic.

Andy Oram just posted an interesting article on the O'Reilly Weblog.

Andy Oram
Can computers help reverse falling employment?
Information technologies are implicated in a worldwide and world-historic crisis: falling employment.
Each labor-saving device means the idling of thousands of people, wasting their years of experience, rigorous training, and practical insights.
Anyone who writes programs or plans system deployment should start thinking, "What can I do to bring average people back into the process of wealth creation?"
This has sparked an interesting discussion over on Slashdot.

My personal opinion is that short term quarter-by-quarter capitalism can't possibly think long term enough to deal with many of the larger social issues. I don't think it's just about creating jobs. I think issues such as the environment, poverty, privacy, even computer architectures defy short term profits/gains thinking sometimes. I think it's a good idea for computer professionals to be socially responsible and think long term whenever possible. (See CPSR and EFF).

I think the idea of creating jobs directly by writing software for small businesses is a bit complex. I think that "good jobs" come from innovation and new industries. Many old industries such as the restaurant business are rather zero-sum. I think that increasing the public domain and the commons (spectrum, computer software, creative content...) is the best way to allow people to innovate and be entrepreneurial without being shackled in the well-funded proprietary world. I think that focusing on creating and sharing intellectual wealth in the commons is the best way to create jobs.

Got iChat Streaming Icon from Kuri yesterday. It is available on the Apple site. It streams live video of you as your iChat icon. Sooo cool. You can set refresh rates from .5 sec on up. I think it's basically just changing your icon image every frame. It slows the computer down a bit, but is really amazing. All of the images move in every window, even in the buddy list. Once all of your friends get it, you get the Brady Bunch thing happening in the buddy list.

I get to be Alice! ;-p

Seriously though... This suddenly adds a whole new dimensions to the presence discussion.

Software was written by Andreas Pardeike. Nice job!

Mitch Kapor and Tim O'Reilly are among advisory board members of Nutch, a new open source search engine project which will try to:

  • fetch several billion pages per month
  • maintain an index of these pages
  • search that index up to 1000 times per second
  • provide very high quality search results
  • operate at minimal cost
Sounds good to me!

John Battelle at Business 2.0 says, "Watch Out, Google".

via Dave Winer at Scripting News.

I'm curious; perhaps someone out there knows...

Has anyone yet attempted to create "RSS email", where the "feeds" served to a feedreader might be automatically synthesized from the emails themselves as things such as Person (from or to), Thread, Folder, etc?  (One could probably easily implement this as a straight layer on top of IMAP.)  Rather than just inserting RSS into an email client paradigm as in Newsgator, it might be amusing to invert the solution and explore the usability issues of rethinking email as being just another form of feed served up to a reader, with plug-ins for creating & replying, etc.  Hmm.

Has anyone yet attempted to create what I guess I'd refer to as a "Hyki" - that is, a character-by-character real-time collaborative (Hydra-like, Groove Text Tool-like) editor with automatic creation of real-time linked sub-documents when CamelCase words are typed, etc.  ??

I'm curious too. That would be great.

Ray, if you find something or someone else knows. Let me know too!

Technorati just hit 400K blogs and Sifry's created a wiki for his developers.

Had dinner tonight with Ken Sakamura, the father of TRON, the realtime embedded OS which is a dominant and essential part of most embedded systems in Japan today. He is also the Director of the Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory. He brought a bunch of amazing gadgets to dinner. The most impressive were the 0.2mm 128K RFID chips in a little vial.

So I just moved (actually Yusuf moved) my address book to an LDAP server. I thought it would be really cool until I realized that Address Book for the Mac SAYS it does LDAP, and it sort of does, but it doesn't do authentication. Blah. PLEASE PLEASE make address book smarter if you're going to make it the centerpiece of PIM on the Mac. Right now it's slow, doesn't LDAP properly and because Mail accesses it every time I send email, it makes me wait after every single email I send while I wait for address book to update.

I'm almost inclined to go use Entourage if Apple doesn't fix this.

I finished my script today. If you look at my sidebar, you will find a list of blogs that Technorati says have linked to me in order of freshness. I wrote it in python using the xml.dom module. Once I got my head around it, it all made sense and was very easy. Thanks again to Dive Into Python. Other than the fact that you should all be very impressed by my programming skill, I think Technorati inbound links is probably the most timely and comprehensive way to see who is linking to you.

My biggest problem with trackbacks right now is that since my site is heavy, trackbacks time out and people end up sending lots of them thinking they didn't go through. Also, since people can put just about anything in the trackbacks, I end up with long worded URL's in my trackback pings which screw up with width of my sidebar.

So, trackbacks will now be listed at with each entry and Technorati will be take the position in my sidebar.

Now I have to bug David Sifry about trying to identify the permalinks better and filtering out the false positives...

I learned Python (thanks to Sen) in a week. I wrote a birthday script, a script to scrape blogshares and put the shareholders in my sidebar and even wrote a vcard handler. I was on a roll. Then... Sifry sent me some Technorati stuff to mess with. XML? Cool, should be easy. I was just about to do the Parsing XML section of Dive Into Python anyway. Great! ...not

Dive Into Python
As I was saying, actually parsing an XML document is very simple: one line of code. Where you go from there is up to you.
So 2 hours later, I have 4 different installations of Python on my PowerBook and one on my FreeBSD machine and I can't get Mark's first example to work
>>> xmldoc = minidom.parse('~/diveintopython/common/py/kgp/binary.xml')
I've just about given up. The O'Reilly Python & XML is cryptic, I've googled around and tried a bunch of stuff and am totally frustrated. I guess I thought I was becoming a programmer, but I'm just a wimpy little script kiddie. >sigh<

So for those of you who are interested in how far I've gotten. I did see a post by Mark that the Python that comes with OS X doesn't have the necessary XML libraries so I downloaded PyXML. Well, when I try to install it, it says "NameError: name 'distutils' is not defined"

On my FreeBSD Box the Python error is:

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 1, in ?
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.2/site-packages/_xmlplus/dom/", line 19
15, in parse
return expatbuilder.parse(file)
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.2/site-packages/_xmlplus/dom/", li
ne 924, in parse
result = builder.parseFile(fp)
File "/usr/local/lib/python2.2/site-packages/_xmlplus/dom/", li
ne 207, in parseFile
parser.Parse(buffer, 0)
xml.parsers.expat.ExpatError: undefined entity: line 119, column 366

This entry is about the NTT DoCoMo FOMA P2401 and PowerBooks and TOTALLY irrelevant for most people. Sorry.

The NTT DoCoMo FOMA P2401 is a G3 384K bps PCMCIA data card. It's ridiculously expensive since you have to pay by the packet, but it's really fast. It didn't work on the Mac. For some reason, after you used it for awhile, the IP connection stopped working even though you were still connected. I couldn't find anything on the web about it and wrote a lot of bug report mail to Apple, but nothing happened. My guess is it was a problem with PC Card support at that speed. Anyway, it works now with the 10.2.6 OS X upgrade. Having said that, I used it today on the way to the office and the throughput was a bit choppy. I don't know if it was the coverage or the software...

So, if you had bought a FOMA P2401 and were anxiously awaiting proper support on OS X, you're in luck.

A new group weblog authored by Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Ross Mayfield, Sébastien Paquet, Jessica Hammer and Clay Shirky to focus on social software was announced at ETCon I hear. Great team and looks interesting. It's also great that Clay is finally blogging after all of that "it's not for me" business. ;-)

You have all probably heard about the Open Source Applications Foundation release of Chandler 0.1. I just downloaded it. I saw it on Mitch's blog a few days ago, but I was SOO immersed in writing a birthday database in Python that I didn't take a close look at Chandler until this morning. To my pleasant surprise, Chandler is written in python for the Mac and even handles birthdays. ;-) It doesn't run without spitting out lots of Python errors along the way, but I can actually understand them now! Hoho. Haha. Python is VERY cool and I'm glad OSAF is using Python. We used it a lot at Infoseek and our team at Infoseek/Digital Garage actually wrote some of the first Japanese language handling for Python.

I'm currently using Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python to learn Python. It's a great tutorial. Thanks for recommending it Sen.. Of course I've bought the numerous O'Reilly books as well.

Mitch Kapor blogs about documentation coming for the 0.1 release of Chandler by the Open Source Applications Foundation. They are using a Wiki for the collaborative development environment. Great example of how Wiki's are cool.

John Markoff introduced me to Scott Love over the Net. He is the man behind the amazing outliner NoteTaker. Markoff is using NoteTaker. I have this funny thing with Markoff because he won't blog. I think Markoff's sense of finding cool people and cool technologies is amazing though. He was the one who gave me MacPPP when it first came out and it was one of the key elements in dragging me back into networked computing again after a lull in the late 80's. Anyway, when John tells me I "need to meet" someone, I do.

Scott is great. So is NoteTaker. First of all, I have become TOTALLY addicted to NoteTaker. I throw EVERYTHING into it. Photos of people, sounds, URL's, clippings, PDF's, etc. I can sort them, organize them, annotate them, index them, create to do's and publish them in OPML, as web pages or as mail attachments to others using NoteTaker. So, when I met the man behind NoteTaker via email and eventually in person, I realized that this was no ordinary piece of software but something written by someone who had a big plan, but was willing to take a lot of feedback and build it into the product. I've been talking to Scott about a lot of feature requests and thoughts on where things might go. Suffice it to say that he "gets it."

So, I'm excited that maybe NoteTaker will be a way to get some convergence between us and the non-blogging world. NoteTaker has a great interface and does many things... If you haven't tried the product, take it for a spin and IMAGINE... ;-)

PS I do not have any financial interest in the company and am writing from the point of view of an enthusiastic paid customer. ;-)

habbo_hotel.gifNeeraj just launched Habbo Hotel Japan. I wrote about it before, but it is a cool 2.5D chat space where you can build your own room and play games as well. It's a shockwave and it takes about a minute to set up an account and it's free. It's less sophisticated than Sims Online, but maybe better because it focuses more on the community aspect. I sometimes have difficulty with Sims Online because the balance between gameplay and socializing is kind of difficult. Sometimes it feels like you're "in the way" of Sims trying to make money doing stupid repetitive tasks. Habbo (maybe because it's free) has a younger and more social population, generally speaking, although I HAVE met some nice people on Sims Online.

I'm Joi and Neeraj is NikoNiko in Habbo.

From left to right: Kazuya Minami from Neoteny, David Smith and his son Asher
Yesterday morning, I picked up David at Tokyo Station where he arrived on the bullet train from Kyoto with his son Asher. We went to the Tsukiji fish market for some morning sushi and then I took them to our office where everyone was anxiously waiting to see David's Croquet demo.

David's demo reminded me of the early days of BeOS. Trying to explain the potential of an operating system, especially one with such a completely new and unlimited architecture is quite a task. David wrote the thing so there is also something mystical about getting a demo of a new OS by the person who wrote it.

Croquet is an amazing concept, but it is an old concept. It is based on Smalltalk/Squeak and is a totally object oriented collaborative environment. David is a 3D guru so he has made the interface completely 3D where you can fly around, see other users as avatars, create 3D objects with scripts and share them dynamically and in real time in the shared space. He is working on all of the necessary pieces to deal with identity and security as well. It is totally cross-platform and is "pure" in its portability. The architecture is incredibly clean and you can tell it is being designed top-down by someone who's done this before.

The main problem with new operating systems is that you need a killer ap to get it into the main stream. David calls Croquet a broadband phone call. There are obviously A LOT of educational applications.

When I saw the system, I thought of a few things. It would be a very cool environment for blogging. (When you are a blogger, everything looks like a blog or blog tool.) It would be really neat if you got an IM when your fellow bloggers were online and you could switch into the broadband/rich interactive mode and browse and point at micro content together. Last night I came up with what I think might be what I'm trying to say. I think we are mastering the art of micro content journalism. What Croquet made me imagine was some sort of object oriented journalism with smarter micro content which had behaviors and attributes. The Creative Commons license being one attribute that could be included in such an object attribute.

The other thought that I had was that the ability to change the attributes of the objects and environment (color, shape, etc) would be a great way to help people track privacy and identity issues. It would make the concept of access control and permissions much more intuitive for the average user and would help make clear the delineation between different computer spaces and who you are and what information you were bringing with you as you moved from server to server.

I've been meaning to learn flash ever since Josh Davis called me "old school" during the Prix Ars Electronica jury meeting last year for discounting the importance of flash. With the cool political flash statements as well as some of the silly ones, I've been feeling more and more that flash might be an interesting medium for me if I could learn to use it well. So... On the flight back from Hawaii, I wrote my first flash "thingie". I don't even know what you call flash stories. I used Adobe LiveMotion... Anyway, technically, it's really stupid and simple and I wasn't going to publish it. A few people suggested that I post it anyway, and knowing myself, I think publishing is probably the best pressure/incentive for me to learn/do more.

It's 372K. It's a little slide show of people I've met recently and how they are influencing my thoughts about "IT"... (not information technology, but the BIG "IT")

Joi's first flash

OK I had to bring my Windows machine out of storage to play Sims Online. Blah. But the game is great. I'm still a newbie, but if anyone else is playing, look me up. I'm "Joi Ito" in the Test Center. I still have my other two sims so if you tell me where you are hanging out, I can put a sim there.

I switched. I promised myself I would do this before I left for the US on Tuesday. I spend the day today moving stuff and tweaking. The only thing I couldn't get right was the kanji (Japanese character) files in my contact list and my Japanese email moved over. It was much easier than I thought and having switched, I feel euphoric. I'm now listen to music on iTunes (which tell me that I have 3.5 days of music), am syncing my Treo with my contacts, creating a this blog entry with Kung-Log staring at my brand new Dell Latitude trying to figure out what I'm going to do with it. ;-) Windoze now feels so... crass. It reminds me of when I got my first Mac back in 1984 and switched away from my Apple II.

I was talking to Jun Murai the other day and he said that a lot of the IETF folks were switching as well. I think the Unix at the core really makes it easy to get the geeks over...

Anyway, as with blogging, I'm a bit late in figuring it out, but it doesn't look like I'm late for the party.

Now I have to seriously start bothering people to write stuff for and port stuff to the Mac.

Japan Times
The Japan Times Online Microsoft to reveal source code to Japan, which has eyed Linux

Microsoft Corp. will disclose the source code of the Windows operating system to the Japanese government in line with the government's e-Japan project, company officials said Wednesday.

I recently made a public comment on the record at the oversight committee for the National ID about Microsoft and trying to get them to open up the source code. I wonder if this had any effect. I guess we must all have had an effect. I assume many people have been saying this. It's a great step forward, even if it is just MS trying to keep Linux out.

Just installed OS X 10.2 and am trying to "Make the Switch"... I'm using Mizuka's old Powerbook G4 with the broken "/" key, not the cool new one that just came out. I just ordered office and all of the Adobe stuff, so until that arrives, I can't completely switch. I feel totally screwed up right now though. I have a Sony Vaio C1MRX with a great form factor and excellent battery life, I have a Dell Latitude coming that I'm going to configure with with Windows 2000 in a very security conscious mode (after talking to Chris Goggan about what the most secure PC setup was...) and now I have this PowerBook. I hope I am only using one of these a month from now and I HOPE it is going to be the PowerBook.

This reminds me of the incident where the Ministry of Finance leaked information vital to the market on their web page in August. The other funny similarity is that the newspaper called me the night before the article and asked me for a comment. I guess they wanted something like what David Farber said to the Post. However, I said something more like, "it's not a big deal. I'm much more worried about the leakage of information about citizens," which I guess wasn't realy what the paper was looking for. ;-)

I also love the "Internet enthusiasts" label. Sitting here at 5am on the morning of a national holiday blogging definitely puts me in that category.

Washington Post
Court Posts Microsoft Ruling on Web By Ted Bridis Associated Press Writer Friday, November 1, 2002; 9:41 PM

WASHINGTON –– The landmark decision in the Microsoft antitrust trial was supposed to remain secret until after financial markets closed, but the federal court quietly posted the documents on its Web site nearly 90 minutes before the closing bell.

That discovery by some Internet enthusiasts coincided with a flurry of late-day trading of Microsoft's stock. Its price, which had been falling most of Friday, ticked up just moments after the court placed on its Web site the decision that handed Microsoft a huge victory.

Late-day trading peaked five minutes before markets closed, when $90 million worth of Microsoft shares exchanged hands.

The incident meant tech-savvy Web surfers knew the judge's decision fully one hour before even lawyers for Microsoft and the Justice Department. A glitch in Internet technology – which was at the heart of the antitrust trial – contributed to the early disclosure.

"Somebody wasn't thinking," said David Farber, an Internet expert and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission. "They probably uploaded it just to make sure they wouldn't have any trouble, assuming that no one read it, which was probably naive. They're going to have to be a lot more careful."

So Steve Sakoman pulled it off. $11mm in stock for Be Inc. was a good deal for Palm. Great news for BeOS fans, although most have already moved on. Too bad my Be Inc. stock options aren't worth anything though. :-) Good luck Steve!

PalmOS 6 details emerge
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 10/30/2002 at 14:20 EST

PalmSource has offered us a glimpse of the next milestone for PalmOS, version 6.0 due for release next year.

Version 6.0 will be as dramatic a change for the platform as OS X was for Apple, or NT was for Microsoft, and represents the culmination of work from the former Be team Palm acquired last year.

The new OS will feature multimedia and graphics frameworks drawn from BeOS, PalmSource's Michael Mace told us. Mace says this is real BeOS code, but Steve Sakoman, the team's former leader at Be Inc, and now PalmSource's "chief products officer" has denied that Be code would be incorporated into the new OS. More likely, we suspect, the new OS will inherit some algorithms and architecture from BeOS.

found this in Marc Canter's Blog

Memories of General Magic
A long time ago I offered to develop for a hot startup called General Magic. I was going to do the work for free. I wanted to explore a new platform. They turned me down, saying they already had enough developers. Yesterday they announced they are shutting down the company. Now no one knows if one developer's software would have made the difference, but it's been known for a long time that exclusive platforms die and inclusive ones have a chance. It's why the Mac worked and Lisa didn't. If you're lucky enough to get a gazillion dollars invested behind your ideas, never say no to a developer. They might have the next VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, PageMaker or Mosaic.

I myself (I was still kind of famous then) was sent to talk to Steve Perlman - who has gone on to prove that he's quite a case unto himself - about Telescript 2.0 and the future of multimedia and General Magic. Basically Steve would have nothing to do with me. He wouldn't even answer my phone calls. Oh well.

I remember when Megan Smith who was working at General Magic took me to see Marc Porat. I was really excited about General Magic and tried to find some way to work with them since they had some licensees in Japan, and I had actually given a high level presentation to NTT about General Magic before their deal with them... Marc seemed very uninterested in seeing me and told me he didn't need any help.

There were so many people who were excited about General Magic and there were really a lot of cool people working there. It's really too bad they weren't more open technically and socially.

first sighted on BoingBoing posted by Cory

Reuters on MSNBC

Happy Meals, Pentiums coming to video game world

Detailed terms of EA’s multimillion-dollar deal were not available but it will allow Intel’s familiar jingle, its product logo, and computers using its Pentium 4 processor to appear in the game.

Players in the game also will be able to buy a McDonald’s kiosk and sell the company’s branded food products, earning ”simoleans,” the game’s currency. Eating that food will also improve their standing within the game.

I remember when I was on the Sega "dream team" to think about how to set up the network for the Dreamcast, (I guess that was a bad dream...) I was pushing very hard to get product placement inside of the games. We tested things like sending objects such as a Christmas tree into Sonic the Hedgehog. Everyone always comes up with the idea of product placement in games in the desire to get advertising revenues, but this Sims Online deal seems to have been executed elegantly and it sounds just great. Hats off to the EA team for this. The integration into the game sounds cool too.

Product placement in movies has been going on for a long time and movies like Wayne's World did a great job of making fun of it...

Bruce Sterling Viridian Note 00325: Open Source Speech

This is very funny and insightful. Thanks Howard for pointing this out.

Key concepts: O'Reilly Open Source convention, computation, free software, Linux, spam, viruses, means of software production, social organization, Disney, Microsoft, Richard Stallman, Lawrence Lessig, information economics

Attention Conservation Notice: Over 5,400 words of diffuse Papal-Imperial ranting to a restive audience of Linux freaks.

"A Contrarian View of Open Source"

San Diego July 26, 2002

Thanks for showing up to see the obligatory novelist at this gig.

It's very touching of you to take the trouble to watch me get some emotional issues off my chest.

You know, I don't write code. I don't think I'm ever going to write any code. It just amazes me how often people who know absolutely nothing about code want to tell software people their business. "Why don't they just," that's the standard phraseology. "Why don't they just" code-up something-or-other. Whenever I hear that, frankly, I just want to slap the living shit out of those people.

That's like people whose fingers are covered with diamonds complaining about the easy lives of diamond miners.