Entries in technology (94)


Lifehacker, working together in the cloud

Lifehacker has a great article in Macworld describing how they run their virtual office using web based cloud applications.

I particularly like their passing phrase, the "placeless office" - it is so much more meaningful than "virtual office".


All Black coaching technology

the DomPost has an interesting series of articles on the use of technology by the All Black coaching team


living in the Google cloud

'Miramar Mike' has written an excellent article summarising his experience of living in the cloud using Google web services.

"Living in the cloud" means using online web-based services instead of traditional applications you install on your PC - eg Gmail instead of Outlook. The key advantages are you don't need to maintain or manage the application or data yourself, and you can access the application from any internet connected PC, and often from mobile devices too.

With some of these services you can also synchronise your online data with a locally installed equivalent application and have the best of both worlds - eg use both Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar with data auto-synchronised between them. This mitigates the key constraint of web-based services which by their nature require you to be online to use them.

However, a key risk with web-based services is that, like any technology platform, they go 'down' from time to time - which means you are out of action for that time. For example, this morning Amazon's S3 back-end storage service went down, and took with it at least three of my web-based applications: Jungle Disk, Drop Box and TwitPic.  For consumer applications (eg TwitPic) this is not such a big deal, we can just wait for them to come back online. However, for business applications, we need much higher service levels.

I will continue to explore "Living in the cloud" and write about it here under a 'cloud' tag. For example, I have already written about my experience setting up and using Jungle Disk as an online hosted backup service.


why email is in danger of being replaced by applications like Twitter

Michael Hyatt has twittered a reference to a ReadWriteWeb article on why email is in danger of being replaced by applications like Twitter.

It's a good article, and very in line with my friend Michael Sampson's writings. Although use of the word 'danger' implies its a bad thing - far from it as email is very broken. Other applications/tools like Twitter are much better at some of the things we are currently trying to do via email, and this is explored in the article.

I particularly like this paragraph:

In the years Microsoft was adding more buttons to the [Outlook] toolbar, they should have invested more on the core innovation around email and productivity. Wiring in NLP and semantics to extract things like People, Events and Places would be a good start. Designing emails around use cases like "this is a meeting, this is a project, this is a friend" would go a long way towards helping avoid the Inbox clutter.


discount for Jungle Disk

In March I reviewed the Jungle Disk online backup service. Jungle Disk have given me a promotion to pass on: you can sign up for 50% off = US$10 (instead of the usual US$20) (first 10 only, within 30 days): https://www.jungledisk.com/secure/signup/promo.aspx?code=722BBF8D.


Twitter followers

I have recently culled (blocked) quite a few stalker type followers from my Twitter. I am happy for my Twitter to be public, but I don't want stalker followers.

It seems to me a better solution would be for Twitter to allow me to have to accept new followers while also allowing my Twitter to be public. I could set my Twitter to protected which would give me the approval functionality I seek, but my Twitter would then no longer be public. I have logged a feature request with Twitter about this.


Foxmarks and Firefox

I'm appreciating Foxmarks which means I now have synchronised Firefox bookmarks across the half dozen computers I regularly use. It's cool that I can also access my bookmarks on any browser on any computer.

I'm also finding Firefox 3 better than earlier versions; it has long been my preferred browser.

What about you?


pointing Blogger at a Custom Domain

I have setup www.justcomment.org for the Just Comment blog hosted at Google's Blogger which used to be at justcommentblog.blogspot.com and on which I am a contributor.

Last year I did the same thing for GavinKnight.com so decided to write up the steps so I could repeat them.

I use FreeParking for my domain name services but you should be able to adapt the following instructions for other domain name service providers. You could use Google's Blogger themselves for the domain name services (and they are cheaper than Freeparking, and simpler to configure) but if I'm going to pay I prefer to support a NZ company.

1. point DNS A record for gavinknight.com at FreeParking:

2. point DNS C record for www.gavinknight.com at Blogger:

3. point domain redirection for gavinknight.com at Blogger:

4. wait 24 hours for DNS settings to propagate around the internet (optional):

5. turn on custom domain within Blogger using the 'www' version (don't tick redirect option):

Readers can then access the blog by any of the 3 addresses, which all end up at the primary 'www' address, as follows:
1. type www.gavinknight.com
2. type gavinknight.com, redirects to gavinknight.blogspot.com, redirects to www.gavinknight.com
3. type gavinknight.blogspot.com, redirects to www.gavinknight.com

You don't have to use 'www' as your prefix. For example, I have done a very similar thing to host my Tumblr at shared.gavinknight.com for my shared items.


the In's and Out's of Twitter

start-up has an interesting video interview from fastcompany.tv with the founders of Twitter

their most relevant point for me is that Twitter becomes most interesting when your friends actively use it too

at the moment I mainly use it to track web luminaries I follow because currently I only have a few personal friends using Twitter

maybe that would change if it wasn't an international TXT to 'tweet' from NZ?


Gavin's Shared Items

I am aggregating my online life at Shared.GavinKnight.com using Tumblr (with a custom domain) and FriendFeed (as the aggregator).

There you will see a 'lifestream' of my postings here at GavinKnight.com, my online reading shared via Google Reader, my tweets at Twitter, my mobile photos at twitpic, my shared videos at YouTube and my photos at Flickr.

It uses RSS feeds between the various services so can take an hour or two to show new items, but that is prompt enough for my purposes.

You can subscribe to Shared.GavinKnight.com by rss rss or email email.

I am also active on Facebook but that content is limited to my friends there.


Policies at GavinKnight.com

Copyright Policy
My work here at GavinKnight.com is licensed by me to you for attributed non-commercial use under a New Zealand based "Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike" Creative Commons Licence. This form of copyright and the (limited) exceptions I apply to it are described in more detail in the copyright notice at the footer of every page here at GavinKnight.com. The attribution I require when you use my work is a link back to the source article here at GavinKnight.com providing that by doing so you do not state or imply that I endorse you or your use of my work. Please email me if you want to license content here at GavinKnight.com for any other purpose - eg commercially.

Links Policy
When I knowingly use someone else's content I will give attribution. Usually I will do so by providing a link - either a direct link to the quoted content, or a more generic link to the author(s) if the content itself is not online.

Comments Policy
I invite and welcome comments on all articles. I would prefer you comment in your own name, but you can comment under a pseudonym or anonymously if you prefer. Often I will respond to comments publicly - either by way of a further comment on that post, or by way of a new post if I think that will be more useful to my wider audience. Sometimes I will respond to comments privately. I will delete comments that are in my opinion inappropriate.

Privacy Policy
When reading or commenting you should not assume your identity is anonymous - even if you do not explicitly expose your identity. If I am asked to disclose your identity I reserve the right to disclose what I know about you, but generally I will only do so when I am compelled to do so by a legal process. I use various tools to track and understand my audience but usually I will only use the collated audience data in aggregate - eg looking for trends (which I occasionally publish).

Disclosures Policy
If an article might create a conflict of interest I will declare that explicitly - either by way of a specific disclosure in the article itself, or by way of an ongoing general disclosure on the About GavinKnight.com page.

Updates Policy
I reserve the right to edit an article after it has been published. If the edit is non-trivial I will make it clear what I have updated.

Mon-24-Nov-08: tidied up.
Mon-10-Nov-08: deleted the side bar and Policies page references to Labour's repugnant Electoral Finance Act now that the election is over, so it no longer applies to blogs like this one because I understand the regulated period has completed, and is soon to be repealed anyway (hopefully!).


twitpic: snap -> email -> web

I'm liking Twitpic and it's integration with Twitter.

Cellphone photos are not great quality but it works OK for quick snaps.

From my cellphone I email them to my Twitpic, which auto-tweets links to them on my Twitter, which also auto-updates my Facebook using the Facebook Twitter Application.


txt ok & 'wont hrt kids'

apparently txt ok & 'wont hrt kids'

It's thumbs up to text messaging shortcuts after a new study suggests that teenage shorthand does not harm language skills.

The study, reported in New Scientist magazine, recommends that parents take comfort when their teens use slang because it actually represents an "expansive new linguistic renaissance" and lets teenagers show off what they can do with language.


Cool Alarm Clocks

"When the laser alarm clock goes off, you have to hit the bullseye of the target with a little laser pointer that looks like a phaser, or else it won’t shut up. The idea is it’s so hard to aim the laser you have to concentrate, so you sort of wake yourself up when you do it."

although my favourite is still the bomb alarm clock which you have to defuse to stop!


Mesonychoteuthis Hamiltoni

Rare Colossal Squid and Giant Squid are being defrosted and immediately studied in detail this week (before they preserve it in formalin to prevent decay).

This is an incredibly significant natural history event as very little is known about either of these massive squid, and few specimens in good condition are held. It is fantastic that this is happening right here in my home city Wellington, and so publicly.

Ta Papa (New Zealand's national museum) is live blogging the event, and there are 4 live webcams which can also be viewed on one (bandwidth hungry!) page. Further reports are available on various media sites - eg Stuff, NZ Herald or collated at Google News. Natural History New Zealand will be filming the entire process for a Discovery Channel in-depth documentary series.

Te Papa are running a concurrent lecture series by the scientists. Joel and I will be attending the closing lecture by Dr Steve O'Shea on Thursday evening. We saw an earlier specimen (pictured above) when it was on display at Te Papa a few years ago, and met Dr Steve O'Shea (also pictured above) who is the lead scientist this week and recognised world authority on these unbelievable creatures.

Image courtesy Ta Papa.


Blog with Facebook :: ver 4

I am now using the RSS automated import function of Facebook Notes to show my GavinKnight.com posts within my Facebook.

I had been using my FriendFeed (which is still active) but I now prefer the format of Facebook Notes.


Facebook Chat :: IM Style

is this new? --- first time I've seen instant messaging style chat in Facebook

it has just appeared in the bottom right hand corner of my browser when I logged into Facebook, although I see you can pop it out into a separate window too


Recent Searches To Influence Google's Results

Danny Sullivan reports that Google search is going to start incorporating recent searches in it's algorithm, which was previously only the case if you were logged into Google ... this makes sense as searches are often sequential with subsequent searches refining previous ones even if that is not explicit in the search terms used

it also reminds me that Google's Adsense algorithms also factor in what you have searched on before, they are not just determined by the content on the page you are viewing ... so be careful before sniggering about what Google's Adsense is advertising on a particular site ... it might be more a commentary on you than on the content of the site you are looking at!


Tweet Clouds

Tweet Clouds is an interesting way of seeing what someone Twitters about most

my Tweet Cloud based on my Twitter


about GavinKnight.com

I have been blogging here at GavinKnight.com since January 2007. I changed my blogging strategy at the beginning of 2008 and now target at least one substantive article per month per main topic. Previously my goal was to average at least one post per day, with at least one post per week per main topic.

I write here on four main topics: Politics, Christianity, Technology and Effectiveness; with a particular focus on New Zealand. Occasionally I also write on other topics, and from to time on family activities.

You can subscribe to receive GavinKnight.com articles by RSS or Email by following the links in the top right hand corner. Or you can simply visit me here on the web. I am also a frequent commenter on Twitter, and you can find all of my online activities at FriendFeed.

Most GavinKnight.com articles are tagged by topic. You can read just the posts for a particular topic via the tag cloud in the right hand column - which shows tags I have used at least 5 times. I have also provided an RSS feed and a daily Email subscription option for each main topic in the top right hand corner which you can use if you are interested in just one topic.

I have a growing interest in Effectiveness, particularly as represented by the David Allen's "Getting Things Done". These align with 'Effectuate'; a word I came across a couple years ago which neatly expresses my favoured approach to life - "to bring about, to effect". I am interested in this from a number of perspectives: personal effectiveness, team effectiveness and organisational effectiveness.

Professionally I part-own and lead the JD Edwards application services provided by Jireh Consulting Services. JDE is an Oracle Applications product. I am also a project manager through Jireh Consulting Services, and use this as an opportunity to express and develop my interest in effectiveness. I am also a business and personal leadership skills trainer and coach through Top Performers, and use this as an opportunity to express and develop my interest in developing people. You can connect with me professionally through LinkedIn.

Prior to moving into business consulting in 2000 I spent the 1990s as a chartered accountant for entrepreneurs, with an increasing focus on systems accounting.

My interest in writing about technology is more in terms of personal technology. I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to gadgets, and making them work. I'm also quite intrigued by Web 2.0, social media and new media.

I have been very happily married to Jill since 1990. We have a teenage daughter (Andrea) and a 'tweenage' son (Joel). We have a lot of fun enjoying each other, our extended family (most of whom live in Wellington), our church, our friends, our home, our city Wellington (where I have always lived) and travel - particularly around our country New Zealand.

We have been active members of our local church The Salvation Army Johnsonville since being part of the group which started it in the mid 1990s. I have served on our church leadership team since inception (apart from a medically induced sabbatical year in the late 1990s), and Jill is a Kid's Church leader. Previously we had been active at the SA Wellington South in Newtown where the Knight family has a long association, and my parents still go. Although I had been attending since birth, my faith didn't become personal until my late teens.

My interest in politics grows out of my interest in current affairs and the wider world, and is heavily influenced by my christian faith. I score centre (-0.12) and mildly libertarian (-2.05) on the Political Compass (take the test on Facebook). I generally feel more 'right' than 'left', so was a little surprised by that - but I probably came out more towards the centre due to my christianity induced feeling of responsibility for others, particularly the vulnerable. I am not currently a member of a political party.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of writing. Knowing that someone could be reading what I write helps crystallise my thoughts into something more coherent. I hope my writing is also useful to you, and perhaps entices you to think more deeply about the topics on which I write.

Update History:
Tue-17-Feb-09: edited to reflect the change in my blogging strategy
Sat-22-Nov-08: general tidy up
Sat-1-Nov-08: updated to reflect move to self-employment through Jireh Consulting Services and Top Performers
Sun-13-Jul-08: udited commentary on Effectuate to clarify it aligns with the Getting Things Done ideas of David Allen