Category Archives: Technology

The iPod (and other voices) in my head

I am now working on a large university campus and am amazed by the students with iPod buds hanging from their heads.  There’s nothing like carrying your soundtrack along with you! I have to admit that now I feel a bit more comfortable wearing my (non-iPod) mp3 player.  My little secret however is that I am not listening to tunes, but instead another wonderful outcrop of the iPod phenomenon – the podcast.  I can download podcasts from a myriad of places and listen to them at my leisure.

These devices have made me come to realize that there is almost always a tune in my head.  Quite frankly, an mp3 player gets in the way of my internal soundtrack if for no other reason, the shear capacity and fast shuttling that occurs in my inner-iPod.  I wonder if an external device like the iPod will reduce my internal song inventory.  I’ve posted before about how online maps (and autoflush toilets) may be inhibiting our abilities.  (the Luddite inside me?).



Ohh, Gmail, Save us from our Sends!

E-mail is a wonderful technology which allows for the rapid transmission of messages across the Internet.  The car is also a fantastic technological device for transferring us from one place to another.  Neither should be operated while under the influence of alcohol.  Granted, you may not be endangering the lives of others in a drunken e-mail, but you could certainly be endangering or simply embarrassing yourself.  Don’t fret, Gmail has a solution.

Eric Raymond, in his definitive work on open source software, stated that “Every good work of software starts by scratching
a developer’s personal itch.” So it is with a new Gmail feature called Mail Goggles. recently posted about his own personal need for a way to prevent him from sending messages like the “late night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back together.” So, he created Mail Goggles.

The Mail Goggles feature offers a math challenge for e-mails before an email can be sent between 10pm and 4 am on weekends.

To enable the feature in Gmail, just click on “Settings” and then “Labs” and scroll down to Mail Goggles and click “Enable”.  After it is enabled, adjustments to the schedule can be made in the “General” settings page. Enabling this feature gives Gmail the ability to take away your keys when you’ve had a bit too much to drink.

Of course this won’t save you from sending that emotional flame mail in the heat of the moment.  There you may want to try my 24 hour test.  Write the email and get those emotions out, but save it to your drafts and let it cool off a bit.  No better place to cool of that someplace with a draft.  Revisit the email in a day and see if writing it out wasn’t sufficient for yourself.  Otherwise revise and click send.  The revisions alone are worth the wait.  Perhaps Gmail can help here as well.  Some external device takes your blood pressure and won’t let you send until it is low enough.


The FUN = (getting there)/X

They say that getting there is half the fun. Can we solve for the other half?  I think getting there and knowing how to get there are inseparable assuming one is not ramblin and is instead the type who Never Did No Wandrin’. Typically that means utilizing MapQuest or Google Maps or one of those fancy GPS navigational appliances.

I was prompted to write this post because of a recent trip to speak at a round table.  I had dutifully printed off my web directions before checking my notes and jumping in the car to make the estimated 2-hour drive.  It wasn’t until I was a quarter way there that I noticed that the printed directions were not in the pile of papers I had grabbed.  Arrgh! What would I do?

I stopped at a station to fill up and used the restroom and noticed the automatic features of virtually everything I used in the restroom.  These devices sensed my needs and responded in kind.  Wow! Some day we will forget how to turn on a faucet or flush a toilet I thought as I walked back out to the car.  As the door opened, I saw the maps in the side of the door and thought to myself “… or how to read a map.”

Yes, the answer was riding along with me.  I could look at the address and find it on a map, which I did and it was quite refreshing while at the same time giving me a better sense of the surrounding area.


ebrary Reader in Linux

Here’s a frustrating aspect about ebook technology that is a clear example of technology that does not work and will not be embraced.  Ebrary has a scheme that basically takes the open pdf format and locks it to the browser.  S.R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Libraries begins with books are for use, meaning that they shouldn’t be chained to the shelves or kept behind the counter.  ebrary content is chained to the browser and not just any browser.  It is chained to the Windows operating system.  I do give them kudos for finally making FireFox an option, but if you try to use their service on a Linux system here’s what you see:

Linux Plugin Not Available

We have detected that you are attempting to access this book from a Linux-based browser, which is not yet supported by the ebrary Reader.   However this technology is currently under development and is exptected to be made available in the near future.   Please keep checking back on our site on the download page for updates.

Here’s the weird part – on their own website they have instructions for using wine to run the ebrary plugin under Linux.

RUN ebrary Reader in Linux

The short directions

  1. Download and install WINE:sudo apt-get install wine
  2. Download and locally save Firefox for Windows from this location.
  3. Run the Firefox installer under WINE:wine <Firefox_setup.exe>

    This will create an icon on your Linux desktop.

  4. Run Firefox from the new desktop icon.
  5. Download and install the ebrary Reader as prompted on your ebrary channel.



outside the box

Image courtesy of Box.netI’m quite excited to share a new service called which allows storage of files on the web along with many other features.  This idea is not new, but the exectution by is quite easy to use (including a drag-and-drop function).  I became interested in the service when I read that gOS and the Evergreen computer were now integrated with to allow storage on the net instead of on a local harddrive.


Download Day!

Be part of breaking a Guinness World Record and help support free software by pledging to download FireFox 3 on the day it is released.

FireFox Download day

Mozilla has found many clever ways of getting press for what is arguably the most successful open source project ever.  This matches well with the innovations of the software which has a growing market share because of its ease of use and addons.  Try the current version by going here, or get a preview of the upcoming 3.0 by downloading the release candidate.


Adobe opening up?

Adobe recently announced the Open Screen Project.

Specifically, this work will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash® Cast™ protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

Is Adobe seeing the light that Microsoft isn’t? (The light that I personally think Sun is not only seeing, but adding their own luminance to.) Web developers increasingly “get” OSS and want it. They can use it as students with no money. They can use it inhouse without any licensing problems. (Personally, OSS was a wondrous tool for me when I worked for companies that would not invest a single dollar in software and the licenses to make us legal, and is indispensable in a library with very limited resources.)

There is tremendous benefit to be invested in learning technologies that the user can influence through their community, not being burdened and beholden to corporate control. AJAX is the buzz for this reason. Sun “got it” when they released Java initially as OSS and has more and more fully released control to the community.

I haven’t had a chance to blog about my Competitive Intelligence class, but the focus of my study was on Sun Microsystem, Inc. and I am impressed with their embrace of OSS. They understand that programmers are using OSS. The web by its nature is open and it encourages and demands open technologies. Applications are moving from the desktop  to the Internet with SaaS and the network is the computer as Sun Microsystem’s John Gage famously said over a quarter-century ago.