Monday, December 31, 2007

Measure Your Racism Online

The book Blink I blogged about referenced an online tool developed at Harvard that attempts to measure certain biases / preferences that one holds within his/her unconscious thinking.

The technique is called an Implicit Association Test (IAT). It works by flashing words or pictures on a screen and having you classify them as quickly as possible.

Go take the "Race IAT" to measure your bias of white or black skinned people.

The site is here: http://implicit.harvard.edu

Click on the "Demonstration" button and follow the screens until you can select which IAT to take.

Blink



The holiday break gave me a chance to finally read "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell and I loved it.

The book is about our "adaptive unconscious" which is the part of the brain that reacts quickly or "instinctively" for us. You use this, for example, "when you walk out into the street and suddenly realize that a truck is bearing down on you". Here you clearly don't have time to consciously think about all of your options!

In this mode of thinking the brain will process a vast amount of information and render a decision very quickly. We have difficulty explaining the rational for these decisions though and often can only describe them as hunches or gut feelings.

This kind of thinking can be helpful or hurtful depending on how and when you use it. Malcolm describes, for example, an art expert who is able to quickly and accurately spot a forgery even though he is unable to explain exactly how he knows. He also describes a car salesman who is betrayed by his unconscious because of certain stereotypes based on sex or skin color that cause him to lose sales.

The book describes this type of thinking and makes the case that it is possible to "educate and control" our "snap judgements and first impressions".


In Blink you'll meet doctors and generals and coaches and furniture designers and musicians and actors and car salesmen and countless others, all of whom are very good at what they do and all of whom owe their success, at least in part, to the steps they have taken to shape and manage and educate their unconscious reactions.


My one criticism is that he is not able to explain when you should or should not trust your this "unconscious" thinking. It was very interesting reading though and I highly recommend it.

Emacs.NET ?

A blog post from a Microsoft employee says:

We are looking for developers/testers to build a tool that I will roughly describe as "Emacs.Net".


zdnet.com speculates on it here.

Conan O'Brien's 2000 Commencement Speech



One of my favorite commencement day speeaches I've read / heard was the one Conan O'Brien gave to Harvard in 2000.

I just read it again and thought I would share it.

The Mythical 5%

Bruce Eckel posted his commencement address to Neumont University, a school in Salt Lake City dedicated to teaching computer science.

It is a pretty good read.

36 Startup Tips

readwriteweb.com has posted a great article titled "36 Startup Tips: From Software Engineering to PR and More!".

Friday, December 28, 2007

Jump In My Car

While we are on the topic of Knight Rider check out the following David Hasselhoff video.

And yes .. this is real!

Hilarious.



Jump in my car!

Knight Industries Three Thousand



Looks like yet another 80's classic is coming back. NBC will be airing a brand new Knight Rider made-for-TV movie in February 2008!

KITT will be upgraded from a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am to a 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR and the acronym KITT will no longer stand for "Knight Industries Two Thousand" but instead "Knight Industries Three Thousand".

Popular Mechanics has a hilarious feature by feature comparison between them.

Unfortunately the article fails to mention the existence of the car "Knight 4000" which was featured in the little remembered Knight Rider 2000 made-for-TV movie in 1991. It was based on the Pontiac Banshee concept car and had impressive features such as a built in fax machine.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spam Management User Manual?

I recently had to look at a User Manual for a spam filter that works with MS Exchange.

One section was called "Spam management from the user’s point of view".

The first two sentences read:

This chapter describes how users can manage their spam. First and foremost, it needs to be pointed out that [this software] has been designed to minimize spam management by the user.


The chapter went on for 7 pages.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Batman - The Dark Knight Trailer

The trailer for the new Batman movie turned up on You Tube. Check it out:



Comes out in December 2008.

There is a much higher quality version on atasteforthetheatrical.com here

Friday, December 14, 2007

Monkeys and Culture


fridayreflections.typepad.com posted an interesting anecdote on monkeys and culture.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

From Boiling to Freezing

Watch what happens when you throw boiling water into sub zero temperature air:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Google Street View in Boston



It was announced that Google has updated Google Maps to include "street view" images in the Boston area!

Just enter an address, click the "Street View" button and then click an area on the map.

Everyone at work is busy trying to find themselves.

No luck for me yet.

#2 on Google



I just discovered that my posting from Wednesday is currently the #2 result on Google when you search for the words "Poor Man's PCP".

Scientists Kill Oldest Living Animal



Time has written an article on the top ten scientific discoveries of 2007.

#9 is the discovery of

what is believed to be the world's oldest living animal: a 405 year-old clam. Or it was living, until researchers had to kill it to determine the clam's age by studying rings on its shell.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

News Headline of the Day


The news headline of the day goes to this article on yahoo news:
Eco-friendly kangaroo farts could help global warming: scientists

kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

25th Anniversary for the Commodore 64

CNN is running a piece on the Commodore 64 and a website called C64.com that is "dedicated to preserving the games, demos, pictures, magazines and memories of the Commodore 64".

On Monday, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, will celebrate the C64's 25th anniversary. Computer pioneers will reflect on the C64's achievements and contribution to the industry. Jack Tramiel, the founder and CEO of Commodore, will attend, along with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and William C. Lowe, father of the IBM PC.
Two of the site's most popular downloads are Ghostbusters and Impossible Mission which were my two favorites. Can't wait to try them.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Poor Man's PCP

I got my first bad cold of the year. I went to CVS to buy Tylenol Cold medicine and the clerk asked me for proof of age! Then she gave me a note that said the following:

Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse
You must be 18 years of age or older to purchase medicine containing dextromethorphan
Here are some excerpts from the wikipedia entry on dextromethorphan (DMX for short):
When taken at doses higher than are medically recommended, dextromethorphan acts as a dissociative hallucinogen. It produces effects similar to those of the controlled substances ketamine and phencyclidine (PCP), which affords it a high potential for abuse.
Dextromethorphan has little to no psychological effect in the doses used medically; however, alteration of consciousness generally occurs following ingestion of approximately 7 to 50 times the therapeutic dose over a relatively short period of time.
Slang terms for DXM often correlate to the brands of cough medicine used, such as "tussin," "robo," "dex," "Red Devils," "Triple C's," "skittles," and "poor man's PCP". Recreational use of DXM is frequently referred to in verb form as "dexing," "tussing," "decked out," "roboing," and "robotripping".
Due to abuse and theft concerns, many retailers in the US have moved DXM-containing products behind the counter so that one must ask a pharmacist to receive them or be 18 years (19 in NJ) or older to purchase them. Some retailers also give out printed warnings about the potential for abuse with the purchase of products containing DXM.
So I bought two bottles instead of one.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Rambo Trailer!



We have been waiting 20 years for this. A new Rambo movie hits theatres on January 25th, 2008.

Check out the trailer here.

Evel Knievel Dead at 69



Evel Knievel died last night at the age of 69.

From a yahoo news article:

Immortalized in the Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.


Here he is jumping the fountains at Caesar's Palace. He was in a coma for a month after:




And here is the (attempted) jump over Snake River Canyon while in a rocket:



How did he make it to 69!?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Advertising Through Java Update


This morning "Java Update" (Java Control Panel) told me there was a new version of Java available and it also contained an advertisement for Open Office! Perhaps Sun has been doing that for a while but it was the first time I noticed it. Too bad it is not smart enough to tell I already have it installed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Coming Soon: The Zeemote


For the last year and a half I have been working hard at a technology start-up company outside of Boston called Zeetoo. The first product will be the Zeemote (pictured above).

It is a very small one handed wireless joystick that makes playing games on your cell phone much easier and much more fun.

Phones today are coming with more and more processing power and are starting to support advanced features such as 3D graphics. The big limiting factor now with mobile gaming is the user interface. Users are still required to control the game by hitting buttons on a phone key pad. The Zeemote changes that. Play becomes more natural, intuitive, and enjoyable.

I can’t say much else now but there is a lot of excitement about the prospects of this product. Stay tuned…

DISCLAIMER: This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.


The Amazon Kindle



I saw Jeff Bezos on Charlie Rose last night. He was pitching Amazon's new e-book reader called The Kindle. It is like many of the e-book readers that have come out in the past but adds some great features that I think could finally be the breakthrough needed for the e-book business. This thing looks amazing. Go check out the video on the Kindle site.

Cool Features:


  • Books, Magazines, Newspaper's and Blogs can be read on it

  • It uses Sprint's high speed EVDO network to wirelesses shop and download the content so there is no need for cables or syncing in any way with your PC. A book is delivered directly to the device in under a minute. There is no network fee (looks like it is subsidized by Amazon)

  • The device is tied to your Amazon account to make purchase simple

  • Most new books will cost just $9.99 or less

  • You can read the first chapter of any book for free (Try before you buy)

  • Can hold over 200 books at a time. Additional books are saved on Amazon's servers for later access

  • Contains a built in dictionary so you can quickly look up definitions

  • It allows you to highlight & save text

  • Provides free access to Wikipedia



Not so cool:

  • Sites that are offered for free on the traditional web (like the NY Times) will cost you here

  • Currently supports just a black & white screen

  • Costs $399



The feature I'd most kill for: Access to Google Reader!

Charlie tried to draw parallels between what the Kindle was attempting for books with what the iPod did for music. We'll see.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Force Fx Lightsaber



I went to Toys R Us last night to go birthday shopping for my 4 year old nephew. This season he is interested in everything Star Wars. So I went right to the blue section of the store and found the Star Wars aisle.

Right away the "Force Fx Lightsaber" caught my eye. It was a "realistic looking" lightsaber in a large protective glass case. A big red button was exposed that said "Try Me". I pushed it and the saber's "blade" lit up and the exact sound from the movies came roaring out of it.

I'm not a Star Wars fan at all but I have to say it was very cool. They have different designs / colors for each of the main characters. It was "on sale" for $99 which was down from $120! The box said "not a toy" on it and specified that it should only be used by those 12 and up. Sorry Jack, I don't think you are ready for this one. I almost bought it from my brother instead.

Check out a video of this thing:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Google's Android


Google finally announced its plans for the mobile: Android is a complete and open software stack and SDK for mobile devices.

It is based on top of Linux and all applications will be written in Java language syntax. I say "Java language syntax" because ultimately the code will be converted to and run as Dalvik virtual machine bytecode (as opposed to Java bytecode) and is optimized for the ARM processor. The Android co-founder claims that this will allow applications to run up to 10 times faster.

Interestingly Android will not comply with J2ME but will instead be based in part on Apache Harmony which strives to be an open source implementation of J2SE.

It continues to amaze me how companies like Apple and Google are jumping into the mobile space and so quickly making such impacts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Juke Commercial



Just saw the following commercial for Verizon's Samsung Juke.



The commercial shows some impressive dancers doing some crazy moves. A voice then says:

Introducing the Juke by Samsung, exclusively by Verizon Wireless, an ultra sleek mp3 player that flips into a phone.
That is the first time I've seen Verizon, or any other phone company besides Apple, market a phone as primarily a music player.

Phones have been able to play music for a long time now but the traditional phone companies have done such a poor job educating consumers and making the feature easy to use.

I'm happy to see Apple is forcing them to evolve.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Phone Statistics Q2 2007


A report was just released that says 263.8 million phones were shipped in Q2 of 2007. That is nearly 3 million phones per day! Nokia continues to dominate the market (though not in the U.S.) The top four manufacturers are:


  • Nokia - 39.2%

  • Samsung - 14.9%

  • Motorola - 13.1%

  • Sony Ericsson - 9.1%

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Online Memorials



Some one I know recently passed away and his friends set up an online memorial for him over at http://www.memory-of.com

The site lets friends and family share stories, pictures, and videos of the deceased. The comments can be absolutely gut wrenching and usually include the name and relationship of the commenter. I have never read anything so emotional and powerful than the writings of a Mother on her lost child.

I'm not sure if I'd personally be comfortable grieving in such a public way but many are finding solace in it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Unfair Media Coverage for Craig?

Jim Buckmaster, The CEO of Craiglist, was recently asked about the negative media coverage his site seems to get. His response:

We’ve been hearing increasingly from newspaper reporters who confide that they are only allowed to write negative stories about Craigslist these days, because we’re viewed as competition by their newspaper’s business managers.

Well the newspapers have plenty to write about now. It is being widely reported that a woman has been murdered after answering an ad on the site.

Football Miracle Ending



At first I thought this had to be a joke but apparently it is not! Unreal.

Red Sox Win 2007 World Series


Crowd outside Fenway


Guy climbing pole of sign


Guy on top of sign


Cops move in. Time to go home

Sent via Mobile Device

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Best Alarm Clock Ever



Sent via Mobile Device

Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Sox Going to the World Series

It is a great time to be out in Boston!
Sent via Mobile Device

Sunday, October 21, 2007

China Blocking Access to US Search Engines



There are reports that Chinese citizens are having their traffic redirected from US search engines to the leading Chinese search site called Baidu.

There is some suggestion that the news of the Dalai Lama being awarded a prize by US President George W Bush may be behind the move, but this is unable to be confirmed.
I checked out Baidu's site and while I can't read Chinese there is something strangely familiar about it...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture


Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and he has just a few months to live due to pancreatic cancer.

In September he delivered his last lecture titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". In it he talks about his life and his childhood dreams and offers advice on how to achieve yours.

It is an inspiring talk that I watched, quite frankly, with goose bumps.

The hour and a half long video is available online here.






Saturday, October 6, 2007

Freakonomics Blog: Prison Murder Rate


One of my favorite blogs to read is the freakonomics blog by the authors of the best selling book of the same name.

They discuss issues of economics & statistics as it applies to everyday topics and they consistently deliver interesting tidbits of information. Today for example they reported that the murder rate in state prisons is actually lower than the murder rate of almost all large U.S. cities:

the homicide rate per 100,000 prisoners last year was only 2.8. That number is less than half the rate of New York City (6.6 per 100,000) and an order of magnitude lower than Baltimore (42 per 100,000). Indeed, of the 66 largest cities in the United States, only El Paso, Tex. and Honolulu, Hawaii have lower homicide rates than the state prisons.

Check our their blog if you like this kind of stuff.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sun Microsystems Reinvented


There is a good / depressing article in Business Week on the state of Sun Microsystems and the efforts of their CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, to turn the company around.

I've had a soft spot for Sun since my college days back in the late 90's. My Computer Science department ran Solaris so it was on these machines that I developed my love of programming and of UNIX. I spent countless long nights in these Sun labs bonding with friends and learning the skills that would serve me so well for years to come.

Within the department Sun was highly admired and many of my fellow students hoped to earn jobs there. I never applied but definitely thought at the time that it would be a great place to work.

Ironically my current company is expanding and we are considering office space in a Sun campus that was recently abandoned due to layoffs.

Good luck Jonathan. You have your work cut out for you.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Medical Marijuana Still Illegal?


Just read a story about Federal agents in California shutting down "a factory that made marijuana-laced barbecue sauce, chocolate-covered pretzels and other 'enhanced' snacks intended for medical users of the drug."

The article has one sentence that I found especially surprising. It reads "Federal authorities contend that marijuana is an illegal drug, no matter how it used or who uses it, and they don't honor the state laws."

I don't care much about pot but I am interested in government issues like state's rights and this statement didn't sound right. I did some searching and discovered that in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government can ban marijuana even in states where it is approved for medical purposes. So even though California "legalized" medical marijuana it is still illegal by federal law which supersedes state law.

The case and the rational for this decision was well described on its wikipedia article.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Java ME Challenges



Over the last year I have transitioned from developing mostly desktop applications (Java SE) to mostly mobile applications (Java ME).

I describe here some of the unique aspects and challenges of Java ME development and some of the ways in which it differs from Java SE. I hope that it might be interesting to developers who are curious about Java ME.

I refer multiple times to MIDP 2.0 which is, at the time of this writing, the version of Java ME that is installed on most new phones.

Tools
  • Many phone manufacturers provide entire IDEs for Java ME development. These are usually custom versions of Eclipse or Netbeans that come bundled with emulators for their devices. The problem is that these IDEs don’t play well together. The IDE from manufacturer X will not work with the emulators from manufacturer Y. This of course makes it difficult to build & test apps across platforms.
  • To remain neutral I use the standard Eclipse IDE with the Eclipse ME plug-in. The Eclipse ME plug-in is a free project run by Craig Setera and it does a pretty good job interfacing with most of the vendor tools / emulators.

Limited Resources
  • The obvious difference between the desktop and the mobile is the limited resources available to the latter. A MIDP 2.0 device can have a screen size as small as 96x54 and may have as little as 128K of heap space. Many phones have a strict limit on application size (128K is common) and wont even allow you to install a jar file larger than it. Java ME developers use several techniques to minimize jar file size. Two common methods are:
    • Obfuscation
      • An obfuscator is a tool that analyzes your jar file, removes unused classes / methods and renames the remaining ones. A class called “HighScoreManager” for example might get renamed to “a” and its method “updateHighScore()” might get renamed to “b()”. Obfuscation is used in Java SE primarily to make it more difficult to decompile. It is used in Java ME primarily to reduce jar file size. They can do a surprisingly good job at both.
      • The obfuscator I use is Proguard.
    • C-like Code
      • Every class file has overhead so Java ME developers try to limit the number of classes they write. Unfortunately this encourages writing non-object-oriented C-like code. Most Java ME games today are implemented in just a few classes that contain thousands of lines of code.
  • One of the biggest challenges in mobile development is balancing good software design with small code size.

Limited APIs
  • The Java ME APIs are basically a very small subset of the Java SE APIs plus some phone specific stuff. This means that lots of useful classes and methods you have grown to love and depend on just aren’t available. As an example, MIDP 2.0 includes just 9 classes in the java.util package. If you want to use a StringTokenizer or TreeMap you will need to implement your own.

Java Fragmentation
  • The term “Write Once, Run Anywhere” isn’t used in Java ME circles for even the cheap joke.
    • Unfortunately the Java ME specs leave much up to interpretation. The look & feel of the UI widgets for example differ greatly across phones. One example is the MIDP 2.0 “Gauge” object. I've seen it rendered as a progress bar, an hour glass, and even as Duke (the Java mascot) waving at you! This inconsistency has led Java ME developers to ignore these widgets and implement their own from scratch.
    • Early versions of Java ME didn’t support things like accessing the phone book or controlling the camera. As a result each manufacturer began to introduce their own proprietary & incompatible libraries to support such features. Things have improved in this area with several industry-standard APIs (as JCP JSRs) but these remain optional and are only found in a subset of MIDP phones.
    • The Java ME runtime is different on every phone and each one has bugs. Since people generally don't update the firmware of their phones these bugs exist for the lifetime of the device. If one of these bugs affects your application you must either live with it, find a workaround, or drop support for the model.
  • These problems are so pervasive that solutions exist that enabled preprocessor support and the use of #ifdefs in Java code. I have thus far been able to avoid this path.

Installation
  • The way you install an application can differ greatly depending on the phone manufacturer, model, and even carrier.
    • The standard installation mechanism is called “over the air” (OTA). This is done by placing your application on a website and downloading it wirelessly (“over the air”) via the phone’s data network. This can be slow and depending on your data plan very expensive. Also if you are testing on multiple phones you will need service on each (or in the case of GSM models you will need to manually swap SIM cards which is tedious).
    • Some phones allow you to install applications over USB but the software and cables required vary greatly from phone to phone. I currently have at least 6 different desktop applications that can install apps on various phones and right now I have 5 different USB cords, all with different end connectors, plugged into my PC.
    • Some phones allow you to install over Bluetooth but this too can be slow and the Bluetooth drivers on the PC still have a habit of crashing.
  • Each time I want to test on a new phone I must first spend (waste?) time just figuring out how to install!

Debugging
  • Debugging on mobiles can be extremely difficult. Only some phones allow you to see output from System.out and only some support “On Device Debugging”. (On Device Debugging allows you to run a debugger on a PC and debug, over USB or Bluetooth, an application running on a phone).
  • I have seen cases where an application runs perfectly on an emulator but crashes immediately on the real device. Try debugging that without System.out or a debugger!

Signing
  • On most phones many of the interesting APIs, e.g., phone book, camera, and Bluetooth are considered “protected” and their use requires that the application be signed.
  • Unfortunately getting your application signed can be an extremely difficult hurdle to pass (especially for small companies and hobbyists).
  • The signing process and the cost vary greatly across phones and carriers. Some carriers require that your first develop a “business relationship” with them. This can be as simple as paying a yearly fee or as complex as convincing them that your product is unique and worthy and then signing a revenue sharing deal with them.

Many of the challenges of mobile development are so very frustrating because they feel like old problems that we have already solved or outgrown years ago. Who today wants to deal with the problems of limited memory or spend time re-implementing a BufferedInputStream?

However annoying and frustrating it can be all of the challenges described are being solved quickly and mobile development is an area with lots of new interesting problems and enormous potential. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are entering a mobile development boom so the next few years in this industry should be an interesting and exciting time.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Early Numbers Are In


Google has an amazing tool called Google Analytics which lets you monitor the traffic you get on your website. Click the above image to see how I'm doing so far. Good thing I don't have advertisers!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Einstein Biography


I recently finished reading the Albert Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson.

I really enjoyed this book and learned a ton about the most famous physicist of our time.

His character, personal life, politics, and religious thoughts were fascinating to read. The physics was interesting too but was difficult to follow at times. At around 600 pages though this book might not be for everyone.

To give you a taste, here are a few interesting things that I learned:

  • As a patent clerk in 1905 he published four papers that revolutionized physics. These included descriptions of special relativity and the equation E=mc^2. It was not until a four years later that he finally got his first job in academia as a junior professor at the University of Zurich.
  • He did not believe that man was naturally monogamous. He made this known and acted accordingly. He had many relationships while single and while married.
  • Einstein was a workaholic who struggled maintaining close personal relationships.
  • He had a daughter he never met.
  • His son Eduard suffered from schizophrenia and was institutionalized several times.
  • Einstein was an outspoken pacifist for most of his life (until WWII). He believed that the way to prevent war was to have a single world government. It would arbitrate disputes and enforce its decisions through a monopoly on military power.
  • He was a determinist. He believed that the actions of all objects are determined only by the laws of nature. If we could understand these laws and could know the current state of all objects then we could exactly predict the past and future states of all objects. This includes the actions of human beings! He believed that human beings have as much free will to determine their own actions as a star sitting in the sky does.
  • In 1938 Freshman at Princeton University, where Einstein was working, were given a survey which asked them to name the "greatest living person". Einstein (a Jew) ranked second behind Adolf Hitler.
  • At the urging of his colleagues Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt warning that the Germans could be developing technology for a bomb of unprecedented power. This letter led to the development of the Manhattan Project, the atomic bomb, and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the bombings Time magazine put an image of Einstein on the cover with a mushroom cloud and the equation E=mc^2. This is somewhat ironic due to Einstein's pacifist beliefs.
  • Einstein worked until the night he died. The final thing he wrote before going to sleep for the last time was a set of incomprehensible equations.
  • The pathologist who performed Einstein's autopsy was a Quaker named Thomas Harvey. Without asking for permission Thomas decided to keep Einstein's brain for himself! He embalmed it and stored it in two cookie jars. For years after he would occasionally send pieces to researchers for study.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Use a Feed Reader



Everyone who browses the web should also be using a feed reader yet most people have not yet even heard of the term!

I can’t help but feel that these people are missing out and I should know since until last year I was one of them.

A feed reader is a software program that is as useful and important as your email client or your web browser.

Here is how many of them generally work:

  1. It looks and feels a lot like an email program (but you will only receive messages).
  2. In it you subscribe to various websites (feeds) that you enjoy reading.
  3. When the site (feed) is updated with new content (a new article for example) it will show up in your inbox as a new unread item.
  4. You click on the item, view it, and mark it as read. Often times you never even need to visit the site.

It is very simple but amazingly useful. Say goodbye to checking and rechecking your favorite sites for updates. Any new content just magically appears in your inbox.

This makes it possible to read far more sites in far less time. I used to read about five web sites on a daily basis but now that number is well over 100! I'm much more informed and entertained as a result.

The feed reader I use and highly recommend is Google Reader but others exist too.

Click on the screenshot above to see Google Reader in action.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Technical Vs General Posts

By trade I’m a Software Engineer so much of what I find interesting will simply be unreadable or deathly boring to my non-technical friends!

To help with this I will label each post as either general or technical.

In this way you can easily view only the types of posts you want to:

Introduction

My name is Mike, I live in Boston, Massachusetts, and this is my new site.

Welcome!

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to use this or even for how long but time will tell. Mostly I think I’ll be linking to news articles or websites that I find interesting. On occasion I may also post original material like random thoughts, personal stories, or book reviews.

Hopefully you will find some percentage of my posts interesting also.

Hello World

According to Wikipedia, as of August 2007, there were over 94 millions blogs out there.

We can officially add one more to the list.

Hello World!!!