Archive for April, 2005

Just Like Everyone Else?

April 30, 2005

It seems like only yesterday when I found Google. So simple, honest and fast.

“…You may recall that in its early years, it was a point of honor with Google that it accepted no advertising at all. When it finally introduced advertising, it was in discrete ads set off to the side of search results to avoid any chance of intrusion or confusion. Now, Google plans to enter the bazaar, offering graphics, animation and other elements that will let advertisers more aggressively clamor for your attention. In short, Google plans to become just like everyone else…” InfoCommerce

Dragging Podcasting into the Mainstream (kicking and screaming?)

April 30, 2005

I’ve just finished listening to a podcast of Adam Curry and Ron Bloom describing their plans for growing the medium and bringing it in from the fringe. A lot of neat ideas and concepts. I’m just a little worried that it will lose its single biggest advantage over mainstream radio (in my mind anyway) and that is it’s personal nature. Likely this specific strategy or someone else’s will indeed bring it out into the mainstream. But at what cost. Will the concept of personal blogging by voice disappear in the long run? Will the market support both mass appeal and the quirky nature that sets the current podcasts so far apart from mainstream radio? Does the inevitability of profit seekers effectively cause podcasting to Jump The Shark? Check it out for yourself. It’s definitely an interesting listen.

Perhaps even more interesting will be Dave Winer‘s thoughts on the podcast.

(Postscript: …and here they are.

Plan of Attack

April 28, 2005

After skimming some of the Python programming tutorials in the last week or two, I’ve decided that I will start slowly but definitely start! I found the tutorial written by the inventor of Python Guido van Rossum. Best to go straight to the source. I’m going to set up a simple flat file database and build the functions to read, write, search, insert and edit entries into that database. The stuff relating to file I/O seems fairly simple. I thought it would be better to get the mechanics of it down while learning the language and then use those tools to put a pretty GUI onto it later. We’ll have to see how this baby competes against the other 50 million things I have on my list 😉

To Blur or Not To Blur….

April 21, 2005

I was just doing a quick tour of Washington DC when I noticed something. They’ve blurred out the US Capitol (pictured above) but interestingly not the White House or the Pentagon.. Hmmm. Make of it what you will… that’s a Dam!

April 21, 2005

Google’s new satellite map feature is a blast! Nevermind road directions, use it to tour famous landmarks! I have checked out my hometown (of course), Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, The Hoover Dam (shown above) and various other famous landmarks. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Janet Tokerud seems to have the same idea in her tech ronin blog which I frequent from time to time.

Some Old Habits Die Easily

April 18, 2005

For the first time in a week or so, I spent the commute listening to (or trying to listen to) regular broadcast radio. For the past couple of weeks I’ve spent most of my commute time listening to podcasts from various sources. Switching back recently, the big thing that struck me was impersonal nature of broadcast radio. No control about what I was listening to, bland polished commentary, did I mention impersonal?.. Provided the means were there (easy access to podcasted material and easy playback in the car or wherever) the personal nature of it alone could really hook a lot of people.

Dave Winer‘s Morning Coffee Notes has a very personal, one-to-one nature to it. And even the more polished Daily Source Code by Adam Curry is directed at, and receives a mass audience (relatively speaking of course) and yet it feels infinitely more intimate than any of the 8 stations I skipped through on my car stereo this morning. The lack of spontaneity and the smothering weight of production teams aiming at mass appeal must be the major reasons. The progress and development of podcasting will be interesting to watch. Even if parts of it go really mainstream, it will be impossible to get rid of the small fish or really really small fish. After all, they don’t need any stinking transmitters ;).

Stumbling Around

April 18, 2005

I recently came across something called StumbleUpon which is kind of a neat tool which tries to figure out what websites you might like by putting a toolbar in your browser that lets you rate any site you visit by either clicking “I Like It” or “Not for Me”. Then there’s the “Stumble!” button which takes you to a random site that may or may not interest you. When you register (it’s free) it asks you to check off things that interest you. So clicking the stumble button does give you plenty of interesting sites. This is a real cool feature if you’re just surfing around at lunchtime or something. You just click the stumble button and it will take you to some neat site. If it doesn’t interest you click ‘not for me’ and hit stumble to go to the next. I’ve found some really neat sites in the past couple of days using this system. These are sites I never would have found any other way.
StumbleUpon also lets you communicate with others that build the same kind of interest tree that you have, but I haven’t taken advantage of this social networking aspect of the tool yet. Not that I ever will. But the basic idea of taking you to sites that somewhat match your interest and letting you fine tune that interest list by rating the site is a really interesting one. Definitely something that should be checked out.

Yet Another Thing to Add to the List

April 18, 2005

I’ve been toying with the idea for a program for the last year or so. It’s a simple database of project attributes for work. At work it seems like twice a day that one of us asks the other, “hey, what was the last project where you did xyz?” where xyz might be formed concrete foundations, or load bearing masonry, or window washer supports, or metal siding, or…well you get the idea.

We deal with a great number of projects, but we have no way of tracking what those projects involved. So we are constantly racking our brains trying to remember when we did something so that we can use the details again. So I think a simple database would be of use. Of course, I like programming, so I intend to write something to achieve this, rather than just try and find some other software to do it for me. What fun is that?? So I was brainstorming about how to do the interface and had a general question that I posted to Usenet. On person emailed me a response suggesting that using Python (I intended on using C++) might be much more productive.

So now I’ve started on the road to learning Python. It seems the place to start is and I quickly downloaded ActivePython to get my feet wet. We will see how it goes. I will likely intermittently post some progress reports on how I am finding it. I have always dealt with C, or C++ and I have quickly looked at Perl as well. So we’ll see how python goes. Nice to find something new to learn, although my plate is overflowing as it is…

Discovering What?

April 7, 2005

I’ve been listening to quite a few podcasts lately during my commute and I’ve found the BloggerCon-III podcasts very engaging and interesting. You get to hear from a lot of ‘regular Joes’ about why they are blogging, what they are blogging about, the problems and triumphs they are experiencing and the state of blogging in general. Definitely an interesting read for someone like me just starting out.

I have a lot on my plate right now (probably too much) in terms of things I want to do, but for the last several years I’ve been struggling with trying to find my real passion. I want to find that special thing that I could be doing and feel completely fulfilled. Maybe that’s everyone’s goal, I don’t know. But I’m a very introspective person. I have no problems with self-examination to see what it is I enjoy, what I have passion about, what my strengths and weaknesses are.

I have a tendency to really get into things for a little while, pursue them with real vigor, but only for a limited time. I seem to load up on the things that interest me and then grow bored. No actually it’s not bored. I always seem to find something else that replaces or supercedes the current thing I’m pursuing. Lately I’ve come to realize more and more that I am pursuing knowledge in general. I am a real sponge when it comes to certain things.

Over the past 4 years I have pursued certain things with a passion: C++ programming, HTML, Photography (film mostly), digital image work, creative writing, planning and organization, video editing, time management, life management, critical thinking, teaching and now blogging. Do you find it odd that engineering related issues are NOT in that list?!!

And all the time, I have been searching for that one thing that will make me happy in the long term and I haven’t found it in any of the things I’ve listed. I think sometimes that my passion, strengths and future lies not in the actual *things* listed above but more in the acquisition, use and dissemination of that knowledge. I love getting the information. I love using these things to surprise, move or make people happy, and I love to tell or teach them how easy or fun they are to do. I love to explain the things that I’m pursuing almost as much as actually doing them! Maybe there is something here. Maybe I’ll find it in the giving and telling, and not so much in the things themselves.

I teach two continuing education college courses (a basic Structures course, and a Methods & Materials in Construction course) in alternate semesters at Humber College. I’m bored or at least not that passionate about much of the material I teach, but I love the actual teaching. I love communicating what I know to them. And I love to see them when they actually get interested – (which, at times can be few and far between).

I think I have two problems (two that is, in this realm of my life – I have loads of problems in other parts of my life): The first is that I have too many things I’d like to pursue, and the second is that I don’t know if any of those things is getting me anywhere closer to a goal, any goal. In fact I don’t really know what the goal is. It’s frustrating me not to have one right now.

Local Finding

April 1, 2005

This morning I came across a blog from someone else that lives in my town. Daphne Charlton’s Knitting For Therapy is a very personal but interesting read, the kind of blog I enjoy reading.