Archive for December, 2006

Web 2.0 – When is enough enough?

Ong Bak fan site on FanPop
Screenshot of the Ong Bak fan portal on FanPop!

I have internet ADD. I try every new web 2.0 app out there – I have a good spam filter (gmail) and I always use the same password and the my username of choice is never taken so I don’t hesitate to try out a new website. I recently stumbled upon the Ong Bak spot I started on FanPop! when they were first accepting beta memberships. FanPop! is a site where you can find existing ‘spots’ for things you are interested in or start your own if it doesn’t exist. Each spot is a user community dedicated to a specific topic where people can go to find and share related information. Because the site offers RSS feeds you can subscribe to the content and always be in the know when someone posts something about what interests you.
I’d totally forgotten about my ‘spot’ and the site altogether, but a few users had posted some interesting Ong Bak related links so I decided to subscribe to the feed and look up a few more topics.
We’ll see how many of these sites earn a permanent spot on my feed list. The problem with all of these user-contributed social sites (much like 43things/people/places) is that there are so many sites like them vying for attention and not enough aggregation.  Studies have shown that for all the Web 2.0 community-driven sites out there, the vast majority of traffic is comprised of non-participators/spectators and the content is contributed and driven by a tiny percentage.  These sorts of people are also likely to have blogs and as the author of three blogs and frequent user of web applications flickr, digg and 43places, I can personally attest to how spread thin I am with my time and attention.

While each of these and hundreds of other sites have amazing potential that I could explore more deeply, there’s just too darn many. For instance, if I really like a restaurant and want to share my enthusiasm there are scores of places I could post a review – so how do I choose? Well, personally I choose my own blog first because I know the content will always be there and I can find it later, but because only my friends read my personal blog, I might post it on 43places because I like and use that site. But I kind of want to post it to CitySearch so non-geeks can find it, what about Yelp?, Epinions? Oh, I could post the review with a photo on Flickr, a lot of people are using Flickr as a blog these days. The list goes on and on, and on!

At what point are there too many user-contributed websites and not enough contributers? Too many content receptacles and not enough content?
What’s Web 3.0 going to look like? Web-based office…maybe. Productivity, I believe, and relevancy are definitely going to be major themes as we all struggle with the information overlap and overload.

Something I’d like to see is an easy way for people to customize display of, input and then push out content. I’d love to be able to just open up my WordPress admin panel, through it, upload my photos to Flickr, have them all link back to the post they originated from, push out the post as a comment or review of various sites like 43places or Epinions, etc. Because, like I said, I have internet ADD, I don’t necessarily want to pick my battles, but these days I have to!

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Keyboard Lust

Okay, I still want dasKeyboard. Now I want one even more, in fact, because they’ve come out with a new and improved version. But there are a couple other keyboards that look pretty sweet – the Combimouse and the TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030.

The EZ-Reach 2030 moves the important shift, enter and backspace keys to the center, where your strong fingers are. Not only can you order it with DVORAK layout, but there’s a button to switch back and forth to QWERTY. (Great if you share the computer or are not sure about switching.) It is totally flat, which can be good or bad – I personally find skinny flat keyboards a little uncomfortable, but the good news is you can put it right on top of your laptop keyboard.

Combimouse keyboardThe Combimouse is, like it sounds, a combination keyboard and mouse, basically splitting the keyboard in two and allowing the right side to function as a mouse as well. I love the concept, however, it’s not in production yet, I probably would want to wait for a second generation product and the keyboard inflexible for other mods, like layout changes not to mention the inability to switch mouse hands, which I do periodically to spread the click-impact load.

Yep, dasKeyboard is still the front-runner…I have some hesitations though. For one, I’ve been on a spending spree and just purchased Clocky, an alarm clock that runs away from you after one snooze, this morning. Also, it hasn’t been featured on Cool Tools yet (how great can it be?!?). I also want to read more reviews…but I’m willing to gamble at such a potential productivity boost. Maybe I can do a quick side-job to fund my gadget wish list…anyone need a WordPress install customized for their business? Or maybe you want to get me one (it’s on my ThinkGeek wishlist).

Das Keyboard by Flickr User polyG0o

Related posts: Blank Keyboard on mahalie.com, The Combimouse on Engadget, Top 5 Creative Keyboards on Tech E Blog.

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Killer Keyboard Skillz

I remember when I first met my boyfriend Tim, he impressed me by alt-tabbing and exporting paths from Photoshop to Illustrator. I was mesmerized by his Illustrator work flow: no visible tool bars, full screen mode. He was a keyboard master. Then I saw his desktop and realized he was an application-savant. Still…the impression was made during that critical get-to-know you phase.

Get L337 skills that impress the geekiest of your friends by becoming a mouse-free keyboard Jedi. Not only is it cool, it’s a major productivity booster.

Here’s some links to get you started.

Hack Attack: Become a Gmail Master

Now, don’t go off and try to learn everything at once! Unless you have an amazingly spongy memory it will be a waste of time. I usually learn a couple at a time by writing them on a post it and sticking it to my monitor. Once I have them down, I find new ones. The key is to actually use the shortcuts…force yourself, it’s harder than you think to start breaking the mouse addiction. It will feel awkward. But once you have, you’ll feel liberated.PDF of Firefox browser's keyboard shortcuts

I’ve got the basics of most my apps down, so now I have a cheat sheet for Firefox Shortcuts pasted to my monitor. Here’s a pdf of it, it’s a tri-fold that will eventually have a section for Gmail shortcuts and one for my macros and custom shortcuts in my text editor and various IDEs.

And once you’ve learned all the keyboard shortcuts you need, it may be time to take it to the next level and use an application like Hotkeys (freeware) that extends windows keys shortcuts.

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Top 10 Web 2.0 Apps

Seth Godin posted a great list of 937 Web 2.0 applications ranked by traffic (according to Alexa). I compared it to my top 10 (most used and most loved):

  1. Flickr – photo site, browse photos and store your own
  2. WordPress – blogging platform either on your own server or theirs
  3. Gmail – Google’s web based email client
  4. Wikipedia – free community-written encyclopedia
  5. Google Reader – I started with Bloglines, then Rojo, but Reader is the best!
  6. Del.icio.us – Find your bookmarks no matter what computer you’re using, it’s a great discover tool as well as you can search other people’s bookmarks. I love the Firefox plugin as it works better than their default web interface.
  7. JetEye Jetpacks – I use this as a Firefox add on as well, although there’s a regular web interface so you can access your ‘packs’ any time. It’s like del.icio.us but you can save just an image, an excerpt of text, a movie and your own notes and package them into packs which can be shared with others – see my ‘Shoes I love‘ collection.
  8. 43Places – read and write reviews of places from Fremont to Dhaka, India. I use 43people and 43things too, but not as much.
  9. Google Maps
  10. Myspace

I use everything on this list daily, except for myspace. I hate myspace, but I must acknowledge it’s extreme power. The UI is horrible. Everything requires multiple clicks, I constantly run into error messages, what they allow their users to do to their pages is almost as bad as the ads that do anything but grace the screen. Myspace is not a site you want to be seen looking at at any respectable workplace. Yet I also love Myspace – because so many people use it. I have three friends including my 11-year old neighbor (*ahem* I mean 14 yo) who I’ve communicated with more in the last 4 months than in the last year, easily. It’s cheesy, it’s silly, it’s scary, but it’s also infectious. I actually don’t use it very often, but if I want to get a hold of certain people, it’s the surest way.
Related:Web 2.0 for designers.

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