The meaning of life

I happen to care about the meaning of life ... I think Monty Python's The Meaning of Life is their best movie, and Douglas Adams treatment of the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything is more sublime than the output of most philosophers.

So, I am grateful to Dorit for finding this perfect cartoon, combining a new treatment of this question with an answer from the technology world...

VC Wear

VC Geek Humor - I love it:

T-shirts with messages like "Entrepreneur:0, Blackberry:1", and "Your mom is not a valid test market", and "No, not even Powerpoint can save you now".

Happy to help anyone who doesn't get one (or more) of them: just add a comment below.

Google Health appears

A Google blog posting is the first sighting of the Google Health offering, much expected to get a full launch at HIMMS next week.

Along with HealthVault from Microsoft, this will bring massive changes to the health care data world, just don't ask me what.

The real cost of bottled water

I bet you are expecting a bitter analysis of the awful environmental cost of bottled water ... well, you can find that with a Google search (and, unfortunately, it really is awful).

What I want to tell is that you can buy a 24 pack of 16.9 oz bottles of Aquafina water from Peapod (when you tell them you live in Newton) for $5.99. 16.9 oz is an odd amount, unless you happen to know it is really half a litre, a much more understandable unit. This means you are paying just about 50c per litre. Aquafina is a "middle of the road" brand of water which is basically filtered tap water from some municipal system somewhere.

Compare that to the current pricing for tap water here in Newton, available from the City Water Department. If I am a profligate user of water, then I would pay the top rate, including the sewer fee, of $13.42 per hcf (for using more than 70 hcf per billing cycle or year or whatever). What is an "hcf"? It is a unit of one hundred cubic feet, which happens to be a little over 2831 litres.

You can do the math... but, what the heck, I'll help you... that works out to be less than half a penny per litre, and so:

Bottled water costs over 100 times what you pay for water from your tap (at least in Newton).

Now that's the real cost of bottled water!

Lifestyle 3.0

I overheard someone today, telling everyone that he is getting his genome sequenced and that he will be storing it in his PHR (personal health record). It will be a while before this is available to most of us, and even longer before this will be useful. However this set off a stream of thought...

Lifestyle 1.0: "The network is the computer" (thanks, Sun Microsystems)
  • I have a personal website
  • I own my own domain
  • I have a network of PCs at home
  • I can upload my photos to the internet

Lifestyle 2.0: "Where do you want to go today?" (thanks, Microsoft)

  • I have a flikr stream
  • I know what a widget is
  • I have a Facebook (or Myspace) profile with 15 widgets
  • I have my own blog with 31 widgets

Lifestyle 3.0:

  • My photos appear automatically on a photo-frame half-way across the world
  • I have an i-name
  • I have a PHR (personal health record)
  • I'm getting my genome sequenced and putting it in my PHR

With this posting I posit my own definition of "3.0"-ness...

Lifestyle 3.0: "I am the center of the internet."

This seems a little flippant (hence the whimsy tag), but it is also a serious point. All the work of creating the infrastructure for the 1.0 world (the start of the internet), combined with the 2.0 world of user content and mash-ups is now heading towards the 3.0 world. In the 3.0 world information starts to come alive and be organized around us.

There are two angles to this

  1. More and more of the interesting and useful information about me is now organized electronically
  2. Tools exist for that interesting and useful information about me to be accessed and used by me in exactly the way I want, by the people I want to use it, in ways I desire and allow.

The end result is that to each and every one of us, it looks like we are, indeed, the center of the internet.

Paraphrasing Carly Simon: I'm so vain, I probably think this internet is about me.

Phanfare disappoints

I am a lifetime member of Phanfare (photo hosting site) and I am now VERY DISAPPOINTED.

They just "upgraded" my account and the previous external links to photos got broken. Subscribers to this blog might see a couple of old posts republished today because I had to fix the photo links... and I did so removing the links to Phanfare altogether, which means less "viral" pickup for them.

Also, I can no longer mark an album as public, and all the emails I previously sent people to share photos are broken. This is actually pretty heartbreaking because
a) I have to reshare this information and may forget who sees what
b) I have no idea if they will break it again in the future

All of this is reasonably typical for a dumb tech company, and this is what is wrong with the dumb tech industry. However, I would have thought and hoped this kind of thing would be in the stone-age past, but alas, in a Dilbert-esque way, I feel we will be trapped in this idiocy for a long time.

To everything there is a season

To everything there is a season ... I love Jon Regosin's Natural Newton blog for the extra dose of nature-awareness I get. With snow squalls blowing through all afternoon, I am thrilled to read today's post about spring being around the corner.

On a sadder note of everything having its season, Newton Streets and Sidewalks blogger Sean Roche brought me the news of Sheldon Brown's untimely death this past week. Sheldon was a stalwart of the local cycling scene from his erie in Harris Cyclery in West Newton. It was one of his April Fools jokes that created the saddles for real men I shared on my blog last summer.

Finally of things which are always in season, I bring you chocolate.

Beautiful day to Bike round Boston

It's a beautiful day to bike round Boston - not today, that is, since it is snowing and horrid - but in September at the fabulous Hub on Wheels event.

Hannah and I had a wonderful time at Hub on Wheels last year.

I am looking forward to doing it again this year (earlybird registration now open).

Inames, OpenID and Me

I have an i-name =richard.dale which, one day, will be all you need to know about me to contact me, which I can publish on the front door of my home, but which will not allow spam. It will also allow me to log on to any website with just one password and prove that not only am I really me, but that I am over 13, or 18 or 21, that I own a Volvo, and whatever other verifiable facts I wish to promote about myself. Even more, it will allow me to point to data others hold about me with my permission which they keep up to date for me (my waist size for those selling me Chinos? my bank account number for those sending me money?).

I am very excited about the possibilities of i-names... I really think i-names, and the XRI/XDI infrastructure on which they sit, have amazing potential. At some stage i-names were enabled in the OpenID infrastructure and just now, for the first time, I went to a website that uses OpenID as a way to login. I messed around for a few minutes and found, to my great delight, that I could just enter my i-name as, and they took it! I then used my i-name password to authenticate and I was logged in. In fact I subsequently found that they even recognise the xri://=richard.dale form. The next thing they asked for, sadly, was a bunch of personal information that should come from my iname account ... but, deep breath, one step at a time, we'll get there.

You can learn more about inames at and from my brother Andy, a leader in this field, at =andy.

Not the Spice Girls

Dorit and I did not go and see the Spice Girls on Wednesday evening when they were in Boston for one night. Our daughter, Hannah, went with a friend and had a great time. When we picked them up we noticed that 90% of the audience were white 15 year-old girls!

Dorit and I did go out on Wednsday. We went to see The Misanthrope, put on by the New Rep local theater group. It was a light and frivolous offering (their words, and I agree), but most enjoyable. A misanthrope (one who hates all humanity) is in love his own rages and with a young socialite who is in love with gossip. He is hated for finding all the faults in people to their faces and she is loved for describing all the faults in people behind their backs... of course, when her friends each hear her words about them (from the others), they are shocked, shocked, shocked.

One of the actors was also in Misalliance which we saw in the summer. It is nice to be enough of a regular theatre goer to start to recognise the local actors from one production to the next.

It is playing for another 10 days, and I bet there are tickets for most of the performances. Go, enjoy!