Monday January 28, 2008
Tuesday August 14, 2007
There are problems with city-wide broadband in cities that led the way with it such as Philadelphia, and they’re trickling down to Miami-Dade, where the idea is little more then a glimmer in Carlos Alvarez’s eye. Increased projected costs, unforeseen obstacles, and the departure of a key employee.
Tuesday January 23, 2007
Refresh Miami is, um, “a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in their areas.” That clears it up. I guess they’re tech-people. You know, geeks. See also Monica Betancourt’s blog.
Saturday January 13, 2007
Excuse me for to be going off-topic this weekend, but ringfo. A phone number (617-712-3574) you call with your cell phone while you’re in a bookstore, type in a UPC#, and get the Amazon price for that book (or other item, try it). To complete the circle of awesomeness, you can punch your cell # into the website later to get a list of items you’ve checked.
Wednesday January 10, 2007
Jonathan visits the Aerojet rocket factory in the Everglades, where Saturn I rockets were once constructed and tested, before being barged up to Cape Canaveral. He’s got eerie photos and a good account of what happened there. An amazing bit of South Florida history.
Wednesday January 3, 2007
All newly issued US passports now contain RFID chips, arousing some justified paranoia. Wired magazine to the rescue! How To: Disable Your Passport’s RFID Chip: “Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it. A nonworking RFID doesn’t invalidate the passport, so you can still use it. . . . But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison.”
Tuesday December 26, 2006
In Miami-Dade it’s illegal to sell a dog or cat without a microchip implanted in it. Not to get all “our children are next” on you, but doesn’t this seem a little fucked up? I understand the motivation, but . . . ok, what if you have, say, religious objections (mark of the beast and all)? Or what if you think it’s just weird to have a microchip implanted in your pet?
Monday December 11, 2006
I just installed Internet Explorer 7 on my work computer, and it made the bullet points on the CM navbar lists disappear (this after all the hoops I jumped through to make CM look reasonable under IE6). I have no intention of upgrading on my computer at home, so the odds of this getting fixed are pretty slim.
IE users, listen to me — you’re perpetuating bad stuff by not switching to Firefox (on Windows). There’s a reason why the phrase “internet explorer is evil” returns more then a million hits on Google. Switch to Firefox. You’ll be doing right by yourself and by the whole world. Feel free to use the comments section to tell me why you don’t want to.
Let me just dispel one misconception: it’s NOT Firefox that’s messing up websites.
We have these things called standards, which are a consistent set of rules for how a web browser is supposed to work. Smart people from all different places put them together. You’ve heard of a “standards compliant” browser? Firefox is one (it’s not perfect, but it’s 99% right). Safari is one. Opera is one.
With Internet Explorer, Microsoft chooses another way — to do whatever the fuck it wants. Accept some of the rules, ignore others, and implement still others in a way that’s deliberately different. There are ways to make a website look right in all the browsers, but they require workarounds, hacks, and other standards-violating tricks on the part of web developers.
Any internet search on this topic will bring up thousands of rants by people who build web sites about how terrible this is, the “evil” link above is just one extreme example. Putting these workarounds means that building a website that looks good in the major browsers can take twice as long as it otherwise would or more.
So, web developers are unhappy, but regular people don’t need to care, right? We can just use whatever browser’s best for us, right?
No. This hurts everyone, because it raises the bar to putting something on the internet, and keeps information away from all of us. To the extent that it’s difficult to build a good website, it’s largely Microsoft’s fault.
There is a slight learning curve for someone switching to Firefox, but it’s worth it. And not just because you’re supporting the people who are doing the right thing, and snubbing the people who are doing the wrong thing: Firefox is a better browser, too. It’s more secure, and it has better features — as evidenced by the fact that Internet Explorer 7 “borrows” many features from Firefox (and still doesn’t implement them very well).
I would suggest that when Windows asks you to download IE7, you download Firefox 2 instead (use the link above).
Microsoft can get away with this because a lot of people use Internet Explorer, so web developers have to cater to it. But fewer people are using it every day. In the comments, R. links to a usage graph for Europe. Above is a graph for Critical Miami so far in the month of December. I say everyone else should consider getting with the program.
Thursday November 2, 2006
“He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.“ This is totally fucked; those electronic voting machines are a lot worse then a waste of money: they’re a complete disaster. And people told the elections officials they were a bad idea. They went ahead and bought them anyway. Bad, bad stuff. Here and here we discussed voting online, which I still think is the obvious way to the future — and with no hardware cost. (via BoingBoing) Update: At The Register. Update: Fuck me: the Herald’s doing online polls now.
Friday September 22, 2006
Ok, it fell to me to go to the Miami-Dade Mayor’s meeting regarding the beginnings of a plan to have county-wide free wireless last night. For the most part, it was a back-patting/grandstanding session for both the presenters and the audience participants. But they did provide a decent overview of the plan. The mayor gave a brief “this is going to be great” sort of opening talk, and then three other speakers did the bulk of the information sharing. Actually, the guy who did the research for the project, Ira (I missed his last name, and the handout helpfully didn’t bother to list the names of the speakers!!), gave most of the useful information. Even though the crowd was maybe 100, the speakers were on stage, and even the questioners had microphones, so there wasn’t much opportunity for “conversation,” per se. But here’re the salient points (apologies for the bullet point format)(and i’ll correct/amend/supplement this post as I get more information):
- The most fundamental motivation behind the project seems to be the digital divide. 49% of Miami-Dade residents have fast-access internet, 51% don’t.
- Other benefits: wirelessly controlled traffic signals, wirelessly controlled law-enforcement video cameras, various educational uses, etc etc etc (a speaker suggested remotely read water meters). Obviously the benefits multiply. I’d suggest voting.
- Kicking myself: I zoned out during the brief discussion of time-lines. But basically, some focus groups have been conducted, and the steering committee has been formed and has met once. Their second meeting is today (Friday). It’s to be webcast, but who knows where (see below)? After the steering committee process is complete, a plan will be drafted, and will go before the commission. The the process of building the thing can begin. Clearly, we’re talking about years here. Lots and lots of years.
- Security/privacy: basically, you’ll have to log in to use the system. A “regular citizen” account will have the “least secure” service, meaning little or no filtering/tracking. Contrast with a “child” account, which would have filtering similar to what is currently used in Miami-Dade public schools (i.e. unable to access porn, hate speech, and, presumably, bomb-making instructions).
- Before I forget, Miami Senior is an amazing building. Built in 1927/28, it’s a great big Gothic/classical/Romanesque building. I saw the outside, a couple of courtyards, and the auditorium, and all were impressive. Why didn’t I go to high school here?? (A few photos at the flickr: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)
- Funding: no funding from taxes(!!!). The project will be set up as a “private” non-profit organization, allowing it to apply for grants. More significant, my understanding is that they’ll basically charge some people, essentially competing with paid service providers, while the free accounts will be ad-supported. This was only very briefly hinted at, though, so some sort of confirmation would be welcome.
- A web site dedicated to the project is not quite ready, but will be launched soon (which, btw, is unacceptable. in an age when resource-less bloggers can create sites that are accessible, standards-compliant, and frequently updated, the idea that a government agency can’t throw up an ad-hoc page, and add to it as needed (even blog-like—is that so fucking difficult?), and instead gives us illegible drivel like the godawful Miami21 site, or, as in this case, nothing, is detestable. or perhaps actionable.).
Sorry for the parenthetical rant. Actually, a little information on the project is available at the Mayor’s page, here and here, although you could be checking those pages twice a day and you wouldn’t have known about last night’s meeting. Our government has a way to go.
Oh, but back to the project at hand. Of course this is sort of “duh” to me, and I think they should get rid of the “no $$ out of the tax till” concept and just fund it 100%. In the future everyone will use the internet (that’s the idea behind this thing, anyway), so what’s the point of charging some and subjecting the rest to ads? Just make it free as the air we breathe, and fund it out of the money you collect from property-owners. Whatever injustices that unleashes will be offset by reduced administration costs. This is a no-brainer. It’s obvious. Except, of course, that the sooner it happens the more it’ll cost. With every year that goes by the technology gets simpler, easier to install, more far-reaching, and cheaper. But whatever: we have lives to live. Get the shit up and running.
Thursday September 21, 2006
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez will pitch his vision for a countywide wireless Internet system (!!!) at a town hall meeting tonight at Miami Senior High. 7 pm, 2450 SW First St. Who’s going?
Thursday June 8, 2006