XKCD Attempts High-Signal Chatroom

Randall Monroe of webcomic XKCD came up with a great idea for reducing the noise in the XKCD IRC channel: filter out all sentences that have been spoken in the past. A moderator bot scans two years worth of chat logs and blocks any repeated statements, forcing chatters to come up with original thoughts and avoid the repetitive greetings, acronyms, and in-jokes that make up much of the noise in a chatroom.

OLPC’s Many Misfortunes

The Wall Street Journal has a sort of tragic story about the trouble the One Laptop Per Child project has had selling its XO laptop to developing nations. OLPC has faced competition from Intel and other low-cost laptop manufacturers and several of the nations that had initially committed to purchasing laptops now seem to be going with Intel. The story ends on a bright note, however. Intel and OLPC now intend to collaborate on an Intel-based laptop and OLPC is in good financial shape.

Personally I don’t have a problem with commercial competition for the OLPC, I just think it’s a shame that the nations buying the Intel laptops are putting Windows on them. The extreme hackability of the XO is one of its most important innovations and you miss out on that if you load up your laptops with proprietary software. I ordered an XO through the Give One, Get One program. Mostly I hope it will make a good ebook reader and maybe I’ll play some Micropolis on it.

Google’s Phone Plans

It strikes me that the problem with Google’s open phone plans is that the carriers all still suck and are the opposite of open. Google should just buy one of the carriers and run it in a reasonable manner. If it turns out that you can’t make money running a high-quality, neutral network and being nice to your customers then they would still make up the difference by driving lots of traffic to their web apps.

Wanted: Unsupported Linux Devices

Greg Kroah-Hartman’s Linux Driver Project is an effort to connect a group of more than 300 volunteer Linux driver developers with hardware companies that need drivers written. Their problem: they can’t find enough unsupported devices to keep them busy. I’m pretty sure I have a few wireless cards at home that don’t work, so I’ll give those a try.

Ubuntu 7.10 Released

The latest version of Ubuntu, 7.10, has hit the streets. This is the first version that I haven’t tried any of pre-releases for so I can’t wait to give it a spin. The new feature run-down is here.

New Backpack

37signals have released a new version of Backpack and it’s pretty spiffy. Search is awesome and the increased draggability is nice. However, they seem to have screwed up the one feature that I’ve been waiting two years for: moving things between pages. They’ve added this feature but you can only move entire lists, not individual list items. This is particularly import to us GTDers who need to move items around between our Next Actions, Waiting For, and Someday/Maybe lists. I may be moving to Remember the Milk, which does this and has keyboard shortcuts and lets you move individual items.

Comments on Mass. IT Policy Due Tomorrow

The Massachusetts Information Technology Division recently announced its intention to add Microsoft’s OfficeOpen XML specification to its list of approved open formats. The ITD created a firestorm in 2005 when it announced that the state would standardize on ODF as its document file format, effectively dumping Microsoft Office and adopting the free OpenOffice.org. After two years of intensive lobbying by Microsoft the ITD is set to reverse that decision. The deadline for public comments on the new draft policy is tomorrow. I urge you to comment, and you might want to check out Andy Updegrove’s comments for inspiration.

Connector and Slingshot Open-sourced and Free

Joyent’s Connector web-based groupware has been open sourced. You now have a few options for open source, web-based calendar and email. I’m sure Chandler Server will be nice when it’s finished, which should be any year now, and Novell has abandoned Hula so Connector is looking pretty good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any keyboard shortcuts that I can find and I really need one-key archiving in order break my Gmail habit. [via Hack the Planet]

Net Radio Rates

Tim Quirk details how the new Internet radio royalty rates will cripple Rhapsody’s radio stations. The rates take effect in two days and it seems that the only thing you can do about it is contact your representatives and try to get the Internet Radio Equality Act through Congress.

Update: Net radio got a bit of a reprieve yesterday when SoundExchange told Congress that it wouldn’t enforce the new royalty rates on Sunday and would instead negotiate new rates with web broadcasters. What the new rates will be and how they will be determined in the future is still up in the air.