Thursday, September 29, 2011


Everyone knows by now that Facebook is trying to capture everything you do online. But did you catch what Amazon is doing?

From cdespinoa's posterous:

"...Amazon will use its EC2 back end to pre-cache user web browsing, using its fat back-end pipes to grab all the web content at once so the lightweight Fire-based browser has to only download one simple stream from Amazon’s servers. But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the privacy and data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence."

And the last sentence:
"This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network."

Someday you'll be able to tell your kids that you remember back when the internet was open and free, and not controlled by online merchants who know everything about you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How bout dem Cowboys!

I happened to be in Dallas this Monday, September 26th, on business. Our hosts had tickets to the Monday Night Football game, Redskins at Cowboys, so off we went to the Jerry Dome (as I'm told it's called).

First impressions: The stadium is incredible.

The weather was also perfect, so they opened the retractable roof of the stadium.

And the screen is even more incredible (160 x 72 ft.), apparently consuming 635 kW per side.

Speaking of the screen, not only was it HUGE, it was amazingly clear. I didn't get a picture of this so you'll have to take my word for it. I was watching the big screen after a penalty, when the camera is focused on the referee making the call. In the background, in the grass, clear as day, there was a cockroach wandering around in the grass. Later, during another penalty call, I saw a roach in the grass again. Some in my group saw it, too. Amazing how clear that screen is. A Cowboys fan I spoke with later also saw it, on TV, so I know I'm not imagining it!

The pre-game and halftime entertainment was Mexican Ballet Folklorico. One guy in our group does this type of dancing so he particularly enjoyed it. Although even he admitted that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders provided superior entertainment! :)

Reaffirming my faith in humanity, one couple sitting in the row in front of us proved that people with vastly different beliefs can still get along. I never got a great shot of them, but the young man was a diehard Dallas fan, all dressed up in his Cowboys jersey and cap. And the young lady was a diehard Washington fan, dressed up in her Redskins jersey and cap, with some face paint.

Suffice to say, they were all over each other during the game. Yes, even Redskins and Cowboys fans CAN get along! At one point security gave her a warning for some reason (might have been because some people don't approve of such displays of affection), and gave her a yellow card or ticket or something. I couldn't understand why. One of the members of our group speculated that no one would have cared if she had been wearing a Cowboys jersey. I guess they still frown on mixed relationships down there. :)

She didn't seem too upset, though. At most commercial breaks, she would stand up, turn around, and wave the card above her head. Good for her!

The Cowboys came back to win 18-16. The score kind of reminded me of a grade school basketball game!

At the end of the game the fans were jubilant. They were happy that the Cowboys had beaten a division rival and they knew that the Cowboys might have gotten a bit lucky to escape with a win (Redskins botched an easy field goal). As we walked down the ramps the fans were screaming LONG after the game. One of the people in our group, from out of town, said, "Wow, they must not win often!" :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Motorcycle Dog!

This is great. I need to teach a dog to ride a motorcycle with me someday! From YouTube:
"The Original Motorcycle Dog" posted by CarolinaCamera

Did you catch the final line in the video?
"Well, he's a good companion that's easier to get along with than a girlfriend, and a little less expensive."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Inline Skating in the Wall Street Journal? Yes!

What? Inline skating in the Wall Street Journal? Yes, it's true! Check it out. From the Wall Street Journal:
"100 Kilometers of Whooshing" by Joshua Robinson

I've never skated in this event, but it's on my list. Sounds like a ton of fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


By now you should know what a sucker I am for Google Maps. And for creative third-party uses of the Google Maps API. Well, I found another one. Still a little rough around the edges, but great information., by the Wall Street Journal:

You'll need to sign in. Once you do, you'll be able to select geographical areas and see how many people live there, and what racial groups they belong to. The interface takes a little getting used to. But it is fascinating to play around with.

Check it out and provide feedback so they can improve the site!