Off the Top: Personal Entries


July 15, 2016

Breaking Radio Silence Again

It has been a while since I’ve posted here. I’m thinking I may go back to a daily update for a stretch to keep the blogging muscle limber and trained.

Personal InfoCloud Backlog too

Over on other blog, [http://www.personalinfocloud.com](Personal InfoCloud) I have had a few more recent posts, but I have a very long backlog of content for that space as well. I need to rewrite the intro to the latest post there, [http://www.personalinfocloud.com/blog/2016/6/20/team-roles-needed-for-social-software-projects](Team Roles Needed for Social Software Projects).

I also have a series there called [http://www.personalinfocloud.com/?category=Shift+Happened](Shift Happened) that I have at least 12 most posts that need to get written (edited, or more likely rewritten). The next two in the Shift Happened series are related to UX in enterprise software and services and the subject of Adaption. Both of these subjects could likely have more than one post each. The UX in enterprise needs a grounding / framing piece as many still think of UX as visual design and not things being designed for use (nor all the various roles and domains that make up successful UX design). The Adaption pieces need the framing of complexity and complex adaptive systems to get set as a footing, but also needs to frame how adaption works and enables being comfortable in an ever changing environment that we live in today. As well a focus on Adaptive Road Maps is needed as how one plans in an ever shifting and complex environment is needed when today’s road maps for the next 2 to 5 years are shot to pieces after a quarter or two. Having and maintaining a long focus on where a company or product is headed is really helpful, particularly when needing to understand foundation priorities needed for a long haul in a world were agile practices drive the day-to-day, but those agile practices are incredibly nearsighted and often discourage the long view (I’ve had a lot of work related discussions about this in the last 6 months or so as it is a common deep pain point for many).

Health

A common question is about health after the eColi issue in 2014 to early 2015. My health seems to be good. Getting through last winter’s holiday season had me on edge as I was partially expecting to fall ill again. Thankfully, I stayed healthy.



January 14, 2016

Podcast That Gave Life Back to the Living

A few years ago after my mom passed away, which was 11 months after my dad passed, I was in a deep fog. I was in Stockton, California a lot for about 16 to 18 months taking care of things and wrapping things up (mostly trying to sort out a lot of mysteries of where things were and went - some mysteries remain). On my trips out there I would get out to the Bay Area every few days to see friends, have work focussed meetings, or just get out of town.

On those trips, as well as errands around town (including around DC), I would listen to podcasts. They were great ways to have (sort of one-sided) conversations around things I had interest in, but was lacking someone else with that interest with depth where I could learn things. They also kept me entertained. The big thing was they kept my mind going (it was a slow time on the work front) and not dwelling on loss.

Many of the podcasts I listened to then were on the 5by5 Network. I deeply enjoyed Mac Power Users (and still do) and many other shows there. But, there was one I really enjoyed, which was Back to Work with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

Back to Work Was a Lifeline Back

I’d met Merlin a few times through special web related things were both were involved in, he is a friend with many friends, and we had the pleasure (at least for me) of meeting for lunch. But, Back to Work laid me out in a wonderful way.

While, I got a lot out of the productivity, life guidance, how to think through things in a manner that will improve things, and other more serious things; what was a huge, no giant, help was the humor. That stretch after losing both parents and being an only child (trying to keep it all together), while being somewhat (okay a lot) numb to things in life because of the loss was tough. There were days where it was tough to do things and get things done that needed to be done, but they mostly did. But, that bright light that deeply helped was Merlin and his humor on Back to Work. This humor and riffs fit how my brain works really well. It also would get me laughing insanely hard to the point of nearly crying. It also nearly caused me to have to pull off the road I was laughing so uncontrollably.

That finding and holding on to my sense of humor, from just being able to laugh, helped me through that deep grief fog. It helped me get the light part of my brain back to life. When things get tough (like last year’s serious health issues) I make light of it and get myself to laugh. During the stretch after my parents died, I had lost that ability to do that for myself. Thanks to Merlin, I got it back and walked out of the grief fog intact (maybe even in better shape than going into it).

Every time I listen to Merlin these days on Back to Work, Dalrymple Report, and Reconcilable Differences I think I need to just say a little thanks for a little unknown gesture that had a big impact, laughter. So, thank you Merlin.



January 1, 2016

Happy New Year - 2016 Edition

Happy New Year!

I’m believing that 2016 will be a good year, possibly a quite good year. After 7 years of bumpy and 2015 off to a rough start on the health front it stayed rather calm.

I don’t make resolutions for the new year. It is a practice that always delayed good timing of starting new habits and efforts when they were better fits. The, “oh, I start doing this on on New Years” always seemed a bit odd when the moment something strikes you is a perfectly good moment to start down the path to improvement or something new.

This blog has been quiet for a while, far too long in fact. Last year when I was sick it disrupted a good stretch of posting on a nearly daily basis. I really would like to get back to that. I was planning to start back writing over the past couple weeks, but the schedule was a bit filled and chaotic.

Digging Through Digital History

This past year I did a long stretch working as expert witness on a social software case. The case was booted right before trial and decided for the defense (the side I was working with). In doing this I spent a lot of time digging back through the last 5 to 10 years of social software, web, enterprise information management, tagging / folksonomy, and communication. Having this blog at my disposal and my Personal InfoCloud blog were a great help as my practice of knocking out ideas, no matter how rough, proved a great asset. But, it also proved a bit problematic, as a lot of things I liked to were gone from the web. Great ideas of others that sparked something in me were toast. They were not even in the Ineternet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Fortunately, I have a personal archive of things in my DevonThink Pro repository on my laptop that I’ve been tucking thing of potential future interest into since 2005. I have over 50,000 objects tucked away in it and it takes up between 20GB to 30GB on my hard drive.

I have a much larger post brewing on this, which I need to write and I’ve promised quite a few others I would write. The big problem in all of this is there is a lot of good, if not great, thinking gone from the web. It is gone because domains names were not kept, a site changed and dropped old content, blogging platforms disappeared (or weren’t kept up), or people lost interest and just let everything go. The great thinking from the 90s that the web was going to be a repository for all human thinking with great search and archival properties, is pretty much B.S. The web is fragile and not so great at archiving for long stretches. I found HTML is good for capturing content, but PDF proved the best long term (10 years = long term) digital archive for search in DevonThink. The worst has been site with a lot of JavaScript not saved into PDF, but saved as a website. JavaScript is an utter disaster for archiving (I have a quite a few things I tucked away as recently as 18 months ago that are unreadable thanks to JavaScript (older practices and modifications which may be deemed security issues or other changes of mind have functional JavaScript stop working). The practice of putting everything on the web, which can mean putting application front ends and other contrivances up only are making the web far more fragile.

The best is still straight up HMTL and CSS and enhancing from there with JavaScript. The other recent disaster, which is JavaScript related, is infinite scroll and breaking distinct URLs and pages. Infinite scroll is great for its intended use, which is stringing crappy content in one long string so advertisers see many page views. It is manufacturing a false understanding that the content is valued and read. Infinite scroll has little value to a the person reading, other than if the rare case good content is strung together (most sites using infinite scroll do it because the content is rather poor and need to have some means of telling advertisers that they have good readership). For archival purposes most often capturing just the one page you care about gets 2 to 5 others along with it. Linking back to the content you care about many times will not get you back to the distinct article or page because that page doesn’t actually live anywhere. I can’t wait for this dim witted practice to end. The past 3 years or so of thinking I had an article / page of good content I could point to cleanly and archive cleanly was a fallacy if I was trying to archive in the playland of infinite scroll cruft.

Back to Writing Out Loud

This past year of trying to dig out the relatively recent past of 5 to 10 years with some attempts to go back farther reinforced the good (that may be putting it lightly) practice of writing out loud. In the past few years I have been writing a lot still. But, much of this writing has been in notes on my local machines, my own shared repositories that are available to my other devices, or in the past couple years Slack teams. I don’t tend to write short tight pieces as I tend to fill in the traces back to foundations for what I’m thinking and why. A few of the Slack teams (what Slack calls the top level cluster of people in their service) get some of these dumps. I may drop in a thousand or three words in a day across one to four teams, as I am either conveying information or working through an idea or explanation and writing my way through it (writing is more helpful than talking my way through it as I know somebody is taking notes I can refer back to).

A lot of the things I have dropped in not so public channels, nor easily findable again for my self (Slack is brilliantly searchable in a team, but not across teams). When I am thinking about it I will pull these brain dumps into my own notes system that is searchable. If they are well formed I mark them as blogfodder (with a tag as such or in a large outline of other like material) to do something with later. This “do something with later” hasn’t quite materialized as of yet.

Posting these writing out loud efforts in my blogs, and likely also into my Medium area as it has more constant eyes on it than my blogs these days. I tend to syndicate out finished pieces into LinkedIn as well, but LinkedIn isn’t quite the space for thinking out loud as it isn’t the thinking space that Medium or blogs have been and it doesn’t seem to be shifting that way.

Not only have my own resources been really helpful, but in digging through expert witness work I was finding blogs to be great sources for really good thinking (that is where really good thinking was done, this isn’t exactly the case now, unless you consider adding an infinitely redundant cat photo to a blog being really good thinking). A lot of things I find valuable still today are on blogs and people thinking out loud. I really enjoy David Weinberger, Jeremy Keith, and the return of Matt Webb to blogging. There are many others I read regularly (see my links page for more).



April 30, 2015

The Humanity of it All

This morning started with my early morning reading and I found Om Malik Interviews Brunello Cucinelli after a more somber stretch of reading.

Om’s interview is a breath of fresh air for me. There is so much in this piece that resonates with understanding not only quality of product, but quality of life and living. There is so much wisdom and understanding the humanity of life and living. Not only are many of our social platforms missing this, but our work and the environments where we live.

There is so much that is fantastic in this piece, but the focus on sane work life and real balance is great to see. Also the focus on ensuring the whole ecosystem is sustainable and thriving is essential. But, the slice of this where Bruello says, “We need a new form of capitalism, a contemporary form of capitalism. I would like to add “humanistic” to that equation” is key. The article mentions “human” 15 times and to me bringing humanity into our work focus and life focus is essential.

There are so many good things in this it may be the best thing I have read in a while, but also highly likely to reread a few times.

Thank you Om



Good Bye Elizabeth Randolph

This morning’s reading I came across Kevin Hoffman’s piece In Remembrance of Elizabeth Randolph and Elizabeth Randolph Memorial Service Details and Obituary. This caused the day to start with tears as I’ve know Elizabeth since the early 2000s as part of the DC and Baltimore information architecture community. I really enjoyed seeing her at events as she was always friendly and calm with great insights. I’m bummed as I didn’t know she was sick.

I will miss her at events and knowing she would nearly always be there.



March 28, 2015

Interview with New Steve Jobs Biographers is Quite Good

On Friday I saw that John Gruber had interviewed the authors of Becoming Steve Jobs as part of Apple’s Meet the Author Podcast series. I had been reading snippets and reviews about the book for a couple weeks, with Steven Levy’s “The War Over Who Steve Jobs Was” and Rick Tetzeli’s Fast Company except “The Evolution of Steve Jobs” and found them interesting and much more inline with the many books I read over the years about Apple and Steve Jobs, than I did the Walter Isaacson book snippets I read.

This morning I watched the iTunes podcast of Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli: Meet the Author and it more than lived up to expectation. It was incredibly good. So good I bumped the book to the top of my wishlist.

Why this book?

I have read quite a few books about Apple and Steve Jobs with Alan Deutschman’s “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs”, Steven Levy’s Insanely Great, and Adam Lashinsky’s “Inside Apple” standing out from the many others I read and all the Silicon Valley history and culture books I have read along the way. They stood out as they grasped the lore, debunked it as well as extended it. They filled in the gaps with new stories and understandings. But, under it all they looked to only tell the stories of what, the place setting, and how, but they get to the why.

This book seems to fit why I liked the others with filling in the background and understanding the lore. This book seems like it will fit well in my underlying interest.

My fascination with Apple and Steve Jobs has to do with influence and foundation setting. In particular its early-ish influence and foundation setting with me.

I was born in the Bay Area, but grew-up up and down the whole of the West Coast in and just outside the major cities until my second year junior high when my parents moved to the California’s Central Valley. Being back in Northern California and a little over and hour from San Francisco we got San Francisco stations. This meant in the late 70s the personal computer was being talked about a lot. My dad was a systems and operations guy in the health insurance industry and there were always magazines around with computers in them. His fascination and work with computers rubbed off.

But, being in Northern California meant television and print news also covered computers and technology. This hippy guy with long-ish hair and a scruffy beard was continually on talking about what was happening today and in the near future. It was Steve Jobs. His near future visions influenced my perception of reality and how things should be. Our family’s first computer came in 1983 and it was an Osborne Executive, which I learned to use and copy code (copying small software that was handed out in local user groups) and play around with to see how things worked until they broke (then I swore and did it again).

But, in 1984 the Mac came out and that changed my whole perception of things. Not only did I have computer envy for the first time, but I also began to understand the future of where things were headed and was (then) thankful I didn’t go into computer science as a major as things became much easier to use (what I sorted out a few years later is much of what I wanted to do would have been aided by having a formal CS background). But around this time I also was meeting people who worked at Apple and they loved what they did and loved their jobs. Many at college had Macs and our newspaper my last semester not only was set up with Macs, but we got a new type of software, desktop publishing, for Mac from Aldus, called Pagemaker. It was so new we got a lot of training as part of the deal. We sort of had a digital newsroom (with a fully functional sneaker net).

After Jobs left Apple I followed what he was doing and had deep interest in Next. During this time I still had Macs around with most jobs and in grad school a couple students had Macs, but they weren’t as prevalent as they were in the late 80s in California. Often jobs I had would have a Mac around for creatives or testing, but by the mid–90s they were buggy. When Jobs came back to Apple as advisor as part of Apple purchasing Next in 1997 I still knew a few people at Apple and they were quite happy to see him back in some capacity. The shifts and changes at Apple fascinated me as the guy who influenced a lot of my belief in personal computing, what is was doing and could do, and how it should be done (with a focus on the user and ease of use - this was a “no duh” for me in the early 80s as I was making and breaking things on my Osborne).

Around 1999 I started cluing into the Steve Jobs keynotes again and in 2001 I picked up my first Mac, a PowerBook G4 Titanium, lovingly known as a TiBook. I got it because my laptop I was using, a light Toshiba, was tied to my project I was on and I left that project. I missed having a laptop, but I really wanting power, good screen, and ability to have UNIX / LINUX as well as a major consumer OS. In the TiBook I had UNIX as the core of OS X with command line ability, OS X, Classic Mac, and importantly a Windows emulator that allowed me to use Visio and MS Project (those needs would dwindle and become tiresome the more I got used to the Mac and its ease of use and its “it just works” approach to things - these do not always hold up). But my needs for the 4 OSs on one device that was powerful and relatively light eased into the background as the lack of needing to spend regular time maintaining things turned quickly into me just doing my work on the device.

Over the years with my Mac and increasing interest in Apple and how they do things and frame things, I got to know even more Apple folks as friends went to work there and I gave a some talks inside Apple. I was also running into people who had managed at Apple and I enjoy interacting with them as they think and work differently, which often fits how I like working and approaching things.

It is this trying to understand why my Apple tools and software (mostly) work really well for me and how I enjoy working with Apple (and ex-Apple) folks (I also have this enjoyable fit with McKinsey folks, but for very different reasons). It is trying to understand the what, how, and why of the fit with Apple, but as well as they “this is the way things should be” that was seeded in my head in the late 70s and was feed and groomed through life, that has me interested in understanding Apple and Steve Jobs.



March 20, 2015

The Shifting of Timetonic Plates

Much like the shifting of tectonic plates that cause earthquakes, the bi-annual shifting of timezones not in unison causes rumblings in schedules and disturbances of varying severity. This shifting of timetonic plates can be really problematic for businesses coordinating meetings, establishing seamless logistics, and syncing interaction schedules across continents and regions.

Unlike earthquakes form the shifting of tectonic plates, the timetonic plateshifts are all man made disruptions. There are many valid reasons of shifting from standard time to daylight savings (or in some regions, just daylight) time and shifting back. Part of the rationale is safety for children going to and coming home from school. But, the recent shift that was made to get more day light evening hours in the United States was driven by the outdoor entertainment industry (read BBQ makers and similar) has made the prior no difference or a week or two difference from the usual timezone differences we normally work around. Now we have nearly a month of being off kilter in the spring and two or three weeks in the fall.

One day people may realize if we are going to make shifts we should all do them in sync. Nobody is that special that they can create an hour more of daylight (as one bleary brained U.S. Congressman claimed in the need for the shift a few years back). The damage this does to commerce and extra effort this always takes when systems are out of sync in our heavily interconnected world may not be worth the cost of trying to be special.



March 18, 2015

Blogfodder and Linkfodder

Not only do I have a blogfodder tag I use on my local drive and cross device idea repositories and writing spaces, but I have a linkfodder marker as well.

Blogfodder

Blogfodder are those things that are seeds of ideas for writing or are fleshed out, but not quite postable / publishable. As I wrote in Refinement can be a Hinderance I am trying to get back to my old pattern of writing regularly as a brain dump, which can drift to stream of consciousness (but, I find most of the things that inspire me to good thoughts and exploration are other’s expressions shared in a stream of consciousness manner). The heavy edit and reviews get in the way of thought and sharing, which often lead to interactions with others around those ideas. I am deeply missing that and have been for a few years, although I have had some great interactions the last 6 months or so.

I also use blogfodder as a tag for ideas and writing to easily search and aggregate the items, which I also keep track of in an outline in OmniOutliner. But, as soon as I have posted these I remove the blogfodder tag and use a “posted” tag and change the status in OmniOutliner to posted and place a link to the post.

Linkfodder

Linkfodder is a term I am using in bookmarking in Pinboard and other local applications. These started with the aim of being links I really want to share and bring back into the sidebar of this blog at vanderwal.net. I have also hoped to capture and write quick annotations for a week ending links of note post. That has yet to happen as I want to bring in all the months of prior linkfoddering.

I have been looking at Zeef to capture the feed from my Pinboard linkfodder page and use a Zeef widget in my blog sidebar. I have that running well on a test sight and may implement it soon here (it is a 5 minute task to do, but it is the “is it how I want to do it” question holding me back). In the past I used Delicious javascript, which the newest owners of Delicious gloriously broke in their great unknowing.

The Wrap

Both of these are helping filter and keep fleeting things more organized. And hopefully execution of these follows.



January 22, 2015

Whew! More than Flu

Well the last post has left a few hanging. I am alive, but it wasn’t exactly the flu that I was experiencing, it was a massive eColi infection that was relatively easy to knock out thanks to medicine. But, that infection caused other problems that I am still working through. I’m getting back to a normal routine a bit, but there will likely be a surgery in the near future that will put a slight bump in that again.



December 15, 2014

Newsroom Wraps-up an Evening that Tilted

At 8pm my temp goes up and I start not feeling well. Just after 9pm I start watching Newsroom for the final episode. 9:10 for the next hour I am yelling solids at a small body of water between hitting pause and play. About 10pm tears are rolling thanks to Newsroom it is good deep letting go. The next 20 minutes are tears and feeling a bit better.

Now to sort out if the medication I took to feel better needs to be retaken. Also need to sort out how to monitor keeping my temp low through the night (it is about 100F, thanks for asking).

I think Newsroom may be one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a long time, as I am a sucker like that and I love banter and considering the difficult things in the world around us, then trying to sort out what to do next to make it better. To make real lasting change.

But, for now that lasting change is a good night sleep and feeling better in the morning. Don Quixote has a very short vision this evening, but also has a long long memory, which likes the visions of much better things in the future as well. (what good is having a good memory if it can’t help you see a better future too?)



December 7, 2014

Link Like Bin 6 December 2014

A week of clean-up on work and project front and prepping for a some personal projects and getting new work projects settled and sorted for the new year (you still have time to grab some time, you this is you reach out and say hello).

I am also in the midst of moving from the sofa as my work space and back to my desk. This summer the lighting was much better at the sofa and then had a stretch of work travel where my desk got buried when I dumped my bag on Friday returns and not really dealt with before Monday’s trip back out. While the sofa is comfortable and the natural light is still great, I miss having a good work space to have a few books open and working through things.

Links for the Week of 6 December 2014



November 13, 2014

Finding Voice and Freeing my Mind

The effort to return to a habit of regular blogging has been really helpful. But, it has also not solved some inner conflict I thought was going to be a breeze to push past. In my initial push the Refinement can be a Hinderance post really is a tough speed bump to clear. I have a long list of blogfodder queued up for my more formal and work focussed blog, Personal InfoCloud, but now I’m noticing a queue here on this blog as well.

Part of this effort on this blog is to just get things out of my head and shared. I’m realizing time is a hurdle (more correctly lack of time), but getting things framed well and not making a fool (there is a huge part of my inner self that loves to play the jester) of myself. In blogging I’m trying to work writing as an easy sprint again. I am trying to not pay attention to voice, nor what sorts of things I am finding of interest to share. I have been hoping it would evolve, has it did in the very beginning and again with a few other reboots. In this I am finding I am noting things of interest, but not fleshing them out quickly and marking them as to do later, which was my counter intent. Part of this shifting ideas to blogfodder lists rather than knocking it out is there are other things that get my attention as I sit to write.

I am ending up with a few new category terms to add to my pick list. I am also wanting to use this blog to frame and shape ideas and maps forward for the Personal InfoCloud blog. I’m likely going to list out all of the 14 or 15 Shift Happened posts that are brewing as a post here in the near future. I’m also thinking of listing all the social lenses as an outline - downside to this is I want to point to all the existing posts over the years that have become part of the social lenses.

Potentially Adding Linkblogging Back Again

I am also thinking of doing quick link blog posts, which fall into a longer Pinboard or Delicious social bookmark and add more narrative. I keep thinking I want a slightly different input form for those (I had one for Quick Links years back before Delicious started, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill these days). I also have a love / hate for blogger’s link blogging as the header link goes way from their blog and not to a permalink page with a little more info. The user interface is not differentiated in any way, or done incredibly poorly on most sites. But, I am trying not to let the short comings of other’s sites deter my own use of link blogging, but I would keep the header link consistent and link it locally to a node page and have a proper link out to the site or object in the text.

No More Meta - Maybe

With each of these meta posts about this blog as post in this blog, I swear it is my last one.

I also realized my new hosting server (sat in New York I believe) is not using local time, but GMT instead. This is better than the time stamping of blog posts on my old server / host in Sydney (yes, I know I can fix this with a simple conversion, but that requires writing the conversion). One day I may fix that. One day.



November 10, 2014

Manufacturing Time

In addition to trying to hack a habit into existence around blogging every day (here but also counting the larger posts over at Personal InfoCloud, which is mostly working-ish), I am trying to hack my sleep cycles.

For a few years I have been running Sleep Cycle app to optimize my sleep wake up times so I am feeling more rested (read, “a lot less cranky”) by waking in the optimum sleep pattern. This has been a great tool and has really helped.

While all things are lovely on this front, I have been trying to sort out how to better optimize time or create more productive time. I haven’t been getting optimal output, which I was used to over many years. Part of the shift was slipping out of good habits, but on a recent work travel stint (I’m always a lot more productive when traveling, even though I’m lacking some resources (physical books) on the road).

In working through this productivity difference, it starting coming down to the revelation that home cycles include family time and driving my son to practices and games (I love doing this), but by the time I return in the late evening I am not as ready nor willing to sit down and work again.

While there are tasks that will engage my mind and I will get a lot of focus and crank things out (this is largely coding projects) but the late evening turns into night and then middle of the night quite easily, the evening is rather out. So, if I am trying to manufacture more time for productivity during the day the morning is the other option (in science fiction cracking open as slice in the middle of the day to add time would be a possibility, but I’m still living in my version of the now).

I am hoping to shift my 8am wake time, which ties to a midnight to 1am sleep time, back about two hours. I chipped back about 45 minutes today and hoping by week’s end to have this down.



November 5, 2014

More Short Blog Pushs

It seems like this small blogging exercise is catching, as Colin Devroe brings it up in his “Twitter is not a replacement for blogs” post, which brings in Marco Arment’s “Short Form Blogging” post. While a few well placed web digerati are back trying to put traction to their emphasis of blogging on their sites, the drop in blogging is more than Twitter and other social platforms, but they really ate a chunk of the great minds sharing.

I look at my 64,000+ tweets since I started using the service in June or July 2006 and I see a lot of ideas and a large collection of conversations. Those 64,000+ tweets quite often have near the maximum characters of 140 characters (something that just sort of magically happened). But, that is roughly a decent size book of content - no the whole of the tweets is not book worthy.

Twitter didn’t eat my blog posts, life did. Putting focus on a kid and a five year stretch of life getting quite challenging with a whole lot of personal challenges put my elsewhere. I did blog a few of the things that ate my focus - my dad having a year long battle with stomach cancer then moving on to the other side, followed by my mom 11 months later. But, shift in work patterns ate posts and many for Personal InfoCloud just sat on hard drives and cloud services to be picked up and honed. Part of them sitting was the lack of good like minds with depth to help give sanity checks, but also it was a battle of what and why to share.

Getting back in to a blogging mindset where sharing comes first helps fix my just sitting on things. But, getting back to regular blogging is also getting the practice of knocking out ideas in a format that provides the means to set, frame, flesh out, and express. While tweeting a lot pushed a lot of my longer thought into a short series of 140 character tweets, it shrunk and shifted how I thought about things and formed them. I lost some of the rathole diving, but I lost the habit of medium form of 300 to 800 words. But, I’m not working at not writing to word counts, but sharing things out.

This morning I woke from a night of the crazy dream farm working overtime. I lacked the time to get it out. While it is good, if not great blog fodder, it is rathole worthy of easily drifting in to 1200 to 3000 words. The time and practice needed to get that sucker out in a 300 to 800 word framing was going to take a lot of work. Today I gave a couple short synopsis of the dreams rather briefly (under 2 to 3 minutes). It was then the lightbulb went on where my mid-length content went.

It wasn’t Twitter that killed my blogging, it was me having the time to really knock it out succinctly without editing. I’ll get there and it is working its way there.



November 4, 2014

Car Talk Down One

Life eventually gets to a point where things just start going way, in bulk. I’ve missed Car Talk new episodes for a while. For a long long stretch of years, spaning both coasts, I spent Saturday running errands listening to Car Talk. I’m not sure if I stopped running errands Saturdays or Car Talk stopped new episodes first, but I long hoped to have new Magliozzi brothers jabbering in my ears again.

Today the Tom Mgliozzi obit at Car Talk had that wish put to rest. I wish Ray and all who knew Tom condolances and peace.

Life doesn’t repeat itself, even if you are going around the block a few extra times to listen to the rest of Car Talk. Things just change and things that were arent’ and new things are.



October 30, 2014

Refinement can be a Hinderance

Refinement can be a hinderance.

We learned the lesson in early blogging years (late 90s and very early 00s) that just getting things out there in rough form has value. I look back at my early blogging at vanderwal.net from 2001 to 2003 and it is not exactly refined.

(Now for the big but)

Those early blog posts, up through 2006 are the ones I continually go back to and refind (or more of Google surfacing them for me when thinking I need insight on something that I want more insight on). They were a paragraph or few. They were straight brain dumps. Most importantly they were nodes that brought conversation, next thing colleagues, invitations to explain at conferences, and a great cadre of like minds.

Over time I was encouraged to be more refined and edited, which slowed things down. It slowed down to the point I am sitting on a massive amount of text and markdown documents tagged “blogfodder”. So, much I fear being called the godfather of blodfodder.

The past year my most valuable inbound content has been from a few voices sending things in TinyLetter. A few blog friends have sparked up their old blogs with old school medium length (one paragraph to eight or so) blog posts. Both TinyLetter and these medium length posts are most often stream of consciousness, not heavily edited, and are incredibly valuable as they are good smart insights from real perspective, not contrived want to be smart BS that just rehashes what was common knowledge for the last 6 to 15 years.

Enter the Tilde

This past month Paul Ford popped up Tilde.Club and the old internet and web was reborn. It is pure nostalgia, less for the tech, but for the mindset of discovery of people, how to do things, how to do things better, and connecting like souls and minds. Everybody was a maker and striving to understand the tools, but also to connect to a wider world. It was the new way forward, which didn’t exactly play out at all like that as the band of hacker / maker / understand deeply to make better for all was just an incredibly small group that connected in a couple thousand or so in the early 2000s out of the billions of people on this planet. We thought it was the mainstream as a couple thousand looked like a lot of people to have in a convention center in Austin (in 2001 there were about 1200 and that was the best tight group of similar minded people I’ve ever run across).

But, the early 2000s the hackers and makers blogged. It was unfinished. It was raw. It was fluid. It was quite valuable.

I’m loving Tilde (yah, most don’t understand it and may never and that is all good too). Also loving those back to writing and sharing regularly, nearly daily with short blog posts.

Manufacturing a Habit

I’m going to make an attempt to get back and make a habit of posting daily. I’ve been writing daily and just not posting. The more I write the shorter the pieces. The more I write the more I focus on writing better. But, this blog on vanderwal.net is going to be rough and non-edited (okay maybe lightly and after posting), while Personal InfoCloud will have a little more time and editing put into it (I have 40 to 50 social lenses related posts and about 15 Shift Happened posts to get posted there, along with a lot more that fits in neither of those categories).

As I found in the early 2000s getting things out there in rough form has a lot more value than just sitting on my hard drive, now tagged blogfodder. Sitting on things to refine may be the dumbest thing I’ve done in a long long time. I’m tired of the dumb things ruling.

Others that Pushed This for Me



August 17, 2014

Good Bye Robin Williams

[I posted on the morning of August 12th in Facebook]

Saddened yesterday evening to get the news of Robin Williams, but I’ve always wondered how he kept it together. There are few people who have had more influence over how I view the world and how I see things as well as how I think a good inventive mind works.

Not only did I wear out every stand up performance video tape of Robin, tapes of him on the Tonight Show and Letterman, but also wore out records. The timing and framing of his pieces was stellar. Sometimes his impromptu pieces were well planned, but other times they were utter magic.

I had many friends who met him, some partied with him (before rehab), and others had chats. But, I really liked it when I would run into him in Green Apple books (mixed new and used books) in SF. Nearly always he was dressed in avant guard homeless, with my favorite was the occasional Elmer Fudd hunting cap on with one flap up and one down. He was usually roaming the shelves, often in philosophy. I’ve long wondered if it was Robin who inspired Green Apple’s “Used Dreams” section in the store.



June 8, 2014

For Rebecca

Last night I came home to a message that flattened me and I stepped away to regroup. I cobbled the following together and share today…

There are times in life where you take a break to realize what life is. You see and embrace its beauty, joy, and grace. But, you also are grateful as it is ever so fragile.

An internet friend whom I have known (and shared beers and meals with) for 14 of my 19 years working to build a better web, Eric Meyer has been sharing a very human journey on his blog, Twitter stream, and Facebook pages since last August. Eric’s daughter was discovered to have cancer growing in her brain last Summer. Eric wrote the trials of all of this, but in doing so he wrote Rebecca in to thousands of hearts.

Today Rebecca moved on to the other side ahead of the rest of us. I feel deeply for Eric and Kat. Rebecca is still in all of our hearts and minds and will be, likely through the end of each our time here as well.

Take a moment to appreciate life. Appreciate children. All those you love. All those who are there to make the world a better place.
Not only appreciate them, but love them. Life is short and fragile.

To Eric and Kat and all of theirs I offer nothing but the deepest love, appreciation, and anything I can offer. But, most of all I offer prayers and wishes that peace may find you and be with you.



March 16, 2014

Mind the Construction Dust

I’m in the midst of a structuring here across all the pieces of vanderwal.net. It started in January with another project, a meetp-up hack to dive into Zurb Foundation. Within a couple weeks of starting down that path I decided it would be fine time to rebuild and redesign vanderwal.net using Foundation. Before I started down the road leaving the horses behind I desided I was going to update the structure of the HTML of these pages and bring them into modern times with HTML5 and CSS3.

This thinking and tinkering has been finally fixing some of the underlying details that bugged me, but it also allowed to set a much better and more object focussed semantics. This shift will also enable the content objects to flow better and be better foundations for a redesign as well.

While I have no idea what the redesign will be and not even thinking of that, I did find the original photo that I modified to be used for the header image and I put that to the pages I have touched. The new image now is much wider to allow for a fluid page and the “vanderwal.net” text is now out of the image and I a truly proper H1, that has alluded me for a long time (and bugged me to no end). The menu of the updated pages has brought back the selected portion of the site with a bleed to page, which was there at the beginning, but some shift in CSS caused it to go away.

I may, possibly likely, shift hosting at some point in the near future, but that may wait until I have some of the underpinnings of the blog tool updated a little. Some of those changes will wait a little, but have been brewing a long time. I don’t think I am bringing comments back, but will likely bring in web mentions (Jeremy Keith has a great explaination). There is a lot going on in the IndieWeb that has been inspiring and may trigger some more changed that I have longed for to finally get put in place.

BTW, this is the short version of this. Two prior attempts at writing up something short both ended up over 2,500 words.



January 1, 2014

Tipping into the 14th Year of This Blog

Pwhoooo… Pwhoooo… Just blowing a little dust off this blog.

Here at vanderwal.net this blog started in the final hours of 2000. It started on Blogger and within a year moved off onto my own held build platform, which occasionally still gets tweaks. The volume and frequency have gone through vast swings over the years, lately things are a bit more sparse, as words floated into various services, like Twitter and Facebook, and more professional posts over to my other blog that started in 2004 or 2005 , Personal InfoCloud.

This blog has remind my personal space on the web. It tipped over 2000 posts a year or two back even in the relatively sparse posting of the past few years. But, I still attend to this blog and post things. Between here and my Personal InfoCloud blog there is a lot of content brewing to be finished and posted.

Blogging Still Matters

One of the best summaries about blogging was posted this week by Euan Semple, on why blogging still matters is brilliant and nails it. Blogging when done successfully is not about proclaiming brilliance and answers (as those never meet their goals as the world is too large and there are millions of people with more experience and understanding who can and often will point out the flaws). Blogging is about sharing perspective and experience, often not fully formed, but are a part of a collective of humanity in trying to think through things in out in the open. The best business and professional blogs (best meaning they get passed around like mints at the exit gate of a garlic festival) follow this model. They are open and honest. They are full of observation, good thinking through things, explaining perspective, and honest. Honest as in humanity is embraced, in the we are all in this together honesty.

One of the best quotes I stumbled into in recent years, nails the blogging perspective (from the from The Book of Tea):

Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.

The humility and finding great things in others and the understanding of the little things that make a difference is key.

Your Blog is Your Own Home

Along these lines I really liked Frank Chimero’s Homesteading 2014 post sentiments of bringing things that were placed elsewhere and posting them on one’s own site. Along these lines my KM World articles, which I have rights to do what I want with I will be posting fully into Personal InfoCloud.

As well, there are some vanderwal.net site wide changes to the CSS I have been wanting put in place for quite some time. The code for the whole of the site was last widely tweaked in the 2001 to 2003 timeframe (a mobile version of the blog was made then along with a mobile blogging interface, which logged the impending entrance of the kid to the world from my HipTop / Sidekick as I walked from parking to the hospital maternity ward). It may be time to up date it a bit more. There is a long list of mods to the blog categories (160 or so) and discovery for the blog, including in site search, that I may tackle. Also considering a full rebuild and redesign using Zurb’s Foundation. Who knows what or when it will happen. I think writing may take some precedence, but I am badly missing building things and the long latent hacker mind is itching to build, hack, and test.

Here is to a Great Blogging Year

Here’s to a great 2014 to all. Maybe it is time to think about blowing the dust off your blog and let things fly again.

[Oh, by the way, this is posted on United States Eastern Time and the blog date and time pick up those from the server, which is in Eastern Australia (I fixed this on the development site and then over wrote the adjustment before moving it to the production side of the house - features)]



May 13, 2013

Driving Out of the Valley

The stretches of time after my mom passed and I was back in California’s Northern Central Valley I found a rather deep appreciation for it that I had lacked much of my life (moved there before 8th grade after living in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, and the Bay Area - by comparison in my limited life span there was nothing there).

What I found was beauty in the breezes, the long sky, the long drives next to farm land, and the fog and clouds coming over the Coastal Range to cover and fill the Valley as they headed to the Sierras. The lighting was bright with tinges of amber, yellow, blue, and green hues bouncing around. There was an old school charm that settled back to past centuries. Lunch in the bar with friends and the bill settled with dice cups, with the bar covered with small dents from many years of the dice’s resolution to bills and a few bills passed between hands under cover of the bottom side of the bar.

The drives to the Bay Area were regular and helped keep sanity and connected to a larger world that spanned beyond the hills and mountains to the East and West and the rich soil running North and South.

The drive down I–5 became wonderful as the turn West beyond though Tracy pointed to the Altamont and the wondrous golden brown hills. That part of the drive was the most boring, but driving and having the right music turned it into a dream space of dancing bathing light with clouds moving in time lapse pacing in real time driving at speed. The Altamont turns into graceful enwrapping curves you drive to and into them. The occasional clouds hanging in the hills give the sun a halo of golden light or the occasional spherical rainbow that only can happen in a land of magic and light.



January 16, 2013

A World without Aaron Swartz

It was a weekend not focussing on technology or internet much, but I saw some usual patterns that are the usual signs that something is not well, but I had other things that took priority of focus. Sunday I gave a quick look and let out that human deep gasp and my kid looked up and asked what was wrong as my head slumped. I was late to the news that Aaron Swartz had taken his life. I don’t know what site I read it but all my screens of services and people I follow closely where sharing the news and their remembrances.

Aaron’s passing was beyond the “he is too young” and “what a shame”, he was not only someone special he was changing the world and had been for quite a while with his sorting through the battles of standardizing RSS, working with the Creative Commons to create a modern equivalent that could be relatively easily used attach to published and shared content allowing much better and more open access to it, he helped contribute to Reddit as it was hatching and stayed with it through to it being purchased. He has done so much more since. But, he died at 26 years old. At 14 when he was partaking in the RSS discussions on listserves nobody knew his age. Nobody had a clue and it wasn’t known until they asked him to come to a gathering to discuss things face to face. This story of his age and the wonderful story about how people found out was spread on listserves I participated in and at around post conference drinks in the early 00s. At the age of 14 Aaron had lore. He had earned the respect and right to be a peer with the early grey beards of the Web that were battling to understand it all, help it work better, and make the world better because of it. Aarron fit right in.

I was at a few events and gatherings that Aaron was at in the early 00s but I never had the chance to work or interact with him. But, I have worked and interacted with many who did have that fortune and even with the lore Aaron had they were impressed by his approach, capabilities, and what he could accomplish. In the tech community it is a meritocracy and you earn credibility by doing. The world has always been changed by those who do, but also by those who are curious. but are guided by an understanding of an optimal right (correct way).

What we lost as a society was not only a young man who earned his place and credibility, and earned it early, but he gave to others openly. All the efforts he put his heart and mind to had a greater benefit to all. The credo in the tech community is to give back more than you take. Aaron did that in spades, which made thinking of a future with whatever he was working on a bit more bright and promising. Aaron’s blog was at the top of my feed reader and was more than worth the time to read. He was a blogger, an open sharer of thoughts and insights, questions as well as the pursuit of the answer to the questions. This is not the human norm, he was a broken one in all the understandings that brings as being outside the mainstream norms, but much like all those in the Apple “Think Different” ad campaign he made a difference by thinking different and being different from those norms.

I love David Weinberger’s Aaron Swartz was not a hacker. He was a builder. as well as his Why we mourn. From the rough edges of hearing friends talk about their working with Aaron and following along with what he shared, we as a society were in for a special future. Doc Searls’ Aaron Swartz and Freecom lays out wonderfully the core of Aaron’s soul as a native to the Net in the virtues of NEA (Nobody owns it; Everybody can use it; Anybody con improve it). Doc also has a great collection of links on his memorial posting, many from those who worked with Aaron or knew him well on his Losing Aaron Swartz page.

Dang it, we are one down. We are down a great one. But, this net, this future, and this society that fills this little planet needs the future we could have had, but now it is ours to work together to build and make great.

How to we get there? Aaron’s first piece of advice from Aaron Swarts: How to get my job is, “Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”

Peace!



January 11, 2013

Dim Warm Glow Over the Stove

The light over the stove left on at night until off to bed brings back memories of having corn flakes with Gramps late at night as a snack before bed and turning off the movie after the late movie and heading to bed at my parents house. It was warmth, family, comfort, and more in that dim warm glow over the stove.



December 28, 2012

My Landline is Out, But Do I Have a Landline?

It is quite apropos that Stacy Higginbotham at GigaOM wrote a piece on Over half of American homes don’t have or use their landline, as earlier this week I pick up my landline phone so I could call my cell phone so to find it, as I didn’t want to wake up the laptop to Skype or Google voice call it, then found there was no dial tone. I messed with the connectors a few times and still nothing. I think I only used it to check dial tone once or twice (it was less money to get a landline phone with internet and tv channels than with out it) as to sort out if internet or cable were out as a first step. I was a little peeved I didn’t have a landline dial tone, which is really odd as I haven’t had a landline phone since early 2008, as when I did it was never for me as my cell phone was my contact number from early 2000s.

After a couple days I was looking at the back of the cable router and noticed it had two RJ–11 jacks for landline phone. I thought I would try the other jack to see if I got a dial tone. Sure enough I did. Within 10 minutes the phone rang and it was a wrong number in a language I wasn’t quite familiar with. I then remembered a call in the middle of the night with a non-intelligble caller and I had then unplugged the phone. After hanging up, I reconnected the phone to the non-working jack again. Now I don’t really have a landline again. Phew.

For those about to ask, “What about those people who are going to call that number?” Well, I don’t give that number out and the only people that may have that number is the cable company and I have them sending email and they use my mobile number. Heck, I don’t even have that landline number should I want to give it out. Being that it is a cable landline and not the old copper landline, it will not even work if the power were out.



August 15, 2012

Prepping to Move Personal InfoCloud

I am in the midst of moving my Personal InfoCloud blog from TypePad to SquareSpace, so blogging there has slowed down a little bit. The move is related to some of my modifications and TypePad updates after they SixApart was sold and the TypePad pages picked up a ton of JavaScript for Facebook and other things I do not use, but the scripts add to the download time and occasional funky display. Some modification on their end broke all of my pagination that I had ensured was still working even though I use my own templates. The point of having a hosted service is things just work.

I have all my posts and comments from Personal InfoCloud moved over and it is just a clean-up of the HTML and getting the CSS set properly. I am going to move the domain before the rest of the design is done as it may be some time doing the a redesign.

I am not using SquareSpace 6, the latest and greatest version as that did not automatically import form TypePad and and version 5 did. The template I spent a couple nights a month back modifying was built for version 5, so for now it will stay there. I’m not sure when I will flip the switch on it, but it will likely be in this next month.



August 19, 2012

August is the Time that Now Forgot

August is slow. August is hot. August is lazy.

On the East Coast of the U.S. August, particularly mid-August, takes hold of the cities and squeezes the now out of them. Time slows to a crawl and little gets done. Many people go away to the shore or other destinations to unfocus, untether, and unconnect from progress and time speeding forward.

This doldrums of August is meant for great bookstores. The aisles are ghost towns on usually hectic Saturday errands. These are the days bookstores reconfigure and shift the aisles and restructure. Time lingers even more slowly than usual great bookstore time. Each book on the recommendation shelves of the local well curated stores calls out to you with the beckoning come hither enticement that you will have time to read it in the next week or two while things are still floating in the suspended time of August hot Summer days.

The days are slowly filled with favorite places where you can always get your favorite table and window seat. You can stay much longer than usual as people normally hovering for you to move on have taken their well honed practice to the edge of the ocean to pester some soul there. You can stop moving enough to let all the drifting thoughts and dreams catch up to you and ferment and mature into something ripe and juicy to flow from your mind. You can remember that great idea from February, or was it June, that was going to change the world and you let it simmer in the August light on a screen or paper to see what it looks like out in the free world.

These are the days where driving is a breeze and shifting to a new location takes minutes and little frustration as traffic is light. You find parking right in front of the next favorite place. You go there and linger. You wonder when they painted. Has the store’s typography in the window always been that wonderful and perfect for the place? You have time to notice. Time to wonder. Time to embrace the world around you. You have to be no other place now, you are where you are, and are enjoying it. All of it.



May 17, 2012

The Natural Progression of the Thought of Man

In an attempt to try and remember (still flailing) the rhetorical and or narrative style that James Burke uses in Connections I was also recalling other times I heard the same or similar style used. One of them was by a tutor/lecturer in Oxford, Dr. Allan Chapman, with whom I took “The Natural Progression of the Thought of Man” lecture class from at The Centre for Medieval & Renaissance StudiesThe Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in 1988. ()Dr. Chapman has also been on James Burke’s Connections talking about inventions and discoveries in astronomy during the early renaissance).

The class was a once a week amazing hour (or so) of Dr. Chapman laying out the drastic shift between medieval understandings and the more enlightened renaissance approach across a wide swath of subjects, from medicine, populations studies, war craft, astrology, and much more. One of the amazing things was there were no questions allowed mid-lecture, as he had structured and memorized the lectures verbatim. After the hour lecture of so he would take questions and often he would recite exactly what he had stated in the lecture. He would not let on to the method of how he did the memorizations, but his method allowed him to roll the lecture off with ease and at a rather quick pace.

This class is one of many in undergrad that deeply changed how I saw the world, but also how I saw the potential and the collection of all the things happening as fodder for more optimal ways of doing things. Seeing pitfalls and gaps at the same time as advancement and improvements. Seeing the shifts in underlying understandings and grasping the echoing across its own and other disciplines it will have in a relatively short time, when taking the long view.

In my search to see what Dr. Allan Chapman was up to these days I found his joint address to the Royal Society and Gresham College Annual Lecture on the subject of “History, Science, Religion: Capturing the Public Imagination” on Vimeo.

Dr. Chapman’s lecture style is much the same as I remember and much more enjoyable not taking notes as fast as one could (his lectures were the only source of information for our one and final exam).



May 7, 2012

Baseball and Sports Open One's Eyes to the Exceptional

Tonight (Sunday the 6th of May) was a good evening if you are a baseball fan. There were some great games that are out of the norm. It seems that there are quite a few extra inning games this year, but two of my favorite teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Baltimore Orioles both took their games into extra innings. The Giants game started 3 hours after the Orioles game and yet they ended within a minute or so of each other. With the Giants going into the 11th inning to get a walk off single to win and the Orioles won in the 17th after a 3 run home by Adam Jones put them ahead in the top of the inning.

Looking for the Exceptions

One of the announcers for the Boston Red Sox and Orioles game that went to 17 innings had said he met a friend of his who brought his kid to the game and the announcer said to the kid, “I hope you get to see something special today”. That is a big part of the fun of baseball, and sport in general from a spectator’s vantage, it is the exceptions and the things that are special. It is also a great way to pick up the norms and customs in a culture (Gunther Barth’s “City People” is a great book on human social interactions and how the the social norms are found and set in cities includes the baseball stadium as one of the core elements for enculturation and social interaction with others). But, the understanding of norms and exceptions while watching a game being played with skill is where one learns to see the world. Sports fans stick out in the workplace, whether they are male or female as they often see things differently. They look for the exceptional and often look to see hints of things that stand out.

It is that seeing a world for the norms and the exception to appreciate them, but also to look to emulate them. This really is the standout out trait quite often for the deep fans. It is also the weaving of the story before your eyes and the potential for a great ending. But, it is also watching the unexpected player, or even the expected player, do something far from the norm and maybe even spectacular.

Tonight’s Orioles and Red Sox 17 inning gem had two unusual pitchers as the winning and losing pitchers, in that neither was a pitcher. The winning pitcher, Chris Davis is the Orioles designated hitter and occasional first baseman. He went to bat eight times tonight and didn’t get one hit. But he was called on to pitch in the 16th inning and stayed on in the 17th as there were no more relief pitchers available and Buck Showalter the Orioles Manager put him on the mound to pitch. This is exceptionally rare. What was rarer was Davis did rather well and in the two innings he struck out two batters. Really amazing.

Two Summer’s back when my dad was on in his last weeks another amazing game took place. It was the ninth inning and two outs with Armando Galarraga pitching a perfect game up to that point. All Galarraga needed was one last out. he pitched and the ball was hit and thrown to first base ahead of the runner and the umpire called the runner safe, a hit. The perfect game gone, but it was the wrong call. The manager argued his case and the replays clearly showed the runner was out and Galarraga should have the perfect game (there have only been 21 perfect game pitched in all of recorded major league baseball). The umpire Jim Joyce stuck to his call as that is what he saw as the runner safe. The game was over minutes later with the final out with Galarraga getting the win, but not the perfect game.

Following the game the Jim Joyce went off field and looked at the replay and realized he made the wrong call. He went to find Galarraga and apologize and admit he made the wrong call. This was gut wrenching for Joyce, who is known for getting the hard calls right so often. But, the humility and deep showing of humanity in Joyce reaching out admitting he was wrong and feeling horrible as his call stood between perfection and it incredible rarity. Hearing this story choked me up (I had watched the end of the game and was in awe). I called my dad and told him about it, but he was medicated and not really able to share in it. The thought of the game and story of it is something I still get choked up with, because it is utterly amazing.

With an eye to the exceptional I hear designers talk with the same alertness, as well as others in various other professions. Quite often the best of any field have this same focus and often they see the world much the same way. Often when you sit and get to know them the stories of games watched come out where something amazing happened or something out of the ordinary. They have learned to look for that and keep their eyes and mind open and attentive to just that the seeds of exceptions starting and the desire to see it this time, the one time will they see the exceptional happen, as it happens.



April 24, 2012

Path Finder and VoodooPad Major Version Updates

Two software applications on my Mac that I love were update this past week and they are running much more efficiently in Mac Lion.

Cocoatech’s Path Finder just became version 6. Along with the ease of file management in double paned windows and a much more robust quick viewer with more file types quickly viewed it has file tagging enabled built using OpenMeta. This is the first build of Path Finder I have used that I can leave running and not see a performance hit. Loving it. The upgrade price is $20 and new is $40.

The other software app that updated this week is Flying Meat’s VoodooPad, which is now up to version 5. VoodooPad is a Mac based wiki built into an app. It is mostly for personal use, but now that it has Dropbox compatibility it is open for use across machines and people and shows last edits by who and where. Also new is publish to ePub and improved PDF and HTML publishing (I have not tried either of these so I can not vouch for them). The update provide native Marckdown editing as well as the ability ability to write scripts in the app using JavaScript.

VoodooPad has been a great resource to tuck notes for projects and allows for easy linking to local resources, such as: type a person’s name you have in your address book and it links to that person’s card in your contacts and you can drag the proxy icon of document into the page to link the document directly to the page. It has been a nice way to keep things in reach and collected in one nice space on my mac.



March 5, 2012

Experiencing Light

Yesterday, Saturday the 3rd of March in San Francisco I had been out in the Richmond District revisiting my old haunts (to old friends, yes I was on Clement street on Saturday driving but it seems to have improved). I went by Green Apple Books, where I may have spent months of my life (it is my 3rd favorite bookstore anywhere, with Powell's in Portland holding the top rung). The mix of new and used and the nooks and crannies that hold great potential to open new doors of understanding are a real gem. I also wandered into Haaigs Deli and Spice where I used to buy bags of spice and loose leave tea to savor.

Comparatively, in and around Washington, D.C. things are far more transient and ephemeral in the community space than in San Francisco. Yes, there is history to no end in and around D.C., but but stores and communities drift with the winds. This 30 minute walk back through places that were core parts of my life and being in San Francsico has changed so very little. The crafts people as store keepers and business people has endured. I was back at home and not wanting to leave that comfort and connectedness to what was and still is. It reminded me of a great piece in the SF Chronicle/Gate from 2003 about the repair of the San Francisco Ferry Building clock. It was such a great San Francisco story of history, craft, and individuals having a part of the whole community fabric. As well the clock was built to continue working for over a thousand years. It is there to count the minutes of more than a thousand years of history, personal moments, booms and busts, and other general and momentous passages through time.

At about 5:20 p.m. (17:20 for clarity) I got back in my car (er, was my mom's) and started driving out Clement into the sun toward the beach to see the 20s street crossings of Clement Street that also held a lot of wonderful moments from the past. From there I turned and went over to California Street to drive back downtown to meet friends for dinner.

As I was driving in the bright clean clear increasingly golden sun was going down slowly behind me. The lighting was the most incredible light I have experienced. It was warm, golden, engulfing, and made everything radiant. It was the embodiment of the golden glow. And all of this was incredibly moving to the point of loving everything great and glorious about everything in life: people, architecture, nature, all made and natural, and all real and imagined. It was that kind of light. A perfect moment lasting through the golden shadows created by the hills all the way down to the end of California Street.

As I reached the end I really had been wishing I had my camera with me to stop and see if I could capture the glory of this light and the crisp blue skies wrapping this beautiful city. But, I remembered a great snippet of conversation I had in Berlin with Malcolm McCollough about reading after he signed his book, Digital Ground, I had read and jammed with PostIts sticking out the edges like a fuzzy caterpillar and highlighted extensively. We talked about the problem of reading a book like that and wanting to read it straight through to have the flow and understanding, but also to read with highlighter and paper snippets in hand so to capture the things I really want to hold on to [there is no good way to read it twice as it has unfolded already and what struck once with significance may not again]. Malcolm stated that was his problem with going to cities for the first time, but rather than an highlighter it is the camera to document and capture the city (which is how I often meet and get to know a city) and he opts to just experience. For that 20 minute stretch yesterday I had no camera with me that could capture the ephemeral qualities of light that were escaping, but my only choice was to live and experience it. I did possibly like no other stretch of time before. There was glory built into that time, woven with history of personal and collective all woven and washed in amazing light.



August 8, 2011

Coming Farther Out of the Grief Fog

Today along with the past week in California at my Mom's place has finally begun feeling like another of many layers of the grief fog lifting. I was not fully prepared for the reality of taking care of my Mom’s and remainder of my Dad’s affairs. After losing my dad last Summer I was more prepared mentally for the passing of my Mom and her long struggles with good health really making it all seem like is was forever close. Yet, with all that was going on at the same time (move and transitions with work and elsewhere) it was a good struggle.

The trip out to California with my son last week really was good. My mom badly wanted to go to baseball games this Summer at some point with the two of us. She was a long time and die hard Oakland A’s game and my son got to run the bases after the game, then watched the Giants play in SF from a few rows behind home plate, went to see the Sacramento Rivercats play, and finally watched the Stockton Ports from right behind their dugout on consecutive days from funds tucked away for just that the grief fog lifted.

The past few days back (and prepping for another few trips to California to continue to go through and close things out) really started sinking in the wonder of life that has been so far. Watching Milk last evening really brought back many memories of growing up in Northern California and that really odd time of teen years sorting things out at the same time the world around me was struggling with the same thing (not sure the world ever is finished with that journey). The drives the week before from the Central Valley to the Bay Area really brought back many memories and understandings of who I’ve been and where I am.

Today I got out and went to Politics & Prose to look around and there is something about a really well curated local bookstore that you can connect with that brings the senses alive. Politics & Prose really did that for me today. I’ve long missed other Washington, DC area bookstores like Olson’s that had just the right things displayed that tickled my mind and soul bringing them to life. Pulling thoughts and glimpses of understandings (for myself and to share with others) out of the denseness of the grief fog really was wonderful. Politics and Prose had so many things out on special displays that are at the top of my Amazon wish list it really was a dangerous place to be.

Today was wrapped up by watching Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that chronicled the existence of the band Rush from its creation to current date. My neighbor Tom Just turned me on to Rush in 1980 when he moved into the neighborhood from Chicago. Listening to “2112”, “A Farewell to Kings”, “Hemispheres”, and “Permanent Waves” really struck me from a music stand point, but also the lyrics (I pay attention to lyrics much later than the music, there are some Rush lyrics I am just getting around to listening to in full after 30 some years). But, in watching this movie tonight it brought out the love and passion the band members have for their craft and the depth to which they put their understanding and pushing the edges of it. The discussion of Neal Peart’s loss of his daughter in a tragic accident and then his wife and his struggle to find it all and put it all back together helped cement the breaking through another layer of this grief fog.

In the past few weeks I've been talking with some companies about their products and some are in fairly good shape and needing a few tweaks and pushes in the right direction, yet others are lost in a world of buzzwords and social development memes with little value. I'm really looking to getting my hands dirty again and anxious to clear through the family affairs that need addressing. I also have a good chunk of writing to do and prepping for some presentations ahead.

On a Sunday evening I am ready for this next week to begin and dig in.



June 27, 2011

Good Bye Mom

On the morning of 10th of June 2011 my mom, Maye Vander Wal, passed away in Stockton, California. She is much loved and missed by those who knew her. I have posted a memorial site for her at http://maye.vanderwal.net where you are free to post memories.

The memorial for Maye will be at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Stockton, California on June 30, 2011 at 10am.

I have been in California tending to her things and I will be splitting time between Maryland and California for June and July.

Deep thanks for all the love and wishes expressed so far, it has been very welcome and humbling. I know my mom deeply appreciates the wishes and memories as well.



February 9, 2011

This Blog Goes All the Way to 2,000

This blog post (yes, the one you are reading) is number 2,000 in this blog. The blog turned 10 years old on December 31, 2010, but other than a quick mention of it on Twitter, I more or less let that pass.

Starting the Blog (Under the Hood)

The vanderwal.net domain name started was initially purchased in 1997 and was used for a general personal website, of which my links page is a early remnant of that (it is a continuation of links page I had on my personal website initially hosted in Compuserve in 1995) and it has moved to all versions of my personal site since then. The blog was started in late 2000 as it was on my to do and try list and I started in with Blogger while waiting for the New Year’s ball to drop on tv. The first post, is now gone (it was likely the very profound “hello world” sort of thing or “FuBar is testing”. I, like many others who were using Blogger, then a product of Pyra, went through the growing pains of Blogger with its outages (all pages from Blogger were sent via FTP to my site) that meant no new updates could be made using that service. Pyra imploded one fine day and was left with just one employee, Ev Williams to run it with bits and pieces of help until it was later bought by Google. But, I only lasted on Blogger for nine months or so as I had been pulling together a travel blogging tool that would allow me to post to my blog and not have to use FTP.

October 2001 I moved to my own hand build blogging tool that also included a redesign. This has all pretty much stayed since then. In October 2004 the commenting was turned off after I woke to 1400 porn SPAM comments and I deleted the SPAM comments and removed the code for commenting. I had intended to bring comments back at some point in the my own tool, but then comment SPAM got worse my thought was to move to add an external commenting service (none have been satisfactory enough to move forward with). I then have been planning to move all of these posts into another blogging tool that had an easier to manage workflow for editing and also had a good commenting system. That has yet to happen and increasingly I am fine without there being any comments here. I miss the days of old when there were great conversations in a blog’s comments, but those days rarely happen any more outside of four or five blogs I can think of. One of the reasons I went with building my own blogging tool was the ability to have multiple categories assigned to each post to make aggregation of like posts much easier. The volume of content here has made that ease of use, much more difficult to pull off and it is one of the things I am back playing with in a dev version of the tool.

Blog Writing Style Changes

When I look back to my first blog posts that were created in Blogger, I see a huge change in the writing style and content from where posts have ended up today. The blog is named “Off the Top” as it was posting of things that were coming off the top of my head and were just a random collection of things (hence the URL naming for where the blog sits). The rough gathering and sharing of ideas shifted in after the first few months to a longer and a little more serious style. My style shifted a little bit when I moved to my own blogging platform, but the biggest shift was when I added headers to posts in March 2002. The style of the posts went from many short (paragraph or so) posts highlighting of things found and shared for others, but also shared for a future me to comeback to. By 2003 the posts were getting longer and there were fewer posts per day.

Delicious, Twitter, and Personal InfoCloud Ate Content

The changes on blog writing style were paired with other services and blogs easing content out of the blogs pages here. The catchall blog I started with included posts of a sentence or two and occasionally a paragraph or so, changed quite a bit over time.

Delicious was the first to really move content out of the blog here. The small snippets pointing to web pages and putting them in context all fell into Delicious (for a short time I built a my own bookmarking tool, but it lacked the social benefit of seeing others interactions around the same pages).

Twitter altered the site by the quick bon mots going straight there. The short snippets not only disappeared, but the frequency of blogging really slowed down. The posts that still showed up here were longer and more detailed.

This shift was somewhat good as it allowed me to really focus on subjects I was working through. One of the longer early pieces was in 2002 and was not posted in the blog as it was very out of character. When I moved to my own blogging platform I not only set it up to have multiple categories / keywords, but to classify posts as blog posts, journal, or essay. This last classification was statements and short pieces, longer more personal pieces, and essays were longer. Over the time, most everything has been classified as a blog post, but fits my initial framing that these would be called essays.

The longer pieces were also trending to a more central theme that I was working around. The mixing of work and much more fun content was getting a lot of feedback from people reading that it should be separated. That more professional writing also seemed likely to benefit from comments, which were not coming back anytime soon here. At this point I used my TypePad account and pointed www.personalinfocloud.com to it. For quite a while I was cross posting, but that slowed down in 2008 or so.

Where Does This Go from Here?

This blog is continuing on. I have a lot of pent up content that fits well here. I really want to get back to posting things about what I am reading and have a means to capture and share other ideas out. The demarkation of what goes here and what goes over to the Personal InfoCloud blog is a little fuzzy. But, I am fairly sure I am not going to add comments back here on this blog. Watching other blogs the number and quality of blog comments have dwindled, drastically. There are few blogs that have great comment threads anymore, but far fewer than benefit from tools like Disqus that aggregate poor comments (most are not comments and not really relevant to the posts) from elsewhere around the web / internet.

Here is to another 2,000 posts! Perhaps (I didn’t plan 2,000 posts when this started and would have called anybody crazy should they have suggested such a little over 10 years ago).



September 29, 2010

Learned by Failing: Best Lesson was About Experience

This return back to blogging is hopefully unleashing quite a stack of things both here in this blog, but as well in Personal InfoCloud. It seems I will be using this to discuss personal tools, processes, and life stories that I often recount so to make things a bit easier (not sure who it is easier for, but there you have it).

Going Abroad to Learn a New Way

In 1988 I took my last semester of classes for my undergrad degree at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS) in Oxford, England. I did this for a few different reasons: 1) I really wanted to study abroad; 2) I wanted to fill in a gap in my education's knowledge of history around European history; 3) It was a program on the study abroad flyer board at my college; and 4) It was much closer to my college girlfriend who was studying abroad in Lyon, France and I could still speak English (my French I had from an hour a day for three years in Montessori school from age 3 to 5 was more than a bit rusty). These may not be in the order of value I placed on them at the time.

One of the strengths of CMRS was it was run on the Oxford (Oxbridge) system of tutorials. My class load consisted of two tutorials and two lectures each week. Each of the tutorials required self-study (directed by a question given by the tutor and often one to four starting resources) so to fill a gap in one's knowledge and then write-up a six to 8 page paper each week on the subject. This was 12 to 18 pages of writing each week (or that was the aim) after learning as much as possible on the subject.

Learning By Failing the Lesson of Experience

One of the tutorials I had was focussed on the Early Northern Renaissance Art, which covered some of my favorite artists like Albrecht D%C3%BCrer, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jan van Eyck as well as the perfection of symbology in art, use of proper prospective, and incredible attention to detail. This tutorial required quite a bit of reading, but the introduction lectures to CMRS provide insight into gutting a book to help get through the large volume of reading needed.

I was doing rather well, or passably well in this tutorial and then came the last essay for the tutorial, "Compare and contrast the Early Northern Renaissance with the Early Italian Renaissance". I had purchased a two or three of the needed Northern Renaissance art essential books and used the libraries heavily, but I had nothing on the Italian Renaissance period. This being toward the end of term the libraries were rather bare. I read up on what I had in my Northern books and pulled as much as I could from general art history books covering the Renaissance in general. When I had as much as I could pull together for the paper I wrote what turned into a four page paper. It was thin on content, depth, and quality (having put off writing to get more time to find information).

I read my paper to the tutor that week. He was more than a little displeased at the lack of volume, content, and quality. I pointed out that all of the books that were on the list were not available and I pulled from the best resources I could find, which were rather lacking on the subject. He asked a very pointed question, "Have you ever seen any Italian Renaissance art?" I said I had, as I was a fan of museums and the prior summer I had been to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy (among many other art museums around Europe). The tutor asked what differences I could tell him between the two Renaissance. I went into some solid detail explaining the contrasts regarding texture, color palettes, sharpness of detail, focal points, skies, clothing, and many other large contrasts.

The Great Payoff of All My Undergraduate Courses

The tutor looked at me over the glasses at the end of his nose and bluntly stated, "That, Mr. Vander Wal, is an A paper, if not better. But, what you have written is a D paper at best. I only grade on what is written. Let my advice to you be: Trust your experiences more than what is written, as that is how we all advance. Let your own experiences trump that others have written or have not written and you write that down so to document it."

So, there in what was my last paper in my last class of my undergraduate career was the most valuable lesson I had learned in all of my undergraduate collegiate career. All the work and money that went into it was tied up in a wonderful bow that prepared me for the rest of my life like no other. I had many great learning experiences prior to this, but nothing with as much gravitas as this. It gave me conviction to examine and tear everything apart and question it with my own lens and one that had me pay much closer attention to my own experiences while trying to frame everything from experiences to learning from other's experiences where I lack my own.



September 28, 2010

As If Had Read

The idea of a tag "As If Had Read" started as a riff off of riffs with David Weinberger at Reboot 2008 regarding the "to read" tag that is prevalent in many social bookmarking sites. But, the "as if had read" is not as tongue-in-cheek at the moment, but is a moment of ah ha!

I have been using DevonThink on my Mac for 5 or more years. It is a document, note, web page, and general content catch all that is easily searched. But, it also pulls out relevance to other items that it sees as relevant. The connections it makes are often quite impressive.

My Info Churning Patterns

I have promised for quite a few years that I would write-up how I work through my inbound content. This process changes a lot, but it is back to a settled state again (mostly). Going back 10 years or more I would go through my links page and check all of the links on it (it was 75 to 100 links at that point) to see if there was something new or of interest.

But, that changed to using a feedreader (I used and am back to using Net News Wire on Mac as it has the features I love and it is fast and I can skim 4x to 5x the content I can in Google Reader (interface and design matters)) to pull in 400 or more RSS feeds that I would triage. I would skim the new (bold) titles and skim the content in the reader, if it was of potential interest I open the link into a browser tab in the background and just churn through the skimming of the 1,000 to 1,400 new items each night. Then I would open the browser to read the tabs. At this stage I actually read the content and if part way through it I don't think it has current or future value I close the tab. But, in about 90 minutes I could triage through 1,200 to 1,400 new RSS feed items, get 30 to 70 potential items of value open in tabs in a browser, and get this down to a usual 5 to 12 items of current or future value. Yes, in 90 minutes (keeping focus to sort the out the chaff is essential). But, from this point I would blog or at least put these items into Delicious and/or Ma.gnolia or Yahoo MyWeb 2.0 (this service was insanely amazing and was years ahead of its time and I will write-up its value).

The volume and tools have changed over time. Today the same number of feeds (approximately 400) turn out 500 to 800 new items each day. I now post less to Delicious and opt for DevonThink for 25 to 40 items each day. I stopped using DevonThink (DT) and opted for Yojimbo and then Together.app as they had tagging and I could add my context (I found my own context had more value than DevonThink's contextual relevance engine). But, when DevonThink added tagging it became an optimal service and I added my archives from Together and now use DT a lot.

Relevance of As if Had Read

But, one of the things I have been finding is I can not only search within the content of items in DT, but I can quickly aggregate related items by tag (work projects, long writing projects, etc.). But, its incredible value is how it has changed my information triage and process. I am now taking those 30 to 40 tabs and doing a more in depth read, but only rarely reading the full content, unless it is current value is high or the content is compelling. I am acting on the content more quickly and putting it into DT. When I need to recall information I use the search to find content and then pull related content closer. I not only have the item I was seeking, but have other related content that adds depth and breath to a subject. My own personal recall of the content is enough to start a search that will find what I was seeking with relative ease. But, were I did a deeper skim read in the past I will now do a deeper read of the prime focus. My augmented recall with the brilliance of DevonThink works just as well as if I had read the content deeply the first time.



September 22, 2010

Return to the Blog and Life

Things have been quiet here? Um, yes they have. The past couple years have been full of changes and struggles. It seemed that just as things were turning from a rough stretch on personal and work front, something would rise up and cripple that forward progress.

This past year it was my dad calling in June of 2009 saying he cancer of the stomach that had spread to the liver. He seemed to improve quite a bit by Christmas of 2009 as he and my mom came back to visit, which was quite wonderful. But, on the return home he started not doing well and they found a tumor on his brain. Things stopped improving after this and it became a bit of a rough road for him. Not paying close attention to my own well being it really had an impact on me. He was my best buddy and I knew time was running short.

In July of this year my dad died and while it was really hard to comprehend and sad, it was also freeing. Not only did that concern and un-noticed energy focus had shifted, but I also had the focus that the safety net of parents love, guidance, and all types of parental support had sifted from a set of two, to just one. But, I realized I still had two feet and put that energy and time back into work.

Time Spent Digging

During the past couple years during all the change and struggle, I've spent a lot of time sorting through the things I am deeply passionate about, which are many and fit wonderfully with the work I do. I have spent a lot of time digging quite deeply into social software and the whys and how it works, but more intrigued where it doesn't with the 90% of the world that make up the mainstream. I have a lot of writing I haven't posted or shared on this, but have some of it in workshops and presentations I have done in the past couple years. That will likely be finally getting posted over at Personal InfoCloud.

Over many years and as part of my formal education I have read much of the usual corpus of social theorists, whom I always finding myself having to set aside reality to embrace the theorists models enough to understand them, but then come back to reality and they don't fit as well as a whole. I've always been mindful of them, but as I have been digging back into my older frameworks of the Model of Atraction and Come to Me Web and how they helped me work through and understand interactions with information on the web and beyond to build and frame next generation services, along with helping others do the same.

This review and digging has lead me to a lot of understandings and realizations around the social web and echos all the years of building, managing, iterating, and maintaining social tools. The same problems always surface, which are the tools don't really allow humans to be social like humans are social with out a mediated interface. But there are basic understanding of how humans are social through tools as mediated interfaces that is counter to many of the ways many of the tools and services are developed and provided.

Now mixing the older Model of Attraction and come to me web frameworks for thinking with the models and understandings I have come to in the past few years regarding social software have really gelled. These ideas will be getting out there and have been the fodder for client work that is resurfacing now that the economy has become out of its dire state (for now).

About that Book

As many know I was writing a book on folksonomy for O'Reilly. That book hit a wall (no, not a Vander Wal), or a few of them and I was notified O'Reilly would not be publishing it. Early in writing it I got stumped by many things that I was seeing as they did not fit any of the social models being touted as core to understanding social in the Web 2.0 sense. It took me about 18 months to deconstruct all of what I knew, what others knew, and get to models I could use to think through some of the really strong values people were finding and the problems that people were having that seems completely counter to "how the social web works&qout;.

Following this there were many changes happening in my personal life that took attention and focus. But, at the same time the services and tools were changing drastically. Many of the really good tools that were addressing the hard problems, but not popular were shutting down. This was also happening for the tools for organizations to purchase and use internally (where my main focus has been). But, content for the book is still moving forward and I am looking for a publisher that fits well for it. Now that SharePoint 2010 has social bookmarking / tagging in it (although a really really rough interface for it) the book has much more value, so people deploying it can have a much better understanding of what is really needed to have it help remove the huge problem organizations face, of not being able to find and refind information they are sure they have when they need it. But, I am also free to blog much of what was heading into the book so it can get feedback and more eyes honing it.

Back Blogging?

Yes! I am back blogging. More non-work type posts will be here at Off the Top and work related content is over at Personal InfoCloud, but also am dropping odd bits in my Tumblr vanderwal blog. I am likely going to change the platform under this blog to something that I did not write in 2001 sometime in the next couple of months (nearly 2,000 post and categories to transfer).



July 3, 2010

Good Bye Dad

Yesterday, 1 July 2010, my dad passed away in Stockton, California. I am going to miss him deeply, but am grateful for the life that he shared, not only with my mom and me, but the many communities and organizations he cared about and worked in.

I have started a site for his memorial at tom.vanderwal.net. Please head there to leave comments and messages if you wish to do so.



January 7, 2010

Good Bye Brad

Brad Graham hosting a Break Bread w/ Brad in DCIt was only four days into 2010 that the reality of life and its frailty surface to take the air out of my breath. It was the death of Brad Graham a very early blogger (BradLands) and host to the pre-SXSW warm-up Break Bread with Brad. As the article says, Brad died of natural causes at the age of 41.

Brad was one of those wonderful people who seemed to preternaturally walk up to you and say, "I know you" and with in 15 seconds of first meeting him you knew he was right. Brad was a great host when he was on the road traveling, as I joined in on Break Bread with Brad in San Francisco September 10, 2001 and in June in Washington, DC in June 2002 (he assembled about a dozen DC bloggers for brunch and was a great guest and host). Brad was great with stories that had unexpected twists and humor that would have everybody laughing until they were crying. Brad was not only in love with the theater, but one always had a feeling you were part of his always on comedy production and you were the star. He had those type of wonderful gift, you wish you yourself had and wished everybody you knew had too.

One of the things that has been really amazing is seeing MetaFilter, or more accurately MetaTalk - Remembering our friend Brad to witness an impressive outpouring of sorrow and celebration for the joy each of us shared in our life, which was Brad. This outpouring of moments of silence (indicated with a simple blank line or few and a ".") is not only a testament to Brad, but to the closeness we all felt for Brad that extends from only a few minutes or hour we would see him at SXSWi or when we were in the same town with him, but to the enduring power we have to fill those in between moments with digital intimacy to share a story, an glimpse of life, or in Brad's case most often a laugh.



October 29, 2009

I Too Miss Blogging

Ian said it best in the header for his post I miss blogging. There is so much good in Ian's brief post as well as the linked to Dan Cederholm post WoodPress. Before the thoughtless "15 ways to...", which rarely state anything worth reading. I am beginning to believe that the number lists are not meant for reading and only for SEO hits and ad revenue, which is not anything related to user experience but site owner's revenue experience.

I repeatedly am finding things I blogged years ago in Google searches when looking for answers. Sadly, at some point I had the answer and was prescient enough to blog my thoughts knowing I would need the answer in future years (sticking with that story). I have dumped a lot of snippets into Twitter that I know exist or did, but can't recover (thanks Twitter, well not really).

I really miss blogging and hoping drop things here again and stick with it (yes, been said before). There has been a lot that has taken my attention from here in the past 6 months to a year, including a separation, divorce, dad getting cancer (stomach that spread to liver), thinking we nearly lost him a couple times after collapses, economy ripping apart most of my work, and then seeing many of those things start to turn around. But, what I miss is sharing out snippets of life, understanding, misunderstanding, and half baked thoughts to get feedback.

Yes, get feedback. I know, I know! Comments are still off. Still planning resolving that, but not touching my code again. It needs time, possibly a new host, and some mapping things out.



August 21, 2009

I Love You Dad

it is in this precious life of ours
that we see
the living
the dying
the loving
the caring
the sharing
the bearing
the seeing
the believing
the comforting
the guiding
and all of the grace we can embrace

it is from these lessons
most wonderfully shared
from a father
to his son
that we do really see
the greatness in life
and the blessings within us
to live each day as a gift
not only to each of us
but to all of us
through the human bonds
of love provided
through everlasting grace



August 1, 2008

Resurfacing from Long Quiet

Yes, things have been quiet publicly around these parts. Well, that has to do with a lot of changes on the personal side of life that rolled over in the whole of things. In short our house sold, we moved in different directions, I moved office and home (with the lot of things moving to storage for a bit), been to Boston for Enterprise 2.0., moved in to my new place, been through more than my share of installation hiccups, filling in the gaps of furniture that was donated long ago, been to Varese, Italy for the International Forum on Enterprise 2.0, then to Copenhagen for Reboot (w/ two presentations), put on a full-day workshop at FatDUX HQ, returned to unbox (dig for many series of important papers), more installation hiccups, and many many meetings around the move.

Things are finally settling in to a proper flow, but every time I think that disruption of some sort raises its head (the amount of disruption is utterly amazing). I only move about a half mile from where I was living and working. InfoCloud Solutions has a new mailing address: 7831 Woodmont Avenue Suite 324, Bethesda, MD 20814. The actual workplace is nestled in Chevy Chase, Maryland (spitting distance from Bethesda).

Things are now in proper order for full working efforts and soon clicking along at a rate beyond the previous rate.

Hopefully, I will have longer descriptions blogged for the recent presentations. I am in the midst of trying to do massive writing efforts with coordinating Fall travel schedule and new clients coming on board (still room for more).

It is good to be back and settled.



January 16, 2008

DataPortability Video is Place to Start Understanding

Marchall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb has posted a good background about New Video Explains the Basics of Data Portability. The DataPortability - Connect, Control, Share, Remix video is under 2 minutes in length and explains the reasons why the DataPoratbility.org group is important. It aims to ease the pain many are experiencing as they use more social media, social web services, social networks, and/or social computing services in their personal and work life.

Control

The biggest piece in this for me is control with translates to services respecting privacy wishes among other desires around trust and control of sharing. As Tom Raftery points out With the rising interest in, and use of Social Networks (FaceBook, Plaxo et al) there is growing unease in what those sites are doing with your data, never mind the inconvenience of uploading all your data every time you join a new site. The DataPortability.org aims to include in its focus data that is "shared between our chosen (and trusted) tools and vendors".

I have been working around the edges on a project whose aim is to respect these privacy wishes. This is one of the things that really needs to be at the core of all services entering into this market segment.



January 14, 2008

Ma.gnolia Goes Mobile

On Friday Ma.gnolia rolled out a mobile version of their site, M.gnolia - Mobile Ma.gnolia. This had me really excited as I now have access to my bookmarks in my pocket on my mobile. Ma.gnolia gives a quick preview in their blog post Ma.gnolia Blog: Flowers on the Go.

What Mobile Ma.gnolia Does and Does Not Do

First, off the mobile Ma.gnolia does not have easy bookmarking, which is not surprising given the state things in mobile browsers. I really do not see this as a huge downside. What I am head over heals happy about is access to my bookmarks (all 2800 plus). The mobile version allows searching through your own tags (if you are logged in). It currently has easy access to see that is newly bookmarked in Ma.gnolia groups you follow, your contact's bookmarks, popular bookmarks, your own tags, and your profile.

Mobile Site Bookmarks

One thing that is helpful for those that use mobile web browsing is having easy access to mobile versions of web sites. Yes, the iPhone and many smartphone users (I am in the Nokia camp with my well liked E61i) can easily browse and read regular web pages, but mobile optimized pages are quicker to load and have less clutter on a smaller screen. The iPhone, WebKit-based browsers (Nokia), Opera Mini, and other decent mobile web browsers all have eased mobile browsing use of regular webpages, but having a list of mobile versions is really nice.

Yesterday, Saturday, I created a Ma.gnolia Mobile Version Group so people can share web pages optimized for mobile devices (quicker/smaler downloads, smaller screens, less rich ads, etc.). One of the ways I was thinking people could use this is to find sites in this group then bookmark them for their own use with tags and organization that makes sense for themself. The aim is just to collect and share with others what you find helpful and valuable for yourself. This group will be monitored for spam as the rest of Ma.gnolia is (Ma.gnolia uses "rel="no-follow"" so there really is little value to spammers).

Ways You Can Use Mobile Ma.gnolia

This means if you tagged a store, restaurant, bar, transit site, or other item that has value when out walking around it is really nice to have quick access to it. It can also be a great way to read those items you have tagged "to read" (if you are a person that tags things in that manner) so you can read what you want in the doctor's office, bus, train, or wherever.

I have a lot of content I have bookmarked for locations I am work, live, and visit. When I come across something I want to remember (places to eat, drink, learn, hang, be entertained, etc.) I often dump them into the bookmarks. But, getting to this information has been painful from a mobile in the past. I am now starting to go back to things I have tagged with locations and add a "togo" tag so they are easier for me to find and use in the Ma.gnolia mobile interface. I have already added a bookmark for an museum exhibit that I really want to see that is not far from where I am. When a meeting is dropped, postponed, or runs short near the museum I can make a trip over and see it. There is so much information flowing through my devices and it is nice to be able to better use this info across my Personal InfoCloud in my trusted devices I have with me and use the information in context it is well suited for, when have stepped away from my desk or laptop.

I am looking forward to see where this goes. Bravo and deep thanks to the Larry and others at Ma.gnolia that made this happen!



June 21, 2007

Hotel Brings Back Blog Sentimality from Summer 2001

This trip to Boston for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference (more on that in a post to follow) turned out to be digitally sentimental. As the cab pulled up in front of the hotel on Tremont Street, I realized I stayed in it July 2001 when it was a Wyndam. That trip was special as I had written a bit of code so I could blog from the road and then pull it back in to may hand built pages when I returned. This was a tiny travel blog tool I had knocked out in a few hours.

At that time I was writing the blog by hand in TextPad and loading via FTP. This was after I started blogging in late 2000 in Blogger, which became one person, Ev, and crashed often. I wanted a means to not have to FTP my blog post up when traveling as I was continually finding hotels blocked FTP.

This simple travel blog tool worked well. When I would return home I would copy the blog posts written in my browser based tool (a few text fields and a location drop down) and then FTP the incorporated bits into this blog. It was in October that I built out that tool into a full blogging tool, which still runs this site today. Nearly six years later I am living with my simple tool that works well for me, well I still want comments back on (a long story and a fix that may take more time than I want to spend).

This travel blog tool was also used to blog on September 11, 2001 that I was in San Francisco and not exactly sure when I was going to get back to the Washington, DC area. It is how a place brought back a flood of captured digital memories all from a tiny tool.



June 7, 2007

Down with DreamHost? Then Up with SegPub

After the security problems with DreamHost in the past day or so (many sites getting hacked as DreamHost is storing their passwords to accounts in open text files (something that should never be done)) I am getting a lot of requests from friends for options.

Look at SebPub for Hosting

Nearly 2 years ago I was getting fed up with my old hosting solution as the outages were unbearable. I needed solid open source and open standard hosting. I found some of my friends were hosted at SegPub and were loving it. After an introduction to SegPub I moved my hosting and have never been happier.

SebPub is an Australian company, which means you pay in Australian Dollars making the price relatively reasonable. The support has been wonderful, often on IM. Occasionally I will get an IM from them asking how things are going. They have kept the small town feeling with personal touch even as they have grown.

Needless to say the personal attention is nice, but the incredibly rare need to talk to them about downtime, problems, etc. is really a nice change. I can not recommend SegPub highly enough.



May 22, 2007

Getting to the Ultimate City Guide

This past week I was in Mexico City for work. My approach to the trip was filled with apprehension as I had never been there and much of the word of mouth and news of Mexico City was on the side of "express kidnappings and other non-cheery events. I pinged my Twitter friends and a couple people responded that they had been to Mexico City in the past year and offered great insights and advice (mostly not to hail taxis on the street and the usual advice for large cities (stay in busy areas, etc.)).

I did not have a lot of time to explore, but I really did enjoy my trip there. But, I was really not well prepared for the trip (mostly because it was rather last minute in a rather busy stretch of other non-related work).

The second day of my trip I felt far more comfortable as I had walked around my busy neighbohood getting a feel for it as I searched for food (there were many options, but I wanted local food not Korean or Argentinian). Walking around there were many offers for taxi rides, table dances, and flat-out prostitution offers. I had a fairly good shield of ignoring the individuals, but some were quite persistent. I found the early morning helped ground me a little better and found the buildings and architecture similar in a way to Bastia, Corsica. This tiny bit of grounding helped connect me to some understanding and provided a connection.

Most travel guide work better for me after I have been some place and preparing me for things I want to discover the next trip, than for preparing me for the first trip.

Trip Preparation and Pre-mapping

The trip was not the only trip I was not well prepared for, my trip to Berlin in Fall 2005 was much the same. But, with the Berlin trip I read and had many travel guide and nothing was really sticking (it too was in a busy travel and work schedule).

The travel guides really do not work well for me as I have nothing for the information to stick to. I have no reference point of familiarity for the information to adhere. Once I gain a foothold of perspective and foundation the information about a place starts making sense. All it takes is a drop of knowledge and the ripples of understanding and familiarity start taking hold.

What I really seem to need is that core grounding point. I have tried Google Earth and other satellite enhanced mapping systems (I am increasingly a fan of Microsofts Live Maps for this as its 3D models are quite helpful), but they still need some level of reference for the info to stick. Information combined with some 3D and 360 views of areas would help. Once I have a point I can hold onto I can then easily expand the knowledge.

The small bit of understanding makes unrolling surrounding areas and deeper understanding easier. For me the thin connection to Corsica helped put the architecture in context. This bit of context is like a Google Map showing an area then pre-loading other near and related information to unpack and apply quickly.

Personally, I like to have cultural understandings of things that are fixed and malleable. Fixed are things like phone systems (GSM) and ease of getting wifi or solid internet access, along with usual cost. Malleable are things that have options like places to eat, things to see and do, etc. Cultural components, like taking many photos in a neighborhood is something I like to understand, do people think a white guy (I was one of a handful I saw in my couple days) taking pictures of buildings and building details is a threat to them? Does this make me a sure target? Is it culturally improper?

Finding Guides that Fit Context

One of my issues is I am often traveling from a business context and need the fixed information. I find the Economist City Guides really good for the basic worklife understanding. I also have cultural (often sub-cultural) interest along the lines of use of technology, food, street art, local information design, social interaction patterns, etc., which seems to come from shared personal experience rather than printed resources.

Ultimate Guide

I think my optimal wish it to have an immersion guide experience prior to traveling, based on the location I will be staying. Then once I am in a location have information rolled out based on context, such as time to eat the food options based on my interest and level of adventure with which I am comfortable. Unrolling understanding and background based on surroundings for where I am and what is around the corner (literally and figuratively) would be fantastic.

This is a familiarity I now have with Amsterdam and parts of London. Some of this familiarity came from having a personal guide take me through those cities nearly 20 years ago. This provided me with an understanding of layout, core elements (transportation systems, cultural understanding, food, etc.), and comfort with a feel for the cities.

Most of the time I am ready for my first trip after going to a city once or have a fellow traveler guide me through their understanding of the city along with a local resident.



April 24, 2007

David Halberstam Dies In Menlo Park

I found myself saddened by the death of David Halberstam, who died in a car accident in Menlo Park, California today. It was the Summer of 1987 that I was reading a paperback version of The Powers that Be (about transformation in politics and media around in the 1950s through early 1970s). It was a book that opened my eyes as I was transforming to a real adult, but I was also reading it as I was traveling around Europe that Summer. This book is one that I consider a true favorite for its depth and ability to bring the time and stories to life.

Having rowed I also was a fan of Halberstam's The Amateurs about the quest for four rowers to make it to the Olympics.

I deeply enjoyed Halberstam's editorials and essays when I would run across them. His appearances on television crystallized the aura of a wonderful writer who thought deeply about his subjects and brought history and deeply tangled issues to light. I have yet to read his baseball books, but they are sure to be as wonderful as his other works.

I considered David Halberstam one of the greats and still cherish his works and will pass them along to the kid if he has interest in this wonderful writer.



February 1, 2007

Lessons in Identity

There is much consternation and gnashing of teeth today over the Flickr requiring a Yahoo! login from here forward, it has even made it to the BBC - Flickr to require Yahoo usernames. One of the Flickr co-founders, Stewart Butterfield, provided rationale that would have been a little more helpful up front. The reasons from Stewart are good, but are not solid value propositions for many.

Identity Lessons

There are some insanely important lessons in this dust-up. These lessons revolve around product versus mega-brand/mega-corporation; personal management of identity; and brand trust.

Product Brand versus Mega Brand

One of the primary issues in the Flickr and Yahoo! identity merging involves the love of Flickr the brand and what is stands for in contrast to the perception of the Yahoo!. Flickr was a feisty independent product that innovated the snot out of the web and bent the web to its will to create a better experience for real people. Yahoo is seen as a slow mega corporation that, up until recently, could not sort out how to build for the web beyond 1999. Much of the change in Yahoo is credited to the Flickr team and some others like Bradley Horowitz.

The change in Yahoo! has been really slow as it is a really large company. It seems to be moving in a positive direction with the changes to Yahoo! Mail (came from buying another company who got things right) and the new Yahoo! front door, but the perception still hangs on. Similar to Microsoft's operating system and software, changes to the corporation are like trying to turn a battleship under full steam forward. It is tough changing inertia of a corporation, as not only is it internal technologies and mindsets, but brand perceptions and the hundreds of millions of user perceptions and experience that are going to go through the change.

Take the hulking beast of Yahoo and pair that with a new product and brand Flickr, which is seen as incredibly nimble and innovative and there is a severe clash in perceptions.

Personal Management of Identity

There are a couple issues that are tied up together in the Flickr and Yahoo branding problem involving identity. First, there is the issue of being personally associated with the brand. There are many people who strongly consider themself a "Flickr" person and it is an association with that brand that makes up a part of their personal identity. Many of the "Flickr" people believe they are part of the small lively and innovative new web that Flickr represents. The conflating of the Flickr brand with the Yahoo! brand for many of the "Flickr" people is schizophrenic as the brands are polar opposites of each other. Yahoo! is trying to move toward the Flickr brand appeal and ideals, but again it is turning that battle ship.

The tying one's personal identity to Yahoo! is very difficult for many "Flickr" people. Even within Yahoo! there are battles between the old core Yahoo! and the new upstarts that are changing the way things have always worked. Unfortunately, with the flood of start-up opportunities the Yahoo employees who embrace the new way forward are the people who are seemingly moving out to test the revived waters of web start-ups. This makes turning the battleship all that much harder from the inside.

Second, is managing the digital identity and having personal control over it. Many people really want to control what is known about them by one entity or across an identity. I know many people who have more than one Yahoo! account so to keep different parts of their personal life separate. They keep e-mail separate from search and photos out of their own personal understanding of privacy. Privacy and personal control of digital identity is something that has a wide variation. This required mixing of identity really breaks essential boundary for people who prefer (mildly or strongly) to keep various parts of the digital lives segregated. Many people do not want to have one-stop shopping for their identity and they really want to control who knows what about them. This wish and desire MUST be grasped, understood, and respected.

Brand Trust

All of this leads to people's trust in a brand. People have different levels of trust with different brands (even if the brands are treating their information and privacy in the same manner). Flickr greatly benefited by being a small company who many of the early members knew the founders and/or developers and this personal connection and trust grew through a network effect. The staff at Flickr was and is very attentive to the Flickr community. This personal connection builds trust.

Yahoo! on the other hand is a corporation that has not had a personal touch for many years, but is working to bridge that gap and better connect with its communities around its many products (some of this works well, but much is neglected and the bond is not there). The brand trust is thinner for a larger organization, particularly around privacy and control over digital identity. Many of the large companies make it really difficult to only have one view of your identity turned on when you log in (myYahoo, Mail, and movie ratings are on and all other portions are not logged in - for example).

Conversely, there are those who would like to use their Yahoo! identity and login for things like OpenID login. Recently, Simon Willison (a recent ex-Yahoo) did just this with idproxy.net. And, yet others would like to use other external to Yahoo! logins to be used as a single sign on. Part of this is single sign on and another part is personal control over what digital parts of one's live are connected. It is a personal understanding of trust and a strong belief for many that this perception of trust MUST be respected.

One approach that should NEVER happen is what Google is doing with Dodgeball. This past two weeks I have been contacted by a few people using Dodgeball (I use this service), which was bought and is owned by Google. I was getting contacted by people who found my Dodgeball account by entering my Gmail identity. The problem is I never connected my Gmail to Dodgeball and was going to drop Dodgeball over the required joining of the identities. Google in this instance flat out failed at protecting my identity and privacy, but it does that regularly (personally believe that Google is not Evil, but they are not competent with privacy and identity, which is closely tied with Evil). Had Yahoo! done this with Flickr it would have been really over the top. [I have introduced people at Google to the Digital Identity Gang to better understand digital identity and privacy issues, which is a great sign of them knowing they need to do much better.]

Conclusion

There are a lot of tangents to identity, brand, and personal association that seem to have been left out of the equation in the Yahoo! and Flickr identity merger. A more mature approach to identity at Yahoo! would not have required Flickr members to change over, as for many the changes to value added by conflating the identities is not of interest to those who have not done so yet. For many of those that are feeling hurt it is part of their personal identity that is bruised and broken. Hopefully, Yahoo! has grasped this lesson and will treat other acquisions (Upcoming, del.icio.us, and particularly My Blog Log (among others)) differently.



January 9, 2007

Digging Out of Digital Limbo

Things are mostly back to normal here. The new MacBook Pro has been wonderful (it is a bit odd to mostly focus on it as a tool and not the center of adoration as I normally do for Apple products) and even better getting my digital life flowing again. I found some gaps in e-mail had been backed-up in an odd place and they were restored.

The gap between sending my PowerBook out for data recovery (not possible as the drive was toast) and getting the MacBook Pro in my hands, even until the time of my first full back-up was one of trying to balance new info and old. Fearful of a "perfect storm" I was pushing my digital life out into corners of the internet. I have been pulling things back in to my laptop and re-building notes from paper I jot quick bits on.

Moving Forward

I have since picked up a Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo with one terrabyte of capacity set to RAID1 across its two drives (translates to mirrored 500MB drives). This seems like an insane amount of space, but knowing I can have more than one version of a back-up (that is part of what knocked me out) and can back-up my other external drive info (where my 70GB of music is stored) provides a nice peace of mind. I am also integrating my Amazon S3 into the equation as well as my .Mac storage. I am using Apple Backup and Retrospect Express to currently do my back-ups. I want a book able image for use on my Intel Mac, which it seems to have the capability of providing. I am still looking at other options. I have been a big fan of Carbon Copy Cloner, but it does not provide a bootable image capability on Intel Macs.

This New Year

I mostly have my feet under myself this new year, oh yes, Happy New Year! Work is taking off full bore and some of the bumps from last year seem to have been ironed out and lessons learned. I had planned to do a year end book wrap-up and a first year in business as InfoCloud Solutions, Inc., but the lack of a computer pushed those ideas off the table. I do not make New Years resolutions, as I try to make needed adjustments as they are needed and try not to put them off to some arbitrary date. I will be providing one or two most posts later this week, when the pile subsides and things go out the door.

Until then, enjoy Macworld and do your backups.



December 27, 2006

Happy Boxing Day

Today being Boxing Day (December 26th) it was nice to get a box. One that contained my new laptop (MacBook Pro) to fill in for the dead PowerBook (blew its hard drive), which will get a new purpose in life upon its return. After I got out of the shower this morning I check e-mail on my mobile and found that the laptop had been delivered. And as I looked over the balcony railing to call to see if it was true, I saw the box sitting on the floor. I am now beginning to get back up to speed putting my digital life back to fill the gap of the past two week or more. Now it is pulling the last 2 months back together



December 13, 2006

Ouch

I am currently limping along on an external hard drive for my laptop with the last good back up from two months ago. I am missing notes from the last few conferences and my kGTD, which I just got running well.

I am mostly wanting to get work related stuff out and kid photos and movies (and e-mail).



November 4, 2006

Retooling Offline

There are two phrases that I am finding odd today. One, is actually from last night as I took the kid to dinner and when we were done we were told, "our computer went down and they are having to retool it". All I could think of was making widgets and gears by hand or building the casts and dies to create new parts. What was really meant was the computer system was rebooting (for 35 minutes) and being updated.

The other oddity is the message from Growl that "Joe Smith is now offline" when a person leaves Skype and other IM tools. I am sorry that the person is no longer in service. But it means they are no longer available for instant messaging or calls. They do not exist as one of my neighbors I can click on and chat or talk with as I want or wish. Going off line is tantamount to not existing, so even though the person in their physical embodiment is fine and well, they are broken as you can no longer get to them.



November 1, 2006

No Personal or Work E-Mail to My Gmail Address

If you want to send an e-mail that gets my attention, please use an address other than my Gmail address. I mostly use that address for listserves. The ability to search, parse, and scan e-mail in Gmail just does not work for me and things I really want to follow-up with only get addressed if I forward them to myself at an other address. [Granted the amount of e-mail I am getting and daily communication is more then I can normally keep-up with at the moment. I deeply apologize if I owe you a response. I need to better embrace the DTD model as my GTOMG model leave too many things left unaddressed.]

Filters, Labels, and Tags

The Gmail interface does not work well for me personally to highlight, track, and respond to the mail. I had a lot of hope for Gmail and its ability to tag (or in Google terms, "label"), but its interface is really poor for doing this with anything more than 10 or 15 labels. When I want to manually applying more than one label the interface is really poor (at best).

GTDGmail

I have looked at the GTDGMail mail as a solution, as its interface is much much better than what Google has churned out. While the GTDGmail is a vast improvement the remainder of Gmail for personal or work mail does not scale to meet my needs on that front. If you are unpleased with the Gmail labelling, as most I know are, you owe it to yourself to look at GTDGmail.



Spam and Junk E-Mail Deluge

I get to spend my Halloween morning clearing out 28,445 junk/spam e-mail from my junk folder on my server. It made up 580MB of garbage. I did not pay attention to the junk folder for 45 days and this is what I get.

I was thinking of moving all of the listserves I track to that server as the Google Gmail interface is horrible for the volume of mail that comes in to those (largely because I can not unbold, or scan easily) and are filtered into their respective spots (for the filters that are not broken). The volume of listserve mail is getting to be beyond usable. But, I mostly search those archives when I am stumped (rarely is the answer there and I turn to the experts - most are no longer paying attention to the listserves any longer). I have come close in the past few weeks from pulling the plug on most of the listserve I subscribe to as most questions in them have answers in the first 5 or 10 Google or Yahoo search results.



October 17, 2006

Getting Back to Normal - Slowly

A health update from this end... Hopefully this will be the last health note for a while. Aside from minor headaches and getting worn out quickly, I am doing much better. Reviewing the doctors guidance and prescriptions I was a little worse off than I felt, which was horrible.

My work day should be back to mostly normal by tomorrow or Wednesday. While I have tried to keep up with e-mail, it is behind a little bit. Thank you for the well wishes and concerns as well as your patience.



October 11, 2006

No Fly Zone Around My Head

Grrrrr! Not traveling anywhere for the next few days. The doctor visit turned into a no-fly advisory. It seems this little headache is a sinus that is very inflamed and could blow with slight pressure change, like on an airplane.

I have already undone my flight, now it is meetings, hotel, and rental car to cancel and figure out what I am forgetting.



Checking on Clearance to Fly

I am supposed to be in the San Francisco Bay Area tomorrow. But, now I am needing a doctor's okay to fly due to a nasty sinus infection. I have had too many friends head to the skies with more minor conditions and had severe problems come from it. Last year, when I had a similar issue my doctor suggested it was a good idea to get checked when things are a bit congested. This morning I felt like I had a battle with a large nail gun to my left eye, sinus area, and brain, so bad it hurt to breathe.

I should know in a little bit if I am free to soar tomorrow.



October 10, 2006

Mach Aram has Moved On

While browsing through my feeds this morning, I saw a very familiar face staring back at me. I looked at the words around it, which included, "You see, the best creative director I've ever met has died." The next line confirmed it was Mach Arom that was being discussed. I knew him through friends while I lived in San Francisco and he was incredibly giving, kind, friendly, creative, and a great cook. The first time I met Mach he showed me his business card that unfolded into a resume and portfolio. This was the most incredible card I have ever seen and I have tried to describe it many times, but it just had to be seen. It unfolded chronologically and was easy to follow what panel to read in what order.

I was always very happy when Mach was involved with a party or any outing. I ran into him last a few years ago (perhaps eight years ago) in Kramer Books on DuPont Circle in Washington, DC. He was in town for an interview and looking at moving back. He has been on my mind since and is part of my web friend searches that I do on occasion to catch-up with people.

The Mach Aram Memorial Site is a testament to his great spirit and gifts that he shared openly. He could warm a heart on a grey day and find the beauty in everything. He left this world giving, as one would imagine people like him doing.

Peace



Tower Records is No More

My musical youth has a chapter closed with the Sale and Liquidation of Tower Records. In Central California, where I went to high school there was rather little constructive to do. I was a fan of music and played in school bands and some pick-up bands. But the place where much of the discussion about music took place was Tower Records.

The Social Gathering Spot

Tower Records was one of my first non-formal social meeting places. I would meet friends there to talk about new bands and music of interest, which included things that were not quite on local radio that embraced a mono-culture of rock, more rock, some rock, and light rock. Radio did not venture too far from "Top 40" radio, but Tower Records did. Not only did I find out from friends music that could be of interest to me, but the staff was insanely knowledgeable. I had my jazz interests broadended and found out about non-American bands.

Tower Grew with Me

As I moved around to university and life beyond, Tower Records remained a resource of smart musically engaged staff that could make great recommendations or do a deep dive on nearly any genre of music. In the past few years I have been trying to find similar recommendations services that are as broad as the human staff at Tower Records, but nothing can quite match it. I still have been shopping at Tower Records as my off-center music interests can be satiated at Tower on a Saturday looking through the new music discount stack or bin. I could walk into the nearest Tower to me and have a half-brained request with remotely partial information and the staff would nail what I was seeking. I continued to discover more music of interest that I was not getting turned on to anywhere else. The prices at Tower for much of the new music farther out in the long tail met my price point metric of less than 12 US dollars.

Other Poor Options

While I would occasionally buy from Amazon or other on-line retailer, Tower was my place. Now I am heading more toward on-line only as Walmart and Best Buy have incredibly horrible staff that continually walk away rather than answer a question to get a sale. Both have the most painful customer service and I know an quick in and out trip will turn into a 45 minute lesson poor customer service and how poorly trained and unpassionate staff can ruin an experience. Tower was about people passionate about music.

Holiday Memories

One memory that will always last with me is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There was very little open in Stockton, California, the place that is a giant suburb, without and "urb" to be a sub of. In high school we would gather at Tower on Christmas Eve night and head there the first opportunity we had on Christmas Day to spend whatever money we had garnered or to return the Carpenters greatest hts album. In the college years it was the place to gather and see friends who did not go to the "big party". In the post college years it was the place to go when the bars seemed like they were filled with young kids home from college and so loud you could not have a conversation. Tower Records held great memories and was held together by staff with great passion for the music they sold.



September 26, 2006

Personal Disconnectedness of Travel and Gerneric Architecture

Um, what does one do at 2am in the morning (after sleeping four hours and waking at 1am)? Blog.

Unfocussed Curor Bliking

I am finding that this long distance traveling has been really increasing my personal disconnectedness time this year, where the mind, body, and soul are not joined. Some call it jetlag, but it seems deeper. There were times yesterday where my motor skills just were shot (as they normally are with long travel on the first day). Other times my mind would just freeze mid-thought or sentence. It is not a bad thing, but more of a just "is" thing. It feels like the unfocussed blinking cursor syndrome, where a window on the desktop has a blinking cursor and you believe that if you type your text will show up there (the password box on a web form), but in reality it is some completely different window (like chat session) that has focus and displays the text as you hit enter to submit.

The SimCity Model for Urban Redevelopment

At a meal yesterday (brunch at Darling Harbor or dinner at Bondi Beach) I began to think that many cities are just replications of SimCity with similar architecture, where the cities are rather modern and/or developed in the mid-1800s. You can plop down a new structure that is similar to one from another city. Much like the new buildings in Darling Harbor look strikingly like the new Baltimore, Maryland Inner Harbor. Much of Sydney yesterday felt like something on the North America West Coast, as they were built and grew up about the same times in the mid-1800s and had similar cycles of growth over time. On Pitt street in Sydney, where it is a pedestrian mall, it really felt like there were some Commonwealth flourishes, like shopping arcades, put in San Francisco's Financial District.

Architecture as Cultural and Location Grounding

This quasi-generic western culture Pacific Rim architecture washing tended to compound the personal disconnectedness I was experiencing. Not only was my being disconnected, but the physical markers of my surroundings were off kilter as well. I somewhat experienced that in Berlin last Fall with the new modern architecture around Potsdam Platz. I felt far more grounded and connected in Friedrichshain as it was not modern and had native architectural elements that were not pan-global.

When I travel to Europe I like doing my time correction to resolve the personal disconnectedness is Amsterdam as it is distinctly Amsterdam. I know internally that I am in a different city, different country, and different culture. But, in Amsterdam they speak English very well and are technically adept (often leading to better understanding of mobile usage and other technosocial interactions that are missing in America as it lags Europe with technical adoption on many many fronts.

Similarly, I found Innsbruck to be similar to Amsterdam in its distinctive architectural elements, but even its modern architecture was very germanic. Growing-up I was a model railroad fan, but many of the buildings were not similar to the architecture I knew growing up on the West Coast of the United States as the larger makers of pre-built buildings and models for model railroads was from Germany, the Netherlands, or Belgium (I really do not remember the name of the company), but when taking a train from Schiphol to Amsterdam many of the post-war-modern (World War II) buildings looked straight out of the scene set catalogs for modern railroads. But, there were many buildings in Innsbruck that had the same architecture mixed in to the Tyrolean architecture.



September 2, 2006

Stormy Connections

Storms tonight are flickering our power and messing with connectivity. I hope all is better tomorrow.



August 24, 2006

Power Tools

Today as part of finishing rebuilding our basement I am losing power for a few hours. It could be that I will hit a local coffeehouse, but much of the work I need to get done is tied to things at my desk and are not things I or my clients would be comfortable sitting out in a coffeehouse. Such is life. All this means the month or so of banging, jackhammers, and other power tools is nearly done.

Oddly, I was supposed to be out in the Hamptons today, but some last minute work and bumps in the schedule this week made it a better choice to hang out home and get work done. The Hamptons is also notorious for horrible mobile phone connectivity and few Wifi access points. I had enough "vacation this month already", which is busy season.



August 6, 2006

Non-Connectivity

Due to "circumstances" I will have limited connectivity this upcoming week. E-mail for my main accounts will work, but much beyond that is iffy at best. See you on the far side of this little outage.



August 2, 2006

Terra Plana Pleasure

My Terra Plana Boi shoes arrived today. They not only fit, but they are very comfortable out of the box. I had tried a pair at Imelda & Louies in Portland, Oregon but they did not fit and I needed the next size up, which they did not have. I enjoyed shopping directly at the Terra Plana site and even though they are a UK firm they have local U.S. shipping. Brilliant that!

The true test will be walking around in them in the upcoming weeks and months. These are replacing my 18 month old Born (semi-racing/driving) shoes that I really liked, but they no longer make. One of the things that interested me was Terra Plana shoes are environmentally friendly, which is really rare in the shoe making business (at least from what I have read) with the toxic glues and plastics. The only important thing is how they fit and how comfortable they are for a day of walking, as well as how well they hold up. If these are still in regular use in 18 months I will be a huge fan (I am well on my way to being that now).



July 10, 2006

World Cup Moves On

The World Cup for football (soccer in the U.S.) came to its completion today with Italy winning. This has been a month of wonderful games and drama. The World Cup seems to always grow in interest to me with each one. This year I was in Europe (Innsbruck, Austria and Amsterdam, Netherlands) for the first few days of the World Cup, being hosted in Germany. It was fantastic to be in countries that get and care about football and World Cup.

It always seems that the World Cup is more of a uniting event than the Olympics. Yes, more people Watch the World Cup. In the U.S. more people went to the World Cup home page this past week than the Major League Baseball homepage. There is more deep passion and country essence displayed in and at the World Cup than any other sporting event, or make that any other event.

I was able to watch more full games than any year prior and it made it quite enjoyable. I think 1990 was the first year I watched on satellite in an Irish Bar in the Haight Ashbury. I have been hooked since.

The more I get into the World Cup the more I see the U.S. out of touch with the world and rather parochial. I know more and more in the U.S. are watching the games, which I think is a great step forward. Football is a team sport like no other as the culture is portrayed on the field and in the stands. There is strategy, teamwork, and beauty that evokes passion and pride. There is pride emanating from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Australia that put them on the same level as some of the powerhouse football countries. That seems like a healthy pride.

It was nice to see Germany be a great host and find it okay to be proud of a national team. It was nice to hear Germany television reporting enthusiastically about sports, well something other than Dirk Nowitzki. It seems like the fans this World Cup were rather well behaved, which is a very good sign as well.

I am going to miss World Cup, but the world still seems smaller and much more cohesive than it did a month ago. The world is made up on one people and this wee planet we call home and most of us enjoy a good game of football.



June 22, 2006

Blue Thomas

I will be off-line until late Thursday or Friday morning. Something about "The Greatest Little Engine".



June 20, 2006

Roaring Skies

There is nothing like an F18 fighter jet blasting above the house to get one checking the sky and diving into the news.



June 17, 2006

World Cup Celebration

It is that time in life's cycle where I get a wee bit distracted. It is time for World Cup. I had the wonderful fortune to be in Europe as World Cup started, but being in Amsterdam as het Oranje played was quite special. I managed to hang out with Peter at his workplace and watched. It was amazing how Amsterdam became silent then roared when the Dutch scored.

I was staying in a nice little hotel, ACH Leidse Square, near the Vondel Park and not far from Leidseplein. This made it easy to walk through one of the central location for people to aggregate during football matches, the Leidseplein. From about five blocks away I could hear the roar as a goal was scored from nearly any team. The Leidseplein was awash in many block colors of people's home or favorite national team. This is not something that the USA really gets. Football is an international sport with more viewers for the World Cup than 12 Super Bowls. World Cup connects the world and cultures, probably more closely than the Olympics. It is a pageant of color and passion for national and regional pride. There is beauty in the game of motion and dance. It is a game where size and power is not essential, but skill and cunning can level a playing field. It is a game of teams and working together.

The USA has a team in the World Cup, but it is seemingly lost on many who live in the country.

Since the 1980s I have grown to enjoy World Cup more and more. In 1998 many work meetings seemed to fall in mid-afternoon lunches at tapas restaurant bars in Washington, DC as our work was with Europeans and Latin American clients. A little wine and espresso wrapped discussions about strategy and assents of telecom markets with clients. But the main focus was the game with work interspersed. If the client's national team was doing well the work went well as they had a positive feeling about the meeting, but if their team was not doing well they focussed a little more on the meeting and a lot got done.

This summer I have the ability to catch a few games around work and share it with our international neighbors. We all wear our colors of pride and our kids learn about passion, color, dance, and sports of beauty.



June 13, 2006

Now to Sort and Respond to the Inboxes

I am back home with full Internet and full e-mail. I have much digging out to do as well as wash from 7 days on the road, which followed 2 days home and 5 days on the road.

The Microlearning conference was fantastic. I really enjoyed all the people and presentations. I will write-up a little more on the Microlearning conference and microcontent in general as well as Innsbruck and Amsterdam notes.



May 26, 2006

TechCrunch Party in Seattle

I am in Seattle next week for a few days and while there I will be heading to the TechCrunch Party on May 31st. It looks like a good event, as most TechCrunch events go. If you are around you will need to sign-up on the wiki to attend.



Memephoria

While I was responding to a friend's e-mail about another large corporation using the term folksonomy I realized that at the moment I do not care if somebody is using it correctly (often people use it to mean tagging -- not tagging that actually works or to mean a tag cloud (the things that are cute but provide little value)). I realized that on the path of a term becoming a buzz word it gets adopted by those who have a case of memephoria.

Memephoria is the state of believing that spreading the latest meme as a mantra will earn you transcendence. Memephoria does not require one to understand the term used in the meme mantra, just to use it (correctly or in-correctly).



May 16, 2006

Upcoming Conferences I am Presenting at and Attending

Okay, things have been quite busy here. But, here will be changing as I am hitting the skies a bit in the short term. This means I may be near you so reach out and we can hang out and chat. I am completely looking forward to all the places on my schedule and seeing all of the people.

XTech

I am off to Amsterdam, Netherlands (no not that other one) this week to speak at XTech. I will be presenting Developing for the Personal InfoCloud on Thursday at 11:45 in the morning.

BarCamp Amsterdam

On Saturday I will be attending BarCamp Amsterdam for part of the time.

Seattle Area

Following the Amsterdam trip I should be in the Seattle area for work. I don't have dates as of yet, but if you shoot an e-mail I will be sure and connect.

Microlearning 2006 Conference

I will be heading to Innsbruck, Austria for the Microlearning Conference and preconference (June 7). I will be talking about microcontent in the Personal InfoCloud and our ability and desire to manage it (one means of doing this is folksonomy, but will be discussing much more).

Following Innsbruck I may be in Europe a bit longer and a little farther north. I will be in Amsterdam just following the conference, but beyond that my schedule has not yet fully jelled.

WebVisions 2006

I will be heading to WebVisions 2006 in Portland, Oregon July 20th and 21st. I will be speaking on Friday the 21st about Tagging in the Real World. This will look at how people are making use of tagging (particularly tagging services) and looking at the best practices.

The Fall

In September it looks like I will be in Brighton, UK for a wonderful event. I should also be in Australia later in September for another conference.

As these events get closer, I will be letting you know.

Yes, I know I need to be publishing this information in hCal, but I have been quite busy of late. But, I am moving in that direction very soon. You can also follow what I am watching and attending in Upcoming for vanderwal.



April 26, 2006

Just Alarming

I seem to have attracted fire alarms to myself. Last Friday just as I was being introduced to speak at Yahoo! the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate. Last night, here in the conference hotel in Long Branch, New Jersey I had just fallen asleep when the fire alarm went off. We did not have to evacuate, but rather than getting to sleep at 11:30 the night prior to speaking it was about 1:30am.



April 11, 2006

Odd Moments in the Day - Odd Moments with Technology?

Today brought an odd moment. I looked up at iChat (my IM interface) and I see my name (Thomas Vander Wal) and podcast under Jeremy's name, which means Jeremy is most likely listening to a podcast interview with me. I had never seen that before.

Now I decide to share that odd moment with Jeremy, which I did not realize would cause Jeremy to have an odd moment.

How can the world of pervasive/ubiquitous computing ever get off the ground when we give each other odd moments through our friendly stalking? By the way I prefer using stalking, where as some people like the term monitoring, but the term monitoring does not cause me to think about privacy implications that I believe we must resolve within ourself or learn to better protect our privacy.

The incident today still causes me to chuckle for a short moment then realize how open we are with things on the internet and how different that seems to be even though most of our life has been public, but to a smaller and more localized group. It also resignals that change that came with the internet (well and much of technology) is that we can not see those who can see us. In a town we know the local video store guy knows what we rent, but now Amazon knows what we bought as do those people on our friends list whom we share our purchases with so they can have some insight as what to buy. My local video store guy in San Francisco, near California and 2nd or 3rd Avenue, was amazing. He knew everything I rented in the last few months and would provide perfect recommendations. Did he use a computer to aid himself? Nope, he was just that good and his brain could keep the connection between a face and videos rented and if you liked that video. He knew my taste perfectly and was dead on with recommendations. Not only was he on with me, but most others who frequented his store. He was great recommending, but also could help people avoid movies they did not like.

Was the guy in the video store freaky? Not really, well to me. He was a person and that was his role and his job. I worked in a coffee house for a while first thing in the morning. After a couple months I knew who the first 10 customers would be and I knew about half of the orders or possible variations of what people would order. People are patterned, I could tie the person's face to that pattern for espresso coffee drink order and I could recommend something that they should try. To some this was a little disturbing, but to most is was endearing and was a bond between customer and shopkeeper as I cared enough to know what they would like and remembered them (I did not often remember their names and most of them I did not know their names), but I knew what they drank. If is the familiarity.

So, with technology as an intermediary or as the memory tool what is so freaky? Is it not seeing into somebody's eyes? Is it the magic or somebody more than 3,000 miles away knowing what you are listening to and then have the person whom you are listening to pop-up for a chat? I think it is we have collapsed space and human norms. It is also difficult to judge intent with out seeing face or eyes. I was in a back and forth recently with a friend, but could not sense their intent as it seemed like the tone was harsh (for a person whom I trust quite a bit and think of as being intensely kind and giving) and I finally had to write and ask, but it was written from a point where I was bothered by the tone. My problem was I could not see the eyes of the person and see they playfulness or gestures to know their intent was playful challenging.

While at the Information Architecture Summit a couple/few weeks ago in Vancouver a few of us went to dinner and we played werewolf (my first time playing). But, I was reminded that the eyes hold a lot of information and carry a lot of weight in non-verbal communication. I could pick the werewolf whose eyes I could see, but in two occasions the werewolf was sitting next to me and I could not see their eyes. There was one person in each of the two games whom I did think was the werewolf as their eyes were signaling similarly to people who were not telling the truth in the cultures I grew up in.

Could technology be more easily embraced if it had eyes? Should we have glancing as Matt Webb has suggested and built an application to suggest? But could we take Matt'a concept farther? Would it be helpful?

This was a long post of what was just going to be pointing out an odd moment in the day.



April 3, 2006

Mr. Thackara Provides Fodder for Two Loose Thoughts

Things have been busy of late after a return from Vancouver, British Columbia from the IA Summit. It took a week to get through taxes stuff for a four month old company (as of January 1) and a large stack of e-mail (in which responding meant more e-mail).

Yesterday morning I had the pleasurable fortune to have breakfast with John Tackara of Doors of Perception fame. I really need to put two things out there that popped up in conversation that I need to think about more deeply.

Children today are not into the web tied to computers, but focus on their friends through the mobile voice and text messaging. I have been running into this comment quite a bit from Europeans, but increasingly from parents of teen and pre-teens in America. Having a computer is not a large interest for them, but they live in their mobiles as a means to connect, filter, share, convene, and stay tethered to those that matter to them, their friends. The quick 10 to 20 year scenario for this could mean the web is dead and is a technology that had an immense impact, but was a technology that was relatively short lived. Are our communication technologies trending through ever shorter life spans? This could bolster my thinking that the web is increasingly a temporary terminus for information to be shared and picked up and used in context in other media that is better situated within people's lives.

This leads us to context. I keep looking at much of the information that is on the web as being out of the proper use context for most people. We read information on the web, but the web is not the context in which we will make use of this information we find. The web as it has been traditionally built is marginally better than television, in that an address for a car lot flashed on the television screen is as usable as it is plastered on a web page. The address does us more good in our pocket, in driving (or mass transit) routes, in our mobile that is in our pocket, etc. than it does on the web page, but few web pages today get that clue.

I have also been thinking about tagging and particularly tagging in the folksonomy subset as the tags providing mental context to external information. We use the tags to pull back these bits of information or to aggregate this information when we pull on the digital threads that draw what is at the ends of these tag tethers closer to ourselves. A chunk of information or media out on the web is lacking context to our lives with out these tags. When we have needs, most always framed in the context of a need related to a subject we use tags related to that subject to draw back in that which we found or other people with similar vocabularies have found. These tags provide context for the few thousand chunks of information out of the billions that we have explicitly expressed interest in and have placed the context upon based on its relationship between the information or object and ourself.



March 18, 2006

Face Tagging

This year at SXSW Interactive I was interacting with so many people and getting many business cards. When I looked at the stack I could only tie about a third of the cards to face and conversations. In person I remember conversations tied to faces. In e-mail I remember conversations with a name. But the connection between names, faces, conversations, and business cards at conferences completely hit the wall this year.

By Sunday night or Monday, I was so tired that the problem was exacerbated and I really needed to find a solution. Well, Tuesday I started handing business cards back to the person who handed it to me and I took a picture of their business card next to their face, much like Nick Finck did back to me. This solution worked like a gem. Now I really wish I could go back to Saturday through Monday and capture the photos to tie to the cards.

Even the cards that I did not get a good capture in photo I was able to tie to the person. I am now tying back the people in photos to the people's cards. I am also remembering the conversations and who else was there when we were talking. Suck a good life hack for a tired and filled brain.



March 17, 2006

SXSW Interactive and Austin BarCamp Overview

This year's SXSW was incredible. It started out a little overwhelming as I realized there were six distinct groups that I hang out with and they don't really intermix. But, this all worked out, as by Sunday I realized that there was enough time to spend time with each group. SXSW has always been the place I escape to so to have wonderful conversations and to hang with many like minds. This year was did not let me down, in fact there were many like minds.

The Tagging 2.0 panel I was on seemed to have gone well, based on the comments that followed. (My presentation with diagram will be posted in a week or so.)

BarCamp Austin

I went over to the BarCamp Austin and had a wonderful time for the hour or so I hung out there. I was a little late for Tara's "Marketing your project: Cluetrain style presentation, but I really enjoyed what I heard. I also got to finally meet Chris Messina and thank him for making the original BarCamp enjoyable and accessible for those of use that were attending virtually (he walked the laptop around when the people moved

Best Take Away Ever

My favorite part of SXSW Interactive this year was not only getting to meet Bruce Sterling (finally), but having him sign my copy (or one of them) of his Wired Magazine article on folksonomy and myself, ":Order Out of Chaos". I got a kick out of the "Dr. Folksonomy".

When you get a chance go grab the podcast of Bruce Sterling's closing remarks, which were stellar and moving.

Killer Digits for the Pocket or Hip

This year, not only did the official SXSW site have a wonderful service to for their pushing their schedule (only the things you want) to your mobile device, but there were other great tools used enforce. It seemed many people had logged into Dodgeball for Austin, a mobile service that lets you know where your friends are and lets you ping the service to share your location. This made connecting with your friends at the right party, restaurant, or bar really easy (I do not normally have a use for this at home). I also used Upcoming to track the events I had interest in and then push them to my phone so I had the time and location with me at all times.

This is a really great example of moving information that is of value out of the web and into our real lives. As a web developer I realized years ago that most of the information that is on the web is not really usable or reusable as it is not structured to be used in the place or context where it makes most sense. Most people do not live their lives on the web they live them in the real world. Information and media must be built with this understanding.



February 20, 2006

In Memory of Kellie

It is a sad day in our house today. One of our friends, Kelli Auletta, died of cancer late last night. She was a friend of my wife from college and has been a very good friend to go to sporting events with and talk to. She was well loved by many many friends and was a great connector. We deeply enjoyed sitting with her at Georgetown Hoya basketball games and she was always the one to coordinate dinners or meals before or after the games for friends.

Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with Kellie's family and friends.

Peace



February 15, 2006

Thomas Vander Wal on PodLeaders Podcast

I have been quite busy of late. Between some InfoCloud Solutions client work and some other things (including family).

I really need to pay attention to my blog a little bit as I do have things to post, like Thomas Vander Wal interviewed by Tom Raftery on PodLeaders podcast. The podcast covers the "come to me web", folksonomy, InfoClouds, and InfoCloud Solutions work. I wish I could talk more about my client work, but that will come.

This was recorded over a Skype connection with Tom sitting in Ireland. I was using my Apple iSight and it worked rather well. I have been enjoying Skype for chats with friends and business relations in Europe, I really like the quality as well as the price. But the thing that I really like is that it is really personal, much like a mobile phone, you are pretty much assured of getting the person you wish to talk with rather than some answering service or other interference.

I am back to working.



February 4, 2006

Sticks and Stones...

Today was the day to fight for my right to use my name. I had to get my driver's license renewed before my birthday on Monday. When we moved a few years ago the change of address had my last name mashed up (yes, I know they were early Web 2.0 adopters mashing up everything in sight, funny) my last name by taking out the space. My last name of "Vander Wal" became Vanderwal, which is not my last name. I am already dealing with on mash-up from the late 1800s and early 1900s with my family name getting converted from "van der Wal" to its current "Vander Wal". This I can deal with, but I don't mind at all when I travel to the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe when my family name gets the extra space and loses a capital letter.

Today I have a few years of having to prove who I am in the United States, because of this mash-up. I continually get the "you are not in our system" because of the space or lack of space. The current nationalized computer systems have been built to not accept the space in last names. It seems somebody named Smith was hired or a bunch of Smiths to build the system.

I was continually told today that I could no longer have the space in my last name in the Maryland driver's license system. I kept repeating it was my last name and with out the space was not my last name and made proving my identity rather difficult (at best) in certain situations. I was asked if I was always a citizen of the United States of America. I was asked if I was born in this country. I was even told I had a slightly foreign accent (this is normal, but mostly in taxis to and from an airport).

It took pulling out my U.S. passport (the only one I have, but today wishing I could have another just for a tiny slice of sanity) and Social Security card to prove my last name is "Vander Wal" and does have a space. The person behind the desk finally asked the manager what to do. It seems there is an over ride in the system to allow for spaces in the system and as long as the system keeps my identity number the same (not the same as my Social Security number) all is fine. So I get to keep my name.

You ask about my screen name? Yes, I use "vanderwal" as an inside joke and self-deprecating as that is as badly as one could do with my family name. I have been finding this has its problems when friends try to remember where the space goes, or even if there is a space.



January 30, 2006

Four Things Meme

I was hit with this Four Things meme by Mike Migurski. I am not a fan of similar memes, but they do provide a way to connect and open doors.

Four Jobs I've Had

  1. Taco Bell Clerk
  2. Electronic Data Analyst (I had green ruled paper, a metal ruler with points and pica, and paper to write data conversion strings instead of a computer)
  3. Starbucks Barista
  4. Director of Strategic Analysis

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over

  1. Mind Walks
  2. Do the Right Thing
  3. Sure Thing
  4. Lost in Translation

Four Places I've Lived

  1. Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. Portland, Oregon, USA
  3. Oxford, England, UK
  4. San Francisco, California, USA

Four TV Shows I Love

  1. Top Gear (UK)
  2. 24
  3. Mad About You
  4. CBS Sunday Morning

Four Places I've Vacationed

  1. Calvi, Corsica
  2. Paris, France
  3. Carmel, California, USA
  4. Luzern, Switzerland

Four Of My Favorite Dishes

  1. Paella
  2. Zachery's Pizza (deep dish)
  3. carne asada tacos from a tacqueria
  4. (French) Onion Soup

Four Sites I Visit Daily

This has changed a lot in the last couple years as I tend to intially scan most of what I visited daily through RSS/Atom feeds. The following are the sites I actually open everyday

  1. Financial Times
  2. Wall Street Journal
  3. BBC News
  4. Flickr

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. San Francisco Bay Area
  3. Portland, Oregon
  4. Oxford, England, UK

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging

Pardon me, but this is the meme and is seemingly harmless.

  1. Peter Boersma
  2. Andrew Otwell
  3. David Smith
  4. Joshua Porter


January 24, 2006

Bay Area Trip Jan 30 to Feb 1

A real quick note: I will be in the Bay Area Monday, January 30th through Wednesday, February 1st. Want to get together, please send me an e-mail.



January 16, 2006

Hindsights for Moving Forward

The follow list of 10 lessons learned in the Guy Kawaskaki Hindsights blog post I have found to be outstanding. Last week I forwarded it to a few friends, but realized everybody could benefit from reading it. I fully embrace the list and by matter of chance I have largely lived this way. It is well worth a read at any age.

The real kick in the butt I got last year was from the Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University (the audio of the Steve Jobs commencement speech is also available). This speech combined with a death in our family made the time in front of me look much shorter.

The passion for technology and seeing it become more usable so that information can be reusable so that people can actually use it in their lives took focus. This is now my full-time job. We as designers and developers need to look beyond the cool to the useful, the need, and breaking down the barriers for use of information and technology. I have a strong belief that technology can greatly assist us and ease or lives so to give us more freedom. It can also help us make smarter decisions to help others, ourselves, and protect the world around us. It can help us find communities of those with like minds, which helps us feel connected and empowered. But, with these benefits we must also be mindful that the sword of technology is double edged and we must understand how to protect ourselves and society from its properties that are not so beneficial.



January 12, 2006

What a Day

This has turned into "One of Those Days". It is the third day in a row that my son has been home sick. Which, means the mornings I am watching him and entertaining him, while trying to get work done. By noon the reinforcements have arrived and all is good. But, three days in a row makes it a real strain, particularly with all the things I am balancing these days.

Today after I settle into full focus on work, e-mail goes out for the next three hours. It is the fourth outage in five days. Yes, there are other forms of communication, but not keeping the flow of conversation like e-mail. Needless to say I spent this evening searching for new hosting and responding with people who have given wonderful recommendations that are a vast improvement. Yes, I will share where I end up once I get there and why I made my decision.

Lastly, my Photoshop order finally arrived still stemming from my wonderful support phone call with them. Well, I have now had another call with them as the version they sent prior was for Mac, as needed, but was not what was needed for a cross-platform upgrade (it has to be a full new version and not an upgrade). The last version sent I was told to junk as it was made invalid and that is a lot of packaging and product to throw out. The full version arrived today and it was a bright spot. It was until what I loaded was a French version. I am now wondering if there is anybody competent in shipping at Adobe. It is now three weeks, with two very promptly answered and courteous phone calls, but this is ridiculous.

I am spending a large amount of time the last couple weeks with really poor customer service. How inefficient have things become? How productive could we be if things worked?



January 2, 2006

Off the Top Blog Turned Five

I forgot that 31 December 2005 was my 5 year anniversary blogging. A lot has changed on this blog and the whole blogging arena. Many of my short posts along the lines of, "I found this cool thing... " are now in my del.icio.us feed, which for those of you with JavaScript turned on is over on the right as the new incarnation of Quick Links. The same items and more I also post over on Yahoo! MyWeb, but because I can post to just myself or to a community of people I know with similar interests. (I really really hope their community functionality of MyWeb gets fixed soon in 2006 to better filter feeds from the community coming to me and allow something other than, "you can see all of my links and I will see all of your links". Life and real people's interests are not like that and Yahoo! is the people understanding people products on the web for people's lives. So, lets get to it shall we?)

Blogging seems to be more than the relative handful of people I followed in 1999 through 2001. It really exploded following that, partly because there were more options that were easy to use and options that became more stable. In 2000 I had been running this site (under a few different URLs) for five years and when I added Blogger as my tool to add content more easily it was a wonderful change for me. Not long after that Pyra (the company that started Blogger) imploded and we were left with just Ev and when Ev was away Blogger had separation anxiety. Not long after I turned to blogging by hand for a few months. I then put my own blogging tool in place that eased my workflow (Movable Type did not have the features that I wanted for my multiple categories and three entry types (essay, journal, and weblog). I had built my tool as a means to post information while traveling from any web browser when I was doing it by hand and needed FTP to regularly post. I have been running the same blogging tool with modifications since it launched 31 October 2001 (I had a post on my hand built page from October 2001 announcing it.

The look of the site has changed from the bright blue and bright green on black the blog launched with (this had been used for two years or so, and blogging with that use of the color palette was hard on the eyes). I moved to a less hard on the eyes color scheme not long after the blog launched. The current look was put in place 20 November 2002. Other than turning off comments (which I hope to bring back some day) and modifying the right-hand bar I have not made many changes since then. Life has been a bit busy since then.

I am still hoping that I will move this blog to a commercial blogging tool as my time is pulled elsewhere and I do not have the time or energy to tweak the underlying code that creates this blog. I have been quite happy with my use of TypePad since they launched and I keep my more professional blog, Personal InfoCloud over there. My happiness with TypePad and the full company of six apart there to support Movable Type will likely make it my choice. I have some other uses for the Movable Type software, other than this blog that is helping my choice. I am also a fan of WordPress and Drupal (Drupal has the capabilities under it to do what I want and need too and a large developer community). These changes come down to time available, so I could be a while.



December 29, 2005

A Year of Surfing Life

This was not the year I expected. This is a good thing. It was a year of personal and professional change, challenge, and growth. Sitting back and for a moment and looking at 2005 as it comes to a close I don't know that I could have ever planned this year. It could be the year I learned to surf life, in taking what is offered up and riding it to a place closer to one's dreams.

Personal Life Changes

It was a year that saw our extended family lose one member, which made life seem all that much more precious and every moment seem to be worth a lot more. It put a lot of things in perspective for me. I wanted more time quality time with my kid to watch him laugh, learn, and grow as well as be there for the tough times. I wanted home life to be more of a home, not just work away from the workplace. I wanted to finally get to put see the work I have been toiling at for the last four years come to life. At the end of this year I think I got to each of these or at least much closer.

Work Life Exposure

The press this year covering folksonomy and Personal InfoClouds was part of what enabled the change. Seeing folksonomy become something that made it into mainstream press was nice, but finding large businesses and cultural organization embrace the idea to improve their communication and information recovery has been even fantastic.

Seeing interest in folksonomy turn to look at the Model of Attraction and the InfoClouds was even more rewarding. This is the work I have been picking at for the last few years in my "spare time". I have been watching and working with organizations to adopt these models and frameworks to better build information resources that people could use more efficiently in their lives. Watching, talking to, and listening to people around me struggle to use information from the web in their own personal workflows has been one of the areas for opportunity for the work I have been doing.

From Dream to Making the Dream Work

Seeing the initial success that this work is having for those that are using it to frame their solutions and identify and solve the problems people have using information across devices and life's contexts has been rewarding. Now it is my job at InfoCloud Solutions, Inc. as the year comes to a close. The site for the company will get fleshed out in coming days and weeks. There are some interesting projects I am involved in through the company and have many more starting in the coming weeks and months.

Getting Around

This year was also one of travel, mostly for presentations, work, and work development. I have met some of the most wonderful people this year and I am looking forward to continuing the new friendships into the future. I have found a partial home for my ideas and work in many places around the United States and Europe and will be traveling again this coming year. The internet is a great connector for people of like minds as well as bringing those with problems and solutions together.

New Year Hopes

I am not one for the annual New Year's resolutions as I am one who likes to set out to make resolutions as they are needed, often every day, and not once a year. But I do hope that I continue to develop the relationships with those I have met this year as well as those whom I have known for longer. I am working to find time to update this site, Personal InfoCloud, and get InfoCloud Solutions site fully off the ground (those that said I should really focus on that early, were right as it is tough to get to when one's schedule is filling).

To each of you that stop by here and read, have a great New Year and please keep in touch.



December 4, 2005

Back from England

I am back home after my trip to England (UK) with stops in Oxford, London, Brighton, and London (Heathrow). It was a very good trip on many fronts, which I will share later. I was amazed at the transportation problems in London (traffic jams even with Congestion Charging, outages on the Tube due to security issues and switching problems on the Central line, and clueless ticketing agents at Victoria Station (who asked if I wanted "day return" at 16.47 hours and I said no, still ticketed it for me, which really messed things up the following day trying to return from Brighton to London, but also took nearly 15 minutes to process my credit card payment).

None-the-less I met with fantastic people at each step of the way. Oxford had changed quite a bit since 1988 when I last lived there, but not so much I was lost. I had a great time meeting David Smith in person and chatting about everything it seemed in a little more than a couple hours (it is always great to meet people in person that you have known on-line as it gives understanding to the digital references we have in our heads, it also allows for asking questions we never get around to on-line). I really enjoyed going back to The Centre for Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies and meeting current students studying there from St. Mary's College of California to get the tour. The Centre is still wonderfully run and brought back a great part of my life. I also got to visit the QI (Quite Interesting) bookstore and private club. The bookstore is wonderful as it jogs the mind in wonderful ways in that it arranges books by there, intermixing fiction and non-fiction and various subjects to create wonderful themes. I had a meeting with somebody new to me at the club and really enjoyed the venue and my company (I would hope to have the fortune of both again in the not too distant future).

London was really turned around for me as I was staying in a different section that I had ever before and was approaching it from a different angle. I really enjoyed the Online Information Conference as it brought some good questions and regarding folksonomy and brought some very bright people together. The Open Rights Group initial gathering was fantastic and I met some great people there with stellar ideas and drive. I also had a great meeting at DNA on my InfoCloud work and they had some brilliant questions that followed (unfortunately my Mac did not want to drive their beautiful monitors (not sure what went wrong as it was the first presentation in more than 50 that my Mac did not just fall in love with the monitor and just want to run off with them).

I also had an utterly brilliant time in Brighton and Hove with the Clear Left gentlemen and Pete Barr-Watson. I had never been to Brighton and Hove, but found I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of Oxford in 1988 when I walked down the main street in Hove looking for breakfast.

The ticketing mix-up, poor traffic, increasingly bad weather, and the need to care for work related to running one's own business kept me from returning back into London proper on Friday afternoon. I dropped my things off at the hotel near Heathrow (and was berated by the taxi driver in a very un-polite British manner for having such a short inexpensive fare not the 40 to 50 pound fare he had been waiting in queue for three hours for). The weather turned and I had not heard back from two friends I was hoping to meet up with for pints after their work on Friday (turns out my stupid phone will not send e-mail while I am in Europe and my requests were still sitting in my phone).

I never got to do the shopping I intended to do (other than Muji, Neal's Yard Dairy (with Matt Biddulph making wonderful suggestions), and buying the Banksy book. I did realize I was not quite dressed properly as I thought would work, so I stopped into Charles Tyrwhitt at 92 Jermyn Street in London to fix the situation with a new shirt and seven fold tie (I picked up the tie from a much less expensive stack, but with the somewhat baffling price reduction it made it seem less that my other option).

I also hope I never have the mis-fortune of dealing with British Midland Airways (BMI) again. They did not have the capability to deal with an electronic ticket, they were completely disorganized (with the exception of one wonderfully patient and helpful gentleman at their customer service desk), and under trained. I sat at the gate a Heathrow Terminal 1 watching the flight departure time come and go before we boarded, which I was told by those sitting next to me is quite normal. At Heathrow Terminal 1 they only announce the gate for the flight 45 to 30 minutes prior to the flight. It does not seem they have the capability to plan beyond this, nor do they point you to the correct security entrance. This made for no shopping in their shops and no relaxing. It was a very poor experience and one I do not care to ever repeat. In all, the signage in Heathrow (Terminals 4 arrivals and 1 departures) was horrible. It was difficult to sort out what direction to go. Conflicting signage was up about the Tube and Heathrow Express, with some saying things were not running and others stating where to go. In all the rail transportation related information in the UK is a mess as there is no easy central place on the web to find travel times and prices. The privatization has seemed to lead to nicer rail cars, but poor service and poorly coordinated information. I will take the less nice cars from 1988 and much better service, thank you very much.

In all I had wonderful accommodations, great hospitality, and had wonderful conversations with bright people. This was what I really wanted from this trip. I also got a lot more, but that will be coming in time.



November 29, 2005

10 Wonderful Years

Before I forget, as of some point between the 20th and the 30th of November I will have had a personal site on the web for 10 years. All of this started with a few simple pages to say who I am (never very well), post a links page so I could have access to things I have an interest in from any internet access, and play with HTML. Much of the first site was silly with each page having its own look-and-feel (see playing with HTML), but I really wanted to experiment.

The first site was hosted on Compuserve, but with in a year it was moved to Clark.net hosting (that was bought by Verio and went downhill). In 1997 or 1998 I bought this domain name and soon after hosted the site outside (first with ASP and then ColdFusion) in real terms. In 2000 I moved the site to PHP, on the same hosting service, but they did not understand open source server hosting. In very late 2000 I started blogging with Blogger, which in 2001 switch to hand mark-up and then by the end of 2001 I implemented my own blogging tool that still runs the blog (it desperately needs a few hours of attention to get if functioning properly). But, work has largely kept me from making other profound changes to the site since then, there was the redesign to the current presentation in 2002 or so.

These past 10 years have made for a wonderful digital life. If you see me in London or Brighton (given the appropriate venue) lets celebrate this little event of personal expression and personal existence.



November 26, 2005

Off to London Oxford and Brighton

I am off to London, England tonight. I will be in Oxford Sunday night and through lunch Monday. I will be in London Monday afternoon through Thursday early afternoon. I am in Brighton Thursday late afternoon through Friday morning. Friday I am back to London to Saturday Morning.

I am speaking at Online Information on Wednesday on the topic of folksonomy. I have a handful of other gigs during the days along with seeing some of London that was not there when I lived in England in 1988. I am most interested in chatting, listening, and seeing people. Give a shout if you have an interest.

I am reachable by the usual e-mail.



November 24, 2005

First Snow of the Season

Beginning to snow here. This is the first snow of the season. We will have to see what morning brings...



November 21, 2005

Language as a Divider

A wonderful piece about language and experience by Meg had me recalling recent language adventures. Having been in the Netherlands, Brussels, Berlin, and Boston in recent weeks the shifting of language (and jet lag) and its impact on communication was brought back to me.

While much of the Netherlands (particularly Amsterdam) is fluent in English, I always feel badly using it as my default. The downside is I really do not speak Dutch, I have a vocabulary of about 20 or so words (although this last trip thank you was about the extent of it) so I fall back on English very quickly. Being of Dutch ancestry is the driver for the guilt, I feel like I am letting down previous generations.

The trip to Brussels was a little more problematic as English is not spoken everywhere, but they do speak French (I know a little more French than Dutch)and Flemish (close to Dutch, but not my forte). I had to rely on friends (mostly Dutch) to navigate menus and other essentials. But, Brussels is a very English friendly city.

Now we get to Berlin. I speak some German (Deutsch) from years of schooling. I can get by with my remedial Geutsch, but it does not get me as far as I would like. I can ask, "what beer is she drinking" and then follow-up with "I would like a large one of those, please". Food is fine, but complex directions (particularly with a city whose parts I am not familiar nor the transportation systems) were lost on me. These needed English. I also found that nearly all of the channels on my television at the hotel were in Deutsch (except for a time slice of CNN interwoven), although others friends in the hotel seemed to have more English channel access (could be related to my horribly flakey WiFi, which they did not experience either). All of the newspaper options in the hotel were in Deutsch, which made the Financial Times not quite as wonderful as usual.

When I got to Boston and checked into my hotel I went out to go to the reception and passed a newsstand on Harvard Square that was selling the Financial Times I had been trying all day (18 hours already) to get my hands on. When I went to ask for the paper my English had failed me. I had lost all languages for a moment. Language quickly returned, but I could easily ask for the paper in Deutsch, as well as for how much, and say thank you in Deutsch or Dutch. This I knew would not get me far. I just sort of mumbled something in some language and tucked my paper in the back pocket of my Barber coat and went off into the night.

I usually have this problem in English as I can always think of the larger words, but always pause to think of the more simple words or the one that is more culturally appropriate. English is not one language, but many culturally loaded variants. The use of sofa rather than couch or supper rather than dinner frames who you are in other people's minds. Let alone various terms from cross professional disciplines, which can quickly alienate you or engender you to those to whom you are speaking. So I often pause to pull from the appropriate vocabulary, but most often I can only think of one term and just go with it, then hope I get called on it so I can explain I am not exactly the person they think I am (that rarely happens and inferences of who I am are sealed). C'est la Vie!



November 17, 2005

Design Engaged and Symposium on Social Architecture

I got back home late Tuesday night from Design Engaged in Berlin and Symposium on Social Architecture in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Harvard. I had a deadline to meet by midnight Tuesday. Much of Wednesday was spent unbolding e-mail and getting essential replies out (more of this to do today) and unbolding my feed aggregator (1500+ things). I also spent time posting photos of the trip to Berlin (currently at 216 photos, possibly a few untagged).

Design Engaged

Design Engaged was somewhat different from last year's event in Amsterdam. It was still interacting with many of my favorite people, but it was a little larger, in a new space, in a new city (one I was not familiar with), and had a larger representation of women. All of these turned out good, but I felt a little more disconnected. The disconnection I think was attributable to an unfamiliar city, staying at a hotel away from where the sessions were, and not having most of the people staying at the same hotel. I tended to stick with those staying at my hotel, which was good for those relationships. But, part of this was tied to my unfamiliarity with the city.

This unfamiliarity changed for the better and I have learned something about myself, and that is all good. The unfamiliarity shifted to familiarity. I got to know some incredible people and spend time with people I knew, but now know much better. I got to know Berlin. I have not been to a completely new city that I had time alone in quite a while (Brussels last month was new to me, but I was with a large group I had become familiar with, I all were staying in the same hotel, and I had very little interaction with the city itself). My first impression of Berlin was good, nothing more and nothing less. This was formed on an outing to Potsdamerplaz and walking back through Mitte.

Part of the Design Engaged experience is interacting with the city. A group of us headed out to Friedrichshain, which was part of East Berlin and is not being torn up and made western to the degree that Mitte or Alexanderplaz have been and are going through. This was the perfect outing for me as I really wanted to understand East Berlin or get a flavor of what pre-unified Berlin was like. I was interested in the Soviet style architecture and the working neighborhoods. Why? They are something I do not understand and had not experienced. I was utterly thrilled with our exploration of the area, both on our own and with a local who life is in that neighborhood.

I also learned a fair amount about myself on the Berlin part of the trip. I use various supports to explore that which is new. I use friends to guide in new surroundings and meet new people. Familiar surroundings to best embrace new people and expand my knowledge of the surroundings. I learned that having much new causes me to fall into an observation mode and a little less interactive. There are people I really wanted to get to know better and spend more time with. I tended to spend time with the people I already know well, in part to catch-up and get to know better. I also spent a lot of transit time trying to take in as much of my surroundings as possible. Understanding the lay of the land, the flavor of the neighborhood, trying to glimpse what the neighborhood was, what that neighborhood is becoming, and the expression of the people who live in and move through that area. The architecture, design layers (planned and emergent layers -- painted and overlayed), traffic patterns, lines of sight, etc. are all important components to understanding the people, their interests, and indicators of importance. Digging through the international layers (Starbucks (particularly behind the Brandenburg Gates is problematic), Duncan Doughnuts, American brand advertising, and global mass produced products), which in my opinion are disruptive to the local culture.

After returning home I know I have a much better understanding of Berlin and it is a city I would love to return to so to spend more time and explore. Now that I have a foundation of understanding I am ready to drink in more. I also realized that observation limited my getting to know others better than I would have liked. Ever single person at Design Engaged this year was utterly fantastic. It is a very special group of people. There are no egos. There are no agendas. There are people who love sharing, learning, embracing, and exploring. This is something very special and something very different from most any other gathering. Part of it is the event is not about certainty, but exploration, asking questions, listening, and growing all in a shared experience. Unfortunately I am more ready to engage others and interact now that I am home, but hopefully there will be more time.

Symposium on Social Architecture

Counter to the Design Engaged the Symposium on Social Architecture was in a somewhat familiar place, but I only knew a few people prior. I knew many from digital interaction, but personal "in place" interactions were limited. There were more people who knew of me, than I knew of prior. I was continually having to put people in context of digital and idea spaces (some of this is now connecting). I had somewhat slept much of the journey from Berlin to Boston (transferring in Washington, DC) so I was not really dealing with jet lag. On the first night there was a reception at the Harvard Faculty Club and I met many fantastic people. I noticed there was a fair amount of clustering by gender, which was bothersome as there were a few women I wanted to chat with, but I found some very good discussions in the men's clusters and did not break free. There are many women whose work I find insanely helpful and wanted to say thanks and engage in some longer conversations.

The symposium was utterly fantastic. Every session had something I really enjoyed and there was a lot of reassurance of my own understandings and directions. I am not as fully engaged in the social software realm as I would like as it is an insanely important component of how we do things on the internet and it is growing ever more important. Much of my work discusses the Local InfoCloud as an intersection with the Personal Infocloud.

I have a lot of notes from the day (but more complete notes will be expressed in a later posting). I heard a lot of mention of local (closeness drawn through interconnection in social contexts), which was a reinforcement of my understanding as well as the language (or problems with the language) I have been dealing with at times. I heard a lot of discussion of all current social software is simple software, as it is easy to understand what the value is and the barrier to entry is a relatively painless in comparison to the reward received in the perceived value. Many also discussed building tools that got out of the way, they just let people interact. This was explicitly stated by Tina Sharkey of AOL, which made me very happy as it was a large social portal that expressed they understood what to do and have done it. It is not the tool that is important, so much as it is the social interactions that are the key. The tools should be a platform for connecting and communicating not for controlling.

I also met one of the people responsible for Steve, The Art Museum Community Cataloging Project, which could be the most important folksonomy and tagging endeavor that is ongoing. The importance is in part their work, but the research into tagging and folksonomy is insanely helpful and seems to be the best work out there at the moment. The work proves the strong positive significance that tagging and folksonomy plays in connecting people to objects and information. Having the world framed in a language or vocabulary is incredibly helpful and that is not often a result of formal taxonomies as they tend to optimize toward the norms and not embrace the edges. I will be writing about Steve more in the future, but I was so excited to meet somebody tied to the project so I could have more conversations and learn what they have found to be helpful and not so helpful.

The panel on politics and social software, particularly in relation to Katrina, was great. It highlighted the problems with politicians and their lack of understanding technology that could better connect them to their constituents, but also technology that could better enable solutions and resolution for their constituencies. I was completely moved by this panel.

The piece I had disappointment in was the closing. Er, the closing was Stowe Boyd interviewing me about what I found of interest from the day and what I would take home. Stowe asked the perfect questions, but I learned something about myself, I framed my responses literally and too personally. I let myself down in the responses as they were too general and did not capture the whole of what I got from the day nor the strong themes I noted. I was still taking in the politics panel and re-digesting the day based on that context. When I get a new perspective or new information I run the world I perceive through that lens and adjust accordingly and then emerge with a slightly reshaped or more inclusive framework. I think my closing remarks were poor, because I was integrating the last panel into my understandings. The rest of the day went largely as I expected, but the wonderful politics panel disrupted me in a positive manner. I apologize for the poor closing observations. For me it was the poorest part of a great event.



November 9, 2005

Off to Berlin

Off to Berlin this afternoon to participate and absorb at Design Engaged. The usual travel info works for me (usual phone forwarded to the GSM travel phone).



October 21, 2005

Interview regarding Digital Identity and the Personal InfoCloud

Today I appear over on Under the Radar: That cloud kinda looks like you! in an interview by Scott Hirsch who is a partner at MIG5. The interview focusses on digital identity, which is integral to the Personal InfoCloud and interacting with other people and services in the digital world. Increasingly it seems digital identity is tethered to physical world identity for access to buildings, accessing our computers, medical services, etc. This has some problems around privacy that must be addressed and there must be trust in the services that interact with out digital identity.



October 20, 2005

Focussing and Shingle Hanging

Three trips in the last four weeks has me playing e-mail catch-up. My outbound e-mail is not fully functioning on the road as the provider changed the SMTP port recently I have not updated the settings.

In the same time period I also have left my job and am now consulting and working on my own projects. I am focussing on helping organization better connect with the people who have an interest in their information and media. Building efficient conversations and interaction is the key to successful relationships, be they interpersonal or organization and people. Organizations also need to better understand social networks and providing information that can be used and reused across devices and the Model of Attraction and Local and Personal InfoClouds are just the tools to help provide the framework to think about this as well as making smart decisions regarding Web 2.0. Lastly, the ever present folksonomy will be a focus as well. Along all these lines I am doing research, analyzing, and providing direction and focus to help people and organizations think clearly in these changing times.

I will be posting here a little more often and you can expect more postings over at the Personal InfoCloud. There is much to be investigated and written, which I have not had the time to do in the past. I am also tackling article writing that has been a victim of elusive time. I will also be launching a site for the new company in the near future.

Please send a note with questions or inquiries for services. My time is filling up, but I am always interested in helping others as well as looking for cool projects and difficult problems. I have quite a few people and organizations to keep in touch with and get back in touch with, but if you would like attention more quickly shoot an e-mail to get my attention.



October 16, 2005

Closing of the First Phase of the Fall European Tour 2005

I am back in Amsterdam tonight after a wonderful trip to Brussels for the Euro IA Summit. It was quite refreshing to talk to people that have a different perspective from Americans on IA, mobile, technology, privacy, and the possibilities for social interaction with digital devices. Last year after Design Engaged in Amsterdam I believed Europe to be farther ahead on internet and mobile (including mobile internet) than America. I now firmly believe Americans have a lot to learn from the Europeans.

I wanted to come and present the InfoCloud information in Europe because I thought they would be more ready for it. They would be able to provide criticism and questions that I do not get in America, mostly because the Europeans have been implementing mobile and trying to work through a means to access information in the environment and context where the information makes sense. Boy, was I right. The InfoClouds are more than mobile, as they are a means to think about information access, personally managing that information (or providing people the ability to manage, use, and reuse the information intelligently) and reusing it as that information is needed and framing the information in ways that make sense (web 2.0 fit this bill). I ran into smart thinking about web 2.0 here, not the just go do it, just open your information up, but working to think about if it made sense to do the cool and how they would do it intelligently.

The Europeans also really get cross-cultural sensitivity and are smart about how to approach working with other cultures. I was delighted to find what American's call internationalization is referred to as localization. How brilliant. How understanding. How unalienating. There is a distinct understanding that people are different and we need to understand that and embrace that. Hmm, there is a very strong reason why it is called the Personal InfoCloud and not the User InfoCloud. If you are not thinking in a local sense you will not get to the personal sense. You can get from localization to personalization, or from the Local InfoCloud to the Personal InfoCloud and also back. We all deal with more than one Local InfoCloud and I received some of the best questions about the interaction between the various Local InfoClouds and the Personal InfoClouds. Interaction be between the social part of personal it of immediate interest here. People are very tied to their communities here, it is a strong part of their identity.

I found myself surrounded this weekend by insanely smart people, who love what they do, and are doing things to help others. Everybody was incredibly friendly and genuinely interested in learning everything they could and sharing what they knew. I could not have asked for a better way to have spent any of this time. I would do all of this again in a heartbeat.

Thank you to all of those that I had the pleasure of sharing time with. Who were incredible hosts in their countries. Who asked and listened and from whom I learned to do the same, as when you listen you can learn. I learned an incredible amount. Thank you again. I am ever so much looking forward to my next two trips.

Peace!



October 12, 2005

Amsterdam Time

I have been getting adjusted to Amsterdam time today. This means coffee and a little snack, followed by coffee, then coffee and a little snack, an then coffee, and then lunch with coffee and carbonated iced tea (that is a little odd as bubbles in iced tea usually mean it has gone bad long ago).

The weather and the lighting today is stellar. I spent much of the day chatting and going around Bensterdam, which ended hanging out on Ben's houseboat and watching the boat traffic and chatting. Amsterdam has come to life as a livable city more today than any other time.

I have been focussing intermittently on the presentation for tomorrow. I will post it tomorrow evening or Friday morning.



October 8, 2005

Blogs for Select Audiences

Mena posed a clarification as a way to echo what Andre stated about closed blogging in Live Journal.

I can relate as I have been using Yahoo! 360 for much the same as what others post to Live Journal, it is closed and I have a decent idea who is reading what I post. For the last couple years I have been self-filtering and needed a venue to get about posting 50 percent of what was going on with me. Getting to 60 or 65 percent helped (the other 35 to 40 I save for face-to-face with people I know and trust, maybe it is LJ).

I am not a huge fan of Yahoo! 360, but it is decent and has serviced its purpose. It really needs a lot of social network filtering work (see granular social networking for a hint at the idea). Everybody I know has three or more lives and distinct and diverse social groups that they would like to keep separated for one reason or another (the poker night with the guys and your knitting group may not, well see eye to eye or you may not want them to). Providing a means to use one blog-space to write for more than one social group is a dire need. I know a few people who have more than one LJ persona they maintain.

We each have diverse lives, why are our tools not as malleable and diverse. We and our tools will get there. We have to.

By-the-way, I loved Andre's line, "The best weblogs are the ones in everyone's 'drafts' folder. So much of what I used to write and like to write about won't work today." I am hoping to get some of those things out, as I have time and/or I do not need to have a filter on some of those things any longer.



October 6, 2005

For a Brand New Day

Today will be filled with mixed emotions. It is my last day working in a building I have been in since November 1999. I have been a program manager (translation: over see many projects) who is also charged with keeping his hands dirty (less dirty than I wished) and providing solutions) for the same group since December 2001. I have been working for the same company since October or November of 2001. All of these are records for me. I am somewhat amazed I have made it this long (I know others are too) as I have short attention span and like to iterate quickly and build, test, and tinker toward perfection then move on. That is not the environment where I have been. It took more than 3 years to do what I believed would take 6 months.

I will deeply miss working with the great people that have been around me. I will miss working for INDUS Corporation as they have been a wonderful company to work for, even long before I worked for them. When I was working on a previous project they staffed and lead one of the GIS portion of the project. They would always ask what I needed to make the project run better and meet our goals and deadlines. If I needed a Java developer they would make one available the following day and the developer was usually stellar. I had never seen this before, particularly not in government contracting. They believe deeply in their employees and the success of their client%#039;s projects.

But, it is time to move on and focus my full work attention on the things that have been keeping me up at night and inside on sunny weekends. My passion for building and helping others design and build tools for people to use and reuse information more easily. This information in social contexts in the digital and physical environments needs more attention. The Model of Attraction and InfoClouds (Personal InfoCloud and Local InfoCloud), which include folksonomy, are my focus. Today findability of information and media is getting rather good, but refindability sucks. It is long past time to fix this.



October 5, 2005

Subject of a Life Scrape

The past few months have been quite interesting to watch as I can see people doing a "life scrape" on me. A what? Yes, life scrape. This is somebody searching your digital being online. Let us say you meet a wonderful person at a happy hour and you start seeing a lot of traffic coming into your blog or other web property from a wide variety of inbound links in your referrer logs. You check your web access logs and see that many of the broad inbound links were the result of one IP address. This is a life scrape. Just like search engines will scrape a web page for its content a person's digital life can be scraped to get an understanding of who they are, for what ever the reason.

I am coming up on 10 years of having a personal website, blogging for 5, and have been commenting around the internet for more than 13 years. There is a fair amount of digital life to scrape. People could be doing this for due diligence (they are going to use me for work, hire me, write about me, or stalk me (white-hat stalking or black-hat stalking)), but I am never sure. The past couple of months I have been getting this confirmed by the people doing the life scrapes. I think the people doing the life scrape are a little more freaked out that I figured it was them (I sometimes know what search engine they have used because of the order the inbound links come in and the source of the inbound links). The web is not as anonymous as many think and with a little context (I met person X at a happy hour and they want me to help review a project for them) I have a decent idea of the probable suspects.

All of this is a part of having a digital life. It would be nice to be able to see all the inbound links for any information we as people have out there. We can examine the inbound traffic for our own websites, our RSS feeds, what others are saying, but we can't see who is hitting the external information. It is sort of the digital equivalent of having your ears ringing (somebody is talking about you says the old wives tales).



September 21, 2005

Travel Update

I am on extended stay in the Bay Area (more than the 12 hours I was here in August). Yesterday driving down 101 from San Francisco toward San Jose there was a lightening and thunder storm. So strange as they never (or rarely) happen in the Bay Area. They are common at home in the DC area. I guess it was my gift. [Yes, I discussed the weather (I loathe, utterly loathe, chatting about the weather. We have this thing called the internet and you can see instantly get weather info. Abnormal or drastic weather conversations are fine. My son seems to have picked up on this and asks every morning, "is it raining?", to which my wife smirks.]

I am still baffled by rental cars. I enjoy my beast I drive when at home, but rental cars in the U.S. only seem to serve the purpose of what poor cars the U.S. car makers produce. In the intermittent downpours yesterday the fact that not all cars (particularly the one I was driving) do not have Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS). I have not owned a car in 10 years that has not had ABS.



September 12, 2005

No More Waiting...

I suppose I should note here that the last day at my current job will be October 6, 2005. I am not sure what the next full step will be, but I will be focussing my full attention what I have been passionate about for the past few years. Rather than spending a few hours every evening and weekends on my passions, it will become my full-time job. The details will show themself in the next few weeks and months. I need the time to persue some options and have time to think about and consider others.

For the last couple years I have joked I commute to my day job, but telecommute to my private life. Well, my private life is where most of the Model of Attraction, Personal InfoCloud, Local InfoCloud, and work takes place. Pieces of this work make it into the day job, but not enough to keep me excited or engaged. I am really wanting to see more great work and products that easily functions for people across devices, across platforms, and is easy for real people to use and reuse.

The world has been shifting to a "come to me web". We are seeing the easiest way to make this easier for people attract what they want this is to learn what each person has an interest in, as well as what their friends and peers have interests in. This will help the findability of information and media for people, but the real problem is in the re-findability of that same information and media for people so they can have what the want and desire at their finger tips when they want it and need it. We have all of the technology needed to make this happen, but it needs research, quick iterative development, and removing the walls around the resources (information/media, unwarranted device restrictions (American cell companies have created the failure of the missing robust mobile market), and unwarranted software restrictions). Paying attention to people and people's interactions is the real key to getting things right, not trying to beat your competitor (focussing on the wrong goal gets the poor results). Make the products people need that solve problems people have (with out introducing problems) and you will have a winner. People have so many needs and desires and every person is different so one solution will not fit all and we should never make things just one way.

These will be a long few weeks with more small steps for me. There is a lot to get done and to consider in the next few weeks. In this is preparing for speaking and traveling on top of the other needed work to be done to prep for this next step. I will pop back up and fill you in when I know more. but, the count down has begun.



August 13, 2005

Back from "Vacation"

I am back home from a week (um, with an interruption) at the New Jersey Shore. It was a good week, but a different week. Our usual destination of Spring Lake is undergoing change. Over the past seven years we have been going there we have watched the housing prices rise. But this year we were seeing many of the stores we knew replaced by real estate offices and many stores were saying good bye to us as it was their last year, they too are being out priced and replaced by real estate offices.

The oddity is that many who go to this quaint little slice of the shore love the quiet, the wonderful neighborly nature of the community, and the main street (3rd Street). The increasing residential housing costs have hit the main street and part of what has made Spring Lake a great destination (very much like going back in time) is being thrown away. The success is killing what has made it a success.

We also noted there were far fewer people this past week than there have been in past years. Many have said the B&Bs are getting overpriced and a couple have left the marketplace. We also have noted that the homes that are for sale are on the market for a lot longer. The quiet nature is getting some of the pushy New York feel (which is fine in NYC or the Hamptons, but that is not what we have been wanting on a week away).

This trip also had a quick jaunt out to San Francisco thrown in the middle so to speak at . I ordered a car service that picked me up at 5:40am that took me to the Newark airport. The driver was one of Jackson Browne's road keyboard players in years past. We talked about the music industry, travel and kids, Europe, and the changes in Spring Lake (echoing all that we had heard). I got to Newark to find out Continental had overbooked the flight and I did not have a seat (had I known this I would have booked on an other carrier), but it turned out well.

I had another whirl wind trip through the Bay Area and had not enough quality time with people I wished I had more time to hang with. I met a few new people that I a really would like to have gotten to know a little better. I must apologize to a couple people I cut short at as I was leaving PARC, as I was running late to, drive up 280, return my car, have a quick face-to-face meeting, and get on my plane. I am now trying to sort out my next trip back.

I got back into LaGuardia the next morning at 9am (after changing planes in a quiet Cleveland). I took the shuttles to Grand Central then to Penn Station to catch the New Jersey Transit train back to Spring Lake. I was running to get a ticket and then catch the train, but did not get the arrival time into Spring Lake. I figured I could get the information on my Treo easily enough as it was New York and it would be mobile enabled. Um, wrong. The web version is only JavaScript enabled (with no thought for no script versions) and therefore does not work on a mobile device (it can be a rather slick site on a laptop or desktop), which is what I needed.

I had a nice last few days at the shore and it was more relaxed than the first part. I had a nice chat on the beach, which may turn into a trip north in the end of September.

It is rather nice to be back on my laptop with a broadband connection. Using my Treo for connectivity to my digital life was a stretch. It was better than the year prior, but there were also times then the advances of the web toward AJAX, general DHTML, and rich interfaces left the needed information unaccessible from a mobile device. The page size for these pages was huge (many over 200kb), which is fine on broadband, but not smart on a mobile device. The lack of a link to a mobile version (I have not found a version of a site that I needed that offered a mobile option) was quite silly (a page without the JavaScript would have worked just fine or search for mobile could have been a solid solution).

Lastly, my Treo 600 seems to be on its last legs again. It has been only 18 months (or 20) since I got it, but it is not keeping up with the my wear and tear. My Startac and my Motorola 270c took more punishment and kept going for twice as long. The OS is getting buggy and crashing on me, which was not happening until my last day at the Shore. But it is a recurring problem tied to Snapper mail and the web browser in some way. The limitations of the memory, the added large SD card does not help, really show when trying to use the devices as one's main devices for a week. It is just an intermediary device, which it is designed to be, but the rigors of vacation use for light web, 50 plus e-mails a day, calendaring (although not dealing with iCal subscription) really made live tough. I did not have access to del.icio.us, Flickr, nor my RSS feeds (although I could have loaded FreeNews from FreeRange Communications if I could get Java running on my Treo again without it crashing).

Well, I am home. I have a ton to catch up on this weekend and to follow-up on from this week. I have to nail down some arrangements for the "Fall Tour". I will be back shortly with some more stuff here or over at the Personal InfoCloud site.



August 5, 2005

Quiet, Not for Long

Things are going to be quiet here for a few days...

Right, okay. We are fine on this end, but have just been a wee bit busy. We will be filling you in on the Fall Tour in a few days as we have been setting the initial groundwork for travel and blocking out dates.

In the short term Thomas is off the the Jersey Shore for "rest" and relaxation. Oh, since the Jersey Shore is in close proximity...

Right, okay. Thomas will be in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday the 9th to speak on the BayCHI - Are you ready for Web 2.0? panel. Drop by and say hello.



July 28, 2005

Brain Damaging Wind

Could have been a little too much sugar or summer heat, but this is the conversation:

Brian: Wow, the weather alert is, "Rain, damaging wind, and lightening."
Self: Huh? Brain damaging wind?
Brian: No! Rain, damaging wind, and lightening
Self: Brain damaging wind? What is that first word?
Brian: Rain!
Self: Brain?
Brian: No! Rrrrrain
Self: Oh, Rain comma damaging winds comma and lightening.



July 24, 2005

QI Explained

David has posted about QI (Quite Interesting) after taking photos. I had done some digging, but David has solid info. I am already planning a trip to Oxford after speaking in London at the end of November and QI will definitely be on my list of stops, along with where I studied, read, dined, drank, and lived. Ironically, I received my Oxford University Society Alumni Card and first magazine today.



July 19, 2005

Jean Jacket Memory Hack

A while back I stopped in the Gap to look at a black mechanic jacket, but they did not have my size. They did have a jean jacket and I put one on for kicks. It was like some trove of great memories from childhood and college were unlocked from the darkness. The fit and feel was just great. My last jean jacket was worn during college, it was a Calvin Klein number with swatches of black jeans on the underside of the arms, under the collar, inside the cuffs, and under the breast pockets. Were that jacket a Levi jacket I would have kept it when I moved.

Well, while in Portland (I lived there from 3rd through 6th grade and I wore Levi jean jackets then - with my Toughskin jeans and LaCoste shrits) I trekked down to the Gap and found they had one in my size. I thought about it through the day and went and picked it up later on. It was like magic with the memories and enjoyment that eased out of me.



July 18, 2005

Say Hey - If I Knew

I have a deep love of digital technology as an assistive devise and even an enabling device. But, I need something that sits between the digital and the real so to join those worlds.

Here is the problem... I am continually not blanking at who somebody I know in a digital context (through e-mail, a social networking tool (one that works), listserves, blogs, etc.), but their face or just lack of some means of connecting those I know to who they are physically. It continually happens at conferences or when traveling. This happened three times to me at WebVisions with Matt May, Erin Kissane, and Kris Krug. With all three it took some time before it clicked, fortunately with Matt it clicked while I still had time to draw the lines. I would have loved to have chatted with Erin and Kris with the context of how I know them firmly in place. Part of the problem it did not register to me that they were going (I am not sure I checked close enough to the event Upcoming to see who was going to I could make a mental note (or otherwise) to say hey.

What would the solution be? The gap between digital and physical must close. I need my address book crossed with my digital social networks and get all of the pieces tied together with one identity that I can track. Sure everybody can keep their 16 screen names across different communities, but we need to aggregate those to one identity when it makes sense, such as meeting in person. I have been told Sxip can handle this, but I have not had the time to track that down.

The next step is to take the aggregated identity and go through events I am attending or places traveling and let me know who will be there. I am not see this as a privacy issue as there are established friend relationships and set with parameters of securely allowing access to our information, or it has be made public. I usually have a mental list of who I want to see and talk to prior to events, but that group is growing. There is also a group of people I normally only see at events and I always try to hang with that "floating island", but I am usually in contact with them long before.

It seems like a tool like Upcoming would be a perfect place to do this for a large chunk of events. It will still take aggregating the identities across all of the digital communities I belong, address books, and in-person communities. I would love for the next step to include an application in my mobile device that tipped me off to somebody on my friendly "say hey" list being with in "hey" range.



July 12, 2005

Passion and the Day-to-day

This has been an up and down month so far with health, work, technology, and time. In general 2005 has been a rough year for respiratory issues already for me as I am nearly 3x the normal problems for a full year. These issues zaps energy and fogs the brain (something I really loathe).

The day-job is muddled in past problems, issues that have been plaguing people and have been solved years ago, but where I am resources and bureaucracy keep the long past current. Outside of the day-job I am working with the now and future, which I have really been loving. I have been working on responding back to many questions that have come in through e-mail about possible work and helping people through problems grasping and implementing efficiencies for current web development, folksonomies, and Personal InfoCloud related items.

I have also been working on my presentation for WebVisions, which involves completing it, tearing it apart and nearly starting over. To date I have nearly 25 hours working on this presentation, mostly integrating new material and editing out past content. This is in contrast to day-job presentations, which take me about an hour to build.

In a sense I am still time traveling on my daily commute. The gap is about four to six years of time travel in each 40 minute to hour commute. This is really wearing on me and it is long past time to move on, but I have not had the time to put forward to nail down the essentials for moving my passion to my day job (time and family needs that have filled this year).

So today, I was quite uplifted as my subscription issue of August 2005 MIT Technology Review arrived. The cover topic is Social Machines and I am quoted and have a sidebar box. That was up lifting as it relates to my "real work". This is right up there with Wired's Bruce Sterling article on folksonomy and Thomas Vander Wal.

Now the real work continues. If you are in Portland for Web Visions or just there in general later this week, please drop me a note and I will provide my contact info. If you are not in Portland and would like me to come to you and discuss and help along these topics please contact me also.



July 7, 2005

London Wishes

To those in London and surrounding areas all our thoughts, wishes, and prayers are with you.

Peace



June 23, 2005

Back but swamped

Back in the saddle here digging though wonderful thoughts and regards. Thank you!

We have been in a land with out broadband, let alone wifi. A couple days living only on what I could get on my mobile reminds me how poor the U.S. is porting content to mobile devices let alone how badly it is executed. A 100kb download is not what should be consumed by a mobile.

I am buried in work, the work outside of work sort. I also need to follow-up with a bunch of you in the next few days. It has been nearly a week that I have been consumed with family matters, some of which was very good and healthy. The winds of change are blowing and we shall see what happens.



June 18, 2005

The 7:05

My father-in-law took the train into New York city everyday for work for 30 years. Many of those years he took this 7:05 train in. This morning he passed away at 7:05.

Things will be quiet here for a little bit.

Peace



June 12, 2005

Designing with a Solution is the Problem

I finally put my finger on it. There has been growing frustration within me with where I work and as well with some of the leaders in the web design community of late. The problem and the solution has been known to me, but scattered in pieces and I did not pull all the pieces together until today. Why today? Well, it took a little doing, but I finally got my hands on this month's issue of Fast Company - June 2005, which I had been subscribed to until the May issue. It took a little bit of time to track down the issue as it was to the point in the month when the next months issues are getting put out. But, having that issue in hand (having read some on-line) I stumbled across my tipping point in the Be Cooler by Design column. I did not make it past the fouth paragraph when it hit.

It Begins with a Canyon

The paragraph has a header, "Show Them the Canyon" and discusses a designer at Ford, Giuseppe Delena, who would say, "Don't tell me you need a bridge, show me the canyon!" This was aimed at marketing people who would ask for specific design solutions, but not explain the problem.

That is my tipping point. Having to start with somebody's solution to design problems (most often solutions to the wrong problem). Not having the problems put forward, but an answer. An answer without anybody showing their work to how their arrived at the solution. For nearly four years I have been working, for the most part, with the end results of the work of others who started with a solution and worked that as a starting point, while never considering the problem (or in nearly all cases the multitude of problems they needed to solve). They did not understand the problems nor do they understand or know the standards and requirements that their end result must meet. Lastly they do not understand the medium in which they are working. In short it is a string of considerable messes that our team deals with continually. The sad complication is this is taxpayer money being spent (often quite nice sums) for end products that require incredible fixing to meet minimum standards and be usable on the web.

It is not my direct customer, who is in the same boat I am in as we support him (and he is one of the very few that really get what they are doing), but the "customer service" management and the management signing off on these projects that have become the problem. With the web, the business customer is not always right, the user is, as without the user their is no business customer. In our situation, by-and-large, the web being built is using what works for print and for multi-media, neither of which are solutions for text on the web. The business customer requires solutions for the wrong medium, which (as those who have sat through usability test find out) the tan text on brown background and all of the animated bits make using the information as is it is intended, nearly impossible.

Designers Must Explain Design Better

In part the design world is to blame as we have done a very poor job of educating the rest of the world as to what we do. We solve problems. We have spent an inordinate amount of time on learning everything we can about our medium, how people think, how people interact with our medium, how people interact with their devices (desktop, laptop, PDA, mobile, etc.) as they are all different, how to organize and structure for people interacting with what we design, how to build for people to give them freedom to choose the solution that is best for them, how to build for ease of use by people, and how to build for people to easily reuse what we provide (the list goes on). Yes, it is not a short list and I do not know a good designer who will truly claim they are done learning all of these aspects. We know what works best with everything we do know for the problems before us and we test everything we do and we iterate through our designs while always striving to make things better. Every designer I know loves to show how they got to their solution and document it for others to do, as their joy in designing is not repeating, but problem solving and innovating to better solutions. As designers we are always trying to learn what others do, so the good designers share in as much detail so others may learn what to follow and what to modify for even better solutions down the road.

In my current situation the lack of time to document and show our work is a major problem. The lack of documentation (or deliverables) is part of where the problem lies with the problems up the food chain (not that there are skilled designers or people that would understand up the food chain). If we had the time to show our work we could hand it to those at the beginning of the process so we could get better products with fewer problems when we receive them (although it is a very rare occasion that any of what we have produced for these purposes is ever followed). Many of the places up the food chain have sold a bridge with out ever seeing the canyon it is just a cookie cutter. It is rare when we get to solve the problems, either at the beginning or the end, we just get to fix it so it will just pass the minimum requirements, which are horribly low.

Understand and Explain the Problem First

This frustration has also flowed over to the web design community of late as there is excitement in the web community again. The excitement is not bad, actually it is great. But some of the new solutions are being framed as new wonder solutions without framing the problem they are solving. In the world of design (as it is with many other things) it is a realm where the answer to most every question is, "it depends". What is the solution? It all depends on many factors in the problem. Teaching how to understand problems and to walk through the decision process to get to the solution (or more correctly, one of many possible right solutions) is what raises the profession.

What has been happening of late in the web design/development community is looking at solutions that may be terrific implementations for a certain problem in a set environment, but proclaiming what is new is "the new way". For those that are not good designers or even designers at all, this approach reaches a problem point very quickly. It was not long after XMLHTTPRequest was coined AJAX that customers, and those I advise from farther away, started asking for their solutions to be AJAX. There are right places for AJAX, as it is just one of many solutions for problems where it may be one of the solutions. It is quite similar to aura around Flash as a solution, but AJAX has its benefits and detractors when compared to Flash.

Where the problem around the AJAX solution got tough was when AJAX was tied to a whole new exitement around the web. It was at this point the AJAX solution was being demanded from customers. I was hearing if from many corners, this great solution touted, was for customers the only way they would accept their final products. AJAX had quickly become the cure-all in customer's eyes, much like Flash had years before.

Our Responsibility

What we have to realize as designers, is people do listen and people want to believe there is one simple solution for all of their web problems, all of the information problems, etc. We know there is not a simple solution as of yet. In fact the digital information world is far more complex than it ever was, as Europe and Asia will attest, with the influx of mobile handheld use. (Europe and Asia have things a little better than the U.S. right now, as they have much less of a population that believes build for desktop (including laptop) solutions is the one way all design is heading.) Europe and Asia understand the world is far more complex and information far more useful when it can be used in context on a mobile device. The expanding of the devices and the realm of possibile solutions with their benefits and detractors across the many variables we monitor componded the problems we are solving. Simplicity is many designer's goal, but getting there is ever harder today and we must embrace the complexity (thank you Mike for turning that light on for me) and work through it. We also need to communicate the complexity to our customers so everybody understands it is not as simple as it seems.

It is this complexity of convergence around devices is also compounded by the flood of information people are experiencing, which is what has me loving the work I get to do around the Personal InfoCloud (and the Model of Attraction and folksonomy that are intertwined with it). This work is satisfying as it is not only defining the problems and working through possible solutions, but more importantly laying out frameworks to design and build solutions that others can use. There are increasingly people (who may become customers) that are coming and asking the right questions from the right perspective around the Personal InfoCloud, which may be another reason I really like working on it (we all love people asking smart questions). People are asking how to cross their canyon while describing the canyon and many times showing me the canyon they would like a solution designed for.

I think we all know what the next step is. It will not be happening tomorrow, but every day that passes makes the frustration that much worse. Knowing there is one point around which much of my frustration revolves may help me deal with it better.



June 1, 2005

Focussing on Personal InfoCloud More

Things have been too quiet over at my Personal InfoCloud site lately. It is not for lack of things to write about, but more of the too much going on syndrome. A few things are happening that made me realize that is one of the more important things I need to be doing for now. It will also help me focus on the WebVisions presentation. In the last six months there have been a lot of very positive things transpiring around the Personal InfoCloud work I have been doing, which has greatly helped more my ideas around it move forward.

Aside from my having more serious allergy problems this Spring than I have had in many years, trying to stay on top of all that is going on outside of work lately has been nuts. I am not at a point where I could give up my day-time job to get 10 hours of productive time back to move all of the other things forward far more quickly. Currently I am balancing four different camps, not including family and sleep for this "free time" and nearly all of these things drawing my attention revolve around the Personal InfoCloud.



May 22, 2005

Musical Baton

Livia passed me the Musical Baton. I have a somewhat broad collection of music that narrowing is extremely tough. I may answer this very differently in a week, month, or year. But, as of today...

Total volume of music on my computer

I have 6003 songs taking up 31.5 GB on my hard drive. This encompasses around 700 artists (give or take odd variants that become multipliers).

The last CD I bought

It turns out that I picked up a stack of CDs today, which included: Kem Album II, Midival Punditz Midival Times, Dave Matthews Band Stand Up, Bruce Springsteen Devils & Dust, among a handful of backfill disks.

Song playing right now

Blue Nile The Days of Our Lives

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me

  1. Dizzy Gilespie Man from Monterey
  2. T.J. Baden Sureal
  3. Youssou N'Dour Shaking the Tree
  4. Lyle Lovett Can't Resist It (live)
  5. Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill

Five people to whom I'm passing the baton

  1. Dan Brown
  2. Andrew Otwell
  3. Dan Hill
  4. Molly Steensen
  5. George Kelly


May 21, 2005

Super Spam Build-up

Super spam build-up. Thursday night I did my weekly pull of my stored "junk" e-mail, which was more like 10 days of build-up. I had found some legitimate bounced e-mail during my past round when I scanned through the mess, so I was saving up until I had a little time to visually parse through the pile. This time I had 31,000 items in the junk mail bin. I did not even look in the output bin this time, I just did a straight push to delete and dumped the trash.

If you sent something that you did not get a response on that you believe should get a response lets try this again. Send it. I have around 15 e-mails I have been working on longer responses to, but am going to be sending, "I got it" responses then put it in my longer response queue.



May 12, 2005

Oddities on an Odd Day

There were three things from today's White House and Capitol evacuations that were a little more than bothersome.

First it was reported that a couple weeks ago there were evacuations, but the cause of the radar blips were clouds. It sounds like the system is not quite ready for prime time and our lives depend on it.

Second, the only way those of us not working in the Capitol nor White House knew something was up was people calling them or they caught something in the media. The city government of Washington, DC was not informed until after the all clear was sounded. After September 11, 2001 this Government seems to have learn little and changed their planning very little and they prove they lack competence at every turn.

Lastly, our President was out in the country-side on a bike ride. Oh, it was the middle of the day on a Wednesday and the President of the United States is out with an old school chum for a bike ride? You have got to be out of your mind. Not only did people elect this guy, he is getting paid for leading not bike riding and playing hooky, and he is allowed to keep his job?



May 11, 2005

Alive and Busy

This has been a busy week already and it is only Tuesday night. Getting chunks of time to focus on promised writing has been tough the past few weeks, but I am in the clean-up stage of that finally. I am quite behind on e-mail and have about 300 rebolded to get back to and 15 with flags and reminders causing pop-ups every so often. I am finding the quick responses are harder to come by these days as I am often reshuffling schedules, but with out one central calendar to plan from and guide my time (security at work and the lack of syncing with Yahoo's calendar from my Mac and work calendar dropping entries as well as not flowing into anyother usable format easily).

I try to knock out quick messages to e-mail from my mobile, but my commute time for doing this was switched to driving the past few weeks. I am back to the train, which is helping, but the Snapper mail on Treo 600 is not a great management tool (a larger screen and multi-tasking/threading OS is really needed).

If you have not heard back from me, you will by mid-day Friday as I will try to get everything knocked out on my flight out West. I usually get great amounts of work done on plane flights and train trips as I get focus, which is very difficult at home.

Hang in there I am getting there, really.



May 8, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all it applies to. It is a day in a coffeehouse writing for me, but will be joining back up with the some of the mothers in my life in a bit.

One oddity with these gift card holidays is their sexist bent of the cards themselves. The greeting card industry is largely focussed on females (as it is quickly apparent if you have ever gone in search of bereavement cards). The cards for this particular event focus on the mothering, house care, and cooking roles. In our house many of these tasks are shared, outsourced, or done by dad. Cards like "dad" will be trying to cook and burning everything just get me in the wrong frame of mind. We are not living in the 1950s any longer, must we still rely on these greeting card holidays to try and push us back into a past we are better off leaving in the past?

I celebrate the mothers of the world, but loathe the backwards sentiment of the fabricated lifestyle. Moms rock in all that makes them great and strong and it is this that should be help up and cherished. Thanks moms!



April 28, 2005

Micro-trip to the Bay Area

I have an incredibly short trip to the Bay Area beginning tomorrow. I will be on the ground there less than 24 hours and nearly all of it will be either sleeping, prepping, in meetings or transit to and from the airport. I was hoping for a trip of three days at least, but that will come. Should you see me, say hi and I may have time for a quick coffee or something.



April 22, 2005

Blower Blows

Our air conditioning/heater blower went out yesterday evening. Today we had a new one put in (we have spent two-thirds the cost of a whole new unit in two years in repairs). It just kicked on and, man does the new blower blow. This could make for a more comfortable summer, or at least it is one option.



April 15, 2005

Breeding not Easy

I loathe allergies. For some reason my allergies started in full drive a little early this year (only by a week or two). This past week, starting last weekend, the annoyance began its progression. Yes, I take things for them (I have done shots too, but the lost time out of one's schedule is greater than the week or two of misery, at least for now), but the effectiveness diminishes each year.

The two things that get to me are lack of good sleep and the cloudy mind. This really is not the time for this as I have a ton of things to get out the door that require focus of a clear mind (focus is a little difficult at the moment, but more on that at another time).



April 10, 2005

Crunch Time, as Usual

We are quite busy with articles, summaries, presentations, and e-mail these days. We have ideas and projects that need to get out of our heads on in to some functional space. Again we are looking for about 6 more hours in each day, that would do it. The other option would be to rearrange things we already have to put better focus on the stuff that will help the people who get it design and build for those that don't get it and shouldn't need to get it. What are we talking about time spent on the wrong things and working to spend time on the right things. What are the right things? We will tell you once we have time to knock some of them out.

Cryptic? It will not be once we have the key to set all of this free.



April 2, 2005

The Touch of Pope John Paul II

It is with sadness that I pause at the passing of Pope John Paul II. I am not Roman Catholic, but the Pope did have an impact on how I view the world. Actually he gave me a look into a world I would have never seen.

In 1987 the Pope was making his trip to the U.S. and traveling across the states, stopping in many places. One of the places he was stopping was San Francisco. I was in my last semester at St. Mary's College and had been contacted over the summer to see if I had an interest in helping the San Francisco Diocese Catholic Communications work locally on the Pope visit. Since I was a communication major, I though this would be a great experience.

There were preliminary meetings over Summer, but most of the work started a few days before the Pope was to arrive in the U.S. I was going to be helping in a communication center that was going to be tracking the Pope by satellite feed, providing tape to local media, as well as subject experts explaining the Pope's points. As Pope arrived in the U.S. our satellite center was busy, I was spending most waking hours outside class at the center flipping tapes, running cameras of the expert press conferences. It was a lot of fun seeing behind the scenes and getting good hands on experience.

As the Pope was nearing San Francisco on his trip our communication center was getting moved to another place as the space was needed for other purposes on the day of his visit. The night before his arrival we moved all the equipment to an annex of the Cathedral. I had class early the day of his arrival, but was back in San Francisco to help out the last minute changes.

When I got to the Cathedral one of the technicians who had been a lead was needed back at the NBC affiliate. This left an extra spot for a person inside the Cathedral and I was asked if I wanted to go in as I had put in a lot of hours. The event was a religious only event between the Pope and Roman Catholic ordained priests, brothers, nuns, sisters, bishops, and cardinals. It was them, security, and a few press. I had to go fill out some paperwork for security and go help with some final preparations inside for the network cameras. Then it was back outside for the bomb searches.

We were finally let back in and went to our spots before the religious were let in the Cathedral. I was up on top one of the kiosks in the back with one of the camera crews and had a perfect view of the whole Cathederal, including a look down on the Pope's entry way. Things were orderly as everybody in their vestments came in and took their seat. We watched as the Pope landed in San Francisco and drove to the San Francisco Mission, where he held the boy with AIDS, which changed the view of many in the whole of the Church with that one action. He then was on his way to the Cathedral along a route that had more security than any other event prior.

As the Pope neared the Cathedral everybody was getting excited. There was getting to be a lot of commotion from the truly devoted, many of whom had never seen any Pope in person. As the Pope was a block away it was near bedlam in the Cathedral. The nuns, priests, brothers and sisters were up on the pews stomping their feet. It was like a rock concert. Not any rock concert, but a huge rock concert, like Elvis would have been, only bigger. I was on the headset that had media, security, and police on it. The police added more forces inside the Cathedral before the Pope would come in. They had metal barricades up and there were many police pushing back at the barricades, it was a scene I never would have imagined and one very few would ever see. Here was a man who represented to nearly every person in the Cathedral the embodiment of their connection to their God. For many it was a once in a life time event for these people who had given up everything and taken vows of poverty for their God.

As the Pope entered the Cathedral things really let loose. The barricades nearly came over as the Pope walked in and shook as many hands as he could. He put his hands deep into the crowds beyond the barricade that were thrust with the weight of thousands of pounds of the adoring. As the Pope walked down the main aisle he stepped into the pews to shake many many hands. He knew the sacrifices of these people as he was one of them. He made many feel like he was one with them.

After many minutes he finally was seated on the alter and a few minutes later order was largely restored. The meeting was one that presented the U.S. Church views to the Pope, female ordination and other relatively contentious subjects were broached. As the Pope gave his blessing I was asked if I wanted to go down near the exit to hang out to get a closer look. After the blessing I went down to an empty spot near the door with another who was helping. The exit was quite boisterous as well. As the Pope neared I was pushed toward the barricade, but as those around me urged, I put my hand out. As the Pope went by he shook my hand (it was very different from a politician handshake as it was more caring). As I turned around there were three or four nuns standing, a little shocked, and they asked timidly if I shook the Pope's hand. I said I had and the asked with which hand and I said my right, "the Pope it was right", I remembered saying. They asked if they could touch that hand. Two of them became faint, but they did not go down, as they touched my hand. They were so excited to touch the hand that touched the Pope. I was stunned and deeply saddened by this, as I was not expecting this response, but I felt very badly that I shook the hand when it should have been one of these nuns, who had given so much.

Since that time I have been in utter awe of the man who was Pope John Paul II, he did far more for the Church and making it come to life for many. Peace.



March 25, 2005

The Cost of Being Sick

Well, I was supposed to be on a plane for a fun weekend away with family, but they have gone I am home sick. I was really not feeling well yesterday at work, but tried to be a trooper through it (largely because I have burned through my vacation/sick time by going to conferences and speaking). Today I stayed home as I was not better and if I was going to travel this evening I needed to rest and get better. Getting better did not happen. I tried changing the flight to catch part of the weekend with my family, but the costs were astronomical to change the flight and just 100 dollars to cancel the flight. Looked at other route and airlines, but everything was booked of 10 hours of travel for a 2.5 hour flight. On top of this I would be not getting paid for anytime away. The financial cost was going through the roof to spend some time and relax (I have not done that in a while and do not see it happening until August).

The bright side is I am home and can work on those special projects, following up (still) on contacts from SXSW and the IA Summit, and cleaning the office. I guess I need some sleep and get better.



March 21, 2005

Outside of the 3rd World, Yahoo Buys Flickr

Once again we are back into living in the third world. It is the first day of Spring and we got a lightning storm and out goes the power. We have this to look forward to until Fall. Well, unless we move.

Once the power came on it was errand time, then time shout congratulations to Flickr and Yahoo!. The news was officially announced, that Yahoo! bought Flickr. The Flickr team is staying intact and in Vancouver. Flickr is one of the kick-ass products on the Web right now and with Yahoo! support it could stay at the forefront.



March 17, 2005

Mail Bagged

Tomorrow night should be my night to start catching up on e-mail. I have been getting more than a fair amount in the last 10 days, but I have not been able to send back out from the various hotels. It seems that POP mail and ISAPI mail do not like going out (ISAPI did not work inbound in Montreal either). I have gone through and parsed most of the e-mail into buckets to start handling.

I have not forgotten about you. Really. I have shot back some short e-mails from my mobile, but for many of you I have a little more to say.



March 15, 2005

SXSW Mini-Redux Part 2

It is 1am and I am home safely, my laptop is recharging, and I will soon do the same. I had a great time at SXSW Interactive as I had many, many wonderful conversations. I am still digesting many of them, (as well as still digesting those from the previous weekend at the Information Architecture Summit in Montreal.

The end of SXSW (I really wish I could have stayed to the end of the Interactive Festival to continue soaking in a realm people who "get it") was fitting as I snagged a ride and good conversation from Robert Scoble, which I am thankful for both.

More to follow, once I get some sleep.



February 28, 2005

Jef Raskin has Passed Away

In sadness and condolence to his family, Jef Raskin passed away. Jef was an inspiration to nearly every designer and developer, by helping us to aim to make products that were intuitive and extremely useful. It is my hope that is vision lives on in the lives and minds of all those he inspired and still inspires.

Peace.



February 13, 2005

Informal Coffee Convene

Dan captured yesterday morning's coffee convene very well. I just happened to look up and see two friends and fellow IAs having a discussion. It was a great way to start my weekend. This could be a great regular weekend jump off. It is good to sit and talk constructively and critically of our own work, it really helps. Maybe next time I will bring my own work to offer up for sacrifice.

This really sparked my juices to keep plugging along on my pet projects, which are getting more non-pet every day, meaning they are growing into real work and beyond the hours of my spare time. My passion for the projects has been growing over the four years I have been working on them.



February 12, 2005

It is Speaking Season

The next month or so has a few speaking engagements lined up. They are as follows:

Date: February 17th 2005 - Thursday (9am to 11:30am)
Event: The Web Mangers Roundtable
Topic: Blogging into 2005 panel (with Mike Lee of AARP and Lee Rainey of PEW Foundation
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Access: Sold Out

Date: March 5th 2005 - Saturday (10:30am - 12:15pm)
Event: ASIS&T Information Architecture Summit
Topic:
Sorting Out Classification - with Stewart Butterfield, Peter Merholz, Peter Morville, and Gene Smith
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Access: IA Summit Registration

Date: March 5th 2005 - Saturday (4pm to 4:45pm)
Event: ASIS&T Information Architecture Summit
Topic:
IA for the Personal InfoCloud
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Access: IA Summit Registration

Date: March 9th 2005 - 6:30pm
Event: ASIS&T Potomac Valley Chapter Panel
Topic:
From Soup to Nuts: Blogs, Blogging, and the Greater Impacts to Information Science -p with James Melzer of SRA International and Christina Pikas of Johns Hopkins University
Location: Laurel, MD, USA: Campus of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
Access: Registration Form

Date: March 14th (?), 2005 (Specifics to follow)
Event: South by Southwest Interactive Festival
Topic: How to Leverage Solipsism - with Peter Merholz and Stewart Butterfield
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Access: SXSW Interactive Registration



January 28, 2005

Amazon and A9 Provide Yellow Pages with Photos

Everybody is talking about Amazon's (A9) Yellow Pages today. Amazon has done a decent job bringing photos into their Yellow Pages for city blocks. This is a nice touch, but it is missing some interaction and interconnections between the photos and the addresses, I hope this will come. I really would like to be able to click on a photo and have the Yellow Pages information show up, everything I tried on Clement Street in San Francisco, California did not work that way.

One of the things that really hit me in playing with the tool today at lunch was how the Yellow Pages still suck. I have had problems with the Yellow Pages for..., well ever. I grew up in cross-cultural environments with British and French influences in my day-time care givers growing up. I moved around a fair amount (up and down the West Coast growing up and Europe and the U.S. East Coast). Culture has their own vocabulary (let alone language) for the same items. What I call things, depends on context, but no matter what, the Yellow Pages do not match what I wish to call what I want (or sometimes need).

Today's search I used one of the Amazon search sample, "Optica", which had some nice references. Knowing how I usually approach using the Yellow Pages I search for glasses (as that is what I need to get or need repaired) or contacts. Doing this in a paper Yellow Pages usually returned nothing or pointers to a couple other places. One would thing online Yellow Pages to be different, well they are, they returned nothing related. Glasses returns restaurant supply and automotive window repairs with not one link to eye glasses, nor a reference to "you may be looking for...".

A9 is a great search tool and Amazon.com has great product tools and incredible predictability algorithms, which will be very helpful down the road for the Personal InfoCloud, but the current implementation is still a little rough. I can see where they are heading with this. And I can dream that I would have this available for a mobile device at some point in the next two or three years.

Once very nice piece that was integrated was reviews and ratings of Yellow Pages entries. This is great for the future, once they get filled out. It will also be great once it is available from mobile device (open API so we can start building a useful tool now?). But, it brings my scenario of the future to light rather quickly, where I am standing in front of a restaurant looking at over 100 restaurant reviews on my mobile device. There is no way that I can get through all of these reviews. Our supporting full complement of context tools will be needed to get pulled into play to get me a couple or four good reviews that will mean something to me.

This is but a small slice of the Personal InfoCloud, which is much broader and focusses on enabling the person to leverage the information they have and find. Pairing these two and enabling easy access to that information when it is needed.



January 23, 2005

Back from SF

I am back home from San Francisco and I arrived home to 4 or 5 inches of freshly fallen snow. Yesterday I was sitting outside at overlooking the Bay Kelly's Mission Rock (freshening the sun block) and chatting with a friend while driving around in his convertible. I love my season's, but this really was tough. Although the temperature today was not as bad as the 14 degrees and windy at 4am on Thursday morning when I left.

I had a great trip, but it was far too short. It was the most crazy intense (in the most wonderful way) two days I have spent in a long time. I spent a lot of time on the freeways around the Bay Area, which allowed me to witness the Rollerball tactics of the CHiPs as they briefly stop traffic around a stalled vehicle or accident to push the accident out of the freeway and seem to gesture, "Game On" and all the cars resume their 85 mile per hour pace.

I finally had time to sit down face-to-face with friends and people I have been e-mailing and chatting with for a while to get some things done a little more quickly, as well as just put wonderful faces to the digital shell I had known. I am not sure who invented in person face-to-face interaction technology, but they are a genius as it is such a better technology than chat, e-mail, blog comments, or even the phone. So much gets done and it is such a broad channel of communication with all the non-verbal. There is so much energy that does not get conveyed in the electronic medium.

I will have to say I did more text messaging in two days than I have in quite some time. But, I also talked on the phone more in two days than I have in three months (other than with family).

Thank you to everybody I got to see on this trip, you made it wonderful. I am really sorry for not getting to see as many people as I would have liked as my time was jam packed from morning to night. One way or another there should be more trips.



January 17, 2005

Update from these parts

An hour ago I went out to pick up dinner (I did not make it grocery shopping today) and we were having snow flurries. This is the first of the season (usually they start in mid-December) as we have been experiencing Spring weather the past few weeks. Now it seems the flurries have stopped and it is just cold. I have been enjoying the Spring weather, but it has made me miss the Bay Area (soon enough, I tell myself) and I have not been missing the cold and snow as much as I thought.

Yes, it has been quite here, that will pass soon enough. We are buried in stuff and trying to get personal projects and presentations done, on top of regular work and some other things we have going on.

I am going to start pulling together some of the e-mail responses I have been sending out so that it will move things along on the e-mail front. Real e-mail and 1,000 spam e-mail a day have also slowed things down. I have a couple e-mails to get to tomorrow, but other than that I believe I am finally caught up.



January 1, 2005

Happy New Year 2005

Happy New Year! We here wish you a fantastic and peaceful 2005.

We do not make resolutions here as we try to make improvements when we find the opportunity, which is everyday.



December 28, 2004

Tragedy Brings Perspective

Take a moment out your day to focus on the tragedy in Asia and Africa from the tsunami. This quells the interest in technology and design when there is human loss, particularly on this scale.

Take a moment to give to provide aid. Oxfam (UK) or Oxfam America is just one good choice out of many.



December 25, 2004


December 17, 2004

Busy Busy Busy

Yes, things have been a little quiet here. Yes, things are alright. There are some people who are members of the "clean plate club". Well we are members of the "full plate club". Yes, we have a little too much on our plate at the moment. We have the usual work, articles, home life (teaching our son to catch the ball and throw the ball (which only may be so we can say "I said no throwing the ball in the house"), try not to laugh when he opens the oven door and yells in "Hot Hot Hot!!!", and teach him to speak a language that we his parents understand), and some projects we volunteered for as we inanely thought there would be more than 24 hours in our days ahead.

We have been a little sick in the past week. We are also thinking of moving our site to the new host we have been paying for and which has some wonderful things we need like secure e-mail and the ability to put all my domains on one hosting service. Oh, did I mention we have been trying to shop for Christmas? We have not picked up a tree as I was sick last weekend (as well as the parent in-charge) and I gave that gift to others in the house (the early presents were not welcome).

I also got to run errands tonight trying to find a laptop power adapter for somebody in the house that put theirs through the paper shredder, which lead to much amusement at CompUSA and Best Buy. I did learn a renewed love for Apple as they have one power adapter for their laptops (I also realized I largely only travel to places with Apple stores (official or fantastic independently owned)). It seems Dell has many variations to their power adapters and their newest laptop does not work with most of the "universal" power adapters.

Now I am going to get some sleep or check off something else on the to do list.



December 12, 2004

The Dishwasher Shall not be Locked

One of our son's favorite household devices is the dishwasher. Since he was able to crawl he would trek to the dishwasher. As soon as he could walk he could reach the buttons on the dishwasher as well as the opening latch. Not only is this a little annoying to us, but is a little dangerous because of the items in the dishwasher and the heat.

We bought a locking strap for the dishwasher. This was just a new game or puzzle for our 14 month old.

It was 2 minutes and he had figured out how to open the lock and remove the strap. Amazingly for us is he had not seen it used. I am utterly fascinated by his mind and his ability to quickly sort through problems and find solutions, often with out force.

[Update] We have a new lock we will mount soon. Then we will have a new race on our hands.



November 25, 2004

2 Feet, Thousands of Miles, and Time

My first afternoon in Amsterdam I ran in to Mike Kuniavsky in the hotel. Then Ben arrived and we stood in the hallway near the registration desk chatting and trying to work out logistics. My GMS phone has SMS and so did Mike's phone, with a Dutch SIM chip. He sent the introductory hello SMS ping to my phone so that I would have his local number. Once it was sent we waited for a minute or two to have the ping leave Amsterdam, go to the U.S. hit my carrier, route the ping back to my phone in Amsterdam a couple feet from the phone that sent the SMS.

I know this has been done thousands if not millions of times already, but the time bubble was wonderful. The length of time it took seemed like forever, particularly SMS at home can hit in seconds (with the exception on CDMA networks which seconds are about a minute or two). Yet, when thinking of the vast miles the ping traveled in that short a period of time it is still astounding.



Welcome to the 3rd World USA

Our power just went out and Pepco (the local) says it will be 2 to 4 hours before it returns. This is about the 30 to 40th outage in two years. It is time to move to a place that has proper infrastructure that works as expected, this is 2004 after all not 1910 and I did not think it was the 3rd world. My mistake.

[Update] The power went out just as we set the oven to finish our turkey (about two hours of cooking). We were going to be feeding 8 adults and three kids, not counting Will. We did some quick changing of plans, boxed everything up and took it over to Joy's sister's house to cook there. They were finishing their contributions in the oven so when those were done we began our turn. All turned out well, but a little later and with a lot of trucking things about (thankful for our beast on days like this to truly truck things about).

It was a good day of family being together, but the infrastructure problems in the greater Washington, DC area are really getting on my nerves. Yes we are thankful we do not live in a war ravaged country like Iraq and do have many amenities that are a little more abundant that other areas of the world. It is tough to have just come back from being abroad and knowing the U.S. does not have things as well as other countries. But, as learned abroad the closer one is to something the more the fine cracks show and they appear much bigger up close.

Adam's Thanksgiving posting is one of the best I have run across on this day, or most any other day.



Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Day all of you. Those of us here at vanderwal.net are very thankful for those of you outside of the U.S. too. Have a great day all, no matter where you are.



November 21, 2004

Tying Things Together from Design Engaged

Design Engaged is still interfering with the regularly scheduled thinking, which makes it one of the best gatherings I have been to in the last few years. It has been a positively disruptive experience. I have posted my notes on other's presentations, which are sketchy at best. The gaps can be filled in to some degree using Andrews links to Design Engaged posted presentation. Andrew also has wrangled the Design Engaged favorite book list.

I have two or three pieces that I am building essays or some other format from some of the ideas that bubbled up. Some are reworkings of some of my own ideas that have been changed by other's idea infusions and some are pure mashings of other's ideas. Now it is just finding time (as usual).



November 15, 2004

Back to Telecommuting to My Personal Life

I am back home from a fantastic conference, Design Engaged. An incredibly deep thanks is owed to Andrew for putting this conference on. I am so tired, but so amazingly still on the conference high that comes from spending time with people (some new to me and some already friends) who are bright, witty, and have similar view on the world and where it can be going. Having the conference in Amsterdam was wonderful and that really added to the uplifting nature of the conference.

Amsterdam is such a fantastic place for me, not only because some of my family comes from there, but the pace, the bikes, the freedom of expression, fantastic architecture, incredible public transportation that is truly world class, color and light built into the fabric of the city in ways that are permanent.

One question came up a lot in conversations, "do you telecommute?" My answer is no, I commute to work, but I often telecommute to my personal life. This conference allowed me to put actual people to the weblogs, comment names, IMs, and e-mails to a large portion of those I find to be holding a conversation that really helps frame my mindset. The conference was a synchronous time-place that collapsed hours, days, and weeks of asynchronous on-line conversations through weblogs and digital meta-trails as well as comment posts. Not only was the mind energized and engaged this weekend, but so was the heart as I got to know many much more deeply and still found wonderful warmth, which is a mark of fantastic people to me.

I am ready to go back, but that moment in time is gone. I can hope for future workings with each of these folks again. My life has been greatly enriched and I am deeply thankful.



November 14, 2004

Blinking

Suffering connectivity blinking, so bear with me. I had hoped to be posting more. This will get better. I am having a fantastic time and expanding horizons, which is what I had hoped to do.



November 10, 2004

Off to Amsterdam and Design Engaged

I am off to Design Engaged today, which is in Amsterdam. I will try to keep up with things here, but you can hopefully follow along with photos at vanderwal on Flickr.

I will be posting the That Syncing Feeling presentation after it is presented on Friday, which may be Saturday.

Could somebody please remind folks in the Netherlands they are a loving and accepting people. Being of Dutch heritage is something I take great pride and I would like to keep it that way.



November 5, 2004

Losing More Time

Off for another 110 minute commute for 11 miles. The normal 60 minute commute for the same stretch is even more unacceptably longer because of the METRO train crash, or were they trying to make more trains just like the animals we see on the Discovery Channel?



November 3, 2004

Blue

Things were blue today (language, mood, state).



November 2, 2004

Voted, Have You

I voted, have you done your part? If not, please do so.



Wonderful Show on Election Day

There are about 275 voters ahead of me inline outside to vote. This is my new place to vote and those around me say there has never been a line outside before. This is an incredible showing of people with faith in the system, particularly after the last election fiasco.

Come join the fun and have your say.



Vote

Please Vote!



October 31, 2004

Ninth Anniversary for My Personal Site

At some point nine years ago I began my first personal site. It was November 1995 and CompuServ opened up space for their users to publish their own site. This trek began with creating a page using a text browser and some prefab components from CompuServ. The computer this adventure began with is long gone. But, the remnants of the site remain, mostly in the links page, which became my bookmarks that I could access from anywhere. I never really went back to using browser based bookmarks after this point.

My personal site has changed over the years, from a site that was named the "Growing Place" that housed poetry, links, a snippet about consulting work I was doing, and a homepage. Version 2 was a move off of CompuServ to Clark.net hosting (which became Verio and was never the same after) came with frames and FrontPage buttons (the buttons never worked right after they were edited) and the links page grew and the consulting page moved from active to "under construction". V.2 also had some CGI form pages, mostly for mail and a guestbook that was not linked.

Version 3 (about 1998) was a move to vanderwal.net and had a black background with electric green and electric blue text. V.3 provided more links and had a small page of annotated links that was updated infrequently, and was mostly short notes to myself and was not linked to by anything but referrer logs. V.3 began using ColdFusion and then ASP, as that was what I was playing with at the time. This version was hosted at Interland, which was not a favorite ISP as I was doing bug fixing for them and their poor system administration.

Version 4 (November 2000) was moved to an ISP with PHP. This was just after our wedding and a photo gallery was born. The site stayed in black with blue and green for a short while, until it moved to a blue and orange theme (April 2001) inspired by the trip to the mother country Holland on our honeymoon. The annotated links were still being kept by hand, but were linked to finally. December 2000 I started using Blogger, which made the annotated links easier and provided a spark to post other information.

We are still in Version 4, possibly in version 5 as the graphic design morphed in November 2003 to its current state. This design validated to XHTML and made maintenance much easier. Off the Top weblog was converted to PHP in October 2001 after leaving Blogger and hand maintaining this section for months. The hosting has remained the same and has been steady.

There are many things in the works, but other outside commitments have been putting things on hold. The markup and CSS need to be cleaned up for greater ease. There are some hosting modifications coming, which could trigger some more changes on the back end programming side. There are some design and presentational structure changes that are being played with as there are a few things that really bug me. I really want the comments back online and I have plan for this, but it needs some time to work out the details. There are some changes external to this site that could be coming also, which will make things much easier in the long run. Maybe these revisions will be done by the 10th anniversary.



New way to view politics

I learned something about politics today. This past year or two really has had me scratching my head and wondering what I am missing. There are some individuals I can not fathom how somebody could vote in the manner that they claim to. Today I found the answer...

At the drugstore I was checking out and a toy was playing "I've Got You Babe". My cashier, who is elderly was complaining to her manager that she was getting a headache from the music.

Manager: Do you not like Sonny Bono?
Cashier: I don't know Sonny Bono
Manager: He was the governor of California
Cashier: He was?
Manager: He sure could not sing, but he was a great Republican governor.

I am trying to turn my head so she does not see my San Francisco Giants cap, but somehow I do not think that would ring a bell as being part of California.

Today I learned suspending reality is a great way to look at politics. Well, for some. Tuesday I vote with my reality fully engaged and with an eye on my son and his future. I vote not to dismantle the future with building huge deficits, destroying the environment, nor dismantling foreign relations. But a future that is safer, with global warming in check, solid education, sound economy, innovation and science respected, creativity embraced, diversity embraced, and living in a country that the world respects again.



October 22, 2004

Mess Transit

I am on the bus heading back to my car after spending an hour on the DC Metro and only going one stop. The Metro system has bee getting progresssively worse and now seems to be resembling a system in the third world and not one in the capitol of the U.S. Who knows where this mess will end.



September 27, 2004

Good Party?

Yesterday at the end of a little party for Will, I was asking if he enjoyed his first birthday party. He responded with a, "yah". That completely made my year as it was the first yah or yes we have heard. Fortunately he repeated it for Joy later.



September 10, 2004

Crawl in a Hole

There are days when you see something that makes you want to crawl in a hole out of embarrassment for somebody else.

This evening presented one of these moments. I was walking toward the Metro platform and I thought I saw a fake tail or odd fashion accessory hanging between the legs of a woman wearing a skirt. The closer I got the more curious I became. I was wondering if it was a belt that wrapped and then draped to nearly touch the ground. As I got close and ready to make my turn up the platform I realized the accessory was inside her skirt. Well the accessory was actually toilet paper.



September 2, 2004

Walking

He is walking!



August 19, 2004

Personal InfoCloud Rescues the Day

I had a wonderful experience where my own Personal InfoCloud worked successfully (I have had many problems having the right informaiton I need at my fingertips). I had been having general conversations about a lunchtime presentation or roundtable as part of a string of Adaptive Path training, but I was not exactly clear on the concept or the format of the discussion. I knew it was to be informal, but could also use slides if wanted. I thought I would just use some handouts of the content of the Accessibility is Little More Than Web Best Practices presentation (10 copies surely would be enough for a roundtable. When I go the the training session I looked around and could not figure who other folks doing roundtables would be so I asked the manager who else was doing the lunchtime stuff and the format. I was the only one and the format was wide open.

That morning I had converted the presentation from Keynote to PDF and e-mailed it to my mobile phone address and my gmail account. I was standing next to Bryan and mentioned I had my presentation in PDF on me, which got an inquisical look until I said it was on my phone (Treo) and I could e-mail it to a laptop and present from that. So I sent the presentation to Jeff's laptop, which had WiFi (they all had WiFi actually). In a couple minutes a PDF version of the presenation was available to click through and present from.

Not only did I have the times and addresses in my phone, but I had my presenation as a back-up. The PDF was fine for these slides as they are designed as handout to use as lists. Were it not this way I would have been kicking myself for not also having the Keynote version.

As a sidenote the number of Treo users was impressive. I know of eight Treos that I saw at the sessions. I also saw many Macs laptops of attendees taking notes and only saw one or two PCs. This would be in a population of 40 or so folks.



August 11, 2004

Back and Digging Out

Coming back from six plus days of being untethered from the net I found I had 1117 unread RSS feeds. This is worse than my personal e-mail stack, which was just over 550 (I get to my work e-mail stack tomorrow, which averages about 80 e-mails per day). The RSS feeds really threw me as I was not expecting it to have snowballed like that.

There were a few things I was wanting to follow that I knew may pop their heads up while I was away so I followed these on my Treo 600 on Google News and del.icio.us aggregator. I was able to find most of what I was looking for and do a quick read and then e-mail an annotated link to one of my personal e-mail accounts. I did find some things on del.icio.us that I just copied into my del.icio.us bookmarks so I could come back to them later.

I got far less done on the writing front as my son was along for the vacation, which made it a real family vacation and not the usual working vacation with the laptop on my lap on the front porch when I am not playing in the waves. No, I would not say I am rested, but I do have more wonderful memories of a great summer get away. Our time schedules shifted to a 10 month-old's eating and sleeping schedule. When we drifted to our normal shore vacation schedule we had a cranky kid, which only took two days to convert to a vacation fully focused on the kid. We met many wonderful new people, stayed in a different B&B, and found a new restaurant to add to our favorites.

I am now ready for the last two days of the week and to start responding to e-mail tomorrow. I am also ready to tackle my writing assignments that are well over due. My laptop is also fully updated with OS and software updates that make it really sing, too bad Windows updates never make the machine perceivably faster.



August 4, 2004

It is Okay to be Quiet

Things will be quiet here for a few days, unless I post from the mobile, as I will not have the usual connectivity. I may try and find wifi, but the goal is to relax, write, and read. Those that want to say hi can use my mobile e-mail, if you have it. Gmail will also work using my normal moniker when I post about the web. Untethering is tough, particularly when there is cool stuff going on that I want to stay on top of.



August 1, 2004

Profiled at InfoDesign

I am the current InfoDesign Profile - Thomas Vander Wal. This was harder than I thought it would be an many alternate answers ran through my mind, but I finally narrowed it down as much as I could. Peter has many other wonderful profiles and interviews at InfoDesign Special. I have been inspired and found new resources from these glimpses into other designers lives.



July 7, 2004

Thinking about Thinking

This past Saturday morning I finished the Steven Johnson book Mind Wide Open. I really enjoyed the book and may go back and pull out parts to store in my own notes.

But, there is one thing that kept niggling me as I read past the section on neurofeedback, which was used to improve concentration and attentive focus. I kept wondering if I am pulling all this information in, how it gets synthesized. The book did bring out some answers as many often focus on differences from what is already stored in the mind. I completely agree with that and I often work in that mode. But, as I read, my mind drifts to memories or to related items. This drifting is where it seems to get stored in memory and I will pull out the information weeks, months, or years later. This drifting is also where I often find unique answers and view problems or current solutions and find improved was of doing the same thing. This is also why I tend to read broadly across topics as well as deeply in areas I am passionate about.

The problem with improving focus is how would my synthesizing take place. Do others read in the same way? In college I had an office hours discussion with a professor complaining that I often had to reread paragraphs and pages as I had found my mind drifting, which was inspired by what I was reading. The professor and his office mate felt this drifting was a very good thing as it lead to better examination of what is known to one's self as well as fostering creative solutions. All more to think about.



July 4, 2004

Le Tour 2004

It is Le Tour time again and we are following Oskar's Tour updates and his Tour links. Here in the U.S. we are following the Tour on OLN. It may finally be time we got Tivo so we don't miss a bit of the peddling.

The summer is the time we turn our focus to Europe to watch the tennis Grand Slam's of French Open and Wimbledon (these were the calming influence when we had horrible reverse culture shock in 1988). But, it is the Tour that brings back memories of Hinault, LeMond, Roche (watching him ride into Paris in person), Indurain, and Armstrong. Le Tour is summer as it has been since the 70s in our memories. It is always a reminder how little we are on our bike, even the years we were putting well over 2,000 miles under our peddles.



June 15, 2004


June 11, 2004

Kind Wishes and Prayers Needed

I am hoping on a plane back out West tomorrow as my grandmother is not doing well. She has taken a turn and is in much pain. I will be gone a few days. The doctors says this may be the last few days. Please send your best to help her ease the pain and may the blessing be returned upon you in your times of need.

Peace



May 19, 2004

The Car is Gone, Long Live the Car

As mentioned previously I have been nearing the end of the lease on my car. I had wanted to keep the car as I really have enjoyed the car over the past three years plus. It brought me back from Pittsburgh with Joy after September 11, 2001. It was a great car for road trips with Joy. It was a blast to drive and was amazingly engineered and designed. The one downside was it was not great on family outings as there was little back seat leg room and it did not have a great trunk for more than two people on a trip.

I had hoped for the next size up in the same car line, but the U.S. exchange rate had foiled that attempt, or so I thought. Things had been so bad on the exact model I was looking at they had insane lease deals, as is the current practice for nearly every non-U.S. car right now (particularly European cars). Well I have ended up with exactly the car I had hoped for what seems to be a reasonable price.

Best of all it has XM Radio, which is flat out amazing. The quality of the broadcast is crystal clear and wonderfully matched to the sound system. It has local (to Washington, DC and many other major metropolitan area) traffic and driving on 24 hours a day and up to the minute. I have been like a kid in the candy store with all the listening options. I now have NPR, local news, and XM Radio as options on the radio dial. I wish KFOG was one of the options as I miss the music and DJs, but the options are great. The one thing it truly needs is heads-up display as looking down to the radio to read is just not safe.



Explaining Quiet

Things have been a little busier than normal so far this month. Having folks in town, speaking at STC's 51st Annual Conference in Baltimore, reviews at work, expanding the team at work, Will changing his bedtime for later (crawling everywhere), and having a car nearing the end of its lease have had more of an impact on my time that I thought they would. I do try, well have to post my Quick Links as that is how I get back to reading the content I have been finding in my hour at night or half hour of reading in the morning. I guess it is also a way for the readers to catch snippets of interest.

I am going to be burying in writing this weekend to get some promised assignments out of outline format and into a longer format. I have two that are really pressing, so it will be coffee and quiet with me and my laptop this weekend.



May 3, 2004

Accounting for Abscense

It is good to be back in our house, but a large part of me has not quite caught up as it is still out West, home. We had a great trip visiting family in Washington and California and some friends in the San Francisco Bay area. The only thing that would have improved it would have been more time to see more friends and better soak in the community. We were very happy to see our friends and family that we did and we wished we could see them more often.

The trip was a great trek with Will, who turned seven months just before we left. For a relatively little guy compared to us adults he sure has a lot of stuff. He was a real trooper on the plane flights out West, then to California (he seemed somewhat amazed at what he could see looking down outside the window as we flew over Mount Shasta as he was look left stare down and press his head to the window then spin 45 degrees right and do the same), and then back East. He seemed to make everybody smile in the airport and on the streets has he practiced his waving and smiling every chance he got.

When we got to California it was just plain hot. It was in the mid-90s in the Central Valley and we were sweating and dreaming of the cool San Francisco air. When we arrived in SF (after lunch in Oakland at Zachary's Pizza for a fantastic deep dish) it was still 91 degrees. I only had heavy jeans, dress khakis, and heavy cargo pants. I was so disappointed in what the locals called amazing weather. As soon as we checked in the hotel and got Will napping I headed out for some lighter pants or shorts. We had a great location in a wonderful hotel in the Financial District, the Park Hyatt was a great place to stay with Will as the staff went out of their way to be accommodating and we had nearly every amenity right out our door in the Embarcadero Center and surrounding streets.

We became more awake the longer we were out West as Will took quite a while to adjust to the time and kept us waking on East Coast time until Thursday. We took advantage of staying in the heart of the City by walking up through Union Square on Wednesday and then saw my old neighborhood and had lunch at Cha Cha Cha after cruising Noe Valley, which provided my old Spinelli blends from Tulley's.

Our way back to the Central Valley we stopped at St. Mary's College to take a very quick peek at the changes, cruised through Walnut Creek to see the catalog outdoor mall it has become, and to Lafayette for dinner.



May 1, 2004

Back Soon

Things should start picking up around here beginning tomorrow, once I return home and get settled back in.



April 23, 2004

Short Quiet

I will have limited e-mail and instant message access until Monday. My e-mail on my cell works for those that have that and need to get in touch. Monday I return to some what normal life.

Until then, peace



April 19, 2004

I am Reading Comics Again

In the past week I have found two new comic strips to follow. I have not had a daily comic strip I liked since Calvin and Hobbes went away. Thanks to Anil and an excellent article in the New Yorker, I now am a fan of The Boondocks.

The second comic strip is Frazz, which has some frighteningly similar traits to Calvin. Eric Meyer has the Calvin and Frazz conspiracy theory posted on his site. There are some great links and theories. I am not so sure they Mallett and Waterson are two different people, but none-the-less I have a new comic strip to follow.



Brands and the Bambino

It has been a big few days for Will. He started crawling today. He learned to mimic tapping on the floor. He will jump up and down like a mad man (boy). He learned to clap his hands. He can grab a filled spoon and put it in his own mouth (cleanly I might add). He can pick up put Cheerios in his own mouth (not with the first finger and thumb just yet). He can crawl backwards and sit himself up and stay balanced for long stretches. He knows the TV, Satellite, and On button row and the proper time to press them (hit that row first) on his own dummy remote.

But yesterday's trip to Whole Foods market it all sunk in. It was our first family outing to the market. He was very attentive to all the people and all the items. He was fascinated with the light fixtures, as he is everywhere. But, in the dairy aisle I stopped the cart and tried to help Joy find the item she wanted. When I looked down Will was had his arms stretched out of the cart toward a large display of Cheerios. He knows brands. He knows HIS brand. This really amazed me. He has really been paying attention, it sinks in, and he remembers.



April 12, 2004

Be Kind to Kind Kids

I am in line to get my salad at lunch. A little girl about four is standing in front of me. I am intently reading news on my Treo. We start to chat:

Her: I accidentally got my fingers nails painted today.
Me: They do look nice.
Her: Are your nails painted?
Me: Excuse me? What did you say? (I really did not hear)
Her: Take your hand out of your pocket. Why is your hand in your pocket?
I take my hand out of my pocket.
Her: Your nails are also painted
Me: [abruptly] My nails are not painted!
Her: Let me see them. Sure they are painted. Mom, his nails are painted.
Salad chef: Your usual?
Me: I do not paint my nails
Her: But they look nice.
Me: [Thinking help her with manners and politeness] Why thank you. That is very kind. ... Yes, my regular salad.



April 3, 2004

Missing the Bay Area

It is a sad state of affairs these days. They say, "home is where the heart is". Well I have a few homes. One home is San Francisco and The Bay Area. I have not been to the Bay Area since September 2001, when I was granted a slightly longer stay than I had originally planned.

I will be back later this month to refresh my feelings for my old home and the area where I was born. I have still spent more of my life in Northern California than any other area, but my roots are growing weak and that bothers me.

Today I came across San Francisco magazine on the bookstore shelf. I thumbed through it and recognized very little. This is the first time I have had this feeling. I do not get this feeling with New York, as New York is ever fresh in my mind. I really want to get my familiarity back with my beloved Bay Area. Currently I fear I will feign recognition, like a childhood friend you meet at an airport and have to quizzically ask if it really them.

I have a lot of catching up to do with the Bay Area. I want the soil under my nails, foggy breeze in my hair, soft bright light in my eyes, and cacophony of creative sounds in my ears. I miss the drives from San Francisco to Moraga or Palo Alto in the summertime to get warm sunshine on my face to break the foggy evenings. I miss the wondrous food at every turn. I miss the creative can do spirt with just enough irreverence to pulse the blood as if everything were a new experience. I miss the sharing of passion of life and work among friends and acquaintances. I desire to travel the shelves of Green Apple Books, breakfast at the Pork Store in the Haight (and peer out their bathroom window into my old backyard), grab a deep dish pizza from Zachary's in Berkeley, and see great friends.



April 1, 2004

Pardon the pauses

Yes, things have been slow in the main content section of Off the Top, as time has been usurped by a (now) six month old. By the time we get Will to bed and I get dinner cooked and cleaned up it is 8:30 and I am just sitting down to get to e-mail, then 145 (or so) RSS feeds, and finally crafting a note for OtT. I have been finding the Quick Links to be easier for me to dump items in for me to come back to later. I have also received thanks for the Quick Links RSS feed, as others can also get easier access to the links. My plan has been to flesh out comments for the Quick Links at later dates, but that time has not been made available.

Time will be a little shorter this month as I am trying to knock out some longer writing pieces and prepare for a speaking gig on accessibility.

I used to watch time fly by in minute and hour increments, now it flies by in days and weeks.



March 14, 2004

iPod still missing music

I have been loving my iPod for some months now. But, I am continually amazed that in the 4,000 songs I currently have stored I don't always have what I want to hear. Not only do I not have the one or two songs, but I do not have anything by that artist or composer and I own four or five CDs by that person. I just realized that I did not have any Eric Clapton, but that was only when I was grabbing the Holy Cole Trio to rip. Eric Clapton August lived in my Walkman for years at the end of the 80s. It was part of what framed living in Oxford and traveling into London on Thursdays or Fridays.

I had been thinking that the iPod would be much like having a Walkman again, but it is much more than that. A Walkman took pre-cognitive measures before heading out to ensure that the music you wanted was loaded or in another pocket. I always traveled with three or four tapes, usually mix tapes to get my space worth. Now I always have something I am not tired of or would like to hear (albeit not always exactly what I wanted, yet).

I am really enjoying the iPod on the train rides as it blocks out the chatter of non-regular riders who know the rules of the Metro are not to talk, but if necessary to have a conversation quietly. I really enjoy the music while waiting on the platform watching others. One night a man stepped to the edge of the platform and was practicing ballet positions in street shoes and slacks. His tapping, pointing, and placing the his feet was in perfect time to what I was listening to, which I believe was Lamb.

I do not wear the telltale white headphones as I am not a fan of the look, but also greatly prefer the sounds produced by my Sony Fontopia, which tend to block a lot of external noise.

The biggest downside of this arrangement is missing out on the sounds around me. I also am not finding the concentration reading or when knocking out ideas on my graphpad. These are things I did not notice when I was younger and had my Walkman, but I may not have felt free time so rare.



March 13, 2004

Old phone number

This Cris Rock's cell phone bit really helped boost my spirits on an unhealthy week in our house.

On this end we had Joy in the hospital, Will projectile vomiting (like a fire hydrant), and me getting a light version of the virus that put Joy in the hospital. We are all getting better, but still need some rest.



February 18, 2004

Life Lesson

It has been a rough couple of days. I was finishing an e-mail to the other side of the globe and on a voice chat, when I had to say "got to go bye". I had been feeling the gurgling for an hour or so and knew what was coming, but little did I know. Yes, food poisoning (hint, don't rewarm then refrigerate and then rewarm creamed spinach).

At 2am on Tuesday morning my I, my body, and Joy had had enough and it was off to the emergency room. It seems to have been a good choice as I had lost a sever amount of fluids and needed to take two full bags of IV and could have used a third. This was my first trip to the ER since in the past 10 years or longer, well for myself that is. It was the first IV I have had since I was very little.

Yesterday I went through insane headaches from dehydration and slept much of the day. I was also not allowed to touch Will, which was very tough. I did manage to get a gallon of Gatorade down and keep it down, which was a good accomplishment. I thought work would have been in the plans of today, but my body was not up to that game. I was back to eating food this afternoon and should be back to normal tomorrow. I am wading through a flood of e-mails here at home and know I will have even more at work tomorrow.

The whole thing had the balance of life eerily brought before me. One of the medicines that I was given made me insanely thirsty, but I was not aloud to drink and had me feeling like I was in a Paul Bowles story. When I got home I was so sore and weak I felt like a bag of bones and organs wrapped in skin, with little more to me. I did not like this glimpse at mortality, particularly not while looking in on my son.

Now the trick is finding a doctor that will give me a follow-up visit. I have had two doctors leave town in the past couple years and one stopped doing outpatient call (only will see patients in the hospital). This also knocked out any hope at going to SXSW as I work for a company that lumps sick-leave and vacation (nobody want to be out sick so people often come to work sick) so my vacation days are gone for that valuable experience.



February 10, 2004

Chomper

Will's has his first tooth peek through this morning. He has been teething for about three or four weeks. Last night he was a very fussy sleeper and this morning we know the reason, well I found our as he chomped down on my finger and I got more than gummy resistance. Big day for the the guy.



February 6, 2004

Birthday Celebration

Today is an icy birthday day here. Just another reason to celebrate.



February 4, 2004

Will Update

Will had another doctor visit (for his four months) and he was suggested to have 4 Tablespoons of rice cereal two times a day (he has been eating one Tablespoon a day for a little over a week). In two weeks he can start eating 2 Tablespoons of oatmeal. Two weeks after that he can start eating vegetables. Two more weeks and he will start high school, okay, maybe not this last item. Dang it if he is not growing up quickly. He has been teething for a couple weeks and it should be any day or week now that the bottom two teeth pop in.

Tonight I was finally home from work while Will was still up. This is always a great treat for me. He has just a few minutes of being really cranky right before falling a sleep, but it is still wonderful to have that time with him.



February 1, 2004

What February Means

February 1st means my birthday is only days away (this Friday actually). I have had such luck with the Atkins body hack (down 35 pounds or so) I am proposing to have an Atkins Birthday, that is right I will be one year younger on the 6th.

I have had it with getting older. I just want to spend more time with Will.



January 29, 2004

Doing this how long

I realized today that I have been marking-up and posting to my own personal Web pages since November 1995. I have been trying to figure out when all this started. The pages started as "The Growing Place", which included the links page along with a handful of other pages on CompuServe's initial hosting of personal pages. I moved from there to Clark Net in late 1996 so I could get CGI access and have my own e-mail (well not really my own). In late 1997 I bought vanderwal.net and finally moved it to a couple hosting homes in 1998 and 1999. Then has been with its current host since 2000, which has provided great service and resources since then (I actually had an other personal site with this host much earlier and ran not so personal site the host for a short while.

Why all of this today? Don't know. It could be that I finally found when Compuserve started hosting member's pages. It does not seem like that long ago until I think that I have been building a presence on the Web for coming on nine years. I have been doing this professionally since 1996. I have been working professionally as a geek since 1988, either as my full-time role or just one of the hats I wore. I have learned a lot about application development and Web development in all these years. It is still about getting the information into the hands of people that are looking for it when they need it.



January 1, 2004

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!!



December 28, 2003

Holiday adventures

These past few days were very good and trying. On the good front, it was a family holiday spent with family and friends. It was also a foodfest. Tuesday was pork chops with sweet onion, apples, and cumin with a side of cauliflower au gratin; Wednesday was crab quiche and linguini in a herb garlic clam sauce; Christmas was rack of herb rack of lamb (from Trader Joes), popovers, garlic mashed potatoes, haricot vert, asparagus with toasted sesame seeds, salad with Parano cheese, tomato, and artichoke hearts, with dark chocolate truffles for desert.

The foodfest more or less ended there as I was weary of cooking (a first for me) and coming down with a cold. My mom, however needed more attention as some ailment caught her and gave her 36 hours in the hospital. She was released this morning and is doing much better now that her fluids and minerals and salts are largely back to normal, thankfully.

The gift giving went well all around I believe. It was good to have my parents here for Will's first Christmas. Right now I really need a rest.



December 24, 2003

Merry Christmas - vanderwal.net

Merry Christmas!!! We feel very lucky as we got the greatest present three months ago. Will has been the best present we could have ever dreamed up.

Have a great holiday with you and yours and share in the warmth of friends and family.



December 5, 2003

First snow

We got our first snow of the season last night and it was Will's first snow.



November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

There is a lot to give thanks for this year, the biggest gift to give thanks for is Will. Will has caused a wonderful change to take place in my life and for that I am deeply grateful. Everybody said the birth of a child would cause great changes in your life, but I did not expect it to be as wonderful or such a change of perspective.



November 23, 2003

Getting clean

I keep referring back to Jish' metrosexual cleansing journal posting. There are good tips in there. Now that I am getting my old shape back (down 25 pounds in the last two month) I am wanting to take care of myself again.



November 2, 2003

Udell presents the Personal Service-Oriented Architecture

Jon Udell discusses Your Personal Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), which lays out the elements of the futuristic Apple Knowledge Navigator are actually available today, but with out the voice interaction. Jon points out that we already use search much like the navigator, but we are missing the ability to keep track of what we found valuable or not valuable from those searches that are related to similar searches the use ran in the past.

I really like this idea one's own Web browser will show you links you have followed before (within a limited amount of time), but these visited links and the metadata we add to this information does not easily transcend machines. I work on three or four machines through out a normal day as well as a few mobile devices. Each machine has bits and pieces of information strewn across them, but with only a little bit of it synched. This I would love to have worked out in the not so distant future. It takes some effort to get the information synching between the machines and devices (part of the Personal Info Cloud).

There are many gems in Jon's short article, including sharing information and searches with friends or "buddies".



November 1, 2003

Please send sleep

I am back to being very tired again. My mom was in town for 10 days to help with Will (who is doing fantastic) and was a fantastic help in letting Joy and I the opportunity to get a little sleep and to have just a little down time. It was an incredible gift. Since she left on Wednesday I have been back to 4 or 5 hours sleep.

I finally started getting back to e-mail and getting some work on outside projects rekindled, which is finally moving along again. I have chunks of time to get work done, which is balanced with insanely strong desire to sleep. I had one outside responsibility ease off this past week, which will help the other volunteer tasks I have on my plate.

If you sent an e-mail recently, I am getting to it.



October 15, 2003

Most disruptinve technology

In a discussion this weekend it was determined the most disruptive technology is having a kid. It is also the most wonderful experience.



October 1, 2003

Slight changes

I have been running an incredible amount of running of errands the past few days since Will and Joy have been home. Many of the errands are just general errands, but as Joy is not able to drive for two weeks there is a lot of trips to make. We are doing well with the feedings and sleeping, so far.

We have been amazed with the amount of laundry that is generated. We knew that it was going to be a change in laundry, but not to the extent it has grown.

I also made a few modifications to the Airport WiFi in the house so that I can get a very good signal in the living room and in the bedrooms. I was going to add an antennae to the TiBook, but found that the Airport is not Omnidirectional as I had thought. By turning the apple on the Airport toward the room I really want coverage and moving the Airport six feet closer really helped. I have a 80% signal or higher. I can now hang out with Will and Joy in the living room and possibly the screen porch and in the bedrooms upstairs.



September 28, 2003

More Will

Those of you who have been asking for more Will photos now have 11 new photos of Will

All things Will will be posted on Will's page. New photo galleries will be listed there as well as updates. Soon this page will incorporate its own weblog into the page. Will also has his own subdomain on its way, once the links have been ironed out.

All here are a wee bit tired, but are very happy to be blessed with each other.



Power pole fire at home

This morning started with a bang. Literally, at about 4:45 a.m. a power transformer blew-up near our house with a fantastic boom and bright flash. Then following that there were flashes and explosions in the trees along the main street that runs next to our house. Waking from a deep sleep and four hours of sleep it seemed like I was witnessing World War II antiaircraft fire. I knew this was not the case and I noticed the power was out and I looked out the window and saw, what looked like a tree on fire on our property. I called the emergency number, then put in contacts and proper clothes and went outside to investigate.

We had the power pole on fire at the corner of Bradley Blvd. and McLean Drive and had live wires in down in the street. I could see police cars had the boulevard blocked off to traffic and a fire engine sitting back about 200 feet. The fire truck could not put out the fire due to the down live wires, so we waited for the power company to arrive. An hour and a half later the power company arrived and turned off the power (this does not stop electricity from the wires however I was warned from a screaming policeman) and put out the fire.

In the next few hours we had six to eight power trucks arrive to fix the problems. The power crew had a goal of being done by 1 p.m. so they could all go an watch the NASCAR race. This turned out to be a great motivator as they removed the hanging piece of the power pole and placed an new power pole in a hole next to the existing pole and had power restored to all by 1 p.m.

The fire was caused by a power wire coming loose from its resistor and resting against the pole. This caused the fire on the pole, which ate its way through the pole causing the top to fall off. The fire continued on both pieces of the pole. When the top fell it caused the shorts in the lines and caused the lines to fall into the trees, which produced the arcing.

What a way to start the day to bring home Will.



September 24, 2003

It is a bouncing baby boy, Will

Now introducing William James Vander Wal. More photos soon. Well after we get some sleep.



September 23, 2003

Baby on the way

We are at the hospital in labor and delivery, for those that care



September 22, 2003

Learning for lack of power

Over the past few days I have had a little more pondering time than normal. We were with out power, but thanks to the Net (wired and unwired) I could still post here, chat with friends, and had a site that was still up and running. I still had a means to communicate that allowed for updating from a mobile device, which my parents checked from a mobile device.

We did not have power, which meant no DSL (to me the dial-up was fingernails on chalkboard, only at last resort sort of endeavor. The Hiptop go me through to post. I could also e-mail with folks I had e-mail addresses for (found Hiptop truncates all my address book entries to only the primary address info, which is mostly work, and that was not were folks were the past four days around here). I really did not miss the power too much, although we cheated and went to a friend's house who had power and was out of town to do a load of laundry and recharge phones and laptops.

I did get to finish the book I started on vacation (The Discovery of Heaven), I still had nearly 300 pages left of the 735. I was rather disappointed by the ending, but the book made for a wonderful literary journey none-the-less. Much of the reading was on our screen porch and any snippet of time that was not tracking down places to get food or running errands, which took-up a great amount of time the past four days.

I not only grew with appreciation for our distributed information system, but I grew to miss the answering machine very quickly. We had a couple wired landline phone plugged in, but since Joy is still not greatly mobile I was getting the phone when it rang, well most of the time. I rarely answer the phone at home as the calls are rarely for me and I usually let the answering machine do the work for me. I also grew in appreciation for refrigerators and envious of neighbors with generators that powered their refrigerators so as not to throw out all their cold food.



Powered up

As of 4:50 this afternoon... POWER!!!



September 19, 2003

Gone Power Gone

We lost power last night at 12:20 am and PEPCO say we will have power back in 6 days. (I can still post from my Hiptop however.) Our house is fine, thankfully, but there are large chunks of trees down in front of our house. I will post photos when I find wifi or get power. The normal wifi joints are also without power at the moment.

More later...



September 18, 2003

Storm update

We are still with power, but it has flashed many times and even been out for a couple minutes a few times. The block behind us is dark. As the winds have picked up I can hear the transformer boxes hum then watch the lights dim and regain to normal. It seems much of the storm went a little farther West than was planned, but we still have a pretty good storm going at this moment.



Quiet before the storm

We are experiencing the last bit of quite before the storm. Rain is just beginning and we have had winds gusts up to 25 mph. The big thing is our 50 year and older trees not falling on our house and basement flooding. We are also hoping not to have power outages. Joy is not experiencing any labor related issues, so all is well.

More later...



September 14, 2003

To be kid update

Updating on to-be, Joy had to go get another sonogram this week as the doctor was concerned that the kid was underweight. Well after the sonogram the weight estimate for the kid is currently at 8 to 8 and one half pounds. There is still two or three weeks to go. I turned to Joy and the doctor on said, "Joy, you are not having a baby, you are having a house".

We are finishing setting up the kids room and we have a living room corner filled with baby stuff. This is the last days of the D.I.N.K.s (double income no kids) for us.



September 9, 2003

I see Mars

Tonight I got a very good glimpse of Mars. It was the moon peaking through the blinds in the office that caught my eye, but right next to it was a bright orange-red star. I went out the front door and turned off our lights to get a better look with binocular assistance. The moon and Mars were stunning.

This site made me feel small at first, but then apart of something so much larger. The moon and stars know no politics, no killing for ego or pride, no political boundaries, no foolishness. These objects in our sky, in our orbit and solar system know far more time and remind us to take the long view.

Maybe one day I will get a telescope, but looking to the stars through binoculars seems to only draw on a desire to get up on the roof to get closer to the stars and have a better look. I know that this would do little to assist my view, nor would getting on top of a tall building. There is great beauty in the heavens that are beyond our arms length, but still drive the desire to see and get beyond the petty temporal issues of the day. (Fortunately NASA site offers some solace.)



August 25, 2003

Congrats Nick and Crystal

Congrats are in order for Nick and Crystal who were married this past weekend. We wish them a joy-filled life and comfort in each others arms for all the years to come.



August 23, 2003

Bobby Bonds passes

Bobby Bonds dies. He was one of my early sports heros, along with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. He was able to coach his son, Barry, and got to watch him dominate the game like no other. Bobby was a San Francisco Giants as well as a New York Yankee, California Angel, Chicago White Sox, Texas Ranger, Cleveland Indian, St. Louis Cardinal and the Chicago Cub. He will always be remember a Giant in my eyes.



August 22, 2003

Calling for messages

Yesterday I left my mobile phone in my car parked at the metro station. I had to use a landline phone to call my stationary mobile phone to get messages throughout the day.

I did have my Hiptop, but many of the stored numbers are not up to date, like Joy's new cell number. Numbers not updated is attributed to the non-synching ability of the device. The phone qualities of the Hiptop version 1 were are not too good. I do really like the ability to get POP e-mail, IM, and Internet from anywhere I get a service.



Good gatherings this week

This week did have some good points. I got to spend time with friends from San Francisco and meet some new folks at a cocktail hour and dinner that followed. This year there were no photos, unfortunately. The gathering did end up at Lebanese Taverna again, which was just as fun and tasty as before.

I got to spend time with a few local bloggers and Jesse. The gathering started early as most were not able to work as their e-mail and networks were down or were greatly frustrated. Nearly everybody that arrived early was victim of their organization moving to MS Exchange in the past six months. The conversations at dinner were very witty, insightful, intelligent, and hence very enjoyable, but the green pill rendered me more observer then participant.



Frustrating week

The floppy sneakernet returned this week as networking access to servers was blocked except port 80 (Web traffic). I have not used a floppy in two years and forgot how slow they were. E-mail was up then crashing. Access to the outside world via the Internet was also up and down. The ability to work easily and efficiently was shot to hell thanks to a company claiming to make an operating system, but its OS product only resembles flaky insecure software.

I was also uncovering many more undocumented features in Microsoft products, such as the save dialog causes Visio 2003 to want to crash. It took 5 minutes to diagram a small application database and 25 minutes to save and print the diagram. Outlook would intermittently hang my workstation for 5 minutes by eating all the computing resources as I clicked to move an e-mail to another folder.

On top of this I took the little green pill. This was to help reduce the itching from a rash on my arms (the rash and itching caused me to go to the doctor who said "you seem to have a rash"). The doctor warned the pill could make me drowsy, which to me translates to tired and cranky for me. I get cranky when I am tired because my mind slows, which I find very annoying. Yes, the pill helps to some degree, as does the cream for the rash.

We have been having some housework done by a contractor and his workers. It was supposed to have been seven days. We are on day 20. The workers don't really seem to know what they are doing and the workmanship is poor as the number cut corners is high. The contractor came highly recommended, but he used to do his own work with his brother-in-law as his partner. We had window frames painted, which seems to mean the window panes get cracked. This week the contractor finally agreed to fix the panes his workmen cracked. Fixing meant taking out the panes and replacing them five days later. We have had plastic food wrap and packing tape covering the holes to keep the bugs out. But being that it is humid the tape gives way and the bugs and hot air come in and cool air goes out. I came home the other night about 11pm to our garage door wide open due to a flaky garage door controller and nobody with a clue to unplug the one door and then lock it. This is the tip of the ice flow as nothing was done properly the first time.

Needless to say by today I was very cranky with the language of a sailor at sea for month or years. I was not even able to write a short coherent e-mail to explain that a PocketPC browser emulator did not actually emulate the functions of the PocketPC browser's use of CSS. It seems that the emulator ignores the external CSS when the media="all"@import attribute is used. A real PocketPC will actually render the page properly. I have been rather impressed with the browser capability in the current PocketPCs, but not enough to get one.



August 18, 2003

Site clean-up and other bits

Yes, we have done a little house keeping here by updating the links, fixing some of the "Previous Month" links in this section, fixing more non-standards snippets that have remained a bee in my bonnet (more still remain), and creating more continuity in the presentation layer. It is a continual update of design and development of the application that runs the site, but that is what makes it fun. I have been planning some of these fixes for months, but other things cropped up. I am trying to get many of these things done, as well as a long list of other items, before the baby arrives.

Yesterday's diversion was baby CPR class and baby safety, a power outage, trying to track down the contractor who was supposed to have been at the house all day finishing fixing the gutters, roof, and putting storm windows back on (along with a long list of other half done tasks).

Today I woke to a dead car battery and a dead PC. The car had a light that had been left on. The PC seems to have had the power supply die. Joy has been working on some stationary for the kid and printing cards for a small gathering at her sister's and needed to finish printing out the final cards today. I have only been using the PC for playing some older games and syching my Palm to applications that I have not ported or others have not ported to Mac as of yet. I got the car jump started by myself and ran the PC to the shop, it may become a Linux box in the near future, if Joy gets a new PC for work. I am also considering the G5 for a desktop in the Fall or Winter.



August 17, 2003

10 year anniversary but still not home

Today was the 10th anniversary of my arrival in the Washington, DC area to live. I moved to this area from San Francisco, which I was ready to leave but always ready to return to, to go to Georgetown University for a Masters in Public Policy. I initially planned to get my masters in two years then give Washington up to two more years then move on.

Well it has been a lot more than the initial three or four years I planned on. Actually this is the longest I have lived in any one geographic area. I like and have liked where I live and have lived, the streets and areas, but the Washington Area as a whole has never felt like home. (Oddly I have New York and San Francisco categories for the weblog, but no Washington.)

I have great friends in Washington, well those that are left, but I also have kept friends from previous homes via the Internet and have made friends that I think of as close in mind and focus thanks to the Internet. Actually the Internet is what made Washington a place to live for 10 years. I guess most any place could be livable with the Internet keeping a community I know and trust close by.

Another asset of the Washington area is its proximity to other cities that do feel a little more like they could be home. Baltimore, Philly, New York, and Boston are all a relatively short trip away. Europe is about as far a the West Coast and that has made the experience here enjoyable too.

I am not sure if it will be another 10 years in Washington, but who knows. We enjoy our house, even in its disruptive state of updating and repair. We really like our neighbors and neighborhood (as much as I did living in Arlington, VA too). I guess it is all up to jobs, winds, and other powers that drive us and blow us as to where the next 10 years will take me.



August 16, 2003

Updates from home

Things are finally calming down after our vacation and adventure. We have mostly unpacked from the trip, but are just starting laundry. I am just finishing digging through a huge pile of e-mail (well over 600) and flagging those I need to get back to, which should come in the next week or so.

We were able to get Joy to an orthopedist on Thursday and she is now in a removable support boot to hold the foot in place and allows for walking. She will be able to take the boot off for showers and swimming, as long as she does not push off with the foot with the fracture. Today she shed the crutches, but will be in the boot or another support device for six weeks or so, yes that means she will be out of the devices (if all goes well) one or two weeks prior to the delivery date. Joy is lucky in that the fracture did not require a cast or surgery, which could have been an option.



August 13, 2003

We only thought we were home

We had a good week at the shore, not quite relaxing enough or long enough. I have been truely enjoying The Discovery of Heaven, which reminds me of a cross between a Neil Stephenson and Milan Kundera styles with cross currents and bon mots for those who are well read in classical lit and philosophy.

We are home 15 minutes and we are off to the emergency room to have somebody's foot x-rayed from a mis-step in cruddy shoes. Yes, the misses has a small fracture in her foot and will be on crutches the next few weeks, laying down, or hobbling during her last 8 weeks of pregnancy. I will be helping her get to an othopedist tomorrow to get the final judgement on her foot.



August 6, 2003

Things are quiet here

Things will more than likely be quiet here for a week or so. I am heading out to a land with out Internet connectivity to a room with out a phone (other than the ones in my pockets). I need to decompress, read for fun, and write.

Please keep your self busy with offerings over at the links page if you wish. Good choices are InfoDesign, Zeldman, Digital Web (and DW New), Doc Searls, Curious Lee, Purse Lips Square Jaw, O'Reilly Net, and the Beeb among many other offerings.

Take care of your selves and I will try to do the same. Be sure and write.



August 3, 2003

Earl Morrough's helpful Information Architecture book

This past week I started reading Earl Morrogh's Information Architecture: An Emerging 21st Century Profession, which is a great short book that looks are communication technologies and their impact on society and how information in each is structured and each of their information architectures. It is a wonderful quick read that draws on what has come before the Web and building upon how information is structured in each of the mediums for best communication purposes.

One thing that surprised me early on in the book is I am quoted. It is odd to be reading along and find yourself quoted in a book that is bound. The quote comes from a discussion in the comments on PeterMe's site, actually it is the same discussion that sprung the void, which in turn inspired the Model of Attraction.



July 27, 2003

Baby prep and holiday prep

A busy weekend with a handful of errands and two five hour baby birthing classes. It was also the last week of the three week of post birth baby classes. We just have baby CPR left and one last prep class for a baptism and we can just wait for the baby to arrive.

Both of us are ready for the summer heat and humidity to be over and done with. Fortunately our trip to the shore is coming soon.

Speaking of the shore I am between two books for shore reading. One just arrived this week, Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch, which is a 700 plus page story that I have been intrigued with since we saw them filming the movie (only released in Europe) in Amsterdam while on our honeymoon (we saw Stephen Fry at breakfast in our hotel. The second is, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, which friends have recommended and I have enjoyed his Notes from a Small Island (a walking tour of Britain). I am leaning toward Discovery of Heaven as I have devoured two rather long books the past two years and I really like having the time to sink into a good long book.



July 22, 2003

Busy busy busy

You know it is a busy and hectic day when you have to ask the person in the cube next door if you had lunch.



July 7, 2003

Your help wanted

Okay folks we need a little help here. It is time to offer names, boys names to be specific. We have a girl's name chosen for the baby arriving in October. We do not have a boy's name. Joy is leaning toward Mark(c), but it sounds too much like a politician for my taste, the kid would be running for pre-school class president. Mark does not have a less formal side. My favorite has been Alexander, but was ruled out once I brought up Zander as a nickname to be a fun kid name, but it created to much rhyming with Vander Wal. I also was pulling for my grandfather's name, Jacob, which also has been shot down.

Please help. We could be at this for the next two or three months, if we do not get it nailed down. Yes, we read the NY Times names article over the weekend, which made the problem worse somehow.



July 6, 2003

Ozzie gets the personal info cloud

Ray Ozzie (of Groove) discusses Extreme Mobility in his recent blog. Ray brings up the users desire to keep their information close to themselves in their mobile devices and synching with their own cloud.

This is the core of the "rough cloud of information" that follows the user, which stems from the Model of Attraction. Over the last few weeks I have spent much time focussing on the "person information cloud". I have a few graphics that I am still working on that will help explain the relationship between the user and information. Much of the focus of Experience Design is on cool interfaces, but completely forgets about the user and their reuse of the information. A draft of the "MoA Information Acquisition Cycle" is avaiable in PDF (76kb).

Ozzie's Groove has had some very nice features for maintaining a personal information cloud, in that it would save copies of documents to the network for downloading by others you are sharing information with. Other people can include one's self on a different machine. One very nice feature was all information stored locally or trasmitted was encrypted. This could be very helpful in a WiFi world where security models are still forming. I have not kept up with Groove as my main machine at home is a Mac and Groove is now very tightly partnered with Microsoft. Groove was one tool I was sad to lose in my transition, but I am still very happy with using an OS that just works.

Big thanks to Mike for pointing this article out.



July 1, 2003

Jeffrey and Carrie Tie the knot

While in our congratulatory mood, hats off to Jeffrey and Carrie on their marriage last weekend. These are two wonderfully kind, sweet, talented, and bright people who make their life as one. Best wishes and congratulations to them.



June 16, 2003

Sitting on the porch

We finally picked up some furniture for our sun porch this weekend (more accurately, Joy picked up). This evening we sat in the screen porch and looked out into the yard smelling Magnolia tree blossoms and looking at a rose blossom on a rose plant we did not know we had (we have a great variety of plants that keep color in the yard 9 to 10 months of the year). I brought my dinner outside and ate and took it all in. A little black beans with Sambhar (can be purchased from Terrapin Station Herb Farm topped with cheddar eaten with corn chips was perfect for the cool grey evening listening to the breeze blow through the trees and bushes.



June 15, 2003


June 11, 2003

UPS finally delivers with no explaination

UPS finally delivered the package today after "resetting the delivery date" 6 days later so that the package was "on time" and did not have to record a problem. No there is no problem having the package near its destination the day before the scheduled delivery is promissed then sending the package 1300 miles in 13 hours and being emphatic the package only went ground. Also emphatic there is not a problem with their system as it did not find a problem with having to change the promissed delivery date. They did not find it a problem that it would take a package five days to travel the same distance it did in 13 hours. UPS did not find it a problem that their customer service would stick to their story that the 1300 mile detour rather than a 25 mile delivery was an "act of God" or a weather problem.

I did find out that UPS does not like to admit they have problems or they actually messed up. They do like saying they are not responsible once the package is in their system, as the system looks out for the package.



June 9, 2003

Of all the choices

We have been reading about items for the babe (known as Junior to us) and trying to make decisions about what is best. There seem to be hundreds if not thousands of choices with everything. I do think we have found one pacifier we like. Now to find who sells these things.



June 7, 2003

Graduation reflection

Last evening Joy and I were walking around our yard examining new buds on plants and examining the state of weeds versus what we believe are plants (difficult to discern at times). We stopped to talk to our neighbor who invited us as a guest to another neighbor's high school graduation party so to meet more neighbors (the last opportunity to meet neighbors was the snow storms). We have great neighbors who take pride in our street and the high school. It was a wonderful gathering and I was very impressed with those who are graduating high school.

Then it hit me, I had more in common with the parents of the high school graduates than the kids. Granted high school graduates are now less than half my age, but it was a shock to my internal self. Growing up I always got a long very well with the adults, part of growing up an only child I suppose. Now I am an adult, but I am lacking that connection to adults.



June 6, 2003

UPS gets worse

The UPS snafu gets better. Today I tried following up with UPS, twice. I called during lunch to check where UPS though my package was. When they said it was put on a truck in Texas to be shipped to me I complained. They said it was a ground package so it had to be shipped ground and maybe it really was not in Texas. I asked how it would not be in Texas if it scanned three times in Texas (once in Fort Worth, and twice in Mesquite). I asked to speak to the supervisor, but after a wait I got the same person back who said it seemed the package would be out for delivery that afternoon. (It was not and that was the second time I had been lied to by UPS representatives in this mess.) The person asked if I could give my zip code to get a better time estimate. The person appologized as they had to "say the numbers outloud as they typed because the numbers get confused from their brain to their fingers".

I got home after the promissed delivery time this evening and their was no package. I called customer service again. To check on the package (the UPS tracking system on-line provides the exact same information customer service gives you) I called "customer service" again. This time they confirmed that the package was actually in Texas and was put on a truck to get to Maryland. This would take six days to get to me as that was the shipping time from Texas to Maryland for a ground package. I asked if the package could travel the 1300 miles in 13 hours like it had on June 4th. Customer Service said that was not possible for a ground package. I was told repeatedly that six days is the travel time for a package going from Texas to Maryland. When I pointed out the package was in Maryland two days ago and less than 25 miles from the delivery point, the customer service person returned to their script and said the package must have been rerouted because of bad weather or an act of God. I wanted to know what bad weather would cause the package to go from 25 miles from deliver to 1300 miles from delivery and an act of God would have been reported in the paper. At no point did UPS take any responsibility for the package getting mis-routed. I did get told a few times UPS only has the information in their database and they do not know where the package actually is and do not have control over where the package goes. I was told that UPS customer service can not identify a misrouted package only the computer system can identify a misrouted package and the computer did not see anything wrong with the package going to Texas after being 25 miles from the delivery site on the promissed delivery date. I asked the person on the other end of the phone if she saw a problem with a package being 1300 miles after it had been 25 miles from delivery to her. She started reading from the script. I asked her to stop reading the script and asked if calling customer service could correct the missrouted package. She said no customer service could not do that as their system did not show a problem. I pointed out that I was a customer with a problem with UPS service and wanted assistance. The script reading ensued again. I asked her to stop again. She did, I asked if it was customer service that I called as I was not getting any help and I was a customer with a problem. There was a very long silence. She said yes it was customer service very quitely and she appologized that she could not help me. That was a first for UPS, an appology. I asked who I at UPS could help, she said their was no over riding their system and there was nobody in the company that could do anything to help.

Nobody at UPS that I have talked to seems to think there is any problem with a package being very close to the delivery point then 1300 miles away on the delivery day. Very odd and a very sad state for what was a decent company.



June 5, 2003

UPS deserves new dented logo

This is now the third time in one year that UPS has screwed up a package shipment. This one takes the cake (the last one was delivery attempts that were never made). I have been waiting patiently for my Zeldman's Designing With Web Standards and Kuniavsky 's Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research to arrive. I ordered from the wonderful Amazon and took free shipping. This lottery shot caused UPS (they have a dented package for a logo for a reason) to get involved.

It seems that the package was 20 miles or so from delivery to me last night at 11:10 pm. Since the package was in Maryland last night I though an attempt would have been made today. No! Last night the package took a magical trip to Texas. The package is still in Texas. I called UPS and they would not take responsibility for their mistake. They would not appologize until I pointed out that is usually the role of customer service. Not only did UPS' customer service fail horribly, UPS does not seem to have the ability to fix their mistakes. UPS said I had to wait 6 more days as it was a ground shipment. The package made it from Maryland to Texas in about 12 hours and there is no way to get it back (not even on a plane) in less than 6 days. UPS has no idea how the package made it from Maryland to Texas, nor how it made it there so quickly. I suggested a similar miracle should happen to fix their mistake, but UPS stated they do not have the capability to do that.

Why does anybody trust UPS with their packages? Why does anybody trust UPS with their money in the stock market? I bet Enron could even fix their mistakes.

By the way, Amazon bent over backwards appologizing and offering what they could to ensure I would be a repeat customer. Nearly the same thing happened with UPS and me with a Barnes and Noble shipment five years ago. Neither UPS nor B&N would accept responsibility and pointed their finger at the other. I cancelled my shipment. Then I pulled the company account (where I was working) from B&N and put it with Amazon and Fat Brain, until B&N bought Fat Brain. Amazon has yet to let me down with customer service, or anything else for that matter.



June 3, 2003

Reposted honeymoon photos

Our Honeymoon photos are back posted again. The coverage stops in Brugge and does not include Paris or Giverney. It will someday when we get a scanner again.



May 29, 2003

Back home with new pipes

Ah, home again. We have new pipes through out our house and running water again. We also have a floor to ceiling hole in the wall in our dining room and in the ceiling of the dining room. We have a hole in the kitchen walls too to give access to pipes. We have a new energy efficient water heater, which should also help the cause.

It is good to be back in the house, even though it was only a couple days, it was very disruptive as life (such as work) continues on as usual, as do visits to the pre-baby doctor. I learned a very good lesson on this adventure, when booking a hotel get verification what they mean by "wireless" Internet access. It could be, as it turns out the IR keyboard that is used to control the "Internet in the TV". Wireless to me was WiFi, which means broadband. I was able to get use of a meeting room at the hotel last night to pull e-mail and pull some files I needed. I was able to accomplish that on a broadband connection in 35 minutes, which would have been 2 hours on dial-up. I was able to get back to working on an overview presentation I had to give today.

The funny thing was I was able to pick-up a few wireless signals in the courtyard. Some were managed and locked down and others were open. The signals kept varying in and out so I did not persue much farther. Last night I realized that the WiFi signals were coming from the Microsoft Offices that look down into the same courtyard shopping area.

Oh, nothing new on the baby front as all things seem good and no more sonigrams are planned. Junior is kicking quite a bit during playtime, which is 5:30am and 10:30pm.



May 27, 2003

Shhhh

Things may be quiet here the next day or so, depending on broadband connection at the hotel, as we are on the run from a house being repiped. Yes, all the water and gas pipes in the house are being replaced. Hopefully we will be able to move back in Thursday night. We should have a new gas stove then too to cook (no more electric stove, yeah).



May 21, 2003

CMS goes over 1,001

This is post 1,001 in my homebuilt weblog CMS. Yes there have been other odometer parties on this site, but turning over 1,000 was one that really has pleased me. My tool is missing some elements that others now have, but I still have fun tinkering with mine and extending it. There are some plans for the summer to add functionality by embracing the categories and using them in conjuction with the links page as well as tying the links and entries together, sort of like a Web strawberry banana shake. I have a book review repository planned too, but it has not moved out of the ERD phase yet (uh, yes I plan, chart, and document my apps and changes for the site, it eases making changes in the future -- I just need to get all the docs on one machine and in one directory).

Lift you glass to 1,001 entries and no digi-barfing



May 20, 2003

The bells are ringing

Great news from the Carrie Bickner and Jeffrey Zeldman camps. These two are getting married. We wish them all the best and much much more.



May 16, 2003

Mac trains its user

A while back I turned on speech feature in OS X. I only have it speak system and application alert to me. I have chosen Victoria (the Uli's talking moose has always been a similar voice for me). A few weeks ago, when Joy was away the TiBook lid became ajar during the night waking the TiBook. It was not much longer before the TiBook began speaking, as our house has all hardwood floors the voice carried. This startled me from my sleep and had me quite startled, then I realized what it was and went to soothe the Mac and put it back to sleep.

This last week a similar incident happened, but with Joy home and I asked Joy what she said. In the middle of the night, out of a dead sleep, Joy said "it was your computer talking" and went right back to sleep. I got up to check and put it back to sleep.

I guess this is our baby preparation application. Somehow I don't think that is the intended purpose, or even any demi-intent for use. I guess our Mac nows understands our lives better than we thought and "just works".



May 14, 2003

E-mail outage again

E-mail was barfy again yesterday here at vanderwal.net. It seems mail was down for 5 or 6 hours. Everything seems to be back to normal again.



May 12, 2003

Quiet before the news

After five weeks of visitors or travelling out of town, things on the home front are finally somewhat quiet, other than another leak in the basement (this time at the valve from the street is dripping).

Okay quiet for folks who are expecting a baby in late-September or early October. As our niece says, "Joy is having baby. Joy have baby in her tummy."



May 7, 2003

We are back

We have been down for the past 36 hours or so, due to a hardware crash and recovery. Most everything is back, but recent e-mail. Please resend anything sent since Monday evening. E-mail seemed to be the first thing to go. One nice thing about a full entry in the RSS feed is being able to save the RSS feed and restoring the last two entries that did not make it onto the backup tape.

I did not realize how dependant I am on my links page until it is gone. Much of what I read at home is out of RSS feeds, but at work, many of the links I use and share as resources are on that page. The links page has been my bookmarks for well over seven years now as it began at some point in early 1996.



NoHo SoHo and other New York observations

The weekend also included some fun NYC adventures in our "spare" time. I tried to find some fun funky casual shoes, which seem to allude the DC area. I teased my sister-in-law by asking when Barney's was open until when Joy and I returned from the wedding. My sister-in-law loves to shop, so when I asked if she was interested in going along to shop for shoes, she said she thought I would never ask. We tried Barney's, but found nothing in my size and found help only slightly easier to find. We ducked into Bloomingdale's and found some things of some interest and in my size, but the fit was not good.

Joy and I went started today at the NoHo Star Diner and had a great brunch. I really enjoyed the Eggs Idaho (sunny side up eggs and potato pancakes), the fresh ginger ale, and Peet's coffee. We ventured just down to SoHo to check out stores. We stopped in the Apple store, which is a wonderful space, to look at the new iPod (very nice and impressed me with the non-moving parts keys that are really nice) and look around. We stopped and tried on shoes in a few places, but if I liked the shoes they were not in my size or were not comfortable on my foot. I was surprised how much SoHo has changed since the early 90s, which was the last time spent time there. SoHo is much like an American mall (up scale American mall) these days. Gone are the funky art galleries that filled the neighborhood and the many eclectic shops, bars, and restaurants. I liked SoHo, but not as much as I used to. New York used to be a very Cosmopolitan city as it did not feel like it could be anywhere in America, it was New York and had a funky flair. More and more it has the same large chain stores and restaurants as anywhere USA, which is sad. New York still has many many "only in New York" places and people, but it is slipping into the mediocrity that enwraps much of the US.

New York City also has become more dirty with trash than any time I can remember in the past 10 years. I was continually stepping on or over trash. New York City has been very proud of is transition into a clean inviting place to visit and live, but it has dropped from that place since even December. I was told my many that this can be attributed to the cuts in City services due to the shortfall of money. Sad.

Joy and I keep saying we need to take a trip to NYC to just see friends there, as we have many who we never really get to see as our trips are short or filled with other reasons for going, other than seeing friends. We hope maybe June could offer this trip before things are a little more restrictive for us travelling. Already our ability to get around is slower than normal, but I was able to get aut and about to run quick errands and shopping trips (and tracking down a Mr. Softee truck, which we did today to get a cherry dipped cone that was great as usual).



Trip to New York

This weekend's adventures took us to New York . [All other information for this post has been removed, you have the most important bits now (really)]



May 1, 2003

Hello Month

Yes, I know I need to fix the beginning of the month selection. I am off up the coast this weekend for a wedding. Entertain your self, maybe buy a new song or two from Apple, if you don't have a Mac, buy one of those, you will love it.



April 26, 2003

Quite time here

Yes, things have been quite here, largely due to a cold/allergies, which has left my head feeling like it is filled with shaved rubber eraser bits swimming in foggy jello. This roadblock started with a cough, extremely worn down, and achy so yes, the first thing I did was go to the CDC to peek at basic info on SARS. I am not worried about SARS, but the last thing I would want to do is infect others.



April 16, 2003

Time theories and information gathering

Ftrain's accordian time I found to be enjoyable. I enjoy time theories and find this to be close to my own personal favorite as accordian time accounts for the percieved difference in time. Some folks have a, so called, strong inner clock that is in step with metered time.

Chronological time is problematic for many as their lives feel wholly out of step with the beating minutes regulated to 60 seconds. Time seems to move in spurts and is quasi-random. My personal time theory to account for the difference in perceived time is that everybody is on a different time pace and some folks do have time moving faster for them, while others have time moving far more slowly. These differences are synched at night so that we all can work and play together. This is just an unsubstantiated theory on my part, but I am happy to find others thinking of other time measurements that can account for perceived differences in time.

Alan Lightman has a collection of time scenarios in his Einstein's Dreams. I found ED a wonderful quick read that added a wonderful collection of time theories to my existing stack. It has been a few years since I read ED, but it seems about right to pull it off the shelf and have another go.

Time, or perceived time, is important to understand when developing applications and information structures. Different individuals will become frustrated if they can not find the information they seek when they desire that information. This is partially dependant on the persons perception of the passage of time or their relation to metered time. A person who normally has time passing slowly may find most information is easily found, but if they are trying to trackdown the address for a date or interview in a relatively short time before the event the persons perception of time may increase. This impacts the perceived ease of finding information or re-retrieving that information. The frustration for this person may increase as they can feel the minutes or seconds slipping away. This cognative element is helpful to understand as we test and build interfaces.



April 15, 2003

April showers in the basement

A phrase some of you will understand... Pin-hole leak. Oh yeah, we have copper misting forth and plumbers avoiding the phones. I have the house to myself and a misting spray in the basement. I would turn off the water at the main, but the corrosion around that valve has made that a tenuous endeavor also. Well I have buckets and tape (to direct the spray into the buckets). We have been waiting for an estimate from a plumber to repipe the house as we know there have been leaks in the past. Our copper pipes have patches every 18 inches to two feet. We have been lucky not to have a leak yet. I only wish we could have made it to repiping first.



April 14, 2003

Philip Greenspun has a view of the future university

Philip Greenspun offers his view of the university of the future. It is a very different view and part of it is somewhat odd, in that Philip would like to see large group work areas for students to huddle by subject area. This is odd as Philip is very wired, but it also makes sense in that the bits I hear about ArsDigita convey the collaborative environment it offered.

I rather liked the Spring and Summer breaks, which meant I had to work, sometimes up to three jobs. But it was a time to digest what I had studied in the previous nine months. This time allowed me to investigate subjects with more time to reflect. My favorite time in college may have been the summer I lived in Berkeley and had two jobs (one on campus and the other running roomservice at a hotel in Oakland). I also really enjoyed Jan-term (one course during the month of January two or three hours a day four days a week.

I do agree that the cost of a university education is getting out of hand. Joy and I went to Georgetown for brunch on Sunday at the Tombs and walk around the campus. We read that tuition will be $28k next year for tuition (that does not include book, bedding, or beer). That is just nuts. I got a great grad school education there and Joy a great under grad education, but we were a little shell shocked. Something needs to change I guess.



March 30, 2003

Weather fluxuations

Uh... yes it is snowing. The snow is sticking to the grass and the crocus, daffodils, and other wonderful bulb plants in our yard.

This reminds me of Oxford in the Spring of '88. One day it is shirtsleeve weather and the next it is snowing.



March 29, 2003

Number 6

Just when you think everything may not be on the Web... Sonny Sixkiller's jersey pops up. Who? Sonny was was my first collegiate hero, he is a Native American who was the starting quarterback for the Washington Husky's in 1970. If I remember correctly my parents took me to my first college football game to see him play. He also had a role in The Longest Yard. Mush.



March 25, 2003

Portland Dreams

The trip to Portland, Oregon was wonderful. The city was not quite familiar at first and many things seemed to be about 90 degrees off. One night walking with Joy we came across a public square near the Bank of California building and it was very familiar as it was near (I believe) a building my dad worked in and I remembered the view. The problem was it all was facing the wrong direction.

Portland was rainy in that wonderful clean Oregon way. I spent nearly all of my time downtown. I had a great meal, with Joy, at Jake's Famous Crawfish on Thursday night. The bread at Jake's is an elastic sourdough with a perfect crust. I had the clam chowder, which seems to have a sweet smoked bacon and the hint of wine or sherry. Joy had cod and I had shark for our main course. Each of them was great.

Portland is a city that pays attention to the details. The street and public signage is very clear and easy to use. The city is filled with public art and ornamental iron works. Portland also has a great blend of older buildings which have kept their decorative elements and newer buildings designed with personality. The public transportation is some of the best in a U.S. city as it is easily accessible at street level. On the way out I took the street car to the airport and found it very easy and dropped me off right at the airport needing minimal walking to get inside (there was an issue with a quick door closing that could have been rather problematic, were it not for some friends).

I was very impressed with the PGE Park, a multi-purpose outdoor ballpark-stadium. I saw many Portland Maverick games (now the Beavers) in the 70s here as well as the Portland Timbers professional soccer team. The park has the true feel of a post-WWII ball park with retro signage and iron works. Much of the feel is it is an older park, but it feels new and clean at the same time. Portland is in contention to get a major league baseball team, as is Washington, DC. and from this trip and seeing the park, it has a true baseball feel to the area. The feel reminded me of Fenway Park in Boston, but much closer to the downtown. I know Portland is planning a new Portland ballpark, but PGE seems wonderful.

One of the best assets of Portland has to be Powell's Books. The book assets of the store are truely impressive. I wandered around on Thursday night for a while, but spent a couple hours and a few dollars (or so) there on Monday before leaving. I found great buys (they have used books next to the new books) on many books I had been looking for and picked up Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought, which has been of particular interest, but I had not been able to find a copy to see if it was what I had hoped it would entail. My book purchases caused me to have an overage charge for my bag I checked on the airline, but it could have been the Tully's Coffee.

I have many photos of Portland to download and post over the next few days.



Quick overview of IA Summit

I am back from Portland, Oregon from the IA Summit. The Summit was fantastic, although I seem to have missed a few of sessions that were said to be fantastic. The two session that Rashmi lead, user reseach methods and a panel on Navigation and Wayfinding in Digital Spaces (also on the panel were Mark Bernstein and Andrew Dillon who had similar comments on the problems with the navigation metaphor) were said to be fantastic and I am upset I missed them. I will write up my notes and outlines by the end of the week on the wonderful sessions I did attend.

In all it was a great conference, and I deeply thank Christina Wodtke for her work on putting this conference together. There was a IA Summit blog put together by Adam Greenfield, which had some postings, but it seems connectivity problems (many of us lost our broadband access from our hotel rooms) hindered the contributions. There was a wonderful vibe at the conference, even with the rarely mentioned war going on (many admitted to watching news during downtime) and very large storm troopers in riot gear wandering about. Unfortunately I was a little cranky and lost in a blur of an airline cold for much of the conference, but I did get the opportunity to put faces and wonderful people with the names I am familiar with.



March 21, 2003

Enjoying Portland

I am enjoying Portland, even with an airplane cold in my head. You can also follow along on my Thomas Vander Wal Hiptop Nation blog.



March 20, 2003

Gone to the Roses

I am off to the Left Coast, Portland in particular, the IA Summit more particularly. Stop and say hi. I will continue my usual nonsense from the City of Roses.



March 9, 2003

US prepares for a private war

Fortune magazine's discussion of the private war show there is very little that the military actually does any more. Most of the technical assistance, repairs, food services, recruiting, and training is being done by private corporations, like Dyn Corp and Haliburton. Those that private civilians working for these companies may follow the troops into the battle field, but the civilians do not have any Geneva Convention protections, which means if they are captured they do not have the protections that military personnel does.

Peace



March 6, 2003

Not that kind of switch

I am very much a creature of patterns. My whole life I have walked into a dark room and there has been a light switch to the left or right of the doorway. Now I walk into our kitchen in the dark and flip the switch and the fan over the stove goes on. This does not happen occasionally, it happens every time I walk in the kitchen for the last six months. I quickly turn off the fan and head to the sink and turn on the light over it. Our guest room has its switch two or three feet from the doorway. These are the only true oddities left in our house.



March 3, 2003

Another wonderful Mister Rogers story

Another wonderful Mister Rogers tribute story. The days since Mister Rogers passed away have brought to light the wonder and kindness one man gave. He was an incredible gift to all of us and as the stories of his life kept coming everybody stated how warm and caring he was all the time. He gave levity in every situation and show how one can live a great life. As the story suggests he may just be a true saint. I have talked with folks over the years that were frightened by him as they could not find a dark side. The friends I knew who met him and saw him in everyday situations said he was kinder and nicer than on television. I only wish I could start to live to be half of what Mister Rogers was. [hat tip Rebecca]



Just a strange day

Today offered multiple threes, but my late afternoon I was checking to see if it was April 1. It was just a strange day.



March 2, 2003

Me with Japanese characters and others

I have wild and adventurous dreams, but my subconscious did not consider seeing my name on a page of Japanese characters. I have had The Vapor's Turning Japanese running through my head since I saw this.



February 27, 2003

Mister Rogers has died

Mister Rogers has died at the age of 74. I learned a lot from his shows and as an adult would watch the shows when I was home sick. He taught kids (and adults) not only about the world around them, but how to care for others.

I have known folks who knew him personally and said he was just the same in real life as he is on the show. This is one of the best role models for kids that has ever been on television and it is wonderful to know he is just as nice and caring off the camera.



February 17, 2003

Yes we have snow

Snow update. After four rounds of shovelling yesterday I took the night off. We went to open the front door's storm door this morning and it was blocked. This means it was more than 5 inches of new snow and sleet last night. We were able to open the kitchen storm door enough to grab the snow shovel and dig off the landing outside that door. The snow next to the landing was even to its height, over three feet high. This is from shovelling and drifting. I had dug out paths from the kitchen to the garage and carved out a ledge six to eight inches up to keep snow from falling back into the paths. The paths are now indistinguishible from the ledges. I am enjoying the view out the office window. Pictures to come.



February 16, 2003

Snowing for real this time

I am about to give up shovelling show. I have been out four times already to shovel. Now it is snowing harder than at any point yet. We woke to about 8 inches of new snow this morning and I have shovelled two or three inches with each new venture out. As you can see the roads are not too clear (this traffic cam is a few fee from our house) and have not been all day. We took the truck out about two hours ago to return movies due back and to pick up some paper products from the grocery store. The roads were not in great shape, people are walking in the road, people had abandoned cars and SUVs in the roadway. It seems that we have 15 to 18 inches of snow already with the heavy snow just beginning and is expected to stay heavy for a few hours. The snow will start to subside tomorrow mid-day the reports are saying.

Good thing we have cornish hens and fixings for dinner tonight.



February 14, 2003

Joy home

Joy is back home from her trip to San Diego for work. Life is good again and a good Valentine gift, her. This has been an odd week to have a loved one away.



February 13, 2003

One for the sniffer

Last night I went shopping at a normal supermarket (not a Whole Foods store, Trader Joes, or the occasional Sutton Gourmet) as I needed deoderant and contact cleaner and I know the prices are lower than the pharmacies. I was disappointed that they did not have my deoderant. I have been wearing the same deoderant for years, decades even and it was no go. It was one of those moments when you see the spot where it should be and it is empty all the way to the back. I started checking all the other shelves and end of aisle displays. For years I had two to five extra sticks of the same old stand by scent just incase I ran out and the store ran out. Joy told me the store would never run out. Well the store ran out and I was too tired to go to any other store. I sniffed the three other deoderants (I don't wear anti-perspirant, which is another story all toghether and for good reason and wished I did as there are 20 options for other anti-perspirants) that the store did have in stock. Old Spice was not the ticket, Sea Breeze scent was tangy, and I went with Lightening. I have no idea what scent lightening is, but I did know I did not smell like me today and it really bugged me. I smelled like a bad day at the scent factory. I really want my old scent back, it has been normal since I was 15 or 16 years old. I may go back to hoarding sticks in the future too so this never happens again.

Oh yes, I have issues.



February 6, 2003

Snowing on my birthday

Well, at least it is snowing on my birthday. This would be a good year to invoke the birthday week to relax and enjoy, but work in really hectic right now. (A shameless wishlist plug



February 3, 2003

Hiptop helps show extending the model of attraction

I am already enjoying my Hiptop for much of the reason that I picked it up. I wanted access to information. More importantly I wanted information to be able to follow me. I found information or thought of information I really have been wanting to have access to that information from where ever I am. I wanted the ability to share the information from where I was and have others be able to use that information to better their understanding.

Yes, I have had cellphones and have called others, but the information is not that useable in voice form. The information needed to be convered to data elements that could easily be used and reused. Voice only (at the current time) allows us to hear then act upon the information and not store that information in a searchable repository or to easily share that information back out.

Yes, I have PDAs (Palm-based handhelds), but they need to synch with other devices to share information and the e-mail capabilities were not the best around. The 3rd party applications on the Palm and the fantastic operating system that is fast and small are great features that will be hard to beat by anybody.

I have been looking for a solution to have the information I wanted when I want or need it in my hands. The Hiptop gets me much closer to that goal. I tend to use e-mail to share ideas with myself and others. This weblog is another method of doing the same. Being able to search for an address and get a map is a solid tool to have at all times.

This is a personal quest to have the Model of Attraction (MoA) extend back to myself. The MoA not only helps us think about the attration between the user and information during the finding tasks, to help improve findability, but in phase where the user wants information to stay attracted to them. My Hiptop is my information attraction device. I can push an e-mail to myself that has the name, address, time, and phone number needed to do to a party with friends that have come in from out of town. I can access my Amazon Wishlist when I am in a store to help remember the author or title of a book, CD, or DVD I have been seeking. This bookstore amnesia (or musicstore amnesia) can be a thing of the past. The Hiptop provides me the information in my hand and gives me the access to the information I do not have at hand wirelessly.

There will be some experiments to see if I can improve on the information attraction to keep the information closer to me. Am I getting rid of my Palm? No, as there is information in it that I prefer in the format it is in. I will be keeping my cell phone as it has great reception and is CDMA (I found having a non-dominant cell phone technology is an advantage during emergency times, like being in San Francisco during September 11, 2001, which is a TDMA and GSM dominant city. I was one of a few that had no problem getting a signal to call out). It is rather awkward having three devices with through out the day. We will see how it goes.



January 26, 2003

Learning proper French Cooking at and Inn

We has a wonderful weekend at a L'Academie de Cuisine French Cooking weekend held at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Inn was fantastic, with wonderful accommodations, great common rooms, caring innkeepers that are friendly and very helpful, and very good food.

The cooking portion of the weekend was great. It was a present from Joy and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. The weekend revolved around the founder of L'Academie, Francois Dionot guiding the 14 students through making a four course French meal each day. The 14 split into four teams that prep and cook their portion of the meal. The meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Inn, which is just large enough for the 14, the instructor and his wonderfully helpful wife, and one person helping clean-up. Saturday's meal was a Cream of Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup with a Roquefort Flan, Quennelle of Salmon with Saffron Butter Sauce (our dish we helped create), Beef Goulash with Mashed Potatoes, and a Caramelized Pear Cake with Calvados Creme Anglaise. Today's menu was a Bourride of Fish with Aioli, Quail Salad with Polenta and Porcini Dressing (our dish), Chicken Blanquette with Root Vegetables (including salsify), Phyllo Tart of Chocolate and Raspberry with Chocolate Sauce.

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Francios is a perfectionist as one would expect and hope for as it pushed us to expand beyond what we knew. We also learned about adding more salt, not table salt, but wonderful sea salt (Sel de Mer) and kosher salt (containing all the minerals that should be in salt). Everything that was made was wonderful and a glass of wine was raised to the team that helped create that course. We also met wonderful people also taking the course, which was an added blessing. We plan to make courses at L'Academie a regular part of our lives and hope the rest of them are as fulfilling as this weekend.



January 18, 2003

Six degrees of cold

I went about my normal Saturday morning caffination ritual, a jaunt to my local coffee house, with out looking at the temperature. I did notice is was mighty cold. When I returned to the house I came in to a seemingly warm house then realized I left my coffee in the car. Walking back out I realized it was really quite cold and check the temperature when I came back in. It is 6 degrees Farhenheit at 9 in the morning. I am now wishing I left my coffee at full heat (usually add a little cool water to drink it more quickly).



January 5, 2003

Blog odometer moves to 1,000 posts

Well my friends this is entry 1,000. The counting of each entry began June 1, 2001 when I moved off Blogger and began completely handcoding again.

In May of 2001 I put together my TravelBlog tool that allowed by to post from any Internet connected Web browser again. This step was only used while I was on the road or I did not have ability to FTP new content. In September 2001 I moved my hosting of vanderwal.net to PHP Web Hosting, which I had been using with great happiness for other projects for over a year. In October I began using the hand built CMS that I am still using and developing. This gave me the ability to set multiple categories for each post, which no other tool allowed at that time, and to set location and entry type.

I keep making updates to my own tool and it has served me well. There as some changes to the administration tools that I really want to make and a couple changes to the tools that will allow all of the pages generated out of the CMS to produce valid XHTML. I am also wanting to build a mobile admin tool that I can use from my cell phone, which would give me the ability to post information to myself from anywhere.

Each of you are basically voyeurs. This has been my place to post my thoughts and annotated links so that I can get back to them later. These offerings are open to all as they may spark and interest or help others resolve problems. Finding information that is helpful or entertaining is a blessing of the Internet and having a resouce like a weblog (the term makes me cringe - I do not know why) is a benificial method to share information. I learned most everything I know from others sharing openly or getting new ideas based on reading what others openly shared.

There is one posting that has out drawn all other posts. The why I bought my last Windows-based computer and why I love Mac OS X has received a few thousand readers (2,000 read it in the first three days it was posted). It seems there are many others that felt the same pain and dropped in to read it. More than half a year after it was written it still gets about 50 visitors a week.

I love having this tool at my use and enjoy the friends it has brought closer and people it has introduced to me. Thanks for reading and drop a note to just say hello.



January 4, 2003

Home for the New Year

We are home from Florida and ready to get back into the usual routines. Okay, we may miss being relaxed and playing a little golf, but not travelling will be nice for a little bit.


December 29, 2002

Harried Holiday

This has been a hectic and food filled holiday season. The highlights so far (still a week to go) include a trip across country to spend an early Christmas with my parents and Grandmother and one of Joy's sisters. Left Thursday after work and returned across country Sunday (yes we are still living in the US and not England or the Netherlands, which would make a cross country trip a little more sane).

Tuesday after work (out at 1pm) it was a train up to NYC. Arrived in Manhattan's Penn station to 8 taxis and just three fares (asking myself if this was still New York). Arrive at Joy's sister and husbands apartment, change clothes and head to Bay Head Brooklyn for Christmas eve dinner. Dinner was great at the Joy's brother-in-law's sister's house, which included 6 or seven courses of stuffed mushrooms, seven layer eggplant parmesean (to die for), mussels in a dill cream sauce, jumbo shrimp in a tarragon vodka tomato cream sauce, marinated calimari and octopus salad, swordfish with a jerk rub and mango chutney, salmon en crote with a cream horseradish sauce with green salad, and Italian pastry assortment for dessert. We left in a new snow falling back for Manhattan after midnight.

We had a "toilet incident" that put us out on the streets of Manhattan at 1:30am Christmas morning looking for a plunger (the building could not locate the one they have for a 23 story building. We tried bodegas, one Duane Reed (wagged their finger at us for wanting a plunger and pointed us to the Liquid Plummer, which we purchased). We got back to the apartment to read, "Not for toilets" on the bottle. So we tried the building across the street, which had one for us to borrow and the maintenance guy would not take our $15 holiday gift offer (If we move to NYC we are going to look at the Mondrian just because of this graciousness, bless them). At 2:45am I was able to go to the bathroom, which I had been holding since Brooklyn as I thought I could hold it and I was being a gentleman and trying to be a gracious husband (this all may be reconsidered at a later date).

Christmas morning we woke at 9am or so and had coffee and eggs then opened gifts with in-laws. This was quite relaxing. We changed and went to go to church a couple blocks away. We prepared for the rain, but not completely for the torrential downpour, which had us soaked from the mid-thigh down upon arriving at the church. The services was nice and the modern architecture wonderful to look at as it cast great shadows and provided enjoyable plays with the light. After church we went back and changed to dry clothes and I helped a little with the rack of lamb (good to keep in mind it is 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes not 325 as well as stronger encouragement to keep the oven door shut -- broad cookbook like Joy of Cooking is a needed gift for that house or even for me to travel with. We finally ate wonderful lamb and mashed potatoes (appearantly they had their own adventure the previous day).

We were catching the 6 o'clock train back to DC, which was now going to be in a serious snow storm. We left the building and the wonderful hospitality to hop into a cab (yes the subway is down one long block and down a short block, but there was one or two inches of snow and we had wheelie bags). The taxi did fine until the mid-forties going down 2nd Avenue where stopping and starting turned challenging. We finally made it to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. The train ride was quiet, but we did have to stop to knock ice off the bottom of the train.

Once home we have had a brother-in-law staying with us as their house is still undergoing serious remodelling (he moved back home last night). On Friday we had a wonderful dinner with friends at Local 16 on U Street, NW in DC. The food was quite good (the white bean soup was a little too salty, but the jerk chicken pasta and mahi mahi were great. This weekend has been a weekend filled of more errands than one could dream of (although Sutton Gourmet in Bethesda had a wine, champagne, and port tasting in their store on Saturday covering 35 to 45 offerings and I found a couple to buy and a few to add to my wish list that will make great pairings). I did get to use my new KitchenAid stand mixer to make a thin pear pound cake (out of Patricia Wells Bistro cookbook), which turned out wonderfully with a dollop of whipped cream scented with pear brandy on top. This followed a potato leek soup, which I have been craving and not made for a few years now.

Soon we are back off heading south to meet up with more parents and three kids and a brand new puppy. I may have hide for the month of January to recover.



December 23, 2002

Seasons Greetings

If I missed you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and a general Happy Holidays to all.


December 18, 2002

Quiet time offers reading for IAs

Things will be quiet here for a few days. Go read the Boxes and Arrows and the equally great offerings at Digital Web. Digital Web is offering The Psychology of Navigation by Jesse James Garrett Persuasive Navigation by Jeff Lash Navigation Complex by Peter-Paul Koch. All of these articles are well worth the time to read, Jesse's may be my favorite of the bunch for personal reasons.


December 10, 2002

RIP Smokey

The Washington Post says R.I.P. Smokey the Bear. I hope this dismantling of the U.S. Forest Service is a failed effort. I really don't want to go to a Haliburton Yosemite Forest showcasing the one remaining tree and the "environmentally friendly" pavement.


December 5, 2002

Snow with a house

It seems snow has a whole new meaning when one is a home owner (actually the whole world sort of changes). Snow now means shovelling, which is preceded by picking a suitable snow shovel, and deicing (also requiring careful thought so to choose a product that works, but does not damage the environment -- meaning it damages the pocket book, but I would rather pay there than poisoned land and water). I shovelled a couple times today and diced once and I am rather sore. Time for a long Winter's nap.

We had just a little over 6 inches of snow today at the house. Joy is down, iced in, Raleigh, NC and not here to enjoy the white fluff. I really enjoy the snow and it one of the things that keeps me from moving back to the SF Bay Area (I love the seasons and eternal Spring does not cut it for me).

I am looking forward to a nighttime snowfall here. We have a good yard to sit in and take in the quiet of snow falling. When I lived in Arlington, VA I was right across the street from the Iwo Jima Memorial. When it snowed at night in Arlington I would wander across to the Memorial to look down the light-up Mall and listen to the snowflakes land and the only other sound, the flag waving. It was perfectly calming. I did not really venture out today around here as I knew there were chores and things to look after. Sigh.



Snow photos from Bethesda, MD

Photos of today's show at home are now posted (an updated set will be posted as soon as the software registration arrives). You can also follow the local road conditions through a traffic cam at Bradley and Wilson (we can see the traffic light through our backyard when the trees are bare).


Snowday and lessons on not caching and using static pages

It is a personal snowday as the U.S. Federal Government is open (so far), but on unscheduled leave. Oddly enough the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) status site does not have a no-cache setting in the header. This means you browsers, even your modern browser, will cache the page and require you the user to manually refresh the page. These pages may even be cached locally by ISPs and connectivity providers, meaning the information is not up to date. The page is rather light, with few graphics, but it is not a static page, meaning each page is generated dynamically, which requires more horsepower to serve the page. One days like today every Washington, DC area federal employee and contractor is hitting this page, as well as many DC area private sector employees (most DC companies are open if the Federal Government is open).

I thought most IT folks learned their lesson with the need for "dynamic" pages a year or two ago, but I guess not. Many previously dynamic pages are not dynamic on the back end with content management systems doing the same work they always have done, but building static pages. If the content on the pages is not changing often (this is a subjective term and can roughly defined as content changing ever few hours with heavy site loads are usually candidates for static pages) or are not serving parsable datapoints (tables of data that can have subsets of data selected for viewing). Much of the "dynamic page" hype was generated by marketing folks to non-technical types who made decisions on cool or manly mindsets. Many folks started actually thinking about the need for dynamic pages a couple years ago. Those that decided they did not need dynamic pages for all or even most of their site began to realize they could save on the heavier hardware needed to churn out everypage. These static output folks also found they could withstand much higher hit rates with ease. I have been in meetings with folks that were asking about stress testing site that were static running on boxes that were formerly running dynamic sites. Those of us that understood the processor savings knew this was a foreign concept and they did not understand the server would be able to handle twice to eight times the load previously handled.



December 2, 2002

Home sick

I am home sick today. I have only been awake 7 to 9 hours the past two days (not consecutive hours either). It started with what I thought was warding off a chest cold and turned into a minor chest cold with body and head aches. The coninually being tired has really been tough as family was in and I was cranky and really crashing hard when my batteries ran out. Last year broke my 2 and a half year stretch of not being out sick, which was a wonderful streak. Having a wife who is a nurse (not by trade at this point) makes the stay home or go to work decisions easier.


November 28, 2002


November 10, 2002

Desk built

We finally got all the pieces and have our new desk assembled and our stuff on them. I am so happy to have a window to look out while working on the TiBook (primary tool) and PC. It is about time.


October 28, 2002

DSL on its way

Flippin' finally!!! The DSL gateway is shipping!!! I can be a person again in only a few more days.


October 26, 2002

All in a view

I woke up rather early this morning and walked out to get the paper as the grey foggy sky was beginning to lighten. This really reminded by of last Spring in Monterey where I woke early and opened the blinds in the morning to look out at the grasses and trees wake to their new day and shake off the morning fog. I was able to write a lot and knocked out some diagrams that helped me think through some issues and possibly others too.

I walked back in this morning and went to our office and opened the blinds and found a similar flow. Having a window to look out that offers a rather quiet scene helps me think and work for some reason. When we bought our house and we talked about where the office would be set, I really did not care as long as there were windows and it would really help to have those windows look out at trees. I have much of my wish and this morning really reminded me of this.

During and after grad school I had a studio apartment and I set my desk (also served as a dining room table with the ever present table cloth on it) to look straight out a large picture window. When I lived there I was able to get a lot of writing done and it was during this time I started writing poetry (well over 100 in two years) and some short stories. After I moved I was staring at a wall. When Joy and I were married our apartment looked out at parking lot. Now I look forward to what may come.



October 24, 2002

Rob gets it right

I missed an important call last night, Rob was calling my cell phone from the SF Giant game just after they won the fourth game of the World Series. It was nearly 13 years ago when Rob and I had tickets to the sixth game of the Earthquake series, which is a game they never played. Rob learned his lesson and picked up tickets earlier in the series. Nicely done. I found my cell phone buzzing in my jacket pocket at midnight letting me know I had missed a call. How I would have loved to get that call. I need a phone that knows when to ring loudly even when I have it set to vibrate.


I am not a somebody I am a persona

... I am Terrance Austin. I am a persona.


October 21, 2002

arg

Today sucked at work. One of the worse parts of the job, but it is the job I have. Other than a great group discussion with a very talented team, it was a flat out very tough day.


October 18, 2002

Drug use or Miss use

Yes, I broke down a couple months ago and finally saw an allergist again and started shots. I had spent a whole six months on perscription antihistamines and was not able to drop them like most summers when it get humid. I am now down to once a week, but I also have a plethora of other perscriptions. I had a huge headache today, in part due to sinus or allergies. I have been using a nasal spray only for bad days where I really need a clean out. I never remember what it is called, but I was out of the sample and went to my bag of official drugs for me and dug in. I pulled out what I thought could be it be it had a name, patanol, which sounds like a feminine monthly pain releaver. Maybe the allergies were not from plants, molds, or other usual suspects but gender? I read closer and remembered this is for allergy medicine for my eyes. Nothing like I was expecting. I dug in the bag again and found the horrible tasting nasal spray, apply it and wait for relief.


October 11, 2002

Update on lack of broadband progress

I am still with out most of my outbound e-mail capabilities for my usual accounts. I can see all the inbound e-mail, but I am mostly devoid of responding, which is driving me crazy. This will get resolved once DSL arrives, I am still waiting on Verizon to get their act together and tie the phone number to the address. The last residents of the house has DSL running at a really good clip, but nobody can see that until Verizon understands their role in the world.

We finally got satellite TV today, which is a huge improvement over cable. Why? Much better picture, much better sound, cheaper, and channels like Tech TV and BBC America. The downside is the current placement of the dish, on the right hand corner of the roof on the front of the house. It could be a good reason to remove the tree that is creating this issue or to get the dish moved when we paint the eaves.

I spent today trying to figure out why we had no phone signal, well it turns out the PC modem fries the phone lines. I was waiting for contractors to come and fix a furnace, closets, and the dish guys. All the contractors were stuck in the traffic related to trying to find the DC shooter and we calling the often to let me know of their delays. The shootings really have not un-nerved me as the odds are long that I or anybody I know would get shot. I am much more aware of my surroundings, much like living in the UK in the late 80s with the IRA bombings and such.

I was put off from doing some work for a while today as the CD I burned on a nearly up-to-date security patched Win 2k box would not be acknowledged in the Mac. This is odd as it is how I move files out of XP Home (miserable version of XP). I finally got the CD to run in the PC (I finally had a reason to assmble it after nearly 2 weeks in the house) and reburned them on a CD, which did run on OS X. This little task and figuring out that the PC modem has phone voodoo here caused the loss of a couple hours. I knew I should have pulled the box of blank CDs out of the packing box they are in.

I am trying to focus on getting a couple reviews done, user/usability test a new site, get back to writing some articles, and putting our office together.



October 2, 2002

Gabriel Live

We now have tickets for the November 11th November 24th Peter Gabriel show at MCI Center. I have only seen Gabriel as a part of festival shows like WOMAD and the Amnesty Internationl Tour. I am so ready to see a full show.


October 1, 2002

Battle Boxes

On the house front, we found out late last week that our furnace has a tendancy to shoot flames out the front when the gas is turned up to normal capacity. This is entertaining, but it is not safe. It seems the fire shooting has been melting some wires in the furnace. At least the walls are in good shape, knock wood.

We are still sitting in a sea of boxes and will be for some time. We had some space savers put in our closets, but there was one number not accounted for, our height. We are not tall people, well by Dutch standards, but our clothes drag from the top rack to the lower rack and the lower rack drags on the floor. The whole contraption needs to be raised two inches or so, which will limit the overhead storage.

I still can only find the left shoe for any of the shoes I wear to work. I am not sure where the right shoes are, nor can Joy remember where they may have been placed. I also can not find my electric razor, which should have been in the box marked "desk items and RAZOR". I have been using a blade razor, which in one or two more days will give me insane ingrown hairs.

One positive observation, well for me at least, I have fewer books than Joy. The last few years I have listened to teasing for all the books I have (mostly tech/Web/UXD related with a healthy helping of econ, history, architecture, design, and fiction) on the shelves. It seems Joy has nearly equal, if not more, knitting books and boxes of periodicals, just slated for our office. The knitting book count does not include the attic nor second bedroom. This to me is a nice thing to find out, I am not sure you are interested, nor Joy with my telling you, but it is just you and me here right?



Dial-up woes

Okay, I know I am not the "normal user", but I really do not understand how millions to billions of people prefer dial-up over broadband. I have been struggling with a shared line with the main house phone and dial-up for only two days and it is a huge struggle. The images on CNN take forever to load, particularly the ads, which slowdown even the text from appearing. I really don't understand how this is tollerable. It must be me. I want my DSL, too bad the local telco (Verizon) is so slow in connecting 3rd party DSL providers (like DirectTV DSL) that have much better service and customer service.


New outlook

A new month, a new house, and a new outlook. It is great waking and being able to look out at trees and not a parking garage.


September 27, 2002

Temporary Leave

Things will be very very quiet around here over the next few days to 10 days. We move in the morning and will have very little connectivity for a week or so. Not even a phone line until Monday evening. Enjoy your selves and take in some items I find of interest over on the vanderwal net links. I have added a few new ones recently. Of most interest of the new links have been Pixelcharmer and Mike Lee's "Visual Lee". When we get settled all of you will have to come by and just say hi. See you soon.


August 30, 2002

Home

We are home owners!!


August 28, 2002

Home sweat Home, really

In less than two days we will be home owners. We are very excited and are now streching and limbering up as we plan to start updating outlets, pulling panelling in the basement, and pulling ivy from the yard beginning day one. There will be much to get done by the end of September when we move in. We have already dealt with the flakey contractors who have not made it to appointments for estimates the first or rescheduled times. Being who we are we have matrix running for products and services and have timelines started. Now if it will all come together.

I mentioned to Jeff and Bryan that we had a Tiki bar in the basement, but it may have a short life as it sits under the stairs and may become a server closet. Yes, they threatened me, but it could have been the burbon.

This new endevour has brough two new categories to track "home" and "gardening".



August 15, 2002

Close call

The vacation was nearly much tougher. Last Thursday I was walking to get my morning coffee and as I went to cross a street walking down Woodmont a Beemer wizzed around the corner and I stepped out carefully making sure the car behind him was going to stop and let me cross. The car stopped and as I got in front of it I heard loud screaching of brakes, a thud and plastic shatter just as I felt a strong rush of air push across the hair on my legs. I looked down and saw the bumper as it was beginning to tease the hair on my left leg and I jumped back. The car kept coming for another foot or so. The air I felt on my leg was the air from the trunk of the Acrua as a large delivery truck collapsed it. It is a nasty corner for pedestians where I make my turn on mornings I drive into work. The strangest thing about the whole incident was I did not get the shakes or any adrenaline rush. Yes, I waited for the police woman to arrive and be a witness.


August 14, 2002

Ah vacation

It is good to be home, well I wish I was still at the shore. We had a great time in Spring Lake, New Jersey staying at the Normandy Inn, as we always do. I lost a watch and two left contacts in the Atlantic Ocean, but we found some new great places. There are a couple new ice cream places in Spring Lake, iscream and Sunday Times are great new additions. We also found a great restraunt in Asbury Park, Moonstruck (it used to be in Ocean Grove and moved to a great larger space) the waitstaff was great as was the atmosphere, but the food was amazing. Joy had honey mustard pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes and I had salmon with a spicy sweet Thai sauce over brown rice. Both were extremely good. We also went to our favorites Spring Lake Gourmet Pizza, Kleins Seafood Cafe in Belmar, and to Strollo's Italian Ice in Belmar. We had lunch in the Cucina Cafe, which always has great salads, other midday snacks, and brings in awesome piniole cookies from Brooklyn. We also took a trip up to Pennington and Princeton to visit friends, which was another nice diversion.


July 27, 2002

To be home sweet home

Things have been a little slow around these parts the last month or so due to some side projects, mostly involving writing (stuff I have been in turn throwing out then trying again), also some fun diversions, including reading many books (all work/fun related). The largest reason for the slowness is we signed a contract on a house we have had our eye on since January/February. We will be moving only a couple miles away into a brick cape cod built smack in the middle of the 1900s. We still have some time before everything is final, our fears are gone, we get keys, and we move in. The house will need some work, but it will be ours. The next month or two will be a nice trick balancing everything, but we will make it all happen and we will take a long nap.


July 23, 2002

A slight break

Things have been a little quiet here work as drawn off energy used to read and post, reading has been in books (shared in a few days), summer diversions are abundant, and we are preparing to move. We are going through a transition to our own house with all the fears and excitement that can bring.


Rumpole no more

When I see a glass or bottle of claret I can only think of Rumpole, who was brought to life by Leo McKern who has passed away today. Leo brought to life many enjoyable charaters and will be greatly missed.


Chiam moves on

I learned a great deal about art and myself from reading My Name is Asher Lev, which is now ingrained in my senses. The author, Chiam Potok passed away today. It is days like these that you wished you had reached out and said thank you, at the very least.


July 7, 2002

Brought together

It has been a weekend of independance and interdependance. The Independance Day holiday weekend was spent with friends that have been spread around the globe who all came together to witness two great friends of ours, Fred and Paula, get married. It was a wonderful occasion of celebration and sharing. They were married next to the Jefferson Memorial (photos soon) and the party ensued out at Great Falls. It is amazing the wonders that two people can bring together and even back together. Being blessed with wonderful, caring, and bright friends is a great treasure. We wish Paula and Fred a great long future together.


July 1, 2002

Search for ahhhh

Oh how I am looking for July to be a little more calm than the past couple months.


June 25, 2002

Not really a fire drill

How to not instill confidence, have the fire alarm in your apartment building twice this morning (while trying to get ready) and now twice this evening. No apearant smoke, building maintenance is unconcerned, no fire trucks arrive, but nobody knows why the fire alarm keeps going off. Hmmm, good night sleep? Not really likely.


June 23, 2002

New Yankee Workshop computer desk

If only I had the time and the tools, New Yankee Workshop computer desk would be a great addition to the office.


June 17, 2002

Morons drive

It is all about perspective, I was driving Joy's truck to and from work last week rather than my car. I could see quite a bit farther down the road than in my car. I continually wonder what causes traffic delays. Now I have a better idea. It seems like it is somewhat normal to make a left hand turn from the right lane across three lanes of rush hour traffic (two times in five days), stopping at a corner on the right to let out a passenger, which blocks the left lane and the right lane is turning right leaving no lanes to drive forward then turning right onto the quiet street (seven times in five days), a bus stopping in traffic because somebody is parked in the bus only zone (five times in five days), or having an FBI investigation truck blocking one lane after somebody stole an armoured car and promtly ran it into a tree (once in five days). I am still not sure ignorance is bliss, but I do know there are some f-ing morons driving that are insanely self-absorbed.


June 14, 2002

Break Bread with Brad Brunch

This past Saturday I had a wonderful time at the Break Bread with Brad Brunch in DC. I met some great folks and got to see Mike and Dineen (whom I only tend to see in when I travel) and now that Brad has posted photos and links I really can tie the faces and names (and URLs). I will post the few photos I have in a day or so. I deeply appreciate Brad putting this together.


Break Bread with Brad Brunch

This past Saturday I had a wonderful time at the Break Bread with Brad Brunch in DC. I met some great folks and got to see Mike and Dineen (whom I only tend to see in when I travel) and now that Brad has posted photos and links I really can tie the faces and names (and URLs). I will post the few photos I have in a day or so. I deeply appreciate Brad putting this together.


June 10, 2002

Shh quiet

Again, things will be quite around here for a few days. It has to do with buying things not for sale and writing.


June 2, 2002

Tired

I have been sleeping a lot lately, partly due to allergies I think. Yesterday the humidity was up, which helps the allergies a lot, but today was really bad.


June 1, 2002

Lighting summer

To me summer begins on the first warm humid evening when you see the first firefly of the season. Tonight summer began. Not only did we see our first firefly, but we gave one a ride for a few miles on the windshield wiper. Every now and then the firefly would light up to let us know it was still there. Ah, summer.




May 27, 2002

Prepare for turbulance

Things may be a little bumpy around here at vanderwal.net for a few days.


May 24, 2002

K-shirt day

Hmmm, Friday. Yes it is Kuro5hin t-shirt day. Thanks Rusty and Chris.


May 20, 2002

Rough travel

Home. Travelling was rough this trip, but worth the break. I have flown on five or six times since September and this was the first one that was just horriffic. It could have been the airline, I just don't know. My trip home I did not miss a flight, which is a good thing, but there was surly flight attendants and negative leg room. I am sure it will be better on my next trip, which will be the end of June.


May 12, 2002

It was a good weekend. Joy and I babysat this weekend. It was a good step away from the computer and from work (for the most part). The nephews (5 years old twins) asked how I got a bald spot, I told them I sneezed really hard one day and my hair just fell out. They came home and told this to Joy. It seems I am Calvin's dad, oh poor confused children of the future.


May 10, 2002

What a week

This is one week I am glad is over. This week was tough and bizarre to say the least. Today was too fitting for a Friday, particularly this week. Things may be quiet here this weekend as we tend to the neice and nephews.


May 8, 2002

Strange day

Today was a very strange day. Things happen quickly and you react, sometimes you are incredibly surprised what happens in split seconds, then minutes.


May 4, 2002

Huh

As the day passes it looks more and more like I may have time for the side projects I have going.


April 25, 2002

A good win

Today there was some good new. The contract I work on today was finally awarded to the teamed companies I was working on the proposal for. This means there is the possibility I could be working at the same place for the next 10 years. This is good news.


April 18, 2002

Things around here have been insanely hot. Our apartment was above 85 degrees all night. Joy could not take it any longer and drove to work at 3:30 to get a/c (she counted 27 stop lights from home to work and only 9 minutes of driving with nearly all of them flashing yellow). I got up for a while, but finally the need for sleep dug in.


April 16, 2002

It is damn hot in the Washington, DC area. Joy just took our one fan to the back of the apartment to get a breeze blowing in the bedroom. Now it is insanely hot in the family room with a hot TiBook in my lap. Time for bed me thinks. (We live in an older building that turns on the central a/c on in mid-May)


March 22, 2002

I am really enjoying my new cell phone. However it is the first phone in a long time that I really needed to learn the keylock. Not only does the phone dial easily, but the speakerphone is quite loud. I had my phone tucked away in my bag, which would believe one to believe that the loud walkie talkie sounds ("please hang up and dial again" and other gems) were from some idiot's phone or the custodial services. Nope they were from me. I have learned to easily operate the keypad lock, which also saves my pockets from talking to me.


We finally saw a beautiful mind this evening. I rather liked the movie, but it was not as deep as I thought it was going to be. Yes, I am a wee bit behind in my movie watching. I tend to lean on the computer, Internet, books, and magazines for entertainment.


March 21, 2002

A forced break in the comment tool development. I may be able to catch up on some e-mail and get a good night sleep.



March 4, 2002

Temp today was 100 this morning. Went to work (a day I did not want to miss). Went to the doctor late in the afternoon. Temp was perfectly normal. Came home napped. Temp now 101.4. I give up. I did get anti-biotics to kill the bug and to keep my from having a Shiner in Austin. Good night.


March 3, 2002

Happy Birthday Joy, the love of my life.


March 2, 2002

It finally caught up, allergies and being worn down have had me largely flat on my back today. The usual errands were not a joy and the Hoya's last game this season (it was sad too to say good bye for a few months to those in the seats around us, but I did snag a free t-shirt). I have been trying to rest up for tomorrow and get better for the week and SXSW, which is followed by ASIS.


February 28, 2002

Can I tell you how ready for sleep I am? This week included the approach of an ISO audit at work, end of the month usual stuff, tons of paperwork for work and home, spending time with my wonderful parents that were in town (although they stayed in a private club/hotel that lost them when I was trying to meet them for dinner), realized I could not find my running shoes I liked (hello Adidas for home delivery), figured out that the ASIS IA Summit is largely on a weekend that I have not away and close by in Baltimore (hello I am now going), finally got tired of my cell phone and its poor battery life and my non-national call plan for that phone that put me back more than $300 while stuck in SF around Sept. 11 (vavoom a new phone and a national plan, which includes e-mail, text messaging, and Web and a much longer battery life), and allergy season beginning. I also realized I leave for Austin a week from tomorrow.


February 18, 2002

I have posted a quick photo journal of this recent trip to NYC. The slide show is a presentation built with PB's SnapGallery. The images were cleaned-up and reduced in PhotoShop prior to moving them in to the SnapGallery. I found SnapGallery very quick and easy to use. I have a strong feeling I will be playing with it some more.


February 17, 2002

The New York City log goes a little something like this... We did the obligatory trip to Tal Bagels on First Ave to fuel up on my favorite bagels. Saturday I was able to knock out much of the computer set-up, but I had a feeling early on (Wednesday or Thursday) that I would need cables. We needed longer phone cord, but also when looking for a monitor stand that one can slide a keyboard under. The cords were no problem, but the stand was another issue. We went trekking through the mid-50s on the Eastside up into the mid-60s trying everyplace I had remembered seeing the stands. But, we got one of two answers 1) sorry we stopped carrying that a year ago, or 2) sorry we stopped carrying that four to six months ago.

After an hour and a half of searching we stopped at Mangia at 50 57th Street for lunch. Mangia has great salads and sandwiches for lunch. The salads were very good and the grilled vegetables were amazing.

The post-nourishment lead us to Rizzoli's Bookstore to peruse the art and design books, but did not make a purchase. We started back on our search and happened to stop into Fauchon for some chocolates, and to try our French on the Japanese staff (odd cultural blur). Then we were off to the Upper West side, beginning at Lincoln Center. We walked up West Broadway and stopped in Gracious Home, a wonderful "We have everything" home store. The did not have the desired monitor stand, but they did have an amazing tool section, lamp selection, kitchenware, and everything you could ever imagine with all of it seeming to be top quality and top brands. We stopped a few other places on the way to Zabars to look around and sample. By this point it was time to head back to rest up for dinner after stopping in nearly ten places that had the monitor stands in the past. At Work Stand on West Broadway, I finally had to tell somebody I was beginning to take this personally.

Our evening included dinner at MI, which was very good Asian fusion, with very slow service. We did happen to see Charlie Rose at dinner, which some how added to the dining experience. Next it was off to the Rise Bar on the 14th floor of the new Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park. The bar looks out across the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Jersey City, and from the outside deck up to where the Twin Towers stood. In all it was a great night with Joy's family and friends of hers and theirs. We did finally found a place that would order the monitor stand for us.

Sunday was another trek to Tal and off to find more cables to try to get an HP printer to talk with the new Dell. We also needed cables and a converter box to get the DVD player running. These efforts after our hunting left us with a working DVD player and a noncommunicative printer. This of course lead to lunch at the near-by Houston and then off to visit a new baby and his parents on the Upper East Side. It seemed like such a short visit before we had to get back and pick up our bags to head back home.

It was a jam packed weekend and once again I have a great place in my heart for NYC. The people in NYC definitely are now very friendly and courteous. This to me is a little un-nerving as I like the New York edge. But, it was also nice to have people being completely sweet and helpful at every turn.



February 16, 2002

I am feeling like Carrie Bradshaw as I look out the window and type on my Mac laptop, but that is about where the similarities end (thank my lucky stars). It is good to be in NYC, but it is a quick and filled trip of setting up a computer and home theater. A possible trip to SoHo and a couple other side stops.

Last night flying in I caught a bright light out of the corner of my eye, it was the WTC pit brightly light for work at night. I had made a conscious decision not to go down to there, but here I was flying right over and peering down in. I am staying with the brother-in-law that worked in the tower 2. I also got a flash back to 1990 on my first trip to NYC and meeting a friend in the Trade Center, which on my way back overheard a groupd of tower workmen singing "I've got the Power& by Snap. That scene was vivid in my head. It added a very different tone to the start of this NYC adventure.

It is looking like there may a trip to the Prada store today, as I mentioned it to Joy, who mentioned it to her sister. It could be 10 minutes of cool and then an hour or more of "what was I thinking". I used to love to shop, but now it is sort of eh.



February 14, 2002

This weekend it is off to NYC for a very short visit. I am setting up a computer, Internet connection, and DVD player for a relative. In late Friday, install (expecting to have to run out for cables and other items "not included") on Saturday day, get taken out to dinner for the duties provided, brunch and packup Sunday and return home. This may be the first trip to NYC that I have not had a huge desire to see something. The Cloisters would be nice or the Planaterium, but I just don't see it fitting in. Maybe I need regular visits to NYC, just to see friends and take in things I never have done. I now know a good smattering of folks in NYC, but I will see most of you in a couple weeks in Austin.


February 12, 2002

My Timbuk2 bag, built to order and in appropriate colors. This could be the most comfortable bag I have ever had. I had the bag loaded up today and it really was comfortable for the commute. The bag has a lot of room and is well padded. It was a great gift, even though I picked the build of the bag. The next time you need a bag give these folks a look, they are hand-made in San Francisco.


February 11, 2002

Arg. If you have Internet work and need somebody great, I know of a great developer looking for work. Send Nick your leads and best wishes.


February 8, 2002

Now the fun begins. I can now sit on the sofa next to my wife, not only work on my laptop but have access to the Internet using Apple's Airport. Yes no wires attached and I have full througput of our DSL line.

This is enabling me to watch the Winter Olympics opening ceremony and alternate tasks. I have been more impressed with the ads during the opening ceremonies, much more so than the Super Bowl. My favorite so far is the multi-sport Nike ad. Hands down my favorite add I have seen in months, not saying much as I really do not watch too much television, as I prefer to watch the interesting bits off the Internet. You ask what made the Nike ad so impressive? Not only was it the transitions, the relationships between athletes and youth and amatures trying the same performance, and the visual beauty, with intermixing a steady camera and a moving shot. The cinematography was beautiful. Full marks.



February 6, 2002

Thanks for the birthday wishes and gifts. Feeling like you missed out? There is still time.


February 5, 2002

New Digital Web issue out with the feature article by yours truly, entitled SXSW and Between. This is the first weekly issue that Digital Web has done.


January 31, 2002

Ever had those days when you are dead tired at 8pm and know the next day is going to be hellish? One prescription is getting and putting everything in writing.


January 29, 2002

Things are messed up when the daytime high temperature in Washington, DC is 15 degrees higher than Palm Springs. On January 29th, mind you. We have been sleeping with the windows open in January and it is still a little too warm at night. Then only to find out it snowed in Northern California and many, many, many people caught it on film and/or wrote about it. This is disturbing for me as I love the seasons and really like Winter, only after Fall. I left San Francisco in 1993 tired of eternal Spring. Now what on earth is this.


January 28, 2002


January 20, 2002

Yesterday was the first snow of the season. It was a wonderful day out running errands and meeting friends of Joy's in Old Town last evening. The white snow on the limbs of dark baren trees gave the world an Ansel Adams view. Snow in the DC area brings most everything to a halt and everything gets wonderfully quiet. When I lived in Arlington I would walk down to the Iwo Jima Memorial and watch the snow fall listening to the flag wave and stare out at the monument light down the Mall across the Potomac. It was so quiet you could hear the snow land upon the blanket of snow that had landed before.


January 2, 2002

A benevolent Secret Santa, I believe from the Boxes and Arrows project (using the Secret Santa - Mystery Menorah application I built), dropped of two wonderful gifts today. One was The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, by Lawrence Lessig, which has been on my highly desired list since hearing him speak at Web2001 in San Francisco. I have been really liking and agreeing with many of Lessig's articles of late, so the book should be quite juicy. The other was Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995, by Bill Watterson, which not only contains many C & H Sunday newspaper strips, but includes Watterson's background on the drawings. Many of the snippets I read this evening make for very good understanding of layout and visual presentation and tie directly to Web design. This seems to be similar (or a lite version of) to Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, which Peter likes.


January 1, 2002

New Year's resolutions? I don't do resolutions at New Years. Resolutions I reserve as a term for images. I collected too many bad habits years ago and waiting for one special day to dump them was sorely unproductive and left me feeling like I was not succeeding. Now I try to make positive corrections as I find need for them. Oh yes and being married, as my wife Joy finds need for corrections for me (some of these I may revive as New Year's resolutions next year, shhh, don't tell Joy. This is your and my little secret).


Happy New Year!!!


December 29, 2001

Things have been quiet here you say? Yes, the holiday season has been a busy one. My parents swung through beginning on Christmas Day for a quick visit, it has been wonderful to see them so much this holiday season. I have been battling a cold and possibly allergies, which have really worn me down. I have also taken some time out for life to read (Lance Armstrong biography, which is wonderful, and pick through Patrcia Wells, "The Paris Cookbook" a fantastic journey through recipies and restaurant insights of Paris) and watch movies on DVD.

I am still very worn down and in need of some serious sleep, exercise, and relaxation. Hopefully that will come in the next week or two.



December 24, 2001

The Beeb and local public radio stations have been running The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England. To me it is a wonderful preparation for Christmas Day, while doing my final wrapping of presents. It plays again on Christmas Day.

I wish everybody safe and peaceful travels and a wonderful holiday season.



December 20, 2001

I have been battling a cold or some other grungy bug the past few days. Last night it still had not taken hold so I used my 4 cloves of garlic in one bowl of chicken soup potion to ward off the evil. I am still not great, but I do have a wonderful garlic scent. The trick it always seems is using the potion early enough.


December 16, 2001

In some ways it is good to be back home. After spending the a long weekend filled with both my family and Joy's family in Spokane, Washington, it is good to be back home. There was not a lot of very needed rest, but it was wonderful to see family at this time of year, heck, any time of year. Joy and I were amazed at how wonderfully friendly people are in Spokane. We was also amazed at the customer service in the stores and restaurants, which is a wonderful change. The people take their jobs seriously and they know where items are in their stores and will go out of their way to find something for you. This may be my favorite place to shop from now on, okay it is a long way from home, but it is a wonderful change.


December 12, 2001

Things have been a little quiet here as I have been digging out of a few very busy weeks. I will be heading off to the great Pacific Northwest for a few days of family time that is long over due.

Unfortunately I have not bought a new laptop so that I can keep up with news and post the good things in life. I am sure a few days away will do me good, but the e-mail is going to be deep. I am getting around 150 e-mails a day, of which two-thirds are news updates and listserves, but the rest much be attended to (this is just personal mail, by the way). Upon returning I will starting a new job, more on that later.



December 10, 2001

This week may be a little slow here. I am on vacation this week and was not intending to work. This means time away from the computer and work environments. It has been scheduled for quite some time and it just happens this week I am between jobs. I start work for a new company on Monday the 17th and I am trying to ENJOY my time in between time consuming events. I have a few days to dabble with my own side projects, read, decompress, was to have spent a day in NYC (but a meeting has side-tracked that wonderful plan). My last vacation was a working vacation (as most of them are) in San Francisco at the Web2001 conference and the 9/11 events. I will be taking sometime this later this week to escape completely where I can not be called into meetings. I was hoping to have time to focus on my favorite side project Boxes and Arrows, but that has dwindled too due to circumstances.


December 8, 2001

Oh, NOW the power comes back on in our building. Just another reason to get a laptop, so to work from the local coffeehouse where they had power. Now it is time to get ready and go to the ever loved office holiday parties.


November 27, 2001

It has been family filled lately. My parents were in town for the Thanksgiving weekend and we all went to Joy's sister's house for the big meal. (The yams in orange cups from Bon Appetite were great, as was the stuffing, buttermilk biscuits, and chocolate pecan tart out of the same magazine.) Joy is doing somewhat better as she had the drain taken out last week, but a couple treks out really wiped her out. It was great to see my parents and they took off yesterday morning. Last night one of Joy's nephew broke his arm in two places and spent the night in the hospital, so as Joy is still having some problems getting around I went over and watched the other two kids until about 1am so both parents could be at the hospital. Today it is Joy's day to get stitches out and other doctor appointments. This is a change, and a good one, from being an only child with parents and one grandparent.


November 20, 2001

Tired. Many things are going at once and I am looking for a little shut eye this long weekend.

My first Thanksgiving cooking anything, as my family usually eats Thanksgiving dinner out. We usually go to Carmel, CA or venture out around here, but this year it is dining at Joy's sister's. I am making Yam's in orange cups and buttermilk biscuits with scallions out of this November's Bon Appetit.

It looks like Joy may get to keep her drain a little longer. Nobody is happy about this, but we will find out for sure tomorrow. It was not a great day on the comfort level for her today.



November 17, 2001

I was trying to catch-up to life today. I ran my usual errands and some of Joy's. Joy got out of the house for the first time today to go get her haircut, a quick trip to the bookstore for magazines, and the movie rental place. Joy has been plowing through movies this week. The short trip wiped Joy out.

We watched The Mighty this evening. It was a good movie in the My Bodygard and Simon Birch genre. It plays on the Nights of the Roundtable lore. It could be one to own for those, need to refocus days.



November 15, 2001

Joy is looking better, but the pain and stiffness has increased. The lack of people around has her spirits a little down. We lost our main phone line today due to what seems to be a cut line, which did not help. She is hoping to be able to dress herself in a few days too. It is tough watching her as I help dress her as this is something she has always been able to do, even when she shattered her ankle. We go to the doctor tomorrow morning to hopefully get the drain taken out of her leg and get an assessment.

Joy has been heartend by all the well wishes from around the globe, which has her very greatful and thankful there are many people who care.



November 13, 2001

Finally home. Joy is fine, but her leg will be sore for a bit. **Gross Alert** She has a blood drain for the area, which is really kinda gross as you drain blood from your loved one. It was a rather long day at the hospital in all, but everything turned out well. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes.


Joy is heading in for surgery in an hour or so. I will post more when we get home from the hospital this evening.

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