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December 2003
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February 2004

A History of Computers

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Described as "gigantic brains," computers were once so big they filled entire rooms. It all started with ENIAC, the world's first computer that cracked and buzzed, and weighed 27 tonnes. By the 1960s, ordinary Canadians were fascinated with these new high tech devices: IBMs could set up blind dates, select Christmas presents and mysteriously dispense money. A novel idea until computer technology replaced real people on the job. These days, computers continue to revolutionize: this time changing the way people communicate by way of the Internet.

Clip 9, about the Internet is particularly good. We've come a long way in 10 years.

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1-Click Politics

" takes the friction out of grass roots contributions to [US] Presidential candidates. A 1-Click payment is the easiest way to make a contribution -- from $5 to $200."

The most remarkable thing about this Presidential campaign so far has been the impact of eMedia: WebLogs, Internet campaigns, home grown videos (that Dean "yeeagghhh" moment has single-handedly spawned dozens of rap tracks, flash movies etc), 1-click donations, text messaging, etc.

The impact of technology on social networks is part of this movement. I suspect that Politics is moving into the world of aggregation; not so much "micro-content" as "micro-viewpoint".

Politicians will need to find the RSS feed for our views...

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WiFi moves to WiMax

Computerworld, Dec 2003

WiMax is the popular name of the 802.16 wireless metropolitan-area network standard that's currently being developed. WiMax, which will have a range of up to 31 miles, compared with Wi-Fi's 300 feet and Bluetooth's 30 feet. [for which read 10 miles, 100 feet and 10 feet - Ian]

The popularity of wireless networking has grown very quickly because of effective standardization. Wi-Fi encompasses a family of specifications within the IEEE 802.11 standard. These include 802.11b (the most popular, at 11Mbit/sec., with a typical range of up to 300 feet), 802.11a (54Mbit/sec., but at a shorter range than 802.11b) and 802.11g (combining the speed of "a" with the range of "b").

WiMax is the new shorthand term for IEEE Standard 802.16, also known as "Air Interface for Fixed Broadband Wireless Access Systems." It's been designed from the beginning to be compatible with European standards, something that didn't happen with 802.11a and delayed its adoption.

Intel has now promised WiMax versions of its Centrino chip set for 2004, whereas Nokia says it will have battery and other technical issues solved in time to launch a WiMax cell phone in 2005.

Following on the heels of WiMax is another standard, IEEE 802.20, which addresses wide-area wireless networks and is currently under development; no products supporting 802.20 are expected before 2006.

More: from Red Herring, Jan 2004

The new broadband wireless specs are known by numbers matching their specific IEEE working groups. The first, 802.16, is for metro fixed-point wireless, and will compete against DSL, cable, and dial-up for homes and businesses. The second, 802.20, is for wireless data services for mobile users, and could compete with cellular, 3G, and other similar services.
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Discovering Dickens


In December 2002, Stanford's Discovering Dickens project began with the serial release of Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. By the time the project concluded in April, 2003, it had enjoyed success far beyond what we had anticipated. Interest in the project, which has attracted participants from around the country and around the world, has remained keen, and we are happy to announce our next project: Discovering Dickens 2004.

Between January 9 and April 16, 2004, Discovering Dickens will rerelease the facsimile of Dickens' famous novel of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities. In April, 1859, the first serialized part of A Tale of Two Cities provided the lead piece for Dickens? new periodical All the Year Round. On the strength of this weekly serial, contemporary Victorian readership had swollen to 100,000 before the novel concluded in November, 1859.

No RSS feed unfortunately...

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Links allsorts

VH1's Best Week Ever: thanks to Anil for this link ...

... and for this one, too: the first blog dis record.

I share Anil's surprise that Google is 'funding this guy making a name for himself in the social networking space'. (On this, David Weinberger has something to add: 'according to the Butt Ugly Weblog, "orkut" — the name of the Google-affiliated artificial social network — is a slang term for "orgasm" in Finnish. ... It turns out it's named after its creator, Orkut Buyukkokten, whose parents were either cruel or not Finnish. ... On the other hand, what isn't a slang term for "orgasm"? I mean, even "Finnish" is, as in: "Didn't you Finnish yet?" ') Nova Spivack has commented on Orkut — 'pretty much what one would expect from a state-of-the-art social networking site. There are hooks in there for connecting to Google's upcoming e-mail service, and it looks like they are also planning to get into classifieds eventually. ... I don't think Google knows how to run a content or community based service — this is not their core competency — and I worry that if they extend into these areas they may risk diluting their brand and confusing their message.' Nova has also posted again on Orkut.

Amazon now does restaurants: there will, of course, be no end to this ...

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Interesting looking "smart' aggregator.

I'm rather into "smart" having discovered just how stupid I can be...

I've been using Bloglines for over a month, carefully clicking from feed to feed to feed...

I discovered today that if you click on the underlined phrase "79 subscriptions" at the top of the feed list (left hand pane) then it loads all your unread feeds into one long scroll in the right-hand pane.

Obvious really. And a great piece of interface design. Shame my neurons failed that particular test.

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