Monthly Archives: June 2007

IPass

With all the hoopla about the new Apple iPhone’s arrival mere moments from now and with people like Robert Scoble standing on line in Palo Alto (“because that’s where all the geeks will be“), I thought this cartoon from bLaugh expressed my feelings about the frenzy pretty accurately. I just wish it said iPhooey rather than iPhoney.

Apple iPhone -  Most Ripped Gadget Ever?

The main thing I do NOT like about the iPhone, though admittedly this is not the only thing, is that it is only available with a phone plan through AT&T. I’d rather use a carrier pigeon! iPass!

Update: This article in Slate discusses “Why Apple’s New Cell Phone Really Isn’t Revolutionary.” And this one, by John Naughton is a cleverly written and witty diatribe about technolust.

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Breakfast

A serving This morning I decided to look at what the manufacturer (Post) recommends as a serving size for a bowl of the cereal I eat.  ‘Tain’t much folks.  A half cup of cereal together with a half cup of milk is supposed to get you off on the right foot for the day, and to power your 30 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, and to last you until lunch arrives.  I’m sure that in some parts of the world this amount of food might seem quite adequate.  Indeed! it might be the stuff of gratitude in some countries. 

Unfortunately, here in the U. S., it seems like a really small amount of food for a meal, and the bad thing is that most of the time I don’t measure out the recommended serving size.  I usually just “eyeball” it instead.  And doing that means that I probably pour out about two and a half servings of it.  Now this suggested serving size (1/2 cup or 54 grams), together with the half cup of milk, yields 250 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of sugar(s).  You can do the math to see that my eyeballing a serving means I’m consuming far too much of the stuff and using far too many of my allotted calories for the day by eating it.  If I’m going to eat like this, I need to spend all of the remainder of my day exercising, in the hope that I can work off all the calories I’m consuming. 

Google Reader shortcut keys demoed

In this short video, I demonstrate a few of the shortcut keys I use in reading RSS feeds in Google Reader.

I’ve taken the video showing the entire screen, so trying to read detail will be difficult, but having you see the detail clearly wasn’t my purpose in recording it. The idea was to show the global view of what is happening when you press the various short cut keys. The keys illustrated in this video are in order of their appearance: G+A which displays All Unread Items, 2 which switches to List View (conversely 1 switches to Expanded View), U which toggles Full Screen Mode, J which displays the Next Item in the list (conversely, K displays the Previous Item), and V which opens the Current Item in a separate tab or window (depending upon your browser). As mentioned in my previous post, you can see the various shortcut keys by typing a question mark in Google Reader. Also illustrated in this video are some navigation keys in Firefox. For instance Ctrl-Tab moves among the open tabs and Ctrl-F4 closes the current tab.

Experiment with using the shortcut keys in Google Reader and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can get through a large number of items in the list of your feeds. I should note that much of the procedure shown here is just my personal preference and none of it is required to read the feeds in Google Reader, but this particular combination of keys work well for me. If you’d care to comment on your preferences in the comments, you are welcome to do so.

During my absence

If any of you are still checking this weblog, you’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted anything new here in a couple of weeks.  I haven’t been incarcerated, or hospitalized, and I am not in a coma, I’m pleased to report, but I just haven’t felt up to posting anything, and the longer I have waited to post the more difficult it has been to think of anything significant to say upon my return.  Why I have these blockages, I don’t know, but have them I do occasionally, so that’s just the way it is.  I’ll use this post to note a few things that have happened and comment on some discoveries I made while I was on my unplanned vacation from posting. 

On June 17, Father’s Day, I had an anniversary of sorts.  That day marked the sixth anniversary of my very first blog post ever.  Given how long I’ve been doing this, you’d think I would have learned by now that if you wish to keep any kind of audience, you have to post regularly.  And while I do know that “rule,” I still can’t seem to avoid the occasional dry spell that I go through.  I console myself with the thought that this isn’t an occupation but a hobby for me and let it go at that.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve spent a good deal of time helping Paul get accustomed to working with WordPress and publishing regularly to his blog.  He has taken to that task nicely, I’m happy to say.  As a professional writer of some note he has developed a fairly large following very quickly and his statistics show it.  And despite his curmudgeonly complaining about various aspects of blogging, he does seem to have a real passion for it and a delight in the virtual soapbox it gives him.

One of the discoveries I’ve made in the last couple of weeks has to do with Google Reader.  If you haven’t yet discovered the pleasure and utility of using RSS (despite my more or less constant nagging all of you to do so), this tip may not seem as significant to you as it does to me, but somehow I discovered recently that if you type a question mark while in the Google Reader you’ll get a transparent display of the various shortcut keys you can use in that application.  And those shortcut keys are very handy and make going through a large number of feeds quite efficient. 

For instance, the key combination G+A displays all unread articles.  Then pressing J moves forward through them one at a time, and K moves backward, should you wish to go back to something you’ve just read.  If, while you are on one of the articles, you press V (for view), that individual article will open in a new tab.  Ctrl+Tab then shifts the focus to that newly opened tab where you can read the article, and Ctrl+F4 closes that tab once you are through reading it and puts you back into Google Reader where you can press J again to move on to the next article.  Shift+S marks an article you are reading as “shared.”  (I’ll say more about sharing articles in a minute.)  I realize some of you may be saying “whoa that’s way too complex for me to remember,” but once you get the drill down with a little practice, it is actually easy to keep track of the sequence and it makes reading through a few hundred articles very efficient.  But that’s why I found it significant to realize that typing the question mark in Google Reader displays the shortcut keys. 

Let me return to the subject of “shared” articles.  Even during these last couple of weeks when I wasn’t making a post like this to my blog, I was sharing the articles that I discovered online through that little box over there in the sidebar that is titled “From my RSS feeds.”  So, you ask, why should I care about the fact that you, Perry, share articles you find interesting in that little box?  The answer is my doing that frees you from the burden of having to deal with a flood of email from me in your inbox, pointing out the things that catch my eye on the Internet. 

Just to stroll down memory lane for a moment, let’s recall that when most of us first got connected through the Internet we discovered, to our amazement and great joy, that we could send an email to 50 of our closest friends without any effort or cost on our part.  So we did.  The problem with that is that if you have 50 friends who do the same thing, your inbox quickly becomes stuffed with mail from every Tom, Dick and Sally that you know about subjects that you may or may not have any interest in.  And the act, which originally was intended as an act of friendship, turns out to be almost an act of war, or at the very least, an act of intrusion and inconvenience.  By sharing things in that little sidebar box here on my blog, I have put the choice to see them in your hands rather than ramming my interests down the throat of your email inbox.  That, it seems to me, is a friendlier practice than what we used to do. And what’s more, there is even an RSS feed for those shared items to which you can subscribe if you choose.  And if you do, you can scan through them as quickly as you do the other things in your RSS reader. 

So the next time I go through one of these dry spells in posting to my blog, I would encourage you to check out the items I’m sharing from my RSS feeds.  It’ll help you know that I am still alive and kicking, and you may even discover something there that you find interesting.

The amazing future

Watch this seven plus minute video and prepare to be amazed at what an application called Photosynth can do. It’s architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, demonstrates and describes the technology and what lies ahead. (Link courtesy of Michael K. Bergman of AI3.) It’s so amazing, I almost want to begin exercising just to ensure I stay around long enough to see where all this is leading. Wow.

Hooked

The incredible Mr. Moor, who began blogging recently but quite reluctantly I must admit, has discovered the joy of blogging. 

I helped him install Windows Live Writer and for the first several entries at his blog I logged in to his system remotely and took him by the hand to guide him as he made those entries.  This morning however when I opened Google Reader, I was both delighted and surprised to find that he had posted a new entry at his blog on his own, without any hand-holding from me.  He has discovered that it is something that he can do easily without any help, which pleases me a lot.

However, the thing that got him hooked is that I added his blog as a project on my StatCounter account and added a link in the footer of each of his pages that he (or anyone) can click to see the statistics about his visitors.  He has been reinforced immensely to see that people are visiting his blog and reading what he has posted.  He observed in an email to me that “At this rate, I’ll never get anything ELSE done: I keep going back to http://www.paul-moor.com/, time after time after time, to gloat incredulously over my latest statistics.”  As he said in a Skype call, it gives him great pleasure to see almost instantaneously that people are reading what he has written.  And indeed his statistics are showing a remarkable amount of traffic for such a new blog. 

It’s a real pleasure to share something you enjoy with a friend and then see them enjoying it as much as he apparently is.  I think he’s hooked.

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The Incredible Mr. Moor, now a blogger

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any time at all, you’ll have seen me mention my friend Paul Moor, whom I have known now since the early 1990s, almost 15 years. 

We met, originally, on a Writers conference, back before the World Wide Web even existed, during a time when we used Bulletin Board Systems to interact with the world electronically.  Paul was, and still is, a professional writer, and at the time we first met, he was living in San Francisco.  After having exchanged a few messages with him on that Writers conference, I called him one Christmas eve, just to talk to him in person.  One thing led to another and as a result, through the years we have become fast and very close friends. 

In 1995, he decided to move back to Berlin, where he had spent about 30 years or so prior to moving to San Francisco in 1980, to live out the remainder of his life there primarily because of the extraordinary cultural climate in that city.  You could search this blog for references to Paul, but I’d specifically commend to you this running account of my visit to his home in late September of 2003, which begins with this entry and continues forward in time through the next eight entries and ends with this one

Since December of 2004, when I convinced him to install Skype, we have talked almost daily for a time varying from a few minutes to more than an hour each time.  During those conversations he has shared some extraordinary stories about the people he has known and the adventures he has had.  I look forward to talking with him each day, and as I told him recently, I may talk to him more often than to any other member of my family.  We’re that close, and he is like a member of my family to me. 

Paul is a man with catholic interests and a propensity to share anything he thinks merits attention with a large circle of email contacts.  The contents of those emails might be links to specific things he has found on the Internet or delightful stories of his encounters with an incredible number of famous and significant people of the last half century, all told with a storytellers skill, wit and charm.  I’ve long thought that he was delivering the kind of thing that might show up in a well-written blog, except he was doing it by email.

Well, I’ve finally convinced him to create a blog of his own, and because he has done that, you too can now enjoy getting to know him.  The blog is called Ich bin ein [Texas-Born] Berliner, and already it contains some fascinating content.  I encourage you to sample it, visit it as often as you can, and/or subscribe to the feed.  I think you’ll find it to be a source of constant enjoyment and possibly even of education.  Leave a comment on any of the posts, and you can begin your own dialog with the incredible Mr. Moor.  But even if you never comment, your life will be enriched by reading the stories he tells and hearing what he has to say.  At 83, Paul disproves the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”