This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Village Voice: Features: Sleeping With the GOP by Wayne Barrett with special reporting by Adam Hutton and Christine Lagorio: "Roger Stone, the longtime Republican dirty-tricks operative who led the mob that shut down the Miami-Dade County recount and helped make George W. Bush president in 2000, is financing, staffing, and orchestrating the presidential campaign of Reverend Al Sharpton."

Coral: The New York University Distribution Network: "Coral is built on a novel distributed lookup abstraction we call a distributed sloppy hash table, or DSHT. DSHTs simply map keys to values, but do so in a way that avoids hot spots when large numbers of (key, value) pairs have the same key. Even if every node of a DSHT repeatedly stores the same key, the rate of store requests at the most heavily-loaded node is only logarithmic in the total number of nodes. When nodes retrieve a key from a DSHT, they receive only a subset of the values stored. DSHTs are well-suited to indexing the locations of replicated objects, because while many replicas may need to be indexed, those seeking objects really only need to find one good replica."

Coral: The New York University Distribution Network: "Coral is peer-to-peer content distribution network. It allows a user to run a web site that offers high performance and meets huge demand, all for the price of a $50/month cable modem. Coral takes advantage of users' demonstrated willingness to re-distribute content they themselves consider useful. Sites that volunteer to run Coral automatically replicate content as a side effect of users accessing it. Publishing through Coral is as simple as prepending a pseudo-hostname to objects' URLs; a peer-to-peer DNS layer transparently redirects browsers to participating cache nodes, which in turn cooperate to minimize load on the source web server."

Oxygen at Extrasolar Planet, a First: "Astronomers have detected the first presence of oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet, a world already known to be venting massive amounts of gas into space."

NASA Contract Could Jumpstart Rocket Start Up: "Eager to find new ways to ferry cargo to and from the international space station, NASA plans to pay a U.S. company $227.4 million for the demonstration of a reusable rocket that has been in development since the satellite boom of the 1990s." Wow, this in combo with the X-Prize could really jump start the development of a private industry launch capability, which we desperately need to lower the cost of sending things (and humans) into space.

NASA gets new funds for space shuttles and moon mission: "The new US public budget unveiled Monday gives a big boost to spending on efforts to get the US shuttle back in space and to start moves to get manned missions to the moon and Mars."

Dying Planet Leaks Carbon-Oxygen :: Astrobiology Magazine :: Search for Life in the Universe: "Using the Hubble Space Telescope to view a star dim, international researchers have identified the first extrasolar planet with a carbon and oxygen signature. While unlikely to be habitable, this gas giant adds to the menagerie of other worlds and their unusual properties."

Nvu 0.1 Released - MozillaZine Talkback: "Version 0.1 of Nvu, the open-source Web development tool based on Mozilla Composer, has just been released. The application, developed by Daniel Glazman's Disruptive Innovations for Linux distributor, is available for LindowsOS, other Linux distributions and Microsoft Windows from the Nvu download page." Check out a page of screenshots here.

AlterNet: HIGHTOWER: The Corporate Abandonment of America: "Something major is taking place in our country that corporate chieftains don't want us talking about: Jobless creep."

A great discussion is going on at Daily Kos, a political weblog, on how the Democrats' DNC should reform themselves and use the Internet better: "it's not that the DNC is malicious, merely that those who run it are, like all of us, not particularly skilled at uniting the inside and outside of the parties to form a cohesive unit. So let me make some suggestions for the how the DNC could integrate bloggers into their operations so as to garner support from people like me.

1. Don't write to us like we are investors as the primary means of contact. I don't care what your internal operations look like, or your radio booking operation that gets you on air. I'm a member of the party, I'm not a rich liberal leaving on the Upper East Side who wants glossy proof of pedagree before investing. Kick ass on the radio, kick ass on TV. I listen, I watch. Make me proud to be a Democrat.
2. Dean's Get Local tools are not tools for a single candidate, they are tools for a political party. All local, state, and national political events, as well as grassroots events, should be put into a decentralized DNC tool to enable Democrats to meet Democrats. This tool is off the shelf software; expensive, but worth it.
3. Stop using the 'I/you' dichotomy, and stop calling us 'grassroots'. We are not grassroots, we are the party. As are you.
4. Implement mentorship programs nationally so interested Democrats around the country can learn about their local party organization.
5. Put something behind Meetup. Send out DVDs, agendas, a goddam web page, whatever. Prove that you want us in the party.
6. Buy and give hosting space to Democrats to use for blogs. Contract out with Typepad, or something. Give your party members a voice beyond an election.
7. Focus on building niche online/offline Democrat communities. For example, you could set up a Democrat dating service. As stupid as this sounds, why not give it a try? Is there any better way of cementing party loyalty? Or you could set up Democratic reading clubs. There's a lot of potential here.

All in all, be creative, and recognize that donations are the last component of a satisfying relationship. Treat us like we are customers who really want your product but have been burned many times in the past. It's probably not your fault, but we feel insulted and demeaned, all because we want to help the party and the party doesn't seem to want our help, just our cash. This can change, but it will take some organizational focus, not just a good database. Prove to us that there's some value in being a member of an organized party, or else we will just drift off to individual races that captivate us. It's hard, I know, because we seem disorganized and bitter. And many of us are. But that can all change, if you help the process along."

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