Buzz Out Loud 726: Dueling banjos at dawn

Somehow today's show ended with Jason Howell challenging Paul Shaffer to a duel at Shalin's suggestion. We don't know. It's Friday.

Molly Wood Former Executive Editor
Molly Wood was an executive editor at CNET, author of the Molly Rants blog, and host of the tech show, Always On. When she's not enraging fanboys of all stripes, she can be found offering tech opinions on CBS and elsewhere, and offering opinions on everything else to anyone who will listen.
Molly Wood
6 min read
Somehow today's show ended with Jason Howell challenging Paul Shaffer to a duel at Shalin's suggestion. We don't know. It's Friday. In other news, Cox and Comcast are the biggest BitTorrent blockers in the world, we spoil the entire plotline of Battlestar Galactica (sorry!), and we get deep inside the jDome. Plus: VIDEO!
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Cox, Comcast biggest BitTorrent blockers in the world

Facebook Disconnects Google Friend Connect

RIAA defendant Jammie Thomas may get new trial

Microsoft, OLPC officially team up

Details for Guitar Hero 4 released

Analyst: Amazon.com’s Kindle to generate $750 million by 2010

TiVo extends lifetime subscription offer

jDome offers unique experience to gamers

50 Years of DARPA: 5 Good Inventions, 5 Lousy Ones


CBS idea.

Drew Phoenix
Battlestar Spoiler


Semantic web searching

Not to harp on an old subject, I am behind a few days in my listening. Semantic Web searching caught my ear when you mentioned it in episode 722. I am one of those who thought Jeeves could answer my every question.

Last night my wife and I couldn’t figure out the answer to a factual question and didn’t want to hit the computer at the time. This morning I went to Powerset.com and asked it “What artist wrapped an island in pink?” Thinking a perfect semantic search engine would simply give me the answer. Powerset gave me a bunch of results, the musician Pink, the Pink Panther, but nothing about the artist who has wrapped islands and the German governmental buildings in pink fabric.

I went to Google and pasted in the exact same search criteria and the Artist Christo came up as the 2nd result from a New York Times article.

I went to Christo’s Wiki page, since Powerset only index those pages, and sure enough all my terms: island, wrap, pink, artist were on his Wiki page.

As with Jeeves, Powerset is not quite ready for prime time. Let me know the next time to check Semantic searching again.

P.S. Let’s Go Pens!


Cut off in traffic? Get their name and address via SMS


For a bit over a year now I have been commuting from Lausanne to Geneva, and reading the free papers while listening to BOL on my iPod.

Today I came across a story that I found a little sinister, and thought you might find interesting. Here is the French version (for Molly to practice):


Here is the Google Translate version (which does an OK job):


Basically, you can SMS the local government a license plate number, and they will send you the name and address of the owner. I can’t even begin to list the reasons that I think is a terrible idea (full points though to one of the people that they vox pop’d in the paper version of the article, who suggested you that could get the address of someone driving an expensive car, and then go a burgle their place).

Of course, I am relatively smug since I don’t own a car, and am completely happy surviving on public transport (which is possible here, unlike most other places I have lived).


The Australian lawyer in Geneva

“Nobody solved it?” Not so fast, Leo

Dear BOL gang:

On BOL 725 when you and Leo Laporte were talking about all the outages of Twitter and similar sites, Leo mentioned offhand that scaling to massive usage is “a tough problem and nobody’s really solved it.” I agree that it’s a tough problem–but that’s why you need good engineers. I, for example, wrote the software behind Wikipedia in 2001 when it was having problems with its earlier software even though there were only a few thousand users then. I redesigned the database carefully, and gave serious thought to the trade-offs between performance and utility of every feature, solving the problem–and I was just a volunteer. Since then, other volunteers from the free software community and Wikipedia employees have scaled it up to its present level and built on to the software to the point that there’s hardly any of my code left–and they did all this while it was up and running.

If I may gloat a bit, this is not the first time the free software community has shown that it can outperform highly paid engineers in real-world applications.

--Lee Daniel Crocker

Fun while it lasted

Hey buzz team,

Just wanted to send my condolences in regards to the recent news of the acquisition. Quick question though, when will you be making the switch-over to the boring, dry news that only targets the elderly?


Google Street View

Hey TMJ,

I was so excited yesterday when I drove past a Google Street View car on the highway. I made a few funny faces and gestures and thought that now I’d be forever immortalized as the funny guy with the Cardinals hat (Go Cards!). Then I got home and listened to episode 724 and heard that Google will be blurring faces as a measure to ward off privacy concerns.

What a let down! Now I have to let people know that, whenever Google updates the pictures, I am the guy going northbound on 291 at I-70. Just trying to get the word out.

Also, who knew that KC would be one of the next cities to be on Street View? It’s not like we’re a tech hub like SF or NYC, the previously available cities. Most of my co-workers don’t know the difference between a PC or Mac, or even which OS they are using. They just say that they use “the computer.” But, it’s still pretty cool.

Love the show!

--Dave the Engineer (or maybe Dave B. in KC, it rhymes after all)

Icahn has Yahoo-Microsoft merger?


I’ve always believed resistance is, in fact, futile, so I was compelled to not resist from making what I believe should be a candidate for best “lolhuman” to date, and no-one will appreciate a tech-related ‘lol’ as much as you.


In related news, maybe Icahn wanted the existing board to reject the Microsoft bid because he appreciated how much the deal would annoy shareholders, thus reducing share prices, thus making his purchase of millions of them less painful, and he’d get his way at the end of the day anyway. Smart dude, in my opinion.