Monday, November 30, 2009

Checking my 6

Okay, every once in a while it's good to google yourself.  (not to set up google alerts, unless they really are out to get you). has a good simple breakdown on online brand management - especially if your brand is your name. 

An hour ago, I started this exercise.  Since i'd been a news writer for 10 years there should be a metric f-ton equivalent (FTE) of information out there under "Karl B. Hille."

I was thinking what stories I wish people would find - the one about my own son born blue came to the top of my head.

So on page one of the "Karl B. Hille" google image search, I found this gem.

The story links back to my article about newborns with heart defects, like my own son Brendan, pictured here two and a half years ago - born with transposition of the great arteries. (not from Peru)

Why the caption and comments relate to an intern story about rebuilding "nubbins" with toe bones is beyond me - I can only guess the braintrust at mixed something up in the translation.

Apparently the Nubbins story, written by talented intern Danielle Ulman, now a business Writer at the Maryland Daily Record, has infected a number of properties I wrote, including this story about the University of Maryland's battlefield patient simulator robot, amusingly named Stan.

Ok, so far I'm not showing up on any questionable pages, not that I expected to. 10 years of publishing legitimate news stories kinda does something to one's online persona that one freaked-out ultra-nationalist blogger on Angelfire couldn't overcome. (fortunately there are no links to the "hillbilly crabbers" diatribe - if you find one, email me or post the link in comments below).

And so far, Orly Taitz hasn't come calling about my apparently immigrant boy. 

Why does her pic creep me out like that?  I half expect her to start talking about her home-made religion a la "A Mighty Wind" or her close encounter of the 4th kind and how she actually kind of liked it.

And the angelfire post reared it's mighty head again as BrianAdrian continues his campaign against reason and intelligent discussion.

I won't link to it because I don't even want to give him one page view, but I will say inserting spurious drivel like "Let Unemployed Americans Eat Spoiled Claws" into text you copied from another site is just wrong.

Here's the other one I'd like to be remembered for.

"It's My Heart: Dealing with congenital heart defects"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Casual sex with multiple partners - often.

I often wonder what makes people (aside from cheapness) stick with a PC system that's so prone to invasive viruses, malware, spyware and costs extra money to keep healthy?

I love ZDNet's blog about Windows vs. Linux vulnerability in accessing the Web, which I found through

Linux system calls to a Web server

Windows accessing the same URL

Talk about spaghetti programming.

So then you take your PC and download limewire - or whatever.  So you don't have to pay for new music ... because you're a cheap bastard who doesn't want to pay artists their due?

Actually I just read a study (somebody recognize, supply a link?) showing that the biggest downloaders also spend the most money on music, compared to those who don't use file-sharing.

Okay, so my moralistic rant falls apart there, but not on the sex angle.  Talk about good ways to propagate viruses.  I'd like to know what role P2P plays in the rapid transmission of the last/next big worm/trojan/etc.

If you're gonna play on a PC, kinda like refusing to pay more money for condoms, multiple sex partners, sorry, file sharing is a dumb idea.  Especially if you're a low-level congressional staffer who downloads confidential documents to your Limewire compromised home PC hard drive.

I like to download free music.

I generally limit myself to iTunes' free downloads, and I've found some gold there - especially Ojos de Brujo, Sultanas de Mercaillo, Sophie Millman's Home to me and Chrisette Michelle's Your Joy.  (If my daughter ever even thinks of playing that one for me I'll melt in tears.)

And if you aren't comfortable with the iTunes 10,000 pound gorilla, my favorite is, which combines free music, social networking, investment and all kinds of other lovely benefits to help you find music you'll really really like that isn't on everybody else's iPod.

The best thing is, just about everything's free when it first hits "the street." It only gets up to 99 cents if it's really really popular.  (except, I think the big ones come out expensive, Johnny Cash, Dylan, Thelonius Monk - their copyright holders probably negotiate their own deals)

But the most fun part is finding people with exquisite tastes and following their recommendations to some really awesome music!

Screw P2P and find a better way, I say.

Death of ideas

Me: We need live content on our home page.

Cube-mate: You don't know how much bureaucracy we'd have to do to get that.

Me: The bureaucracy already has a solution. We have people producing live updates every day for blogs and Twitter, but you can't find them on our homepage. - - Oh, at least somebody finally moved the cow downstream ... I mean it's a nice cow, but does it have to have top billing for two weeks?

Super: Come up with a comprehensive strategy. Look at other sites' usage of blogs. Consider the purpose of blogs. Wait till the big current mission is over before you get yelled at for bringing things up at a bad time.

Me: ...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Net neutrality ... what?

I've asked several people on both sides of the debate what the big deal is and I'm still looking for the broken wheel here.

Right-wing bloggers are convinced this is a liberal move to solidify their massive lead in all things Web 2.0, but when pushed to explain how "net neutrality" would promote a liberal agenda, most were stumped.  Some offered weakly that it would be government control of private enterprise, and as we all know, or assume, government control is a liberal idea.

From the other side, I hear a chorus of "corporations might consider doing nefarious things ... someday, so we better stop them now."

The idea is to treat every byte that travels over the network equally. 


I agree with that in concept.  I haven't seen evidence that it doesn't work this way now.

Comcast raised hackles by squashing people who leave their P2P access drives open to constant uploading, downloading and streaming of music, video and other content, but I don't disagree with that policy.  If someone in my cul-de-sac of the Web is eating up all the bandwith on my trunk line with the computer-equivalent of random, multiple sex partners at all hours of the day, more power to Comcast.

P2P is stupid, IMHO, but I guess that's a topic for another day.
The only access problems I have is the inability of Verizon to upgrade the ancient copper wire in my neighborhood so that ever time it rains, or thinks of raining, my connection drops to negative bandwidth (it's a miracle I'm online now, come to think of it, though I am getting in the area of Bytes per second).

Which brings me to why am I paying for 3 Mb/s if I never get more than half that? (the last Verizon line worker who assessed my system suggested I pay less by downgrading my service because I'm getting somewhere around 750 bps upload max)

The Philly CityPaper is obviously on the NetNeut bandwagon, as evidenced by Jeffrey C. Billman and Scott Yorko's Department of Public Servants post.

Big telecom companies think the Internet as currently conceived — where people can access just as easily as they can little ol' — is not nearly as profitable as it could be. They'd prefer a system in which they can charge deep-pocketed corporations higher rates for better service, and relegate start-ups, middling companies and your little sister's blog to the Web's back burner, where they'll never be heard from again.
While it's certainly trendy to label anybody "Big anything" and talk about their evil plot to bring down life as we know it, I wish they would have provided some actual reporting and facts to back up their claim.

Sunlight Foundation's Paul Blumenthal reports on the massive amounts of money telecoms are pouring into this fight, so there must be something there.  Still, I would like to see the evidence of this conspiracy.

On the other hand is the argument that free enterprise brought us the system that works so well today (even though it's raining).  Building in artificial shortages would make your service uncompetitive, so all the providers out there would have to collaborate together to implement this evil plan. 

Color me skeptical.

Robert Pepper, senior managing director of global advanced technology policy at Cisco Systems, and former FCC chief of policy development, is quoted in the Wikipedia saying "The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content."

Wait, you mean I don't get better service if I pay for more bandwidth already?  Oh, see above digression.

So people are concerned that access will be available to those with the means to pay.  Unlike today. When access is available ...

I'm leaning toward the anti-position, but don't take my word for it. Check out Enigma Curry's "Net-Neutrality is Bullshit post.

I'm sorry, but when has government regulation EVER made anything more free? We can argue about government programs and regulations making things safer, cheaper, more "accessible" (I don't believe any of this for an instant). But, we cannot argue that government regulations will ever make things more free. Government regulations, by definition, make things less free.
And the home run hit:
There are many, many problems with this analogy. The most glaring to me is this: the cable companies acquired their monopolistic positions today because of government regulation. So, if we want to make the net more "neutral," we should remove these artificial, government created, monopolies. We shouldn't do the opposite. In a free market I can choose whatever content provider I want. If provider X wants to block my access to Google, well, I'll just choose to go to another provider.
But I have another problem with the concept of net neutrality. 

Some uses can't be treated equally.  Do you want the channel between the surgeon at Johns Hopkins, controlling the surgical robot in Bangalore to save somebody's life where superstar surgeons aren't available to have the same treatment as your music piracy rights?

There must be discrimination.

What about police and emergency services communications?

What about sensitive government dispatches?

Facebook updates clearing someone's (good?) name?

Tweets from a war/riot/crisis zone where other communication is cut off?

Where do we draw the line?

Or better yet, who draws the line?

And how long before corruption creeps into the system of control and neutrality assurance?

As long as there is a system to be manipulated, people will be there to manipulate it.  I guess it breaks down to who you want pulling the strings?  In the unregulated marketplace, those with money and savvy biz-entrepreneurs will find ways around the checkpoints.  In the regulated system, those with power or the ability to buy it will manipulate the system to benefit their own interests.

Look at our country.  American democracy is the worst system of government in the world, with the exception of every single other form of government. 

Corruption is a force of nature.  No system is immune.

I'm not for or against Net Neutrality, but if you believe it's gonna preserve the liberty we've come to enjoy on the Internet, I'd like you to invest in my anti-social media business. You look like a good mark to me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

E-QIP says filling in their online form should take 30 minutes. That was 2 hours ago.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New gig

 Much of my 'excuse' for not posting relates to getting started with the NASA Goddard Web team in my new role there as a CMS monkey. 

It's really a weak excuse, however, as most of my time is spent Web surfing (albeit doing some legitimate research on Goddard's target audience), and navigating the complex process of getting a gate pass and appeasing the security people.  Apparently this involves convincing some Web program I'm not a terrorist nor have I ever been one. 

In the meantime, it's been a good opportunity to think about continuing my education and catching up on some 60+ blogs focused on Web 2.0, new media, space, science, astronomy, etc.

I probably could have used lots of company time to blog about the process of joining the company, but that would feel kinda hinky - not to mention I'd have to disclaim it as an in-kind contribution or face the Constitution-smoking wrath of the -smokin FTC.

The Tick

"Gravity is a harsh mistress!"