.net on the desktop is dead

today, my feed reader died. it only showed me an empty window where my feeds should be:

RSS Bandit

so i tried google reader again. amazingly, it felt more responsive than RSS Bandit. my archive of read posts is in the thousands. i like having access to them, and often use them in searches. this puts a heavy toll on memory usage:

RSS Bandit memory hog

what hope is there for .net if an application written by a microsoft employee is such a memory hog, and gets its clock cleaned by an online application? none.


go read this article on elephant violence. it has the qualities of a seminal piece on cross-species relations. consider this statement from a ugandan researcher who grew up in a war zone:

I started looking again at what has happened among the Acholi and the elephants. I saw that it is an absolute coincidence between the two. All these kids who have grown up with their parents killed – no fathers, no mothers, only children looking after them. They form these roaming, violent, destructive bands. It’s the same thing that happens with the elephants. Just like the male war orphans, they are wild, completely lost.
Most people are scared of showing that kind of anthropomorphism. But coming from me it doesn’t sound like I’m inventing something. It’s there. People know it’s there. Some might think that the way I describe the elephant attacks makes the animals look like people. But people are animals.

now we can either discuss the semantics of sentience as we recognize our peer species, hopefully before it is too late, or we can adopt a new term that is not laden with meaning that needs to be repurposed first. sophonts works for me: why look at far away stars when we can find peers right under our nose?

update: another hurdle cleared

in praise of regional airports

sitting in Rapid City Airport, using their complementary wifi, i am wondering whether there will be a renaissance of the regional airport. hassle-free checkin, short lines, an absence of constant “security announcements” and the quiet of a place that does not want to be a mall make you feel as close to flying a private jet as reasonably possible. a new generation of planes and a departure from the hub concept might make this a reality in the next few years.

personalized fashion

a trip to the FIT museum with its thousands of fashion pieces from 500 years made me wonder why we can’t have it all? where is the startup that lets me pick whatever i like from a catalog that spans the centuries, takes my measurements and then produces the garments in a fully automated factory? failing that, how about leveraging that same labor that now brings us crappy jeans? a catalog so vast my require some recommendation technology to help me make picks, too.
update: seefeld points to coco myles. wired reports on a 3D scanner for taking body measurements.

making linkedin a platform

recently, i have been spending some time on linkedin. of all the social networks out there, it has the most appeal to me: there is less nonsense on it, and people are motivated to use it for work. bergie had this link to an essay on linkedin as a platform play that i wanted to comment on.

full public profile

There’s still a tragically high barrier to entry: without logging in to LinkedIn, you can only view a summary of the profile. This is total crap: it doesn’t make it easy for me as a user to extend the reach of LinkedIn. I’d love send that URL as my resume to people, but if they have to create an account to log in to LinkedIn, I’m not going to do it.

my public linkedin profile is already in the top 20 google results for my name. making this more full-fledged would allow people to better take charge of their public image on the internets (something increasingly important)

show linkedin data elsewhere

For example, it’d be awesome if there was a JavaScript include that would list people’s endorsements of you. I’m sure people would love to put that in their blogs. And it’d be great for the coders out there if all the data in LinkedIn could be retrieved with simple REST calls that returned simple, XML formated data-documents.

linkedin has a lot of (currently dormant) currency it could use to become an important platform for user ratings. just like ebay has its seller / buyer ratings, the endorsements are quite valuable, but are locked into linkedin today. the system would need better ways to deal with people who game the system, but it is off to
a terrific start.

linkedin RSS feeds

It’s frankly shocking that there aren’t LinkedIn feeds for events that occur in your social network. When someone gets a new job, you get an endorsement, someone else gets an endorsement, someone adds a new contact…all those activities that people may want to respond to are locked up in the system.

we are all busy, and who remembers to always go check the linkedin homepage for new things happening? that’s so 1998.

company ratings

You could even imagine something like this: people can write in their experiences applying for jobs at different companies. When you ask LinkedIn to send you resume to a job, it could tell you people’s over-all feel for that company. That’s the kind of collective/emergant wisdom that only a hosted application like LinkedIn can do.

companies are people too :) (according to the law). why not make it possible to see how a company is viewed overall?

company drill-downs

Speaking of hosted applications, LinkedIn could become the org-chart application for companies everywhere. Most large companies I’ve worked at had that funky applet you could go to in the intranet and pan through the org-chart. LinkedIn already has a ton of data that people have agreed to put in the clear. Instead of those boring, information skinny org-charts you’re used, LinkedIn could provide a much richer, and fatter org chart. Want to see endorsements that people have given Jane in IT? Does the fact that Jack has no endorsements mean you should avoid giving him The Big Project?

i am sure a lot of people are already using linkedin to reverse engineer org charts from companies they do business with. why not make this easier? if you are concerned about headhunters, offer a more
competitive / attractive work environment.
is linkedin listening? i’d sure like to see these things implemented. what do you think?

the analog tax

spending time with my parents affords me an opportunity to see what they use their computer for, and some of it is not pretty: take this whole world of “mail merge”, no matter whether in microsoft office or it’s retarded cousin openoffice, is a world of pain. the user interface is unspeakably bad, quite in tune with a process that is about as fun as a visit to the dentist in the first place. bringing this bloated world onto the web with the recent craze of ajax word processors is fundamentally misguided: why deal with label printing when there is email? similarly, when you are faced with the task to protect 2.5B in revenues per quarter, why screw around with new toolbars when your products don’t help squat to solve the real problem: outdated assumptions about a paper-based world.

landing pages that aren’t

if you want to capture the attention of web innovators, you might want to start with an accessible site. when i see sites like this or this, i hit the back button. so does google.

looks like it’s not only clueless startups. bmw germany uses inaccessible javascript navigation, and in an effort to ‘fix’ their resulting crap google ranking, used doorway pages, which resulted in the google death penalty. right on.

the coffee house, office of the future

over lunch, i had a conversation on the demise of good coffee houses in cambridge. it increasingly seems that if you don’t like your coffee polluted with “flavors” or burnt and served in a plastic cup, and like to have a nice couch to sit on, your options are dwindling. herewith my concept for a renaissance of the coffee house, ca. 2006.

coffee houses have traditionally been an important center for thought and the arts, as well as commerce. For instance, the Cafe Odeon in my hometown Zurich saw Mata Hari dancing, Lenin and Trotsky plotting and the DaDa art movement was born there. Lloyd’s coffee house in London spawned Lloyd’s of London, the first insurance company in the world.

these days, you see people camped out with their laptops, using the free wifi, and consuming far too little to make them welcome and profitable customers. coffee houses need to stop fighting this trend, and embrace it. why not rent out space on their premise, and encourage people to make the coffee house their office? like many who telecommute, i’d be happy to move my virtual office to a nice cafe with comfy chairs, a guaranteed spot, and an ‘all you can eat/drink’ policy. i (or my company) would be willing to pay $300-$400 a month for the privilege.

recurring, predictable revenue stream

subscription-based business models are attractive for their recurring, predictable revenue streams. you’ll notice half-assed efforts at your local cafe to sell gift cards and loyalty programs, or more sophisticated ones like this breakfast club noticed by seth godin. renting out space to telecommuters would be an extension of these ideas.

it’s just like at google hq

most articles about google include the obligatory reference to it’s famous cafeteria. wouldn’t it be great if all the great food you’d want in a typical work day was only a wave to the waiter away? sure beats the food court or the vending machine at your officeplex. should be quite feasible too, as demonstrated by the obscene profit margin on coffee and your local indian place.

it rides on some of the biggest economic trends

wasting 2h a day in traffic to finally arrive at a crappy office plex is on the way out. rising oil prices, the desire of companies to put their capital to better use than sinking it into cubicles and the increasing virtualization of work all lead to an ever growing percentage of workers who can work from anywhere, anytime. if this cuts down on meetings, the bane of productivity, even better. i for one would not mind to hang out with my friends while we all work for our respective entities (or collaborate on the fly, just like those old geezers at lloyd’s did)

so where is the entrepreneur who can make this happen? would you, dear reader, make use of such a facility if it were offered?