Archive for the 'Blogging' Category

Net neutrality and a hint of outrage

December 10, 2007

In response to the article on “Net Neutrality” posted on Wired’s website:
In Test, Canadian ISP Splices itself into Google homepage

For those Rogers Internet Customers that happen to read this which are “Ok” with being notified that your ISP will be charging you more because you have reached your download cap, two things:

1.) God bless me if I ever have to keep track of the amount of content that is downloaded. I am cool with ‘minutes’ on my cell phone and tracking my energy consumption at home. I am sure that the day will come (read ‘Being Digital‘) when I am charged for the amount of Internet – I hope it is not in the near future, and I hope that I am really rich when it happens because I use the Internet a lot.

2.) The issue at hand here is not that the ISP is trying to contact you, it is the mechanism in which they are doing it. If we allow information from websites to be modified (for any reason) we will enter what many deem to be a slippery slope. Where does it end?

If you are all OK, with Rogers modifying the content from a web page, then you will more than likely be OK if Rogers created a nice little desktop application that you could install. The application could sit in your systray and notify you when you are getting close to your cap. Presumably this application could be built into a Toolbar option (for the more sophisticated users) similar to the new toolbars present in the Flock Web browser.

This approach achieves the same goal but in a less intrusive way.

Leaving the HTML alone is something that should be regulated and there should be stiff penalties against modifying original sources.

What about Syndication?
Now, with that said – the sticky side to Net neutrality. What about RSS and other languages used to syndicate content. What to do with these.

My view – the published web page retrieved from the registered URL should remain untouched. That is, if Google publishes content at http://www.google.com that content should be deemed “untouchable”. It, like other publicly available sources, remains part of the Google domain of ownership much like say a book.

Syndicated content should fall under this same ruling. Where it gets difficult is when you talk about aggregations. I believe users should be able to slice up content as they see fit (i.e. if a feed has 10 links I should be able to show only 5 of these, as long as I do not modify the individual content – link, title, date, description). If I want to reorder these or combine them with other links I should be able to do so.

I think complexities like this will prevent a binding Net neutrality law but we should set social guidelines and live by them even if there is no legislation.

Blogged with Flock

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It’s not the destination, it’s the journey

November 9, 2007

I know there are some really cool linking sites (I use Del.icio.us and clipmarks – but there are tons others). But what we don’t really find are really cool “travel to a link” sites. I am amazed at how I discover content on a daily basis. So much so that I am trying to write another topic “dampening the noise” but I wanted to take you through this trip I took today:

1) First I read my LinkedIn “Q & A for Product Management” – a saved RSS feed of any questions asked by people on LinkedIn dealing with Product Management
2) From their I found an interesting and timely question about Product Management and Agile Development
3) While reading the 10 responses I found one response that had a link to another timely blog post by Stacey Weber at Pragmatic Marketing (my favorite PM site)
4) While reading that I decided to check out their “Blogs” section where I stumbled upon (no pun intended) a whole slew of blogs that they recommend (in various categories)

After looking through this list for a while – my head hurt – I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information so I had to quit. I stopped. Couldn’t go on any further – paralyzed by information.

This was all from one post in one of my 40+ RSS Feeds (each averaging 20 plus posts since the last time I read them)

We really need a better way to consume information…

Blogged with Flock

We need to increase the rate at which we consume information

October 23, 2007

I am not talking about Matrix style information consumption (although that would be cool) but one of the biggest problems with the overload of information that we are in the midst of is that we are governed by old information presentation models.

Sentences, paragraphs, headings etc… have been the common tools we use to present information. Take a blog post for example. Very straight forward (I am shacked by the common layout formats myself). In most cases we present information on the Internet much the same way we would present it in a book.

We need to rethink this. Some will argue that we don’t present content in the same way that we do in books. They might say, “…but, Ron, we use flash and video and other techniques to get our points across”. They would be correct. Good content is delivered over the Internet using rich media, which is cool for those talented designers that can move in and out of Photoshop and Flash, the same way I do with a web browser.

But what about the rest of us. Those that can’t whip up nice graphics and movies whenever we want. How can we present information in a better way?

Robert Scoble thinks:

We have too much great content.

And Steve Rubel thinks that we are headed for an:

Attention Crash.

I think Steve and Robert are both correct. But what I think we need is a new way to communicate ideas. Not with text and lengthy paragraphs or run on sentences, but with something else.

I believe that we were headed here anyways. We add thousands of books a year (good books) yet on WordPress alone there were:

1,682,684 blogs with 15,713 new posts today.

We don’t need a fancy publisher to put content out there.  We simply write.  We are not reaching the amount of people that the Times Best Seller writers reach, but if you look at the world of content it is growing at an alarming rate.  The result of this is that eventually all of this “good” content will eventually go to waste.  Hopefully not.

If we don’t produce a way to “rip” through our “good” content in a faster way, we will miss the opportunity to truly capitalize on this great medium.

Commentary: 110% is not a bad thing

October 9, 2007

I want to comment on a post I read today, by what I would consider to be an expert in the field of Ajax and Web Development in general. I ran across this post today while I was searching for some help on a Spry problem that I was having and it was completely ironic.

The post is called ‘Don’t Give 110%…‘ and it goes into saying:

I would rather have a steady concerted effort than a stressed out push full of mistakes. I want someone on my team who can give me 100% of their effort on a consistant basis rather than someone who gives 80-90% (or less), consistantly, then tries to push the last little bit with a “110%” effort.

Definitely some some sound advice from someone who I am sure “consistently” 😉 gives 100% all of the time. When I first started reading the post I was a bit taken a back. Who in their right mind would ever ask for someone not to give them %110. I was about to comment on his blog how that was a rather strange post for someone who is considered a “leader” in the field (at least within the Spry Framework field) when I remembered why I was there.

I found myself at this spot because I was having difficulty with a particular bit of Ajax code I was working on for our new demo site set to release with our product. It worked fine in Firefox but not in IE and so when I searched for help I “stumbled upon” his blog post and was intrigued.

As the day wore on (and I eventually found my problem) I realized that at one angle he has a point. But I think that it needs to be clarified at least.

What I define as 100% and what someone else might define as 100% are totally different things. When I do something I like to do it right. I pay attention to detail. I enjoy the finer parts of complete analysis and thorough execution. However, when you are a perfectionist, something is never really “done”. So how does one define 100% on a solution to a problem or execution of a project that could always be a little bit better.

What is 100% in todays hyper sensitive, uber-attention filled days. Is it participating in a project without any distractions from outside noise? Is it focusing constantly on the problem until you solve it (assuming there is a solution). Don’t know.

I can tell you this: What I was having a problem with (which consumed nearly 45 minutes of my day – and distracted one other individual for more than 10 of those) was a stupid error caused by what I can only imagine could be defined as “fatigue”.

So is my “giving 110%” causing my performance to go down? I am taking on too many projects with little time to complete them to 100% – maybe.

Or, am I a looking at executing my tasks at 110% of my capabilities all the time, whether I spend 1 minute or5 hours. Giving 110% is not only subjective it is relative.

Why Facebook may actually be better than LinkedIn

July 6, 2007

I have been a member of LinkedIn since April 24, 2006 and I have about 50 connections. I have been a fan of LinkedIn but since I have been at the same company for over 5 years I have to say that LinkedIn has really only gotten me back in contact with a few people that I lost touch with in the past. Most of the people that are on my list I regard highly – people that I have personally done business with and would more than likely enjoy doing business with in the future. I am not too concerned about a “network” per se, so the number (50) doesn’t bother me. I have several people in my list that have over 500 contacts. So, if I needed to find more people or get a reference or introduction I certainly could.

Then I joined Facebook (don’t remember when but it was shortly after they started to allow users without .edu email addresses). I have begun to get into Facebook a bit more and started to look through their groups and networks. I found an interesting group called Web 2.0 (Entrepreneurs). Currently, there are over 7500 members and they are people who are either looking for help or want to offer their help with startups. The group’s officer list is a who’s who in Web application knowledge. People like Kevin Rose (digg.com), Michael Arrington (TechCrunch), Om Malik (GigaOM), Guy Kawasaki (Garage Technology Ventures) and others. The group got so popular that they had to spin off another group which they entitled Web T.e (T.e = Trust, Integrity and Ethics) where you essentially need to be invited to participate.

In the “Recent News” section of the group Mark Fletcher (started Bloglines.com) had 25 (15 + 10) things to remember when starting up a Start-Up:

+15 Startup Commandments

1. Your idea isn’t new. Pick an idea; at least 50 other people have thought of it. Get over your stunning brilliance and realize that execution matters more.

2. Stealth startups suck. You’re not working on the Manhattan Project, Einstein. Get something out as quickly as possible and promote the hell out of it.

3. If you don’t have scaling problems, you’re not growing fast enough.

4. If you’re successful, people will try to take advantage of you. Hope that you’re in that position, and hope that you’re smart enough to not fall for it.

5. People will tell you they know more than you do. If that’s really the case, you shouldn’t be doing your startup.

6. Your competition will inflate their numbers. Take any startup traffic number and slash it in half. At least.

7. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Leonardo could paint the Mona Lisa only once. You, Bob Ross, can push a bug release every 5 minutes because you were at least smart enough to do a web app.

8. The size of your startup is not a reflection of your manhood. More employees does not make you more of a man (or woman as the case may be).

9. You don’t need business development people. If you’re successful, companies will come to you. The deals will still be distractions and not worth doing, but at least you’re not spending any effort trying to get them.

10. You have to be wrong in the head to start a company. But we have all the fun.

11. Starting a company will teach you what it’s like to be a manic depressive. They, at least, can take medication.

12. Your startup isn’t succeeding? You have two options: go home with your tail between your legs or do something about it. What’s it going to be?

13. If you don’t pay attention to your competition, they will turn out to be geniuses and will crush you. If you do pay attention to them, they will turn out to be idiots and you will have wasted your time. Which would you prefer?

14. Startups are not a democracy. Want a democracy? Go run for class president, Bueller.

15. You’re doing a web app, right? This isn’t the 1980s. Your crummy, half-assed web app will still be more successful than your competitor’s most polished software application.

+10 More Startup Commandments

1. You will have at least one catastrophe every three months.

2. Outsource effectively, or be effectively outsourced.

3. Do you thrive on stress and ambiguity? You’d better.

4. The best way to get outside funding is to be successful already. Stupid but true. But you, cheapskate, don’t need money, right?

5. People will think your idea sucks. They’re even probably right. The only way to prove them wrong is to succeed.

6. A startup will require your complete attention and devotion. Thought your first love in High School was clingy? You can’t take out a restraining order on your startup.

7. Being an entrepreneur requires a healthy amount of ignorance. Note I did not say stupidity.

8. Your software sucks. So what. Everyone else’s does also, and re-architecting is the kiss of death for a startup. Startups are no place for architecture astronauts.

9. You do have a public API, right?

10. Abject Terror. Overwhelming Joy. Monstrous Greed. Embrace and harness these emotions you must.

With online networking opportunities like this who needs LinkedIn?

I am not the only one thinking about LinkedIn like this, in fact TechCrunch has recently posted that LinkedIn may face a

“real risk of long term irrelevance as Facebook becomes the social networking platform of choice for professional networkers. “

Today I will keep my accounts on both sites. Currently I only have a handful of people in Facebook and I am currently only using Facebook for personal not professional reasons but who knows. Maybe I will ditch LinkedIn and get all of my contacts to join me on Facebook.

I can tell you this: I will more than likely pull down my MySpace account and focus solely on Facebook – it is leaps and bounds ahead of MySpace.

Maybe the Prius isn’t that bad of a car after all

July 5, 2007

In an article posted by CNN.com about “Drugs found in Gore son’s Prius after traffic stop“:

Al Gore III, 24, was driving a blue Toyota Prius about 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway when he was pulled over about 2:15 a.m., Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Who knew that a Prius could even go that fast? I guess I need to re-evaluate the purchase of my Volkswagen Passat.

“Prius: Environmentally friendly and almost fast enough to get away from the police”

Note: I am doing an experiment – a while back I told you that CNN.com was going live with some interesting technology from a company called “Sphere”. They are linking to blog posts which are talking about CNN.com articles. It appears from the blog posts which are listed that the only thing you need to do is to link to the article. So I am going to see if my post gets presented on CNN.com.

More to come later….

Update 07/05/2007 21:44:

Ok, so I would say that this worked.  I saw 6 direct views from CNN.com so my post must have been displayed at some point, but more interesting was that I was picked up by this website called “Slate” which appears to be a site that talks about what people are talking about.  they were kind of funny as they posted this:

NotronWest at Sweet! echoes the surprise: “I guess I need to re-evaluate the purchase of my Volkswagen Passat. ‘Prius: environmentally friendly and almost fast enough to get away from the police.’

I am going to see how far this goes as I post a few more CNN.com responses.

Later

How to delete 80+ unread emails … without trying

June 30, 2007

I have to admit when it comes to productivity I owe a lot to Microsoft. I have been using Outlook for over 10 years now and One Note for over 4. Without these two programs I would be a mess. They help keep me organized and in touch with the people that I work with. So I am not totally complaining here just expressing some discontent with an event that took place yesterday.

I was in a rush (which is not a good time to be handling important items like e-mails) so this may have just been a lack of concentration, but I was mortified yesterday when I lost 80+ unread e-mails from my Outlook. Here is how it happened (I think):

The foldersI organize my e-mails using the folders in the top left hand corner of Outlook 2007. The folders that I use heavily are “Unread”, “Deleted”, “Inbox” and “Follow-Up (red)”. They help me keep track of the emails that I have not worked on, have been removed and those that I have said “Hey, I need to get back to this person”. While I was at the CFUnited conference this week, I went two days without answering e-mails (actually one night – Wednesday – which ended up being 2 days when you factor in that I was at a conference all day).

On Thursday before I left the conference I decided to clear out all of the junk e-mails in hopes that I would get to some of the real e-mails on my plane ride home. So I opened the “Unread” folder and on the right side started selecting the e-mail’s that I wanted to delete using the CRTL key from within the Inbox folder (Under the “unread” folder the contents are grouped by folder so that I can view all types of Unread e-mail).

However, I had the folder “inbox” selected (as you can see here)Inbox Folder

This causes some serious issues because it will bring over all of the e-mail’s in the entire folder, even if they are not selected. So, all of mye-mail’s, including the ones that I needed to read, ended up in the Deleted Items folder. No big deal at this point since I still have them. So I then proceed to highlight the e-mail’s that I wanted to keepDeleted Folder so that I could move them back into the inbox except when I moved them back in there was a weird message that appeared.

At first, I decided to say “no” – feeling that copying these images over was not a good idea maybe I had clicked something improperly. I decided to try again – again the same message. This time I decided to say “yes”. When I said “yes” all of the e-mail’s that I had copied appeared inside a new email (addressed currently to noone) as attachments.Deleted Message I said to myself – no way do I want that. I then clicked the “x” button on the e-mail message to close it. However, when I did that – all of the e-mail’s which were originally located in the deleted folder (by way of the Inbox) were all gone! Ouch!

Ever have that “click-of-death” feeling. Like that click you just executed was not a good one and the likelyhood that you would recover successfully from that click were slim to non? Yeah – that’s how I felt. Not fun.

The reason I believe that this happened? I had the “Today” folder highlighted in the Deleted Folders area (much like I had done on the Inbox to get myself into the mess in the first place). Arrrgh!!! There has to be an extra level of protection here. Now I can see why some organizations make a copy of every e-mail and forward it to a “holding” account in addition to delivering it to the appropriate box. Makes sense now!Deleted folder

Maybe as a fail safe, Outlook should integrate with your computers “Recycle Bin” so that this type of stuff won’t happen. I guess I would like a few more “Are you sure you want to delete this?” messages followed by your computer saying “Ok, this guy is an idiot, I will still save a backup even if he thinks it is a bad idea”.

If you haven’t heard of Sphere, you will soon

June 23, 2007

Before the wis.dm site jumped ship, I wrote about how mainstream media has begun to engage end users in conversations. News sites like Wall Mercury commentsStreet Journal, USA Today, Wired, San Jose Mercury have been engaging their customers for a while. WSJ.com forumsReaders have been posting comments, digging, tagging for some time. And most people actually like it. CNN.com has been a little late to the game and while they have the “revolutionary” Situation Room, they have not joined the true social network. Until now..

I use CNN.com for all of my mainstream news (can’t ever get enough Paris jail footage), and while I don’t spend a ton of time there, I do use the site on a daily basis to keep up with what everyone else is keeping up with (not everyone knows what NewsGator is for or how to use it). When they announced their beta I like any other beta tester jumped at the chance.

I have to say that I was not tremendously impressed at first. Since all of my news is read through a pretty plain RSS reader, I saw this as a simple re-design. Then I started seeing a few things that I liked. First was that they have a tab on some articles (the details page) which will display a video file if the article has an associated video with it. Then I saw it … the difference that I had been waiting for.

CNN.com has not only decided to allow people to add their voice directly to the web site, CNN.com has decided to “report”CNN.com and Sphere oCNN.com and Sphere (1)n conversations in the Blogsphere with a widget created by a company named Sphere. The basic idea for the widget, is to query the Blogsphere for content related to the article. I think that this feature will really improve the recongition of Blogs and expose the community to more people. I am not sure how many people will actually use this but I think that it is a great idea.

Categorizing our communities

May 30, 2007

Sarah Cooper posted a great response to the following series of posts regarding “Circles of Relationship”. The summary of which can be found here and here.

The flash application that Sarah built (here) brings up a good topic about classification for our communities. I participated in a beta site called wis.dm (which has currently shifted it’s format and is completely unusable) but when it started out it showed me clearly how a system could be built which would allow us to classify the people we participate with in our communities.

The system used a rating service (which had some scaling issues that lead to its ultimate demise) which allowed people to determine who were experts.

Basic idea was this:
1.) Someone posts a link to topic and adds some comments (to spark conversation). They then tagged the links (and people who posted comments could also add their tags).
2.) You voted on the link and comments

The result was essentially a system which would relate someone who posted a lot of information on say “Apple” or “iPod” with a positive vote as an “expert” on the topic.

We need this system in our world today so that you can tell me that “Jen” (from the sample flash application) is really good to talk to about concerts, OK to talk to about clothing and not so good to talk to about Movies. I think that this has been created as an internal memory piece (particularly on web forums where you participate with many of the same people) but how do we extend that?

For instance, I have frequented a web forum where people talk about movies. And there is this one person who is the “King-Transformer” guy. Knows everything about the history of the show, the movie and everything else that is Transformer based.

Know I know that this person is the person to go to in order to ask an educated question about Optimus Prime and gang, but how do I tell others. How does this person become widely known as the “King-Transformer” guy. This system has to be created some how. Unfortunately I think that this is something that will require the cooperation of many sites but we can hope.

Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0

May 3, 2007

As Mike posted about “RSS in Plain English” , it reminded me of some of the conversations we have been having at work as we try to jump-start discussions surrounding our companies general approach to Web 2.0 (which includes a healthy dose of RSS). I spoke at internal round table last week about RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs and their place in the Web Content Management space. Particularly, focusing on how RSS was effecting the Enterprise business world and how our product would be growing to support that need. During my work, I came across a great video (like a great cult movie these days you need to watch it a couple of times to pick up everything) which helps to dispel the myths about Web 2.0.

What I found to be well done in the video was the process of not only describing what Web 2.0 is today but how we got here. How HTML was built as a markup language which was

“…designed to describe the structure of a web document … such elements defined how content would be formatted. In other words, form and content became inseparable in HTML…”

In the early days of pure HTML development, the tags were the power. <b> for something bold, <i> for something italics. We coded because we wanted to designate that something was important and should be looked at differently. We were not thinking about the actual content in the context of the document, we were simply saying “when this is displayed on the Web we want it to look like ‘x’.”

What is remarkable about the current changes on the Web is that they are not simply architectural changes (support for semantic style markup like <address>4222 Clinton Avenue</address>) but it was also the explosion of the user compiled data:

Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site useable. Owners of Adobe, Apple and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum web pages. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organising intelligence for a new economy. [excerpt from “Unto us a machine is born”]

Nobody could have ever imagined how much the consumers of the world would contribute to the web and it’s over all growth. In some articles it is said that a new blog is born every 1/2 second. When I first started blogging at WordPress.com (which was admittedly way after the general populous started) there were roughly 190K blogs. In the short amount of time that I have been active in the blogsphere, that number has grown to an astonishing 900K+.

So as this data grows and the web spins out of control, we must start thinking about the next thing. How many times have you gotten to a great Digg article, only to find that 850 people had already commented on this article. Rendering the comments section of this article completely useless. Who can sort through that many comments and make heads or tails of anything relevant to the discussion. Likewise, how do you weed out the unproductive comments that prove we still have a long way to go as a society? You don’t, that’s how!

One thing I will say that I have spoken about in the past (and is iterated in the article mentioned above) is that the system is growing and the tools that are becoming available to us are opening up our use-able networks. We are currently connected (most of us) with way more people then we were in the past. Additionally, we are capable of maintaining relationships with hundreds of people at at time through many different outlets.

I am not sure that we are “teaching the Machine (a.k.a. the Internet)” but I can say this, when I get involved with projects like Behavioral Targeting I can truly say that we are living in a remarkable time, and I am glad to be a part of it.