231 Erwin Road

My experiences as a Northern transplant down in Chapel Hill, NC, 2005. And now my experiences back up in NYC.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Y! Music Unlimited

I have always been a fan of Yahoo's Launchcast station (thanks to Briana) which creates a customized personal radio station based on your preferences, (you can rate songs, artists, and albums.) It would compile this data and the preferences of other listerns and predict new music for you. A few times a month I'm surprisingly pleased with its prediction of old favorites of mine.

The only problem was that you couldn't *choose* the song you wanted to listen to, it had to be random.

Well, that's all changed, the other day my friend Chris K. pointed me to their new subscription service, at $4.99 a month for yearly service. While their collection may not include all the offbeat music I like to listen to 'on demand.' It is a pretty vast collection. And the fact that it help me find music based on my behaviors is awesome.

I highly recommend you at least try the 7-day trial, I think you might get addicted.

Y! Music Unlimited

A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying

That's the name of a Bloodhound Gang song, that is damn funny. The BHG is like The Onion, sometimes the titles alone are better then the content.

Health Questions

I was just listening to the Howard Stern show, and they had a funny clip they altered from this 1-800 health number. I called it a few years back (@ 302 Summit Ave) you just had to touch tone through the menu to get a description of the disease you wanted more information about.

I selected this one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

OMG, just simply OMG


Thanks Josh.

Be warned, it will consume most, if not all of your attention. If you think you might have to goto the bathroom, go now, otherwise, you will be absorbed into this app so much that you may just end up going in your chair.

E-mails 'hurt IQ more than pot

Don't get all huffy now

I know a few of you will lash out after my last 2 posts. But I'm not changing my blog (nor life) around completely. However, I am consumed with work most of these days, so I really don't have much funny stuff to blog about, so rather then complaining, I hope this could be useful.

So to recap my weekend in Albany with Nickbongs and Chris G.

First, I don't know why the damn photoblogger service wasn't working. Here are some of the pics I was trying to upload.

This is Nick's car, it actually has 'Gwar' for the license plate:

And this is some skate show I was going to, we missed Bam, there were too many 15 year olds in wet tshirts, it was hot out.

More photos to be found here.

This is from a chinese food carton from last week, now Delta is advertising on the side of my damn takeout. Can somebody invent 'fruit tatoos.' It would be edible ink that could be 'tatoo'd' onto apples, pears, oranges, ohh my.

So back to what happened this weekend.

The funniest thing has to be Friday night, which was incredibly awkward for me. Awkward you say? Yes, after drinking way too much vodka among other things while sitting on Nick's couch, we head out to a few bars. Nick has been hooking up with a virgin for the past few weeks and we were supposed to meet up with her. By the time we actually do, Nick is pretty out of it, and is making out with some girl, which really pisses the virgin off (understandably.) Of course, Nick doesn't remember any of this.

Now I don't know what to do as I don't know any of these people, I'm caught in the middle and Nick is too busy to be responsive. The virgin keeps asking me why Nick is doing that, I say I don't know and if she has a problem with it, go pull Nick away. She tugs at Nick's shirt, but I don't think it registered.

I don't know why the virgin stayed around, if it was me, I would have told the person to fuck off and walked out. Nick has his own thoughts. For whatever reason, she stayed, forever asking me what was going on, why he was doing that, how she should feel, and what she should do. The answers running around in my head were: he's making out with some other chic, cause you're a virgin, you should be pissed, and you should head the hell out of here. For some reason, I was sober enough to refrain from answering with those comments, so I just stood there, shrugged my shoulders here and there, and kept ordering more drinks and shots. Luckily I only had to sit though 2 hours of this until the bar closed.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Step 1 - Get a mentor

Step 1, get a mentor, get many mentors.

When I first joined IBM, we were asked to find a mentor. This is a daunting task when you are new to a giant company, don't know anybody that's been working more the 6 months, and don't even know what you want to do with a career.

Three years later, I now have many people I turn to help give me direction. Some of these people are much older then me, some of these people are only a few years older then me, and some of them are even younger then me. In the later case, I wouldn't call them 'mentors', but more of peers that I use to hear different thoughts and feedback.

Having a few 'mentors' is important to seeing the bigger picture. A mentor should be somebody that has lots of experiences under their belt, is interested in sharing them, and has some common bond with you. I also think you want to diversify your mentors to get broad and unique perspectives. You diversify in the stock market right? Why not in your career.

So how does one go about getting mentors? Well, there's a number of ways, but you'll have to put some 'effort' into this. A simple and new way to do this is via blogging. If your company has an internal blog, USE IT. It is a powerful communications tool. If you have good ideas and you put them in your blog or as a comment in another blog, it WILL get noticed. You might not realize it at first, but people will start to recognize your name if they agree (or disagree) with your thoughts. Blogs are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge, commitment, innovation, interests, .... It's also a great way to connect with somebody 1000's of miles away and form a relationship.

Other ways of meeting mentors.
  1. If you are working directly with somebody, a project manager or team leader, they may be a great starting point. Good mentors come from growing your network, until you grow your network, work with what you have.
  2. Volunteer your time. Many companies have all sorts of organizations and communities that are looking for volunteers to do all sorts of work. This could be making phone calls, writing newsletters, creating webpages, or organizing a local event at the office. Whatever it is, contribute. You'll meet people this way.
Finally, don't be afraid to ask. Most people are happy to tell you what they did to get where they are. Who doesn't like talking about themselves and boosting their ego? What's the worst that can happen? They say 'no', but they feel flattered that you look up to them in that way. They'll probably give you more respect as a result of asking them.

So good out, find a mentor, find a handful. Make sure you meet with them on a regular basis, such as once a month, once a quarter. Don't expect them to keep on top of it, they're very busy. You have to be proactive about it, and make sure you stay in touch. Drop them lines every know and then to let them know how you are doing.

Mentors will help you make career (and life) decisions. A mentor won't necessarily have a 'golden answer,' but they will ask you the questions that will help you come to your own conclusions.

Imagine having a long road trip in front of you, one with many forks that can send you in the wrong direction. A mentor will not map out your path, turn for turn, nor will they be able to mention all of the unforeseeable road blocks. What they will be able to help you with is the type of questions you should ask when you come to a fork or a road block. They'll give you feedback on the decisions they made and where it has put them. They'll let you know the wrong decisions they felt they may have made, or at least warn you of them, so that you know what they look like from 500ft away, instead of 30ft.

The dark ages

Time for me to stop complaining about how I'm always busy with work and don't have time for this or that.

I'm going to be boring for the next few months. Not boring per say as playing chess 6hrs a day while wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt as I eat it away, day by day, thread by thread. Boring as in not getting drunk 3-4+ nights a week. I'm okay with that. So I'll have my fun 1-2 nights a week and I'll work the rest of the time.

So I'm gonna try changing my format. I'm gonna try to give career advice. Not that I'm necessarily qualified. But a lot of my time is currently spent acting as an entrepreneur within IBM. So why don't I (b)log it. If what I do turns out to be successful, then it's good material for other people to learn from. If what I do turns out to be unsuccessful, that it's good material for other people to learn from.

Feel free to tune in or out.

Why I love IBM

I'm currently reading (listening) to "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance" by Louis V. Gerstner Jr. He was the CEO at IBM a few years back and completely saved the company in the early 90's. He's revered by many at the company, I don't know much about him though.

Lou took over when IBM was going down in flames, the stock price was around $13 from $40 a year before. 3 weeks into his new job role, he hosted the annual share holders meeting, which was a massacre. After the meeting he flew back to NY on an IBM corporate airplane and this was his conversation with the flight attendant:

I turned to the flight attendant and said "This has been a really tough day, I think I'd like to have a drink."

She said, "You don't mean an alcoholic drink do you?"

"I certainly do,"
I replied, "what kind of Vodka do you have?"

"We have no alcohol on IBM airplanes, it is prohibited to serve alcohol."

I said, "Can you think of anyone who can change that rule?"

"Well, perhaps you could, sir."

"It's changed, effectively immediately!"

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Picture Share!

Old photo. Evan chinese food cartons have ads on them these days.

A Picture Share!

Hanging out at the skatepark with kids 10 yrs younger then me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Picture Share!

I'm in Albany. This is my ride. And yes, the license plat says GWAR.

Another disconnected blog

Disconnected blogging, but whatever do you mean?

I'm sitting in nyc's one and only ALL DRAUGHT GUINSESS Bar. And in case you are wondering, yes there is U2 on the radio right now.

Guiness seems to taste better when its your only choice. Not that I don't love the stuff, although they say it tastes better in the Ireland (and the rest of the UK) because their laws don't require them to pasturize Guinesss (flash heating to kill bacteria.) I certainly think alchol should kill mad cows, don't you?

If you think I picked this bar because of it's Guiness fame, you're wrong. I've been walking around aimously for the past hour looking for a half empty bar on a Thursday night so that I could do some work in a bar instead of my apartment. That's a hard find. I even tried tried Pine Tree Lodge, but that place was packed. It became 'cool' like a year ago.

A funny thing has happened to me. I used to use the internet in read-only mode, then I started blogging, and I used the internet in read-write mode. But recently, I haven't had time to do much reading on the web, yet I continue to blog, now I'm in write only mode, I need to swing the pendalum back.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

`Bionic' arm brings back sense of touch

The article below talks of a 'bionic' arm. I posted this because of some specific comments on how the person 'feels' via the bionic arm. It's not that the arm transmits back up the nerve to the brian, but that it uses moters to put pressure on the man's chest, which the brain then associates as feelings in the hand. This might seem odd, but it's not. This is another post to read 'http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0805074562/qid=1119558277/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/103-5754009-3382252?v=glance&s=books&n=507846' by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee

Chicago Tribune news : Nation/World

AT&T plans CNN-syle security channel

Interesting, it seems as if AT&T will be creating a 24hr TV news channel on the *health* of the internet. It's kinda funny, thinking of the internet as an entity like that - It makes sense.

AT&T plans CNN-syle security channel | InfoWorld | News | 2005-06-23 | By Stephen Lawson and Robert McMillan, IDG News Service

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

One more reason I want to Goth Brazil

For the past year or two, Brazil has been a place I could see myself living because of their open views on Free Culture and emerging growth in technology.

Here's another reason:

I'll translate:
Price of admission for men:
$5 with 1 woman
$4 with 2 women
$3 with 3 women
FREE with 4 women
+$2 with 5 women (Yes, the club will pay you if you show up with 5 women. Awesome!)

Found it here.

New Spin on "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Jennifer Brown made an interesting post about the U.S. military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for keeping sexual orientation secret. Jen proposes to ask each entering soldier "Would you prefer to serve in a command without any gay personnel?"

Basically breaking military units into two and placing people appropriately.

You can learn more about her proposal in an essay written with Ian Ayres. (I didn't read the article.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Personalize your internet

I'm sure a number of you came across Outfoxed on Slashdot yesterday.

This is the *exact* type of application I've been waiting for. It builds 'trust' around your browsing habits and allows the internet to be customized to your social network. For example, lets say you are searching for a new music player on your computer. You want to make sure you get a nice tool with no spyware or adware. You know that your friend Vinnie is very up on this technology and would probably know the best application to download. Vinnie can rate websites (of the applications) as Good, Bad, or Warning (be cautious.) Then when you end up on that page, or view it in your google search engine, you can see Vinnie's (and your other friend's) ratings. This allows you to make informed decisions based on the trust and testimonials of your social network.

Currently, this is a firefox plugin. It has far reaching applications that will completely change the way we use the web The news you read will be filtered though your social network, along with the music you listen to, the products you buy,... Note, when I say social network, it doesn't have to be your physical friends, it could be the profile of an individual you found online that closely matches your interests. For example, I subscribe to Yahoo's Launchcast music service, it allows me to create a personalized radio station. However, I can browse the music preferences of other individuals and 'subscribe to their tastes,' even though I've never met them. What I do know is that they share similar tastes to mine and therefore may introduce me to new music that I would like to hear.

I have a lot of ideas that I would love to build on top of this. My username is 'vlauria' if you want to add me to your new personalized internet browsing experinece.

Ohh, and their is some support for del.icio.us tags and users.

Adopt A Chinese Blog

The other day I wrote about the censoring of Chinese Blogs. Well some folks had a good idea to help partner up the non-red states (as in political state) with the red state. They created Adopt A Chinese Blog.

The jist of it is that you host a chinese blog on your site. The idea being that it will be difficult for China to find and block all these random blogging sites. One again, the internet is truly a democratizing force.

I was reading Adbusters yesterday and I saw a promo for a new campaign, blackspoting shoes. It's part of their bigger Antipreneur campaign. I really like this idea. Not because I hate big corporations, but I think its a great example of how the tides are shifting. I'm not anti-corporation, I'm a capitalist, but I think these types of campaigns fall right into capitalism and the free market. It's like the Firefox New York Times ad which raised millions of dollars by the community to place a 2 page advert in the Times. Additionally, meetup.com was used to launch 1000s of simultaneous 'kick-off' parties to announce the launch. A large corporation couldn't imagine getting that type of publicity, let alone for free.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I'm in NC for a wedding

I'm currently in Salisbury, NC for a wedding. It appears that some folks are scared to my whereabouts. I spent last night in Chapel Hill, it was great to see all the old sights, I have photos.

Today, I swung by the IBM building, the carpet was the same.

Don't worry, Vinnie is A-OK!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Emergency Exit Row

I choose the emergency exit seat during check-in at those handy little kiosks. I was hoping that the emergency row would provide me a little more leg room, but on this plane, I get the same amount of leg room as the chumps sitting behind and in front of me. The exit row on this plane has a clearly outlined doorframe that would appear to allow the door to be sucked out of the plane. I thought about what would happen if the door was sucked out of the plane during mid-flight. (I will frequently think of the worst case scenario for my given situation and plan out in my head how I will survive. I guess I watched too many action flicks when I was a kid.)

So for this worst-case scenario -
The door is about 2'x 4'. So if it was to be ripped out, and my seat belt was ripped off, I think I could spread myself out diagonal across the hole, (think of a toothpick across the top of a beer bottle trying to be pushed into the neck) that should stop me from flying out, right? But what if the force is so great that it literally sucks me out and bends my body in weird and inappropriate ways? Could I grab the seatbelt next to me and hang on? Would the old man in front of me reach back and help hold me in? How much force is excreted though a hole in a plane wall?

I put those thoughts aside and opened up the instruction manual to read (via international pictures) what to do in the cases of both an emergency land landing, and an emergency water landing. Reading though the pamphlet, I finally realized what they expect 'able and assistable passengers' to do in these rows. I had always assumed (incorrectly) that flight attendants would want you to stay around the burning plane and help shuffle people off. It turns out that the reason they don't want handi-capp people in this row is that you have to be physically capable of removing the exit door (40 lbs) and lifting it out of its frame. You are then either supposed to rotate it sideways and throw it out the plane, or move it to an empty seat behind you. At that point, you can get the hell out of the plane.

Well, wasn't I relieved. The door opens INWARD. There's no chance of it being sucked OUT of the plane. I'm safe, for now.


A bunch of short stories by Vincent Lauria

I'm on a NY Airport Service bus right now to head to LGA Airport. I'm typing this into MS Notepad rather then connecting to the internet. There's something more natural about typing only raw text anyway, no sparkle.

Of course I'm running late, very late. It's 2:19 and my plane leaves at 3:30. I probably won't get to my terminal until exactly 3:00pm. But over the past few years, they always have those signs up that you can't check-in w/in 30min to departure. I've actually had it hold me back once. I really hope that doesn't happen this afternoon, so I have that anxious pit in my stomach of will I make the flight or not. Blogging has actually turned out to be quite comforting as it takes me away from starring out the window and calculating as each minute goes by. Check my phone, 2:19, put it away in my pocket, check it again, 2:19, damn the screen must be stuck. Turn it off then back on, still 2:19.

Although I'm such a always connected to the internet type of geek, I haven't bothered plugging in my cell phone right now.

The person across the isle from me just snapped his fingers and tilted his head. I know that feeling. Thats the action you take after your brain says, "You forgot to bring your sunglasses," or "You left the sink running with a dirty rag in the drain and a puppy at home that can't swim."

Last night I bought a labeler. It took me around 2 hours to pick out a labeler. Why would one buy a labeler you ask? Well, to adopt the GTD (Get Things Done) methodology by 43 Folders Wiki. GTD gives you ninja like qualities on task management. And who doesn't like ninjas?

With wiki tags being so much easier then html tags, why not create a new wiki standard?

Typing (and reading) on a bus makes me car sick. Or should that be bus sick?

Txt msging rules. I'm on my way to the airport to head down to North Carolina. Tomorrow I'm heading into the IBM lab at Research Triangle Park to meet with some friends. It just occurred to me that other people I work with are down there too. I don't have their number with me though, and I would like to call them. I txt'd my friend Aneel and had him look them up in our directory. He just txt'd them back to me. That's awesome. I owe him a drink.

Last night I turned on my TV for the first time in over a month. I still left the tape on though. Brian came over and we watched Morgan Spurlock's "30 days." A number of things didn't rub me the right way about this show. Mind you, I did enjoy "Super Size Me" although I did run right out across the street and order me a Big Mac. I don't even like McD's that much, but seeing all those burgers made me hungry.

I'm at the airport now, it's only 2:39pm. I don't know how long until we get to Delta, but why do I always get so anxious? Why am I always running late?

Back to "30 Days". First, it made me think that one of the reasons people don't like liberals is that they complain too much without offering a solution. They point their finger a lot without any regard on how to solve the entire problem. Yes, the hospitals maybe charging too much, but that's not the hospitals fault. So then the resort to making comments like (paraphrasing) 'and that's whats the problem with America.....' No, that's not what's wrong with America. There are many countries in this world that don't even have the facilities we have to even support the majority of the population. Damn girl on the show got a UTI (unary track infection.) While I don't know how painful this is, I've know girls who have gone though this and I've never heard of them waking their boyfriend up in the middle of the night to head to the emergency room. They were at least able to wait it out a bit to get to a doc. Alternatively, I guess that damn vegan can't eat yogurt or drink Cranberry juice.

Damn Morgan gets a sprained ankle from doing actually physical labor. He then goes to the emergency room to get it wrapped. Is he kidding me. Is he that much of a city boy?

The girl continues to complain how hard it is to work a full-time job? WTF is this? Brian says she's some sort of Vegan chef. Does she only work like 2-3 nights a week or something? I don't know about her, but I usually work 60+ hours a week. Yes, it might as physically exhausting as her job. But it's damn stressful and puts a toll on me. Do I complain, asking how people live this way?

The end of the episode continues to drive in how bad our health care system is. Why does it never occur to people that we all want different things. Some people want universal healthcare, and some people DON'T. The problem isn't the system, the problem is this misunderstanding. If you want to make some real changes, educate people on the BENEFITS of universal healthcare. Don't sit, complain, and point fingers without offering suggestions. Educate people on the benefits of universal healthcare. Point out the major pain-points of the current system. Suggest changes at all levels. Work to do better, don't work to whine.

On the plane after a good 1.5 hour delay on the runway, boy was the boring. Good thing I downed a frozen margarita at the airport before boarding. I had a tough choice in front of me at the airport. It was 3:02 and my flight left at 3:30. There was a big sign with red letters that stated the gates close 15min before departure. That meant I had 10min to kill. Should I find a seat and listen to an audiobook, some mp3s? Should I find a power outlet and charge my laptop a bit while continuing to blog? Or should I find a bar and shotgun a frozen margarita in the matter of a few min. Thankfully, I stuck with my roots and grabbed a frosty alcoholic beverage.

At the security gate, there was a TV with different messages coming across. One actually read: "You are not allowed to talk about or carry the following items" Then it went on to list pictures of explosives (with an animated timer of course) mace, grenades (I shit you not,) and finally a nice shiny picture of a handgun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Censoring of Chinese blogs

The BBC has an article of Microsoft censoring Chinese blogs.

The article doesn't point a finger at Microsoft (and neither do I) but I wanted to use this post to raise awareness of just what type of censorship goes in China. They are blocking words such as freedom, democracy, and demonstration. If you're post contains one of these words, a warning pops that reads "This message contains a banned expression, please delete this expression."

How wrong is that? I don't place blame on the MS's or the Google's or the Yahoo's of the world that allow these censors and filters to be placed on the internet. They don't have a choice, they have little power to negotiate with the Chinese Gov't (the Chinese could always rebuild the services inhouse.) I'd rather these companies offer this service then not offer it all. Hopefully, some smarter individuals will find loop holes and ways around these filters. I think the internet is democrazing, even when censored. I believe it offers a lot of avenues to break down traditional rules, processes, and mis-conceptions.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Camp Swan Lake videos

Update to our camping adventure. Brendan has added his hi-res photos and videos. Click the photo above to view the additional flickr pics (the new photos are added to the end, photos >20.)

Click on the links below for live video:
  • Microwaving a grape to create FIRE!!! (Thank's Taylor of EB fame)
  • Alex makes an omelet on the floor
  • Brian eats a worm <-- The Best

Return to the past

So I just walked up the lobby of a building I haven't returned to in half a year. It was a client I worked at for 2 years. A building I had hoped not to return to.

It felt mildly comforting though. Somebody just sat in my old cube, the bastard. I took over one of the offices because nobody is here yet. I'll see how long this lasts.

I think it will take a few days for me to get back into the swing of having fun here. Most of the ppl are pretty cool and it can have a young atmosphere at times, although most of my good buddies have headed for higher water.

Apple switch to Intel
And Fayza, as for the Intel vs. Apple thing, yes it is interesting, for a few reasons. One it means they aren't using IBM chips anymore and two it opens up the possibility for them to run on generic Intel hardware (not necessarily though.)
  1. Switching from IBM is kinda surprising. However, IBM still dominates the video game console market (which is much larger.) I believe IBM will be powering all 3 game consoles on their next release.
  2. Apple using Intel hardware means a possibility for it to run on the traditional x86 platform. Maybe someday well see Apple commercials saying, "Dude, you're getting a Dell." I think that would be best for Apple, but I have a feeling Steve Jobs would disagree. I think Apple would see an increased marketshare if it focused on it's OS and not it's proprietary hardware.
    1. A think to note about Apples Intel switch is about software vendors and partners. I assume they will have to re-write all their programs to run on the new platform. I'm sure Apple will provide software emulation, but that's just not efficient.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Camp Swan Lake

So I went camping this weekend with a bunch of friends, about 12-13 of us at one point. It wasn't so much camping as it was a bunch of people taking over a new pre-fab log house. It was on a lake though, which was pretty sweet.

It was in the catskills, about 2-3hrs north of the city. On the way up, we made it a point to stop at some rinky diner. Which turned out to be a bad idea as somebody got food poising off a turkey sandwich. Luckily for me, I went with the fried chicken and mashed potatoes. And don't forget the chocolate milk shake.

It was a hot weekend, I kept turning the fireplace on, (because I like fireplaces) but everybody kept yelling at me. We drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of food, both of the bbq and baked kind. When I'm on vacation, I tend to have a beer in hand pretty solid throughout the day. One of our friends works for the Brooklyn Brewery, so he hooked us up with some different flavors of Brooklyn beer.

We went to an 'indoor yardsale.' It was an old restaurant filled with 20 year old junk, including a RadioShack Tandy TRS-80 which I almost purchased for $20, but I wasn't sure if it would work. Have the place didn't have working lights, so we searched around with flash lights, sorta like an old scobbie-doo episode. We ventured down into the basement where it was ultra frightening as we wondered in and out of meat closets. Nick hoped we would find a dead body and the locals running the joint would figure this out as we ran out and come find us in our cabin during the middle of the night.

The lake was fun as I found out how hard it is for a single person to empty the water out of a filled kayak by himself in the middle of a lake that he can't stay in. It's pretty much impossible, so I just swam (mounted) it around for a few hours until Brian came and picked me up.

We traded scary stories at night, Brian cried at one point. Raphe had the best stories as he used to be a camp counselor. Brian ate a worm (night crawler, here's the pic to prove it.)

Friday, June 10, 2005

Off to camp

I'm heading out to camp for the weekend - Camp Swan Lady.

It was a tough choice for me to decide if that last statement should be an IM away message or a blog post. Who would have thought blogs would disrupt IM away messages?

On the tunes, Weezer - Beverly Hills, cause it just feels so good.

P.S. Super funny story, I found out that one of the bachelor's at last week's party got pink-eye from a stripper. Ohh that's just too funny.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

::: Louis XIV ::: - I love this band

Thanks Fayza for turning me on to them.

Louis XIV rocks, check out their music video, Finding Out True Love Is Blind.

I've reached the edge of the blogosphere and I don't like what I see

There are way too many postings and comments on my friends blogs of social relationships for me to keep track of and still function.

Here's an outline of what I know of:

Emily - post 1, post 2
and lets not forget Fayza.

So what don't i like about this? It's just not easy to collaborate on the same subject. Yes, blogs are great - as a friend Aneel pointed out, they're like your front porch on the internet and they allow you to yell out whatever you want. However, there are too many front porches and no way to really connect them. I don't want to have to search around for different threads and put all this information together, I want it to be automatically done for me.

I think Blogs may need to be re-invented ever so slightly. When I comment on another's blog, my blog should track that in some way (more then what TRACKBACK has to offer.) Sometimes a lot of good stuff is said in the comments. There needs to be aggregators to link all of these blog posts into a common thread, sorta the way Gmail links multiple email threads into one conversation.' These all need to be built into a syndication format such as RSS or ATOM.

What I would love to see, are autogenerated links and mappings to all these conversations. So for instance, I commented on Kristine's post. Maybe I could click a checkbox to post that on my blog as a new entry. Or maybe on my blog there can be a list of my recent comments on other peoples blogs. Underneath this, should be threads to other blogs that talk of the same post. I know Trackbacks and Technorati try to address this, but they really don't. It's not clean, it's not efficient, they don't do all the things we need.

This should all be visual, sorta like navigating a standard webpage. Even though there are lots of deep links, you are made aware of where you are going and the content you will be reading. And yes, other relationships should be tied together - to your emails, to your IM conversations, to your cell phone calls. Obviously people will have objections to these, so it will be a service that you can turn on and off. Personally, I wouldn't mind having all of my relationships mapped out.

This may be a little too abstract for most, I don't have a good enough view of what this all needs to look like, but it has to happen soon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I have finally moved back to nyc

Today I wrapped up my last day in Delaware. The positive of that is that I no longer have to be in Delaware, the negative of that is that I don't get to watch TV in a hottub anymore. (The hotel I had this week had a hottub right in the room, like 3' from the bed, it was nuts.)

The hotel also had a 'Microfridge.' For anybody that has lived in a crappy BU dorm, it is sure to bring tears to your eyes.

I've been working for the past month on the sole purpose of making a powerpoint presentation (or 'deck' as we say in the consulting industry.) Isn't that crazy? I've spent around 100-120 hours just making a powerpoint presentation, it's only 30 slides. Yes, I had to do a lot of research to build the slides, but it seems a little ridiculous to me. One lesson I learned, presentations can never be 'final.' They are always in this perpetual state of people commenting and wanting to change the 'wording.' You end up running in circles.

I hung out with Josh J last night in Philly, we talked brains. Josh has moved on from a computer geek to neuroscience nerd. Here's a paper he's recently written.

<'book review/nerd block'>
I'm currently reading (listening) to On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. Most of you will know of Jeff's work as he was the founder of Palm. Jeff has always been interested in how the brain works and started palm as an offshoot because he invented Palm's hand recognition software, Graffiti. That was somewhat of an AI project. On Intelligence is an amazing book opening up new ideas for me around intelligence and how our brains work (and why AI is going the wrong direction.) I highly recommend it, although I have a feeling most people won't find it interesting.
<'end book review/nerd block'>

So I have to start back at one of my old projects on Monday. Something I'm not terribly happy about. I was basically told I didn't have a choice - I didn't like that. The benefits are that it is within walking distance from my apt, has some pretty fun ppl on the project, and has a kickass cafeteria. The downsides are that I find the work pretty non-exciting and the atmosphere can be somewhat of a downer at times. Monday I set up a meeting with my manager, I'm gonna tell him how I want to move out of my current consulting role. I have a feeling that it's not gonna go over very well. It sorta like me quitting my current position, and people don't like to hear that. It's time for me to move on though, I've been doing this pharma consulting role for 2+ years now and its just not something I'm excited about. I actually find it quite weird that I ended up on this track. I'm not in this position because I wanted it, I'm here because I randomly fell onto an pharma project 2 years ago.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Genographic Project


Is Vinnie brushing his teeth???

No, he's participating in "The Genographic Project" sponsored by National Geographic and IBM. Vinnie is taking some cheek swabs with their cotton applicator to send in his DNA. While it won't provide a detailed map of Vinnie's historical ancestry, it will show his ancestry path of migration over thousands of years. There are 100,000 indigenous people as part of this project and they are asking for public volunteers as well. This is a 5 year project, and the map they will provide Vinnie in a few weeks (after analyzing his DNA) will be changing and evolving over 5 years as they find out more information.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

My day's of phreaking are over

Call anyplace for free, really! - New service offering free phone calls from some payphones in nyc.

Thanks Lon.

P.S. For you non-geeks, here's a wikipedia article on phreaking.

On the tunes: Daniel Johnston, listen to him, he's amazing.

Reason #12

Reason #12 to not answer your cell phone when your ex-girlfriend calls at 3am on a Thursday night:

Post your favorite quotes below.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Imagine a day when...

I just had a few emails and phone calls go back and forth with a customer service rep of another company. It all went very smoothly, no problems, but I started thinking, "Who is this person on the other end?" It occurred to me that if I'm doing business with a large company, I would be nice to know who I'm conversing with.

When you walk into a store, you can see the sales rep you are talking to, and that makes the transaction more comfortable. Shouldn't that apply to customer service reps too? Think about all the angry phone conversations that must happen with customer service reps. They are an anonymous voice, you tend to forget that they are people. The case above was a pleasant transaction, but I'm sure we've all had some not so pleasant transactions.

Typically, when you are upset with a company, you may take it out on the service rep, and that shouldn't happen. If you been placed on hold for 30+ mins and have been bounced around to multiple reps, theres a good chance you will be stressed and slightly hostile at the next new representative to come on the line. That doesn't help either party and it doesn't help get the problem solved.

I think we should wrap social networks into customer service. If the rep. agreed to make their profile public (photo, interests, ....) it would really bring a personal touch to the service and greatly increase the chances of a pleasant transactions and a positive view of the company. If I'm being emailed by a rep or I'm speaking to them on the phone, I would love to view their profile page on my computer and feel more personable with them.


The World of the internet is amazing

So the other week I had a post about falling in love with my Treo 650. My friend Todd made a comment about Thad Starner and ubiquitous wearable computers. Fayza (whom I've never met in person) then asked Todd (whom she's never met) "Who is Thad Starner?"

I replied to her comment that Thad Starner was a 'wearable computer geek,' a fact I had to look up via Google. Two weeks later, Thad Starner (whom I've never met) somehow ends up on my blog, and corrects me to say that he is a 'wearable computer nerd.' I'm guessing that he used Google to search his name and ended up here.

So "Hi Thad, hi Todd, and hi Fayza."

The other day I was waiting in my apartment lobby to catch the elevator. There were a number of people standing around and none of us said "Hi" to each other, nobody made small talk. I had a feeling that if it was 100 years ago, we would have all made small talk (granted that 100 years ago there wouldn't be 500 people living in one building.) But in busy nyc where you come across 10,000+ people a day, you don't have time to chat it up with everybody. I don't know anybody in my building, I barely know my neighbors (they are mostly old people for some odd reason.) When my neighbors are young, hip, party down and get drunk kids, then I know them (that's a shout out to 302 Summit Ave.)

I started thinking about how the 'real world.' is getting less personal. When we walk down the street or ride the subway, we wear our headphones, talk on our cell phones, and don't give a crap of being friendly to the person next to us. However, in the 'virtual world.' of the internet, we are starting to make leaps and bounds in connecting people socially. There is a shift from being friendly and socialable in the 'real world' onto the internet. I'm not saying it's making a full move from one medium to another, but there is some shift. There will always be times when you are friendly to the person sitting next to you on the subway or plane, but it probably doesn't occur as frequently as it used to because we meet so many more 'strangers' these days, too many 'strangers' to have the time for chatting.

Also note, that I don't think these social connections exists solely on the internet. The internet is just a tool that allows people to make initial connections. I attend meetup.com groups which are social connection I made via the internet, but all of our social interactions happen face-to-face.

The internet allows me to meet people with the same interest as me. So although I could just start rambling to my neighbor about The Killers, most likely s/he's not going to be interested in the conversation.

Any thoughts?

- This is an after thought after publishing. At the top, I talk of Todd, a friend that I have been re-acquainted with via Friendster after falling out of touch for 11+ years. I'm not exaggerating, that's half my life. He moved to Atlanta in 8th grade, I made a trip down there once in 9th grade, he visited Port Washington (hometown) sometime after that, and then we just fell out of touch. A few months ago he drops me a line via Friendster after searching connections though Port Washington's High School. We talk a few times online and over the phone, then I goto visit him in his kick ass loft in Atlanta a month ago. Turns out over 11 years (with me not owning a computer back then,) we sorta ended up being interested in the same stuff.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My right to eat enchiladas is protected

Are you an enchilada distributor afraid of your mexican food eating consumers suing you for blowing up their ass? Well, you're protected in New Mexico.

Thanks Patrick.

A Multi Media Share!

My hotel has a fireplace, sweet.