Monthly Archive for January, 2006

Win US$1,000 for blogging in a US college…

all american business shirt
Money is always in fashion” by Maurice Flower

Jennimi informed me of this money making opportunity for any blogger currently a US resident and in school. I doubt I can make it though, since I blog hapharzardly between topics like Web 2.0, gadget hackery, gaming, academia and Singapore… is now accepting entries for its second semiannual Blogging for Progress Scholarship contest. The contest encourages current and prospective college students to write about current events, society, the environment, and public policy.

The first-place winner will be awarded a $1000 scholarship, and three runners-up will be awarded $300 scholarships.

The deadline for entries is June 1, but early entrants have an advantage, as scoring is based on the number of posts and readership over the five month period of the contest. There is no fee to enter.

Last year’s entrants reached an audience of over half a million people during the contest period, and their postings continue to be read by thousands of people each day. We encourage all budding writers, journalists, bloggers, and leaders to start blogging for progress today, and make your voice heard.

More information, and registration forms are available at:

Don’t you just love Corporate America?

Photo by MyCedes – A tuner car gone way too far… like 36DD far!

I was busy working on my upcoming workshop material when I got this in my inbox from my colleague, Thom. While most of us are able to detect internet hoaxes, what impressed me was how this was first circulated as a joke back in 1999, then appeared to be cited in a number of publications and has now earned the status of an urban myth. Don’t you wish it were true though?

Continue reading ‘Don’t you just love Corporate America?’

Today’s Links: Piracy Calculator + Feedtier + Textmap

Via Crappy Bootleg DVD Covers: “Catch Me If You Can” with captions pulled from “Minority Report”

Happy Chinese New Year from Buffalo!

How to make Kong Bah Bao
Yo! This is da’ wicked Kong Bah Bao made by my girl Penny. Word.

It’s my duty to inform everyone that Chinese New Year (CNY) is upon us. If you don’t know what CNY is about, the amazing all-seeing Wikipedia has the answers. For those of us living far from home (e.g. Singapore), the spirit of Chinese New Year might never be the same, but it can be recreated/simulated. Tonight my apartment plays host to the bunch of us Singaporeans living in Buffalo. Like what most Singaporeans do abroad, we made it potluck style so there’s sure to be plenty of tasty treats. Cause we’re poor lowly students, there’s no hong baos (i.e. red packets w/ cash yo!), but we make it up with good company and root beer… none of us “drink” for some reason and keep it cool with soda. Anyway, I part with you now with some light comedy from Penny and me…

Listen to how we make Kong Ba(h) Bao and have a Happy Chinese New Year!

Nick Cannon’s “Wild n Out” = Whose Line is it Anyway + HipHop Battles

Hold it right there…. you’re on the right channel. Word has it that I don’t watch MTV, nor hip-hop music videos a whole lot, but tonight I saw something that got to my wicked sense of funny. Introducing Nick Cannon’s “Wild n Out”. Yes, you’ll see lots of slutty biatches and some mandatory swearing, but in our generation of mashups and remixes, improv now co-exists with hiphop battling. Think of it as a vulgar MTV version of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?“. The above video comes from an interesting episode… just watch for how well the Red Team’s female Indian rapper, Rasika Mathur, fend for herself in the company of guys. In all, its sweet to see what homies of all race and gender can creatively whack together in friendly competition. Fun late night appetizers to my main entree of The Colbert Report.

Download “imeem” and join me now!

my imeem profile
An instant messenger program with file sharing features. Click to see more photos

I was trying out the imeem beta for Mac for the first time today and ended up spending the last few hours hopelessly addicted. Within a few clicks, you’ll start to see why this new app has to potential to be life-changing. Just think of it as IM + friendster + flickr + fileSharing + blogging!

Imeem was founded in December 2003, and is a cross between instant messaging and networking sites like MySpace and Friendster. While it’s essentially an instant messenger, it has features similar to friendster (social networking), flickr (photo sharing/tagging), Google Groups (interest groups), blogging, and file sharing all in one. Words cannot describe this enough and even though the Mac version is still in beta, it has a very polished working interface. Since it has been out for Windows for a while, there are plenty of interesting users already populating the service (searchable via profiles).

iMeem’s file sharing feature was what first peaked my interest into this application, since it goes beyond other instant messengers by allowing persistent sharing of files when someone clicks on your profile (don’t worry, you can set privacy levels). From the about page, imeem’s official features include:
• Sharing your media (e.g. recommend new music, films and video to friends)
• Store and share photos
• Send instant messages
• Create and share blogs
• Find new friends and form public and private groups (called “meems!”)

My personal thoughts on imeem:
If you look at the big picture, imeem is really taking you back to the AOL days by attempting to replace our web browser with an enclosed interactive environment. If I you want me to be critical, it’s essentially doing nothing new, except to create a space that integrates all our favourite types of services together. Though I do feel that it does steal from others conceptually, I must add that it does extremely well in terms of overall integration with the Mac OS (e.g. photo sharing iPhoto albums).

Since it is a Mac beta, we still aren’t able to add our AIM®, Yahoo®, MSN®, and GoogleTalk accounts like our Windows counterparts. Still, there are lots of other features to keep anyone exploring. If you’re interested, take the tour or download it now, then link to me at imeem: brainopera or join my meem: Singapore

imeem for mac beta

UPDATE: Red Herring covered the iMeem launch party.

CurrentStatus: Getting on track to graduate this year…

Miso soup in the office
Ahhh… the joy of instant miso soup in the office as a little reward for a long day’s work

Currently Congratulating
Long time friend Gr3g, who recently got married and went to Melborne for their honeymoon. Since I haven’t seen him in years, I gave him a Flickr Pro account as a wedding present so everyone could see what went on.

Currently Working
“Thank you for your commitment to the protection of human participants.” – Institution Review Board (IRB)
That’s the beautiful line which shows that I’ve been approved to run my “media use” experiment on innocent students in the COM101 classes. Buah hahahaha. Couple this with the my successful application for Full-Time Status on 1 credit means I have more time to work on my papers leading to my dissertation on blogs. With all this, I should be on track to finish everything by September 2006 (No prayer included).

Currently Thinking
Straydog’s need for reading glasses reminds me to take breaks from the computer. I believe that since computers do not occur in nature, they might be poisonous for our souls. It’s based on a thought from a Buddhist friend who once told me that eating mushrooms drains your life away since they grow on the dead.

Currently Weathering
Still chilly, but Buffalo’s sun now stays up past 5pm… a good sign that spring is coming. Thank gawd!

Currently Eating
• Instant Miso Soup in the office while I’m writing material for the upcoming Web 2.0 workshop. I’m planning to make it a riot!
• Japanese @ Fuji Grill as I discuss the upcoming Podcasting workshop with law librarian/podcaster Jim Milles.

Currently Playing
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
A f@#king amazing game… the fact that it’s running on a portable PSP makes me think how technology = medieval magic.

Currently Wishing
• The MacBook Pro, though I wish Apple made a 12″ version!
• For everything I’m doing now to work out… there are people depending on me!
• Wish On Hold: How to make a Konfabulator widget

Currently Thanking
Alex Halavais for being a steady academic advisor and making my online survey tick.
• iCheerful for sending my weird stuff in my inbox, often pornographic photos of food and gadgets
RamblingLibrarian for proving to me that Singaporeans are willing to fight for our country and that there are such things as filthy-minded librarians (not him of course!)
Sacrelicious for never failing to share useful information through the comments
• If you read everything up till here, boy do you deserve a big thank you too!

Letting Wikipedia users write your term paper…

foxtrot on wikipedia
Foxtrot on Wikipedia via Ross Mayfield

While writing on OReilly’s Rough Cuts, I seem to recall a wonderful story where gutsy students posted half-done papers on Wikipedia, and returned later to find them auto-magically done. I don’t know if I was in a stupor when I first heard this, but worst of all, I can’t seem to find the source for some reason (there’s a reason why as you’ll see…).

After sharing this with educator/blogger Steve Dembo, he became intrigued and did further research into my story. He returned soon after with a pletora of information and proof that this story hasn’t existed yet (spooky!):

I don’t think it ever actually happened with students (that we know of) yet. There was the article/experiment written by Esquire, which was then covered by Then LifeHacker wrote a blog post suggesting people do the same for term papers. Several people later picked up on that and expanded it a bit (Kaironews, Teachnology, etc) But I think it’s all theory, not something that anyone has actually done yet

While this could be considered as an exploitive use of social technology (and public goodness), it might also end up being more disruptive than getting actual work done. Certain types of work may be as straightforward as the correction of facts, but it’s really another thing to correct an idea. I feel that academia pushes the latter by encouraging us to explore new boundaries to rediscover our facts. We do this by proving / disproving old and new ideas and setting up specific arguments which would easily get convoluted in a large scale discussion. I’m not sure how this research process could be turned into an open collaborative one, since it would be better under a small group discussion at most.

In the case of the Esquire experiment (see actual Wikipedia entry), Andy Baio of said that every factual error was corrected within minutes, and the focus moved on to refinement, clarification and making the article more readable.

But it doesn’t work all the time…
Wales pointed to a recent experiment in which The Los Angeles Times tried a “wikitorial” so its readers could collaboratively work on editorials. He said that “It was more or less a complete disaster”. He believes that it was because they didn’t have a community built up and ended up with a lot of random people vandalizing the wiki. Wikipedia user, Kelly Martin, recalled a television station failing to get Wikipedians to co-edit an article. Reason: The directions and guidelines were unclear.

How can Wikipedia help the typical graduate student then?
I can think of many advantages to sharing and collaborating research work on Wikipedia. Besides the possibility of ending up with a stunning paper, I would get to know others in my field as well as to help to market my work. I do have some immediate concerns: Can academic work be put on Creative Commons or is it owned by the university? If I do put up a draft paper on Wikipedia, will my university still honor it?

Until I figure out the legal ramifications of putting my own papers on Wikipedia, I’ll take heed to Many-to-Many reader J-Lon who summed it best by saying that “Wikipedia is a place to start research, not a place to finish it”.

OReilly’s RoughCuts: Shouldn’t they pay you instead?


Looks like the publishing business has started tapping on the collective intelligence of the Internet public for some of its books. O’Reilly Rough Cuts is a new paid service which lets people have early access to content on new technologies, before it’s published. It lets you read the book as it is being written, so off the bat it’s not something intended for everyone (since it’s not pretty), but there’s more…

As seen from their FAQ: When you buy a book on the Rough Cuts service, you get access to an evolving manuscript. You can read it online, download as a PDF, or print. Once you’ve purchased a Rough Cuts title, you have a chance to shape the final product via suggestions, bug fixes, and comments directly to the author and editors.

Here are my quick takes on this:
1. Personalization – No single writer can ever be an expert on everything, so allowing the public (paid ones) to have a say in the final product gives it a good chance of being a interesting book. Playing a part in constructing these books would also give contributors a sense of ownership, which in turn helps marketing it via word-of-mouth. How O’Reilly recognizes or rewards that though, is another matter.

2. Wikipedia-likeness – Like Wikipedia, harnessing collective intelligence can be a powerful thing, but unlike wikipedia, the evolving stops once the book is published. This Rough Cuts process might end up being more disruptive than it’s worth, since not all points of views might be accepted. OReilly book editors might have to consider how they are going to approach a paid contributor who’s perspective aren’t heard (that’s what they’re paying for right?).

3. Cash & Credits: Sadly, their FAQ shows nothing of crediting anyone who helps build their books. In fact, rather than to say “help”, they are calling the process as a service for readers to “voice their thoughts”. The ironic thing is that contributors are basically paying to help. Lots of companies, including Apple, take user feedback seriously and adopt ideas from others into their products. No one’s monetarized this process though, and it’s funny seeing this process work in a reversed way.

I get my fair share of half-done papers from friends and colleagues needing my attention. Why should I pay to get more unprocessed junk in my inbox?

UPDATE: I knew I’ve seen this somewhere before… Dan reminded me of Lawrence Lessig’s wiki book project to be published as Code v.2, the updated installment to his awesome Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace in 1999. Here you can see, add and change his book before it publishes. Should be published by now, but I can’t seem to find out how it’s doing (information-overload).

MrBrown’s “Fierce” Podcasting Gear

MrBrown podcasting gear
Click here to see a detailed photo with notes

The kind of stuff you find in your flickr feed… Being a gadget fiend myself, I was enthralled when I saw how “fierce” MrBrown’s podcasting gear was. We have a lot of video production gear at the ETC, but MrBrown’s podcasting kit goes beyond what we could muster for our own audio recording!

I must say that he has exquisite taste for his toys since they include a popular selection of podcasting picks: Behringer Eurorack UB802 Mixer, M-Audio Mobilepre USB (USB Bus-Powered Preamp and Audio Interface), Audio Technica AT-897 Shotgun condenser microphone, iPod 40Gb Clickwheel with Griffin iTalk and lapel mic, Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio monitor headphones, Apple Powerbook G4, M-Audio Nova studio condenser microphone with Stedman Proscreen 101 pop filter, and Shure SM-58 dynamic microphone.

You can hear him describe his equipment here. His choice of podcasting service/storage seems to be Libsyn which I heard is good with academic podcasters I know. If you’re wondering what he uses all this for, it’s for his “Zhng My Car” podcast, which should be the most popular one from Singapore.