Tag Archives: internet

Check Out My Guest Posts on Learn HTML With Song

A cool new site just launched all about producing educational coding music videos. The idea is that if you’re going to get a catchy song stuck in your head, why not have those lyrics teach you HTML, the language of the web?

It’s called Learn HTML With Song, and it’s made by a San Francisco coder, Diane Presler, with more than 20 years experience as an HTML teacher. Here’s an example of one of their videos. Continue reading Check Out My Guest Posts on Learn HTML With Song

Four Net Neutrality Fact Fails on Real Time With Bill Maher…In Under One Minute

There’s still a lot of confusion about net neutrality and why it matters. And no wonder people are confused, even the media often gets it wrong. Take for example this recent statement from Real Time With Bill Maher.

There’s a big misunderstanding about what net neutrality actually is. What’s happening is you have certain companies like Hulu and Amazon, they’re streaming videos, and that actually takes up a lot of bandwidth. And so what they’re trying to do is make it such that those people pay more. Why should they pay as much as the woman on Etsy selling hair bows?

The point of regulation is not to be neutral. It’s to protect the little guy.  It’s to create competition. Where we don’t have competition right now is with broadband providers. There’s very few of them. We need to have more competition in this space so that all of this flow continues to flow. I actually think a lot of politicians don’t really understand the issue. People making the rules really need to be under 32 to get this right.

Monica Mehta on Real Time with Bill Maher, proving she is over the age of 32

Bill Maher goes on to verify he too has no idea how the Internet works with two simple words, “good point.”

Nope, noppity nope. Mehta’s heart may be in the right place, but her facts are painfully wrong. You can listen to Monica Mehta’s quote on net neutrality here, it begins at 47:30 and goes on for a minute…one little minute, and yet this statement is riddled with problems.

Now to unravel all the ways she got it wrong, so you don’t make the same mistake.

1. Mehta is Confusing a Web Host With an Internet Service Provider (ISP)

a comic about net neutrality
Net Neutrality is about free speech of humans over the “free speech” of corporate dollars.                [comic via Oddysseus9]

Big companies do pay more for streaming video. They pay that money to their web hosts, which provides the computers where their websites live. Granted, a big company like Netflix probably owns their own servers, but they are definitely paying a lot more for bandwidth than some seller on Etsy.

(Further showing her lack of clarity on this, the gal on Etsy pays $0 to a web host—instead she pays Etsy to use their site and then Etsy pays a web host, but that’s nitpicking and besides the larger point.)

Every person who visits a web page is downloading data from the web host, so the more visitors a site has, the more they will have to pay in bandwidth fees. These transactions are between the company and the web host, they have nothing to do with the Internet Service Provider (e.g. Comcast).

Comcast is not hosting the sites for these big companies, they simply provide the pipe that sends it into your laptop and living room. They are a middle man, and in the tradition of middle men everywhere, they now want to charge extra fees. Net neutrality is about not allowing them to do that.

2. Those Opposed to Net Neutrality Aren’t Advocating Government Regulation

see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil monkeys
LA LA LA LA LA…I’M SURE COMCAST WILL DO A FINE JOB REGULATING THE INTERNET                                                                                                 [image via Wikimedia]
This isn’t “government regulation” any more than it is when we cover our eyes and allow factory farms to self-regulate. So when she says “the point of regulation is not to be neutral” she is further confusing matters. Comcast is not a regulator. They are a business, looking to profit.

In this particular case, they want to charge Netflix more because Netflix competes with them as a cable provider. It would be like Barnes & Noble marking up the price on all copies of The Idiot’s Guide to Amazon.com. That’s all fine and dandy until Barnes and Noble is the only bookstore in town, which is the case for most Internet Service Providers.

Which leads us to… Continue reading Four Net Neutrality Fact Fails on Real Time With Bill Maher…In Under One Minute

Hipster Hating Lives On

I love the latest article in The Awl, I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything“. It’s about a typewriter busker who ended up getting labeled as a hipster in an Internet meme. For one thing, I dig typewriter buskers.

the photo of the typewriter busker who got hated on for being a hipster
If only people were as upset about NSA surveillance as they were about this picture.

More importantly, as my regular readers may recall, I’ve written two articles about hipster hating, which were republished in a Kansas City entertainment weekly.

It’s this weird quirk of mine that I’m opposed to threats of violence against strangers, simply because of their fashion, beer and bicycle choices, no matter how strange those choices may be. The post in The Awl chronicles what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such threats, and reminds us that people doing weird things (like God-effing-forbid, taking a typewriter out in public) often do them for perfectly understandable reasons. Personally, I take an even more radical position that I don’t think people should be bullied for weirdness, even if there’s absolutely no rationale for their fashion crimes. If only the people posting their hatred of hipsters could devote that passion to fighting climate change or fixing the economy. But no, those are not issues they feel affect them personally, not in the way a guy with clunky glasses, shorts, and a typewriter does. I mean, WHO GAVE THAT GUY THE RIGHT TO SIT IN A PARK WITH A TYPEWRITER?

Before you call the lynch mob though, I ask that you please read the articles I’ve posted on this. Maybe some reason can be talked into you hipster haters before your pitchfork and torches army burns down the whole village.

Hipster Hating

Hipster Subculture Ripe for Parody [Time Magazine]


This is What My Computer Dreams About

Let’s hear it for the internet. Through constant innovation, the web seems to be buidling a better everything.
Or in this case, a screensaver.
I was just sitting here, in rapt awe of my screensaver, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to tell you why my screensaver is more bad-ass than yours (unless you have the same one, of course). Anyhow, I really want all of my readers to listen to the Derrick Jensen speech I posted in my last blog so I didn’t want to have any heavy reading in this one.

The screensaver I use is called “Electric Sheep”, so named for the Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
It starts with a fractal. Now, I’m used to the electric art of Winamp visualization plug-ins. This makes those look like a fourth graders computer class project (or a Windows Media Player visualization, same thing, really). Each of these fractals is a “sheep”.

But people who have the screensaver can vote, yay or nay, on whether or not they like the sheep, as the screensaver is going. The bad ones drop and — here’s the beauty part — the winners breed.

The original sheep is soon lost, as all over the world thousands of people vote for their favorites and these beget newer, more beautiful sheep, for sheep-generations. This adds to the beauty because the sheep are always delicate and extreemely complex, with the whisps and shadows of their electric ancestors still vaguely visible. It also makes them less predictable than your average pixelated visualization, because patterns are not based on a program but on previous sheep. It does all this while your computer is sleeping. Because people are always voting, the sheep are always changing, so no matter how long you run it, it never gets old.
There’s no Paula Abdul overseer, the screensaver blends them automatically. However, if you go the website, you can look up a sheeps “lineage”
and “genomes.” It’s a great concept with a stunning execution. If you’re still using that bouncing Windows logo, you might want to give this a try. It’s freeware. It works for Linux too, but obviously wouldn’t be recommended for folks with dial-up connections.


the Ever Expanding Blogosphere

Last night I was looking for a good way to host pictures on myspace when I got sucked into the blog mashable until three o’ clock in the morn’. This is a blog about blogs and the social networking sites, specifically the economics and business models they are using. But they also do a lot of research and talk about various newcomers to the scene. Here is a summation of what I learned:While everyone knows that myspace has the lead when it comes to the width and breadth of social networking sites, there are some contenders for specific interests. I had heard of deviant art (for artists) but not urbis.com, social networking for writers. There is a new competitor for art by the name of humble voice, which supposedly has a noteably more beautiful interface than myspace. Urbis’s strength is the opportunity for criticism of one’s work. Both sites have a ranking system, in the tradition of sites like hotornot.com but judging your work, rather than looks. I will most likely start an urbis account for my creative writing, as this blog isn’t the appropriate outlet for it.

I am also excited to start an account with bikespace, a social network for cyclists. On bikespace, you can create route maps, form groups of riders, and evite folks on rides. Bikespace is still in beta so newcomers could be influential.

If you are looking for someone to host all the pics and songs you want on your page, try badongo.com. They give you a gig and you can upload files from your computer. They will spit out the html to put it on your page. The only catch is that they delete your content if you are inactive for a month.
If you just want to throw some pics on your myspace, most folks have been using flickr and photobucket. But I am more excited about tinypic, allyoucanupload, and imageshack, which don’t require any login information. I’m not a professional photographer, I don’t want to chat about my pics. I just want to get them up and out to myspace.

Another interesting addition to the blogoshere are the remixing sites splice and jamglue. At these sites, you can take songs and sound clips with creative commons liscensing and remix them to make new songs.

I have been downloading mixing plug-ins from winamp.com but now you can just do it all on the web. Then you can upload it to your blog for all the world (okay, the myspace world) to hear.
Here’s an example:

.. classid=”clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=8,0,0,0″ height=”150″ width=”400″>..>
I am most excited about weedshare.com. Put your pipes away, my Oakstermdam friends; it’s a music sharing site. If you have been looking for a way to give money to the bands you love but want to keep downloading and sharing music, weedshare might be the answer. Personally, when I get my hands on good music I can’t wait to share it with others, particularly because the music I like is not playing on MTV (but then, what is?). The problem is that bands need distribution and the only way to do that has been through record companies. But with weedshare, you become the distributor. You can play any song free three times, then you buy for five dollars. If your friend wants the track, instead of buying it from itunes, they can buy it from you. You get a percentage of the money. Then if your friend passes the song on to someone else, they get a percentage, too. It is a concept so beautiful it makes me want to cry (or are is that the last vestiges of PMS?). More on this later, after I’ve thoroughly checked out their site.

All in all, the mashable blog raises one particularly interesting point: the more myspace expands, the more it cuts into the business that it is creating. If myspace video becomes hugely successful, youtube will lose their business. While this looks unlikely, it is certainly possible for smaller contenders like those mentioned above. Yet add-ons like this are what made myspace hugely popular. On the other hand, one can’t blame myspace for wanting to provide everything, so folks don’t have to look to other websites to complete the social networking experience.

All this means to my awesome, devoted readers: you will be seeing more and hearing more on my blog in the future. As usual, your comments are always welcome.