New Website

11 07 2008

I don’t know why I never did it before, but I’ve finally gotten a new web site up for the main web site. So, if you point your web browser to:

You will be greeted with a brand-spankin’ new home page. It’s not a whole lot, and I’ll probably be adding to it over time, but hey, it’s a start. I plan on using iWeb for this home page, just because it’s easy, and I’ve got another site for my personal projects now.

I welcome your comments on the new home page!


Back in My Day

8 07 2008

I was having a conversation with someone today, and a mysterious thought occured to me: My generation is currently living a social transformation very similar to the one that happened back in the early 20th century.

The 1900’s in America and the World were just starting to industrialize. But, modern society as we know it today didn’t happen until there was wide spread use of automobiles. Indeed, many historians will go on and on about the days before cars (the horse and buggy days) and the days with cars (urban sprawl days, present day). They will mention the huge societal transformation from quiet rural towns and small communities to huge megalopolis’s.

The people born in the late 1890s saw the whole world change in their lifetimes. They saw cars evolve from their very beginnings, to the affordability of the Ford model-T to the luxury liners. They also witnessed their way of life change. No longer was it fashionable to walk to the local store to get your groceries. If you had a car, you were high class. Hence the drive-in movie phenomenon of the 1950’s. In all, it was a huge shift.

Fast forward to the end of the 20th century, and cars are an all too common family item. But, a couple of new revolutionary devices made their ways to the mainstream culture due perhaps to their sheer utility. The Internet and Cell phones have become the two catalysts of our generation.

While it was born in the middle of the century, the Internet has grown into the vital tool for everyday communication and entertainment. In fact, the Internet is a vital component of many businesses. It is also a mainstay in or household. When we first moved in, the cable guy happened to be outside hooking things up. He said that he could have TV up by the end of the day. I quickly thanked him, but asked if we could have the Internet turned on instead. I have not subscribed to cable TV since then. Not a day goes by that I don’t use the Internet. These days, if it’s not on the Internet, I just don’t need it. All the information I need to get along with my daily activities is provided somewhere online. Electronics, check. Money, check. Clothes, check. Food, check. Books, check. Education, check. Friends, check. News, check. Everything is there. This is a huge shift from my own childhood when computers were luxury toys that were expensive and slow. My how fast times change.

The days before cell phones were difficult. If we were in trouble in the middle of an interstate highway between major cities, we were left to the mercy of the passersby to stop and lend a hand. If we didn’t make carefully laid out instructions to the late night rendezvous, we would never meet. Now, the electronic leash keeps us in touch with our friends, or sends us messages when we have events due on our online calendars. Sometimes, we even talk on our cell phones. Indeed the days before cell phones were nasty. I find it hard to believe that kids nowadays may grow up without ever knowing what a landline is, just as I never grew up with a rotary dial in any house but my grandmother’s.

All this makes me wonder: is this sort of social transformation on some sort of cycle? If so, what is it? At first glance, it seems that it’s comes about once a century. If that is the case, I can only wonder what awaits my children’s children when they grow up. What sort of major change in lifestyle will occur that I can’t even imagine?


8 03 2006

Have you ever wanted spam in your email inbox? Me either. There have been many solutions over the years, and many are still in use. The most promenant technique to block spam has been on the recieving end. That is, your email provider will install some sort of filtering software that will look at the incoming mail queue and through some complicated heuristic formula determine if that message is spam or not. Not a bad start.

The next wave of ideas starts with the premise that spamming is currently free for spammers. So, with that, if we charge spammers to send emails, this will solve the problem. It might, but it might also block legitimate bulk mail providers from performing their service in a cost effective manner. Better, but still not quite there.

I propose that we try to take a look at what mail was originally designed for, and what we are trying to do with it. Email was designed to send a single message from a single user to another single user. The fact that we can send a single message to multiple users seems amost like a hack in that either your mail client or mail server simple parses the To: field in the message and sends copies to the list of users. What would make more sense is a group mailbox in which many people who opt in can look and see what’s new. This isn’t always the correct solution either because what is new to one person isn’t new to another.

So, what about opting in to some sort of subscription? Consider the technology commonly associated with blogs (such as this one), RSS. If people who want to receive regular solicited updates from some company use RSS, then their inbox should free up for more personal communications. While these two technologies are seperate, I think the merging of mail clients and RSS clients and help blur which technology is actually being used by the end user, and have the added bonus of limiting the amount of spam emails end users recieve.

I don’t think we can solve the spam problem with one single solution, I do think that we have some current technologies that can really limit the amount of unsolicited and illeagal spam. I have left many areas of this topic open for discussion as I do not know all the avenues which this proposal would have, however, being a pure technology guy, it is definately doable, and may already be possible with current software.