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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Patience - and the new world

One of the most amazing features of digital revolution of the last 20 years - is immediate access to information. Over the years we got our information faster and faster: FAX, BBS, Email, SMS, Google, iPhone, Facebook, Tweeter.
Every iteration not only it gets faster, but it also makes us think less before we are trying to retrieve it and produces some element of expectation of instant gratification.

Sometime I'm thinking about what did we do before all the information was available to us? We actually had to research a subject through books, go to the library, think about what we are looking for, actually study a subject - so we will not have to look it up in a book every time... we tried to memorize facts and formulas so they will be available for us when we need them.

One human attribute which I think this revolution affected in a negative form - is Patience. We don't have patience today to wait. I personally can't stand websites that don't give me my data instantaneously, page load delays of over 0.5s drive me nuts - and an idea that I will not be able to find what I'm looking for in less than 5 minutes - would make me give up on that search in the first place.

But patience is a required element - for acquiring knowledge, for self-improvement, for getting skilled at any topic. I look at my kids today - and I'm not sure how to instill it in them.

Is that a good thing?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Entourage and Exchange Server

I've been using Apple Macs for years, and the only challenge I've experienced in the work place - is a proper email and calendaring client, that would play nice with Exchange Server. I used Mail, Entourage, Thunderbird, Outlook on Parallels (too slow) ... what not.

I joined eHarmony in April 2008, and decided to stick with Entourage. After all, new version 2008 just came out, and it seems that since both Exchange and Entourage are made by Microsoft - chances are pretty good that they will be mostly compatible.

Everything worked fine for a while - until I noticed that many of my meetings were seemingly at random falling off my calendar. I noticed that mostly those were meetings forwarded to me by somebody else, or recurring events.

Quick research - and I found these two articles:

http://blogs.technet.com/amir/archive/2008/02/08/how-does-entourage-work.aspx

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/920134

It basically boils down to the fact that Entourage is communicating with Exchange via WebDAV protocol, however Exchange server does not support "complex calendaring" through WebDAV. Happened to be that recuring events, forwarded meetings, meetings created on behalf of somebody are all - "complex calendaring".

Besides the fact that MSFT again proved to be an interesting organization where some products don't have support for others - I'm back to squrare 1 - looking for solid email and calendar client - that just works.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy 25th Anniversary - Commodore 64

Several friends reminded me of 25th anniversary for Commodore 64. That brought a whole bunch of nostalgic memories. Endless evenings I spent in our apartment in Israel with that beige box (and later with C128) - learning BASIC, assembler, CP/M, copying games code from magazines, writing my own first program - converting lunar calendar dates into solar... My parents found it hard to understand - what was so special about writing those little "sprites" on the monochrome screen - for me it was magic.

I can definitely say that Casio FX-720P in 1981 and C64 couple years later - developed an interest for me in programming, electronics, and the whole new industry that was just forming. The rest is history.

Now, if I can only convince people that 300 baud modems and BBS was the Facebook of my time...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Google in Japanese

Since early last week, every time I access Google from home - it only shows up in Japanese. I'm sure it's some kind of fancy IP geo-recognition software that for some reason assumes that my Time Warner Cable IP is in Japan.

However, what I'm absolutely annoyed about, is that there is no way (at least I didn't find it yet) for me to switch back to English. Every request to http://www.google.com - gets redirected to www.google.co.jp, and some (not all) other applications gets redirected to it's JP version as well. In fact I'm writing this entry in Blogger localized in Japanese, which means I don't understand a word in it's interface. (If this entry made it to the blog - that means i found the "Publish" button).

I'm really surprised - how hard it is to make a button - "View in English" (They do have it on Google JP homepage, but not in Blogger)? What if I'm in JP, connecting from local hotel? And how hard it is to fix the actual geo-location software?

Now - what really makes me wonder - is that I'm actually logged in into my Google account. Which obviously should have the knowledge that I'm an English speaking person. So either Google is not taking that into account when showing me localized interfaces, or worse - it does not have as much demographic data as people assume.

Monday, October 08, 2007

BuzzWords

I've heard many buzzwords in my life, but over last 10 years I couldn't point my finger at what exactly bothers me. I still can't - however, at this point I'm convinced that any company that uses too many of these words - has no idea what they are doing, and lost (if ever had) its direction:

  • agile
  • end-to-end
  • scalable
  • solution
  • ecosystem
  • monetization
  • decisioning
  • paradigm
  • next-generation
  • leverage
  • framework
A good friend told me once: if you can't explain a concept to a 7 year old, you don't understand it yourself. I don't think 7 year olds, know any of the words above.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Apple and Innovation

If I would ask you: which is the most innovative company in the world? I think majority would reply: Apple.

It is pretty fascinating how Apple turned around from being a sort-of-cool-but-nobody-cares to de-facto standard of innovation in recent years.

Clearly, major part of it is Steve Jobs, and his marketing skills. I always was of the opinion that it does not make much difference if you have the best or coolest technology in the world, what matters is how good can you sell it.

Microsoft has been dominating not because of solid technology platform, but because of Bill Gates's monopolistic marketing tactics.

Apple products are beautiful and easy to use (oh though not the best from hardware perspective), and Job's selling skills are second to none.

I also think, that Apple is very good not only at inventing cool products, but identifying interesting ideas outside of Apple world, and quickly embracing them. NIH (not invented here) - is really not part of their DNA.

And that is in my opinion - the trick to a successful company.

Many people can come up with good ideas once in a while, but very few can have a consistent combination of own ideas, other people ideas all melted into single vision and consistent execution.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Airport Security in US

This has been bothering me for a while, but today I got really annoyed. What is wrong with US airport security checks? Here are some really illogical behaviors:

- You can 't bring a bottle of water in your carry on luggage. But you can put it in your pants pocket, and nobody will know, since metal detection machine obviously does not recognize water.
- Why can't you bring water in the first place? Because some idiot wanted to smuggle explosives in a water bottle? So now - the same idiot can't put it in a smaller bottle in his pocket?
- You can bring small bottles of liquids in a plastic zip bag. So a TSA person will look at your little bottles, and will approve them. So that of course prevents you from taking a small bottle of eye solution, for example, and fill it with whatever you want. Give me a break!
- And why can you bring a small bottle and not a big one? I can just pour the same amount of liquids into 3 small bottles with different labels.
- Taking off shoes?! So tomorrow somebody will try to bring a bomb in his underwear, we all will have to take off our underwear?!

My point is - this system is so stupid, all it does - it makes normal people life really annoying, and does not prevent from anybody to smuggle anything anyway, if they really want to.

By the way - there is no logic in taking your laptop out the bag either.

US should learn from Israel. In Tel Aviv International Airport - nobody asks you to take off your shoes, to take out your laptop, or not to bring any bottles. But - there is a trained person standing next to security line, who pulls out of the line everybody who looks suspicious, and examines their luggage more carefully.

That's the only way to prevent terror attacks, not to create patterns that everybody can learn and go around.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

VIsualization of Information - new Web?

Over the last couple of years there has been tremendous push to present information in visually appealing way. All new technologies like AJAX, Flash, WEB 2.0 web services etc, are all trying to address this in various forms. I think Google was really an early adopter of this trend, despite that Search is purely text based. AdWords was brilliant in a way it allowed advertisers to manage their campaigns through AJAX interfaces. Gmail took email to the next level in terms of ease of access to your emails, which is part of visual presentation, in my mind.
Google Earth, Google maps are other examples of presenting information in much more appealing way. Recent acquisition of Gapminder also points in the same direction.

However, the web is still a very textual environment. But all recent trends point out that new generation of users is looking for much more than just text. Youtube, Myspace are all examples of that. Explosion of Photo management sites like Flickr, slideshows online like slide.com are all attempts to visualize users life, and present it for quick consumption.

I think the next evolution of the Web will be around connecting visualization dots across the web, and automated ways to present information in visual ways.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yosemite in the Summer 2006


DSC_0044
Originally uploaded by guzeppe.
For the last several years, we've been taking RV trips to different places in California. This year we took a trip to Yosemite National Park.

It's been really great experience to expose the kids to the nature in the summer, and RV provides an excellent way to travel for many hours.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Slideshows online - a new wave of online selfexpression?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

We took the kids to Disneyland last week. It was a little crowded, but we had a great time.


www.flickr.com







It's amazing how expensive that place is. Admission alone is $59 per adult, $49 per child. Well, after all, it is the "happiest place on earth" - I guess happiness is pretty expensive these days.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Gmail account got deleted

This story is everywhere. A guy's Gmail account got mysteriously deleted from Google servers. He says he had CRUCIAL data in that account and no backups. Many people, including Jeremy are making fun of the poor soul, but I just wonder - if you have an email account with a big company like Google (or Yahoo, or Microsoft) - it is pretty reasonable to expect them to do backups of your data. When was the last time anybody have heard about Yahoo or Hotmail account disappearing in a black hole?

Anyway - I hope the guy will learn one important lesson - "trust nobody".

Oh, and I wonder where does this stand on a "do no evil" scale.

By the way, there are many online backup services these days: Amazon S3, Box.net, Xdrive to mention a few.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Yahoo News Sites

I was wondering - why would Yahoo have many different news sites. The other night I was trying to check basketball scores - usually I just go to sports.yahoo.com. This time however I clicked on News link from Yahoo Homepage. On the news site, I found the Sports section - but as I clicked on it - i was taken to a Sports section of the news site - as oppose to sports.yahoo.com. The content was very different.

So we got:

sports.yahoo.com vs news.yahoo.com/sports
finance.yahoo.com vs news.yahoo.com/biz
my.yahoo.com vs news.yahoo.com vs www.yahoo.com

Go figure...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Acura Music Link IPOD Adapter - review

I got sick of listening to my iPOD through FM connector. The quality is really poor, constant interference, I'm sure I'm not alone.

So I was very excited when I read about Acura Music Link iPOD adapter. After trying to research it online, without much success, (I guess not many people out there use it), I gave up and made my way into Acura dealership.

Some number of years ago, I would just buy and install it myself. But the guy at Acura informed me that my warranty would void - so I decided to let the dealership do it. It was probably a wise decisions - since in new cars, installing a component like that, requires opening up the all of the front console, connecting and reconnecting a bunch of XM radio wires etc.

After I got my car back ($490 later, including installation) - I found a nice clean wire inside my glove compartment. The guys in the dealership couldn't really explain to me how this iPOD connection works - so I had to figure it out myself.

After using it for 3 days - my feelings are mixed. On one hand - the quality is great! Can't even compare with FM transmitter.
On the other hand - seems like Acura really tried hard to make this not a user friendly experience.

First - when you connect your iPOD, all the buttons on the ipod stop working. You can only control it from the Acura radio console. That wouldn't be so bad, but the problem is that nothing is being displayed on radio screen! Nothing! The only thing you see is a word "Extension". So you have to navigate your ipod blindly. Even that would be OK, if there would be some logic to it. However, the only 2 options you have - random shuffling between albums, or random shuffling between songs. Really lame.

Second - Acura provides you a way to control your ipod through voice commands. You need to install a software on your computer, and it goes through your iTunes library, and creates voice prints of all your playlists, songs, albums etc. Then it moves those "voice prints" to your ipod as special playlists. You suppose to click on a button on you radio, and it "voice scans" through first letters of playlists, songs or whatever. Terrible way of looking for your songs. I went through the whole process, but couldn't make it work. Somehow, my radio ignores those "voice prints" all together.

Was it so hard to leave the controls on the ipod workable, or display ipod information on navigation screen and allow the user to choose songs and playlists from the screen?!

So my current solution is, before I connect the ipod, I put it on a playlist that I want to hear, push Play, and then connect it to the cord in the car. Then I can control from the console songs withing that playlist or album. If I want a different playlist, I disconnect, select it, and reconnect again.

Bottom line - this is a very expensive way to have "Line In" for your car radio!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Added new advertisement

Just added some new advertisement service today. Will see how it will monetize over time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

There are some honest journalists out there

Apparantely, there are still some journalists who actually stand with Israel on security issues, and in particular on its hunt for terrorism, which usually condemned by the whole world, but perfectly OK for US and Britain

http://www.canoe.ca/.../392141.html

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Better formatting and RSS feed

http://www.essas.com/blog/joseph-blog.xml

I'll try to find more time to write something down