Sunday, January 28, 2007

Guy Kawasaki on Social Media and Marketing

Interesting data on some rich Silicon Valley kids:

They text message, but don't use email that much, and watch very little TV. They aren't receptive to advertising. They may observe placements in movies, but they are most likely to read paper based magazines, then go online to buy it.

If this is an early indicator of a new wave, Exbiblio is definitely well positioned to serve them.

Transparent Messages

Humanized are working both an improvement on dialog boxes, and on the system message log hinted in the previous post.

Check out the jazzy Web 2.0 login interaction in the above article.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Ever wished for a command line interface to today's software? Hooked on QuickSilver?

Then you'll want to check out Enzo, by Jef Raskin's son, Aza Raskin:

What I think they should add next is a user-visible system-wide log, so you can actually have conversations with your computer, and if the computer says "Do you want to erase your hard disk?" and you happen to be typing a space on Windows, you'll at least get a friendly text message in the log window telling you what's happening....

Julian Beever's Pavement Drawings

Interesting 3D effects drawn on pavement.

Optical Media Player Without a Case

Apple recently filed for a patent dealing with the issue of shrinking laptops and embedding optical drives, and their need to insert and eject disks.

It makes me long for on-demand movie download, or maybe getting 3 micro-SD cards in the mail from NetFlix instead of 3 ginormous plastic disks.... Wait honey! Was that the stamp or the movie?! ;-)

Document Organization Metaphor

The BumpTop 3D Desktop is an interesting metaphor implementation for managing documents. I doubt I would want to use it as shown for managing hundreds of thousands of documents, but for more focused use, e.g. for photos, it could be majorly cool.

Thanks to Justin for the link.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wireless Power Transmission

Joel on Chandler

Joel Spolsky has an interesting review of a new book on the Chandler project. According to the book, things have not gone well for the PIM project.

Wind Farms

I read in the latest Wired about a fairly small project to build 50 wind turbines using old oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. It said that the intended 50 turbines would power about 49,000 households. Based on that I saw there must be something funny about the scale of these things. I thought it would be fun to put one up at my place, since we get so much wind on top of our mountain, but...powering 1000 households with one little propeller?

Well, thanks to Q I now have a better sense of the scale of some of these pups.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I've often pondered about the issue of what book to read (or listen to) next, and would love to have the opportunity sometime to set up an online community with that focus: media selection.

Now NetFlix has a contest to try to beat their recommendation system. I assume it's limited to using the single-dimension star rating system they use, so any other dimensions, such as aspects of movies, would need to come from elsewhere, such as Wikipedia or IMDB, for example.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cell Phones as Projecting Movie Players

Apparntly Texas Instruments is hoping we'll start projecting movies from our cell phones soon.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Open Embedded Hardware Platform

Interesting open hardware project.

Thanks to Q for the link.

Netflix Streams

WIRED reports that Netflix finally supports movie streaming. No downloading so far, and only for Windows.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Conference Call on the iPhone

Apple has a video of a conference call on the iPhone. Looks pretty sweet with the to-the-point, large menus, rather than the usual scramble "green button, red button, how do I answer that second call again...yikes, I killed both calls" that I usually go through.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

iPhone to be Closed

“We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”


“These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”

User-space File System for Mac

Apparently Amit Singh, author of numerous interesting articles about the Mac written while working for IBM's research labs, is now working at Google, and is from there releasing an interesting technology for the Mac:

MacFUSE (File System in User Space)

I've been trying to make time to create a virtual disk driver that can create a virtual disk distributed over the network for redundance and location-independent access, and I'll need to look into whether FUSE is a better platform to build it on than what I'd been considering (subclassing IOMedia on the Mac). Maybe there is even something already out there based on FUSE that's close to what I want.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nanoparticles in the Fight Against Cancer

Build-at-home Desktop Fabricator

First Reactions to the new Apple Devices

Of course, I want an Apple TV and an iPhone, but I may actually wait a bit. Quentin has a good point about the Apple TV. Without a DVD player it does actually complicate use cases for the time being. Although a DVD player is just $20-40 these days, I personally don't have an easy way to mix two composite video inputs to the second hand CRT TV we use these days.

I'm disappointed that there isn't (yet) a hard-disk-based iPhone with 120GB or so, so I can watch videos on it, and maybe stream the videos to the Apple TV, and use it as a remote control. I also would have liked a non-cell-phone version with just WiFi, and we're tied to Verizon for a while now, so I may wait for gen 2 or 3 to get it. I liked their comment that the killer app for cell phones is calling, and their focus on making that easy. I hope they really did. I think if they were to combine it with a better text input method (and I've seen one that fits the bill) it could be awesome.

But, my main concern is actually about extensibility. While I think extensibility is asking for stability trouble, and can really hurt your reputation unjustly, they have to allow for an ecosystem here if they want to succeed in a major way. Apple can provide a great phone without it, but there are so many 3rd parties that could add value to the system that they'll make another lose-to-MS mistake if they don't allow 3rd parties to develop for it. Even developing for it in significant ways, changing the nature of the device, since there are so many cool and useful things that can be done with camera/video input, storage, connectivity, a great I/O screen, speakers, processing power.

How they should do it is another story. Creating an ecosystem and creating great integrated products haven't fit together traditionally. Maybe they should have two products, one for hackers (read 3rd party developers), and one for the consumer, and only gently offer the bleeding edge stuff to the mass market. Maybe users should need to attach a discrete hardware doohickey to the iPhone to allow it to run non-certified software.

But, I think the best outcome for Apple would be if the iPhone, like the iPod, allowed 3rd parties to create new solutions based on it as a platform, e.g. building a GPS device with very low R&D costs by extending their platform, etc., following the Handspring and iPod model.

I do hope, however, that we'll eventually see businesses and business models succeeding with much more open solutions, where hardware and software design and implementation details are all open sourced.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cool Illusions

Here is an interesting set of optical and other illusions. I especially liked the rotating wheels, which I hadn't seen before.