Google Gears.

Having read about Google Gears here and here and here and here and here and… well you get the point… I decided to try it out.

Some of the beta code is broken. It tells you to rename the manifest file and put that and some other files onto your website, but the files actually refer to the original tutorial manifest file and a go_offline_files subdirectory. So once I fixed that I was able to take my blog offline fairly easily.

However, Google Gears doesn’t infer anything. My blog is, and the default web page is The blog should always default to index.html anyway, but Google Gears doesn’t get that. The only way I can view the blog offline is if I enter the complete url into the address bar. But it does let me read it offline then. I’ll need to take a look at the JavaScript to see if there is anyway to fix that.

Anyway, it was fairly easy to set up and use once the little details were worked through. Pretty good for the first day of existence really.


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Blogs versus social networks.

Kent Newsome suggests that blogging has helped him to meet people who wouldn’t have met him via something like Facebook:

There are other reasons why Jay’s line of demarcation sometimes breaks down. Take connecting with old friends, for example. Very few, if any, of my real world friends even know what Facebook is. None (to my knowledge) use it. As a result, I will have a much better chance connecting with people I know by nurturing my web site and waiting for people to Google me.

I’ve found that to be the case too, but I’ve also noticed that for me anyway, tools like LinkedIn and Facebook seem to be good for re-establishing old relationships with past co-workers or friends from school.I am starting to get friend requests from people as far back as elementary school from Facebook, and coworkers from as much as 15 years ago via LinkedIn, even people I might not expect to know about stuff like Facebook.

While blogging has helped me to meet new people and land work as well, social networks seem to serve a complementary purpose, and they seem to be becoming more commonplace and accessible to the average person. A friend of mine told me the other day that her family uses to keep up with each other, but she bristled at my suggestion that she was a blogger.

I was wrong. She is just somebody that wants to keep in touch with her own social network – in this case her family – and this kind of tool just makes it that much easier. Actually whether you blog or use Facebook, it all comes down to making yourself more accessible and findable.

Maybe we just all want to be part of something.

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They should read their own front page.

The editorial "War Without End" in today’s Times contains this observation:

It’s upsetting to think that Mr. Bush believes the raging sectarian violence in Iraq awaits reigniting, or that he does not recognize that Americans’ support for the war broke down many bloody months ago. But we have grown accustomed to this president’s disconnect from reality and his habit of tilting at straw men, like Americans who don’t care about terrorism because they question his mismanagement of the war or don’t worry about what will happen after the United States withdraws, as it inevitably must.

Yet an article on the front page says this:

There is one matter on which American military commanders, many Iraqis and some of the Bush administration’s staunchest Congressional critics agree: if the United States withdrew its forces from Baghdad’s streets this fall, the murder and mayhem would increase.

You can’t have it both ways folks.


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What dad really needs this?

On page 3 of today’s New York Times there is a Barneys ad for a boxed set of six Berti steak knives with ox horn handles, handmade in Italy, for $1092 – a Father’s Day suggestion.

I like steak, but what dad really needs a $182 steak knife?

If this is really just a case of showing off how successful you are then they really need to make the set bigger so that you can invite more friends over at the same time.


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The local news.

Commenting on an opinion piece on the future of newspapers in the Wall Street Journal by Andy Kessler, Doc Searls suggests that being in print is actually a huge advantage for newspapers, and that their model is backwards:

In addition to Andy’s excellent suggestions, I’d add the ten I listed here in March (along with what Dave Winer added). The first of those was Stop giving away the news and charging for the olds. Sure, daily papers make advertising money by selling inventory on the free Web versions of the papers that subscribers pay for. But by doing that they’re also dissing both those subscibers and their legacy franchise. Put more simply, they’re competiting with themselves while cheapening their main product.

Mathew Ingram disagrees:

Okay — maybe not totally wrong. I think he is right that some people will always want to hold a paper in their hands, just as some people want to hold books, or listen to radio plays. But the number of those people is dwindling. As I mentioned on my friend Kent Newsome’s blog, I think Doc would probably like to return to a happier time when newspapers ruled the world. So would I. But that’s not happening. And to say that newspapers should charge people for the news and give away their archives is — sorry Doc — one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Almost as dumb as the guy Jeff writes about here.

Isubscribe to my local paper and the New York Times. I do enjoy reading the paper on the front porch, though I also read news online. But my kids will likely never subscribe to a newspaper.

The only reason I subscribe to the local paper is for local news and events. And that consists of a couple of locally written stories combined with a lot of AP content. Their national and international coverage consists of stuff I can read anywhere else. If there was any other decent source of local information I wouldn’t be a subscriber. And frankly. I’d have better luck actually achieving time travel than finding an item from their news archive.

So if newspapers were smart, they would try to maximize the value of being a local information portal since they already have the feet on the street. Of course, as Mathew recently noted, that may escape the kind of people who would outsource the coverage of local Pasadena news to Mumbai. In the meantime, sites like Five One Nine (519 is the local area code) have already popped up to meet the needs of people like my kids.

Fewer and fewer people read newspapers and while it used to be an excellent medium for reaching people that is no longer the case. Newspapers need to reverse that trend and dispel that idea. Otherwise with the readers go the advertisers, and then why would you need a newspaper at all?


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Do as I say, not as I do.

Angry in the Great White North exposes more of the environmentalists’ "do as I say, not as I do" mentality, this time concerning David Suzuki:

Quadra Island is home to 2,550 people. It is 410 square kilometers in size. That comes out to 6 persons per square kilometer. Not bad if you are looking for some peace and quiet from the raging chaos that is Kitsilano, a neighbourhood in Vancouver:

David Suzuki: I love Kitsilano and Vancouver, but there are too many people and too many cars. I think we can have greater density if we made the city much more hostile to cars. The cars have made our city unattractive, and thus I like to spend more of my time in a smaller place at Quanta [ed, Quadra] Island where we also have a home.

Kitsilano is home to about 40,000 Vancouverites, living in 6 square kilometers of space. A lot more crowded than Quadra Island.

People like David Suzuki want you and I to live in densely packed urban centers, while they live in sparse suburbs.The same sort of sprawl that Mr. Suzuki says must be stopped:

“The time to address this critical issue is now,” said David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and broadcaster. “The more cities sprawl outward, the more we damage the environment and our health. We need to design communities so that the people who live in them use their cars less and have a much lower impact on the environment, and a better quality of life in return.”

Of course those rules only apply to you and I, not Mr. Suzuki, who detests too many people and too many cars.

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Finding the lost marbles.

Back when I was a kid, before the dawn of videogames, DVDs, and computers, we played marbles. We just played games like that. We didn’t need a seminar to figure out how. Today things are different:

He can thank Michael Cohill, a toy designer and enthusiast, whose marble seminar Joseph attended at a youth fair a few weeks ago. Mr. Cohill considers himself something of a pied piper of the game, having taught it to thousands of children at schools, parks and scout meetings. “They have the exact same experience kids did with marbles a hundred years ago,” said Mr. Cohill, 52.

Well, not exactly. Back then, children didn’t need to take seminars to learn to play a no-tech, simple game. In the era of micromanaged play dates, overstuffed after-school schedules, cuts to recess and parents terrified of injuries, lawsuits and predators, many traditional childhood games have become lost arts, as antique as the concept of idle time itself.

But lately, a number of educators like Mr. Cohill, as well as parents and child-development specialists are trying to spur a revival of traditional outdoor pastimes, including marbles, hopscotch, red rover and kickball. They are attending play conferences, teaching courses on how to play, and starting leagues for the kinds of activities that didn’t used to need leagues — just, say, a stick and a ball. They are spurred by concerns that a decline in traditional play robs the imagination and inhibits social interaction, by personal nostalgia, and by a desire to create a new bridge to connect generations — a bridge across both sides of the Nintendo gap.

Finally child development experts are concerned about children’s imagination and social interaction, but they still don’t get it. Starting leagues and controlling the play isn’t an improvement.

Growing up all we had was friends and our imagination. We hung out, we played games, we made stuff up, we played together for hours at a time. Just kids, no adults.Sometimes kids just need to be left alone to play with their friends, occasionally even outside in the fresh air without the aid of technology.

Somewhere along the line – and I blame my own generation for this – parents suddenly decided that they needed to protect their kids from all the terrible things that happened to them as children. But they must remember things much differently than I do. Because my childhood was pretty good, and I hope my kids were able to experience even half of what I did.

We ran. We rode bikes. We played. We fell. We got hurt. And yet we survived. Sometimes we won. And yes, sometimes we lost, which is a good life lesson to learn. And we had a great time. With just a few marbles.


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Time off for good behavior.

Paris Hilton’s upcoming jail sentence has been reduced from 45 to 23 days for good behavior:

Paris Hilton’s jail sentence for a probation violation has been reduced.

An LA County sheriff’s spokesperson says it was shortened from 45 days to about 23 days due to "good behavior."

Apparently, several factors were considered in reducing her stay in jail, including the fact she appeared at her latest court date.

The spokesperson says Hilton will spend her time in a cell separated from the general inmate population.

Showing up for a court date, mandatory for the average person, is considered good behavior for a celebrity, if you can call Paris Hilton that.

Her parents must be so proud.

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Don’t get hooked on US television.

The Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) has decided to shut down over-the-air analogue (or analog is you aren’t from Canada) television signals as of 2011. The reason:

Some Canadians who use rabbit ears and live close to the U.S. border can already pick up digital and high-definition signals from broadcasters there. The CRTC said the main reason for killing off over-the-air analogue was to spur Canadian broadcasters into developing advanced services to prevent viewers from getting hooked on those U.S. signals.

Right. If I watch Canadian television then I will be able to see great Canadian shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Grey’s Anatomy. Wait, those are just American shows simulcast on Canadian networks.

So what they’re really saying is that they don’t want Canadians to get hooked on American advertising, since all they’re really getting is the equivalent of US signals with Canadian advertising inserted. Which is exacty what the Canadian cable companies are already allowed to do.


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