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Microsoft paranoia...

Just a quick one to vent a bit about Microsoft... Apparently "Microsoft Plans E-Mail, IM, Blog, And Photo Sharing Suite". They plan to integrate all their Windows live products: IM, Hotmail, blog authoring, photo gallery, etc. into one suite

By creating a single suite and a single integrated service, it will become much easier for users to understand what Windows Live actually is. We're focused on making sure Windows Live is the best place for communicating, sharing and accessing things from anywhere and making sure you and your stuff is protected.


...says Brian Hall, the General Manager for Windows Live (qtd. in Hoover).

Well that all makes sense, and definitely we can already see blogs with integrated chatrooms, using Flikr, etc. And it does make sense to have an integrated product... however - what I see happening is that you may be lumped with a use one, use all policy (aka bundling). So, for example, I use Windows IM at the moment - against my will really, but because that's what most people I know use. This forces me to have a Hotmail account which I otherwise don't want. I can just imagine the Windows Live suite trying to install itself left, right and centre on my PC, taking up resources and making me search and fiddle with things to make it go away...

Basically, one day (hopefully) the internet would be something like phone lines, or the airwaves, where you can use different devices to connect and all would be interoperable. So I could use any IM to chat with anyone who has any other particular IM. The overwhelming dominance of Microsoft, however, makes this less likely - I really should go Open Source, Linux, etc. I have tried occasionally, but I do find them somewhat difficult to understand, not being very knowledgeable beyond standard applications... I don't have the confidence to be able to deal with inevitable glitches and problems.

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Hoover, J. Nicholas. "Microsoft Plans E-Mail, IM, Blog, And Photo Sharing Suite". InformationWeek. 27 June 2007. 27 June 2007 http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=200001104

Domestic Hell…

I went to the Fiesta Feminista last week – it was well worth the time and I saw a number of interesting speeches, though I was also helping out so I wasn’t able to see them all. I was also rapporteur for a National Media Monitoring Survey (organised by AWAM) workshop project that also provided gender awareness training for media practitioners.

I attended a talk about migrant workers – seemed interesting, and being a life-long immigrant myself, something I feel some resonance with, though I have always been on the privileged edge of it…

As part of the talk there was a testimony by a brave lady (whose name I didn’t get though, sorry – her talk was being translated). She has no, or very little, education, but her intelligence and integrity shone through as, choking back tears, she told how she had lived through virtual slavery for about three years, in order to provide for better education for her children.

She came to Malaysia with the promise of a job paying RM400/month; once she got here she was told it was reduced to RM370. She swallowed that, and began her gruelling work: up at 6am every day she worked until 12pm for a family of 15 people – cooking, cleaning, and washing all the clothes by hand, being forbidden from using the washing machine. In the afternoon she had to help her employer’s sister make kuih for the market. On Saturdays she had to wash the 3-5 cars the family owned, and on Sundays she had to get up at 4am so as to be able to do her usual tasks, and go to clean her employer’s mother’s house in the afternoon.

Tenaganita leaflet
Continue reading "Domestic Hell…"

Internet Overload?

Well I know that one problem I have is trying to deal with the vast amount of data out there: just trying to get an angle on what the 'Malaysian blogosphere' might consist of gets my head spinning. Information overload is something we have to deal with more and more now (one symptom of this is the kids dragging a trolley bag of books to school, I suppose): Nardi et al. suggest that blogs may be popular specifically because of the limited interactivity they offer: i.e. they offer a way to communicate with others, and present a digest of one's public face, that can be interacted with at one's one speed - though the more popular bloggers have also often noted the pressure to produce regular postings in order to keep their audience happy.

Anyway, there was an article on BBC recently about "Warnings of 'internet overload'" . Apparently the backbones of optic fibres are not an issue, as "scientists are confident that each strand can be pushed to carry almost limitless amounts of data in the form of light." (Kelly), but as more people use more video and other realtime connections, there is a possibility that routers and local copper wire loops cannot keep up with the demand.

As far as Malaysia is concerned, it seems like for once our ISP(s) are ahead of the times...
"The real issue that people are going to face, and are already noticing at home, is that ISPs are starting to cut back on the bandwidth that is available to people in their homes," said Mr Thompson. "They call it bandwidth shaping... They do this because they have a limited capacity to deliver to 100 or 200 homes, and if everybody's using the internet at the same time then the whole thing starts to get congested. Before that happens they cut back on the heavy users."

or perhaps it's just a case of being lapped? ;-)

A recent study reported in the Technology Review gives a possible solution to the problem - using peer-to-peer connections to take some of the load off the "80 or so critical nodes" (Graham-Rowe) which form the centre of the internet network - not a lot when you think of it!

It's an interesting idea, though there must be security and privacy issues that would pop up. Continue reading "Internet Overload?"

Using the Event Viewer tool in Vista

--Another one that I couldn't post it here due to another problem to do with a 'mod_security' module on the Apache sever (apparently, I don't understand what it was) - I will blog about that in the Geekzone at some point--
I had the "host process for windows services stopped working and was closed" error again, and had a look around.

The Vista Help says that “the cause could be smaller programs, such as extensions… check with the software publisher to see if there is an updated, DEP-compatible version available, or try uninstalling the program.”

DEP is “Data Execution Prevention”: basically it is a service that stops programs that may be damaging your system (i.e. viruses, etc.); “If a program tries running (also known as executing) code from memory in an incorrect way, DEP closes the program.” (the Help file again). The program it’s closing here is svchost.exe: being something apparently quite important to Windows, it’s kind of worrying that it shuts it down, but everything else seems to continue fine…

Anyway, I Googled the error message and came across a few similar issues: here and here

They mentioned using the “Event Log”, so I decided to try it. You go to Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer, and get this

Continue reading "Using the Event Viewer tool in Vista"

"The Twitterization of Blogs"?...

--Another one that I couldn't post it here due to another problem to do with a 'mod_security' module on the Apache sever (apparently, I don't understand what it was) - I will blog about that in the Geekzone at some point--

From what I can work out, Twitter is basically like a forwarding service that can send your messages to multiple receivers. The key innovation being the ability to send directly from your personal communication device (email, IM, phone, web connection) to a number of preset recipients (other people's phones, your blog).

As with many of these services, the recipients also need to be signed up to receive the messages (e.g. on their phone). The messages can be private (one-to-one, one to selected people) or public - i.e. onto blog, or even the main Twitter home page apparently. FYI: Twitter FAQ section

You may ask, what's the point of having an extra way to send a text to a friend? Well I think the advantage here is that you can send one text and it then goes to all your group of friends - this is easier, and maybe saves money too? Also, the message stays in one place online, so people can see what you have been up to even if they check later on or something (i.e. asynchronous communication).

I took some screenshots of the Twitter home page today at c. 13.00 (Malaysia time):

Twitter screenshot June 2007

Thoughts:
Q: Why bother telling the world that you're about to go to bed (Mewzii, Chernobyl)?
A: As pointed out by Holahan, the intended audience is more likely to be a small group of friends rather than the world. Still, I can’t imagine texting any of my friends to tell them I'm about to go to bed, only my significant other would get a goodnight message. Continue reading ""The Twitterization of Blogs"?..."

Faking it?

--This is an old post that didn't travel over into this blog: originally posted 1 Dec. 2006--
--And then I couldn't post it here due to another problem to do with a 'mod_security' module on the Apache sever (apparently, I don't understand what it was) - I will blog about that in the Geekzone at some point--

I have had a blog under a pseudonym for a few years, but now I am starting this one. Why? Because I want to use this as a basis for the research I’m doing into blogs and the internet in general, and I am worried that the previous blog may have some opinions that may not be appreciated by some…

I have been faced few interesting dilemmas because of this:
• I feel a sense of loss, I like my old nick and it’s been my online identity for a long time. This relates to the sense of identity, how I have invested something of ‘myself’ into my blog (e.g. Reed “My Blog is Me”)
• There’s an ethical dilemma: am I being duplicitous? I may engage in research (e.g. interviews) with bloggers who have interacted with my other identity.
• Another ethical issue: should I keep my other one going at the same time that I keep this one going? A related question, that is an important one, is what moral standards am I to keep to? ‘Online’ or ‘offline’ ones? Or is there a difference?
• I could also just delete a whole bunch of posts from the other one, and then ‘come out’ on that one – but is that also going against some moral code of some kind?
• I am engaging in self-censorship by taking this course of action. What moral duties do I have to avoid that?

In essence, the issues seem to go to the core of the discussion around online identities, and the meaning of blogs to bloggers. In the offline world we do not usually have the option to pretend to be other people, though some do – e.g. cross-dressers: and even then they usually claim to be doing so in order to be able to physically represent their ‘true self’ (see Butler for discussions of this). Online we can, and many people do: purely by the need to take a nick, and the impossibility of taking the same one as someone else (due to database reasons), the internet initiate is given a chance to recreate themselves. Offline, we may have the same name as someone else – but our bodies provide the guarantee of our uniqueness.

OK that’s it for today – I can feel many more thoughts. But I’m not to use this as an excuse to procrastinate either.

By the way: many interesting articles on blogs in this issue of Reconstruction.

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Works mentioned:
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999.
Reed, Adam. “‘My Blog Is Me’: Texts and Persons in UK Online Journal Culture (and Anthropology)”. Ethnos. 70.2 (June 2005): 220-242.