Archives for December 2006

Chat is back

I added Meebo chat back on the right Sidebar.  I took it down for a bit due to some abuse, and some bandwidth issues.

If you see me online, feel free to chat.  But be nice, please.  I promise I will!

 

Rob

Sometimes we don’t really want what we ask for

I’m normally surrounded by as many friends as I want to be surrounded by.  Ever since I was a child, our house has always been the place the neighborhood kids hung out at.  That’s been true in the years since – I have always hosted the parties, get-togethers, birthdays, whatever.  The adults hang out at my house now, but generally when they do, we act like kids.  We have fun, without worrying about being judged.

My house is a laid back place.  You don’t need to worry about spilling a drink (tile floors!).  You can play pool, video games, jump on one of many available laptops, watch one of many TVs, etc.  It’s a gathering place – and pretty much that is how I like it.  It’s rare that I go a day without having someone drop in for a beer and a chat.

Today though – especially tonight, for whatever reason, I decided I didn’t want to be the host of the party.  I decided I wanted a quiet night alone with my kids.  But now it’s almost 10pm, and I realize in two hours it will be a new year – and that I’ll ring it in alone, or fall asleep before it arrives.  And I wish I was surrounded by friends – some of them the same ones I turned away over the last couple days, arguing that I was “busy” or “had plans”.  They’ll forgive me, I know.  But I am a very social creature, and being alone on New Year’s Eve isn’t sitting as well with me as I thought it would.  I miss people.  I miss the spilled drinks, the friend’s pets tracking in mud.  The kitchen that looks like we just fed a third world country.

So I am spending this New Year’s Eve alone – and I regret it now.  I don’t do well “alone”.  It gives me too much time to pause and think about me, and my life, and my failures, or my failures to start.  It causes me to wonder what if.  And to ask, why not?  And to ask the bigger question – when?

When is a huge question for all of us – we all have these secret little plans or desires that we someday hope to act on.  When is always the hardest thing to come to grips with.  When?  Now?  Next year?  In two months, after I finish this job, once the kids graduate?  When?

My goal is to make 2007 my when, even if I don’t fully understand the what or why yet.

I’m glad 2006 is coming to a close.  It was a decent year, but a fairly hollow one.  I didn’t do much.  I didn’t change much.  It’s left me wanting.

 

Rob 

Google Reader (I know – too many posts on this!)

But I can’t help it – I expect more from Google than they are delivering.  This isn’t rocket science here – it’s a blog reader.  I subscribe, you deliver, I read.  It’s really pretty simple.

So it should work, especially since Google constantly reminds me that they have the best and brightest people in the world working there.

OK, best and brightest – fix these things:

1) I don’t need to see your cutesie “Oops, try later” message.  I just need it to work.

2) I don’t need to see your little Google Labs green beaker for minutes at a time when what I want to see is what’s new in my feeds.  Save the cute message and icons and just make things work.  If your servers are too busy to handle my request, breed more of them.

3) Please, please, if you are so smart – fix the issue with being logged into one Google account in one browser session screwing with my COMPLETELY DIFFERENT login for Google Reader.  Yes, I have a Google account for Analytics, GMAIL, etc and a different one for reading feeds. Being logged into both at the same time should work.  It really should!  It doesn’t.  Has anyone at Google tried this?

4) Please let me resize the panes in the reader.  This is a fairly easy thing to do.

5) Implement Search in my feeds.  I know you are working on it.  Work faster, please!

6) Let me set RSS search feeds for items outside of my reading list – scour blogs and websites for my predetermined search queries and feed it to me as if it was RSS.  Turn Google Reader into not just a reader, but a research tool.  You can do this!

7) Give me some control over the interface – fonts, font size, colors.  Something.  Please?

 

And Google, I do appreciate that Google Reader is “free”.  But I also know you reap huge benefits from it, so I don’t think I owe you anything for using it – or for demanding more from it.  Above are my “you should already be doing this” items… below are my “you should offer this” items.

1) Learn from me.  Suggest blogs to me based on what I read, what I flag, what I share.

2) Let me see my own metrics on what I read – what blogs I read most often, click through to most often, etc.

3) Build me an interest tree where you show me how my interests overlap with others.  Do it by subject, time frames, etc.  Build a Google Analytics into my blog reader.  Teach me what I may not know about my own reading habits.

4) Show me an aggregation of others who have similar interests, and if they allow it, point me to their blogs.

 

Google, I know you are thinking of a lot of cool things for Blog Readers – but if you don’t start delivering more than a basically functional interface for reading blogs then I’ll find something else.

Why Craig’s List Sucks

Craigslist used to be pretty cool.  Before the spammers, bullshit “make a fortune at home marketing scammers” and others found it.  Now it’s crap – at least here in San Antonio.  It’s worse than worthless because it consumes time.

Why is it worthless?  No moderation.  Nobody is there to boot out the ne’er do wells.  Nobody polices Craigslist.  Yeah – maybe that’s part of the culture of Craigslist.  If it is, it’s a broken culture, and if it isn’t fixed the utility of the site becomes less than zero.

How would I fix it?  I would add a social aspect to it where people can vote advertisers off the site.  Bury bullshit ads that guarantee to pay me $30,000 a month for licking envelopes.  Bury bullshit deeply enough that it doesn’t get in the way of most of my users.

Craigslist used to be useful – now it’s a spam receptacle.

Social Networking as a Widget

 

I think Social Networking is rapidly moving from being site based to being widget based.  Instead of going to a Social Networking Site you’ll bring your Social Network to whatever web application you choose – be it your photo or video sharing site, your Tagging site, or your own blog.  You’ll simply post your Widget where you want it – and your social network will be there – your friends, your shared information, your RSS feeds, your gadgets, etc.

Widgets will move from being useful little tools to completely portable web applications that you can almost literally stick anywhere, from your blog to your Desktop.  On online Office-type Widget will be able to be placed on any page, and will be able to share information, and allow group co-authoring of documents from virtually anywhere.

There isn’t a lot of incentive yet (at least they don’t understand it well enough yet) for today’s Social Networking sites to drive this development.  Instead it’ll be driven by small groups of Widget designers that work together to build an infrastructure that allows Widgets to inter-operate, and to inter-communicate.  You data will reside almost anywhere you want tit to reside – from your local server to a remote file-hosting site.  Fundamentally, it won’t matter where your data is – each instance of your Widgets, and those others you authorize, will be able to find manipulate and share the data seamlessly.

And you won’t have to know anything about databases, scripting languages or security to make it all work.

It’s The Web, your Way.