Monthly Archives: June 2007

iPhone Day is Upon Us

I just got back from visiting a coworker waiting in line for the iPhone at the downtown Seattle mall AT&T store location. He’s been blogging his experience all day since 5AM, when he arrived first in line. He’s gotten Starbucks, lunch and the all-important Top Pot Doughnuts delivered to him in line, and somehow his laptop battery has been holding out too.

There were a lot of tired-looking folk in the line, and about 60 total in the line that stretched out of the mall. Apple sure does know how to handle a product launch. Here’s hoping the reviews and feedback remains positive on the new phone. Apple really does have something big started here. Who knows what might be next for future revisions of the phone, iPods or laptops if the multi-touch display and interface proves its worth.

When Web-scraping Doesn’t Cut It

When you search for my name on the “professional search directory” ZoomInfo, you get some very interesting results. My favorite:

Very Subtle Captain

I’m pretty sure their web crawling/scraping algorithm needs a little tweaking. Somehow they also connected an article about New Hampshire history (circa 1770-1790) which also mentioned a “Captain Chase Taylor”. Again, they might want to refine the sources (and the methods) that they collect their data from.

It’s a monumental task to try creating useful profiles of people from content scattered across the web. Spock is at least one startup that thinks they can do a better job, and they’re going for an even larger data set than what ZoomInfo currently boasts. Scouring information in a controlled way from the right places, I think it may achieve some decent results. Afterall, the current bar is set at combining Revolutionary War era military records with soccer goalie quotes from 2005, so the sky’s the limit.

Reading makes you think

In my last post I meant to include a bit of what I’ve been reading lately. I’m not the world’s quickest reader by any means (mainly for lack of time I dedicate to it) but recently I’ve been on a bit of a geeky brain-food book kick.

  • Interaction Design – This is basically a text book and pretty dry at times, but was a great primer on Interaction Design and the concepts that go into it. Task models, concept models, metaphors, patterns, usability, research, metrics… Sounds thrilling, I know, but I needed it.
  • Founders at Work – This book was much more engrossing and inspiring than I expected. Most all of the stories from the early tech startups to some of the modern-day winners were fascinating. There were only a couple times I found myself uninterested, mainly when I couldn’t relate to a given founder. “I retired from Company A at 30 years-old and took my millions to found with these three other rich guys…”. But overall it was a great book and I’d highly recommend it.
  • Designing Interactions – Unlike the first book which was more instruction/reference, this book is chock full of real world examples, case-studies and interviews with pioneers in the wide world of “interaction”. I’m poking through it slowly, but the stories are a great compliment to the practical how/what that’s fresh in my mind. You can watch a number of interview video snippets on the website here. The book also came with a DVD containing them all.
  • Everything is Miscellaneous – Lasty, I’m a little over halfway through this book. I have very mixed feelings about it so far and will reserve judgement until I’m finished. At times it’s a fascinating look at the history and evolution of information organization (in the current style of “pop non-fiction” ala Gladwell, [fill-in-the-blank]-onomics, etc.), and relates it all to everyday examples of classification such as sorting the silverware in your kitchen drawer, or Staples stores. This is where the book shines. But at other times Weinberger jumps to some strange conclusions which seem under-researched and mis-understood. I’ll be finished shortly and will follow up with more in-depth thoughts.

Next on my plate are two books by Chucks. For a shift in direction from the somewhat tech/design-heavy above, I picked up the new Chuck Klosterman book, and the new new Chuck Palahniuk novel.

It’s been a while

Wow, it’s been more than a month since writing an actual post here. This fixes that, and I hope to pick it up more going forward. The Spring has been pretty scattered with work and play, and weeks of rain and then sun. Some things that have been keeping me busy/distracted…

  • TV season finales – They’re old news by now, but I was hooked on a few too many TV shows this year. In short… Heroes: Season = thumbs up, Finale = thumbs down. Lost: Season = thumbs mixed, Finale thumbs up. The Office: two thumbs way up. Veronica Mars: almost done, but thumbs up so far. Entourage: thumbs up all around (the Yom Kippur episode was one of the funniest I’ve seen).
  • HDTV – I finally took the plunge on a lovely HDTV and watched some of the above in glorious HD. My old, heavy 27″ JVC was starting to burn in in places, but had served me well over the years. I’ve found myself watching much more sports than usual now because they just look so damn good in HD.
  • Xbox 360 – To kind of go along with the TV (it was my birthday, I splurged) I decided to go for a 360 Elite and really put the HD to the test. I’m quite happy with the system, and I really think Microsoft has nailed the online gaming experience with the buddy system, matchmaking, etc. I’ve played a few of the latest shooters, but I’m really a sucker for the simple puzzle games. Lumines (I never played it on the PSP) is quite addictive, and Catan is a perfect rendition of the board game. But really I can’t wait for Mass Effect.
  • Settlers of Catan – This deserved it’s own bullet. A friend of mine introduced me to the board game a couple months ago, and then I discovered the Xbox Live version. I’ve played both quite a bit more since and the game is just so good. The mechanics are so simple, but the strategy and variety from game to game is always different and surprising. I remember there was a copy of the game in the house I lived in during college, and now I regret never joining the regular players. Those Germans know how to make a mean board game.
  • Sun – All of the geeky indoors activities aside, this is the time of year in Seattle where we start having as many sunny days as rainy days from week to week. The following commodities are now in high demand, and take up a good deal of non-working hours: Rooftop decks, patios (preferably at bars), parks, hikes, and street festivals.
  • Photos – One of the more productive things I think I’ve been good about keeping up is photo-taking and posting. I try to make a point of getting out on most sunny days to take some pictures around the neighborhood at least. My Lensbaby with macro attachment ring has been great to capture the Spring flowers and critters in the garden next to my building. My new favorite lens now the prime 50mm f1.4 which has been great for capturing portraits and just about anything else in all lighting conditions.

Now, go read the live updates from Jobs’ keynote at WWDC and drool over some new Apple announcements.