L.A. Times: Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak

The Los Angeles Times quite rightly notes that, just because you
publish a blog, you are not a journalist. As I've said many times,
readers and viewers decide who journalists are.

Bloggers Are the Sizzle, Not the Steak

Convention seats do not turn Internet gossips into journalists.

By Alex S. Jones

The Democrats and the Republicans are inviting a limited number of bloggers — those witty, candid, irreverent, passionate, shrewd and outrageous Internet chroniclers — to their 2004 conventions. It's a gesture of respect for the growing influence of the blogosphere, and if ever there were events ideally suited to bloggers, the heavily scripted and tensionless conventions top the list.
But make no mistake, this moment of blogging legitimization — and temporary press credentials — doesn't turn bloggers into journalists.
[ Read the rest at the Times' site]

Public Journalism and Blogging Workshop: More details

The folks at the Public Journalism Network who are putting together the five-star, day-long workshop on blogging and participatory journalism on August 3 have put more details together about the event. The event runs from noon until whenever the bar closes at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto.
As I've said before here, I'm moderating the daytime part of this thing. At 6 pm, I turn into a pumpkin and Rebecca MacKinnon, a Harvard Fellow and former CNN foreign correspondent takes over and moderates into the sunset.
You should come. It looks like a cool session.

Kedrosky: McDonald's new drive-thru system

[Paul Kedrosky has this fascinating item up at his blog, Marginal Revolution]

Who would have guessed that when taking drive-thru orders at a McDonald's it's more efficient to send the order not 25ft into the restaurant but 900 miles away to a call-in center which then relays the order via computer to the workers inside the restaurant making the food. To avoid errors, the system also takes a digital picture of the customer to accompany each order (the picture is destroyed once the order is complete). That's the way it's done at a Cape Giradeau, MO restaurant and at some dozen others which send their orders to a call center in Colorado.

The system has cut order time by 30 seconds, reduced errors by 50 percent and saved on labor. Who would have guessed that this system would work? Not me and I'd wager not most people, but Steven Bigari, a McDonald's franchisee gave it a shot – an interesting illustration of why a decentralized, capitalist system furthers innovation. The system is now spreading – at some McDonald's customers can call their order in from their table, pay by credit card, and have their order “delivered” minutes later.

[Read the full post and talk about it with Kedrosky at Marginal Revolution]

Canada's Creative Commons licence

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) says it will re-write the Creative Commons license for use under Canadian copyright law. About their latest project, the CIPPIC folks say: “Once complete, the Canadian Creative Commons licence (CCCL) will enable Canadian digital creators to independently construct and attach copyright licences to their works. Read: No lawyers required! The CCL has been embraced by creators world-wide and can currently be found in use on over 3,000,000 digital artworks ranging from text to sound to computer graphics as well as the websites through which they are promoted.”

Internet governance project launched

From today's e-mail inbox:

Announcing the Launch of the Internet Governance Project
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Internet Governance Project (IGP), a multi-university partnership to analyze global Internet policy issues. IGP's research agenda is closely related to the on-going United Nations' review of Internet Governance.
IGP's member institutions include two research centers at Syracuse University:

and one research center at the Georgia Institute of Technology:

As its first project IGP is providing the United Nations' Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF) a detailed analysis of global policy regimes. The resulting study will provide a fact-based “map” of existing global rules for the Internet and the institutions that make those rules.
IGP's research team includes:

  • MILTON MUELLER, Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies
  • JOHN R. MATHIASON, Adjunct Professor, Syracuse University Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
  • HANS KLEIN, Assoc. Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy
  • LEE MCKNIGHT, Assoc. Professor, Syracuse University School of Information Studies
  • MARC HOLITSCHER, Lecturer, Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Zürich

Am I sending you the Ping of Death? How would I know?

I'm looking for help (again) if you can spare a minute.
This morning, my home ISP sent me a 'security note'. Apparently another subscriber had complained about port scans that were, apparently, originating from my cable modem. My cable modem is attached to a wireless router, which has up to three machines running Mac OS 10.3.x and one machine running Win 98 on it.
A snippet of the complaining customer's firewall log had this information:

Ping of Death Detect src: dst: Packet Dropped Jul/14/2004 19:53:21
Ping of Death Detect src: dst: Packet Dropped
Ping of Death Detect src: dst: Packet Dropped Jul/14/2004 19:31:12

Now about that time of the day, I was listening to someone else's playlist via iTunes. So here's the working theory I had on this to my ISP:

The latest version of Apple's iTunes product has the ability for a user to share audio files. A user opens the preferences pane within the iTunes application and then selects the “Sharing” tab.
At that point, a user can choose to share all or selected playlists of his or her iTunes music library. A user may also select a radio button to automatically have iTunes seek out and identify other users on a given network who are sharing their music libraries.
One of my Macintosh machines is configured to seek out and automatically identify other users on a network are sharing their music libraries and, in fact, iTunes on my machine routinely discovers other users (on my ISPs network) who are sharing their iTunes library.
From time to time, I will select a playlist from one of these users and play their music. This music is streamed from the remote machine to my machine.
Perhaps this automatic discovery of other iTunes playlists and my own machines broadcast that a playlist is available to share with others is what is triggering your port-scanning investigation.

So my questions, dear blog readers, are this:
1. How do I determine if, in fact, any of machines are port-scanning?
2. How would I figure out if I am, indeed, broadcasting the Ping of Death?
3. What do you think of my iTunes theory? Does iTunes cause big honkin' oversize packets to be transmitted?
Any and all theories welcomed, by private e-mail or in the comments here.

Are happy workers better workers? No, they're not, say researchers

Researchers at Rice University say that the long-held assumption that happy employees are more productive employees may not be true. They say there is no evidence that managers who focus on making their employees happy get better financial and operational results. In fact, they say improved financial and operating results are what makes employees happy.

“Workers' sense of job security and overall job satisfaction were the result — not the cause — of a company's performance. Workers' satisfaction with pay, however, had a more reciprocal relationship with the organization's financial and market performance over time.”

TV news worst when it comes to reflecting Canadian cultural diversity, report says

Today, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters released a report prepared by the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television. The task force examined the quantity and quality of cultural diversity
in Canadian television programming.
On the quantity side, a panel of experts looked at a broad variety of programmming and attempted to determine the number of representatives from Canada's ethnic, racial, and aboriginal minorities which appeared on certain programs. The report says that ethnic, racial and aboriginal minorities make up 15.3 per cent of Canada's population. They suggest then, that that figure is a good benchmark for broadcasters to aim for, that if 15 per cent of the on-screen individuals are from this population group, then the program is reflecting Canada's cultural diversity.
English-language TV news scored lowest against this benchmark than other kinds of television programming.
“Nine per cent of all appearances in English-language TV news is by visible minorities. However, visible minorities are more prominent than average as anchors/hosts … 12.3 per cent of all anchors/hosts in English TV news were visible minorities . . . only 4.4 per cent of expert/guest appearances in English TV news were members of visible minorities.”
The report also says that “visible minorities are somewhat more likely to be associated with arts/entertainment, accident disaster, religious and war-related stories or contexts”.
The report says that in English-language TV drama, “visible minorities are somewhat more likely than non-minorities to be depicted as criminals and police or emergency officials. In an exploratory qualitative context, a slightly lower proportion of visible minorities in drama programming were portrayed as intelligent or successful and a higher proportion were protrayed as threatening.”
“English language children's drama … shows a different pattern.Visible minorities are prominent as primary characters and they were more likely to be portrayed as caring, respected and successful than non-minority characters …””

White mud in Edmonton

Edmonton suffered a freak flood/hailstorm earlier this week. From a report prepared by CTV's online staff: “The heavy rainstorm started Sunday afternoon, dumping 150 millimetres of rain on the city. The storm blew in with little warning, flooding homes and turning roads into lakes. Environment Canada called it “a one in 200-year storm. It also created flooding inside Canada's largest shopping centre, the West Edmonton Mall. Around 20,000 people out for a day of Sunday shopping were evacuated.” My CTV colleague Todd Battis did a piece on this for CTV National News. The link to Todd's piece is at the link above. Meanwhile, a friend of my aunt, who lives in Calgary, sent along these photos. Freaky, man, freaky. And then, just a few days, later, Ralph Klein declares that Alberta is debt-free. Coincidence?

After eight years, a dot-com news site turns a profit

Reuters reports that MSNBC.com, the joint venture between Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co.'s NBC unit will turn a profit for the first time in the quarter which ended June 26. MSNBC.com says it was helped by record revenue of $45-million (US) for the entire year. There are no details in the Reuters report about revenues for the quarter.
Microsoft could likely fund MSNBC.com even if it never sold a single ad for, as Reuters points out, Microsoft's revenue for a single quarter is around $9-billion and MSNBC.com apparently needs less than $10-million every quarter or a little more than 1/1000th of what the software company.