22 March 2011

Just keeping track

But let me emphasize that we anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days and not a matter of weeks. And so I would expect that over the next several days we'll have more information, and the Pentagon will be fully briefing the American people, as well as the press on that issue.
The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal.

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identity, goals and progress of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.
 President Obama has authorized the use of armed Predator drones to attack Libya government forces fighting the rebellion against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi
Tomorrow marks 60 days of US non-war in Libya, which would mark the end of the War Powers Act authorization if, you know, it existed.

20 March 2011

The NYTimes up-coming paywall

I don't quite get their plan on this (which makes me think it's about as well thought out as their other ventures and attitudes on the intertubes).

First, at no cost everybody gets to read 20 articles a month, and also to browse the "home page, section fronts, blog fronts and classifieds," and read the Top News section on the Apps. I'm going to guess that this is going to be enough for a lot of people: "What are the headlines today? Ooh, let me read about this breaking story. OK, I'm done now." BTW, since section fronts sometimes include Top News stories, I assume links to these will be free wherever you click on them. For example, right now the top three stories on the World section front are the top three stories on the iPad Top News section. (Truth be told, I assume they'll goof this up and the links won't always be free if you don't click on them in the right place.)

Second they're charging extra to have access for both an iPhone and an iPad app. Huh?

Third, if you come to one of their articles via a search engine, blog or other social media link, that article will count against your 20 if you haven't hit it yet, but you will also still be able to read it if you have already hit 20. Search hits will have a 5-a-day limit. How is this not a giant hole in their plans? The truly devious could simply enter the title they want to read into their browser's search bar, and then click on the subsequent link in the search engine. A little more work, but not much. Or they could put the link into their own tweets or FaceBook or blog.

And I assume they're keeping track of this via cookies, which is another hole: a decent cookie manager can let a user easily switch identities and circumvent the monthly limit with ease.

The NYTimes should know better than anyone how its users reach their articles, so maybe they've got this sussed out. I just can't help thinking that they don't.

On a side note, I also don't get why their bloggers keep their blogs at NYTimes.com. Krugman and Silver and the others could likely do what Frank Rich is doing and not lose much readership. Since they don't seem to get paid anyway, what does it matter to them? If their readership does drop after the paywall goes up, will they stay?

(Gruber's had a few posts on this. Here's one.)

Edited to add (21 March): That didn't take long: Twitter feed of all NYT articles is now up and running.

14 March 2011

Reason #4306 why I am a Mac user

I run Windows XP in VirtualBox on my MacBook. Love it. Almost everything works great. I can save the state of my Windows machine. I can revert to an older saved state. I can run those rare, but enticing, Windows-only apps like ArcGIS, or the DAVID Laserscanner, or the CVA Access database (yuck). But the big reason is that I've needed the latest version of Excel for compatibility with all the nice stuff pivot tables can do on it. (Shout out to pivot-tabler extraordinaire CVW!)

So here's the thing: open a file in Excel, make some changes, and then try to close without having saved it. Excel will throw up a dialog box for you to save that file. Cancel the save and it will then ask you whether you want to save this file which you've made changes in.

Uh...isn't that backwards? Why don't you ask me first and save a step? You know, like my Mac has done for the past 27 years.

Yes, I know this is Excel and not XP, but it's still Microsoft, so same difference.

07 March 2011

Robots and configs and makes, oh my!

Been spending a bunch of time this weekend trying to get another kinect hack running on my MacBook. It requires the other drivers for the kinect, OpenNI. Nifty, but they have some issues with OS X, so I can run them on their own (see that image there), but not with the robot OS (ros) I've been working with and with which a number of these kinect hacks work. Bottom line right now is that I can't make nite inside ros and my weak computer skills are not giving me hope that I won't have to wait until somebody else works this out.

Still, having a ball playing with the software and watching this whole arena develop in front of my internetworked eyes.