Mobilicio.us

Today my colleague and I will be releasing a new project. Mobilicio.us is a mash-up between the del.icio.us bookmarking service and Google Mobile, a tool which “mobilizes” websites for viewing on limited-display browsers. Mobilicio.us will let you view your del.icio.us bookmarks from your phone’s browser and automatically mobilize any site you visit.

This has been an amazing project experience for me. We’ve gone from the initial idea (from Rob trying to check his flight status from his phone at the airport) to initial release in less than a week. Take that, suckers!

I hope you enjoy.

RSS Feed

I’m just posting to test my new custom-made RSS feed. My last 5 posts should be added to the rss file located here: recent.rss.

UPDATE: This is a post from the old blog, which was custom built. On the old system, it was a big deal that I managed to implement RSS feeds. With WordPress, it’s built in. Here’s a link to the current blog feed, or just look for the orange RSS icon in the right sidebar.

Beaten to the Punch

Things are moving so fast in this “Web 2.0” world. It is more crucial than ever to get your ideas to market faster than the competition. Because there is competition. No matter how novel your idea is, you have to assume that there is someone out there (probably a large group of someones) working on the same thing.

I just ran into standpoint and Predict Wall Street, which in their own ways do a lot of what I had planned for my rateThings site. [My Abandoned rateThings Demo]

The two sites listed above are developed by smaller companies. Still Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Amazon will always be a threat to any new Web 2.0 application. Of course those companies are also potential partners (buy me out!).

The goal of sole-proprietorship-like projects like mine should be to fill a niche so small that other players are overlooking it. I’m not going to be able to build a recommendation system better than Amazon’s. I just don’t have the time or the resources. However, if I can focus on just the wine-drinker’s experience, I might be able to gain some traction with the site before bigger players get in the game.

Hopefully I can slip WineLog out to beta before I miss my chance.

Toys

If anyone read this, I have two new toys up in “alpha” stages.

1) rateThings: This site allows you to rate and comment on items posted by me. The main idea of the site is to enable users to quickly view the best comments of people who disagree with their own standpoint. For example, if I rated Bush’s State of the Union Address a 5 I would see the comments of everyone who rated the address a 1. For people looking for reinforcement, you can also view comments that “agree” with your own.

2) Wine Log: This is a browsable DB of wines which allows users to rate wines and receive recommendations. You can catch up on the site’s development at the blog here.

Both sites are in the very early development stages, only partially functional, and tremendously ugly. But I am interested in your thoughts.

Learn Like Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil was just interviewed by Ubiquity online magazine. They covered the usual topics, same old questions from any Ray Kurzweil interview with answers that are often nearly straight from his books.

However, there was a gem in this one about how Ray likes to pick a problem to tackle every night before he goes to bed and why its best to tackle these problems while sleeping. Below is the relevant portion of the interview.

From an interview with Ubiquity online magazine:

UBIQUITY: Is pattern recognition, though, a generalizable talent that can be replicated and transferred? You’ve had an astonishing record as an inventor, and you seem to have started when you were�what?�age five or something?

KURZWEIL: Well, five was when I fashioned myself an inventor; I decided I was going to be an inventor when I was five, and I never really wavered from that. When other kids were wondering whether they would be, firemen or teachers, I always had this conceit, “Well, I know I’m going to be an inventor,” and that never changed.

UBIQUITY: I had the same conceit but I never invented anything, so what I’m wondering now is what is the nature of your pattern recognition talent? How do you actually go about inventing things? What’s the trick? Because I suspect that if you went into any environment whatsoever, you would invent something for that environment. Is that a fair assumption?

KURZWEIL: Yes, well, part of it is a belief in the power of ideas, and a confidence that I can find the ideas to solve a problem, and that these ideas exist. One technique is to just to use one’s imagination. Imagine that a particular problem has been solved, and imagine what the solution would have to look like. So I’ll fantasize that I’m giving a presentation four years from now, and describing the invention to my audience, and then I’ll imagine what would I have to be saying, and what characteristics would the invention have to have? And then I work backwards: OK, if it’s a reading machine, well it would have to somehow pick up the image of the page�well how would it do that? And you use your imagination to break it down into smaller and smaller problems.

UBIQUITY: And this isn’t a poetic conceit now? You really do work that way?

KURZWEIL: Yes, that is how I work. And I actually have a specific mental technique where I do this at night. I’ve been doing this for several decades. When I go to sleep I assign myself a problem.

UBIQUITY: For example?

KURZWEIL: It might be some mathematical problem or some practical issue for an invention or even a business strategy question or an interpersonal problem. But I’ll assign myself some problem where there’s a solution, and I try not to solve it before I go to sleep but just try to think about what do I know about this? What characteristics would a solution have? And then I go to sleep. Doing this primes my subconscious to think about it. Sigmund Freud said accurately that when we dream, some of the censors in our brain are relaxed, so that you might dream about things that are socially taboo or sexually taboo, because the various censors in our brain that say “You can’t think that thought!” are relaxed. So we think about weird things that we wouldn’t allow ourselves to think about during the day.

There are also professional blinders that prevent people from thinking creatively. Mental blocks such as “You can’t solve a signal processing problem that way” or “Linguistics is not supposed to be done this way.” Those assumptions are also relaxed in your dream state, and so you’ll think about new ways of solving problems without being burdened by constraints like that. Another thing that’s not working when you’re dreaming is your rational faculties to evaluate whether an idea is reasonable, and that’s why fantastic things will happen in the dream, and the most amazing thing of all is that you don’t think these fantastic things are amazing. So, let’s say, an elephant walks through the wall, you don’t say, “My God, how did an elephant walk through the wall?” You just say, “OK, an elephant walked through wall, no big deal.” So your rational faculties are also not working.

The next step is in the morning, in this half-way state between dreaming and being awake, what I call lucid dreaming, I still have access to the dream thoughts. But now I’m sufficiently conscious to also have my rational faculties. And I can evaluate these ideas, these new creative ideas that came to me during the night, and actually see which ones make sense. After 15 to 20 minutes, generally, if I stay in that state, I can have keen new insights into whatever the problem was that I assigned myself. And I’ve come up with many inventions this way. I’ve come up with solutions to problems. If I have a key decision to make, I’ll always go through this process. And I’ll then have a real confidence in the decision, as opposed to just trying to guess at the answer. So this is the mental technique I use to try to combine creative thinking with rational thinking.

UBIQUITY: What implications might your technique have for education?

KURZWEIL: Well, I do think that for kids (or really for people at any age) the best way to learn something is to try to solve real problems that are meaningful to them. If, for example, you’re trying to create a reading machine, then you learn about optics. And you learn about signal processing, and image enhancement techniques and all of these different things that you need to know in order to solve the problem. If you really have a compelling need to solve these problems, you will learn about them. If you’re trying to create, let’s say, a hip hop song, well you learn about the history of hip hop, and how it emerged from other forms of music. And you learn something about urban culture. So learning things in context, where you’re actually trying to make a contribution yourself, is a very motivating way to learn�as opposed to just trying to dryly learn facts out of context and without a purpose for learning them.

 

Tagging

In the spur of the moment, one cold night not too long ago, I purchased the domain name “tagthenet.com”. I couldn’t figure out a good use for the domain that wouldn’t take up more time than I have, so I created a nice little site to park bookmarks to other “tagging” sites.

These kind of “directories” are so old school. Of course, there was already a Web 2.0 answer to the tagging site directory. Meet supr.c.ilio.us, the (self proclaimed) World’s First Social Social Tagging Site Tagging Site

Stranger Studios v4

A new version of my web design portfolio is now online at StrangerStudios.com.

The Stranger Studios portfolio has gained some padding thanks to the great stuff done by my girlfriend and colleague, Kim Wallmeier.

Kim’s Portfolio

Kim’s new portfolio is online at http://kim.strangerstudios.com.

The site uses my new phpPortfolio© package. Kim modified the style sheets and I helped her do some other customizations to make it her own. I think it looks great.

Hopefully by the end of the day we will have Stranger Studios updated to use the portfolio also.

The idea is to release the php backend for others to use, but the code isn’t the most user friendly right now. I’m super busy with projects. So if anyone is interested in taking up the fight for me (or just playing with the code), let me know.

del.icio.us

One of the most interesting things about del.icio.us is how they made an English word using all three domain levels. Now that they own the icio.us domain, here are some other pages they could create:

  • ausp.icio.us
  • capr.icio.us
  • jud.icio.us
  • mal.icio.us
  • susp.icio.us
  • v.icio.us

And here are some others that dict.org tells me are real words:

  • artif.icio.us
  • avar.icio.us
  • cil.icio.us
  • conv.icio.us
  • extisp.icio.us
  • inausp.icio.us
  • injud.icio.us
  • inoff.icio.us
  • meretr.icio.us
  • multipl.icio.us
  • obstetr.icio.us
  • off.icio.us
  • overoff.icio.us
  • pern.icio.us
  • petrosil.icio.us
  • phen.icio.us
  • phoen.icio.us
  • self-susp.icio.us
  • sil.icio.us
  • unausp.icio.us
  • unoff.icio.us
  • unsusp.icio.us
  • venef.icio.us
  • verm.icio.us