Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Internet marketing essentials: Change order of Blogger Posts

Internet marketing essentials: Change order of Blogger Posts

This is a really useful set of instructions to change the order in which blogger entries are listed -- FIFO or LIFO. This is a great example were an open system like Blogger (open in the sense that you can change a lot of things) permits you to make it work better than the implementers were able to make it work. A corollary to the rule that a group of people is always smarter than any of the individuals in the group.

FIFO Order

LIFO Order

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's Harry Been Doing Lately?

What have I been doing? Well, I have spent most of my waking hours working on LexMedia the non-profit corporation that runs the Public Access cable channels in Lexington, MA. In the last year we have completely reinvented LexMedia by:
  1. Getting rid of the last Executive Director who was on a course of making LexMedia fail
  2. Recruiting a new Executive Director who brings a lot of talents to LexMedia that we don't already have, and is a pleasure to work with. What a change!
  3. Building a new studio at Kline Hall in the Avalon Lexington Hills residential complex.
  4. Outfitting that studio with a completely new all digital broadcast system.
As Chairman of LexMedia, I have tried to foster an open organization where there are no pockets of unwarranted private information -- the kind of information inept people use to insure their job security. Rather we value people by what they accomplish.

Having said that, I represent my work at LexMedia by our website ( which I manage. Take a look, and if you live in Lexington, check out the three channels we produce.

Sunday, April 06, 2008



This is a very nice web site which answers the question that some people will be asking in the coming months: With the switch-over to digital TV next February, if I want to receive television over the air (as opposed via cable or satellite) what kind of antenna should I get and in what direction should I point it. If you click on the "choose an antenna" button, you will be asked for your street address. From this information, the website will determine your location, including elevation and sight line to the various television transmitters in your area. It will then tell you two things: Which stations you can expect to receive, what type of antenna you will need to receive those stations, and which direction you should point that antenna. Very nice site.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Most Popular Storied: Scientific American and other websites

Science and technology information from Scientific American

I just got an email message from Scientific American asking me survey questions about their website. After completing the survey, I went over to the website and discovered that it was seriously modified and improved from what I had seen before. Very nice, and I recommend it to you.

Now the reason for writing this entry: Most Popular Stories. I see this kind of list appearing in more and more websites (NYTimes, Wall Street Journal, ...), and I am attracted to it on each. In many respects, it is an organic, populist recommendation service that helps me sift through the average article and find the gems. It's a good example of social networking as opposed to the banal use of this concept in the MySpace's of the world.

But, now my concern: What is others are doing the exact same as I? I.e., not taking the time to explore the complete sea of articles and picking out the ones that I want to read? By using these lists, I am not only failing my fellow readers, but also contributing to a second order effect of reading a recommended article, thus sending it "popularity" even higher -- with the possible effect of swamping an excellent article, but one that by chance got washed to the side by people like me who only look at the most popular articles.

Having said this, I am now suitably self-warned not to just use the "most popular" lists. God, I sound like my mother warning me not to just seek out the popular kids in Jr. High School...

Postscript: My friend Richard wrote me a response which I find very interesting:
Dear Harry,

Too bad Sciam doesn't keep a month by month "most popular" list so we
can go back.

Your point about relying on others to monitor news sources will lop
off some unseen gems has a parallel in the efficient (stock) market
hypothesis. EMH suggests that there is no point in individuals doing
research to test/explore whether a stock is under- or over-valued
because the current prices reflect the combined knowledge/wisdom of
the market participants. But if everyone assumes that stocks are
efficiently priced and if no one does the analysis, the prices will no
longer be "efficiently-priced." And I guess that is why some
investors still hire some people to do securities analysis;
presumably, those securities analysts pick up enough gems to pay for
their time and effort.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

HOW TO: Import Non-Commercial DVD into iMovie '08

Unlike PCs, the standard Macintosh software (e.g., iMovie) does not provide a command or document how to import the contents of an even non-copy protected DVD into a program running on the Macintosh. It turns out that you can do with with standard issue Macintosh programs, you just have to know what to do. Here is a set of steps needed to perform this action that I found using Google.
  1. Insert DVD.
  2. Open Disk Utility.
  3. Select the disk and then select “New Image”. Save the disk image wherever is convenient, such as the desktop.
  4. Once the disk image is written, open iMovie 08.
  5. Mount the new disk image. A “Camera Detected, Scanning Contents” window will appear in iMovie 08, followed by an import window. You can now import the DVD contents and start editing away.

I wish iMovie would just say, “Hey, this DVD doesn’t have copy protection, it must be yours, so I’ll import it for you!” Alas, this is not the case, making the process more cumbersome than it needs to be. I can image that the idea of importing straight from a DVD was shot down by Apple’s legal team… sigh

Monday, March 31, 2008

On The Media: Prank Calling

On The Media: Prank Calling

Professional hoaxer Alan Abel has spent a lifetime pulling pranks on the media, like his campaign to clothe naked animals or his character Omar the Beggar. Abel’s antics are preserved in the documentary, now on DVD, Abel Raises Cain.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photography and The Law: Know Your Rights

Photography and The Law: Know Your Rights

There are several issues that arise when I decide whether or not I feel comfortable taking a picture. These issues usually arise when people are included in the scene. This article lays out the legal rules and rights you have as a photographer, but I find that frequently my own sense of respecting someone's privacy takes precedence. But, it is good to know the law before you start defending yourself against heavy handed "authorities".

Monday, March 10, 2008


JungleDisk - Reliable online storage powered by Amazon S3 ™

I have searched for years for a backup system that would work for me. I bet I'm not that unusual in my "requirements" -- these are not particularly difficult ones and some of them relate to my behaviors, which again, I believe are not very unusual (at least with regards to backing up my computer data...)

For me, to be useful, a backup system has to be:
  1. Automatic: This is why I am looking for a "system" rather than just doing it myself every time I create something new a valuable.

  2. Reliable: What's the purpose of using a backup system if it isn't reliable. I think many people have a false sense of security with their backup systems because they rarely try to recover files.

  3. Easy -- both to backup and recover: The backup system ought to be as "easy" as using the file management capabilities of the operating system -- and hopefully just an extension of that OS.

  4. Inexpensive: Even though I know that my data is very valuable, somehow I still think the backup system ought to be inexpensive.

  5. Done in the background: Again, even though it is important, backing up files doesn't seem like it ought to interfere with my use of the computer. I wish some virus protection systems would exhibit the same characteristics.

  6. Cross-platform: Although I have one principal computer I use, my family and I make use of several laptops, both PCs and Macs, as well as several servers. All of these machines should be backed up, not just my primary PC.
After stumbling along for many years, I have finally found a system that does all of this: JungleDisk. There are two really good parts of this system: The multiplatform client program that implements the logic of when and what to backup, and the backend storage component (Amazon's S3) which is a very inexpensive storage system charged for by the high integrity billing system of Amazon.

The net effect is that for the first time, I now have my pictures backed up properly -- in fact so well that as I travel, take pictures and download them to my laptop, to my delight these pictures are backed up to the Amazon file storage while I sleep. And, did I mention inexpensive? After the initial upload to the file server when I am charged for network bandwidth (not very much), all of my pictures from 2007 and 2008 (42Gbytes) are now being backed up for about $6.50/month which seems pretty good to me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The internet has proven itself to be the most effective way at informing people about issues that matter to them. Once people are informed, they want to act -- and many times the appropriate action is to let another person or organization your support for a position.

This website is a free service offered to users of the Internet to collect and organize signatures on a petition. It uses the standard "interpret this image" challenge to insure that the petition is being signed by a human. By packaging the signing activity into one frequently used service, all of the standard pitfalls that activists could fall into are avoided.

Similar, even more sophisticated services for accepting donations on behalf of an organization or cause, are also available on the web. Both of these services allow the activist to concentrate on informing people about the issue at hand, and to not have to worry about the mechanisms for achieving a mass effect in support of the issue.