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Checking In

Posting from inside T.S. Ernesto. It's not quite as bad as the news was reporting (and as I expected), but we prepared everything just to be safe. I was here during Katrina which was stronger than Ernesto and we only lost power for less than 24 hours, but the Category 3 Wilma was the last one to hit Florida and that was in everyone's minds.

As expected, my 10am flight tomorrow was canceled but I managed to get onto a 1:40pm flight to get me in to Philadelphia at 4:20pm.

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Testing YoMoBlog

Posting from my Treo. Dave Winer may have something going here…

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Job Boards and the Quest for Open Standards

We're going to see job boards pop up all over the place since it's a much easier way to monetize a site than traditional banner ads. Compare pulling in $200-$250 a job post guaranteed versus the crapshoot that is AdSense et al (click-thru rate, cost per impression, # of clicks and # of impressions are all variable). If you've got the traffic already (as 37signals, Om Malik and TechCrunch do), then it's a no-brainer, especially once you take into account the fact that geekier audiences are more likely to ignore ads.

Mike Arrington writes about how both Jason Fried of 37signals and Om Malik turned down offers to join forces. Mike envisioned a job posting API and all sorts of interoperability. The problem is that these job boards are simple revenue-generating machines. By keeping the boards closed from one another, each company looking to hire will have to pay Mike, Om, and 37signals a separate listing fee. If we open the system up, then employers only have to pay one fee and all but one job board site lose.

While the idea of a job board API for interoperability sounds great, I don't think it can come from a job board site (at least not one bolted on to a blog), it will have to come from the employers themselves. And since the employers are each competing with each other for the best talent, I don't see any of them really taking a lead on the project (see 37signals' response above). Dave Winer has volunteered to develop the API, and he possesses the objectivity necessary to do so (at least for the time being), but for the same reason Jason Fried and Om Malik didn't join forces with CrunchBoard, I don't see them adopting any API either.

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Facebook Does Blogs Notes

Facebook released their notes feature today, which is basically a blogging system inside of the Facebook network. The posting and importing features have already been covered, so I wanted to touch on a few things that I find interesting that may have been skipped over.

First off, the blogging system is very well integrated into the network. Facebook has modified the notion of Trackbacks/Pingbacks by allowing users to reference their friends in posts. Similar to the way pictures can be tagged, posts referencing users can be tagged as well. In the "My Notes" section, you can then view notes others have tagged you in, or view your friends' latest notes. There's also a "Read more notes about …" when you view anyone's profile and they have notes tagged with their name. I really like this feature because it adapts the great features about blogs (quick and easy posting interface, trackbacks, and comments) very well into the network. Compare this to MySpace's blogging functionality which is just bolted on to the network and doesn't provide much integration other than authentication for comments. Sadly, no RSS feeds are available for the notes and the developers' API doesn't have notes hooks built-in yet.

Second is the ability to import blogs. This is also a great way to integrate several (well, just one) other network (such as Flickr or del.icio.us) with an RSS feed. The downside is that you can only follow one RSS feed at a time (though previously imported and unlinked posts will remain). So for someone who has two blogs, a Flickr photostream and del.icio.us bookmarks he might want to potentially share, the only solution is to merge all the feeds into one or pick his favorite.

Picking a favorite RSS feed is like picking your favorite child, so I went with the former option. The first few RSS combiners I tried stripped all the HTML, including line breaks, and only showed partial posts, so they were quickly dismissed. This happened with about 3 or 4 combiners, and then I found this list of RSS re-mixers on RSS Compendium. I haven't had a chance to go through the list yet, but when I find one that works, I'll be sure to report back. If you know of one that works for sure, let me know and I can save myself some time.

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Monday Link Love

I've been busy being at home with my family and celebrating my birthday, so I haven't had much time for blogging.

Paul points us to the GMail Notifier replacement, Google Notifier, which incorporates a Google Calendar notifier as well. I've been running it for a day and I already want to go back to GMail Notifier. This new version has popup notifications, but it doesn't use Growl, so I can't customize it at all. The notifications last way too long if I don't click on them, and if I do click on them, the email doesn't open up. A bigger issue, however, is that the clickable region doesn't extend all the way to the top of the screen like it did in GMail Notifier and it does in every other menu bar item. It bothers me more than I thought it could, but it's enough to make me go back to the old app.

(EDIT: I just discovered GMail+Growl, which was updated yesterday to support the Google Notifier)

The My Dream App contest launched today. Phill Ryu and an all-star cast that includes Steve Wozniak, Kevin Rose, and Guy Kawasaki are serving as judges in the contest where anyone can submit an idea for their dream app with the chance of the application actually being created. It's billed as American Idol meets software development. Prizes include iPods, Mac minis, MacBooks and software royalties. Get your ideas in and may the dreamiest app win!

Kent Newsome's morning reading includes an Instabloke article with 10 reasons why he doesn't like my blog. I think I've got 1-4, 6, 7 and 9 covered so that leaves 5 (…too authoritative, too boring, too argumentative, too hard to comment, or I didn't show your comments any love…), 8 (I don't post consistently), 10 (I don't link [fixing that now, I hope]). I would add 11 to the list: I don't write enough top 10 lists about why your blog is good, why it's bad, why no one goes to it or how to make it better.

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A Message From God

No, this isn't a religious post, it's just part of a funny conversation I had with my sister earlier today:

Me: Did your internet just go down?
Her: Yeah. Whenever that happens I think it's a message from God to get off the computer and do my homework.
Me: Well what am I supposed to do? … Oh wait, it's back.
Her: Guess he wanted you to have it again.

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Boot Camp 1.1 Beta

Apple has updated Boot Camp, their software application that enables Windows to boot on Intel-based Macs, to beta version 1.1.

The update is recommended for all previous and new Boot Camp installations. The new beta includes:
* Support for the latest Intel-based Macintosh computers
* Easier partitioning using presets for popular sizes
* Ability to install Windows XP on any internal disk
* iSight camera support
* Support for built-in microphones
* Right-click when pressing the right-hand Apple key on Apple keyboards
* Improved Apple keyboard support including Delete, PrintScreen, NumLock, and ScrollLock keys

We get an iSight driver update, so no more Blue Screen when opening it up in My Computer. We also get a keyboard driver update that adds support for several keys and the ability to right-click with the right Apple key, though it's hard to tell whether this is just duplicating the contextual menu key available on most Windows keyboards or if this simulates control-click in OS X.

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Facebook Opens Up API

Facebook launched their API this week, entitled the Facebook Developer Platform, which uses REST to make and receive requests from the Facebook service. The discussion on the dev site is already bustling, a Facebook desktop app is already in the works and an IRC channel #facebook is up on Freenode.

To stay up to date, use the FDN News RSS Feed. This is exciting not only because some really cool stuff will be coming out for Facebook, but also because it puts pressure on other social networks to open up their APIs as well (which is something I asked about way back in March).

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Hardmac's Leopard Tour and My Further Thoughts

Hardmac, the English language counterpart to French Mac site MacBidouille, has a nice (and possibly illegal) visual walkthru of some of the new features of Leopard. The first few pages are a bit boring to me (since we've seen a lot of Time Machine/Spaces), featuring Time Machine setup and preferences and the same for Spaces. The last few pages go more in-depth into the new Mail.app features and some Finder improvements.

The ability to read RSS is Mail is cool, although I doubt it will replace NetNewsWire for me. I prefer my RSS in a mail-like format over a stripped website format so this is a step closer to my ideal. My only wish after seeing Hardmac expand on the Notes/To-Do functionality is that they offer something a bit more aesthetically pleasing that the awful Post-It/Marker Felt UI. Our emails don't come in with two folds and an envelope, so why extend the real-world metaphor to the UI for notes and tasks?

The integration between Safari and Dashboard is neat, but I'm only now giving Dashboard a second chance so the feature's real usefulness for me remains to be seen. Still, I think having a Dashboard widget for a piece of a site is cool for keeping up with sites that don't publish RSS feeds. This video from a Hungarian blog sheds some light on Safari's Core Animation abilities, showing off a new Find mechanism that dims the entire site except for search matches. The new Help is really slick as well. It consists of a purple search box that creates purple arrows pointing to somewhere that the help item refers to.

The last page goes into "The Rest". A further refinement of the Spotlight window is shown, as is Preview's new UI (that is very reminiscent of Mail's abomination). Small screenshots of the new and improved voice and the new Help search are shown, capped off with two minor Finder improvements: renaming a file selects only the name and not the extension (yay!) and "Always Open With" shows up below "Open With" (in Tiger, "Always Open With" can be shown by holding option while in the contextual menu).

Though the final product is 8 months away, this preview doesn't bode well for those looking for UI consistency. iChat adopts the unified theme, the Finder and Safari are still brushed metal, Preview went to the secondary gel-capped unified theme and Mail.app has added the tacky Sticky metaphor to notes/todos. I only hope that Apple can get its Human Interface Guidelines in order and start adhering to them by the time Leopard ships.

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Exit PowerBook, Enter MacBook

I posted my PowerBook G4 on Craig's List on Thursday and it just walked out the door less than half an hour ago. Craig's List is simply amazing. In comparison, doing this on eBay would have cost me more (greater than $0) and I would have had to worry about shipping. One does have to be careful, though, as I did get a bunch of replies to the ad that were clearly scams (e.g., "I will pay you $1000 and you send me the change", "This is for my son in Afrika[sic]", etc).

With my PowerBook gone, I picked up a MacBook yesterday. I went with the white 2GHz model and picked up a 4GB nano and printer as well. The nano got promptly placed on Craig's List and the printer will be free after mail-in rebate. If anyone wants to buy it, drop me an email using the contact form at the top of the page. While it did hurt to spend $1500 yesterday, once the nano sells and I collect on all the rebates, the entire upgrade will have cost me less than $250.

For the little I've played with it, the keyboard on the MacBook (and the PowerBook as well) is miles above the desktop Apple Keyboard. I can type much faster on it and the keys don't get stuck like they do on the desktop keyboard. The MacBook was assembled in Week 30, so that puts it at about 2 weeks old. While I certainly haven't done anything intensive on it (just web browsing and iTunes), CoreDuoTemp reports that the machine is running at 22-26°C (with the processor at 1.5-1.67GHz). From that base, I can't imagine it getting much higher than 50-60°C, but I'll only be able to tell once I do use it a lot. I tried it out on my bare lap just to see how it felt and it was fine. A bit warm in the back-left corner (near the MagSafe), but definitely usable and definitely cooler than my PowerBook doing the same things (which I've clocked at around 50-60°C in the past).

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