Saturday, 06 November 2004

My Blackberry phone device up and died on me as soon as I got to Hawaii a couple weeks ago (a blessing in disguise to be sure), so I got a replacement this week. The new one is the Blackberry 7290 model - the latest rendition of the smaller form factor devices with the full keyboard. It's nice. Have fun with an online tour here.

Want to add ringtones? Instructions here.

Some things I like about it:

  • Nice, contrasty, clear color screen
  • CallerID info is now big, bold and easy to read, and backlights itself for dark places
  • A new Help icon on the home screen that works really well
  • VERY bright back-light, and two-stages of brightness (hit the back light button once for half light, again for full brightness, again to turn off - cool)
  • Color background images for the home screen and the "screensaver" mode, and a new icon on the home screen called "pictures" that I'll have to explore a bit
  • Bluetooth (YAY!) (but no printed documentation in the box on how to use it - Go to the help icon on the device's home screen - that only took me a day to find... Once you enable and configure it in the device settings an icon is added to your home screen, as well)
  • Quad-band radio on AT&T (850/900/1800/1900 GSM/GPRS) means noticeably improved network coverage over other devices I have used
  • USB charging and connector uses a standard USB cord with the itty-bitty plug on the device end, same as several other devices I use like my MP3 player
  • Improved keyboard layout (subtle)
  • Better information on the home screen - if I enable wireless calendar sync with Exchange for example, the icon on the home screen changes to indicate it's active in that mode. In vibrate mode, the profile icon (which is moved to the home screen, by the way - that took me another hour to find heheh) gets an overlay of - uhhhh - a vibrate gylph or something like that.

A couple of things are really bugging me, though:

  • I can't get the RBRO code to work on the browser that's installed on this one. If I go to Google, I'd like to be able to choose to use HTML only. I'll have to play with this some more. Trying to view a larger HTML page results in an error that the page is too large to convert to "HDML" - whatever that is... That sucks, guys.
  • The thumb wheel used for navigation is a little too stiff and slick compared to other BB models like the 7280 or 7780, which means my thumb slips a lot. I am sure I will adjust, it just bugs for now.
  • Mine came with a version of the v3.6 desktop software in the box that needs to be updated to ensure wireless calendar works correctly. If you use it, get SP3a. Hmph.
  • Still uses the old style ring tones. Come on, guys - polyphonic tones have been around for quite a while now - what's up with that? UPDATE: At least you can add your own simple MIDI files!
  • Maximum volume on the earpiece is lower than on other models. It makes it harder to use in noiseier environments. But it's still adequate, just not as nice as other Blackberry phones I have used.

Other than that, I am pretty happy with this thing. It's (for the most part) a real improvement.



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Mobile | Tech
Saturday, 06 November 2004 13:22:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Robert Scoble opened the session on Overload - or as he coined it in the opening conversation, "Information Pressure." He deals with 950+ RSS feeds that he has subscribed to, and so he's a good person to have guide the discussion on this topic.

What a great session.

There are already 4.5 million blogs out there. Overload is inevitable for many. Everyone has limits. They're different for each of us.

For my part, I have to manage my RSS feeds regularly. I am subscribed to more than 500 in total. I move them, reclassify them, and occasionally (but rarely) even unsubscribe to ones that have not met my needs or expectations, and I also have a section in my RSS reader for those feeds I want to keep track of, but which I don't put in my higher-priority list. They are my general dumping ground categories, if you will - good enough to watch now and then when I have time, but not part of my daily chores.

But then there are my high-priority feeds, and there are a couple hundred of those. I deal with my primary RSS feeds daily - usually several times a day. I get critical information I need for my work delivered to me in RSS throughout the day. It's reliable, fast and goes with me. It just works. It's lightweight. I can use it the way I want.

But that is exactly what makes it easy to get overloaded. Make something that really, really works, and people like me with use the hell out of it, sometimes to the point of making it less usable.

Scoble asks an excellent question - What about people who read only say 20 feeds? Why not more? One good answer: "If I save 20 minutes not reading feeds, that's 20 minutes I can spend looking at a sunset." Or maybe a sunrise. How true. ;-)

Which makes me think - maybe we could convince Nick Bradbury (who is the author of FeedDemon) to consider providing a way to see what feeds I have not read in a given period of time, those that have not posted in x days or weeks, those that are no longer there, and report that info to me and then let me act on it. Also let me report on the opposite - what feeds are really really active? I'd want to be able to move any of them, mark them, delete them, or a combination of the above. Kind of a little clean-up wizard. Hmmmm... Is this what attention.xml does?

Robert makes what seems like it should be an obvious suggestion, but is a good one to hear: Write better headlines. Tell me what it's about. A head line of "GAHHHH!" does nothing for me when what the article is about is something like "I had a really frustrating day at work today." Or something like that.

Or maybe attention.xml should do this, as one person suggested: "Here's the list of people I don't pay attention to anymore."

A tangent topic of "what do you use your blog for" came up (and for some reason Robert said my name when he showed the crowd his feed aggregator - thanks for the plug, heh). Interesting topic. Blogs are used for all sorts of things: Personal memory catalogs, culture development and coming together of people with similar interests, espousing opinion, publishing fact, conversing and replacing letter writing, you name it.

And thanks to Robert for asking for people at the conference to stand at the mic who had not spoken yet. Nice job guiding and maintaining the focus of the conversation without controlling the session too much. I like it when I hear Robert say, "That's for all of you to decide, right?" and "What else would you like to talk about?" (photo by Doc Searls)

Brainstorming ideas on overload:

  • Social networking worked into bloglines - show me recommendations based on who I read, ability to browse the network of content.
  • Eric Rice says - with these ideas, are we risking going away from that peer-to-peer distributed model, away from the model we were trying to reject?
  • What goes on between the time when an idea has an idea and when I read it - content producer can filter, linkers can filter when they describe and link, governments in same places might filter, services can filter, and the end user can filter content. How do we find information unfiltered without overload? Can it be done?
  • A certain Zen acceptance that there might be something you won't see - don't give in to the pressure to give in to the anal-retentive obsession to read and see everything.
  • Thought that the major overlaid is not the number of blogs, but the comments, which ones are by smart comments, which are on topic, which are tolls, etc.
  • Podcasts control the browser. (Note: This is an idea I have already given to a team I am working with, but MP3 won't do it. Windows Media will, but that's not open).
  • There's a problem in the room and in the blogosphere in general with blogaholism. It's causing a lot of problems, solve it like a medical condition? (hmmm)

By the way, it's hard to say enough time how much Doug Kaye and ITConversations rule. I can't be there, but I can be there. Nice - thanks.



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, 06 November 2004 11:51:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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And she's right.

I am listening to a live windows media feed from BloggerCon about podcasting (I am not there because I needed to stay home for other things, so I canceled my trip).

Adam Curry says (paraphrased) don't think you can change the name, it's a done deal. He's right (unfortunately). No one thought ahead about the name, or not far enough ahead. Or there was an agenda to use the name for any of a number of reasons. Or it's a good name because it's catchy and immediately invokes interest when you hear or read it. Whatever. I *still* think we need to get away from the name when we think up new additions to this technology, just to make sure people don't assume it's just for the iPod. Because like it or not, they do.

For the creator, this is personal Internet broadcasting. For the end users, it's simply audio aggregation with a magical ability to get the files on your computer and/or portable audio device of choice.

And it's in its infancy as far as time alive and maturity of technology. John Dvorak was at least partially right. It pretty much sucks for the average user. At least right now.

But it will get better.

Take a look at early technology being developed specifically for aggregating mp3 and other enclosures and tying into, say, Windows Media player. I have had the personal experience of providing input and being involved in making suggestions for Doppler, a program that is 100% focused on doing just that.

Adam points out that there is no all-in-one solution for the podcaster. We are far from having that available.

Which means by next week someone will have written it. :-)



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Saturday, 06 November 2004 10:17:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Every now and then I am given a tangible reminder of why I decided to live way out in the sticks. Coffee on the front porch and a decent digital camera make it all worthwhile, even at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. Oregon's a great place to live.



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Personal Stories | Photography | Random Stuff
Saturday, 06 November 2004 08:15:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 04 November 2004

Not much has been said recently in the news about Mt. St. Helens and the fact that it's still active and spewing some steam and ash. The alert level for volcanic unrest, as they call it, remains at Orange. Earlier today USGS photographers took some pictures from the air of a steam and ash eruption (it's actually been ongoing for almost a month now). A new lava dome has formed, and continues to be active and grow.

From the USGS: “Seismicity remains at a low level compared to that observed early in this unrest. The current seismicity is consistent with a continuing, slow rise of magma driving uplift of the crater floor and feeding a surface extrusion of lava. The overall low rates of seismicity and gas emission suggest that the lava reaching the surface is gas poor, thereby reducing the probability of highly explosive eruptions in the near term.”

These images are from November 4th. Click the images to go to the official web site, where more pictures and info can be found. Note the ash stains on the snow in both images. You might also be interested in the "repeat views" image gallery, which contains same-angle images over time, so you can see the progression of change.



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Mt. St. Helens
Thursday, 04 November 2004 22:59:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Just ran across this cool online tool. At chami.com there is a favicon.ico generator for your web sites that will let you generate a FavIcon from any image. It works great:

http://www.chami.com/html-kit/services/favicon/

If you want to create an icon to associate with your web site in the address bar, shortcuts, favorites, etc... this is for you.



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Tech
Thursday, 04 November 2004 22:21:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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