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Search For Live WebCams

By - January 05, 2005

Via MetaFilter, this post which shows anyone how to search for live webcams which have not been secured. The results are interesting – a bunch of presumably private network cameras, which anyone with a browser can query for video images. Comments in the original post show all manner of things found live, via the web, from rodents to security guards. I imagine this is a hole that will soon be closed, one way or the other.

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Blog Plasma

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MplasmaIf you’ve been reading this site for a while you may recall my earlier post on MusicPlasma, a cool site that uses Amazon’s web services to build a visual search engine for music based on collaborative filtering data. It shows bands as “orbs” or planets, each with their own “solar system” of related bands. (Play with it, it’s pretty cool.)

Recently a colleague contacted me and asked if I had anything interesting to say about blogs and how they might shape the media world in the next year or so. My initial thought was “Why of course I do!” – but the fact is, it’s not easy to have something interesting to say about blogs that doesn’t require a hell of a lot of throat clearing, groundwork laying, and general hand waving. Try to explain to an intelligent layperson the power of blogs – it’s not easy. The perfect piece has yet to be written on the true power and impact of blogs; at least, I haven’t seen it.

Sure, the examples are there – from the tsunami coverage to Trent Lott. But my colleague was looking for a visual high order bit – a way to see what the big deal was, after all. I thought about Dave Sifry’s slides from Web 2.0, but that was still too inside-the-blogway.

The I thought of MusicPlasma. The thing I like about it is how intuitive it is – put in the name of a band you like, and you find more that you might like but had never heard of.

Hey, I thought, what if we did that with blogs, and instead of Amazon data, we used Technorati cosmos data, or Feedster data, or Findory, or Bloglines, or some combination of all of that plus more? “Folks who read this blog also read that one,” for example. Or “Blogs who link to this blog also link to that one.” If we put a sophisticated interface with some dials and levers, it could really be a neat tool for exploring relationships in the blogosphere. I could imagine some cool slices that might parse this wildly growing ecosystem in interesting ways. (I’ve always been fascinated by the visualization of data, I was the force behind the Standard’s metrics section, if any of you recall that.)

So I think I’m going to try to do it. But the honest truth is, I have no idea how to. I’ve contact the folks behind the various sites listed above, and they all stand ready to help. I just need a technical lead, and ideally, to talk with the MusicPlasma guys, to see if we might share their skin, so to speak. Anyone know them?

What do you all think? Would this tool be a valuable addition to the conversation?

WTF?

By - January 04, 2005

Search for Yahoo on Google. Get 38 results. Huh?

Danny is checking on it….

He asks the right question: Filter, bug, or feature? The answer will be interesting in terms of how Google is starting to tweak its approach to SERPs.

FWIW, “Google” on Yahoo (55 million or so results).

UPDATE: I have it on very good authority that Google is fiddling with its “results crowding” algorithms, and not targeting Yahoo or filtering in any way.

Google and MSFT in Open Source Smackdown

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GatesmsftThreadwatch has a summary of an ongoing tempest between Adam Bosworth, eminence gris of Google and the man who most of the world seems to expect will lead-develop “The Google OS,” and some folks at MSFT who clearly are itching for a fight. The topic: Google and Open Source. Late last month Bosworth posted a plea on his site for the Open Source community to finish the job with regard to robust databases, and the MSFT folks saw an opening: Google has taken a lot from the open source community, but what has it given back? Here are the MSFT response – this post is from Dare Obasanjo, this one is from Krzysztof Kowalczyk. Both are very entertaining reads (Dare’s is mostly a reposting of Krzysztof’s, but there are a few zingers and his has comments turned on.)

Highlight:

In those days of focus on corporate profits (where there any other days?), Google’s motto “Do no Evil” is refreshing. Or is it? It’s a nice soundbite, but when you think about it, it’s really a low requirement. There are very little things that deserve to be called Evil. If a senior citizen is taking a nap outside his house on a sunny day and you kick him in the groin – that’s Evil. Most other things are bad or neutral. Not doing Evil is easy. Doing Good is the hard thing.



To his credit, Adam Bosworth responds, in the comments. Keep in mind, Adam worked at Microsoft for a long time:

For Microsoft to condemm those of us who benefit from Open Source is rich. Honestly, it is like the Nazi’s condeming the Swiss from benefiting from the refugees.

Yow….

As I understand it, when it comes to giving back to the Open Source community, the Microsofties may have a point, at least strictly speaking. But then again, Google took open source and, well, built Google, and it’s free for all to use. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?

It’s very interesting (and rather odd) to see MSFT employees take pole position on nobility and open source goodness. Those in the know tell me that Google has made significant and quite valuable modifications to various open source tools. Perhaps it’s time they shared some of that wealth back to the community from whence it originated.

UPDATE: Adam has posted a response on his site. Highlights:

We all benefit from those who came before us. We benefit most when the knowledge is free and generally accessible., but we benefit either way. It would seem that these cacophonous critics, yammering about giving back and sweepingly ignoring the 100′s of billions of times people use and appreciate what Google gives them for free every day from Search to Scholar to Blogger to gMail to Picasa, do not understand this basic fact.

Answers.com

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Answers.ComGurunet, which I and many others have lauded in the past, is shedding its subscription model and is now free, at Answers.com. Cool!

New Tivo-Like Device

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I know how much that phrase – “Tivo-like” – burns at Tivo. Well, in my predictions for 2004, I guessed that by year’s end, a new Tivo competitor would emerge, possibly from Apple. I was wrong, it’s from the phone company – with an assist from Yahoo. Interesting.

Googlecalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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I’m catching up on my reading, and I came across this post from Adam Rifkin. It’s a great melange of 2004, with a touch of JAM (joints after midnight) to boot. Sorry Adam, but now there are three hits for “Googlecalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Er, four.

Topix Pushes MicroPublishing Forward

By - January 03, 2005

This just in from Topix founder Rich Skrenta;

Topix.net has added news channels to track any stories for 2,500 privately-held startups, scanned from the 10,000 sources Topix.net is crawling. The tracking channel was designed in association with Bob Karr’s LinkSV.com, which maintains the database of private company profiles which we’re using for the automated news scan. There is also a related channel which tracks press releases from any of the same 2,500 startups. In addition we’ve got a general Venture Capital industry news channel.

topix.net/startups

topix.net/startups/pr

topix.net/vc

This is an interesting development – a good example of innovation in assembly, one of the main themes of Web 2.0.

A Happy New Year For Net Stocks

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HappyanalyAnalysts are jumping onboard – online advertising is poised for a huge year, they say, and YHOO and GOOG are responding in kind.

From a Reuters story:

Google gained as much as 5.15 percent and Yahoo rose as high as 3.3 percent in Nasdaq trading after Goldman Sachs increased its forecasts, citing strong Internet advertising trends. In a report, Goldman Sachs analyst Anthony Noto said that his firm’s recent talks with media buyers demonstrated that “the strength in online advertising demand did not appear to abate” in the quarter.

Uber Tag Search?

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TaggleBrian Dear imagines a search engine where all user-generated tag information is searchable – an engine that confederates the various nations of Flickr, iTunes, etc. Neat idea, and certainly another step toward the semantic web vision.

. . . if more and more services in 2005 add user-generated tagging, will “federated tagging” be far behind? And if someone were to index all the tags from these various sites…. would the result be Taggle? Imagine: a service where you type in a keyword, and you get back all the hits that have that word as a tag. If Flickr, del.icio.us, and umpteen other sites cooperated, then an uber-tag-search service might just work . . .