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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Ma.gnolia Blog: On Our New Front Doors

Ma.gnolia, my favorite social bookmarking service, recently switched from merely supporting OpenID to actually restricting all new user signups to use the authentication platform. This received a lot of attention – most good – while Matt Mullenweg (and others I’m sure) chimed in to say that this method shouldn’t be viewed as a good strategy to cut spam.

Larry Halff, founder of Ma.gnolia, chimed in today via the site’s official blog to give some background on the discussion, statistics that made the reasoning come up in the first place, and why they believe that while it isn’t a strategy to cut down on spam, it has, indeed, cut down on spam.

So now you know the rest of the story.

Source: Ma.gnolia Blog: On Our New Front Doors.

The sweet smell of ma.gnolia

I signed up for del.icio.us in November 2004. I bookmarked a few URLs in the first few months, then didn’t use the service for over a year. I was always teetering between wanting actual browser bookmarks and wanting to have a publicly available list of bookmarks. I used del.icio.us on and off but ended up finding it very useful to share bookmarks with co-workers by creating my own tags that they could subscribe and add to, more than using the site socially beyond that. This came in very handy on several occasions and I also did quite a bit of research using tag searches.

However, I was never really able to keep a good stride with del.icio.us because beyond the way that I used it, the service never really felt very social or usable to me. I’ve heard the creator of del.icio.us say during a speech that a huge portion of del.icio.us’ bandwidth was eaten up by feed subscriptions rather than visitor traffic. Which is exactly the problem that I have with del.icio.us for my own purposes! It does everything that I want it to do, and then some, but it doesn’t feel good and I don’t want to go there.

Photo description

Me & the ma.gnolia card.

Enter ma.gnolia.com. A gorgeous, feature-rich, friendly, and social service that does everything that del.icio.us does – but it makes you feel like your driving a Porche while doing it. To top it off ma.gnolia lends itself to proper usage which I think is a huge undertaking when creating social services.

Before I go on with my showering of word sugar on ma.gnolia – let me tell you why I switched in the first place.

While in Austin, Texas for SXSW this past March – I met up with Larry Halff founder of ma.gnolia. The first time I met Larry was at a lunch about openID and he ended up treating everyone to that lunch and left before myself or anyone could thank him. Later on that night I caught up with him at one of the many after-parties and made it a point to thank him for taking care of the bill. After we got to talking about all types of subjects I began to tell him how I had never switched to ma.gnolia because I felt that del.icio.us had done everything that I wanted with my social bookmarks.

This is when it happened. This is when Larry, who could have went all marketing on me or even put up his nose at the fact that I even used del.icio.us, answered the following question: “If you only had 30-seconds to tell me about one feature of mag.nolia – what would it be?”

“Thanks. We have a feature called “thanks” that allows you to thank someone for a bookmark. It doesn’t show publicly. It doesn’t make that bookmark or that person go higher on any type of graph or scale, it is just a way to quickly say “thanks”.”

The above is me quoting Larry very loosely as he and I had already had a few drinks at this point. My response? “That’s pretty cool. Ok, when I get home I am going to switch to ma.gnolia and then write a post about my thoughts on it.”.

Now to continue with the shower of word sugar. Ma.gnolia is much nicer than any other social bookmarking site that I’ve tried. Not only aesthetically but also in its usability, its simple and social features, and also its customer service. I picked the worst day to switch to ma.gnolia too. They had just done a version upgrade of their system, and I switched directly in the middle of it. Of course there were some bugs that occurred due to me switching to a cutting-edge version of the site – but Larry and his staff squashed the bugs, responded to support questions, and even fixed some things I didn’t like very quickly.

I’ve now been using it for a few days and I’ve finally been able to hit a stride with a social bookmarking site. Ma.gnolia makes me want to add good content as well as fill in good context for each bookmark I add. I’m almost approaching it more like a blog than just a bookmarking site – since I do not bookmark things only for myself – but for the social network I’ve built on ma.gnolia.

Key features

I simply have to fill you in on what I’ve found to be some of ma.gnolia’s key features. If you are a user of ma.gnolia – and you feel I’ve missed some – please be sure to let me know in the comments.

  • The “thanks” feature is as good as I imagined when Larry first told me about it. Simple, private, perfect.
  • The fact that every bookmark has a permalink per user so that each user can add their own specific details to it is awesome. It is like social tagging .
  • Ma.gnolia also automatically creates “Short links” for each bookmark giving you an automated TinyURL type service for every bookmark you add. Genius.
  • The service also takes a screenshot of the domain the URL comes from so that at a quick glance you can see the web page that you bookmarked.

  • Although I’ve not had a chance to fully explore the groups on ma.gnolia, I can see from the way others are using them that I will also find them useful. Groups seems like a great way to hold discussions, bookmark resource material, and generally converse with those inside of the group.
  • The support and tools section gives great documentation on how you can consume data from ma.gnolia as well as giving you great ways to use the service above and beyond what is available at the site. Currently I’m using one of the bookmarklets to post to ma.gnolia.

There are many others and I could go on but suffice to say; I’m hooked. If you use ma.gnolia be sure to add me as a contact by visiting my profile or you can reach me and other great ma.gnolia users through the featured members page. I’ve also got my latest few bookmarks popping up in the sidebar on my homepage (which is extremely easy to do). If you are not a ma.gnolia user – sign up, import your bookmarks from pretty much any other service and use it for a few days. I’m sure you’ll like it as much as I do.

Thanks to Larry and his team for putting together a great service and to Alex Hillman for encouraging me to switch in the first place.

[tags]ma.gnolia, sxsw, larry halff, social, bookmarking, review[/tags]

[slug]sweet-magnolia[/slug]

Homesteading

In March 2008 I began to regret using so many different services to store and share different types of content like photos, tweets, videos, links. And so I began to plan bringing all of those services together on to my personal site.

I’m going to begin working on one service at a time, slowly bringing it all together, and giving each a home here on my site. I’ll try my best to keep a log of my experiences doing each of these, jotting down why I’m handling it the way that I am, and asking for feedback as I find the best solution for me as I go forward.

I wanted to make my personal site the one and only place people would come to find the answer to “What is Colin up to?”.  And for a while, I succeeded. I had my photos, mobile notes, videos, links, etc. all piling up in my own personal WordPress installation. From a certain, geeky, “post-things-exactly-as-I’d-like-to” way it was Utopia.

That was nearly 6 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Most of the services I used then are gone; Ma.gnolia, Pownce, Flickr (nearly everyone I followed there has jumped to Instagram), Viddler (now for Business-only), Cork’d (long gone), and a site I used to write for called The Uber Geeks. All gone or no longer relevant.

The fact that all of these services have in fact gone away really shows how on-point my gut was. That posting everywhere simply wasn’t a sustainable way of sharing if you cared about having control or access to all of the data that you tirelessly put the effort into getting online.

Frank Chimero recently looked back at 2013 and noticed, as I did in 2008, that he was sick of having all of this data in different silos all over the web:

So, I’m doubling down on my personal site in 2014. In light of the noisy, fragmented internet, I want a unified place for myself—the internet version of a quiet, cluttered cottage in the country. I’ll have you over for a visit when it’s finished.

I like Frank’s style so it will be interesting to see how, and if, he manages to do what I wasn’t able to do longterm. (And I’d be willing to bet the way he does it will look nicer than what I did too.)

Why wasn’t I able to continue? It mostly has to do with the network’s associated with these services. Sharing a photo to my blog may have gotten a few eyeballs, but sharing a photo on Instagram or Flickr gets a lot more. But, there comes a time where you simply don’t care about those sorts of things anymore. I’m pretty sure I’ve reached those times.

Stay tuned.

 

The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

J. Kenji López-Alt exhausted 32 pounds of flour in 100 tests to make 1,536 chocolate chip cookies until he got it just right:

For the past few months, I’ve had chocolate chip cookies on the brain. I wake up in the middle of the night with a fresh idea, a new test to run, only to discover that my 10 pound flour bin has been emptied for the third time. Did I really use it all up that fast?

A worthy effort.

This reminds me of a cookbook my friend Larry Halff, of Ma.gnolia fame for those of us that go back that far, gifted me called The New Best Recipe Book wherein many, many chefs made recipes sometimes upwards of 50 times until they got it just right. Best cookbook we’ve ever had.

/via Twitter.

My island on this ocean

Me, over four years ago:

As it stands I post what I’m currently doing to Twitter, I am testing out Pownce with mobile blogging, events, links, and files, I post mobile phone photos to Flickr (as well as the occasional screenshot), videos go on Viddler, bookmarks end up on Ma.gnolia, tasting notes end up on Cork’d, and my thoughts on Appleproducts find their way toTUG.n.

What a difference four years can make! Pownce, Ma.gnolia, Cork’d, TUG.n, all gone. Flickr rarely gets my attention. Twitter is still here but is changing policies more often than I change my shirt. Viddler, I’m very proud to say, is stronger than ever but is certainly a much different service than it was then.

The Internet is like the open ocean and what we publish seems to be on a life raft simply going along for the ride.Yet our personal websites seem to be like small islands in this ocean. Sure, their beaches may change from time-to-time but the island remains – like a beacon to all travelers that we’re still here – somewhere to always come back to as these rafts take on water and eventually sink into the deep.

This environment forces me to rethink, yet again, how and where I publish on the web. This internal debate seems to be one that keeps coming up, over and over, year after year, as the ocean of the Internet ebbs and flows.

Should I simply post everything that I publish directly to this site and nowhere else? Do I cross post things to this site and also onto other services? Do I simply link back to this site from those services? Do I syndicate to those services with their own accounts (like I do now on Twitter and Facebook for this site)? Do I post some content here and some content elsewhere?

Believe it or not, and you may think I’m crazy, but these questions plague me all of the time. I constantly struggle with this. And I never seem to muster the conviction to make a hard choice and so I’ve got content everywhere; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the brand-new App.net, Flickr, a little on Google , and so on.

Why does it take conviction to limit myself to only posting on this site? Because there is a pull and a need to share this content with as many people as possible. With nearly 2,000 followers on Twitter, a few hundred on Instagram, friends and family on Flickr, etc. it is hard to limit the exposure of this content. I want people to see what I’m publishing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. This site, as it stands, only has a relatively small audience. Some of my posts get views in the single digits, others, in the hundreds of thousands. So I can never really be sure how many people are paying attention. That is why it takes conviction. I have to be OK with the fact that maybe, just maybe, no one will notice. And maybe, just maybe, no one will care.

I think I’ve gotten to that point. Even as I write this I’m coming around to the idea that I don’t really need anyone to read this post. And if they do read it I’d much rather them read it here than on Facebook or Google . Whether or not I choose to publish here on my site or elsewhere doesn’t really matter at all to anyone but me. And I want to publish to my site. So I should publish in a way that makes me happy, right?

There is an upside to making this a hard, line-in-the-sand choice. If anything I post is shared around the web it will point back to my website. My island. Some have built up enormous followings on Twitter and Instagram. What happens when they go away or change? I’d much rather people remember me for my website than for my Instagram stream.

So what does this mean? Well, I’ve thought about it. And I’m still going to tweet. Though probably far less. Twenty-five thousand plus tweets so far and counting. My entire family and most of my close friends are on Twitter. And, using Twitter Lists, I’m able to get a lot of value from this service. Far more than any other. However, I’m done with Facebook, Google , Flickr, ADN and Instagram (even though I love Instagram). Everything that I publish is going to be on this site. Follow, don’t follow, it is up to you.

Do you deal with this struggle? I’d love to read about how you’re dealing with it on Hacker News.

Some have asked if they’ll be able to stay subscribed to this site via Twitter and Facebook. Yes, you will. As long as their policies allow for it. And also RSS if you’re a nerd like me.

David Karp on Tumblr’s downtime and Tumblr does a 180

I know, my blog is turning into a Tumblr-a-thon. But I’ve done this before when I used to talk about Brightkite, Ma.gnolia, WordPress, Twitter and other services that I become attached to and care about. This is my blog and I can cry if I want to.

Here is how David Karp, founder of Tumblr, recently commented on Tumblr’s downtime to TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfield.

“Karp admits that the company was “unprepared” for that kind of hockey-stick hypergrowth, but with a new $30 million round in the bank, he says his team is working round the clock to keep scaling and catching up with all the sudden demand. Karp says the growth is coming in part from college students, who really took to the service only since September, 2009 or so and, more recently, international growth in Europe, Japan,and Brazil. He also tells me separately that 65 percent of those pageviews come from Tumblr users looking at their Dashboards (which shows the stream of posts from other people on Tumblr they follow).”

Good.

Also I just found this post on Karp’s blog that has this interesting bit.

“Ah, yes – an incredible opportunity and challenge!

The really impressive piece is that our engineers have been keeping up with this surge in traffic while serving fewer and fewer errors every week. It’s been a rough couple of months, but we’re almost there.”

“Opportunity and challenge” is the perfect way to put it. Karp gets it. Now if only Tumblr assigned someone on the staff to do updates and share stats on these “fewer errors every week” via the main Staff blog?Oh wait, they already did.

Tumblr did a 180. Congrats.

Install Git on Mac OS X 10.5 using a script

Although I’m a fan of Subversion as my version control system of choice, I have a few friends that are gushing all over Git. In order to begin my migration to Git, I’ll be needing to install it locally on my Mac.

This script, by Martin Bergek, seems to be the simplest way I’ve found to install Git from source on the Macintosh.

Source: Install git on Mac OS X 10.5.

Via: Mike Stickel on Ma.gnolia.

The perfect chocolate chip cookie

Fun piece in the New York Times on what makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

“Like the omelet, which many believe to be the true test of a chef, the humble chocolate chip cookie is the baker’s crucible. So few ingredients, so many possibilities for disaster.”

If you ask me, all you need to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie is own The New Best Recipe Book. Of course, owning this book will allow you to make pretty much anything you want perfectly. (Thanks to Larry Halff for recommending this book to me.)

Source: Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret.

Understanding Depth of Field

You know when a photo gradually gets more “blurry” as the distance from the camera increases?  That’s the Depth of Field.  Here is a better way to describe it.

“Depth of field is the range of distance around the focal plane which is acceptably sharp.  The depth of field varies depending on camera type, aperture and focusing distance, although print size and viewing distance can influence our perception of it.”

To better fully understand, and calculate the depth of field, for your camera – take a look at this tutorial from Cambridge in Colour.

Source: Understanding Depth of Field in Photography.

Via: Dan Rubin on Ma.gnolia

 

Bringing it all together

Ever since the day I began posting my photos to my site, rather than on a photo-sharing service like Flickr, I’ve had the desire to slowly bring all of my “stuff” onto my site rather than spread out through the Interwebs.

As it stands I post what I’m currently doing to Twitter, I am testing out Pownce with mobile blogging, events, links, and files, I post mobile phone photos to Flickr (as well as the occasional screenshot), videos go on Viddler, bookmarks end up on Ma.gnolia, tasting notes end up on Cork’d, and my thoughts on Apple products find their way to TUG.n.

It is exhausting, and starting to become a little bit of a headache.

There are definitely many pros to using each of these services, as I believe each and every one is built very well for their purpose, and each have their own thriving community of users that make you feel right at home. Services like Viddler and Flickr also make sharing videos and photos extremely cost effective. Even with these benefits I always feel as though I’m spreading myself out too wide, so I think I’m going to start pulling all of these bits together here on my site in some fashion.

As it stands, I use my front page as the main way to show the latest activity on each of these services. This has been fine for a while but I now would like to change from aggregating everything to storing everything here, and perhaps pushing updates to the services, rather than the other way around. This isn’t going to be an easy thing to accomplish at first, but once I get everything setup, I think I’ll be much happier and have much more control of what and how I share.

There are a few other benefits to this change, at least for me. Cutting down on distraction is always a goal of mine and my most recent try at this has been to remove a huge portion of my Twitter and Flickr “friends” so that I cut down on a lot of the noise. I’ve also switched the Twitter notices preference to not include @replies from people I am not following, and this has really cut down on the chatter that I’m not even part of. I believe I went from seeing hundreds of Tweets per day to now only seeing a few an hour. Actually, I’m not even seeing that many since I’ve now decided to keep Twitterrific hidden in the background until I need it. I’ll still see @cdevroe messages, so that will still be a valuable way to communicate, but will also cut down on distractions. A win-win.

I’m going to begin working on one service at a time, slowly bringing it all together, and giving each a home here on my site. I’ll try my best to keep a log of my experiences doing each of these, jotting down why I’m handling it the way that I am, and asking for feedback as I find the best solution for me as I go forward. Of course, I’ll be using WordPress as my backbone for this – as I’ve always found it to be extremely flexible and powerful enough for me to do just about everything I want to do.

I’m looking at this as both a fun project and an experiment. Have you ever thought of doing this, or can you point me to some good examples of those who have?

Learning how to respond to downtime

If you run a web service, I want you to take a moment to learn from the recent response by 37signals regarding their 2hours of downtime they had the other day. Here is what I said about it on my linklog.

“37signals responds to downtime, perfectly. They start with an explanation of what happened, then apologize with the promise to compensate where warranted, and assure it won’t happen again, all with human feeling. Learn.” — (view bookmark view their post)

Pulling this off is no easy task – though for a remarkably customer service conscience group like 37signals perhaps this comes pretty naturally. I wanted to take a second to show some bad examples of this type of response, so that you can see the contrast (and I’m sure I could be one of these examples if I was harder on myself).

Recently Flickr had some downtime that they knew they were going to have so they gave fair warning about it. This is a good thing. However, their maintenance took longer than they thought it would, and I think they might have stepped over the “snarky remark” edge just slightly. Just so we’re all clear, I love Flickr. I’ve met some of their staff members and each of them are good people. Here is a snippet from their downtime notice post.

“Do you remember when we said we were almost back online? Well, that time we were joking, but this time is for real!”

Personally I think they could have skipped the “every few hours” approach to updating and just waited until the service was updated to bring the community up-to-speed (more on this below). Snarky remarks like the above don’t help too much. How can this be avoided though? You don’t want to be completely unhuman. Let’s look at how 37signals brought the human-feeling into their post, with this line.

“Again, we’re truly sorry for this interruption. This is not how Fridays are supposed to be.”

During their downtime they also updated their users as best they could (this particular situation was relatively out-of-their hands) and while they injected some heartfelt messages into those updates, I think they could have saved that for this post.

Another bad example would be to remain silent and have your service degrade, well, not so gracefully. Blogger recently had some outage and their users just saw a weird message and there was no updates from the Blogger staff. Silence isn’t a good tactic at all.

Points to remember

Based on the good example of 37signals and the bad examples above, I think that we should all strive to do the following when web services go down – and I’ve ordered these by importance (in my opinion).

  • Degrade gracefully. When downtime occurs, forward to some sort of friendly message that is easily updatable by staff members to let the community know what is going on.
  • Keep explanations short and simple. Don’t update every 5-seconds (especially if you have nothing to report), and don’t be long winded. Sometimes “we’re working on it” is sufficient. Oh, and each update should have a timestamp.
  • Don’t give false expectations. I’ve learned this the hard way. Even if your engineers tell you that it will take an hour, there is no need to say that publicly. Keep the “we’re close” messages to a minimum too.
  • Be human. Try your best to explain the situation in human terms and be warm.

Once the service is back up and running, and a longer explanation is warranted, you can look no further than 37signals post for inspiration.

One thing we can’t see is whether or not 37signals did any contacting of their users behind the scenes. Since their product is a pay-for service, they could have very well personally contacted some of their larger accounts to let them know what is going on. Or, after they were back up, they could have reimbursed them beyond the offer they made publicly. Things like this go a very long way.

Please notice that I believe this task to be extremely hard to pull off well and that I think both Flickr and Blogger are great services.

I’m hoping that I can take all of these points and learn from them the next time we have any troubles at Viddler. In the past we’ve handled these situations fairly well, but I know we can improve a lot by learning from others good and bad examples.

Thoughts?

Addendum: It appears that I am not the only one that thinks 37signals did a great job. Not only do they have numerous comments on the post, but Dan Benjamin also thought so.

Problems with WiFi routers

The next knot in my string of technological woes lately is the problems that I’ve been having with my WiFi routers. I just can’t seem to ever setup something reliable!

The problems with my routers began a few years ago with some old, crappy, blue router that I actually can’t remember where I got it or who the manufacturer was. I quickly graduated to a Linksys WRT54G. This router was “ok” but every few days it would “lock up”. The internal network would remain perfectly active while the connection to the Internet was severed.

I dealt with this for a little over a year – I think. And when I decided to upgrade to something more reliable, I went with an Airport Extreme. I thought I’d get the “Apple experience” and also take advantage of the Airport’s ability to share USB hard drives with everyone on the network. But I suppose it wasn’t meant to be so.

The Airport Extreme drops the WiFi connection altogether and the SSID disappears from the list on my Macintosh. The USB hard drive that I have is, seemingly, incompatible with the Airport Extreme. I bought this hard drive for this very reason.

I just don’t think I’m supposed to have a reliable WiFi connection.

October 22, 2007 at 6:00pm EST: Why I included the time in this update stamp I may never know – but I’m excited to let you all know that I have solved the issue with my USB Hard Drive not connecting to my Airport Extreme; it was the USB cable. The cable itself must have been bad because it got to the point where the drive wouldn’t even mount to my computer directly.

Thanks to my friend Larry Halff for helping me troubleshoot the problem which led me to believe it was the cable. Often times it is the simplest of reasons why something is happening. Thanks!

Giving abusers the silent treatment

The subject of abuse comes up almost daily at Viddler. Whether we’re flagging videos as violations of copyright law, discovering users who try to distribute full films, etc. were always discussing ways of suppressing abuse.

Turns out that other services have similar problems of dealing with abuse on a daily basis. San Francisco-based Ma.gnolia doesn’t necessarily have to deal with the same issues that Viddler does, but they deal with an entirely different type of abuse. Where Viddler deals with users that upload content they do not own or that contains material that the service was not meant to host, Ma.gnolia deals with spammers that try to use Ma.gnolia as a way to build PageRank.

In both cases, though, the way each company has chosen to deal with abuse is much the same. Both Ma.gnolia and Viddler use a 3-step process: Hide, Wait, Delete.

Viddler flagging options

Viddler’s flagging options

When we find a user on Viddler that has uploaded a video that violates copyright law, we’ll typically flag the video (the same feature available to anyone browsing the site), and hide the video by making it private. Sometimes, if we feel the situation warrants it, we will message the user asking them if they own the copyright or have permission to publish the content. If we do not receive a response we’ll delete the video. However, if we notice the user only uploads “spam”, that are in clear violate of our terms of service, we’ll will quickly flag and delete those videos without even asking the user. Usually these are cases where someone uploads three copies of Harry Potter and four episodes of LOST in one night. And so far, Viddler has done extremely well of warding off this type of abuse.

Ma.gnolia goes one step further. The moment that a spammer is identified their account is flagged as such. This automatically makes the spammer’s content (or bookmarks) disappear for the public Ma.gnolia community. Except, unlike the Viddler user that can see that we’ve make their videos private, Ma.gnolia makes everything appear completely normal from the spammers perspective. This is genius for a few reasons.

When spammers find a way to exploit a system, they’ll typically continue to do so until it doesn’t work anymore (or they’re blocked) and then they try to find a new way. If Ma.gnolia were to simply block that user from posting their content, they’d simply find another way to do so or open a new Ma.gnolia account. Instead, it might be weeks before the spammer sees no dividends from its effort to spam Ma.gnolia. Which cuts down the amount of “spam blocking” efforts Ma.gnolia has to make before moving to the next step!

The next logical step for Ma.gnolia is to delete the spammer’s account. They only do this after the account has been inactive for at least 6-months. When they do this maintenance they end up deleting millions of identified spam bookmarks at a time. Since we’re working on keeping Viddler very clean on a day-to-day basis the amount of data we “delete” each day is relatively low, but obviously we’re spending more time doing this more often.

I could imagine Viddler benefiting in a few ways from incorporating a similar system to Ma.gnolia. The first would be that we’d be able to save some day-to-day resources in marking multiple videos and instead just be able to flag accounts of known abusers. Second would be that we’d be able to quickly remove an enormous amount of content in bulk. And third, it’d probably cut down on the amount of “spam” that our community will have to actually see. This is definitely a note I’ll be dropping into the suggestion box.

Starting a new project where you know there will be abuse? Take note.

In a way, we’re all related

I have a huge list of things I’d like to have on my personal site but can rarely find the time or energy to implement many of them. Recently though I was able to scrape together enough of both to add two very subtle things that I’ve wanted to see on the site for a very long time.

The first is “related posts”. There are countless related posts plugins out there and all of them work fairly well but since I already use the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin for my tagging efforts, and it has a function for related posts, I’m using a slightly tweaked version of that. When WordPress 2.3 is released, and tags are included by default along with a way to import all of my UTW tags, I may need to adjust the way I handle related posts. Until then, these seem to work well enough.

The second was I’ve always wanted to utilized my Ma.gnolia bookmarks better. Bookmarks seem to come and go and rarely are they ever used as a really valueable resource. I think the way I am using them now will add a lot of value to bookmarks that I’ve stored on Ma.gnolia, even if I had saved them there a very long time ago*. What’s more is that I’m adding value to my posts too!

The way I am using my bookmarks is through “related links” which can be found just to the right of the related posts on the bottom of every post on my site. I’m using Ma.gnolia’s API to search my Ma.gnolia account for bookmarks tagged with the same tags as the current post and constructing a list of the latest five of those. I’ll be working on extending this somehow to show every applicable bookmark but I’ve found that five should provide enough of a resource in most cases.

So come to the site, take a look, and let me know what you think. I’ll be releasing this new “Ma.gnolia Related” plugin after I’ve let it run on my site for a little while and I’m able to clean up the code a little. Oh, and it uses an as yet unreleased method argument of Ma.gnolia’s API – so I may need to wait until the next version of their API is officially released. (And to those that will probably wonder, yes I’m caching requests. Expertly, I may add. 🙂 )

One crazy day in San Francisco

Today I’m working out of the offices of Ma.gnolia, in downtown San Francisco, and it is turning out to be quite a day!

This morning I was, finally, able to begin uploading some video from WordCamp onto Viddler. I noticed I was having a few hiccups while doing so, but wasn’t sure where the problem was; between my computer, the Internet connection, and Viddler itself. Turns out, Viddler is now being used by Download.com. Combine that with the amount of traffic we’ve been seeing lately, and with a few of our videos ending up on Lifehacker, Digg, and a few other popular destinations lately – and you can see why our network is being put to the test. But these are good problems…

Today I’m meeting with the CFO of Opera to discuss some things about community. The My Opera Community has recently surged passed 900,000 users – so congratulations to their team.

Between work, play, San Francisco, trying to be a tourist, meetings, and the traffic issues – today has been pretty crazy.

How is your day going?

Weigh in: Week Fifty Two

Three hundred and sixty five days. Fifty two weeks. Twelve months. One year. No matter how it is said I can’t believe how far we’ve come. How much we’ve learned and lost and how excited I am to start another year!

Over the last few weeks I’ve had hundreds of ideas for how I’d write my one year weigh in. And I think the most important thing for me to do is to say thank you to all of those who’ve helped me over the course of the last year to be as successful as I have been.

Thank you Eliza for being my original inspiration for starting the diet. You’ve helped me on numerous occasions over the last year to stick to my goals. You’ve been amazingly supportive!

Thanks to Chris for pushing me during our workouts. I can always count on you to be my exercise partner which has definitely had an impact on me. Many people are not as privileged as I am to have someone to work out with consistently.

Thanks to James for showing me that this diet isn’t just about losing weight or that it isn’t a temporary action but this is a life-change and one that will last forever. You truly are an inspiration to many. (see James’ latest photo showing off his success on his diet, awesome!)

Thanks to Mike for being supportive as a friend and fellow dieter. Your unceasing schedule of getting to the gym every single morning has been inspiring. Hope you find a place in California to settle into and get that schedule back on track!

Thanks to Scott who has shown me that sometimes we need to do whatever it takes to stay on the diet even if it means doing things that we don’t like (like running or going to the gym).

Thanks to Larry who has, via our conversations, really given me great tips and inspiration for setting goals and sticking to them. I know Larry will be making his personal goals and I know how hard he is trying to do so – which inspires me to try as hard as he does.

And thanks to everyone else on the diet, those that read my weigh in entries, and those that congratulate me on my successes and pick me up when I “fail”, all of you have been a part of this last year and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Oh, I almost forgot – I weighed in at 185 again this morning which is no change from last week. For those that are unaware, I am not longer trying to lose weight but I’m trying very hard to maintain my current weight, gain muscle, and lose fat.

Weigh in: Week Fifty One

Just one week shy of a full year on this diet! This week has been a great week though at the moment I feel like I went a few rounds with the champ.

MeToday: May 17, 2007

I can has cramp

Last week was the normal exercise and workout activities but near the end of the week Chris and I, via my good friend Larry, discovered HIIT running. The photo on your right is the result of my first HIIT session wherein I got a cramp and Chris nearly showed his lunchables. HIIT running is addictive and a little bit insane. Once you’ve done it and the pain along with the throbbing head veins subside, you crave it. You are constantly thinking about your next session and how you need to add another cycle. Like I said, insane.

This weekend we hit a few wineries, as we tend to love doing so much, and enjoyed a massive amount of great food and wine. Picnics in vineyards people! Naturally I thought I’d overdone it. Come to find out I didn’t gain an ounce over the weekend. So just like last week I’m sittin’ pretty at 185.

Yesterday was our third round of HIIT running. However, since Chris and I are insane (as mentioned before), we decided to go to the gym for biceps, triceps, and forearm workouts before heading out to play basketball for a few more hours. But boy did it feel good (at the time). This morning I’m a little sore and a few of my joints are cursing me – but overall I’m in good shape.

I’m looking forward to making this a great week to end the first of many years on the diet.

Build “nice” software

Lachlan Hardy, or the guy I broke bread in Austin with courtesy of Ma.gnolia‘s own Larry Halff and an openID discussion directed by Chris Messina, recently jotted down his thoughts on “sharing the love“.

“We spend a lot of time on the web. We’re building software that makes people spend even more time on the web. Let’s make it a nicer place to be. Add some social grease to your next app and make your users feel appreciated[.]” — Lachlan Hardy

He gives a few great examples of how this is already being done by some of the social leaders in our industry. And I think he makes a really great point when he says: “This is not a technical issue! It’s one of priorities, focus and intent. Most applications don’t have any development time focused specifically on being nice to people, but doesn’t that sound like a great way to build your community?”.

One thing I’m striving for at Viddler is keeping my ear firmly pressed to the ground in order to find out what Viddlers want, even if they don’t let us know directly. For example, they might tell the Twitterverse and it may not even be related to Viddler itself. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to accommodate the simple, valid features that our users would love to have.

This is extending the “nice” features into “having the features your users want the most”. Perhaps Viddler would do well to listen to Mr. Hardy – and have a few more “nice” features thrown into the mix. I’ll be looking into this more this week to see how we can improve how nice we are.

Thanks for the advice Lachlan!

The Web 2.0 Expo experience

When I first found out that the entire Viddler team would be going to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the Expo. Would it be a social (tshirt and jeans) or more a professional (suit and tie) type of conference? And really, it turned out to be a little bit of both.

The Expo

moscone_expo
The Web 2.0 Expo Floor

The expo floor was filled with companies of all types ranging from large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to smaller more fun companies like Viddler, Zimki, and Piczo. Some people were being very professional and demonstrating some very high-level enterprise applications (which are typically found behind-the-scenes of more social software. ie. Analytics and monitoring systems for server grids). Others were demonstrating their next-generation web service that can take care of all your development needs from coding, to versioning, to deployment all in a social and collaborative way. Each had their pitch, each had something very interesting to offer, and each were trying to make their product/service stand out from the pack.

The sessions that I got to see (which weren’t many since I didn’t have a session pass so I had to sneak into any of the rooms by tossing Hershey Kisses on the floor in front of the badge-checker on the way in) were much more “professional” than the panels I got to see when I was at South by Southwest this year. This isn’t to say that those panels at SXSW were not done in a professional manner, but that the sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo were much less interactive and more a demonstration of some products/services/companies that stood out as doing good work in their various fields.

Web2Open

Chris Messina discusses hAtomic

The Web2Open Mashroom

Running adjacent to the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes and sessions was Web2Open which is a *Camp style event that run in the main corridors on the second floor. Various presentations and discussions given by people that attended and participated in Web2Open were very good. “Minutes” were taken by various people and left on the walls so that if you came late to a particular discussion, you were able to quickly catch up and be part of the conversation. If you didn’t like where the discussion was going you were able to change the topic yourself by suggesting a topic, or – you could literally get up and go into another room where maybe the topic suited you a little better.

The idea of doing Open conferences like this is still very much in beta – and the process is being refined by the attendees each and every time one of these events goes on – but they are definitely much more attractive than any other event that I’ve been to. Simply being able to steer the conversation by simply raising your hand and asking a question lends itself very well to building value for those that attend.

The Viddler team and version 2.0

Viddler had a massive push to finish Q&A and testing on the its latest version of the site and player and managed to fit in many hours of development in order to release version 2.0. There are still a few bugs being worked out as soon as the developers and managers get back home from this trip – but overall the release was a big success and was fairly well received. The roadmap for Viddler is still quite exciting and the entire team is looking forward to the next step. I’ll have some more information about this and will be asking for everyone’s feedback on some of our ideas shortly.

saratoga_cake

We celebrated version 2.0 a little bit early with some champagne and cake. The entire team was staying in Saratoga at our President’s relative’s house. We were so well taken care of that none of us wanted to leave (freshly squeezed orange juice right off the tree every morning makes a man wanna stick around).

Meeting the entire team for the first time was awesome. Working remotely with our team is really great and is actually conducive to getting very good work accomplished without the added expense and overhead of having everyone move to one location and setting up the proper digs for such an effort. However, it was nice to finally spend some time together to get to know each other even better and fit a real personality to the people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.

Harry and I got to work on our commercial together, which has caused a little bit of a stir with some members – which is always good to know that our users are reading our terms of use. We’re looking forward to updating our terms of use to fit more inline with what we really want to be able to do — promote really good video content and display it in an interactive and valuable way.

The Web 2 Party

The moment I got a feel for who was going to be at the Web 2 Expo; namely my friends from Citizen Agency, Ma.gnolia, etc. – I decided I really wanted to have a party with a few companies to help fit the bill to really pull off something nice. I mentioned this to Larry Halff and Chris Messina and I must say – they really took the ball and ran with it especially considering my inexperience in putting something like this together combined with the fact that I’m on the east coast far away from finding out about all of the venues that were available.

Tara (unknown last name) (aka Tara 2.0) came through in a very big way and secured our venue and setup everything we needed go pull off a successful event. Having an “event planner” is really key when you are trying to do one of these events with multiple companies and tons of logistics involved. If you are thinking of doing something like we did – I definitely recommend assigning one experienced person to get everything setup properly.

varnish_party
The party attendees

The party, in my opinion, was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really great time. People were lined up outside to get in, we were “at capacity” for the entire duration of the party, and people had to be escorted out of the gallery when the place closed. I had been to a few events at South by Southwest where people leaved early, the bar tab ran out quickly, or where generally not many people showed up. Such was not the scene for the Web 2 Party and we had a great time meeting everyone who came, shooting some video, and had some great discussions.

We’ve been talking about doing something in New York in the Fall so be sure to keep your ear to the ground. We don’t want to let all the west coast peeps have all the fun!

I know I’m speaking for the entire Viddler team when I say that w
e’d like to thank Citizen Agency for helping to coordinate the entire event, and thanks to Ma.gnolia, Scrapblog, JanRain, faberNovel, Facebook, Plasq, and WineLibraryTVfor helping us in throwing the best party during the Web 2.0 Expo. We hope you had as much fun as we all did.

The photos

Here is just a small collection of photos that I took over the course of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot many photos as I always seemed to be busy recording video, talking at our booth, chatting with friends or just generally preoccupied with other things. I recommend you look at the Viddler Group on Flickr for more photos (oh, if you have photos please put them in the Viddler group) and also watch the Viddler tag on Viddler to see any video that may pop up over the next few days from the Expo.

santaclara_viddler2
Version 2.0 development

Chris Tingom
Chris Tingom

saratoga_house
Viddler Palace

saratoga_lucaszkasper
Lucasz and Kasper

saratoga_oranges
Oranges from Saratoga

saratoga_breakfast
Breakfast meeting

moscone_booth
Viddler booth

Blake Burris
Blake Burris and I

D. Keith Robinson at Varnish

Crazy Keith

Dustin Diaz at Varnish
“Naked” Dustin

Gina Bolton at Varnish
Joyful Jina

The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters
The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Harry Snodgrass
Firecracker Harry

Again I wish that I had more time to take more photos than I did but I’m thankful that friends like Chris Tingom were able to take a bunch of photos during our trip.

So the next time you hear that Viddler is coming to your town or throwing a party in your neighborhood – be sure to give us a shout and come out and drink some of our beerz…

On the way to San Francisco for Web 2.0 Expo

Photo description

Overlooking Denver, Colorado

So what do you do when you’re tens of thousands of feet above the Earth, looking down at nothing but the clouds that most people are seeing above their heads? Well, I write – finally – about heading to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo.

The entire Viddler team is converging on San Francisco this weekend to meet up and prepare for a few things. The first, and admittedly most exciting thing, is the launch of the next version of Viddler’s player and web site. The second is for the Web 2.0 Expo happening at the Moscone Center Monday through Wednesday this week. And – the third is a party that Viddler is hosting with a bunch of other cool companies like Ma.gnolia, Citizen Agency, JanRain, Plasq, and Scrapblog. You can RSVP on Upcoming. Lots to prepare for, lots to do, lots of excitement.

I find the “dead” time of being on a plane the perfect time to try to catch up on writing, so hopefully I’ll be able to pump out a few posts on here over the next few days.

I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of my west coast contacts, if there is time, and really looking forward to finally meeting the rest of team Viddler. I’m also hoping to be able to see at least a small portion of San Francisco (weather and time permitting) before I head back – since this is the first time I’ve been in the city.

If you’re going to be in San Francisco over the next week or so and would like to say hi – send me an email or message on Viddler – or just find me.

[tags]web2expo, san francisco, california, on-plane, ma.gnolia, plasq, viddler, citizen agency, scrapblog, janrain, party, version 2.0[/tags]

[slug]going-to-sf07[/slug]

Live from SXSW in Austin, TX

Below, in order, are my notes, thoughts, and random pieces of media that I’m collecting at this year’s SXSW. You can subscribe to my blog with this feed, and keep up to date. Each time I update this page, I will mark the date, time, and location that I am updating. Each date and time is hyperlinkable (not a real word).

Thursday, March 8th

12:33pm – In preparation of the trip from the northeast, to south by southwest (fittingly) – I picked up some shorts and got my hair did (photo). I managed to get these two tasks done fairly quickly and get back to my office for a few “last minute” things that I need to get done before we set sail.

Right now I’m waiting on the WineLibrary TV crew to get their latest episode completed. I’m helping them integrate their show with Viddler‘s system so that they get the most benefit out of it. Yesterday’s show was a huge success and today we’re hoping to add even a little more value for the Vayniacs.

People are really coming around with how Viddler works in situations like this. I think WineLibrary TV’s episodes are the perfect candidate for Viddler’s technology. Check out this comment.

“Man, after being a naysayer yesterday, I have to say that these new tags are awesome, and I’m now a total convert!” — Kent I

As this service matures, I think many people will start to enjoy interacting with their video in this manner. Stay tuned – because today’s episode should have a few new features that I think their audience is going to love.

2:35pm – I think it is amazing how many people are going to this thing. I’ve gotten more instant messages and emails today than I have in a very long time, and most of it is about trying to get together in Austin. In one hand; exciting. In the other; overwhelming.

I’m still going over our itinerary with a fine toothed comb. I have a lot of friends that are speaking on panels, and it’d be really nice to see all of them on stage, but I doubt I’ll get to see anyone since they are mostly there for “Web dev stuff” and my primary focus will be on Internet video while I am there. Well, back to the calendar.

4:20pm – I had the privilege of helping to prepare WineLibrary TV Episode #196 using some new Viddler features. Things went really smoothly and so far it seems that their audience really enjoys it.

Now I’m packing my suitcase, going to see if I can get a small nap in this afternoon before I pack up all of my “technology stuff”. I have to leave at 4:00am..

10:51pm – Just packing up my “tech stuff”. Heading to New Jersey in 5 hours or so to catch a jet plane to Austin, TX. My next update will probably be from an airport or something.

Friday, March 9th

11:02amOn Continental Airlines Flight 350 at 34,000 feet: Our ride this morning was, well, interesting. I was supposed to be the navigator for Mike and I to get to Viddler HQ, pick up Rob, and head to Newark, NJ to catch our flight.

Mike and I got to talking and I managed to allow us to pass a few exits, a few times, so we did a lot of U-turning. Then, after we finally met up with Rob – we were on our way to Newark International Airport and Rob forgot his wallet. Another U-turn.

Morgan Spurlock and Colin Devroe in Newark New Jersey

Morgan Spurlock and I in Newark, New Jersey

We finally made it to the airport, all of us having to pee like crazy, and managed to get on Mike’s flight (we were on standby for this flight). Mike is about five rows behind me right now, looking at some girl in a rather inappropriate way probably, and Rob is next to me. Next to Rob is a nice guy named Jeremy who is also heading to South by Southwest with Morgan Spurlock (of SuperSize Me fame), who I had a chance to meet and have a short chat with.

James Bond: Casino Royale is currently playing on the screen as I am listening to Dan Benjamin interview Cindy Li on the latest Hivelogic Radio. I’m going to finish listening to Hivelogic Radio before I move onto watching the latest episode of Heroes that I downloaded before I left.

4:38pm@ SXSW – 2nd floor: – Just got registered. Going to see if we can fit in a panel here at the convention center. The first panel we wanted to see is at a different place. 🙁

6:14pmFrom the back of Austin Cab 451: – Rob and I are in Best Buy parking lot, in the back of a cab. We just bought some things we needed for the HD camera (since we now have a press pass), and we want to be able to tape some of the panels we’re attending.

I was twittering with Chris Messina and I saw him and Tara sitting at a table. If it wasn’t for them I would have never figured out that there was “big bags” to get full of cool trinkets. Most of them are purely marketing material, but that’s cool. There was piles of papers that people threw out of the bags onto the tables.

I just met up with David Seah just before leaving the convention center. I did an interview with him while he was trying to put together some legos. Video coming soon.

9:21pmAt the Double Tree Room 609: – Just got back to the hotel after eating at The Boiling Pot on 6th. Very cool place, nice and spicey. Alex, Rob, and I ate crawfish, potatoes, corn, and other stuff that was spilled out all over the table. Sound familiar Eliza?

Now we’re trying to get our Internet connections working. Here are some photos that I took today.

Rob Sandie Colin Devroe Taxi SWSX

Rob and I in Taxi

rob-colin-line

Rob and I in Line

davidseah

David Seah

capitalbuilding

The Capital Building

crawfish

pileoffood

Our food
I have some more photos, but I’m only going to do a few a day until I can get home and have the time to go through them all.

Saturday, March 10th

8:43amAt the Double Tree Room 609: – Woke up fairly refreshed this morning. Definitely need some breakfast and a coffee before heading to SXSW. Anyone having breakfast anywhere?

10:15am@ SXSW 2nd floor – Room 12AB: – In the Video is worth more than 1,000 words panel. Going over some of the trends, some of the history, and some of the future of social video.

11:13am@ SXSW 2nd floor – on the floor: – Panel is over. Met Chris from Adobe. Still can just barely get the internet. Port 80 sucks.

11:56am@ SXSW 2nd floor – Room 19AB with Jeremy Keith and Andy Budd: – Just published my interview with David Seah on the Viddler blog.

7:10pm@ Logan’s on the Sixth: – Ate some dinner, talked to my brother-in-law on video chat for the first time. Having a Logan’s Lemonade, very good. More video on Viddler coming soon! Stayed tuned.

8:05pm@ Double Tree, 15th Street, Room 609: – Dumping photos, video to our hard drives. Checking a few things, getting a shower, short nap – then off to see the Ze Frank BuzzFeed party, then to the Virb party till 4am supposedly? Should be fun, we’ll shoot video.

9:15pm@ Double Tree, 15th Street, Room 609: – Just posted our Saturday lunch update, and our Saturday night update to our Viddler blog. Here are some photos from today.

Alex

Chris and Rob

Lunch update

Tag, You’re It

Overlooking Austin

Free beer w/ Zach

Saturday, March 10th, Gallery

4:14am@ Double Tree, 15th Street, Room 609, after the Ze Frank party:Ze Frank, BuzzFeed and another company threw a party at the Molotov Lounge. It was pretty good, Ze did a funny bit on airplane safety (which will be on Viddler later). Then there was free drinks for a few hours. Thanks to all the sponsors, it was a cool place to hang for a bit.

Here are some photos of the people I met at Ze’s little bash.

It was really great to finally meet everyone. It kinda makes me wish we all could do this every month if for no other reason than to bounce ideas off one another and chat about the stuff we love. The world is such a small place, thanks to the Internet, yet it remains so large that I feel as if I am going to lose “contact” with everyone the moment I leave South by Southwest. We’ll see…. I guess I can still Twitter spam for Adam.

Sunday, March 11th

10:58am@ Double Tree, 15th Street, Room 609: – Stayed up until 7am playing around with something “special”. Alex and I will put some polish on it today/tonight and release it. It is the culmination of the brain power of myself, Rob Sandie, Adam Michela, Peter Flaschner, and several other contributors. Should be fun.

Now I have to get over to the conference center so that I can show up fashionably late to the second panel of the day after finding some coffee and a muffin or something.

1:14pm@ PF Chang’s for lunch: – Spent most of the morning getting things prepared for the rest of the day. Had a great discussion with Molly about some of the stuff she’s able to accomplish with Microsoft, I definitely wish her all the best with everything professional and otherwise.

Now we’re eating and planning the rest of our day.

4:50pm@ SXSW Ballroom F: – Waiting for the next panel to start, so I might as well fill you in. (I won’t have time for many links or photos so I will update this from the hotel later). I finally was able to meet up with Irina Slutsky to do The Vloggies Show (which is a new show she is doing so be sure to stay tuned as it will air this week). Spoke to a guy from Microsoft about Expression Web… he said there was a lot of things going on in the pipe and that the initial release is only the beginning. Being an ex-Frontpage 98 user, I hope they are able to build something that is relatively solid for their audience.

Allen Stern of CenterNetworks.com asked what the little black guy was in the big bag you get here at South by Southwest. I figured it out. If you go to the exhibit hall, find Vital Stream’s booth, you can throw it at a dart-like board and win a shirt. I got a bulls-eye on the first try and won a shirt.

We only were able to attend one or two panels so far today, and hopefully tonight we’ll be able to see Morgan Spurlocks doc “What would Jesus Buy”.

11:28pm@ Hilton Lobby: – Just had a nice conversation with Irina and two guys that did not give me their cards because they had run out of them (if you are reading this, email me your contact information). Talking about ad networks and how to display ads based on content within a video on Viddler rather than just the content on the page. Pretty cool stuff.

We’re sending all of our HD video that we’ve captured to a professional video editor, so I am excited to get all of that back and have it up on the Viddler blog soon enough. If anyone would like to do an interview, or has not signed my shirt, please grab me. I’m hoping to have content being published regularly over
the next few weeks.

Monday, March 12th

3:00am@ Double Tree, Room 609: – After hanging in the Hilton’s lobby for a few hours I heard through Twitter that the 9rules crew was hanging out in the bar. I ran over, had a drink with Molly (thanks for the shot Molly), Paul Scrivens, Mike Rundle, and Mike’s fiancé Eleni.

Back to work though as we headed for our hotel and I featured a video that was taken during one of the panels here. Rob and I managed to record many of the panels we went to, and we’re hoping to get that video up slowly over the next few days. We have someone helping us with that too, which is great – because Rob and I are stretched pretty thin.

Even though I am starving, I am going to head to bed and see if I can’t get up on time tomorrow.

10:22am@ Double Tree, Room 609: – Awake. Slept in a little, somehow our wake-up call never happened. Today will be another busy day. I didn’t have the chance, nor the energy, to go through all of my photos from yesterday and get them posted, but I will try to do that if there is any downtime during the day.

Remember, if I “know” you, but I have not met you yet, please make it a point to run over to me. I’d like to meet everyone at this opportunity. I’ll be the blonde guy in the Viddler tshirt.

2:46pm@ SXSW Room 12AB: – Just ate lunch at the Spaghetti Warehouse for a discussion about OpenID. Very interesting stuff and I am definitely going to recommend that Viddler make it part of their development roadmap. For anyone that has not looked into OpenID be sure to do so, especially if you’d like to be prepared for the future of online, cross service, authentication.

On my way back from the lunch, I saw Paul Nixon running and we both said I should have been running with him. Damn him and his Nike package and the motivation to run while in the Texas heat.

Right now I’m in an interesting panel about whether or not User Generated video is considered film or not. Sounds really niche, and it definitely is, but it is also incredibly interesting as a discussion topic – and I never ever thought it would be.

Tuesday, March 13th

10:33am@ Double Tree, Room 609: – Good morning! Sorry that I haven’t updated since early afternoon yesterday but things went a little hectic there. After watching Luke W‘s panel on the various interface libraries (which was absolutely packed and should have been much longer), I needed to be outside in front of the convention center to go to The Salt Lick, which is a BBQ pit about 45 minutes outside of Austin, with Robert Scoble, Chris Aarons, Sarah Beck, and Patrick Nichols of AMD, an extremely nice gentlemen from AT&T’s Web department, and Jim Posner from IBM who was in Apocolpse Now (more on all of this later).

After that I headed to the Great British Booze up, which was just about ending at the time. I hooked up with the entire Forty Media crew (there is a lot of them), and went to the next party where I ended up spending most of my time talking to Larry Halff about all things Ma.gnolia and Ruby on Rails. It was a great discussion and having never used Ma.gnolia – I can say that it seems like a service I should have been using for years. I’m going to give it a try the moment I can find some free time with wifi (aka: when I get home).

So now I gotta hop in the shower because Rob and I are going to do a Lunch Meet.

2:03pm@ In the Hilton Ballroom, 6th Floor, for Will Wright’s keynote: – Our lunch meet got postponed by a few hours. Hard to get everyone in one place at the same time. So Rob and I are recording the Will Wright keynote. I am definitely looking forward to seeing a demo of Spore.

Tuesday, March 14th

10:44am@ Double Tree, Room 609: – The demo of SPORE was really awesome. Will Wright’s keynote alone was very good, but the demo just tops it off that Will actually does what he feels.

I have a ton to more write about. I’ve kept this “live blog” as up-to-date as I could considering the circumstances with time, internet connectivity, etc. So instead of writing a huge wrap up to what is already one of my longest posts ever, I will be writing single entries that highlight very specific panels, discussions, lunches, and parties after I get back home to Pennsylvania.

As a short overview of what happened since yesterday’s keynote – We recorded one or two more panels, went to Logan’s again for dinner, then hit up the VIP at the Media Temple party.

After that it was a bunch of sad goodbyes, as most of us know that we’ll only be in contact virtually for awhile… but overall the experience was good.

Thanks to all that kept up with me over the conference. Those that came over to say hi, those that signed my shirt, those whom I met for the very first time, and those that I will be friends with for a long time to come.

Sorry to any of you that were looking for me, or didn’t have a chance to talk to me for whatever reason… send me an email and maybe we’ll get together sometime.

Stay subscribed, a ton of stuff to come.