Scripting News for 8/28/2006

New OPML Editor feature: Portable rivers

Liz Gannes: “Flickr photos can now be geo-tagged via a drag-and-drop interface with Yahoo Maps.” 

I was playing with typography for my new mobile blogging service, and thought it looked kind of cooool. 

I’ve had the same problem with my MacBook spontaneously and instantly shutting down. My machine has always rebooted. I thought it was because I was watching a movie, that seemed to be when it would happen. The movie was Themla and Louise, btw. 

On David Weinberger’s blog: “Come on Tim, let’s get beyond whatever it is that’s in our way.” 

Mike Arrington boasts 100K readers of his RSS feed. I’ve always wondered how he knows how many people are subscribed to a feed. You don’t have to register to read a feed. So what does the number mean? 

Steve Gillmor: Beam me up, Sergey

Here’s a CNN story from June 16 with two Republican congressmen sponsoring a resolution calling for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. So the Republican strategy of cut and run has been on the record since June. Not sure when the Republican strategists started tarring Democrats with the term, was it after June 16? This is the first item on, a chronology of declining Republican support for the war in Iraq. (Will Cate sends an email noting that the CNN story is from 2005, which certainly predates the “cut and run” sliming tactic. Bad bad Republican strategists, I wonder if they know they’re sliming their own people! 🙂 

3/28/03: “We can’t win the war in Iraq.” 

Scoble kvetches that the tech blogosphere is paying too much attention to Google’s aspirations in the Office market. Not here. I don’t care about Office software if it comes from Microsoft, Google or God. I know a lot of people use it, but you can’t touch the stuff if you care about lock-in. Office Wars are all about who locks you in the nicest trunk. I prefer to ride up front, even if the ride is rough and the door doesn’t stay closed without a bit of rope. 

BlogTalk, Vienna, Oct 2-3. 

Wired: “Lockheed Martin’s advanced Skunk Works unit is designing a small, 12-seat passenger jet that would travel at 1,200 mph (Mach 1.8) but which would produce only a whisper of the annoying crack once emitted by the retired Concorde.” 

Why post from a Blackberry? 

I’ve seen a few blog posts asking why would you want to post from a Blackberry? After all, you could carry a laptop with you, and of course typing on a laptop keyboard is much easier than typing on a PDA keyboard (it is, no argument there). And maybe it’s a good idea to take a break from blog posting sometimes, maybe it’s a good thing that you can’t post from every conceivable place.

Rather than quickly respond in a comment, I want to respond here, where I can create a list and add to it over time.

1. I think it’s important to flip the question around, because when you do it helps reveal the why of it. Is email the only form of communication that makes sense when using a Blackberry? Well, maybe for some people, but for others, who may have to communicate with a workgroup, or their family, or create an RSS feed for their observations away from work or home, using weblog software makes a lot of sense, not to exclusion of email, but in addition to it.

2. Okay, great, but you can use email to post to a weblog, why not just do that? Well, I tried it. In 2001, I programmed Radio 8, which shipped in early 2002, to receive blog posts via email. The problem with that is that unlike email, I like to edit my blog posts, make spelling corrections, add items to a list, reorganize, prioritize, etc. When you’re using email to post to a blog, it’s a lot like email (surprise!) — your first version is your last. Again, email is useful, I send emails all the time, but blogging is useful too.

3. To the point that a laptop can go with you everywhere a Blackberry can, that’s obviously not true. I have my Blackberry with me when I’m in line at the supermarket, I almost never have a laptop with me then. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get ideas while standing in line. A few other places Blackberries go that laptops don’t: ski lifts, restaurants, cabs, buses and yes, bathrooms. (Someone had to say that, glad it’s out of the way.) Jackie Danicki writes that she blogged “from the Vatican during New Year’s Eve Mass, with the Pope a few feet in front of me.” You could also blog during a disaster like a hurricane or after an earthquake.

4. Bonus point. People have even said they tried reading news on a Blackberry and it was too cumbersome. That’s why we have to bang the drum so loudly and even then a few days later people didn’t get the message: With a simple change in the way news is presented, it works. It’s not a technical breakthrough, it’s a usability improvement, but it makes a big difference. Try it out before you dismiss it, and don’t try it on a desktop or laptop, try it on a PDA. Here’s the New York Times in this format, and the BBC.

Republican Cut and Run, Day 1 

Washington Post: “Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), once an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq, said yesterday that the Bush administration should set a time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops.”

And now that we have our first quote, here’s the site.

12 responses to this post.

  1. I have been reading a lot about this jet, and I think it could really revolutionize the light jet world as we know it.


  2. What, no RSS for the cutandrunnow site ? It’s begging for it ! 🙂


  3. RE: Google link structure for refering to specific start points within video:

    1) The folks at Google are certainly with it. I’ve been talking to various people about this idea for months. But they Did it. Great!

    2) Now they should add a simple extension allowing users to specify Out Points too. Something simple like: #2m7s*3m14s where the out point is the 3m14s. There is also an argument for making the system compliant with standard video time code format (00:00:00:00 = hours:minutes:seconds:frames), so the format would be something like #00:02:07:00*00:03:14:00. Many web video codecs don’t have time code per se, but eventually all of them will…and being able to publish lists of time code compliant links from within video editing systems might be very valuable to publishers: Imagine a little function inside Avid or FinalCut that says “set video link in/out”: you just shuttle to the IN, set it, shuttle to the OUT, set it, click “Publish to Blog/website” (preconfigured for some list of destination sites), and the program posts the clip to YouTube/Google/YourBlog etc. That would rock.

    In any case, this concept of sub-clip linking will blow open the entire universe of information embedded in time-consuming video clips.


  4. I actually enjoy the simplicity of reading the Nytimesriver on a laptop. I don’t necessarily want all of that in my rss reader, but I like the simplicity when I’m trying to skim quickly. It works wonderfully on my PDA and with my screen reader. Thanks for all of the hard work.


  5. Wiki works pretty well from a Blackberry too, especially if you have a civic wiki set up with a page for every street so you can mark it up while you’re walking down the street or look up details as you go.

    e.g. from today’s walk.


  6. Dave, thanks for the response on the why of Blackberrying.

    Two quick follow-ups, which I asked in my follow up post:

    First, I note that at 2:06 p.m. (EST), the most current story on the NYT river is from 10:38 a.m. Is this a time zone thing and, if not, is there a way to make the news river update faster?

    Second, the top two posts are links to audio content, which I’m pretty sure you can’t play on a Blackberry. Is this just because those items happen to be in the NYT feed that feeds the river or are you adding audio content by design?


  7. Kent…

    1. The time zones are all Pacific. I probably should make the Times be in Eastern time and the BBC be in GMT, but for now that’s what they are. The rivers update every 10 minutes and reflect what’s in the feeds.

    2. Yes the podcast feeds are included by design. See this post.

    They were added on Saturday night.


  8. Posted by Paul on August 28, 2006 at 11:03 am

    With the ability to read email/news/feeds/web sites, etc from a mobile device comes the desire to be able to post from the mobile device. I am now free to take short trips without my PC (which in these days of long airport lines is a blessing).

    Besides making bloggers/journalists more mobile, you are also expanding the usability and the marketability of the actual devices, and creating a true mobile computing platform.

    I like having my Powerbook with me when I travel, but sometimes it is just more practical and convenient to leave it at home, to have that extra bit of freedom, but still be able to stay in touch.


  9. Flickr geo tagging and kids photos scare the heck out of me.


  10. Posted by Diego Barros on August 28, 2006 at 6:44 pm


    Saw your comment re random MacBook shutdowns and found the following link. Don’t know if it’s any good or not. Just thought I’d pass it on nonetheless.


  11. Mike gets his feed stats from FeedBurner. One of the good things they do, by becoming the domain/host of anyones feed, is that they can provide useful statistics on them. Not bad!


  12. The question shouldn’t be “why blackberry?” but, “why not blackberry?”


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