Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting a raise in academia

All you have to do, apparently, is switch jobs. Which, of course, generally means moving to a different region. Salary compression and salary inversion mean that the later you are hired, the more you proportionally make.

On the other hand, don't cry too hard for us -- academia is the last bastion of lifelong employment thanks to tenure.

The Seniority Pay Cut :: Inside Higher Ed :: Higher Education's Source for News, and Views and Jobs
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I think I will skip American Idol tonight

'American Idol' to get a dose of US campaign 2008
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Redesigning MySpace in the browser

When I heard about Stylish, the Firefox extension that allows you to download and create personal themes for frequently used websites, I knew that it was made for websites such as MySpace. The MySpace default is cluttered and confusing, and although many people have used LoveMyFlash and similar themes, many haven't -- making MySpace a real hit-or-miss user experience.

So I installed one Stylish theme yesterday and now every page on MySpace appears in that theme. It's a nice end to the arc that began with Creating Killer Web Sites and other late-nineties web design books that espoused the philosophy that web designers should have absolute control over the user experence. Back then, I opposed that philosophy because it seemed opposite to the strengths of open-standards HTML. Now, it's nice to see that those design choices can be simply routed around in sophisticated ways at the client itself.
Myspace - Black/Gray |
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iPhone-based social networking

I link to TechCrunch a lot, partially because Michael Arrington and his crew really get how emerging technologies are changing communication in social and workplace contexts. Today's post describes an upcoming iPhone-specific social network that allows you to detect other nearby network members and friend them in person:

The startup behind the new application won’t let me disclose their name yet. But the application is awesome. It shows you everyone around you who has it installed on an iPhone (default privacy is set to off, but can be changed). Users can scroll through nearby users, and set filters for men, women or age ranges. If you find someone interesting you can pull up their profile and ping them. If they respond you can start a chat, on the phone or in person. Of course, they can also choose to block you.

Location is based on the triangulation feature of the iPhone, which is accurate enough to get this going. And the startup thinks they’ve found a way around the fact that third party iPhone applications can’t run in the background (meaning you’d have to have the application open, and not use any other iPhone features, to run the social network and see others). They explained the work around in general terms to me, but asked that it remain confidential for now.

iPhones and similar smart phones are increasingly important, and they're at hand all the time. I got to see some relatives this weekend who are not particularly tech-savvy, but who have iPhones and love them -- they've become texting, emailing, and browsing fiends. A workable social network whose primary platform is the iPhone would have a decent chance of taking hold with them.

I Saw The Future Of Social Networking The Other Day
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More on Google Apps Engine

Bad news for ops departments and open source?
In the same way that Google Apps (and Mac OS X) have enabled people to run without IT departments, Google App Engine is going to let them go big without an ops department. With the current imposed limits I can't prove this theory at Mochi Media, since everything we do is beyond the scale of their current quotas, but maybe I'll allocate some of my "infinite spare time" to ditch this Wordpress crap and try it out for my blog while they sort that out :)

The minus is that this project is actually probably pretty horrible for open source. Yahoo and the rest of the Hadoop team have their work cut out in making that stack competitive with this. If they don't, Google is going to own scale for a while. While MySQL and PostgreSQL still have some years left in them as people learn how to write scalable apps, I can't see that model lasting very long now that you don't have to be in Google's employ to use better solutions to the data problem.
from __future__ import * » Google App Engine - Changes Everything
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Google App Engine

Essentially, infrastructure on which you build your own web apps. As ReadWriteWeb says:
Computing infrastructure is rapidly turning into a utility and Google App Engine is yet another example of this.
Google: Cloud Control to Major Tom - ReadWriteWeb
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Monday, April 07, 2008

Bring it on

The promise of a superfast internet:
Britain alone has 8,000 servers on the grid system – so that any student or academic will theoretically be able to hook up to the grid rather than the internet from this autumn.
Coming soon: superfast internet - Times Online
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