Google Twitter Web/Tech

Thinking about Google+

A friend invited me about 10 days ago into Google+, Google’s new “social” service. As many others have commented, it’s very well done for a “field trial” as Google calls it. The UI is very nice – with a couple of exceptions like endless comment streams – and Google+’s handling of photographs is beautifully done. You can get to my Google+ posts by clicking on the G+ icon over at the top of the right sidebar on this page.

Of course, Google+ is still new – and it’s attractive partially just for that reason. It’s sort of like the new restaurant in town. Still, I’m finding that Facebook is getting less of my attention as a result of Google+. How about you?

As for Twitter, I typically keep Twitter running – as a separate app – off on the right side of my display and always in view along with my browser. It’s a parallel feed – and I appreciate it’s “information density” with short posts, no integration of comments, etc.

Facebook, on the other hand, I run in a separate browser tab – a tab that I have to decide to click and go to – just like my email (ugh!). In the “attention economy”, seems to me that’s important – at least in the desktop environment.

On a mobile device, it’s clearly a different story. Each app is “all consuming”! We’ll see how the Google+ iPhone app affects our mobile usage – once that app is released.

Going forward, it’ll be very interesting to see where Google+ goes. Might it replace my separate blog here? Or…?


Twitter and Education – The Twitter Experiment

Watch this fabulous video from the University of Texas about using Twitter in the classroom:

Business Current Affairs Living Twitter

Listening to Our Hunches – and Acting on Them

Titled “The Crisis The Gurus Punted“, David Ignatius’ column for tomorrow’s Washington Post begins:

The big mistakes we make in life aren’t the ones that sneak up on us, but those we make with our eyes wide open.

He goes on to note that today’s financial crisis isn’t a surprise – smart people have been warning us for years about what might be coming. But, we didn’t act – we didn’t follow our hunches. Ignatius urges Summers and Geithner to act – this time.

Serendipitously, someone happened to Twitter this morning about the talk Evan Williams gave recently at TED – which is really all about learning to following your hunch.

Earlier this morning, Berkshire Hathaway released this year’s Chairman’s Letter from Warren Buffett in which he reminds us of his dire warnings about derivatives – published six years ago.

No easy answers, of course – but the failure to take decisive action, to heed and act on our own hunches, is something we all need to get better at!

Twitter Weblogs

How Did I Add Tweet This to My TypePad Blog Posts?

Over on our Payments News blog and here on SJL.US, I recently added the ability for the reader to “tweet this” post to Twitter. A friend asked this morning how I did that.

Here’s how. We’re running Payments News in what TypePad refers to as “Advanced Templates” mode – meaning that we can edit all of the various TypePad templates to do what we want.

One of the TypePad template modules – entry-individual – controls the display of individual blog posts. To add the “Tweet This” feature to every individual post in a TypePad blog, I added the following code to entry-individual:

 <a href=" ” target=_blank”>Tweet This

The code shows the Tweet This graphic (you’ll need to host the image on your server and change the IMG URL to point to it) and builds a URL that when clicked opens the user’s Twitter home page with the URL of the blog post pre-inserted. The user simply clicks “update” on the Twitter page and the tweet is generated.

I’d really like to enhance this code so that the pre-inserted URL is pre-shortened – but I can’t figure out an easy way to do that. If you can help, please comment here! Remember, with TypePad I can’t do any fancy PHP-kinda stuff!

News Twitter Web/Tech

Twitter for Breaking News

Twitter really is quite amazing for following breaking news.

twitter-150.jpgToday, I was periodically watching my friends’ tweets out of the corner of my eye when I saw one saying “breaking news – plane down in hudson river”. I checked the CNN website, nothing. Turned on CNN on TV and they were just beginning coverage.

Then I fired up Tweetdeck and setup 3 quick searches for USAir, Hudson, and plane – and followed along reading the tweets in real-time. Amazing

My first experience with this was back after Thanksgiving when the Mumbai terror attacks had just started. I followed mumbai on Tweetdeck and stayed up to the minute with coverage from both Mumbai and around the world.

Yesterday afternoon on Twitter, I first read the news about Steve Jobs taking a medical leave of absence. See David Pogue’s “Twittering Tips” – “…it’s also a brilliant channel for breaking news, asking questions, and attaining one step of separation from public figures you admire. No other communications channel can match its capacity for real-time, person-to-person broadcasting.”

Journalism is changing indeed! You can follow me on Twitter here.

Apple Twitter Web/Tech

True Innovation from Apple

Some folks seemed disappointed with today’s MacWorld keynote – Steve Rubel twittered in real-time at the end of the session: “What a lame keynote. Apple is losing its mojo.”

Having just watched the full keynote, what Phil Schiller and team Apple showed was another great demonstration of true innovation from Apple – new ideas galore. Examples?

The new iPhoto ’09 features (Faces and Places) were very cool – and non-obvious innovations! iMovie ’09 brings several new innovations to dealing with video content. The enhancements to Garageband (e.g., Artist Lessons) were similarly fascinating – and a new revenue stream for both artists and Apple. And, the innovations in the new 17-inch MacBook Pro – especially the battery technology – were important.

The critics of today’s keynote (including Rubel) were firing for effect – sadly. The innovations I saw were real, important, and fascinating. Schiller clearly isn’t Steve Jobs – who is? – but he did a great job – hardly a “lame keynote” IMHO!

Frankly, I’m glad that Apple’s departing MacWorld with this year’s performance. Clearly, the timing of this event was lousy from almost any point of view. Time to move on – to doing events timed to when things are ready, when the holidays are around the corner, etc. – not in early January.

As for me, I ordered the family packs of both iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 immediately after watching the keynote!

HDR Photography Lightroom Menlo Park Photography Photomatix Pro Twitter

More HDR Photography – Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park

It was another bright sunny January early afternoon today – following a clear, crisp night last night with temps early this morning in the mid-30’s and frost on the deck!

Getting Outside

Allied Arts Guild, Menlo Park, CA

HDR – Fully Processed

After (seemingly!) playing endlessly with Twitter and FriendFeed this morning, I decided to leave the computer behind and to head outdoors to do some more mid-day, bright sun, high dynamic range (HDR) photography. For me, HDR is perfect for mid-day, high contrast sun/shadow photography – just the opposite of that special early morning / early evening soft light that photographers otherwise learn to love.

This time, I wanted to stay close to home and minimize the travel time. Stanford University is always an option – it’s literally just around the corner and is where I started my HDR exploits in early September 2008. There’s a world of photo opportunities still waiting for me there at Stanford. But, been there, done that! I was looking for new adventures today!

Mac Twitter Web/Tech

Using LaunchBar and Search Templates

I recently mentioned that LaunchBar is the one utility on my Mac that I’m most dependent upon – and the new LaunchBar 5 beta just improves on the whole experience.

Current Affairs News Twitter


Over this year’s Thanksgiving holiday in America, we’ve been watching the very sad situation unfolding in Mumbai and wondering about the implications for the people of Mumbai, of India and the rest of us.

Business Twitter Web/Tech

What Can We Take Away to Create Something New?

There’s a great article in this week’s Economist titled “The Accidental Innovator” that’s about Evan Williams of Blogger and Twitter fame and his belief that innovations are mostly stumbled upon. In his “pursuit of accidents”:

The irony of trying to plan accidents, and orchestrate their frequent occurrence, is not lost on Mr Williams. So he tries mental tricks. One is to ask “what can we take away to create something new?” A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google. When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things.

From Apple’s Human Interface Design Principles:

The best approach to developing easy-to-use software is to keep the design as simple as possible. In other words, a simple design is a good design and the best tools are those that users are not even aware they are using. The more you can do to simplify the interface of your application for your users, the more likely it is that you will build a product that meets their needs and is enjoyable to use.

From 37 Signals:

The answer is less. Do less than your competitors to beat them.

I’m reminded of that great quote from Alfred North Whitehead:

Seek simplicity, and distrust it.