Off the Top: Networking Entries

October 1, 2010

Where Good Ideas Come From - Finally Arriving

I don't think I have been awaiting a book for so long with so much interest as I am for Steven Berlin Johnson's (SBJ) new book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.


Ever since I read SBJ's book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software I was impressed how he pulled it together. I was even more impressed with how the book that followed, Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life (my notes from one piece of this book that really struck me is found in the post The User's Mind and Novelty). During all of this SBJ was writing about how he was writing and pulling notes together. On his personal blog he has talked often about DevonThink and how he uses it (this greatly influenced my trying it and purchasing it many years back and is the subject of a recent post of mine As If Had Read). This sharing about how he keeps notes of his own thoughts and works though ideas that go from tangents and turn into solid foundations for great understanding. It was this fascination that I included Steven as one of the people I would really like to meet, with the reasoning, "I like good conversation and the people that have provided great discovery through reading their writings often trigger good conversation that drives learning." (from Peter J. Bogaards interview with me for InfoDesign in July 2004).

The Sneak Preview Webinar

Today (Thursday 30 September 2010 as of this writing) Steven provided a webinar for those who had pre-ordered copies of his new book. It contains everything I have been expecting the book to have and have wished he would right up and put in a book over the last 6 to 7 years of wishing. He brings into the book the idea of the commonplace book, which I have been mulling over since I read it (I may be a bit obsessed with it as it ties in neatly with some other things I have been mulling about for a long time, like the Personal InfoCloud as written up in It is Getting Personal and many presentations going back into 2003, if not farther).

One of the great ideas that came out in the webinar was the idea of taking reading vacations to just take time off and read and focus on the reading and the ideas that come out of that reading and the ideas that are influenced by it. Steven talked about companies like Google and their 20% projects. But, what if companies gave employees paid time to read and focus on that. Read, learn, challenge what you know, expand your own understanding, mix what you have known and challenge it with new ideas and challenges and viewpoints. I think this is not only a good idea, but a great idea. Too many ideas have yet to be born and far too many "thought leaders" haven't evolved or challenged their thoughts in a long long time.

Yes, I can not wait to get this book in my hands and read. I am hoping the webinar will be made available more broadly as it is a gem as well.

March 12, 2009

Catching Up On Personal InfoCloud Blog Posts

Things here are a little quiet as I have been in writing mode as well as pitching new work. I have been blogging work related items over at Personal InfoCloud, but I am likely only going to be posting summaries of those pieces here from now on, rather than the full posts. I am doing this to concentrate work related posts, particularly on a platform that has commenting available. I am still running my own blogging tool here at I wrote in 2001 and turned off the comments in 2006 after growing tired of dealing comment spam.

The following are recently posted over at Personal InfoCloud

SharePoint 2007: Gateway Drug to Enterprise Social Tools

SharePoint 2007: Gateway Drug to Enterprise Social Tools focusses on the myriad of discussions I have had with clients of mine, potential clients, and others from organizations sharing their views and frustrations with Microsoft SharePoint as a means to bring solid social software into the workplace. This post has been brewing for about two years and is now finally posted.

Optimizing Tagging UI for People & Search

Optimizing Tagging UI for People and Search focuses on the lessons learned and usability research myself and others have done on the various input interfaces for tagging, particularly tagging with using multi-term tags (tags with more than one word). The popular tools have inhibited adoption of tagging with poor tagging interaction design and poor patterns for humans entering tags that make sense to themselves as humans.

LinkedIn: Social Interaction Design Lessons Learned (not to follow)

I have a two part post on LinkedIn's social interaction design. LinkedIn: Social Interaction Design Lessons Learned (not to follow) - 1 of 2 looks at what LinkedIn has done well in the past and had built on top. Many people have expressed the new social interactions on LinkedIn have decreased the value of the service for them.

The second part, LinkedIn: Social Interaction Design Lessons Learned (not to follow) - 2 of 2 looks at the social interaction that has been added to LinkedIn in the last 18 months or so and what lessons have we as users of the service who pay attention to social interaction design have learned. This piece also list ways forward from what is in place currently.

February 22, 2008

Remote Presentation and Perception Matrix for Social Tools

This post is also found at: Remote Presentation and Perceptions Matrix for Social Tools :: Personal InfoCloud with moderated comments turned on.]

Today I did something I had never done before (actually a few things) I sat in my office in my home and gave a live web video presentation to a conference elsewhere on the globe. I presented my nearly all new presentation, Keeping Up With Social Tagging to the Expert Workshop in: Social Tagging and Knowledge Organization - Perspectives and Potential that was put on by the Knowledge Media Research Center in Tübingen, Germany.

Remote Presentation Feelings

While the remote video presentation is normal for many people inside their large organizations and I have presented at meetings and conferences where my presentation was provided to other location on live video feed (my recent Ann Arbor trip to present at STIET was HD broadcast to Wayne State in Detroit), this home office to conference presentation was new to me. The presentation and video link used Adobe Connect, which allowed me to see whom I was talking to, manage my slides, text chat, and see myself. This worked quite well, much better than I expected. I did have my full slide presentation in lightroom view set up in Keynote on my external monitor on the side and used Awaken on the side monitor as well to help with timing.

The ability to get feedback and watch the attendees body language and non-verbal responses was insanely helpful. I have given webinars and done phone presentations where I had not visual cues to the audience responses, which I find to be a horrible way to present (I often will expand on subjects or shorten explanations based on non-verbal feedback from the audience). Adobe Connect allowed this non-verbal feedback to be streamed back to me, which completely allows me to adjust the presentation as I normally do.

One thing that was a wee bit difficult was having to change focus (I suppose that comes with use and experience), but I would watch audience feedback while presenting, peek to the side to see where I was with time and slides (to work in the transitions), but would then try to look at the camera to "connect". Watching myself on the video feedback the moments I would try to connect through the camera I would open my eyes wide as if trying to see through my iSight and boy does that come across looking strange on a close range camera. I also (unknown to myself until recently watching a video of another presentation I had done) use a similar facial expression to add emphasis, I am realizing with a camera as close as it is for web presentation also really looks odd. I am sort of used to listening to myself (normally to write out new analogies I use or responses to questions), but watching myself in playback from that close of a range is really uncomfortable.

One thing I really missed in doing this web video presentation was extended interaction with the attendees. I rather enjoy conferences, particularly ones with this focussed a gathering as it makes for great socializing with people passionate about the same subjects I am passionate about. I like comparing note, perceptions, and widely differing views. It helps me grow my knowledge and understandings as well as helps change my perceptions. Live face-to-face conversation and sharing of interests is an incredibly value part of learning, experiencing, and shaping views and it is something I greatly enjoy attending conferences in person. I am not a fan of arriving at a conference just prior to a presentation, giving the presentation, and then leaving. The personal social interaction is valuable. The video presentation does not provide that and I really missed it, particularly with the people who are so closely tied to my deep interest areas as this workshop was focused.

New Content in Presentation

This presentation included a lot of new content, ideas, and concepts that I have not really presented or written about in as open of a forum. I have received really strong positive feedback from the Faces of Perception, Depth of Perception, and Perception Matrix when I have talked about it with people and companies. I have included this content in the book on social bookmarking and folksonomy I am writing for O&Reilly and pieces have been in public and private workshops I have given, but it was long past time to let the ideas out into the open.

The components of perception came about through reading formal analysis and research from others as well as not having a good models myself to lean on to explain a lot of what I find from social computing service providers (web tools in the Web 2.0 genre as well as inside the firewall Enterprise 2.0 tools) as tool makers or service owners. The understandings that are brought to the table on a lot of research and analysis is far too thin and far too often badly confuses the roles and faces of the tool that are being reviewed or analyzed. In my working with tool makers and organizations implementing social tools the analysis and research is less than helpful and often makes building products that meet the user needs and desires really difficult. I am not saying that this conceptual model fixes it, but from those who have considered what it shows almost all have had realizations they have had a less than perfect grasp and have lacked the granularity they have needed to build, analyze, or research these social tools.

I am hoping to write these perspectives up in more depth at some point in the not too distant future, but the video and slides start getting the ideas out there. As I have been walking people through how to use the tools I have been realizing the content needed to best us the model and matrix may take more than a day of a workshop of even a few days to get the most complete value from it. These tools have helped me drastically increase my value in consulting and training in the very short time I have used them. Some are finding that their copying of features and functionality in other social services has not helped them really understand what is best for their user needs and are less than optimal for the type of service they are offering or believe they are offering.

June 17, 2007

Stitching Conversation Threads Fractured Across Channels

Communicating is simple. Well it is simple at its core of one person talking with another person face-to-face. When we communicate and add technology into the mix (phone, video-chat, text message, etc.) it becomes more difficult. Technology becomes noise in the pure flow of communication.

Now With More Complexity

But, what we have today is even more complex and difficult as we are often holding conversation across many of these technologies. The communication streams (the back and forth communication between two or more people) are now often not contained in on communication channel (channel is the flavor or medium used to communicate, such as AIM, SMS, Twitter, e-mail, mobile phone, etc.).

We are seeing our communications move across channels, which can be good as this is fluid and keeping with our digital presence. More often than not we are seeing our communication streams fracture across channels. This fracturing becomes really apparent when we are trying to reconstruct our communication stream. I am finding this fracturing and attempting to stitch the stream back together becoming more and more common as for those who are moving into and across many applications and devices with their own messaging systems.

The communication streams fracture as we pick-up an idea or need from Twitter, then direct respond in Twitter that moves it to SMS, the SMS text message is responded back to in regular SMS outside of Twitter, a few volleys back and forth in SMS text, then one person leaves a voicemail, it is responded to in an e-mail, there are two responses back and forth in e-mail, an hour later both people are on Skype and chat there, in Skype chat they decide to meet in person.

Why Do We Want to Stitch the Communication Stream Together?

When they meet there is a little confusion over there being no written overview and guide. Both parties are sure they talked about it, but have different understandings of what was agreed upon. Having the communication fractured across channels makes reconstruction of the conversation problematic today. The conversation needs to be stitched back together using time stamps to reconstruct everything [the misunderstanding revolved around recommendations as one person understands that to mean a written document and the other it does not mean that].

Increasingly the reality of our personal and professional lives is this cross channel communication stream. Some want to limit the problem by keeping to just one channel through the process. While this is well intentioned it does not meet reality of today. Increasingly, the informal networking leads to meaningful conversations, but the conversations drifts across channels and mediums. Pushing a natural flow, as it currently stands, does not seem to be the best solution in the long run.

Why Does Conversation Drift Across Channels?

There are a few reasons conversations drift across channels and mediums. One reason is presence as when two people notice proximity on a channel they will use that channel to communicate. When a person is seen as present, by availability or recently posting a message in the service, it can be a prompt to communicate. Many times when the conversation starts in a presence channel it will move to another channel or medium. This shift can be driven by personal preference or putting the conversation in a medium or channel that is more conducive for the conversation style between people involved. Some people have a preferred medium for all their conversations, such as text messaging (SMS), e-mail, voice on phone, video chat, IM, etc.. While other people have a preferred medium for certain types of conversation, like quick and short questions on SMS, long single responses in e-mail, and extended conversations in IM. Some people prefer to keep their short messages in the channel where they begin, such as conversations that start in Facebook may stay there. While other people do not pay attention to message or conversation length and prefer conversations in one channel over others.

Solving the Fractured Communication Across Channels

Since there are more than a few reasons for the fractured communications to occur it is something that needs resolution. One solution is making all conversations open and use public APIs for the tools to pull the conversations together. This may be the quickest means to get to capturing and stitching the conversation thread back together today. While viable there are many conversations in our lives that we do not want public for one reason or many.

Another solution is to try to keep your conversations in channels that we can capture for our own use (optimally this should be easily sharable with the person we had the conversation with, while still remaining private). This may be where we should be heading in the near future. Tools like Twitter have become a bridge between web and SMS, which allows us to capture SMS conversations in an interface that can be easily pointed to and stitched back together with other parts of a conversation. E-mail is relatively easy to thread, if done in a web interface and/or with some tagging to pull pieces in from across different e-mail addresses. Skype chat also allows for SMS interactions and allows for them to be captured, searched, and pulled back together. IM conversations can easily be saved out and often each item is time stamped for easy stitching. VoIP conversations are often easily recorded (we are asking permission first, right?) and can be transcribed by hand accurately or be transcribed relatively accurately via speech-to-text tools. Voice-mail can now be captured and threaded using speech-to-text services or even is pushed as an attachment into e-mail in services as (and similar to) JConnect.

Who Will Make This Effortless?

There are three types of service that are or should be building this stitching together the fractured communications across channels into one threaded stream. I see tools that are already stitching out public (or partially public) lifestreams into one flow as one player in this pre-emergent market (Facebook, Jaiku, etc.). The other public player would be telecoms (or network provider) companies providing this as a service as they currently are providing some of these services, but as their markets get lost to VoIP, e-mail, on-line community messaging, Second Life, etc., they need to provide a service that keeps them viable (regulation is not a viable solution in the long run). Lastly, for those that do not trust or want their conversation streams in others hands the personally controlled application will become a solutions, it seems that Skype could be on its way to providing this.

Is There Demand Yet?

I am regularly fielding questions along these lines from enterprise as they are trying to deal with these issues for employees who have lost or can not put their hands on vital customer conversations or essential bits of information that can make the difference in delivering what their customers expect from them. Many have been using Cisco networking solutions that have some of these capabilities, but still not providing a catch all. I am getting queries from various telecom companies as they see reflections of where they would like to be providing tools in a Come to Me Web or facilitating bits of the Personal InfoCloud. I am getting requests from many professionals that want this type of solution for their lives. I am also getting queries from many who are considering building these tools, or pieces of them.

Some of us need these solutions now. Nearly all of us will need these solutions in the very near future.

December 15, 2006

Ghosts of Technology Past, Present, and Future

The past two days have brought back many memories that have reminded me of the advances in technology as well as the reliance on technology.

Ghost of Rich Web Past

I watched a walk through of a dynamic prototype yesterday that echoed this I was doing in 1999 and 2000. Well, not exactly doing as the then heavy JavaScript would blow up browsers. The DHTML and web interfaces that helped the person using the site to have a better experience quite often caused the browser to lock-up, close with no warning, or lock-up the machine. This was less than 100kb of JavaScript, but many machines more than two years old at that time and with browsers older than a year or two old did not have the power. The processing power was not there, the RAM was not there, the graphics cards were not powerful, and the browsers in need of optimizing.

The demonstration yesterday showed concepts that were nearly the exact concept from my past, but with a really nice interface (one that was not even possible in 1999 or 2000). I was ecstatic with the interface and the excellent job done on the prototype. I realized once again of the technical advances that make rich web interfaces of "Web 2.0" (for lack of a better term) possible. I have seen little new in the world of Ajax or rich interfaces that was not attempted in 2000 or 2001, but now they are viable as many people's machines can now drive this beauties.

I am also reminded of the past technologies as that is what I am running today. All I have at my beck and call is two 667MHz machines. One is an Apple TiBook (with 1 GB of RAM) and one is a Windows machine (killer graphics card with 256MB video RAM and 500MB memory). Both have problems with Amazon and Twitter with their rich interfaces. The sites are really slow and eat many of the relatively few resources I have at my disposal. My browsers are not blowing up, but it feels like they could.

Ghost of Technology Present

The past year or two I have been using my laptop as my outboard memory. More and more I am learning to trust my devices to remind me and keep track of complex projects across many contexts. Once things are in a system I trust they are mostly out of my head.

This experience came to a big bump two days ago when my hard drive crashed. The iterative back-ups were corrupted or faulty (mostly due to a permission issue that would alter me in the middle of the night). The full back-up was delayed as I do not travel with an external drive to do my regular back-ups. My regularly scheduled back-ups seem to trigger when I am on travel. I am now about 2.5 months out from my last good full back-up. I found an e-mail back-up that functioned from about 3 weeks after that last full backup. Ironically, I was in the midst of cleaning up my e-mail for back-up, which is the first step to my major back-up, when the failure happened.

I have a lot of business work that is sitting in the middle of that pile. I also have a lot of new contacts and tasks in the middle of that period. I have my client work saved out, but agreements and new pitches are in the mire of limbo.

Many people are trying to sync and back-up their lives on a regular basis, but the technology is still faulty. So many people have faulty syncing, no matter what technologies they are using. Most people have more than two devices in their life (work and home computer, smart phone, PDA, mobile phone with syncable address book and calendar, iPod, and other assorted options) and the syncing still works best (often passably) between two devices. Now when we start including web services things get really messy as people try to work on-line and off-line across their devices. The technology has not caught up as most devices are marketed and built to solve a problem between two devices and area of information need. The solutions are short sighted.

Ghost of the Technosocial Future

Last week I attended the University of North Carolina Social Software Symposium (UNC SSS) and while much of the conversation was around social software (including tagging/folksonomy) the discussion of technology use crept in. The topic of digital identity was around the edges. The topic of trust, both in people and technology was in the air. These are very important concepts (technology use, digital identity, and trusted technology and trusted people). There is an intersection of the technosocial where people communicate with their devices and through their devices. The technology layer must be understood as to the impact is has on communication. Communication mediated by any technology requires an understanding of how much of the pure signal of communication is lost and warped (it can be modified in a positive manner too when there are disabilities involved).

Our digital communications are improving when we understand the limitations and the capabilities of the technologies involved (be it a web browser of many varied options or mobile phone, etc.). Learning the capabilities of these trusted devices and understanding that they know us and they hold our lives together for us and protect our stuff from peering eyes of others. These trusted devices communicate and share with other trusted devices as well as our trusted services and the people in our lives we trust.

Seeing OpenID in action and work well gave me hope we are getting close on some of these fronts (more on this in another post). Seeing some of the great brains thinking and talking about social software was quite refreshing as well. The ability to build solid systems that augment our lives and bring those near in thought just one click away is here. It is even better than before with the potential for easier interaction, collaboration, and honing of ideas at our doorstep. The ability to build an interface across data sets (stuff I was working on in 1999 that shortened the 3 months to get data on your desk to minutes, even after running analytics and working with a GIS interface) can be done in hours where getting access to the wide variety of information took weeks and months in the past. Getting access to data in our devices to provide location information with those we trust (those we did not trust have had this info for some time and now we can take that back) enables many new services to work on our behalf while protecting our wishes for whom we would like the information shared with. Having trusted devices working together helps heal the fractures in our data losses, while keeping it safe from those we do not wish to have access. The secure transmission of our data between our trusted devices and securely shared with those we trust is quickly arriving.

I am hoping the next time I have a fatal hard drive crash it is not noticeable and the data loss is self-healed by pulling things back together from resources I have trust (well placed trust that is verifiable - hopefully). This is the Personal InfoCloud and its dealing with a Local InfoCloud all securely built with trusted components.

May 28, 2006

An Overview of the Local InfoCloud is Available

I have finally posted a write-up on Exposing the Local InfoCloud, which explains the attributes and components that comprise the Local InfoCloud. This is a write-up of an explanation that has been bubbling for a couple years and I finally put into a presentation last Fall for Design Engaged. The Local InfoCloud include resources that are familiar to us and can often be the social software elements with which we interact as trusted resources.

During a recent symposium on social software (I attended virtually) there was much grumbling around the term "community" and when I stated I was going to try and redact that term from my usage, I was quickly asked what I was going to replace it with. Community is broadly used and for most of my uses the components in the Local InfoCloud are more distinct pointers to what people can mean when they discuss community. The components are also can help us describe the human and digital resources that bring data, information, and media objects closer to us.

When I have chatted with people about the attributes and components in the past it leads to more questions and wonderful discussions. The point of this piece is to clarify the framework for the Local InfoCloud and capture discussion. I have incorporated the feedback from chats I have had, where it was convincing, relevant, and I was happy with how it jelled. I am looking for more feedback and discussion, which is part of the reason it is posted at the Personal InfoCloud (comments and trackback capabilities are available, but moderated, there).

February 4, 2006

Internet was down

I have been dealing with my internet access going up and down all afternoon. It seems there is some outage beyond my DSL provider, as I can get access to them easily, but the hops stop just after their router. This is what they are reporting also. I left about 5:00 to go get WiFi access at the local Starbucks, but they were out too. After negotiations at home to get work done that is all web-based, I finally found access about 10 miles north of us in Gaithersberg/Rockville. There were a few others at the coffeehouse (part of a small chain that used to be here in Bethesda also) that had been going through the same thing.

This new year I have had this discussion about an "always-on society" is fine until it is broken. I clear time to get work done around my son's naps and other down times, when the work load is light. When the network is out, increasingly this is the case, or the power is out I am sunk. More and more of our work is moving toward web-based applications, but our networks are not bullet-proof.

My trip to San Francisco nearly had me ready to give up on WiFi as it was really difficult to track down (it is not everywhere) and the carriers block so many port one can not send secure e-mail or other normal tasks. As WiFi expands its footprint is seems to be less usable. On my recent trip the most reliable connection was on my hip in my Treo, but I can not do the work on web-based applications that I needed to from that device. As web applications get richer interfaces the limits to what devices can use them. Unless the rich web interfaces degrade we are going to have problems with this diverging problems based on usage.

I get quite used to an always-on mentality and a instant or quick response communication. When it does not happen, it seems problematic and I wonder what went wrong. It was like this through the holidays as people who would respond in under an hour, or in at least a day were taking longer than a week. January turned into two to three week response times as everybody is swamped, or battling for their jobs with budget cuts.

As much as I like the public access to WiFi idea, it is not hear yet. The current state of things is making the mobile broadband cards from the mobile carriers look very tempting. It creates two classes of people, but the cost recovery (based on high rates while on business travel) and easy access is very tempting.

October 6, 2004

Personal Information Aggregation Nodes

Agnostic aggregators are the focal point of information aggregation. The tools that are growing increasingly popular for the information aggregation from internet sources are those that permit the incorportation of info from any valid source. The person in control of the aggregator is the one who chooses what she wants to draw in to their aggregator.

People desiring info agregation seemingly want to have control over all sources of info. She wants one place, a central resource node, to follow and to use as a starting point.

The syndication/pull model not only adds value to the central node for the user, but to those points that provide information. This personal node is similar (but conversely) to network nodes in that the node is gaining value as the individual users make use of the node. The central info aggregation node gains value for the individual the more information is centralized there. (The network nodes gain value the more people use them, e.g. the more people that use the more valuable the resource is for finding information.) This personal aggregation become a usable component of the person's Personal InfoCloud.

What drives the usefulness? Portability of information is the driver behind usefulness and value. The originating information source enables value by making the information usable and reusable by syndicating the info. Portabiliry is also important for the aggregators so that information can move easily between devices and formats.

Looking a we see an aggrgator that leverages a social network of people as aggregators and filters. allows the user to build their own bookmarks that also provides a RSS feed for those bookmarks (actually most everything in provides feeds for most everything) and an API to access the feeds and use then as the user wishes. This even applies to using the feed in another aggregator.

The world of syndication leads to redundant information. This where developments like attention.xml will be extremely important. Attention.xml will parse out redundant info so that you only have one resource. This work could also help provide an Amazon like recommendation system for feeds and information.

The personal aggregation node also provides the user the means to categorize information as they wish and as makes most sense to themselves. Information is often not found and lost because it is not categorized in a way that is meaningful to the person seeking the information (either for the first time or to access the information again). A tool like, as well as Flickr, allows the individual person to add tags (metadata) that allows them to find the information again, hopefully easily. The tool also allows the multiple tagging of information. Information (be it text, photo, audio file, etc.) does not always permit itself easy narrow classification. Pushing a person to use distinct classifications can be problematic. On this site I built my category tool to provide broad structure rather than heirarchial, because it allows for more flexibility and can provide hooks to get back to information that is tangential or a minor topic in a larger piece. For me this works well and it seems the folksonomy systems in and Flickr are finding similar acceptance.

June 17, 2004

Malcolm McCullough Lays a Great Foundation with Digital Ground

Today I finished reading the Malcolm McCullough book, Digital Ground. This was one of the most readable books on interaction design by way of examining the impact of pervasive computing on people and places. McCullough is an architect by training and does an excellent job using the architecture role in design and development of the end product.

The following quote in the preface frames the remainder of the book very well:

My claims about architecture are indirect because the design challenge of pervasive computing is more directly a question of interaction design. This growing field studies how people deal with technology - and how people deal with each other, through technology. As a consequence of pervasive computing, interaction design is poised to become one of the main liberal arts of the twenty-first century. I wrote this book because I ran into many people who believe that. If you share this belief, or if you just wonder what interaction design is in the first place, you may find some substance here in this book.

This book was not only interesting to me it was one of the best interaction books I have read. I personally found it better than the Cooper books, only for the reason McCullough gets into mobile and pervasive computing and how that changes interaction design. Including these current interaction modes the role of interaction design changes quite a bit from preparing an interface that is a transaction done solely on a desktop or laptop, to one that must encompass portability and remote usage and the various social implications. I have a lot of frustration with flash-based sites that are only designed for the desktop and are completely worthless on a handheld, which is often where the information is more helpful to me.

McCullough brings in "place" to help frame the differing uses for information and the interaction design that is needed. McCullough includes home and work as the usual first and second places, as well as the third place, which is the social environment. McCullough then brings in a fourth place, "Travel and Transit", which is where many Americans find themselves for an hour or so each day. How do people interact with news, advertisements, directions, entertainment, etc. in this place? How does interaction design change for this fourth place, as many digital information resources seem to think about this mode when designing their sites or applications.

Not only was the main content of Digital Ground informative and well though out, but the end notes are fantastic. The notes and annotations could be a stand alone work of their own, albeit slightly incongruous.

February 14, 2004

Rael on Tech

Tech Review interviews Rael about rising tech trends and discusses alpha geeks. This interview touches on RSS, mobile devices, social networks, and much more.

January 27, 2004

Project Oxygen Still Alive

Project Oxygen has progressed quite well since we last looked in (Oxygen and Portolano - November 2001). Project Oxygen is a pervasive computing system that is enabled through handhelds. The system has the users information and media follow them on their network and uses hardware (video, speakers, computers, etc.) nearest the user to perform the needed or desired tasks. Project Oxygen also assists communication by setting the language of the voicemail to match the caller's known language. The site includes videos and many details.

Project Oxygen seems to rely on the local network's infrastructure rather than the person's own device. This creates a mix of Personal Info Cloud by using the personal device, but relies on the Local Info Cloud using the local network to extract information. The network also assists to find hardware and external media, but the user does not seem to have control over the information they have found. The user's own organization of the information is important for them so it is associated and categorized in a manner that is easy for them to recall and then reuse. When the user drifts away from the local network is their access to the information lost?

This project does seem to get an incredible amount of pervasive computing right. It would be great to work in an environment that was Project Oxygen enabled.

December 30, 2003

Matt on Social Networks

Matt writes up this thoughts on the state of social networks. I agree with much of his frustration. I keep thinking many of these tools will provide some good value. The two that meet what I expect are Upcoming and LinkedIn. I like these are they offer small targeted offerings. Upcoming helps find and track events, while LinkedIn is a work related networking tool.

It seems a simple cross between LinkedIn and XFN or any metadata resource that can track relationships, trust, and taste along with tracking other items of interest would be greatly helpful. Matt does get the metadata problem included in his write-up, which is metadata is dirty and at best, biased (which can be good if you agree with the bias).

December 23, 2003

Tanya on Virtual Teams

Tanya offers up a wonderful brief discussion of virtual teams. This is a topic I really enjoy (I have products that I greatly favor (Groove and AIM/iChat) as it really helps productivity, but also the documentation process.

December 21, 2003

Treo 600 Bluetooth answer

I found, not only a great article on the Treo 600, but the answer to the bluetooth question. I have been wondering if the Treo 600 will work with the current Palm SD Bluetooth card. It seems:

The Treo 600 family also adds an SD/SDIO/MMC slot. This slot, located on the top of the device was also found on the Treo 90, and on all current Palm models. It enables the use of SD and MMC media for storage of more programs and MP3 audio or video and SD content cards like dictionaries, or game packs. More importantly it also is SDIO enabled, meaning that it will work with hardware accessory cards like Veo's SD photo card, Margi's SD presenter-to-go, or Sandisk's upcoming Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards.

Handspring did not include Bluetooth into this device, but because of the SDIO slot it is an option in the future. Handspring told us that they are working with 3rd party companies to extend all the powers of the Treo to the Bluetooth card. This includes not only data synchronization like most cards, but the ability to use Bluetooth headsets, or act as a Bluetooth modem for a PC or Mac. Adding a Bluetooth SD card to the Treo 600 family will cost around $100 to $150. The current Palm branded card does not work with OS 5. gives this interesting quote though: "Speaking of Bluetooth, the Handspring engineers specifically left room on the Treo 600 circuit board for a Bluetooth module. It won't be included in initial releases, but Handspring spokesperson Brian Jaquet said there was very strong possibility that an updated version would be released with Bluetooth."

Now the question is do I get one now or wait?

I did find that my current phone, Motorola Timeport 270c does have an optional Bluetooth battery cover, but it (like other Motorola products) does not support Mac, fools.

December 14, 2003

Amazon Wishlist is My Favorite Social Network

With the all the buzzing about Friendster and other "social network" site, I have lost nearly all of the interest I have had in most of them. I still have a couple that picque my interest, but the seeming most popular, Friendster, offers me nothing. There is one tool social networking tool that has never let me down and actually provides me a great service.

What is my favorite social networking tool? Amazon's Wishlist. I am always looking for new media (books, music, DVDs, periodicals, etc.) and I kept hoping Friendster and other social networks would do this I was let down. I kept wishing the seemingly simple tools Amzon provides would be incorporated by others.

One every month or two I cruise through my Wishlist, which I use from my Hiptop when I go to any book or music store to either add to my list or verify an items in front of me is actually the one I want. I also cruise it from a computer to remind myself of items of interest or delete them. I also browse those Wishlists I link to. I find gems I did not know about in others lists. I also have redeemed coupons from my Amazon Wishlist friends and forwarded to me when they make purchases. I was feeling bad when I forgot to click the send a link to a discount to your Amazon friends so that the messages would not be sent. I have been finding those I link to have been happy to receive the discounts and have actually used them. The e-mails have also promted e-mail conversations with friends I have not talked to in a while. This goes a long way toward a very good social network in my book.

November 2, 2003

Apple's Network in Hell poster with Akbar and Jeff

In the fun category Apple's Matt Groenig's Network in Hell poster.. This poster features Akbar and Jeff's ability to network to IBM Big Iron with their Macs. This poster should be updated to highlight Panther's ability to network easily on Microsoft networks, including VPN.

October 2, 2003

Death of E-mail

Ray Ozzie discusses the death of e-mail as a work process tool. Of course Ray has an interest in this as his Groove application provides encrypted shared workspaces for workflow and sharing. If you rely on e-mail for document sharing or an Intranet, Groove is a large step above and beyond these technologies. E-mail was not designed, many many years ago, for the type of tasks and volumes that are required of it today. As every work environment struggles with privacy and security most e-mail solutions do not provide a sufficient level of support, particularly with e-mail storage limitations.

E-mail also does not often provide portability and tracking across various work environments. Groove however does do this. I was testing and using Groove in a beta mode and the free version a year or two ago. Groove had these capabilities then.

Yes, secure e-mail is available on many e-mail platforms, but the portability and retention of state of work does not work as easily on other applications. The one downside of Groove for me is it does not yet have an OS X version,

October 1, 2003

Slight changes

I have been running an incredible amount of running of errands the past few days since Will and Joy have been home. Many of the errands are just general errands, but as Joy is not able to drive for two weeks there is a lot of trips to make. We are doing well with the feedings and sleeping, so far.

We have been amazed with the amount of laundry that is generated. We knew that it was going to be a change in laundry, but not to the extent it has grown.

I also made a few modifications to the Airport WiFi in the house so that I can get a very good signal in the living room and in the bedrooms. I was going to add an antennae to the TiBook, but found that the Airport is not Omnidirectional as I had thought. By turning the apple on the Airport toward the room I really want coverage and moving the Airport six feet closer really helped. I have a 80% signal or higher. I can now hang out with Will and Joy in the living room and possibly the screen porch and in the bedrooms upstairs.

September 22, 2003

Learning for lack of power

Over the past few days I have had a little more pondering time than normal. We were with out power, but thanks to the Net (wired and unwired) I could still post here, chat with friends, and had a site that was still up and running. I still had a means to communicate that allowed for updating from a mobile device, which my parents checked from a mobile device.

We did not have power, which meant no DSL (to me the dial-up was fingernails on chalkboard, only at last resort sort of endeavor. The Hiptop go me through to post. I could also e-mail with folks I had e-mail addresses for (found Hiptop truncates all my address book entries to only the primary address info, which is mostly work, and that was not were folks were the past four days around here). I really did not miss the power too much, although we cheated and went to a friend's house who had power and was out of town to do a load of laundry and recharge phones and laptops.

I did get to finish the book I started on vacation (The Discovery of Heaven), I still had nearly 300 pages left of the 735. I was rather disappointed by the ending, but the book made for a wonderful literary journey none-the-less. Much of the reading was on our screen porch and any snippet of time that was not tracking down places to get food or running errands, which took-up a great amount of time the past four days.

I not only grew with appreciation for our distributed information system, but I grew to miss the answering machine very quickly. We had a couple wired landline phone plugged in, but since Joy is still not greatly mobile I was getting the phone when it rang, well most of the time. I rarely answer the phone at home as the calls are rarely for me and I usually let the answering machine do the work for me. I also grew in appreciation for refrigerators and envious of neighbors with generators that powered their refrigerators so as not to throw out all their cold food.

September 9, 2003

InfoWorld CTO sees it all in Mac

InfoWorld CTO switches to Mac OS X as he replaced his Linux server and two PCs. This was a three year old G4 box that made the other boxes obsolete.

I have had a the similar experience with one Apple Powerbook. My PC, which has been relegated to games and a Windows test platform, has been in the shop for over two weeks getting a proprietary power supply (PCs have been commoditized?). I have not missed it, actually it has been ready to be picked up for four days now, but I do not need it. I do want to burn some stuff off on to discs that is resident on its hard drives, but that is all it really means to me.

July 9, 2003

Mobile video iChat with WiFi

Mike demonstrates iChat unteathered. Yes video chatting from the South Street Seaport in NYC all with WiFi (no wires). I am so glad Mike got to test this and posted it so we all could see it works.

April 19, 2003

Busness Week floods on WiFi

Business Week has a section focus on WiFi, which made me feel so ahead of the game, but most of my fiends were on board long before I was a year or two ago. There are many good articles for those that are just catching up to WiFi (pronounced like why-fi (as in sky)) and even some info for veterans.

April 10, 2003

Wireless Network Drive

Seemingly cool technology from Martian Technology, a wireless network drive with 120GB of storage and USB printer sharing.

March 21, 2003

Now less competion in the tech marketplace

Wall Street Journal reporting Cisco is buying Linksys. In all I think this is a good idea as I like Cisco products and they care about their products. On the other hand the lack of competition in the technical sectors can not be good in the long run. We need options, much like when I got fed up with Windows and switched to Apple (actually Apple provided a better solution and I switched last January and found a much easier and reliable way to do computing, which caused me to question why we put up with inferior products from Microsoft). In the U.S. we were educated to believe competition was good and the evil empire to the East did not allow competition. Now the U.S. government seems complacent to allow, and even encourages (at the FCC) the removal of competion. The lack of competion was un-American. Where is the U.S. now if we are removing competition from the marketplace?

February 17, 2003

BBS 25th Anniversary

It is the 25th Anniversary of BBS. The BBS or Bullitin Board Systems were dial-in digital resources for software, discussions, patches, hacks, games, sounds, and other digital goodies. The BBS' were run by hosts that gave out the phone number to their service, some charged and others were free. These were great resources that offered a glimpse of what was to come with the Internet. The BBS' were all test based and companies grew up around providing software to run the services. One company Mustang Software (or Mustang Software description) seemed to have the corner on the hot and easy to use BBS' by the early '90s. Oh, those were the days, but do I want to go back? No, I like where things are now.

November 2, 2002

Networked PIM

Victor quickly discusses and points to a networked Personal Information Manager. This tool, which early Apple developer Andy Hertzfeld has helped with, seems to be a tool that would be of great benefit for digital projects.

June 15, 2002

Samba primary domain controller

Samba as a primary domain controller for PC and non-PC network can provide a solid home network, if you are not using XP Home.

June 5, 2002

Seeing and Tuning Social Networks

Seeing and Tuning Social Networks by John Udell is dense read for this evening. There is some great stuff in here. Must come back to it a lilttle later.

May 24, 2002

WiFi security

Seven security issues to watch with WiFi networks, a.k.a. 802.11 wireless networks. There are a handful of issues that we have to be aware of to either address or live with. I find the benefits greatly out weigh the downsides.

May 14, 2002

Location Manager for OS X

The Location Manager for OS X, looks to be a very helpful app for folks like me. I like the network options that OS X offers in the System Prefs, but one that includes time zones and other helpful info would be great.

May 5, 2002

WiFi voice offers freedom

Vocera has a nice little gadget that uses WiFi and voice. This would be nice freedom to have. [hat tip Bill]

Good bye Windows

Why have I bought my last Windows-based computer? My problems revolve around the years of headaches of horrible business and technical practices that Microsoft breeds. Their concern is not the customer and their well being, but their pockets. In the 10 years that I have had my own Microsoft OS-based computers (four of them) I have had four complete meltdowns resulting from MS patches or incompatible MS software (not third-party software or hardware problems). I have had software overwrite a shared resource (because MS took a sort cut in their OS and created DLLs). I have bought OS' and software that had to be repeatedly patched for security problems, not just bugs (one of these security patches overwrote an element that controlled my hard drive partition, which resulted in a cleared hard drive). I have provided numerous hours of help to friends and relatives that have had similar problems (many of them have had worse and more frequent problems because they are not computer professionals). I have paid for incremental upgrades or for an actual CD I could boot my computer from, when all MS would offer is an OEM disk that contained an image of the software installed on the system. I had paid for the operating system when I bought my computers, but if I wanted to own the OS, I had to buy the damn thing again (this seems to be Microsoft's understanding of two for one bargains, like many things they do they got it horribly wrong).

I had figured this what I had to deal with to run a monopolist's operating system that everybody else used (the courts proved MS is a monopolist and that has stood the appeal attempts and they remain criminals that are now trying to settle a punishment). My most recent encounter with Microsoft is their practices with their XP OS software. The marketing and technical materials, at the time of their release stated that the home version was all one needed to perform networking at home. The Professional was for advanced enterprise networks. Well it is not the case and MS marketing materials now reflect this statement. They state the Professional version of XP is for "advanced" home networks, which I have found to mean trying network not only another company's operating system (Mac), but its own variants (Win 98), while trying to keep a connection to a DSL router. The configuration requires a static IP. The Home version wants to reorganize your configuration, which knocks out my DSL connection and never let me share files with my Windows 98 machine, nor use its printer. The XP Home will play nicely with other XP Home machines, but that seems to be about all.

Now comes my last straw. You notice on the XP OS software page that the price difference is $100. I am willing to pay that difference to upgrade to Pro from Home. I am not willing to pay for Microsoft's bait-and-switch tactics, which are illegal in every state in the U.S., and pay the $199 upgrade price. MS will not budge. This means I will budge. I have never received an e-mail response from MS regarding how to or where to find information on upgrading from Home to Pro. Like most of MS site internal links, they are broken. I may have missed something in the many months I have spent trying to correct the error in my ways, which was believing MS marketing materials.

What makes it easy make my next purchase something other than a Windows machine. Mac OS X has made this option available to me. My laptop running OS X has been a dream. I don't know that I would call this an operating system as it has been headache free, it has not conflicted with other software, it allows quick software loads (which are also pain free), and things just work. This is unlike any operating system I have ever used. It is not perfect, but it is damn near perfect. I thought I may have problems doing my regular work on the machine, but I can do every thing I ever did on a Windows machine and without the damn headaches. I can markup HTML, write Word documents, code software, connect to and build SQL compliant databases, use and develop Web Services, use the full (with the exception of Access) Microsoft Office suite and easily share and collaborate with others using Office on any OS platform, I could even run Windows OS (with the help of Virtual PC) so to have access to any other needed software (or even run IIS to test ASP, which is not an option on XP Home), run and build Java natively, not have to continually worry about security holes and viruses, network the computer with non-XP Home computers relatively easily, not have to worry about having to rent my operating system, and not having the OS invade my privacy by strongly urging my use of an unsecure Passport.

My future is mine and not Microsoft's. I will take me where I want to go and my OS of choice will help me get there and not stand in my way. I will let the U.S. Federal Trade Commission know of the fraud. I will also continue to providing for support MS applications and environments at work, because that is my job and I get paid for those headaches.

April 12, 2002

The Hoopla saga has me trying to move from NetSol. Moving the contact information two years ago was a pain in the butt. My favorite part of this thread is MS and VeriSign (parent of NS) joining to provide better security, what a crock.

April 9, 2002

Work at the beach? Telenor has a wireless network environment that includes the beach.

The Microsoft rants of late have been attributable to horrible networking problems that keep corrupting my mapped drives. The mapped drives to production and development servers work fine for days then blow-up. The server's response was the file was already open, when I was trying to copy over a file on one of the servers. Some days I could not even log on. I can have more than one mapping to a server so to copy to different project drives. Windows 2k says no way Jack. Not only this but setting up passwords for others today for them to log into the dev box, MS popped up an error message stating they had to have changed their password on their first login. That was their first login. Fully patched machines running too. What a poor excuse for an OS. Things have improved by the end of the day, but too much time is wasted on the crappy OS.

April 7, 2002

Beeb also offers an insight into the Rocket Network, which is a collaboration tool that unites musicians virtually. The network lets artist collaborate anywhere in the world, but that is the same story for anything that touches the Internet.

March 9, 2002

Pringles can to help hack WiFi

The Beeb reports Pringle cans improve ability to hack WiFi connection. [Please non-Brit English speakers that crisps is the term for chip, as in potato chip, as chip in Britian is equal to the American french fry. Got that? Good, now read on.]

February 12, 2002

InfoWorld has an interview with the executive director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Dan Reed discussing the computing grid. This is somewhat like having an electric grid but the commodity is data. The grid's biggest hurdle is interacting with differing data types for essentially similar data. This he explains is bridged using metadata. The metadata needs are enormous. Understanding the information and data is paramount to the task and getting the system right.

February 8, 2002

Now the fun begins. I can now sit on the sofa next to my wife, not only work on my laptop but have access to the Internet using Apple's Airport. Yes no wires attached and I have full througput of our DSL line.

This is enabling me to watch the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and alternate tasks. I have been more impressed with the ads during the opening ceremonies, much more so than the Super Bowl. My favorite so far is the multi-sport Nike ad. Hands down my favorite add I have seen in months, not saying much as I really do not watch too much television, as I prefer to watch the interesting bits off the Internet. You ask what made the Nike ad so impressive? Not only was it the transitions, the relationships between athletes and youth and amatures trying the same performance, and the visual beauty, with intermixing a steady camera and a moving shot. The cinematography was beautiful. Full marks.

January 30, 2002

The Fool compares Apples and Windows and their networking strategies. This question of how Apple with work with .Net has been on my mind for a while. Since .Net is XML based it seemed to be no big deal. I have been finding that OS X handles all my networking needs and more, which I definitely can not say about Windows XP.

January 20, 2002

Apple explains Myths to Windows Users. This has been one of my favorite bits of the week. I have been finding much of this to be true as I have been switching from Windows to Apple (at least for laptop). Apple is proving to be a much better operating system for interacting with other operating systems. Windows XP Home is a pathetic computer to network and that is being more than generous (the Pro version is a much better OS to network and even much better suited for home networking).

January 16, 2002

January 14, 2002

Those of you that have a real home network, which would be a melange of PCs, Apple Macs, and maybe a kid's science/computer project of a Linux box. If you believed the Microsoft hype and bought XP Home only to find out you can not network that OS if you are using a static IPs on your network (such as having a static IP on you DSL connection or other device that allows for such simple ideas). You say you want to share your MP3s, photos, movies, or even MS Word documents with your Mac? Your options are limited, but if you happened to also be an early adopter an have Mac OS X running you can set your files to share and set the network settings to accept FTP connections. Now you can return to your XP box and use FTP to send your files to your Mac.

The other option is to load Apache Web server on your XP box (XP Home does not allow IIS or even PWS (personal web server) and set the document directory to what you want to share (remember to allow directory view if you do not have a default page). Now open a browser and point to that machine (statice IP will work wonders for this) then drag and drop single file by single file to where you want them on your Mac.

January 3, 2002

Mappa.Mundi offers Mostly Cloudy, Clearing Later: Network Weather Maps article about Internet mapping tools that show congestion and other related maladies.

January 2, 2002

I really would like XP Home to have Samba (SMB) as the Apple documentation on using SMB to network machines and share drives is very solid. XP Home does not have SMB capability. If anybody knows a way to build it in plese e-mail me (comments being turned on this month or next month).

SMB is an open source networking tool that is supported on most operating systems. Windows 2000 and XP Professional support SMB. I should have learned my lesson and never by consumer grade software or hardware as I am always wanting to do more.

This MacSlash posts tries to answer networking OS X and Windows XP boxes, this will be a task I will soon try and tackle. My only issue is I was a sucker and only bought the XP for Home, which seems to lack the ability to build a home network with anything but a Windows machine (even this is fussy). I must only know the aberrant households, but most of the people I know with home networks are connecting Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (mostly Mac and Windows). Microsoft seems to have a different understanding of home than the people I know, but then again they are not average families as they don't have 2.3 children, they have children in whole numbers.

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