Posts Tagged: technology

Javascript, I am just not that in to you

I like Javascript enough to work with it, write in it, and meet up for coffee/tea to hear how its life is going. But I don’t want to move in with it and have its babies.
I realize that in contemporary web development I am completely out of sync as everyone who is anyone claims that they want to move in with and have Javascript’s babies, be they JS babies of the web variety, bouncing server side nodes, or cute little mobile frameworks.
But maybe, many of the everyone who is anyone are feigning their deep, abiding love of Javascript, and maybe like me they would rather catch up with JS over a drink and occasionally write in it, all the while they are actually thinking about Python, or HTML, or Ruby, or CSS, Photoshop vs. Lightroom, or ObjC/C#/C++ or maybe even some chocolate or a beer. Maybe.
It is not just Javascript that I am not that in to, I feel the same way about Illustrator and PHP. With the latter, it is much easy to be honest with one’s technology peers and contemporary’s and say, “I know I have to occasionally use them to get the task done, but, wow, I really don’t like them.”, as most folks have critiques of PHP and they probably don’t really like Illustrator either. The the person will snicker and admit much the same or they will go into how if you just did it like this, you would like it better.
Javascript has gone through a curious arch of being cobbled together for the web, critiqued for being a toy scripting language, and then somewhere in the last few years it went to the gym, started doing supplements, got a bit of work done, and became the be all and end all amongst many contemporary developers right now. Javascript got its act together and even the previous critics are a bit entranced with it right now.
To admit that yes, I can write it, yes, I can tweak a framework, yes, I can… but no I am not using it in any advanced capacity because the truth is I would rather not, is quite a bit more risky right now.
Javascript, can we just meet up for tea or coffee?
How about you? Do you have a technology that is a common or currently trendy part of your design or development workflow that you cringe or have a big sign over every time you use it?

Yahoo + Marissa Mayer = A Good Thing

Today’s good news came at 1:16pm PDT when Marissa Mayer announced that she was leaving Google to join Yahoo as their new CEO.
I am greatly heartened by this.
I don’t think all cars should be designed and made in Detroit. I don’t think all movies should be written and filmed in Mumbai. I really don’t think all software and/or hardware should only be designed by Apple and Google (or in another era Microsoft & Apple, or IBM & …).
The more strong international and big national software, hardware, web, and mobile companies that there are, is for the better for everyone who uses said technologies.
The tech press loves to have a duopoly that they can pit against each other to the exclusion of all other companies, but as a user of technology I don’t want a binary either or choice. Life is richer when there is more than two choices, and it is much richer when there are more choices.
Yahoo, while it has been floundering in recent years, has been a company that still has great potential and many of non-tech folk I know use it every day. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Mayer will do, as her work and accomplishments preceed her, hopefully she will be able to refine Yahoo and help lead the company to focus on a place(s) of strength for the enrichment of all who use the web.

Furled and Unfurled

Morning Glory

Photo of local morning glories by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8 camera phone.

Tues 07.12.11 – Today was a good day that started with a lovely and fun UX interview with Thomas Mann on Skype video. We had a good chat about mobile devices and travel. I love talking with good sharp, designers as their minds can leap from place to place and connections can be made. Thanks to Thomas!
And then Jeremy linked to Brian’s conversation over at Google Plus about owning one’s own stuff versus engagement in the here and now on whatever is the big right now online service.
I have been a proponent on this blog and in person of owning your own stuff on the internet for years, even during the boom years of 2005-2008 when everyone thought that the services and Web 2.0 would take care of everything and your data would persist no matter what. I had several memorable conversations in that time period with a few prominent tech folk about how we can’t trust a company or online service with our data as we don’t know when they will lose funding or lose interest or be sold off to folks who will turn off the service and what we will do about our data when this happens.
As the business cycle waxes and wanes, as companies furl and unfurl, I want to own my photos, my text, and my data. Not only do I want to store my data where it can be seen by the world, but where I pay the bill and can freely upload, download, and back up with ease. For me that has meant paying rent on server space and a domain name since 1999 and having duplication / triplication of backup both to a physical hard drive and a cloud service on top of my server space that this blog lives on, in addition to all the spaces and services that I participate in online.
This blog is my studio, gallery and reception space, as well my living room of which you are all invited to. I may visit many places online and some of them may be second homes, like Twitter, but this space is where my heart lives.
Where does your online heart and home reside? Do you have full, partial or no control over your online home? Do you care?
What happens if you don’t want to own your own self-hosted blog, will more projects like Jaisen Mathai’s OpenPhoto crop up that will allow all of us to share our data to online services but also have all of it backed up to our own accounts at Dropbox or Amazon S3?

Ben Hammersley: The Internet of People

“1990 will be seen, I will posit, as being the first year of the great revolution that we are living through. It is also the first year of the great confusion for the vast majority of people who are in power today. … The internet is fundamentally different, it thinks in networks, not in hierarchies.” – Ben Hammersley

SixApart, Fare The Well

In March of 2003, I heard Ben & Mena Trott talk about their blogging software that they started in 2001 after both lost their jobs in the DotCom Bust – Movable Type – and their new company named after the fact that their birthdays were only six days apart, SixApart, at SXSW 2003 and decided to try it out in April of 2003.
Seven years later I am still here, still blogging with Movable Type, still using it as a CMS for clients, and still hoping against bizarre hope that Movable Type and SixApart will continue to innovate in the blogging space. A silly hope now that WordPress has clearly won many hearts and minds, but I do like MT better for a variety of reasons.
Today TechCrunch leaked that SixApart had been bought out by VideoEgg for its advertising network and both would become a new entity known as Say Media.
Various bits of the blogosphere are a bit up in arms about this, although many SixApart / Movable Type veterans are warily watching what will happen next.
For a few months, I have been planning on moving my blog to a VPS, upgrading to MT5, and using HTML5 for templating. All of this planning would also include a major redesign to better integrate my mobile photo blogging with text blogging that I do.
Now these plans will be on hold. I will wait and see what is up. I don’t want to spend 40-80 hours on a major redesign and upgrade 7.4 years of blogging only to have the software be unsupported in a few months.
Just in case the new Say Media, formerly VideoEgg formerly SixApart, axes Movable Type, I went an purchased an Expression Engine license today, because I know EE already supports mobile blogging. Due to the complexity of a move and a whole new platform, as EE’s templating is rumored to be a pain, versus the free time I have to spend on such an endeavor right now, as well as loyalty to my favorite blogging engine, I will wait and see.
In the meantime, I would like to say a Big Thank You to all the SixApart employees, current & former, who over the last 7 years have made my blogging life happy: Ben & Mena Trott, Anil Dash, Mie Kennedy Yaginuma, Byrne Rese, Jay Allen, Tim Appnel, David Jacobs, Arvind Satyanarayan, Ginevra Kirkland, Beau Smith, and many others. As well as the whole community of Movable Type bloggers, developers, designers, and other enthusiasts who have weathered a great many storms together.
Thanks for a great 7 years, y’all rock.
Update from 9/22/10 at 8:10am : Maarten Schenk at Movable Tips reports that Six Apart in Japan will continue with the development of Movable Type. MT is very popular in Japan and as Maarten reports it has been the most active hive of MT dev and innovation for sometime, so it makes sense that they will continue on. Go read: Movable Type and “Six Apart” live on… in Japan!
Update from 9/22/10 at 8:48am: A tweet from last night as I was writing this article:

I really wish @sixapart had sent an official announcement out to bloggers, devs, & customers before the tech press leaked the buyout.

Actually, this morning this is the part that makes me the most frustrated, is why didn’t SixApart send an email to licensees and the ProNet mailing list before letting this get leaked to press? If everything is alright, then longtime customers and developers should be the first to know so that the rumor engine doesn’t get started.
Update from 9/22/10 at 12:59pm: Today at 10:33am, David Jacobs, the VP for Services and Products at SixApart, sent an email to the ProNet mailing list entitled “The Future”. I won’t reprint it here, but basically he reiterates that SayMedia will be continuing to support and develop Typepad and Movable Type, which should have been sent before Michael Arrington scooped the story. Don’t say to me, “How could they have know that Tech Crunch would have printed in the night before the announcement?” Companies need to tell their own story first before the press hears it from their sources and tells it for them, particularly in the Echo Chamber that is known as San Francisco/Silicon Valley.

Ada Lovelace Day: Year 2, I Nominate Caitlin Kilroy & Victoria Chowney

Today is the 2nd Annual Ada Lovelace Day, in where I am to blog about a woman in technology that I admire.
After reading Vikki (aka Victoria) Chowney’s Ada Lovelace Day post this morning, I decided that I would like to write about two kick ass twenty-something women that I know personally who are both very influential in persuading others to engage in technology: my cousin Caitlin Kilroy and Ms. Victoria Chowney.
On Sunday morning, I had a lovely breakfast with my cousin Caitlin and her mother Robin. During the course of the breakfast, I found myself explaining to my (now ex-) aunt that Caitlin was very influential in getting more than a few of her friends and relatives to join and engage in Facebook. Robin was at first baffled, but when I asked her, knowing what the answer was, how she joined Facebook and now has it logged in and turned on all day every day, she said that it was to keep track of Caitlin on her big adventures.
Last year, Caitlin a tall willowy then 24 year old blonde, announced that she was going to take a year to travel from California to South America via the Transamerican Highway. The family erupted in calls of No Way! I cried bullshit to most of them. If Caitlin were a 24 year old boy cousin, no one would say a damned thing but would instead brag how cool he was to travel through some interesting terrain, but because Caitlin is female there was a big hew and cry.
Luckily, Caitlin did not pay attention to them and just went. Good on her. The family was at first shocked, then my sister and I noticed that Caitlin was posting updates and photos from her adventures to her Facebook account. Then I noticed over time that family members and various friends of Caitlin joined Facebook and started to get over their own fear of technology and Caitlin’s choice of travel route to cheer her on via her Facebook Wall and photo comments.
When my grandma or mom would ask if anyone knew where Caitlin was now, my sister Allison & I could give a report due to Caitlin’s intrepid use of Facebook no matter the location. As I explained to Caitlin’s mom at breakfast, Caitlin is a technology influencer, as folks who previously did not use Facebook to interact are now using it daily because of Caitlin’s big adventures and using Facebook to report on same said and connect back home.
Caitlin is currently in LA to get her certification to teach yoga before returning to Peru to teach yoga there. She just assumes that no one will worry as she is just a click away on Facebook.
My other favorite mid-twenty-something kick ass technology lady is London’s Victoria Chowney. Vikki in her own Ada Lovelace post details out her own involvement in the technology world via an early career in tech pr, but a cursory read under estimates her depth and breadth of knowledge of the digital and technology spheres as well as her passion for the intersecting worlds of technology, community, and communication.
In late September 2009, Vikki invited me to the launch party of Reputation Online, web community to further deepen the interstices and encourage connections between new & social media & technology with older media and more traditional public relations. Vikki is the editor of Reputation Online and has put a great deal of effort into making the site into a great resource for best practices in social media and new media public relations, as well as expanding the knowledge community in the fields of communications and technology. Vikki’s passion and drive to further push the communications field into the 21st century is truly awe inspiring.
So, to my two favorite young women in technology the future is yours, ladies, thankfully. Go forth and kick ass.
My post from last year’s Ada Lovelace Day :: Cousin Lynn


Project52 : Week 3
I hereby coin a new word, Snobmob, of which the definition is:
“Any person is the type of person who feels so superior about themselves and their knowledge and/or use of mobile technology that they call lesser mortals ‘Normobs’.”
I have previously written about my distaste for the word ‘Normob‘, and tonight I was set off by Ewan’s post, Nokia N900 is now a consumer phone, at the Mobile Industry Review who in his post claims that Nokia’s choice of advertising the Nokia N900 in the London Tube is a mistake as the device is for super geeks, not for normobs (aka the average 24 year old female).

“It’s always good to take a walk through the tube even if you can’t stand the delays, grime and the folks playing music. It’s good to get a view on what the mobile market is pitching to end consumers. The Nokia N900 Maemo device was arguably never intended for the average 24 year old female on a 35/month contract. Indeed when I originally talked to Nokia back at the start of Q4 2009, they were — broadly speaking — unsure if any operators would ‘range’ the device. And that issue didn’t really bother them either. The N900 is almost a reference device for Maemo, for the future of the company’s super-high-tech gadget series of devices.”

Now I know some kick ass 20-something women/girls/females/humanswithinnybitsmidbody and most all of them have branded smartphones from a carrier, my local area within a 25 meter radius has at least 7 of them, and they have not had troubles with learning how to use their phones. I have heard two of them explain to the their boyfriends how to use the boy’s phone. Maybe the females in California are made of sterner technological stuff than the ones that Ewan encounters.
When I get a new phone to trial from WOM World/Nokia, most of the local females see them, hold them and try them out. Of all the phones, that I have trialed in the two years I have lived here, it was the Google Ion/HTC Magic and the Nokia N900 that I had to do little to no explaining before the local female 20-something supposed ‘normobs’ were off and running and enjoying the devices. Most all of them have LG and Samsung phones that have been branded, nee raped, by the carrier and they are very used to a phone that one has to explore.
The only thing that stops them from getting any of the high-end phones that I have is price point, as they are unsubsidized by the carrier. It is not the intimidation of a technologically superior phone. One of them is currently waiting to see if T-Mobile, her carrier, is going to pick up the N900 before she upgrades to a new phone.
Culture is learned. Tech culture is learned. We should not be building biases into our blog posts/punditry and assuming that folks who aren’t like us won’t be able to use the device that we think is most high tech or most worthy of high techologica wizardery. That does a disservice to the potential user and to the folks who designed it.
The Nokia N900 is a beautifully designed device, both in hardware & software, if one has used an iPhone or Android or any of the Samsung touchscreen phones, then one can learn via exploration or via transmission through in person or online tutorials.
Thus, for as long as the derisory ‘normob’ is bandied about, I will use ‘snobmob’, and even possibly add it to the Urban Dictionary.
But I would rather that all of us mobile tech bloggers drop our assumptions about users that are based in bias and instead get excited about technology that could be revolutionary in the long run for the largest amount of people we would never expect to use it & love it.
Gentlemen, drop the snob, it is unbecoming of you, your intelligence, and humanity.
Update, Sat 01.23.10 :
I want to be clear that the above is a commentary on word usage by mobile bloggers, pundits, and others, not a serious attempt to coin a word so that people can further divide and belittle each other.
Please read Ben Smith’s comment below, as he is apart of the London mobile bloggers that came up with the original term, normob, of which he defines and defends its usage. Also, please read my response comment.
As for the 3rd comment, where the writer is asking if we can call a specific mobile designer a ‘snobmob’; no, let’s not.
Instead, I would like to reiterate that as a blogger or writer or online pundit, our word usage does matter, particularly as we have a potential worldwide audience who may not know our (sub-)cultural assumptions nor maybe be native speakers to the language we are writing in or the reader who drops into a page of our blogs from a search engine may not catch humor or earnest intentions on our parts unless we try to pay attention to word usage and clarity. I say this to myself as well.

Nokia N900 – Views from the Pundit Analysts, Maemo & Python

Nokia N900 - Macro Mode - Mini Roses
Photo taken today by Ms. Jen with a Nokia N900

Tues 12.01.09 – Rabbit rabbit. With the greeting to the new month out of the way, I would like to alert you to several interesting takes on Nokia’s strategy and mentions of the N900:
GigaOm’s very own Om Malik had a chat with Nokia’s Tero Ojanper√§ last week and Om now has a wee bit more faith in Nokia’s direction. Read it at, “For Nokia’s Ovi, the World (Minus the US) is Enough.
Analyst Michael Gartenberg questions What’s the future of Nokia? on Engadget’s Entelligence:

“Second, Nokia’s services strategy is as muddled as the fruit in Don Draper’s Old Fashioned. Ovi sounded good when it was announced but it’s now gone through so many iterations, with different services added, dropped, and changed that it’s hard to know what’s in and what’s out. Comes With Music has been reported as having as few as 107,000 users worldwide, and Nokia’s put off bringing it to the US this year, leading me to wonder what kind of future it has as a service. The N-Gage project not only resulted in two failed phone designs but the service itself is on its deathbed.”

As a Nokia mobile phone owner, I have felt quite burned over the last four years by Nokia’s frequent changing around and dropping software and services. I won’t even invest any of my data at Ovi, as I don’t want it to go away in 2 years when Nokia has changed its strategy again or the project manager has moved on along with the marketing manager to another project and the new folks in charge don’t care and move on to new divisions themselves.
The big reason that I am so excited about Maemo is that Python comes already installed and integrated on the Nokia N900, so I can code my own apps and not worry about will they be supported 12-18 months from now. I don’t code in C, C+, Objective C, Java or Symbian, so most of the world of mobile application development is closed to me, but I do code in Python. While one can install python on Symbian and run a PyS60 app on a Symbian phone it is not without hassle and if you want to share the app, then the other person has to install Python on their phone too, thus creating a large barrier to entry.
Roland Tanglao and Croozeus are also both excited about pre-installed Python on the N900. Yesterday, I was on the website looking at the various apps available for download and the ones in development. The best part was finding out that many of the apps that I would want to use or contribute to are coded in Python. One of the great parts of any Open Source and/or Linux community is the ability to contribute to projects and to the code base, and now for me it is even better that I can contribute in Python. Furthermore, I am very excited that Maemo community has an active PyMaemo sub-community.
Yes, the Nokia N900 may seem a bit too geeky to some, but in the long run, I do think Maemo will bring in developers who have been alienated by Symbian’s high barriers to entry and the whole certification / app signing troubles, developers who will have more choice in programming languages, more choice in how to contribute & distribute. More choice means more mobile applications available to everyone.
Related N900 Posts:
Nokia N900 : The Artist Phone
Nokia N900 : The Gold Standard Test
The Nokia Flagship Face Off : Nokia N900 vs. Nokia N97 : Part I, Night Video