Break free, create your own walled garden.

It's ironic, how 'ease' becomes the noose that chokes innovation and development. AOL, Facebook, iTunes, they all offer closed, proprietary solutions to 'problems' that --- in more ways than one --- are not so hard to solve. Solutions that seem to 'work', that 'succeed' because the 'trend' is to embrace 'easy', as opposed to 'moderately challenging', because the 'smart money' is behind them and because of network effects. In the last few years, that is after the wave of 'Web 2.0' (ironically, yet another 'trend' exploited by 'experts' that abused it for profit) subsided, Facebook started making serious money. Its real success as an advertising platform is not only arguably minimal, but quite controversial. It took a long time for the advertising industry and the hordes of marketing monkeys to embrace Facebook's walled garden approach and doing what they do best, counting. Only this time it wasn't 'impressions' or 'clicks' or 'conversions' they were counting, but 'likes', another frivolous metric that doesn't really mean anything in the real world. Facebook apps, once touted as the next big thing and a threat for the web, were stillborn, largely because Facebook itself made significant steps to expand beyond the confines of its site, by creating interfaces, programmatic and user, for other platform-owners to embed in or integrate with their platforms. So we got a slew of 'social plugins', more 'APIs', etc. But there were some exceptions, like Zynga, a gaming company living inside Facebook. Now, Zynga just launched And it's a big deal, because this is the first Facebook-dependent business of significant scale that expands beyond the confines of this walled garden du jour. The whole 'frenzy' with Facebook in the ad world is now in its third year. As with AOL's endeavours fifteen years ago, the Facebook frenzy may be past its prime; as a teenager of the early-to-mid 1990s, AOL 'keywords' seemed to me like a pointless exercise, yet another 'top-down', force-fed business model that people never cared about. Clearly people care about Facebook; they care about the platform that connects them to people they love: their friends and their relationships, news from their social circles, people they'd like to know better or simply keep in touch. They could hardly care less about Facebook pages, Facebook ads, the Facebook business. Sadly, marketers and advertisers, typically the last group to perceive change --- and perhaps the most dependent on 'convention' (make no mistake, Facebook is convention, as is Google), will take a bit longer to 'wake up'. That Zynga chose to move beyond Facebook is undoubtedly a wake up call and a sign of maturity in an industry that more than often adopts the strategy of others, instead of coming up with its own.

The Robot Economy

We live in a world in crisis. Comparisons to the 1920s and 1930s are inevitable, but the crisis, similarly to the ones before it, conceal not economic, but political roots: It is a crisis born of the fallacies of a world governance, world economy and global priorities decided by and enforced upon the world by […]

Codify for iPad

I've been a fan of Lua since the early 2000s when a friend introduced it to me, even though I never got around to finding the time to properly learn and use it in production stuff. We have discussed about using Lua as a scripting language to allow for downloadable bundles that would extend AthensBook/ThessBook functionality (or fix bugs, or provide dynamically determined personalised features etc., but that never happened until now, due to licensing restrictions by Apple) for ages. Codify is an unbelievably cool app that leverages lua to provide a simple programming environment for the iPad. Combined with the general appeal of the device, the lack of third party, scripting programming environments for it, the ease of programming and use of Codify and the excitement of using such great hardware, I feel that Codify might be the Logo/Basic equivalent for this generation of children between the ages of 5-10, a great introductory platform for programming and an amazing tool for everyone else. And at $7.99 I think it's a steal. You might want to use a bluetooth keyboard for it though; typing code on the on-screen keyboard seems like a horrible horrible nuisance.

KF8. The path to fragmentation.

Amazon announced Kindle Format 8, a new format for ebooks destined for its popular ebook reader. The new format, based on html5, promises books with small file sizes, excellent rendering performance, varying typefaces, tables and, in general, much more complex layouts and as a result way more beautiful books than the standard experience typically found […]

Τουλάχιστον να γνωρίζουμε.

Πριν από περίπου ενάμιση μήνα 'υποβαθμίστηκε' η ταχύτητα της σύνδεσής μου στο σπίτι, για λόγους που μπορώ να αποδώσω μόνον στην ανικανότητα του ΟΤΕ. Παρ'ότι ενδιαφέρουσα περίπτωση που συνδυάζει τεχνική ανικανότητα και μια γερή δόση Κάφκα --- δεν θα μπώ σε λεπτομέρειες (ζούμε άλλωστε μια ιδιαίτερα σουρρεαλιστική εποχή που κάνει ασήμαντη την εν λόγω προσωπική ιστορία), αποφάσισα να ψάξω λίγο online για παρόμοια προβλήματα, την θέση της ΕΕΤΤ για το χάλι των ευρυζωνικών συνδέσεων στην Ελλάδα κλπ. Στο ψάξιμο βρήκα το εξής: Εν διαμέσου κρίσης, στα μέσα του καλοκαιριού που μας πέρασε ξεκίνησε την πιλοτική του λειτουργία το ΣΑΠΕΣ, το Σύστημα Αποτίμησης Ποιότητας Ευρυζωνικών Συνδέσεων της ΕΕΤΤ, το οποίο καταγράφει την ταχύτητα της ευρυζωνικής σας σύνδεσης και άπεικονίζει τα στοιχεία ως overlay σε χάρτη. Παρ'ότι τα αποτελέσματα είναι ακόμη σχετικά λίγα, η εικόνα είναι ενδιαφέρουσα και οι 'μαύρες' τρύπες, περιοχές με φοβερά κακή ποιότητα ευρυζωνικής σύνδεσης, πολλές. Εαν δεν το γνωρίζετε ήδη, εγγραφείτε (είναι γρήγορο και σχεδόν ανώνυμο -- χρειάζεται ένα email και την διεύθυνσή σας) και κάντε μια μέτρηση της ταχύτητας της σύνδεσής σας, ιδιαίτερα εάν αντιμετωπίζετε πρόβλημα με αυτή. Όσοι περισσότεροι συμμετάσχουν, τόσο περισσότερες πληροφορίες θα έχει η ΕΕΤΤ και ευελπιστώ πως αν υπάρξει καλή συμμετοχή ενδεχομένως να αποκτήσουμε καλύτερες συνδέσεις μια ώρα αρχύτερα.

The depth of everything that's involved

JBQ's writings on Dennis Ritchie's death find me in total agreement and are worthy of a citation. dmr was a legend and his contribution, concise as meaningful, simple yet immensely powerful, has --- and still does --- shaped computing (and much of modern life) as we know it. C may not be 'modern' anymore, it may have been relegated to systems programming, high performance libraries and embedded computing for the most part, but it is still an immensely powerful tool, a foundation upon which countless other technologies have sprung since the late 70s. UNIX, once considered a dying breed still powers, in the form of Mac OS X and Linux, the vast majority of smartphones, most servers connected to the internet and numerous other devices, from printers, to desktops, to routers. It is hard for a non-technologist to comprehend dmr's contribution as it is for a technologist to overstate it.
Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work. For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. [...] That is why the mainstream press and the general population has talked so much about Steve Jobs' death and comparatively so little about Dennis Ritchie's: Steve's influence was at a layer that most people could see, while Dennis' was much deeper. On the one hand, I can imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Jobs did and the people he inspired: probably a bit less shiny, a bit more beige, a bit more square. Deep inside, though, our devices would still work the same way and do the same things. On the other hand, I literally can't imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Ritchie did and the people he inspired. By the mid 80s, Ritchie's influence had taken over, and even back then very little remained of the pre-Ritchie world.