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18 posts from June 2007

Finally listened to FIR episode #250, the Tribute episode...

On my flight out to Las Vegas, I finally got a chance to listen to FIR episode #250, our tribute show to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out!  And I understand why both Shel and Neville were blushing. 

You see, Sallie Goetsch and I were running around contacting all sorts of people to see about getting contributions while Lee Hopkins had volunteered to do the audio mixing and post-production.  We were getting people to send those contribs into a special gmail address I took out, from where Lee was going to pull the clips.  In the midst of this, Sallie was on vacation and I was in the normal chaos that leads up to going on a week of vacation... and in the middle of things Lee's email server was having problems and was not reliably receiving email from Sallie and I... so it was all a bit chaotic.  But the net of it is that the episode was published while I was offline, so it wasn't until today when I could really listen to it.   Mr. Hopkins did his usual shenanigans with all sorts of audio clips and other things... and the contributions from folks were all very nicely done and great to listen to.

The only bummer was that we left out Bryper's contribution.  He was one of the early ones who sent something in... but it didn't go to the special gmail address and I guess none of us realized that in the run-up to getting the show done.   The good news is that you can catch his comment at the beginning of FIR #251.  Sorry about that, Bryan.

In any event, I thought the episode (and other comments) were definitely a great demonstration of the community that can be built around a show.  I'm glad that both Shel and Neville liked it... and it's great to see them climbing on with #251 and #252... let's see where the next 250 shows take FIR!

Light blogging ahead... offline until Monday, June 25th

Don't expect to see much from me here for the next bit.  In a few minutes I'm shutting down my systems and heading offline on vacation for the next week.  I'll be back online Monday, MayJune 25th, although I'll be travelling to a Mitel conference in Las Vegas for most of that week.

We're not planning to go anywhere extravagent... maybe some day trips around Vermont... some camping... work around the house... all in all just a pleasant way to spend some time before the heat of summer hits.

See you in a week!

Hmmm... Take a look at this picture and tell me why Facebook might NOT want to use a generic web page template for all their apps??

image Hint... I made it blindingly obvious with the red circles.




Methinks they got a wee bit carried away with making their form templates generic!

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Why did I wind up in Burlington, VT? Martyn Davies interviews me for his "Bending The Needle" podcasts

image Ever wonder why I wound up in Burlington, VT, after living in Ottawa, Ontario, for most of 5 years?  Well, maybe you haven't... but that and other items about me are now available in an interview that Martyn Davies has posted as part of his new "Bending the Needle" podcast series.  When Martyn was over here and visited me back in the winter, he recorded this brief interview sitting in my home studio.  He just recorded it on his handy little Zoom H4 portable recorder which worked quite well.  He also took this picture to the right, which remains among my favorite as far as pictures of me go.

Martyn had told me that he was teaming up with Dean Elwood from to do a podcast series and this "Bending the Needle" seems to be their work.  The subtitle is "Interviews with the Leading Edge Personalities in the VoIP Space" and so it's an honor to be among the first interviewees he has up there.  I'll subscribe and will be interested to see their other interviews.

Ken Camp starts a new series of posts on Jaiku and the new client for Nokia S60 phones

(Originally posted over on my Disruptive Telephony blog... but I thought it made sense here as well.)

imageI have not really written about Jaiku here at all... I have been meaning to explore it a bit more, but just haven't had the time.  What limited time I have had lately has been more focused on Twitter, Facebook, Skype and the evolving mashups of all of those.

But Ken Camp has been writing and advocating Jaiku, and is starting a series of posts with his one today: "Unveiling the new Jaiku Client for Nokia - Part 1"  Ken is going to talk more about the new client for Nokia S60 phones.  But this part of his first post is perhaps more revealing:

First, if you aren’t a Jaiku user today, you need to understand that Jaiku is what I call a lifestream aggregator. When you build your profile, you have complete control over what you wish to share of your lifestream of information. For many, that’s simply their Jaikus. Using this approach, a used can share brief snippets of information - current status, pose a question, leave a thought - for others to see.

Digging more deeply into Jaiku, we find you can also import RSS feeds of all flavors into your lifestream. For me, this means if you read my lifestream, you see blog posts from three different blogs, Flickr photos, video posts, even Twitter posts. I’ll explain more about why I think this approach is revolutionary and exciting in a post tomorrow or Friday. It’s taken me a while as a Jaiku user to develop an appreciation for just why this is apprach to aggregation is really important. I think it’s positively revolutionary from a social networking perspective.

I agree with Ken that this type of "lifestream aggregation" represents a direction in which social networking is evolving.  The challenge, I think, really comes back to where you do that aggregation.  Jaiku would like to be your aggregator.  So would Twitter (which can bring in RSS feeds through sites like  And so indeed would Facebook which now includes an RSS application as part of its platform.

So which do you choose?

All are, to varying degrees, walled gardens of some sort.  Ken can't follow my status updates because I primarily use Twitter.  Alec Saunders does most all his updates within Facebook.   We do need to have some kind of common aggregator.   We need to tear down the walls so that we don't wind up in isolated islands of communication.

But in the meantime, if you want to read about how pretty and nice it is inside of the walled garden of Jaiku, head on over to Ken's post to read more.  This is Part 1, with the others to follow soon thereafter, I would expect.

TypePad *finally* provides a native "3-column layout" with 2 sidebars!

As readers of this blog know, I built this blog (and the companion Disruptive Telephony) back in January by using the 3-column hack from to essentially beat TypePad's standard templates into submission and give me the format I've wanted.  Overall, it's worked well... except for the fact that when you leave a comment you get squeezed into a tiny central column.  John Unger had a workaround for that which involved re-generating your Advanced Templates and copying/pasting a lot of things around... which is why I never quite did it.

So now comes word that TypePad has finally released a native template in this format!  I'm delighted because I very much like the format and think it's a great way to have a blog set up (obviously!).  I look forward to using it on several of my other blogs.  I am assuming it will also fix my issue of having a narrow comment field.  It will also allow me to very easily manipulate sidebar content using the standard TypePad tools.  I do it now through the Advanced Templates and, while it can be done, it's not overly fun at times.

And... those users out there still stuck on Internet Explorer 6 will hopefully no longer have a problem viewing my blogs!

Unfortunately, it will probably be a bit for me to move these two blogs over to that new template.  I've now customized and tweaked them so much in the Advanced Templates that it will probably take a while for me to get them moved over. (For instance, I have to move over the navigation bar that appears on the top.)

Still... I'm glad to see the format out there.  And now if you are a TypePad user, you, too, can have a format like this blogs format... without all the pain!  (The pain did, though, force me to learn an awful lot about TypePad Advanced Templates!)

What the heck is Twitter good for? ZDNet shows a way to use it...

imageWhat the heck is Twitter good for, anyway?  While many of us use Twitter, I think it's fair to say that we're all collectively still experimenting with exactly the best ways to use it.  Certainly it has evolved from being the mundane "Went to lunch. Had a ham sandwich" into being a channel for passing around news.  I've certainly found links through the people I follow on Twitter far faster than I would have necessarily come across them through my RSS feeds.  (Mitch Joel has a similar story about the "Twitter News Network".)

But what does a company do with Twitter?  How can it best be used as a communication vehicle for a company?  Obviously the BBC and others have been using it for news.  ZDNet may provide one other answer - they have a Twitter account,, for following their blog postings

Now, you might say, isn't that the role of an RSS feed?  Certainly.  In fact, if you go to ZDNet's main blog page, you will see that they do, if fact, have a master RSS feed for all their blog postings (hosted by Feedburner - on a side note, I'm surprised that someone like ZDNet didn't pay for Feedburner's service to maintain their brand for their feed).  So the savvy web user could simply subscribe to that feed and be done with it.  I'm sure some people do.

But perhaps the point is that for people who come to use Twitter as a "news network", this becomes a way that ZDNet can join in that newstream that people watch.  I haven't spent much time analyzing it, but I do note that the ZDNet twitter stream is a subset of the ZDNet blog RSS feed.  Is it just certain articles they want to highlight?  Or certain blogs within their network of blogs?  I don't know... but the net is that they are providing yet another way that people can find their way over to ZDNet's content.    And they can see the results... there are currently 106 "Followers" of the ZDNet Blogs Twitter account.  106 people... many of whom are definitely in the "Early Adopter" camp.  Not a bad audience to get in front of if you are company with "high tech" content!

Kudos to ZDNet for experimenting with Twitter... I hope it works out for them.

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Mitch Joel: "Burn the ships!" - linking social media to the 1400's...

Getting caught up one some blogging, I just had to comment that I loved Mitch Joel's "Burn the ships!" motif in his talk at the Canadian Marketing Association conference back in May.  He started this with a post back in September, "It's Time For Marketers to Burn the Ships" but this was that motif given form in a presentation.  Now, I wasn't there at the CMA to hear it, but I did read the reports and I've consistently heard great things about Mitch's presentations. I'm sure it was fun.

I just like the slogan... "burn the ships!"  What a great way to express the need to plunge into the new world and dive deeply.

Anyway, kudos to Mitch for coming up with a memorable way to frame the whole discussion.  (And yes, Mitch, given that we're only about 1.5 hours apart, one of these days I will have to finally hear you present!)

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On the need to aggregate status updates, a.k.a. why do I have to update my status and check friends' status in so many #$@%@# places?

Over the weekend, Ross Mayfield posted "Status Contests and Attention Aggregators" which speaks to an issue I myself faced this morning.  As I have been talking about my impending trip to Stockholm for VON Europe/Podcamp Europe for the past while, I felt an obligation to tell folks that I was not going to be there.  So what did I feel I needed to do:

  • post a note at my blog Disruptive Telephony
  • post a note on my blog Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast (assuring people that tonight's dinner was still on)
  • post a note on my blog Disruptive Conversations
  • post a Twitter update
  • update my Facebook status
  • change my Skype IM mood message (for a little while, anyway)
  • send out email to various folks with whom I had discussed meeting while there

This actually was a good bit of work.  Now, granted, part of it was self-imposed by virtue of my splitting my blogging out from my single blog (curiously, the only one of my major blogs that I did not feel compelled to update).  I also did not update my other IM services because for most of the people with whom I was corresponding, Skype seems to be their IM client these days.  But let's just collapse this list and also drop out the direct email which is just kind of an obvious item - so here were my updates:

  • blogs
  • Twitter
  • Facebook status
  • IM mood/advisory messages

Still a good number of places to update[1].  And still a pain in the neck that takes a bit of time... perhaps not a lot, but still, a bit of time.  What I really want is a tool that lets me update my status once and then have it automagically posted across all my various "status services" and blogs.  As Ross posts:

Maybe they can work out a way to let you write your status once, publish everywhere, and remove dupes when aggregating.

Or to invert it, I need some way for all of those sites to pull my status from a central location.  Perhaps it's like the widget displayed on this page that pulls my info from my Facebook status... but, of course, that widget isn't integrated into my RSS feed for this blog so those who read by RSS will have no view of that widget and my current status in Facebook.

The challenge goes back in part to my previous discussion of the "walled gardens" of social networking.  Part of why I feel compelled to update my status in different places is because there are different "communities of interest" with whom I communicate in those different areas.  There are some who only read one of my blogs.  There are some who only read my Twitter stream.  There are some who live online inside of Facebook... while others really only pay attention to IM.

There are different audiences within different walled gardens.

I am the same way.  There are some people I only follow in Twitter.  Others only in Facebook.  For a good number, I see their Facebook updates, Twitter updates and their blog updates.  But they don't know that.  If they want to post a message that they want all of their various friends and followers to see, what do they have to do?

Post everywhere, naturally.

Breaching those walls - or at least running communication conduits through the walls - will become increasingly important as people continue to understand the utility of these various different "status services".  I agree with Ross Mayfield that new forms of status aggregators will need to evolved.  The walls must be torn down - or at least eased a bit - because the current situation can't really last long, especially if these services are to move up the curve into mass adoption.  (Either that, or one or two of the biggest sites will win out as the place that people use for status updates.)

[1] And yes, I could throw my MySpace page in there, too, but I don't really use it all that much and so have not attracted people who follow my updates there.

At least Google Maps has a sense of humor with regard to trans-atlantic travel (Vermont to Stockholm!)...

image Curious to know approximately how many miles it was from here in Vermont over to Stockholm, Sweden, I hit the "Get Directions" link on a Google Maps window I happened to have open.  I was a bit surprised and very amused to get the response shown in the graphic on the right (click on it to see the larger version), particularly step #16...

Yes, indeed, I'll go do that right now... drive down to Boston and dive right into the Atlantic!  :-)

Nice when a company has a sense of humor in its products!

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