With apologies to Tom Petty, waiting in Charlotte has reached a whole new level. After patiently waiting for 6 years on a list while the city considered his request for a sidewalk that would make things easier on his wheelchair-bound teenage daughter, Darrell Pritchett found that... he has to get on a whole new list!
On our way back from Seattle, we noticed a cell phone lot at their airport. It makes sense, but like the social networking services that I just never seem to use, I don't know how often we would use it.
I signed up for LinkedIn the other day on the recommendation of a friend. I don't know what to think just yet. I was finally able to get linked up with that friend - even though he was in the system, I was unable to find him when I searched. Then I sent him a connection email, which he thankfully accepted, and I was suddenly connected. So now what? I don't know.
Apparently the idea is that if I'm looking for something, I can search this trusted network that I'm building to see if I can find someone. Same with previous cow-orkers and the like. Thus far, it just seems like another service that I probably won't use.
The whole problem that I have with social networking of any kind, be it contacts or bookmarks, is that I rarely look for stuff in that way - though perhaps I'm just proving my age and should get with the program. We'll see how it turns out.
Not only was this guy unlucky enough to have been beaten up and left for dead while on his winter sojourn to find work, but he was in a coma so long that animal control gave away his dogs. I don't blame animal control, and neither does he - but man would that stink.
Now don't get me wrong. I like parks as much as the next guy. Heck, I may like them more. The simple fact is that, with the possible exception of Stumptown Park in Matthews, the parks in Charlotte are way underused already. And we have a pretty decent number of them. Freedom Park is one of the largest, and unless an event of some sort is going on, it's not better than a trickle of people.
Marshall Park uptown is one of the worst. It's actually a decent park, with a nice waterscape, close proximity to many uptown employees and everything. Yet it's often nearly deserted. I've seen a lot of people there, and that's only when a special event of some kind is going on. See the theme?
Phillip Torrone (PT) from Make Magazine just showed us how to load your iPod with iPodLinux, which allows you to do fun stuff like record on your iPod, play games and even some (very) low-res movies. Very simple install, update and uninstall via a desktop app. PT also brought along his analog cell phone. Very cool.
Update: In a later presentation, PT held a contest to see who would be the first to call his phone. Yours truly won a subscription to Make as the first one through!
Can it be bad? Sure. But so can just about anything, by any company. I am the last to say that Microsoft is my favorite company - but the stuff they've done with RSS, merely be extending the spec (a move which is allowed, by the way) is pretty cool. I'm looking forward to it.
It seems that Microsoft is somewhat monopolizing the sponsorships. Not only are they a banner sponsor, with their name up top on a huge banner in front, but they are listed again on the banner as "Windows XP", "MSN Search", "Windows Marketplace", "Microsoft". Two other initiatives, "Playsforsure" and "The Hive". The latter doesn't really appear to be a "sponsor", as they aren't listed on the banner, but they are passing out hats and t-shirts, and they show up on the screen quite a bit. So it looks like Microsoft is interested in spending a bit of money in this space.
Dean Hachamovitch, from the Microsoft "RSS Team". Very interesting that there is an RSS Team at Microsoft. The whole Microsoft bunch is all wearing "Longhorn (Heart) RSS", which would seem to indicate that there's some big news coming. MSN Spaces purportedly has more than 14 million users, over 1500 Microsoft employees are blogging and all MSN Search feeds include a link to a feed. Their new tagline is Browse. Search. Subscribe. It's on the back of their t-shirts, in fact.
Sounds to me a lot like they are planning to be the Tivo of the online world. In fact, Dean just mentioned the first time he met someone with a Tivo. Imagine that browsing and searching won't go away, as you'll find new information. But being able to then subscribe to that information is where the power lies. Apparently Longhorn will have a "big bet" on RSS.
This means three things. First, that throughout Windows, RSS is enabled and "just easy". Second, providing an RSS platform to make it easier for developers to RSS-enable everything. More than just in the browser and aggregator. Third is making it easy for everyone to just use.
Recent build of Longhorn now on-screen. IE7 is coming. Allegedly we are the first to see this in a public forum. RSS support in the browser. When the browser encounters a page with a feed, there is an RSS button that "lights up" and will display the feed with a sort of XSL stylesheet, so you don't see all the ugly XML. Looks nice.
There is also a "plus" button that allows you to subscribe to the site. This would seem to indicate that IE7 and/or Longhorn has a built-in aggregator of sorts. An example is searching MSN Search, which results in an RSS feed, that you can then read and/or add to your subscriptions.
IE7 does this through a "common feed list", which stores all the feeds in the subscription, and that list will then be availble to all other applications in Windows. This means another application - in this case, RSS Bandit - was updated to allow the application to synchronize with the common feed list.
This allows the feeds to be shared across the entire platform, which encapsulates the complexity. This allows moving from blogs and news to audio podcasting to delivery of any content - pictures, spreadsheets, presentations, calendar events, etc.
They are using an example of the Gnomedex Schedule, which did not have an RSS feed, so they created one. This sample feed includes an enclosure of an iCal file, containing the events. This can then be subscribed to, for instance in Outlook. So using IE7, the feed is added to the common feed list, and then a simple C# program was written to check for events that can be added into Outlook - using the 2003 Document Object Model - and include those items as attachments in the calendar.
I don't know the detials, but the calendar items just showed up in Outlook - I'm assuming that the DOM supports this, it just needs to get at the data. This is really pretty cool. They haven't addressed updates to that feed, so I'm not sure how those would work - but it is a nice feature. Looking forward to seeing more about it. Being able to have your applications follow information, rather than having to go hunt for it, would be very nice.
Another implementation is to take a series of photos embedded in a feed (via the enclosure tag) and creating a simple screen saver application that allows the parsing of those photos out of the feed and creating a slideshow, complete with captions drawn from the feed. Really nice way of looking at a photoblog.
Now we are looking at a list of content - in this case, a feed that contains Amazon wish list items. In this case, it's easy to add items to a list (in case someone adds an item to their list, for instance), but it's not currently easy to remove items. By marking this feed as a "list", as opposed to a current feed, it's possible to not only add items, but to remove them and even to move things within the list - from #10 to #1, for instance. Neat.
Additional metadata in the feed can include information such as product type (DVD, music) or item data (date added, price) and build a user interface on-the-fly based on that data, all contained within the feed. In this case, the list is apparently "live" data on Amazon, but I'm not certain that it's available to the public at this point. It does seem to work well, but there are only half a dozen lists at this point. Still, it's nice.
Moreover, these "Simple List Extensions" are being made available under a Creative Commons license. The license type hasn't been specified at this point, but I suspect they will do it in a way to encourage others to use the format. More is supposed to be available (within an hour) at this site. Longhorn beta 1 is on the way this summer, and it should have more detail on the RSS features.
Chris is currently on stage here at Gnomedex. So far so good. The suspicion is that the WiFi won't last long - there are fifteen or so laptops just on the row where I'm sitting. Plenty of power, but I think the WiFi might just be overloaded, as things are a bit funky. I have Denise on one side, Nick on the other. So far not much to report, but I'll update this as the conference moves along.
9:15 (12:15 Eastern)
A massive overload of IP addresses appears to have short-circuited the WiFi. I'm currently online (or appear to be), but I have no idea how long it will last. Dave Winer is currently on stage, and the problem is "being worked on". We'll see how it works!
9:30 (12:30 Eastern)
The IP address shortage has been fixed, but now we have a problem with DNS services, which may now be fixed as well. Phew. Always an adventure!
10:15 (1:15 Eastern)
Dave is about done, but before he is, 300-odd geeks are singing the lyrics to "Yellow Submarine". It's actually quite frightening.
Update: The WiFi never really did work quite right yesterday. Today is good so far, and I've heard tell that there are now two T1s. But that capacity seems pretty small for this group, even if the crowd is only about 2/3rds of the size of yesterday. We'll see how it goes.
While we've nearly exhausted our tourist time, we did manage to fit in a nice day of driving by heading down the length of Whidbey Island, just North of Seattle.
But on the way, we had to visit the Fremont Troll, since it was so close and we barely missed it on our Duck ride the other day. Luckily it was indeed on our way, and we simply stopped for a few minutes and checked out the massive sculpture. Very cool.
Then we hit the road, and took I-5 towards Vancouver, veering off to Anacortes before we made it quite that far. Unfortunately, the ferries were not cooperating, so we decided to drive some more. We had hoped to take a ferry out towards the San Juan Islands, but it just was not to be on this day.