Discussing software, the web, politics, sexuality and the unending supply of human stupidity.

I'm enjoying GeekBrief.TV. I's a very short video podcast (rarely longer than ten minutes - usually three to five) that discusses new products, talks about geeky stuff and so on.

OPML Business of the Day

First off, I've created the OPML Wishlist, which is hosted over on Ning. If you've got an idea of what you'd like with OPML, go there, register and post away. Use it as an OPML fantasy land. It's not for bug reports, it's for feature requests. It would be great if we could have a few of the gang using it.

I've released some hacks for NewsRiver (one to add 'spyglass' support for the feeds page, the other to reverse the Delete and Unsubscribe buttons on ?xmlUrl spyglass pages, so that when you hit enter in Safari, you submit 'delete' not 'unsubscribe'). If you want them, just download my updated version. See my post to OPML-Newbies for details.

I've put up a page for my documentation. Ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

This bookmarklet will be useful for NewsRiver users.

theOffice looks like a cool idea. Perhaps I should start one in London. I've always thought a BlogBar would be neat, basically a tiny little coffee shop where everyone's talking tech all day long.

If you employed a nurse caleld Jesus, would you ask him to change his name to Manuel? Of course not. If I was called Jesus, I'd grow long hair and spook out old people by saying stuff like "I'm Jesus, I'm an atheist" and "Trinitarianism ain't true, suckers. The Unitarians and the Jews were right..."

Whine 2.0

Scott Heiferman describes my response to his 50 reasons as "whiney". Well, I prefer the insult to the usual "soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement". Everything has it's genealogy, and my whininess must be a built-in function of Frontier (it would explain a few things if it was).

Let me expand my reasoning. I've been invited to run a meetup group, and I really want to. I like Meetup, and I go to a number of meetups in London every month, two organised by, the rest organised manually.

Meetup charges too much for newcomers. If someone has an established meetup going, there really is no problem. Paying $12 to keep it ticking over, with everyone contributing a few pence in the jar is no problem. You've had time to set up, and that's fine.

But when the meetup is only small, or trying to get off the ground, charging the the rates that meetup do discourages groups from setting up. How about this: if a meetup has under fifteen people signed up, the charge is halved. $12-19 is too much to plonk down with the hope that someone might turn up. $6 is not.

When the group starts being successful, jack the price back up and start charging the monthly fee.

This will make it so that the monthly fee isn't being split too widely between a small number of users - and that the monthly fee remains consistent as membership grows.

Six dollars works out to be £3.44. If five people turn up, that works out as 69p each. When the group grows in to double digits, the membership fee goes from Starter level up to Standard level.

This encourages Meetup to provide some service that's valuable to the user. The user is not going to be 'unmotivated'. He's not going to say "Well, we've currently got 9 people going. Let's try and stop a tenth person coming, so we don't have to pay any more."

Running a Meetup shouldn't be a risky enterprise. I don't mind paying, but the amount Meetup charges for groups who have yet to establish themselves is too much, especially now that sites like upcoming let us share events and get-togethers with people through a combination of the social network and the groups. It has RSS feeds and much more.

Upcoming is a more pleasant experience to use than Meetup, which I find very confusing (just like I find MySpace confusing).

Charge away when we're off-the-ground, but cut the current barrier to entry.

Oh, and start accepting PayPal or cards that aren't Visa, MasterCard and Amex. Some of us are trying to live frugally and avoid credit cards in favour of debit cards (like Maestro - which is now a pan-European standard).

Is that a whine, or is that constructive criticism?

On Purpose

What is the purpose of my blogging? I will not lie. I don't do it "just for myself". In fact I do. I want to influence the developments and changes that are currently going on in the tech industry, as well as in the larger culture. The former is a key to the latter.

I blog for myself. That doesn't mean I don't care who reads. I do. Blogging for yourself doesn't mean that you don't care how others react. In fact, it's important to know how others react. It's a good yardstick.

I point to things I'm interested in, so you can read them. I say what I want to say, so you can read it. And hopefully, so that you can take on board what is being said, munch it over and broaden your mind as to how things are going.

One of the things that's important is the continued relevance of old ideas. Philosophers, faced with postmodernism, deconstructionism, cultural relativism, anti-intellectualism and much more, look back to Plato and Aristotle. Old ideas are still important.

We need to keep those old ideas alive. In technology, we have been too quick to move on and develop new formats and new ideas without exhausting the useful features of our current technologies. When we throw out the technologies we have currently got, we throw out a wealth of good ideas built in to them.

That is the technical purpose - to encourage, to kickstart and to remind people of old ideas.

There is another purpose. A more important purpose. A moral purpose. When we rebuke the corrupt and facetious immorality of our elected so-called leaders, we are told to get off our high horses. Our words must not ring hollow. Real morality is not on trifles, the so-called moral issues: pornography and sex, violent video games and profanity. That is a moral sideshow compared to real morality.

Real morality, real moral conscience sends a shiver up one's spine. Real morality is something that requires courage, not V-chips. Real morality requires backbone, not wedding rings and parent-teacher associatons. Real morality is complex, it deals with historically contingent characters. If you can read a political newspaper article without wretching, you have lost your decency.

We need to take back morality, take the ball away from politicians who kick it around for their own, self-serving ends.

I write seriously of purpose, because the purpose is serious. Technology matters to me. My life is invested with technology. There are writers who describe the technological life as ultimately nihilistic and life-denying. Baloney. Technology is not our saviour - only a real moral compass can help us, not the morality as light entertainment compass that theology and popular culture have sold us. Technology aids us in the use of our moral principles.

If this is a serious mission, then the methods are entertaining. I will mock religion, giggle at self-professed holy men (I've got lots of time for messiahs - they're deluded, but at least they're fun. Their followers are the problem).

What we must do is clear the ground, clear away Britney Spears and K-Fed and Tom Cruise. Then we can start building a society comprised of intelligent individuals, who use good technology to think, and to cry freedom from every mountain top in the nation (as MLK said in a morally spine-chilling speech that you may have heard of: "I have a dream").

I want to tear down the RIAA, the MPAA, most of the newspaper industry, most of the government, most of Hollywood, television, established religion and it's silly servants. These institutions have held the intellect back, denied the intelligence of individuals.

Blogs are not just the First Amendment in code. They've got to become an intellectual Second Amendment. I leave that to you to interpret.

MotionBox looks cool, simply for the reason that it's not YouTube, which is annoying the hell out of me. Partly due to it's emo audience, partly due to it's super slow speeds and partly due to them preventing people from uploading videos that are bigger than ten megs.