Moving on…

December 5, 2007

[UPDATE: see Marc Eisenstadt's Google Profile for best info].

Hi all:  As you can see from the dates, I’ve stopped blogging and phased out of most online social networks (nothing personal – I enjoyed blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc etc, just wanted to focus on other things…)

One exception, where I do find it useful to keep an up-to-date overview of a few of my activities, is “Marc Eisenstadt’s LinkedIn Profile”.

Day 3 of new life: blog break time

December 4, 2007

OK, I only lasted a few days on this (migrated site) blog, but actually I’ve been ‘doing it’ (blogging) for almost 5 years now. Yikes.

So, it’s time for an indefinite break from blogging, Twitter, Facebook – the works; it’s been great, and I have met many fantastic people. Heh, it didn’t take me long to realise when ‘migrating’ from my academic blog site to this (private) blog site that by bulk-copying everything, I made it far too similar, and that’s not actually what I want to do! It’ll be easy enough (maybe) to beam back in when I’ve either changed my mind or got something to say.

Many thanks again to all my wonderful friends, colleagues, and random readers!

Days 1 and 2 of new life – busy

December 4, 2007

Very first thing I did on Monday 3rd Dec was brew myself a nice fresh cup of coffee, and sit in the living room and listen to some old vinyl 33 1/3 RPM LPs. Not because I’m a nostalgia buff: I did it because it really sounded great! Sure, I’ve also just purchased a pile of music from the iTunes store for my spiffy new iPhone. Like I’ve said before in “LP/MP3 si, CD no“, all-digital is great for convenience, and vinyl is great for feeling the disc and reading the cover – and it can sound great too. The sooner I see the end of CDs, the better. OK, back to some chores – don’t wanna waste the day online!

Blog move -> eisenstadt.wordpress.com (here)

November 30, 2007

Postings henceforth: http://eisenstadt.wordpress.com
RSS feed henceforth: http://eisenstadt.wordpress.com/feed/

So long, OU, and thanks!

November 30, 2007

Wow, I had a phenomenal retirement gig at KMi this afternoon. There is a KMi Planet story about the event, along with some choice photos, and a big party tonight. There were some wonderful presentations by Ingrid Slack, Martin Levoi, Enrico Motta, and Peter Scott (thanks!). And some fabulous presents, including a slew of wonderful ‘Eisenstadt’-related T-shirts, a great poster, flattering messages beamed in from afar, and in iPhone to round out the occasion! Many thanks to all.

The OU has been extraordinarily good to me; I’ve had the privilege of working with some absolutely first-rate people, and made many great friends here. A short blog entry cannot do justice to 33 years at the Open University, but suffice it to say that my earliest years in the Psychology Department and my recent years in KMi have been an absolute pleasure, and a thoroughly joyous ride from beginning to end. I was especially delighted that both KMi co-founder Tom Vincent and also Lady Kitty Chisholm, who was so critical in the creation of KMi in the first place, were both able to attend. It was great to catch up with everyone, and I’m looking forward to the party tonight.

I’ll be moving this blog into private territory as soon as I get the transfer set up… stay tuned!

Big Week – DYNIQX, Video MSG, Mobile Expert Search, Adios

November 29, 2007

Wow… lots of stuff coming out from KMi right now… best to check KMi Planet for all the news, but here’s a sampler of stuff I’ve had the privilege of being connected with (click on thumbnails for larger images):

Video MSGMSG adds video. Our open source AJAX messenger-with-maps joins the emergeing MeBeam brigade, and more. We have now added a 1-click launch-videochat link to any text chat, in addition to opening up registration to anyone, as reported earlier. This complements the existing 1-click launch of FlashMeeting available to all OpenLearn registrants. [Read story, plus links.]

DYNIQXDYNIQX, our dynamic meta-search engine (think of Kayak for academic repositories) has a very successful test run. We have created an interface that lets users view multiple repositiories, including Google Scholar, and display a dynamically-changing landscape as they ‘change their minds’ about what results are worth seeing. More importantly, the open source version will let developers add new repositories in a straightforward way. [Read story, plus links.]

Mobile Expert SearchExpert Search, Jianhan Zhu’s engine which returns people rather than documents, scores highly in TREC07, gets a mobile rendition and is accessible via the OU Library site. It requires intranet access, but is a great demonstration of the power of this technology for finding people within an organization, real or virtual. [Read story, plus links.]

Yikes… and tomorrow is my last day in KMi – caramba, what a week!

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25,000,000 personal records ‘is’ lost: but don’t worry!

November 21, 2007

BBC news and many others report

HM Revenue and Customs has lost computer discs containing the entire child benefit records, including the personal details of 25 million people – covering 7.25 million families overall. The two discs contain the names, addresses, dates of birth and bank account details of people who received child benefit. They also include National Insurance numbers.

But there’s nothing to worry about:

Mr Darling said there was no evidence of fraud or that the details had fallen into the “wrong hands”, but said that anyone who loses money as a result of fraud resulting from the lost discs would be reimbursed. But he said there was no need for anyone to close their bank accounts.

No problem, then! Interesting that Techmeme has nothing about this, but at the same time is full of very high profile links to a flurry of stories about Facebook dropping the word ‘is’ from user profiles (as in Marc is doing X vs Marc is believes X (sic)). I guess the headline unifying the Facebook ‘is’ and the missing records would be: “Mr Darling is contrite but not unduly concerned.”

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Press conference of the month (Amazon/Kindle)…

November 19, 2007

[UPDATE 2: It’s all there (videos, etc) on the Amazon.com home page and especially www.amazon.com/kindle

[UPDATE: live blogs via Erick Schonfeld and Peter Ha confirm "No data plan. No multi-year contract. No monthly bill. Amazon picks up the tab ’so you can just read’." that part I really like]

…is bound to be Amazon’s official launch of the Kindle today, scooped in a major Newsweek spread and driving the blogosphere into a general frenzy; there should be some live blogging from the event on TechCrunch and elsewhere;

I can probably live with (i) its ugliness, (ii) its high price, (iii) its restrictive DRM, (iv) its non-‘standard’/non-open reader software, and (v) its being yet another device [yow, that's one helluva harsh list], but only if it (a) performs like blazes (no page-turning lag), (b) is comfortable on the eyes (bound to be ok on that front with e-ink), (c) gives me a stellar experience (see next).

As an illustration of point (c): when I was studying Spanish, I used to read a lot of Spanish-language news on handhelds, and found that some embedded tap-to-translate software I installed (from Lingvosoft) made all the difference in the world, and in fact made the subjective experience far better and far more convenient for me than any other combination (hard copy, dictionary, desktop browser, etc). Sure, I could do the same with a browser and the right software, but it was less convenient than my ubiquitous “portable Spanish news”.

Hey, I first heard about the Kindle while browsing with my great ol’ Tablet PC (blogged previously) in my lap… which itself is great mainly as a read-only device! So if Amazon can pull it off, full marks to ‘em. If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d bet against it being an iPod for books, but (by analogy with the iPod) several vendors have to push hard within that niche first. Amazon’s Kindle may not be ‘it’, but it will be interesting to see if it ignites that niche sufficiently for the next vendor to get it right. Google, for instance, which is amassing a great collection of scanned-in books.

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Office clearout – a few gems

November 19, 2007

marc-clearout-2.jpgAlthough Dec 31st 2007 is my last official day at the OU (I’m retiring from academic life!), I’m clearing out my office by November 30th — I have a small amount of accumulated unused leave time and other things happening during December.

I have a lovely office that I’ve really enjoyed over the years [after all, KMi is pretty much custom-designed by its occupants, modified to fit in an award-winning building], but boy is it full of junk. This photo is just the tip of the iceberg. The four big green crates are stuffed with junk from the last time I moved office (within KMi that is) many years ago. I haven’t even peeked inside since them, so I figure if I couldn’t be bothered to look originally, I should really just throw everything out without investigating further. Of course I’ll peek a little, but right now I’m just chucking everything, with three caveats: I’m filling recycling bags with recyclable stuff (mostly paper and cardboard); I’m trying to give away some old computers to the Computing Museum at Bletchley Park; and most of my books are going into the KMi Library – some personal favourites including Newell & Simon’s 1972 classic Human Problem Solving, a signed copy of John Anderson’s The Architecture of Cognition, etc. I’ll probably keep about 10 out of hundreds – who’s got the room or the time – I’m no longer interested!

Also, forget the original model Newton, Psion 3a, Apple PowerBook 170, and other relics in that photo: the real gems are the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 Portable Computer (top of pile), including Bill Gates’ very own Basic Interpreter in ROM, and a Psion Organiser II (lower left, on top of the Newton) – with an alphabetic A-B-C keypad, two line display, ‘Pocket Spreadsheet’ plug-in ROM, and the world’s worst user interface ever. The Computer Museum already has a lot of this stuff, but I’m checking with them to see what else they may need. The TRS-80, which hit the market in 1984, still runs perfectly on 4 AA batteries! I’ll do a better shot with all the technology ‘lined up’ and visible in a later entry. [Update: there IS no 'later' as far as tuning these items is concerned ;-) ].

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Another Jabber/XMPP server opens up: ours!

November 16, 2007

register-now.jpgAh, those two little words… ‘Register now!’.

Alex has added a (deliberately) un-announced ‘Register now!’ link for anyone launching MSG from the default ‘Launch’ tab on MSG.open.ac.uk. Following that little link reveals an open registration procedure, as long as users accept the Terms and Conditions linked on that page… not onerous, but standard for an academic research server, and required for our own protection.

This means that anyone can quickly register for lightweight experimentation if they want to play with MSG, its super-cool map features, or the forthcoming video chat that Alex hinted at. This avoids the old headaches of having to join a course, email us, or go through the hassle of creating a BuddySpace group, which were the typical prerequisites in the past. Oh, and you can actually use either buddyspace.org or msg.open.ac.uk as the host name – they are now equivalent for that purpose.

Who needs yet another IM? Firstly, we do, for our research. Second, it’s open source, so play with it and modify it to taste. Third, it embeds nicely elsewhere (e.g. NetVibes etc). Fourth, it contains better Google Maps integration than Google’s own GTalk. Fifth, it’s simpler than all the others. Sixth, it’s tightly-integrated (in one variety) with Moodle via OpenLearn (MSG-Moodle-specifics here). So there!

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