How the decay of Wikipedia can be measured

The decay of Wikipedia can be measured by expressing the chance that it will fork.

That’s all I’ve got.

A fork is a term from the community of open source programmers. It means a split of a project into two distinct projects working from the exact same code base. These splits often happen for philosophical reasons, with opinions divided over the course a project should take.

See also: Oh goody, I’ll dance to that (about the fork of Mambo into Mambo and Joomla).

Train

trein-utrecht-

The train from Utrecht to Schiphol Airport, a 20 minute trip. For some reason it always seems to be made up of thousands of cars, mostly empty.

M109

in-the-field

Picture I took ages ago, during my military service. We were practising at a 15 km range in what otherwise was a very quiet place where wild boars loved to come.

Sometimes the heath would catch fire, and we would have to take out our shovels and extinguish the flames by hitting them.

Going for the second Inbox Zero in my life

The last time I achieved Inbox Zero was somewhere last year. You should think I would be able to remember the exact date, but there you would be wrong. Sure, it was a momentous occasion. So momentous in fact that for days I was wrapped in the sound of heavenly trumpets and glided through life without care for such mundane things such as dates, diaries, and indeed, ouch!, lampposts.

This week I am going to try it again. I say week because Inbox Zero cannot be achieved in a single day, and the reason for this is simple. Some of the mails that one finally gets around to answering will elicit further replies from their overjoyed recipients. I will do the large part of the work today, but real Inbox Zero will be achieved some time later this week.

Life is good.

Update 5 pm: I am down to 7 e-mails (from about 20). I assumed I had about 3 two-hoursers hidden in my mail: this turned out to be 4. (A two-hourser is an e-mail that promises about two hours of work doing stuff you long ago agreed to do before you can either bin or archive the mail.)

Distributed Proofreaders sends its 20,000th ebook off to Project Gutenberg

Today the counter for public domain e-books at Distributed Proofreaders says: “20,000 titles preserved for the world!” At the top of the Recently Completed Titles list is Niederländische Volkslieder by Hoffmann von Fallersleben, though I don’t know if that is the official #20,000.

Project Gutenberg expects to post its 30,000th English language ebook somewhere during this week. Late last year Distributed Proofreaders produced its 500th Dutch language ebook, Vanden Vos Reynaerde, of which I was one of the two post-processors (together with the mysteriously named Clog, who may have put in one or two hours more work than I, he said understatingly).

Distributed Proofreaders started in 2001 (the same year as Wikipedia). They were crowd-sourced projects 5 years before the term was invented by a Wired editor. Before Distributed Proofreaders it took volunteers about 40 hours to produce a single ebook for Project Gutenberg. This was a problem as volunteers often lost interest half way through, and abandoned projects without notification. Distributed Proofreaders doubled and in some instances tripled the production time, but was nevertheless a better proposition for volunteers. An ebook project got split into pages, and people could work on as little as a single page and still be productive. It then took a single person again to ‘glue’ those pages back together again in a single ebook, but by then a lot of the work had already been done.

The success of this new model is shown in the amount of books produced. Of the about 30,000 ebooks published by Project Gutenberg since 2001, two-thirds were produced by Distributed Proofreaders.

A welcome side-effect, the Project Gutenberg people assure us, is that the Distributed Proofreaders produced ebooks are of a consistent and high quality. Another side-effect is that this production model makes it easier to tackle difficult books.

Project Gutenberg started publishing electronic books before anyone else, in 1970, when then-student Michael Hart got a present of lots of computer time on the then nascent internet, which he used to publish out-of-copyright books there.

My two feet

[photo]

These are (unlike most of my shoes, as I found out today) models of my feet. I made them out of poplar plywood. One is marked L because the corresponding foot is called Lucifer. The other is marked R because that is the model for the right foot. (R = Right. Surely you don’t think I’d name my right foot? That would be insane.)

Invention #5: the fat supermarket

I eat a lot of TV dinners, simply because when I arrive at home, it’s been a long day and I really don’t feel like cooking. Unfortunately the supermarket monopolist of this town only sells high calorie TV dinners. What is a guy to do?

Well, you know, there ought to be a supermarket for fat people, one that sells filling but low calorie dinners. I imagine a tower, five stories high, no parking lots, no elevators, the store at the top floor. Every step tells you how many calories you’ve just burned. At the top they will only sell you food for a day. They won’t deliver. And their customer loyalty scheme will let you save for free use of the gym.

(I could of course stop buying crap, and start exercising more. Sure, and pigs could fly!)

See also: