Categories: Web
Homer the new fail whale

Homer the new fail whale

I could write a Why I like Twitter article, but I’m not even sure what to put inside.

So I guess you know what is Twitter: a bunch of people who want the world to know they’re pooping. Yes, it’s useless. And don’t tell me it changed anything in Iran, because it didn’t. I’ve compiled all the stuff I hate about Twitter. Here they are, and it’s totally subjective.

First, Twitter is currently the most egocentric thing we’ve ever seen to date. Most people just want to be followed, the world has to know about their life. So followers matter, even more than the equivalent “friend-requests” on Myspace or Facebook. My point is that it’s mostly write-only: when someone follows more than 100 guys, you can be sure he/she won’t read it. You say “web 2.0” , I say “web 1.0“.

It’s useless. The retention rates (60% of Twitter users do not return after a month) are the consequences. I’m also pretty sure that the number of people using Twitter like it was originally meant for (human tweets, no feed, no massive RT) is remarkably low.

Twitter is centralized: there’s only one entry point to the network. A government could easily shut it down by filtering any request to twitter.com. And, more pragmatically, it could go down. And it went. While a decentralized system would simply prevent a small portion of users from accessing the whole network, a centralized one just crashes. We can find many decentralized systems out there, starting with email, which is a robust technology.

I want Twitter to die. And I want it to be resurrected with modern technologies based on rock, like email addresses. Yes, your email address could have been your identity if the network was decentralized. I’m expecting a lot from StatusNet, and even more from Google Wave (BTW, if you have an invite…), which seems to provide a more general approach than Twitter based on email look-alike XMPP . Twitter is a burden for the web. Since everybody use it, you have to use it, even if it’s terribly designed.

About design:

  • Load balancing, have you heard of it?
  • Why the fuck did you choose “pull” architecture instead of “push“? Simplicity‽
  • Reply to tweets instead of people, that hard?
  • Tweet edition, can’t do?
  • Nobody use SMS to tweet. You should remove the 140-character limit.

It’s slowly replacing RSS. What a terrible news since RSS was also designed to be decentralized. Moreover, a RSS stream can embed full article, while Twitter is just indirections and redirections. Everything depends on another service. For instance, if bit.ly goes down, Twitter dies. Talking about shorteners: URLs used to have a meaning, a value, but they ruined it — stupid limit.

It is said to be a network of people and sharing. So why the fuck did brands and spammers invade it? Ok, I know why, no need to tell me. What I need to know is how many accounts are really useful for the network? Lay off any aborted account, any porn spammer, any auto-following brand, any “@naruto666 lol” user, any “Hey, did you know Disney bought Marvel?” retweeter. Seriously, how many? 1%? Less? How can investors trust such a fake network? Too many questions… The whole point is that they want to make money out of something which worth nothing. And one day, they’ll find out that Twitter advertisement is just stupid and unadapted.

The information is duplicated (or “retweeted”), because after all, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, whatever… are the same. They’re just a stream of (dis)information from people you trust (or not). I can’t stand it. Twitter is the opposite of what we’re trying to build with the Semantic Web. Yes, we want the web to come to us instantly, but does it provide access to news by topic, efficient and global search, or simply identity? No, the only thing you can do is search by keywords, not even semantic field: we need filters that Twitter doesn’t have (neither any other social network). Data used to be easily accessible, now it’s just mess and noise. Like IM, it’s not meant to be persistent. But it is. Therefore, we have to filter content ourselves, while it’s the machine’s job!  Today, we’re just using stupid ‘#’ because the service can’t provide proper indexing. Don’t forget that instant is not the opposite of tidied.

It’s fun to see reactions on Twitter, it’s like flame wars. You don’t know anything about what just happened but you still give your say. Hiding in the mass of instant reactions, it’s too easy to spead fake — or biaised — information. It’s also super easy to spread stupid uncritical point of views, which is a well-known “now”-ness effect. Like I read somewhere, people are ODing on digital courage.

Traveling Wilburys — Tweeter and the Monkey Man (1988):

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Anyway, I’m @WarrenSeine, and I’m a daily user of Twitter. Damn, it’s addictive.

Categories: Travel

Just because:

  1. I haven’t posted anything in more than a month
  2. Last Franz Ferdinand sucks (and this one is great)
  3. I’m back in Paris and I miss all the good things of New York
  4. I want to teach you a word
LCD SoundsystemAll My Friend (Franz Ferdinand cover) (2007):

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« That’s how it starts. »
Categories: Software

A quick post to say I am now the official maintainer of SoulMeBaby, a Netsoul client, originally written by Alexandre Bique.

SoulMeBaby under Gnome

SoulMeBaby under Gnome

SoulMeBaby is a simple multi-platform Netsoul client written in C++ using the Qt framework. It is far more evolved than my first try and also very stable. Pre-compiled software is available for direct use on the PIE. Otherwise, it is relatively easy to compile.

If you did not understand any word in the last paragraph, then it means it is not for you :)

By the way, the repository also holds a copy of a Kopete plugin. If you are looking for a Pidgin plugin, look at the gaim-netsoul project (not really active, but stable).

M83Midnight Souls Still Remain (2008):

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PS: I am not sure I will really use it, but I started tweeting.

Categories: Music, Travel

New York is a place where many bands start. Rock, electro, jazz, hip-hop musicians, here’s your home. Every great band has to be here at least once. And there were some legen… wait for it… dary concerts in the city.

Pink FloydThe Great Gig In The Sky (1973):

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So far, I have seen The Kooks in Central Park, Bloc Party at Roseland Ballroom, The Bloody Beetroots and M83 at the Webster Hall (the place for electro/rock sound), Death Cab For Cutie at the wonderful Radio City Music Hall. Everything was awesome! I missed Justice and SebastiAn as it was sold out before I knew it. Tickets were sold over $100 each on black market.

I also had the chance to see Emilie Simon premiering new material from her upcoming album. I am raring to listen to it!

Anyway, there are shows every night on the island and you will find anything you want. That is why New York night life rules.

Bloc PartyThis Modern Love (2005) [Live @ Roseland Ballroom, NYC, 2008]:

Categories: Software, Travel

Long time no see. I have no excuse and will not try to find any.

About a month ago I went on the bank of the Hudson river. Along the river, there are pedestrian roads and cycle lanes with lawn and it is really nice to have a walk. The sun was shining and was really hot, the kind of summer day I miss today when it is either raining or freezing. On the other side of the river, you can see Hoboken, a neighborhood I have not seen yet but will probably.

SmallSunshine Lover (2008):

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Here is a panorama I made using Hugin along with its plugins Enblend and Enfuse. These are free software that should work on most platforms. The stitching algorithm is quite automatic and easy to use as long as you take pictures with 25% overlap between shots. I used 8 for this landscape.

Panorama of the Hudson river

Panorama of the Hudson river

Categories: Travel

Last week was pretty cool at the office. We have met a lot of people and tried a few places to eat. The company (Jad actually) even gave us tickets to a baseball game! Baseball is this totally national game that we do not even care about in France, but in the United States, people are crazy of it. I mean, soccer is a famous sport in France, but we do not attach anything patriotic to the game. Well, they do. There were American flags everywhere in the stadium.

The game happened in the old Yankee Stadium — a new one is being built just nearby — and teams were New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. We were told that a baseball game is about three hours so we just came to see the last innings. First, we had trouble getting to the stadium since the subway lines do not work the same on week-ends. Then, we did not know that we could not bring any bag inside the stadium, probably for another stupid security reason, so we dropped our bags in the next bowling for five bucks. Damn, what a business! I also tried a icky hot dog. We finally entered the stadium for the last 30 minutes.

Simian Mobile DiscoHotdog (2007):

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I did not know anything about the rules so Pauline tried to explain me, but I think I still do not get everything about baseball. Apparently, Yankees had not even scored yet. Behind ourselves were a complete team of Rays supporters. Completely drunk but fun, they were yelling every time something happened. Hopefully for us, baseball is a very long game, and you wait a lot to see something happening. They never hit the ball. We actually had the chance to see a home run by the Yankees! I must tell that this is absolutely awesome, and I totally loved when the whole stadium stood up and shouted out.

Make some noise!

Make some noise!

Here is someone famous. Maybe from TV, I guess. He walked up in the stands looking for supporters to interview.

Finally, Yankees lost and I still prefer basketball, but this was a pretty nice American-style afternoon. Next time, we will see if we can have some NBA or NHL tickets. See you!

Categories: Unix-like

If you often connect to a machine through a gate, you will find this simple command useful. The idea is to open a pseudo-tty and to execute another instance of ssh. Supposing you want to log in the machine hirogen through ssh.epita.fr.

ssh -t [login@]ssh.epita.fr ssh [login@]hirogen

The -t option tells the gate to allocate a pty so that the program you want to execute (everything after the host) can actually be tunneled (sort of). Using a public key, you can access your hidden host without entering your password. And when you exit the remote machine, you will automatically leave the gate too.

The Arcade FireNeighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (2003):

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Categories: Travel

Here is where I live now.

Death Cab For CutieMarching Bands Of Manhattan (2005):

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The apartment is about 80m²-large, with 3 bedrooms – one with 2 beds. Pauline and Antoine have got their own room, and I am sharing the last one with Gaël. We will switch once in a month so that everyone can have its own room. It was really dirty when we took the apartment. The previous guys seemed not to have cleaned anything. There were hair in the bathtub and old food dying in the fridge, the dishwasher smelled really bad… At least, we are in NYC.

We took off at 10:20AM in Charles-de-Gaulle, a bit late, and we landed in J.F.K. at 12:00AM (local time), a bit earlier than expected. I don’t know how that is possible; I suspect some kind of time travel. I slept a lot in the plane and I watched two movies: Kung Fu Panda (lame) and School Of Rock (quite fun, but already seen). After showing our ID papers something like five times, we jumped in a taxi cab that was waiting for us, driven by a guy that was not even speaking English. First impression: damn, everything is so big! The four of us sat in the back of the cab. Cars, highways, blocs, escalators. Everything is seriously 1.5 times bigger. The cab took us to the apartment, on the forth floor of a small building in the West of Central Park, Uptown.

This is not the apartment. It is the building that is just accross the street and it looks like a castle.

After meeting with Dennis, the 24/7 Real Media Human Resource guy, we headed to the office. There are lots of subway lines in NYC, we are on the B and C. They look crappier than in France but, once again, bigger. We got out at the cross between Broadway and the Sixth, in Midtown. Then we were in. New York City with its huge skyscrapers, its shops and its ads. And its yellow taxi cabs everywhere! Dennis showed us the way to the company, located on the 9th and 12th floor of a building on the 132th. Well, nothing to say about it, it looks very American. After a quick tour, we went out to visit the town. We walked a bit to see Madison Square Garden and Time Square. Amazing! Awesome! Impressive! I know you have probably heard about these famous places but seeing it by yourself is another thing.

We went back to the apartment to rest. Just before, we bought enough to live in a shop on the 110th. The 110th is the end of Central Park, just after you will find Harlem. Antoine and I went out to take a look at Central Park. Actually, a part of it. What we have found is a peaceful place in the city that never sleeps. Nothing unexpected, except squirrels.

We played soccer with local guys. Some others were playing frisbee. Girls were doing aerobics. I even found a guy learning the waveboard, a weird kind of skateboard with only two wheels that I have already seen during my trip to Belle-Île.

Once everything was cleaned (the apartment and ourselves), it was time to eat. Because we did not want to walk a lot, we have tried Broadway’s McDonald’s. Checked. Well, believe it or not, but French McDonald’s are not junk food compared to that. It is absolutely uneatable. Drinks are unlimited but they are sickly. However, burgers are not as over sized as I was said. Okay, I will try again in another restaurant some other day, because that sounds like bad luck.

The next day, we woke up to get to 24/7 Real Media early to fill out paperwork. Not really interesting but necessary. We learned that we need to have a social security number to open a bank account, but not only. Nevermind. We took the subway to find a place to eat. Something I forgot to mention is that half of the advertising in New York is about TV shows.

We ended up in a Korean restaurant. Spiced but sweet. It was cheaper than expected: 12$ and I could not finish my fried shrimps. However, you have to give a tip which is 15-20% of the amount. Later we went shopping. I personally did not find anything great, but we only did 3 or 4 clothing stores. Also, we needed phones. I chose a T-Mobile “pay by the day” solution. 1$ each day you use your phone and then low communication prices. Nights are free between any T-Mobile client. Nevertheless, in the US, the meaning of « you use » is a bit different from ours. You pay incoming calls and received texts! So, if I have not used my phone for the day and someone sends me a text message, it will cost me 1.05$. Argh!

Thursday was quite similar. We first went to the office to complete some papers then we were free to go. We were told that the Village was the place to be and to live so we wanted to know how it looks like before spending our nights there. We walked down to the East Village where we found a bar, Phebe’s to try some beers. The waitress was nice enough to disregard my age (I am still 20 at the moment). A nice place actually! Crossing Madison Square Park, we saw Roger Federer winning a game.

Live from the US Open in Madison Square Park

Live from the US Open in Madison Square Park

Then, we headed towards Chinatown. Chinatown is a town inside the city. It looks and sounds different than New York. We searched for a good restaurant there. Any idea? Comment!

Finally, we walked up New York through Broadway, again. I bought a pair of jeans (around 40$ for a Levi’s, two or three times cheaper than in France) on the way home. We did a few uninteresting but useful things later today, such as doing the shopping since eating every day in New York is a bit expensive. Another tiring day all in all, time to sleep!

Categories: Software

This week’s biggest technical news is the announce of Ubiquity. It sounds like a great step for interoperability. If you have not read the news, take a look at the following video:


Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

To sum up, Ubiquity adds interactions to web pages. It takes a verb and possibly objects in natural language and actually does the action. I made a few commands related to Last.fm to try it.

As a concept program, it aims to define a new kind of HCI, maybe in order to design the future of Mozilla Firefox. You can try it. Today, it sounds more like a tool, an extension to avoid clicking everywhere and copy/pasting everything — I actually use it when linking to Wikipedia or Last.fm.

Let’s start from the beginning. Web browsing is a technique commonly used to get information, it does not directly provide a way to use information. As you would read a magazine, cut out a page that pointed out the address for a restaurant and open your map to get the directions, you often read a web page, copy the address, go to Google Map (or equivalent) and paste the address. We need to simplify these steps. They involve too much technical knowledge such as the well-known “copy/paste” and the “go to a website”. In a natural language, you would say « I want to get directions for this address ». There is no specific vocabulary in this sentence: everybody can understand what you meant.

Franz FerdinandWhat You Meant (2005):

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Ubiquity tries to understand natural language, but it is like an empty dictionary, we need to fill it up by giving it definitions, in particular, verbs. In the current Ubiquity implementation, we would ubiq the last sentence by writing « map this ». map is the verb and this a context-dependent object (what you have highlighted). Writing a command in Ubiquity means scripting the verb (which requires limited programming skills) to operate on the objects. In the previous example, this would simply open a tab in the browser which queries the map service using the highlighted address and display the resulting map. Intuitive and obvious. High level abstraction is the key to a wider public usage. From Boileau:

Ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement.

Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément.

Nevertheless, it does not exactly fit for the end-user at this time and may even never. Natural language is not a simple interface. If users do not want to type in an URL, they will not hit a key combination each time they want to communicate with the application. It may require a complete redesign of web browsers. It could be the only way to interact with your browser. Bye bye hot keys, location bars, “save as” actions… I am dreaming of a « What do you want to do? » operating system. One prompt to rule them all.

Nowadays, web browsers can do everything. News, mails, games, chat, music. You will not find any desktop application that you can not replace with a RIA. This is not a bad thing since it simplifies lots of  actions. However, we are reaching a point where the OS is useless, where everything depends on the browser you use. But the browser is not the OS! If Mozilla feels this way, then they should try releasing a standalone system based on their technologies. In my humble opinion, any operating system should natively provide a natural language interpreter, a kind of inter-process communication working with local and web applications. Some launchers such as Gnome Do are looking in the right direction, but still needs a real language analysis and a better context awareness.

Source: Mozilla Labs

Categories: Music

Yesterday, after a short party on the quai Saint-Bernard (still in Paris) where I saw hippies playing the guitar, drinking and smoking pot, I went to the Paris Social Club to see a couple of Italian DJs for free.

You will discover my music tastes along with this blog and today, let’s talk about a style of electro music, the so-called fidget house. I usually prefer comparing bands instead of grouping them into a named style, but I was told the name, so now, you know. Fidget focuses on powerful basslines and very repetitive rhythms, with some nervous and distorted sounds. I am a huge fan of the French touch which is mostly embodied by labels such as Ed Banger or Institubes. Even if it is not the same sound, you will probably like fidget house if you like SebastiAn.

The crew from yesterday, The Bloody Beetroots, became widely famous after supporting Justice on their 2007 tour. Their set was great, with big hits and very loud remixes. They know how to make you sweat. We just had the time to breathe when they played some child song with English lyrics I do not remember the name. If anyone does, please comment.

Note that they do mix with Spiderman masks.

The Bloody BeetrootsWe Are From Venice (La Serenissima) (2008):

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The Bloody BeetrootsDimmakmmunication (2008):

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