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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Friday, June 24, 2005

Speculations on the Google Wallet

During the last week rumors of Google developing an online-payment system (Google Wallet) to rival PayPal surfaced (First on Wall Street Journal then everywhere like:SlashDot, SearchBlog, and The Unofficial Google Weblog) and then had a offical confirmation, by Google CEO Eric Schmidt which was interesting for want wasn't said:

"We do not intend to offer a person-to-person stored-value payments system."
"The payment services we are working on are a natural evolution of Google’s existing online products and advertising programs which today connect millions of consumers and advertisers."
"We are building products in the area to solve new problems in ecommerce."
Lots of wiggle room there.

Not be a P2P (person to person) PayPal system, but that still leaves B2B (Business to Business ) and C2B (Consumer to Business). Remember that Google runs a Advertising Solutions Business ( and ) and a shopping search tool .

So how about allowing consumers to to make on line purchases for its ~200,000 Froogle merchants? Currently Froogle's revenue is from advertising on it's site.

How about enabling AdWords advertisers to AdSense web publishers transactions (B2B)?

How about enabling consumers to buy from those AdWords advertisers? Advertising without allow them to buy (or do something) seems silly.

How about addressing the risks perceived by consumers in giving out credit card numbers to a company you have never heard of (in a place you have never heard of). Would you be more willing to buy on line if you had a Internet based debit card system (transfer a fix amount of value from your bank or credit card) from a trusted name (Google)? Would you be more likely to buy from unknown merchants (without giving your credit card number to) that have also been vetted by a trusted name (Google)? (with money held in escrow until received?). PayPal is to weird and small for many non ebay consumers or non ebay merchants. The banks and credit card companies have been doing a awful job of improving the risk perceptions of the public.

How about avoiding the "stored-value payments system" part and enable disposable credit card numbers (sometimes called "One-time use") that back end to your choice of any credit cards/banks/other with Google providing google id verification to the Business, and the Google Wallet protocol universal button to consumers? (Maybe something like Jon Udell's Password generator or the version I use)

How about doing interbank-based Interac Email Money Transfers (as done by CertaPay in Canada) which would lower the barrier of entry for consumers in a Internet debit scheme?

Could Google be thinking about the holy grail of ecommerce? : a Micro Content payment system, if the transaction costs are sub penny and the volume huge, becomes possible.

Another open question is: what will be the role of ( Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) in this since Google is the most famous practitioner of all things AJAX?

I came across Payment News in the course of researching this.

Also it's worth re-reading How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web for a big picture look. Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Margaret Atwood on why we need science related news flying pigs circling the Annex

Via The Guardian, Margaret Atwood on why we need science fiction...She likes us she really likes us....see why this is a big deal Margaret Atwood Vs SF.

I'm too chicken to face the "Wrath of Atwood", and ask the "question". Perhaps I'll just quietly move "Handmaids Tale" and "Oryx and Crake" to the the SciFI section of our local library branch? (Ms. Atwood lives in the Annex neighbor of Toronto) Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Remixing the US census and Google Maps

Via Boing Boing, we have a combining of US census and Google Maps to make (the latest in a long line of G names), by Jimmy Palmer of and fame ("devoted to the discussion of Digital Rights Management (DRM)"), down to the level of Census Blocks extracted from 10 gigs of data from the 2000 United States Census. Tags: / / ; Technorati Tags: / /

Monday, June 20, 2005

Self Life

and Surprising Expiration Dates:

# Tuna, canned

Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

# Brown sugar

Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

# Batteries, alkaline

7 years

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pulp Fiction... in 30 seconds with Bunnies

Pulp Fiction... in 30 seconds with Bunnies by Angry Alien

More Bunnines : It's a Wonderful Life 30 seconds with bunnies, Jaws and The Shining or The Exorcist and there is allways The Titanic or Alien. All 30 Seconds, all Bunnies. Boy those Bunnies get around! Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Friday, June 17, 2005

Accelerando! is released to the wild

Long awaited, Charlie Stross's Accelerando! is available for downloading (and mindloading) under a Creative Commons license, in various formats (use Bit Torrent to save his bandwidth). Then on July 1st buy the book and support a hard working and nice guy.

I'm currently - slowly - reading it, and doing a mental diff with the original short story "Lobsters" ,published in Asimovs in 2001. Noticed a couple updates.

I've previously related mentioned related stories in Jan '05 (and Cory's book is also out very soon), Aug '04. Cory say's Charlie writes like love-child of Vernor Vinge, Neal Stephenson and Hunter S Thompson. That's a good thing!?

What is Accelerando! ? It's the story of several generation of the Macx clan (and their cat) surfing the edge of the Singularity . think: Over-clocked, ADD'ed, slashdoted and future shocked.

Update:I've started reading it on my Palm Zire (71) using Plucker (an offline Web and e-book viewer for PalmOS? suggested by Charlie ) and I like it! (the story and the reading) Much better ( and easier on the eyes ) than doing so on my much older Palm II - which is the last time I tried it. and Plucker works like a charm too! After this I'm going to find some more (non-drm) reading. Tags: / ; Technorati Tags: /

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Importance of RSS

The Importance of RSS, and what Google might do next, and who will Google buy next?

Technorati, and would make sense, as value add aplha geek search engines, and then they need a web based rss news reader. Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Russia's Kliper Spacecraft Showcased at Paris Air Show

Via, and following up Getting Space Exploration Right reveals a little more real information on Russian's successor to the Soyuz, called Kliper (or sometimes "Clipper"?), which is way ahead of NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), with a full scale mockup.

European Space Agency (ESA) is on board to ensure it is adapted for launches from the European space port in Kourou, French Guiana, and are considering further funding the Kliper spacecraft during its meeting in December of 2005. Japan has also expressed interest in joining in on Kliper development. has 2 photo's of the Kliper from the Paris Air Show, but if you what last more here's a gallery of over 100 images from March 16th 2005 on a Russian Language space new web site (any russian speakers who can tell translate some of this, or at least tell me when and where this happen?), and the Russian Space web site has a great wealth of details on the Kliper.

Question: Doesn't that last row of seats seem completely upside down for launch? Do the seats orient differently for launch, and then swivel to this position for re-entry? Just asking. (that's the parachute section above their heads). Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Paintball gun future

In the Sunday NYT's Magazine there was a piece about A Neater Way to Make a Paintball Mess and the new Spyder Electra ACS paintball gun.

(image via NYT)

The craftsmanship behind the paintball gun was starling stunning. I also began to reflected on the Bruce Mau's Massive Change show that recently finished at Toronto's AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) and the section on military spin off's and spin on's (spin on's are civilian use adapted for military use).

Which lend too two wonder if paintball weapons have non-lethal military or para-military applications like crowd control (they sting!) or to delivering skin contact drugs (they sting and make you drowsy or throw up) - no to mention they made me think of the guns in Logan's Run. Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Friday, June 10, 2005

A new variation of cueCat in the Works? Still clueless

Via Tech Dirt : there's new effort by the magazine industry in Europe to do a cueCat like system. Keywords sent with SMS (huge in Europe & Asian with teens and young adults ) get you a email with a url link to a special on line "animated" version of a magazine.

At least they are not spending a zillion dollars on OCR scanners, since most phone allow SMS already.

TechDirt links to a piece in TheFeature which highlights the big problem :

If you're going to get people to respond to some sort of keyword on a billboard or in an advertisement, there needs to be either some sort of immediate gratification or a real, clearly stated value to the user in doing so. It needs to provide some sort of reward. Sending them a link to a free magazine hardly seems like a reward.
and concludes :
Connecting the analog and the digital world is a huge opportunity, but that doesn't mean just any connection makes sense. The connections have to help the mobile user do something useful. This is a solution that is only designed to help the magazine industry. Of course, it won't help anyone if no one uses it.
More details in Yahoo News about cueLess Norwegian publisher Fast Forward Media Group and Belgian technology company Allisblue.

Update : Two million CueCats at $0.30/each, and CueCats vs. Common Sense Marketing Tags: ;Technorati Tags:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle opening in Toronto

After a long wait "Howl's Moving Castle" ("Hauru no ugoku shiro")is opening this weekend in Toronto

Hayao Miyazaki is best know in North American for his film "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) in 2001 (2002 Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature) , as well as in 1997 Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoko)

It did very very well when it opened in Japan

The Animated Life, Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle' & Spirited Away ) was in The New Yorker in January

Update: this Northern America release features the voices of Billy Crystal, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Christian Bale and Lauren Bacall. It's all based on a 1986 Novel by Diana Wynne Jones (paperback : Howl's Moving Castle).
Here are reviews from TWired, Globe and Mail.

Update: We saw it on Friday night and greatly enjoyed it. (although the last 2 minutes of dialog had me groaning). The Sunday New York Times has a good review and background piece :The Miyazaki Menagerie, and I found out that New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) currently has a show on "Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata: Masters of Animation" (June 3 to 30, 2005)

Update : Here's Twitch's review. Tags: / ;Technorati Tags: /

WE dEmaNd FuRthEr iNstRuctioNs fRom tHe DoCtoR

In related news : Kidnappers of Dalek, send proof - a plunger arm - and a ransom note. No, really. Image of ransom Note below:

I feel so much safer.

Update: A crack team of U.N.I.T. has recovered the Dalek. There is no truth to rumors that a mysterious doctor and companion where reported in the area. Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Playing with

TagCloud is an automated Folksonomy tool. Essentially, TagCloud searches any number of RSS feed you specify, extracts keywords from the content and lists them according to prevalence within the RSS feeds. Clicking on the tagÂ?s link will display a list of all the article abstracts associated with that keyword..

RSS goes in, Clouds come out. Live (snap shot of July 7th Tag Cloud)

updated thoughts (as such): 2 interesting uses for a Tag Cloud like this 1) news at a glance (using the feed fromSlashdot or google news or whatever), or as a navigation index into site (/blog/wiki) content (I think we-make-money-not-art was the first to do this), rather than doing a drop down list of categories.

If your able to run cgi on your server, then you would be better off doing so, but for others (like blogger based blogs) it's work exploring aleast untill it gets baked in as part of the product.

It would be nice to able to change the sorting of the Tag Cloud (and weighing) as now does, ie "sort by alpha or fequency".

I expect i'll be replace the live javascript generate cloud with it image at some point. Tags: / ;Technorati Tags: / /

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lotus Notes is alive and well, just very quiet

Globe and Mail Tech columnist Jack Kapica notes (May 25 2005. no perm links Jack?) :

Lotus Notes is alive and well: A press release arrived here the other day extolling how three companies fiddled with their e-mail systems and created a full-blown collaboration system involving the organization of a huge amount of content.

The release was sent from IBM, and the software they were using was Lotus Notes and Domino. "Within 48 hours," intoned the text about one of the companies, "they developed a prototype to serve as the basis of five working, lawyer-friendly databases. In the end, they built a sophisticated knowledge management system that quickly enabled them to save time and money, and better serve [their] clients."

I confess to being startled by this, if only because I don't usually stumble on implementations of Lotus Notes during my usual rounds. Okay, let's be blunt: I haven't seen Lotus Notes outside of an IBM office. In fact, the last time I saw it was when I installed an evaluation copy on my home machine a couple of years ago, but not being part of a corporate network I didn't have anyone I could collaborate with.

I have no doubt Lotus Notes and Domino are fine products, but their names come up very rarely in news stories, reviews or other material outside of IBM's PR machinery.

If it's true, as IBM claims, that Lotus Notes has a global user base of 118 million users, then it must be a powerful force in the workplace.

I just wonder why nobody seems to talk about them very much.

I forwarded this to Ed Brill and the Note's Community is starting to comment. Could it be because "It Just Works!"? No security leaks, No ripe and replace, No dinner with Bill. Why isn't the G&M writing about it? Tags: / ; Technorati Tags: /

Dr Who and the Bad Wolf

The (BBC owned) site is now alight. Watching the new Dr Who's (in Canada), I started to notice the "Bad Wolf" references especially after "Dalek" and the thread on confirmed it for me, but at that time wasn't up.

Update June 9th Via SlashDot : the Canada Podcasting Corporation () has a online DR Who documentary called Planet of the Doctor Tags: / ;Technorati Tags: /

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The geek taking over the galaxy

Via Sunday Times - Scotland, confirmation of what we all ready knew. Which would be Mafdet, of course. In related news Charile takes a cold shower, and sf signal is watching. Tags: ;Technorati Tags: / : New server and a few new features.

A pre the Blog, they have new server which feel muco faster. All good stuff.

I also noticed a new feature create in "post new bookmark" function:

In re-using my existing tags I can (on the right) » sort alphabetically or by frequency. sweet.

Update: even sweeter: Micro Persuasion tipped me to the new options (see bottom of image) for Tag Cloud Navigation : » view as cloud or list; » sort by alpha or freq ; » show | hide bundles. Very useful functionaly for Tag Clouds (also know as TopicMaps, HeatMaps, TagMaps, Weighted Lists" or "Semantic Weighted Lists"). Let's see how quickly this meme getts taken up?

Recent Quick Links

Friday, June 03, 2005

Toronto Public Library Runnymede Branch reopening

Via Toronto Public Library: The Runnymede Branch branch (2178 Bloor St. West Toronto - Gmap) of the TPL reopens after a year long expansion and restoration.

The Official Opening Ceremony is on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 at 5 p.m. Doors open to the public at 4:30 p.m. with Toronto Mayor David Miller And author Margaret Atwood in attendance.

this is new of the new extension overlooking the park. Looking forward to much browsing (of the non web kind) and reserving books with my amazon/tpl rewritting script Tags: ; Technorati Tags:

Where no Caveman has gone Before!

Via SFSignal: Yabba Dabba Doo...In Spaaaaace!, we have the Flintsones crossed with Star Trek: Stone Trek. In episode 9 "In Marooned On Tattooine" I'm seeing references to : Rem and Stimpy, Star Wars, Gilligan's Island, 2001. I labour of (mentally distributed) Love.;Technorati://

The Google Sitemap Protocol

Sitemap Protocol:

"The Sitemap Protocol allows you to inform search engine crawlers about URLs on your Web sites that are available for crawling. A Sitemap consists of a list of URLs and may also contain additional information about those URLs, such as when they were last modified, how frequently they change, etc."
Also, you can use gzip to compress your Sitemaps, and there is an XML schema that can validate my XML Sitemap at, and a schema for Sitemap index files is available at

Evil brainfart (Lazy Web Request) : could/would/should you use the SiteMap xml file, transform it, using XSLT, and produce your human readable sitemap? How about transforming it to produce a RSS feed? Any other brainfarts?

That was quick (or I am slow?) : Google Sitemaps for Wordpress

update: SlashDot has picked it up. (I must be getting lazy cause I didn't even think of submitting it). Darren Foot spots an execution gap (and a opportunity) for a "Generator my Sitemap for me" site/utility. And I'll note (via the Google Blog) a call for a Sitemap Generator for Lotus Notes hmm..

Also Google Sitemaps in Movable Type

Update June 8th: Dave Winer makes some good observation and a great sugestion that Google should use an existing HTML element :

<link rel="sitechanges" type="text/xml" href="">
to note the files location. Tags: //; Technorati Tags: //

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Tiananmen Square 16 Years after

This Saturday (June 4th 2005) marks the 16th anniversary since the Communist Party of China rolled it tanks againts it own people in order to hold on to power. nothing has changed:

With the date falling on a Saturday, turn out for marches in Hong Kong could be very good.

But not in China.
Tiananmen Square Tanks june 4 1989
image of Tank Man(wikipedia) Via The Sydney Morning Herald and Still gazing down the Tiananmen tank barrel and Last year

Update: Via Yahoo! News, ~45,000 people held a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong ( in Victoria Park ) on the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the only commemoration on Chinese soil to mark the 1989 crackdown. Simon has more background info, as always, and Asia Pundit has a good round up (and Links back here). Tags:
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Mmm Brains....

To quote Lee, Mmm Brains...., or Seriously, Shel Tags: ; Technorati Tags: