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Dave Winer -

Scripting News - 2019-04-17T21:07:46Z

- 2019-04-17T21:07:46Z
I always thought foot pedals would become a standard part of the UI. They haven't, but I think they would have if Apple had decided to try them out. When I write, my feet are doing nothing. However they are capable of driving a car, so why aren't we using them??

- 2019-04-17T15:34:13Z
Apple TV, if Apple had their heads screwed on right, would be able to play music and video it finds on the local net, so I don't have to attach a Mac mini to the TV just to do that.

- 2019-04-17T15:28:39Z
Maybe 5 times out of 10 when I use Google I'm really looking for the Wikipedia page on that topic. They're making it harder and harder to find this on Google. So much so that I'm thinking Wikipedia has to do a search engine. I would learn to use it.

- 2019-04-17T13:21:43Z
Let’s call it The Barr Report.

Roku, the entertainment desktop - 2019-04-17T14:40:31Z

I've been slowly rebuilding my home entertainment system, in a bootstrapping kind of way. My old system was built around a huge Denon receiver I bought in 2007, two Polk Audio towers (also 2007), and a 45 or 55 inch Sony Bravia screen bought in 2010 when I moved to NYC.

A lot has changed in all those years, and I wanted to get caught up. First, I bought a 65-inch 4K TCL Roku screen and a cheap Onkyo receiver. I wanted immediately to get 2019-level equipment. Still using the Polk Audio towers. The picture quality was an amazing improvement over what I had before. Like many others, the picture was weird until I made the motion smoothing change.

Yesterday I got a cheap Polk audio subwoofer. I never thought about how it would connect to the receiver. Then I assumed there would be speaker wire ports on both ends and I would hook it up as I did with the towers, using banana plugs. I was surprised to learn how subwoofers connect to receivers these days. Using some very legacy tech, totally non-digital -- simple old RCA plugs. I went on to Amazon hoping to find some, then I realized of course they would be easy to find. An entire new market has developed here. Super long mono RCA jacks, with gold plating. As someone who studies standards evolution in tech, this is both odd and gratifying. The old way just worked and no one screwed with it. Bing.

I also was pleased to learn about ARC, a protocol that allows sound to flow back out over an HDMI wire. It means you only need one HDMI cable to hook up a receiver to a screen. It allows the receiver to play audio that's coming in through the TV. I was getting ready to set up an optical connection, as I did in the old setup. It's not needed any longer. I love factoring. Some good standards work. Met the customer need (I had actually thought of this while I was hooking up the TV and the receiver).

Another great connection is now you can access the user interface of the receiver on the TV. It's weird to use their remote on a screen I usually use via the Roku remote, but it works. Onkyo's UI was understandable, but there are some very simple best practice type changes they should make. And it's hard to find out how to get the configuration screen back. I think part of the reason the sub-woofer doesn't work yet is that when I configured it initially, I told it I didn't have a sub-woofer. I think it was a mistake of them to ask, and a mistake of me to tell the truth.

Ultimately I'd like to be able to control the receiver through the Roku settings hierarchy. I imagine there either is a way for a receiver to do this, or they're working on it. It's too obvious a direction to head in.

BTW, I assume Apple has tried to buy Roku. They have an incredibly valuable asset, the desktop of the digital entertainment world. It could be a franchise like Windows.

I'm learning a lot about a tech in an area I have loved since I was a kid. Pretty cool.

- 2019-04-16T00:22:08Z
Killing Eve season 2 in the same class as Breaking Bad. The most depraved comedy action series in a very long time.

- 2019-04-15T20:08:50Z
I love this scene in the movie Amadeus. What's cool is how incompetent yet good-natured the Emperor is.

- 2019-04-15T15:44:59Z
BTW here's a picture of two very sweet and generous people dancing at #isoj2019. They understand the importance of symbolism and have the courage. This picture illustrates working together, which they do IRL, which is so damn important in this crazy world of ours.

- 2019-04-15T15:42:53Z
Another offline conversation at #isoj2019 -- I got to say to a NYT editor, in a congenial way, that I thought: 1. The NYT should have a public editor and 2. It should be a member of the public, not a journalist. The current situation is not getting them the benefit they need.

- 2019-04-15T15:23:12Z
In this Twitter thread I invite a major publisher, Trei Brundrett of Vox to endorse the Instant tech bootcamps for journalists idea. Help turn it into reality in time to help us have a good 2020 election.

Spoiler alert - 2019-04-15T17:01:57Z

Don't read this if you don't want an incredibly brief summary of last night's episode of Game of Thrones.

  • You have been warned.
    • I'm serious.
      • This is it, the summary is below.
        • It's not too late to turn back.
          • This time I mean it.
            • It's mostly reunions between two or more amazing characters who had never met or hadn't seen each other in decades and assumed were dead.
              • I predict in coming episodes we will see reunions with characters who are long dead, as White Walkers.

- 2019-04-14T22:55:04Z
Sitting in the Austin airport early this morning hearing the names of Muslims on the PA system, such an ordinary thing in normal times, I wondered where we would be in a couple of years. Will those people still be fully righted Americans, or will the rule of law have completely collapsed. I wondered what must go through their minds. How conspicuous they might feel. And who would be next. When will we start putting Americans in concentration camps, and what comes after that. I couldn't convince myself that these were foolish thoughts.

- 2019-04-14T16:01:32Z
I just spent a few days in Austin at the ISOJ conference. I had a great time. Thanks to all the people who put on this complicated affair. I was interviewed yesterday morning by my longtime friend Rebecca MacKinnon, and co-conspiritor of original Berkman Thursday clan, and co-founder of Global Voices. Made a lot of new friends, and stayed true to my rather radical opinions about the course journalism should take into the future, and found to my surprise a lot of support among the assembled journalists and academics.

- 2019-04-14T16:20:18Z
I now find myself on a longish layover in Philadelphia, in Terminal F. Never been to this airport (no reason to, because my endpoint is usually JFK or EWR, but this time it's Albany). Looking forward to bingeing on the NBA playoffs which have so far been quite exciting. The Nets won and Orlando won, against teams that were thought to be superior. I doubt if I'll ever be a Nets fan, but they're the only quality act in NYC these days. And of course Game of Thrones and Killing Eve tonight. A great time to have a TV and a couch! :-)

Instant tech bootcamps for journalism - 2019-04-14T16:36:55Z

This idea came up in Austin and was well-received. When journalism discovers a tech issue that appears to be a scandal, I proposed there should be a quickly convened flash conference, hosted by a university journalism department in conjunction with its computer science department. A two-evening bootcamp for journalists in New York, where the tech behind the scandal is examined dispassionately and objectively, by computer scientists who speak the language of journalism. A "poets" course. It is possible to understand the basics of an email server, for example, in a couple of hours, even if you only have a user's understanding of email technology. In the second evening, a smaller group convenes with journalists and techies, to write a concise backgrounder on the tech, and it is published, quickly.

The organization that does this would be something like Politifact, but rather than fact-checking a story, it's providing the necessary background for all reporters working on a controversy, so the delay in getting seriously factual reports on the problem is minimized. It would also likely quickly evolve, and set a baseline for the kind of information every news org should publish along with a story about tech malfeasance.

The reason this is needed is that our political system has (imho) overreacted to sensational stories, such as Hillary's emails, or misunderstood the extent of Facebook's API. And also completely missed looming crises, failing to catch them in time for them to be prevented. It seems journalism should aspire to do this as well.

- 2019-04-12T00:31:53Z
I spent the whole day on airplanes flying from Albany to Chicago to Austin, and watched the whole first season of Dr Foster on Netflix, and really enjoyed it.

- 2019-04-11T11:33:03Z
There's a chain of beating hearts going from your heart all the way back to the first animal on earth with a heart.

- 2019-04-10T14:40:56Z
I'm going to Austin tomorrow, and thought I should have a look at the weather. The first words that emitted from my mouth were Holy Shit. I'm not ready for a high of 91 (today) and only 81 on Thursday and Friday. In other news this will be my first flight from Albany via Chicago, where there is a "significant winter storm" expected. I am totally not ready for this. What a crazy situation. I'm going through all this to talk for 45 minutes on Saturday? Probably a bunch of schmoozing too. I think I'm getting too old for this! 💥

- 2019-04-09T19:58:09Z
An idea for banks as social/financial networks. I have a checking account at a major bank. I use it to pay bills. It's not a great user interface, and they don't keep my records indefinitely (I wonder why not) but it's way better than the old way of paying bills by hand with paper checks. Some companies have a special deal with the bank, so when I pay their bill, no paper check is written and mailed and they get their money much faster. An example is my credit card company. When I pay their bill, they get the money the next day. I just added another bill-to account for a business that has an account at the same bank. Why can't they optimize that so the money arrives in their account faster? In this case, they are actually mailing a check, which then has to be deposited at the same bank. Ridiculous. It's 2019 not 1992. Optimize. And give more people an incentive to bank with you.

What is a podcast? - 2019-04-09T13:57:11Z

A podcast is a series of digital media files made available over the open web through an RSS feed with enclosures. Podcasts usually are audio, but you can distribute any media object this way. I've used podcast feeds to distribute videos, even code.

If an audio file is not available over the web, or is behind a paywall, or is otherwise exclusive it may be a very fine worthwhile thing, but it is not a podcast. Being accessible openly in a standardized format, RSS, is essential to something being a podcast.

It's kind of amazing that until 2019 this hasn't been an issue. Everything that claimed to be a podcast actually was a podcast, meeting all these conditions. But now podcasting is being siloized by companies trying to dominate. It's understandable and predictable. But let's not dilute the qualities that make podcasting so useful.

- 2019-04-08T16:30:41Z
A new feedBase feature. Now you can view the contents of a feed from its Feed Viewer page. Here's an example, the TechCrunch feed. Click on the wedge next to Items to see the contents.

- 2019-04-08T14:25:41Z
The request package and all its weirdness is baked into all the Node apps I’ve made and depend on. Same as everyone. Deprecating it is the wrong answer. Freeze it. Make new things that do similar things if you want. But don’t mess with the foundation.

- 2019-04-08T13:06:22Z
When I sit down at a lovely dinner, with interesting, humor-filled friends in a beautiful spot, I am as rich as I can possibly be. A billionaire couldn't have more. I first realized this at a sushi restaurant in Sausalito, where the chef had prepared the most amazing looking and tasting bouquet of fresh fish and rice. Literally this is as rich as you can get.

Receivers have changed - 2019-04-08T18:39:07Z

Just set up a new receiver. They keep changing these things. Once I had the speakers hooked up, I turned it on and it says INITIAL SETUP ON TV. I had no idea what it meant. So I sat down and thought. Hmm. Try hooking up an HDMI cable to the receiver's HDMI-out connection and into one of the HDMI ports on the TV. Reboot the receiver. Voila. There's a cheesy setup screen. I go through the first few pages, give it access to the net (probably a bad idea, even though I told it not to send data about me back to Japan). Then we got to ARC. I have no idea what this is. It said Your TV does not support ARC. I couldn't believe it because I have a new 4K highly recommended TV. Looked at their docs, which are better than the receiver's. I learn ARC lets HDMI flow sound back, out of the TV into the receiver. Ahhh. No need for the optical cable I bought (glad, because it was hard to get it working with the TV). Once I told the TV I didn't have a subwoofer, the sound became incredible, I guess because it started sending the low notes to the big speakers I have. I will of course eventually get a subwoofer and rear speakers. But right now I'm glad I figured out what a receiver is in 2019. Very different from the receivers of my youth.

- 2019-04-07T15:20:43Z
Facebook is instrumental in news, not just in distribution of stories, but also for access to sources. The private groups are a gold mine. I just moved to a small town in the mountains outside NYC. The private FB group has been a godsend. Any reporter working a specific beat, either find the FB group that gathers sources, or start one. If you start it off Facebook, the problem you're going to hit is that many people you want to include will only be on Facebook. In a way the news media, if it wants to regain control of distribution, it has to first get control of its sources.

- 2019-04-06T16:57:58Z
This isn't going to be popular, but much of what's funded in grant-based journalism is meant to keep journalists employed, not to make journalism more useful to the people.

- 2019-04-06T16:56:02Z
Credible j-schools, in conjunction with their CS departments, should hold boot camps for reporters when aspects of tech become hot news. In 2016 it was email servers. Last year it was Facebook's API.

Impeachment is political - 2019-04-06T16:42:05Z

Impeachment is political, it's not about violating statutes, that's what the DoJ is for. Impeachment is when the country can't tolerate what the president is doing, and no remedy other than removal can protect the country. POTUS using Nazi genocide language qualifies.

Impeachment is an act of the people, as the founders saw it. It's our representatives in Congress, specifically the House, who make the call, but they should only do it when the people demand it of them. Right now that demand is not there. Can't blame the Democrats for that. It's our job to make our will clear to our reps. We have not done that, yet.

- 2019-04-05T12:33:52Z
On Tuesday I wrote a draft of my talk at ISOJ a week from tomorrow. The piece begins with a cartoon by Doug Marlette. I was told by a vehement reader that I didn't understand the cartoon, Marlette wasn't criticizing bloggers, he said, he was mocking the people (journalists) who criticize them. I thought this was a ridiculous stretch, even though it doesn't weaken my point. But I don't want to call him out on it if he was being blogger-friendly. Marlette was from North Carolina, and luckily I have a friend, John Robinson, former editor of the Greensboro News & Record, who now teaches journalism at UNC, and I guessed he would have known Marlette. He asked me to say this is just his opinion, he never discussed it with Marlette, who died in 2007 (or else I would have asked him). Robinson said: "I knew Doug. He was a feisty SOB; a perfect trait for a cartoonist. I didn't see the cartoon the way the reader did. I think Marlette was criticizing the blogger. It was 2004; newspapers were still strong (we thought). Blogging was still new to journalists. (It's the year I started blogging as an editor and I got all kinds of skepticism from other journalists.) He was feisty as a journalist. As a person, he was as gracious and generous as could be."

- 2019-04-04T16:02:28Z
BTW, people who think the web is over don't understand imho how technology flows. The web is basically repurposed Unix. It arrived the decade after the PC revolution. Conventional wisdom said that Unix was a small niche OS that programmers liked, but users primarily used Windows with a smattering of Mac. Along comes the web just as Bill Gates thought he had it all sewn up. Unix! When I first saw an HTTP url I thought "users will never do this." Six months later there were billboards on Hwy 101 in Marin with URLs on them. They were talking about the web on radio and TV. Unix had the last laugh. So when the web reboots it might not be called the web. But look closely, at whatever geeky new technology people are raving about, and you'll see that at its core it's open technology. And that will build on the open stack, and the web will be the next layer down, and under that it's Unix.

How to get started investing - 2019-04-04T14:12:34Z

First, do not get a financial advisor. You need to get a feel for driving your own money. That imho is the most important thing. You can do it. If you hire someone to take care of your money, you'll have even less of a feel for it than you do now (assuming you're keeping your money in a checking or savings account). And you'll grow to resent the manager the way you resented adults when you were a kid. Money has all that stuff tied up in it, sense of self worth, powerlessness, being an impostor. Money is a symbol for every personal issue. Okay good for you -- you now you have some money, don't rush to give up your power. Embrace it.

  1. Open an account at one of the famous companies, Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, E*Trade. They'll have a minimum amount to open an account of say $1000. That's how much you have to have to play with. And you should be prepared mentally to lose it all, even though if you follow my advice that is very very very unlikely to happen.
  2. If you read their advice they make it sound really complicated. I'm going to make it simple. Put the $1000 in the S&P 500. It's a stock that's made up of 500 companies' stocks. You can think of it as a meta-stock. A stock of stocks. They're chosen by a company named Standard and Poor. The companies are chosen because they're solid earners, have been around a while, and together they reflect the performance of the stock market. Each of them is relatively low risk, but combined, they are very low risk. They track the performance of the stock market. If the market goes up, the S&P 500 goes up, and down if the market goes down.
  3. Historically, the S&P 500 mainly goes up. That's why it's a relatively safe investment. Here's a graph of the S&P 500 over the last 20 years or so. At times it does go down. There was a stock market crash in 2008, you can see that in the graph. But look what happened after that, it started going up again. There's a reason for that, btw, politically it's very bad for an incumbent president to have the stock market go down. So they do things to make it go up. You can buy a little piece of that with your $1000. It's why investing in an index fund like S&P 500 is a no-brainer.
  4. Only put $1000 in this fund at first. And then track the value of your investment. That's all you should do until you feel comfortable that you know what you're doing. It should happen pretty quickly. It's not even as complicated as the lottery. What I've told you here is really all you need to know. You can of course read up on it. But you've only risked $1000, so the most you can lose is (drumroll please) $1000. And unless the economy completely melts down, and then you have other huge problems, your investment over time is pretty safe. And you can make a lot of money doing this. Doesn't seem fair does it? (It really isn't.)
  5. Now comes the fun part. Every day check the value of the S&P 500 compared to the price you paid. Do this forever. Think about what it means. And it may give you ideas to look at other meta-stocks. And you may see yourself differently too.

A note, they ask too many questions when you open an account at these services. They insist you answer questions you have no way to answer. Why not have a fast path to signing up. A button that says Hey I'm a Newbie Here and I don't want to answer any questions. I just want to put a little money in an index fund to see how this works.

- 2019-04-03T16:41:33Z
Why do they make refrigerators with the freezer on top?

- 2019-04-02T18:57:32Z
editor.js looks interesting.

Thinking about my ISOJ keynote - 2019-04-02T13:29:22Z

A week from this coming Saturday I'll give a keynote talk at the ISOJ conference in Austin. The way it works is I talk for 20 minutes or so, then I answer questions from the host, Rebecca MacKinnon and from the audience. Here's my current thoughts on how to approach it.

I'll start by showing the cartoon done by a Pulitzer-prize winning editorial cartoonist about the bloggers who were invited to the DNC in Boston in 2004. I was one of them. The cartoon betrays a point of view. His was that bloggers only had a PC, where reporters covering the DNC had a wealth of experience. It's a bold, condescending, arrogant statement and it's nonsense. I was 49 years old that year. My credentials at the time were as impressive as his. I had a good education from a good school. At the time I was a research fellow at Harvard. I had spent decades proving myself in my field and had risen to the top. I had invented a bunch of technology that were in very wide use, and would form the foundation for all computer networking to come. I had been writing my blog for nine years at that point, and if I do say so myself, was a good writer. We were in the process of starting podcasting at the time. And I was just one of the DNC bloggers. The others were just as accomplished. You had to be someone special to be at the DNC in 2004. If he had bothered to find out who he was dissing, if he had any humility at all, he would have been embarrassed to be so wrong. Yet this is so much of what bloggers heard from professional news people. I don't mention this because my feelings were hurt, rather because it's a blind spot that has kept journalism from rising to the opportunity that is the two-way web. It's why Facebook is growing like a weed, and journalism is crumbling.

So dear ISOJ people. I come to you from tech. I have tried to work with journalism, many times. I've even succeeded a few times, in spectacular ways. Most of the time, I'm brushed aside as irrelevant, even when I'm an expert in the fields I am offering insight into. Areas that are all of a sudden very important to journalists. And I have some of the answers they seek. But they can't hear me, because they don't understand what I am. What am I? To you, I am a source.

  • Successful collaboration with journalism
    • SF Newspaper strike, 1994
    • RSS with the NY Times, 2002
    • Podcasting with WGBH, 2004

Back in the 80s when I was rising through the ranks of the software industry, one of the basic skills of being a tech CEO was to get journalists to write about you often and favorably. This, along with thoughtful product designs, were my big strengths. I wasn't a great manager, or money-raiser. But I could get good coverage, and my products were interesting, and one of them was a hit. (I didn't make Craig Newmark level money, but I did well.)

In the 80s journalists were an important part of our distribution system, as was advertising, which was 1/4 of our budget, along with product development, support, sales, cost of goods, administration. If we stopped getting coverage and stopped advertising our sales would also stop.

We didn't have the web in the 80s, so talking on the phone with journalists was the way we traded information with others in the industry. I was a frequent source for the columns, Spencer F Katt, the Talking Moose et al and when new products came out from the big vendors, I was a reliable quote. When my copy of PC Week or MacWEEK came in, I closed the door and read the whole issue cover to cover. It was our pulse. We put news and gossip in and got the same out.

How different that is from the way news works today, and at the same time how similar!

How did this transition happen? I actually know, because in 1994 the journalism system I described above had collapsed, as had the software distribution system. I was a Mac developer, but the consensus among journalists was that the Mac is dead, there is no new software for the Mac, and no reason to create more, because it's dead. Dead. Basically when reporters wrote about the Mac they just said it's dead and Windows is booming. Which was weird because they all used Macs. And there was new software, esp for the web. In fact the web was happening on the Mac. But the reporters were stuck in their groove about Windows' dominance the same way they are stuck on Facebook today.

So while I had an excellent product, there was no way to get it past this barrier in the minds of the press. When Apple came out with a product that was positioned against ours, but really wasn't competitive, that was the end of public comment about us. And of course the company never recovered. So I was lucky, in a way, in 1994 when the web started taking off, I had the free time to see it, study it, and launch new ideas into it.

By following a formula for product development I've used my whole career, I tried an idea out to see if it worked, if it did, I'd build on it, see if that worked, etc. If you're chasing something good, it'll just keep building, each step will give you ideas of where to go next. I had a glimmer of an idea that using the Internet, I could do for myself what journalism had been doing for me. I had a good rolodex, in it were the email addresses of all the people I hoped to communicate with using the journalists as I did in the 80s. Instead of going through the middleman, the journalists (they thought I was dead) I went direct. And boy did it work. Right from the start it was a phenomenon. So I fed the flames with more ideas and a little dirt too. I did projects with the local Bay Area news orgs. I wrote about how I thought IBM and Apple should get together. And that PDAs were going to be tethered to desktops. And then I wrote a letter about Bill Gates and how the Internet spelled doom for his plans of world domination. And then I got an email response from Gates, and I ran it. And in just a couple of months, I had created, out of nothing, a news channel of my own. I was a source, going direct, without a middleman. I called it DaveNet, it was me, just me, as a net. No organization. I was free to say what I wanted to say. I wasn't covering for anyone. It was one of the most incredible periods of my life.

This process, sources going direct, has been going on ever since. At one point I radically proclaimed that every member of Congress would be a source that goes direct. Turns out I wasn't radical enough. Today the president of the United States got there because he went around journalism and talked directly to his constituents.

This form of communication, sources going direct, is with us for good. It's the reason Facebook makes billions and journalism is collapsing. Had journalism, instead of fighting the sources, or ignoring them, and created systems to organize them, how much better everything would be. This is what we're waiting for, imho, for journalism to realize that the architecture of news has changed, and that they should embrace the change instead of fighting it, and find their new role in this new world.

- 2019-04-01T18:35:31Z
Is there an iPhone app that records sound, but only saves bits where someone is talking or there is some other loud-enough sound?

- 2019-04-01T18:44:53Z
Serverless is one of those unfortunate names that confuse the hell out of people because it’s a lie. Your software most definitely runs on a server.

- 2019-04-01T14:14:49Z
The March archive in OPML is now available on GitHub. Now we commence work on April.

- 2019-04-01T13:56:57Z
A funny thing happens when I listen to Bruce Springsteen. I can't stop singing his songs when my mind is idling. Two songs mainly. 1. Rosalita and 2. Thunder Road.

De-eliting journalism - 2019-04-01T14:21:11Z

There is a divide between the elites and the people, it's why the news orgs are constantly writing about how huge social networks are hurting journalism, but say nothing about how they hurt blogging. In their minds blogging was some kind of ridiculous idea that ordinary people could write about what they see.

My mother would have told me it's because they're scared of you. I believe she was right about that. But it's a shame because if you want to crack the journalism puzzle (not the membership puzzle a former colleague talks about), we're going to have to de-elite journalism. It's going to be democratic. Written by you and me. It will be a civic thing, like voting or jury duty.

Facebook could have been a home for this, if they had embraced blogging, but they didn't. They removed important features from the web like linking, simple styles, titles and enclosures for podcasting. Technically these are minor projects for a company with the engineering resources of Facebook. Like the journalists they were too arrogant to think there was value in what their users were writing. They just wanted to be the envelope within which we all lead our civic lives. But they didn't really believe in it.

This is the big picture for journalism in 2019, imho.


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