Filed Under (Business, Houston, Rants) by Sean on October 10th, 2008 at 8:47 pm

(UPDATE) I wanted to take a moment to update this post, since it has been almost three weeks since it was originally authored. We’ve had a virtual group hug through this post, evidenced in the comments below. Let me restate the obvious: Max’s coffee and coffee drinks are the best in Houston,  probably in the top 10% of coffee shops on the planet. I do have to admit I haven’t been back to Catalina yet, but I will be paying Max a visit very soon (mostly to get some beans now that I’ve finally settled into my new place, with espresso machine). Lest there be any doubt, I will frequent Catalina for its off-the-charts lattes and coffee, albeit less frequently than before. The reason for that actually has to do more with my commute and proximity since moving than the fact that Max and I had a tiff or that his electrical outlets are still covered up (and yes, they are still covered up). If I were Max, I wouldn’t have covered the outlets, but it’s his shop and he can do whatever he damn well pleases. And that’s fine by me. Just don’t fuck with the coffee.

As many of my followers know, Catalina Coffee is one of my favorite coffee shops and hang outs. In my opinion, it epitomizes cafe culture (albeit a unique American variant) and has, bar none, the best coffee in Houston, period. In many cases, like many regulars there, I’ll make it by more than once in a day. I’m very sad to say, however, I had an extremely unpleasant experience today.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, it has been extremely difficult to come upon a coffee shop (or anywhere, for that matter) with a) power, b) coffee, and c) wireless Internet access. Catalina was one of the only places in Houston to offer all three, and they did so the day after Ike made it’s appearance in our fair city. None of the local Starbucks were open, and other local coffee shops (Coffee Groundz) that were either had bad coffee, no Internet, or both.

When word got out, Catalina quickly became overwhelmed with new business from Houstonians needing their caffeine fix. It also served as a command center and refuge for many citizens who had no power or Internet at home, who wanted to check the latest status updates from Centerpoint Energy, check on loved ones, and generally go about their business online. Consequently, long lines for coffee and tables overcrowded with laptops became the norm.

Though I’ve made a few appearances at Catalina after the storm for coffee, today I arrived with my fully discharged laptop needing to catch up on a couple of mundane tasks, including paying a few bills and moving utility services to my new residence (incidentally, my old place has power but no Internet; my new place has no power). I was surprised to see all the power outlets had metal plates over them. Suspecting this was a result of Ike-related water damage or some other such safety issue, I inquired when the outlets would be available again. Max (the proprietor) responded, “Never.” He stated the reason was that the environment was getting mob-like and out of control over the last few days as “people were fighting over power outlets” and things of that sort. While I certainly understand the need to mitigate unruly behavior, there are many other ways to go about it. I do have to tip my hat to Max for his ingenuity in solving the supposed “problem;” it was extremely effective. The problem is it unnecessarily penalizes legitimate, regular customers who spend lots of money on coffee and conduct their affairs online. To add insult to injury, he decides to use this “solution” during a time of crisis and when people need to use it the most. It smacks of reactionary behavior and poor business citizenry in the least.  After debating the issue with Max for a few minutes, I seem to have unearthed some far deeper rooted issues that apparently vex Max. I’ll reiterate some of our discourse and let you be the judge.

After getting the “never” response from Max to my question about when we would expect to get the power outlets back (assuming this was a short term fix, even if it was extremely poor timing given the current situation post-Ike), I politely stated that I needed to get some things done on occasion, along with a subtle allusion to my regularity and largesse (not only do I spend lots of money on coffee and am always careful to not take up space unless I’m buying things along the way, but I tip extremely healthy and have referred lots of new people to the establishment).  He said, “bring another battery.” I told him that wasn’t an acceptable solution (a) I don’t have another battery, and b) where am I supposed to have charged these batteries especially if I don’t have power?). His shocked response to that was, “Unacceptable? Are you fucking kidding me? Unacceptable. I can’t believe that.” I told him that especially after Ike in a time of crisis I thought he was betraying his customers’ trust. He stated that he was “tired of people abusing my space. Cafe culture is not sitting down at a coffee shop for three hours.” Really? Are you kidding me? I suppose you have never sat down in a Parisian cafe then. Incredulous and stunned to that response, I told him that I thought the defition of cafe culture was different for everyone and that one should err on the side of what your customers wanted it to be. His response? “Customers? I don’t care what customers want. What matters is what I want. I opened my own shop because of that.” I asked him if he had thought of better ways to address the problem. His very cavalier response was that he had solved the problem and wasn’t really interested in discussing the subject any further. I told him that he was curing cancer by killing cancer patients and there certainly were better ways of addressing the problem.

I have tremendous respect for Max, his craft and his business acumen. He runs a very tight ship that produces a superior product and spares no expense nor takes any short cuts to achieve it. That is a very rare quality that I think more businesses should adopt. I also absolutely appreciate running your own business on your terms and not doing things the way everyone else does. I respect his ingenuity in his approach to the problem, but it is akin to solving email spam by simply only accepting 1 out of 1000 emails to your inbox, regardless of content. If his problem is slim margins from not turning over enough tables, he should address the business model accordingly and raise prices, or charge for wifi, or establish minimums. Ripping out the rug from under customers and biting the hands that feed him is not the proper solution. I am troubled by Catalina’s “solution” on two fronts: 1., the “solution” itself, and 2., the arrogant, cavalier attitude exhibited about the “problem.” I wasn’t aware that working quietly on my laptop for a few hours and spending $20 while I’m there in one sitting was “abusing his space.” In 20 years of starting and running small businesses, I do understand the importance of “firing” bad customers and mitigating abuse. By the same token, however, I have always found it extremely beneficial to the bottom line to err on giving customers the benefit of the doubt and applying the golden rule in abundance. That this decision comes in the highest time of need, makes it especially pernicious.

What do you think?

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Filed Under (Business, Politics, Technology) by Sean on September 11th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The World is Flat, appeared on David Letterman this past Monday to discuss his latest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Friedman is known for being a huge proponent of free trade, outsourcing, capitalism, and globalization. While I may not agree exactly on his methodologies about all these from a practical point of view, I do think he stirs up some good thinking points. He has become a somewhat controversial advocate of the green movement in his advocacy surrounding what to do about climate change. In this case, however, I am in 100% agreement with his argument about stoking the American innovation machine in order to solve the problems facing us. Another book from author Fred Krupp, the president for the Environmental Defense Fund, entitled Earth: The Sequel, similarly discusses the role capitalism, coupled with government leadership as referee to ensure a level playing field (i.e., allow new technologies to come to market in a way to compete with the more than $6 Billion in taxpayer subsidies still received by Big Oil, not to mention addressing mothballed clean tech patents acquired by Big Oil to stifle competition), can play in stoking the new “energy technology” revolution the way it did with information technology (which, in its present form, was built largely on the back of a government project called ARPANET, which we now know as the Internet).

The full video of the interview on David Letterman is posted below for your viewing. I’ve taken the liberty to paste the main points from the interview verbatim, with emphasis added to especially important narratives. His points are the same points I would make in debating about what needs to be done with US energy policy, specifically as this country’s biggest mandate and wealth creation industry for the 21st century. It doesn’t matter if you believe in climate change or not (though if you don’t you possibly also believe the Earth is 4,000 years old, but I won’t get into that here). It is an economic and security imperative at this point that we take charge and lead the way or suffer the fate of becoming a second rate power.

Dave (concerning letting the nation know the seriousness of climate change): “We need people coming out here screaming . . . . we need somebody to knock people over and jump up and down on their chest.”

Thomas: “[Republican's] mantra is drill baby, drill . . . what I’ve been saying to them is  . . . we’re on the eve of [the energy technology] revolution . . . on the eve of that revolution, to be saying, ‘drill, baby, drill’ is like saying on the eve of the IT revolution, . . . ‘I want more carbon paper . . . more IBM typewriters’ . . . hello?”

Dave (in discussing the Government’s role): “Maybe I’m wrong, maybe we don’t need leadership in this country, in the white house, maybe we don’t need a national political mandate.”

Tom: “We do.”

Dave: “Until we look at this like a national problem . . . this country always wants to be a world leader, why aren’t we leading the world at this?”

Thomas: “And why do we need government? Why, you are right we need a leader, because . . . leaders write the rules, they shape the market . . . what we need is a price signal, ok, a price on carbon, a price on gasoline, that says to the American marketplace, which is the greatest innovation engine in the world, go out and invent the alternatives and you’ll get rich. So we get 100,000 people trying 100,000 things in 100,000 garages, 100 of which will be promising, ten will be great and two will become the next green Microsoft and green Google.”

Dave: “Will either of these guys [presidential candidates] do it?”

Thomas: “Certainly if you listen to them today, they aren’t preparing the public for that. Everyone’s ready to say, ‘I’m going to throw this amount of money at it’ . . . but it really isn’t, Dave, about throwing money at it. It’s triggering the innovative prowess of this country that gave us the IT revolution. That’s what we need for the ET revolution. Now if we don’t do it . . . this is the next great economic revolution, the next great industry . . . the country that leads that is going to have the higher standard of living, the most economic security, the most national security, which part of that sentence don’t people understand?

Dave: “And to a great affect will solve our current economic problems . . . . it’s not an overnight kind of a deal, it will contribute greatly to making things much better economically. Why can’t we get a guy smart enough . . . to say ‘by god, here’s how it’s going to be different, and I’m the guy that’s going to make it different, and I’m going to lead the world, and I’m going to save the planet’?”

Thomas: “What if you were . . . one of those members of congress who came out and said, ‘we need a carbon tax, we need gasoline tax, we need the right standards, we’ll offset it on people’s payroll’ and then your opponent says, ‘there’s my opponent . . . [who] never saw a tax he didn’t like’ . . . here’s what I would say, ‘let’s get one thing straight pal, we’re both for a tax, because we’re being taxed right now by Saudia Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Russia; I just prefer that my taxes go to the US treasury to build US schools, US roads, US highways.  . . . It’s just a little tick I have  . . . that I like my taxes to go to my country.  . . . if you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics.”

Dave: “Would that work as a stump speech . . . in a debate?”

Thomas: “I believe this issue is like civil rights and women’s suffrage . . . the public are ahead of the politicians. . . . [the public] will take a lot of pain on this if they think you have a real plan, and it’s equitable . . . and it’s a plan not just about energy, but about nation building in America. This is the key to propelling our country into the 21st century, not into the 19th century with drill, baby drill . . . if it’s a hoax . . . everything we would do to prepare ourselves for climate change would make us more respected, more innovative, more competitive, more entrepreneurial.”

Here is the video:

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Filed Under (Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on July 23rd, 2008 at 5:37 pm

It appears a major glitch has surfaced in Twitter where many people’s follower and followee numbers have been cut in half, in many cases. This is evidenced by the numbers that appear on your twitter page. You’ll also notice, if you visit the page of a suspected unfollower, you’ll no longer be able to nudge/message them, confirming your worst fears. However, if you visit the direct message page, you’ll notice they still appear under the drop down and you can successfully send them a direct message. They will also see you in their twitter stream, so don’t fear!

Go to getsatisfaction.com and report this bug or ditto if someone else has reported it (many have). I suspect this is due to a database caching issue since they have started partitioning the application to make it scale better. Hopefully they fix it soon!!

UPDATE

It appears I spoke too soon! I just noticed that my direct messages page does in fact reflect a number much less than the followers I have; in my case, this is a reduction of more than 80%! Likewise for the number of people I follow.

If this is a catastrophic data loss where we will have to re-follow everyone we’ve built up over months or years, I suspect Twitter stands to lose a similar percentage of users . . . .

Come on Twitter!!

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Filed Under (Geekstuff, Internet, Social Media, Technology) by Sean on June 15th, 2008 at 10:15 am

Since Twitter‘s popularity is ever accelerating, resulting in it almost becoming a utility, not unlike email, I wanted to take a moment to lay out some details about how communication takes place using it. I still find many do not realize how @ replies work and as a result their tweets are not received by their intended audience.

The problem arises when a twitter user tweets about what another twitterer is doing, e.g., “@ted is kicking my ass in Wii Tennis.” Let’s say that @bill is the sender of this tweet. Let’s assume that both @bill and @ted have @sue as a follower. @sue will get the above tweet on her twitter stream, as intended. Let’s also assume that @betty follows @bill, but not @ted. Here is where things get dicey. @betty will not get this tweet on her twitter stream, even though she follows @bill who sent it! It will still appear on the public timeline. The problem is that Twitter assumes that all tweets that begin with @username are intended as a tweet directed at that user. In this case, Twitter assumes that @bill’s tweet above is being sent to @ted, when that is clearly not the intention. An additional unintended consequence is that this tweet will appear in @ted’s replies tab when @ted is logged into twitter through the web.

The lesson to be learned here is to never begin a tweet with a @user unless it is intended as a reply or tweet to that user.

How do we get around this such that we re-frame this tweet so its original intent is realized? Simply insert a word, character or space before the @user as appropriate, or, better yet, exercise those elementary school grammar muscles and rephrase the tweet altogether, e.g., “getting my ass kicked by @ted in Wii tennis.”

There is an exception to the behavior that I’ve outlined above. On your Settings page, there is a Notices tab. Contained within that tab is a section called “@ Replies.” The default setting (and recommended setting if you follow more than a few dozen people) is “@ replies to the people I’m following.” If you select the “all @ replies” setting, then you would get all @ messages from someone you follow even if you don’t follow the user to whom the tweet is addressed. If @betty above had this setting chosen in her settings, she would get @bill’s tweet above in the second paragraph. If @betty followed 400 people, however, and each person sent an average of only 3 tweets per day addressed to people @betty didn’t follow, she would get an additional 1,200 tweets per day! I personally wish Twitter would allow you to set the @ reply settings on a per followee basis. For example, if @betty followed @bill as above, and @bill was a very clever twitterer or A-list twitterati who communicated with followers that @betty would perhaps also be interested in following, then she could optionally select a custom @ reply setting for @bill such that she would see all his tweets, even if they were directed at people she didn’t follow. Likewise, she could decide that she doesn’t want to see @willy’s @ replies if they aren’t directed at her or people she follows.

I hope I’ve accomplished my mission of clearing up how @ replies work in Twitter, and more importantly, compel twitterers to stop starting tweets with @ if they aren’t directed at that person!

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Filed Under (Business, Entrepreneurship, Houston, Politics, Technology) by Sean on May 29th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

The following is a letter one of my friends and colleagues wrote to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison concerning the upcoming Senate vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. I have left it unedited, with the exception of replacing his underlines with italics for readability. I think he makes some excellent points here and I concur with his assessment, particularly the point about Houston (and Texas) constantly taking the easy road of eschewing change, resulting in the best minds, ideas and innovations going to the west coast. I am tired of the intellectually lazy, business-as-usual conservative politics here. Because of insipid, brainless dogma, we repeatedly squander every opportunity to do truly great, innovative things. Anyway, enough of my opinion. Enjoy!

To: Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison & John Cornyn
RE: Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act

The Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act the first week of June.

As a citizen of Texas, a technology entrepreneur, a co-founder of one of Houston’s first Internet service providers, a veteran of the armed forces, and a current real estate professional, I urge you to seize this historic opportunity and pass this bill.

Here are five compelling reasons to act now:

  1. The political opportunity is ripe. 78% of Americans want Congress to act on global warming. We need to take advantage of the tremendous momentum that exists today.
    • Building a domestic renewable energy supply that weans us from a mostly foreign, Middle-Eastern oil supply should be a national security imperative.
    • Carbon emission caps also address a very important LOCAL concern in Houston – our notorious air toxicity and ozone (exacerbated by CO2 and other heat-rapping gases).
  2. This isn’t an issue with whether or not you agree with global warming – this is an economic issue now of producing domestic, cleaner energy and spurring technology investment in Texas beyond oil and gas – gas prices are out of control and we need more choices for energy. However, every year we wait equals extra effort. If we delay this bill by just two years, we will have to make twice the annual cuts in carbon emissions to hit the same cumulative reductions by 2020.
  3. Someone is going to win the global race to create competitive cleaner energy. Houston and Texas can benefit, with effective leadership, from this growing consensus. Renewable energy promises to become one of the world’s most profitable industries – Japan and Germany already are ahead of us. But advances in renewable energy technologies will not be fully realized without a national cap on global warming pollution – almost every clean-energy entrepreneur agrees with this statement that has been interviewed. Refuse to act and most of the entrepreneurship will go to Silicon Valley just like in 1995 when I was starting Houston’s first large Internet services provider. Please don’t become complicit in a technology brain-drain from Texas 10 years out.
  4. The science is unforgiving. As the Earth warms, we approach a “tipping point,” after which large destructive climate changes become inevitable. This is a scientific consensus (like tobacco smoke causes lung cancer) – I am frankly not interested in whether or not policy analysts or members of Congress agree with this consensus or not, especially when it comes to my planet and health.
  5. What legacy will the 110th Congress and you leave for Texas? When future generations look back at this moment, they will either praise you and the Senate for starting us down the path to solving the global warming crisis, or blame you and the Senate for squandering this opportunity. If you fail to vote, you stand to put us right back to the 1980’s in Texas while the rest of the nation moves ahead. You have an opportunity to make us a leader in the energy future of America, or to allow us to decline when oil production drops off. It will happen – history is famous for repetition.
  6. Finally, have you read Earth: The Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming by Fred Krupp? What amazes me as a business leader and entrepreneur is his complete embrace of markets – with smart and effective federal leadership – to solve the problem, based on case studies and diligent research. What are you doing to secure Texas in this new emerging energy markets? Please vote FOR the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act when it comes to a vote in June.

Erik Fowler
Houston, TX

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Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April 30th, 2008 at 8:30 am

I suppose with all the wars Republicans have going on, such as the war on terror, war on drugs, war on illegal immigration, war on crime, war on gay marriage, war on abortion, war on the environment, war on science, war on education, war on health care, and many others, it should come as no surprise they have been fighting a war on economics since the Reagan era. As successful as Reaganomics has been in widening the gap between rich and poor, skewing the distribution of wealth further into the hands of the few, putting increased burden on the middle class while expecting them to go into debt to consume even more to hold up the economy, stacking up nearly insurmountable federal debt, mortgaging the country with tax cuts for the rich that are eventually paid for by everyone else, making more and more corporate welfare available to poorly run businesses, and making sure that those who have benefited most from the commonwealth don’t have to give anything back so they can pass it on to their spoiled brat children who don’t need it in the first place, there isn’t any reason to stop now!

So, you ask, “what exactly is this war on economics you’re taking about and how do I join the fight?” Well, a perfect, timely example of this is John McCain‘s proposed fuel “tax holiday” with the presumed goal of stimulating the economy while taking some of the bite out of high gas prices. Right. Let’s take a closer look at this proposed legislation, shall we?

The idea is this: we’ve got this giant sucking sound out of people’s wallets with $4 per gallon gasoline, particularly hurting the average, red blooded, good, hard working, god-fearing ‘murican who is driving a 4 ton land yacht. Compounding the issue for this good, middle class ‘murican, is that he (she of course is a stay at home mom, cleaning the floors and putting dinner on the table) lives three states away from work and has to commute for 4 hours each way, giving him even more time to listen to angry, sex-deprived, white men like himself rant on “talk” radio about the fact that it takes so much money to fill up their land yachts and how it’s all the fault of illegal immigrants and communist liberals (especially given the audacity of said latte drinkers to demand things like safety belts, catalytic converters, and bumpers!). They want relief damn it (I’m not talking about from their enlarged prostate here either)!! So, what better than to put a moratorium on federal taxes on gasoline, which amounts to $0.184 per gallon for passenger vehicles and $0.24 per gallon for trucks (the real kind that hauls freight, not your neighbor’s gilded Cataract Escapade).

To see the wisdom of this wonderful idea, let’s first determine what useless entitlements these federal taxes fund. The proceeds go into the highway trust fund to fund infrastructure such as highways, levees, and bridges, which we all know are in completely perfect shape; perfectly omnipotent market forces or the sins of residents of course explain things like Katrina and the Minneapolis bridge collapse, so why waste money on those things? Since we’re in agreement that the US Government has no business interfering in free markets by working on roads and the like, let’s go ahead and see what economic benefits are derived from this wonderful tax holiday.

The first awesome benefit to be derived from the tax holiday is to make refiners and oil companies richer! This is perfect and in accordance with Reaganomics (who undoubtedly is looking down from Peter’s right shoulder and uttering, “it is good.”). How does this ingenious plan accomplish this, you ask. In several ways. First, Americans drive more during the period in which the holiday would be in effect (i.e., summer), creating more demand. Refining capacity is a constant, constricting supply, resulting in increased prices at the pump. Second, a tax holiday may in fact spur good, flag lapel pin wearing ‘muricans into patriotically driving their land yachts rather than other means of travel (or staying home). This increases the demand for gasoline even more, escalating prices. So the net effect is that in all likelihood has prices at the pump would climb back to what they were pre-tax holiday, and adding the difference straight to oil refinery‘s profits. Brilliant!

The next economic benefit is to further mortgage the country since the revenue lost from the tax (not to fund silly entitlements like highway improvements, construction jobs or clean air, but more important things like invading more sovereign nations not run by angry white Christian men) would have to be added to the deficit, likely resulting in the shortfall being borrowed from foreign investors. We can just add this to shortfalls from things like the sub-prime mortgage success, which resulting from eliminating pesky government interference of predatory lending practices (a perfectly moral thing in a free market, right?).

“Wait a minute!” you say. “What about a windfall profit tax excised on oil companies to make up the shortfall?” This was proposed by Hillary Clinton (McBush presumably taking money instead from welfare earmarks such as education and healthcare). This is a great idea! In fact, it falls in perfectly with the other economic benefits listed above. Ronald Reagan, if alive, might leap for joy and secretly vote for Hillary in fact. Companies who will derive no marginal benefit from increased sales due to a windfall tax will of course further restrict supply to result in the optimum mix of revenue/profits such that they would yield the same profits by selling less gasoline. This reduced supply fits in perfect with the above formulas in pushing up prices, yielding no revenue benefit for the government, forcing it again to look elsewhere to make up the shortfall.

So, we continue in good King George Bush fashion with this plan, by decreeing the laws of nature and to hell with nonsensical things such as facts. This is perfectly in alignment with other brilliant Republican strategies, including but not limited to, privatizing Social Security, boundless free trade agreements, pushing abstinence as the sole means to address teen pregnancy, eliminating terrorism by pissing off as many people in the world as possible, and preaching good wholesome science like intelligent design in the classroom.

And my eyes were already welling up with tears from the loss of Premier W. It is good to see that we still have ‘publicans willing to fight the good fight for the constitutional right to have a moron for President. It also shows once again that Senator Obama seems to be the only candidate with the “temerity” to actually critically think complex things (like reality) through rather than take every opportunity to pander to voters.

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Filed Under (Politics) by Sean on April 23rd, 2008 at 8:06 pm

As promised, I am posting the full chat log from the IRC channel #PennsylvaniaPrimary, created by @davewiner. This started around 7:30 CT and the log posted here goes through about midnight. I thought it was a great live backchannel in addition to Twitter (@scobleizer even joked that he thought Twitter was IRC) that wasn’t part of the public timeline, so here it is. It the raw IRC log file so you’ll see lots of superfluous information about people coming and going and other myriad IRC messages. Enjoy!

Now talking on #PennsylvaniaPrimary

<davewiner> Thanks to @adarg for the reminder

<davewiner> @adamrg

<maslowbeer> ah good fun all tweeps!

Virtudude (n=virtudud@c-76-24-20-91.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

berryhill (n=berryhil@195.229.242.53) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

agessaman (n=adam@pool-71-113-74-244.sttlwa.dsl-w.verizon.net) has joined #PennsylvaniaPrimary

GabeW (i=gwachob@pdpc/supporter/professional/GabeW) has joined #pennsylvaniaprimary

<maslowbeer> there we go :)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Filed Under (Stuff, Technology) by Sean on April 21st, 2008 at 12:00 pm

If you are not seeing updates for people you follow on twitter through the web or your favorite client (e.g., twhirl, etc.), you are not alone! Be sure to go to this page and report it! Furthermore, tell everyone to do the same if they’re also experiencing the same problem. Let’s see if we can get about 20,000+ people to get the attention of the twitter people and at least get an update to what’s going on!

(UPDATE)

It appears if you visit this page, they have acknowledged the problem (I presume it’s the same issue noted here from a month ago). See if having them clear your cache solves the problem. I have asked them to clear mine and will post the results here.

(UPDATE 2)

I got this tweet from @biz indicating they are working on the issue. Ironically the only way I got it is running tweetscan on my nick.

(UPDATE 3)

Yes, twitter is still broken. They haven’t cleared my cache or anything, so far as I can tell; I still only see a portion of my twitter stream. The problem seems to only affect the intersection of people with large amounts of followers with those who follow a decent amount of people. E.g., if you follow more than a few dozen people you won’t see tweets from the likes of @scobleizer, who has over 20,000 followers. Likewise, if you follow over 100 people, you won’t see tweets from people who have over 300 followers. I haven’t nailed it down precisely yet, but there is certainly a mathematical function to this. I hope they fix it soon! In the meantime, you can go surf each of your followees individual pages and/or subscribe to their tweets separately with an RSS reader.

I wish they would give us more technical details – there certainly is more tech knowhow on twitter they could tap into to fix the problem. I know they use Amazon S3 and perhaps EC2 for their infrastructure and some sort of caching mechanism (for performance and/or cost reasons?) that isn’t doing it’s job. Obviously writing a simple web app to do what twitter does would be fairly trivial to not have problems, at the expense of cpus, disk space and bandwidth; this leads me to believe they’re trying to be fancy, and it isn’t working so well. IMHO they should have a “brute force” fallback that would work 100% albeit not optimally until they sort it all out.

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Filed Under (Politics, Rants) by Sean on April 16th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

So every once and a while you read something that really fires you up. Yesterday was one of those instances. I was lying in bed, peacefully scrolling through the last several hours of tweets that I had missed while sleeping (in today’s case that would have been between 7 am and 1 pm; yeah, my schedule is that screwed up), and I came across a tweet from @nprnewsblog, whom I follow on Twitter:

nprnewspic4.jpg

Intriguing, I thought, and hardly debatable. I usually read the really controversial stuff and would have typically passed this over completely but thought I would at least get the pulse of what diplomats had to say about the subject. So I clicked on the link. It was a decent account of what, again, seemed to be obvious. Quoted in the article was an excerpt from study by Quinnipiac University professor of public relations Kathy Fitzpatrick:

An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of more than 200 former high-ranking officers in the United States Information Agency who participated in the study said the U.S. is not diplomatically prepared to address ideological threats to U.S. interests in the 21st century …

More than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated American public diplomacy efforts today as either “poor” or “marginal.” In contrast, more than 80 percent of the former USIA officers rated America’s public diplomacy efforts during the Cold War as “good” or “excellent.”

Sounds good – again, nothing earth shattering. Then I see the following thoroughly well thought out, insightful comment by our good buddy deek:

LOL, what else would we expect from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?

The center’s of Jihad are supposed to like us?

Sent by deek | 11:01 AM ET | 04-15-2008

Yeah, that got me out of bed. I went straight to the computer, before having any coffee or food (which is a very serious thing for those that know me), and hammered out the following response in 90 seconds:

Boy comments like deek’s show the ignorance and impudence of the neo-conservative’s school yard adolescent bully mindset. You may recall that we actually won the cold war, resoundingly in fact. If the Bushies were in office at the time we would have certainly started WWW3 and none of us would be alive because of it. Even during (failed) shows of force like the Bay of Pigs and crises like the Cuban missile crisis among others, diplomacy shows its deftness of in being able to obtain the net result desired, in spite of these failings. If we took a similar tact in the current terrorism threat, we perhaps could win the war of ideas necessary to ultimately make us safer and ultimately prevail; the current strategy (or lack thereof) is not only ineffective, it does quite the opposite, further fomenting “jihadism.”

It is becoming increasingly clear to me how collectively immature the Bush neocon ideology is. The pre-pubescent school yard bully is an appropriate metaphor. Do you actually want to accomplish greatness in your life and truly lead or is your ego so frail you have to constantly show everyone how bad ass you are? The true leader is one who can show force but never does. Ultimately the bully always ends up at the short end of the stick later in life. Let’s do our best to put the dark days of W behind us and have some intelligent, enlightened leaders do what’s necessary to actually protect our interests rather than continuing our current weak, pathetic, and insipid “war on terror.”

Sent by Sean | 3:38 PM ET | 04-15-2008

So I wasn’t shy and didn’t pull any punches. Even though I suppose I could have taken a few minutes to compose a more proper argument, I still stand by what I wrote. Just when I start to regain some hope about the human condition, I read or hear this type of crap spewing out of some jackass’ mouth and my cynicism resurfaces.

As an inherently progressive species, it appears there are still those amongst us who want to divide us and hold humanity back for their own gain or sense of self worth. I will be writing a lot more about this and other political hot buttons in the coming weeks.

I will forever be optimistic, but it is certainly up to us to pave the way for change. I’m finding in my reading and discussions with other progressives that it is imperative we begin speaking out on our values and vision for America. That is the only way we can reclaim this nation from the grips of the insidious neocon spin machine.

 

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Filed Under (Life, Stuff) by Sean on April 10th, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Well I’m not 100% sure if it’s in the same tier as beer when it comes to the hierarchy of needs, but being on Alltop.com is pretty effing bad ass. And check this out – I’m listed twice on Alltop.com. Once under life.alltop.com and once under twitterati.alltop.com (apparently my irreverent drunk tweets are amusing to some)! What can I say? (In reality I stole Guy Kawasaki’s Glock from him and demanded the listing, but it’s the results that count, right??) Alltop.com is a virtual magazine rack, where you can choose from a huge variety of topics and get a quick scan of the content from each source by just hovering over your interest. So go check out Alltop.com now!

We’re in Alltop.com!

 

Twitterati on Alltop.com!

In any case, Guy quickly got up into a crane stance and deftly kicked the gun from my hands and pointed it back at me. He told me I better put up some Alltop.com badges!! While I cannot hold a candle to the badges created by the Bloggess, I was nevertheless inspired.

It’s better than allcrap!

It’s better than allcrap!

Eat your heart out Guy!

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