Also see the list of articles, none to be taken seriously.
Clay Shirky: Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content. The answer is simple: creators are not publishers, and putting the power to publish directly into their hands does not make them publishers. It makes them artists with printing presses. This matters because creative people crave attention in a way publishers do not. [Tomalak's Realm]
Google’s newest feature is full of Easter eggs. Finally, something that could replace Python as my desktop calculator, at least when I’m online.
Wouldn’t an offline version be a great idea? I don’t know of any current calculator programs that have such a simple natural-language interface. [dive into mark]
Slate: Digging for Googleholes.
If you’re searching for something that can be sold online, Google’s top results skew very heavily toward stores, and away from general information...
The same goes for searching for specific products: Type in the make and model of a new DVD player, and you’ll get dozens of online electronic stores in the top results, all of them eager to sell you the item. But you have to burrow through the results to find an impartial product review that doesn’t appear in an online catalog.
Running into this problem myself, I’ve sometimes wished for a “comments-only” search option, to only show me unofficial information. The official information is always just copies of the same thing. Google Groups comes close, but it misses the vast majority of discussions nowadays, which tend to happen on web-based forums and review sites.
This idea comes surprisingly close to Andrew Orlowski’s blog-separation fixation.
Scott Rafer writes:
The fully loaded cost of offering free Wi-Fi access is less than $6/day. Operating a billable hotspot costs over $30/day.... Here’s the irony in Wi-Fi public access pricing: retailers can be profitable by offering free Wi-Fi as a customer acquisition tool. But when they charge for Wi-Fi access, these retailers, and the WISPs serving them, almost certainly lose money. According to a market study coming out this summer, retailers are quickly learning this lesson: up to 30% of US location owners who plan to deploy commercial hotspots in 2004 intend those hotspots to be free or free-with-purchase.
NY Times: A Safer System for Home PC's Feels Like Jail to Some Critics. But by entwining PC software and data in an impenetrable layer of encryption, critics argue, the companies may be destroying the very openness that has been at the heart of computing in the three decades since the PC was introduced. [via Tomalak's Realm]
A UK activist clade is taking on the insidious digital fruit machine (AKA, “slot machine”). These things are supposed to be random and fair, but by design or by glitch, the pubside gambling systems are anything but.Fruit machines cheat you on practically every spin of the reels. Almost every spin is entirely predetermined - which symbols are going to drop in, whether you're going to be awarded nudges, which numbers the "random" stop will land on, the lot. Ever had two cherries on the win line, not held them, then watched the third one drop in on the next spin and thought, "Damn, if I'd held them I'd have won"? Well, you wouldn't. If you'd held the two cherries, the machine would have dropped in a different symbol. And now we can prove it.LinkDiscuss
[via Boing Boing Blog]
Nice technique for proving program behavior without looking at its code. To summarize: they run the machine’s software inside a program on a regular desktop computer, and save the state of RAM at various points. Then they can “go back in time” at will by restoring RAM, and try making different choices.
By the way, wouldn’t it be interesting if you could do that with the real world? You could try out different things to see how people, or the world, would react, without risk of harm. Physics with “undo”. Heaven for opportunists.