Ideas for the online revolution.

Activism Network - Internationalization

Currently the Activism Network software will only work well for users in Canada and the US (or other countries that are really really small).

The major limitation that is stopping its productive use in English-speaking countries is that I'd need national databases of zip/postal codes that would include a longitude and latitude.

For instance, I would love to expand this software to work in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and perhaps the Phillipines (note: the Phillipines has one of the highest rates of use, however it also might require bilingual support) - however I need to get postal code databases for these countries. Ideally I'd like to get free databases, but if they can be obtained for a small cost (<$100) then I might be willing to do it, especially if one or more activists in those countries expressed interest in using the software.

Activism Network - Another Progress Report

I've decided that I need to stop "crying wolf" by trying to estimate when I will have a piece of software done because I have constantly missed my own deadlines by embarassing amounts. But on the other hand, I should practice creating deadlines so that in the future I will be able to make accurate predictions.

Here goes! I'm going to predict that I'll release an alpha client for the Activism Network by June 15. This is aimed at website developers who want to help me customize/improve/test it, and to generate excitement within the CivicSpace community. Then a beta/production worthy release will follow in a month or so (depends on whether I take a badly needed vacation, and whether I start working more on creating a board of directors, found an official organization, and fundraising.).

Less Simple Steps for Eliminating Viruses and Spyware

If your computer is completely infested with spyware and/or viruses, booting up in safe mode and running ad-ware and avast might not cut it.

You'll know if you boot your computer up and the viruses/spyware is back. For instance, you might run ad-aware a second time and still find things.

Unfortunately Ad-Aware isn't perfect and can miss things. There are several other tools you can use. Note: you can mess your computer up doing these things - however if you have Windows XP you should be able to get out of trouble by running System Restore.

Hit the windows key. "Run" and then type in "msconfig". Hit Enter or click on Ok to run it. Click on the Startup tab and this will show you some of the processes that are starting when you load windows. You can disable processes here that look suspicious. You can identify whether a process is suspicious by googling its name. If it doesn't show up in a search, it is more likely to be a virus or spyware using a randomly generated name. If it has a name that appears random and nonsensical like zqidiwlfr - then it is most likely a virus/spyware.

Four Simple Steps for Avoiding Computer Viruses and Spyware

I've dealt with several computers that were totally infested with viruses and spyware to
the point that they were completely unusable.

Since 90% of the people I know aren't doing this (up until recently this included myself), here is some basic advice to avoid losing control of your computer.

(You can skip #1 if your computer isn't infested with spyware to the point where when you turn it on you get ads popping up constantly. Or you might want to do this step just to be sure you get everything.)

1. Start your computer in Safe Mode
Shut down. Make sure the computer is off.

Doubts about Public Provision of Philadelphia Wireless Access

The city of Philadelphia is trying to become the first major US city with public-provided wireless access.

Here are a few possible shortcomings

  • It isn't free. Most people forget this. In fact it will probably cost about as much as wired internet, except for low-income people who will hopefully get a price break (of 50%).
  • Nobody has done a similar project so it is likely to cost several times more than expected.
  • If we wait a couple years, the project cost will dramatically decrease each year, we'll be able to better estimate how much it would cost, and get more bandwidth.
  • The city is trying to appeal to businesses - to be hip for conventions and appeal to the middle class techies. It doesn't really care about providing computer skills and access to low income people.
  • Electionmania

    May 5 - UK votes. Labour is ahead by around 5-8% and expected to win a majority. Aparently Labour benefits from the distribution of its votes and could pull off a majority even if the Conservatives got the same number of votes. I'm upset with the rightwing moves that Labour has been making (at least since Neil Kinnock in the Eighties) which have now become obvious to the world as Blair was Bush's favorite imperialist ally.

    I wonder if Blair is any worse than prior Labour leaders in this move to the right? It seems like social-democrats/labour parties have been moving to the right... perhaps almost since the 1880s (when the German social democrats first started moving away from Marxism). I guess there have been shifts back to the left in 1917-1919 (due to the Russian Revolution), the Thirties, 1943-1946 (after communist Russia defeated Hitler, and before the Cold War was up and running), and 1968-1971.

    1, 2, 3, Many Friendsters - At Least Until the Mergers Start

    There are already probably a dozen social-networking tools like Friendster. I don't know exactly how many because I haven't tried doing an exhaustive search for them.

    These sites range in focus from dating, to frienship, to business networking, and back to dating.

    On the political side, has a friendster-like network of a million liberal people which promotes engagement in political action (action alerts, and online discussion). The League of Pissed Off Voters ( has a very ambitious plan to also create a political friendster-like community - particularily to engage young people in electoral activism, but also for other reasons too (which aren't entirely clear to me). Indyvoter's plans are much further advanced then their current site - which isn't being used that much.

    Relational Databases - How to Implement in PHP

    When I first started programming for I wasn't aware or able to find out how anyone had implemented the "relations" part of a database as a data structure.

    So I came up with my own method. Basically I have a giant two dimensional array -- relations[object-1][object-2] which contains information on whether or not a relationship is possible.

    (I also created an array that stored whether or not the person who controlled object-1 had persmission to add or delete relations to object-2 -- this was necessary because of my somewhat unique permissions system.)

    Now the problem I'm running into is that there are often two relations permissible between two objects -- relationships that I need to treat differently. For instance, I have groups as an object and they can be related to another group because they are 1) a parent group in a network, or 2) a child group in a network.

    Latest SERPs

    I'm not sure if I should post this because everytime I do so, the website falls several notches. Anyways, the lastest search engine rankings for this site are at an all-time high for the keyword "activism".

    Google: #2
    Yahoo: #3
    MSN: #2

    Google regularly slips to #3, and MSN likes to give their rankings a big shake every week or so.

    On the other hand, search engine traffic is flat. Ho hum!


    Viewing Satellite Data Fun

    Instead of ending poverty, the government definitely has its priorities straight when it spends millions of dollars on cool software like World Wind. This powerful program lets you rotate and zoom in on the Earth (with 1m resolution in the US). And it's only 170mb!

    Zooming takes a while as it has to download the data - AND this program takes a ton of CPU power (it slows down my Athlon 2600+ to a slow pace).

    Here is an image of a place where I got left off when I was hitch-hiking from Indiana to Seattle. It is in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, inside North Dakota near the Montana border. I ended up camping and spending the night nearby.

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