Archive for May, 2007

Ok Scoble, but what about search feeds and starred posts?

May 30, 2007

I was watching this video of Robert Scoble discussing his feed reading system. I found it quite interesting and Scoble, as always, seems so honest and enthusiastic about what he does. You can tell he really loves it. Nice.

Of course there were snippets that undoubtedly would rile up some segment of small struggling tech bloggers, like scanning the headings and bylines for authors he knows and relegating ones he doesn’t to the trash. There was also his mention of how he finds the small guys by paying attention to what the ‘A-List’ bloggers link to. Not exactly what “Joe Smith” was wanting to hear I imagine.

But one thing I didn’t hear Robert mention was search feeds. I know that I have several Technorati and Google Blogsearch result feeds that give me posts that I would completely miss otherwise. I’ve found many new and wonderful blogs that way. I’ve got search feeds for things like ‘Inkscape’, ‘Vim’, ‘wxPython’ and some others. I’ve also used Chris Pirillo’s engine (now called tagjag it seems) to good effect as well.

So why wouldn’t Scoble use a Technorati feed with the term ‘tablet pc’?

Sure these blog search feeds do generate a fair amount of noise, but it’s fairly easy to sift through, and like I say, you can find some gems that you’d have otherwise missed. The other benefit is that they’re transient. I can delete, or modify those search result feeds as my short term interests change (which they do all the time it seems).

So the questions go out to Robert and everyone else, do you use Feed searches? If so, what blog search engine do you use? And how do you use them?

ps – I’m also a huge fan of the ‘starred post’ feature in Google Reader. I use this as a rudimentary rating system so that I can quickly scan feeds and mark off interesting ones for later reading (I don’t have all day to read these things) so it’s nice to be able to keep track with something easier and far more efficient than something like say, .

The bigger picture – Facebook? Uh.. no.

May 29, 2007

Kent Newsome weighs in even more on the Social Networking v. blogging issue. His last statement strikes a real chord with me:

“I think the social networking closed site as online Mecca story is a myth driven by people who want to keep the content producing public behind the walls so they can make money off of the content they produce.”

And while I’m not focused on making money on the content I produce (would be a nice side-benefit), I am interested in getting it out to the world – not to my fellow Facebook members or my MySpace friends. I want the meager contribution I make to be reachable by anyone wanting to read or watch it.

And the conversational aspect is no different. I want to hear from people interested in what I’m interested in, no matter where they are, no matter what their stripe.

I want to participate in the bigger picture – as Dave Winer put it the other day, “the wild wild web, the unbounded frontier”. Facebook, MySpace, Virb and the like, are definitely not the bigger picture, no matter how much money they make for their

LIC – do you have it?

May 28, 2007

Penguin Pete outlines the symptoms of LIC (the Linux Insecurity Complex).

Describing one of the typical symptoms, Panic Attacks (thinking about how MS will sue Linux out of existence), Pete writes,

“You could drop nuclear bombs on every Linux user on the planet, but you’ll miss at least one server housing the source code, to be found by some future archaeologist, and there it will go spreading again. Linux is creeping charlie. It is rooted too deeply to budge. Why do you think Microsoft is so afraid of it?”

So if you’re a Linux user, you owe it to yourself to read his post and start showing some dignity! 🙂

Free commenting system? What free commenting system?

May 27, 2007

Yours truly (a.k.a. The Idiot Blogger), proudly posted about freeing up my comment system, proceeded to disable comment moderation and then forgot to hit ‘Save Settings’.

Some ten hours later, idiot (me) finally gets home to realize commenters on his post are locked in moderation limbo.

Apologies to Chris and Will (btw – I’m not entirely sure that’s you Will Simpson or some other Will, but I’ll take the chance – I’ve already been an idiot once today, might as well bask in it).

Gee, you’d think I would have been automatically removed from the gene pool by now.. 😉

Freeing Up The Commenting System

May 26, 2007

Chris Brogan is someone I’ve enjoyed reading for quite some time now. And while lately he’s been knee-deep in the ‘new media’ space, every now and then he gives some sound solid advice for those of us who are doing these things solely for enjoyment and nothing else.

With my recent experimentation with screencasting, inkscape, linux, twitter and other things tech, I have not spent a lot of time improving my blog (or my blogging). Chris wrote a recent post on making your blog more friendly. One of his first points was about making commenting easier, citing the fact that captchas are a hurdle that should be avoided if at all possible. He also wrote that some blogging software (like makes it mandatory.

Hmm. I know I had captchas enabled, but never really checked if that was mandatory. Lo and behold, it isn’t. A quick switch of a radio button in the commenting settings will turn it off.

I put a high value on the few comments I do get because of the opinions, ideas and discussion that can show up there. Therefore, I’ve turned captchas off and for that matter I’ve also turned off comment moderation just to see if anything changes. I’ll still get email notification of comments and can go in and delete comments if they are in fact spam.

So for now I’ve freed up the commenting system – no moderation, no captchas. Now on to much tougher things like improving the writing and posting frequency…

Dell to sell PC’s in Wal-Mart stores

May 25, 2007

I haven't seen any chatter on the very recent news that Dell is going to be selling a model or two of PC's in Wal-Mart stores starting in June. This will be in Canada as well as the US. They will be custom spec models exclusively for WalMart. I'd say that's pretty big news for a company that has so far resisted any real retail presence other than a few mall kiosks.

I'm not normally one to break any tech news but I actually knew about this a few days ago. I now have a little birdie flying around the hallways there. 🙂

Unfortunately you can bet your first born that the models destined for Wal-Mart stores won't be the ones running Ubuntu. But then again, stranger things have happened. 😉

Why Facebook and not blogs?

May 25, 2007

Kent Newsome asks the question:

“What is so much better about Facebook (and MySpace and other similar platforms) than an ordinary blog on a popular platform- say WordPress?”

I joined Facebook a little over a month ago – and while it does have it’s uses, it in no way would serve as a replacement for this blog (or blogging in general). To me it’s a completely different animal.

Facebook has put me in contact with two or three old friends (an old friend with whom I’d lost touch, one French teacher from high school and a former university house-mate of mine). The rest are people I already know and interact with. But that’s really the extent of it for me. It’s not a place I visit to learn anything new other than whether or not Joe OldFriend has kids or not or some other personal info people are willing to share.

But that’s just it. It’s all personal. It’s all relatively closed. It’s only as open as people are willing to make it. I don’t login often. Maybe because I’m not a social butterfly by nature. Maybe because it’s just been a series of ‘hey long time no see, what ya up to’ type private messages.

Sure, there are people who cross connect, join groups and share pictures and interests. If that’s what you’re looking for then it serves that purpose too.

Blogging on the other hand is much more expansive. And a lot more work too. But you’re opening yourself up to discovering many more new things and people (and being discovered by a much wider range of people too). It’s a completely different thing. If your into learning about new things, expanding your horizons and really participating in a global conversation then Facebook is not the place to do it. Granted it’s not meant to be, and frankly I get the impression that the vast majority of people there are not that lofty in their ambitions anyway – which is perfectly fine too.

Of course there are the more subjective aspects. Facebook is very constrained design-wise and not at all pretty. It’s a big step up from MySpace, but my home page seems like a sea of user names, widget headings and a big fat annoying ad on the left side, all drowning in a sea of too-tiny text. I imagine you can play with it, but every Facebook page I’ve seen is the same. It’s just too constrained for my tastes.

It’s also a closed system. So there is absolutely nothing that advances the cause of the most underappreciated internet technology – RSS. I don’t think Google can crawl Facebook and for some people that might be a good thing – if they even care. Maybe it’s only people who understand the value of a feed aggregator that will care about that anyway.

It still reminds me of It hasn’t added any value to my life other than reconnecting me with a few long lost friends. But a quick google search of my name could have done it a lot quicker. But alas, not everyone has a web presence and this might be the way in for the ‘great unwashed’. If only it wasn’t so closed. Maybe a buyout might go some way to solving this.

What is telling for me is that for each person I reconnected with, I always ended up telling them it was better to check out my family blog or this blog if they really wanted to see what I was up to. I’ve been really using it as a way to climb in there and say – ‘come out here and see what you’re really missing’.

Make no mistake, not everyone is cut out for blogging. Not everyone wants to write more than a few misspelled lines in a comment on someone’s ‘wall’. Not everyone cares about well designed pages, trackbacks or RSS. Maybe Twitter/Jaiku/Tumblr addresses all that.

To me, blogging is so open-ended and has so much potential in so many ways and Facebook has none.

I think the winds of change are always blowing too. There’s been Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, and now maybe Virb or something else. Maybe it’s good you don’t put a lot of hard fought effort into your content on Facebook. You likely won’t be able to move it when you transition to the ‘next big thing’.

There’s some food for thought Kent. 🙂

How not to impress anyone on a job interview..

May 23, 2007

I have not been in the job market for over a decade (and don't plan on being in it the short term either), but we're interviewing people for entry level design and drafting positions at our firm and I'm mystified by something.

Why do people show up half an hour late dressed in casual clothes for a job interview? Has society changed so much in the last 10 years that you no longer need to dress appropriately and show up on time for an interview?

About 11 years ago I remember sitting in my car, dressed in my suit, half an hour early for my interview, nervously waiting for the appointment time. I remember even taking a drive a few days earlier on the weekend to scope out the place so I'd know where it was, where I could park etc. I didn't want to get lost or have to walk 5 miles and be late for that interview.

Overprepared? Maybe. But the last few people I've seen come by here for interviews have been late and are dressed pretty shoddy. We work in a casual dress environment (think golf shirts and khakis), but this is a job interview – aren't you trying to make a good impression?

I'm not the one doing the hiring so I can't really speak to their experience or skills, but man, these people don't look like they're trying to impress anyone. At least they're achieving that.

Nothing like a bit of humour to send you into a long weekend…

May 18, 2007

Thank you to DanteDefiance, who's digg comment got me chuckling at the end of a long Friday afternoon:

"How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if the woodchuck was Chuck Norris?

…all of it."