Life should be this easy.

Kaye Trammell wants to syndicate you. She just needs your RSS feed, but she can’t always find it.

I use NewzCrawler, a Windows-based aggregator which has excellent auto-discovery. When it can’t find a feed I am occasionally forced to search the page for some sort of icon or link to find the RSS or Atom feed. If the blog is good I’ll do it, but I always feel like the writer isn’t very concerned about me the reader.

I provide RSS 0.92, RSS 2.0, and Atom feeds. It isn’t difficult, and I feel that I owe it to the people that take the time to read what I’ve written. It’s the least I can do.

(Link from Scripting News)

The news that matters.

Evelyn Rodriguez of Crossroads Dispatches survived the tsunami and has been widely interviewed about her experience, including this interview with the San Jose Mercury News (free subscription required).

She writes that the media seem far more concerned about “what it felt like to be in the middle of the tsunami (the thrill part)”, rather than the more important issues of thanking the people of Thailand, or suggestions for the US Embassy.

In the world of media competition that is certainly what sells, along with the ever increasing video coverage of the actual event. At the cleanup progresses, one hopes that the other messages won’t be lost, otherwise we will have learned nothing from this disaster.

Unlimited spectrum?

Dave says that spectrum is infinite and costs $35 from Network Solutions. Or $7.95 from GoDaddy.

That if course does not include the cost of bandwidth and hosting services, which can tack on quite a chunk for a high traffic site. And when mentioning podcasting we are talking about well-connected people communicating with other well-connected people. Surely this is hardly grassroots democracy. Blogs are a good example, but many people still get their information from mass media like radio, television, and newspapers.

The whole concept of Open Spectrum seems nice, but the Open Spectrum FAQ says that “we will see an outburst of innovation as people and businesses realize they can reach a broad range of people with two-way applications that rely on the rapid movement of large amounts of data”. Why have none of those applications surfaced in the current pay-for-service model? Even WiFi hasn’t taken off everywhere.

Why isn’t the provision of some basic level of connectivity a requirement of any company that wishes to purchase spectrum, just as low cost basic phone service for all once was?

Free software.

Adam Bosworth and Krzysztof Kowalczyk are having an asynchronous discussion – ok dueling weblog posts – regarding how open source software should work and how it isn’t working. Krzysztof suggests that open source software doesn’t work as well in practice as in theory because companies prefer to take rather than give. To wit:

Google – we take it all, give nothing back. Come work for us.

I’m not sure about him, but Google has given me back untold hours of my life back in time savings, by providing me one of the most valuable search/research tools available, and a litany of other useful tools. They also provide the Google API for developer use.

In the early web days I worked with many ISPs both large and small. There wasn’t one that wasn’t using some cobbled together collection of free or almost free software. What did they give back? How about the many corporations that use some form of open source software? Is there now some absolute requirement to pay for open source software?

Open source software is akin to a labor of love. Occasionally it turns out to be a revenue generator or even create entire cottage industries, but it doesn’t start out that way. I’m thinking especially of things like Linux, MySQL, and Eclipse here.

As for the software being free, that has certainly occurred in the case of Linux where companies are willing to pay to have access to support. We ofter refer to the cost of the software being only a small component of the total cost of ownership.

I’m developing some open source software of my own to solve a problem I see. I hope that people use it and improve on it. If not that’s fine. It will still be useful to me and perhaps others. And that’s what it’s for.

Real-time information.

On my tenth birthday in January 1971 my parents gave me a set of the 1970 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia. I’m sure my parents paid hundreds of dollars for the set. It did not include man landing on the moon, which had happened in 1969, but they included a glossy magazine piece which included updates like that. I have a couple of the annual year books as well. I still have the encyclopedia because they look great on the shelf in the den. Occasionally I glance at them to see just how much the world has changed.

A few years ago we bought a copy of Microsoft Encarta for our sons. It probably cost us about $100. It has web links to updated information, but it wasn’t always exactly current. The kids didn’t use it very much, preferring to use a then new service called Google.

Today I went to Wikipedia to see what it had to say about the tsunami, four days after the event. I found a section on the Indian Ocean Earthquake. I found detailed and very current information about the quake, damage and casualties by country, ways to donate and help, as well as the overwhelming humanitarian response. This information was created and edited by anyone who was interested in sharing their knowledge and helping to inform others. This accurate and timely information was provided at no cost to me, though I am free to donate to the cause.

Wikipedia and the internet have provided a mechanism to allow me, my family, and everyone else to be much better informed about the world at large – right when we need to be.


Jeff Jarvis points to a couple of knee-jerk reactions to the tsunami, including a tsunami tax on Americans, and redirecting money from Iraq rebuilding to South Asia rebuilding.

I’ve also seen comments that the money for the inauguration should be donated to the tsunami effort.

I personally cannot fathom what must be involved in co-ordinating a response to a situation like this – the worst disaster the world has ever seen. I assume that it must be difficult for the government to determine how best to provide support, both financial and resource-wise. I expect that it might take some time to get it right, but the response of every nation has been overwhelming. The concern and generosity are clear. Amazon alone is up to 79006 payments totalling $4,835,338.53.

There also delicate issues to be considered and dealt with. Sri Lanka has already shunned a delegation from Israel.

It is truly sad to see some people attempt to use this disaster as a way to embarrass a country or to score cheap political points at someone else’s expense.

Perhaps rather that attacking every possible misstep, why not give people a chance to act? This is a situation that requires strategic thinking – not knee jerk reactions.

No dead animals.

According to the Associated Press, wildlife officials in Sri Lanka have found no large-scale animal deaths from the tsunamis — indicating that animals may have fled to higher ground. Though the tsumani swept through Yala National Park, a photographer flying over the park saw abundant wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, deer, and not a single animal corpse. Perhaps the animals could sense the impending danger and sought higher ground.

(Link from The Globe and Mail)