Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thursday Top 5

Worst. Day. At. Work. Ever.

“He’s doing it all wrong!”
Holy shit.

Um, uh oh. Uh oh! UH OH!
I’m not sure if this guy is the most dedicated or the most stupid radio announcer ever.

Repower America
Al Gore is advocating a U.S. goal of 100% carbon-free electricity in 10 years (New York Times Op-Ed: “The Climate for Change”). So am I. If you agree, sign the petition, or write a letter to the editor.

Kevin Rose interviews Al Gore for Digg Dialogg
Gore takes questions from the Digg users on subjects ranging from marijuana legalization/regulation to Net Neutrality whether he would accept a position in the Obama cabinet or heading the EPA.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Free the Airwaves

Remember on old TVs how, when you used to switch from channel 5 to 7 (for example), there might be static on channel 6? Those unused spaces on the analog broadcast spectrum are called “white spaces.”

Currently more than half of the spectrum is unused. When TV broadcasters go fully digital-spectrum next year and discontinue their analog broadcasts altogether, there will be a lot more. A coalition including Google, Microsoft, Dell, and others, is asking the U.S. government to turn over white spaces to public use (broadcast spectrum is, after all, a legally recognized public resource). It could be used for better public access to wifi, Internet telephony, and many other things.

While the technology companies that are part of this coalition arguably stand to gain much from this, a variety of public advocacy groups and think-tanks are advocating for public access to white spaces too (Free Press, Public Knowledge, New America Foundation, Wireless Innovation Alliance).

I predict this fight will get nasty when many other companies realize they stand to lose a lot too. Expect the traditional and cellular phone companies, for example, to form a similar coalition on the other side, lobbying Congress for strict licensing and fees which would effectively lock out public access the same way licensing has kept citizens from broadcasting their own TV or radio stations.

For more information, and to sign a petition, visit Free the Airwaves.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is Google making us stupid?

Nicholas Carr poses questions about what the Internet is doing to the way we think, in the July/August issue of The Atlantic. Here’s an excerpt:
As we use...our “intellectual technologies” — the tools that extend our mental rather than our physical capacities — we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies...

The Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition. In a paper published in 1936, the British mathematician Alan Turing proved that a digital computer, which at the time existed only as a theoretical machine, could be programmed to perform the function of any other information-processing device. And that’s what we’re seeing today. The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It’s becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV.
Read the full article: Is Google making us stupid? And try to ignore the irony in reading a long article online about how the Internet is making us unable to read long articles anymore.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Corruptibles

Take action against the Broadcast Flag, Audio Flag, and Analog Hole.

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Is your cable company blocking your Internet?

SF Weekly featured a cover story last week about Comcast blocking subscribers who are using peer-to-peer programs like BitTorrent.

Regardless of the potential for copyright abuses by P2P, BitTorrent and digital advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) make the valid point that Comcast, as the nation's second-largest internet service provider, has a duopoly on bandwidth and therefore a stranglehold on a public utility that shouldn't be subject to the whims of a single corporation.

This is core to the recent concerns raised about so-called "net neutrality," and SF Weekly's piece is a good primer. The EFF also has some additional information on Comcast's abuses of their subscribers.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Room 641A: AT&T's complicity in Bush's Orwellian America

I pass this windowless, metal-clad behemoth of a building every day. It's practically across the street from my office downtown. It's an AT&T building, but I never understood why it would have absolutely no windows. I always wondered what was inside.

A whistleblower who used to be a technician working for AT&T in this building revealed that it contains a room which is only accessible to National Security Agency (NSA) personnel, into which all communications traffic — internet and telephone — flows and is copied.

"My job was to connect circuits into the splitter device which was hard-wired to the secret room," said whistleblower Mark Klein. "And effectively, the splitter copied the entire data stream of those internet cables into the secret room — and we're talking about phone conversations, email web browsing, everything that goes across the internet."

In January 2006 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the telecom giant of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the NSA in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications.

The traffic routed through these secret rooms is not limited to AT&T customers, and AT&T is not the only telecom company complicit in the government's conspiracy to surveil the entirety of American civil communications. The EFF has filed briefs seeking information on similar locked rooms in facilities owned by Verizon, MCI, and others.

Coverage of Room 641A:

Washington Post: A Story of Surveillance: Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program
PBS's Frontline: Spying on the Home Front
Wired interview with Mark Klein: Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T Whistle-Blower Tells His Story
Wired: AT&T Whistle-Blower's Evidence
Electronic Frontier Foundation: Hepting v. AT&T
Wikipedia: Room 641A

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday top 5

Flight of the Conchords, "Jenny"
This one's for Ynnej since I missed her birthday by a couple days last month. These two Kiwis are hilarious. There are a whole bunch of good vids of them on YouTube.

Burning Man double rainbow
Yes, this is a real picture.

Family Guy Star Wars
A preview of an upcoming hour-long episode in which the cast of "Family Guy" does the entire first Star Wars movie.

For font geeks and/or Nippophiles
Shuetsu Sato is a railway employee who makes intricate, creative, hand-made signs and maps out of colored tape.

Internet People
If you recognize more than half of these people, you're spending too much time in front of your computer. Like me.

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