Well, it’s now available and I’m very excited! Think of the possibilities. For teachers. For sharing knowledge in an organization. For sharing knowledge with the world. Sign up now and get started.
I stumbled across this post which describes how you can embed slides into your website. If you use either a free Flickr account (or Google’s Picasa), you can export your Powerpoint slides as image files, upload them to your photo site, and then insert a bit of code to embed your slides. It takes a few minutes, but it is certainly a useful little hack. Hopefully Flickr (and Picasa) won’t change their code to beat this hack.
Obviously the example shown below is not too pretty because my content space does not have a lot of width. I’ve noticed that this alters Flickr’s functionality a bit. One other note – be sure that you upload your slides in reverse chronoligical order so that your first slide is the one most recently uploaded. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find a way to change the slide order.
Seems there’s a buzz about AOL’s venture into user-recommended-and-rated-news. I am not writing this post to berate AOL for moving into a space carved out by Digg. Frankly, I do not think Digg owns the IP to this social news framework. Others like those at Newsvine have produced similar offerings.
Instead, I think AOL’s offering instead targets the Googles and Yahoos of the world, trying to pit this functionality into their broader portal offering.
Most importantly, I want to give props to Alex for his fantastic work on the product. He and his team have a lot to be proud of.
In my never-ending quest to manage my personal infocloud, I came across a great article referencing Foxmarks, a tool to sync Firefox bookmarks between computers. If you are a Firefox user (which you should be!), I encourage you to use this tool. It’s in beta now, but I’ve had no problems whatsoever syncing bookmarks between my work pc, my home Mac, and my laptop.
Scientists should focus on science, not on how to submit applications for funding. It seems to me that the process should be intuitive and quick – not painstakingly difficult to figure out. The Grants.gov issue starts off with usability problems because it does not support a variety of computing platforms. Why does the grant community gush about NSF’s Fastlane system? Well, you don’t need to get bogged down in instructions to figure out how to use it and it is platform independent.
Year One included the tagline “The Web Is a Platform” to which Battelle remarks,
“That felt spot on, because the idea of the web as a place you could build on the work of others was a pretty new idea.”
Year Two included the tagline “Revving the Web” to which Battelle remarks,
“…because it was all about the services and businesses and opportunities that arose from the Web – all of which taken together made the web more robust and more exciting.”
For November’s conference, Battelle suggests the tagline “Disruption” by indicating,
“…the year the Web – in all its forms – really flexes its muscle and begins to seriously turn the soil of the global economy in deep and permanent ways. Think of the disruptions in the media and entertainment industries – probably the deepest disruptions so far. But we’re only in the first inning or so of the disruptions in the mobile and communications space (how excited do YOU think AT&T is about Google offering free Wifi, for example? Or eBay buying Skype?). And the disruptions of search and clickstreams on commerce is only now beginning, and the same is true for the massive IT industry (Microsoft Live, anyone?). And the disruption on our cultural life – in government, for example (can you say warrantless wiretaps meets the Database of Intentions?) – is only beginning to dawn on all of us.”
Back in April I discussed how the federal government is discriminating against Macintosh users with regard to e-gov business transactions with the grantee community. I still cannot believe that OMB chose a solution that disregards a significant segment of its community. Furthermore, I find it hard to trust a vender who cannot implement a quick solution to cross-platform compatibility issues, particularly now that we live in an era that relies less on any given computing platform in favor of open-standards web services. Anyway, here is the latest word on Mac compatibility with Grants.gov:
I have heard that Grants.gov is not Macintosh compatible. What do I do if I use only a Macintosh?
Grants.gov is aware of the issues facing Macintosh users who apply for Federal grants electronically. Grants.gov has provided the following response regarding this issue on the FAQ page of their website:
“Grants.gov has been working with PureEdge [since acquired by IBM and renamed IBM® Workplace Forms™] to offer a viewer that is compatible with as many operating systems as possible. Once a MAC compatible viewer has been developed information will be posted on our website. Our goal is to ensure the widest possible acceptance of Grants.gov and not exclude anyone from the electronic grants submission process.”
Pure Edge anticipates having a platform independent solution available by November 2006. Until then, PC emulation software for the Mac will allow Macintosh users to prepare and submit their applications to Grants.gov. Grants.gov has provided information [PDF] on using the PureEdge viewer with a Mac.
Grants.gov and NIH are partnering to provide free access to Citrix servers for Macintosh Users who are looking for an alternative to using PC emulation software with the PureEdge™ forms. This service will be available for use at the end of December 2005.
A Citrix server connection allows Macintosh users to remotely launch a Windows session on their own machines by using the free Citrix client application. While connected to the server, Mac users can develop their grant application using PureEdge™ forms. Applicants will need to download and install the free Citrix client application in order to work on the SF424 (R&R) application package with the specific grant for which they are applying.
While connected to the Citrix server, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR)/Signing Official (SO) can submit the application to NIH via Grants.gov.
Applicants can also use service providers (see Service Providers) for a platform independent solution.
Applicants having trouble submitting their application electronically to Grants.gov should contact Grant.gov customer support for assistance.
Statement from OER Deputy Director regarding Macintosh compatibility:
“We truly regret the inconvenience that Grants.gov’s lack of platform independence is causing Macintosh users. As stated in the FAQ’s posted on this website, the Office of Management and Budget, part of the Executive Office of the President, has chosen Grants.gov as the single portal for all submissions of federal grant applications, and NIH’s parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), as Grants.gov’s implementer. As the federal government’s largest research granting agency, NIH is expected to be a key player in the DHHS implementation of Grants.gov. We and others have made Grants.gov aware of the difficulties that Macintosh users are experiencing and are working with Grants.gov staff to implement a temporary solution (Citrix). We recognize that this solution is not ideal but ask for your patience and forbearance as we work toward the very complex task of electronic submission of all NIH applications by May 2007. Grants.gov is working with PureEdge toward a platform independent solution by November of 2006. For additional information about Grants.gov please visit their website at www.grants.gov.”
- Norka Ruiz Bravo, NIH Deputy Director of Extramural Research
“The practice of luring unsuspecting Internet users to a fake Web site by using authentic-looking email with the real organization’s logo, in an attempt to steal passwords, financial or personal information, or introduce a virus attack; the creation of a Web site replica for fooling unsuspecting Internet users into submitting personal or financial information or passwords.”
Notice the email I received. It looks authentic, doesn’t it? However, when I click on any of the three links in the message, the address that displays does not match the address in the email. Instead, it links me to a very different address.
PayPal must go through incredible pains to fight off these malicious people. They have a great “protect yourself” page that offers some good advice for users.
This social engineering almost suckered me, and I would consider myself rather savvy. This type of scam is generally successful because it played on my fears that someone had broken into my account. I react with feeling before I think it through. Fortunately, once I got to the page that asked for my personal financial details, I realized that I better slow down. That’s when I looked at the web site address and noticed that it was not, in fact, PayPal.
It may not be PayPal. It might be an email from a bank, or some other seemingly reputable establishment. Or it might be the great African money laundering too-good-to-be-true scenario I’m sure you’ve seen. If you haven’t yet been the fortunate recipient of these emails, here’s the scenario as described by my buddy here and here.
Be vigilant, my friends, and sorry to say, but we must be skeptical and distrustful in this Internet age.
Notice the address line. Also, notice under “what’s new” that these malicious persons have a link for “PayPal introduces new homepage” to cover their tails in case the real PayPal site were to change their look and feel. You can type any made up username and password to move to the next “verification” screen…
A worthwhile video shows the scam in action.
Yesterday, Google entered into the instant messaging wars by introducing its minimalist Talk client. Google based its instant messaging client on the existing open-source Jabber protocol. What’s interesting is that although Google includes audio speech capabilities (only for Windows users), BetaNews indicates that
“Future additions to Google Talk will include support for the SIP protocol used in VoIP communications, which would allow the client to directly contact phones based on the technology. Google said it was aligning with Earthlink and Sipphone to make these features possible, but provided no timetable for planned availability.”
Right now I’m not particularly excited by this news. What’s another instant messager? I do think it was a good choice to use an open-source protocol. However, what I’m more interested in is how Google will tie this technology in with its other current and future service offerings.
Yesterday I had a very important presentation to give as part of my graduation requirement for grad school. My presentation was entitled “Don’t Get Caught in the Web: Using a website to enhance small business opportunity.” Part of the presentation involved a demo of a live website that I created for my wife’s private practice.
2.5 hours before the presentation, I casually checked the site from work and was presented with a page that read, “Account suspended. Please contact support/billing immediately.” What?! After 52 minutes waiting on the customer service line with my webhost, I was told that they do not provide support over the phone. Instead, I needed to use the form submission to communicate support requests via email. Aarrgghh! Now about 1.5 hours before showtime.
I did use the submission form and received a reply more quickly than I anticipated. My provider suspended my account because they thought I had introduced a malicious IRC bot onto my own webspace. Sorry, I’m not that technically inclined, just enough to install WordPress and to customize it for my liking.
Long story short, a hacker infiltrated my webspace through a vulnerability in WordPress 220.127.116.11. It appears a patch may be available to close this vulnerability, but thankfully, my webhost support contact made a file change on my space to hopefully plug this security hole.
Fortunately, the presentation went off without a hitch and I could access the website. After two more weeks of a summer school class, I will be done with my program. In retrospect, I realize that perhaps I need to use a stricter password for my WordPress account. Security has become a serious issue, folks, and yesterday it became that much more personal to me.
On August 14, WordPress 1.5.2 was released to address these security issues.
Yesterday, Dan Brown, User Experience Lead with Computech, came to my “User Interactions with Information Systems” class to discuss “A Day in the Life of…” Dan offers over a decade of related experience and has his hands in many things, including:
- Founder of the DC-IA;
- Helped with the formulation of the Information Architecture Institute; and a
- Regular contributor to Boxes & Arrows
The remainder of this post outlines my interpretation of some of the ideas Dan discussed. Please see Dan’s post to view source materials and documentation from yesterday’s presentation.
Thomas talked about a variety of topics, but some of the things that struck me revolved around his discussion of folksonomy. Thomas says that he does not like the definition included in Wikipedia because the site allows users to constantly add or remove content to define the concept. He provided us with the following descriptors:
- Actual vocabulary used for objects in a community and across communities;
- Network-based selfish bookmarking;
- Socially shared; and
- Externally structuring content
There were a few concepts that clicked in place and resonated with me. First, something clicked when Thomas explained that folksonomy is the “anti-Google.” Essentially, Thomas argued that search tools build algorithms to help you “find what you want.” However, the concept of folksonomies, manifested in collaborative bookmarking tools (such as Flickr, Del.icio.us, etc.), help you “find what you don’t know you want.” He explained that while a majority of people might want results that are in the mainstream, folksonomies let users find information that might be in the long-tail:
Secondly, I really got hung up on the idea that folksonomies involved “selfish bookmarking.” For instance, when my wife bookmarks an article about Apple’s iPod, she might only use the term “ipod” to tag her bookmark, because she only cares about classifying her article so she can find it later. On the other hand, even though I know I can later find the article by searching for “iPod,” I might try to use multiple tags to help others locate my article. I might additionally use the terms “Apple,” “mp3,” “music,” and so on. However, Thomas cuts through this by explaining that if you choose to assist others this way, then this is really your selfish method of bookmarking.
Thomas’ concept really involves no moral, ethical, or “responsibility of the user” argument when it comes to practicing folksonomies. However, as I’ve argued before, for some reason I am stuck on the responsibility of the social tagger. My ideal would be that taggers use multiple tags to describe the content that they choose to bookmark. That way, it becomes easier for other persons to find their content. This does not negate the concept of folksonomies. The social component to this phenomenon is such that we learn to trust others and the tags they use to describe content. Therefore, I still propose that other services that incorporate folksonomies into their systems provide a mechanism for rating taggers on a “trustworthy” scale.
For my graduate school class, I must work with a group to evaluate a web site or an information system (or compare multiple ones) for usability issues. Any ideas?
So far, my group has talked about the following:
- API Implementations of Google maps
- RSS Readers like
(and usability of sites and their implementation of XML feeds);
- Bookmark sites like
- Blogging systems like
Certainly we can think outside the box and look at the usability of non-web systems (e.g., Bank of America ATM vs. Chevy Chase ATM), but it might be best to focus on web-based products. Your thoughts?
“Intel announced that it is investing in a company called ClickStar with the intent to create a distribution system for films over the Internet before they are released to home video.”
Is it just a coincidence that Intel and Apple are partnering to produce chips for upcoming Apple computers in 2006? Seems interesting to me that Apple already has a great vehicle for distributing content, which could easily include movies.
What a nice gift! Flickr decided to reward its loyal customers by offering (for free):
- Double what you paid for! (double subscription length for free)
- More capacity! (2 GB upload per month)
- 2 free Pro Accounts to give away to your friends!
Thanks, Flickr. I also think that offering free pro accounts for a year is a good hook for new customers.
Is this an April Fool’s Day joke? I doubt it since Google’s Gmail was announced a year ago on April Fool’s Day.
CNET reports that Google is doubling its offered email storage to 2 GB, with plans to continually add more storage. This really sets the bar high and challenges its competitors, yet Gmail isn’t even out of beta yet.
Before I saw the news, something seemed fishy to me when I looked at my own Gmail account. It was listing my total storage as 1.328 GB…
I suppose my 1.328 GB will eventually grow to 2 GB or more…
When most of us do a search for whatever interests us using our favorite search engine, we typically do not look further than the results on the first page or two. Personally, if I do not find what I need on the first results page from Google, then I will refine my search criteria and try again.
In my previous post, I discussed how my wife could use blogging as way to brand and market herself. In addition, I would argue that her credentials as an expert in her field will be further emphasized if she used a blogging tool to discuss topics of interest to her and a loyal following then began to link to her thoughts. If she came up on page 1 of a search for marriage and family issues, would this help establish her credibility? You bet. Certainly she may not get the collegial respect she might deserve if she frequently had articled published in professional journals, but her practice is for her clients, not for respect among peers.
My wife is an avid writer on paper…let’s see if she will begin to blog her thoughts on marriage and family issues…stay tuned.
For the last few months I have been telling my wife how useful blogging can be from a professional point of view. You see, my wife runs a small business, her own psychotherapy practice. She primarily focuses on marriage and family therapy.
Last week she received an email from a Psychology Today listserv on the importance of blogging. The author provided some interesting statistics:
- 87% of 12 to 17 year-olds are considered internet savvy
- whereas 66% of the rest of us are considered internet savvy
Since part of my wife’s attention is focused on families with teenagers, it seems that she might be able to draw in more of these clients, or at least find alternative ways of providing counseling services to these clients.
With services such as Technorati and FeedBurner that, in part, track blogs and blog traffic, my wife might also brand her site and be seen as more of an “expert” in the field the more she decides to post her own thoughts and articles on the web.
I think she became a bit interested in the importance of blogging, but it was Psychology Today that influenced her, not me…
IDG News Service reports that Yahoo! will expand its free email service storage to 1 GB per customer, exceeding Microsoft’s Hotmail and matching Google’s Gmail service.
I’ve used Yahoo’s service for many years now. My initial decision was done partially to spite Microsoft’s Hotmail service (I am a big Mac fan). However, Yahoo! has moved all over the place in the last few years. For instance, here’s what happened to my account over the last few years:
- Started with 5 MB of space and free POP access
- Lost POP access – had to pay $19.95/year for that feature
- New accounts went down to 4 MB of space
- Yahoo added more storage (25 MB, then 100 MB, now 250 MB)
- Announcement that Yahoo will provide 1 GB of storage starting in late April/early May