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Remember to change your clocks tonight

"Revelers will have an extra second to enjoy the New Year celebrations.

Drunken party goers may not notice but, thanks to the Earth's erratic rotation, the countdown to 2009 will last a moment longer.

British physicists and official timekeepers around the world will insert a "leap second" to bring the most accurate atomic clocks in line with the astronomical day[…]" fromBig Ben Adjusted for Leap Second

Happy New Year. Bon Anja, Tur Kos Bon!

Kevin Kelly writes about pervasive (or is it ubiquitous) screens

I always love Kevin Kelly's writing and thinking and this article in a recent New York Times Magazine doesn't disappoint.

I have a hard time summarizing the article: Video is becoming more ubiquitous than static print as the main mode of visual communication - not just TV etc, but on any and all surfaces in public and private. This will lead to ways in which regular civilians can create, modify, scan and consume video with infinitely greater ease.

It's a good argument. Here's a semi random thoughtful bit:

"Some popular Web sites with huge selections of movies (like porn sites) have devised a way for users to scan through the content of full movies quickly in a few seconds. When a user clicks the title frame of a movie, the window skips from one key frame to the next, making a rapid slide show, like a flip book of the movie. The abbreviated slide show visually summarizes a few-hour film in a few seconds. Expert software can be used to identify the key frames in a film in order to maximize the effectiveness of the summary." (from New York Times Magazine - Becoming Screen Literate)

Dumb as we want to be?

Thomas Friedman with another thought provoking column. I know not everyone likes his perspective but I find myself in violent agreement more often than not:

"All I could think to myself was: If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.” (from New York Times, Time To Reboot America?)

Time To Reboot? Read the whole article, please.

The most beautiful book?

Now here's a recommendation:

"I recently got a hold of what I consider to be the nicest mathematical book in my collection. As a matter of fact, it’s the nicest book I own, period - even though I posses bookshelves teaming with terrific titles on mathematics, science, programming, computer science, photography and so on." (from Math-Blog)

That goes right onto my wish list!

Is twitter for people or for marketing?

As you may have noticed, I am using Twitter a little more often now. As much as anything it is to learn more about what it's like, because we are working on full Twitter support in BlogBridge, which should be cool. The question is, what should it look like? Anyway, more on that on the BlogBridge blog.

For now, here are some interesting pointers I have come across that you might find enlightening:

twitter, kawasaki, blogbridge, marketing

MINT and security

I have a new favorite web service: Mint. It's a really nice implementation of kind of a "Quicken" online, but with a few unique wrinkles. Here's what it does:

  • Automatically and periodically downloads all the transactions from all your various accounts, banks, credit cards, etc.

  • Automatically categorizes the transactions based on the indicated vendors. This works about 80-90% of the time

  • Allows you to manually override the categorization if you know better (and it learns from that and applies it to other transactions.)

  • Automatically suggests a set of budget rules, which it then monitors for you. These are also fully customizable.

  • Generates useful pie charts and investment performance graphs, again automatically.

  • It's free.

Anyway that's just a small subset of the prominent features. Mint is a nicely executed, fast enough Web 2.0 application. I am pretty impressed with it.

What it does not do is to allow you to initiate any transactions from Mint. You can't withdraw, transfer, pay bills or anything like that.

Which brings me to everyone's first question: security. This is the scary side. I have not yet decided how I feel about it.

During setup you are asked to supply the password to each of your financial institutions (exactly what Quicken and Microsoft Money ask you to do. After all, you assume that the passwords never leave Quicken's files on your computer, but you don't really know that.) When I describe Mint to people, many of them freak out at this point.

Reading Mint's extensive security FAQ, what they say is that they don't store or remember any of that information. It's just a pass through one of several third party services, unnamed, who then have arrangements to download the information from your bank etc. So with proper security measures, clever cryptographic signing and secret keys… maybe.

What's the exposure?

The New York Times has an article about the security of Web based financial sites today.

But unfortunately it just reports that people are facing this dilemma and not what the real risks. Life Hacker had a nice article "Is Mint Ready for Your Money" that you want to read.

It would be nice to have an actual security expert do an analysis of this. Bruce Schneier? David Pogue? How about it?

technoorati links: money mint web schneier pogue

Support Club Passim in Harvard Square!!!

Hey! If you live in Boston or Cambridge, and you like music, especially Folk music, then you've probably been to Club Passim in Cambridge - Harvard Square actually. It's a lot more than a 'Coffee House' - it's an institution where many of your favorite 70s acts got their start.

Passim is a tiny little folk music club in Harvard Square that's existed years and years and where musicians like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan played at the very beginning of their careers. I am friends with various people at Passim, over the year we have attended lots of shows there.

We have been members for years and more recently even made some donations to them. For me, the place has a wonderful sense of history, not to mention that we are big folk music fans. Passim has hit hard times over the years on several occasions, and this year's economic downturn (did you read about it by any chance?) has hit them hard again.

I know I would hate to see Passim go under or have to curtail it's programs even more than they are already doing. They have a fairly tiny budget as it is, and they do a lot for music in the area as well as nation wide.We go often and it's amazing a place like that lives hand-to-mouth. You wouldn't believe it.

How about it, lighten up your 2008 tax return a little and make a contribution. You will feel happy and Joan Baez will personally call you to say thanks. Whoops. There I go again. No she won't call you. But I will 🙂

I've made a page where you can contribute if you are so moved. Click and Give!

Also you can send a check, made out to Passim Center to:
Passim Folk Music & Cultural Center
26 Church Street, Suite 300
Cambridge, MA 02138

More on truly weird medical condition

Suddenly when you learn about something once, you start seeing it everywhere…

"Dr. Paul Grabb, a pediatric brain surgeon, said he was surprised when
he discovered a small foot growing inside the brain of 3-day-old Sam
Esquibel. "The foot literally popped out of the brain," Grabb told TheDenverChannel Wednesday." (from Colorado Doctor Finds Foot in Newborn's Brain)

This is another example of a Teratoma which I wrote about recently. This story is even weirder.

The secret Howard Stern in me wants to make a joke about this along the lines of "even worse than putting your foot in your MOUTH!" But I would never say that. It would be in such bad taste.

A Craigslist for Service?

Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is the need for some kind of platform to match local community projects with resources to do them. For example the project might be to build a playground, clear a lot, raise money for the school. And resources might be sources of money, people and things who'd like a way to contribute to their community.Seems to me that there's a spot for kind of a .org to create and operate a system like that and offer it for free or very cheap, locally, then nationally and globally. One thing I've been working on is to see whether this need is real, and what exists out there to address it.0Check out this post A Craigslist for Service:

"Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Sunlight board member, has written a thoughtful piece on service and volunteerism for The Huffington Post. The catalyst for Craig’s piece is the reference by the Barack Obama platform, outlined at, to their volunteerism plans as “a craigslist for service.” Craig uses this opportunity to outline possible aspects of “a craigslist for service” from his point of view, such as offering to help an established charity, or use sites like, and to find ways to donate your time and money in useful and thoughtful ways, along with other ideas.

[…] (from: from Sunlight Foundation)

I need to check those out. What do you think of the idea? Would you like to see it happen?