Archive for the 'Internet' Category

RetailMeNot and Sparklines

Apr 27, 2008 in Internet


I was looking up something on RetailMeNot a little earlier and saw that they’d added a sparkline in addition to each discount code’s success rate.

I love seeing little visual additions like this — it doesn’t add much clutter to the display while giving a clear indication of the trend related to the coupon that the success rate alone lacks. In this case, the failures most likely correlate to the 4/14 expiration date. For coupons that don’t list the expiration date, though, the sparkline provides a visual clue as the whether any failures are random or due to a change in the code’s validity.

Flickr Greeting

Apr 06, 2008 in Internet


While I appreciate the effort on Flickr‘s part, I’m don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say I really don’t know how to greet people in Icelandic 🙂


Jan 12, 2008 in Internet

Fresh off of the recent tweetup, Aaron Brazell (technosailor) has set up the dctwits group on Twitter. It’s similar in practice to the c4 backchannel that Alex Payne enabled for c4.

I followed along the c4 backchannel during the conference and thought it was pretty interesting, both from the conference and twitter perspectives. I’d hoped we’d see official, permanent, support for that sort of feature at some point. Hasn’t happened yet, but thanks to the Twitter API, Aaron was able to develop a similar solution to meet our needs.

Follow along to find out what’s going on in the DC twitter-verse — the more people using this service, the greater the potential benefit.

Update: Aaron’s posted the source for DCTwits so you can easily setup your own Twitter group.

1/10 DC-Area Tweetup

Jan 11, 2008 in Internet, People

Last night, I attended the DC-area Tweetup at Jimmy’s Tavern. As the name implies, it’s an opportunity for DC-area folks who’ve chatted on Twitter to actually meet up in the real world. This was the second time I’ve attended one of these, which I helped make the evening even more interesting — I got to see some folks I’d already met, meet some folks I only knew through Twitter, and meet people I hadn’t previously known.

1/10 DC Tweetup

Events like the tweetups bring together some of my favorite aspects of both being on Twitter and living in DC. DC has a decent technology and entrepreneurship community, though its often overshadowed locally by the political community and nationally by places like Silicon Valley and New York. Twitter’s made it easier to find out about the interesting work that local folks are doing and the tweetups (along with other tech-oriented events) help us extend the relationships started on Twitter.

Last night, I was comparing the experience of meeting 20+ people at the tweetup with occasionally meeting the folks I’ve worked with at ATPM. Due to the geography of ATPM, I’ve only met a handful of (past and present) staffers over the years. Some, like Chris, I’ve met by traveling to Macworld (sadly, not this year). Others, like Evan and Michael, I’ve met socially, and Tom and I actually live near each other. As much as I’ve enjoyed meeting them, large-scale gatherings are rarely, if ever, possible, which is too bad.

Like I said, he had about 20 folks last night. If I’ve missed anybody, I apologize:

There are random pictures from the event floating around folks Twitter streams, including George’s photos and Nahum’s mug-shots.


Jan 11, 2008 in Internet

Quick note, just cause I don’t think I’ve actively called it out on this-here blog: I’m up on Twitter as well, where I can be found as jablair. I thought I’d call this out separately instead of bundling into my next post, which will follow shortly.

Why the Geeks Were Wrong About .Mac

Aug 08, 2007 in Internet, Mac

Chuq Van Rospach:

The more I think about it, the more I realize we have a great real-world example that for all we talk about long tails and courting the early adopters and the geek elite as a way to generate buzz and figure out what the Next Big Thing is, we also need to be careful about trusting the geeks TOO much, especially with consumer products.

Chuq’s post struck me as the flip side to my thoughts on MBAs and technology. Just like you can’t let the MBAs run amok designing products by feature checklists, you can’t let the geeks go crazy, either. To develop quality solutions, you need to focus on the user. This is something that both parties need to remember.

Slingbox Info?

Jan 31, 2007 in Entertainment, Gadgets, Internet, Sports

Any Slingbox users out there? With the MLB Extra Innings package likely moving to DirecTV for the 2007 season and beyond, I thinking about installing a Slingbox Tuner at my parents’ house so I can get the Red Sox games down in DC (or wherever I end up).

The other option would be another year of, but that offering left me thoroughly unimpressed last year. Supposedly, the stream quality will improve to 700 Kbps for next season (versus 350-400 Kbps last season), but you still have to contend with the blackout issues.

I have two main questions/concerns about the Slingbox.

1) How’s the video quality when streaming over the Internet?

2) What’s the impact on the location you’re streaming out of? For example, would my parents notice a slowdown if I was streaming a video off of their internet connection?

Yes, moving to DirecTV would be another option, but it’s not an idea I’m particularly fond of for several reasons. Right now, I live in an apartment, so the dish is a no-go. I like the option of having the TiVo UI, either through dedicated TiVo hardware or the upcoming TiVo software offered by Comcast. I don’t want to use satellite internet and it’s generally cheaper to bundle Internet access and television (since I don’t have a landline, DSL isn’t a real option).

A Compliment from MDJ

Jul 03, 2006 in Internet, Mac

Chris points out that ATPM received a plug in the MacJournals‘ 2005-2006 MDJ Power 25, under the “Unheralded” section:

Only writers from TidBITS and Macworld made the list again, blanking out the talented staffs at print publications like MacAddict and at online journals such as About This Particular Macintosh (whose editor, Michael Tsai, is also the author of DropDMG and SpamSieve, two best-of-class shareware products).

I’ve been writing for ATPM for almost 8 years now and, although my involvement has tailed off a bit over the last year-plus, it’s been a pleasure the whole time. There have been and continue to be a number of very talented people on the staff and it’s deeply gratifying to see the publication and its staffers receive the recognition.

Google Calendar and PHPiCalendar

Apr 18, 2006 in Internet

I’ve been experimenting with PHPiCalendar (the site’s currently down, which makes that a bit difficult) for a site I’m redesigning. When used with WebDAV, PHPiCalendar works pretty well with iCal, which is one of the reasons it’s so attractive. However, I’m passing off control of the web site in January and there’s no guarantee the next web master will have a Mac, so I’ve been looking for solutions that will work cross-platform.

Many folks have already been quite frustrated trying to use Outlook with the iCalendar standard. RemoteCalendars seems to have a decent reputation, except I can’t get it to install on my computer, so I’d have a difficult time recommending it to my replacement.

I’ve started looking at Google Calendar as a cross-platform option for managing the schedule. It can import files from iCal and it can export ics files. Combine that with the WebDAV support built-in to both OS X and Windows and it seems like this might be a winning solution.

Except it’s never that easy. When I tried adding a Google Calendar-created ics file to my PHPiCalendar installation, the events didn’t appear properly on my web site. The appropriate event title and starting time show up in the actual calendar view, but none of the details appeared in the popup window. Importing the ics file into iCal generates a valid calendar with complete information.

Sending a calendar from iCal to Google Calendar to PHPiCalendar works, but new events created in Google Calendar exhibit the same problems as those seen in the previous test.

I’m tempted to think that the disconnect lies in PHPiCalendar parsing code, since iCal is able to handle the Google-generated ics files. Since the PHPiCalendar site is down, though, I can’t check the forum to see if anybody else is seeing these issues.

Update: The PHPiCalendar site is back up and, apparently, I’m not the only person to have this problem. Furthermore, Ry4an Brase developed a patch to address this issue. Excellent. As somebody pointed out in the forum, the ability to natively parse Google Calendar feeds might be cooler (depends on your opinion of hosting the calendar on your server or on Google’s, I suppose), but this is definitely a good start.

Update 2: Two things: 1. It appears I jumped the gun in blaming PHPiCalendar’s parsing code. That’s certainly where the disconnect was occurring, but it appears the problem actually lies in Google’s calendar implementation. Even though I have my calendar set up as being shared with everybody and I have my events set up inheriting the calendar’s default setting, the events are marked as “PRIVATE” in the ical file. PHPiCalendar is just honoring the (seemingly incorrect) data it gets from Google’s file. 2. Ry4an’s fix apparently does allow you to use the ical files stored on the Google server, provided you sprinkle in a little Apache magic. As I’m perfectly happy editing my calendars in iCal, I think I’ll hold off on this step. It’s something to consider before handing control off to the next person, though.

On That Date…

Apr 11, 2006 in Internet

Dammit Chris. Meme-tagging me. Don’t worry, I will get you back.

OK. March 13th. Three Events. Two Births. One Death.



Santana and I were actually born on the same day. He’s the best left handed pitcher in baseball. Some would argue that you should drop the “left handed” part from the previous statement. I’m a grad student. Hmm.


Gonna cheat on the death section — Clarence Darrow also died on March 13, in 1938. I’m mentioning Darrow, of course, because he was the defense attorney in the Scopes Monkey Trial, which came about because of aforementioned law passed on March 13, 1925.

I think my blogcircle’s been completely consumed, at least among those who would deign to participate in a meme. Thus, I’m breaking the chain. Thank you, and goodnight.