July 2007 Archives

July 31, 2007

Comparing the Ocean to the iPhone

Helio | Compare AT&T iPhone to Helio Ocean | Devices Chart

I heard about this a while ago and avoided it--who wants to see their phone placed in the ring with the most hyped mobile device since the mobile phone itself?--but now that I look at it I'm really glad they did. The Ocean really is feature-packed, and I personally find it to be every bit as fascinating as the Apple offering.

I'm not an iPhone hater. I have more reasons not to get an iPhone than I have reason to pony up the cash, but I recognize it as an exciting new device. Mobile providers have now been challenged to step up their game and support devices that really wow. Mobile device manufacturers now are digging through the R&D dust to unshelve the cool features and designs that were never going to reach the market. And a company that has nothing to do with an industry has turned it on its ear (in the same way it did with portable music--and music for that matter). These are all great things.

I think Torrez said it right when he said that the choice between the two is really about personal philosophy. I can support the importance by I can't personally justify the expense. For me, buying two Oceans makes about as much sense and costs roughly the same.

China will surpass US internet users

China will Surpass U.S. in Internet Users - World New News - Digital Trends

China now boasts 162 million Internet users, with 122 million connecting through broadband and another 40 million using dial-up. This places China second only to the United States in the sheer number of Internet users, which has 211 million. Experts predict that China will surpass the U.S. by 2008, or even sooner.

If you didn't have a reason to learn chinese, well you do now. Interesting to note: even the current numbers only total 12% of the Chinese population. That's mind-boggling.

July 26, 2007

Lumosity Brain Games

what we're doing with the internet in 2007

bluishorange: - dear internet from 2001: -

how's it going? i miss you. here's what we're doing with the internet in 2007:

Ouch. This one hits close to home. My green and blue abomination of a site design can only be self-made, but the cameraphone pics to flickr and the twitter feeds (look to your left, if you're not RSSing) are pretty spot on.

For what it's worth, my sluggishness in posting is not because of a departure from real content, but an indication that leftsider is again changing. I've been working in a few areas that don't directly apply to Leftsider's theme; I thought of creating new blogs to talk about them, but instead I think that I'll be changing from the MovableType blogging platform to a full-on content management system, where I can post about everything and then divide it up via tag-enabled categories. I'm testing that now, which is why I haven't been as visible with new posts.

Let's bring internet 2001 back, shall we?

Mobile Access, Mobile Authoring

Mobile Access, Mobile Authoring

It is intriguing, and challenging, to think about the divergences over time of content creation and use between large-screen devices, and hand-sized portable ones. I am a huge mobile advocate (although I am resisting the iPhone and am determined to sit tight with my Nokia N80), and I have to believe that the mobile is increasingly going to be joystick and pen, a lens to both record the world and capture our thoughts.

July 19, 2007

From the time we stepped foot in Korea, Fru and I worked hard to create a persona that did not fall easily into the English teacher stereotype. It was for good reason; I wasn't teaching but studying, and Fru was a graphic designer who had taken up a missionary assignment. Moreover, it was increasingly obvious that the perception of the foreign instructor was fading rapidly, so we had incentive to maintain our own appearance.

Why? Reports would have you believe that it was because these people, unemployed in their own countries, came over on forged degrees and spread drugs through the country and loose morals to the nation's youth--particularly females. Each of those trespasses evokes the image of a specific person or persons I knew, and for this reason we had little to do with expats in the teaching industry.

While I admit the foreigner section could use a little cleaning up, it is downright appalling how they are presented by public media. News magazine shows uncover exposes, ferret out the worst of the worst and make them the general standard. Ratings soar, citizens are enraged, and we were cautious where we ventured for a window of time.

So when I saw the story of the Canadian teacher getting six months of prison time for forging his degree, I didn't have much interest, let alone sympathy. Comments on the circuit of korean expat blogs that covered the story were much in the same line of thinking.

I feel dissonance now, however, in the discussion of Shin Jeong-ah. A Korean who falsified documents confirming her Yale doctorate (which she apparently never even started) as well as her bachelor degree (which she did undertake but did not complete) and maintained this fraud for nearly a decade, Shin is being called the female version of Hwang Woo-suk. Will she be treated the same as her Canadian counterpart in forgery? Or will she be left to lick her wounds and move on like Dr. Hwang?

It all boils down to appearance. South Korean media (why am I specifying? as if North Korea would give us a more favorable light!) will continue to prompt society's call for strict measures against foreigners to perpetuate the appearance of both the demonized foreigner and the Korean standard. Korean society will continue to let their fallen angels off in order to perpetuate the illusion of said standard.

The nail in the coffin is Lee Ji-young, who proves that much of what Korea wants can be accomplished without the accreditation it requires. So why not give them lies and do a good job instead?

“When I was offered work as the host of ‘Good Morning Pops’, KBS asked me to submit a diploma. But my predecessor suddenly quit and I had to hurriedly take over the job,” Lee said. The producer of the show says he had no reason to doubt Lee’s academic qualifications, since she performed the job without problems for seven years.

If I could give one remedy to this seemingly perpetual problem, I'd suggest interviewing people based on their merit instead of on their paperwork's indication of their merit. Encourage an environment that rewards people for personal growth, not academic eliteness. If you have such a voracious appetite for language instruction and such a scourge of unqualified instructors, why not create a program that trains ALL foreigners to a certain standard for teaching; one that you can standardize and require. Indeed, if the program was good enough, people may start coming to Korea for the training itself.

I'd love to hear what others feel about this whole issue.


P1030964, originally uploaded by udono.

July 18, 2007

The World’s Stupidest Fatwas

Foreign Policy: The List: The World’s Stupidest Fatwas

No central authority controls doctrine in Islam, one of the world’s great religions. The result? A proliferation of bizarre religious edicts against targets ranging from Salman Rushdie to polio vaccinations. FP collects some of the worst examples here.

Leftsider now writes for eHub

For the last couple months I've been working under the radar with a team of people who are working on a new version of eHub, the internet2.0 app compendium founded by Emily Chang. I submitted interest in participating on a lark, and I was very pleasantly surprised when Emily contacted me directly after I didn't pursue my inquiry. She's pulled a great team together and everyone's really excited about what eHub is and where it will go.

It was kind of hard to not mention it, but there were confidentiality issues initially, and, to be honest, I wanted to feel out the situation and settle on it before announcing. I did let my position drop when submitting my bio for GIEN as I didn't feel my credibility would have been as visible without it.

The most exciting part about the whole ordeal is that my writing was chosen as the first among the new editors to publish. It nearly broke my heart when it was posted to the front page with a faulty link that prevented people from reading its entirety, but it is available now. I enjoyed doing the piece and could easily see myself doing that for a portion of my living. :)

That's all, just wanted to put it all out there. If you have a category or specific app you think needs attention/review, let me know and I'll see if I can write about it.

July 15, 2007

Leftsider's Guide to Humorous Facebook Groups

There are two reasons why I joined Facebook besides the fact that I'll do anything to get away from MySpace. The first is that the two people who I communicated with the most on MySpace, my sister and my cousin, already made the migration. It was a matter of keeping in touch, getting responses in hours instead of days.

The second reason? Funny groups. Because Facebook originally was a college-only site, the networking aspect of the site quickly became "what crazy notion can we band under?" Today, I'd like to introduce you to a few gems.

UCF squirrels can beat up your school's squirrels
Petition to revoke the independence of the United States of America
I wish my homework was asexual so it would do itself.
1) Cut a hole in the box
Writing Papers Single Spaced First Makes My Double Spaced Result Climactic
If being a music major were easy, we'd call it Your Mom.
I See That You are Gangster. I am Pretty Gangster Myself.

There are quite a few others, but being sophomoric humor (literally) many are not fit for public announcement. Feel free to peruse and find the group that tickles your fancy!

July 10, 2007

A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future

A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future

Fazlulla believes the handwritten pages are crucial to the paper and to the tradition of handwritten Urdu.

For centuries, handwriting was the definitive mark of social status, education and liberal values in India. Calligraphers mastered the swooping Urdu script in ivory-tower institutions and penned copies of the Koran for wealthy patrons. The pinnacle of a katib's achievement meant a seat at court and a chance to earn the sultan's ear.

When I talk about human-computer interaction, I'm not going down the general route that encompasses usability, intuitive user interfaces and task efficiency. These things are all important, but not the focus of my passion.

Instead, I am concerned about stories like this. Sure, a surface technology enabled table is nice, but what excites me is that perhaps it is one step closer to creating an interface that saves this time-honored tradition of calligraphy so steeped in culture and history. One must wonder, however, if technology will serve this purpose in time.

Can you really say that nothing is lost when a language may have its hand-written methods replaced by computer input only? This is not just a problem existing outside the US. Can interaction design provide a way for us to avoid technology's current tendency to erase existing culture?

July 9, 2007

Happy birthday, Mr. President!

Happy birthday, Mr. President! | FP Passport

Passport is usually pretty critical of the Prez. So for a change of pace and out of respect for the man's special day, here are the top ten things Bush and his team have gotten right during his time in office. No wisecracks, I promise.

July 8, 2007

loud noises

loud noises, originally uploaded by decodedfromspace.

July 7, 2007

All my younger siblings

Fru and I were talking, and we noticed that nearly all of my friends and regular associates are either only children or the youngest sibling. There are a lot of characteristics that younger brothers or sisters possess, and we wondered if those traits were naturally attracted to the characteristics that I possess. I, of course, am an older brother.

I think the thing that makes me the most conscious of this phenomenon is the sheer amount of questions I field. Questions about life, relationships, work, philosophy, religion and health. Questions that, honestly, I probably am not qualified to answer and that for me, annoyingly, were time-consuming, researched arrivals rather than short, concise and packaged answers.

To say I feel cheated would be accurate.

Recent studies have implied that for this very reason, older siblings have a slight advantage in IQ. To be honest, I'd gladly exchange three points in IQ for a mentor or adviser, someone to whom I could ask the questions I'm pondering.

In this next-generation, collaborative, internet-enabled world that I promote, it would seem that I'm collaborating with others more than they are collaborating with me. Note to self: find way to implement balance in collaboration philosophies.


This is my 1000th post on this version of leftsider, by far the largest of them all. Coincidentally, this is also the 7th day of the week on the 7th day of the 7th month of the 7th year of the millenium.

Stars are aligning, and when they do... there probably won't be much of a difference. :)

July 6, 2007

How do you say, “Speak Victorian” in Japanese?

How do you say, “Speak Victorian” in Japanese? at ComingAnarchy.com

The watchword of this blog has long been one of Robert D. Kaplan’s “top ten rules”: Speak Victorian, Think Pagan. Policymakers must have the freedom to think of all possibilities and options, unrestricted. But never speak outloud: the public isn’t ready to hear it, your enemies will have access to inner thoughts, and the substances of the debate will get lost in the controversy. Defense Minister Kyuma should continue to think pagan, but always speak Victorian in public.

July 5, 2007

Only because my sperm is unavailable, apparently

Andy Lau's sperm top the women-want-most list

If the title wasn't disturbing enough, Apparently the second most wanted sperm by Chinese ladies is Bill Gates'.

Chipchase time: To what extent are we willing to believe that love is a major factor for procreation? Or romance, for that matter? Do you think that the poll participants feelings were fueled by personal desire or by best wishes for their offspring.

To what extent is this a non-issue in western society? Are we more or less inclined to see our decisions and hopes as need-driven?

July 4, 2007

Let's just go back to bed.

Every so often I get inspired to really get down and do something spectacular. Generally, these inspirations are squashed by lunchtime.

Today was no different. Holiday; I'm thinking chill at home and get some stuff done. In fact, I was so excited by the concept that I woke up at 6:30 and got straight to work. My goals? To start working on a Leftsider redesign, and to start rearranging the furniture around the apartment (something we do periodically in a quest for feng shui zen perfection).

Hopped on the computer, noted a conversation about the CMS system ExpressionEngine. Hey, why don't I install that locally and try it out? Sounds like a good idea. Except I haven't set up my development environment on the MacBook... need to install MySQL, PHP, update Apache and Perl.

But wait... isn't there something for OS X that does this all in one install? Was it Locomotive? no, that's for Ruby on Rails. Aha! It was MAMP! Let's install it and we'll be on our way.

Well MAMP installs no problems, but EE isn't sensing the setup. Tweak here; nothing. Move this to there; nope. Remove and reinstall EE; nada. This is the part of the story where my bleary eyes can bore holes through lead. I become super-analytical and, unfortunately for my wife, start obsessing over minute details both on and off the screen.

The fam calls and reminds me that today is my grandfather's birthday. So I walk away from the problem and head over to Delaware to spend the afternoon with him and others celebrating. Good times. Head back as the sun sets and the whole country seems to be shooting off fireworks.

Get back, sit down, go back at the problem--but to no avail. The number of accessible, Mac-familiar webdev folks in my social circles is pretty slim, so I have yet to even get to the site redesign stuff.

While the trip back home was great, it did waste the time I had for rearranging my pad. So now I've got 0 to show for my day. Sometimes I wonder why we even try.

20 minutes this morning on my old iBook (which I manually installed MySQL and PHP rather than going the contained dev environment route) and EE is working. I must be doing something wrong with MAMP.

Twitter spam

Twitter spam (kottke.org)

He's right; apparently we can't have nice things on the internet.

July 3, 2007

I'll be seeing you

I'll be seeing you, originally uploaded by autumn_bliss.

Stop calling it the web

On the plane to London I did a little mindmapping and came up with a new idea that I thought I'd share. Starting now, I will work to remove the word "web" from my conversation about computers and the internet. Here's why.

When I think of a web, I think of a spider. She puts up a web to ensnare unsuspecting bugs. These bugs wander around, get caught, and can't get away. The spider then sucks them of all life, leaving their hollow carcasses wrapped and blowing in the wind. She must do this, for if she didn't, she would die.

Does this sound like the internet that you use?

It was a nice analogy when things were small and all about lines and dots that connect. It was barely OK when people used the internet for placing static information in a billboard-like display (you're not still doing this, are you?). But now, as we step out of the hoo-ha of "Web2.0" and into the actual application of a collaborative, user defined/defining, customizable interaction with the internet, it is way beyond its freshness date and must be replaced.

Internet, actually, is a wonderful word that is much more aptly suited (see? This isn't me trying to coin a new buzzword!). It combines the concept of a network with the prefix implication that things cross boundaries and connect separated worlds. It is a wonderful to say what the internet is: A medium that takes information to infinite locations and allows us to virtually take that journey as well.

What do we encounter when we take that journey? Increasingly, we are seeing the real lives of many people and the issues and situations of many more. We receive this information and utilize it to gain and awareness all--not just our own, not just those who are online.

Other people are doing this. Nokia is doing this. Nokia is a company that sells mobile devices. They are following people from around the world in order to understand them better before offering services/solutions to them. Why wouldn't a religious organization want to develop the same level of understanding? Wouldn't it make sense to know who you're talking to and what their situation is before you offer them a solution? Perhaps if we did figures like these wouldn't have been so eye-opening last week.

The other importance to the bilateral communication that the internet allows is not just what the story is but how they tell it. What happens to us theoretically happens to everyone, but how we share those events, ideas, and perceptions is what gives us identity. Identity matters, especially when the internet is a real part of your life. And as our online and offline identities merge (as a result of social networks, we have to realize the importance of truth/untruth, storytelling and historical revision to personal identity (pdf link). We've learned this in tangible living; the internet is developing through these lessons as we speak.

Yes, this collaborative, self-defining nature is a threat to organizational control, but it is necessary for involvement in what is becoming a universal norm. Big media has realized this with amazing rapidness and made changes to move to a more accommodating strategy. I think it is time for all of us to catch the wave.

'Slave' labourers freed in Brazil

BBC NEWS | Americas | 'Slave' labourers freed in Brazil

Labour ministry officials and prosecutors discovered more than 1,100 workers working 14 hours a day and living in conditions described as "appalling".

It is the largest such raid in Brazil, a country beset by the problem of slave labour.

Officials said that the labourers lived in overcrowded conditions with no proper sanitation facilities.

Only marginally related to the previous entry, right?

China Hides Pollution Deaths

Wired News - AP News

Beijing persuaded the World Bank to cut from a report findings that pollution has caused about 750,000 premature deaths in China each year, the Financial Times reported.

The World Bank said Tuesday that the paper referred to a report that had not been finalized.

On London

This is the second time that I've visited London. The first was a 14-hour layover on my way to eastern Africa. With such short time and a need to move from Heathrow to Gatwick airports, I really was limited in what I could do. I caught the train from Heathrow to Picadilly Circus and wandered around aimlessly, dropping pounds (currency, not fat) as I went. Then, I headed back, and before you knew it I was gone.

This time, I went for the GIEN 2007 forum, which wasn't actually in London but in Bracknell. Bracknell is to the London city area what Columbia or Fredricksburg is to the DC metropolitan area: not really in it. So a trip to London required an hour train ride and, yes, yet more pounds.

It would seem that London does not want to have a relationship with me. For all its history, style and status, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain, aloof and exclusive. Part of this I lay on the fact that it is the only country I've been to whose currency far outvalues the US dollar; so, in effect, I may be experiencing what everyone else experiences, well, everywhere else.

To its merit, I have little to say that is negative about Englanders. They are particularly humorous, down to earth and very approachable. I found this a much-needed salve for my bruised British interactions.

Would I go again? Absolutely? Soon? No, not soon. I'll wait for the terror activities to die down and (hopefully) the dollar to have a more favorable exchange rate.

July 2, 2007

In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees

On the GIEN Forum 2007

I'd like to thank the Communication department of the Seventh-day Adventist church for inviting me and allowing me to present at their 2007 forum for their Global Internet Evangelism Network. It was a great opportunity to connect with a small but growing set of individuals that are poised to bring the denomination to a fuller potential.

The GIEN forum is an annual meeting that allows the communication directors, media professionals and tech heads of the Adventist church to come together and discuss the internet as a new medium for evangelism. Basically it sounded to me like people wanting to figure out how to use your computer to baptize you. Because let's face it: Adventist pastors and administrators are not anywhere near the top of the list of people you think of when you think of Web2.0. Everything I saw about this thing, including the old website (and even the new one, really), announced the disconnect that the church has with the internet.

If the descriptions of previous attendees are accurate, this year was a real departure from the previous sessions. Alexander notes that the list of presenters was relatively young and tech-savvy. It was indeed encouraging to see peers with a bead on the various aspects of the web. We converged and departed in different areas, but it gave the theological postulation squad something new to consider and various sides of the argument.

My personal message at the forum was that the internet is increasingly social. This is because the internet is increasingly becoming our real life. Less and less do you hear the idea of the virtual world because what we do online now has ramifications in the physical, tangible world. If church leaders continue to consider the internet and its communities and philosophies as novel and gameplay, they will soon find themselves alienated from not only those who the wish to reach but also those within who are also increasingly involved with technology.

I presented a workshop, "Developing Adventism in and through Online Social Networks," that gave these administrators a quick primer on what an SNS is, why and how it works, and the pros and cons for both involvement with an existing SNS or a self-made, exclusive SNS setting. Turnout was good, the mood was excellent. I would have fared better if I had brought my old iBook instead of my MacBook; technical shenanigans ate 5-10 minutes of what would have been great discussion.

I made a concentrated effort to push my message in every side conversation. Finally, I think it started to break through. I also kept promoting the ideas of creative commons and ubiquitous computing, so that these guys can be thinking about tomorrow instead of scrambling about today.

All said, I don't think it could have gone any better. Next year is slated for the African continent. I'm excited about that as I haven't been to Africa in about seven years. I hope to be invited again, based on the success of this iteration. We'll see what happens.

I'll be posting my presentation soon, both here and on the GIEN site. I'll announce it when I get back to the states.