My First Blog Anniversary

Thanks to Dave for reminding me about my blog anniversary.

Don Park's weblog is one year old today. Here's his hello world post. Thanks Don, it's been a very interesting year.

Yes, it has been a very interesting years.  In a way, it was like mining.  Just walk up to a mountain (blogosphere) and start digging, discovering and following new ore veins every day, encountering a few rocks and toxic gas occasionally, running into and befriending an army of fellow miners.

I enjoyed it so much that I think blogging is in my blood stream now.

Bloggers are Mutants!

Hmm.  Dave is either experimenting with invisible permalinks or got a bug somewhere.

Subsidizing Wi-Fi Access Points

I was thinking about Sputnik yesterday because I talked with Dave Sifry, CTO of Sputnik, on #joiito.  I started wondering how one might raise sales of Wi-Fi access points like Sputnik AP 120 exponentially.  Weird thought for an engineer, but I have an entrepreneur's mind at the core so it's not too strange for me to wonder about the business side.

The idea of subsidized Wi-Fi is not new, but I think the idea of AP hardware vendors doing the subsidizing has some appeal.  What if Sputnik sold these devices at a fraction of the cost for joining a global commercial Wi-Fi service network?  This is how it might work:

  1. Bob, a store owner, buys Sputnik at 1/4 of the price, plugs it in at his store, and use the installation software to register the AP with Sputnik Network.
    • The AP is configured so that only Sputnik Network members can use it. 
    • Administration, security, and account management is all handled by Sputnik Network.
  2. James, a Wi-Fi user, subscribes to World-wide Sputnik Network service for $10 per month, enabling him to use any Sputnik Network AP around the world.
    • Sputnik client software running on his laptop automatically handles authentication with each AP.
  3. AP usage is metered so Bob might receive a check each month if his AP gets a lot of traffic.

It makes no sense to require Wi-Fi users and stores to deal with the hassle of paying for access or keeping track of users.  Building a membership-based Wi-Fi Network seems too problematic without the leverage of subsidized AP hardware and the absolute control it brings.  Urgh.  I better stop here before I get to T-shirts and jingles.

North Korean War?

This sentence from an Washington Post article is startling:

"Russian armed forces are conducting an elaborate series of military exercises in the Far East, in part to prepare for any refugee crisis that might occur should North Korea's government collapse or become involved in a war with the United States."

Is this just pressure being applied for the Beijing talk or Russia preparing for imminent breakout of chaos or war in North Korea?

Corea

In 1100, Korea was known to Arabic countries as Coree because the name of the country at the time was pronounced Go-Ryu.  When Europeans got to know Korea, Coree changed to Corea which is still used in France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico — I have read somewhere that the Corea family of Italy was started by a Korean boy who chose Corea as his last name when he arrived in Italy on a trading vessel, an interesting but unconfirmed story.

Around turn of the previous century, Korea started to be used instead of Corea.  Because Japanese occupation of Korea began around the same time period, there are accusations of Japan being the culprit behind the name change.  One of the theories is that Japan wanted to enter ahead of Korea in the Olympic.  The truth is that no one knows for sure yet.

Lately, the movement to restore the country name to Corea from Korea has been gaining momentum in both North and South Korea.  At first, Corea seemed odd to me, but I am starting to like it because Corea feels more refined than Korea and the letter K reminds me of K-mart.  If things go well, I'll be a Corean-American in the near future.  Go Corea!

Does this post remind you of that Monty Python sketch about a guy who couldn't pronounce the letter C?  It does to me.  Monty Python is like herpes.  Once exposed, you are stuck with it for life.

Distributed Wiki

I don't have much time to elaborate, but I wanted to jot it down here as a note to myself.  Yes, I find myself using my blog as PostIt of sort.  I gotta pursue that idea later as well.

Distributed Wiki is what you get when you take something like HTMLHelp and add Wiki-like editing capability and content synchronization via a central server or P2P.

More scattered bits.  Manuals as whiteboards and discussion forum.  Continually updated product documentation.  Kill view and sliding filter bar.  Admins updating and customizing contents especially terms by replacing generic terms with domain specific terms.  Local cache of content with updates trickling in and out.  Living documents.

Ray Ozzie's Groove is a good platform for this stuff.  ShareDoc.  HelpShare.  LiveHelp?

Virus Storms

I got pelted by about 20 SoBig.F virus laden e-mail on Friday.  This morning, I got 20 more and the storm continues where it left off Friday.  Since other people are having a much harder time than I am, I guess I am sitting in a nice quiet paranoid patch of the online social network.

Everybody will learn to live with waves of virus storms like the way they deal with real world showers and storms.  Hmm.  I wonder Yahoo will do Virus Forecasts along side Weather Forecasts?

BTW, if you sent me e-mail and I haven't replied, chance is good that it got thrown out in my daily pile of spam and virus.  As a last resort, you might try leaving me a comment to one of my recent blog posts or post a blog of your own referencing my blog so I can find it via trackback or Technorati.

Negotiation as a Game

Negotiation is a fascinating yet difficult subject.  First negotiation probably took place in the Ice Age between cavemen, but the art of negotiation hasn't advanced much since then.

While there are countless papers on negotiation theories, strategies, tactics, psychology, and even philosophy, negotiation still comes down to people talking face to face, just like the cavemen.

Ross Mayfield's Negotiation and Social Software post got me thinking about web-based negotation tools.  Ross writes:

Social software can support negotiation, at the least, by revealing what kind of argument is in play. […] There are three kinds of arguments: Fact, Value or Policy. You can argue over what is, what should be or how it should be. […] Social software can support negotiation, at the least, by revealing what kind of argument is in play.

Unless I am mistaken, Ross wants to use tools to identify and classify arguments.  Assuming Ross is thinking about using Wiki, I am not sure how effective this approach is using purely textual solutions like Wiki.  I am of the opinion that more visual approach is necessary.

Ross also touches on an important point:

Tools that allow mediators the flexibility to structure dialogue while deemphasizing personalities can accelerate constructive conversation.

Personalities and emotions are difficult to isolate and deemphasize in negotiations.  Even act of doing so can backfire.  I think a game-like interface might encourage negotiators to detach themselves emotionally from the arguments similar to the way chips in casinos detach gamblers from monetary value.

People often see negotiation as a game of sort.  Unlike games like Chess and Go, negotiation has no game board nor game pieces, just an optional table to rest hands on and mouths to create or move pieces in your opponent's head.

What would negotiation look like as a game?

Here is my Swiss Cheese answer.

Game area looks like a Crap table, a flat surface divided into two major areas: Common Areas and Player Areas.  Two-party negotiation would have one Common Area and two Player Areas.  Each area is divided into subareas representing player-specified categories.  Some area-specific effects would be interesting.

A mediator is a player with some special privileages such as ability to view hidden pieces.  More than one mediator can participate in a game.

Game pieces look like a stack of chips and can be created by any players.  When a player creates a piece, matching piece appears in each Player Area.  Height of a piece is determined by its value which is assigned by the player who owns it.  Hidden pieces are visible to all but it's content is opaque to all except the piece creator and mediators.

A Deal is a Wheel-like balance in the Common Area.  Players contribute pieces to the Deal using the pieces' value as weights.  If a Deal is balanced, it lights up in green color.

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p dir=”ltr”>Like Swiss Cheese, it has a lot of holes yet to be filled, but I like the way the issues are visualized and players become detached.  Call it work in progress. <g>

Spam Filters and Trash

I have been using SpamBayes since others have suggested it in response to my Death of E-Mail post.  SpamBayes is good, probably good enough most of the time, but not good enough for all the time.

SpamBayes is like my wife.  Since my wife pays the bills, she also does the mail.  Everyday, she checks the mail, throws out apparent junk mail, set aside bills, and brings me the rest.  With her standing there, I separate junk out so she can recognize new types of junk next time.  After ten years of this, she rarely has to bring me mail.

One key advantage my wife has over SpamBayes is that she can expect important mail like tax refund or my son's report card.  She knows ahead of time when, from where, and how (i.e. FedEx or US Postal) mail will come.  She also handles unexpected mail well.  This is why I trust her and why I don't trust SpamBayes completely.

Despite all the fancy algorithms behind today's spam filters, all they do is tossing mail into a trash can.  This is sufficient most of the time, but is prone to failure at exceptional times.

When was the last time you digged into your trash and why?  Would you do that daily?  You can't do it weekly because the pile would be way too big, even daily pile is starting to get too big.  You won't unless there are some important e-mails you have been expecting.  That leaves important yet unexpected e-mails that get thrown out every day with rest of the garbage.

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p dir=”ltr” style=”margin-right:0;”>Message to my wife: Honey, you are so much prettier than SpamBabes, er, SpamBayes.

Cute CSS-based Rollover Trick

Typical rollover uses multiple images, one for each state.  Petr Stanicek shows how CSS2's background-position attribute can be used to do rollover with just one image containing subimages for multiple states.  Cute.  Via Paschal L.

For the impatient, here is the meat:

#menu a { …
    background: url("button.gif") top left no-repeat;
… }
#menu a:hover { …
    background-position: 0 -39px;
… }
#menu a:active { …
    background-position: 0 -78px;
… }

Outsourcing and Unions

Alarming increase in outsourcing of technology jobs is not new, but Dan Gillmor's Outsourcing Our Future article is a sign of recent increase in alarm bells.  Just in time too because outsourcing trend is accelerating.  The real fun will begin when Presidential hopefuls start peddling this issue.

One solution I thought might work is encouraging unionization of IT workers in both India and US.  Unionizing IT workers in India will increase labor cost there.  Unionizing IT workers in America will discourage outsourcing here.

Unionization is a powerful force.  Just look at how unions are destroying manufacturing industry in Korea.  Did you know it cost 25% less for Hyundai to manufacture cars in Alabama than in Korea?  Oops.  That was the before the most recent labor deal Hyundai was forced to sign under which Hyundai auto workers gets 150+ days off per year (women get 170+ days off).

I am not talking about yesterday's unions.  These days, unions are highly organized both internally and externally.  In the near future, unions armed with cellphones, e-mail, IM, and socialwares, even small unions will weave themselves into larger networks of allied unions spanning nations and even continents.  Massive long term conflicts between global union networks is not unimaginable either.

Expect to be held hostage by unionized IT workers of tommorrow