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(1) : Omnibus: From conversation with my sister yesterday:

"So Greyhound has this new innovation called 'Reserved Seating' --"
"So you just said 'innovation' and 'Greyhound' in the same sentence. Let's just take a pause to appreciate that."
"No, no, it's sarcastic -- the end of my sentence is, this new innovation called 'Reserved Seating' where if you buy a ticket, then you will get a seat on that bus. You are guaranteed to get a seat on the bus at that date and time."
"Wow. Greyhound. Um, welcome to....the twentieth century."
"I think maybe even in the 1800s, with train tickets? I think they had that."
"Yeah, seriously."
"Or even earlier than that. With, like, coaches."
"Let's stick with nineteenth. We can be pretty certain that trains worked like that."

Now that I recall -- Greyhound (at least in the DC-NYC-Boston routes) seems to have had something called "Reserve Seating" since late 2007 although I think it was more like what they're now calling Priority Boarding, which is where you get to board the bus first (but in practice I believe you aren't limited to the exact departure time printed on your ticket).

Anyway, beware of the Greyhound website's Reserved Seating dealie; I thought I was going through the right form to buy a Reserved Seating ticket, but the purchase process didn't mention Reserved Seating after that initial screen, and then the PDF I printed didn't have the magic words Reserved Seating on it. I'll report a bug to them soon.

And now I'm wondering how train tickets worked, back when the whole passenger rail deal was starting up...

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(1) : Yahoo! Labs Research Presentations, February 2010: Two months ago, Maritza Johnson organized a trip to the NYC Yahoo! research labs for Columbia's Women in Computer Science. As a Columbia alumna, I snuck in. (Something like fifteen or twenty high-powered CS undergrads and grad students attended. Always great to be in a lobby full of smart geeky women.) I heard about some pretty keen things there, so here's my writeup.

Ken Schmidt, director of academic relations, told us about some of Yahoo!'s academic relations work. For example, academics can get a bunch of useful datasets for research via the Webscope program. Yahoo! hosts university hackdays alongside its other worldwide hackdays. The Faculty Research Engagement program provides funding, datasets, and visits. The Key Scientific Challenges program gives grad students money, secret datasets, and collaboration. And Schmidt noted that there's an active Yahoo! Women in Tech network, and that they'll be at Grace Hopper this year.

At Yahoo! Labs, you choose your office location based on what's convenient to you, and then collaborate with other people in your discipline across offices. I didn't get a chance to see their videoconference meeting rooms but I get the sense they're great.

Following are some idiosyncratic notes on the presentations we got from Yahoo! Labs researchers. We also got to talk informally with Duncan Watts, who thinks a lot about experiments, social dynamics and behavior, and Sergei Vassilvitskii, who is taciturn.

Dan Reeves has spent four years at Yahoo! Labs and works on a mix of things. He talked about Predictalot, the Yahoo! prediction game for March Madness (the US college men's basketball tournament). Reeves, who doesn't know much about the NCAA, showed us some sample bets and kept getting dismayed that they were coming up at 100% or 0% potential, until actual basketball fans pointed out that his randomly chosen bet put up a rinky-dink conference against a heavy hitter. Domain knowledge is useful sometimes.

A few lessons: running quintillions of simulations (in the web browser, when the user selects a bet to make, I think) is hard, and thus programmers took "ridiculous shortcuts." The programmers made it possible to make "weird bets" (like, math involving the sum of the seeds that would make it to the Final Four), and not too many people have taken advantage of that, which is a little disappointing. And though the prediction market is very flexible, it doesn't give you more accuracy than you get already from crude, already-known variables.

But we already have an efficient and computation-assisted prediction market, and it's called gambling. Millions of dollars change hands every year as people bet on college basketball, and metrics for success and failure are clear, so I don't find it surprising that we're already very good at predicting outcomes from known variables. Perhaps a prediction market would lead to a greater increase in accuracy in a lesser-known sport.

That same slight disappointment came up in Sharad Goel's results. Goel thinks about homophily vs. influence, which seems intriguing to me, as does his "Anatomy of the Long Tail: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Tastes". To our group he spoke about what search can predict. That blog entry has all the details. Some key points:

You can use data from people's search queries to "predict the present." For example, people are all gaga about Google Flu Trends partly because it works around lags. GFT gives you results with a tiny lag, maybe a day; the CDC can't tell you results till it's been a week or two.

But can you use search to predict the future? And how well would that compare to alternative prediction methods? Well, you can check queries in the weeks leading up to a movie release and that'll give you pretty accurate predictions for its box office numbers, but "more mundane indicators, such as production budgets and reviewer ratings, perform equally well at forecasting sales." Specifically, there's already a Hollywood Stock Exchange. Again, where there's already a well-honed prediction market, you're not going to be able to swoop in and compete all Moneyball-style right off the bat...

Sihem Amer-Yahia researches social data management. She spoke with us about relevance algorithms for social surveys. You can construct implicit networks based on shared data preferences -- for example, rankings on delicious -- or shared behavior. (Yeah, remember, Yahoo! owns The Web Site Formerly Known As del.icio.us. Over and over in these talks I was reminded that Yahoo! is making a lot of hay from their datasets: Flickr, delicious, Yahoo! Games, Yahoo! Sports (including fantasy sports), Yahoo! Mail....)

How alike are two people, based on what they tag or rank? Well, it's hard to systematically check this sort of thing via tags, because tags are sparse (whooo, folksonomy). Researchers looked at tags on Yahoo! Travel, like "family" or "LGBT." They parsed the tags and their usage to create "concepts" and to build "communities" around those concepts.

As I've known since Leonard created the Indie Rock Peter Principle, recommendation systems suffer from an overspecialization problem. As Amer-Yahia puts it, how can you incorporate diversity into the system's recommendations without hurting their relevance? Well, they have a lot of heuristics. One: use a greedy algorithm to pick the first K most-relevant results. Find which of those K results has the most similarity to that set. Then compare that most-similar result to the K+1th result. If the K+1th result is less similar, then swap it in. Continue to trade off diversity against relevance till you reach the lower acceptable bound of the relevance range (a range whose threshold you may have to discover empirically). It's a species of affirmative action.

Once you personalize recommendations (especially based on social networks), the indices you create and have to deal with get huge. I have a note here about "Storing like things together" and "Returning a composite of relevant items, validating with user's network" -- I assume those are partial solutions to the performance problems.

Another fun thing Amer-Yahia worked on: take Flickr photos and turn them into itineraries (longer paper at author Munmun De Choudhury's site). (Factoid: about 10% of Flickr photos come with automatic geotag stamping, and about 40% have semantic user-added tags that you can use to get some geographic data.) As the abstract says, "Our extensive user study on a 'crowd-sourcing' marketplace (Amazon Mechanical Turk), indicates that high quality itineraries can be automatically constructed from Flickr data, when compared against popular professionally generated bus tours." Oh yeah, the researchers love Mechanical Turk!

Amer-Yahia also spoke on homogeneity in structured datasets with strict ranking. Her demo used Yahoo! Personals as an example, which led to many subsidiary guffaws.

Basically, it's the diversity vs. relevance problem again. If you say you want to see college-educated white women aged 25-34 within 5 miles of New York City, you'll get a big dataset ordered by some characteristic. You can either rank by distance, or by age, or by level of education, but in any case you have like 100 nearly-identical results on the first several pages before you get to the first difference. It's hard to explore.

So instead we have subspace clustering, which sounds AWESOME. You cluster combinations of attributes in a rank-aware way, label them, and make sure that your resulting clusters of results have adequate quality, relevance, etc. Amer-Yahia explains this as dimension reduction to help users explore [results] more effectively.

John Langford works on machine learning. He pointed out a bunch of spots where Yahoo! sites use, or could benefit from, machine learning. He works on a "fast, scalable, useful learning algorithm" named Vorpal Wabbit. Langford demonstrated it and indeed it seemed plenty fast, although I haven't any baseline for comparison. Key phrases I noted include "linear predictor," "infrastructure helps it go & learn fast," and "plug in different, lossy-or-not algorithms?" and I assume interested folks can go check out the tutorial. A niche tool, but sounds invaluable if you're in his target market.

Jake Hofman showed us some more machine learning goodness. His tool (an implementation of vbmod, I think) scrapes the To: & CC: lines from your email to see who gets emailed together, and from that constructs a pretty graph showing the nodes & clusters in your social network. He tried it on a colleague's real mail, and indeed five distinct clusters sprang up. "That's my soccer buddies...that one's my in-laws...that's my college pals..." You can use this to have the Compose Mail interface auto-suggest recipients you might have left out.

I talked with Hofman a little after the presentations, whereupon he revealed that he hearts Beautiful Soup and Mechanize for screen-scraping login-protected or otherwise complicated websites. Evidently he got into Bayesian fun as a cell biologist getting software to automate the tedious task of classifying images from microscopes, slides, etc. Oh, there it is on his resume: "Applied machine learning and statistical inference techniques for high-throughput quantitative analysis of network and image data" and "Developed software platform to automate characterization of cell spreading and migration". Cool!

Siddharth Suri researches social networks and experiments and data mining. He presented his "Behavioral Study of Public Goods Games over Networks." He did an experiment on Mechanical Turk. Econ professors would challenge him on how representative of the population that sample is, to which he would rightly reply that they tend to experiment on university undergraduates, who aren't exactly hella representative either. Boo-yah!

Suri asks how we might get people to change or sustain socially beneficial behavior in a tragedy-of-the-commons situation. For example, how do we encourage energy conservation, discourage littering, and encourage donations to charity? I appreciate that it's a tough and important problem. However, he also said that the same question applies to online communities: how do we get people to upload photos to Flickr or write Facebook updates so everyone can enjoy them? He then investigated via a social dilemma game/experiment via Mechanical Turk, where strangers had the option to give or keep amounts of money, sometimes a "subject" was a plant who moved norms towards selfishness or altruism, etc., etc.

I find this question and approach a little bewildering. People write and share and upload online for many of the same reasons we knit scarves as gifts, host and go to birthday parties, and gossip and volunteer in the physical world. These are interpersonal, social actions that we do to bond or amuse ourselves or gain status within specific communities that have meaning to us. Experimenting on this phenomenon with strangers exchanging money on Mechanical Turk -- because that's where you can get experimental results -- seems weak.

Since this experiment was an initial pilot project, we suggested that future iterations allow the subjects to make friends with each other, or get pre-existing groups of subjects to join (e.g., have an experimental group composed of coworkers). Another attendee worried aloud that these measures might allow a "false sense of community" to arise and throw off the results. But who are we to call any sense of community false? And community is the answer to the social dilemma, anyway, isn't it?

Overall, a thought-provoking and enlightening way to spend a few hours. Thanks to Johnson and Schmidt for setting it up. I also thank Yahoo! Labs for the lunch, USB drives, pen gadgets, and fleece scarves. Let me know if I'm wrong about anything!

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(2) : A Little Seltzer Down Your Throat: I didn't get the hint when the heat made me really cranky and tired.

I didn't get the hint when I got headaches.

I didn't follow all those directions printed and spoken in every health advisory ever.

Today, when I went to a doctor for an overdue checkup, the nurse tried to draw blood, and it flowed far too slowly for her liking into the needle. She said this was a sign of dehydration ("your body's way of saying 'I don't wanna give up my liquids, I don't know when I'm gonna get any more'"), and aborted the procedure, adding that I was the first person she'd ever seen who'd been so dehydrated that she couldn't draw enough blood.

OK, I'm going to try to drink more water.

: Hours Of The Wolf: I am up at 3:45am because from 5 to 7 am Leonard and I will be on Jim Freund's longrunning scifi radio show, "Hour of the Wolf," on WBAI. We'll be talking about the Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology and Leonard will read his story "Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs." You can stream it live on the web, listen to 99.5FM live if you're in broadcasting range, or listen to the archive for the 10-ish days it's up. Oh, and there's a call-in portion!

: Galen The Annoyinger: Leonard & I are watching the Babylon 5 spinoff series Crusade which, like The Middleman and Firefly, got cut short at the one-season mark. And, as with Firefly, the recommended viewing order is substantially different from the as-aired order. We've already seen both of archaeologist/anthropologist/comic book writer Fiona Avery's great episodes. She wrote a script for the second season that included Bester; I wish I could see it, but Leonard tires easily whenever telepaths show up.

Captain Gideon is played by Gary Cole, a.k.a. Lumbergh from Office Space. He's fine and believable, but whenever Gideon drinks something or makes a certain face, Leonard and I say, "Yeahhhhhhh, I'm gonna have to..." This also works for his turn in Psych as a SWAT team hostage negotiator ("Yeahhhh, I'm gonna have to ask you to release those hostages").

We're just getting into it, with about four episodes left. Wahhh. Well, that's why there's fanfic.

Update: How could I forget to mention that Crusade features an entire episode parodying The X-Files?

(2) : My Lawn And The Children Upon It: The amazing penetration of the Do-Not-Call list and cell phones means that kids growing up in the US these days will never know how annoying telemarketers used to be. They also won't know how pervasive those AOL floppies and CDs were. And as Leonard points out, since they all use GMail, they'll never know how bad spam used to be.

(1) : Ever Since You've Been Around: Leonard, Not-My-Ex Dan, Jacob and I saw the always-fun Kevin Geeks Out curated talk-video-slideshow-quiz fest last night. Towards the end, we saw an enticing trailer for next month's alien encounter-themed show, the soundtrack to which was "Top of the World" by the Carpenters.

As I listen to the lyrics, the immediately spooky one that grabs me is "Something in the wind has learned my name." If licensing fees for lyrics quotations in fiction weren't so impossibly high (I could be wrong), someone like Aaron Sorkin or J. Michael Straczynski would have grabbed that for an episode title.

Not to get all Leonard's six-part meditation on how video game titles work on you, but there is a fairly common type of title for a short story or a TV episode that quotes a song lyric, line of poetry/Shakespeare/the Bible, or other well-known phrase. Leonard and I were looking at the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 episode lists to find titles we liked and disliked, and we saw a lot of references. For fairly obscure references ("And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place") a big long phrase is good. But if your audience is already familiar with the cliche, you can just excerpt the evocative bit ("Passing Through Gethsemane," "And Now For A Word," "Distant Voices," "Favor the Bold," "Sacrifice of Angels," "You are Cordially Invited," "In the Pale Moonlight," "When It Rains..."). Unfortunately, for some phrases, even the excerpt is already a cliche ("By Any Means Necessary," "If Wishes Were Horses," "Nor the Battle to the Strong," "Once More Unto the Breach," "'Til Death Do Us Part," "Strange Bedfellows"). You can kind of get away with Latin ("Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges") or translations from Greek ("The Exercise of Vital Powers") whilst staying classy.

This comes up in short story titles as well. Leonard was just reading a story called "I Pray the Lord My Soul to Keep" or some other line from that prayer, and we batted around "My Soul to Keep" as a better title -- still a cliche, though.

I was just looking at Sorkin titles (Sports Night, West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) and talked with Leonard about them for about ten minutes, less actually arguing and more lining up topics for future discussion. (Examples: why do we disagree on "Evidence of Things Not Seen" and "Mr. Willis of Ohio," what's interesting about "We Killed Yamamoto," when do we like and dislike numbers in titles, and is Leonard's pro-science bias leading him to like "Eppur Si Muove" better than other non-English quote titles?) But overall, we like non-remix evocative phrases -- originals, of course, as well as quotes.

Some more thoughts on episode titles. Yours? What do you like and dislike?

(3) : A Few Tech-ish-Related Observations: New Work City is a Manhattan coworking space/group that charges $25 for a desk for a day.

Floatleft: an international two-woman Drupal consulting firm that provides web development services to NGOs and nonprofits. Neat!

A similarly focused webdev firm is looking to hire.

KML or Keyhole Markup Language: an XML variant you use to mark up Google Earth or Google Maps.

Hierarchical Data Format: a file format that acts like a filesystem, for use with large & complicated datasets.

Unfortunately, when you do a Google search for [gnome source control] or [version control gnome], instead of git.gnome.org, the first hit is the obsolete Subversion site (although it prominently calls itself OBSOLETE and directs you to git).

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: Out the Door: Off to QuahogCon in Providence, Rhode Island. Say hi if you're there! I have some free time this afternoon and welcome sightseeing advice.

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(2) : Thoughtcrime Experiments, One Year Later: Today is the one-year anniversary of Thoughtcrime Experiments, the free scifi/fantasy anthology Leonard and I edited last year.

Thoughtcrime Experiments cover

Thoughtcrime Experiments got a bit of recognition in the form of award nominations. We made the British Fantasy longlist (voting closes 31 May). The Variety SF blog loved Ken Liu's "Single-Bit Error" and considered it one of the best short stories of the year. And Patrick Farley's "Gaia's Strange Seedlike Brood (Homage to Lynn Margulis)" has made the Ursa Major shortlist. We'll find out if he won next month.

Another form of recognition was the sharings, remixings and adaptations we hoped would happen when we released Thoughtcrime Experiments under a Creative Commons license.

LibrisLite, an ebook-reading application, includes our anthology as a free sample book. Marshall T. Vandergrift made a hand-crafted ePub edition, Arachne Jericho made ePub, Kindle/Mobipocket, Microsoft Reader, and Sony Reader editions, and manybooks.net provides the book in many formats. Andrew Willett's short story "Daisy" received a lot of love this way, including an audio recording read by Ian McMillan and an upcoming project I can't mention yet. A fan also read it aloud at a storyreading party.

Mary Anne Mohanraj and Sumana Harihareswara at WisCon in 2009(To the right: E. J. Fischer's photo of me with Mary Anne Mohanraj, author of "Jump Space.")

We were also gratified to see people thinking about, reviewing, enjoying, and linking to individual stories and illustrations.

"Jump Space" by Mary Anne Mohanraj got substantial thoughtful attention, such as Rachel Chalmers's review:

"Even cooler, the story they sort of chose for me is "Jump Space", which I purely love. It's a head-on collision between the Heinlein juvenile adventure stories I adored as a kid - the Have Spacesuit Will Travel or Space Family Stones - and a thoroughly 21st century set of attitudes towards love, sex, dating one's professor, marriage, faithfulness, jealousy, prostitution, slavery and even raising children (my main preoccupation these days and one that Heinlein tended to rather idealize...)

Erica Naone's review of "Jump Space", in part:

I think the anthology is trying to explore a wider variety of human elements and viewpoints than are seen in the typical science fiction anthology...

Mary Anne Mohanraj's "Jump Space" has some of the most fully realized relationships that I've seen in science fiction.... the theme of love's simultaneous strength and fragility was emphasized against the backdrop of space. Love and family seem even more accidental and precarious when the universe is so large.

Mohanraj wrote a post about what she did wrong & right in "Jump Space". Hugo Schwyzer posted about "Jump Space" and academic ethics (specifically, on initiating professor-student romance), to which Mohanraj replied.

Rachel Chalmers's review continued:

I liked "Jump Space" so much that I was startled to find a story in Thoughtcrime that I liked even better. It is "Single Bit Error" by Ken Liu. Can't tell you much about it without spoiling a rather excellent surprise, but wow, it's just a stunner. Weaves together theoretical computer science and existential philosophy in a way I've always thought could be done, but never quite managed to do or see anyone else doing...

You should allow for my extreme bias in favor of my friends; despite this utter lack of objectivity I recommend this anthology to anyone who's interested in the best and bravest modern science fiction.

Bio Break by Brittany Hague(To the left: "Bio Break" by Brittany Hague.)

Kit Brown wrote: "I really liked Daisy by Andrew Willett and Single Bit Error by Ken Liu. I also loved Robot vs Ninjas by Marc Scheff and snagged it to add to my desktop wallpaper rotation."

Erin Ptah's illustration "Pirate vs. Alien" also got some attention: "More silliness may be found in this picture by Erin Ptah, wherein a buxom pirate battles a well-endowed alien who appears to be preparing to give himself a shave."

Lynda Williams says of "The Ambassador's Staff," a short story by Sherry D. Ramsey: "Well put together, goes down smooth, and captures my feelings about too little sleep and too much coffee, to boot. Allegorically speaking."

Sam Tomaino calls Thoughtcrime Experiments "an anthology filled with stories that I enjoyed thoroughly". And Jane Irwin of Vogelein liked it, especially "Daisy".

Erica Naone's thoughtful reviews of several Thoughtcrime Experiments stories are another useful resource; I can't quote them all here or they'd take up half the post!

One manybooks.net reviewer says:

When I saw the "mind-breakingly" description, I thought to myself, "No way, that is just too ambitious." Well after reading the first five or six stories, I must say I agree. This seems to be another example of really good authors publishing under the Creative Commons. Welcome to the future.

Other readers posted about the Creative Commons and DIY facets of our project interesting:

rollicking....The anthology wears its DIY cred on its sleeve and even has a how-to appendix and all the source code for the website is gank-able. It’s available as a free download or POD book. Keep Circulating the Tapes!...

They're publishing because they want to give back to the community. They have no illusions about reaping financial gains from these transactions, and that's okay. We all do things for love that we would never do for money....

The point of Thoughtcrime Experiments is its punk/hacker ethic. You don't have to wait for Gardner Dozois or any of the other 'masters of the genre' to make an anthology for you, you can go out there and do it yourself. If you can't find a magazine publishing SF you'd like to read, and feel they're all publishing the same tired stuff, Much like their punk predecessors at 'Sideburns' they have an appendix on "How we did this". It's the three-chord diagram for a revolution in SF.

Now, it probably won't catch on. Just because punk happened, doesn't mean one can start a revolution every time one is needed. But imagine if it did. Imagine if the kids started getting together, and producing their own SF magazines. Imagine if SF became, for some small portion of the population, the new rock-and-roll, or at least the new indie-rock....

But it's not just the anthology that's interesting. Leonard used this entire project to better understand the editing process. His conclusions are quite interesting for writers. Basically, that we don't suck as bad as we think we do just because we get so many damn rejections...

Times Square by David Kelmer(To the right: "Times Square" by David Kelmer.)

Another author talked about our anthology while considering commodification, scarcity, and publishing. And Freedom to Tinker noted,

Still, part of the new theory of open-source peer-production asks questions like, "What motivates people to produce technical or artistic works? What mechanisms do they use to organize this work? What is the quality of the work produced, and how does it contribute to society? What are the legal frameworks that will encourage such work?" This anthology and its appendix provide an interesting datapoint for the theorists. (See Leonard's response.)

Jed's repost of our call for submissions, and his announcement once we were out, also commented on the ripples our project might send out: "So I'm hoping, as Leonard and Sumana are hoping, that in addition to providing a good read, this anthology will inspire others to embark on new publishing ventures."

If you want our thinky thoughts about the whole venture, you might be interested in Sharon Panelo's interview with me, my length anthology retrospective and thoughts on scifi publishing, more such, and Leonard's many interesting posts on the stories, the process, and what we learned about the field. And I hope we get that Hour of the Wolf radio show interview up for download/reading sometime soon.

To finish up the link roundup: Grasping in the Wind, BoingBoing, Tor.com, John Scalzi, Baby Got Books, and Locus also notified their readers of our existence, for which we are grateful.

The book's still up. Read or download it for free, or buy a paperback for USD5.09 plus shipping. I'm arranging to have about seventy copies for sale at cost at WisCon.

If I missed your review, please post a link in the comments!

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(5) : Importing iCal .ics Files to N900 Calendar (Maemo 5): I have a laptop running Mac OS 10.4.11 and iCal 2.0.5 (ancient and proprietary, I know, that's why I just got the ZaReason Hoverboard running Ubuntu). I decided to move my calendaring over to my Nokia N900. iCal, select calendar in sidebar, File, Export, name it filename.ics, use Petrovich to send the file to the N900 over Bluetooth [Yay Petrovich! So great not to have to break out the USB cable], open the file upon receipt, Maemo Calendar automatically opens and imports, right?

Wrong. Only a few of my calendar items imported. I tried exporting a much smaller calendar in case it was choking on the number of items: nope. I tried diffing the file on my Mac and the file on the N900 in case it had gotten corrupted in transit: nope. And a hasty visual inspection didn't tell me the pattern of what had imported and what hadn't.

Evidently there are different versions of the .ics standard! vCalendar, iCalendar. Since I just wanted to move the content once and didn't need to set up a permanent sync solution, I started looking around for a simple clean-up importer. But then I ran into GPE Calendar, an alternative calendaring app that does properly handle iCal .ics files, before getting around to installing or running a standalone converter script. So I ended up doing this (thanks, talk.maemo.org):

  1. Install GPE Calendar ("GPE PIM Suite calendar application") from the App Manager on the N900
  2. Within GPE Calendar, hit Import from the main menu and import the .ics file
  3. Verify that GPE Calendar handles the import perfectly (behind the scenes, it moves the .ics data into the GPE database)
  4. Open a Terminal and type

    gpe-calendar -e export-from-gpe.ics

  5. Move export-from-gpe.ics to MyDocs/tmp/
  6. Open File Manager and open tmp/filename.ics to get Maemo Calendar to import the file
  7. Verify that all events have imported by checking visually against iCal
  8. Uninstall GPE Calendar via the App Manager and bask in the pretty UI and integrated alarms of Maemo Calendar
I know, installing another calendar app just for the sake of its import and export seem like overkill. I am uncomfortably reminded of "Excel as a database". But it worked.
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(2) : The Fortress of LOLitude: I took the train from New York City to Providence on Friday morning. My first seatmate: a salesman who was discussing with a fellow sales executive why he should get a unified sales quota, rather than one for software as a service and one for permanent licenses. He then switched to complaining about a colleague. "He thinks he has territory? He doesn't have shit." His phone call was in several parts, like a miniseries or that one set of Taster's Choice commercials with Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, due to bad cell reception. I think he used every variant except "Can you hear me now?" out of cliche aversion. A man after my own heart.

He left at Stamford. My next seatmate phoned someone and complained about a daughter? daughter-in-law? whom she'd just visited. "She doesn't have any good breakfast food in the house," she confided. "She doesn't even have breakfast bars." I am unsure of the implication. Are breakfast bars the most essential component of a breakfast pantry, or the worst adequate choice?

Actual QuahogCon entry to follow.

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