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December 2004 Archives

December 7, 2004


I'm back from a week in Boston. Last time, I made some bad experiences with KLM/NWA. This time, I took Luxair for the short haul part of the trip and Lufthansa for the transatlantic flight.

What should I say -- they were roughly on time (apart from that ugly two hour delay in Frankfurt), and (as usual) more organized than KLM and NWA, but I'm far less satisfied than I have been with Lufthansa flights to other destinations in the past.

Annoyances started with the fact that Lufthansa is operating its US flights from a part of Frankfurt Airport which is accessible to transferring passengers from incoming flights. So, once you get close to your gate (way past passport control and usual security checkpoints), you have to go through another security control: A "routine" pat-down search, since they just don't have the usual metal detector gates there. Queues before this security checkpoint at times counted some 200 people waiting. Once through this check, there were close to no eating or shopping opportunities.

On the flight itself, service was rather slow. On the daytime flight to Boston, the annoying part was sitting in front of that empty tray for half an hour; on the flight back, the annoying part was that they would keep Economy class passengers awake for more than half of the flight. The meal served on the flight back was a little problematic as well: First, garlic was one of the main vegetables; second, they were serving joghurt pre-packaged at normal air pressure -- you can probably imagine the effect of opening this on an airplane.

Finally, mileage: Lufthansa has reduced the number of miles they give on Economy class tickets significantly; I'm getting some 1800 miles for each trans-atlantic segment. In practical terms, this means that frequent flier benefits and upgrades have moved far enough away to make the Miles & More program mostly uninteresting -- unlike KLM's Flying Dutchman, where benefits are granted at lower mileage, and reasonable mileage is granted for Economy class flights.

For the moment, I find myself not having a preferred airline any more. Probably, I'll try Swiss next.

(On the positive side, I should add that the classical music audio program was, unlike the movies, exquisite, including a rare recording of a Schumann symphony with Furtwängler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; also, the service provided in Frankfurt to a colleague who sits in a wheelchair was stellar.)

December 8, 2004

On New TLDs and Frogs

Writes James Seng, on new gTLDs and the innovation argument often made: Innovation ideas are like frogs' egg: a thousand hatched only one or two survive to maturity (quote Peter Drucker). Like many others, I love to have that one or two frogs but we aren't sure how to deal with the 999 other dead tadpoles.

not my jobThis argument is in line with the stability concerns one often hears at ICANN meetings: In order to keep gTLD registrations stable, just stick to the current gTLD registries, and block these "unstable" new firms from entering the market. After all, it's likely that they might fail. The interesting assumption with this approach is that the current set of gTLD operators will remain stable. We don't care whether frogs are extinct worldwide. Our weather frog is immortal, and that's all we care about. Ooops, what's this thing under my shoe?

I'm worried by this approach -- from a stability point of view: Any given business has a certain chance to fail. So, the question is not so much how can we keep the current registries stable?, but rather, how do we make sure someone else carries on when they fail?

Instead of being scared of possible failure, ICANN should think about how to deal with it. ICANN should be thinking about escrow solutions. ICANN should be thinking about how it can contribute to establishing a healthy and sufficiently large pool of operational registry businesses. And it should be thinking about how to help make sure that the registrations in any given TLD remain an asset in case of bankrupcy of a registry business, and not become a liability: Make sure that, when a registry fails, someone else has a business interest in picking up the remains.

December 17, 2004

Compiling Kernels Like It's 1995

These are the nights when I regret my decision not to go for a Mac as my Laptop: As if it was 1995, I'm sitting here, sleepy, waiting for my PC to finish compiling the Linux kernel -- which takes eternities.

The reason? I was stupid enough to install Redhat's Fedora Core 3 on that truly cutting edge thinkpad I use, without checking that this problem (which is the same as this problem) was actually fixed -- it isn't, not even in the latest "testing" kernel. Linux has been running rock-solid on this machine for the past six months, until the latest so-called stable kernel, which will leave the keyboard in a completely useless state after any APM suspend/resume.

So I'm now rebuilding the last useable FC2 kernel (which doesn't seem to be available in binary RPM form any more) for use on FC3, to get back my laptop's full functionality.

(Meanwhile, the PDA is still in the process of being repaired; replacement devices can't be made available, I'm told.)

More on FC3

After the kernel compilation orgy last night, Fedora Core 3 now runs reasonably stable -- sort of, since OpenOffice has some problems. Not only do the same documents look different now when printed -- most of the user interface is displayed in a way that's somewhere between ridiculous and unreadable.

As I said yesterday: These are the things that make me wish I had taken a Mac.

(Turns out this is an X server problem; thanks to the people at RedHat, I now have a work-around.)

December 21, 2004

ICANN Staff to WHOIS Task Force

ICANN Staff has sent this message to the combined WHOIS Task Force. Essentially, they disagree with much of the group's recommendations on how to deal with a conflict between the RAA's WHOIS provisions and applicable law.

Timing of this move is poor; procedurally, it amounts to a staff attempt to veto a Task Force's decisions: The criticism comes after almost a year of work; the thrust of the group's recommendations was visible by the time of the ICANN meetings in Kuala Lumpur.

On the substance, though, there's one point where I find myself in agreement with the staff document: Fixing WHOIS, globally, is certainly preferable over tinkering with compliance mechanisms.

December 26, 2004

Why don't iPods enable us to share music?

On a train ride the day before christmas, I observed a group of four people sitting around a table: A mother with her two teenage sons, and a not-too-geeky twentysomething. The teenagers had an MP3 player, one of the cheap USB-stick-like things; the twentysomething had a laptop and a bunch of CDs. Within relatively short time, the twentysomething and the boys had connected, and started talking about music, and started sharing it -- or, attempted to share it, going through various technical problems. The story these four people tell is about the social dimension of music and culture, and more specifically, about the social dimension of sharing it.

This dimension is not about positioning some product as a cultural movement, marketing-wise: Rather, it is at the very basis of the culture we live in.

If anyone was to design a truly cool (as in, cooler than iPod) portable music player, that gadget wouldn't just be a player that is made a "cultural movement" by marketing. Instead, it would be desinged to connect people by letting them share the music stored on it. It would be designed to strengthen the social fabric that sharing of culture can be. It would be easy to extract stored music. It would be easy to share music between devices, wirelessly. It would be easy to share whatever you listen to currently, by broadcasting (podcasting?) a stream over a local wireless network. It would be easy to tune in to whatever music the others at the table (in the room, on the train, on the plane, ...) listen to, if they want to let you in.

Obviously, the iPod isn't that kind of device today, and the social fabric that culture provides is alien to its "cultural movement" of cool, white-headphone-wearing solitude. Apple doesn't even want you to extract the music stored on it, and the headphones won't make it easy for you to share whatever you listen to with your seat neighbour. (Nevertheless, iPods are rather nice and quite addictive gadgets.)

The technology you need to build the music-sharing gadget I'm dreaming of is there today. But, unfortunately, culture's social dimension is thoughtlessly denounced as "piracy" these days, so I don't expect to see that cool device I imagine in the marketplace any time soon.

In particular not if the studios get what they want next year.

About December 2004

This page contains all entries posted to No Such Weblog in December 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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