Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

13 May 2009 @ 7am


Filtering Twitter, Pt 2

(This was still an ear­ly draft until last night, so I’ll be mas­sag­ing these sen­tences as the day goes on.)

Gen­er­al rule-based tweet fil­ter­ing, and per-user @reply set­tings have one goal in com­mon: give the user more con­trol over the con­tent they view when they launch a client or go to their Twit­ter homepage.

For what­ev­er rea­son, there’s one answer so often giv­en when some­one cries about con­tent over­load or irrel­e­vance: “Don’t like their posts? Unfol­low them!”

No. I said I want­ed to avoid the noise, not lose the sig­nal entire­ly. Wrong answer, try again.

There are a lot of pro­cess­ing steps between a user push­ing “Post” and that post land­ing in some­one else’s stream. I want a place to cull the noise so the stream con­sists of good, clean sig­nal. I want to increase the S/N ratio with­out drop­ping inter­est­ing peo­ple wholesale.

The under­ly­ing ques­tion and dis­cus­sion is not new, but Twit­ter will like­ly be the first ser­vice where we make head­way find­ing a solu­tion. How do you nav­i­gate, and not be over­whelmed by, a new way of con­nect­ing with hun­dreds or thou­sands of oth­er peo­ple, each of whom are pro­duc­ing unique and inter­est­ing con­tent, not all of which is nec­es­sar­i­ly always rel­e­vant to your interests?

7 May 2009 @ 9am

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Filtering Twitter, Pt 1

Twit­ter needs filters.

  • “Show me all posts from @cbarrett, except when he replies to @zacwhite.”
  • “Drop all posts where @commanda says ‘RT’ “.
  • “Ugh, South By. Don’t show me any­thing that con­tains ‘SxSW’ or #sxsw.”
  • “Drop every­thing from @patr1ck, but make it look like I’m still fol­low­ing him.”

(ok, maybe not that last one).

It start­ed with @replies. Instead of chang­ing them across the board, I want to change them for each user I fol­low. You know the set­ting: “Show me @replies to the peo­ple I’m fol­low­ing” ver­sus “Show me all @replies”.

The first set­ting is akin to stand­ing next to both peo­ple at a par­ty: you know both of them, and you get to lis­ten in. The lat­ter is like sit­ting next to some­one on the phone: it might be an inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion, but some­times it’s just noise.

Most users don’t reply or tweet much; they’re peo­ple you have things in com­mon with, but they’re not hyper-active on Twit­ter. Whey they do reply to some­one, it’s prob­a­bly going to be some­thing you find inter­est­ing (and, if in_reply_to_id is set for each tweet, you can view the whole conversation)

For the high-vol­ume or high-fol­low­er-count users (@gruber, @clint), their replies are less rel­e­vant: they have many more fol­low­ers, and most have lit­tle to noth­ing in com­mon with you. Replies from them are more phone con­ver­sa­tion, less par­ty conversation.

Once you’ve allowed per-user reply set­tings, fil­ters based on tweet text is a great exten­sion. I want to black­list RTs, cer­tain hash­tags, and oth­er dumb memes. More on that tomorrow.

Part Two: Why is this Twit­ter’s prob­lem to solve? I’ll have that draft fin­ished tomor­row. Here, have an RSS.

22 April 2009 @ 7am


Consumption Guilt

We spend more and more time con­sum­ing oth­er peo­ples’ life by-prod­ucts: sub­scrib­ing to their blogs, read­ing their tweets, look­ing at their photos.

I don’t cre­ate enough in my day to day: I’m tired of see­ing every­one else’s muse expressed, and not indulging mine.

Worse though, is how wide­spread this is: it reach­es far fur­ther than my own lit­tle imma­ture exis­ten­tial cri­sis. Too many of us aren’t pro­duc­ing any­thing worth­while: not mak­ing art, not writ­ing any­thing inter­est­ing or thought-pro­vok­ing, not con­tribut­ing any­thing more than body heat to the col­lec­tive human existence.

Our gen­er­a­tion is going to start feel­ing guilty about that. It should. We’re wrapped up in meta-meta-meta-news, repub­lish­ing and reblog­ging the com­men­tary on anoth­er blog about some arti­cle writ­ten dis­cussing some arti­cle. It’s just mis­er­able, watch­ing the same regur­gi­tat­ed bits float across the wire, only bare­ly mod­i­fied from one URL to the next.

Write a let­ter to an old friend. Take a pho­to, even if it is just of your cat. Shoot a video. Skate­board down a moun­tain. Hike back up it. Define your exis­tence in your own terms, not as a com­bi­na­toric equa­tion of oth­er peo­ples’ lives. 

Fuck meta. Go make some­thing.

11 April 2009 @ 9am

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Darting Eyes

The tod­dler in the stroller was end­less­ly curi­ous. As her moth­er pushed the stroller along Guer­rero St, the young girl’s big blue eyes quick­ly moved from traf­fic on the street to the build­ings overhead.

I walked behind anoth­er woman, both of us set on reach­ing our des­ti­na­tions. As we approached the moth­er with her child, the girl paid us no mind, choos­ing to look at more inter­est­ing things than two hur­ried strangers pass­ing by.

I watched her through my dark sun­glass­es as they drew near, won­der­ing what the tod­dler thought of her morn­ing excur­sion through the city. The woman ahead of me was with­in arm’s length of the stroller when, sud­den­ly, the girl’s eyes dart­ed up to look the woman in the face, break­ing her gaze only when the stroller straps pre­vent­ed her from turn­ing further.

9 April 2009 @ 8am

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Russia’s future

The past few years have been a roller coast­er for Rus­sia. Putin’s efforts to remain in a posi­tion of pow­er and influ­ence were suc­cess­ful, and oil rev­enues swelled the gov­ern­ment cof­fers. Their eco­nom­ic house of cards is now tee­ter­ing, and threat­ens to take pri­vate busi­ness down with it. Where did this all start, and why are things going wrong now?

Rus­sia is a warn­ing to any multi­na­tion­al cor­po­ra­tion. Com­pa­nies and investors came because the poten­tial prof­its off­set the risk of a sud­den, Krem­lin-backed repos­ses­sion of assets (see: Yukos). But now, such invest­ment looks more fool­ish than ever, as the gov­ern­ment takes mon­ey meant for shoring up tox­ic assets and pro­vid­ing mon­ey liq­uid­i­ty, as has been done recent­ly in the Unit­ed States, and instead fun­nels it towards semi-autonomous pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions with heavy gov­ern­ment ties. Any hope of semi-respon­si­ble gov­er­nance has been killed dead.

Rus­sia will con­tin­ue to reap wind­fall oil and tax prof­its over the short and medi­um-term, as world­wide demand recov­ers and busi­ness­es fin­ish invest­ment of assets already com­mit­ted to the state. How­ev­er, only the most singly prof­it-moti­vat­ed and fool­ish of com­pa­nies will invest in Rus­sia in the long term. The cost of build­ing a prof­itable busi­ness must take into account the inher­ent risk posed by the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion and gov­ern­ment offi­cials, who see any cap­i­tal­is­tic enter­prise in the state as mere­ly a source of future assets for capri­cious state seizure.

Rus­sia, until recent­ly, was often con­sid­ered one of the world’s pre­mier emerg­ing economies. Instead, slop­py gov­er­nance and prop­er­ty rights run over roughshod have turned it into a bot­tom­less pit for return-free investing.

(Edit: this was orig­i­nal­ly a draft writ­ten last while fly­ing back to San Fran­cis­co. A few things have changed since Novem­ber, but most impor­tant is this: Rus­sia, Venezuela, and oth­er oil-dri­ven gov­ern­ments are see­ing demand and rev­enues plum­met, and are fac­ing large bud­get short­falls as a result. Their short-term sta­bil­i­ty is right­ful­ly being ques­tioned, and they may turn to vio­lence and mil­i­tarism in an attempt to retain power.)

8 March 2009 @ 6pm

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Ghosts in the Mailbox

So, Mail won’t com­mit any pref­er­ences changes.

Account changes roll back at next launch: If I add, rename, or delete accounts, it “takes” the change, but as soon as I quit and relaunch, it reverts it: added accounts dis­ap­pear, delet­ed ones are res­ur­rect­ed. I’ve watched the plist file live as Mail does the delete: it removes the account entry, but the file is get­ting revert­ed somehow.

Any oth­er changes revert imme­di­ate­ly: chang­ing the mail check inter­val, then clos­ing pref­er­ences, and re-open­ing shows the old inter­val. Update: they’re chang­ing on disk when I change the option, and revert­ing on disk when the win­dow closes.

Per­mis­sions on ~/Library/Preferences/ 600, and my user is the owner.

Ideas? I’ve tried last night’s back­up of Library/Mail and the mail.plist (thanks to rooSwitch for let­ting me keep my exist­ing work­ing set around), to no avail.

MobileMe sync is on: pref­er­ences, but not Mail Accounts. I’ve dis­abled it, no changes. OS X 10.5.6, noth­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly weird about the machine’s con­fig. Not see­ing this with any oth­er appli­ca­tions. 200 GB free disk space, in case any­one tries to link this. Google is giv­ing me noth­ing useful.

Update: @boredzo asked about Bun­dles and Input­Man­agers: no, and yes, respec­tive­ly; no change in behav­iour with Input­Man­agers moved aside.

Some pref­er­ences won’t even both­er look­ing like they com­mit: check­box­es are frozen in their cur­rent state, and imme­di­ate­ly revert to what­ev­er they’re set to when you try chang­ing them. Also, Pref­er­ences always opens to Sig­na­tures, no mat­ter what tab I’m view­ing when I close it.

@ryannielsen asked about fs_usage: yep, the pref­er­ences on disk change for account changes and oth­er options, and plu­til dumps into Changes show the options chang­ing. They revert as soon as I close the pref­er­ences win­dow. fsev­en­ter isn’t show­ing any oth­er FS move­ment, so it must be writ­ing out the bad one from in-mem­o­ry copies.

Update Two: found it. A bina­ry-type search of ~/Library found two old, old Mail pref­er­ences in ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost. No idea why they were being used, but they seem to over­ride any­thing in ~/Library/Preferences.

3 March 2009 @ 9am

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A Failure To Predict

Feb­ru­ary 18:

Chowdhry pre­dict­ed the Mac Pro and iMac will like­ly receive a minor boost some­time in June, in time for the back-to-school season.

March 3:

Apple announced updates to its iMac, Mac mini, and Mac Pro lines.

Apple PR posts here and here.

Thanks @patr1ck for point­ing this out.

2 March 2009 @ 9pm

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Ripping Bits and Licensing Fees

Eminem’s for­mer pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, FBT, argues that a down­load is not, in fact, a pur­chase of music, but rather a license issued through a retail­er. As such, the per­cent­age that the artist takes home at the end of the day should be high­er, in accor­dance with licens­ing terms.

Uni­ver­sal, mean­while, appears to be argu­ing that pur­chas­ing dig­i­tal music for down­load is no dif­fer­ent from buy­ing a CD or LP.

from “Eminem’s for­mer pub­lish­er wants more mon­ey for dig­i­tal down­loads

This is Sit­u­a­tion Nor­mal for the record labels: when they’re los­ing mon­ey, they’ll define a music sale as a pur­chase to try and keep more dollars.

But when try­ing to fight P2P, they argue that any copy­ing of music is ille­gal. They lat­er said they did­n’t mean it, but I would be sur­prised if the “CD rip­ping as an ille­gal dupli­ca­tion” argu­ment did­n’t sur­face again in a court of law some­time this year.

27 February 2009 @ 1pm


Asynchronous Requests

On Face­book: why do I have to get con­fir­ma­tion from a friend when I add details about how I know them?

Why not just give me a choice: add pri­vate details, or add pub­lic details. Pub­lic details can act like the cur­rent friend details: they show on my friends page when peo­ple see I’m friends with them.

If I just want to make notes to myself, and not show them to any­one else, why can’t I? It lets me attach more con­text to some­one I’ve added: I know them through friend X, we dis­cussed top­ic Y, et cetera.

Syn­chro­nous request/approval cycles are the surest to social net­work death. More on that later.

25 February 2009 @ 9am

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Third-Party Mods

It does seem, how­ev­er, that if you have a third-par­ty hack, such as Box­ee, installed on your Apple TV, it will be sum­mar­i­ly dis­abled by the update, so pro­ceed with caution.

via Apple TV Soft­ware Update 2.3.1 is out in the wild 

This is not news. You’ve installed a cus­tom, hacked, patched OS on your device; when you update to a new­er (or old­er!) ver­sion, it’s going to revert back to how it shipped from Apple. Why are peo­ple so reluc­tant to accept this as part of the game they’re playing?

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