Barack Obama wins the election!

I’m so happy that Barack Obama is the president-elect! He will be sworn in on January 20th, 2009. I’m very much looking forward to the governing phase of things, and was glad to hear Obama talk about tonight being just the first step. The real work can now begin.

Photo by Ozier Muhammad, The New York Times

Here’s the story from the New York Times: Racial Barrier Falls as Voters Embrace Call for Change. And from CNN: Obama inspires historic victory.

For more information in the coming days and weeks, be sure to check Wikipedia.

Congratulations Barack Obama!

How I plan to track the election online

barack obama Finally, it’s election time! Tomorrow evening either Barack Obama or John McCain will become the next President of the United States. Like most of you, I’ll be watching the results closely. Exactly four months ago Obama clinched the Democratic nomination, and I hope tomorrow is the day his campaign comes to a victorious end. I’m so excited! And also a little glad that it’ll finally be over, to be honest.

Here are a few of the places I’ll be watching tomorrow:

Know of any great resources I’ve missed? Let me know. Go Obama!

UPDATE: As expected, Mashable has a giant list of election resources. Check it out.

Barack Obama clinches the Democratic nomination

barack obama from cnnI guess to no one’s surprise, Barack Obama tonight clinched the Democratic party nomination and is the presumptive nominee for November’s election. I’m sad for Hillary Clinton, but very impressed by her determination. She ran a superb race, and you have to give her credit for sticking it out until the end. In her speech tonight from New York, she said she was making no decisions. It was definitely not a concession speech. She indicated that she’ll do whatever is in the best interests of the party.

“This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight,” she said.

Clinton said she would meet with supporters and party leaders in the coming days to determine her next steps.

I’m really not sure if she’s interested in being Obama’s running mate or not.

Assuming nothing crazy happens between now and Denver, Barack Obama will be the democratic nominee. That means I want him to win in the general election. I worry that he’s a weaker candidate against McCain than Hillary would have been, however. I know he can give a speech like no one else, but you need to do more than that to become President.

I really hope that Obama’s win tonight doesn’t mean a loss for the Democrats come November.

Read: CNN

Starbucks to offer free Wi-Fi at most U.S. locations

starbucks It’s announcements like this one that make me wish I lived south of the border. Beginning this spring, Starbucks and AT&T will offer free and paid wireless access at “many” locations around the United States:

Starbucks said Monday it will give customers that use its Starbucks purchase card two hours of free wireless access per day. After that, it will cost $3.99 for a two-hour session. Monthly memberships will cost $19.99 and include access to any of AT&T’s 70,000 hot spots worldwide.

How freaking sweet is that?! Two free hours if you use a Starbucks card. Starbucks Gossip confirmed with PR that they mean the gift card kind, not the Duetto, which is even better! And if you work at Starbucks, you get unlimited free access:

As an added benefit for the more than 100,000 Starbucks partners in the U.S., all Starbucks partners will receive free AT&T Wi-Fi accounts allowing them to use the network in Starbucks company-operated locations offering Wi-Fi access.

Today’s news ends a six-year deal that Starbucks had with AT&T rival T-Mobile. There’s more on the story at Techmeme.

Please Starbucks, bring this to Canada! I would absolutely love to drop in to Starbucks, turn on my iPod touch, and check out the headlines (or Twitter/Facebook mobile heh).

Please? Pretty please?

Read: The Associated Press

Super Tuesday 2008

imageToday is the big day! Twenty-four states are holding their caucuses and/or primaries today in the United States – it’s known as Super Tuesday. The results have already started to come in, and if you’d like to follow along, here are some handy online resources:

Be sure to check out my post on using Twitter for Breaking News too.

Of course, you could do it the old fashioned way and turn on CNN, but where’s the fun in that?!

If you’re trying to figure out which candidate is the most tech-friendly, here are a few resources:

Happy Super Tuesday!

The R Word

Post Image Every morning on the way to work I listen to podcasts. Usually I listen to the NYTimes Front Page, and BBC’s Global News. Lately, both have been talking quite a bit about "the R word". So has the rest of the press (see the R-word index). I’m no economist, but it seems to me that the USA is not bracing for a recession, they’re already in one. And that in turn has affected the rest of the world.

The media coverage of the recession has understandably increased this week, with world financial leaders meeting in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum. A couple quotes from those leaders in this article at the International Herald Tribute caught my eye:

George Soros, the financier who made a fortune betting against the pound, went so far Wednesday as to say that the downturn would put an end to the long status of the dollar as the world’s default currency.

"The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom," Soros said. "It’s basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency."

And on the completely opposite end of the spectrum:

Not everybody was grim. John Snow, the former Treasury Secretary and chairman of Cerberus Capital Management, said that if the United States slipped into recession, it would be "short and shallow."

"That’s been the pattern of recessions in the U.S., and there’s a reason for it," he said in an interview. "There is an inherent resilience in the U.S. economy. We’re already seeing an adjustment."

So which is it? Is the United States losing its status as the world’s top economy, the so-called "default" currency? Or is this just a temporary blip that won’t shake things up too much, the normal ebb and flow of the markets?

My money is on the latter. The economy follows a pattern of expansion and contraction, and perhaps it is time for another contraction. And Snow is right, with the US at least, periods of contraction are historically much shorter than periods of expansion.

You can read more about recession at Wikipedia.

Read: I.H.T.

Passports required for U.S. entry starting January 2007

Post ImageI guess this means I am going to have to get my passport renewed. Today, the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary revealed that the United States will start requiring travelers entering the country to show passports beginning January 23rd:

The department had been expected to institute the passport requirement for air travelers around the beginning of the year. Setting the date on Jan. 23 pushes the start past the holiday season.

The requirement marks a change for Americans, Canadians, Bermudians and some Mexicans.

No more driver’s license or birth certificate to gain entry. The article mentions that only about one quarter of Americans have a passport. I wonder what the numbers are like here in Canada?

Read: Yahoo News

Why can't we detect a nuclear blast?

Post ImageAs I am sure you are well aware, tensions in North Korea are building as the rogue state threatened more tests if additional sanctions were placed on it. I have been keeping up on the news much like everyone else, but I haven’t really taken the time to do a lot of digging to understand the situation better. As such, I pretty much consider North Korea crazy, as I fail to see how provoking a war they could not possibly win will get them anywhere. This is not 1939, and the major powers of the day are not going to roll over and give North Korea what it wants.

Despite unified international pressure to disband plans for a test, North Korea apparently tested a nuclear weapon. I say apparently, because it is not yet clear:

“The working assumption is that this was a nuclear explosion of some kind,” one intelligence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The conventional explosion theory doesnt make a hell of a lot of sense, even for the North Koreans.”

Working assumption is an improvement from a few days ago! So here’s my question: why can’t we detect a nuclear blast?

When I say “we”, I mean the current nuclear powers, especially the United States and Russia. How could the cold war have gone on for decades without a nuclear detection system being conceived?

Maybe I am letting my ignorance show here, but it seems to me we should have the ability to detect a nuclear blast anywhere. I don’t know how the science works or anything, but I would have thought such a detection system would have been developed a long time ago. I would have thought that a country like the United States would want to know immediately if a nuclear weapon was detonated somewhere.

It just seems strange to me that North Korea can say they detonated an atomic weapon, and we have no idea whether they are lying or not.

Podcasting Legal Guide

Post ImageA new legal guide for podcasting has been released at the Creative Common site with the purpose of providing “a general roadmap of some of the legal issues specific to podcasting.” The document is quite lengthly, and while I haven’t read through it all, I did notice that it only applies to US law:

This Guide covers only US-based legal questions. Since podcasts are typically distributed world wide, legal issues from other jurisdictions are relevant for you but we are unable to include them at this time. We have released this Guide under a Creative Commons license that permits derivatives works and so we hope that practitioners in other jurisdictions will translate and adapt this Guide for their jurisdictions. Please let us know if you do by emailing so that we can link to your version of the Guide.

Interesting project, but due to the length, I question how many people will actually read it. Tip of the hat to Geek News Central.

Read: Creative Commons

Net Neutrality

Post ImageI haven’t said much about so-called “network neutrality” yet, but I do think it is a very important issue. I don’t pretend to know all about it, but I have read enough to form some opinions. First off, here’s how the term is defined at Wikipedia:

Network neutrality is a proposed principle of network regulation. It asserts that, in order to promote innovation, network service providers such as telephone and cable internet companies should not be permitted to dictate how those networks are used (ie. not permitted to ban certain types of programs, or to ban certain types of devices connecting to the network).

Currently, this is a big political issue in the United States, but I am not sure if it has received much attention elsewhere. A draft bill scheduled to be voted on tomorrow will be revised to ensure that the FCC has tools at its disposal to address violations. This is the main idea behind the bill, at least as I understand it:

The draft bill says broadband providers must provide connectivity speeds “at least equal to the speed and quality of service” that the operator offers for its own content or that of its affiliates, and “make available the same bandwidth” to everyone.

I encourage you to read the article linked to above (at CNET as it contains some background information in addition to the current happenings.

I was a little torn between whether or not network neutrality is a good idea or not. My gut feeling and initial reactions were that net neutrality is vital for the future of the Internet, and it must be protected. As I thought about it a little more, I turned to economics, and thus my secondary thoughts were that the market should decide how these services are charged for and offered. Upon still further consideration, I feel that net neutrality is important and we should all ensure the Internet remains neutral.

There are too many “ifs” associated with a network that might become tiered or fragmented in some way – who knows what the providers might do. The last thing I would want as a business consumer is to have different Internet access, whether in performance or throughput or bandwidth, than a larger company simply because the Internet providers can squeeze large sums of money out of them.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it is open and available to everyone (I realize there are people who cannot yet afford access, or areas for which access is unavailable, but as a blanket statement, the Internet is pretty open). I think it’s important we keep it that way, so I hope laws concerning network neutrality are ratified in the United States, and eventually, elsewhere.