Category Archives: technology

How much information does Facebook have on you?

Facebook has become a ubiquitous part of modern culture.  More people share more of their lives now than ever before.  As we share, however, do we stop to ask, “how much of me is available to the public?”  or “how much of my time/life is devote to Facebook?”  Stephen Wolfram has posted information about a new WolframAlpha offering that attempts to help an individual understand his/her Facebook behavior, i.e. personal analytics.  The report generated by WolframAlpha regarding one’s Facebook behavior is rather eye-opening.  (Parents – want to know how much time and how your child uses Facebook?  This app will help you answer the question.)  Note: You will have to link your Facebook account to WolframAlpha.



Twitter: More than just status updates

A new year.  December flew by with interviews and holidays.  My blog was neglected but life was not.

People still ask me, “what is the point of twitter?” and over the past few months I, too, have been wondering what the value of twitter is in my life?  It is a great way to quickly share information and it has allowed me to connect with people, but how will twitter evolve as the dust settles on the social-media hype of the past few years?

New England has just been hit by a blizzard and as expected airline flights are delayed and/or canceled.  The automated message heard when calling Delta states (paraphrased), “…delays….we are trying…wait for an operator, go the website, or connect with us on twitter at @DeltaAssist.”  Twitter…interesting.  The phones and website were slammed and thus slow, thus I thought I would reach out to @DeltaAssist and ask for help.  In short, I was impressed.  @DeltaAssist quickly responded and booked me on a new Delta flight.  Overall, the interaction took less than 20 minutes.

Kudos to Delta for using twitter in an effective way.  As a Delta passenger, my problem was resolved and I was very pleased with the service I received.  Hopefully, we will see more examples of this type of twitter use.

My iPhone 4

There has been a lot of news over the past 4 weeks regarding the problems of the iPhone 4.

I pre-ordered an iPhone 4, and shortly thereafter was worried that I would receive a brick.  After 2 weeks of constant use, however, I am pleased to report that the iPhone 4 is … awesome!  The phone is MUCH faster than my iPhone 3G, the camera is great, the phone reception is much better, and I have yet to drop a call.  I do have a case, and maybe this is the magic juju that keeps me from dropping calls.  Still, I do not understand what all the fuss is about.

Green laser pointer

I gave a presentation at SIIM2010 last week and although the overall AV support was excellent, the laser pointer was horrible.  It was red and weak.  I should not complain, however, since I did

not bring my own laser pointer.  Red is a suboptimal color for pointing out something on a projected image.  Why?  Look at the sensitivity of the human eye to red.

Our eyes are not very sensitive to red but red laser pointers were the first mass produced laser pointer due to technical constraints.  Now, however, laser pointers are available in other colors and at a reasonable price.  Specifically, green laser pointers are available.  In the visible light spectrum, the human eye is most sensitive to green, thus a green laser pointer appears much brighter than a red laser pointer at the same power output.  Furthermore, green laser pointers are no longer prohibitively expensive.    Thus, if you plan to purchase a laser pointer, then consider a green laser pointer.

I have to give BestBuy some credit

BestBuy…the victim of many jokes. I would like to report, however, that I recently had a superb buying experience at Best Buy. After many years, I finally purchased a gaming console…sorry, a blue-ray player with Netflix streaming that could also be used to play a game now and then. 😉 Yes, I purchased a PlayStation3.

Although I researched the current state of gaming consoles, my knowledge of gaming consoles is fairly weak. Do I have to turn in my geek card? The PS3 seemed to be the best choice given my wants. So I went to our local Best Buy and asked a blue shirt for help purchasing a PS3. First, he was professional and knowledgeable. Everything he said matched data obtained during my research on gaming consoles, and he taught me things I did not know – which I later verified. 😉 He showed me various accessories that he felt could enhance my PS3 experience but did not push me into purchasing any of the items he recommended. He then started discussing games with me and after a few minutes suggested that he get one of his colleagues who had more knowledge. This really impressed me – he was willing to admit the limit of his knowledge and was willing to ask for help. The next blue shirt really knew his games and made some suggestions which I took. A few hours later, I really appreciated the suggestions as I played Call of Duty – World at War.

In short, I now have a more positive attitude toward the BestBuy experience.

Bad PowerPoint = “Hypnotizing chickens”

Thank you Thomas X. Hammes.  This quote is one of the best descriptions of the effect of a badly designed PowerPoint presentation.  The quote originated from a great NY Times article about the use of PowerPoint in the military and the problems caused by the application.

An attempt was made to graphically represent what is required for stability in Afghanistan.  General McChrystal’s response to this slide was, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”


“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”  -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Seriously, why has the word “organic” become so pervasive in the Web 2.0 lexicon.  I am often confronted with individuals using the word “organic” to describe their site or their product, and every time I wonder, “what do they mean?”  Is their website made of carbon?

What is the definition of organic?  According to Google, organic means:

  • relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis; “hydrocarbons are organic compounds”
  • being or relating to or derived from or having properties characteristic of living organisms; “organic life”; “organic growth”; “organic remains found in rock”
  • involving or affecting physiology or bodily organs; “an organic disease”
  • of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or hormones; “organic eggs”; “organic vegetables”; “organic chicken”
  • simple and healthful and close to nature; “an organic lifestyle”
  • a fertilizer that is derived from animal or vegetable matter
  • constituent(a): constitutional in the structure of something (especially your physical makeup)
  • Organic is the sixth full length studio album CD by heavy metal, hard rock, progressive metal band Freak Kitchen. It was released on 27 April 2005, globally, through Thunderstruck
  • Organic is an album by Joe Cocker, released in 1996 (see 1996 in music)
  • At its most basic level, organic wine is made from grapes that have been grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and …
  • Organic describes forms, methods and patterns found in living systems such as the organisation of cells, to populations, communities, and
  • Organic foods are made according to certain production standards. For the vast majority of human history, agriculture can be described as organic; only during the 20th century was a large supply of new synthetic chemicals introduced to the food supply. …
  • In military terminology, organic refers to a military unit that is a permanent part of a larger unit and (usually) provides some specialized …
  • An organic compound; pertaining to, derived from, like, of the nature of, an organ of the body; relating to the compounds of carbon, relating to natural products; of food or food products, grown in an environment free from artificial agrichemicals, and possibly certified by a regulatory body …
  • organically – as an important constituent; “the drapery served organically to cover the Madonna”

Where is the Web 2.0 definition?  The Urban Dictionary gives us this definition:

As an analogy in the creative process, used to describe a work such as a novel or movie script made in such a way that the various parts developed as they were written/painted/whatever, one from another, rather than sticking rigidly to a preconceived plan.


allowing something to happen naturally or run its course without manipulation.

OK.  This could be applied to a website or a product but then is “organic” a good thing.  Planning is quite useful in website design.  The Urban Dictionary also give this definition:

“Organic” used in a social context describes a situation that happens naturally and with ease, such as an interaction between two close friends or two people with good chemistry.

A social networking site could facilitate an “organic” interaction, but the site itself is not necessarily organic.  Another definition found in the Urban Dictionary for organic is:

To be cool, spiffy, gangsta, amazingly awesome.

A website or product can be cool, amazing awesome…but why not just say that instead of organic?

If you decide to use the word “organic”, then please explain what you mean by “organic”.  Have you ever asked someone who just said “organic” what they mean?  Did you get the response, “you know…organic…”  Have you ever used the word organic?  Did you know what you meant or did you use “organic” as a place filler?

Think about it.