Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Blackberry mangles personal communication!

Okay, okay, the title is a little inflammatory, but the Blackberry seems to be having a similar impact on communication between people that email did when it first became a business tool. Don't get me wrong, I think that the latest models of the Blackberry are pretty nifty gadgets, but more and more of my email interaction is with folks that use a 'berry, and believe me, the message is getting seriously trashed by the medium. Maybe a "Hints and Tips For New Blackberry Users" is in order? Here's a few things I'd include:
  • Email supports separate Subject and Message fields, so don't feel limited by what you can squeeze into the Subject field
  • Sometimes a YES or NO answer won't convey all the information required to answer a question posed to you
  • Absence of punctuation can often be overlooked by a reader, but the more complete your sentences are the less ambiguous they are

Yeah, I am on a bit of a rant here, but don't even get me started on the impact Blackberries have on in person meetings!

Building a new PC, piece by piece

I've been using various Compaq and HP desktops from work as my home PC (hey, if you take work home like I have to, why not take some decent hardware home as well!), but have decided it's time to stop leeching and build my own. My requirements are that it be reasonable powerful, quiet and look good - neon, side windows and cyberpunk cases aren't really my style. Poking around various review sites and some of the local PC shop's websites, I've decided on an Antec P150 as the enclosure, largely based on this article at SilentPCReview.com. Mike Chin and his team of reviewers at SilentPCReview.com do a great job and provide practical insight into all manner of PC hardware, so check them out!

Mainboard and CPU are next on the shopping list!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

AJAX and Web 2.0 - My Two Cents

Everyone and their dog seems to have an opinion, position or comments to make about AJAX, Web 2.0 and their related tag lines and acronyms, so why should I stay silent? I'd like to think that I have a rational, common sense outlook on the world, and I am having trouble with the whole "Web 1.0 sucks, Web 2.0 rocks!" message that is currently percolating and the hype surrounding it. The development team I work with was developing prototype web-apps that leveraged web services and could verify data or populate form fields and datagrids without a page refresh two years ago! I guess my point is that none of this stuff is really new from a technology perspective, and barely evolutionary at best.

For me, the big change is in who is involved in developing these cool new applications and why are they being built - Flickr, Basecamp and JotSpot are the products of relatively small teams driven by creativity, design and useability and offered up to anyone who cares to sign up. The focus is more on the experience of the user than the "coolness" or features of the application. Collaboration, either anonymous or by specific groups, is also a key aspect of this new breed of application and they have spawned new types of social interaction in the process.

If there is a need to define a breakpoint or dividing line between the old and the new, I'd suggest that it's more about empowering creativity, people and community than what sucks and what's cool.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Searching for some new tunes?

I find myself floundering around when it comes to finding new music that I enjoy beyond the first play of a CD, and I've blown more than a few dollars on discs that end up stashed somewhere never to be played again. If you suffer from the same condition, I've recently come across two services/sites that help guide the musically lost - http://pandora.com and http://last.fm.

The concept behind Pandora is analysis-driven as artists and groups are categorized by style, genre, etc. and stashed in a database, you simply provide an artist or group that you enjoy and you are fed songs that match a similar profile. You can setup a "station" for those profiles and listen on cruise control for free for 10 hours, after which you need to fork over 36 bucks a year.

Last.fm is similar in that it can be driven by a profile of an artist or group you provide, but what makes it quite cool in my mind is that you can also select your music through tags a la del.icio.us or flickr. The other seriously cool feature that differentiates Last.fm in my mind is that you can download a plug-in for your media player to automatically build your own "my favourite tunes" list that is then rolled up across all Last.fm users, resulting in a collaborative quasi-Top 100. You need to download a player to listen to their ad-free 128kbps streams, and subscriptions are free from what I can tell on the site, so sign-up and give it a whirl.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

First Post and Welcome

I felt it was about time that I got off my butt and created a proper first posting for my blog, so, here goes.

This is my first ever blog, so I guess that makes me a late bloomer of sorts. I read a wide assortment of blogs for both business and pleasure, and have watched the politics, technologies and adoption of blogging unfold for several years now. Maybe I'm trying to give something back or maybe I'd just like to say my piece, we'll see where this takes me.

Technology has been a lifelong thing for me, and I enjoy it as much today as when my Dad first borrowed a Timex-Sinclair for a weekend and let me play some of the games it came with. It currently pays the bills, in the form of my job as VP of Technology for an investment services firm, and playing Battlefield 2 or Doom 3 has kept me up past my bedtime on more than one occasion.

My interests cut a pretty wide swath, from "corporate" IT to web development and on into electronics, audio, music, and photography, so expect a wide variety of topics from me!