There’s still time to give to a charity for 2006!

The Kim Family Search Discussion continues here and approaches 4000 comments!

I just learned that one of the charity causes I support has matching funds that might expire unused. It’s called Blessing Hands and helps fund school for poor kids in China. Here’s the form to donate this year and get your donation effectively doubled, adding to the already great charity ROI projects like this attain by helping those in really poor countries.

Another great charity is KIVA at these are actual *loans* rather than money you simply give. I’d heard of KIVA but only decided to get involved when Adam Lasnik showcased a project on his blog that looked great. Thanks Adam!

Lastly consider which works to alleviate extreme poverty in 3rd world, mostly through water, health, and education projects. Here also you get to pick the type of project to support and learn a lot about the situation.

Why am I not listing US Charities here? I do believe in supporting your local neighborhood, schools, city, and local charities for the obvious reasons. However as a business guy I really believe that you should also look to the places where you get a very high return on investment whether it’s running your business or helping out other people.

Here in the great USA we have a lot more disposable income and affluence than in most other areas, so it’s easy and painless to have a huge impact on the lives of those in the third world by making even modest donations. It’s neat to know that your money has maximum impact in places where even a hundred dollars can wind up saving a child’s life.

Elfyourself – have yourself a virally marketed Christmas

Know any coffee and art lovers?   Give them The Coffee Calendar 

Viral marketing approaches (not to be confused with computer viruses) take clever little online ideas and try to make them spread by online “word of mouth” which usually means friends emailing other friends.

This year’s big viral winner may be ElfYourself, which is showing nothing less than stunning traffic over the past few weeks – looks like it’s beating out many major sites and might even approach the top 100 sites this week as it spreads. [nope – looks like it peaked near Christmas at about site 250 per Alexa measures].

My friend and neighbor Ilana sent me an Elfyourself and within 30 minutes I’d sent out one myself even though I usually avoid sending people anything “fun” online to avoid cluttering up their boxes.

Expedia vs Elfyourself traffic per Alexa. Alexa is not very reliable but it’s good for generic approaches like this. Note that it’s “today’s” measure rather than the three month average that is of interest here since the site just startup up a few weeks ago: Alexa traffic comparison

Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network

Kim Search Comments and discussion – click here

This effort is very interesting. I’m highlighting notes from a Jeff Barnard A.P. article:

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants the state to explore ways of helping local agencies better communicate and coordinate during rescue efforts.

The governor also is concerned that county sheriff’s departments, which are responsible for conducting search and rescue operations in Oregon, may not be funded adequately, spokeswoman Anna Richter-Taylor said.

“Maybe what we need to do is to look a little bit broader and to see if there’s a different relationship, a partnership between the state and the counties, so that we can help the counties in some of these operations,” Kulongoski told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kulongoski’s spokeswoman said the governor wanted to review after-incident reports to figure out where the state can better support efforts on the ground by the local communities.

“Whether it is communications, helping establish a system of centralized communications, or around equipment, the state wants to do everything it can to be supportive,” she said from Salem.

Kulongoski’s budget for 2007 includes $561 million to establish the Oregon Wireless Interoperability Network, Richter-Taylor said.The money would go toward building 54 communications towers around the state to allow first-responders from state, local and federal agencies involved in emergency operations to talk to each other.


See comments for more

Merry Christmas to all!

 James Kim Search Discussion – Click here | Mount Hood Climber Search

Wishing a very merry Christmas to all my friends young and old, old and new! Here is hoping that 2007 brings this world more joy, less sadness, and much greater prosperity to those who struggle every day just to feed their families. As for the rest of us I hope we work harder to make this world the wonderful place it could be, and should be, and will be.

GoogleGuy and upcoming Google Rival WikiaSari

A couple interesting TechMemes for today:

Matt’s got a great post noting how page view metrics are breaking down with AJAX implementations. Notable from his mini-rant is this:

* If you’re doing a start-up and want impressive page view metrics, stay the hell away from AJAX.
*If you would even *for one second* consider staying away from AJAX for the sake of impressive metrics, you’re running your start-up ass-backwards.

Next, in the “Could be Good as Google” department we have Jimmy Wales of Wikimedia and founder of the superbly excellent Wikipedia project announcing today that WikiaSaria WikiSaria Article from UK  will be a community based search engine to rival Google’s search. This is really provocative news as Google appears comitted to the mechanistic, machine driven approach to search, believing it’s the best and most scalable way to deal with spam and the growing complexity of organizing the world’s info. An alternative vision is Yahoo’s approach which includes more human interaction and editing than Yahoo but still relies heavily on the algorithm. It appears the new search will focus mostly on human input from the exploding community of onliners.

Wales: “Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Try searching for the term ‘Tampa hotels’, for example, and you will not get any useful results,” he said.

Spammers and commercial ventures are also learning how to manipulate Google’s computer-based search, he added.

Mr Wales believes that Google’s computer-based algorithmic search program is no match for the editorial judgment of humans.

Also note the many misquotes about Amazon as a participant.

Wales: Reporters and bloggers note: Amazon has nothing to do with this project. They are a valued investor in Wikia, but people are realllllly speculating beyond the facts. This has nothing to do with A9, Amazon, etc. Help me out, spread the word. I am looking for a community of people to continue the development of wikiasari and so on. Discuss here. Join the mailing list. —-Jimbo Wales 23:24, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

More on this huge story from these blogs:

Niall Kennedy: Wikiasari: Wikipedia success applied to social search?
Michael Arrington: Wikipedia to Launch Search Engine: Exclusive Screenshot

Adam Turner : Wikipedia founder plans search engine to rival Google



Pete Cashmore: Wikiasari – Wikipedia Founder Launching a Google Rival

Whitewater Rafting is very safe, CNN!

James Kim Search Discussion – Click here | Mount Hood Climber Search

David Boone, missing hiker in California

I’ve been looking into missing people, danger, and death for the Danger Database project and noted this CNN headline that screams “Whitewater Deaths surge in US”, noting that recently about 50 people per year die on whitewater trips.

Until I got to the last paragraph they almost had me buying into the idea that rafting is really dangerous. I take my kids rafting and certainly realize there is risk, but I’ve been assuming it’s well worth the educational and recreations value of a raft trip down the Rogue River or other great whitewater rivers here in Oregon or other place. I started to wonder but luckily I read this : “Ten million Americans take whitewater trips each summer”.

OK, let’s do the math: 50 people out of 10,000,000 die while rafting. Assuming you take an “average” rafting trip your chances of death are 50/10,000,000 or 1/200,000. Looking at it in the common death statistic parlance this is .5 deaths per 100,000 people which is a very reasonable degree of risk I think, though I need to bone up on my death stats for other activities. Hmmm – 1987 skydiving killed 1 for every 75,000 jumps and it looks like Hang Gliding is the most dangerous activity but I need to find better stats. Lightning appears to average 90 deaths per year, handily beating out rafting in terms of simple numbers.

Of course your chances are actually much lower than 1/200,000 if you avoid rafting while drunk and taking unneccessary risks, which I understand contribute to a lot of the accidents in rafting and many other human pursuits as well.

Hmm – based on some stats I dug up it looks like an hour of rafting is about 3x more dangerous than an hour of driving (ie based on my wild and quick calculations you are 3x more likely to die rafting for an hour than driving for an hour).   Still, it would appear to be a fairly/very safe activity.   See comments below for details

… and speaking of Travel, how about Time Tourism?

Thanks to Glenn (hey dude, where’s your blog to link to!?)  who just pointed me to this fascinating claim by UCONN professor Ronald Mallet suggesting that we’ll probably be traveling in time this century, and that time travel will be verified on the subatomic level within a few years using this clever experiment:

To determine if time loops exist, Mallett is designing a desktop-sized device that will test his time-warping theory. By arranging mirrors, Mallett can make a circulating light beam which should warp surrounding space.

Because some subatomic particles have extremely short lifetimes, Mallett hopes that he will observe these particles to exist for a longer time than expected when placed in the vicinity of the circulating light beam.

A longer lifetime means that the particles must have flowed through a time loop into the future.

…  Mallett – an advocate of the Parallel Universes theory – assures us that time machines will not present any danger.

“The Grandfather Paradox [where you go back in time and kill your grandfather] is not an issue,” said Mallett. “In a sense, time travel means that you’re traveling both in time and into other universes. If you go back into the past, you’ll go into another universe. As soon as you arrive at the past, you’re making a choice and there’ll be a split. Our universe will not be affected by what you do in your visit to the past.”

The parallel universe stuff is not all that fanciful either, rather it’s consistent with the new but increasingly mainstream thinking in physics called “M Theory” that supports the *possibility* of parallel universes that would be essentially invisible to earch other except perhaps by the influences of gravity.

Yes, it sounds like science fiction but it’s not fiction at all, just speculative rather than hard science.   At least for now.