Doing More With Less Since 1972

Category: Geeking

Shadow Ban Myself To Spite My Face

Social media is so weird. I primarily use Twitter. I have a presence on other platforms, but I’m not active. They are mostly there so I can loosely keep up with rugby and jiu jitsu people from my past.

But to say that it’s a free exchange of ideas and a platform where everyone has a voice is kind of silly. Not everyone has an equal voice. For example, I could have a really good (or really bad) idea that I want to share…

I could tweet, “I think ______.” and get no response.

YouTock McInstagram could tweet the exact same thing a month later and start a huge conversation around it.

I’m not complaining here–I don’t want all the attention, responsibility, and eventual grief that would go along with having that kind of presence.

But I think it’s funny that I’ve basically shadow banned myself on Twitter simply by being so boring and unengaging. I don’t think there’s any amount of novel ideas that could reverse that situation.

My Enterprise Architecture Christmas Wish

If I could pick one Christmas with to be granted this year, it’d be to go back in time and change my relationship with enterprise and/or solution architecture modeling tools.

Instead of starting my tool usage with unlimited options for modeling standards and trying to navigate all the possible ways to model the environment, I’d like to start with a small set of modeling standards and trying to figure out a way to model what I need within those parameters.

I’m thinking Archimate, UML, and BPMN.

I’d like to make this the box I’m willing/allowed to play in, and figure it out from there.

Luckily, whether or not this happens now is mostly within my control!

Cryptocurrency – Here’s What War Is Good For

I get the technology. I understand (basically) how the blockchain works. What I don’t understand is how cryptocurrencies represent stores of value.

I’ll give you an alternative definition of a currency–extremely simplified: Something an organization with some level of military power says it will accept as payment for resources/services/products. And they’ll let OTHER PEOPLE use it also.

The military power is a really important piece of this.

If you or your friends (allies) can’t or won’t physically protect my resources and products from being taken by someone else, I won’t have a lot of faith in your currency.

If you or your friends (allies) can’t or won’t physically prevent someone from forcing me to provide services at gunpoint, I don’t have a lot of faith in your currency.

On tougher terms: if you and your friends (allies) don’t have the capacity to take resources from another organization, I don’t have a lot of faith in your currency.

We could debate the question of to what degree the United States government is willing to provide this protection all day. But I don’t see how cryptos can accomplish this at all, unless they are government backed cryptos.

I’m not pro or anti cryptocurrencies–just explaining what I don’t understand about them being a store of value. And I know this can be picked apart–go ahead. It’s simply a mental exercise to try and figure out where these things fit together.

At Vanguard, My Voice Is My Password

I thought the ability to use my voice for personal verification would be coming from Google before anyone else made it available to me. Big ups to Vanguard for bringing some new technology to financial services quickly.

This was really easy to set up too. I opted in from their site, and they called me with an automated system. From there, all I had to do was enter my last four SSN digits, the eight digit code they gave me on the screen, and repeat the same phrase a few time.

Bam–now they can validate my identity automagically!

Wearable Tech and Body Metrics – Who’s Ready For Some Pain?

Ok. We get it CES…wearable technology is what all the cool kids are going to be doing in 2014. At least that’s what you guys are betting on.

Personally, I’m super-excited about this. I’d love to have a watch that can grab my heart rate throughout the day and just “knows” when I’m working out and can even tell if I’m running or biking. Even better, give me all the analytic tools I need to sit for hours (while on the trainer) and pour over this data.

I’d even be happy with some kind of little gadget I could swallow that would attach itself to the lining of my stomach and analyze the composition everything I eat.

I get it.

I think there are some other people out there who get it too. I just don’t think there are that many of them.  Don’t get me wrong–I think there are lots of people who would be curious about all these metrics initially, but I’m not sure how many people really want to use them long term.

I suspect people have an idea that once they can finally collect all this data, they’ll be able to improve their health. And, without a doubt, this data can help people do that. But the problem with all these personal metrics will be the same problem with all the other data out there…

If you aren’t using it to change something, the data isn’t going to change.

You can find out by looking at Mint that you spend more money on beer than you save every month, but that won’t matter unless you stop spending so much on beer and start saving more.

You can analyze your Twitter feed and realize that people aren’t engaging with you there, but that doesn’t really help you unless you do something to be more engaging.

You can find out by looking at your tomato garden that your plants are drying out, but if you don’t water them you still aren’t going to get any tomatoes.

Measurement for the sake of measurement is just academic.

Changing the measurement of something usually involves pain.

Saving money is harder than drinking beer.

Being engaging on Twitter takes effort. Ok, maybe not…you can just insult people and half of them will answer back.

Watering a garden is harder than not watering it. Wow. How lazy are you?

I hope we see a revolution of people who start trying to lower their resting heart rates, getting high scores for the number of steps they take daily, and all that. I also hope the prices on this stuff starts dropping soon, because I can’t wait to increase my own level of self-quantification.

Putting on a heart rate strap and “locating satellites” every time you step out of the house is for the birds!

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Chromecast Missing One Big Easy Win

I just unboxed and set up my Chromecast. It took about 5 minutes, and the Missus is downstairs right now listening to No Doubt on my Google Music dime…probably going to have to get a paid account for her now too.


I watched a couple of Ric Flair promo videos and one of the famous Knoxville Rugby Street Skiing incident just to check out how the YouTube app worked. Pretty sweet!

This thing is an absolute bargain at $35, just for what it already does with YouTube, Play, and Netflix. So yes…you should definitely click on the link and buy one for every TV in your house. This thing is incredibly slick. If it’s on backorder, go ahead and reserve one. It may be awhile before they are just sitting on shelves.

However there’s one thing I think Google should have had ready when Chromecast shipped–one thing I think could have been a big win for them in a big space. I’m sure it’s coming, probably within the next couple of weeks, but…

Why can’t I open up the Google Plus app on my mobile device and start a slideshow from there, then broadcast that to my TV?

For example, we just got back from vacationing in Colombia, and all of our photos are sitting in my Plus account. Everything I snap with my phone is pushed up there automatically, and I’ve already gone through the process up posting the SLR pics too.

We have friends coming to visit this week, and it would be really cool to just open up the album from my phone and show them a slideshow on the TV.

Next weekend, my parents are coming for a visit. We have videos in Google Plus (not YouTube) of all the kids’ “Happy Birthday To You” moments–shouldn’t I be able to show them those videos?

I know what you’re thinking–why not just share with them on Google Plus? Well, you’re right…and I can do that. But they probably wouldn’t notice.

The problem is, Google doesn’t have the participation on Plus it wants/needs. What better way to convert people than to have those of us who do use it show them this unbelievable functionality they can get with a free Plus account and a $35 piece of hardware.

Missed opportunity.

The Real Power of Chromecast

More Google genius.

If you haven’t heard about Chromecast (Amazon affiliate link–thanks for clicking through and buying), it’s a pretty cool idea. A little $35 part that plugs into you HDMI input on your TV and lets you broadcast from your phone (any platform–Android, iOS, etc.) directly from applications like YouTube, Netflix, Google Music, Pandora (coming soon), etc. But it doesn’t stop there–your phone is just where the broadcast initiates. Since the device is running ChromeOS, it can take over the stream from there so your device is freed up to do other stuff. And…you can broadcast from the Chrome browser too (for stuff like Amazon streaming)…provided your device will allow you to run Chrome.

Pretty smart. Pretty cool. And, they’ve made the SDK available for any app developer to sync up and stream from their apps. Again–it doesn’t matter what platform your device is running on.

That could make this a no-brainer device for every TV in your house. Especially for $35 each.

Why wouldn’t app developers want to include this functionality, right?

That’s a question Apple’s going to have a tough time answering. Because I’ll bet you dollars to donuts you will not see a ChromeCast icon in iTunes any time soon.

I think donuts may cost more than a dollar now, but I still like that saying.

We only have one TV, so I’ve only bought one so far. But Christmas is right around the corner.

Facebook Product Development Process

  1. Get on Twitter and find 10-12 things that are successful (Instagram, Snapchat, Google Reader, Vine, etc.)
  2. Write these onto slips of paper and put them in a hat
  3. Pick a slip of paper out of the hat
  4. Try to buy that thing
  5. If you can’t buy it, build something kind of like it and sloppily integrate it
  6. Go ahead and start a group people can join to complain about the change

I will give them credit for trying out some new things like Timeline and Home for Android. Maybe not the most successful features, but at least they were different and showed some creativity.

I will also admit that for creating videos, Instagram>Vine. The problem is, for consuming videos Vine>Instagram, and most of us (especially me) should stick to consuming video instead of creating it.

The Facebook UX is an absolute train wreck.

Post-YamJam12 Email Reduction Exercise

I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming since YamJam…lots of ideas tumbling around in my noggin about how a Yammer network can be energized. Here’s one I came up with and proposed internally that drew the sound of crickets. I still think it’s a good idea, so please tell me why it’s not.

You may have heard of No-Email-Fridays, when people shut down Outlook for the day and refrain from sending or receiving emails. That idea has always intrigued me, but I realized that there are two big problems with it. First of all, it doesn’t really stop you from using Email (The Missus coined the phrase “Stale-Mail”, which I really like), it just changes when you use it. You’ll more than likely set up an auto-response the night before letting anyone who contacts you know what you’re doing, which actually adds messages to the mix, and then spend Saturday or Monday responding to the messages you would have normally responded to on Friday.

What have you actually achieved there?

Secondly, you’re going to annoy everyone who isn’t playing along. The people who get the auto-response explaining what you’re doing will likely think it’s ridiculous, and if you don’t set up the auto-response you are going to be ignoring people. People tend to dislike being ignored.

But what if you entered into mutual “blacklist” agreements with people who understand the need to reduce emails? It’s pretty simple–you simply agree to stop emailing each other. You can call, you can use a tool like Yammer, you can Skype…whatever.

But no emails.

To gamify it, you could implement a rule that anyone who slips up and sends an email has to donate $1 to charity or buy the other person a cup of coffee. The penalty phase of this could get really fun and creative.

I think this would be an easy way to immediately reduce email. So easy in fact, I thought up a wrinkle to make it challenging. What if you were required to recruit one more participant in this program every week or month? It would require some evangelism, but I think it would be worth it.

Shoot holes in this idea for me please.

Live from YamJam’12

Lots of good stuff from the morning keynote and customer panel. I think I’m most excited about the announcements of the changes in OpenGraph and pages for the objects created there. Being able to follow and comment on objects created in apps you don’t even have access to is huge.

Funny thing is that I accidentally stumbled into a lot of these features at the end of last weekend when I was doing some tinkering.

Embeddable “Like” and “Follow” buttons are going to be great as well!

So Use Google Plus

From Miguel Silencio

I’m sure I’m not alone in receiving those emails with ‘FW:” in the subject line. That’s why I continue to lose interest in Facebook. It has increasingly become a place where many people post everything from the ‘net they deem neat.

I remember telling someone 4 or 5 years ago how Facebook was so great because it wasn’t all spammy like MySpace. That and, “your mom isn’t on there”. Guess where your mom is now? And feel lucky if people are posting the forwards on Facebook instead of continuing to email them. My prediction is that it’s about to get a lot worse…wait and see what Facebook’s earnings are today. Now that they’re beholden to shareholders, something’s going to have to be done to increase their revenues.

There will be ads. Lots of ads. Right along-side all that useless content.

Invest a week into really using Plus. I mean really using it. It doesn’t disappoint.

Well…unless you want them to open up the API. Tick tock.

Rules of CoWorking

We’re putting together some structure and a website for our local coworking group, and were kicking the idea around about how to include people (or not). I’m a big fan of keeping rules as simple and minimal as possible. I figured eight rules were plenty…apologies to Chuck Palahniuk.

  1. The first rule of coworking is that you must talk about coworking
  2. The second rule of coworking is that you MUST TALK ABOUT COWORKING
  3. If someone brings in a box of donuts or pulls up a cool new website, work is over
  4. Any number of people can work at any time
  5. Any number of projects and businesses can be worked on at the same time
  6. No shirt, no shoes? Well, can you at least throw on a t-shirt and some flip flops?
  7. Work will go on as long as it has to
  8. If it’s your first day coworking, you have to work

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