Tag Archives: World Wide Web

The Hobby Kitchen – A Pre-Blog

thai-recipesThis is history as we made it!

It was in the early days of the internet, a time when Google did not exist yet, when we used Alta Vista to find things on that interweb. When Netscape was strong and the driving force for new developments on this world wide web. When there were pages at Netscape where you could tell the world about new sites or pages – and the world came.

It was 1995!

This is when we started something that would later be called a blog. Sure, there was no PHP (at least on the web) and certainly no WordPress, so the blog entries had to be crafted by hand, usually in a simple text editor and the blogger had to know HTML. Not that there was much to be known – the leading edge of HTML tags were background images and music.

This was the year ‘My Hobby Kitchen’ was born. The plan was to publish one Thai recipe every few days, or how often we managed. If we had kept it up, by now we would have – at one recipe per day – close to one thousand recipes. That number shows that it was just not possible, as nobody knows 1000 recipes. We did – maybe – foresee that and invented the ‘guest blogger.’ But only one came on board, shortly before the project died.

The amazing part of the story is that these pages survived. After a multitude of ISPs, and moving between different domains, these pages are still there and they are finding a new home now on this (real) blog.

I kept the pages as they were, just made some adjustments to fit into the framework of this blog, removed any pointers to websites that don’t exist anymore, and anonymized it to protect the guilty. But I left all the tacky background music (at least it does not start automatically) and images intact so that all those young people can see how it all started. It was written from the perspective of my significant other who is Thai and knew what she was doing – yours truly was just the webmaster.

Without any further ado, here is

My Hobby Kitchen.

Will Google SideWiki be Censored?

(Update: unfortunately, SideWIKI died pretty soon. I can imagine that just too many complaints had come in by site owners that did not want links to the opposite site showing up to visitors to their site. I can see that this feature had quite some potential for misuse, but still sad to see it die. It had the one obvious fault of not being decentralized, which any disrupting service, like torrents, has to be.)

Today was an exciting day for me.

A few years back I realized that there was something missing on the world wide web, something essential – commenting without the consent of the site owner.

There are many web sites – including this one here – that allow comments on all articles. But these comments are definitely censored because the site owner can easily delete comments he does not like. Good web sites will not misuse this power and allow opposition and controversy to stand, even though spammers and pure nuisances will be removed.

But imagine a site like that of the IRS. Could you imagine how the comment section of this site would look like if only spammers and flamers would be removed? Could the site speak of its ‘service’ and still be credible if you could read thousands of comments describing incompetence, evil, and injustice?

That is where I started to plan a system that would allow – through a toolbar widget or similar – to attach comments on any website. One of the basic features of this mechanism would have to be that it could not be centrally shut down, but instead would have to be a distributed system where a part that went down would be replaced immediately by a redundant site on the other side of the planet – a kind of SETI for accountability.

I talked to some potential partners, as this was too big a project for a single fighter, but have to admit that I failed to get it off the ground.

Today I read about Google SideWiki! Could this be what I had felt was missing, could this be the one feature that would keep people away from the dark side of the force?

The fact that it is Google is definitely a disadvantage, as Google has been bullied into doing things that were against the mantra of ‘doing good.” Let’s just hope for the best.

Besides hoping for the best, there is a nice test in progress that investigates the freedom of speech and opinion of this new feature. Somebody posted a pretty nasty post right on the main page of the IRS’s site, wondering how long it will be there. Let’s all go there and observe.

The post is not a nasty post in itself, it is just something that I could imagine the site owner would not want to be on his site. It talks about so-called tax protesters and gives the web site of one of the more grounded protagonists. In all fairness, this post also mentions a site run by – probably – tax attorneys chastising the whole bunch of cooks calling themselves the tax honesty movement. But then again, we are talking about lawyers here and then those that deal in taxes and probably love the system as it feeds them.

This post goes even further and introduces the philosophy site Free Domain Radio, which introduces the idea of a society based on voluntary interaction instead of a government-run bureaucracy that is backed up by violence, claiming a monopoly in initiating violence.

I will certainly keep an eye on the IRS web site to see if this article disappears. If this post stays there that would be akin to the Wikipedia entry for the IRS containing a section about the tax honesty movement, the thoughts that the tax law as written might not apply to most American and thoughts on how society could work perfectly well without an IRS and a central government.

The Big Bang in your Backyard

What is the image you get when you think of a scientist?

I bet it’s usually a middle-aged guy, most likely wearing a lab coat, probably glasses, and definitely not cool.

But we all know by now that TED does not promote the ‘normal,’ so, when they have somebody on to talk about the Large Hedron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland we do not necessarily expect a guy in a lab coat.

I was still positively surprised by Brian Cox’s talk. There is a cool guy who not only makes it interesting to show what the LHC does but who also represents a new breed of scientist who seem to be in awe of creation and taken by its extent.

When I turned my back to physics after I was all done with my degree, the scientific scene was immensely more arrogant. So, listening to Brian Cox made me happy because I think that science will succeed when it develops the right amount of humility and recognizes that it itself is part of that creation and is searching for itself.

Do you want to know where the LHC actually is? Glad you asked, because here are some fascinating facts about its location. CERN, which is also the mother of the World Wide Web, is located in two countries, Switzerland and France. The Conseil européen pour la Recherche nucléaire (CERN) is located close to Geneva, Switzerland, and stretches across the Swiss-France border. So, you might cross the border between the two countries many times during the day while remaining in the CERN complex. Nowadays that has not much significance, but when I was there it was a fascinating fact, that you could go across the border without showing your papers.

So, here it is…