Categories
Apple iPod iTunes Macintosh

iPod Touch’s conspicuously absent button(s)

One of things that Apple is generally known for is their elegant design and ease of use. From a design standpoint, symmetry is a key element of any product. You just don’t see a lot of asymmetrical designs out there. And certainly not from Apple.

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Looking at the new iPod Touch, I have to ask, what’s the missing button? When the iPhone was introduced, Jobs proclaimed buttons were dead. The ability to reconfigure the layout of buttons or other input mechanisms granted Apple a lot more flexibility in changing their design at will.

Question: why would you ship a product with such an obvious gaping hole?

Answer: it’s an unfinished feature.

What feature?

We could look to the iPhone for possible features, but that seems unlikely. If Apple was going to ship email, Google Maps, or any of the widgets, they would have showed them at yesterday’s announcement.

This is an iPod folks. It’s all about entertainment, be it music, television, movies, your photos or YouTube.

A remote control?

Ok, so to me, this is obvious. iPod Touch + Airport Express = Kick ass remote control. Buying stuff from the iTunes Store is gravy, but the reason the iPod Touch has WiFi (and maybe Bluetooth) is to make the iPod more useful around the house.

Ever since the Airport Express shipped, I’ve wanted this device. The iPod and now the iPhone have proven to be one of the best ways to easily access a large collection of music. Most remotes fall far short of being useful because they lack the metadata (artist, album, song title) that the iPod or your computer has.

The Sonos comes close to fullfilling my needs, but every time I’ve used one, they just feel clunky. There are a few other devices out there, but they suck way more than Sonos does or are far outside of most people’s budget.

I can’t say that I’m the first to talk about this as Gizmodo talked about this a couple of months ago. It seems that Apple has a patent on this design, or is it something slightly different?

So let’s take the remote control idea a bit farther. You might have a little more than 16 gigabytes of music lying around on your computer. Getting to that music would be pretty simple if your WiFi enabled iPod could read from your shared music in iTunes.

Controlling music being played from your computer to your Airport Express could be another use of the onboard Wifi in the iPod Touch.

A really remote control?

I might be going off the deep end here, but stay with me. When Apple first enabled sharing in iTunes 4.0, you could access your music from another computer over the internet, not just your local network. The music companies didn’t care for this very much and Apple shut this feature down in a subsequent update.

So, wouldn’t record companies complain about this as well? I don’t think so. Rather than a remote computer that could be accessed by anyone, this iPod is mated to that computer. Apple could argue that this is a variation on syncing to a given iPod.

Additionally, despite flash memory advances in the last several years, we’re probably not getting 40+ gigabytes in flash for the foreseeable future. Remote control iTunes answers the issue of a lack of local storage. My own usage of AppleTV has shown me that streaming over the network is better than syncing.

He’s nuts

Admittedly, I’m an Apple fanboy. I’m always disappointed when their isn’t one more thing or when the iPhone doesn’t heal the sick and feed the hungry. So this might be a pipe dream.

All the pieces are there and it just takes someone at Apple to put them together.

If nothing else, they have to fill the missing button with something. Maybe they just forgot to add the Mail icon.

Categories
Anti-spam Boxbe

Activating Boxbe on your main email account

So, despite having worked at Boxbe for some time, I’ve not had the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. That is to say, I had not yet used Boxbe for my main email account.

I’ve had the email address randy_stewart@yahoo.com for six years, ever since I left the company. As a result, the email address has been “well used.” I’ve given it out to every website I’ve joined, every online merchant I’ve purchased a product from and essentially, I’ve given it to everyone I’ve met.

As a result, I was a little scared to turn Boxbe on this account in particular.

A little scary

Setting up a forwarding address randy@boxbe.com is fairly painless. I switched over to using randy@boxbe.com to anywhere I wasn’t comfortable giving out a “real” email address for fear of bacn at best and spam at worst.

When it came time to test Gmail, it was pretty painless. I had signed up for an account years ago, but the costs of switching to a new address are pretty high, so I didn’t really give it out. Plus, I could pull in all the email I received to Mac OS X Mail and not worry about ever going to the Gmail interface.

I knew the real test would be turning it onto my Yahoo! account. I had been a bit nervous, I mean, it’s my main email account. What would people think if they emailed me and got a “courtesy notice” that they had to respond to reach me?

What did they think?

Most people, it seems, don’t mind. New friends or acquaintances, took the captcha without even mentioning it to me. Old friends that change their email every six months (you know who you are), had to jump through some hoops, but no complaints there either. To be fair, my address book and my list of “approved senders” is fairly up to date, so the pain of proving their humanity was felt by few.

It seems in the day and age of Facebook and social networking in general, I think people are little more accustomed to there being some process involved the first time you communicate with someone. I think that email by invitation may have legs.

We’re all facing overwhelming spam problems and problems with attention in general. Personally, I don’t have a lot of spare time in my life, so the last thing I want to do is spend time clicking delete to get rid of spam or messages from “legitimate” marketers or other people I couldn’t care less about hearing from.

Results?

I’m happy to report that since I’ve been testing our product on Yahoo! Mail in the last week, I’m pretty excited about how well it’s working. No one is mad at me, I haven’t missed any important emails, I’m not dealing with spam that made it past Yahoo!’s filters, but best of all, I’m not missing any messages that may have erroneously marked as spam by an overzealous spam filter.

I’ll let you know when we’re out of our private beta and releasing it to a wider audience. Here’s a first, though, if you want to reach me, email me at randy_stewart@yahoo.com

Now, what to do about my bacn problem.

Categories
Gnomedex

Pix from Gnomedex

Not sure why I didn’t think of this before, but thanks Paul Stamatiou for reminding me of this lovely tool.

Here is a slideshow of my Flickr pictures from Gnomedex 2007.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Categories
Gnomedex

Gnomedexmen ’07 comic book cover

Ah Comic Life, how I’ve wanted to use you for some time. Gnomedex ’07 was full of comic book characters so it only seems appropriate to create a comic to summarize the experience.

I had a great time at the conference and met a lot of great people. Now, to go get some social network fatigue…

A larger image is on Flickr. Please share.

gnomedexmen_small.jpg

Categories
Ignite Seattle Seattle

Ignite Seattle 4 – Hot night in Seattle

ignite_mcclure.jpgOk, so it was a smidge warm inside. Why I thought wearing a long sleaved shirt was a good idea, I’ll never know.

I try very hard to not be one of those people who incessantly compare this to that, saying it was better when blah blah blah. I remember lamenting at Ignite 3 that the draconian format had lost it’s edge as people got more accustomed to doing 5 minute presentations with auto advancing slides.

Last night, I got over it.

Wow… what a great event last night. So many good speakers, so many good ideas. Thanks again Brady (and Bre, wherever you may be) for a great night out.

I took a lot of photos last night but didn’t take many notes. I’ll collect what I’ve found below.

  • Fluvial has a behind the scenes video
  • Great summaries of the talks from Brett Nordquist here.
  • Nanotech speaker Deepak Singh offers his comments

Video from Bryan Zug and PowerPoints of the talks will be up on the Ignite Blog soon.

Oh ya, and Noonhat still scares the shit out of me.

Categories
Conferences Gnomedex

Gnomedex 2007

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I’m a wee bit excited about this year’s Gnomedex. Not as excited as that man —> ,
but excited nevertheless.

Last year was my first and my good pal Jeremy Zawodny (who is mysteriously absent from this list) was kind enough to show me around and introduce me to folks. I met a lot of really great people and am still enjoying the benefits of new friendships and business relationships.

Anyway, I had a great time and am pleased to be going again this year. I hope to meet many of you there.

Who’s coming?

If you are going to the show and what to get a sense of who is going to be there, I’ve created a series of pages on Netvibes so that you can go peruse the works of the people that will be attending. I used the OPML file provided on the Eventbrite page and imported and sorted all the attendees by last name.

Now this was the best way I could figure out how to represent such a large number of people, if you’ve got a better solution, respond or fire me an email to randy@boxbe.com. If I don’t know you, you’ll have to add yourself to my buddy list for email, but it’s pretty easy.

Clicking on the buttons below will create a Netvibes page to view the blogs of the attendees whose last names are with those letters. Netvibes wisely would not let me add all the feeds onto one page.

Gnomedexers A-D
Add to netvibes

Gnomedexers D-J
Add to netvibes

Gnomedexers K-R
Add to netvibes

Gnomedexers R-T
Add to netvibes

Gnomedexers T-Z
Add to netvibes

Gnomedex site

Categories
Social Media Video

Common Craft’s Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Lee and Sashi LeFever, they share, so I don’t have to write.

Seriously, I was just having this conversation with my friend Jay yesterday, who tells me he doesn’t get social bookmarking.

Jay – here ya go.

Categories
Apple

iPhoto ’08 – screenshots and commentary

So, I’m an Apple fanboy who rushed out on the first day to get iLife & iWork ’08. Here are a few pix and comments of the new features (you can get a lot more here).

I don’t have .Mac anymore, but check out the gallery in action (Thanks Chris Messina)

Install

No doubt this would happen.

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Update already?

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Bought it today? Don’t bother registering.

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No RSS autodetect, but you can still subscribe to photos

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New Stuff

Photocasting is dead.

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New organization of projects and slideshows

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New icons

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Events

Events are auto-created when you import a folder. Picks up the name, too.

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As I suspected, Events are created auto-magically by date. Let’s call this an update of Rolls.

iPhoto_events.png

Least favorite item

iPhoto Library – now a big ass binary file that can become corrupt. Remember to back up your work, folks.
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Looks good so far. Let’s see how it holds up over the next few days.

Categories
Blogging Geek Fun

KOMO Blogger Meetup

Free beer, nerds and a new lens to try out, what’s not to like. Chris Pirillo (of Lockergnome, Gnomedex and TechTV fame) helped organize a get together of over 150 Seattle area bloggers for a little sit down with the “old media” types at KOMO 4.

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Great conversation with lots of “aren’t you famous on the internet?” and “stop twittering this.” Oh, will the wacky hijinks never cease?

Seriously, thanks to KOMO for putting on the event and getting me out of the house. Speaking of which, favorite shirt of the night? Clearly the “Stay at Home Blogger” t-shirt Jen Zug was sporting. Now, where is that photo?

More pix on Flickr

Categories
Geek Fun General

Under construction

God, it was everything in my power not to put an animated gif up. Instead, I leave you with a relic of the late 1990s.

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I’m working on a redesign of Stewtopia based on Dean J Robinson’s Redoable template. Good stuff, but it’s taking a while to get everything up and running.

I hope to have this finished by early next week… I hope to actually blog again before then.

Categories
About Stewtopia

Under construction

God, it was everything in my power not to put an animated gif up. Instead, I leave you with a relic of the late 1990s.

bigtriangle2.gif

I’m working on a redesign of Stewtopia based on Dean J Robinson’s Redoable template. Good stuff, but it’s taking a while to get everything up and running.

I hope to have this finished by early next week… I hope to actually blog again before then.

Categories
Conferences

Wordcamp 2007

Matt Mullenwag

Great meetup of the WordPress faithful this year in San Francisco.

More comments later, cause man am I tired.


Categories
Geek Fun

Harry Potter mania grips San Francisco


So, I hadn’t really intended to go to a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows launch party. I’m actually one book behind and my wife was getting the book (pre-ordered months ago) from the company that should not be named today.

But, after a great late dinner at Siam Lotus, I remembered that Booksmith was open for the event and I couldn’t quite go to bed yet. We wandered over at 11pm and the party had already started.

You gotta give it to Booksmith. This is why stores like theirs are still around despite deep discounts and giant booksellers like Barnes and Noble. To quote Samuel Jackson, personality goes a long way.

I suspect they might be around once Amazon has put Borders and Barnes and Noble out of business.

Check out more pix in my Flickr album.

Categories
Geek Fun

Moo Stickers are shipping

Those crazy Brits have done it again.

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This morning, Moo’s latest product, Moo Stickers went live. They are promoting the stickers with free shipping for the rest of the month.

If you’re not familiar with Moo, they’re the guys that take your Flickr pix (or Fotolog, Bebo, Vox, etc) and make them into half size business cards. They’re fun, small and a great conversation piece when giving out business cards.

Yay! Stickers

I’ve got a special place in my heart for stickers these days. If you’ve got kids, you know what I’m talking about. I’m not sure what the fascination my little girl has with stickers, but I seem to recall getting sticker books when I was a kid.

Anyhow, I need to find some fairy princess mermaid ballerinas to take pictures of for Olivia. Moo has made it easy to make them into stickers for hours of entertainment.

(Oh, I’m sure they have other uses too, but 3 year olds have priority)

Special thanks to my pal Denise Wilton over at Moo for getting me a preview of the fun.

Categories
Social Media Social Media Marketing

Disclosure and social media

166086716_4102608908_m.jpgRecently, I had the pleasure of sitting through a meeting that Boxbe was being pitched for “buzz marketing” marketing services from a third party. This company proceeded to show us pretty graphs and charts that illustrated how social media marketing can help small companies grow more quickly. Hmmmm…

Social media, it turns out can also help spread word of mouth more quickly. Having popped into this meeting a little late, I didn’t get to introduce myself, but largely, I kept my mouth shut to see where this company was going with their presentation.

Then they started talking about how they have many “agents” that post on their own blogs as well as comment on message boards, other blogs and in social networks without disclosure of their interests. They then proceed to detail out how they use dial up accounts, coffee shops and IP masking to obfuscate their IP addresses so their “marketers” can have conversations with themselves.

Now, staying silent in this meeting proved to be more and more difficult. Finally, I asked if they used Pay Per Post and the guy pitching us said, “No, they disclose who they are marketing for.”

Not exactly the answer I was looking for.

After this meeting, which didn’t last too long, I felt like I needed a shower.

It’s pretty easy to see companies today using tactics like this, but somehow it still surprises me. Maybe Scoble’s book had a lot of influence on me. Maybe, just maybe, I have morals, but somehow even beyond that, maybe I’m just not that stupid.

I’m sure that in the short run, they could have helped us get more users for Boxbe, but in the long run, I have to think that this kind of sleazy marketing just comes back to haunt you.

Just ask John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.

photo by Flickr user amy_kearns
Categories
Geek Fun Social Media

5 Freebase invites

If you’re a data/information infrastructure nerd like me, you’re gonna love Freebase.

Here’s a bit from O’Reilly:

But once you understand a bit about what metaweb is doing, you realize just how remarkable it is. Metaweb has slurped in the contents of several of the web’s freely accessible databases, including much of wikipedia, and song tracks from musicbrainz. It then turns its users loose on not just adding more data items but making connections between them by filling out meta tags that categorize or otherwise connect the data items, using a typology that can be extended by users, wiki-style.

It’s really freaking cool.

Anyhow, I’ve got 5 invites, so if you are interested, let me know. I know there is a fair bit of pent-up demand for these invites, so if you’ve got an invite to Spock or some other invite only Web 2.0 site, I’ll probably favor a request with a trade than one without.

Leave a comment or send an email to randy@boxbe.com