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September 2004

CSN @ CSM

I went to see Crosby, Stills & Nash at Chateau Ste. Michelle last night with Amy, Bruce & Mary; it was the last concert of the season for both the band and the winery. Bruce arrived when they opened the gates and braved the rain to secure fabulous, front-row, center, lawn seats for us. By the time the rest of our party arrived, the sky was clearing ... and fittingly enough, the first song CSN played was "Carry On" (more on the songs in a bit). I enjoyed this concert better than the concert Amy and I went to at Lake Compounce sometime in the mid 80s, probably due to a combination of the great company, great venue, great seats, great wine, a higher proportion of songs from their early days and a collection of newer songs that I generally like better than the songs that were new at the earlier concert.

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Bush on Clarity, Consistency and Service

On the way home tonight, I heard excerpts from a speech given by George W. Bush to the National Guard Association meeting in Las Vegas. I've been trying to refrain from overtly political posts on this blog, but the statements I heard tonight just pushed me over the edge.

I heard our president say "What's critical is that the president of the United States speak clearly and consistently at this time of great threat in our world, and not change positions because of expediency or pressure" and I remember his earlier statement that "I don't think you can win" the war on terror and his later "clarification" that "we are winning and we will win" and I wonder whether this demonstrates the clarity and consistency that is so critical for a president.

I heard our president say "Nineteen individuals have served both in the National Guard and as president of the United States and I'm proud to be one of them" and I wonder what definition of "service" is intended in this statement, given the many questions about how he spent his time in the Texas Air National Guard (perhaps he equates "service" with "honorable discharge").

I heard our president say "You are fighting terrorist enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the globe, so we do not have to face them here at home" and I wonder how he felt during the Vietnam War about fighting enemies in Vietnam as opposed to, well, staying here at home.

I wonder how members of the National Guard units who have recently served overseas in extended deployments feel about the service record of our president. I know it doesn't inspire my confidence.


Social Networking via Mobile Phone: Update on BEDD & Other Services

A query from someone who had read my earlier post on BEDD -- "a Bluetooth mobile phone application launched recently in Singapore that allows users to discover things about and interact with the other BEDD-enabled phone users in their immediate vicinity" -- motivated me to do a quick search to see if I could find anything more about the system. I discovered a recent Red Herring article on "Mobile Phone Tag" that provides some new information. The article (dated August 11, 2004) claims that the service currently has 1,500 subscribers (on an island of 4.3 million) and charges US$0.60 / month for unlimited usage; an ITU article from June 24 claimed "over 1000" users; it may be that the two articles come from the same source but were posted at different times, but I haven't seen anything more recent about BEDD, and these subscriber numbers do seem awfully low. I also cannot find a web site for the company, leaving me curious as to what is really happening with BEDD.

The Red Herring article also references a number of similar or related services, such as MyCupid (from Singapore Telecommunications, costing SG$0.15, or US$0.09, per search or SMS), TrackUrMate (from India's Bharti Airtel, costing 3 rupees, or US$0.06, per SMS), Era (from Poland), Dodgeball (from Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, available in several US cities and currently free) and Match.com Mobile (available in the US via Cingular, AT&T and Nextel). I do not know the numbers of subscribers for any of these other services, and I wonder whether any of them has gotten much traction (especially compared with the millions of subscribers to more "traditional" online, but not necessarily mobile, social network and/or dating services).

[Update: Adrian, who had sent me the initial query, followed up with a link to the BEDD web site. The site highlights a new feature, "distributed memory", in which a BEDD subscriber's phone can carry another subscriber's profile (from the description, it's not clear whether it can have multiple profiles). This seems to deviate from the "proximity-based" networking that I thought was the focus of the system -- the other profiled subscriber(s) could be anywhere -- and I wonder if the viewer of such profiles is given any indication of whether or not a viewed profile is the one associated with the proximate subscriber or someone else. If one can select among different profiles to make available, it may open up new possibilities for the maintenance and transmission of multiple personas (perhaps that is, in fact, the intent). If multiple profiles are shown simultaneously -- and others' profiles are clearly distinguishable -- then it provides a new way for people to show others how popular they are, either by the number of friends' profiles they carry on their phones, or by how many other phones carry their profile.]


Vicariously Experiencing Burning Man

I've never been to Burning Man, but know several people who have participated in the annual event, including Pat Baudisch, on whose office door I recently saw this wonderful list of "How to enjoy the Burning Man experience from the comfort of your own home." I'm not sure how well this approximates the real experience of the event, but it does seem to correspond to some of the reports of experiences I've heard or read over the years.