Monthly Archives: February 2005

Graffiti, Gmail and Other Unnatural Systems I Use

In the five years since I bought and learned to use my first Palm Pilot my handwriting has become illegible. Not just kind of illegible but down right unreadable for the most part. The notes I take during meetings are useless and if I want to make them truly readable it takes so much time for me to write the note I’m always three sentences behind.

I attribute my illegible scrawl to the increased use the Graffiti text input recognition system. It forces you to input characters in a sort of shorthand which the devices interpret with varying degrees of success.

At this point I can deal with my bad handwriting. I just try to remember the salient points (which, despite decades of dope smoking I seem to do well) and transcribe the notes at a computer as soon as possible.

Recently I noticed another Graffiti effect I’ve been having from using Gmail. I try to use the built in keyboard shortcuts in other web based applications by accident. Of course it never works but it brings up the question of why it took so long for the Gmail/Oddpost like rich web based user interfaces to appear and more importantly, when we can expect more such interfaces in our commonly used applications.

My prediction is that we won’t see too much good use of the long awaited standards compliance coupled with XMLHttpRequest until 2006. I feel like most web programmers are spending their spare time learning PHP5 and ASP.NET 2.x which reinforces the old post the entire page back to the server paradigm rather than the new “Post what you need back to the server” model that XMLHttpRequest allows you to use.

Hopefully this Moveabletype blog interface will be one of the first applications to use this important new technology. In the meantime U + C + X.

Dear Verizon

Dear people in charge at Verizon Wireless:

I really want to love you.

You have the very best cell phone coverage anywhere I go. I like that feeling of being able to connect. It makes for a warm fuzzy feeling when I can get a connection and keep it. You are truly the Levitra of wireless phone companies.

On the other hand, I don’t give a fuck about stupid wireless video. I have a life, a job, a home and a fat flabby body that needs to be exercised. I have debt and I work to pay for it by sitting in front of a computer. I work at DivX where we compress video for a living. Therefore, I have all the video I could want and a whole lot more.

What I really want from you is a phone from this century – one with bluetooth and a pda built in like the new Treo 650 or the iPaq that’s so cool.

Why are you so lame about handsets? Why are the companies with the worst coverage and weakest signals on the leading edge of rolling out phones that don’t suck? Are they compensating for their ugly bodies with pretty faces and rich, full feature sets?

Why do I stay with you? You know I’ve dumped you twice before. Now that there’s number portability I’m disinclined to stay with you more than ever. I really think you suck and you know it. I’ve told you before but you didn’t listen.

Come May when my contract has expired, chances are that if you don’t have a new handset I want by then we’re going our separate ways. Really. I mean it this time. And none of that “we’ll stay friends” crap either.

Fuck you too Verizon Wireless! Can you hear me now?

Personal Knowledge Base

For a little more than a year now I’ve been use Microsoft OneNote to organize notes, personal data, web clippings etc. I like the interface and the flexibility.

For my zero readers who have never used it, OneNote is a stand alone application that uses the familiar file cabinet metaphor for organizing anything digital. The hierarchy moves from folders to sections to pages then sub-pages. OneNote was rolled out the same time as the Tablet PC and it has nice functionality for being used with a pen. More on that later as I try out my wife’s new Toshiba tablet PC.

What I really like about OneNote is the set of Power Toys released in the service pack about a year ago. The Power Toys include two addins that enable you to send an email from Outlook or web page from Internet Explorer to a specific section of OneNote. You can also do a quick screen capture and add that to OneNote although I always seem to forget the keyboard combinations and conditions that allow me to do that until I really want to do it.

So basically, in my mind, OneNote really rocks. It integrates nicely with lots of things and offers me flexibility I need to organize my stuff. I have lots of it and it needs to be organized so I can find and use it.

The real problem with OneNote is that it’s not easily portable. This is a biggy for me because, like my bookmarks, I want everything accessible from both home and work. I tend to do DivX work from home as needed and I occasionally do non-DivX stuff from the office.

What I really want is the flexibility I’m getting from del.icio.us and Spurl combined with the desktop integration I get from OneNote. In short, I want a Web based OneNote. I was considering a Wiki for this and I still am. I’ve only just started using Wikipedia and discovered that we have a wiki at work. I’ve subscribed to the RSS feed and have seen how it all works. I’m impressed with it so far but need to set one up for myself and try using it to see if it suits my purposes.

Another promising alternative is to use the newly published OneNote XML schema and roll my own web based version. Alternatively, I could publish each page individually with the publish function but my output options seem limited to some proprietary Microsoft format that spawns a separate viewer application if I’m using Firefox as my browser.

There are probably a few other options but at this time I’m feeling a bit limited with OneNote but at the same time overwhelmed with the opportunities available to consolidate this into one universally accessible knowledge base because the more I know, the more I find out I dont’ know.

Yahoo Companion For FireFox At Last

This is all happening so fast that I don’t really have time to check it all out and blog it.

A while back I (November 05, 2003 to be precise) I blogged about the sorry state of universal bookmark access.

My main beef is that my bookmarks should be available on any and all computers in a quick, easily accessible manor. I had taken for granted the Yahoo! companion toolbar for IE but found that moving to Firefox made accessing my bookmarks and keeping them in synch a real hassle. I tried and paid for several services since then but nothing really worked for me.

Syncit died then became Sync2It. They improved some things but it never really worked for me on both IE and Firefox.

I was really rooting for companion.mozdev.org to pull it out but now I’ve learned that Yahoo! is finally rolling out a beta of Companion for Firefox.

Color me cynical but didn’t they kind of miss the boat on this one? Bookmarks have gotten social and acquired tags which exponentially increases their usefulness.

I’ve started using Spurl as a front end to del.icio.us at the recommendation of Slacker Manager.

I’ve since taken the time to import my Yahoo! bookmarks and merge my Furl.net bookmarks into Spurl. I only have to merge the categories to make it all complete.

My favorite part of del.icio.us is that I can subscribe to other people’s bookmark lists. There are lots of other smart, tuned in folks out there that have discovered excellent sites for my many diverse interests.

This rather serious looking guy has some excellent comments on the social bookmarking concept. As I Google the topic I see an increasing level of commentary and tutorial on it.

This is all really powerful stuff that makes the web much more useful and exciting to me. It just goes to show, if you ignore a problem long enough, someone else will fix it for you.

Well Hung or My Love/Hate Relationship with MusicMatch

About three years ago I broke down and purchased a license for MusicMatch. I liked the interface and then decided to pay for their radio service so I could listen to music I didn’t own.

Over the years I’ve ignored it’s various issues as I’ve tried and abandoned other stoftware for playing my music collection.

Since I purchased my iPod last year I’ve been using iTunes but I really never liked it for various reasons. Last week I downloaded the latest free version of MusicMatch and I must say it really sucks.

It hangs up on my fairly new Windows XP box nearly every time I’ve tried to use it and I’m unable to uninstall it. Worst of all is that it asks me to “upgrade” and pay them my hard earned money for their shiteware nearly everytime I try to do something.

You would think that upon purchase by Yahoo! they would get their shit together and make this thing work like a real grown up application. I fully understand the difficulties of making a desktop application run perfectly but I’m pretty sure I could fix the bugs myself in the time lapse between my purchasing a copy and now.

A quick google of MusicMatch 10 shows that I’m not the only person having issues.

Memo to Yahoo!: Fix your newly acquired shiteware or lose any return on your investment.

TPLO Surgery Progress

Yesterday I took Bucky to the veterinary surgeon who performed his TPLO surgery. I have been worrried for the past three weeks that his leg would not heal properly because we have not kept him as immobile as we should have.

Luckily everything appears to be going as planned. I was VERY relieved to find this out. It’s very good news and I couldn’t be happier.

We have to keep him confined to the room when we’re not home for the next two weeks then we can let him roam the downstairs on his own during the day. He’s very much of a couch potato so he’ll probably stay in the office on the purple couch during the day. After two more weeks we can start taking him on short walks. I’m pretty sure he’s bored to tears and thinks he’s being punished which is sad because he’s such a good natured animal.

I stuff him full of biscuits every day and try my best to keep him entertained when he’s awake and sedated when he’s supposed to be mellow. So far I’d give myself a C+ on following instructions on this one. I can only imagine how I’d be with children.

Another Day, Another Ass Kicking

Well, I solved the issue with my complete lack of motivation yesterday. I just sucked it up (like always tell others to do but don’t do much myself) and went to the gym. About half way through I started feeling much better and now I’m back in business.

I’m not sure what happened to me but I’ve never (in recent memory at least) been that lacking in energy while healthy.

I can only attibute it to my need for some endorphins which I missed on Saturday and Sunday. Lesson learned I guess.

That was yesterday. Today I went to the spin class. As usual, I was hating life 15 minutes into the class. I’m just not an out of the saddle kind of bike rider. I’m too heavy and my legs aren’t there yet.

I suffered through the whole class. Luckily, the 90 lb. pregnant lady (her name is “Sunshine” and no I’m not making it up) wasn’t there to put a thick cream cheese layer of icing on my giant family sized slice of humble pie. She’s in late in her second tri-mester and she consistently does the entire class.

My thoughts for today are:
1) Need to work on climbing
2) Need to work on leg speed
3) Need to get my two rides in over the weekend and get a Thursday ride to work instead of going to the stuffy gym. The days are getting longer and I have my light. I have NO excuses.