Normally I stick to posts about science and technology on this blog. Like most Australians, I vote in elections, try to remain informed, but otherwise stay away from getting involved in politics. However, occasionally certain things become important enough issues that they need to be advertised more widely.
As you may know, the Australian Federal Government is attempting to censor the Internet within Australia by forcing ISPs to block a list of websites. This proposed internet filter will not be optional; it will effect all Australians, and the blocklist will compiled by a small group of people. The list of blocked sites will remain secret, so the Australian public will find it difficult to determine if this power is being abused. It will not prevent the spread of illegal material, which is typically shared via peer-to-peer networks that will not be blocked by the internet filter. If it is not already self evident why this approach to internet censorship is both an ineffective, a waste of resources and a potential threat to the freedom of information flow required for a healthy democracy, you can read more at the Great Australian Internet Blackout site and the Electronic Frontiers Australia site.
The Great Australian Internet Blackout is a combined online and offline demonstration against this imposed online censorship. For one week – January 25-29th – Aussie websites will “black out” to inform an even wider audience about the threat of imposed censorship.
This is what it looks like right now. I'm guessing that on January 25th something exciting (or educational) will appear inside that popup box !
So, people tell me 2009 ended recently. Apparently there were fireworks and stuff. This blog as seen very little action during 2009, despite my various good intentions for a blog ‘reboot’ (ala Pawel).
Like many of my online friends, I blame FriendFeed. I find commenting on a FriendFeed post a much more productive way of having a conversation around some new development sweeping the web than writing a dedicated blog post. Still, despite this being my “year of FriendFeed”, I started writing a few blog posts / articles / essays this year which never made it out of the Drafts folder. There is a positive side to unpublished drafts – they serve to nicely organize some thoughts, even if they are ultimately never shared. Anyhow, it’s time to clean them out and move on – and as part of that process – here are the highlights of my posts that never were.
Today I attended a presentation by Maria J Martin about Uniprot and various other EBI database services. At the end of the talk, someone asked something to the effect of “How about simplifying user submission of annotations / corrections” – they wanted something in addition to the current ‘free text’ feedback and comments forms, and wanted a way to easily suggest annotations in a structured way. There was some suggestion of wiki’s etc, and how this had been tried to some extent, but they hadn’t got it right yet.
Here is my take on an approach to user submitted content to Uniprot. Essentially users should be able to add/change annotations piecewise, directly via the standard Uniprot web page for each protein record. These changes would ‘go live’ immediately, but since a large part of the value in Uniprot lies in its curation by expert annotators, the interface would also provide a very clear separation between user-submitted ‘uncurated’ annotations and the current expertly curated annotations.
I’ve made some mockups of how some parts of the UI may look in my little fantasy world:
Those who have been watching may have noticed I quietly started developing an Android application in the last month or so. It’s still super-buggy and far from feature complete, but I thought it was time to announce it here (“release early, release often”). It’s not ready for real users yet, but developers may like to take a little look.
I’ve found QR-code “2D barcodes” really handy when playing with my Android phone.
Sometimes, I have a web page open on my desktop PC, and I want to quickly load it in the Android Chrome browser to see what it looks like. Rather than re-typing it with my thumbs, the Barcode Scanner application allows me to scan a QR-code from the screen of my computer, and if the decoded text contains a URL, open it in the Android browser.
These two bookmarklets turn the URL of the current page that is open in your browser into a scannable QR-code: