Jeff Hawkins on Communicators

News.com has an interview with Jeff Hawkins, co-founder of both Palm and Handspring. Communicators combine the capabilities of cell phones and organizing devices. Some quotes:

Communicator-like devices will become the center of personal computing, while desktops and laptops will become more like workstations and will be considered accessories to these devices.

We think that many cell phones in the future will have keyboards…Our thinking was, “If we’re going to add the capability of e-mailing and messaging to a product, a little keyboard is better.” It’s faster and more accurate. Once we had designed a keyboard for the Treo, we began to realize that while keyboards are good for text, they could be really powerful for the basic phone. It was a very simple idea: You should be dialing by name and not by number.

If you look inside a communicator, you’ll find two processors: one for the radio and one for the device. Chipmakers are developing a single processor architecture for radios that will be powerful enough to handle organizer capabilities. That will save some money.

Standards for the Writeable Web

David Galbraith writes:

A web browser is at its core a simple thing, a few lines of PERL and you can write a very basic one. What is important about a browser is its elegance and simplicity and its reliance on simple standards like HTML or server logs etc.

Weblog tools can be simple and elegant and they too rely on simple standards however they are not formalized and this is getting scary. At first glance I can think of four key pseudo-standards for the writeable web. Getting these right will surely have huge implications if weblogging is anything like as important as web browsing:

1. The Meta Weblog API – needs to be modular.

2. Pings from posts (make weblogs.com the principal server and post the whole message)

3. RSS – freeze on 2.0 with slightly tweaked core and generic XSLT to create RDF if needed.

4. Permalinks (oh yes) – standardize formats and ability to alias through purl.org etc.

Top Security Tools

Insecure.org has a list of the 75 top tools. The top 5 are:

Nessus is a remote security scanner for Linux, BSD, Solaris, and other Unices. It is plug-in-based, has a GTK interface, and performs over 1200 remote security checks. It allows for reports to be generated in HTML, XML, LaTeX, and ASCII text, and suggests solutions for security problems.

Ethereal is a free network protocol analyzer for Unix and Windows. It allows you to examine data from a live network or from a capture file on disk. You can interactively browse the capture data, viewing summary and detail information for each packet. Ethereal has several powerful features, including a rich display filter language and the ability to view the reconstructed stream of a TCP session. A text-based version called tethereal is included.

Snort is a lightweight network intrusion detection system, capable of performing real-time traffic analysis and packet logging on IP networks. It can perform protocol analysis, content searching/matching and can be used to detect a variety of attacks and probes, such as buffer overflows, stealth port scans, CGI attacks, SMB probes, OS fingerprinting attempts, and much more. Snort uses a flexible rule based language to describe traffic that it should collect or pass, and a modular detection engine. Many people also suggested that the Analysis Console for Intrusion Databases (ACID) be used with Snort.

Blogging APIs Review

d2rDiego Doval reviews the Blogger API v1.0 and the MetaWeblog API. Conclusion: “MetaWeblog API, good. Blogger API 1.0, bad. The Blogger API 2.0 apparently fixes many of these problems, let’s hope it gets (re-)released soon.”

TECH TALK: Constructing the Memex: Google, Blogger and Memex

Recent interest in the Memex was sparked off by Googles purchase of Pyra Labs. By itself, the purchase of a small, private company (Pyra had all of five people) would not have garnered much attention. But Pyra is important for an especially crucial section of people on the web. Pyra runs Blogger.com, which hosts more than half a million bloggers. Bloggers are the trailblazers of a new world and an especially vocal lot leading a writing revolution in a largely read-only web. So it was only natural that speculation mounted on the motives of Googles purchase.

It was Matt Web who made the association between Google, Pyra and Memex. This is what he wrote (on his blog):

[Google have] got one-to-one connections. Links. Now they’ve realised like Ted Nelson – that the fundamental unit of the web isn’t the link, but the trail. And the only place that’s online is… weblogs.

There are two levels to the trail:

1 – what you see
2 – what you do
(“And what you feel on another track” — what song is that?)

And the trail is, in its simplest form, organised chronologically. Later it gets more complex. Look to see Google introduce categories based on DMOZ as a next step.

So, the Google Toolbar tracks everything you do on the web, giving you low-level anonymous trails tying the web together. These are analagous to the strings of physics, or the rows and columns of Excel. This is 1, what you see.

Now there’s the semantics, the meaning extracted from these, and that’s done with the human mind. This is 2, what you do. What you choose to elevate. Now these trails are the basic units.

The combination of the two is startling.

Oh, and you can analyse how people search to add extra data. Stop and start points.

Imagine, searching at Google, and then:
– this trail is highly followed
– do you only want to see what people suggest, or where people went?
– here’s a worn track in the interweb. Follow the Google Pixie!
– this trail is uncommon, but made by someone we see (by your weblog) that you value

And next, it’s the true Memex. The Google appliance based on microfiche, punchcards and cameras…

Matt Webb made a mention of the Google Toolbar. This is a small application which anyone can download and install on ones local computer. It provides a direct Google search window as part of the browser, and also provides information on the page displayed in the browser. More importantly, it provides Google the ability to see we surf what are the trails that we follow as click on links to navigate from one page to another.

This ability to access the trails that people is also possible in another application that can be downloaded Alexa, which provides information on related sites. (Alexa is now owned by Amazon.) Ones own history as captured by the browser is another such places where information is stored.

The challenge is to connect up the information from many people. The trails collected by Google Toolbar, Alexa are only available to the two organisations whose applications they are. This is where bloggers come on they are now putting up on their page links to pages they like. While not capturing the entire browsing history, blogs are collecting links to articles that the blog author likes (or dislikes). Taken over thousands of people, it now becomes possible to envision a system that can start building associations. This can serve as a starting point for constructing the Memex.

Tomorrow: Google, Blogger and Memex (continued)

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