What's the sound of a Frat boy Crying

Those of you familiar with my refrigerator's click, will be happy to know it's gone, not however before the refrigerator stopped working.  As a result when I got home from the week in NJ last Thursday night I was greeted to a fridge that was room temp. Which meant nearly everything had to go.

Fortunately since I travel all the time everything consisted of 2 shelves of condiments and spreads, and that's probably OK, I think I've had that ketchup since I moved to Chicago.

The part that was most depressing was the wast of alcohol.  Through various parties I had a decent stash of beer.  To be fair it's not like it was a artisanal collection that I'd spent hundreds on, and in fact I was never going to drink it, but it was good to know it was there when others came over and wanted a brewski.  So thanks to all the party goers late last year who stocked up.  But know the next time I'll really be starting from nothing.

I took a photo before dumping everything.

Beer
Inventory:

  • 7 - Heineken
  • 3 - Sam Adams
  • 3 - Hacker-Pschorr
  • 2 - Goose Island 312
  • 1 - Magic Hat - Winter Seasonal
  • 1 - Sam Adams Light
  • 1 - Coors Light
  • 1 - Miller Lite
  • 2 - Bud Light cans (yea they embarrassed me too, that's why I hid them in the back)

To be fair to GE I went online last Friday, scheduled an appointment for this morning between 8AM and noon, the guy was here by 8:15, and gone by 8:30, he spent most of his time pulling the fridge out and pushing it back.  The board went bad, he replaced it under warranty.  So I do appreciate the efficiency of the repair, however, I still think it's ridiculous that the board went bad in less than 5 years.

So kudos to GE for efficiently repairing and not charging, boo to the fact that their product went bad in such a short time, it's just as much companies, as it is consumers fault we live in such a disposable society.


Vote for my Photo!

I entered a photography contest for photos of art on Iowa State's campus.

University Museums is looking for great unique photos of the Art on Campus Collection for the second annual I Campus Art contest.  During the month of September we accepted amateur photographer’s images of any of the over 600 major public works of art on the Iowa State University Campus. 

Submitted photographs are placed below to be voted on by the community.  Votes will be collected during the entire month of October and the photograph receiving the largest number of votes will be printed as a poster and sold at the Brunnier Art Museum Store.  The winning photographer will also receive a framed poster.Voting concludes October 31. Winner will be announced early November on the website and through a press release. 

To vote for your favorite photograph, please email your choice of photograph with Title and Name of Photographer to Nancy Gebhart at nancyg@iastate.edu

"Study Break" is my favorite.

Photos are online and voting is open until the end of October.

So, Vote for me!  And then tell a friend!

http://www.museums.iastate.edu/CampusPhotoContest.htm

Also - I have an album online of the photos I took around campus that day, from which I selected these 4 entries.  Enjoy!


 


Just put it all in one (smart) place!

This is something that's bugged me for years, but James Kendrick at jkontherun has finally pushed me to write about it as a response to one of his posts.

He poses an interesting scenario, at the end of his post, based on the newly announced (and not yet available) Palm Pre, however he's making some pretty big leaps.  The current software, isn't learning anything, it's just taking a context based response.  The same response each time.  Not that I don't think it's great, and would love to see it not only on WinMo, but Outlook as well.

I'm surprised overall how poor the current set of mash-ups, or portals is.  There's sooo much data out there that most of us aren't using because we don't want to jump through all the hoops (different sources, websites, searches etc) to get it.  It would be relatively easy for software to aggregate it better for us.

We're finally starting to see steps in the right direction.  There have been portal sites for ages (think yahoo, or more recently iGoogle), but they don't really aggregate as they should to make things truly seamless, you're at the mercy of the created gadgets, or have to get in and code one in the provided API.  How much duplication do you think that creates?

Take Tripit.com for example.  It’s moving us in the right direction, and the wrong direction all at the same time.  It’s pretty neat that I can consolidate all of my travel info into one place, it looks up relevant information based on the itinerary I send it.  I can check flight status, check-in for my flight, get driving directions, weather, and add personal notes.  Now it’s not perfect, it’s got some cool social type features, but to take advantage of them I have to get my network on TripIt.  I can put a badge on my blog, or LinkedIn profile to show where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m headed, but I can’t put it on my facebook page.

I’m a pretty savvy user, and I used to scoff at the people who complained it was too hard to figure this stuff out.  It’s not that I can’t it’s that I don’t want to spend the time.  I’m looking at gadgets and technology to enhance my life and make it easier, not learn a different set of standards, or usage scenarios for every little thing I want to do.  Ten, five, even two years ago I’d accept it just wasn’t feasible for some of this stuff, walled gardens where how technology worked.  Not today friends.  There is no reason or excuse for any program you’re using on your PC not to be internet aware, and it should be able to export and import data to leverage that awareness.

This is the type of stuff I’m talking about.  For the last couple of years I keep waiting for the killer website to come out and aggregate at least all of the push information out there for me in one easy place.  I don’t understand why it hasn’t happened.  The site needs a couple of basic things.  I think this information falls into three categories.  Push, Pull, and Context.  Each type of information requires different access, but it would really be killer to  be able to get it all in one place.

Push

This concept goes way back to the Windows 95 days and Remember that neat concept Microsoft had where you could put web pages on your desktop, and they would be update when you were online.  Some specific partners even had widgets (or whatever they were called) that would push the data to you rather than your PC initiating the request.

Well guess what most of the data I’m looking for on the net is available in a standardized push method, what’s not should be.  RSS I spend nearly all of my online time (outside of getting sucked into the time sink that is YouTube) on two websites.  GMail for my domain, and Google Reader.  I follow 199 different websites daily, and thanks to the automagic updates of RSS feeds to my reader I never have to go to any of those individual sites to know if it’s been updated.  The updates appear and I read them, it’s great.

Our new killer site would have RSS aggregation built in.  I can add any RSS feed and it shows up on my portal.  The power of customization is where things get interesting:

  • Perhaps the default is a blog-roll style list of feeds I’m following with the standard reading view, and that’s fine for most.
  • Some feeds where I want them to always display – a news feed for instance, I should be able to create a custom container just for that feed, and put where ever I want on my portal.
  • Lets say I have a friends/family member’s blog that I always want to appear – in the format it is on their website.  I should be able to create a container, and the content should display as it does on their site (assuming they’re using CSS and HTML to style their site).
  • Password protected RSS feed support needs to be included as well.

If you’re having trouble imagining the power here I’m guessing it’s because you’re not familiar with RSS.  As you surf the web start looking for RSS Feed links, little orange buttons, or the little orange feed logo in IE 7.  Almost every blog has one, any major website has one.

If portals started to truly embrace and fully support RSS (in the standard reader format, and outside it) RSS would be even more prevalent.

There are sites where RSS is lacking (or too well hidden) for no valid reason.  Why in God’s name do I need to go to facebook to see my news feed.  This is why I don’t leverage facebook all that much, if I had an RSS feed of my facebook feed, and links to allow the responses as I do in facebook, I’d be all over that.

Lets take it a step further.  Right now I have a bunch of APIs available from various websites to create widgets for their sites (facebook apps, Yahoo gadgets, Google widgets, Windows Sidebar gadgets, etc.).  If our site wanted to be the end-all be-all it would be able to pull in any of these apps/widgets, whatever and use them.

Pull

That other website I’m spending all my time in is GMail for my domain e-mail.  While there are parts of e-mail that should be push (and new arrivals could easily be handled via RSS), there are parts that should be pull as well.  Back to my portal site.  I should be able to enter any website (did you know each of your GMail labels, or searches creates a custom linkable URL?) and have its contents appear in a container on my portal.  So if I want a list of all of my e-mail labeled "purchase” to appear in a container I should be able to do that.  If I want my favorite YouTube video to appear in a container I should be able to enter that URL.  This is probably an easier implementation than the Push info I’ve called out above.

Context

This is where it gets a little dicey, and decidedly more complicated.  This is the example from James’ post that got me started, and causes me to expand.

  • Palm Pre looks up maps/directions from one event to the next on your calendar
  • Palm Pre looks up relevant internet information on meeting attendees based on your calendar
  • GMail provides a link to a map of address that appear in your e-mails
  • GMail provides a link to tracking of package numbers that appear in your e-mails

Why isn’t my computer OS, or at least some of the applications smarter about this?

Just like millions of other corporate users I use Outlook all day every day for corporate e-mail.  Why can’t it do better about this.  I should either be able to right click an address, and have it map it (via my choice of web-based applications), track a package, reverse lookup a phone number.  This functionality is built into IE7’s search box (you can create a custom provider just by providing the appropriately formatted URL), why isn’t it build into the OS?  I’m not even asking it to make decisions, or learn, just give me the option to build my own library of actions, and let me use them, rather than the current open a browser, go to google maps, copy the address from the e-mail, paste the address into google maps.

The next step would be to have a pane in the app, that has all of these items (that I’ve specified) there for me.  If I can define a keyword that causes a specific web action to take place (i.e. 1zXXXXXX is a UPS number go track it, and put the results in the side bar), this allows me to customize, and reduces the impact to the developer.

Overall

There’s your billion dollar web 2.0 opportunity.  I just want it all in once place.  I just want to control how different parts of it are displayed.  I just want to be able to define what’s available at the click of a mouse (as opposed to click-select, new browser, website, paste….


Same Bat Time... ...Same Bat Channel

I'm back in the windy city, after 2 weeks away.  I spent last weekend visiting Sean and Melissa in Hoboken.  Gloriously last Thursday was the first big winter storm of the season in Chicago, so after being several hours delayed getting out of DSM I got to spend 3 hours at ORD, my 6pm flight to Newark didn't take off until 9:30, so I didn't land until after midnight on the east coast.  In addition the flight was full of "slight to heavy chop" pretty much the entire way.  I'm pretty sure a couple of wine glasses were broken at one point.

So, since it was so choppy, and I hopped on a differnt flight out of DSM I didn't get nearly as drunk as I'd hoped in first class.  At least the service was good.  Then on the flight back into DSM on monday we were delayed for a couple of hours, and the jet bridge didnt work in DSM, so we sat at the gate for 15 minutes while they dicked around with it.  The silver lining came on Tuesday when I received an unsolicited e-mail from UAL apologizing for Thursday's delay, and crediting me 8000 miles.  Today I was concerned we were going to be in trouble due to high winds in Chicago, the flight 2 flights before mine was delayed for over and hour, the flight right before mine was cancelled.  Fortuantly we boarded early, and got our delay lifted, and actually landed early.  Joyiously (and as to be expected) traffice has been horrible.

So, last Friday we went into Manhatten, I got to see Melissa's office (in the Wall Street Journal building), and we went to a great russian reasteraunt.  The flavor infused vodka was great (And inspired Sean to try to make his own later in the weekend), and the food duck was quite tastey too.  However, the salt lick that Melissa and Sean shared left me quite parched from the couple of bites I had.  The caviar was lovely, although the samon variety was a bit too salty/fishy for my taste.  We were shit faced and home by 1.

Saturday we did a bit of shopping on 5th avenu (I know the magnificant mile doesn't have much shopping going on, so I had to go to NYC).  We saw the tree at Rockafeller center.  In fact while we were looking down on the skating rink we watched a guy drop to one knee and propose, it was kinda neat.  That evening we stayed in Hoboken, and went to meet up with a couple of Sean's friends at a swanky new resteraunt/loung.  IT was a realy fun place.  The drinks were a pricieer than the pub we started at, but that was to be expected.