TechnoMagician's Weblog
(aka Tim Aiello)
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke.

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Thursday, June 20, 2002
More Like A to nowhere

At first I thought this was a joke so I decided to follow the "easy to use" instructions.  I had to try a couple time before actually getting to the end point!!!!!

Killer link today to the IBM 'Ease of use poster". See the "easy to use" ordering instructions on this page. [Adam Curry: Adam Curry's Weblog]
11:48:11 AM    

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
Spam Killing with SpamNet

I'll be checking this out right now:

Distributed Spam Killing. Cloudmark has finally come out of the dark with their distributed spam killing idea (and somehow picked up Karl Jacobs as CEO along the way). There's been some hype around the idea because (1) everyone is sick of spam and (2) distributed computing ideas seem to get so much attention these days. Not that I'm not happy there's a new spam killing system out there, but I really wonder how much better it is that other solutions like SpamCop or SpamAssassin. Is this something that really needs to be distributed? [Techdirt]
4:55:35 PM    

Please wait while Visio updates its directory cache

I've been battling with this MS Visio problem for I don't know how long.  What has been happening (for no apparent reason since it used to work) is that it comes up with a dialog box displaying Please wait while Visio updates its directory cache and just hangs there at 80% forever.  The only way to kill it is to kill the installer that it spawns for no good reason.

Today I decided to fix the damn thing.  After enough Google searching I came up with a MS knowledge base article Q263146.  Of course, searching on the MS site didn't find it!!!  In any event performing step 2 in the article seemed to do the trick.

Update 20 minutes after the post above:

Well it seems Visio loads but depending on what Visio document one tries to open it comes up with something similar to before trying to install something or other.  I just cancelled it all and then Visio freezes.  I suppose I should just un-install it and make sure I never use Visio ever again.

3:07:21 PM    

Friday, June 14, 2002
Robotic Fly

When I first read about this robotic fly I thought for sure that Mark Tilden was behind it.  He most likely is involved in some way but any indication of that.

When I walked into Mark's office for the first time way back in the late 80's I was just amazed and totally speechless.  His robots, made from little more than scrap electronics, where just amazing and twitching all over the place.

Mark is the genius behind BEAM robotics.  I remember reading about how his robots built from scrap electronics costing less that $10 would win in competitions up against MIT's robots with $10,000's of dollars behind them.  Here is a little excerpt from an interview in March 2000 related to that:

No, the fact is is that there aren't very many military or government applications, In fact, I'd reallly like to get out. But the problem is is that this is a very new concept in robotics, and unfortunately it's just not popular. I've stood up in front of entire audiences with machines that don't have a single computer inside them, and they kicked butt. Sorry, they kicked ro-butt! I used to go around to an awful lot of international competitions - micromouse and all-terrain and walking vehicles and stuff like that, and I just put my machines down and they just stomp on M.I.T.'s head. And after a while I'd discuss it, and I suddenly realized that I wasn't' gaining too much popularity. You show up with a device which essentially does things by itself, and you just sit there with your hands in your pockets. It just basically gets a lot of people pissed off. Because when somebody has spent the past ten years building a six-legged bug and it barely gets off the ground, and you built something out of a couple of dead Walkmans and it basically just kicked them off of the sumo stage, it tends to make people angry, because they love their computers. I love my computer, but I know that I'll never give it legs; it can't use 'em!

8:17:01 PM    

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

I thought I would get YACCS going for entering comments.  The main advantage over the built in Radio comments is that I can subscribe to an RSS feed for the comments and also a bit of customization is available.

12:43:37 PM    

Tuesday, June 11, 2002
Searching Groove

A side effect of this is that I can finally search some of my Groove content:

Tim is doing some more work on the Groovespace publisher concepttool. For now it publishes the outliner-tool, the discussion-tool and the notepad-tool. Click here to view the webmirror of a Public Groove Space. As a test i also added this output to my weblog  (at the bottom of my list of links) It will be dynamicly updated as the Groovespace grows. [Jeroen Bekkers' Groove Weblog]
10:47:53 PM    

Relive the dot-com era
This might be a must buy for dot-com'ers.  I wonder if the "bicycle delivery service" refers to good old
Relive The Dot-Com Era As A Card Game. Adam Barr writes "A new card game lets you (humorously) relive the dot-com era. In "Burn Rate" all products under development are labeled "Bad Ideas." One Bad Idea is "Dot-Com Card Game," but the very worst is "Bicycle Delivery Service." Players can only get money by raising venture capital, and releasing a product does not earn you any more money: it just allows you to stop losing money developing it." Well, this sounds perfect for the next Techdirt party... [Techdirt]
5:13:35 PM    

LM Orchard is doing some really slick stuff with AmphetaDesk.  Can this be done with Radio Userland?  I would think so.  Anyone have any ideas or working on it, please let me know.

More On Outline Style RSS Aggregators. L.M. Orchard has modified activeRenderer's XSLT code to devise an RSS news aggregator for Amphetadesk. The result looks pretty good. [s l a m]
5:03:31 PM    


Adam Curry and Dave Winer have been talking about audioblogging lately.  In search of converting live streaming video presentations to text for an eLearning venture we stumbled upon some technology from Virage (see the VideoLogger product).  This technology will convert speech to text in real time and provide a means for indexing the video for later searching and retrieval.

The products from Virage are definitely overkill for an audioblogger.  I've dug out some other links that weren't suitable for the eLearning venture but may be suitable for audiobloggers:

BBN Audio Indexer - This might be the speech-to-text audio technology behind the Virage product.  They also have something called Rough'n'Ready.  Both definitely worth looking at for audioblogging.

Videogram - actually this would be great for videobloggers.  There is a free version as well so one could put something up rather quickly I would think.  If anyone does, let me know and I'll provide a link here.

VidiTalk - They describe this as a "streaming media messaging system" (whatever that is).  This has a video component but also converts speech to text and does language translation.

I'm sure there are a number of other solutions out there as well so if anyone would like to add comments to this post please do so.

I think we'll start seeing some of these types of technologies in action very soon at conferences.  Along with the manual conferencebloggers there will be this automatic conferenceblog being generated.  Would definitely be useful to the virtual conference attendees that is for sure.  I'm sure Scoble would be very interested in all this.

12:55:26 PM    

Thursday, June 06, 2002

I'll try it, but meanwhile I just wish I could turn antialiasing off on pretty much everything. It might be smooth as silk, but it's also blurry as shit. Makes me feel like I've got cataracts. [Doc Searls Weblog]
4:06:58 PM    

There is no way this can be serious. I just can't believe that any organization (even a government agency) would not have this advanced POST-IT note technology:
Technology Makes You More Efficient!.

FBI Orders Message Pads
Trip to OfficeMax crucial to agency’s overhaul, Mueller says

"In what its director described as a 'crucial' first step to upgrade the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities, the FBI paid a visit to an OfficeMax office superstore today and bought 'a substantial number' of 'While You Were Out' message pads....

FBI Director Robert Mueller, speaking at a press conference in Washington, said that the FBI had also purchased 'these little yellow reminder thingies with stick-um stuff on the back so you can post them on your desk and whatnot.'

Mueller added that the FBI was 'intrigued' by a machine they saw at OfficeMax that could record phone messages and store them while an FBI employee was away from his or her desk.

'Once the phone messages are played back, they could theoretically be written down on the 'While You Were Out' pads,' Mueller said." [MSNBC]

[The Shifted Librarian]
3:57:30 PM    

About a week ago I mentioned that I was trying out Newz Crawler and that at first it seemed to be everything one would want. Well after about a weeks worth of using it extensively I think I'm coming back to using Radio and most likely back to developing my own.

Here is what I like and don't like about Newz Crawler:


  • Feeds can be listed in a tree view and categorized making it much easier to find specific ones if that is all you want to read for the moment.
  • Number of new (unread) items per feed are displayed.
  • Feed scan times can be specified by feed. So you can have one feed scanned every 15 minutes while others are set at hours or days.
  • When new items show up in a feed I can have it optionally popup a window showing me a summary.
  • When new items show up in a feed I can have it optionally display in a scrolling news bar (like news scrolled on CNN).
  • Newsgroups can be added as a feed. This is fantastic. No more jumping to another application just to check if a newsgroup is updated. Better yet, I can have it notify me just like RSS feeds when something new is there.
  • Well, its really just one that I can think of. I just can't scan and read news as fast as I would like. I thought at first I would be able to. It presents a tree view of feeds on the left with ones in bold and a number indicating the number of new items for that feed. In the top right pane, it shows the summary (titles of items) for the feed selected and once again bolds the ones I haven't read yet. In the bottom right pane are details of the item. At times it is faster. For instance if I want to read just a specific feed like Dave Winer then I simply select it and quickly scan the summary and select the items I want details on. But when I want to scan all new news since I last checked I have to click on each feed in turn, then on each summary in turn (if I want more details than the title). This is just too time consuming never mind way too many mouse clicks. In Userland Radio I just very keep the mouse wheel scrolling as I scan down the news items with details right there in front of me. Way faster, much more efficient.
Don't get me wrong, I really like Newz Crawler and I'll be keeping an eye on it from time to time. All they really need for me is a full news view like Radio has and that might be the clincher.
8:10:02 AM    

QNX 6.2 free for non-commercial use
I've posted about QNX before. Sounds interesting especially since it works on an iPAQ as well. Might be worth a try:
QNX 6.2. The QNX 6.2 OS is available for free non-commercial use. This version runs on the iPAQ as well as desktop PCs and random embedded systems. [Hack the Planet]
7:45:38 AM    

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

A useful Userland Radio update:
A tiny change in Radio's aggregator makes referer logs more interesting. Please read this if you provide an RSS source for Radio users, and you watch your referer logs. This change could be confusing if you don't read the doc carefully.   [Scripting News]
3:42:13 PM    

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Now that is some serious Lego building:
Ralph Hempel wrote me to say he's found a Lego Palm made by Tijger Tsou. Even the stylus and antenna are made from Legos! "This is the Palm VII that i made out of nothing but LEGO [tm]... [Source: Shifted Librarian]
9:55:35 PM    

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