Monday, July 30, 2007

The linux of Search Engines?

Interesting article. I've often wondered if you could have an 'open' search engine. Jimmy Wales, the really, really cool guy who started wikipedia, is heading up the project. Should at least be interesting...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Or rather, pay no attention to those ads. I've signed up for adsense, not because I want to make a lot of money, but because I've been curious as to what kind of ads would appear on this site. I'll probably keep them up for a few weeks, and then shut them off.

An interesting side note about this blog is that if you do a search for exploding coconuts, my blog is the first one on the list. I wrote an article about it years ago, and it's number one. When people have a coconut explode, and they turn to the web for detailed, informative information. They don't find it, instead they find my blog. Imagining their bitter disappointment keeps me up at night, but what can a blogger do?

So anyway, my own personalized ads should be showing up soon, and the world will soon know the answer to this burning question: what kind of ads will appear on a blog posting about exploding coconuts?

This is almost as exciting as waiting for the last book in the Harry Potter series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I haven't the skin for it...

So I write for a small blog that is owned by a guy who is the brother of a person I work for. I wrote a post the other day, and thought little of it (by the way, the title isn't mine). It is just some of my thoughts about tying information to location. I always post the same stuff here, just a few days later. Again, it's just a little blog post. Nothing fancy.

The next thing I know the article is on the front page of slashdot. Then it hits Digg's front page. Then it gets techmeme'd and is on the front page of It's been read about 30,000 times.

I'd be feeling good if it wasn't for all the negative comments about my spelling prowess. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no editor. Which is too bad. But I think it does show that the idea is a keen one, and people are interested in the concept.

My only regret is that I should have written this article after we had built some kind of prototype that allows people to do exactly what I was describing. I think if it done so that it's easy for the end user, a lot of really cool applications will be 'thunk up' up by the internet community at large.

I'm sorry if I misspelled thunk up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pass me a drink

I don't know if it's been in the news more lately, or if I've just happened to hear about it, but bottled water is under attack. And as far as I can see, for good reason. Here is probably the most succinct of the articles I've read.

So, buy a water bottle, hit the drinking fountain, and call it good.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Great, so now what?

Good article over at the Open University blog. The author asks a question we all struggle with at times, I think. From the article:

"At the OU, we like to think (rightly) that we have a good understanding of how to construct print based, distance learning educational materials - tutorials in print - supported by a network of personal tutors and online forums.

"But I'm not so sure that we - or anyone else for that matter - has really got to grips with developing pedagogically sound, compelling and engaging online delivery models.

"So here's where I'm stuck at at the moment:

  1. "Training" people how to add data to maps, create timelines, etc etc is important and something we should be doing. Why? I don't know - maybe because it's a useful online communication skill?

  2. Using interactive maps etc. is a way of encouraging learners to explore.... errr... explore what, I'm not exactly sure.

  3. Embedding audio and video in online material breaks up the text and makes use of the medium. It allows learners to hear real voices, see real people. But is that important. Do I need to see Professor XYZ talking about whatever, when I can just read their paper? Or does rich media content break the flow of study (i.e. break the flow of reading print on-screen... Or maybe I printed everyhting off and I'm reading it on paper?)"
Some really good points. There are now so many tools, and so many ways to use those tools, and even more ways to mash those tools up, that it can be overwhelming at times. As the Insane Devil Woman pointed out, you can now report online that you are sick, and google maps will post all of that information online. So you can see where other people are sick, on a cool, little interactive map. Great. So...

But I really don't see an alternative. Our best bet is to get a whole bunch of tools out there, let people use, reuse, and mash them together, and see what bubbles to the top. Sometimes we create a tool for one purpose, only to find out it is perfectly suited to something else. To me, that is where things get exciting.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I'm a cheap old man...

So, we went to the store today, and I thought it would be fun to get a few fireworks. They had a big pack of fireworks called the 'Big Bubba' for $232, or there were some snaps and those flower thingies.

So I bought each of the kids a whole box of snaps (when I was little, we just got 2 individual snaps, and we had to share one with a brother). And then I got a pack of flower spinny things. The total came to $.72.

That's right. Seventy two cents.

So my wife is making fun of how cheap I am. But, we had at least 20 minutes of fun. The kids snapped for a while, threw them at each other, dropped them from high places, broke them between their fingers. Good times.

Then came the flowers. We lit one and went "wow". Then, call us crazy, WE LIT TWO AT THE SAME TIME! All we could say was "wow wow!" We would have lit three in a row, but there were only four in the pack so we lit the last one and all cheered.

Then, since we had matches, and it's the 4th, we lit the last few snaps on fire. We started a little match/snap bonfire, and I let all the kids light matches (they were out of sparklers). They would light the match, blow it out, and come back for more. My three year old almost lit my shirt on fire, but other than that, it was a roaring success.

All for 72 pennies. Tell me, how could Big Bubba had given us any more entertainment?