Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sad news today indeed. Arthur C. Clarke has passed away. The first Clarke book I read was "Childhood's End". I was a freshman in high school. That book made such an impression on my that, to this day, I look into the sky and wonder when the Overlord ships will arrive.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


The talks at Etech are typically something short of fantastic but usually the small things (hallway conversations, short demos, important pointers or references overheard) that make Etech a great conference. This year one of those things are the interactive games created by MEGAphone (site currently under construction). These games are running and displayed on the presentation screens when we shuffle in to attend the keynote sessions. The games are simple but controlled completely by cell phone. You dial in to the number posted on the game and then interact via SMS, voice or key presses. The gameplay is very Wii-like and sometimes involve participants finding each other in the hall by making animal sounds. MEGAphone's games just show how the cell phone, the mechanism most people on the planet use to access the internet, is quickly becoming a way to interact with the virtual world via voice and gestures.

Update: Apologies to MEGAphone for the bad link in the original post. Just updated it. Thanks to Chris Kairalla for the tip.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Etech Tutorial References

For the first time in three ETech visits I attended two "tutorial" sessions today. I thought the sessions were fantastic and I think I gained a considerable amount of information I can apply to my life. Rather than go into detail about each session, I thought I'd list the influential book references made by each "instructor" during their talk.The first session was Storyboarding for Nonfiction by Kathy Sierra. This session taught me an interesting method for making presentations, papers, and books a hi-resolution experience that a user/reader/participant will enjoy and derive value. She cited at least four different books that she drew from to create this session. They were:

"What the Best College Teachers Do" (Ken Bain)
"Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
"Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals" (Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman)
"Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 2nd Edition" (Steve Krug)
Marc Hedlund's, Debugging Hacks session collected and formalized a sizable collection of programmer wisdom, rules of thumb, and common sense any programmer could employ to become a more effective diagnostician. The books that influenced his session were:

"Why Programs Fail: A Guide to Systematic Debugging" (Andreas Zeller)
"How Doctors Think" (Jerome Groopman)
"The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master" (Andrew Hunt, David Thomas)
"How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton Science Library)" (G. Polya)
"Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life" (Paul Ekman)
"The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol. 1 (Barnes & Noble Classics)" (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
I think if I return to ETech I would certainly consider taking the tutorials again. It would depend on the sessions offered and the quality of the speakers. I heard a number of rumblings that the iPhone hacking session left a bit to be desired. So my ETech experience is off with a bang. I can't wait for what the next few days will bring.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Off to Etech

Making final preps for my Etech trip. I'm going in a day early because this year I'm attending two of the tutorial sessions. The first is "Storyboarding for Nonfiction" with Kathy Sierra which I'm hoping with add some punch to all the presentations and business documents I need to write every day. It's been a while since I took any sort of writing/communications training (yah, I know I need it) so I'm anxious to work on the craft. The second tutorial I'm taking is "Debugging Hacks: What They Never Taught You About Solving Hard Bugs" with Marc Hedlund. Here I'm hoping to find some new tricks. When I'm not writing proposals, specs and designs, I'm debugging problems in my code or other people's systems.

I'm looking forward to the conference this year. I missed 90% of it last year due to some last minute business opportunities. So I'm looking to take in the talks and make some new contacts. If you're heading to the conference say hello and if you're not watch this space or my twitter feed for my take on the highlights. Now, should I pack the OLPC or leave it home? Decisions, decisions...

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Ecto 3 & Twitter

Testing out a new version of ecto with a Twitter plugin. Doesn't seem to work just right

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