It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Video of GTOPs Month Proclamation Ceremony

I've got video of the ceremony last month where Mayor Wynn declared "GTOPs month" in Austin.

View it here: Mayor Proclaims GTOPs Month in Austin

Irritating Twitter Behaviors

Twitter reminds me of MySpace a year ago: it's a fundamentally bad application and worse implementation that's won on the basis of capturing critical mindshare. All the cool kids are there now, but someday they will begin to leave Twitter—just as many groups have migrated en masse from MySpace for Facebook.

There is only one compelling reason to microblog at Twitter as opposed to some other place, such as identi.ca It's not the features. It's simply because the people are there now. That's the only thing keeping people from leaving for a better platform or service. So, someday, when that "better enough" service emerges, they will. Community lock-in is not a viable long-term strategy. MySpace learned that lesson the hard way.

Spam Economics and CAPTCHA

Almost everybody hates spam, but the simple economics make it work. The costs to send spam are so low that payoff is achieved with a minuscule success rate. This applies not only to email spam, but also blog and web form spam.

The goal of conventional email spam is different than the goal of blog comment (and trackback) spam. Conventional spam is intended to lead to a direct sale. Follow the link in your email and buy some pills to increase your manhood. The primary goal of blog spam is not sales, but to increase the number of links to the spammer's web site. The blog spammer is trying to game the search engines. That's because search engines tend to treat web sites with more inbound links as popular and authoritative, and thus make them appear more prominently in result listings.

SXSW Panel: Access TV - Old School Media Confronts New Tech

I submitted a proposal for a panel at the 2009 South by Southwest Interactive Festival called "Access TV: Old School Media Confronts New Tech."

The description of the panel is:

Access television has given voice to local issues since the 1970s. More recently, media consolidation, television demographics and new technologies have radically changed the media landscape. What will the technology-enabled public soapbox look like in the future, and will old school community media play a role?

It appears in the SXSW Panel Picker here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1152. You can go there and vote for this panel (please! please!) as well as give any comments or feedback.

Democrats Mismanaged Email: Worse than I Thought

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The other day, I blogged about the bad mailing list practices at democrats.org. When you try to unsubscribe from their mailing list, they hold your request until you complete a verification process. That violates the CAN-SPAM law, which requires a one-click unsubscribe. What's worse, I never got the email messages containing the confirmation code, making it impossible to stop their mailings.

And now, the saga continues.

Democrats Email Opt-Out Violates CAN-SPAM

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The law of the land for sending mass email is called CAN-SPAM. It prescribes practices for spam and other mass emails. Most responsible mass emailers follow them. The Democratic Party, however, does not, and that's unfortunate.

The CAN-SPAM law made spam legal, but required that mailers allow people to opt-out. Some mailers, however, were creating complex processes, making it difficult for people to get their addresses removed. The FTC decided that mailers had to offer a simple, direct mechanism so people could make the mail stop.

Mayor Proclaims August as "GTOPs Month" in Austin

thumbnail of GTOPs proclamationThis afternoon, Mayor Wynn issued a proclamation honoring the Grant for Technology Opportunities program, and declaring August "GTOPs Month" in Austin. You may view the proclamation here (137KB PDF).

I chair the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission, which oversees the program, so I had an opportunity to make some comments during the ceremony. Here is my statement:

On behalf of the 60 programs and over 15,000 people that have been served by GTOPs, thank you for this honor.

Honoring GTOPs

If you are near a TV 5:30pm tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 21), flip on over to cable channel 6. The Mayor will be issuing a proclamation honoring the Grant for Technology Opportunities (GTOPs) program, and I'll be there to accept.

GTOPs, currently in its eighth year, provides matching fund grants to local organizations that address digital divide issues and that use technology in interesting ways to benefit the community. It's been an effective program, and the honor is well deserved.

DTV Transition Plan: Things get Bumpy

DTV conversion box coupon program logoI support the move to digital television (DTV). I think it's being justified with cynical reasons, and I think the transition plan is flawed. But that doesn't mean I don't think we should do it.

Here is what's happening: TV broadcasting currently uses the most prime space of the radio spectrum, and, due to the old analog broadcast standard (NTSC), does so very inefficiently. Moving to a new digital broadcast standard (ATSC) frees up a lot of spectrum. That makes the government happy because they get massive proceeds from selling rights to the released spectrum. That makes industry happy because they can create new wireless services to sell in that spectrum.

You may have heard the reasons why digital television is a benefit for you, Joe and Jolene hapless television consumer. Those benefits are all true—but entirely beside the point The consumer benefits simply make the pill easier to swallow.

A/V Wiring Diagram: Now with Netflix Player

A couple months back, I posted a wiring diagram for our audio/visual setup.

I mentioned that I was going to have to rewrire to add a Netflix Player by Roku. That's a device that connects to the Internet and plays content from the Netflix "Watch Instantly" service on your TV.

The rewiring went fine. Now, I'm finally getting around to posting an updated wiring diagram.

As I noted in the previous article, we depend on a Logitech Harmony 880 remote control to make sense of all this. With the added complication of these wiring changes, that's even more true than before.