Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ah! The smell of burning electronics.

It looks like this test is over now. The TableKiosk MP3400 blew up on me.

This morning, everything was going well. The MP3400 was charging well from the Sunlinq...


...but later in the day, when I was charging the Q1 Ultra from the MP3400, it all went wrong. The MP3400 overheated in a big way...


I had left the Q1 Ultra connected to the MP3400 in the boot/trunk of the car while I went out to pick up some beer and when I came back the unit was incredibly hot. When I took it out of it's case, it was clear that it had overheated as the plastic on the inside of the case had melted onto the battery. Part of the grille had melted too.

I left it to cool for 20 minutes and it looked like it was working again but it didn't last long. Its completely dead now. No lights, nothing!

Lesson learned. Don't try and use the MP3400 in 32 degrees heat inside the protective case, inside the boot of a car.

Fortunately the Q1 Ultra is still working although i'm down to 60 minutes battery now. There's no way to charge it up until I get home on Saturday evening. Here ends another Solar-UMPC test. Now where's that beer I bought....

Tablet PC "Freaks" Welcome Expansion

On Friendfeed, Robert Scoble and Layne exchanged comments about A list bloggers and Robert replied, "You're on the 'T list' for 'Tablet PC freaks.' I'm on that list too." How true! lol I am also. You're welcome to join this list also! I'd love to see the search results for "Tablet PC" grow even faster on Friendfeed, Twitter, blogs, or your social media of choice.

Being labeled as a "Tablet Freak" has been a theme this week. OK, so it's a fairly common theme in my life. :) For example, the other day I shook hands with someone to whom I was being introduced and the person got a fuzzy look on her face. One of those, "Are you...? No... I think I know who you are," comments and then that sudden recognition of, "Oh yeah, I know you," with the eventual, you talk [way too much] about Tablet technology smile.

Do all roads in my life lead to Tablet PCs? I admit that even the other week when I was out in fields with a friend and niece putting Audubon Society number bands on kestrel chicks that I was thinking about how an ultra-thin slate (1/4" thick, all day battery life, stylus, and OneNote) would have been great to use as a field notebook. Let's settle on that I'm passionate about natural interaction and always looking for opportunities to advance it. Agreed? :)

lora with kestrels

So, yes, even if efforts like the TechCrunch Web Tablet need help, I'm willing to help. I love seeing the enthusiasm exuded by people as they learn about this concept, with a good dose of skepticism and reality. In particular, I enjoy seeing the expansion and evolution of concepts that originated from past Tablet PCs, such as with UMPCs and Netbooks, or the tremendous growth in slate form factor devices.

I'm far from alone in being a "Tablet Freak." If you want to know something about the current state of Tablet PCs, there are certain people to go to first. The "A List" of Tablet PC community experts, of sorts. From Chris Hassler helping people in the discussion group to Chris Wilkerson focusing on uses in the healthcare vertical there are people who spend hours helping others solve technical issues, consult on product development, inform before purchase, test and review, and fully understand ongoing development efforts.

Here's a short list of these phenomenal people:

This list can go on and on with community members, let alone the many people at Microsoft, OEMs, IHVs, and ISVs who are beyond passionate about natural input and dedicate time to the community. Thank you for all your help. It's an absolute pleasure interacting with people who are so interested in seeing technology move forward.

"Tablet Freaks" -- or Tableteers -- is not an exclusive list and you're always welcome to join in this conversation too. ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Live Search steps backwards

This week has had a lot of news about search engines. Cuil led the way with a slightly bumpy launch. And now Live Search has updated their search page with a pretty picture and graffiti marks. Eh, doesn’t win me over at all. Search is the key not doodads.

I also did several quick searches of Live and at least to me the search quality his taken a step backwards. Yuk. Just try “Tablet PC” and if you Know anything about this space you’ll know it’s so-so results. After all this time I would have thought the results would be getting better. These aren’t. Here’s the thing: the results are looking very product or commerce biased. I thought I’d never say it but Microsoft needs to acquire Mahalo and work on their search results for the first couple pages. They need as much focus on authority as commerce. Maybe it’s what I’m searching for. Web 2.0 doesn’t look So hot either. Oh well, I guess that’s why we need more search engines.

Samsung got it right. (With last years tech!)

Last week I posted some tips on how to squeeze 3 hrs browsing time out of the Kohjinsha SC3. The method was a bit of a trick as it utilised a mobile phone data connection over Bluetooth but it was the only way to achieve 3 hours on the 20wh battery. It equates to an [...]

Willcom D4 first impressions at Pocketables.

Jenn, now a Willcom D4 owner as well as an SC3 owner, has her first impressions up. As expected, the battery life isn’t good at all with the tiny standard battery returning 1.5 hours of use. Its efficient of course, but that’s not really enough is it. I really don’t understand how any OEM could [...]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Using Tablet PCs to Increase Exceptional Student Learning Efficiency - Notes for a Proposed Symposium

If the National Association for Public School Learners or the Association of Public School Learners existed today, we would want to inquire about prospects of a major research university hosting a symposium to describe a research agenda addressing the question, "Which parts of special education instruction do Tablet and other mobile PC features increase student learning rates of exceptional learners in public schools, and what implications do these have for definitions of exceptionalities and their school programs?"

We would ask that researchers study this question from the view of learners. Few, if any, such studies exist. At its core, research would describe the relative learning efficiencies that Tablet technology allows slowest and fastest learners in public schools.

Perhaps call the proposed symposium SIPTEL for Symposium on the Impact of Pen-Based Technology on Education Learning? SIPTEL would complement annual Workshop on the Impact of Pen-Based Technology on Education (wipte) gatherings where researchers and evaluators report findings related to Tablet and other Ink PC instruction.

Toward a Case Statement

In 1936, the state of the art in diagnosing and treating human variation in schools exceeded the state of professional practice. In that spirit, four professors in Michigan created the first efforts of special education for the slowest learning children and youth. They figured out how to adjust school practices in order to use available and emerging instructional and learning databased information and technologies. Their efforts complemented growing evidence that supported special school programs for gifted and talented students.

A similar situation exists today. Researchers have known for decades that most of the slowest learning students have communication problems that appear to limit their learning. Evidence arguably indicates that these limits result to some excent from instruction geared to most students. At the same time, the fastest learning students spend much of their classroom time waiting for the teacher and others to complete these same tasks.

Advanced electronic communication technologies, one-on-one learning, etc. appear to make it possible to increase student learning rates and efficiency beyond current practice. Learning software that uses features of Tablet PCs can augment some instructional delivery modes, pace, and vocabulary. Anecdotes from classrooms with Tablet PCs indicate that they can allow students with communicate disorders to participate more fully in some regular classroom lessons. Tablet PCs also can allow the fastest students to complete assignments more quickly and with greater depth and breadth.

In this spirit, it appears useful to reexamine the logic, definitions, processes, etc. of educating students with exceptionalities as a different category from other learners. We think it appropriate to formulate a research agenda to reexamine these conditions.

Politics of Learning Efficiency

Unlike in 1936, the number of stakeholders in special education practice and research, etc. has increased and broadened beyond the direction of four or any existing aggregate of people. It now takes more than informal meetings of a few zealous professionals to adjust schooling of students labeled exceptional.

Symposium Purpose

This symposium would gather a highly select group of perhaps 50 international intellectuals, hardware manufacturers, software publishers, research scientists, teacher preparation specialists, government officials, professional association executives, foundation executives, et al. to outline ways to study the current gap between special education practice and learning with state-of-the-art communication technology.

They would propose ways to examine the extent to which state-of-the-art technologies can likely increase exceptional student learning rates and efficiencies and what additional questions to examine empirically in order to increase these rates and efficiencies further.

They would also suggest implications these rates and efficiencies have for definitions, programs, and content of learning by those currently labeled slowest and fastest learners.

A Call for a Host

This is a call for a dean of education in a major research university or a public policy think-tank director to host this symposium. As with all projects, funding follows a good idea. This symposium appears ripe for leadership.

I'm interested in seeing such questions addressed at the highest levels of empirical research. Please let me know if you have suggestions of people or offices that might have interest in this project. And, let me know whatever you post about such efforts.

Thanks for your time and brain cells loan on this matter.

Vye S41 Full Review

Meet the Vye S41 (Portal page for full specs). This is a mini-tablet / UMPC touting a 7” screen. Some of you may notice that it looks an awful lot like the Kohjinsha SR8. You would be correct in that observation; the S41 and SR8 are actually the same computer, Vye has adapted the S41 [...]

Solar UMPC Camping.

I’m going camping over the next four days. Here’s the kit that’s going to keep me productive. [The Wife and little-one have planned a last-minute camping trip together and I was due to stay home and work but I've decided to go along and make a working holiday of it. Dads - this is the [...]

WiBrain I1 UMPC Gets Intel Atom Processor

The original WiBrain B1E was relatively inexpensive for a UMPC at $699, but it definitely fell well short of greatness. However, the manufacturer has made some upgrades with the upcoming I1 model that should address some of its predecessors shortcomings. New features include: your choice of 1.1GHz (Z510) and 1.33GHz (Z520) Atom processors, a WWAN antenna, SD card slot, an optional SSD and a slightly different finish. Users can also choose between a Linux and XP machine with a 30,60GB hard drive or a 64GB SSD. Pricing and a release date have not been announced. [Dynamism via Pocketables]

Shhh. Don't Tell Anyone: UMPC.COM is back!

My heart sank when the domain struggled with its identity. Intel was pulling away from the UMPC name and the website showed age.

Relieft came today - and we have no idea who to thank. So, who ever owns the domain name - thank you for resurecting the website.

Great little facts are already online. For example, did you know, Intel's first introduction of the UMPC concept was referred to as "handtop" by Intel CEO Paul Otellini, but was later dropped in favor of UMPC?

No? Now you do know.

Asus to Release 23 Eee Models, Fail Grandma Test 23 Times

It shouldn't be a surprise, really, as Asus has already whored the Eee brand strength to computer peripherals and even a television, but in a recent presentation the company revealed a sort of USDA computer pyramid prescribing an Eee for every class of buyer. And whether or not the majority of these 23 models are cheap, tiny laptops (unlikely) or the pyramid represents the Eee branding hitting all Asus laptops (a bit more likely), the whole line is looking like a confusing mess to consumers who just heard about the Eee for the first time. [Engadget China via Engadget]

IDF. We’re getting there!

Yesterday was fantastic. I had no idea that so many people would support the IDF effort. I feel honoured! We’ve raised over $700 so far. I can hardly believe it. It gets me almost to San Fransisco….but not back ;-(
I’ve doubled my efforts in order to support all those that have sent money. I want [...]

R50a goes through FCC stage.

As JKK says, this could mean that the device is moving towards availability in the U.S. I haven’t heard anything from ASUS in Germany yet but I’ve sent them a message to see if we can have a status update. Remember that the R50 is the smaller of the two tablets that ASUS will [...]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cuil, Convince Me, Please

Cuil launched last night and I (with thousands of others) immediately started playing with the search engine. I want a better search engine and apparently many other people want one too. Google's time is numbered because they have not done anything to improve their search engine in years. Plus, Google privacy policies are basically - well - everything on the net is their property.

I have a theory that Google is dominant, not because of search engine results, but because people make money from adsense and other ad mechanisms. Take advertising away and people would not be interested in getting to the top of Google. People hide the money issue by talking about "relevant results." They really mean - I can find my site and name in the search engine results.

Advertising is where any new search engine must focus; focus on getting people traffic so the site makes money. If Cuil can help people land traffic then Google must react to keep you drawn into their world. And believe me - if you don't understand that the Internet is Google's world - then you are not paying attention, my friend. Google owns the Internet and it's time people start thinking seriously about how to take it back.

After tinkering with a few results, though, I noticed some hiccups. Throughout the night, the hiccups became larger with the site becoming unavailable at times. Personally, it is funny to see a GMail logo next to TechCrunch. It is even funnier to type in "cuil reviews new york times" and get back online betting with the Poker Channel. Yes, we are betting results will improve because the Poker Channel was removed the second time I put in the results. A Children Magazine is there now.

Twitter and FriendFeed results also suggest people are interested in the search engine but results were not favorable.

“Cuil is number one on Google Trends” -- Steve Rubel

I searched for my name - nothing. Honestly, that's just wrong. - Lee Stranahan via Alert Thingy

Google is a search engine, Cuil is a PR disaster.” - Barbara K. Baker

nothing relevant for me. all old, dead blogs and profiles to places I haven't been to in years. - Rob Williams

“Cuil fails to find any results for "Mickey Mantle," "Hat," or "life itself:"” - Harry McCracken

“based on a few searches this morning on Cuil... or whatever they are calling it, Google has nothing to fear” - David Parmet

What do I think? I want Cuil to convince me. Therefore, for the next 2 weeks I will operate with Cuil as my default search engine. Google was removed from the FireFox search toolbar and Cuil is the default. I expect a rough start because people are trying all types of results. I'm just hoping the people at Cuil are smart enough to be logging all of these search attempts and picking through them.

Cuil isn't perfect - and neither is Google. Are you going to give Cuil a chance to convince you? 5  minutes and a few searches isn't going to cut it - are you really going to give them a chance?

R50a goes through FCC stage.

As JKK says, this could mean that the device is moving towards availability in the U.S. I haven’t heard anything from ASUS in Germany yet but I’ve sent them a message to see if we can have a status update. Remember that the R50 is the smaller of the two tablets that ASUS will [...]

85% of people want 4 hours or more battery life.

A clear message to UMPC OEM’s Whats the minimum battery life you consider to be suitable for an Ultra Mobile device in 2008? 2 hours 3 hours 4 hours 5 hours View Results If it wasn’t clear before, it is now. [If the results are not showing, make your vote and you'll see them.]
While some people will accept 3-hours battery life for [...]

Gigabyte M912. Latest on the screen and model options.

In the Gigabyte M912X unboxing last week, the second thing I mentioned was the washed-out screen. The following morning, in my tests,  it was clear that the screen was taking too much power. Ding! Of course, it was a CCFL-backlit screen. I sent an email to Gigabyte who have confirmed that the (production) 1280×768 screen [...]

Two new Q1 Ultra models?

It seems like half a year since I added the HSDPA-capable CMXP version of the Q1 Ultra to the database. Oh, it was!
Samsung have finally announced it in the US but unfortunately the price seems to have risen to $1449 which I find a little but over the top for a year-old, $1000 device that [...]

Fujistsu U2010. Another Menlow-based mini-convertible.

Just like the Kohjinsha SC3, the Fujitsu U2010 is a mini, no, tiny notebook PC running on the new Intel Menlow platform. JKKMobile and UMPCFever have reported the specifications (now in the database) and I’ve been looking over them. Firstly, the screen is an amazing 1280×800 which is the same pixel density as a Sony [...]

Who’s next on the Moblin distribution list?

Thoughtfix brings us the news (from The Register) that Moblin will be moving to a Fedora-based distribution. Thats quite a core change in architecture that is bound to upset Canonical and Xandros who have been working on Atom-optimised distributions and have also committed to make a Moblin-based version for netbooks. I suspect that Moblin will [...]

Quad-Core AMD Opteron(TM) Processors Deliver World-Record Web Performance

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Jul. 28, 2008 Demonstrating its superior ability to handle the strenuous and increasing demands placed on today's high-traffic Web-based businesses, AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced that the power- and cost-efficient Quad-Core AMD Opteron(TM) processor Model 2356 and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor Model 8356 now hold the top x86 web performance records for both 2P and 4P servers, as measured by the SPECweb(R)2005 benchmark. These records demonstrate that Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors deliver the ideal platform for dynamic web-based businesses to help scale with peak loads, improve server utilization, minimize data center power consumption and deliver next generation Web 2.0 infrastructure.

"Web-based businesses, including hosted services for customers or internally facing business critical functions like CRM environments over a corporate intranet, often require more peak performance and scalability to handle heavy user traffic while balancing cost and power concerns," said Patrick Patla, general manager, Server and Workstation Business, AMD. "These benchmark results are the latest evidence of the clear value that Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors offer an Internet business - or any data center that requires the ultimate in performance, reliability and power efficiency."

This elite Web performance capability affirms the idea that businesses no longer must invest in traditionally large, expensive, proprietary hardware. The Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor allows businesses to affordably and easily scale up a datacenter with power efficient, high-performance servers that offer enterprise-class functionality at industry-standard pricing.

With its Direct Connect Architecture, Web-based companies world-wide, including DAUM Communications, Rackspace and Strato, have benefited from Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based systems in their datacenter infrastructure.

The 2P Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based system posted a score of 30007 on an HP ProLiant DL385 G5 server featuring two power-efficient AMD Opteron processors Model 2356 running at 2.3 GHz.(1) The 4P Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based system posted a score of 43,854, which represents a roughly 2.5 percent increase in performance over the previous record. This record-breaking score was achieved with an HP ProLiant DL585 G5 server powered by four Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors Model 8356, which run at 2.3 GHz and 75W Average CPU Power (ACP).(2)

Additionally, the 4P results are among the first to be tested using a 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GigE) network infrastructure, showing that Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors can meet the latest demands of web-based companies and emerging technology.

"Customers in massive scale out and cloud computing environments need reliable hardware with leading application performance to drive distinct business advantages," said John Gromala, director, ProLiant product marketing, Industry Standard Servers, HP. "The record-breaking benchmark results of the HP ProLiant DL 585 G5 and Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors demonstrate the outstanding performance and reliability these solutions deliver to high-traffic computing environments."

SPECweb(R) 2005 is an objective and representative benchmark for measuring a system's ability to act as a web server, simulating simultaneous user requests for standardized web transactions such as banking, e-commerce and downloading dynamic content. For more information on AMD benchmark performance results, please visit

Wibrain L1 Atom/HSDPA/SSD UMPC details.

This, just in from Wibrain. We had news from UMPCfever that Wibrain were working on an Atom-based UMPC and I can now bring you some details in English. The L1 will be based on the B1 design, will have an updated casing design and will include variants of the Silverthorne Atom processor and an HSDPA [...]

UMPCPortal’s IDF Project. Donation request.

For the last two years I’ve been trying to find a way to get UMPCPortal to Intel’s Developer Forum. It’s Intel’s premier event and comprises conferences, speeches and training sessions. It also includes product demonstrations and a chance to ask questions and get hands on. For our beloved UMPC’s and MIDs its a hotbed of [...]

Kohjinsha SC3 - Battery life breakdown and tips.

As you might have read, I have been very disappointed with the battery life figures on the Kohjinsha SC3. I was expecting a lot lot more from an Ultra Mobile PC built on Intel’s latest battery-optimised Menlow platform but it turns out that under normal use, this device is just as bad as many devices [...]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Analyzing The Power Blogging Process

Bloggers, are you always searching for ways to improve the writing process? Do you eagerly read passage after passage on how to blog? Are you searching for a way to become the next A-list blogger? You are not alone and since there are almost 2 million articles telling you exactly how to present your blog you will be reading for a long time.

Learn from the A-list Bloggers

Articles by some of the best bloggers explain the process that works for them. Some present blogging tips as essentials while others maintain the tips as suggestions. For example, while reading Chris Brogan's blog today, I ran across a link to David Peralty's Organizing a Blog Post. Peralty suggests 7 organizing steps:

  1. The idea

  2. The questions

  3. The research

  4. The Post

  5. The Call to Action

  6. The Pretty Additions

  7. The Publishing and Promotion

Do these tips work?

The reason the A-list Bloggers have high traffic is because they use techniques I call Power Blogging. Post after post is filled with the three Qs: Quality, Queries, and Questions. The A-list Bloggers show curiosity and do not just babble needlessly about a topic. They are on target; they write it and move on to promoting the post. The posts are organized and lead you to comment.

Blog Post Analyses

Let's look at a few blog postings from A-list bloggers and see if we can discern a pattern.

Robert Scoble uses some classic techniques in his blog posts. The blog editing system in action post is a perfect starting point for understanding the Power Blogging techniques. Robert provides a timeframe for the article. He subtly explains he did not just sit down and pound out an article the moment it popped into his head. The reader is told there were discussions prompting the post. Next, Robert builds a frame for the topic. He presents his perspective, providing arguments in defense of his position. He then ends with what Peralty writes is the Call to Action; Robert ends saying "But, you gotta read and participate in those comments!" Clever.

Louis Gray is another classic A-list blogger. In his latest blog post, FriendFeed Friday Tips #8: How To Post To FriendFeed Via E-mail, we get to see Louis demonstrate how to properly use "The Pretty Additions." Consider the use of lists and images in this blog post. Nice, eh? Most important, he ends with, "To get started, head to and give your e-mail a shot."

Darin Rowse, ProBlogger, is another blogger using the Power Blogging techniques. The first sentence of the post How to Make Your Blog More Personal sets the time frame for the reader. Again, he ends the post with a Call to Action: "I’d love to hear how you add a personal touch to your blog in comments below."

From these three examples, we can see not all blog posts have all the elements discussed by some experts. We do not see bullet points or numbered lists in all of the posts. We do not see pretty additions in all of the examples. We also do not know about the amount of research behind each of these posts.

How much time is enough?

Because we do not know the amount of time the A-list bloggers spend writing an entry, we need to fall back to some of their comments. Here are two comments worth noting.

Google Blog search is something I do for nearly every post, and it's something I'd recommend others do as well. Even if you do write about something already covered, it's good form (where it fits) to link out to existing coverage - Duncan Riley

Don’t take too much time researching, or you can get bogged down in what others have said. For longer articles, you shouldn’t be spending more than an hour researching for a post. This can be one of the longest time sinks in creating an article. Don’t spend time writing the post as you research, or you can get sidetracked, and unable to create proper flow in your article. - David Peralty

I am lousy with the research element of a blog post and have vowed for years to improve. I'll get better with practice. I bet you will, too.

Introducing Herman!

I used to keep my notes in my head but lately the notes are just too scattered, therefore, I have been writing down blogging tips over the past few weeks. Six of these tips are what I now refer to as essential and I want to share these with you in a way you will remember them.

Herman! the Power Blogging Process. Herman is a way to keep yourself organized and on task to create and publish timely, unique and thoughtful posts. Each post will be consistent and help your readers focus on the topic. Actually, the acronym Herman is also a framework for building traffic as well as keeping blog posts on target. Some of these elements match David Peralty's blogging steps. I bet you can find the similarities and differences. 

What is Herman!? Herman stands for Hold, Expand, Remember, Mention, Announce, and Never.

  • Hold all posts until after you have thoroughly researched your topic

  • Expand on the topic; contribute something new and don't just copy other blog posts.

  • Remember to separate out sections with headings

  • Mention other bloggers and articles

  • Announce your post to social services

  • Never ignore the comments

If we return to our analyses above, you might see the Herman pattern in the A-list blogger's posts. Robert doesn't always use headings but the topic sentences in each paragraph help guide the reader in the same manner. He clearly mentions other people and is a strong advocate of opening up comments on blogs. Louis Gray expanded on the need for new members to the FriendFeed community. His posts are announced on FriendFeed and he never ignores comments. If we return to Darin Rowse's posts, the 6 elements are apparent: time, expanding on a topic, idea separation, links to other articles, and lots of comments.

I don't want to expand too much on Herman. He appears to be self-explanatory. So, please give Herman a shot and let me know if Herman helped you become the Power Blogger. I'd love to know what worked for you and what did not.

FriendFeed: Ignorance is no longer an excuse

I've been out of the tech world for quite some time. This self-induced lull period allowed me to focus on other priorities. And while focusing on these priorities, the tech world was virtually ignored. A nasty side-effect though was that I was not happy about this isolation. I felt out of touch. I felt like a dummy, a techno-dummy.

Sure, there were little projects that popped up into my head. But I didn't follow through with this or that or something because a snag would present itself and my technical knowledge just didn't provide the path to completing the project. Most tech projects have been shelved until my knowledge gap is filled.

The Knowledge Journey Begins

In hopes to garner knowledge, I started looking around. The search began with the usual search engines and aggregating services. There were similar names posting blog entries. There were similar names writing tech articles. There were similar names commenting.

I was bored and nothing seemed to help.

Discovering FriendFeed

Out of the blue, though, I tripped over FriendFeed. FriendFeed is an aggregating service for RSS feeds and social networking services. There were new names and faces on FriendFeed as well as the old ones.

For weeks I've gathered subscriptions and read comments from people befriending FriendFeed. Adding hundreds of new subscriptions started to change the conversations I was reading. Here are some of the lessons I've learned from FriendFeed.

Tips on Better Blogging

I've blogged less in July than June. This is no concern because I've thought more about what I was trying to say. At some point during all of the blog posts that were scrapped, I would hit a brick wall and wonder if the post was really interesting. Did the post contribute or distract? Unsure? Toss it.

I spent a few hours on my last entry - and it still sucked. It was published and I later found out there were some errors and the story was misleading. At the same time, I was tinkering with live streaming (on hold until I learn more). Chris Baskind, a talented writer, made a few suggestions about streaming and I started to apply these to my blogging efforts.

Coincidentally, just as I was learning from FriendFeed, I had an important conversation with my sister.

My sister told me last night that she worked over 20 hours on a blog post. She explained she was tired of short blog entries. Sadly, only a few people linked to her entry. A few hundred read it on Technology Questions - but not enough to satisfy putting 20 hours into a blog post. She was sad and my words were not comforting.

I try to help my sister but usually end up messing up her site. In the past few months I've hesitated in making changes. Remember I said at the beginning of this post that there were little projects? My sister's site is one of those little projects. Last December I moved her domain to a Drupal environment. For months I've tinkered with modules, learned how to make little changes, and attempted to stabilize her site. I made a mess. She can post but the site design sucks.

This is where FriendFeed has been more than helpful. I want people to comment on her work. She has talent and a wonderful mind. So, I knew the comment system was lousy. I asked about Disqus on FriendFeed. People chimed in.

It seems people find it easier to comment on my blog once I added Disqus... - Anthony Farrior

I love commenting on disqus blogs. Easier to to actually put the comment there and easier to follow the convo if someone replies to me. I get tired of filling out forms to put a comment. Even though it may only be 3. Plus, I will probably forget where I commented. - Rahsheen Porter

I think it encourages comments. Agree with Andy that they need to move along with import/export, which will make us all feel more secure with the system. - Chris Baskind

I think twice about commenting on sites that DON'T use Disqus. I like the idea of all my conversations being accessible to me in one place. - Lindsay Donaghe

i'm a huge fan and now evangelist of disqus. i installed it on and we get over 250 comments a day. the threading, the ability to highlight top commenters, the ability to reply via email. and this is just the beginning of the services. when a blog doesn't have disqus, i'm MUCH less likely to comment. - Baratunde Thurston via twhirl

The disqus comment system was installed last night. I installed the Drupal module on Technology Questions first - making sure that I didn't screw up my sister's site. People are used to me goofing up TQ - but I needed to be careful with Lora's work. The installation took about two hours. The long installation time was because I was reading and re-reading instructions. The module appeared to work and I was set to install it on Lora's site.

Within a few minutes the module was installed. I was able to load the site. Lora IMed me that the site failed to load.


After a few moments of panic (and fighting back the tears because I was trying not to harm her site), the view source gave me a clue to the differences between TQ and WIN. I disabled the JTools module and the site loaded properly. Phew. Disaster was avoided.

The Journey Continues: Learning as I go

I have the people on FriendFeed to thank for getting me out of a tech slump. My blogging is getting a little bit better (a wee bit), the comment system is installed on TQ and WIN, and I didn't destroy my sister's site. Inch by inch - little projects are getting done and goals are being reached.

The Little Project That Could

I just need to learn a bit more to improve WIN and get the past blog entries back onto WIN.

You see, in the past ten years, Lora produced over 10,000 blog entries. They are sitting on hundreds of pages in two documents residing locally on my drives (I have multiple backups). Some of these entries were done in an html editor and posted as an html page. Some of the stories are from an export of a database (or two).

But for the life of me, I cannot figure out how to get them up on the Drupal installation. I'm an idiot and didn't think of how to get these into Drupal before moving her site. Does anyone know of a good way to get these entries back onto WIN? Short of manually entering them, can you think of a faster means?

You see - ignorance is no longer an excuse. I have Friends. I have you, the reader. Thanks for the help.

Sharing or stealing? Students posting text books online

Electronic text books are compelling because you can search and copy / paste the text, as well as the bonus that it doesn't weigh as much as the paper counterpart. But we all know that historically publishers are still experimenting with the best approaches to eBooks in literature, let alone text books.

Students are leaping ahead of publishing companies. According to the New York Times, high cost of text books is a prime motivator for students exchanging electronic copies. Will publishers turn to strict DRM to stop this from harming profits?