Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roku Revolution

As you probably already know, late last night, Roku released the new channel store. I got my tipoff this am from @thepreppydude when I checked Twitter before email. After humping over the silly check for update bug (No, REALLY roku.. check again..) I had a channel store and the potential for 10 new channels on my Roku box.

It was 6:30am when I pronounced to my family that Broadcast Media is officially spun on it's head and we began pondering how the war would shape up. More on that later, first- here is a Rogue's take on the new channels and the navigation software...

The Channels are broken into 3 main categories- Social Media, Podcast/Media Distribution, and Personal Content viewing/sharing.

Social Media:
The new channel line up includes Facebook Photos ( which allows you to see your friends' photo streams) and MobileTribe. For us, Social Media apps on the family TV make no sense at all. You have to associate the channels with an account. We have 4 different account holders in our household... none of us want our accounts up there and viewable by the household. With Laptops, netbooks, cell phones and an iPod Touch in the household, we are all already 24X7 connected to our chosen social media, this is just noise on the TV. I did NOT add these channels.

Personal Content Viewing/Sharing:
The sharing feature of this may be the nudge that pushes me into buying Roku boxes for family members for Christmas. The Flickr Channel is nice, but I want to be able to see my contacts' photostream as well. If I do this, I could upload photos and my parents half a country away could view them on their TV instead of their computer. Yes, I can make a private group and add them to it, etc.. but that is just complicated. The selling point of the Roku is it's simplicity. There is also frameChannel, which allows me to do photo sharing. I hate to move photos to yet another service, but if we can not get Flickr right, we might consider it. the sharing application that really sold me was MotionBox. With a free account I can share video with my contacts. This means I can shoot video, upload it and the grandparents (and great grands maybe) can see it on their TV, even though they are far away. I am SO all over this. An unlimited account is 40$/yr. I wonder how good their infrastructure is on the backend.. seems like it is about to become VERY easy for someone to film and produce a TV show and distribute it. Who needs YouTube?

Podcast Distribution:

The other channels are not just single channels, but collections of hundreds or thousands of feeds. These channels include,, Mediafly, Revision3 and Pandora. the amount of content that will contend for my attention on my living room TV just increased about 400%. This is the reason that Broadcast media just got spun on it's head. Makes me wonder how all of those podcast hosts feel about being elevated to TV star over night.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:

Once content explodes, navigation and search becomes the barrier to enjoyment. This is the only place where the Roku channel interface falls down. With just 2 or 3 channels the old coverflow style was functional. As the channel number goes up, this becomes unwieldy. I still hope for a Boxee/Roku mating. I love the Boxee interface for navigating many channels and creating favorites. Even better, I dream of functionality that my old lover Joost had.. the ability to take content from many channels and providers and create my own custom channel with only the content I love on it.

What content do you most love that you want to see on your TV? Which service providers will you prod to create a Roku interface? the possibilities are endless... as my youngest daughter quipped, "Now we really can get the Puppy Channel... puppies, puppies, puppies......"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Human SuperComputer

Since I could not get to SC09, we are going to try a little experiment in High Performance Collaborative Computing. Much like Condor, I am asking to borrow a few of your spare cycles to carry a message for me. The 3 hour time difference and the fact that the Ogre is on the floor pretty much all day has caused havoc with our communication systems. I want him to understand he is missed and see if I can make him smile in the middle of Chaos that is the show floor.

If you are at SC09 today, please go by the Purdue University booth (2473) and ask for Dave. ( or ask for GOAT, or maybe even ask for Ogre). He will be the guy who has grown out his hair to look a bit like Wolfman Jack. Just give him the following message:

"There is a Kitten in Kokomo waiting for you". If you want, tell him Roguepuppet sent you.

If you manage to make it by, feel free to respond below and tell us what his response was.

Even if you do not leave a message, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

And if you are not at SC09 either, but know someone who is.... pass this on.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's wrong with FlashForward

The new Fall 2009 show FlashForward was one that lots of people wanted to like and whose premise was initially exciting. It has, however, fallen flat. People not actively slamming it have given up on it. I tried again this week to watch it...but find it so uncompelling that it is easy for real life to interrupt. For many shows, I may hit pause on the DVR when I am interrupted and come back. With FlashForward, I walk away without hitting pause and do not have any qualms about missing pieces of it. This is not a good sign for the life of show.

The show has interesting characters and takes on compelling philosophical issues- so what went wrong? This last episode finally gave me some insight into the problem when they introduced yet another character. The show now has over a dozen major characters in a one hour show. With the average show running actual time about 45 minutes * 9 episodes, that comes out to just a little over 33 minutes of airtime per character over the course of an entire season. Not a lot to become invested in characters. Even worse, all of that time is in small 4 or 5 minute bursts. The story, while compelling, has been made overly complex to the point that the storytelling is fragmented, fractured and not even close to fun.

What other shows have failed you this season- giving in to complexity, special effects or shock value rather than building upon great storytelling??

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Perfect SciFi Setup Scene

We zoom in on a couple driving east in a car on a countryroad. It is 4am. There is barely a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky. It is very dark.
The camera picks up a large flash and streak of light low on the horizon in the direction tey are driving.
Her: Whoa, what was that?
Him: Meteorite
Her: It started so low, and almost seemed to land right over there... ( she points vaguely north east)

At the same time, a possum runs onto the road from the direction she pointed, speeding straight into the path. Thud. Bump Bump. There was no avoiding it.

Without warning, a literal flood of small animals start darting into their path from the direction of the "landing". The car starts to gather residue from the bunnies, raccoons, foxes, possums, squirrels, chipmunks, etc..) who all have a certain air of frightened "FLEE" and a complete disregard for the vehicle they were running straight into...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

iTouch and gaming is fun again

A recent WSJ article shows that Nintendo is starting to get a clue that they are under fire, but they are still in denial. From the article:

" Nintendo and Sony say unlike Apple's products their devices are designed to be game machines. "From the actual game play to the games themselves, we don't see any real overlap," said a spokesman for Sony's games division."

"If we can't make clear why customers pay a lot of money to play games on Nintendo hardware and Nintendo software and differentiate ourselves from games on the mobile phone or iPhone, then our future is dark," said Mr. Iwata at a recent company event.

We are a Nintendo family. We have a Wii. We have a lot of Wii stuff. We have multiple DSs. We have a library of DS games. We have a library of DS games the game chips of which the kids are constantly losing and re-finding (sometimes) despite dollar penalties to replace lost games and family peer pressure from other people angry at the lost game. We have invested a lot of energy ( and money) into the Nintendo platforms.

Then I got an iPod Touch. I have purchased a couple of DS games since the Touch came into my hands. I have been fairly disappointed in them. I hardly play them. My iTouch is rarely far from my hands ( part of that is the fault of Tweetie2.

What are the reasons that I think the Touch is a superior platform?

1) The games are cheap. If a game sucks and I only spent 3 bucks on it, do I care? When I spent 20-30 on it, I am grumpy.

2) I can download the games without ever going to a brick and mortar store. I know Nintendo is going there with the DSi, but I am NOT going to spend 200$ each for 4 kids just to upgrade and get download capabilities. It sounds silly, but in a family and life pressed for time, it makes a big difference.

3) I can load and take MANY games with me without carrying a case of game chips.They can't get lost, I do not have to keep track of them. I am considering switching our family to this platform, just for the loss of Mom headache of tracking games when we travel.

4) The games and the interface is fun. Nintendo may have a machine designed for gaming, but it does not grab everyone. My second daughter- the rebelliously Anti-Geek in the family who gave up her DS years ago and rarely plays Wii got ahold of my iTouch the other day and started playing games. I had to arm wrestle it back from her.

5) Even the gamers like it. My two stepsons are at prime tween gaming age and have been gaming almost as long as they could walk. They live and breathe games. Getting time on the iTouch to play is a huge motivator for them. They play RPG, they play tower, they play strategy and they play just silly stuff.

If Nintendo thinks that having a device "designed for games" is superior, they are lost. Do they forget that electronic games evolved on Computing platforms? Have they noticed that other gaming platforms have evolved back to computing platforms and do much more than games these days? Time for Nintendo to look around and do an honest assessment or their future is so dark it will be 6 feet underground.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Google Wave Bots I wish I knew

Building off of a previous post talking about the separation of data from application on Google Wave, here is my list of Bots I would most like to be able to include in a Google Wave (watch back later for Gadgets and Extensions):

1)Gluebot. This would be a robot from Adaptive Blue that taps into the Glue data and API. This means that when I am writing in a Wave, it is listening and when I mention an item, it inserts the Glue profile page for that item. It should also allow me to query interactively for recommendations. For example, if I am writing an article on Imogen Heap, I should be able to type in and the bot will substitute in the correct data. If I have also included a shopping bot, it should be able to interact with that bot as well to give me best place to buy.

2. Secure CheckbookBot. This bot would need to be completely secure and have access to the data flow from my bank account. As I interact with shopping bots, it will record the transaction and keep my checkbook register up to date and in sync

3. PersonalDataBot. This bot will know all the personal things I can not remember about the people I interact with. Not because I manually typed it in, but gleaned from all of their other social networking interactions. It will know their birthday, their anniversary, that their kid is sick or their spouse just got fired. It will remember where they went for vacation, and if they commented back to me recently. It would show this data in a private ( HUD-like) display as I am collaborating with people.. showing me select images or reminders on special occaisions. ( yes, I fully expect this one to freak people out.. but that big pile of data is out there, why not actually coordinate and use it?)

4. DataTransformBot. We are starting down this path already. There is a simple Maths bot that will take 5*4 and subsitute 20 in the wave. But I want this one to do more. And probably, it will have to be a collection of bots to start with. Here is the basic starter request list:
a) currency translator (like Rosie, but for dollars instead of words. I
type in my currency, the bot auto translates to the appropriate currency
for the viewer)
b) complex Math ( there is a LaTex bot, but how about the equivalent of a
natural Language bot for math?)
c) unit conversion ( metric to english and vice versa are the first start)

5. TranscriptionBot. If I include an audio file in a wav with an indicator, it subsitutes/includes the transcription

6. SemanticSearchBot- will do Semantic Search where I indicate and substitute the results. Natural Language would be icing on this cake.

7. CodeTranslationBot. People have started writing syntax checking bots already ( handy when they work well), but I want one that I can paste in code from one language and it will give me first pass at my language of choice. I am willing to have it limited to matching language types at first pass... Object oriented to other OO, scripting to other scripting, etc..

(edit. corrected this is not an official Google site ( see comment below) but still very useful)
You can find a very cool and useful Wiki of Bots , but what Bot would you add to conversations if it existed?

Data Collaboration: a Google Wave Vision

Instead of working in isolation out on the Google Wave Sandbox, I finally got an invite to the public preview, where all the cool kids are getting their feet wet. It has led me to ponder if all technology/software innovations are a case of the chicken or the egg.

The first obvious Wave application is chat.. and so chat happens. and happens and happens. ( even when it doesn't make sense). People start speculating about what this technology will replace, what will "die" as a result.

Someone "saw" that waves would be interesting for an RPG, made a dicebot and the word got out. Now there are all imaginable forms of RPG gathering in the waves... many still to just discuss and make character sheets, rather than ongoing campaigns.

Someone made a sudoko gadget and there are a multitude of waves where people are collaboratively or competitively playoing sudoku.

The Google Wave infrastructure is truly a case of "build it and they will come". What is missing is a groundswell of the public asking for functionality. It is all experimental and folks are still building toward Ah Ha moments, so perhaps there will be more of this in the weeks to come. Here is the the thing I wish more people got: Google Wave is not just about real time collaboration. Google Wave is the first functional separation of data from application.

Data exists. I can create it in a Wave, embed it in a blog, share it on twitter, entangle it with a word doc, a presentation or a spreadsheet. It does not matter which application you use to view or interact with the data, you will see the same data, the same updates and the same edits. Because the data is separate from any one application, it is very easy to pass the data to other applications, transform it, visualize it or sync it to other data streams.

This is the truly mind blowing fact that seems to be slipping through the cracks because the functional demonstration of it is not quite finished. What will you do with your data when you can have it any (and every) where?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you can laugh at yourself? very sexy

1. Nathan Fillion is sexy
2. Serenity is great story telling
3. A sexy actor poking fun at his previous image? Makes we want to do all sorts of illicit pleasurable things for him...

I twittered the Hulu link earlier, but apparently outside the US can not view... so Here is a transcription attempt. It just wouldn't fit in 140 chars.

It is the Halloween episode of Castle, where Mr. Fillion plays an eccentric mystery writer. Camera zooms in on him strapping on pistols, zooms on his crotch and a swoosh of his Serenity coat as he rounds a corner and pretends to take something in his gun sight. His daughter, sitting on a couch looks at him in mock amusement. He is in full out Serenity garb.

Daughter: Hey
Castle: Hey
Castle: I was... I was just trying on my Halloween costume
Daughter: what exactly are you supposed to be?
Castle: Space Cowboy
Daughter: OK, A there are no cows in space. Second, didn't you wear that like 5 years ago?
Castle: So?
Daughter: So, don't you think you should move on?
Castle: I like it ( slightly pouty)

I Laughed out loud.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crystalline Marketing

I just deleted a multi-paragraph literary metaphor on the nature of business, because really- who has time to read all of that. Let's cut to the chase. Bottom line? If we are really trying to re-invent business, then we need to re-think the concept of Viral as well. Adam Penenberg wrote a guest piece on TechCrunch this morning to call for the renaming of Viral/publicize his new book, "Viral Loop" that got me thinking (if all you are interested in is a fast buck, sign out here- no hard feelings. That is not what this is about. If you are interested in building long standing, lasting relationships with customers that has value... read on) .It is not just that we need to re-name Viral, we need something this is just as effective, but behaves very differently.

In today's social media intensive marketplace, businesses have to understand that their end users are empowered to carry on active dialogue and build relationships- with the company and with each other- as never before. Viral Marketing behaves like it's namesake... tearing through the online community as fast as possible, "infecting" as many people as possible- not caring who it touches or when it strikes. When you play the numbers game, exposure is everything the more people who see o participate in your latest viral campaign, the better. But like a virus, these campaigns wear out the user and never have a long shelf life. There has to e a better way to build a relationship with users without behaving like a pathogen.

What if we started marketing campaigns that behave like crystals instead? What if you could build a marketing campaign that seemed to coalesce out of nothingness, and formed strong beautiful structures that endured outside forces and people wanted to come back to again and again? This is Crystalline Marketing. Thinking back to their youth and jars of sugar water sitting for weeks gathering dust, some argue that crystals take too long to grow. Rate of crystal growth is however affected by the concentration of material, temperature and the availability of nucleation sites. There is also good evidence that the fastest rates of crystal growth happen when the Gibbs Free Energy Rates between the states are highest- which only happens when the process is reversible.

What does all this science mumbo jumbo have to do with your next promotion??

1) Saturation of the solution. This one is obvious to almost everyone--the more people you who know/love your product, the easier it is for them to connect with each other and form bonds. If only two people know you exist, you need to work through normal social media channels to spread the word. You can not fake it. Adding sand into a container of water with a little bit of salt is not going to get you salt crystals more quickly. Depending on your product and your social media savvy, this could be an overnight phenom or a long slow process of gaining trust and building relationships. But taking the time to do it correctly will result in lots of pure strong crystals.

2. Temperature.. Simply put: a little heat speeds things up. This might be a new promotion, a new product launch, a new event or entering a new social media venue. the important things? Stop thinking of these campaigns as the ends- the are merely the heat that gets your solution excited and speeds up the growth of crystals. It is also important to remember that too much heat too quickly can disrupt the crystal forming process and just result in molecular chaos.

3. Nucleation Sites. Given the right environment and the right solution, crystals will eventually form almost anywhere= but it is much easier for tem to form if they hagve nucleation sites- places where they can easily coalesce. This might be a blog, a Twitter stream, a Facebook page or a YouTube channel. Make sure you make it easy for your fans to find not only you- but each other as well.

And so what's all that nonsense about Gibb's Energy? In simple terms, think of it this way- the relationships have to be a two way street. Not just users coming to get something, but users gathering to give something as well. Give them a chance to participate, lead, create as well as win prizes, gain fame and download coupons. The more potential for give and take, the faster users will coalesce and form strong crystals of support for your product or brand.

Remember that in real life, crystals give us everything from nourishment to cutting edge utility to perfect beauty. Why not put Crystals to work for you and build a relationship that will last through time?

In the Twilight Sector a Role Player's Dream Comes True

I am an old school RGP'er. For me, it is about the role playing. I have been lucky enough to find and grow a group of friends who feel the same way and a couple of times a year we get together for a weekend long gaming session that both satisfies and leaves us hungry for more. We play a variety of games, from D&D , ShadowRun, Cthulhu, Hollow Earth, Traveller and others. The ones we latch onto longest tend to be the richest settings and the most imaginative stories that the DM puts together. Although we are enamored with the concept of Traveller, it tends to not get as must traction because the ( very old) manuals and supplements we have access to tend to be full of mechanics, but not as much story. When I was given the opportunity by @ephealy to review a new setting for Traveller, I was both excited and hopeful, but also cautious- wondering if I was going to get another book full of lots of tables.

When my link to The Twilight Sector Sourcebook by Michael J Cross and Matthew Hope arrived, I downloaded it quickly and did a quick flip through before work. I was intrigued by the subtitle "Space Opera" and encouraged by the parsity of tables and the number of beautiful interior illustrations. I could not wait to have time to sit down and read through the entire 131 pages. I was not at all disappointed.

The first 30 pages are back story. Not dry, historical Old Testament style "begats" but rich storytelling that quickly builds a Universe in your mind. There are 17 pages of "things to consider when playing and new rules, but much of this is due to the introduction of mutants. The are two types of mutants in the setting ( Scientifically Induced and Natural) and there was a need to explain them further and describe the powers, combinations and possibilities of these character classes. This is followed by 44 more pages of narrative description of the 7 main systems in the Twilight Sector and its 2 stations. Again these include illustrations, stories, history and maps. The last 28 pages are the beginnings of an Encyclopedia Galactica, which the state up front will be expanded in every supplement. I am crossing my fingers that they will take this feature and put it online, not requiring the purchase of every supplement for a "full encyclopedia" - that comes across as slightly manipulative.

The best thing for me was that after reading the sourcebook, my mind started spinning possibilities. I have already contacted our biggest Traveller enthusiast and we are going to co-GM a round of Traveller in this setting during our Dec 11 weekend gathering. I think it could turn things around for our group. The writers are very clear in pointing out that you could spin any genre in this setting, from mystery to horror, but the truth is, as rich and diverse as the setting is, you could run many different games in this setting as well. I can easily imagine playing with Mutants & Masterminds ( with modifications), Cthulhu or even a modified ShadowRun in this captivating setting. That would of course, break way too many rules for most gamers,so we will stick with it as a Traveller setting for now.

Want to learn more about Twilight Sector? Read on...

  • Atomic Array: href="">Twilight Sector
    (Atomic Array 034)

  • Game Cryer: href="">Review by
    Chris Perrin

  • The Zhodani Base: href="">Twilight
    Sector - A new TU

  • Apathy Blogs: href="">Something
    New For Traveller

  • Rogue Puppet: href="">A
    Role Player's Dream is Discovered

  • href="">Review
    by Michael Shorten

Drop by Terra/Sol

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Anniversary thoughts

This was us, a year ago today. In some ways, it seems like yesterday and in other ways, it feels like we have been together, melded in our desires, wishes and goals for the whole of our existence.

I will not lie, there are hard days. There are struggles when work and life pull us in many directions and our schedules feel overwhelmed. But there is always a return to the comfort and peace found curled up next to each other in front of a fire; the satisfaction found when we work hard side by side to finish a new project the excitement of knowing that we have the rest of our lives to spend together, exploring, growing and watching each other succeed.

Happy Anniversary, Most beloved Ogre of Mine.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Network security: public service

You know the cover pages full of adverts that many free internet services ( hotels, restaurants, etc..) have? What if they included a little embedded application that showed a stream of all of the clear text passwords being transmitted over that network as you connected? Obviously, you would not want to attach the login username to it, or make it really useful-- just make people aware that there are many applications out there that use cleartext passwords and if you are on an unsecured network, this puts you at risk. I saw a related app on the showfloor at last years SC09 and it raised a lot of eyebrows, even amongst the geeks who attend a supercomputer conference. What do you think the results of this would be in the general public??

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tweetie2- very sweetie

I recently mentioned in an article about my iPod Touch that I was falling in love with Tweetie2 for twitter use - even across multiple accounts. I love it so much that even though I still hate and despise the Touch keyboard, I find myself at home picking up the touch to twitter with this Apple Design award winner rather than any of the computers I have access to. I am not going to waste time listing all the features available, you can click the link and read the website yourself. Instead, here are the top 5 reasons I love Tweetie2 enough to abandon a real keyboard.

1) Offline Sync: Since I have a touch and not an iPhone, I do not have constant connections. But I can download all the latest tweets, hit the road, respond while traveling ( while someone else drives) and have it auto sync when I get a connection again.

2) Bounce to update: There is really no technical or life changing reason why this is important. it is just simple, elegant and seriously fun. Simply pull down the list from the top and release to have the app update.

3) "Email this tweet": There are really a multitude of ways you can simply respond to a tweet, but the addition of being able to email it is a bonus. I still have important people in my life who are *gasp* not on twitter ( the Ogre is the main one). There are often times I want to share a link or message with him and this has always involved cutting and pasting and having multiple apps open. Being able to simply select "email this tweet"has made life much easier.

4) The Blue Light Special: Switching between your timeline, @replies and DMs is as simple as clicking icons at the bottom of your screen. Even better, when you have new activity in one of those streams, it glows blue. My timeline is active enough that I just ignore that one and update at will, but having DM notifications ( which I sometimes do not monitor closely enough) is very nice. If you are a low volume twitterer, all of these would be handy.

5) Threaded DMs: If you have had some back and forth exchange of messages with someone via DM, you get to see the whole exchange history when you open the most recent DM. I absolutely love this feature and wish I could get it for @replies as well.

There are other features... maybe some you love even more and I have not glommed onto. Do you use Tweetie? If so, which features do you love most?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tales from a Dying Town- Extreme Makeover edition

Extreme Home Makeover is coming to town. Well, not actually here in town, but pretty close by and everyone in the area is involved. The buzz is flying - it is all over the local news ( radio and newspaper as well as the local Twitter crew). Since the 12 year old daughter Kori has been on a Relay for Life team with a local radio station for several years, she and her family are already used to being local celebrities. That is one of the advantages of being in a small town... you become inextricably linked to the others in towns around here. Everyone in the area here is glad to see people getting rewarded for doing good and helping to care for others. And it is a story like that that made Kori Brown an amazing story and helped to get her family on Extreme Home Makeover. When I say everyone, that is not an overstatement- there are lots of local churches and civic groups who are involved this week in the tearing down and rebuilding of a new home- and local high school students ( including my eldest daughter) are volunteering next Monday when they get to the "decorate/clean up/landscape" phase of the project.

They may call us a dying town, but I have never seen this sort of rallying energy from a dead organism before... if you are interested in the story, be sure to follow @HallmarkHomes for the full story.

"Inspired by sex dreams....."

I admit it, as soon as I heard Brandi Carlile say that her new song Dreams was inspired by sex dreams, I was hooked in. Luckily, the music is great and I have stayed around just for the fun. I got lucky and the One2One network got me a free download of her entire album. I liked it so much, I turned around a bought a copy for a friend as soon as it was available.

True Confessions? I am a die hard Melissa Ethridge and Indigo Girls fan. ( kill me, I am already over it) As such, I was doomed to love this album. In "Looking Out", the rocking beat pushed hard and adds to the desperation and ache that echoes in her voice while she belts out lyrics like: "I've got a new interpretation and it's a better point of view... you were looking out for a landslide and I was looking out for you..." .... "I close my eyes and think of you, I take a step , I think of you, I catch my breathe - I think of you...." "when you are outside looking in, you belong to someone".... This contrasts with the quiet vocals ( almost a yodel in some places) accompanied by ukele in "Oh Dear" "It's only you that my heart desires, only you alone that can break my fall...". Then of course there is "Dreams", not quite folk, not quite country, not quite rock but 100% wonderful. "I keep it to myself, I don't know what it means- I can't argue with dreams-- I have dreams". If you have any love in your life for a female folk rocker type of musician, this is a must listen, must own album.

Your Songs, My Songs, a trip down memory lane

I am apparently exactly the demographic being targeted in the latest Harry Connick, Jr musical collection ( album? CD? Download?) from the One2One network. I was very lucky to get a copy of the new set of songs to review and had a blast with it from the first play through. This is a set of songs that were fresh and new and popular as I was a kid growing up. Listening to this immediately flashes me back top a calmer, safer and more pleasant time-- how can you not love that ? As a matter of fact, it reminded me so much of my childhood that I gave my free copy to my Dad as a part of his recent birthday celebration.

While Harry soars with " All the way" and "Can't help falling in love with you" and you can not help but sing along when he gets to "Besame Mucho". I was not thrilled with his rendition of "Some Enchanted Evening"- but in fairness ever since I saw South Pacific as a child, no one but Rossano Brazzi is allowed to sing this song and have me like it. He was also just not quite right for "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"- but it takes a strong take to overcome Roberta Flack in my mind. I would have ended the collection with "And I Love You So" instead of pushing on, but I am an incurable romantic.

It has been a couple of years since Harry has released anything other than Christmas music, and this sweet little album is a good plunge back into the waters. I will quietly qualify this by saying that I also recently picked up the new Michael Buble and that is currently showing as many plays in my iTunes library as Harry is-- even though it came out a month or so later... if you have to pick just one retro dream album- go with the Buble. If picking up a couple works, I recommend them both.

iPod Touch: gateway drug?

I love my blackberry. I got one of the first set of blackberry's ever release when RIM turned them loose at JavaOne in 1999. I left for a while, but eventually gave up on my Treo and came back home to my Blackberry.

Lately, I have been looking at it a little differently. I got an iPod Touch about two months ago. I got it as a gaming platform. As a gaming platform, it seriously rocks. ( more on that in another post) I also got it because it has the same interface as the iPhone, so I can develop apps without sinking for an iPhone...) Over time, I have been adding some other little apps. First, just utlities ( calculator, converter, etc..). Then things that allowed me to take advantage of the wifi connection at home- facebook, gmail, tweetie2 (very sweet little app). I get so used to using them when there is a wifi connection that I sometimes find myself itching for them when I am off the network as well.

it is starting to feel like my touch is a gateway drug to the iPhone. There are still serious problems that will keep me from switching to the iPhone ( lack of multi-tasking is the biggest).. but there are also some really cool apps that take advantage of the camera the touch does not have that I would love to play with. An iPhone is starting to smell good...

This is the lesson that platform makers forget... it is often not about the platform at all-- it is all about the apps.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Network Security: a teachable moment

As parents, we are always on the watch for the "teachable moment" . These are moments that take basic concepts out of the abstract and into a concrete immediacy. For the simple, basic things in life ( compassion, humility, kindness, life and death, etc..) there are many opportunities to share those life lessons. For others, the opportunities are few and far between. One of the life lessons that are hard to find concrete examples for is Network Security. Safe networking ranks right up with safe sex when you are trying to find non-theoretical examples to share with your kids. I recently had the perfect teachable moment to hammer network security home with my teen aged daughter.

Growing up in a geek household, on the net early, my kids have always had a good grounding in online safety ( don't talk to strangers, don't give out personal information, people may e lying about who they really are, etc..) but when we talk about people hacking into networks or computers, it is feel to them like a remote- "only to governments and corporations" sort of event. Kids visit from house to house, from Starbucks to Panera, easily plugging into anyone and everyone's free network- not pondering any potential risk.

Then, I had the great opportunity to use my iPod touch to bring this home. My daughter and I were sitting in the car and I noticed on my iPod that it was seeing wifi from the school. Being sure it was a locked down network, I clicked connect ( geek psychology) and was astonished to find that the campus had implemented open WiFi. When asking what the big deal was, I pull up the NetScan application on my iPod and showed her how I could start to gather information about objects currently connected to the network. ( yes, there were open ports and some potential vulnerablities spotted). We talked about how, given a laptop connected instead of my iPod, this information could have been used to look for vulnerabilities, break into computers and gather data. She was astonished at how easy the first steps were and that gathering data did not require massive amounts of "hard core" programming.

It occurred to me that we had talked a lot about network safety, but we had never sat kids down on our home or any public network and showed them how it worked. If you are out with your kids in a place with a public network and have a secure device you do not mind connecting, I encourage you to do a quick demo. Don't crack someone's computer... it's just not polite ( and fairly illegal in most places)- but showing how easy it is to scan for information proved a big eye opener here...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swallow Falls, Part 2

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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An afternoon at Swallow Falls Park

We had a great afternoon at  Swallow Falls State Park today, climbing rocks and wading the river The Deer were getting up close and personal, but no bear in the woods- they remain only in te neighborhood where our rental house is.

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An afternoon at Swallow Falls Park

We had a great afternoon at  Swallow Falls State Park today, climbing rocks and wading the river The Deer were getting up close and personal, but no bear in the woods- they remain only in te neighborhood where our rental house is.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from roguepuppet's posterous

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Deck Phase 1: construction finished

The ogre transformed himself into construction man supreme today and finished up the last of the construction work on phase one of the deck. There is still landscaping and then deck stain/finishing to follow before phase one is officially over,  but the heavy construction work is over. We now have a functional walkway/ramp and a 6 foot wide set of stairs lon one corner where there was a 16 inch drop before.

Our backyard now officially rocks  ;-)

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Celebrating Independence Day

Independence is not a gift, but something we have to work towards every day. It is a state of mind, an approach to life that must be maintained as well as a status.

Kids grow to independence, but only if they and their parents work toward it every day of their life until they are adults.

Students become independent thinkers, but it takes work and preparation- on the part of the student as well as the teacher.

Citizens have independence from tyranny, but they must work to preserve and deserve status. It rarely comes without sacrifice and compromise.

As you gather with friends and family on this US Independence Day, take a moment between the burgers & beer and the fireworks to think on the sacrifices that allow you to gather in this way and speak your mind. Think on the freedoms you are most thankful for, and what you would compromise or give up to maintain them. If you think none of them are at risk and those freedoms are guaranteed, think again. Our freedoms are constantly at risk of erosion from people who want to take the safe and easy route. Be prepared to work hard and speak out so that your children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy those freedoms you cherish most.

Happy Independence Day to all my freedom loving friends around the globe!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

That Tinkering mentality made me fall in love....

Ogre is a Tinkerer. One of the things that I love and respect about him is how he encourages, nurtures and develops that skill in other people. He has taught me how to be more fearless by refusing to accept my initial reservations. When someone puts a tool in your hands, gives you instruction and then just expects you to succeed, it is amazing what you can accomplish. I have learned that you do not have to be an expert to build great things (I was a self professed nail bending hammer incapable person-then I had a hammer put in my hand and I hammered in a LOT of the nails in that deck! ) - you just need to be willing to put in some elbow grease and try. What are you convinced that you are just not capable of and so are afraid to try? Write code? Hammer together some boards? Cook a dinner from scratch? Build a robot? Change the oil in your car? Go for it. Be a Tinkerer and be amazed at yourself. If you happen to already be a Tinkerer, be sure to encourage someone you love- especially your kids to try, get stuck, fail, rebuild and succeed. Don't just do it for them. Don't step in because they are angry or frustrated or ready to give up. Just let quietly, confidently, let them know that you are certain they are capable.

Still need more inspiration to get up and start something? Watch this great TED video on Tinkerer School.

It's not too late- the mid summer garden

Most people think of the life cycle of a garden as something that begins in the spring, simmers slowly, grows like crazy all summer and then is over in August or so. Planting is deeply tied in most people's brains with the spring- but even here in North Central Indiana where we live in zone 5, planting continues into August in our garden. We like to spread our garden bounty over as many months as possible, both to extend the return and because with a full time job, I could not possibly handle everything needing to be harvested and processed all at once.

In the next week, I will be planting Okra, second crop turnips, late leaf lettuce and more green beans. If you look at my garden right now, it is a complicated mix of ready to harvest vegetables growing right next to just sprouted seedlings. I have a stash of seeds in my garage waiting for early August planting- peas, snow peas, spinach and kale. They are cool weather crops, and with a little luck and not a very early snow, we will be harvesting the peas and snow peas in September and will continue getting spinach and kale until the first very hard freeze. Kale is hardy enough that is will often survive a couple of freezes and you can go pick it out of the snow.

If you have been contemplating a garden, but have given up because you think it is too late, get out there and get some seeds. Here are some examples of wonderful foods you can still grow and harvest this season, even in hardiness zone 5:

1. Tomatoes. It is way too late to plant seeds, but you can still go grab a tomato plant from your local garden shop and stick it in dirt. They do well in containers or in the garden. The critical factor with tomatoes is to find a spot where they get at least 8 hours of sun to set fruit. It will be late before you get fruit, but for the last few years we have harvested tomatoes up until November in our garden.

2. Lettuce. It is too late for a large head lettuce, but most leaf lettuces are ready to start eating only a month from planting, and then continue on for many weeks after that. Baby or mini romaine lettuce will also sometimes be ready in only 6 weeks- that is a mid August harvest.

3. Radishes. Check the packets for expected time to harvest. Regular red globe radishes are typically a month to harvest, and right now is the perfect planting time for the long growing, late harvest radishes like a Daikon to be ready in early September.

4. Green Beans. With a 6-8 week plant to harvest cycle, you can still get green beans planted for the next couple of weeks. These are easy to grow and freeze very well for consumption later on. We are working on squeezing in as many cycles of green beans as we can this year to last longer into the winter.

5. Peas and snow peas. It is actually too early to plant the late crop of these chill weather loving plants. If it is too hot when they flower, they will not set fruit well. If you live in a warmer zone, you will have to push the planting date out even later than the early August date we use around here.

6. Turnips . Turnips are another plant with a 6-8 week harvest cycle. Get those seeds in the ground and be fat and happy for Labor Day.

7. Okra. Because I tend to like to eat Okra in gumbos and soups, which are cool weather foods for us, I am waiting until this week to plant my Okra. This will give me a late August harvest date. We will have some fresh for Labor Day, then freeze the rest for winter eating.

8. Winter Squash. Check the seed packet of your preferred variety, but some could still be planted today for September harvests. My Pumpkin seeds are going in the ground tomorrow. That is a little later than normal, but will give us great October harvests and hopefully skip the August wilt we had last year.

With an early spring and a mid summer planting of some crops ( green beans, turnips, etc..) we actually manage to get twice as many harvests out of a single season. You may have missed the early spring planting, but you could still make the mid summer planting and be enjoying fresh salads and vegetables from your garden at your Labor Day cookout.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ageing in the rich world: The end of retirement | The Economist

Although the idea that “we are all getting older” is a truism, few governments, employers or individuals have yet come to terms with where longer retirement is heading: the end of the whole concept (see special report). Whether we like it or not, we are going back to the pre-Bismarckian world, where work had no formal stopping point. That reversion will not happen overnight, but preparations should start now—to ensure that when the inevitable happens it is a change for the better.

This has become a very difficult concept to get my parents, aunts and uncles to understand. In my considerations for life, retirement is not really a consideration. I need to have an ever evolving career in which I can be productive, contribute and earn a living until about age 80. This does not mean going back to punching a timeclock and becoming a WalMart greeter in my mind. Keepiong my mind agile and staying up to date on he latest trends and developments in technology is the first leg of this strategy. I am currently the one to introduce new technology to my kids. I need to stay fresh and on the forward loop of development so that this is still true when I have grandkids. Does this change how you look at life? Alter your attitude toward learning? How do you stay connected and fresh?

Posted via web from roguepuppet's posterous

Cool Animated Infographic: Growing Up

Wish I had stumbled across this video around graduation time, but it is still great advice for all the kids ( and adults) in our life to think about.

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BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | Giving up my iPod for a Walkman

I'm relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can't imagine having to use such basic equipment every day.

A humorous look at what happens when today's teen reviews the "new" technology of yesterday. Remember that our grandparents felt this way about washing machines and frigidaires.

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Adobe shuts down for a week - San Jose Mercury News

Adobe Systems has shut its North American operations for the week as part of a cost-cutting effort that the company said it will repeat at least once more this year.

Looks like TLOs have finally spread into the software market as well. Wondering if software companies should be coordinating shutdowns, like the auto industry is...

Posted via web from roguepuppet's posterous

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Meet the Gardens

The last couple of weeks have been punctuated with intermittent flurries of planting, and the gardens are starting to green. Here at Sycamore House, we have three vegetable gardens.

The Driveway Garden is our oldest vegetable garden, on the southeast side of the house next to the..( wait for it)...driveway.

It gets great sunlight, but it is fairly low lying and root veggies do terribly in this spot. The very first year of this garden, we grew great radish plants that had no radishes at all. We work against the tendency to mud when it rains by building up beds. We grew great pumpkins here for several years before a miserably failed experimental move last year, so we are moving them back here this year. This year the garden has 7 tomato plants ( one of which is not yet caged) and four rows for peas and snowpeas. It will have cucumbers, summer squash, spinach, zuchinni, greenbeans, and tbd. We tried an experimen tthis year, planting our tomato plants a little earlier than normal. We wrapped the tomato cages (which the Ogre created from cattle panel)in a packing/saran type plastic to make mini greenhouses. Our very early tomato planting was a serious failure ( since it snowed the very next day..) but planting right at the border between April/May ( two weeks earlier than normal) looks like it may succeed and will give us some EarlyGirl tomatoes by mid June. With more room for tomatoes this year, we are experimenting with several different heirloom varieties. We have planted Mountain Pride, German queen and yellow pear, along with classic Early Girl, beefstake, golden and our new favorite Mr. Stripey , we always include grape and husky cherry. I am looking forwardto experimenting and finding some new favorite tastes and textures as well as having a bounty to can for the winter. The failure ofroot crops in this first location convinced us to an additional garden last year. It did so well with root crops that we dedicated it entirely to root crops- onions ( red and yellow), potatoes (red and golden) and sweet potatoes. The onions are already sprouting nicelyand the potatoes are secretly rooting under ground,although I have not seen any sprouts from them yet. ( fingers crossed) We have some additional late season potatoes that we will plant in the backyard garden as an experiment later this summer. It is too soon to plant sweet potatoes, buttheplants are on order and should be arriving in a week or so. In the meantime, we have prepped the bed for the plants and we re growing an early crop of spinach in the space. Last year Ogre added a small tomato plot in the backyard near the fence, but even with that, weran out of tomatoes well before the winter was over. This year he expanded thatplot into a full fledged backyard garden that doubles our gardening space. This garden is growing 10 tomato plants, as well as avariety of veggies. So far we have planted a variety of peppers ( sweet and hot), green beans, leeks, corn, lettuce, kohlrabi, artichokes, brussel sprouts and radishes. This garden will get some late crop corn, second crop green beans, lettuce through the whole season, some potatoes and some sweet potatoes. I am excited about all of the newthings we are getting to try because of the additional space. We are already getting lettuce and kohlrabi sprouts and I am expecting the first ofthe greenbeans sprouts to pop any day. I would love to hear if you are planting a garden andwhat you love to grow and feed your family.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Email: The Nail in the Coffin

I have been musing for a while now about the seemingly imminent death of email, but last night I became convinced that personal email is already dead, we are just hammering the nails in the coffin.

Yes, there is no doubt that business email is still alive ( and broken and annoying)- but that is another post. Let's focus on Personal email.

I was on a phone call with my mom when the ringing of the hammer sounded clearly.

"We decided to talk to Verizon and get off of AOL and just use our Verizon email."

Excellent news! AOL ( stop cringing) was the right choice for my parents back in 1990, when the web was new and there were not many user friendly email interfaces. Now, it just inevitably led them to clicking on links in ways that launch that horrid AOL browser and things were broken. Plus, it is spending money on a service they really don't need. Times are tight and money is not free.

"Your Dad was reluctant and is concerned about how the email will look, but I told him it really did not matter, hardly anyone we know uses email any more. When I look at my email, it is almost all junk or ads or things people forwarded me. We don't have many people who send us stuff any more- you all moved to Facebook".

Wow. Astute for a basically computer challenged person who strongly resists change of any kind. She was not happy about the shift, mind you- ( I did not even want to boggle her with the plethora of social networks where I have a home... we will just leave it as Facebook for now).

"I am going to have to get on Facebook if I want to keep in touch, and just when I learn it, you will all probably move someplace else. But there is no doubt that email is just dead."

This from a 64 year old woman who is far from a computer analyst and does not know Facebook at all, apart from her grandaughters talking about it and the little bit we showed her over the Easter Holiday.

If she is not on Facebook soon, I have no doubt she will be on by the end of my daughters' week-long visit with them the first week of June. Honestly, I think she will like it better than AOL email.. but for my sanity and hers, I hope someone solves the interoperability/open authetication/platform communication before they leave and migrate to the next great social networking platform and leave her behind on Facebook wthout a linkage.

Life in a Dying Town: When the potential for death makes you famous

A year ago, hardly anyone had heard of Kokomo. After tomorrow, people all over the world will know who we are when the "World Have Your Say" team from the BBC spends the day visiting with Kokomo.

Apparently, the 3rd most dying town in the nation is a good place to investigate the impact of Obama's first 100 days. Since they are spending part of their time in the UAW hall, I have to wonder if any of it is co-incidental with the fact that tomorrow is also a vote day for the Chrysler unio workers as they vote to ratify ( or not) an agreement between Chrysler, Fiat and the unions. At this point, anything that keeps Chrysler alive and well in this town is going to seem like a good deal, so I really wonder why they even bother voting. Is anyone really fool-hardy enough to vote against keeping the town alive??

The purpose is supposed to be to look at how the first 100 days have impacted us... which made me wonder how they have. More rounds of layoffs have continued, the population continues to drop, which lowers the tax base. No new astounding businesses ave relocated here, boosting the economy. But are any of those things really the responsibility of our federal government? I do not believe they are.

The Government has gotten involved in the automaker's worlds, which impacts us because of Chrysler, and because Delphi is still financially tied to GM in odd ways. They have also declared Auto Supplier assistance, but that I know of, Delphi has not gotten any of that cash ( not yet, anyway.. not sure if it is coming). Delphi's Chapter 11 status remains an unsettling factor in the city economy, but there is no indication if Obama's actions have helped or hindered.

My official verdict? Too soon to tell. As a matter of fact, even when the economy is good I am not sure any president could make a difference in just 100 days any more, unless they were in a second term and did not need to create cabinets an advisors and learn the ropes. We don't yet know if Chrysler will survive and if Obama helped. We will not know for another couple of weeks if Delphi will survive. Money designated for stimulas plans is still being disbursed, how could we expect to see results.

And how will the BBC visit help? Will they show the wonderful parts of the town? The parks and the families and the fact that we are a relatively safe place to live? Will they show the kids gathering for Children's Theatre practise tomorrow night? Will they show the local orchestra an the Community band rehearsing? Will they talk to our championship sports and music groups? Will they show the still growing and thriving local restaurants, bars and gathering places? Will the BBC portray us as a town that is working hard to thive, that is a great place to live and raise a family and has great potential for businesses to locate here? Or will they grasp on to the underlying sense of fear and desperation that lingers under every breathe we take and focus on that?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Kwakcon Kometh

Sycamore house is a-bustle with activity today. We are making final preparations to get ready for Kwakcon, our biannual gaming event. It looks to be a good crowd this time around, with some old familiar faces and some first time attendees. We have some long running adventures continuing ( ShadowRun and Call of Cthuhlu) a second round in Traveller and some new games ( Paranoia, Untold and something top secret Hobbes is bringing to playtest). We have folks coming from at least 4 states this time, and we are really excited to have Brannon and Nathan the inventors of Untold joining us to "game their fingers off". If they can come from Alabama to check out the action, almost anything is possible.

I will probably be fairly quiet on Twitter and the Blog for the rest of today, as I am busy cleaning, shopping and cooking before the crew arrives at 8ish, but I will be active off and on all weekend on Twitter and the Kwakcon website. Be sure to stop by and check out the happenings.. even if you are far away. Hopefully you will be able to come and game with us in the fall.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lunchtime gardening

During gardening season, one of the great advantages of working mostly from home is that I can slip outside over my lunch hour and get some gardening done. After several days of being stuck inside due to rain, rain, hail and more rain, it was a joy to get outside and get a bit caught up. There is still a lot of spring prep to be done over the next 2 weeks , but here is what I got done today:

  • Moved the three chain saw carved Mushroom the Ogre made a few years back from the garden where Cthulhu has landed to the new hill garden by the mailbox ( this now names them the Cthulhu garden and the Mushroom garden)
  • Dug up, split and transplanted ornamental grass from perennial hill garden to the new Mushroom hill garden.
  • Planted 25 Freesia bulbs in the Mushroom garden
  • Picked up 2 wheelbarrow loads of winter debris that had been cleared out of the Cthulhu garden right before the rains came and dumped it in the firepit.

Not bad for 40 minutes of work.

As you can see, there is still a lot of work to do in all of these gardens ( as well as all the other gardens around the house), but I am pleased where they stand at this point on the calendar.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leveraging Resource for Innovation

In order to succeed, small businesses and entrepreneurs need to innovate in ways that set them above the rest of the market. Producing a product that merely tweaks existing designs will not be enough. To gain market share, new business ventures need to be providing goods or services that are something completely new. Both the Council on Competitiveness and the US DOE/Office of Science call simulation and computational science the "third leg" of innovation, with recommendations for the use of High Performance Computing (HPC) to make simulation more productive and cost effective. The Council on Competitiveness notes that there are three factors that tend to keep businesses from using HPC aggressively: Lack of talent/expertise, Lack of easy-to-use, scalable, production ready software, and cost/ROI. For start ups and small to mid-sized businesses ( SMBs), these hurdles can be especially high. Large HPC clusters are very expensive, programmers with HPC experience do not hire cheap and software licensing costs can add to the cost burden. While there are several programs that attempt to make these resources more available to businesses, we still have significant room for improvement. The US DOE's INCITE program, for example will benefit 9 different corporations in 2009 with grants of processing time on some of the nations largest supercomputers, but less than 10% of the grants given in 2009 will benefit non-academics. Although businesses as diverse as Intel and Dreamworks have been previous grant recipients, for small businesses still on the low end of the HPC learning curve, the INCITE program does not fill the HPC gap.
In many cases, government granting agencies actually make it difficult for academic grant recipients to assist for-profit ventures. For example, the NSF Grant Policy Manual (gpm05_131) states:

544 Principles Relating to the Use of NSF-Supported Research Instrumentation and Facilities

The following principles on use of NSF-supported instrumentation and facilities were adopted by the National Science Board:

The National Science Foundation seeks the maximum productive use of the Nation's scientific instrumentation and research expertise. Ensuring that the highest quality instrumentation, facilities, and services are available to scientific users, both academic and industrial, is a key requirement, as are harmonious relations and cooperation between industry and universities. Private research and testing laboratories, as well as university, government, and industrial laboratories, have a contribution to make.

The National Science Board recognizes that there may be circumstances where NSF grantees use NSF-supported research instrumentation to provide services in commerce for a fee, to an extent that such practice, (1) detracts from the performance of their obligation under the grant, and/or (2) may have a material and deleterious effect on the success of private companies engaged in the provision of equivalent services. It is contrary to the NSF's intent for grantees to use NSF-supported research instrumentation or facilities to provide services for a fee in competition with private companies in a manner that is prohibited by OMB Circular A-110.

Grantees should implement the above principles and related grant conditions in a reasonable manner. Grantees are expected to provide fair and adequate consideration of any complaints about use of instrumentation and facilities.

The "gray" nature of what is allowed and what is not, along with the concerns of time and resources needed to provide documentation and explanation if complaints are made has caused most universities and research institutions to avoid selling low cost services to businesses. While regulations like this were put in place to prevent grant recipients from forming enterprises that unfairly compete with unfunded business ventures, in times of economic trouble where outside the box thinking is needed, we need regulations that are not only clearly stated to permit some assistance to businesses, but actually encourage the huge pools of talent and resources currently locked in our universities to grow the HPC and simulation capabilities in the business ecosystem.

It is important to state that I am not trying to argue for the diversion of research funds away from pure science, or the pursuit of "big questions" ( climate shifts, the origin of the universe, cancer research, etc...), but I do believe that all of us could benefit just as much or more by allowing universities that purchase technology with grants to sell the leftover cycles to businesses. It does not matter if the cycles are actual computer cycles to run simulations, or leftover "cycles" of people time to provide consulting or training; fully utilizing the resources our tax dollars pay for to assist in business innovations seems only prudent in today's competitive market. I believe that this is important enough that I would be fully in agreement of preference for grants to recipients who can show a plan and an infrastructure to provide such services. Are you an entrepreneur or SMB owner? What could you do with access to low cost, high quality HPC resources, consulting services and/or training?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shop and Save (a student)

This was the Kokomo HS WinterGuard's State Championship Performance last year. As many of my Twitter followers know, my eldest daughter is in the Kokomo HS Winter Guard. The Guard did great this year, placing second in the state their first year in the IHSCGA Open Class and placing fourth in the world at the WGI World Competition just a couple of weeks ago. The guard has lots to be proud of, but unfortunately they are also still fundraising. Xandra still has to raise about 700$. Ouch.
Luckily they have a new fundraiser that actually has an internet store as well. So, we kindly ask you to poke around and see if there is anything that would be useful in your home. I am looking seriously at the flower bulbs, and some of the kitchen utensils are interesting as well. Please do not buy if you can not make good use of the item, but if there is something there that would make your life a little better or a little easier, please consider using the following information to give part of the profits to Xandra's guard fund.

Century Resources(
Group Code: 5187
Student Name: Alex Glenn
Student's grade: 11

The Future of Email is Bleak

I am battling to not fall into a generation communication/media gap. I have noticed for some time now that email use is declining, especially amongst teenagers. I honestly wanted to write this off as one of the follys of youth- "they can play around with their social network messaging now, but once they grow up and enter the real world, they will have to adjust to email". It was a comforting thought to help me through the annoyance of logging into multiple social networking sites to check messages. I can not fathom my future spent in such an annoying way ( and I do still believe that the way that social networks interact will have to change for them to survive) .

Having my parents here over the past weekend and spending more than one discussion/argument over the shift from paper communication to digital/email has really made me accept that the shift to social network messaging is not just a folly of youth, but the next evolutionary shift in digital communications. It does not mean that email is dead. The generations of people and businesses heavily invested in email are not going to disappear overnight. But the change is coming and if you have a business or an interest in being able to continue to communicate to the next generation of adults, you had better be prepared. Just as my generation sends paper communications less and less, my childrens' generation uses email less and less. This does not mean that I think that social network messaging is better than email, just that the current shift is rapidly moving away from it. For my part, it means that I am going to stop haranguing my children to check their email and trying to convince them that email is important to their future.

How do you communicate with the teenagers in your life? How is your business adapting to accomodate the shift in communication?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Breathing in the Social Networks

What will it take for social networks to become as pervasive as air? Charlene Li, the co-author of Groundswell, recently gave a talk at OReilly's Graphing Social Patterns conference on the future of social networks that you can hear via the IT Conversation Network, (you can also see the slides to the talk on Slideshare) where she envisions a future where social networks become as pervasive as air- following us everywhere we go without effort.

I was listening to this podcast on my way back from the airport yesterday, and more than once during her talk wished I was at the conference to talk with her in real time.

The first time was when she was first defining "like air" as following you everywhere on the web- it sounds futuristic, but I immediately thought of my recent experiences with Glue. The more she talked, especially when she talked about wanting to "see friends reviews" on Amazon, the more I wanted to run up to her with my miniLaptop and say "look at THIS!". In some ways, Glue does exactly what she was talking about in the realm of sahring recommendations and experiences online with friends, regardless of where you know someone from. If someone is listed as my friend on Glue, it does not matter if they looked at and reviewed an item on Amazon and I am on the BestBuy site, I will still get their feedback on that item. The thing that makes Glue less useful than it could be is the same thing that made Twitter less interesting 18 months ago... a lack of participants. But even with low numbers, I am already more excited about Glue than I was in the early days of Twitter. I am excited to envision what will be possible when my entire Twitter, Facebook and gTalk networks are on Glue. I am also looking forward to the first Glue Ap for my BB, where I can scan in a product barcode via the cell phone camera and have Glue give me back the feedback of my network who browsed it online.. and vice versa.

My second moment of wanting to share directly with Charlene was when she was talking about the current closed circle nature of socialmetworks and how this needs to change. It came fast on the heels of my attempt at explaining Facebook to my mom. Taking my mom on the Facebook journey was honestly not my idea, it came because my eldest daughter spent most of their visit this weekend trying to convince her grandmother to join, so they can communicate more easily. I had been reluctant to drag my mom into this, because I knew that her learning curve might not keep up with the shift in social networks. My teenaged daughter does not have much of a vision about life before (or after)Facebook and she has no idea that in other geo-ethnic groups Facebook is NOT the place to be, it might be Bebo or Hi5 or Orkut or one of a shifting group of social networks. My fear has been that just as my parents learn and feel comfortable on Facebook, their grandchildren will move on to the next hot thing in social networks and leave them behind again. I know there is a coming shift from email to social network messaging, but what we really need is an interface to bridge the gaps. I need a way to forward my daughter's external email address to her Facebook inbox and she needs a way to send messages from her inbox to people she knows external to Facebook- either to an email address or to an inbox on another social network.

As Charlene points out, if the social networks themselves will not put this in place, there will be portals that start to agreggate and cross link the networks. This still needs better authentication schemes and ways of creating site and contact grooups to manage it. I do not want everyone I know to have access to everything I do, but I would love to be able to have a networking group called "professional" and when I add you to it, you automatically have access to me on LinkedIn, see my HPCMfg Blog feeds, are linked to the ZoneMfg blog, and send are in my "professional contact" group on GoogleVoice. Folks who get added as friends get added to Facebook, Twitter, LastFM, Glue,StumbleUpon, get the feed to this blog, and are in my "friends" contact group on GoogleVoice. Music Lover? You get connected to me on AmieStreet, Glue, iLike, LastFM, get the feed for my Vox music review blog, and get the feed for all things I tag "music" on Delicious. Family? Techie?CurtainCall? Kids? Gardener? WebSurfer? All of these would be configured as different subsets of my activity online and I could add someone's ID to as many of these groups as I wanted to customize and fine tune their access and our interactions. If anyone out there is working on this today, I want to BetaTest it.

edit: Phil Windley kindly pointed out that although the Graphing Social Patterns conference was presented by OReilly, IT Conversations is not associated with O'Reilly. I have corrected the original post text. ( I was also excited to note when I looked up his Twitter page, that Phil uses Glue.)