The Social Networker

by Chris Miller at 02:38:51 PM on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Corvida and I become official Plurkers by joining and analyzing the new hot site Plurk.  We had a special guest with Wayne Sutton dropping in (he is of course on Plurk and Twitter but has far too many followers we think).


Some announcements were made:
  • an API for Plurk will be announced today
  • the new Twitter hot site EverythingTwitter got released
  • there is a site Plurkable for anything Plurk related



!!!



by Chris Miller at 01:30:18 PM on Monday, June 30th, 2008
I took a shot at yet another social aggregator upon returning home from a tech-free week. (yes many of you noticed the absence without warning.  Even though it was on my tab for where I will be).  A quick tour of Swurl turned up some good and bad.

What it does - it aggregates of course.  Put in your username for the proper supported services (about 19 at time of writing this) and it starts pulling info.  From there is provides some views of your social networking activity.  It also will start reading your friends from sites and populate a view.  I was saddened to see even after letting it sit all day it only did Flickr.  I had set it up to see about 8 of my accounts.

The good first -

I like this snapshot view of your activity in a calendar format as shown here:

Image:Swurl - well it didn’t make me hurl

A cool calendar approach that had many sorting abilities.  Lower in this grid, Flickr pictures showed on the day posted as well as YouTube videos I published.  I can see this as a cool widget for all services on your blog.  Forget the dreaded "About Me" pages, put this darn thing on there and let them figure it out.

Your account becomes part of the URL, mine is http://idonotes.swurl.com  .  An oddity was that it would not let me make the name IdoNotes saying caps were not supported.  Now call me crazy but the Internet could give a damn if I use a cap or not in a URL.  Whatever.

There was an advanced setting feature to let you point a CNAME entry at your page.  I know exactly what that mean, but for a basic user, they would be lost.

The bad -
they have the ability to invite your friends, but instead of their server sending it, it pulls up your default mail client.  A pain if you were not in mail at the time.  It also does not allow for you to grab contacts from any of your online services (like Gmail, hotmail, etc) , then select who you wish to invite.  Bummer there.

There was also no widgets yet there are ready to be built nor any RSS feed output I could find.  So once they get settled in some more and furhter in teh beta I will try again

by Chris Miller at 06:00:00 AM on Monday, June 23rd, 2008
While on a trip I discovered that people with VGS have a hard time making the switch to a limited technology area for short bursts.  After the original VGS shock at the airport when the phone service lit up correctly but showed no data, the shakes began.  Maybe it was just being around all the airport signals right?  But it lasted.  I knew I would be saved from the spasms in my thumb that began by the time we got away from the airport and to the resort area.

While you cannot always count on affordable high speed Internet access in hotels across the world, the simple lack of any access is rare.  Almost everywhere I go it is present.  I did find that the hotel we are in had a very limited and slow open access point in the courtyard, but no where else in the property.  While driving around the island, we did encounter a couple small Internet cafes with exorbitant access rate plans.  I was even slightly amused and the number of people crowded around a small snack hut on the side of the road.  I imagined the food was incredible or it was a local hang out.  Until I read a very small sign.  "Free Wifi here".

Did I get overcome with VGS and stop at the stand?  No, thankfully we were on a path for the beaches with no laptop tagging along.  I immediately realized that the always connected state we live in gets even harder with the evergrowing presence around us of wireless signals and data across handhold devices.  We have a constant expectation that the Internet now follows us.  So how do you cope when not in that scenario?

First I found that actually using a map was a handy thing to learn growing up.  With no GPS sitting on the dash, or available in the Blackberry (which only got phone service and no data) you had to rely on yourself for once.  Or could I take it one step further and actually interact with a person by pulling over and asking directions.  We had more fun with the one or two wrong turns that led us into adventures we never would have known about.  Such as pulling over to watch a cricket match in progress and accidentally sitting next to a former player under a shade tree that traded us incredible amounts of passion and knowledge about the game for nothing but a smile and conversation.  Or finding a back road with a simple sign that said 'beach' and encountering where the locals hang out, away from the tourist beaches.  We know why they don't share it publicly, and will never tell where it is either with the courtesy we were given.

Second I arrived at the understanding that always looking up everything you wanted to do on the Internet, was not always giving the best answers.  We had a book on where we were, we had scoured the Internet for information and came up with a great gameplan.  Talk quietly with one or two people from the local area and you learn a lot of what you discovered is there for the tourism.  The hidden gems are gathered through actual communication with people that have no desire to always be connected.  People that have on idea what the Internet says about their area and what sights to see.

Jokingly, there was many a geek in the courtyard as I sent this blog posting up getting their quick VGS fixes.  From small handhelds with wifi to full laptops and on Skype, I saw a worker here shake their head, put a drink on the table and say
"relax man, we have live music, open doorways to the pool overlooking the ocean and no stress."

The guy hardly looked up with a smile as he prized his time online.  I said aloud, he will be ok, he has VGS.

by Chris Miller at 04:22:22 PM on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
I finally got an invite for SkyDeck, which is basically an extension to your FireFox browser that shows you statistics on your cell phone usage (minutes and text) wrapped into a social network of your friends.  Once it grabs your cell phone data, which is all done from your local machine watching the network traffic, it then starts pulling data.

Image:SkyDeck attempts to hit one out of the park

Note that it gives a graphical display of your minutes, text and then a drop down for your imported call log and address book.  From the call logs and book you can then start building your social network.

Contacts can be uploaded from any of the following:
  • Microsoft Outlook address book
  • Mac address book
  • Plaxo (with optional merge)
  • Gmail
  • Hotmail
  • Yahoo mail
  • Other mail systems that can export correctly can be manipulated it appears

Once the phone bill and contacts are in it does the number comparison for you, here comes your network.  One interesting thing I liked is that you can take notes on each call for a reference.  Each number gets a name, type of number, person tag and even tag topic for the call itself.  You can then search all calls for certain tags.

One interesting hidden feature was the ability to click and have Google search the phone number in your bill to see if it matches anything publicly known.  There are also some built in searches that can be removed for expensive calls, the monthly bill date as a name (ie June) and incoming texts.

Once you are past this part you can jump over to their social network:
You've seen how Skydeck re-organizes your Address Book: people that you know best rank first.

The Skydeck Network works the same way. Accept as many Connections as you want to, but the people that you know best stay at the top of your list and you see the Connections that they know best.

The bars next to each name show how strong we think each connection is, based on the history of your communications.


I would love to see how this will interact with other social networking systems, but this is still early in the beta.  More late, but I like the ability to start bringing together those I talk to on the phone into networks I use online.

by Chris Miller at 02:35:25 PM on Friday, June 13th, 2008
If you use AIM for more than chat, you might want to back up your data according to this announcement:
Dear AIM Groups user,

The AIM Groups product team wants to let you know about upcoming changes that will affect your current experience.  As of July 10, 2008, AIM Groups will no longer be accessible.  Here are some tips that will help you to maintain the information that is important tot you:

- Group E-Mail: Please be aware that you will no longer be able to access your group email address or use group listserv functionality.

- Forum Conversations: We understand that some groups use their forums frequently in order to communicate.  If you would like to save any of these conversations, please manually make a copy of the content prior to July 10, 2008.  They will no longer be available as of that date.

in the meantime, head on over to AIM Groups so that you can get a head start on backing up your information.

Sincerely,
The AIM Groups Team


So basically, screw you, we wont even leave it there as static content.  While we could do this to preserve the data and have it for archiving, we are simply turning off the servers and deleting every backup tape we have.  Thanks.

by Chris Miller at 01:13:50 PM on Friday, June 13th, 2008
It is bad enough we suffer through endless amounts of pop-up ads on sites.  The ones that block your view till it times out or you find the tiny hidden magical X that closes the window.  But do you really think I want advertisers in my friend streams on Twitter and Pownce (and Plurk and whatever else) ?

Now, I do like and agree with small, sidebar, unobtrusive advertisers that blogs do.  Heck, I know one of mine does.  It helps pay the hosting and bandwidth bills sometimes.  But to actually invite them in as your friend so you can begin getting unknown amounts of advertising slush.  I hate the crap that comes daily to my real mailbox by the postman.  I definitely won't entertain digital.  I block spammers in email, so they now want to be friendly?

Image:Advertisers to people -> Can I be your friend? Oh hell no

by Chris Miller at 03:24:08 PM on Thursday, June 12th, 2008
Listen to this site on my phone with Jott Feeds

I have been an avid user of Jott for some time now.  I use it to send quick reminders, make mental notes, look up items through their nice list of integrations with services, etc.  It also saves me from killing myself while driving by simply talking into my Blackberry over bluetooth instead of typing.  So they just started allowing you the ability to listen to the hottest RSS feeds.  Basically reversing the conversion they do now. (screenshot)

Image:Using Jott for reading (listening) to hot RSS feeds

There is a long list of feeds built in, and you can add anything you desire that is a non-authenticated RSS feed.  What I liked is there is a Twitter stream as well as a Facebook stream.  While I don't use Facebook much at all anymore, having it there for others is a great idea.  There is of course a badge to generate your own feed for Jott as I have done here on this page too.

It reads the feeds well and you can eliminate items like description and author where necessary.  This is the type of technology that makes things like Audible so popular and fights VGS on a consistent basis.  Well maybe it adds to VGS, I will think on that

Overall, a must have service for those that cant read feeds all the time.  Don't be afraid to try it out.

As I sat yesterday at ILUG2008 listening to the keynote address by one of the evangelists from Lotus (Alan Lepofsky), he brought up a section on attention management.  Under it were three areas:
  • importance
  • urgency
  • interest

He brought up some quick areas that had me thinking more.  Importance is a key factor into what you should be looking at and investigating in the workplace.  While you are allowed to stray into numerous sites and other activities, you have a primary job focus that must be met.  With the infiltration of social networking into not on the business, but personal lives, people are drawn away from the primary and into secondary and even tertiary interests.

Social networking fights attention management in some ways. Other people try to send to you, bookmark to you and even drive communities around their interests and what they feel is important.  I know I do that daily with Twitter and blog postings.  When someone sends you an email with the high importance exclamation mark (signifying high importance), they are saying it is important to them (taken from Alan during his keynote).  What he says rings true.  People are telling you their item is important.  You are not flagging it yourself through some rules or tagging magic.  The same holds true when I send a link in Twitter.  I have filtered this information and think that it should be important to you. (Sure I use the Tweets as an archive for myself sometimes too), but I feel that my followers there and even on Diigo want to see it.

Does it automatically have urgency?  No.  No one sets urgency outside of yourself on any given email, IM, tweet or bookmark.  You control the urgency at which you must view it.  So that one really doesn't fit.  No one forces you to open or respond to any of these in any given timeframe.  While you may be looked upon differently if you do not promptly send an out of office to an email, or even ignore IM's, you are not required.  Social networking begs you to make things urgent.

Interest links us right back to importance.  If I carry an interest in a topic or mindset, I follow you on Twitter, read your RSS and see your bookmarks.  How much interest I have in the information you provide is how important it becomes to me.  You do not get to set an importance factor on social networking, I set it by my interest in what you have filtered and presented.

I came in saying how social networking fights attention management.  Let me bring it all together since I don't like you reading terribly long blog postings.  If you follow so many people, have so many RSS feeds and constantly check bookmark services, location awareness sites, lifestreams, you are being driven by social networks to fail attention management to your primary job focus.  Yes there are some of you that this is how a living is made.  But when you introduce a social network to the enterprise, without the proper management you introduce a fractionating of attention management.  You push your users not to focus on what they do, but to explore those tertiary interests that they already have.  No, I am not saying social networks are not valuable to the enterprise, I support, urge and consult on  the implementations, done properly.

Just because you put a business controlled social network into your company doesn't mean you are helping right away.  You might be driving attention management in the wrong direction without offering guidance to employees on personal interest that becomes so important it makes that information more important that their primary attention focus.


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Yes this is a blatant theft of the outline that Jess uses on her page, but I asked permission. Why?? Because I am a hardcore admin and can make ugly tables to make you developers frustrated, but this was too nice to pass up.

Also Known As: Chris Miller (when awake)

Boring Certifications: (only because someone asked twice)

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Yes, I write some of those dreaded admin cert exams you take. I won't say which ones so you don't come looking for me, but I will say they are the real good recent ones that have been coming out.

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  • At work an IBM 2 GHz
  • At home a plethera of 6 machines with various Windows versions and Red Hat on a wired/wireless LAN
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Animals:

One dog, a Pug. He has been on this world before and seems to understand slippers and a fine cigar. Mind you that is him in the chair and not me.

Let us now also add a deranged cat that is in the process of being toilet trained. Update: Toilet traning was very very close.

Music:

Non-stop. At my desk, in my car, walking to work and back to my car downtown. In the house there is a crazy zoned set-up for you home automation geeks.

I am a self-proclaimed MP3 fiend, to which I have tried rehab 4 billion times to no avail. Next is the MP3 hard-drive for the car that I found. Now what kind of music you ask? I will never tell.

Languages:

  • Incredibly fast English
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Geek class special abilities:

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Skills:

Get back to you here

Spells:

Hershey’s Stomach of Holding: Jess and I are fighting over who eats more chocolate. TWDUFF can help me out and vouch for me.

Character Bio:

This will take far more time than I have today. I will start with I was born and still live in St. Louis, MO. Even though for a couple years I was never, ever here and always on the road, this is smack in the middle of the US. Everything is just a few hour flight. That part is nice. No beach/ocean/coast isn't the best. But with the travel I make up for it.

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DatesEventLocation
delayedcustomer visitMinneapolis, MN
Mar 31 - Apr 4Lotus Notes and Domino 8 Upgrade SeminarCopenhagen, Denmark
Apr 30 - May 2Admin2008Boston, MA
May 10 - 15Lotus Notes and Domino 8 Upgrade SeminarLondon
Jun 4 - 6Irish Lotus User Group 2008Dublin, Ireland
Jun 16 - 19Lotus Notes and Domino 8 Upgrade SeminarSan Francisco, CA
Jun 21 - 29VacationSome island I am not telling you
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