Finished reading “Little Brother”

I took my copy of Cory Doctrow’s “Little Brother with me on a recent business trip, and thanks to severe weather delays, I managed to spend over 8 hours waiting in airports and was able to finish the book in one day.

While it’s no fun being stuck in an airport, it turned out to be the perfect environment to read this book. The story follows a high school hacker as he fights the “Department of Homeland Security” to reclaim American civil liberties after anti-terror tactics are taken to a new level. Having the real DHS making announcements in the background about threat levels and unattended baggage, only makes the story more real.

The book targets a younger audience than myself, but it’s still enjoyable. Doctrow does a wonderful job keeping the story believable, and explaining the security implications of the technology we use on a daily basis. Given the theme of the book, I do hope he’s successful in reaching a wide audience and sparking a healthy debate about “national security”, privacy, and civil liberties.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” in bullet-points

This week I finished How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s a classic, often referenced title, so I’m glad I read it. The book is organized in four main sections, with chapters that tell stories as examples for each of the books “principles.” While the lessons of the book are good, by the end, the stories start to feel a little repetitive, and at some point, I lost interest in whether they were real or made up. The overall take-away of the book is positive though, with a strong message of being friendly and considerate toward other people as a means to accomplish your own goals.

Below are the book’s sections and principles in bullet-points. I’ve spelled them out here for my own future reference (or for anyone who’s read the book and would like a quick reminder):

Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

  1. Don’t Criticize, condemn or complain
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation
  3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Be genuinely interested in other people
  2. Smile
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
  6. Make the other person feel important — and do it sincerely

How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically
  4. Begin in a friendly way
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea if his or hers
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives
  11. Dramatize your ideas
  12. Throw down a challenge

Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

  1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
  5. Let the other person save face
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvements. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to
  8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct
  9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest

Congress pushes more Internet business off-shore

Details are still coming in, but it looks like the U.S. Government is hoping to make it more attractive for Internet Radio businesses to be run off-shore then in the States. The decision (like much Internet-related policy) creates a market condition that potentially pushes revenue and innovation to other countries.

“The new rules issued by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board earlier this year prescribe rate hikes of 0.08 cent per song per listener retroactive to 2006. They would also climb to 0.19 cent per song by 2010.” [cnet]

The fees are high enough that many small players (where small==independent) will be forced to shut down. The irony, of course, is that broadcast radio continues to pay no fees at all (and to not play the songs I want to hear, which might be why they get the free ride.)

For more on the issue, see:

And of course, the blog post that almost saved the day:

Local Search patent wars: another reason software patents suck

Found this today on TechCrunch, “Patent Wars: Local.com Nabs Local Search Patent“.

From the post:

“Local.com saw its stock price rise 52% today after it was awarded patent number 7,200,413 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. According to the text of the patent, it covers what they term “Enhanced Directory Assistance”, which will deliver keyword specific ad referrals based on user input via operator, SMS, WAP, or voice.

This is in addition to their recently granted patent number 7,231,405, which covers crawling the web and geocoding location based content.”

That second bit is even more troubling, since it could impact anyone crawling web pages for addresses. The unfortunate thing is that we’re just starting to see sites doing interesting things with scraping and geocoding — and many of the possibilities are actually quite helpful. For example, sites like Zillow already scrape property addresses from local tax records and plot real estate prices on an interactive map… Chicago Crime plots scraped crime reports… Heck, anything that scrapes content with an address for use in plotting on a map would conflict with this patent.

If the idea of locking down automated crawling and geocoding isn’t enough to raise concern, check of these listings of mapping-related concepts that may also end up off-limits if the patent race continues: