Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unboxing of Daniel Suarez' "FreedomTM" advance reading copy

I was very excited to finally the ARC Daniel Suarez had the generosity to send me, so I just had to make my first unboxing video (definition of unboxing). Well, I opened the box before, so it's a bit faked, but my excitement is not! Check it out:

I guess receiving a galley implies some obligation to read and review it or something. I will do that as soon as possible, hopefully by when FreedomTM is released publicly in January. In the meantime, check out also my other blog posts about Daemon and my collection of great bookmarks on it.

Thanks by the way go to my friend Björn Falkevik who showed me the simplicity and charm of Bambuser. It's not like we all expect to get hundreds of live viewers of our opinion diarrea, but in situations like this it's nice that anyone can have it accessible and I'm particularly excited about the nice integration with twitter and recently to have live broadcasts directly to facebook. Not to mention the implications of having accessible live video streamed to the world when otherwise you could be forced to surrender your recording... ouch :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pre-order Daniel Suarez' Daemon sequel Freedom™

I was concerned there for a while, when I didn't find a single bleep from Daniel Suarez online after his Google talk - hopefully no-one decided him too dangerous and silenced him, right?

Anyway, I have written a whole bunch of things about Suarez' revolutionary book "Daemon". Someone asked me what to read after being riveted to that book, and sure enough once a paradigm has been changed once, it doesn't change again with the sequel, but Freedom™ is looking promising anyhow. Maybe, just maybe it will do to privacy what Daemon did to IT security, I especially like the tagline "Everything is under control - everything".

If you haven't already heard the story of how Daemon went from self-published to Barnes & Nobles, read about it. Essentially Daniel is still kicking it and recently sent me an email about my wish to pre-order FreedomTM (seems he is still treating me well...). You can also pre-order it before the release on January 7, 2010. Before ordering, don't miss reading the preview chapter Suarez recently published on his homepage.

Finally, don't take my word for it, but check out what people are saying online about Daniel Suarez' books. (Update: I tried to do both twingly and twitter search widgets here, but the javascript just won't work, could someone tell me what's wrong with blogspot?)

Do check out my other posts about Daemon, and also see the awesome collection of bookmarks I have gathered.

PS. Don't buy anything by Dan Brown. Preferably also don't read it, but seriously don't buy it. He is evil™.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nerdy T-shirts

Silly stuff found online, maybe something for the Young Scientists, I saw these and these tshirts.

Actually, since long I've wanted stuff from here, here or here, and there's just too much nice material gadgets in the world to afford or to even keep it all. So I don't really want to buy any of it. But I can giggle at them.

See also other nerdy stuff or about I have written.

Friday, November 6, 2009

First snow picture feed pipe

Because first snow fell today, and in honor of my friends over at MoYuMe, I was compelled to build a small Yahoo! Pipe continuously listing the pictures people show on twitter of their local first snow, all over the northern hemisphere! You can check it out here.

The point of making a Yahoo! Pipe (yeah, I know it would have been cooler with the other type of snow pipe) is usually to get an RSS feed. This you can plug into Google Reader, or as I've understood is popular among non-nerds, bloglovin'! The address for the first snow feed to copy and paste into your RSS reader is this.

The pipe looks like this, it is free for anyone to clone and then edit, and I would love if you let me know if you do something useful with it! I used some tricks to get it to work, if encouraged enough maybe I can dissect it in the blog sometime. In general I'm not super-happy about Yahoo! Pipes, it has stability problems and is a bit inflexible, but it's fun to play with. Also Amazon S3 seems to dislike me hotlinking the pictures like I do, so your mileage may vary. Enjoy!

You can also of course see yourself all the messages, not only pictures, of people loving the first snow on twitter, or read my other posts about microblogging, yahoo pipes, or other nerdy things.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Five ways to make your own live web tv!

Back at the turn of the century things were so messy - some friends were playing around with Icecast and similar contraptions to do streaming live web radio but someone was always lagging in the streaming, there was never enough upstream bandwidth to host any large audiences (read: three is a crowd already) and since it was tricky to announce a show hosts were speaking to empty halls most of the time anyway. Oh, and usually the shows were not usually (certainly not automatically) archived and hosted for perusal by late-comers.

Probably it was in late 2005, I even recall the setting when I saw the first article about Youtube and thought it seemed like a stupid idea, how could they ever attempt to house, and even less broadcast all that video?! Video, even the shortest clip you had tried to play around with, VCD's, MPEG4's and DVD-R, storage of it all and crap, it was just impossible to imagine to do it for a large crowd - over the web?! Hah.

Seriously, I was so wrong. The culture and technology surrounding "Web 2.0" of the last couple years has changed all of these factors. Chris Anderson's principle of "rapidly diminishing marginal costs" enabled Youtube, there is always a service there to host and process your data as well as willingly expose it to other sites, the same sites in which you broadcast your message to rapidly gather your friends as an audience as well as to spread the word when you have just found something great looking for an audience. Somehow... it just happened, and for those who don't touch twitter, facebook, google reader, etc., it must be very hard to grasp. But it has changed things, for sure.

Today, a large part of the radio or TV I enjoy is provided as podcasts or other live streaming online. Sometimes I measure widespread acceptance of technologies by how much my family are spontaneously using it - and judging from the appreciation when I send them a bambuser link to some debate they are interested in, or they go online for the replay of the show they missed, the gap between common mass media (sw. "gammelmedia") and user-generated content is closing. You can have a pretty successful radio or TV show nowadays without ever touching an ether wave except whatever is necessary for transmitting the IP protocol. My friend Björn Falkevik is using Bambuser (it is a common mistake to identify him with this Swedish/Finnish web startup) to prove this with their excellent reoccurring show "Sweet Sunday Web Crunch", and indeed it has become so easy, and so good, the sky and your imagination is the limit for what you can achieve with web video! Not with such high ambitions, but just to prove how easy it was to do it, I recorded a small clip:

The cool thing distinguishing Bambuser from Youtube is that it is live. When it's live, and you have an event with a reasonable audience, it opens up for the opportunity of a backchannel - a chat or similar way for the audience to comment and participate in the content. This can create extremely interesting dynamics - certainly one reason for why CNN chose to broadcast the Obama inauguration in collaboration with facebook.

Doing live streaming video well is a bit tricky to do well, but there are several options available for you to play around with, here are some:
Using slightly different methods but the same principles, Christian Rudolf of shows that with a whiteboard and a videocamera you can baffle the world:

Regardless if you choose to bite the bullet and contribute something of your own or stand in the audience, I think you will agree with me that this is exciting opportunities indeed.

Since quite some time I have been experimenting with transcoding and ripping online content (all with the justification of your liberty to enjoy content in the format you choose… and that post really ought to be updated) and recently I have been doing some transcoding actually using the Videolan VLM server for work. It's really cool! But it's also tricky - we're doing flash video to the web browser (to be played by a flash based video player like flowplayer) but VLC supports only HTTP pseudo-streaming it seems, and we're dreading moving to Red5 or similar for proper RTMP streaming. Not to mention if we want to start replaying and managing archived streams… Phew, seems I always end up at the bleeding edge of technologies!

( PS. Yes, five ways :-) )

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wolfram|Alpha use case: Calculating probability of hash collisions

A collegue was discussing with me today whether seven hex digits (what Git commit names are usually abbreviated to) is sufficient to avoid collisions. Usually four-five just works, but the engineer answer is as usual "I can calculate that!". Wikipedia states regarding the birthday problem:

"Given n random integers drawn from a discrete uniform distribution with range [1,d], what is the probability p(n;d) that at least two numbers are the same?"

So, quickly plugging this into Wolfram|Alpha, assuming seven hex digits gives d=16^7, and a reasonable set of git objects, say n=10000 :
{ n = 10000, d = 16^7,
  p = 1-exp(-(n (n-1))/(2 d)),
  q = 1-((d-1)/d)^n }

Which indeed gives that p = 17% probability that there for this setup would exist at least one collision in the whole set, but on the other hand you only use the abbreviation manually and the probability to actually use one of these is only q = 0.0037% . Q.E.D.

See also my first and second tweet about this. I have other entries about git, wolframalpha or just plain nerdy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why Git will revolutionize the world of open source


Today, looking at the Pro Git book homepage, I was reminded of how sure I am that Git will revolutionize open source. It is just so simple to fork and start contributing to a project. When you've done something, there's even a button to ask the owner of the project to pull back your contribution.

The graph above is a section of the network graph of the progit book, I.e. the mesh of contributions to the project. The book is being translated into German, Chinese etc., as can be seen in the Github inline rendering a chapter of the book. Absolutely smooth.

To add insult to insanely cool flexibility injury (eh, sorry about that figure of speech) Github allows you to host project homepages also through git containing markdown or anything Jekyll will swallow. Maybe also check out the Github hosted homepage of sitaramc, the creator of the gitolite alternative to the gitosis server.

To be honest, git development so far has been pretty minimalistic, it has reached it's current usability very fast. It is not as well integrated in different platforms and systems as subversion is, partly because the usage model is so different, partly because Git hasn't been failing for as many years as subversion has. However, don't let yourself be fooled, Git is absolutely usable and there is simply no substitute to what it's reliability and streamlining can do for your coding process. I hope to elaborate on that topic any of these days.

What I'm next keeping my eyes open for is SCRUM and agile development in open source, but I suspect I'll have to wait for that...

I have my own Github profile with only some stuff in it, other posts about open source as well as a good collection of git links.

Update: My collegue Lauri went ahead to try out Github, and after naming the repository correctly to and realizing you should use the master branch there, "gh-pages" is only for pages (which are cool themselves!) his pages are working, and he can play around with this smoothly web-connected storage as much as he wants!

Secondly, Git absolutely has benefits to other than open source projects! Our company does essentially no open source, and still check out my presentation about the cool benefits we've experienced, in particular how it streamlined the workflow an helps us capture and keep information at the right time.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spotify patents available to the world!

It is a common misconception that patenting has something to do with keeping secrets, while it is actually just the opposite - it is a way of gaining protection for your innovation, on the condition that you publicly disclose it for the world to see.

Even if you don't get the patent, your information will remain publicly available (as far as I know), and if you get the patent, you're still gonna have to pay the yearly fees to maintain the protection. In this sense, patent databases are hardly just lists of licensing obstacles to avoid or purchase, but vast repositories of knowledge on methods and solutions. Repositories which are largely ignored.

My friend Martin who this weekend visited Tallinn notified me that there would be a Spotify patent out there in the names of the people we know there, Ehn, Strigeus et al. Said and done, break out and go search, and anyone can find the either 11-page US or 14-page European patent applications for Spotify. Go to the "Original document" tab, ignore the one page preview and instead choose the "Save Full Document" link, fill in the CAPTCHA and you can download the full PDF.

Other organisations which may have exciting patents to read:

(PS. Look at that, Computer Sweden picked up this blog post, so I will take the opportunity to suggest my other posts on Spotify, my candid pictures from the Spotify office or other stuff I find cool. I'm @unclecj on twitter)

(PPS. Browsing around for how the Computer Sweden guy picked up on this blog post, he thinks it may have been through @jocke, I find that my other friend @erikstarck had RT'd the patent before me and a fine article about the costs for running Spotify. My insider info - the licensing costs are very relevant, someone has spent a lot of work to be able to keep a music service which is both free and legal alive. And they are doing their best to manage the network costs, while paying attention to that as you grow, your role in the network affects how much you have to pay someone for what)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The possibility of physical and mental collapse...

"The possibility of physical and mental collapse is now very real. No sympathy for the Devil, keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride." (quote)
Tonight it hit home with me how messy my online footprint has become. Sure you can just google "unclecj", but each of its pieces, including this blog, is very neglected. I barely even open my Google Reader anymore, EventBox sort of passed away with my old harddisk, Jaiku and bloggy are all but forgotten and my ambitions to write on several exciting topics are simply moving nowhere. Indeed my "workflow" is very streamlined, microblogging through and stuff, which also means I take time for almost nothing outside of the everyday flow.

It took me a long while to figure out I used my OpenId to connect with twitterfeed, and what happened to feeding my blogs to twitter before I simply don't know. I would love to clean up my blogs and post some new things, but it's not gonna happen, I'm simply too busy with more important commitments.

So, enjoy some fear and loathing while I'm being confused. I got some cool books while overseas, good stuff.

Monday, June 22, 2009

listentoblogs and blogbackupr - ingenious and lightweight mashup innovations anyone can use!

Still no time to blog lately, but I did take the time to try out the awesome idea listentoblogs. Eric Wahlforss, Henric Berggren and David Kjelkerud had a brilliantly simple idea, which they implemented largely during 24 hour (!) business camp - make a spoken mirror of the Internet and turn blogs into podcasts.

In the same way you can subscribe to a blog RSS feed (do subscribe to this blog while you're at it!), in listentoblogs you can subscribe to the podcast mirror of a blog. No need for tedious blog-reading you don't have time for, set the podcasts to play in the car, on the bus or when out walking.

There ought to be several types of people interested in recording and listening to podcast from listentoblogs, like blog owners wanting new visitors, drivers or factory workers - anyone spending a lot of time when they could listen to something but not read, blind people, friends of either of these groups or just someone wanting a bit of good karma. I think obviously listentoblogs should have way more users than it currently has, so if you don't find much you like there, don't be discouraged but go ahead and record something yourself! In the meantime, check out my recording or just press play here! :

My second friend of the day is Jonas Lejon and his blogbackupr. It is also exactly what it sounds like, it will follow your blog, record and provide in various formats backup of the blog you can use in an emergency or maybe if you want to restore it somewhere else when switching blog locations.

Jonas is no less than a super-productive genius when it comes to web services, just check out the list of the sites' "friends". He runs many sites of various sizes like download11 (which you may have used but never known about) and tweetvalue but his recent most brilliantly rising star is or as it is soon launched internationally, He is now mainly working on the Facebook / Google Friend Connect functions before launching the site - soon there will be an international, friendly and more flexible twitter which you can use with your Google or Facebook account, no other registration needed! Twitter has the size, but bloggy/cuzo is much nicer, It's gonna be awesome.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I always know where my towel is! Almost anyway...


Have you thought of, that if someone is able to maintain the lifestyle of an intergalactic hitchhiker, and still know where his towel is, it's logical to assume they are generally reliable so thus it should be safe to lend them either of the things they may be currently missing? Well, that's the thought of the late Douglas Adams in his legendary bestseller "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" anyway, and today on Monday the 25th of May 2009, we celebrate the (a tad late, but that's fine) 8th anniversary of the his death day. He passed away at age 49 from fatal cardiac arrhythmia while at his gym.

"The Hitchhiker", as it became generally abbreviated to, made a very very strong mark in my early youth. I was pretty much obsessed with it and read the five-part trilogy probably at least five times. I marked particularly funny passages in the book and shared quotes from the book ad nauseum, and it was it which taught me that sometimes bypasses just have to be built, that total perspective can be detrimental to your health and that for some, it can make perfect sense to resignate to a life of meticulous sandwich making.

Eventually I grew up and grew tired of the quotes and silliness, and loved other books, but none were probably ever quite as popular as Douglas Adams' master work. Anyway, I made a little interesting list in my head at some point - some norm for literary development in a nerd:

  1. the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  2. the Principia Discordia
  3. the Foundation series
  4. the Illuminatus! trilogy
  5. a recent addition, Daemon
What nerd books have you read and loved, or do you think either of my favourites do not qualify for the list? For some ideas, check out 32 Sci-Fi Novels You Should Read .

(PS. It's really heart-warming to see on twitter that I'm not alone to cherish his memory: #towelday)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who wants to be an engineer?

Being an engineer in Estonia, I have gotten used to working together with Estonians in IT, most of which are college dropouts of some variety, if they even had the time to go to school before aggressively starting building their work experience or running their own companies. So - who wants to be an engineer, when there are so many other opportunities to spend your time on?

Obviously an engineer doesn't work twice as fast just from spending twice the time on educating themselves, which may be cause for sarcastic remarks, but there are two things I would argue which are equally forgotten when people think of higher education:
  • With higher education, you can acquire the knowledge, perspective and skills to achieve completely disruptive things. You can learn about patterns, learn from the mistakes others have already made throughout the years, and you can push forward to things in a smarter way
  • Engineers get to do immensely cool things. My favourite example is my old friend David, now lead engineer at Illuminate Labs. He started out as some very nerdy but skilled graphics coder, and now their company are presenting at the San Francisco Game Developer's Conference and are the ones to thank for beautiful graphics of major movies and games like Mirror's Edge. There are many more examples, such as my friends at Spotify, MoYuMe and Bloggy, he role of an engineer may be intangible, but with an education from Universities such as Chalmers or KTH, the world can be truly by your feet and you can achieve whatever you dream of

Engineers blogging from a nuclear reactor in central Stockholm

The Websmurf blogging Saturday strikes again, this time from the KTH R1 nuclear test reactor in Stockholm. It's an amazing site of cultural heritage and science history. The topic of the day is engineers, technology and education, so stay tuned for great posts about that during the day!

Watch Björn's live video of the presentation we got (in Swedish, he's also got walk-arounds and other stuff in his bambuser channel):

Other bloggers during the day:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Nerd tip 1 - Put your video conference window by the camera!

Many of you have probably tried for example Skype video conferencing only to be frustrated by that it doesn't feel like very natural or good communication. I discovered a very simple and possibly obvious remedy to improve the situation - put your video window close to the camera!

Of course you need to look into the camera in order not to feel absent, but I hadn't thought of that where you position the video window matters to connect when you pay attention and look at the window with when you look into the camera. In all of the three windows above I am looking at the video window, but only in the middle one would it seem like I'm paying attention to the person I'm talking to.

Of course this works also when you want to record something on camera like I did above. Please excuse that I'm otherwise so inexperienced in front of the camera and speaking according to a script :-) .

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking outside your box - Eighteen interesting sites in China, Japan and Russia

For the longest time, whenever I see things like the curious IM service used in the Oldboy movie, I have asked myself "What is the computer culture really like [over there] ?" Well, with the help of Alexa traffic statistics and Google Translate, I can actually check for myself. It is no exaggeration that a new world has opened itself for me, amd I'm looking forward to what I may discover there.

You may have noticed that I've already before made this blog available in several languages using (the admittedly very mediocre quality) Google Translate:

Now I would love to find the coolest things existing in some of the largest countries of the world, but which due to language barriers are isolated from the most of us. Using the Alexa top lists by country, I checked which are the most popular sites in China, Japan and Russia, excluding those international sites I already am familiar with from the western world.

Maybe you are wondering how your sites or country compares to the rest of the world? Well, check out the lists for example for Sweden or Estonia (not synonymous with "sites in Swedish" or "sites in Estonian", which you can also look at). It may give you some good surprises.

How large are then the sites I will check out the weeks ahead? Well, the smallest of them are kaixin001, Hatena and respectively, with traffic rankings of 137, 237 and 2224 respectively. Compare that with the largest site in Sweden, Aftonbladet at 664 and Estonia, neti at 6050. The traffic rank is essentially a number of the site's place on a list for a specific region, in the general case for the entire world. That means that Aftonbladet is the 664th largest site in the world, only barely beating a, a Russian nerd site with funny quotes. I say barely, because with traffic and ranking, you have to consider magnitudes, like that which is taken into consideration for the popular Google PageRank, plus that PageRank is magnified in the markets Google dominates, have you ever used the leading Chinese search engine? :-)

So, if you have any suggestions or comments for cool sites in other languages I must check out, just drop a comment and let's together use Google Translate to break down barriers!

Below is my selection of interesting sites from the top sites in China (translated):

    The leading Chinese language search engine, provides a simple and reliable search experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.

  • QQ.COM
    The largest Chinese portal website to provide instant messaging, news and information, online games and online auction business,

  • Sina News Center
    The same day at home and abroad, including different types of news and comment, the characters feature, Gallery.

  • Soso Soso
    Provide a forum, web pages, pictures, music and the type of search service.

  • Yoqoo
    Net yoqoo ( is the first video website. Net yoqoo provide a foothold for Chinese all over the world's fastest video player, the most rapid release of the video, the fastest video search service.

  • ZOL
    ZOL Greater China are the most commercially valuable IT professional website has been constantly engaged in sales promotion-based IT professional media building. ZOL was founded in March 1999, its customer base, mainly from small and medium-sized users, the individual buyers and substantial IT industry and related industries manufacturers, distributors.

    Provide all kinds of game information, downloads, games and players communicate

  • Net fun
    All the working people are a good place for leisure, an SNS community

This is my selection among the top sites in Japan (translated):

  • Fc2
    Free Blog (blog), Home Services, and various Web applications

  • Livedoor
    Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Such as portal management and hosting services. Corporate Profile, IR information, and links to your site.

  • Mixi
    Social networking site. Exchange messages, diaries, create communities, Functions and friends.

  • Hatena
    Community-oriented social bookmarking and blog search services Human Web.

Finally, my selection among the top sites in Russia (translated):

  • V Kontakte
    The most popular social network utility in Russia.

  • Yandex
    Find information on the Internet in the light of Russian morphology, the possibility of regional specification. Parallel search for news, images, products, blogs, links organizations.


    Placing a personal diary.

  • Inc.
    Entertainment portal.

  • Bash Runet
    "Masterpieces" new civilization: comments on IRC and ICQ.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Translated feeds in Google Reader

Two pictures say more than thousands of words, so check out how you auto-translate feeds in Google Reader, this time enabling me to follow the Chinese social aggregator site sr.ju690:

... aaaand... voila! :

Of course, it works also for less exotic languages than Chinese, such as if you want to follow a Swedish or Estonian site but don't read the language.

Also, seriously, check out the extremely easy-to-use translation tools for 1-click translations from your browser's toolbar (it has opened the non-Swedish Internet for my parents) and the excellent translated search.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pipes plus feeds merged burning

Finally I have gotten around to doing two things: Feedburning my blog RSS feeds so I can see how many are subscribed and reading, and creating a personal plus-feed.

The first is done easily by visiting Feedburner, signing up, giving it the URL of your blog, create the feedburner feed and then modify your blog's settings to point at the new feed according to the instructions given. Nothing too hard. I should get myself into Technorati one of these days as well. However, what it it may mean is that I would love for you to re-subscribe to my blogs! If you are currently subscribed to my blogs in Google Reader or another blog-management tool, please subscribe to these new feeds (and we'll see if Blogger gets things right sooner or later as well):

Secondly then, Christian Rudolf suggested me that instead of spewing URLs randomly, I should do like Doktor Spinn and market my "+1"-feed (a way of indicating something you like, you give it a point) as a great distillation of the mess out there on the web. Fine, but first I needed to put together my three different outputs of goodness then, my shared items in Google Reader, and pages tagged "cool" and/or "recommended" by me on Yahoo Pipes did the trick, just sign in there with a Yahoo ID and you're good to go!:

Here's the end result: (which I'd love for you to subscribe to at

Finally, if you don't understand a thing of what I mean by "subscribe" above, please please please watch the video Google Reader in plain English beloew, your online life will be better with it and it's extremely easy to do:

And don't let the "blog-stress" grab you, remember that your blog reader should be "like a river of fresh water, from which you may drink now and then whenever you feel like it". Just let it flow.

Amateur = ♥, Professional = $, which would you rather be?

The websmurfs are running another blogging Saturday, this time on the theme of the etymology of the words amateur (amor, passion) and professional (profit). "Old media" as they are lovingly denoted at least in Sweden like to slap the label of "amateur" onto bloggers and everyone else voluntarily organized through the internet, and we'd simply want to say - fine, then we are, and we love being amateurs.

pro⋅fes⋅sion⋅al   [pruh-fesh-uh-nl]
1. following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain

am⋅a⋅teur   [am-uh-choor, -cher, -ter, am-uh-tur]
1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.

I would by the way want to run a shameless plug for my favourite amateur come extremely professional photographer Graham Mitchell (Foto-Z). The quality of his work is amazing and he is available for photo jobs around Scandinavia.

A lot is likely to pop up during the day, so check this post for updates! You can of course follow us on twitter

I spent a significant part of my Saturday updating the Websmurf member list, and check out the pictures (also here, here, here and here), but the others were productive:
(Update: Björn Falkevik reported live here)

(Update 2: The Online Etymology Dictionary may have a different opinion about the origin of professional and amateur, but as they say, "never check a good story" :-) )

Monday, March 2, 2009

I won a Gorillapod!

Christian and Peter over at made a little video on the topic of cooperation and for their production they had received two Joby Gorillapods of which they only needed one, so the other one they gave away to the first person to write a good post on what good they'd use it for!

Maybe it doesn't make sense in terms of time spent versus what a Gorillapod costs, but I'm very happy to be blogging side by side with Peter and Christian and I have wanted a gorillapod for a long time, so head over and read my blog post (translated here) and I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Think of Magnus, Stop the Pirate Bay!


Recently I have been following the spectacle of the Pirate Bay trial . The Swedish pirate guys have been truly unique in that they have not gone to court burdened by shame, with regret and wanting to get away easy, but with heads held high and guns blazing, confronting and ridiculing the failing business of the media industry. See for yourself in Peter Sunde's blog (translated here), copyriot (translated here, copyriot was probably also involved in the ground-breaking Pirate Bureu Walpurgis ceremony) and torrentfreak.

Many things have been said about the spectrial, partly on bloggy (translated here) and twitter, and my small contribution (also available in higher resolution) is a mashup from a prosecution statement. The has-been artist Magnus Uggla is not selling well anymore, and the causality seems obvious between this and the existance of the Pirate Bay, right? Think of Magnus, stop the Pirate Bay!

This week's "I met Lassie" (celebrity spotting) is that I again attended the Swedes meetup at Hell Hunt and apart from an exciting debate about the Pirate Bay, I had the honor of discussing with a co-partner of the same law firm as plaintiffs Hollywood representative lawyer Monique Wadsted.

PS. Other Swedes in Estonia also react to SVT's Hasse Svens dishonest reporting

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two very nerdy jokes

If you understand both of these jokes right away I beg you to comment on this post! Let's start out with a control theory joke:

Q: Why do Eastern European airlines fly half empty?
A: There must be no poles in the right half-plane
Secondly, we have a hardware-optimized programming joke:
Adam and Eve were walking through the forest when they came across some snakes with chain saws cutting down trees and making rustic furniture. Adam asked, "what are you doing?"

One of the snakes hissed, "God told us to go forth and multiply ... but we're just adders, we can't multiply without log tables"

(Update: There are of course more excellent nerdy jokes. Go ahead, knock yourselves out)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Free things this week!

It's been an amazingly busy week just for covering cool stuff. This Wednesday the Media Evolution conference was held in Malmö, which seemed to promise to be a somewhat mediocre thing with international tech celebrity Chris Anderson of Wired and "the Long Tail" to attract attention. Turned out Chris held an excellent presentation on the topic of "free", but the following panel debates were very good as well! And everything you could follow online in realtime, and discuss in the backchannel (Whats Next got an interview):

Slides from a similar talk at Nokia World 2007:

View more presentations from inkeunsong. (tags: free_pricing)

Chris Anderson, who wrote about "the long tail", about building business not on the best sellers, but "all the rest" of the customers and products, spent most of his talk speaking about what curious things happens in the market when the price of some things continuously decrease, approaching zero.

I am really fascinated by how much you can get for free from people ("crowdsourcing" as it sometimes can be described) and find it a largely under-examined topic. There are several different distinguishable ways for something to be free, and pleading for everyone to pitch in (like how people contribute to wikipedia) is almost the most crude of them. More cleverly executed, I love how flickr allow people to geotag their own pictures, and it will become part of a great, huge, multi-purpose globally browsabe database of pictures. music and concert databases is also not bad in its simplicity of contribution, there's no complex creative article-writing involved. Similarly, did you know that whenever you type in a reCAPTCHA you for free help digitize tricky parts for the New York Times and the Internet Archive archive? When you type in that review of your favourite sushi place, you for free help Ted Valentin build quite a valuable database he couldn't imagine paying editors to do for him. There are so many great ways to get something for free...

It by the way occured to me the other day that there are not only two meanings of the word "free", usually explained as "free as in speech" and "free as in beer". There's also "free as in parking spot" :-) . Let's break it down a bit:

free as in beergratistasuta
free as in speechfrivaba
free as in parking spotledigvaba

... no wonder the humorous effect of my father asking my father-in-law whether he was "free" (as in vacation) now. "Of course I'm free (as in speech), I'm not in prison am I?!"

Speaking of free, the Pirate Bay case is stepping into court the next week. The guys have a blog of the court case which isn't updated since April last year though, and brokep's blog, and they seem pretty set on whipping up as much of a media storm as possible, and not letting themselves get convicted easily, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Then on Thursday morning it was time for OpenCoffee Club Tallinn (facebook group here) in Ülemiste City Mercado, where I didn't hear or participated much in any pitches, but met some great people! I will also hopefully soon write about my idea of "Compassionate BookCrossing" which I set loose there.

Friday evening it was time for the regular Swedish Tallinn meetup in Hell Hunt pub. Imagine I've lived here two years, and haven't found the time or opportunity to visit them before! Anyway it was a bit of a strange experience to hear such genuine Swedish guys ranting about sports and whatever, but there were some very cool people there and quite possibly some new friends!

Finally, this has been the week for TED 2009 (blog here and conference here), and the speaker list has been truly impressive! Bill Gates, Shai Agassi, Tim Berners-Lee, Oliver Sacks, I am exhausted just thinking about it. Bill Gates' talk was released already, the others will be one by one during the year. It will be so much fun, subscribe to the feed!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I had a dream: that I could read the hive mind

Last night I had a dream, actually a very pleasant one, that everyone had gone insane. Since it's just one of those little things which feel fine sharing with the world, I posted it through

For several years I've been a huge fan of Richard Linklater's "Waking Life", an amazingly complex, surreal and beautifully rotoscoped movie essentially dealing with lucid dreaming. It made me curious and I figured "can I somehow read about what others are dreaming of?" Sure I can, I can even make a blog out of it! (credit to @twostoreys, @astoriaxattack, @bhl1, @meridianariel, @LivestockOne and @Suw for these dreams)

What cool things can you pick out of the hive mind?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Help, Daemon is actually talking to me!

I barely slept anything tonight. A couple of hours after my latest blog post, I received the following email, and it kept me up with thoughts and ideas:

From: Daniel Suarez
Subject: Google Alerts and me...
Date: 14 January 2009 23:12:01 GMT+02:00
To: CJ

Hi CJ,

You're correct when you surmise we use Google Alerts as the nerve endings of our reader-relations system. I like to think of it as a filter that helps me cut through the galaxy of white noise the Web presents, and which gives me the communications I'm interested in. Automated? Somewhat...but similar to manually sifting through your junk mail at home and being pleased to find a letter from a friend.

BTW - Thanks again for your recent blog posts. They're a big help, of course, but also very interesting. Real-time, automated search has probably replaced half the Customer Relationship Management systems on the market.

Best Regards,

Daniel Suarez

Wow, this doesn't stop being cool, except it's almost getting uncomfortable to know that Daniel is noticing my blog posts like "a letter from a friend", just a tad "unheimlich". For anyone who have read his book, you will notice the same friendly, cool and unapologetic tone in Daniel's emails as in the communication from the Daemon. A sense of inevitability - he knows who I am and what will happen if I stop writing? Maybe nothing, but I for sure want to see how far the rabbit hole goes, so I reply:

From: CJ
Subject: Re: Google Alerts and me...
Date: 15 January 2009 02:12:26 GMT+02:00
To: Daniel Suarez

Hi Daniel,

Again, you really impress me, even made me laugh a bit :-) I thought of pinging you that I had written the new blog posts and thank for the books which should be in the mail, but now you made it before me.

Do you mind if I post this email as a comment to my own story?

Actually, this is getting almost a tad eerie, considering the book you have written. I really imagine piping a google alert RSS into a google docs spreadsheet or CRM would be very simple and maybe with the help of a few monkeys gathering and organizing intimidating amounts of information of people related would be doable.

Take for example that I googled for a torrent of the Daemon audio book, I didn't find one mind you, but had I, considering that you may read it would certainly have prevented me from linking to it. You're probably a swell guy, but these emails do leave a feeling of the Daemon peering over my shoulder. I have no idea what lengths (even within the restraints of the law) can be gone to pursue issues like that should they arise. The thought of the MPAA, or any opponent of opinions for that matter, with competence such as that in your system makes me shiver. The state is not my greatest concern for TIA.

Also, I don't mind somewhat automated correspondence, I'm myself all about exploring computers for making my communications better and more efficient.

Best regards, with an only somewhat weary smile ;-)

After sending the letter my night remains filled with thoughts - of total customer relationship management systems, of using the Mechanical Turk for circumventing CAPTCHA's and using systems like this to augment human abilities and for example exert pressure on behalf of anyone willing to pay for the service. What would stop it - Directive 95/46/EC ("PUL"), Interpol? I doubt it.

Law enforcment is already fighting a losing (or at least seemingly endless) battle against organizations such as the RBN and millions of zombie computers provided by people like you and me. Original Gangsters are at large over Europe and the Internet, and it's a bad idea to challenge Mr. Acar, but I'm pretty sure this is the case already when they are far away from sufficient information management to even notice that I am writing about them.

Mind you, I am not speaking of any computer virus running amok, but complex interactions between computer systems and people. Real companies, real people, real money and real motivations. The feeling of inevitability is growing and "Daemon" doesn't feel like cyberpunk anymore, can it be a prophesy? Has Daniel been audacious enough to make himself into the Daemon, or where would you draw the line?

This guy is an experienced system designer. He will be holding a seminar at Google in a few weeks, and I wonder what will happen when he is let into Blizzard? Feed them something cool, even something completely virtual, and that's at least 11.5 million potential footsoldiers within reach right away. In the book, the Daemon used difersified recruitment methods for different levels. Already World of Warcraft is huge, but I feel like we're watching a critical mass gather, starting a chain reaction of unforseeable proportions.

If Suarez is not gonna do it, soon someone else will. If no-one does it before, heck, I would want to do it. By buying the book, you are feeding money to the monster and enabling Suarez' empire to form and he sure is clever enough to grow it well. Frankly, by writing these blog posts, maybe I am a cog in this machine as well? Then again, the Daemon is said to treat it's own well...

(Update: Suarez held his talk at Google Tech Talks. Very nice, very interesting, check it out)

(Update 2: The talk at Long Now Foundation on "Bot-mediated reality" is indeed excellent as well. I can't embed it here, so you'll have to go there to watch it!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How I got the coolest book ever and the future of Personal Proactive Public Relations

Something cool has been happening the last couple of months, actually ever since I put Daemon on my wishlist in February 2008. You should have noticed I have written some about it recently, but besides being an extraordinary story, as many other will tell you, the story of how it came to be is also a special one, in my view obviously indicitative of the future.

You may or may not be aware that Daemon reached me roughly through these people:

Obviously this may work worse if you suck, but Suarez and his publisher obviously had the strategy from the start to treat well and be generous to the (prominent) people likely to spread good things about the book. Not pay them (as I was upsettingly solicited for by an indonesian furniture company the other day), just be generous with free copies and attention.

I don't think I'm the only one easily flattered by even a little attention from someone I look up to, and I was very happy to receive this email the other day (republished without permission):

Hi Carl,
As we reach the January 8th hard cover release date for the Dutton edition of Daemon, I wanted to pass along a quick note expressing my thanks. It was grassroots support from early adopters like you that proved to New York publishing houses that there was an audience for Daemon. Without that critical support, my little self-published book might have quietly disappeared.

Instead, it will be front-of-store in every Barnes & Nobel and Borders in the U.S. and is being translated into ten languages. I’ve also signed a deal with DreamWorks for the film rights.

As my sincere thanks, I’d like to send you a copy of the new hard cover edition of Daemon. I hope that setting this alongside the self-published edition will always serve as a reminder that, with a little help, anything is possible on the Web.

Just shoot me an email with your preferred mailing address, and I’ll send the book along (and I won’t put you on a mailing list, either).

Carl, I cannot thank you enough for lending your support for my book when it was needed most. Have a great 2009, and I wish you every happiness life can bring.

Warm Regards,

Daniel Suarez (aka Leinad Zeraus)

That's so nice, isn't it? Actually, I didn't have the time to reply to it, before I received an even more personal comment on a tag and a link in a picture of my bookshelf! By then I was very impressed, asked to be called CJ instead (which Daniel since has adhered to), said that I'd be even more honored to have my personal copy signed, and pleaded for copies to three more people I described colourfully. I got a reply that I will get the books.

That's so cool! But how did he find my picture, does he follow my flickr photostream? Probably not, most likely he used the power of Google, more precisely Google Alerts. Below I have set it up to capture, among other things, anyone mentioning my full name or linking to either of my blogs anywhere on the public Web:

Sure, this is nothing new, Meltwaternews (previously Magenta) have done it for years, but I imagine it is becoming common like Suarez and his publisher must have done - to pipe these data straight into huge customer relationship management or issue tracking systems! Tag some nicknames or domains per customer, automatically determine who a post is from and keep contact info and correspondence, and you have the opportunity to make the customers think you really care about them.

It doesn't even have to be that large or comprehensive, several times it has happened to me that I mentioned (actually, I whined about) something on twitter, be it Firefox crashing or animoto creating too short clips, within five minutes someone supporting it had picked it up and directed me towards a solution (the clips are still too short though), thus hopefully preventing a grumpy customer complaining to all his or her friends about the crappy product, and instead possibly created a raving fan who will do more than his share to promote the product.

Actually, why wait until someone has a complaint, determine what someone could say who needs your product, monitor those search terms and be ready to step in with a friendly suggestion of your product when someone most needs it. Unless you suck, your conversion ratios should be nothing short of amazing! Actually, anyone can do these things, and possibly definitely should, both through Google Alerts for the web and TweetDeck for twitter. Don't be too distracted by monitoring other cool phrases though, such as listening in to everyone in the world twittering "I want a hard XXX" (did you click that link?).

Do note that this is not big brother, and it's barely distinguishable as spam even, this is just managing the flow of information the senders have already decided to make public. And it's really cool. Of course, only a fraction of all communication is today happening through twitter and only somewhat more in blogs, but it is growing and it is a fascinating opportunity for proactive customer relations or even marketing. Anders Edholm of Electrolux made a fascinating presentation (in Swedish) at Disruptive Media Conference a while back about much of this topic, check it out:

As may be obvious, my insight into this stuff is still limited, so I'd love some suggestion to for example improve my Google Alerts terms. See my other blog posts about viral marketing or Daemon.