The War – Part 4

Tonight I watched the 4th part of The War. Quite honestly I almost could not because after watching the images and hearing the interviews in part 3 about the Anzio Operation I really didn’t think I could watch any more of the series.

I almost turned it off again tonight, which covered the D-Day invasion, Saipan in the Marianas, and Philippine Sea battles in the Pacific, but thought that if the men of that generation could fight then the least I could do was honor their memories by watching it.

Ken Burns is without doubt one of the most significant film makers of any generation. While his subject matter provides him much to work with, and without special effects or blockbuster budgets, he brings something out of these subjects that is difficult to describe. It’s soulful, almost as if a new emotion has been created in the process.

"The biggest thing I ever did in my life was get those 12 men off that beach."
- Staff Sgt. Walter Ehlers, U.S. Army 1st Division

Ehlers was wounded 4 times on D-Day at Omaha Beach and in the weeks following, his actions earned him the Bronze Star and Congressional Medal of Honor. He learned 5 weeks after D-Day that his brother Roland, who had fought by his side from North Africa to Sicily, was killed in his landing craft on Omaha Beach. When sent back to the U.S. following his CMH citation, Ehlers requested and was granted permission to return to Europe and finish the war with his batallion.

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Blog Bling

Check out my new widget in the far right sidebar. I used the free NewsGator widget maker to build it from my existing feed. A couple of things worth mentioning, first being that I can build a widget from multiple feeds, which quite honestly I think it more useful than having a blogroll. I think if I were to have a blogroll widget I would probably want it to be some kind of scrolling widget that rolls up posts in my blogroll on a continual basis.

Secondly, one of the consequences about aggregating feeds is that there is a lot of stuff that I want to filter out. For example, maybe I want my widget to just feature the tech posts I write and not the public policy stuff, which I know a lot of people don’t want. Using the Editor’s Desk app that is part of the service I can select items to feature in the widget by simply checking off the post items.

The widget maker also has a pro version, which I am embarrassed to say I don’t know the cost of, that gives you complete control over the javascript, css, and html rendered version, and I know the team is working on a Flash capability. The widgets that we built for USAToday are all done in Flash and are as good as any widgets I’ve seen from anyone.

This is one of the lines of business that most people are unaware NewsGator offers, and given my interests over the last couple of years I don’t imagine you will be surprised to learn that it is one of the most interesting to me.

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Mobile Web Kinda Sucks Now

Scott Karp details a list of reasons why the mobile web sucks. For the most part I am inclined to agree with him… however, my iPhone experience over the last couple of weeks has brought me back from the edge of completely abandoning the mobile web. Following Scott’s list, here’s why it’s not so bad now for me:

  1. EV-DO is faster than EDGE, a lot, and EDGE definitely sucks. The iPhones preference for wifi makes it bearable, of course only when wifi is available.
  2. Pubic wifi is a mixed bag. I have to admit that I found myself using Starbucks wifi a lot in recent months and because I had T-mobile it was a breeze. I gave that up when I switched to the iPhone and I definitely miss it. However, I have had surprisingly good luck finding free wifi. Face it Scott, everything in NYC costs bank.

    JiWire’s free wifi directory service for the iPhone is a must have bookmark. Clearly the free wifi in the Valley is abundant but during my recent trip to Denver I was surprised at how many free hotspots the little iPhone discovered. When in Palo Alto you can also pull up in front of Socialtext’s office on High St. and connect to their guest network without even getting out of your car. :)

  3. Too many websites still suck on the small screen, even with the iPhone’s slick landscape mode. Here I can report a little progress but it would be better if companies invested in mobile friendly sites, like m.newsgator.com!
  4. Scott says mobile device screens are too small… which seems to be redundant against his #3, websites suck on the small screen. The iPhone has by far the best screen on any device I have had, and given that it is pretty much the same size as the overall device I’m not sure that I’d want to have a bigger device just to have a bigger screen. Perhaps something like an LED projector that you could turn on would make it workable?
  5. Advertising gets in the way… but to me that’s just a problem with websites in general, but one I’ll live with because someone has to pay for it. I will suggest that if sites adopted mobile versions as an option they could either strip out the advertising or make it less obtrusive.

All things considered, the mobile web is still not my primary method of interacting with the web but thanks to the iPhone it is a much more productive backup for me.

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