The Longest Now

Friday May 29th 2009, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Pfanne comments about the new Pixel Qi screen:

this completes the things that i want to have in my dreamnotebook…
40/45nm amd gpu/processor (with enough juice fur starcraft2+diablo3)
pixel qi display
gallium3d based driver
direct3d statetracker
6h+ batterylife
14inch screen
i’d give an arm for a computer with these specs…
more likely a leg, using a computer with only one arm is shit.

Now who’s pulling whose leg?  Congrats to Mary Lou and team on approaching their first release; it looks simply beautiful.

Another reason not to copyright logos
Thursday May 28th 2009, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized,wikipedia

…and should leave their source files publicly available.  Because most logos need work, and you never know who’s going to improve on yours for their own reasons.  (Of course you should still trademark them.)

Bjorn S. reflects on designing the first Wikipedia logo (designed for Nupedia but never used on that project), and describes how it led to today’s silver ball… and how he didn’t know about any of this until a week ago.

Wikipedia now incompatible with third-party GFDL text
Wednesday May 27th 2009, 8:27 am
Filed under: chain-gang,international,Uncategorized,wikipedia

The GFDL 1.3 allows collaborative sites to switch from the GFDL to CC-BY-SA 3.0 as their license, under limited circumstances.

Wikimedia has been advocating for this change for some time, and with much effort from the FSF and Creative Commons a solution was worked out last November: such a transition would be available only for massively collaborative projects, and only for a limited time.  If a project opted for this transition, it could not incorporate any new GFDL material after the release date of the new license (November 3, 2008); and it had to decide by August 1, 2009.

Given the first date, one would assume a site would want to move as quickly as possible to decide, to avoid a prolonged period when no outside material under most any free license could be incorporated.  Nevertheless, it took us over 6 months to decide to make the transition.  Now we are faced with two hurdles: ensuring that no GFDL material has been migrated into a Wikimedia project since November, and far more complex, communicating with the hundreds of smaller GFDL wikis who chose their license for compatibility with Wikipedia, to ensure they know about this change and what it means for them.  They only have until the first of August to figure it out.

So I’ve started compiling a list of GFDL wikis and other collaborative sites that have not yet indicated any awareness about the license switch or considered switching themselves.  This includes at least half of the 20 largest GFDL wikis other than Wikipedia, both major medical wikis (Medpedia and WikiDoc), PlanetMath, and the old Spanish Wikipedia fork.  Please help contact these sites and update their status on this project page: [[m:Licensing update/Outreach]]

Twitterpedia FTW
Sunday May 17th 2009, 3:52 am
Filed under: indescribable,Too weird for fiction,Uncategorized,wikipedia

It has been claimed that twitterpedia will one day replace Wikipedia, at the point where everyone needs no more than a tweet about any given topic.

FT2 astutely comments:

the predictable twitterpedia sequel follows:
– user#217869: pov warring!!
– @83476238 not so!
– @217869 is so!!
– @83476238 not so!
– @both: u blocked 24 hrs 3rr
– @admin plz no?
– @217869 o ok
– @admin kthxbai
– @83476238 u block I not u suxxor pov war!!!
– @admin u involved,, @arbcom plzdesysopkthx?
– @user no wai!!
– ……….

A tip of the hat to all involved for scrying the essential parts of our post-singularity knowledge landscape.

Wolfram α: baby oracle stretches its legs
Friday May 08th 2009, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The wraps are coming off of Wolfram Alpha, and even in infancy it is poetry to my left angular gyrus.  A recent review compares it with Google.  Many rightly note that the two aren’t really tackling the same problem.  The interesting points to note in the review are those hits where the questioner is flooded with detailed data that, among other things, advises him about what dimensions of reliable detail exist.

On one hand, Google’s original mission, to provide information effectively to the world, does encompass this… but then it encompasses many things they do not yet pursue.  They have avoided projects that trying to directly answer difficult questions, or to provide more than an algorithmic gloss of public approval on top of public link- and word-association. Google Answers, which I would have expected to stay around forever even at a loss for its direct contribution to the mission, was shelved years ago.   Brief forays into public data portals for gov docs in the US and educational materials remain tentative.

So deep access to public data has been better provided by individuals such as Carl M. and by university research projects than by Google.  Of their recent initiatives, only their book and catalog scanning projects have really been successful at making public data more available.

On the other hand, the goal of search engines has always been basic search.  The field, and its developers and system-gamers, have been working with a limited, transient concept of what it means to capture the desire for knowledge and provide related resources.


A good laugh
Thursday May 07th 2009, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,Uncategorized

Simply brilliant. The world needs more media like this.  And more of those fat sign-anything markers.

Wikipedia researchers wanted!
Monday May 04th 2009, 8:21 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,metrics,null,wikipedia

Do you know people who are currently doing statistical and social research about Wikipedia, or have good ideas about this they haven’t had time to work on?

I’m trying to build support for continual, detailed statistics generation from Wikipedia data, possibly at the Harvard-MIT Data Center.  There is still time to come up with good ideas for lightning talks and discussion groups at Wikimania 2009 this summer in Buenos Aires.  And there is a research-related Wikimedia job available starting this summer.

I am uncomfortable with many of the details of said job posting*, but as long as its up the best people should apply.


Weeklong sleeplessnesses
Monday May 04th 2009, 2:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Reading through the Torture Memos, I found one useful tidbit : an improved lower bound on how long one can last under stress without sleep.

During a particularly busy week in college, I once spent 4+ days without sleep (just over 100 hours), and remember the world had a certain quivering texture, and that I heard occasional faint singing in the background, the last day.  I wasn’t exhausted when I had dinner and went to sleep at last, but certainly slept soundly for the next dozen or so hours.  So I’ve often wondered what the accepted limits on healthy sleeplessness are.

Well, now I know with a bit more detail : those human health heroes who also advise no more than 4 hours of waterboarding sessions and 24 minutes of simulated drowning in a 24-hour period (else you might start to inflict permanent physical or mental harm) say : no more than 7.5 days (180 hrs) without sleep before resting for a full 8 hours.  If any of you manage longer than that, let me know…

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