March 28, 2005

I’ve Setup a Account

You may have heard about the social bookmarking site but, if not, you wouldn’t be the only one — I only wrapped my head around it a couple weeks ago. As you may have guessed, the basic idea is that you can store all your bookmarks on a centralized website and assign them keywords or “tags” as they’re called in

Then, all the links and usernames are linked together :). So, you can:

  • ... click on one of that tags which you've given a URI (say “CSS”) and see all the other sites with that tag.
  • ... click on a link and see who else bookmarked it
  • ... click on a link and see what tags other people gave it

But, other than linking everything together, is fully RSS-capable. A quick primer on RSS, in case you hadn’t heard of it: RSS allows subscriptions to websites and with an RSS reader (such as the web-based Bloglines), you get a notification when that site/blog is updated.

So, you could “subscribe” to a tag if you wanted to (such as “steelers”) and you’d receive a notice in your RSS reader every time someone tagged a link with that word. Or, each user’s account is also RSS-readable, so you could subscribe to subscribe to (say) John Smith’s account (or my account) and see each link that he added.

Of course, you could subscribe to your friends’ accounts and view links as they bookmark them. Or, you could follow a tag for one of the links which you added to, see who else bookmarked it, and then subscribe to his/her links — for instance, if you like motorcycles, could click on one of your links which had the tag “motorcycles” and then click through to one of the accounts of someone else that bookmarked that link. And, maybe you'd find some useful links of interest on that guy's page (even if he didn’t tag them with “motorcycles”).

As I wrote this entry, I also looked around to see if anyone else had given a straightforward explanation of the concept. I found this thread at Ask.MetaFilter and there, gwint lists quite a few advantages of in one of his posts, but I didn’t want to paste all of that here without his permission.

There were also several recommendations in that thread for this article entitled “Us.ef.ul — A beginner’s guide to The Next Big Thing” and I would have quoted a few bits of that but that article ends up rendering about 2000 pixels wide in my browser and I couldn't really make my way through it. (Then again, I’m running the Firefox build from two days ago, so the odd layout may not necessarily be the authors fault.)

At any rate, I’d recommend giving a try. For what it’s worth, my account is “handcoding” there and there are several Firefox/ integration tools (in addition to a bookmarklet which works just fine as well).

Feb. 18, 2004

A Better Shoelace Knot?

Reading over the ensuing comments on a shoe-fastening poll on Slashdot, the discussion turned to knot-tying techniques. Quitcherbitchen put it this way:

When you tie your laces, just do one extra loop around and then pull the second loop through. In other words, “the rabbit goes around the tree twice, then through the hole.”

Your laces will stayed tied all day, even throughout a run, but still come undone with a simple pull. Try it. […]

He then chimed in with an URL for an illustrated example where they call it The Better Bow. I read over it and tried to make sense of it in my head, but I’m not always so good at virualizations such as this.

I even tried untying one of my shoes and following along that way, but I got lost at the “Wrap the loop around your finger” bit. If you figure this out, please fill me in — perhaps demonstrating it to me on a shoe sometime IRL would clear things up.

Nov. 25, 2003

Freecycling in Dallas

I first learned about Freecycling from yesterday’s Slashdot story on organizing gear. And, later that day, Salon had an article on Freecycling. In short, Freecycle lists are regional mailing lists for giving away stuff in the hopes of finding someone else who may be able to use it:

Via Freecycle, Wallis has also received his share of gifts from people he'd never met before: a little tabletop fountain, a 35-millimeter camera, a toaster-oven and a mini-fridge.


If a true packrat hordes, a “freecycler” can’t stand to see something that might be useful to someone else go to waste, languishing unused in a musty garage, attic, bottom dresser-drawer or — worse yet — a landfill. That type of person has always existed, but today, thanks to the efficient distribution capabilities of the Internet, Wallis has joined forces with an entire tribe of thrifty givers. At Freecycle everything is free, and you can get rid of practically anything, from a pile of dirt to a beading loom. […]

I checked out the Freecycle site and, sure enough, there’s a DFW Freecycle list. I don’t have much to give away at the moment, but this could be handy for the next time I clean out my closet (better that someone might be able to use my stuff than it end up in a landfill).

Jan. 3, 2003

gnod — self-learning ‘like’ system

I heard about Gnod through a post on Slashdot from a story on discovering new music. You tell it some of your favorite bands (or favorite books, or favorite movies), it asks you some questions, and then recommends some new bands (or books, or whatever).

Gnod is a self-adapting system that learns about the outer world by asking its visitors what they like and what they don't like. In this instance of gnod all is about music. Gnod is kind of a search engine for music you don't know about. It will ask you what music you like and then think about what you might like too. When I set gnod online its database was completely empty. Now it contains thousands of bands and quite some knowledge about who likes what. […]

I entered a few obscure band names (well, highly successful in the metal scene, but not something you’d ever hear on the radio), and its picks were surprisingly accurate (it picked Iced Earth, Dark Tranquillity, and a few I hadn’t yet heard, for those wondering).

Nov. 11, 2002

Usability Comparison: vs. Dell

Via the WebWord mailing list is this comparison of and Dell.

The focus of the article is on “seducuble moments&rdquo, which the author describes as opportunities for offering the customer additional products. There are no big surprises, but I found it interesting nonetheless:

If someone were coming to the site interested in buying a refrigerator, what would they [sic] most likely want to do first: (1) apply for credit or (2) find the right refrigerator? It struck us as odd that there was a way to apply for the financing, but no way to explore if the right refrigerator was on the site. […]

Aug. 29, 2002

RIAA Cracked

As mentioned on Politech, the RIAA website was cracked yesterday morning (screenshot). The text reads, in part:

As you are probably aware, the RIAA has been pursuing a policy of preventing this activity in recent months.

We have recently become aware that this approach is yielding only limited results and in some cases may in fact be harming sales and the artists' revenue stream.

The RIAA wishes to apologise for the heavy-handed manner in which the popular chinese site Listen4Ever was closed down, and would like to present the following items for free download as a token of its goodwill. […]

The crack is amusing in itself, especially since it uses the victim’s own site to parody its views. However, I’m most fascinated by the screenshot itself. I’m not sure which OS is running there (OSX, maybe?), but that anti-aliased text sure is beautiful.

July 3, 2002

Human Clock

My brother Adrian passed along this one. features the current time, but the display is made up of people holding signs with that minute’s time. So, that’s right — there’re 60 * 24 pictures in their database of people holding up signs. Actually, there’re more pictures than that, since they insert new pics into the rotation from time to time.

Be sure to also check out the FAQ. My favorite part is how the guy beats-around-the-bush in trying to explain the significance of “4:20”.