Hallelujah, No Ads

Look at this. Notice the void space before the title banner? That’s Disconnect add-on in action. No banner ads!! Beautiful.

No Banner Ad! Taken from The Guardian, with the Disconnect add-on for Firefox.

No Banner Ad! Taken from The Guardian, with the Disconnect add-on for Firefox.

Disconnect is a Firefox add-on that annihilates ads and trackers. And shows the ring of abusive privacy disrespect that third-party sites weave around the web page one is viewing.

You may ask: So, where do announcing product will showcase, then? How will companies that exist but for ad money resist?

Screengrab of "Disconnect" , a free addon for internet browsers.

Author: https://disconnect.me/ and Wikimedia Commons. This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Not my problem, folks. I think it’s time they invent some new business model, a bit less invasive of people’s attention. Talking about innovation: let’s find some innovative model for a change that does not build upon the old and trafficked Mad Men, shall we?

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Writing (and Thinking and Blogging) across the curriculum

Every so often I hear of some initiative being supported by part of the faculty. The creation of a new Redaction Center.


Because students do not seem to master their own native language.


Do you think after 12 years of non-speaking and non-writing their own native language students will at last learn it? While at College? What about the idea we are actually within a University? That school, high and low, is over? Do we really believe a Redaction Center will be the answer?

What I do support is *publishing* as creative writing across the curriculum. Students could be asked to do their publishing as soon they set foot on campus. Every year, in every class. They could publish into a blog –and domain– of their own. Our friend Jim Groom has explained that and has made of it a mantra, frequently well-heard all over the place. When students are asked to write (and publish) across the curriculum so to create a portfolio of their expressions and interests and of their doings across their academic life –and beyond!–, they will have a strong motivation to do so. The blog is theirs!! Blogging is also a great way to develop a strong digital identity and to grow a reputation history on the Web.

I have been doing this in my classes for years now, and I found little interest from others to do so. Mind you, writing down is a system (proven, I swear!) to understand what you are thinking, when you’re thinking. So, it’s not only, writing across the curriculum, but thinking too!!! And this could be done starting from high school.

From Seth Godin comes a nice reflection on the great thing that is writing a blog. This complements quite well Gardner Campbell‘s idea of the centrality of blogging in education (see: Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed, Campus Technology, 27 May 2015).

Given this I wonder why colleges and schools –though complaining on students’ poor writing skills– don’t introduce a massive blogging-across-the-curriculum effort everywhere. Anyhow, here’s the quote from Seth Godin’s Read more blogs:

Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain.

Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.

Here’s the thing: Google doesn’t want you to read blogs. They shut down their RSS reader and they’re dumping many blog subscriptions into the gmail promo folder, where they languish unread.

And Facebook doesn’t want you to read blogs either.

Let’s see what our Departments of Comparative Irrelevance will be concocting!

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The Web’s Revolution of Diversity

The first Web page was published by Tim Berners-Lee almost 26 years ago.

First Web Page (CERN.ch)

First Web Page (CERN.ch)

Again, I find this Web a quasi magical creation, made of legend and human ingenuity. Of course, built from the shoulders of people who contributed great ideas, like hypertext. Ted Nelson and his utopian Xanadu mythical landscape; Vannevar Bush and his vision of As We May Think; and then the ideas of the Open Web. The Web was born open and its defining software was explicitly published by CERN with a public domain license. Notice the definition in that page: “[…]aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.”

Yes, because the Web was conceived and built outside of the usual corporate, industrial, close world. Had Novell or Microsoft designed the Internet or the Web, we wouldn’t be here today. The Web revolution is happening because it was deemed open from the start, made and grown publicly. Away from corporate culture. Do you remember Novell? There was a time you could not build a network if you hadn’t paid some dues to Novell; it was almost a monopoly.

flickr photo by Blue Yonder https://flickr.com/photos/blueyonder/2339469596 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

flickr photo by Blue Yonder https://flickr.com/photos/blueyonder/2339469596 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Is the Web revolution happening still? Dave Winer, while celebrating the Web’s first page’s 25th birthday, is skeptical. He writes (http://scripting.com/liveblog/users/davewiner/2015/12/21/0682.html)t:

A marker for how much impact one person can have. Both before and after it was assumed that only big companies could make world-changing software. How wrong that idea is.

The great thing about the web is the diversity it brought about. The mistake we’ve made, 25 years later, is being so distracted by money and the appearance of engagement that we have turned that wonderful diversity machine into a monoculture. [my boldface]

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Two pools, two films, two pairs

I just want to talk a bit here of two films I watched, and that were quite inspiring. I saw first IMDB: A Better Splash (2015), and only later the original IMDB: La Piscine (1969) from which the former was remade.

La Piscine stars Alain Delon and Romy Schneider as the main couple who, while on vacation in a gorgeous villa on the French Riviera receive the weird pair of an exuberant, extroverted father with his daughter (Jane Birkin).  So the first thing is the force of the main couple in terms of acting. Both are extraordinary names and the image they project is fantastic. They get opposed to the visiting girl, played by a shy Jane Birkin, who will get seduced by Delon.

In the remake Splash we get opposing situations: the couple in the villa is played out by one main, strong acting presence, Tilda Swinton, who has a companion of no transcendence. The couple get exposed to the whims of the exuberant visiting father (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). So, in terms of actors, the strong pair of the original villa couple gets opposed to another strong pair in the remake: that of the visiting pair.

Plus, in Splash, it is the visiting girl who seduces the woman’s husband. We have an inverted symmetry, quite lovable. Well, one of the things of the film is who seduces whom, right?

I enjoyed watching both films. Fiennes and Swinton are impressive in their crossover relation; as are Delon and Schneider in the matrimonial relationship. Of course, the Delon-Schneider couple is quite more mystical than the newer one, and so is the original picture, with old kodacolor spell. Birkin and Johnson are simply wonderful girls: the former shy and very measured; the latter always playing the seductress role.

The newer film has a few down moments, however, and between the accompanying actors of both pictures, I prefer the French one, over Swinton’s husband. More centered, more presence.

Then, of course, there is the piscine itself and its background: in the Côte d’Azur in the original, and the isle of Pantelleria in the second, at the very south of Italy. There is green, sea, snakes, and some very good cooking.

And last, the rivalries, man-man competition –homo homini lupus–, and ultimately, death. It’s a fine revisitation of the old theme of four people enclosed in a solitary enclave. Sooner or later, some will provoke something bad to happen.

A Bigger Splash

A Bigger Splash: The two couples. Swinton, Johnson and Fiennes

A Bigger Splash: The visiting girl

A Bigger Splash: The visiting girl (Johnson)

A Bigger Splash: The cross-over couple

A Bigger Splash: The pool

A Bigger Splash: The pool

Original La Piscine Trailer

Splash Trailer

La piscine: The villa couple

La piscine: The villa couple (Schneider, Delon)

La piscine: The girl and the seductor (Jane Birkin, Alain Delon)

La piscine: The girl and the seducer (Birkin, Delon)

La piscine: The visiting girl

La piscine: The visiting girl

A Bigger Splash: Poster

A Bigger Splash: Poster

La piscine: Poster

La piscine: Poster

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Converting Playlists

How come had I not thought about this before?

For every question, is it there an answer on the Internetz?

Well, at least, I got an immediate answer to both questions. While i was updating my WordPress installs, etc., it happened I was listening to a great new webradio from San Francisco, namely SomaFM, with a number of good tracks to choose from. Then it stroke: What if I were able to convert a Spotify playlist (of which I have a few) into YouTube playlists? It occurred to me this would be a good idea for some after dinner music sharing and also semi-automated synch between the two platforms.

I even thought I would have been up to programming one myself, if need arose. Well, it didn’t. Naif of me. I found almost immediately this little jewel: soundiiz.com, a webservice providing conversions between quite a few playlist platforms (Spotify, Deezer, YouTube, etc.). Actually I found a few more sites, but I clicked and stayed with Soundiiz. Up to now I am happy: for my 2015 Playlist from Spotify (login needed), it converted 41 of the 49 songs, a good 84%, and I have now a good new YouTube video playlist.

Screenshot by myself; CC-licensed

Now, what about synching both platforms over one specific common playlist?

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