Archive for November, 2006

Context Aggregation…

My buddy David Henderson wrote a very interesting post about context aggregation.  David is a smart dude and has lots of great ideas.  Although, sometimes his thoughts are too visionary (he is two steps ahead of most of us)… I like to think of David as Boulder’s version of Steve Gillmor (and yes that’s a complement David).

Anyway, I think David is spot on here.  And ironically this ties in with a post I recently wrote about a renewed relevance of the desktop.  In that post, I predicted a future trend where computing moves away from the silos (web 2.0) & back o the edges (the desktop) in the next few years.

If I am going to have some agent acting on my behalf that is collecting my attention data and it needs to know about ALL my interactions… guess where it HAS to live.  Yep, on the desktop.  Oh, and guess what else… I am spending less and less time in the browser and more and more in my aggregator clients.  Now all my relevance data may sync via the network, but that bad boy agent needs to be where I am at all times and that is not at some Google web farm it is on my computer!

By the way, I don’t like the Intelligence Amplification name for this gesture either.  The play on AI is kinda cool and the meaning is there, but the name is just not sticking with me at all… I have to keep going back to Brad’s post to recall the name and my Mom’s head would spin around that for a while.  Oh, and I know 99.9% of folks disliked the name Web 2.0, but it sure was/is sticky and isn’t that a good thing?  Hearing ”Web 2.0″ may grit in my ears now, but if it penetrates the masses this is a good thing for our industry.

3 comments November 29th, 2006

Go! Java

NewsGator Go!

For some time the NewsGator mobile team has been working with the great folks from Free Range Communications to build a mobile RSS reader that targets J2ME devices. This has been a very challenging task given the number and diversity of J2ME devices and the complexity in building a robust and scalable mobile RSS reader. Today, I am psyched to announce the public beta of the product.

If you have a Java enabled device and would like to kick the tires, point your browser at

http://www.newsgator.com/NGOLMobileJ2MEBeta.aspx and grab the latest build. You will need to have a NewsGator account to play, and you can do that here and it is FREE.

Many of today’s mobile devices support Java applications, and we see NewsGator Go! for J2ME as an excellent extension of our product suite. NewsGator Go! is a great way to consume your news and information while you are on the move - at any time and at any place. That is very cool and very compelling.
So, please take a look at NewsGator Go! for J2ME and let us know what you think. You can send all feedback to the NewsGator forum.

Here is a list of known supported devices an updated list of supported devices (the original list was not correct), but if your device is not on the list, please still feel free to give Go! a try and let us know how it behaves:

  • Blackberry (version 4.0 and up)
  • Sony Ericsson phones
  • Non-Motorola MID-P 2.0 phones
  • - Currently selling Nokia (and most within the last year (just not
  • MIDP 1.0 phones)
  • - All others MID-P 2.0 phones (Samsung, Sanyo, LG, etc)

Oh, if you have a Windows Mobile device, the preferred option is to use NewsGator Go! for Windows Mobile.
Thanks for taking a look and most of all I hope you enjoy the mobile RSS experience!

1 comment November 28th, 2006

Podcatching on the Go!

The next version of NewsGator Go! will have full media support for enclosures/podcasts! Now you can listen to Steve Gillmor and the troops at the gym, Jason Calacanis while walking the dog, Adam Curry while commuting to work, or Coverville while jogging. Ah, life is very good for those who have NewsGator Go! and a Windows Mobile device.

This is so cool!

First you will want to get an external storage card. I use a 512 MB mini SD card. And then the flow inside NewsGator Go! will go like this:

1. Set Go’s data location to your storage card:

NewsGator Go! Podcast Support

2. All feeds that have enclosure will have a cool looking green icon to indicate there is media goodness inside:

NewsGator Go! Podcast Support

3. You will be able to start/stop each enclosure within a feed with one press. Also, each download is on a separate thread so the user interface is not interrupted (i.e., you can still perform other actions in Go! while downloading). And yes all downloads are resumable! If you drop a connection in the middle of a download, Go! will pick up right where it left off:

NewsGator Go! Podcast Support

4. When the download is complete, you can quickly launch the default player:

NewsGator Go! Podcast Support

5. I am also looking at creating play lists on the fly to keep your podcasts manageable.

Did I say this is so cool! What do I need my PC for? Right, I gotta write the code there ;)

1 comment November 27th, 2006

I Know When You’ve Been Bad or Good

Not really, but I can make some predictions about technology…

While I was on vacation with the family up in Summit County, I got to watch one of my favorite Christmas movies. It was pretty cold outside with some flurries blowing around, and we had a nice little fire going. I was huddled up with the kiddos watching “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.

My favorite character is the Winter Warlock… that dude is cool . Winter has this tough exterior but is just a softie on the inside – reminds me a lot of folks I know in the real world. After righting his wrongs, Winter pulls a trick out of his bag and hands it off to Chris Cringle. That trick affords Chris the ability to roll up a snowball and peek into the lives of all those naughty kids.

In the spirit of my buddy Winter and the ’07 predictions that are soon to come, I will do my best to peek into my foggy crystal techno ball. But I am going to skip 2007 cause that’s too easy; I will jump into 2008. In 2008, we will see a resurgence of the desktop. That’s right the desktop lives again!

But, we are now seeing a big push to “port” desktop apps to the Web. Even Google is doing this (Writely, JotSpot, etc) and MSFT seems to be putting a lot of effort into the wep app space with Windows Live (see the Personalize Page link). This must be where technology is headed - onto the Web and the desktop is toast you say? I say maybe not!

In 2007 we will certainly see more desktop apps find their way onto the Web, but in 2008 we will begin to turn back the clock and see the rise of the desktop once again. Here is why:
1. Blazing network speeds into the home
2. Cheap processing power in the home
3. Cheap storage in the home
4. Peer to Peer technologies
5. Distributed applications on the edges
6. IPV6 – this is BIG
7. Amazing user experiences with Vista
8. AND applications that leverage all the above

Most developers will be busy in the coming months doing the desktop to web porting thing, but some enterprising developers will recognize the power of 1-7 above and will build some revolutionary apps. A little over a year ago, I built a prototype that demonstrates all this goodness. I may need to dust this code off and show at a future Boulder Technology Meetup for someone to pickup.

Oh, and 4-6 years after that, we will see another push to get applications off the edges and back to centralized servers just because we can… And one more thing, in 2008 mobile will be even better :)

November 27th, 2006

Getting My Fix

GPS fix that is… 

I have a Pharos bluetooth GPS receiver and was trying to get it talking to my Windows Mobile smartphone (Audiovox SMT 5600).  After some mucking around, I was able to get the setup working. This is a very powerful combination and I can see some pretty cool applications that leverage this combo.  Here are the steps I had to take to make this function:

1. Go to Start | Settings |  Bluetooth and select Bluetooth

Bluetooth GPS

2. Now, you need to turn bluetooth on and pair your phone and bluetooth GPS receiver.  Select Menu | Devices:

Bluetooth GPS

3. Select New:

Bluetooth GPS

4. Pick your GPS device from the list and press Select:

Bluetooth GPS

5. Enter the passkey.  For my GPS receiver the default setting was 12345678 - check out your GPS receiver’s documentation to get the proper passkey:

Bluetooth GPS

6.  You’re not done yet; you have to associate a COM port for the GPS receiver.  Back on the main bluetooth screen, select COM Ports:

Bluetooth GPS

7.  Select New Outgoing Port:

Bluetooth GPS

8.  Select your GPS receiver from the list and select an available COM port. In my case I am using COM6 and I also unchecked the secure connection option (this is the COM port that third party apps will use to access the GPS data):

 Bluetooth GPS

Again, this process is for an Audiovox SMT 5600 and Pharos bluetooth GPS receiver… for different flavors of devices, the process may be slightly different, but I hope this helps.

November 26th, 2006

Blackjack

I was just unwinding after a big Thanksgiving dinner up in Summit County.  With the kiddos sound asleep and with little blog action to consume, I was sort of tuning into the Broncos game.  A slick commercial popped and grabbed my attention; it was an ad for the new Blackjack. 

The Blackjack is a Windows Mobile phone from Cingular that has lots of style and the commercial is pretty sweet.  Microsoft is finally starting to get it wrt to the consumer space.  If Windows Mobile owns the consumer space, the enterprise will be easy to win over; the reverse is not the case.

This is a good move for Windows Mobile - the cool kids and sweet guys will dig this phone!  I dig this phone.

November 23rd, 2006

How Some People Get So Much Done

I was just poking around in Firefox with me.dium running of course… if you haven’t checked out me.dium, please do - great folks and great technology.

Anyway, I saw something interesting.  If you know Brad Feld, you know that he seems to get more things accomplished than any mortal can comprehend.  I now know how he gets it done.  I have seen the future as well… Brad has figured out how to clone himself.  Check out the me.dium screenshot below.  Okay, maybe he just has a few Firefox windows open… but I like to think big & outside the box ;)

me.dium

2 comments November 19th, 2006

BarCamp Boulder

Typically I spend my “free time” either hanging out with my family, riding one of my bikes, trying to push mobility and NewsGator Go! forward, or consuming as much tech info as I can find. Over the last several weeks, those things have taken a back seat. Most evenings and weekends have been focused on making BarCamp Boulder happen.

It all started at Barcamp Denver. I chipped in a little bit on that as Danny Newman and Dan Lurie put on a great event. As that day started to wrap up I mentioned to Joe Pezzillo, another Boulderite, that we should do a BarCamp in Boulder. Several weeks later Joe and I crossed paths, and we decided to make Barcamp Boulder a reality. Joe suggested we do it on 11-11 (that’s 0×0F for all you geeks out there). How can you argue with that date. It was on! David Cohen from ColoradoStartups.com has a great write up on the event that you should check out.

I am not going to rehash David’s post, but I do want to talk about some of the things I learned in organizing the event. I think many of these lessons can be carried over to other life experiences. In particular, here are 4 lessons that are very applicable to anyone taking on a leadership role:

1. Surround yourself with great people. DL Thomas quickly joined Joe and I in organizing the event. Danny and Dan from BarCamp Denver stepped up and agreed to do whatever was necessary to help - you guys are awesome. Andrew Hyde quickly stepped up as well. Coming down to the wire, we started to have some issues securing a space for the event. Dirk Grunwald and Michael Main, two of my former CS profs at CU, came to bat with some options. But that was not necessary as the incredibly awesome folks from me.dium offered their space. Wow, I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to David Mandell, Kimbal Musk, Robert Reich, Herb Morreale and the rest of the me.dium staff.

The number of volunteers that helped out is too long for this post, but I will do my best to share this graciousness in another post.

Once, all these great folks were lined up to help with the event, things went incredibly smooth. Of course, I was very nervous that something would go wrong, but those worries were completely unwarranted. Coffee…. We need coffee… must have lots of coffee. No problem, Joe’s got that covered by two of the best coffee shops in town. Whiteboards, guest speaker? No problem, DL’s got that taken care of. Dry erase markers, name tags, sharpies? No worries, Andy’s got them. Ice? Thanks Danny. Beer? Thanks Bill. You get the point!

Great people can accomplish great things!

2. Stay out of the way. So, great folks were organizing the event, but that is only half the battle. The point of BarCamp is to let the attendees decide the direction of the event, so staying out of the way of this activity was a necessity and was easy to pull off. We kicked off the meeting with a thanks to the sponsors, intros from attendees, and the schedule was set for Saturday. This occurred very naturally with minimal friction and an incredible agenda was put in place.

The table was set for Saturday. With great organizers, phenomenal topics, and attendees willing to lead and participate success was the only outcome for Saturday! And it was a huge success.

When you have great people doing the right things (the right people in the right place on the bus) let tasks and activities flow naturally. I love Jim Collins’ work btw!

3. Gently nudge things when you appear to be drifting off track. There were a few points during the day on Saturday when a slight amount of intervention was necessary…. And I mean slight. When we arrived on Saturday morning, most folks were hanging around the coffee and just chit chatting. Can you blame anyone? This was certainly enjoyable and was working pretty well for me. I like coffee and I like to chit chat. At about 5 minutes after 9 am, I figured we needed to get on track. I just poked my head into the small groups that had formed, suggested we get rolling, and everything just fell into place.

At another point in the early afternoon things started to degrade a bit. I think the fine pizza, pasta, and intense morning sessions were taking a tool. We were starting to segregate into small groups talking water cooler smack once again. Not a bad thing, but we still had hot topics to discuss. David Cohen tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I nudge once again. I did that and we were quickly back on track and went another solid 4 hours of focused, educational, and thought provoking discussions.

When things get off track get them back on track gently but do NOT throw up any road blocks!

4. People in general are good and want to do good. There were so many folks offering advice, lending a hand, providing introductions, sharing knowledge and just having a good time. It was refreshing to be part of such a great experience. There were no agendas or hidden motivations just passionate folks who wanted to share, discover, and learn.

Have faith in the inherent good nature of humanity!

If you are kicking up a new venture, starting a new work project, organizing a charity event, CEO of a large company, or just thinking of rounding up the family for a weekend away, please keep these things in mind.

1 comment November 13th, 2006

Things That Make You Go! Hmmm

Just saw this from Oliver @ Mobile Crunch. This is something I have been waiting to hear from MSFT for quite a while:

He (Ray Ozzie) didn’t hesitate a bit when he said “I think that we’ll see the best opportunities in the mobile space.” “All phones” he said, “will be smart phones. The lines between what was a smart phone and what is a typical phone now are blurring and soon will disappear. There are going to be so many people with these devices that can do so much”.

Nice… very nice!  I have a pretty good idea of what OS will be powering the majority of these smart phones.

1 comment November 8th, 2006

Friday Night Lights

Windows Mobile shows up in some pretty odd places…

Last night I went to a music event at the University of Colorado with my buddies Adam, Brian, Dave, and Joe.  We had a great time hanging out and having a good time.  The show ended at 12:30 or so and we decided we’d head over to the hill (this is the place to be in Boulder, CO if you are a college student) for a beer and some food… I was secretly hoping for a late night cup of joe (beer ain’t my thing anymore).

We started walking through campus recalling war stories and saw a gal who was drunk out of her mind, stumbling around with a cigarette pasted to her lip.  We started to laugh, but quickly looked at each other and said “been there done that” and started to feel her pain.  At this point, Adam was looking for a burger, Dave was ready to party or play volleyball, Brian had the look of an eternal grad student, and Joe could have easily passed for a philosophy prof.  We moved along…

We then got to walk by the place where it all started for me, my wife Holly, and my first dog Jake (he is still kickin’ btw).  Sadie, dog #2, and the three kiddos came a bit later.  When we first moved to Boulder 12 years ago (that’s right, that would make Jake 12), we moved into an absurdly small cottage smack dab in the middle of the hill.  It looks like a tool shed, but Holly and I had some good times there.  I think the boys thought I was joking.

We then were pointed to the place where Dave and Adam had been roommates back in the day as well as the party house where Dave earned the title “Poker Dave”.   We joked about crashing a frat party (we have no business there) and opted to find a restaurant instead.  We poked our heads into the Sink, a happening pizza joint in town where I think Robert Redford had worked, and that is where Windows Mobile comes in…

The Sink was packed with sorority and fraternity kids who were well on their way to being heavily intoxicated (this brought back some memories… go Pi Kappa Alpha).  It was way too loud so we decided to move on.  But, I had to use the bathroom before rolling out, so I made my way to the back.  On the way out of the bathroom, some drunk dude asked me if he could get a ski pass… huh?  I had a Eldora fleece on, so I got it pretty quick.  I said, “not sure”.  He said, “right on bro” and then proceeded to pull out his Windows Mobile Motorola Q…. nice!  I was tempted to ask if he wanted to try NewsGator Go ;)

1 comment November 4th, 2006


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