2005.03.30

Flickr Tips: Monitoring Comments and Configuring Alerts

Monitoring Comments and Conversations

After I used Flickr for a while, I started to pay more and more attention to the social and community aspects. I haven't ventured onto the message boards or chat yet, but I enjoy leaving comments on photos and having conversations there.

In several instances, I've asked for travel advice and questions about the locations and people in certain photos. Other times I've inquired about the techniques used to capture wonderful photographs or after-effects. In all these cases, it's easy to comment but it had always been hard for me to remember where I'd commented, and notice when a reply was posted.

Then I discovered the Photos you've commented on page. This page solves all those problems for me: in a clean way, it presents all the photos you've commented on. It's ordered by most recent activity, so you see photos you've recently commented on, as well as those that have been recently replied to. It works great, and has encouraged me to contribute and participate even more.

Notes and also Comments are shown in this nicely-integrated view.

Configuring Flickr Alerts

The Flickr mailbox is OK, but it doesn't' really fit into my personal online workflow. I prefer to receive my notifications in email. To set it up so Flickr sends you email instead of only adding to your Flickr mailbox, click My Account from the top of any page. From there click Notifications from Flickr (which you'll see on the right, under the Privacy Settings header) and adjust the settings. For the four choices on the page, I have "Yes", "Yes", "As soon as it happens" and "Yes please!".

To modify which email address these messages are sent to, click "Edit your email address" from back on the My Account page. (I set up an Address Guard on Yahoo Mail, which allows you to create a unique mail address, which I use to keep "alert" messages like this out of my main inbox.)

If you haven't played with Flickr for at least 10 hours, start now. You'll discover cooler and cooler features the more you use it. In fact, this "discoverability" aspect of Flickr is one of it's great strengths and attributes.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 30, 2005 at 09:30 PM in HOWTO's and Tutorials, Idea, Knowledge & Content Management, Metadata, Photos, References, Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

2005.03.28

Carpool Conversations Vol. 2

In the second installment of Carpool Conversations, we talked about the dynamics of communication and collaboration. This image is a visualization of our thoughts.

Thinking collaboratively speeds the development of an idea. Talking about a problem helps us understand the problem. Conversation and collaboration are important to the process.

Another thought we had, that's not represented in the chart, is that "silence is a powerful tool". It seems that speaking less sometimes gets better results, and that moments of silence are important. For one, it's important to listen and it's important to think, both of which are markedly more difficult to do while you're talking. Secondly, repeating a point has the generally-unintended consequence of reducing the potency of the idea. If you keep talking after you've made your point, you have a tendency to stray from the initial message, thereby watering it down. At the same time, your listener doesn't have a chance to absorb the idea. Know your message, deliver it as clearly, accurately and succinctly as possible, then allow it to stand on it's own and flourish.

We didn't get to talk too much today (no pun intended), because for some reason the traffic was sparse and we make good time north.

Stay tuned for Carpool Conversations Vol. 3.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 28, 2005 at 09:09 PM in Design, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.17

Carpool Conversations - Trip #1

Background Information

This is the first dispatch from Carpool Conversations. I live in San Francisco, but work in Sunnyvale about 43 miles south, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The long drive sucks, but the great thing about it is that it's an protected time to think, to reflect, to brainstorm, and to explore. There are no distractions in the car; no Internet connection and nobody popping into my cube.

I often carpool with my friend Jon Koshi, and we have great conversations about the web, design, interface, the future, and the present. We both tend to bring complimentary sides of the same topics to the conversation. We both like to think big, and, if I do say so myself, we're more aware than average of current events, practices, trends, and developments. Jon is a visual designer by practice and I'm a technologist by practice, so we've got both sides covered in that regard too. (We talk politics and currents and news and life too, but this series will largely focus on technology and human beings.)

Koshi and I both believe in words and word smithing. We believe that examining and designing frameworks for ideas to operate within creates stronger ideas while helping to vet the root concepts. We like to discuss nuance and subtle distinctions, and in the process gain a deeper understanding.

I'm writing this from the road right now. I'd like to resist editing too much, and instead share the thoughts as they appear in the carpool. Hopefully this will be on interest to some of my good readers.

And with that, I can't resist saying, "start your engines!".

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 17, 2005 at 07:52 PM in Idea, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Visual Design, Web Development, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.03.03

Take the Edge Off

As Russ says, "Not only is it hysterical, it's accurate (and we all know it)."

Boondocks is the only comic I read. It's routinely good. I like it's hiphopness. My Yahoo! offers it, of course.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 3, 2005 at 09:45 AM in Humor, Idea, Politics, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.02.17

Casual Gaming

At last week's Mobile Monday, which I attended, Anita Wilhelm (aka MobileGirl) presented a mobile-based game her startup is working on:

Caterpillar Mobile's current product is a cameraphone game called Zooke. Zooke allows its members to create challenges for all members or only members of an immediate social circle. You might be on a mission to find the best George Bush bumper sticker in Berkeley and have other game players rate your findings. It is a community-driven reality play experience that makes everyone's day a little more exciting with minimal effort.

I liked the idea of casual gaming, the idea that you can have an experience in short segments while you're going about your normal routine. I'm also interested that this represents a shift from highly time-intensive games. Well, she follows up that with a new post last week discussing Casual Gaming and thinking about an article of the same title by Tom Hume.

He captures the essence of an important shift from hard core gaming experiences to engaging play experiences perfectly! Allowing players to engage lightly in the experience throughout their daily lives is essential to creating something compelling and addictive to be used on a mobile device. Allowing players light weight games or frameworks that they can think about while on the move, but not have to interact with continually in the virtual world is essential. Giving them tools which allow them to explore and play at their will fits the affordances of the mobile device.

I remember the days of having hours and hours to play video games, but to be honest, it's a pretty distant memory. It's cool to see people working to bring games and playing back into the lives of otherwise distracted and busy peeps like me. It's also fun to watch a new medium like Mobile develop.

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 17, 2005 at 03:53 AM in Gadgets, Idea, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Photos, Social Networking and Community, Software and Tools | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

2005.02.09

Semantic Markup - Create, Support and Extract

Semantic Data Extractor

As Kevin Ryan pointed out at work yesterday, the W3's Semantic Data Extractor is a pretty sweet tool. I've been steadily promoting Layered Semantic Markup at work -- the importance of meaningful markup as the core of web development. This is a great tool to show that value, and remind that the reason you put meaning in is to get meaning out.

The tool tries to extract information from a semantically-rich HTML document. It only uses information available through the good usage of the semantics provided by HTML. “The aim is to show that providing semantically rich HTML gives much more value to your code: using semantically rich HTML allows a better use of CSS, and makes your HTML intelligible to a wider range of user agents (especially search engines bots).”

To see it in action, check out the new next.yahoo.com page. The Extractor handles it pretty well, showing a clear document hierarchy.

What is Layered Semantic Markup?

Today’s Wrong Solution is Tomorrow’s Constraint

Layered Semantic Markup (LSM) is not a technology, but a framework comprised of HTML, XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Javascript, DOM and other Web technologies. LSM allows for appropriately implemented principles and standards.

LSM is a development framework for creating Web documents and experiences. LSM builds for the least capable devices first, then enhances those documents with separate logic for presentation, in ways that do not place an undue burden on baseline devices but which allow a richer experience for those users with modern graphical browser software. LSM supports all user agents, and is inclusive by design. (Progressive Enhancement - Unobtrusive Javascript)

LSM has structural semantic markup at its core, which provides lean, meaningful, accessible pages. This well-built core and the clear separation of structural, presentational and behavioral layers make this development philosophy superior to many short-sighted approaches.

Today’s wrong solution is tomorrow’s constraint. A holistic vision - an underlying philosophy - must guide technical decisions. LSM provides the strategy for a sound and future-ready approach.

LSM embraces Graded Browser Support by using one markup document, subsequently layered with stylesheets and scripts that provide a gradually enhanced experience across a wide variety of browsers and devices.

This approach has profound advantages over other browser support approaches such as graceful degradation. Graded Browser Support recognizes that advanced technology support is not a guarantee of the future, and that legacy software as well as alternative devices (mobile) must always be considered. Graded Browser Support defines support in terms of current capabilities, not in terms of legacy or obsolete software; it embraces accessibility, universality, and peaceful coexistence with more feature-rich browsers/devices; and it allows for adoption of new technology and strategies without leaving any browser/device behind.

Credits

This work is heavily influenced and contains directly passages from Debra Chamra's "Progressive Enhancement: Paving the Way for Future Web Design", Steven Champeon and Nick Finck's presentation "Inclusive Web Design For the Future with Progressive Enhancement", and Steven Champeon's "Progressive Enhancement and the Future of Web Design", all of which may be found here.

Thanks also to the great people who have endlessly debated and developed these topics with me: James Berry, Sean Imler, Todd Kloots, Jon Koshi, Mike Lee, Thomas Sha, Matt Sweeney, Chanel Wheeler, and Christina Wodtke; and everybody else; and to everybody who puts their ideas online so that others may be inspired. Thanks.

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 9, 2005 at 03:22 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Design, Engineering, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Layered Semantic Markup, References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Visual Design, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

2005.02.08

Analyze HTTP Headers and Smart Keyword Search with Firefox

There are several good ways to check out a file's HTTP headers. Tonight I was using http://www.forret.com/projects/analyze/, which is just a simple web form that you enter your URL into.

I know there are more snazzy ways, including Firefox's great extension LiveHTTPHeaders, but sometimes an always-available web page is a fine solution. And, while I totally love the ability to extend and modify Firefox with the ever-growing supply of extensions, I've been trying to keep my browser as lean as possible by only installing ones I really need. For services that require a query to be submitted -- a map request, dictionary lookup, feed subscription or web search -- I've been opting lately to set up Keyword Search in Firefox (as I described several months ago).

(In addition to having less extensions, I find it's just significantly faster to trigger these actions form the keyboard.)

With a few keyword shortcut's set up, my hands are liberated from the mouse to the efficiency and speed of the keyboard. My browser begins to resemble a command line interface. In addition to my newest, headers http://www.yahoo.com, I use these others constantly:

sub http://natek.typepad.com
subscribed to a feed -- fastest possible way to subscribe to an rss feed with bloglines (please don't ruin bloglines Ask!)
ys northern california hiking trails
returns Yahoo Search results page -- 100s of times a day.
wiki Thomas Frank
returns Wikipedia encyclopedia entry -- lots of info types are best answered by an encyclopedia
map [[701 N First Ave, 94089]
returns a Yahoo Maps -- always need for a map
dic efficiency
returns dictionary.com definition
the excitement
returns thesaurus.com entry
by natek
returns my company's intranet (backyard) results -- for looking up coworkers
amaz Talib Kweli
returns Amazon search results -- to grab a book cover or album track listing
imdb War of the Worlds
returns an Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) search
how to change your car's oil
returns detailed instructions from ehow.com
techno mobilemonday.com
returns blogosphere info on who's talking about http://www.mobilemonday.com/ right now?

Did you notice the ones for Bloglines (sub)? It's great. I am generally motivated to subscribe to some feed while in the midst of being excited or engaged by the content. This time of highest engagement is the time when you least want to interrupt the session to go subscribe -- this shortcut allows me to nearly-instantly subscribe in the heat on the moment.

(In case you're curious, I was looking at headers tonight to verify that the file expiration dates were distant, so that the files would be cached by the client until then.)

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 8, 2005 at 02:33 AM in Blogging, RSS, Browsers, HOWTO's and Tutorials, Idea, My life..., References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.02.01

The Conceptual Age

Wirer magazine continues to generate some of the most thought provoking writing around. While not as personally influential as The Long Tail, the current issue's article "Revenge of the Right Brain" by Daniel H. Pink is a good read.

The Information Age we all prepared for is ending. Rising in its place is what I call the Conceptual Age, an era in which mastery of abilities that we've often overlooked and undervalued marks the fault line between who gets ahead and who falls behind.
The Information Age has unleashed a prosperity that in turn places a premium on less rational sensibilities - beauty, spirituality, emotion. For companies and entrepreneurs, it's no longer enough to create a product, a service, or an experience that's reasonably priced and adequately functional. In an age of abundance, consumers demand something more. ... Try explaining a designer garbage pail to the left side of your brain!
We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.

Hat tip: Havi

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 1, 2005 at 01:19 PM in Idea, Other, Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

How Big Is Your Footprint?

"Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? You're about to find out."

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 4.3 PLANETS.

What's your footprint?

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 1, 2005 at 01:01 PM in Design, Idea, My life..., Other, References, Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.01.28

We the People: Women and Men in the United States

I totally love that soooo much data floats around freely these days, thanks to the Web. Even when it doesn't related to me personally, I like thinking that it's perfect and crucial for somebody's interests. Today's example is a special report on Women from the US Census Bureau (via).

Some Factoids

  • Men outnumber women through age 34; Women outnumber men after age 34, increasing with age.
  • In 1970, 36 percent of women 20 to 24 and 12 percent of women 25 to 29 had not married. By 2000, the proportions rose to 69 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
  • Married-couple households dropped from 69 percent of all households in 1970 to 53 percent in 2000.
  • A greater percentage of women graduate high school. I greater percentage of men graduate college.
  • A greater percentage of men than women are in the workforce.
  • 47% of the workforce was female in 2000, up from 37% in 1970.
  • The % of women in the workforce did not increase for Construction, Extraction, and Maintenance industries.
  • Women continue to earn less than men. [Surprisingly to me,] Black, Hispanic and Other women earn 85% of mens pay, while White women earn only 70%.
  • Poverty: 13.5% of the female population; 11.2% of the male population.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 28, 2005 at 11:11 AM in Idea, News, Other, Politics, Pop Culture, References | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack