'Where the Wild Things Are,' written by Maurice Sendak, and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' authored by Roald Dahl, before I saw their respective adaptations.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
'Where the Wild Things Are,' written by Maurice Sendak, and 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' authored by Roald Dahl, before I saw their respective adaptations.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The decision to pick up a six-pack of Dogfish's Chicory Stout was a relatively impulsive one. I wanted to review a darker beer this week, and I have been hearing great things lately about Dogfish. I spotted this seasonal release on-sale while unsuccessfully searching for Life & Limb (the highly-touted collaboration from Dogfish and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.), and decided to give it a try.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Well, here goes nothing...
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Those who know me particularly well, are fully aware of my tendencies to "geek-out" on seemingly ineffectual subject matter. I have been known to accelerate my interests in say, skiing or Mixed Martial Arts (or IP Law), from zero to a hundred rather quickly.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
News came earlier this week that the both of the relevant search engine players, Google and Bing, have reached an agreement with Twitter to start incorporating user-generated content from the micro-blogging platform (i.e. user's tweets) into search query results. Additionally, Google has announced a new “social search” functionality for their search results, to be rolled out in Google Labs next week. In effect, the new Google social search will provide content from various social media sites at the bottom of each page of search results.
This combination of social media and search functionality delivers a power tool, namely the ability to perform a real-time “social search”. Using this tool, individuals can obtain a much clearer sense of real-world, current (or “trending”) topics [the TechCrunch article labels this the "pulse of the planet"]. Culling information from social media sites and incorporating such information into search can be used to spotlight important events, uncovering what people are actually talking about right now. Additionally, what better way to gather up-to-date, personal information about a particular person than by Googling their name, and then being delivered text, images, and videos authored by or directly involving that person (as a law student interested in litigation, I can only imagine the limitless possibilities for pre-trial discovery!).
Herein lies a (potentially) major privacy concern. It may seem hard to fathom, but there are still people who are surprised when information that they enter into Facebook, or onto Twitter, surfaces in undesirable ways on the Internet. YES! Should you choose to upload that picture of you 'totally dominating the beerpong table', it will most likely be searchable (discoverable by friends, employers, lawyers, your mother...). Real-time, social search simply removes an accessibility barrier that these social platforms had, inherently, previously established and contained. Now, someone does not have to individually search every single social site, and they do not necessarily have to worry about matching a person's user name to their 'resume name.'
Granted, this concern may be premature and may in fact never ultimately develop into a major issue. It is likely (hopefully) that the social media sites and the search engines will work together to pre-bake privacy settings into the actual functionality of social search. An easy way to opt-out of search results from the social media side of the equation would be a good start (or require that you opt-in in order to allow your social media content to be displayed to others within search results).
While privacy controls may be forthcoming, these search engine/Twitter partnerships and the Google social search announcement highlights the burgeoning trend towards opening up user information online. The scope of what you can find out about someone, or about any given organization, through search is constantly expanding. While younger generation might expect and accept these privacy implications, older and more cautious (sensible?) individuals may not be eager to see their continued progression.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Last night, I was in attendance at Santa Clara University, where Professor Jonathan Zittrain delivered about an hour-long presentation titled, “Minds for Sale: Ubiquitous Human Computing and the Future of the Internet.” This long title for his presentation may have been slightly misleading; much of the pre-lecture buzz from audience members was commentary focused on the already ubiquitous nature of computing (“Look at that kid (me), he has one of those silly Kindles”). People generally seemed to think that the subject matter of the talk would center on issues discussed in Zittrain's popular book, “The Future of the Internet, And How to Stop It.”
I feel that the short title of the presentation, “Minds For Sale”, was much more befitting of the lecture. Zittrain focused on what (in his view) is an worrisome developing trend. The Internet, as a technological platform, has created myriad ways for people to hire other people to complete certain tasks or solve specific problems. He cited several pertinent examples, including: 'Innocentive', a website that provides a platform for large companies to post problems that they are willing to pay (~$20,000) scientists to solve...Amazon's Mechanical Turk marketplace, where people are paid tiny sums of money to complete a diverse range of "HIT's," Human Intelligence Tasks...and re-CAPTCHA, a program that requires the solution of a CAPTCHA(stop spam...), but also helps to decode scanned books that happen to be of poor quality(...read books).
Zittrain enumerated several specific concerns he maintains, regarding why this trend is so unsettling. From the participant(worker) point of view, concerns included surveillance/privacy issues, alienation and moral valence concerns. He noted a general, systemic concern, what he feels is a 'race to the bottom' type effect regarding the state of labor laws surrounding these transactions (e.g. people are making well less than minimum wage while “working” on Mechanical Turk "HIT's"). Another major concern discussed was the growing disconnect that occurs between the people seeking others who are willing to work or to solve a problem, and those actually doing the work or creating the solution.
His most poignant example of the night might have been a Colorado smoke-out, where police could not arrest every participant, but had taken pictures of the individuals who were smoking marijuana. Later, law enforcement posted the pictures on-line and offered a bounty paid to anyone who could identify these smoke-out participants. He used this example to transition to a scenario wherein a government could easily use the Internet as a platform to identify and silence political protesters. He imagined a Mechanical Turk "HIT" where an individual would be paid two cents to correctly discern whether a photo portrait of a protester matched up with an identification picture.
Yet, it was not entirely doom and gloom. Zittrain went on to offer several potential solutions, including the adoption of stricter (or looser) labor standards, a widespread adoption of various opt-out opportunities and the ability for 'workers' to create some sort of portable reputation status in exchange for the 'body of work' they create on a given platform. Perhaps his most timely suggested solution, was simply to urge more general disclosure throughout all levels of these transactions (he hinted that he approved of the FTC's forthcoming guidelines calling for sweeping blogger disclosure).
During the Q & A, Santa Clara Law Professor Eric Goldman raised a pressing question. He challenged the technological development of the Internet as an enabling platform, as being one that is not quite as troublesome and 'dangerous' as Zittrain urged. Professor Goldman pointed out that paying people to do things that may be morally questionable is certainly not a new phenomena. The Internet, and its communities of users, is capable of self-regulation and can effectively prevent any of the more "threatening" scenarios from becoming accepted practices on the web. Zittrain somewhat dodged the issue, and instead polled the audience as to whether or not, after just listening to his presentation(fair or foul?), they felt 'threatened' by this trend. About two-thirds of the audience raised their hands, siding with his viewpoint.
I believe that the "future of the internet" (to borrow from Professor Zittrain), lies somewhere in the middle. Human nature and morality, our willingness to do just about anything unscrupulous if we are paid enough money, is inherently what it is. There will always be the "bad guys". Granted, it is unnerving that the Internet adds a global scale and an increased potential scope of behavior (think of the limitless possibilities for defining any given "HIT"), into the mix.
What Professor Zittrain seems to gloss over, however, is the community and personal aspect undergirding the Internet. The fact that the intermediaries, the ones who set-up and run these platforms and who must be charged with policing these types of transactions, are people too. Amazon or Google or Innocentive must be the ones who ensure that this technological platform is not abused.
The bottom line is that in opening up a marketplace, where we can offer our minds for sale, can turn out to be extraordinarily beneficial to any number of parties. Yet, it is critical that, collectively, we all practice what Google preaches - “don't be evil”.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
My transition from Japan, back to the States, has been difficult for myriad reasons, none more frustrating and disabling than the lack of Internet at my apartment. This lack of access, in combination with my insomniac/jet lagged sleep patterns, has driven me into a hazy, timeless fog.
Unfortunately, I have been forced to seek relief and get my Internet “fix” at Heafey Law Library on campus, a location at which I certainly have not been pining to spend more time.
Since it has been quite some time since Internet connectivity has been this difficult for me to obtain, these past few days have been quite interesting(terrible)...
First, I feel as if I am constantly falling behind. I cannot download any podcasts (two dailies, and two weeklies) and I cannot stream any of the weekly shows I like to watch (content from Revision3, hulu, Daily Show/Colbert, etc.). When I log into Facebook or onto Tweetdeck, the list of updates is so long and daunting that I just ‘mark as read’ and quickly page through them. Particularly frustrating is when an update or tweet referencing an earlier entry catches my eye... I will sit there and try to decipher a peculiar reference only, to realize that the subject matter is already moot, or the posting is just plain moronic/waste of time. Google Reader is adding up new posts to a number that is absurdly high, and I have been forced to clean house there as well (Really slashdot, 96 post-worthy entries?! Or, how surprising is it that TechCrunch has 15 new posts concerning twitter?)
Now granted, I know that the amount of information I am actually missing is relatively insignificant, so much so that I am probably saving time and energy in the long run. However, not staying up to date with things creates a cognitive dissonance, wherein I am almost guilty when I feel that there is just too much content to try and parse through (but...it is still content that I genuinely am interested in and want to read/view/listen!).
Second, I find that my Internet usage has become surprisingly more focused and streamlined. In order to reduce the time spent at the library over my “summer vacation”, I get in, sign on, TCB (take care of business), and get myself out of there! I will sometimes even bring a checklist of stuff that I know I need to do online, and run through it as quickly as possible. (This post was written at home, and I threw it up during a brief Lib visit...)
My limited access feels like a reversion to a time when dial-up connections were all that was available, and that clicking blindly at links (or opening multiple tabs...wait a TAB!?!) was an inefficient way to surf the web. Whereas currently, my web-habits are more of a "I want it all, and I want it now"/pack-rat hoarding mentality towards collecting and viewing online information. I feel like I am starving for connectivity, but the runners at the buffet are too slow in refilling my favorite dishes.I know, I know...I should have absolutely nothing to complain about. There are many people who are forced to rely on satellite or dial-up connections. My high-speed broadband is installed Friday. Further, I think of the unemployed and those who cannot afford Internet, who have to trudge to the library to access the Internet, research jobs or fill out online applications. An Internet connection has become so ubiquitous, but remains so crucial to functioning in our society. It is often easy to take connectivity for granted, or to forget about the multitude of people who don’t have a connection, yet alone a computer.
Monday, July 27, 2009
When my parents visited
My trip to
It is interesting to briefly look back on, and compare how individual students made use of their free time.
Some students came into the program with a laundry list of places to see and things to do; they had done their homework, and knew exactly what they wanted out of their visit. These students were really “tourists”, in the sense that they plowed through numerous tourist locales and other ‘destinations’ at an almost frantic rate.
Some students had been to
And, further still, another group of students did very little on their own. These “programmers” focused on classes, choose to attend social functions in large groups, and only really interacted and associated with people from the Study Abroad Program.
If we try to assess which of these three groups most experienced the true culture of
Overall, the cultural consequences of any visit are difficult to define, quantify or measure. I think that is extremely difficult for anyone to actually grasp an understanding of certain elements of the culture of a foreign country. That is why it is called a “foreign” country (once your visit extends past a certain length, it no longer a foreign country…what that length of time may be, however, is genuinely debatable and probably varies depending on the location…).
As for me, there were only a few specific moments during my stay that stand-out as times when I definitely felt like I was absorbing the culture, when I was witnessing Japan at its pure and raw cultural level. Further still, these moments were highly limited due to
These fleeting moments came at times when I would not consider my activities to fit into one of the categories, either “tourist”, “comfort-zoner”, or “programmer”. These moments hit me strongest at times when I was acting simultaneous as all three, and yet somehow acting within no category at all.
Additionally, I believe that the cultural consequences of any visit are invariably personal in nature. My opinion of Japanese culture reflects my moments, while every other visitor will necessarily generate their own perspective. Later on, it is the collective of these individual opinions and perspectives, as they mesh and blend together through the telling of stories and the showing of pictures, which creates a community vision and the ideal of the culture of a foreign country.
Over time, these community visions further blend together to create a national vision of foreign cultures, which eventually results in stereotypical and heuristic thinking, whether ultimately positive or negative in nature. While it may be impossible to ever experience the true culture of a foreign country, through these community and national visions, culture (at least in an amorphous sense) can be ascertained.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Dear Jason, Tom and host(s) de jour,
I apologize for being a little behind here (6 weeks in Tokyo will throw off one’s podcast-listening schedule), but this email is in regard to Episode 1025, where you discussed Amazon’s purchase of the online shoe-retailer, Zappos.com.
For the most part, I think that your discussion was right on, especially Rafe’s (Brian Drubbings?) comment that this acquisition, featuring two popular and customer-focused companies joining forces, will only prove to be favorable for both Amazon and its customers. Interestingly, Tom’s speculation that the move will potentially bring changes to Amazon’s Prime membership, and Amazon’s shipping policies in general, was probably more accurate than he initially might have thought.
As a former Amazon Prime member, (I cancelled my membership following the expiration of the free-trial period) I received an email request to complete a survey, which conveniently floated into my inbox right around the time the news of this acquisition broke. This survey posed a range of questions, concerning my online purchasing habits from Amazon and other retailers, and specifically asked questions about the shipping deals offered through Amazon Prime, and what price points/additional features I would be interested in. Some examples: a $49 (instead of $79) membership, multiple accounts on one household membership, and expanded range of goods eligible for free shipping, and faster shipping/Sunday deliveries.
I believe that this survey is an indication that Amazon is strongly considering changes to their shipping policies, changes that will be accelerated thanks to the Zappos.com acquisition.
The bottom line is that Amazon will likely retain a free shipping both-ways policy for footwear, and any expansion of this policy’s benefits to other areas of Amazon’s online store can only be considered a welcome implementation.
For now, I am waiting until I am back stateside, when I will be ordering some new running shoes on my Amazon account! (Bonus: check out wired.com’s article on “less is more”, techie approach to running shoes)...
Love The Show,
Mike the Law Student in Tokyo
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
On his blog, The Sensory Deprivation Bank, Rich Pulvino raises an interesting question regarding the current value of the ‘encore’. He argues that the encore is becoming entirely too routine; the point has been reached where fans do not respond to a band in a manner deserving of an encore (i.e. they don’t cheer loud or long enough) and the encore performance, itself, has become expected and stale.
Nowadays, at every concert (that I can recall…woah, dude!) the band tramps back out on-stage to play an encore. Some encores are rushed…for example, Giant Panda ripping through ‘Missing You More’ in under three minutes to beat a midnight city noise ordinance. Some encores are predictable “fan favorites”…for instance, Lynyrd Skynyrd (what was left of them in 2003) playing ‘Free Bird’. And some are, at least to me, redundant and unnecessary…like how O.A.R. used to play ‘I Feel Home’ for an encore at every show.
So why do artists always perform an encore? Artists must feel that the encore can provide some value to the fan, a value that the band can, in turn, capitalize off of or monetize in some way. Otherwise, come out…play your set…and hope every gets home safely.
Instead of simply rehashing the same-old, compulsory encore performance, I feel that bands should take advantage of the concept of, and fan expectations for, an encore, and use it to ‘Connect with Fans’ and give them a ‘Reason to Buy’. [Full Disclaimer: I am borrowing extensively here from Techdirt’s Michael Masnick. He has given several talks and written many blog posts about these terms, and the concepts of ‘Connect with Fans’ (CwF) and ‘Reason to Buy’ (RtB) are his creation...check out their own experiment, here]
As the older music industry business models continue to fade away, or die off completely, upstart bands have to rely on newer models in order to make a living in the music industry. ‘Connect with Fans’ refers to a band’s interaction with the fanbase on a real, personal level. An actual two-way interaction between the band and the fans, in combination with any compelling ‘Reason to Buy’ the music, poster, tee-shirts, etc., will likely become the new business model for the music industry.
Using the encore as a mechanism to CwF and give them a RtB seems like it could function as a natural progression of this business model...
One terrific example is the band moe. [Disclaimer 2: moe. kicks ass!] When they released their latest album, ‘Sticks and Stones’, the band ran a promotional, limited time pre-order offer. What was different about this offer, was that each purchaser would also receive a “ticket” that would allow the fan to join the band on-stage for the encore, singing the chorus of the song ‘Raise a Glass’ (this last track on the new album).
With this offer, the band could CwF in unique way, giving them a compelling RtB, all through an innovative use of the encore. The offer not only generated interest in the ‘Sticks and Stones’ album, and the song ‘Raise a Glass’, but it also prompted fans to go out and buy a ticket to a concert, so they could have the opportunity to sing on stage. moe.'s offer connected the fan with the band in a way that no other band does.
Sure, the encore may have become repetitive to fans who tour with moe., having to hear ‘Raise a Glass’(admittedly not the best moe. tune) performed every show. However, this is as an example of evolving the encore into something other than a mundane, expected part of the concert. moe. is utilizing it to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy...and it is absolutely brilliant. Let’s all raise a glass to moe!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I entered my first year at
Scheduling for the Fall 2009 semester was a haphazard, “close my eyes and throw darts”, kind of process; ultimately, while I am still waitlisted for the 2 classes I really wanted to take, I feel I have a satisfactory schedule. I have yet to sign up for, or really give any thought, to what bar course I will be taking (but I reached the conclusion that one will be necessary…which is absurd in its own right. Not only I am paying $100,000 for a legal education, but I need to shell out MORE money on a course to learn how to pass the bar). Also, I am stuck on the fence regarding whether to participate on the Computer and High Tech Law Journal, or Law Review, or both. Frustratingly, when I emailed the Law Career Services (‘LCS’) for advice, I got a response that flip-flopped more than a sandal clad John Kerry walking to the beach to photo-op on that wind-surf board back before the 2004 election (if you think that is unfair, just ask my friend Nick about LCS and you will receive a scathing review, I have no doubt).
Anyways, all of the uncertainty and feelings of misguidance have been spearheaded with my participation in the OCI process, a process that is further muddled by the fact that I am in Tokyo, a full 16 hours ahead of the various Pacific Standard Time deadlines.
Not only am I unsure of what to include on my resume and in my cover letters, I do not know which firms to bid on, and I remain entirely skeptical about just how worthwhile my extensive effort will actually be (I have easily spent over 10 hours to write 20+ different cover letters, and put together my resume, reference list, writing sample, etc.). As more firms continue to pull out of OCI’s, (first Morgan Lewis, then Orrick, now Squire Sanders…) I feel as though this entire exercise will be for naught. The pressing question remains: does/will anyone actually get a Summer Associate position as a result of On-Campus Interviews?
And again, when I turn to LCS for advice and counsel (who you gonna call?), I get the sinking feeling that they don’t really want to be bothered by a kid who keeps firing emails into their inboxes in the middle of the night from 5,185 miles away (that is 1/5 the world’s circumference, I wolfram alpha’d it…). In their defense, I received a few responses that assured me of their availability and willingness to help, while (I felt) at the same time sent off a ‘stop annoying us vibe’. Perhaps I am the one who is not doing what needs to be done in order to take advantage of their services (however, when recalling the $100,000 price tag attached to SCU Law, I feel that students should not be required to navigate an obstacle course to get the answers they are looking for…).
It is somewhat of a shame. Substantively, I LOVE law school, and
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Google has certainly dominated the tech news as of late. Chrome has been steadily gaining market share, and has received widespread acclaim regarding its levels of speed and performance. G-mail and various other Google applications have finally come out of beta, a precursor to the potential adoption by businesses and users who may have shied away from an application still in beta.
However, Google dropped the proverbial bombshell earlier in the week when they announced the development of their new operating system, Google Chrome OS. Chrome OS is being touted as a lightweight, open-source OS that has the potential to dominate the netbook market, and possibly even competing with Microsoft’s reboot of Vista, that being Windows 7.
Questions linger over just how this new OS will function. Will Chrome OS kill the operating system as we know it, by stimulating a transition to a predominantly browser-based computing scheme? Will this new OS really be capable of performing up to the same standards of sufficiency as its bulkier Windows counterpart?
The success of Google Chrome as a browser, namely its simplicity of use, its speed of performance and elegant interface with the various Google Apps, leads me to anticipate the Chrome OS could be a sweeping success. Perhaps Google only needs to be wary not to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft’s monopolistic systems approach, by avoiding costly antitrust litigation. I strongly believe that Google’s public image (comparative to Microsoft) should help them allay any such allegations.
Although I have pre-ordered Windows 7, and am eagerly awaiting the upgrade, I am intrigued and extremely excited about Google’s Chrome OS as the potential next step in computing. The bottom line is that Google’s innovation and their willingness to push the boundaries remains beneficial to everyone.