Girls and XHTML Validation

If you’re ever debating whether or not something is sexist, change the gender statement into a racial one and see how it fares…

ie. (taken from the intertubes)

Lucy
We don’t know a whole lot about Lucy, except that she’s one of the few females on the planet who can hold a conversation about search engine algorithm changes and validating XHTML pages.

Changes to:

Sipho
We don’t know a whole lot about Sipho, except that he’s one of the few black people on the planet who can hold a conversation about search engine algorithm changes and validating XHTML pages.

The coming revolution…

The internet, for all it’s vices, has made the world an incredibly small place. I buy books from Seattle, business cards from London and storage space from San Diego. I chat with friends in New Zealand, India, Finland and Joburg on a daily basis. At ground level the online economy seems pretty stable. Online businesses are lean, mean, fighting machines forged in the dot-bomb furnace. Compared to the sumo wrestling auto industry we’re Ethiopian long distance runners. (Enough with the analogies now)

The offline world however is in a crisis, big corporations are falling over on a weekly basis… most of them failing due to fat cat, short sighted management, while others are just innocent victims of the carpet bombing that is this economic train wreck.

Then I read things like this. George Oates, one of the key people and designer at Flickr, got let go by Yahoo, who bought flickr a few years ago. It’s not so much the fact that they let George go, but rather they way they did it… Basically getting her manager to call her while she was overseas and read a message to her from a scripted “cheers” letter. Her blog post about the ordeal is brutal. Within 14 hours of the call she had lost all her privileged access to all that was flickr; something that had been the centre of her life for many many years.

George’s story is the logical conclusion of the ‘corporatised’ world that we’ve all bought into… and I think the world is starting to see the folly in supporting a system that can turn around and kick you out when you least expect or deserve it.

I have this sense that people are starting to dislike, and distrust, big corporations. In the 50’s and 60’s corporations were the saviours of the failing economy, hell, if you could work for a corporation you were sitting pretty… Working for a corporation meant you had a stable job and even though all you got for 50 years of service was a hundred dollar watch (who needs a watch when you’re retired anyway?), you were happy to have had the job.

But the world is different now, for whatever reasons people expect more from life than just ‘having a job’. We want to have fun, be challenged, enjoy working, laugh, be successful and get home on time to have make supper for our smiling kids and watch 30 Rock on Tivo.

So where does this leave the workforce? Well, the internet is making *not* working for a corporation easier and easier. Now days your small print shop in a side street of London can turn into an international brand with customers from Tibet to Texas, but, most importantly, that small print shop doesn’t need to become a overweight corporation in order to carry on being successful. It’s the long tail global customer effect. Hell, you could sell clothing for conjoined twins on the internet and still swing a profit.

Perhaps more interestingly though, the internet has made running your own company a lot easier. Re-read that last sentence. The internet has been around for almost a gabillion years now, but it seems like only in the last 5 years has the promise of “running an online business from your garage” come true.

Perhaps the supreme irony of the situation is that Yahoo itself was once a small company that got big, and in turn bought up flickr, the blood, sweat and tears of a small team, most of whom have subsequently left Yahoo or been fired. How different life would have been for all those people who gave birth to flickr, if they’d just stayed a small team who focused on being the best and staying happy while doing it…

Corporations have been holding the workforce hostage… but the distributed client base and self organisation of the internet is starting to make it harder and harder to not start your own thing, or join a small company with big vision.

Similarly customers are more and more looking for micro providers, buying local produce, supporting up and coming manufacturers and looking to identify themselves as unique by buying products that weren’t made in batches of a million. Perhaps it’s the inherent knowledge that the companies that are producing t-shirts in batches of a million are run by the same kind of people that will fire you from the very company you helped start and feel nothing while doing it.

You’re a person… let the machines be the robots. The revolution is coming, and it won’t be televised, it’ll be broadcast.

Clickthinking ClickJacking

I love a good game of internet pile-on as much as the next guy, but god damn this is hilarious.

The brilliant designer Coda, based in Cape Town, regularly gets his site design jacked by punks all over the world and most of the time he just laughs it off. Then the other day someone pointed him to the new Optimal Energy site done by Clickthinking, a Cape Town based (ie. They must know who Coda is) “web company”. You can read Coda’s opinion here.

Right now I guess Clickthinking are busy digging the hole they plan to live in for the next few weeks until this quietens down, but damn, Optimal Energy should be pissed… They got fleeced and are probably feeling pretty damn uncomfortable about their *brand new website* right about now.

ps. No link-love for Clickthinking… just google them.

Again and again and again

So after chatting to some people who love their hacked iPhones, and seeing a terminal running on one, I have to admit that they’re very pretty and possibly very powerful. However all that power is being locked up inside the shiny little box, and Apple seems convinced that that is the way forward for their platform. They’ve even resorted to telling some app developers that their apps are too similar to the existing Apple apps, and therefore won’t be allowed onto the marketplace.

But before I turn this into an anti-iphone blog, the reason I’m again saying that Android is going to eventually reign supreme is because Motorola (whose cell phones I’m not a huge fan of) are planning to employ 300 developers to work on Android internally. While this might just mean that Motorola ends up producing more crappy cell phones, it also might mean that they are having a bit of a mind shift… (possibly caused by the iPhone’s success?) and want to build something that competes for that power user rather than the 16 year old school girl they’ve apparently been developing phones for for the past few years. And physically motorola build solid devices. They have a rich history of building miliatary grade equipment and comsumer trendoid crap like the Razr (Is that how you spell it?)

Regardless of what Motorola end up doing, the real winner is going to be the Android software stack that they’ll no doubt push code back into. I’m not sure how their licensing is going to work, and they might chose to close source all their android applications, but they’ll no doubt have a positive effect on the Android operating system/software stack, and that’s all that matters.

ps. Thanks to Jonathan Carter for pointing me to the news story.

The joys of a non-tech girlfriend.

Lynnae, as you may know, is a food nerd. She teaches me stuff about how broccoli is from the Brassica family and therefore not suitable for stocks if you want a clear stock and that toast smells nice because of the Maillard reaction. So she’s a nerd, but she’s definitely not a computer nerd and it’s kinda funny when she’s trying to understand what I do all day or tell me about some or other computer problem she has at work. She has a windows box and a mac… no prizes for guessing which one “flashes on the one window and then the other one goes orange and starts flashing too and then you click on the tab for the first one and it starts flashing too so I had to work the whole day while the screen flashed at me“.

The real gems seem to pop out of nowhere:

Who pays for the network waves?
– Asked while I was trying to explain the concept of a wug.

Maybe it’s a glitch.
– Pretty much anything that goes wrong is “possibly a glitch”.

Something with a megabyte.
– When asked what size the SD card in her phone was.

What’s an aggregator, is it an angry alligator?
– Ok, admittedly she’s trying to be funny.

But she’s learning… We have a shopping list wiki, which she thinks is arbiwikiwiki.com (or something) but she runs firefox and is starting to understand why open source is better… that, and she’s the most awesome friend I’ve ever had, so I’ll tolerate her noobness.

Half Price Tuesdays – Private Beta out on 29 September

Sometimes a little deadlining does miracles.

So here we go. I will be officially launching a private beta of Half Price Tuesdays on the 29th of September at the September Geekdinner, final details of which will be available shortly.

Unfortunately, if you’re not already on the list for the event you won’t be because it’s full, but I will open the beta to others shortly thereafter.

If you are coming to the dinner, please don’t expect fireworks or rocket-science; hpt was meant to be coded over a weekend, but I got carried away in the design phase.

Cracking zip passwords with fcrackzip

If you run a decent OS (linux) you should be able to:

sudo apt-get install fcrackzip

Then read the man page but know that there is one little gotcha. fcrackzip’s default brute force starting length is 5 characters and by default it will run up to 6 characters. The gotcha of course is that if your password is 4 characters long you will never find it. So always run it with the -l flag and start at 1.

jonathan@jonathan:~/Desktop$ fcrackzip secret.zip –verbose -b -l 1-10 -u
found file ‘fool.swf’, (size cp/uc  87763/172969, flags 9, chk 6136)
found file ‘file.exe’, (size cp/uc 632452/1176497, flags 9, chk 614d)
found file ‘logo.jpg’, (size cp/uc  49916/ 51346, flags 9, chk 6113)
found file ‘code.txt’, (size cp/uc   5661/ 34639, flags 9, chk 6141)
checking pw g:*~

PASSWORD FOUND!!!!: pw == idea

Easy peasy. It finds that password in 0.796 seconds.

Someone owes me a beer 🙂

The joy of finding things out…

Richard Feynman is one of my core inspirations. This seemingly simple man was not only a Nobel winning quantum physicist, but also a man who claimed that anyone who said they understood quantum physics was a liar. He also played the bongo drums, picked locks and worked with Einstein on the atomic bomb.

Feyman says:

I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing… I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.

I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose… which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.

Watch the video: