What do you do when Gnome Display Manager dies? Fixed!

My Ubuntu install is working again thanks to Jon Callas from PGP. So I can finally bring you this entry from the Airplane trip 2 days ago. The mount command using the remount flag really made a huge difference. Otherwise I would still be running Windows!

Right so I'm in Boston after a nice but late flight. Get through customs, jump in the first cab which takes me to my Hotel (Westin Seaport) where I open my laptop to find that Gnome Display Bloody Manager fails. Now I can't get into my gnu/linux setup. Luckly I still have Windows on dual boot, so I can use the laptop and get on with stuff. But it seems a little setting in /etc/fstab which was recommended by Linux Format magazine which I bought for the portions of the flight when your not allowed to use electorinic equipment, has caused the root drive to be read only and hence why Gnome won't start. The problem is that I have no way to change this without (in my mind) booting into Linux with a live CD and then making the changes? If someone else knows a way to change /etc/fstab from windows or the recovery command line, drop me a email or comment. Damm you linux format and your No more disk thrashing which recommended adding this to /etc/fstab – defaults,noatime,data=writeback.

Right its 6:45am and I want to upload some pictures of Boston from yesterday and then head out for a day packed solid for the conference I'm at. Oh can I say I download the live Ubuntu CD already, I just need to find somewhere to buy blank CD-Rs, came down at 724.3kB/s from MIT over the hotels non-free (10 dollars per day) ethernet connection. So yes any tips on where I can quickly nip out and get a blank CD would be useful too. I'll quickly blog my post from the airplane too. Oh but I can't because its in my /home/ian directory! Damm it

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The Wealth of Networks, Boston – Day One

So I'm going to attempt to Live blog the conference but mainly for myself

Leanord Kleinrock, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
The conference isn't about plumbing, its about the services and ecosystem which sits on top of it.

The Wealth of Networks – Excellent

Yochai Benkler, Co-director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School
Critical change is decentralisation of inputs and processes. Cites Participatory culture. Talks about the incumbents who want to fight over copyright, there last breath of air. Talks about the battle for Teraflops, SeTI@home beats IBM and NEC, radically decentralised capitalisation beats the centralised. This makes us all involved.Yochai cites the encyclopedia ecosystem, from books to cheap cds to free and wikipedia .Our authority models have been challenged. Brititannica and Nature are challenged. There
are new Opportunities. IBM's revenue jumped when they moved from old patents to there open linux stratrergy. Commons based production = production without exclusion, decentralises authority. Some guy, cuts Yochai mid flow and asks the question, what does this mean for big business? Yochai makes it clear that business needs to count all this into there business models, if they don't they will simply die. Someone else kicks in another question about how deep should people should be allowed in to collaborate. Someone
else asks a question about boundreys and hints at the trust. Whats to stop businesses to be open at the start then close everything up once they have an advantage? Yochai points out that GPL keeps people and businesses in check for the Free software world. Although Yochai isn't say everything should be Free and Open. But the legal framework keeps everyone on the right side of the line. Fear is the enemy of collaboration, fear wants you to know all the pieces and non open and collabroative. Fear puts up walls
and limits your scope. Yochai is hoping to write a book about fear soon as he has tons to say about it.
Someone asks the question if there is such as thing as too much collaboration, says Firefox stopped becoming creative and innovative due to the amount of people collaborating. However Yochai, points out that the plugin framework allows for creativity and innovation. You wouldn't see plugins like operator and seatbelt if you had a team tasked with building a browser.
Yochai says its not all about the money. If you go to dinner with friends and leave a tip for 100 pounds, you wouldn't improve your status with your friends. Not everyone is motovated by money all the time. People change their priorities a depending on many things, the system and markets need to reflect this. We need to learn how to manage and work with distributed social

Application Design, trust and the End-to-End arguments – Good
David Clark, Senior Research Scientist, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
E2EA (the end to end arguement) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-to-end_principle
Is Email end to end? Answer 1. No because its not wrapped around the outside. Answer 2. Yes End to end doesn't apply to apps. All of the servers are part of the rest. Answer 3. Yes we have used reliable application-aware parts to compensate for unreliable ones – we trust the servers, we trust mine and you trust yours. Answer 4. No we trust more that we need to. Question we should be asking is Email reliable? Reframing End to end in Trust instead of end of the transport mechanisms. Trust to Trust – Tim Moors.
This all fits in with net netrailty. In the Email example, the protocals allow functions to be assigned to different servers, can re-arraged to match trust assumption. So if your ISP blocks SMTP servers you have a broken trust model. Users trusts IM servers whether or not they trust it. We don't trust each other, hence in the real world we have deeds and escrow, registries. We can't really trust our own computer/servers no more due to bots, virus, etc. Trust to trust, third party servers and services are not
intrinsically in violation of End to end. How can people trust Google to look at your email along delivering your mail? What levels of trust will people put up with? Someone ask the question about a motorway of drivers and do people trust each other or is it something else?

Emerging Global Networks – Very good
Henry Tirri, Research Fellow, Nokia Research Center
Sensor planet. Wireless Grid, the worlds largest grid but how will people interact and work with the grid? A goal to have 50% access for the world by 2015. 500 Trillion text messages sent in 2004 alone. 1 in 5 are illterate.
Nokia have a app which can read a menu and translate it into english or other languages but what if your illterate? Concerns. Privacy and incentives, licences and non-licenced,centralised vs viral distributed, green vs survival, literacy (interaction methods), multi-lingual environoment, native innovation (home land innovation) vs innovation by others and transactions. America and Canada have the disadvantage of having minute based charging and charging both ends of the connections. Were still in the voice
to data transaction and that seems to be true for the rest of the world. 

The Sociology of Networks
– Very Good

Duncan Watts, Professor, Department of Sociology, Columbia University
Interactions between individuals is paramount, how they collect and aggregate (emergence) is the problem. Hence why Sociology is difficult. The Web has brought together a suite of interactions viable and measurable – email, online communities, mmorpgs, etc. Individual and group behavior can be observed over any period of time. Now there is tons of data when previously there was little. A science of networks is coming. Most data is being mined by corporations, not collected by research and the design
of sites have been largely evolutionary (mashing new features in). Recent experiments. Small-World Experiment, verified Milgram's Six Degrees result. Music-Lab Experiment, dumbness of crowds, markets don't necessarily. There is no evidence that there are leaders in a social network. Dominators, leaders, influences don't exist and if they did they would be replaced a few weeks later. After the fact, that person looks influencial. Before that they were just a person. Duncan talks about how the influencers
are just people who figure out where the crowd is going and jump in front at the right time. So in actual fact they spend most of their time working out what the crowd whats to hear.

Leveraging Networks
Michael Furdyk, Co-founder and Director of Technology, TakingITGlobal.org
Social network for young people who give them skills and resources to set themselves up for new challenges and opptunities. It acts as a platform for action. Inspire > inform > involved. Does Facebook and other social networks encorage you to meet people in other countries other cultures? A lot of social networks are banned in schools. Should do some work with geekdinners and girlgeekdinners?

The Emergence of Enterprise 2.0
Andrew McAfee, Associate Professor, Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Intranet need a kick up the ass. Enterprises 2.0 is about how its used not how its built or deployed. Andrew says IT is a differentiator. Underlying trends are social and network effects. Andrew adds Free platforms, lack of structure and tools that emerge.

Email = Channels which are point to point, invisible to others and be consulted.

Website = Platform which is universal, visible, consultable.

Blog = Free and Easy Platform

New apps have been getting out of the way of the user. Uses Wikipedia vs Newpedia as example. Then Delicious.

Tools should let structure emerge. Uses Google and tags clouds as example a example. Taking snapshots of tag clouds is interesting. Mentions how Flickr uses Clusters to apply structure.

Someone asks about complience. Transparancy helps.

Networks and the Semantic Web (Weaving a web of Data) – Very Good
Eric Miller, President, Zepheira

The art of data.

The web is unique objects (pages and links) data is hidden.

How did people work before the web? Next generation just can't imagine anything before.

Eric talks about how the cuting and pasting needs to stop and points at the TTI Vanguard site as example of rich data.

The web is evolving, its not versions

Talks about community driven ontologies using it the way they want it to be.

Shows off Piggy Bank to pull together his own list of hotels which made sense via a google map.

Talks about dbpedia.org – mines for details out of wikipedia

freebase.com and mashmaker.intel.com (intel's new pipes type system)

Shows a bunch of javascript tools to build new views on data

note to myself – BBC.co.uk as timeline

Web framework for resource description, talks about wrapping data sources like excel spreadsheets so they appear on the web.

Lego is interopable from 50 years ago, if Lego can do it, why can't we?

Eric answered my question about Microformats and he talked about GRDDL as a way to make use of microformats beyond their basic use.

Generally the questions surrounded the concept of a semantic web

Peer-Production of Rich Media (or What Happens when YouTube Meets Wikipedia) – Bad
Shay David, CTO Kaltura.com

Shows a porno on the wikipedia page for Pornography.

Rich media collaboration is harder that text based collaboration. Been little peer production of rich media / instead lots of aggregation.

Thinks we will see real time feeds of networked video and audio. Quotes Reed's law.

Shows off Kaltura.com

Shows off Kaltura.com in facebook


The Big Switch – Good

Nicholas Carr, Author, Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage

Radical centralist

Nicholas thinks we're moving to a world of centralisation/control

Preview of the next book – The Big Switch

Uses the Westinghouse engine station (AC electricity) as a example of centralisation with a service over a network. Local power went out of fashion and out of business.

Someone challenges Nick about the black outs on the electricity grids. Nick says utilitys always get treated badly. And now there cueing up to take a bite out of nick. Nick points out that the mainframes use to run at 90% of capitacy while the move to the server client model has given rise to high costs and higher wastes of processes. Someone suggests Virtualisation is fixing this problem and Nick actually agrees. Someone points out that work productivity went up due to IT investment along with the server client
model. Shows off the new Google server station in Columbia and says its the new Westinghouse engine station. Someone suggests some regulation doesn't allow there data be placed outside of their firewall, nick comes back and says regulation will catch up. Plus sharing data between companies and people will be lighting quick because they will be on highspeed inner network, instead of a companies T1 connection.
Nick certainly lived up to his rep and caused a stir. But now its time to fix my machine and go to dinner.

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A different type of conference?


From Tom Morris

I've got this great idea for a conference

First, it'd have a session called “Pop Culture and Democracy” which would discuss whether the Internet culture's of remixing popular culture helps in democratic participation and related areas. Just over an hour long. Then I'd have a panel of tech people talking about microformats, spam, Creative Commons and anything else that seems interesting or relevant. After that a short discussion from a researcher talking about the Semantic Web. Next, a half hour session or so on Python programming. Then just under fifty minutes of Cory Doctorow doing all the usual Cory things – copyright, DRM, evil Microsoft etc. A discussion of the role of developers, then an hour on the One Laptop Per Child project. Sound like a cool conference? That's good. It's a list of the podcasts I'm going to listen to. Podcasts are what conferences have become.

Point taken about the podcasts but I would say a BarCamp (unconference) is pretty close to what your getting at. However there is certainly something between a unconference and conference which could be reached. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with d.construct and barcampbrighton in September. Conference+UnConference in one weekend, should be great.

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Conference 1.0 vs Conference 2.0?

Saturdays Schedule

During the Future of Webapps, quite a few people said to me how weird it was being at a conference where you had to sit and listen. They prefered the idea of BarCamp, where you could move around and directly effect a presentation with a question or idea. So in short they were comparing conferences with unconferences. One of the people, Raj Anand who came up to me promised to blog it and suggested they send me a link. Well Raj did – BarCampLondon2 V/S FowaLondon07?

I want to point out some of the things which were missed in the verses comparison.

  1. The likes of Kevin Rose, Michael Arrington, etc. Are not going to fly half the way around the world for a BarCamp. This is good or bad depending on what your after.
  2. BarCamp's are run by the community, if things don't quite work out. The community is much more forgiving. While a conference where people are paying, the audience are much less forgiving.

  3. Putting on a conference is very expensive and requires a lot of time and effort. Setting up a BarCamp requires a lot of time but its possible for a gorup or small community to club together to make it happen.
  4. Networking at BarCamp is easier because of the overnight plus the people who tend to go are very motovated. The same is not true of conferences because you have so many people and the barrier for entry is down to money.
  5. A lot of people can not afford (timewise) to take a weekend off for BarCamp. While conferences can be justified during the working week. Also very few companies will send there employees to a BarCamp.
  6. The comparison on links is a little unfair because BarCamps are all over the world, however the Flickr and slideshare comparisons are interesting.
  7. I know BarCampLondon2 made it into the Technorati Top 10 tags, Flickr's top tags and a few other places. But I'm sure FOWAlondon2007 did too.
  8. Do not under estimate the amount of work required on your behalf, to go to BarCamp. Participtation is needed at a lot of levels, while at a conference you can pretty much turn and just listen all day.
  9. BarCamps are not great about following up, so theres no official recordings or all the presentations in one place. This can be arranged but not certain like a conference.
  10. Believe it or not, the two can co-exist. FOWA and BarCampLondon2 were very close together and with events like Geekdinner. Its possible to make a great week for a city like London. I mean, where else would you have rather have been last week?

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Finally got my conference proposal notification for Etech 2007

So I finally recieved what I suspected already…

Dear Ian,

On behalf of the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2007 program committee, I want to thank you for your recent proposal:

Web 2.0 down the spout (or how web 2.5 will be about plumbing)” and
“The community inside and outside your firewall”

We were very pleased with the uniformly high quality submissions we received. Thank you for your interest in sharing your work with the technical community. While your proposal was considered closely, we are not able to include it in the program this year.

In most cases proposals are declined because the topic of the talk or tutorial was already covered in another presentation, or the subject matter was too narrow or vendor specific. This year we also had far too many great talks to fit into the number of slots available.

Ben made a good point a while ago. I should be asking why they didn't make the cut. Get some feedback so I can take all this into account when submitting to Xtech 2007.

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d.construct in a nutshell: great conference

Microformats needs you says jeremy keith

I wish I had gone last year, but to be honest it was great to attend this year. I only wished I wasn't still feeling tired after BarCampLondon, which was a week ago now (I got the last train to London with Chris, Murray please tell me you didn't sleep on the beach). I happened to have filmed and photograph most of the sessions from d.construct and finally uploaded them to blip.tv. Please be warned there filmed at the lowest quality so I could get the battery life out my camera, plus my camera battery died in the middle of Jeffery Veen and Derek Featherstone's talks. I was also able to get a couple of interviews with Paul Boag, Gary Broadbent and Yahoo's dynamic duo Paul and Simon. My favorate session was of course Jeffery Veen, but a there was draw for 2nd place between the Yahoo's dynamic duo and Jeremy Keith. Thomas Vander Wal on tagging, Aral Balkan on Flex and Derek Featherstone on Web 2.0 accessability are also worth watching. Jeff Barr, well to be honest I wasn't that impressed by the presentation but the work Amazon are doing in this area is very cool.

Jeremy Keith really went to town on Microformats and everyone noticed. This is a good thing because as Ms Jen pointed out, the UK is in need of a Tantek type person. Jeremy then took to the outside park to lead the Microformats lunch. I wanted to get Jeremy for a interview, but by the time we got to the bar it was too late. Anyway, Kudos to Andy Budd and everyone else who helped him out, it all seemed to go really well and smoothly. I'll be back next year for sure.

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We Media Fringe event this Wednesday

We media 2006

Robin and a few other people have been working hard on the unofficial or better known as Fringe event for We Media this Wednesday (2006/05/03). Unfortually its a guest ticket only event and the tickets are only being given out to friends of friends, who will turn up and will find the event very useful. i have a couple more tickets which can be given out if you let me know really soon.

Currently the confirmed guests are…

The location of the event is still top secret, but not that hard to figure out (Soho will pretty much tell you everything you need to know). Anyway for more details check out Robins blog. Hopefully I will see you there….

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SXSW interactive competition, updated

Taken from the geekdinner website.

We are please to tell ya’ll we have joined forces with the lovely folks @ SXSW Interative to give one lucky Geek Dinner attendee a free SXSW Interactive ticket.

To be in with a chance of winning this amazing prize, in the spirit of the Podcast Geek Dinner on February 23rd, please SMS the word “Podcast” followed by your Name, URL, Email, and Location to 60300.

The lucky winner will be announced by Paul Boag at the February 23rd Geek Dinner. You need to attend to win, if your the winner and did not attend, another name with be drawn from Ian’s Hat!
p.s. standard sms charges apply [this is not a premium rate shortcode!]. no terms and conditions. you win, you get the ticket.

So get txting, and good luck

The thing which has been putting people off is the flights and hotel prices. But its no longer a worry.

Thanks, now, to our buddies at Shopzilla this SXSWi ticket now comes with a return flight, and hotel. Sweet!

Lee was able to get the flights and hotel also sorted for the one lucky winner. So in totally were talking a prize of about 1000+ pounds! Its such a good deal that honestly even I'm tempted to enter but know I can't really. Imagine if I won, people would spam this blog forever with fix. Anyhow, I would enter if you can because right now there is a 1 in about 35 chance that you will win the ticket. Thats fantastic odds and even if you don't win you still get a great night out next Thursday with Paul Boag and the rest of the geeks. Like Lee says, good luck and hope to be pulling your name out of my magic hat.

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Conferences I will not be attending this year

I will not be attending two of the choice conferences this year. Xtech 2006 and WWW2006 which both collide with my holiday to the states. Its a shame because both seem very promising but I'm hoping I can get involved virtually or something. But I'm kicking myself after hearing Paul Graham will be delivering a keynote at Xtech 06

One very exciting bit of news I have is that Paul Graham has agreed to deliver one of the keynote sessions at XTech. I'm very pleased about this, and it follows in the tradition we've established of having interesting and challenging speakers, rather than putting plenary sessions up for sale to sponsors.

I was also hoping to put a paper in for Xtech 2006 about the state of RSS when it comes to Languages but its pretty pointless if I cant be there to present it. Oh well, and just when I'm starting to make some progress with a proposed RSS and ATOM extension to declare language and directionality.

In a discussion on a w3c.org mailing list – Stephen Deach from Adobe said the following.

Yes, you'll need to set direction at the block/paragraph-level to properly initialize the Unicode BiDi rule (and above paragraph if you have lists or other indention). It's probably fine to allow setting dir anyplace you set lang (which would include on span/inlines).

Felix Sasaki sent this wiki link which is really interesting in regards to Bidirectional text support.

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CES covered to death, thankfully its over now

Can I just say CES was so covered, that I actually disabled a few of my RSS subscriptions for a while. Rocketboom did such a great job showing exactly how intense things were. While the coverage by Engadget went so far off the deepend that I had to disable the feed for a while.

Now we just got to see what Steve Jobs reveals at Mac World today. I'm sure to do a little live blogging if possible.

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