Onno.Com is 15 years old!

Mar 15, 2012 in Life

wpid-welcome-onno-com-2012-03-15-16-25.pngWe’re well in our teenager years!

I claimed the domain on March 3, 1997. The first web pages went up a few days later.

In the beginning I had a specific need for the web site. Locating it at onno.com was pleasing to the ego. But back to the purpose. In early January of ’97 I relocated to the US from England to work for Apple in Cupertino, CA. My new role was Product Marketing Manager for OpenDoc – a technology for developer to build their application from smaller pieces that could be mixed and matched depending on the user’s needs. Just around that time Apple had acquired Next (or as the inside joke went, Next acquired Apple). Quite soon after getting off the plane and inhabiting my new office on the 4th floor with a lovely view of the Mount Hamilton range two things were obvious:

–        a substantial re-org and layoff was just weeks away, and

–        OpenDoc was not going to survive.

A team member and I, forgot the guy’s name, decided to use the time between now and when D-Day would be to prepare for the next step in the career: we walked down to the Computer Bookstore on the ground floor, bought ourselves copies of Java In A Nutshell and Symantec’s Visual Cafe for Java. To learn Java I wrote a Checkers game as an applet. Once that was working well I wanted a place, a web site, to host that applet so that my intended new colleagues of Sun Microsystems could play with it and admire my knowledge of the Java technology. And thus: onno.com.

Later it became a personal web site and blog to host my photographic exploits and my stories about travel, cycling and whatever else I choose to write about. The first number of years this was all handcrafted html. Over time I replaced pieces with off the shelf tools: the photo gallery moved to MobileME and very recently to onno.smugmug.com, and the main content is now managed by wordpress running on onno.com. The hosting moved from pacbell.net to yahoo to lunarpages.

A few times a year I get inquiries to buy the domain. A t-shirt company in Colorado tried a few times; it was never clear why “onno.com” was meaningful to them. Various fellow Onno’s asked including Onno Tijdgat who was known as a hacker during the 80-ies and the Chaos Computer Club days. The most recent request was a few months ago from a Polish company building a portal at onno.pl. I somewhat regret not having grabbed the .nl and .org domains at the time and so now other Onno’s occupy those.

The site hosted Rachel’s photography business for awhile before we moved it off to its own home at rachelgracie.com. It hosted my consulting business for the year it was active. Last year onno.com was hacked and I spent some long nights going through every file to check if it was compromised. And I once got a death threat – a comment on a story about gun control.

Sadly I don’t have a backup from the very early days of the site. The image you see above shows what the main page looked like in April 2002. Web crawlers visited the domain a few times and so there are some fun nuggets in the wayback machine. Such as my December 2000 roadtrip: http://web.archive.org/web/20010216193812/http://www.onno.com/travel/newyearseve.html and the 2000 Thanksgiving weekend Amtrak journey: http://web.archive.org/web/20010422061814/http://www.onno.com/travel/allaboard.html. I may lift a few of those and re-post them; I have quite fond memories of a some of those trips.

My Kindle: All the newspapers, all the books, all the time

Jun 20, 2009 in Life

kindle.jpgI got mine a few weeks ago and I have to say I am terribly pleased with it. Loved that USPS delivered it two days before the estimated date. Loved the packaging and getting started process with details like the Kindle already registered to my Amazon.com account. Love that the screen saver consists of author portraits and other literary-related imagery.

So far I have two newspapers (New York Times and Frankfurter Allgemeine), a sci-fi magazine and six books on the device. And two days ago I finished reading my first Kindle book (Alan Furst, Kingdom of Shadows).

I suspect that Amazon had a very close look at Apple and its iTunes store. Both companies have made it delightfully easy to spend money with them. In the case of Amazon.com I can buy new content directly from the Kindle, or from my computer browsing Amazon.com and have it sent from there directly to the Kindle. For its free wireless connection the Kindle uses something called Whispernet. If I am correct that works via the same technology as one’s cell phone. I am a little curious how Amazon.com manages to provide this access for free while the cell phone service providers happily charge when you access their networks.

Just like my iPhone I am starting to carry my Kindle everywhere. As in the case with the iPhone regarding music, it is just very pleasant to have all your reading material with you all the time. No need to estimate beforehand whether after leaving the house I desire to read the newspaper, a spy novel, a biography or whatever. It’s all there. Immediate and continuous gratification.

In the few weeks I have not found anything that bugs me about the device but I wonder if that changes as over time the content collection will grow. It seems that all items are listed in order. Will I be wanting an ability to create folders and categorize books? I don’t know yet about backup strategies. I trust that Amazon.com keeps track of what’s on my Kindle. So if the device fails or is stolen, lost or needs to be replaced for any reason does all my content just come down from the cloud onto the new device?

A book I am reading now on my Kindle is The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. The author writes about his love for libraries. Having a Kindle and reading this book by means of this device has some aspect of irony to it. Like the author I am very fond of libraries and bookstores as well. To walk around without too much of a plan and just let yourself be taken and interested by what you happen to encounter is delightful. When I came to California and discovered stores like Borders and Barnes&Noble that stay open late, have a cafe inside of them, well, that was just fantastic. I remember Chris Borton taking JC and me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley. We had to wait for our table to be ready. The hostess said: “You can wait at the bookstore next door. They serve tea. We’ll come and get you when your table is ready.” And it was a secondhand bookstore as well. “Take your time with preparing that table,” I was thinking while we happily hopped next door.

Secondhand bookstores may well be my favorite. The often random order in which the books are kept, the level of chaos. A very favorite one is Know Knew Books on California Ave in Palo Alto, and also the small bookstores in the pedestrian gate near the Universiteit van Amsterdam. I can easily spend hours just browsing.

In comes the Kindle. In a few decades where will the bookstores be?

The other day I read that it now happens that during signings authors are asked to sign someone’s Kindle. Understandable development butin the current state of affairs a little naughty of the Kindle owner. Book signing are a tool for the stores to get customers in the store and to buy books, to spend money there.

But this did bring up a thought: maybe there are collaborative opportunities between Amazon.com and brick bookstores: ability to buy Kindle versions of the books while I am browsing there? Of course I can do that now: Whispernet after all. But I am wondering whether there is a way – via promotions, coupons, branding – to make both sides benefit? But perhaps not and will brick bookstores be overtaken by human-technology evolution like recordshops.

A bit back in this story I admitted to having a German newspaper on the device. Why German, why not Dutch? Those are actually two different questions with separate answers. The German newspaper because I use it to help me practise that language somewhat frequently. No Dutch newspaper because there is no Dutch newspaper, or any Dutch content for that matter, for the Kindle. Yes, very disappointing. Since living aboard I have been disappointed in how poorly our culture travels or is promoted beyond the country’s physical borders. Would love to have De Volkskrant or Vrij Nederland magazine or Elsevier on my Kindle.

Tim Bray alerted me that one can add one’s blog to the collection of Kindle blogs. That means that someone can subscribe to the blog via the Kindle and have entries show up on the device as the blog is updated. As Tim writes this gives someone a choice between reading ongoing (Tim’s blog) for free via the world wide web, or pay $.99/$1.99 for the pleasure of reading it on your Kindle. Of course, quick to recognize an opportunity to get rich I signed up this blog as well!

Understand no matter what immediately aforesaid to you in any form of language

Mar 02, 2009 in Life

This afternoon I met up with Euan Morton at Boulder Coffee Company. At some point we got talking about languages and translations which reminded me of something I looked into many years ago when working for Apple: automatic translation. Back home I decided to redo the exercise and see if the technology is better now. Starting with an English text I run it through a few of the web-based translation engines, translate the text to Dutch and then that back to English. Does the outcome compare to the original?

The English text I am using is an excerpt from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Arthur is introduced to the Babel fish:

‘The Babel fish,’ said The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quietly, ‘is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language.’

Yahoo Babel Fish (English to Dutch):
‘ Babelfish, ‘ zei de Lifter ‘ s leidt stil aan de Melkweg, ‘ is klein, geel en bloedzuiger-als, en waarschijnlijk het meest oneven ding in het Heelal. Het voedt op brainwaveenergie die niet van zijn eigen drager maar van die rond het wordt ontvangen. Het absorbeert alle onbewuste geestelijke frequenties van deze brainwaveenergie om te voeden met. Het scheidt dan in de mening van zijn drager af een telepathische matrijs die door de bewuste gedachte frequenties met zenuwsignalen wordt gevormd te combineren die van de toespraak worden opgenomen van de hersenen centreert die hen hebben geleverd. Het praktische resultaat van dit alles is dat als u een Babelfish in uw oor plakt u om het even wat kunt onmiddellijk begrijpen bovengenoemd aan u in om het even welke vorm van taal. ‘

Yahoo Babel Fish (back to English):
‘ ‘ Babelfish, ‘ the hitchhiker ‘ said; s leads quietly to the galaxy, ‘ small, yellow and bloedzuiger-als are probably, and the most odd thing in the universe. It feeds on brainwaveenergie which are not received from its own bearer but of that around. It absorbs to all unconscious mental frequencies of these brainwaveenergie feed with. It separates then in the opinion from its bearer a telepathic matrix which is formed by the aware idea frequencies with nerve indicators to combine which are taken of the speech of the brain centre which has provided them. The practical result of all this is that if you stick Babelfish in your ear you can understand no matter what immediately aforesaid to you in any form of language. ‘

“What!?” I would guess the reaction of an English reader to be when confronted with the resulting English text without context. The reaction of the Dutch reader will be the same I assure you. The English to Dutch translation goes awry right at the beginning. “Oddest” is translated to “most uneven.”; “into the mind of its carrier” becomes “in the opinion of his carrier.” The Dutch sentence constructs are woolly and awkward.

Next I tried Google Translation:
‘De Babel Fish,’ zei de wandelaar Hitch’s Guide to the Galaxy rustig, “is
kleine, gele en bloedzuiger-achtig, en waarschijnlijk de oddest ding in het heelal.
Het voedt zich met brainwave energie ontvangen niet uit haar eigen luchtvaartmaatschappij, maar van die
eromheen. Het absorbeert alle onbewuste geestelijke frequenties van deze brainwave
energie te voeden zich met. Vervolgens excretes in de geest van de vervoerder
een telepathische matrix gevormd door het combineren van de bewuste gedachte frequenties
met zenuwen signalen opgepikt uit de toespraak centra van de hersenen die
geleverd zijn. Het praktische resultaat van dit alles is dat als je een stok Babel
vissen in uw oor kunt u meteen begrijpen wat zei u in ieder
vorm van taal. “

Google Translation (back to English):
”The Babel Fish, “said the Hitch hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quietly,” is
small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the universe.
It feeds on brain wave energy received not from its own carrier but from those
around. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies of the brain wave
energy to feed on. Then excretes into the mind of the carrier
a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies
with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brains that
delivered. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel
fish in your ear, you can immediately understand what you said in any
form of language. ”

Now, this is a bit bizarre. The Dutch translation while different is equally complex and awkward as Yahoo’s but somehow the translation back to English is almost the same as the original. With one difference though: the working of the Babel fish has changed. It is now explained to help you understand what you said in any language rather than what others said to you. The Dutch translation is amusing: “carrier” is translated as “airline company” and so it says that the Babel fish feeds itself with brainwave energy received not from its own airline company but from those around it…

Then lastly WorldLingo:
De “vissen van Babel,” zeiden de Gids van de Lifter stil aan de Melkweg, ‘is klein, geel en leech-als, en waarschijnlijk het meest oneven ding in het Heelal. Het voedt op brainwaveenergie die niet van zijn eigen drager maar van die rond het wordt ontvangen. Het absorbeert alle onbewuste geestelijke frequenties van deze brainwaveenergie om te voeden met. Het scheidt dan in de mening van zijn drager af een telepathic matrijs die door de bewuste gedachte frequenties met zenuwsignalen wordt gevormd te combineren die van de toespraak worden opgenomen van de hersenen centreert die hen hebben geleverd. Het praktische resultaat van dit alles is dat als u een vis van Babel in uw oor plakt u om het even wat kunt onmiddellijk begrijpen bovengenoemd aan u in om het even welke vorm van taal.’

And back to English:
The fish of Babel, said the guide of the hitchhiker quietly to the galaxy, `are small, yellow and leech-als, and probably the most odd thing in the universe. It feeds on brainwaveenergie which are not received from its own drager but of that around. It absorbs to all unconscious mental frequencies of these brainwaveenergie feed with. It separates then in the opinion from its drager telepathic matrix which is formed by the aware idea frequencies with nerve indicators to combine which are taken of the speech of the brain centre which has provided them. The practical result of all this is that if you stick a fish of Babel in your ear you can understand no matter what immediately aforesaid to you in any form of language.

WorldLingo makes similar mistakes as Yahoo (is one derived from the other?).

In all three cases the Dutch translation is just not Dutch: ignoring some of the word for word translation errors (luchtvaartmaatschappij? mening?) the sentences are badly constructed making it very hard to read and understand. I hoped that maybe I could use one of these engines as a tool to quickly post Dutch versions of my blog entries for some of my elderly family members for whom English is a hurdle. Use the engine for the bulk translation and then clean up by hand. But the translation is so far off that one just ends up translating from scratch from the original text.

Social network here, there and everywhere

Oct 20, 2008 in Life

dashboard21.jpgHow the world has progressed from mailing lists and bulletin board systems. Where is Compuserve?

I continue to find “social networking” fascinating. I put the term between quotes; it is not as if humans weren’t socially networking before the founding of MySpace or Facebook. All these nodes in the world wide web do underwrite that humans are social animals first. The success of the telephone a century ago, the ringtone explosion, Japanese teenagers sending each other grainy photographs on their mobile phones and so on.

Social networking intrigues me both personally and professionally. I live in Rochester, NY but most of my family and many of my friends are elsewhere – personal web sites, Facebook friends, twitter updates all help staying in touch with each other and so over a distance of thousands of miles and six time zones I still know that Gero is stuck in a 3 1/2 hour traffic jam due to a truck accident. I have to say though that much of my family is disappointedly cyberspace-inactive. Professionally it helps maintaining connections with peers in the industry while we all move positions, change jobs – and it adds to a manager’s ability to stay aware of the professional well-being of remote colleagues (Facebook status updates can give interesting hints on a colleague’s gearing up for a job change). In my usage I try to separate LinkedIn contacts and Facebook friends between professional, work-related and personal respectively although the line is rather blurry.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter are all so successful also because they feed into the narcissistic tendencies of many of us allowing us, encouraging us to twirl our experiences, our virtues onto the world. I happily do. Yesterday I went on a bike ride. Before the ride I twitter that I am about to do this and I twitter upon return. The pictures from the ride need to be uploaded to my .Mac gallery, to Flickr, to Facebook and I need to write about the ride on this blog. The stats recorded by my bicycle computer are uploaded to BikeJournal. If I read something interesting on cycling or social networking then I need to bookmark that to del.icio.us. And in between I need to worry about my Technorati authority (only 2, what’s up with that?). All this easily takes much more time than the bike ride itself.

Am I profiling myself enough? How much would my personal brand gain if I also joined Friendster, Friendfeed, Plaxo, Livejournal? Heard the other day that World of Warcraft is becoming Golf of this millennium – the place where business deals get done. I never played golf so maybe I have a shortcut here?

At the same time email is still a key communication tool. With the 11066 unread emails I have as of this writing, keeping up with all the twitter messages, facebook status updates, flickr discussions etc etc how do you stay abreast of that deluge of information? How do you know what to pay attention to and when? How to avoid being interrupted by each incoming email during writing a paper or software? Last week I unfollowed someone because he was just twittering too much.

An MIT project now implemented at MovableType, Action Streams, can be useful. Action Streams allow you to aggregate and share your actions and profiles around the web in one place. Maybe that can optimize my “post ride”-workflow?Ambient information devices then help you assess the state of information waiting for you. There is the Chumby – love to get a few of those. There’s the glowing orb. The cute rabbit by Nabaztag.

For now I am starting in a cheap and simple way. Our Mac Mini is supposed to be our media server but actually spends a lot of its time on my desk. By keeping it in Dashboard mode I can have occasional glances at stock quotes, the weather, San Francisco web cams, IP addresses on our home network, Dutch headlines, Facebook and twitter updates, and a world clock.

Twitter fun

Oct 15, 2008 in Life

My favorite app? Twitterrific
Want to see who is twittering on a particular subject? http://search.twitter.com
Want to get suggestions for people to follow on twitter? http://crazybob.org/twubble
Want to follow one of the Mars rovers? https://twitter.com/MarsPhoenix
Want to make sure a plant in New York City has enough water? http://twitter.com/pothos
If twitter had existed in the late 80-ies, early 90-ies then the web may never have happened and the scientists at CERN may have used twitter to check if the coffee was brewing…
One of your twitter friends talking too much? http://twittersnooze.com/
Who twitters the most? http://twitterholic.com/top100/updates/
Connecting twitter to facebook? http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=logo#/apps/application.php?id=2231777543
Connecting twitter to your wordpress blog? http://www.velvet.id.au/twitter-wordpress-sidebar-widget/
Teach your Chumby to twitter? http://www.chumby.com/guide/widget/Twitter
Easily check how many followers someone has? http://twittercounter.com/
Love, hare, think, believe, feel, wish? http://twistori.com/
Traffic and transit delays? http://www.commuterfeed.com/
Need a personal assistant? http://iwantsandy.com/
Anybody twittering in your neighborhood? http://twitterlocal.net
Connect to your Google Calendar? http://twittercal.com/
Must follow Apple on twitter? http://twitter.com/appleinc
Addicted to Heroes? http://twitter.com/heroespodcast or http://twitter.com/Heroescast
Want to hear a secret, or tell one? http://twitter.com/twittersecret
An admirer of His Pastafied Diety? http://twitter.com/FSM
Ehh, The While House? http://twitter.com/TheWhiteHouse
What’s the weather like in Toronto? http://twitter.com/wxtoronto
Twitter protecting the home? http://tech.shantanugoel.com/2008/05/14/keep-tab-on-home-security-with-a-webcam-and-twitter.html
See in real time where tweets are sent from? http://twittervision.com/
What’s the traffic like on the M5? https://twitter.com/UK_M5_Traffic
The telephone book for twitters? http://justtweetit.com/
Keep track of your favorite cat? http://twitter.com/morriscat
Which of your friends know each other? http://www.tweetwheel.com/
Be alerted when someone stops following you? http://twitterless.com/
The 2008 Twitties winners? http://twitties.com/
Dutch news? http://twitter.com/telegraaf
Can’t do without tweets in Second Life? http://ordinalmalaprop.com/twitter/

Mobile Warrior am I

Aug 15, 2008 in Technology

So proud of myself. In between running some errands and visiting the Sun office in Fairport, Patrick and I did a video chat with me in my Mini Cooper parked outside Starbucks in Pittsford Village so I could connect to their T-Mobile Hotspot wireless network.

Afterwards I went in and got my usual Tall Vanilla Latte.

stretch mark removal products
Спорт-как способ похудеть ссылка сайт кремлёвской диеты женские сайты диеты как быстро похудеть и накочать мускулы как можно быстро похудеть без проблем рисовая диета для похудения как быстро похудеть, рецепты похудения как похудеть быстро без дееты за 14 дней срочно похудеть с помошью салона красоты в казани как быстро похудеть народные рецепты как похудеть быстро и не мучить себя голодом диеты для снижения веса сайт девчат быстро похудеть на 30 килограмм срочно похудеть на 5 кг. за 10 дней алан кар легкий способ похудеть скачать бесплатно как быстро и безвредно похудеть? как похудеть быстро за месяц 10кг спомощю воды диетхудеем быстро без с упражнениями отзывы средства для похудения хочу быстро легко похудеть быстрый способ похудеть aллен кaрр срочно похудеть за три дня три колограмма быстро похудеть без лекарств худеем быстро после родов ка быстро похудеть делая клизмы сайт диета доктора аткинса легкий способ похудеть от алена карра диета для похудения из куриного мяса танец живота как способ похудеть индивидуальная диета тест худоба ру легкий способ похудеть