Local wifi networks and messageboards

I live in an apartment block. My last home was also in an apartment block. Before that, a house for a year, but for the two years previous to that, I lived in an apartment block. Our noticeboard is very small, and covered in messages from the owners of the building.

Everyone living in an apartment block shares some similar concerns – am I paying too much for rent?, when do the bin men come? where are the good restaurants around here? my cupboard doors keep falling off – poor construction, or is it my fault? Apparently this is where residents associations normally come in. Personally I’ve never seen nor heard tell of one, so I’m going to assume for the time being that they only exist in US comedies and old peoples’ homes.

Whilst at my last apartment, I bought a wifi router (the Linksys WAG54G if you must know – no, not the one with onboard Linux!), and I could pick up the unsecured signals of a couple of other wifi networks nearby. The same goes for my current apartment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could set up a wifi-based local apartment block noticeboard? Or even hire out ethernet-over-power adaptors to people without wifi cards so that they could get in on the act. Then we could share all these worries, wirelessly, for free, without hassle. The guys at Neighbornode think so; they’ve even got the software and downloads to let people do it. They don’t mention the ethernet-over-power bit, but it sounds like a logical extension, although fraught with actual human interaction πŸ˜‰

I’m far too reserved to possibly suggest to any of my neighbours that we actually do something like this, but it might be nice.

I wonder if there’s any way of broadcasting out to other local wifi nodes that I have something available, and seeing who answers? I hear that iTunes has some network sharing facilities, which is a possibility, although that would rely on someone else using iTunes too. An interesting field, but one I probably won’t be exploring any time soon. πŸ™‚

Streaming feeds

As well as writing about the new Google Blogsearch, Anil Dash writes about the SixApart AtomStream

AtomStream is an endless flow of Atom posts, presenting the updates to LiveJournal and TypePad free for consumption by any tool or application which wants to consume them.

This is the extension of the work that Brad was doing a couple of months ago

Brilliant. Finally. I’m still waiting for Blogger to start doing this with their feeds.

Streaming feeds is nice, and something that I first saw via Atom-over-XMPP. It’ll be nice when we don’t have to bother pinging everyone any more. Finally I won’t have to keep hitting refresh on my Flickr page, desperately waiting for someone to leave a comment, I’ll just be able to feverishly check my aggregator because as soon as I have a comment it’ll know (my hacked version of FeedOnFeeds can connect to XMPP streams and receive Atom feeds, but not normal HTTP streams. Yet).

I couldn’t care less about Yahoo

From the comment by Jake Tracey on Flickr signup: From human to droid in a Yahoo moment?.

What Yahoo! doesn’t understand is that no one wants to join them anymore.

Do people still fill in massive sign-up forms like the Yahoo! one on display at the 37signals post? Jesus, why? I can’t think of a single compelling offering from Yahoo. Not only is their website ludicrously hard to navigate, but I’ve only ever met two people who use Yahoo Messenger. Don’t get me started on their “personal” offerings like Yahoo 360. Christ that’s terrible.

Nothing that Yahoo provides is enjoyable, and that, I think is the real kicker.

Identity Burro

Identity Burro is a Greasemonkey script for Firefox that gives quick access to all the public aspects of a person: photos, blog, preferred sites, preferred songs, etc. Precisely, when you navigate [to] the Web page of a certain user on Flickr, it inserts into the Web page links to the page of the same user on Del.icio.us, Technorati, CiteULike, WebJay, Last.tm/Audioscrobbler, Rojo, 43things, 43places, AllConsuming, LiveJournal, Simpy.

Discovered from this post in FlickrHacks, and referenced in this blog post.

This is a fantastically interesting Greasemonkey script.

As the blog post says, its biggest limitation is that it only links to the same username on these sites. Other than this of course, the list of sites it links to is totally fixed. I don’t have a CiteULike, Rojo, Livejournal or Simpy account, but they’ll still be listed in the script, perhaps linking to an existing account on those systems which has nothing to do with me.

What I’d really like to see is a script like this, which, when you visit one of any number of sites (if you list them explicitly in GM, or it could work for all sites) looks up a data store to see if that account is listed, and if so, all the others specified for that user, using FOAF as its data seed.

I think this should be easily achievable via a simple form along the lines of the forms Leigh and I cooked up for our respective needs which allows people to create FOAF files which list OnlineAccount membership for a person which as well as providing a raw FOAF also stores the data.

I see two instant problems:

1) bootstrapping it in the first place. This is could be partly counter-acted via network effects.

2) Someone adding someone else’s information who then objects. It would be simple enough to remove requested triples (at the expense of generated networks being incomplete, but that’s ok), but what to do to stop those triples being added again? Maintain a “banned triples” datastore and do a search and compare each time you try and add a new triple to the main datastore? I suppose that’s possible, but it sounds ludicrously expensive. I wonder what the real solution would be.

Anyway, I think the main thrust of this should be very easy to do, I’ll get cracking πŸ™‚

Computer People request for details not a scam

Several months ago I made a post titled “Request for ID – scam?”, and then followed-up when I discovered it wasn’t.

I’ve just had a nice phone call from the legal people at Computer People who discovered my post via a search engine and asked me very nicely to clarify on the original post that the email was actually a legitimate request. So I have, and also linked to this post.

At the same time, just as I did to their legal department, I’d like to highlight that I did actually ask for clarification at the time, and didn’t receive any. I also spent a good amount of time searching their website for more details or information about this but couldn’t find any. I had to go as far as looking to see if any other recruitment agency websites mentioned it, and then finding the DTI Conduct Regulations on a government website (remember that the original email didn’t even tell me which regulations I would be complying with – I had to find out myself), and then reading it until I found what the email might have been talking about (it’s a fifty-three page PDF document).

I’ve had quite a lot of phone conversations with various recruiters from Computer People in the past six months, and they’ve all been pleasant, helpful, efficient and friendly. It seems a shame that their image can be so easily damaged by a poor email (actually, I received this email twice, the first one I replied to, the second one I ignored since my reply to the first one hadn’t been answered).

So just a reminder then, to Computer People:

Your “Request for ID” email looks like an identity theft scam. Include details of the regulations you’re supposed to be complying with. Reply to emails querying it.

Thank you πŸ™‚