Words and Deeds

This guy would be a fascinating dinner guest…

And now what‘s happening in this narrative is that the Umma, the global population of Muslims, is going to unite. It’s going to rise up through a global guerrilla struggle. And in fact, Ayman al Zawahiri who’s primarily the major Al Qaeda ideologue, actually wrote a paper about this. About how the method was going to be fast moving, lightly equipped guerrilla forces that operated across the world This whole global guerrilla idea. That there’d be a great clash of civilizations and that God would provide the victory. And it’s a pan-Islamic, neo-Salafist narrative. Incidentally there isn’t a huge amount of Islam there. You know I just showed you that it follows a very similar pattern for the Nazis, the Christians, the Communists. It’s a pretty standard form. And of course it also draws a number of concepts from European thinking. You know the idea of globalization, the idea of the clash of civilizations, notions of guerrilla struggle. These things aren’t fundamentally Islamic. They are, in fact, part of a post-modern view of the world.

Pepetual Political Campaigns

The real downside that this current political season is exposing is that candidates who are perpetually campaigning do things that are not in the best interests of the country, or even their constituency, but rather the best interests of the special interests that they are courting.

But forget all that; Ms. Clinton objects that South Korean manufacturers sell many more cars here than do American carmakers over there. Never mind that the agreement requires Korea to remove discriminatory tariffs and taxes on U.S. cars; never mind that U.S. tariffs on Korean cars can "snap back" if Korea doesn’t keep its word. Not good enough, says Ms. Clinton. What more could she have wanted for Detroit? She won’t say.

I’m a political junkie by nature, but this current presidential campaign beginning almost 2 years before the actual election is horrifying to me. We badly need some political angioplasty.

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Ecto 3 Inches Closer to Beta

There is one application category on the Mac that is surprisingly weak, blog editors. Windows users have Live Writer, and I’ve yet to meet someone using it who doesn’t love it.

My primary tool has been Ecto, which is still the best editor hands down, but when I changed my blog templates a few months ago I noticed some weird paragraph line spacing issues and I had to manually put paragraph tags around everything, which sucked.

I only noticed this because I was trying out Qumana and it formatted fine. Qumana has it’s own issues, but most significantly it doesn’t have strong feature support for dealing with images.

MarsEdit recently left Newsgator for Red Sweater and an update was released. I’m using that right now but I’m not very impressed with this tool. No wysiwyg image support and there is no toolbar for formatting, you have to highlight text and dropdown a list of tags. Actually, there’s no wysiwyg support at all, you edit in html mode.

The good news is that Ecto appears to be getting close to a beta for the rewritten version 3, which includes a number of major new additions, most significantly a plugin architecture.

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iPhone Pecking and Tapping

The downside is that typing is done by pecking on the screen with thumbs or fingers, something hardly anyone outside of Apple has experienced yet. “The tactile feedback of a mechanical keyboard is a pretty important aspect of human interaction,” said Bill Moggeridge, a founder of Ideo, an industrial design company in Palo Alto, Calif. “If you take that away you tend to be very insecure.”

Someone finally noticed that the iPhone doesn’t have a keyboard and decided to comment on that. Actually a few people have commented but the accepted wisdom from Cupertino to date has been “well people will get used to it because it’s Apple”.

I’ve had two keyboard experiences that are relevant to this debate. My LG Chocolate had a touch screen that was beautiful to look at, impossible to keep clean, and overly sensitive to the touch and that made it annoying.

My Moto RAZR had a keyboard but the laser etched metal, while nice to look at, didn’t give me any tactile feedback and made dialing “feel weird” and hard to do without looking at it. As is the case while living with any device, it’s interesting to note how many times you do something without realizing it, like touching your face during the course of a day.

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Bart Decrem told me about Geni a while back, I finally had a chance to try it out. Simply put, it’s a family tree mapping service, however it’s much more significant because what is really happening is that you are building an online group out of your family contacts.

The process of adding family members creates new nodes in your network, and which then invites them into the network with a preconfigured profile that they can then update directly. You can grow your group pretty quickly and the interactive nature makes it very sticky.


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Should We Ditch PowerPoint?


I struggle with PowerPoint. It’s an essential tool in my business but I’m never satisfied using it, which to be clear means that I’m never satisfied with the product I create with it as opposed to the application itself, which by my account is actually a pretty well designed app. I’ve tried Keynote, but my PowerPoint bias means I constantly find myself saying “why can’t this work like PowerPoint does” and pretty soon I figured out I was just better off sticking with PowerPoint.

It occurred to me after reading this post that the problem wasn’t PowerPoint but the lack of a better alternative to the bullet list slide as a communication model. A lot of people point to Dick Hardt’s SXIP presentation as the prototype non-bullet list presentation, but if you have tried to apply that method to other scenarios you realize it doesn’t scale very well.

What we really need is not a better presentation application but a better way of creating graphics and visuals for unstructured text data. A presentation design service category in Elance would also be a good addition. PPTExchange is a marketplace for people to share/sell their presentations but this is different from someone creating a presentation for you.

Email Bankruptcy Followup

A while back I wrote a two paragraph post declaring email bankruptcy and in the weeks that followed I was really surprised by the level of interest in this topic. The post was included in Washington Post article, I was interviewed for a segment on CNN, and just last week Good Morning America called me about it.

I didn’t participate in the GMA piece because I am traveling this week, but also because I’m tired of talking about it. Incidentally, I asked the GMA producer if she had contacted Fred and she said that he didn’t want to talk about this anymore either.

But I do want to clarify something, this narrative on this story should not be "Jeff has too much email so he’s giving it up" but rather "like most people connected by technology, Jeff is evolving to learn how to better manage the multitude of communication options available to him".

I can’t give up email, it’s the single most essential communication tool I have, but I can’t, and in retrospect never could, deal with 250+ emails a day. So what am I doing differently? First and foremost is that I pick up my cell phone and call people. Instead of having a 15 reply chain of emails on a single thread, I make a single phone call or IM and deal more efficiently with the topic at hand. 

I am struggling with how best to use IM because I don’t like the interupt factor, same goes for Twitter but I am fascinated with that service. The atomization of conversation that is a consequence of new technologies, like Twitter’s 140 character limit, is another interesting subject to explore but something for another post.

I am also struggling with how best to use my inbox, having historically never deleted anything, relying on good search tools to find what I need. That system just doesn’t work anymore, so products like Xobni have my attention with their promise to build analytics on my inbox.


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Viral Loops

"The viral loop in most social networks revolves around a user posting a widget to their page and having friends see their page. The viral loops for Facebook (there are multiple) revolve around the news feed, the mini-feed and the invite request."
VentureBeat interview with RockYou

I’m really interested in Facebook Developers for a couple of reasons, but mostly because of a core belief that the software industry has matured to a point that technical innovation doesn’t drive growth anymore, distribution mechanics do.

Social networks and application marketplaces offer exciting new distribution capabilities for software publishers, but each of these channels features unique nuances that require understanding in order to maximize effectiveness on.

The other thing about Facebook that I find interesting is that it promises to give developers the ability to instantly add a social dimension to their applications. This is not insignificant when you consider that the inclusion of a social capability is the one constant among practically every high growth application/service that has launched in the last 5 years.