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Technology

Broadly defined "technology" e.g. software, water pumps

What is google doing with their new features?

People often say "what is google thinking with {insert name of their new serivce}?"

Google and Open Source Project Hosting

At the OSCON this summer they announced Google Code Project Hosting a Sourceforge like open source project hosting environment. It's inline with some of their other projects like Summer of Code, a project where Google pays university students to spend their summers working on open source projects. A system where Drupal got 14 projects (a value of over US$70,000 - listen to a summary of the progress in Lullabot Podcast #23).

Now, when they announced the whole Project Hosting thing it seemed like a nice thing for them to do for up and coming projects - but it also seemed more than a little redundant. If you're a small or medium project then Sourceforge will work great. If you're a larger project then maybe you need to use the OSUOSL (consider donating to them). Either way, it seemed more than redundant for Google to offer this hosting.

Mozilla Talkback

Mozilla has long used a system called Talkback and it uses a closed source, proprietary system that requires a license and is owned by a company called SupportSoft. People complain about this system all the time in forums saying "mozilla should build their own talkback system" to which the response is "why don't you build it as your own open source project and let us use it" to which the repsonse is usually something like "oh, I don't code, you should write it for me on your own time". You can guess how I feel about this exchanges...

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FON Social Router: Density by Country

More on FON Routers By Country

So, following on my last post about Fonero growth by country and after reading about required density for "wifi roaming coverage" I started thinking about density of routers in my data.

Getting the Country Area Density

I picked up the population and land area by country from "GeoHive". It's really an awesome set of basic data for anyone who likes this kind of thing. So, using that and a little bit of Spread Sheet magic I came up with the following table that shows countries ordered from most dense to least dense FON coverage.

























































CountryPoints 8/21Area (KM2)KM^2/PointRouters Needed
Singapore916937.66,576
The Netherlands2,09141,52619.9397,389
Andorra2246821.34,480
South Korea3,56698,48027.6943,812
Belgium74630,52840.9292,933
Spain10,177504,78249.64,845,826
Switzerland81441,29050.7396,396
Israel24720,77084.1199,560
Italy3,852301,23078.22,893,981
United Kingdom2,975244,82082.32,352,193
Luxemburg292,58689.224,848
Taiwan42635,98084.5345,702
France5,654547,03096.85,256,775
Germany5,589357,02163.93,428,953
Denmark31243,094138.1414,252
Austria48883,870171.9806,341
Portugal58292,391158.7888,219
Ireland31270,280225.3675,782
Sweden1,863449,964241.54,326,791
Puerto Rico219,104433.587,559
Estonia8845,226513.9434,986
Finland508338,145665.63,252,447
USA12,4799,631,418771.892,641,762
Hungary10593,030886.0894,844
Greece149131,940885.51,269,114
Japan290377,8351302.93,634,483
El Salvador1321,0401618.5202,392
Norway201324,2201613.03,118,795
Poland182312,6851718.03,007,848
Dominican Republic2748,7301804.8468,756
Costa Rica2551,1002044.0491,557
Chile282756,9502684.27,281,577
Argentina8242,766,8903357.926,616,658
New Zealand65268,6804133.52,584,637
Uruguay35176,2205034.91,695,201
Mexico2781,972,5507095.518,975,653
Guatemala11108,8909899.11,047,511
Venezuela104912,0508769.78,773,817
Ecuador27283,56010502.22,727,820
Colombia971,138,91011741.310,956,217
Canada7039,984,67014202.996,051,822
Peru601,285,22021420.312,363,756
India1363,287,59024173.531,626,480
Turkey34780,58022958.27,509,146
Brazil3718,511,96522943.381,884,732
Australia1917,686,85040245.373,947,306
Paraguay9406,75045194.43,912,926
China Mainland1979,596,96048715.592,322,558
Russia7317,075,200233906.8164,263,351

Notes about the Data

The data is from August 21 and the last column in the data shows "Routers Needed" meaning the number of routers needed to achieve the "full density" of 25 routers/square mile (roughly 9.6/square Kilometer).

Conclusions

I'm not sure that there really are many conclusions you can draw from this. Singapore, the Netherlands, Andorra, and South Korea all have fairly high numbers and if you look at metro areas in those countries you can see that indeed walking down a street you'd have pretty good luck finding a FON hotspot. It's not particularly useful to know that the USA needs 92 million more routers to have nationwide coverage - as every cell phone provider will tell you there is lots of land in the US that you just don't need to bother covering! It would certainly be more interesting to know the density of certain metropolitan areas - I assume that some similar internal analysis went into the decision to target 25,000 free routers at Manhattan.

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Digg Widget for your own site

So, I read this post in the digg blog with much fascination.

it shows this:

<script>
digg_url = \'URLOFSTORY\';
</script>
<script src=\"http://digg.com/api/diggthis.js\"></script>

Which is pretty cool because then it makes it easier for users to digg a story on your site even if they found the story through some other means. But there's a pretty huge problem with the widget...

The workflow for this is something like:

  1. write story
  2. wait for someone to digg story
  3. find URL of the digg story
  4. add widget to my site
  5. rejoice

It would be really nice if I could just automatically add that little snippet of javascript to everyone one of my posts and rather than saying "URLOFSTORY" it would be "URLOFORIGINATINGSITE" and then on the Digg end you figure out the most likely story that it should relate to. I know this is tough because of the whole duplicates thing, but that's why you make the big bucks.

Because then the workflow would be something like
1. write story
2. rejoice

And that's clearly a better workflow.

If the answer is "we just can't do that" then I've got a surprise someone else will do a better job and you'll be forgotten.

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Search as economic predictor

What do you do before taking an important action?

You research. Since this is the internet age, how do you search? Google. Yahoo. MSN, AOL, Ask.com. At least that's how the majority of internet users research. Maybe you use Wikipedia. If someone were sitting on your shoulder and watching all of your search terms they would know the future of your actions.

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127 is the magic number (so is 128 and 32 and...)

So, today I'm working on a fun module I plan to use as the basis for my presentation at BarCamp and I, um, keep running into unexpected situations. Most of the time these involve the number 127 in the database. I bang my head on the problem for a couple seconds and then add in enough debugging statements to see that the database is either stopping duplicate keys or rounding a number down to 127 or...

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