posted on 2/1/05 by Meghan Wilker
The latest release of Trillian
(which is an Instant Messaging client that allows you to run AIM, Yahoo!Messenger, ICQ, IRC and MSN Messenger from one app) has a new feature that underlines certain words as you chat.
When you roll over the underlined words, it gives you the wikipedia definition and a list of related URLS
If you click on the word, you can copy the definition and search the web (it automatically uses My Way
which gives you a tabbed search page with Google
, Ask Jeeves
posted on 2/1/05 by Andy Wright
Making a grocery list for a recipe you found? How very 1999.
One of those "wish I'd thought of that" ideas.
posted on 2/1/05 by Michael Koppelman
is like Firefox except it's for email. It is a very cool program. It runs on Mac, Windows and *nix. It also handles encryption using GPG. I'm told this works on Windows just fine, too, once adequately configured. I'm dying for an easy way to get Windows people using GPG encryption and Thunderbird might be a good option. A couple of good links I found:
How to secure your emails with GnuPG and Enigmail
A Practical Introduction to GNU Privacy Guard in Windows
posted on 2/2/05 by Matt Gray
In order to communicate, we must first understand. Therefore, I went in search of advertising weblogs. I found an excellent list of advertising, branding, and design blogs
over at adland
is the other site I've been looking at.
Does anyone have suggestions on good ad industry blog and news sites?
posted on 2/2/05 by Martin Grider
I'm not really a marketing guy, more of a code-monkey, so when an article on marketing keeps me reading, it must be interesting, right?
I forwarded this around the office a while back, but this interview with market researcher Clotaire Rapaille
came up in conversation again today.
Apparently the interview is from when Rapaille was featured on PBS show titled The Persuaders
, which you can watch online.
posted on 2/2/05 by Meghan Wilker
For my birthday, my husband bought me a G5 iMac
(that's geek love, people!). I was raised on Macs, but switched to PCs in the early '90s because that's what was used in the offices I worked in. I've pretty much been on Windows
ever since, and fairly happy. I know how to use it, and overall it has served me well.
But, now that I have the new iMac, I'll be switching from my Sony Vaio laptop
and thought the process might be interesting to document here. I am, as we speak, attempting to transfer all my files from the PC to the Mac.
posted on 2/3/05 by Matt Gray
Mozilla Firefox is a powerful, open-source web browser that I've mentioned before. Since its version 1.0 release, it has been downloaded 22,000,000 times. Want to find out how Firefox acheived such popularity in a market utterly dominated by Internet Explorer? Read on.
posted on 2/4/05 by Nancy Lyons
My first job in high school was at a medical clinic in which my mother was a partner. I worked as a file clerk in the records room in the back of the administrative office. The clinic acquired their first personal computer when I was about 14 years old. It was an IBM 5100 or 5110 with a green monochromatic screen and a 5.1 floppy drive.
posted on 2/4/05 by Michael Koppelman
(This started out as a comment to Meghan's post about her new Mac
but it got too long...)
Regardless of OS/platform wars, the goal to me is total interoperability. Good examples of awesome interoperability are email and the web. It works for everyone all the time on every platform.
posted on 2/4/05 by Matt Gray
The internet has become a wild place. Viruses and worms are common, hackers routinely crack websites, e-mail, and credit card transactions. However, most internet users suffer from a fundamental lack of education on basic computer security. Many common computer-related trouble can be avoided by following simple guidelines when online.
In this article, I will outline a few common mistakes and myths discuss e-mail privacy, attempting to demystify one aspect of computer security. Michael touched on this in his previous post about Mozilla Thunderbird and GPG. Don't worry, I've checked my heavy-duty tech jargon at the door. We will explore the workings of e-mail in minimum detail, and discuss how to secure this ubiquitous mode of communication. Ready for more?
posted on 2/8/05 by Matt Gray
Google has become a one-stop information source for the internet. The company has consistently innovated in the field of search, and has expanded into shopping, advertising, and now maps—truly, Google is a force to be reckoned with.
Many web sites are designed ignoring both Google and the larger topic of search engine optimization (SEO). Read on for a brief discussion on how to make web pages visible to Google and other web crawlers.
posted on 2/9/05 by Meghan Wilker
Usability is often a point of contention between agency and client and between interactive and account teams or developers and designers. I think people often assume that the user's goals, the agency's goals, and the client's goals may be at odds, when the truth is that when the user is happy, the client should be happy as well. And a happy client makes for a happy agency. When all is said and done websites, CD-ROMs, and applications are useless if nobody can use them - regardless of how pretty they may be.
With that in mind, I'd like to point out an example of really great user-centered design: Zappos.com
(site will open in a new window, so that you can follow along with my commentary).
posted on 2/9/05 by Matt Gray
Slashdot has a post on Google Maps, the latest innovation from the folks at Google. Of particular note is an article deconstructing the code and technique behind Google Maps.
Google Maps is a service similar to Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest. The web site was launched as a beta yesterday. If you have not seen it yet, I highly recommend it.
posted on 2/10/05 by Michael Koppelman
I regularly read two security blogs.
One is Schneier on Security
. Bruce Schneier is a security guy who wrote one of the main crypto texts, Applied Cryptography
, and a lot of other good books. He has a monthly email newsletter but he has transitioned to blogging, which I like.
The other is Edgeos
. The RSS feed at the above link gives one an easy way to scan for new vulnerabilities and see if any of them apply.
Any know of any other good ones? Please comment.
posted on 2/11/05 by Chuck Hermes
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"
In the book "The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America's Leading Design Firm"
, the authors discuss one of the greatest industrial design feats in history, the scissors. The purpose of the instrument is evident at first glance, two holes suited perfectly to the human hand which are attached to a pivoted leverage device with razor sharp edges. This is a great example of intuitive design. Upon looking at a pair of scissors for the first time it is evident that fingers go here, squeeze them together and the two sharp blades slide together with a crisp slicing action. Scissor design has evolved. Angles have been adjusted, finger holes have been wrapped in form fitted plastic, the tips have been rounded to prevent accidental loss of eyeballs, etc. But the general design has remained the same forever. Any radical redesigns have failed because, well, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
posted on 2/11/05 by Andy Wright
Just in time for Valentine's Day, check out these e-cards
sponsored by Brawny (the paper towel, that's right.)
Video vignettes feature a hunkyâ€”yet sensitiveâ€”Brawnyman who addresses the user directly while making sappy toasts, opening pickle jars and offering foot massages. Users can string the short clips together to send the recipient a customized "Innocent Escape."
(link courtesy Amy)
posted on 2/12/05 by Nancy Lyons
It looks like Flash is coming to a phone near you. Nokia recently announced a licensing agreement with Macromedia to integrate Flash into the Nokia Series 60 platform.
It's time to really start thinking about developing useful Flash content that can extend to the cell phone. It looks like Nokia is rolling out developer tools for exactly that purpose. Who will be the first dev shop to harness this technology and target this niche?
posted on 2/15/05 by Andy Wright
uses a distinctive (read: "frickin' cool") visual heirarchy to accentuate relationships/common biases in up-to-the-minute news feeds.
And this site
visually maps photos posted on Flickr to highlight the sense of location in users' images.
What is exciting about these cases is that they are such fresh and well-paired marriages of design and content. Most sites have rich stores of information, whether submitted by users or of product info/inventory, etc. But these examples underscore how well-thought-out design can add value and even alter perceptions of that information.
(Yeesh, I think I'm waxing Tufte
posted on 2/15/05 by Matt Gray
Virtually every web site that has a "profile" of sorts requires a password as some form of authorization. For most internet users, the password has become a necessary evil. However, poor or duplicated passwords can be broken or stolen—how can a user safeguard against such things?
posted on 2/16/05 by Andy
This is gonna sound like a plug, but Moveable Type features a few case studies
highlighting companies that use blogs to serve customers. One that stands out is the organic dairy Stonyfield Farms
, with their grassroots approach. In blogging about women's health/wellness and organic dairy life, their real M.O. is to engender a sense of community among customers. Smart.
The debate of 'to blog or not to blog' grinds on for CEO types nowadays, yet examples like the above are still few. And while there is the valid fear of objective bloggers misrepresenting brands or worse, success stories like these are good to see.
posted on 2/19/05 by Michael Koppelman
Momentum, in business, is things happening faster. It's not just growth, it's more growth than the same period last time. Momentum, in physics, is the product of the mass of an object multiplied by its velocity.
This means that to increase momentum you need to move more mass or you need to move it faster. Force, in physics, is the time rate of change of momentum.
To increase momentum you need force. So momentum is how fast a mass is moving and force is how fast a mass is accelerating.
I'm curious how, if at all, the physics way of looking at these things relates to the business way of looking at them. Let's say we are working for a client. Our job is to increase momentum. We can do that either by doing more, or doing the same amount faster. Faster, in this analogy, probably means more often. Either do more stuff, or do it more often, or both. But to do this we need force. What force do we apply to achieve this change in momentum? The force is that portion of the work we do that effects the outcome. Note the distinction. A lot of the work that we do in a given day is sort of like friction in a machine -- it steals energy from the system. Yet friction or other inefficiencies are an inherent part of all systems. So our total capability to change momentum, the total force, is proportional to our efficiency. If you push against a box and the box doesn't move, according to physics, you've done no work. The same might in some sense be true of business.
This is not to say that administration and such is a waste of time. Such activities are necessary for any business. If done correctly these activities should increase efficiency in some way and so ultimately contribute to the amount of force that can be applied.
posted on 2/21/05 by Matt Gray
Databases are abstract, boring concepts to those unfamiliar with them. Companies expect data retention, and the ability to retrieve said data. Such an overly simplistic view is dangerous because it ignores the massive power inherent in the DBMS.
posted on 2/22/05 by Michael Koppelman
Note: when the year changes from 2004 to 2005 your copyright notice should not change from 2004 to 2005. It should change to 2004-2005. Otherwise you are telling the world that you make no copyright claims in previous years. Thus, in the worst case scenario, someone could claim they invented your idea first because clearly you didn't invent it until 2005.
Copyright notices are not trivial little bits of text. They are a legal reservation of intellectual property rights. They are important and the dates should represent the dates of creation of every aspect of your web presence. Most sites that say © 2005 should probably say © 2000-2005 or something like that.
posted on 2/22/05 by Andy
Facing the skyrocketing popularity of digital cameras, a ragtag band of traditional photographers strike back
! Using customized cameras and using 9"x18" negatives, they've produced a gallery of "ultra-high-resolution" prints
. As in up to 10'x20' in size, and resolutions of up to 4ooo megapixels.
Why do this? Read on
for a cool study in how 'older' technologies end up re-defining their roles. Radio didn't go away when television took over, but rather, it's role changed. How will early web technologies develop as time goes on? What will things like newsgroups and Telnet look like in 15 years?
posted on 2/23/05 by Michael Koppelman
they list a bunch of news stories. Like slashdot
, the sites linked on Fark often go down because of so much traffic. On Fark they call this "getting Farked".
Guinness had a promotion where you filled out a form on their web site and you got a free bar towel. It got linked on Fark.
posted on 2/24/05 by Matt Gray
For those of you who enjoy using Mozilla's Firefox web browser, there is an updated version (1.0.1) available for download. I recommend that you get this updated version immediately. If you are interested in the improvements, you may view the release notes for Firefox.
Read on to learn about an extremely handy Firefox extension for the BugMeNot service.
posted on 2/25/05 by Matt Gray
Think Computer just released an article describing a major software flaw that possibly exposed thousands of social security numbers. A full paper on the matter is also available.
Essentially, PayMaxx, an online payroll services company, neglected to fully secure their W-2 generation program. Anyone with minimal access to their system could examine the HTML and change and ID number in one of the links. However, the system does not check if the logged in user is authorized to view that ID's W-2—in fact, all W-2s are accessible, containing SSNs, gross salary information, home address, and more. Since the IDs in question are sequential, it is a trivial matter to scan through them all and harvest vital information about thousands of people. How could something like this happen?
Programmer error. The biggest danger for a software development company is the assumption that "someone else will catch it." Laziness, lack of process, gaps in the test plan—each one is a possible explanation. None of these excuses will assuage the fears of PayMaxx's clients.
Good code takes longer to produce, but it is worth it.
Via Slashdot Article, "100,000 More Social Security Numbers Exposed"
posted on 2/25/05 by Matt Gray
c|net news is reporting that IBM has partnered with Zend Technologies to deliver a platform with IBM's own Cloudscape database and PHP.
posted on 2/26/05 by Michael Koppelman
Have you heard of podcasting? In a nutshell, it is audio blogging. You have a client that downloads new entries and loads them into your music player. So it's sort of like radio except you can listen to it whenever you want. A good site for an intro to podcasting is http://www.ipodder.org/
. It also lists tons and tons of podcasts. People podcast about all sorts of things, just like blogging.
The thing that is cool about podcasting is it ties different technologies together -- RSS, blogging and MP3's are all part of the technology that makes up podcasting.
posted on 2/28/05 by Matt Gray
The computer mouse is indispensible. Without it, one would have to tediously move windows, select buttons, and "click" using the keyboard. It is very hard to imagine a modern computer that completely lacks a mouse. For certain tasks, a combination of keyboard shortcuts and the mouse can yield significant speed and convenience benefits.
A word on notation: when two keys are separated by a '-' character, they should be pressed down together. The first key in the sequence (usually ALT, SHIFT, or CTRL) should be pressed down and held first, and then the second key is depressed.
||Copy, Cut, and Paste to and from the clipboard, respectively.
||Undo previous action.
||Switch between currently open windows. Hold ALT while tapping TAB to cycle through all windows.
|"Windows Key" OR CTRL-ESC
||Open the Start menu.
||Create a new file, browser window, etc. Performs the "New" action for the currently focused application.
||Open an existing file.
||Close the current window or tab, keeping the application open if possible.
||Terminate current application (equivalent to quit)
||Skip to the next field in a form or dialog box.
||Move to the previous field in a form or dialog box.
There are many more such shortcuts present in all of your favorite applications. The next time you find yourself performing a reptitive task, pay attention to the menus. Usually keyboard shortcuts are displayed next to the menu items. For more advanced tasks, some applications allow the recording of macros, or even the creation of custom programs (MS Office XP is an example).
For additional information, check out the Microsoft Support article on keyboard shortcuts.