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is that an encyclopedia in your pocket?   ...   elsewhere on the web , software
tue 2005-feb-08 21:16:55 pst   ...   permalink

Thanks to TomeRaider and this Dutch guy called Erik Zachte, I now carry Wikipedia on my person at all times. How cool is that?!

It's not entirely clear to me whether the file that Mr. Zachte has furnished me with is in fact all of Wikipedia -- I mean, I know that it's just the English-language portion, and it doesn't include any images, but I'm not sure whether it's all of the English text. The TomeRaider file is 500MB, as compared with the official full database dump which is apparently 26GB; I believe the dump also excludes the images. I guess it probably does include all of the database's indices and such, so that could make it somewhat bigger... But still, it seems hard to believe a 50-fold blowup. Both are compressed...

In any case, I also grabbed the (much smaller) TomeRaider files for WordNet and IMDb (all movies since 1960). I am a walking fount of information.

This of course means that I can now carry only about half the amount of music I used to carry on my convenient, easy-to-swallow 1GB SD card. Might have to get another card!

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Delicious Library   ...   elsewhere on the web , software
sat 2005-jan-15 23:09:07 pst   ...   permalink

Came across this Wired article about Delicious Monster, the company that makes "Delicious Library", a MacOSX application for cataloging your collection of CDs, DVDs, books, etc. The interesting thing about the company is that they don't have an office, they just bring their laptops to in a cafe in Seattle with free wireless.

Anyway, so then I downloaded the app. It's pretty well done. Perhaps the most important feature is that you can scan barcodes with a video camera, so entering data is relatively quick and painless (and you don't need a proper barcode scanner). I've started by scanning all our DVDs (of which there are only 40 or so).

Once we scan all our CDs and books, well, then what? Well, one nice thing about the software (as far as I'm concerned) is that it stores your data in a simple XML file, so I can write a script to -- oh wait, what am I saying, surely someone's already done it ... yep, here we go: DeliciousExporter. Rock on.

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text messaging mailing lists   ...   elsewhere on the web , software
thu 2004-aug-12 18:16:42 pdt   ...   permalink

Interesting article in Wired about TxtMob, a clever tool for setting up mobile phone text message mailing lists. The guy who created it initially intended it to be used by political protesters to coordinate with each other in real time. And so apparently it was used by protesters at the Democratic convention. He's now working on improving the service for use at the Republican convention, where of course more protesters are expected. (The article does not make clear what the TxtMob guy's own politics are...)

But the simple idea of SMS mailing lists makes so much sense, I'm surprised no one's already done this. Then again, maybe they have. In which case, why isn't it a big thing?

The answer, of course, is "Because texting itself is not a big thing in the US." (Maybe SMS mailing lists are already big in Europe and/or Asia...?) And as far as I can tell, the biggest reason SMS has not caught on in the US the way it has in Europe is quite simply that not everyone can receive text messages on their cell phone. If the wireless providers in the US would make receiving text messages free and automatically on for everyone, I believe a lot more people would use it. Of course, there's probably a quite sizeable chunk of the handsets in the states that just don't support SMS... But the old problems with cross-provider texting have been solved. If I knew that everyone with a cell phone could automatically receive texts, I would totally send them more. As it is, I periodically try sending one to someone, always starting with "Can you receive text messages?" at the start of my message... Only a handful have responded. Which reminds me, another thing that SMS needs is a "bounce message" mechanism. If someone's phone or service doesn't accept my text message, it just disappears into the void. Useless!

Anyway, yeah, SMS mailing lists. All sorts of applications present themselves... Most obvious is just small groups of friends, meeting to hang out and stuff. But also they'd be great for puzzle hunt sorts of things (for game control to contact all the players, for example). In fact, whole new games could be built around such things... Hm...

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infocom AIM bot   ...   elsewhere on the web , software
fri 2004-jun-11 20:51:44 pdt   ...   permalink

If you use AIM, send a message to "infocombot". Totally cool! You can play Zork, Hitchhikers' Guide, and several other old Infocom games. Info here.

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