LibraryThing Import

I have commented previously about LibraryThing and mentioned how a nice import utility for data from DeliciousLibrary or other tools would be a great improvement. The developer has contacted me to let me know that just such an import utility exists under the Extras menu item in LibraryThing.

I tried it out over the weekend with my exported data from DeliciousLibrary and it works as advertised. In fact, faster than advertised; it told me that my queue of 177 ISBNs would take several hours to import. They completed importing within 10 minutes.

A great service just keeps getting better! I have added a link to my LibraryThing catalog in the right hand section of this blog, if you are at all curious.

Online To-do List: rememberthemilk

I quite like the functionality of rememberthemilk, an online to-do manager. I find it very straightforward to add, modify, and prioritize tasks. I really like the flexibility in entering dates. For example, you can just enter ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Friday’ and it will input the proper date for you. There is additional functionality to have reminders sent via SMS and email. Calendars/Lists can be shared with other contacts and you can even subscribe to them via iCal on the Mac or via an Atom feed.

I am still exploring what rememberthemilk can do. Everything that I have seen thus far is most impressive and truly useful.

The Art Of Camera Tossing

Join in the fun: Take your (somewhat expendable) digital camera, turn off the flash, lock the shutter open, take it out at night near some light sources and toss it up in the air, hopefully catch it and marvel at the results.

Some results can be seen in the camera toss Flickr group and in other Flickr photosets here, here, and here.

About Camera Toss
This is a “technique” group, and the technique here is regarded by some as insanity. For we are the reckless folks on flickr that enjoy the abstract, chance, generative, physical photography that results from throwing our cameras into the air (most often at night in front of varied light sources).

It is about trading risk for reward in the pursuit of art. It is not about being a photographer, it is about enabling the photography that happens naturally when you let go of the process, give up control, and add a hell of alot more variables. It is about physics, gravity, angular momentum, acceleration, direction, chaos, and timing… most of which you have tenuous control of at best!

via HipTop Nation

A Mobile Phone That Knows You

Perhaps inspired by the James Bond sniper rifle that can only be fired by Bond, researchers in Finland have created a method for you mobile device (a phone most likely) to ‘recognize’ you by the way that you walk.

In the method, sensors measure certain features in the person’s walk and these are compared to values stored in the memory of the device. If the values differ, the device requests an access code. In trials, the method has achieved a success rate of 90%. VTT is applying for a patent for the solution.

More On Flock

This Business Week article has a bit more substantive information about what the Flock browser is and what it will do:

The Flock browser, which is expected to be released to the public in test form in about two weeks, does everything a regular browser does, but with several important additions.

For one, it makes blogging a snap by eliminating the need to do arcane coding in order to post, change fonts or add photos. Right click the mouse on a Web page, and a blogging wizard comes up that automatically creates links, citations, and quotes that are ready to insert into a blog. A horizontal bar on the browser also can load photos from the photo-sharing site Flickr, so they can be simply dragged and dropped into the blog post.

Moreover, Flock makes it easy to create online bookmarks for Web sites. Visit a Web site and click a “+” button on one of the browser’s toolbars, and that site is saved to a personalized list on the social bookmarks Web site

Those bookmarks can be tagged with useful descriptions and shared with others. Flock also lets people create watchlists of people whose bookmarks they like and form groups with people who link to particular tags. Flock also keeps a history of every Web page a user visits, so they can be found easily later.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this and see how it does with all of the ‘stuff’ in my own infocloud.

Incredible Vanishing Nokia 6682

For whatever reason, the long awaited Nokia 6682 is no longer available on Cingular’s web site. The 6682 is now ‘available’ on Amazon for $99 with a shipping date of ‘4 to 6 weeks’ (!?). Nokia thoughtfully has it available on their website for $599.

What is going on with Cingular and the 6682?

Update 2 October 2005: The 6682 is available once again on the Cingular site for $299; Amazon still has it on a 4 to 6 week delay.

Freaking the Tipping Point

I recently finished reading Blink, The Tipping Point and Freakonomics. I would highly recommend any/all of these books. One curious tension that comes from having read these recently is that the ‘Broken Window’ policing strategy that is extolled in The Tipping Point is rigorously discounted as having no effect on crime in Freakonomics. Curious. How did Malcolm Gladwell get this so wrong?

The other theme that hit me was how several of the topics covered in Blink and The Tipping Point start to sound like what gets discounted (and in some cases disproven) as ‘conventional wisdom’ in by Levitt in Freakonomics. Makes me curious that if Levitt were to write a book examining each of the assertions in Gladwell’s works, how many of them would stand up to the economists vetting? No matter the outcome, the result would be an interesting read.

One topic that I would love to see Levitt cover is this: does the increased level of violence in movies and video games desensitise people to violence or does it desensitise people to violence in movies and video games?


I just discovered another custom web page creation site called protopage. It seems that it is (for now) really only intended to be a startup page (unlike the more functional netvibes). As such the functionality is limited to creating groups of web page links and small note snippets. Still, it seems great that being able to create web pages has gotten this easy.

Mac: Jewelcase

Jewelcase is another incredible utility for the Mac. Jewelcase is a plugin for iTunes that displays the CD cover art and artist/track title/album title info in a very cool 3D spinning display.

My only grumble with it is that it doesn’t automatically retrieve the cover art; if it is not already in your iTunes library, it simply displays a generic CD cover. In the mean time, you can always use something like the FetchArt script to nab cover art for you.

Yet Another Cool Web App

LibraryThing is sort of like flickr for books. You can enter in titles and it will search the Library of Congress and Amazon for matching information to allow you to build you library without having to manually enter in all of the fiddly little details.

What would be really impressive is if something which allows you to easily scan bar codes for books (like Delicious Library) would also allow you to export to LibraryThing, the upfront input ramp-up for LibraryThing would be greatly eased.

Learn From The Webgoat

If web security is at all of interest to you then get yourself over to the webgoat project at the Open Web Applications Security Project. Installers are available for Linux, OSX and windows.

WebGoat is a full J2EE web application designed to teach web application security lessons. In each lesson, users must demonstrate their understanding by exploiting a real vulnerability on the local system. The system is even clever enough to provide hints and show the user cookies, parameters and the underlying Java code if they choose. Examples of lessons include SQL injection to a fake credit card database, where the user creates the attack and steals the credit card numbers.

Netvibes Rocks!

I stumbled across netvibes this morning. This is very cool. Though Netvibes is currently in early beta, you can create your own web page that aggregates RSS feeds, local weather, gmail, and the ability to add notes to your site (sort of like web stickies. You can drag and drop to arrange things as you like. There is definitely a huge amount of potential here to make this a very compelling tool.

Alas, no Safari support (yet). Firefox for OS X works fine, though.

Looking around a bit more, this seems to be very similar to functionality wise. Start suffers from being a MS sponsored project as well as not having as clean an interface as netvibes.

I also discovered meebo , which is apparently trying to be a web-based IM aggregator (much like I wished that google talk was web-based).

Overall, it looks like commercial grade AJAX apps are starting to take off. And, no, Microsoft, we don’t need your bloated, ill-conceived, proprietary ‘rich client’ software. Thank you very much.

Shameless — Disaster Profiteering Act

In light of all of the other questionable activities post-Katrina, this is absolutely reprehensible (emphasis below added):

Project on Government Oversight – Big federal contractors have scored a major victory with yesterday’s news that House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) and Representative Kenny Marchant (R-TX) introduced legislation that will waive meaningful taxpayer protections and competition in contracting whenever Congress or the President declares a national emergency or there is a disaster. It is rumored that the legislation will be included in a manager’s amendment to the next Katrina relief bill. Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has donned the legislation (H.R. 3766) the “Disaster Profiteering Act.”

The Davis legislation would allow agency heads across the federal government to treat all purchases related to national emergencies as “commercial items,” meaning that contracts can be made under a no-bid process and that the government would not have the authority to audit purchases after they have been made. A second, unrelated provision deals with Katrina volunteers.

via Agonist

The only hope is that this ‘proposed’ legislation won’t actually pass.