March 27, 2006

links for 2006-03-27

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March 17, 2006

links for 2006-03-17

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March 15, 2006

links for 2006-03-15

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March 14, 2006

CHASE: Global Warming and Wikipedia

Last Tuesday's CHASE meeting was the best that I've attended. And the first given by someone with a blog. Which means it's a bit easier for me to talk about it because I can just provide a link to his write-up of the event.

William Connolley's presentation was split into two topics. First off he talked about climate change, which is something he's involved with professionally as a climate modeller; and then moved on to discuss Wikipedia, where his work as an "admin" is done in his spare time.

It was refreshing and interesting to hear someone talking about global warming without the usual emotionally-charged doom-and-gloom or "there's nothing to worry about" attitude. Lots of graphs showing a variety of possible predictions, from the optimistic to the pessimistic, which he did a good job of explaining. I'd recommend having a look through the presentation slides which are available at the above link (unfortunately you'll need OpenOffice to read it, but as I found out the other day, that isn't too terrible an install. Shame they don't provide a viewer in the same way that PowerPoint does)

The Wikipedia section of his talk contained less information that I didn't know, but I still learnt quite a bit about the structure of the community and some of the details of how they prevent it from degenerating into a loop of opposing factions deleting each other's content. And it's an area that William has some knowledge of, given that one of the pages he's contributed to most is the one on global warming.

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March 13, 2006

PeerBackup Is No More. Meet DataCocoon.

As alluded to in the previous post, the Release Candidate release of my easy, automated backup application that went to the beta testers on Friday was the first to bear the name DataCocoon.

PeerBackup was always just a work-in-progress name; it doesn't mean anything to non-techie users (and it's aimed squarely at helping them keep their documents, photos, etc. safe) and due to its architecture shifting slightly during development, it's misleading to techies.

After much brainstorming, pondering, poring over dictionaries, and searching for domain names which weren't already taken ( is very useful for this kind of process, although I didn't buy the eventual domain through them), a shortlist of possibilities was sent out to a handful of carefully chosen non-techie beta testers.

Most of the possible names fell by the wayside early on in the voting, with DataCocoon seeing off two other strong contenders to emerge victorious and gain the honour of having its name engraved onto the title bar.

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PeerBackup Update

It feels as if (and has probably been quite apparent that) I have been struggling to post regularly to McFilter recently, and in particular, I think it's been a bit light on content about how the business is going. As is often the case with blogging, a lack of posts is mainly down to a lack of time, because things are rather busy.

So although there hasn't been much talk about the business, there has been plenty of work on the business. Which is the way it should be, of course.

On Friday I made what I expect to be the final release of PeerBackup to the beta testers! (Well, strictly speaking, the final release of PeerBackup was the previous release, but more of that in the next post...). I'm pleased with how well it all hangs together, and with the new artwork it looks like a pretty professional, polished application (which of course it is ;-)

Now I need to concentrate on finishing off the revamp of the MCQN Ltd. website and getting the payment processing up and running, and then you'll be able to go out and buy it!

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March 08, 2006

Give Up All My Data?

In a recent post Richard MacManus commented upon Google's desire to store 100% of our (its users') data.

"With infinite storage, we [Google] can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc). ...As we move toward the "Store 100%" reality, the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache. An important implication of this theme is that we can make your online copy more secure than it would be on your own machine. Another important implication of this theme is that storing 100% of a user's data makes each piece of data more valuable because it can be access across applications."

Richard says that "This all revives my faith in Google". It rather worries me.

Not because it's Google who are trying to acquire all my data, but because I don't think we should surrender control over our data lightly. To anybody.

Being able to access all of my data, from one app to another will make it more valuable, but it doesn't automatically follow that it all has to be under the control of a single entity or be stored in one place. It just makes it a bit harder to implement, but that's because it brings the real problems to the surface: who should be allowed access to my data? How much of my data should they be able to access?

There are some compelling reasons for storing all of my data online, but only if I retain full control over it.

If it's on the Internet, can I access my data from any device, anywhere in the world, or just from those devices supported by Google?

Can I access all of my data? Jon Udell has already reported on The security of our data is another compelling reason to let somebody else take care of it
problems he's had in accessing all of his email held in GMail.

What happens if Google goes bankrupt?

What happens if Google decide to upgrade their applications, and my computer isn't powerful enough to run the new version? How do I get my data out of their silos to use in a different app?

What happens if the US government decides to cut-off access to Google's apps from my country because it's a terrorism threat? Or forces Google to hand over all of my data?

I don't think that we shouldn't be using the Internet to allow us better, more flexible access to our data; in fact I've been making more and more of my own data accessible on the 'net for years. I just think we should be careful about how we go about it.

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March 07, 2006

links for 2006-03-07

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March 06, 2006

Bert and the Shirts @ CB2

I've owned my acoustic guitar for almost quarter of a century, but Saturday night was the first time it's been used for a performance. Probably because I hated the group rehearsals and so didn't do any of the orchestra stuff when I was at school. I wasn't performing on Saturday night either, Rebecca borrowed my guitar for her first gig in Cambridge.

She was supporting some friends-of-a-friend who had the basement in CB2 (the cafe bar, not the postal district) for the night. Her mix of a few of her own songs with some Katie Melua and Alanis Morrissette covers was well received, and her set ended with some of the other musicians for the night joining her for a KT Tunstall number.

That was followed by Joel (who'd arranged the gig) doing some solo stuff on his bass. I was sure I recognised the first song, and was racking my brains trying to remember what it was when Joel said they were all original compositions...

The evening finished off with the headline act (and the band Joel is part of), Bert and the Shirts. Obviously old-school, what with the website rather than a trendier one, but having it written across Bert's guitar is an excellent idea.

Now we just have to get Rebecca to do some more of these things!

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