Saturday, February 25, 2006

history through the eyes of nerds

A while ago, between some boxes my mother had packed up during a move, I found pictures of my grandmother from when she was a teenager. These probably date to the 1930s or early 1940s in Poland. Quite interesting. The picture's colors had faded a bit, but the image was still very clear. A nice memory. In a different box I found dozens of photo albums from my mother and father's wedding, my childhood, my brother and sister etc....nice stuff. Too bad its very likely the end of photographic history of my family. In a few months my sister will be having a baby. And though I live far from where she is, I will most likely be able to see that baby growing up through countless images and videos emailed to me. It will be nice while as the baby is growing up, but will that baby ever get to show its children and grandchildren what it looked like grwing up? I doubt it. In the past all you needed to save your memories was a water tight box. Today you require knowledge way above most peoples technological abilities in order to safely save photos. Families without an assigned geek will loose absolutely every picture in their possesion every few years, and will have to start over.
Pictures will be lost everytime a hard drive crashes (and you know all drives eventually crash), everytime a virus invades a machine, and everytime a machine is "slow" and is taken to a lazy pseudo-geek who will "solve" all problems with a reformat, not caring about the information inside the machine.
Several years from now, the only personal/family history of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that will remain will be that of geeks and nerds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

blogging to make your software "better"

As mentioned on my previous post I believe that as far as calendars go, Spongecell is currently better than 30 Boxes. The only feature I see on 30 boxes that spongecell currently doesn't seem to have (maybe I missed it) is the recurring dates feature.
So why is it that 30 boxes got all the hype and spongecell was only mentioned as a "me too" service? I might be wrong, but I think its because the developers of 30 Boxes have blogs. That makes their product to either seem to be better or for others bloggers to speak highly about it in order to get recognition when they too present products in the future.
So blogging is pretty much subconcious advertising.

mashups and widgets...we need a standard

The last couple of weeks I saw 30 boxes and all the hype around it, and was surprised at why it got so much attention and spongecell didn't. Coincidentally I had seen spongecell about one or two days earlier. As far as I am concerned spongecell might actually be a little better (yet it got no a-list blogger a la robert scoble advertising....but thats another story which I might get into in another post).
The similarities between these two services got me thinking. Why doesn't anybody develop a mashup/wigdet standard, so that all these services can actually work together, or at least compete in a fair playing field. If the calendars all have a way to be integrated as "widgets" into a personal space, then it would be pretty easy for me to actually select the best one and not have to decide whether I want the best calendar or the site with the most feautures even thought some might be mediocre.
Zimbra is a product that does a little bit of everything and I can install locally, basecamp also does a little bit of everything project related yet its an online service. Spongecell is just a calendar. Airset a little bit of everything. Numsum is an online spreadsheet. Tadalist is just for lists....etc
If I want a best of everything i have to either replicate information all over the place and have to log in to 15 different services....or just deal with a good email service but crappy contacts (ex. gmail).
Standards like iCalendar are great, but that only relates to the data. Currently the difference between a good service and a bad service is not the accesibility to the data, but the usability of the site. We need a way to get all these "best of class" applications to talk to each other so that I can go from one site to the next seamlessly, share information AND take advantage of the interfaces each site uses.
What do you think? can it be done?