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Archive for December, 2009

10 reasons for still buying regular books

December 29, 2009 2 comments

10 reasons for still buying good old books even after buying eReader:

  1. If it does not come in a digital format
  2. For getting it signed by the author
  3. To read during take-off and lending
  4. For beach reading – I don’t want any sand on my Kindle
  5. Buying it for a present
  6. If it is a picture book
  7. If it is a classic, like Moby-Dick
  8. For children under 6 years old
  9. If you are on a trip and forgot your eReader
  10. After visiting one of the indie book store

image

Any more? Do you think that some of these will change? Will some of these cases, for buying the good old book, shape the future of the publishing market?

picture credit: austinevan

Nook vs. Kindle via Twitter Sentiment

December 27, 2009 3 comments

TwitterSentiment – this sentiment analysis tool provides interesting information using Twitter status updates. Since it seems like this holiday season’s most desired gadget was one eReader or another I decided to ask TS about the overall  sentiments for B&N Nook and Amazon Kindle. I can  see the potential usefulness for this type of application.

B&N Nook  – is there a problem? To be fair, it is a small set of data, now.

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Kindle – 53% Positive, 47% Negative (here we have a larger set of data)

Twitter Sentiment - Amazon Kindle

Also it will be interesting to monitor Apple Tablet (all green) and its rumored name iSlate (in the red). There is really not enough data at the moment though.

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Twitter Sentiment and a like has the potential for helping companies to test the water before coming up with new product name, during product launch, and after product adoption. TS also provide a graph view of the data so you can examine it over different time frames. TweetFeel a similar application type shows this data in real-time with aggregation.

Any more ideas for how to use it?

Btw, I still love my Kindle.

How to: watch Avatar and enjoy it

December 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week I went to see Avatar. I noticed that there are different reactions to this movie, so I decided to help the few people that did not like it to reconsider. I also like to help the minority that did not see it yet but could miss enjoying it due to having the wrong expectations or focus.

The basics:

  • Go for the 3D option or consider 3D IMAX theatre. I saw it in 3D and it was just great. It felt more live and in a movie that the major focus is on treating your visual senses 3D is the frosting on the cake. I did not get any headache or noseache from the glasses, even after 2 hours and 40 minutes.
  • Popcorn and large soda
  • A couple of good like minded friends (action, sci fi, geeky taste)

Setting the right expectations

The Story

The Avatar story is compelling. It is loaded with all the familiar elements including love/jealousy , good/bad, power/mind, corporate and greed vs. nature and science, brutality vs. diplomacy, character transformation and maturity, the chosen one, nature harmony, you name it.  The way I saw it is that the story was just an excuse to move the camera from one vivid scenery to another.

The setup

The movie is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the Na’vi people are elegant and charming, the Pandora planet is one exotic experience that is challenging our color spectrum absorption skills to the max. The fluorescent colors of the land, water, flora and fauna along with the wild landscape that defies gravity stayed with me long after the movie was done. Even few days after,I wanted more. Addictive?

Sigourney

I longed for Ripley from the Aliens series. Sigourney Weaver was there but her leadership, the “I’ve seen it all”, condescending, some time depressed, but most of all “the women of steel and wisdom” act was not there. The cigarette smoking did not cut it for me. I don’t blame her for this. The story did not allow it. The story was not centered around Dr. Grace Augustine (her part) this time. It does not take away from this movie though, I’m just setting the right expectations for the people that noticed her name on the cast list before going to the movie.  In a way it was the second Aliens when Ripley’s true leadership manifested, so who knows, maybe it will still happen in the sequel (resurrection is not out of Hollywood realm of possibilities).

Summary

Avatar is a beautiful creation and I don’t care about his creator’s ego, language or history. In my mind it does take the movie industry to a new level.  So, when you go and see it make sure that you focus on the right elements of this media this time. Go!

Wishing you a focused 2010

December 26, 2009 1 comment

imageMy wish for you for the coming year is the same one I wish myself.

I wish us many focused hours, days, weeks, and months.

Why focused?

For me, at work, there is nothing that feels better than leaving the office after having a focused day or week. I enjoy having this sense of accomplishment seeing the tasks lists dwindling down or after solving a tough problem that was risking the current project schedule or customer success. The opposite, having an unfocused day, takes away so much energy thinking about what that is still left hanging.

Why now?

As soon as we login to the laptop or any other smart device we are at beginning of a constant struggle. An endless cross roads expends from that point on. Even while waiting, watching the task bar expends from left to right while the OS loads application after application to memory, already new communication channels opens up and start streaming bytes charged with high potential energy for driving your next few minutes, or hours away from the original purpose that motivated you to turn the device on in the first place. Outlook, IM, Twitter desktop client, Firefox with open Gmail, Google Wave, Facebook and WordPress tabs to name a few. There is a race for your attention and every program pushes itself in front of the other.

It is so easy to notice, and so hard to resist not to react to, the recent Facebook notification, new Google wave, email from SlideShare or YouTube channel with a bunch of links, follow the current Trending Topic, @reply or IM @friend, reply immediately to that email you were just CCed on with a question that you so know the answer to, but others can handled that as well (and maybe this is their job).

Multi-tasking, enabled by the operating system, along with social media, enabled by the digital multi-media, can create this constant notion of not being on the right thread at any time. And that’s not even includes doing your work. Sometimes participating in the real-time search race feels more like “what am I’m missing now?” instead of “what is happening right now?”. The truth is that “now” happens all the time.

We sometimes have this tendency to follow the Shortest job next scheduling algorithm at work. Although this algorithm is great at “minimizing the average amount of time each task has to wait until its execution is complete” it could also lead to tasks starvation (i.e. never getting to address it). It could also lead to developing the habit of replacing short with easy or fun.

Focused does not mean a single goal

When I say that I’m wishing all of you to have a focused year I don’t mean to focus necessarily on one goal only . It could be ideal to be laser focused on a single goal but it could almost be too ambitious of an objective or even an out of balance way of living, it could kill your health and relationships. You may choose to focus on multiple goals this year, and it is a big miss not to participate in the social media party, the key is to be focused at the current task at hand. So, when you work on that paper, problem, long email, and etc, it is OK to be fully present with your eyes, ears, mind and mouse cursor on the current thread. It is OK to tune out for a bit.

Some ideas for keeping your focus on a single task at the time

  • Go to Services in Windows and set any application’s with disruption potential “Start-up Type” option to disable.
  • Define priority policy attribute and categorize emails by it – immediate response, can wait, to do, follow-up. Keep it simple so it will not take a lot of your time implementing it. There are lots of email handling tips out there just Google “email management tips” and you’ll find a ton of info – just don’t spend too much time reading about it:)
  • Break large tasks to manageable goals – this helps with both motivation and focus.
  • Treat yourself to some social media action after the task is completed.
  • More suggestions here via Delicious

Before leaving this blog post

And before leaving, I would like to share with you this very insightful phrase that I heard somewhere and it stuck deeply in my mind:

“What you focus on expands”

Happy Holidays and have a great focused year.

Picture credit emmaphotos

lazyfeed – new mosaic interface for driving fresh blogs content in real-time

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I like lazyfeed! I’ve been using it for few months now and I find it far better than any other real-time content streaming tool. I read a lot of blogs and I like to discover new blogs and bloggers, lazyfeed delivers diversify content fast, and with less effort than the rest. Recently, lazyfeed made some significant improvements to the interface. Now it is even easier and faster to read new blog posts.

lazyfeed-treadmill

From the user stand point lazyfeed delivers new blog posts about pre-selected topics, as they publish. The user adds new topics (filters) and lazyfeed does the rest, finding relevant blog posts . Done! There is a lot going on behind the scene but from the user point of view, new and relevant content gets refreshed continuously, effortlessly!

lazyfeed-add-new-topic

This is lazyfeed’s second attempt for coming up with the user interface that aims at bringing more laziness (ease) to fresh blogs’ content deliverability. I think that the mosaic metaphor works well in this case. The UI is very intuitive, requires far less scrolling and the Treadmill feature does it job propagating the more active topics to the top. Other than that the site is quite minimalistic. I’m not sure if going forward it will stay this way, but for now, the simple focused look and feel make it very easy for newcomers.

More lazy

Minimalistic or not there are few things that I’d like to see in following releases:

  1. The feedback button on the side – so I can submit my suggestion there:)
  2. The option to pause the flow for a single topic (square) and turn the Treadmill off (maybe to pin a square and doc it to the top). Sometimes it is working too fast.
  3. More control over the topic filters:
    1. Combining tags operations – and, or, hierarchical (like book and review)
    2. Exclusion of tags – not
  4. Favorites or a button for saving on delicious
  5. Engagement indicators (hints) – hot trending topic, comments, reactions
  6. Some blog posts are timeless others may be only relevant in the next couple of hours or days. These two types of content requires two different laziness methods. It is the way that the users handles this content that hint on the difference. If a user share it on twitter or facebook the content is mostly transient but if the reader bookmarks the link (saving it as a reference for later) there is a chance that it has longer lasting value.
    1. The short term relevant content should be served as soon as possible and be rotated quickly. I see it, I read some or all of it and I move on to the next one.
    2. The long lasting content should be served as soon as possible too but it should be also possible to schedule reading it for later. I know it is great content, I don’t want to loose it but I can’t read it at this very moment. It is the kind of content that I will visit again more than once. I will probably check to see if others left comments and added to the discussion. For example think about very technical blog post – maybe about software.  To be very lazy – I like lazyfeed to tell me that there are new comments/reactions on this great blog post that I marked somehow.
  7. I think that lazyfeed feels a little lonely and is missing some social features. What that make Google Reader great (work) is the content sharing feature. I see some places where crowd-sourcing can contribute to the way lazyfeed filters and delivers new blog posts. Maybe via sharing tags (playlists), sharing blog post within the lazyfeed community.

I like the disciplined way that lazyfeed choose for adding new features so far. Prioritizing simplicity, ease of use and quality over functionality. So, if any one of the suggestion above break this practice please ignore it.

Summary

There are growing number of products that aim at delivering real-time content. lazyfeed focused on ease and simplicity. Pick some topics of interest, sit back and let lazyfeed to do the hard work for you, finding and presenting the most up to date and relevant content. Maybe just like conveyor belt sushi

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