Archive for October, 2007

Rainydawg Radio, Season 2, Show 3

Name Artist Album
1 The Pink Panther Theme Henri Mancini
2 Bossa Pur Due Nicola Conte Bossa Pur Due
3 Send Me Shivers Mouse on Mars Radical Connector
4 The Internal Locus BT The Binary Universe
5 Suco de Tangeria Beastie Boys The Mix-Up
6 We Dance Alone Beck The Information
7 Slow This Bird Down Boards of Canada Campfire Headcase
8 Remind Me Royksopp Melody A.M.
9 Prisoner of Mars Stereolab
10 Jorge Nightmares on Wax
11 Reckoner Radiohead In Rainbows
12 Be Still My Heart The Postal Service We Will Become Silhouettes CDS
13 The Bard Wisp Building Dragons
14 Teenage Kiss Joakim
15 Glam Bucket Underworld Oblivion With Bells
16 La Rock 01 Vitalic OK Cowboy
17 Inflaiton The Whitest Boy Alive Dreams
18 Night on Fire (Carlos D Remix) VHS or Beta
19 Girls & Boys Blur
20 Waiworinao Villalobos Alcachofa
21 D.A.N.C.E. Justice

[audio:radio-archives/2007-10-25-5pm.mp3] 2007-10-25 5pm

[audio:radio-archives/2007-10-25-6pm.mp3] 2007-10-25 6pm

Finding my GTD

I have tried several todo/gtd apps including Tracks and other web-based apps, OmniFocus and iGTD. While some of these make it painfully easy to input tasks they don’t encourage task completion. What I end up with is tasks properly contextualized and project-organized in a big pile. I find myself out of breath and left short of what direction to head before I even start working because there are never too few projects and things to do.

What I have found to work for me is a ordered list of what to do next in the day overall. I need to see what exactly is left for me to do in a given day. To-do apps do a great job prioritizing and setting due dates and some even clear exactly where the next steps on various projects are, but what I really need personally is a daily agenda that I can keep referencing to see what’s next on my list for today.

I’ve begun using a simple text file for my todos in order to simplify this method. My syntax (with example tasks) is as follows.

# 2007-10-22
@home
- write todos blog entry
- read feeds
@school
- schedule dentist appointment
- finish 440 lab assignment
- brush up on 430 material
@home
- catch up on info 470 reading
- catch up on info 440 reading
@before bed
- schedule tommorrows todos

That’s a very simplified set of tasks but if I create my todos the night or morning before I can guess how much time each task will take and fit it in broken up based on where I will be at that point in the day. This is flexible, of course. If I find I don’t finish something as planned I can always move it into another place or put it in a dump for scheduling on or after the # NEXT day. The contexts are a bit different than many gtd apps will suggest they be used, but they work.

I’ll revisit and reflect on my progress in a week or two.

InfoCamp 2007

The Seattle chapter of ASIS&T put on a wonderful two day event at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center this weekend the 13th-14th called InfoCamp. It was an un-conference modeled much like traditional BarCamps but with a few twists. The event was split into two separate days over the weekend from 9am-6pm the first day and 9am-4pm the second day. Each day began with single speaker then the day was filled with sessions put on by the attendees (as like other BarCamps) on a first-come first-served basis with personal introductions to the group before each block of sessions.

Aside from the keynotes each morning, there were about four sessions per time-slot and six time-slots total between the two days — four the first day, two the second. I was only able to attend one session per hour so that’s all I’ll review.

Day 1 – Saturday

Nick Finck of Blue Flavor started off the day with a keynote on The Next Generation of the Information Era where he touched on the idea of information overload and the increasing importance of context. He talked about how quickly the idea of the desktop and laptop computers are changing and how important context is in designing the interfaces and technology of tommorrow. We parted with a reflection on our quickly changing times and that we should all be thinking 10 years ahead into the future.

Aaron Louie led a discussion titled “WTF is Content Strategy?” where we tried to figure out what exactly a content strategy “document” is. We jumped around many meanings of content strategy and broke down his individual situation requiring him to deliver this so-called content strategy document. Lots of terms were thrown around but we ended up deciding that what he really needed to deliver was an analysis of the situation with a sort of next-steps for creating an actual content strategy.

After lunch, ZAAZ put on a great event they called Interface-off featuring a live DJ! They set up two stations on the stage with laptops running Visio, Internet Explorer, and Word displayed via projectors. The challenge was to solve UI/IA problems posed to the contestants using these tools in 8 minutes. It quickly evolved into a group activity with most of the work being done on paper rather than the computers but it was great fun. Some of the problems people tackled were combining search results between help forums and help documentation, featuring non-shoe items on the Zappos website, fixing Frys to be less overwhelming but still feature and sell items from all parts of their store without compromise, then lastly organizing a collection of items from an old person’s give-aways with the goal of earning money for charity. Lane, Chas, and I formed a team for the final organization challenge and had lots of fun organizing random crap.

Nick Gerner then led a small discussion about the issues he has been dealing with while developing a back-end calendaring system start-up VSched. He highlighted several visualization issues and interface constraints he was dealing with when aggregating many calendars into a small amount of space. The most interesting question he brought up, though, was how to deal with daylight savings time in traditional calendar views. Two days a year (for many countries) we either gain or lose an hour but traditionally our calendars don’t reflect that change accurately. When we lose an hour our applications still allow us to schedule appointments for invisible time and when we gain an hour there is no way to schedule for the condensed two hours accurately. The really interesting problems come up when you deal with recurring appointments that are either created on the problem times or run into them in a series. We took a look at Google Calendar to see how they dealt with these problems and now my eyes are wide open realizing I have to deal with these issues as well.

Nick Finck finished off the day by talking about The Skinny on The Mobile Web. He spoke of several different ways to optimize and build for the mobile web noting using css types or building separate applications as the primary options. He spoke of the “one web” as a false hope and re-enforced the importance of context when designing mobile applications. He mentioned the difficulty of mobile browser detection and pointed us to a few resources including the dotMobi Mobile Web Developer’s Guide as a good resource (at least for US markets).

Day 2 – Sunday

Bob Boiko started off day two with a plenary about our roles in this “information age”. He posed many questions asking us what we are doing to explain exactly how we think we can solve the lofty problems we all claim to be able to solve. It got everybody thinking about what we’re doing and served as a great starting point for many of the discussions we held on day two.

I then joined the beginning of a two-session discussion on social software tools. We began by discussion Facebook as a one-place-for-everything solution and discussed our thoughts on whether it will become the central place where all forms of communication and networking happen — including email dieing in lieu of the Facebook solution. Recurring points made were that Facebook works as a great “bits feeder” meaning it’s great for sharing little bits about yourself and doing general connections, but not as a full platform for communication; and that people who look at Facebook as a solution based on it’s amazing popularity should be wary not to percieve it as an end-all-be-all solution because everyone needs to analyze their own situation and pick the right solution for them.

Next up in the social tools duo was one led by me and Justin titled “How does communication change with the social web?”. We started it off by asking what people talk about now that they didn’t talk about before the social web and what do people not talk about now that the social web exists compared to before. The discussion led to talking about motivations that people have to create good meaningful discussion on the web and the dynamics behind incentives including making sure to encourage good discussion but not to encourage meaningless fluff. Someone pointed out that he uses content his friends post online to know what’s going on as a conversation starter and that he finds it to be somewhat of a goal to make his friends think he doesn’t read their blog even though he actually does.

Some points I drew from our discussion:

  • People need to know exactly how to contribute and that if contribution is wanted, the system should make it easy and easily seen where and how to participate.
  • People will participate if they are featured (exclusivity), get personal value, gain credibility, or are rewarded but we need to be careful not to make it too easy to have pointless participation that is value-less. Example: first to comment on a blog post
  • (leading from the previous) Don’t give rewards for content blindly because the content will be crap. Example: Gaia Online
  • The key is to provide a way for people to give valuable and thoughtful responses but also provide an easy way for people to get involved with simple feedback. Example: Amazon‘s product reviews
  • The class system is relevant in online communities and people will often thrive around other similarly-classed, similarly-minded and similarly-experienced people.
  • Be careful which features to release initially not to confuse users with the number of options they have to use your system and get involved.
  • “Connectors” are important in growing communities. Social web applications can and should encourage and make this easy for people.

Final Thoughts

I was interested to see how the modified format would stand up and I think it worked out well. The turn out was a little low, but that’s to expected from a first-time conference like this. If all goes well and they put it on again, I’ll be there next year!

Elsewhere

Rainydawg Radio, Season 2, Show 2

Name Artist Album
1 Nude Radiohead In Rainbows
2 Soup Tunng Good Arrows
3 4am in 4 parts edIT
4 Whomi Tipper The Seamless Unspeakable Nothing
5 Enemy Blue Foundation Life of a Ghost
6 I Want I Want Digitalism Idealism
7 Fluxus The Dining Rooms Tre
8 Scoop (ISAN Remix) The Notwist Putting the Morr back in Morrissey
9 Sacre Francais Dimitri From Paris Sacrebleu
10 Sexy Results (MSTRKRFT Edition) Death From Above 1979
11 Heartbeats of Fireflies Among the Stars DoF If More than Twenty People Laugh, It Wasn’t Funny
12 Silent The Field From Here We Go Sublime
13 Cool My Fire (I’m Burning) Ada Blondie
14 Mes Vacances A Rio Rinocerose
15 Writings On The Wall The Album Leaf Into The Blue Again
16 About Fun Psapp Tiger, My Friend
17 Wildcat Ratatat Classics
18 Nature Boy Philip Jackson Songs From the Exotica Mailing List
19 Wake Up Everybody (Feat Bobby Womac – Rae & Christian Remix) Rae & Christian !K7
20 With Hands and Feet Multiplex
21 Plastic Lackluster
22 Seventeen (The Droyds Mix) Ladytron

Query WordPress posts excluding a category

I just spent a while trying to figure this one out so I figured I’d post my code for my solution. The problem was trying to loop through and show my most recent articles excluding the asides in my individual pages’ sidebar. I played with get_posts() and kept failing. I did it with the help of one of The Loop examples on the WordPress forums.

This code loops through the most recent 10 posts excluding my asides category and does a simple output for the sidebar.


have_posts()) : $my_query->the_post();
?>
    

  • Feeding Time!

    As you might have already seen I’ve started posting little mini-posts quite frequently. As others have done, I’m calling them “Asides” and with this move I have removed my del.icio.us links from the sidebar and will expand on links I think are relevant to post. These Asides are for a sort of in-between type of post akin to my more useful (oxymoron?) tweets on Twitter. They may contain random bits about me life, interesting things I have noticed around, interesting ideas which I don’t feel like building a full article out of, simple links like were on my del.icio.us, events, or whatever else. It’ll be an experiment.

    Now that there will be a much higher volume of content I didn’t want to completely bombard everyone with updates in their feed readers so I have put together a set of feeds so you can subscribe to whatever sub section of Articles and Asides you like. You can check them out on the sidebar.

    Please let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions or comments leave me a comment or get in touch via my contact form.

    How Spicy?

    Four. Well, that’s what I normally say when I go out for Thai or Indian food. Not today, though. I went to get some Phad See Ew for dinner and they denied me when I asked for “four” spiciness and boy did that throw me off. This got me thinking about a couple interesting things regarding this situation.

    First, it’s amazing how instinctively I blurted out the number four. While yes it’s a preference I have come to re-use it’s more of an instinct than a decision for me anymore. The majority of restaurants that I’ve been to over the last several years whether or not their scale is 1-5 will accept the answer four because its a widely recognized scale that lots of people use.

    Another example of an instinctual choice is which lane of multi-lane roads people choose to drive on. I would have to say that I often instincuatlly choose the second-most left lane for no good reason. Even if traffic is moving slower it’s a comfortable choice in my mind. Despite the state of the traffic that’s what I choose.

    It’s weird to get smacked in the face in times like this that a lot of what I do is habit and could be completely illogical if I re-thought things through.

    Second, does it really matter what I choose? I choose four by habit but I’m so accustomed to places having drastically different scales of spiciness that the range of what that number actually means makes it almost irrelevant. Maybe we need a more internationalized standard of “choice of spiciness”. That would be nice.

    I chose three. I assumed that because of their shortened scale that their hottest choice would not be as hot as another place that has a 5-point scale. And, it’s hot… very hot.

    On Rainydawg Radio – Season 2

    I’m back to the DJ scene and my weekly internet radio show on Rainydawg Radio. I already had my first show a couple days ago which I probably should have announced, but that’s okay! I’ve posted archives at my new DJ home at poorleno.com. I also set up a pibb channel for people to join in and chat with me during/after the show.

    The show is Thursdays from 5-7PM Pacific and available while on-air as a 128kb mp3 stream.

    For convenience, here are the first week’s recordings and the playlist.

    Note on the recordings: our recording processes capture a bit extra before and after the hour so at the beginning and ends of the tracks there will be a slight bit of duplication. I’ll be hand-recording the stream in my future shows to avoid this.

    Title Artist Album
    Break
    1 Popcorn Hot Butter Popcorn LP
    2 Tribulations LCD Soundsystem LCD Soundsystem
    3 These Days People Press Play People Press Play
    Break
    4 Reeds, Tines, Memphis Seed Deceptikon Greater Cascadia
    5 I Know Sally Shapiro Disco Romance
    6 Sugar & Whitebread Glass Candy Iko Iko
    Break
    7 Free (feat. MC Spank Rock) DJ Kentaro Enter
    8 Technova (La Em Copacabana) Towa Tei Future Listening!
    9 Come Into My Kitchen Joakim Fantomes
    10 Bellona Junior Boys Last Exit
    Break
    11 In The Black of the Night Slow Train Soul Illegal Cargo
    12 Konichiwa Bitches Robyn Robyn
    13 Bullets Tunng Good Arrows
    14 No Fit State Hot Chip The Warning
    Break
    15 Mr. Decay Gui Boratto Chromophobia
    16 Rap tight Eliot Lipp Tacoma Mockingbird
    17 Battling Go-Go Yubari In Downtown L.A. edIT Certified Air Raid Material
    Break
    18 Soon It Will Be Cold Enough To Build Fires Emancipator Soon It Will Be Cold Enough
    19 From Home Tycho Past is Prologue
    20 Robot Girl (Feat. Ellen Allien) Mochipet Disko Monkey
    Break
    21 Pidgeon Street Aphex Twin Caustic Window
    22 Signatune (Thomas Bangalter Edit) DJ Mehdi  
    23 Baby Blue Giorgio Moroder The Best of Giorgio Moroder
    Break
    24 You Gonna Want Me Tiga Sexor

    Rainydawg Radio, Season 2, Show 1

    I’m back to the DJ scene and my weekly internet radio show on Rainydawg Radio. I already had my first show a couple days ago which I probably should have announced, but that’s okay! I’ll be posting he archives here. I also set up a pibb channel for people to join in and chat with me during/after the show.

    The show is Thursdays from 5-7PM Pacific and available while on-air as a 128kb mp3 stream.

    Name Artist Album
    Break
    1 Popcorn Hot Butter Popcorn LP
    2 Tribulations LCD Soundsystem LCD Soundsystem
    3 These Days People Press Play People Press Play
    Break
    4 Reeds, Tines, Memphis Seed Deceptikon Greater Cascadia
    5 I Know Sally Shapiro Disco Romance
    6 Sugar & Whitebread Glass Candy Iko Iko
    Break
    7 Free (feat. MC Spank Rock) DJ Kentaro Enter
    8 Technova (La Em Copacabana) Towa Tei Future Listening!
    9 Come Into My Kitchen Joakim Fantomes
    10 Bellona Junior Boys Last Exit
    Break
    11 In The Black of the Night Slow Train Soul Illegal Cargo
    12 Konichiwa Bitches Robyn Robyn
    13 Bullets Tunng Good Arrows
    14 No Fit State Hot Chip The Warning
    Break
    15 Mr. Decay Gui Boratto Chromophobia
    16 Rap tight Eliot Lipp Tacoma Mockingbird
    17 Battling Go-Go Yubari In Downtown L.A. edIT Certified Air Raid Material
    Break
    18 Soon It Will Be Cold Enough To Build Fires Emancipator Soon It Will Be Cold Enough
    19 From Home Tycho Past is Prologue
    20 Robot Girl (Feat. Ellen Allien) Mochipet Disko Monkey
    Break
    21 Pidgeon Street Aphex Twin Caustic Window
    22 Signatune (Thomas Bangalter Edit) DJ Mehdi  
    23 Baby Blue Giorgio Moroder The Best of Giorgio Moroder
    Break
    24 You Gonna Want Me Tiga Sexor

    Run Time: 2 Hours

    Note on the recordings: our recording processes capture a bit extra before and after the hour so at the beginning and ends of the tracks there will be a slight bit of duplication. I’ll be hand-recording the stream in my future shows to avoid this.

    [audio:radio-archives/2007-10-04-5pm.mp3] 2007-10-04 5pm

    [audio:radio-archives/2007-10-04-6pm.mp3] 2007-10-04 6pm

    [audio:radio-archives/2007-10-04-7pm.mp3] 2007-10-04 7pm

    Insecurities and varying skill levels in academic courses

    Having been to a few days of classes now this quarter I have begun to re-experience sitting through lectures with 20+ other people whom all have drastically varied skill levels on the course topics. It’s awkward, to say the least, to try and find your place amongst other people whom many you know well from previous classes and get situated with what is appropriate to assume your classmates’, your instructor’s, and my own expectations for the class are.

    I’m not saying that I think I’m in any way more knowledgeable about any of the subject matters but I’ve noticed this awkward time of skill positioning as an interesting and constantly re-occurring theme in my courses.

    I don’t know what the psychology behind it is, but because of this I personally have a hard time speaking out at times even when I can answer the instructors’ questions perfectly well.

    Reasons for [my] insecurities in answering questions:

    • The questions seem too rudimentary to be answered in a straight forward fashion
    • I feel like my answers will be off course because of the vagueness of the question asked, leading to greater insecurity answering later questions
    • I’ll answer too far ahead of the subject matter we’re covering which will then leave some of the class in confusion (bad for those it detracts from and makes me feel like I’m trying to prove something or know-it-all)

    Are these justified?

    Who knows. Likely parts are just because of being shy but I notice this among lots of people in the class—especially when an extremely simple question is asked and nobody answers because it seems so stupid for anyone to want to stoop so low as to say something so obvious.

    What message does this send to the instructor?

    Does a wave of insecurity tell the instructor that nobody knows what’s going on? Definitely doesn’t re-enforce peoples’ comfort with the subject. Does the instructor realize that we seem stupid because we think the questions are stupid? Maybe, but then I ask, does he still assume to take the most cautious path and assume he’s speaking to the least knowledgeable person in the room? I hope not.

    It’s an difficult problem that nobody seems to know how to solve very well. Things normally even out a little better throughout the quarter, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people continue to participate with the same level of insecurity so what is the instructor to think?

    And now how I wish it were done

    While it would take a lot of time and might alienate some people I wish we could all just explain our comfort levels right from the get go. Maybe this is in a class discussion. Maybe this is done in private one-on-one sessions for 10 minutes per student—we could afford the time if it would possibly cut down on all the lag time while people don’t answer questions all session long for the entirety of the quarter. Something needs to be done.

    I hate getting to the end of the quarter feeling like the class could have been a lot more effective if we were all better aligned from the start and removed all this unnecessary insecurity that lingers throughout the quarter.

    And so I leave with this question to those reading:

    Is it my place to take responsibility for this or should I just take a deep breath and make the most of my classes because this is out of my responsibility or need for worry?

    %s1 / %s2