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Orkut Revisited: I had been

Orkut Revisited: I had been wondering whether my negative vibes about Orkut was because I was the only person on the planet apparently that had not received an invitation. Well that's all changed. And you know what? I still feel the same way. And apparently I am not the only one…

In a bit of very clever social engineering , I believe the allure of Orkut was (somewhat or mostly) about the fact that it was unattainable. By being "Invitation Only" it produced two effects: a) people who were left out wanted "in", and b) people who were "in" viewed it at some level as some kind of validation - after all they were part of the "in crowd " now.

Did you consider one consequence of the invitation-only scheme? Who were Adam and Eve? Whoever originally primed the pump is by definition GenerationZero of the whole network (presumably this is the developer of Orkut.) His or her friends are Generation One, and so on. For all we know we are all part of a grand social science experiment to create the ultimate 6-degrees-of-separation map of the world. I wonder what generation I am! I wonder who I am descended from? Do I have famous ancestors? Royalty maybe?

Comparing Orkut with LinkedIn, I favor LinkedIn. Orkut has the feel of a dating service, allowing me to rate my friends by their sexiness for crying out loud?? Both Orkut and LinkedIn suffer from people mass- uploading all their contacts into it. First of all, you end up annoying people and second, of course it dilutes the value of the network that the product represents. I am a little suspicious of people in LinkedIn that have 100 direct connections.

All in all, LinkedIn serves (an admitedly minor) use for me. Other than gawking and lurking you won't be seeing me on Orkut!

I’m not that geeky: I

I 'm not that geeky: I am totally fascinated and entralled with what's going on on Mars right now. I've followed all sorts of sources and recently came across this blog by Susan Kitchens who has very detailed posts about what's going on. I don't know who she is or how she's connected, but it's a pretty comprehensive way to keep up.

As a software guy I am very interested in how the software for the Rover is put together. I asked Susan whether she could give me some pointers, which led to this recent post in her blog, which I thought was amusing:

" Backing up the Mars Rover Mission: Computerworld has the story . They also covered the OS running the rovers, VxWorks by Wind River Systems. (I got an email asking me for more info on computing resources on MER. I 'm not that geeky ; I suggest you start there and research further)."

Well, I am 🙂 And if I come across anything useful, I will pass it on. In the meanwhile here are some other links that I follow for Mars news: Steve Squires, the "principal investigator" of the mission actually has a blog. And of course Nasa/JPL has a web site of their own with news and some amazing animations.

Sun still doesn’t get it!

Sun still doesn 't get it! Ouch this hurts. The UI below is what the vaunted Sun provides to Windows users as their standard "Java Web Start" Experience -- the latest release of Java no less - fresh off the presses.

This is what poor first time users are expected to look at when they are installing Java apps on Windows (I suspect it looks just the same on other platforms.) It turns my stomach.

The underlying technology is great, and seems to work, and be secure and convenient. But please doesn't anyone think just a little bit about user experience?

This is 2004, guys. First impressions count.

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BlogBridge update: Just a quick

BlogBridge update: Just a quick note about what's up with BlogBridge. My time has been severely drained by a new consulting project, so progress has slowed down more than I would like. The last while I was knee-deep in installation, deployment, upgrade facilities. I looked at a bunch of possible ways of distributing, installing and then upgrading the application, evaluating 3 of them in detail. What a mess!

In the end I settled on Java Web Start. I used to think of this as a bit of a kludge, but it seems to be well suited to deployment and installation of Java apps, and with each release Sun seems to make it a little nicer. So that's what I am going with.

I've learned far more than I ever wanted to know about the CLASSPATH, Jars, JNLP, and yada-yada-yada. Interesting though, but definitely heavy duty geekosity.

BlogBridge is still in what I would generously call a pre-alpha state. Not really usable. (FeedDemon is much better.) If a few people would like to try out the Java Web Start deployment, send me an email and we can talk.

Getting Your R�sum� Read –

Getting Your R©sum© Read- From Joel Spolsky. Joel writes a good and amusing article with some brain-dead-obvious tips (that apparently aren't so obvious) about resumes. One of the rants though:

_" OK, this one really bugs me. Learn where spaces go in relation to other punctuation. Attention, the entire population of India: whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it's always after the comma and never before it. Thank you." _

While still amusing (but perhaps somewhat culturally insensitive) this particular point stands out because I've had this debate/argument more than once. In particular the old typewriter -induced habit of placing TWO spaces after a period , which in my book is incorrect. But apparently this is not universal - there are up to date style guides which insist on the old monospace font two spaces after a period. (Via Dave Winer and everyone else too!)

Afterword (1) Apparently everyone liked Joel 's posting because it's shot up to the top of Blogdex. Geez, it's so hard to be original!
Afterword (2) The At-signs in the
word R©sum© are an artifact of the accents in the word in Joel 's original posting. Amusing because it had the effect of getting me to read the resume!

What’s up with Orkut? There’s

What 's up with Orkut? There's this new "online community that connects people through a network of trusted friends" that's causing quite a bit of comment here and there, in blogs and other newsgroups. After all the badmouthing that I've seen of services like LinkedIn and Plaxo, it's funny to see the degree of interest.

Their secret ingredient, it would seem, is that you can 't sign up! What a clever marketing scheme,exclusivity, has built up quite a lot of attention. Anyone who knows a two year old knows that there's no better way to generate interest than in denying access! Their other secret ingredient is that apparently they have been acquired or backed by Google, which is always a way to get attention.

And the beat goes on:Tim Bray on Orkut; Even AKMA wants in! And here's Don Park!

The two Howards: Dean and

The two Howards: Dean and Stern. Everyone is wringing their hands about the way Howard Dean acted out on the night of the Iowa Caucuses. I heard well known pundits talk about ' the defining moment of Dean's campaign.' What a bunch of nonsense. This was a non-event, a crazy moment at the end of a long day with a huge crowd of revved up supporters. And indeed some of my friends who support Dean have commented, more eloquently than this, in his defense as well.

Forgive me to mention the other Howard in the same breath, but the best came on Howard Stern's show, who by the way, was making fun of the commentators and siding with Dean. A caller said that it was a classic 'Rocky' moment and that all you needed was to hear the theme from Rocky playing in the background and it would just 'bring a tear to your eye.' I can't play it for you here, but either use your imagination, or take my word for it: it was one of the all time funiest moments on Radio.

Channel Dean: “An RSS feed

Channel Dean: "An RSS feedthat 's like a clipping service for people interested in US politics." Dave Winer and some co- conspiritors have created something really cool: a new feed which brings together a series of feeds that all relate to US Politics. As I've said before, hats off to these kinds of innovation. I 'm just loving it! Here's the RSS (XML) link if you want to try it.This development raises some interesting questions/ideas:

  • What is the Dean-bias of this feed? Is it in fact a feed for people interested in US politics or one for Dean Supporters interested in US Politics. And with the subtlety of marketing and political campaigns these days, how do I even tell the difference?

  • It's pretty cool to see CNN articles right next to BBC, Salon, AP and NYT articles. For me, as a reader, it's exactly what I want. How do the content providers feel about it? Is this anything new with respect to intellectual property and copyright?

Keep 'em coming. This is what makes this space ("this" = RSS, Blogging, Syndication, etc.) so exciting.

Microsoft Money 2004. Disappointing. I

Microsoft Money 2004. Disappointing. I started preparing my taxes and so I thought I might upgrade my Microsoft Money to the 2004 from 2003. I am a fairly comprehensive user of Microsoft Money, and so every year I do this, and frankly almost every year I am disappointed.

There are almost no new features , enhancements, simplifications or whatever. Am I a sucker? Every year, I probably wait 2 to 3 months after the upgrade comes out to order it… I am well aware of their tack to extract yet another $50 from me (less the $20 rebate which) but I still fall for it, in the hope that even if nothing visible changes, bugs are fixed that will save me time even though I never am aware of it. Still I'd say if you are thinking of upgrading to 2004, you can safely skip it.