But I must admit I'm intrigued by Windows 7. I want a pre-beta. Badly. Really. I think it is the first time that happens to me since Windows for Workgoups 3.11.
So my Gift to good old Bill Gates is a vote of trust. Trust that Windows 7 won't require IBM's Roadrunner to run smoothly.
Here was I, ranting against Yahoo's lack of innovation. Then I came across Yahoo Pipes. I had only looked at it very briefly and, most certainly, not deeply enough.
I'm sorry yahoo!
Pipe's tag line describe what it does quite perfectly, I must say. "Rewire the web". And that it does.
Its interface works quite well, it is pretty intuitive and very powerful. But I must admit that to go just a little bit beyond the basics you need some sort of programming knowledge. Although getting the pipes to connect is quite easy (you can drag the pipes out, and the available inputs get highlighted) there are some other functions that are quite advanced. Some of this are regular expressions, loops and that kind of stuff.
Some really complex stuff using a wide array of sources can be achieved through the tool.
Basically pipes allows you to input any type of data available on the web (Feeds, JSON, webpages), mesh it all up, combine it, filter it, order it. Then you get the option to output the results in a wide array of different formats: as a Badge, into My Yahoo, into google, as RSS, as JSON, as a PHP. You can also set up Phone and Email alerts for them.
Another nice feature is the ability to call pipes within pipes. This means a certain pipe can be inserted as a module within another pipe...
There are some caveats, though.
Some services are already starting to deny requests initiated by Yahoo Pipes. Most notably if you want to use Google's blog search RSS output the result is a 403 server error (access denied).
An area for improvement is Cache handling. Having the option to set up a cache timing and other settings could alleviate the burden on the servers and make the overall service more stable. Easier to say than to do since I can imagine that caching everything would put a lot of stress into Yahoo's infrastructure.
If you are wired into the net I strongly suggest you give pipes a try.
What is this program all about then? The boss explains it far better than I could possibly do. But to summarize: we're gathering a bunch of "geeky athletes" (tip of the hat to Zach Bell for the term!) and trying to connect them with fans, the general audience and other athletes. They have a lot to say and we want to make sure their voices are heard.
How I solved the technical part of this project is part of part 2 of this two-part series.
So what will I be posting about here? The human side. The things I'm learning just by taking the quick looks I must take into this Athlete's blogs.
Athletes are a race apart, particularly amateurs. This people fight every single day of their lives to get better at what they do. Many times they have to struggle against very adverse training conditions, constrained budgets and the fears we all have (but not everybody faces).
All of that for single moments of glory or defeat every four years.
The sheer degree of self-consciousness and perfectionism required at this level is something not everyone can deal with. Take David Oliver's blog title: "David Oliver! Your Mission: 12.87" if that ain't a statement I don't know what is.
Reading Drew Ginn's thoughts on how to hold on efforts minute-by-minute are also quite inspiring:
During the last few days many times I have found myself using the idea of just hang on a minute just to see what else there is. Just to see if you can go a little further. A minute seems reasonable to consider. A minute is not never ending but rather a finite period to hang on for. The last bike ride I went on was a classic example where I had the feeling of tired and fatigue in my legs. To the point where I just kept thinking 'Hang On A Minute', a minute was fair. It felt ok to push on a little longer obviously to find that there was another still to come after that one. It was a long climb and each and every minute began with a simple task, HANG ON.
So, if people ask me what do I enjoy most about Olympic Web Marketing the answer is simple: learning from this athlete's life lessons.
I've ben using twitter for about a week now. This makes me nowhere near an expert, but gives me the insight that only brand new toys can provide, after all: first impressions count.
Here's the list of random observations:
- I wouldn't lasted a week if it wasn't for twhirl. The little tool is a must-have if you want to use twitter at all.
- There certainly is a very high noise ratio. That being said you can never know when a meaningless discussion can turn into an inspiring exchange of opinions. That is probably the one thing that might hook me permanently into twitter: the sheer randomness and expectation of the moment when a great thread might start.
- I don't know how some people can keep up with following 1000+ fellow twitters. Man, I don't know how Guy Kawasaki keeps up with 10k+!!! My own limit of people to follow will probably never go beyond 200. I'm at 68 at the time of writing this (and 43 followers).
- You get first-hand insights into breaking new technologies. More on that in a post soon to come.
- Once can easily get distracted and absorbed into twitter.
- I don't know how to measure anybody's success in twitter. Followers mean little (although people will follow other twitters who tend to say smart or previously unsaid things). The only way to know if someone is worth following is by reading a good bunch of their previous tweets. (note to self: my very own message history in twitter is worth nothing)
- I still don't know how twitter makes a living (suspect it has something to do with SMS text messages, but can't be sure).
- The platform needs stability and reliability Seriously.
- I know I'll regret posting this because spam follows me everywhere like a voodoo curse, but I haven't got a single piece of spam so far.
Bottom line: Is twitter worth something? yes. Will I keep using it? for the time being. More posts on this in the near future for sure.
There's no need to actually write something when someone else has already made a great review of the tools. Check out Tim's review on Word 2007 vs. Windows Live Writer here.
A little postdata. I'm using Windows Live Writer for the first time ever. Let's see how it works out.
Every once in a while there is a discovery. You install a tool so nice and simple that you keep wondering how you did things before you ever found it. That was the case with Launchy and me. I've gotten so quickly used to it that whenever I use a PC that's not my own I have the reflex to hit the keyboard combination that kick-starts the tool.
But what is it? It is a program launcher and file launcher for windows. You associate a keyboard shortcut to it (Alt + Space Bar in my case) which opens a dialog:
You start typing the name of what you want to launch, hit enter and voila! There it is. I personally hate the start button and desktop icons, so this is a real time saver for me. All I need to do is remember the name of what I want to start next.
As if this weren't enough you get to search google, and other sites, use the embedded calculator, check for the weather, all just by typing a few commands.
Have I mentioned it has a plug-in architecture as well that allows the tool to be extended?
Don't you want to give it a try?
The unveiling of metaplace has had quite a reception all around. It's been on Boing Boing, and also on Slashdot, just to name a couple. Man, they got hit so hard they had some downtime on their webpage and then replaced their home with a plain-text version. But all of that are just anecdotes.
The novelty in here is that metaplace in not so much a game per-se, but rather a work frame that allows others to develop their own version of whatever game they have in mind. Without any deep knowledge on it, and just with the vague concepts they supply on their page I picture it as a sort of Lego for games. They provide the building blocks and logic, others can come up with the outcomes.
The other interesting thing is that they use "web" language a lot, here it is in their own words:
We decided to use Web standards for everything we could, which is why you can have a game world that is also a website, or use Web data to populate your world. (…)
We speak Web fluently. Every world is a web server, and every object has a URL. You can script an object so that it feeds RSS, XML, or HTML to a browser. This lets you do things like high score tables, objects that email you, player profile pages right on the player -- whatever you want. Every object can also browse the Web: a chat bot can chatter headlines from an RSS feed, a newspaper with real headlines can sit on your virtual desk, game data could come from real world data... you get the idea. No more walled garden.
This could prove to be a very good starting point, since other online ventures such as second life have suffered a lot of heat because they don't provide any web integration at all. The other good and refreshing thing is that it seems that the time you spend on the game might have a –virtual- intention, other than just wasting time or hanging around on a different place than the "first life".
Areae has been great at creating buzz and fuzz around what they are doing, what they intentionally neglect to say is where they will profit. Will they sell the client? Will they sell ads? Will profit come from Servers? Hard to tell. Selling the client sounds like a direct contradiction of their stated intentions (open-everything), yet this wouldn't be the first time we see contradictions happen.
For the time being I have already signed for an Alpha account.
Heavily hit with Bus Lag (which is like Jet lug but ten times slower) and with only a couple of hors sleep, I'm now reporting from Junin.
After a Churbuckean trip (you know, answering emails while on the move, bombarding everybody out with the first synchronization upon arrival; which would of been worst if the light my T60p shed wouldn't of bugged my half-asleep wife sitting by me on the bus) I'm about to wrap a very busy week.
Although work has been crazy, things are starting to look brighter and brighter (I can't say much, will do on the future, I promise). After 6 very grim months, filled mainly with boredom and uncertainty I'm looking forward to stick my head out of the trenches and explore the world. Literally.
And that is exactly what I've been doing. For several ideas going on around, I have been out in the wild testing and reading about solutions that are out there for the masses to take. It is amazing to see how many different people devote quite a fair amount of their time to come up with solutions made available to others for free.
This investigations demand some time. My process usually is read a lot (on the project sites, then search for refferences or testimonials elsewhere), then install (either on one of my two local LAMP "servers" -one is an R50e with Ubuntu Desktop, the other a Desktop with Ubuntu server edition-) try things out, write my own conclusions. It is time consuming but fun.
Hold tight, I'll post some more stuff on this as I go by (but wait patiently I don't think this will happen for at least a month).