FriendFeed's Missing Feature [en]

[fr] FriendFeed, c'est bien joli, mais ça n'a jamais pris chez moi. Une chose que j'aimerais pouvoir faire (gravement!) c'est de visualiser tous les éléments de mon lifestream qui ont bénéficié d'un like ou d'un commentaire. Ça, ça serait du feedback utile qui me ferait visiter le site régulièrement. Après, qui sait, du moment que je suis là... j'y ferai peut-être un tour!

Every now and again, I hop over to FriendFeed. A couple of times a month, maybe. I like that FriendFeed gathers up all my stuff in one place (mainly Tumblr and Twitter these days).

Stephanie Booth - FriendFeed

Why don’t I head over to FriendFeed more often? Well, to me, it’s a bit noisy, and populated with “Social Media Experts” (legitimate and less legitimate). To keep in touch with what people in my world are doing, I have Twitter. To stay tuned to what they’ve found or are publishing, there are blogs and tumblelogs. I guess I just haven’t found a place for FriendFeed. I don’t want to have to “dive in” and look at everything. I also regret that there is a tendancy there to “like” or comment based on the title, rather than reading the whole thing. It’s not a crime, but it’s not really my cup of tea.

I think lifestreams have three main purposes:

  • first and foremost, for the person “owning” the lifestream (it makes us “feel” good to know that all the stuff is gathered somewhere, that there is a central repository of our expression online)
  • second and secondarily, it offers a “starting point” for somebody who has newly discovered another person online: if I start on FriendFeed, I can get a quick glimpse of what kind of things they blog about, if they tweet, if they have a tumblr, etc.
  • thirdly, FriendFeed can serve as a more global “catching up” place for people like me who don’t really read blogs and are generally pretty bad at staying in touch, and who wake up one morning thinking “Gosh, I haven’t heard about Josh for ages, I wonder what he’s been upto?”

Unless there are people out there stalking me, I am probably the most interested person in my lifestream.

What would make me go to FriendFeed more? Make it more about me. Each time I go to FriendFeed, I head to my lifestream page to see if people have liked or commented upon my stuff. There is a link I want to click, but that link is unfortunately not there. It’s the link that would show me my items which were liked or commented upon by others. And maybe (why not?) give me an option to filter “only liked and commented upon items” when I’m in “friends view”.

Stephanie Booth - Stephanie + Friends - FriendFeed

And it’s all very nice to allow me to filter an individual FriendFeed by source, but how about letting me filter the whole darn mess of my “with friends” page to remove all the Twitter and Tumblr feeds, for example, as I already get them elsewhere? Or show only links?

Maybe the layout of the feeds could be improved — I find especially difficult to sift through the stuff I want to ignore as is. And as for FriendFeed through Twhirl, well, sure, it’s running on my desktop, but I never look at it because way too much stuff goes through it each minute.

Give me some control, please.

So, recap, here’s what FriendFeed could change to have a chance of getting more pageviews from me:

  • let me view just my items which were liked/commented upon (instead of just letting me see my likes and comments, which is good, sure, but doesn’t do the same thing at all)
  • let me filter out for my “with friends” page certain services, like Twitter and Tumblr, or view only one or two services at a time.

Thanks for listening!

Edit, 10 minutes later: a list of “people who are subscribed to me but that I’m not subscribed to” would come in handy, too.

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Happy iPhone Owner: Newbie Tips and Comments [en]

[fr] Propriétaire très heureuse d'un nouvel iPhone. Voici quelques tuyaux et commentaires pour nouveaux utilisateurs.

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and became a happy iPhone owner. I had a few doubts (crappy camera and battery life) before that, but to be honest, I’m used to recharging my phone all the time and when I want to take real photos, I have a real digital camera for that.

Here are a few tips that might come in handy to the new user, and I’ll follow up with a post about some apps I like.

The first thing I had to figure out to get started was how to install apps on the phone: just go to the iTunes store, make a search on the keyword you want, and “buy” the app. It installs automatically. (I wrote “buy” because many of them are free.)

I added one of my e-mail accounts to the mail application, even though I use the Gmail web interface all the time: using the mail client is the only way I found to send photo attachments.

I really like the fact that you can disable data roaming. Living this close to France, if you’re somewhere with bad reception you often end up on the French networks without knowing it, so it’s nice to not end up with extra data roaming charges without realising it.

One thing I like is that applications do not work in the background. They’re never going to be sitting there leeching at your data allowance without you knowing it. That was a big change from my previous phones. So, I learned not to worry and leave Safari windows open with stuff in them. They’ll just sleep until I return.

I also like that most applications return to the state they were at when you left them to go back to the main screens, next time you open them.

I’m getting used to the keyboard, though I regret the absence of a Swiss-French layout (hey Apple? have you forgotten we exist, or what?) and would like to be able to have a t9 mode (show me a t9 layout instead of a querty keyboard if I want it). I also regret not being able to “touch-text” anymore — I used to do that a lot.

I added the French Canadian keyboard for French, and switching between French and English layouts and dictionaries is nice and easy — though I wish it could be automatic. To access accented characters, keep your finger on a vowel for a second or two. To edit text you’ve already written, put your finger on it and wait a bit until the magnifying glass comes up, then move it around.

Warning: if you turn the sound of your iPhone down using the side volume control, it affects the sound of your alarm clock too. If you “silence” your iPhone, however, the alarm still rings. (I missed a train and almost was late to see a client because of the side volume control thing).

I like the fact that you recharge it by plugging it into the computer — otherwise, I think I’d forget to sync it all the time!

Easy access to SMS history and recent calls is nice, though I find it a bit too easy to call somebody by mistake by accidentally touching the screen.

I didn’t jailbreak my phone. For the moment I’m not sure what good it would do me (but I’m not against doing it if I have a reason to).

I love that it uses wifi as soon as it has access to it.

For those of you in Switzerland, I took an Orange offer with a 1 year contract extension and the iPhone Maxima price plan. I already had Maxima before so I’m just paying 10 francs extra, and getting free text messages, 1Gb of data, and 1 hour on WLAN (I should start using that, actually). Who knows, maybe my phone bill will even drop?

Oh, another thing I like is that it has the time displayed in big type on the “locked” screen. Apple obviously know what people use their mobile phones more the most. And it’s a great flashlight, too, with that big screen it’s got.

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My LIFT08 Recap [en]

[fr] Un récapitulatif de ce qu'a été LIFT08 pour moi cette année. En gros, expérience très positive, mais un peu comme une déferlante. Trop de tout, mais c'était bien.

LIFT08 was great, but overwhelming. I think I’ve used this word a couple of times already to describe it. I’ve been thinking a lot these last months about my “conference experience”. I’m not quite a *conference butterfly* never touching the ground between them (expression stolen from [Tom Purves](, but between [FOWA](, [Web2.0Expo](, [BlogOpen](, [ParisWeb](, [LIFT](, and the upcoming [BlogTalk]( and [SXSW](, I’m spending a significant amount of my time preparing for, attending, or getting over conferences.

I plan to write a bit about LIFT08 first, and then come to more general stuff about these “tech” conferences and the worlds revolving around them — but you never know which way a blog post might decide to take you, do you? (I can already see I’m going to write it differently… fasten your seatbelts. Actually, I’m going to write separate posts. Or this one is going to turn into a 10-page essay. And nobody wants to read 10-page essays, do they?)

So, what do I take away from LIFT08 — knowing that this year, I’m looking at things through [an event organiser’s eyes](

– **Many hats:** I’m a live-blogger, I’m a “speaker” (workshop, open stage, and an informal discussion), I’m a friend, I’m a freelancer on the lookout for new gigs, I’m promoting Going Solo, and looking for anything or anybody who can help me put on a great event. Too many hats.
– **Live-blogging:** I’m not happy about my job as a live-blogger this year. I think I was too stressed by my many other hats to really concentrate well on what I was doing. Also, as I had a press pass for it, I felt under pressure to do it seriously. Lots of partial notes, not “live” enough, didn’t tag [my photos]( ([help me!](, and lots of talks I skipped. I want to post some slideshots still, and notes I took during the workshop with real live teenagers (e-mailing first to make sure I won’t publish stuff that might get them in trouble). I’ll write a summary post with links to my notes.
– **One track:** really really great that there was only one track (as in, no separate rooms, no choices to make in the programme). Just sit down somewhere and the choices are made for you. Thanks for having the courage to make those choices for us, Nicolas and Laurent.
– **Water:** bottles are really better than fountains. I’m not going to walk around with a glass, and I always forget to bring a bottle with me. I didn’t drink enough. Not sure Going Solo will be “as I’d want” in that respect, though we should have big bottles of water on the tables in the conference room.
– **WiFi:** up and down, of course. *Why* does conference wifi always have to be so wobbly? There’s room for some serious analysis and reseach about that, in my opinion. Getting wifi for Going Solo is one thing I really worry about. There will “only” be 150 people there, but still… Given my track record for criticizing, I’m going to be lynched if Going Solo wifi fails.
– **Videos:** [great videos](, but. No permalinks to each video (I e-mailed Nouvo about that). Also, some organisational (?) glitch which prevented the open stage talks from being edited and uploaded at the same time as the other videos — as an open stage speaker who was relying on that swift publication, I find it very frustrating. The tapes are safe, Laurent tells me — but had I known, I’d have asked somebody to quick-and-dirty shoot and upload to YouTube.
– **Content:** I think the two-many-hats problem prevented me from fully getting all I could out of the various talks. I’ve also noticed a shift in content (the audience reflects this) from “more web” to “less web”. It’s a good thing, because it broadens my mind, but it also means there is less pointy stuff I’m directly fascinated with. (Don’t change anything guys, though, I like being stretched.) Maybe this had an influence on how easy (not) my note-taking was.
– **Speakers:** at one point I started wondering if it was a new trend for speakers to read their talks. Please don’t do that! It makes it very hard to follow what your saying. Lots of really great and entertaining speakers, and general level was very high (despite the reading).
– **Food and drinks:** nice! nice! yum! No breakfast though, I missed that. And also, no orange juice during the breaks?! I didn’t find it if it was there. Not everybody drinks tea or coffee — and I had a really hard time finding the tea.
– **People:** lots of them, lots. My “conference experience” is changing, as I said above, and I need to blog about that.
– **Intense:** LIFT is intense. Great people everywhere. Great talks you should meditate upon during a month.
– **LIFT experience:** I was too busy running around to enjoy all the “offline stuff” LIFT08 offered, and I really really regret it. I didn’t even get around to having my own handwritten font made, and didn’t send anything to the editor of the not so empty book (I blame the wifi — it was just too much effort to send an e-mail). I really think that the not so empty book should go and tap into technorati and flickr tags to steal content which has been published online. I had my photo taken though… not sure where it is now, however.

So, still landing. See you [tomorrow night in Morges]( to talk more if you’re in the area.

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A Quick Word About NotchUp (it's not Quechup) [en]

[fr] Si vous avez reçu une invitation NotchUp, pas de souci: ce n'est pas comme quechup. Il s'agit d'une véritable invitation. En deux mots, NotchUp est un site de chasseurs de têtes, où l'on met sa propre tête à prix. Vous décidez combien une entrprise désirant vous interviewer doit vous payer (500$ par exemple).

Histoire que ça se propage, on nous promet 10% des gains que feront les gens qu'on invite (ça explique probablement les 8 invitations de la part de vos contacts LinkedIn, qui trainent dans votre boîte de réception). Donc si vous voulez en être...

First, no worry. I really did select your name to send you the invite. And yes, the invite is poorly worded and looks [quechuppy]( They’re so beta you can’t change the wording of the e-mail, which is sad, because I think it makes them look bad.

Their site is very slow, and I’m wondering if this is because they underestimated how fast they would spread, with unlimited invites per user and “load your LinkedIn contacts” feature.

What’s NotchUp? I’d say it’s an electronic head-hunting service. With added bonus: you get paid when a company wants to interview you (talk about incentive). You sign up, import your LinkedIn profile or edit your details by hand, decide how much you want to be paid if a company wants to interview you, and there you go.

If you got an invite from me, it’s not necessarily that I assume that you’re desperately looking for a job. You might be like me, happy where you are, but willing to consider interesting offers (like when Google tried to recruit me last year). Or I might simply not know, and I took a guess.

NotchUp Beta

A little feedback, as this is a beta.

– the site is slow — if this is a scaling issue, fix it fast.
– it’s a pity there is no obvious way to send feedback, as it’s a beta.
– allowing people to edit the invitation mail would be a top-priority thing for me, as I think it’s damaging to them — I thought the first friend of mine who invited me had been Plaxo/Quechup scammed (sorry…) and hadn’t meant to send me the invite.
– [internationalization](, please. I don’t live in Springfield, Massachusetts. We don’t all have 5-digit zip codes (mine is 1004, so I cheated, and entered 01004).
– secure [security questions]( would be cool.
– I don’t fit in the [calculator template](
– it looks too good to be true: get money to be interviewed, get 10% of what the friends you brought into the system make over the next year by getting interviewed… how will NotchUp make their money? A little insight about the business model might help take it more seriously.
– **Edit:** please **don’t** make us give our LinkedIn password to import data. [Giving away passwords a bad thing to teach your users.]( Encourage [responsible behaviour]( instead.

If you haven’t got an invite by now (it would be surprising!) and you want one, don’t hesitate to let me know, of course 😉

**Edit:** a few other reviews of NotchUp I found (pretty positive, I’d say)…

– [techradar: NotchUp: A brilliant Jobsearch Startup with an Idea that’ll change the Business Value Chain](
– [TechCrunch: Stealth Job Site NotchUp Makes Companies Pay To Interview You](
– [CheezHead: NotchUp Review](
– [CenterNetworks: There Are Great Ideas, There Are Poor Ideas, Then There’s NotchUp](
– [Gautam Ghosh: Will NotchUp catch up?](
– [poetticcode: Vote No For Aggressive Viral Marketing](

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Being My Own Travel Agent With Kayak [en]

[fr] En mars, je vais en Irlande, puis à Austin (Texas), puis à San Francisco. Ça fait pas mal de vols à organiser. L'agence de voyage que j'ai contactée me propose un circuit à CHF 2800. En utilisant Kayak, j'arrive (non sans mal, sueur, et heures investies) à faire le tour pour CHF 1650.

Cet article est le récit de la façon dont j'ai procédé.

I have some **serious travel** planned for March.

First, I go to Cork, Ireland, for [Blogtalk]( and the preceding [WebCamp on Social Network Portability](, from 2nd to 4th.

Then, I head for Austin, Texas for [SXSW Interactive](, from 7th-11th.

I’ll be **speaking** in both places.

As I’m in the States, I’ll then head out to spend two weeks or so in San Francisco. Here are what my travel dates and destinations look like:

– 1st: GVA-ORK (ORK is Cork, yes, funny)
– 6th: ORK-AUS
– 12th: AUS-SFO
– 25th: SFO-GVA

I chose the 25th to go back because it seems to be the cheapest day around there. The other dates are fixed by hotel or event constraints.

After fooling around with []( for a fair number of hours, and finding it a little confusing (I’ll detail below in what way), I caved in and **called a travel agent** in Lausanne to ask them to sort it out for them.

They got back to me, speedily and kindly, but with a surprising price tag: **2800 CHF** for the whole thing. That’s $2400 for those of you who like dollars.

Now, even though I wasn’t very happy with what I came up on Kayak, I had figured out that this trip would cost me around about 1200$. Not the double.

So, **back to Kayak**. In the process, I’m starting to get the hang of how to do searches for long, nasty, complicated journeys, so I thought I’d share it with you.

A side issue before I start, though: flights to and from the USA have a **much more generous luggage allowance** than flights elsewhere (20kg + cabin luggage). If the first leg of a journey to the USA is inside Europe, though, you still get the “US” luggage allowance for that flight. I was hoping I could make things work out to have the more generous luggage allowance for the GVA-ORK part of my trip too, as I tend to have trouble travelling light (particularly for 3 weeks). But it seems that won’t happen.

As I understand it from the kind explanations a few people have given me, the GVA-ORK part of my journey is considered a completely separate one from ORK-AUS, AUS-SFO, and then SFO-GVA. In short, I’m dealing with **four separate flights**.

So, let’s do the obvious thing first, and **ask to do all the work**. My dates are fixed, but I’m open to the idea of using nearby airports. This is what I gave

Kayak search: GVA-ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA

And here is what I got: GVA-ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA

Oops. It seems Geneva dropped off the map. If I select the “neighbouring” airport LYS (Lyon), I get this. Slightly more encouraging, but… GVA-ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA

…slightly expensive. Roughly what my travel agent told me, actually. Gosh, I wonder which part of the journey is costing so much? **Let’s try and break things down.**

**First, GVA-ORK:** GVA - ORK

Wow, is that their best price? $384 and 9 hours of travel to go from Switzerland to Ireland? I should be able to find something better. So, I hunted around a bit on my own. I know I can get to London for around $100 or less with [easyJet](, so what about the other low-costs? From the Cork airport site, I got a [list of airlines flying there]( Then I went to individual airline sites — I’ll pass you the details, save to say that [RyanAir]( has got some “virtually free” flights (1 penny + taxes) but as they only allow 15kg of check-in luggage (I can make sacrifices and try to stick to 20, but 15 is really low), flight + excess luggage fee actually comes down to not-that-cheap.

Oh, wait a sec! Let’s enlist Kayak’s help for this. Here are GVA-LON flights, according to Kayak: GVA - LON

That’s helpful, actually. I wouldn’t have thought to check [BA]( The flight is way too early, though. And now gives results with European low-cost airlines — I don’t recall it did this early December when I first tried.

What about LON-ORK? LON - ORK

I removed RyanAir from the results (they were the cheapest, around $48 — plus extra luggage tax!), and the winner is… [Aer Lingus](!

So, if I manage to get the timings right, and accept that I’ll have to pick up my luggage and check in again in London, I should be able to get a better deal than the $384 Kayak suggested “out of the box”.

Oh, another idea. Let’s tell Kayak I’m flying through London, and see what happens. Here are the results for GVA-LON-ORK: GVA - LON - ORK

Still no luck. The first flight is the same as the one I got when I asked for GVA-ORK. Clearly, Kayak introduces constraints (like… airlines must be working together) when asked for a trip. That probably explains why my total trip seems so horrendously expensive.

Right, now we’ve dealt (more or less — at least there seems to be hope) with the first part of the journey, let’s look at the rest.




SFO-GVA: $530

Adding all that up, we’re quite far from the $2400 my travel agent or Kayak suggest for the whole flight.

Now, let’s dig in a little further. How about I ask Kayak for ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA? I’ve already identified that the GVA-ORK part was problematic, so maybe… maybe: ORK - AUS - SFO - GVA

$1029! And all with American Airlines! That sounds nice. Add to that a bit less than $200 for the GVA-ORK bit, and I should manage to do all this flying for roughly $1200. Much more reasonable (though still a big hole in my bank account credit card, given the sad state of my finances these days).

So, ready for the details? Because, no, in case you were wondering, the fun doesn’t stop here. Sick around, there’s still work to do.

**First, GVA-LON-ORK.**

London has a problem: it has too many airports. Aer Lingus fly out of LHR to Cork, so ideally, I should plan to arrive there. I don’t think I want to go through the fun of commuting from one airport to another if I can avoid it.

That unfortunately rules out easyJet, who don’t fly to LHR. They fly to LGW, Luton, Stansted, but not LHR. So, let’s check out BA, who were actually cheaper (though at an ungodly hour, and for LGW).


Right, so for 144 CHF, I get to fly out around 10am, which is actually quite nice. I land around 11am. Let’s look at Aer Lingus flights to ORK, then:

Aer Lingus: LHR-ORK

I’m very tempted to take the 14:05 flight instead of the 18:05 one, **but**. That would leave me with only 3 hours in LHR to get my luggage, go from terminal 1 to terminal 4, and check in again. The London crew on Twitter tells me it’s a little tight, though others seem to think it’s OK.

So, well, that would be it for the first part of the journey.

Now for the rest.

**Then, ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA.**

Here are the details I get from Kayak for this multi-city journey: ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA 1029$

As you can see, American Airlines seem to like Chicago airport, ORD. [Dennis Howlett]( warns me against going through that airport, but it seems the other options are going to cost me an extra $1000.

But that’s not all. What exactly are the “layovers” here? I’d assume they are plane changes. But 55 minutes in Chicago and 1h35 in Brussels on my way back don’t really seem to allow time for that. Chances are I’d miss the connection — but then why would (and AA!) suggest this kind of combination?

It’s not the end of the world if I get home a day late, so I guess that for $1000, I’ll take my chances.

Let’s not stop there, though, shall we? I decided to dig a bit deeper into all this. See, for example, I tried asking about:


Why isn’t Kayak coming up with one of the (obviously cheaper) combinations for the SFO-GVA leg? Why is BA suddenly the cheapest option? I don’t get it.

See, for example, this flight option for SFO-GVA, $550, is much more exciting than the AA one via ORD and Brussels: SFO-GVA

Just one change in Newark. And it’s a shorter overall flight, too.

That means I need to get the ORK-AUS-SFO part separate. Let’s look at it now: ORK-AUS-SFO

The cheapest deal is $624 with AA and Frontier, which is an immediate (and logical! what a surprise!) combination of the two cheapest deals for ORK-AUS and AUS-SFO taken separately. I don’t seem to gain anything (financially) by booking them together.

Now, the problem here is that the flight times are really long (20h). I’m quite tempted to force my journey through some European city other than London and see what happens.

A quick trip to the Austin airport site seems to say there are [no direct flights there outside the US]( I can’t find that kind of information for DFW, unfortunately. I’m keeping an eye on [DFW]( because I could land there and take a road trip to Austin with a friend. It’s 3.5 hours on the road, though, so I need a flight that lands early enough.

For example, let’s take Dublin, as I’m already in Ireland.

Here are Kayak flights from DUB to AUS: most interesting deal $484 with Delta for a 19h flight: DUB-AUS

Come to think of it, you know what I’d like? I’d like to be able to place all the flights on a chart, with for example “price” on the x-axis and “total flight duration” on the y-axis. I’d be willing to pay $50 extra or so to cut of a certain number of hours of travel, but as of now there is no way to visualise this kind of thing easily. The “Matrix” tab in Kayak has a promising name, but all it does is give best price and number of stops per airline. Not very exciting.

What about ORK-DUB? Well, the fine folks at Blogtalk recommend [Aer Arann]( (they have a great “travelling” page, btw, I’ll have to take example on them for [Going Solo](

Aer Arann: ORK-DUB

Cheap flight, $36. What would Kayak say? ORK-DUB

Well, RyanAir is cheaper but I don’t want them, and the Aer Arann flights are there, but a bit more expensive than what I found. Hidden costs, maybe? Or maybe just an update glitch — I’m aware it’s difficult to keep everything perfectly in sync.

Gah. This is turning into another nasty headache.

Let’s go back to letting Kayak take care of ORK-AUS-SFO. I had a look at flights from [Shannon](, but the price difference is not worth the couple of hours by bus to get there. I also considered SAT (San Antonio) but it’s really out of Austin, so not interesting. I’m willing to fly in another airport than SFO though.

Sidenote: this is where I discover I can “favorite” flights in Kayak. I should have started doing that hours ago. So, here’s the flight I’m favoriting for the ORK-AUS segment. I don’t want to land at 12:15am in Austin, so the choice is easy to make. Will have to get up early in Cork, though. Ugh. ORK-AUS favorite

You know what would be really cool? If I search for ORK-AUS-SFO, I’d like Kayak to let me know which flight combinations contain that flight I’ve favorited. I wonder if it does that. Let’s see! But before that, I’ll go and favorite the flight I want for heading over to San Francisco. So, here is what Kayak gave me for that segment, remember? AUS - SFO

The cheapest flight is $125, but if you have a close look, you’ll see that all these are either dreadfully early, or quite late. I’d rather leave sometime later in the morning. Luckily, Kayak provides a “filter” that allows me to select that. (Remember, earlier on, I was wondering why Kayak was suggesting routes with 55min stopovers? Well, there’s a “stopover length” filter too that I could have used to avoid that.) Here’s what happens if I decide to leave between 8 and 10am: AUS-SFO Flight Time filter

For roughly $200, I get to sleep a bit more. This is another case where the price/something-or-other graph would come in handy: it would help me visualise how much I have to pay to leave later. (I’m learning to factor in cab fares and stuff like that when making flight decisions.)

So, back to our combined ORK-AUS-SFO trip: ORK-AUS-SFO best choice

By playing with the time sliders for flights 1 and 2, I managed to filter out the flights that didn’t contain my two favourites (at no surprise, Kayak doesn’t tell me that this “multiple flight” actually contains a single flight that I favourited… too bad). Result: $695 and decent flying times.

**So, let’s recap.** (I’m going to be doing the actual booking tomorrow, it’s getting late and I’m tired, which is usually a recipe for mistakes. Also, the prices the airlines and Kayak give could be slightly different, so this is an approximation.)

GVA-LHR: BA, $125
LHR-ORK: Aer Lingus, $60

That’s $185 for me to go to Cork.

ORK-AUS-SFO: AA and Frontier, $695

SFO-GVA: United and Qatar, $550

Total: $1430 = 1650CHF

That’s a bit more than what it seemed I’d get away with at first, but there are less stopovers and the flying times are nicer than the cheapest deal. That’s worth a couple hundred $.

So, thanks Kayak. That’s more than 1000CHF less than my travel agent came up with. But God, did I have to work hard for it. There is definitely room for improvement in the business of helping people sort out their travels.

While I was writing this post and [twittering about my trials](, [Bill O’Donnel]( (find him [on Twitter](, he’s the Chief Architect at Kayak!) sent me a message saying he [wanted to read my post]( when I was done. He also added that he was [forwarding my twitters to the UI team]( So, guys, hope you enjoy the free [experiential marketing](! In a way, only — it’s not really an experiential marketing campaign because nobody asked me to do anything, but this is typically the kind of stuff I *would* write up in such a campaign, and an example of *authentic user behaviour* that experiential marketing “re-creates”.

So anyway, hope you enjoy this tale of user experience. And I also hope my fellow travellers will find useful input here to help them sort out their travels.

Thanks to everybody who answered or simply put up with my numerous questions and tweets during the process of sorting out this trip.

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Berlin, Belgrade: Two Contrasting Airport Experiences [en]

[fr] Je déteste vraiment la sécurité dans les aéroports. C'est d'une hypocrisie primaire et le résultat principal en est une péjoration du comfort des voyageurs. Je raconte dans ce billet deux expériences contrastées (mes deux derniers vols).

L'aéroport Tegel a Berlin, où tout s'est passé comme sur des roulettes, même si j'ai eu bien peur de rater mon vol (imaginez: je me suis pointée au faux aéroport, moins de deux heures avant décollage). A Tegel, le taxi vous dépose directement au terminal. Le check-in est à 5m de la porte. Le contrôle des passeports est à côté (vraiment) du check-in (disons 3m). Le contrôle sécurité est droit derrière. Et la zone d'attente pour la porte est juste après. De check-in à salle d'attente, 10m et 5 minutes à tout casser.

A Belgrade par contre... Ce fut moins fun. Personnel peu agréable, renseignements médiocres, vilain sandwich tout sec... et pour couronner le tout, "double" sécurité. Eh oui, non seulement faut-il faire la queue pour faire passer aux rayons X toutes ses petites affaires avant le contrôle des passeports, mais encore faut-il passer par le même cirque à la port, pour accéder à la zone d'attente. Je vous passe les chaises en métal et les courants d'air...

Inutile de dire que je suis ravie de rentrer à Lausanne en train depuis Paris, et que j'espère que les grèves continueront à ne pas avoir d'influences sur les TGVs à destination de la Suisse!

Flying out of Berlin could have been a nightmare. It actually turned out to be a rather smooth experience. The nightmarish bit is that I went to the wrong airport to catch my plane. I flew in to Shönefeld (?), so naturally assumed that I would be flying out from there two.

When I arrived at the airport less than two hours before take-off, I checked the departure board and couldn’t find my flight. Suddenly, it hit me: this wasn’t the only airport in Berlin. A brief panicked enquiry at the airport information desk later, I was grabbing a taxi, calling the JAT office in Tegel Airport to explain the situation (they had my ticket waiting there for me), and deciding that 70€ to take the predictable but longer motorway route (it was peak hour and the town was gridlocked) was better than missing my flight.

My taxi driver was nice, reassuring, and cut quite a few lines to get me there on time.

Here is where it became smooth. Like most of you I guess. I’m used to airports where you need to wait in line for check-in, then walk to passport control, wait in line again, then walk to security, wait in line again, then finally, walk to the gate.

None of that nonsense at Tegel Airport. I had been given the terminal number by the person I spoke to at the JAT office, who told me my ticket would be waiting for me at check-in. My taxi dropped me off at the terminal.

I went through the door.

I walked 5 metres.

I waited 2 minutes at check-in, was greeted by a smiling hostess, given my ticket, and checked in.

The door to security — no kidding — was *just next to the check-in desks*. 10 steps away. And passport control was *just before the door to security*. And the gate itself (the waiting area) was *just behind security*. From check-in to the gate: less than 10 meters. Within 5 minutes I was through all of it.

And I wasn’t (by far) the last person to check in. I was early, actually.

Contrast that with my departure from Belgrade, five days later. (Oh, let me mention in passing that I had the most frightening landing of my life in Belgrade. I’m not a frightened flyer, but the weather was really very rough and stormy, with the plane rocking left and right and dropping abruptly as we were approaching the landing strip. And once on the ground, it didn’t stop either — precisely because the plane wasn’t slowing down, and was making dreadful noises. We stopped OK in the end, but from my point of view we were moving way too fast on that runway for way too long.)

Back to my experience this noon in Belgrade Airport. First, I have to say it was overall not very friendly.

I asked the check-in woman where I could change money and eat. She indicated two places for that, which meant I had to change money (lots of dinars) first and eat (paying in dinars) second. Great. Then, the change office didn’t have Swiss francs. Even greater (I now have enough euros to settle down in Paris for a month, nearly.)

I got a really nasty sandwich for a small fraction of the money I had been advised to keep for the meal, and then realised that I could change money on that floor too. *They* had Swiss francs, but with the amount of dinars I had it was more interesting to change in euros. Then, once I’d gotten rid of all my dinars, I noticed there was at least one other food place — nicer than the one I’d been to, of course.

Oh well.

I queued through security, did my usual Empty Half Your Bag And Get Half Undressed stunt, waited in my socks while the person at security control searched the bags of the woman before me (one person per machine, takes care of searching too, so when a bag is searched, the machine stops too — efficient, isn’t it?), and headed to passport control.

A rather unfriendly woman there gruffly asked me for my boarding pass (it had slipped out of my travel documents into my bag) and put a nasty wet stamp on it before folding it back into my passport. I had to wipe the wet ink off the (thankfully plastified) page with all my personal details.

Once in the “sterile” area, I noticed there were another two places where I could have eaten (oh, well) but no board with flight numbers and gates. I asked a member of staff who was passing by, and she pointed me to the travel information desk where I got the answer I needed.

I walked down the corridor to the gate and was quite surprised to find the place rather empty (this was about 10 minutes before announced boarding time). There was an open door with a corridor leading somewhere cold, and a closed door next to the flight details for the gate, behind which I could see a security machine and a bored young man in a uniform.

There were a few metal seats in the draughty corridor.

I tried to open the closed door, but it was — closed. I made interrogative signs to the young man, who got up to open the door and tell me that this was the right place, only later.

I therefore sat on a draughty metal seat and waited.

Slowly, more people arrived. Airline and airport employees, too. The door opened. Closed. Opened. Closed. Passengers got up and started to form a line (boarding time passed), so I got up too.

And waited in the cold. And cursed at the security machine I could see through the glass door.

You probably know I’m sick of airport security. It’s hypocritical (there mainly to cover some people’s precious arses), basically abusing poor passengers and making our lives miserable when we travel under pretense of keeping us safe from “terrorists”.

Right. So when you make everybody entering one part of the airport (what I call the “sterile area”) go through security and show ID… and you do the same thing **again** later on… what kind of message are you sending?

You’re basically saying: oh, well, our sterile area isn’t really sterile, you see — we don’t trust our own security screening. So please, let us screen you again. You know, just in case one of you entered this part of the airport without going through security, or managed to sneak a gun or explosives past us.

What do you think my opinion of airport security is now?

The cabin crew went through first, and for a wild moment I thought that *maybe* this was just for them, because for some reason they might not have had to go through the same long line of waiting for bags to be searched as us.

But I was wrong. One by one, 15 minutes after announced boarding time, we put our stuff in the X-ray machine again. Did I mention it was cold and draughty? I wasn’t happy to be in my socks again. And no, I didn’t feel bad about holding up the line because I put my stuff in four different trays to make sure I don’t raise any flags (got searched for cables in my bag, once — now they go through separate).

Colour me grumpy.

So, now that everybody had been doubly screened and that we were doubly safe, we got to sit down in more draughty metal chairs and wait. And then, stand up in line again and wait.

I am *so* glad I’m going back to Lausanne by train from Paris.

I just hope the strikes in France continue to not affect connections to Switzerland…

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Short FOWA Complaint [en]

[fr] FOWA: wifi foireux et peu d'accès aux prises d'alimentation. C'est suffisant pour gâcher une bonne partie de la conférence pour les participants-blogueurs (surtout si on leur a donné un passe pour couvrir la conférence en direct)...

I’m here to live-blog, which must be a recognised activity as I got a “blogger” pass for it. However: **the wifi is crap** (sorry, I know it’s easy to complain, but it’s making my life difficult — uploading photos is a nightmare), and **the power plugs are right at the back of the room**. I think that crappy wifi and lack of power supplies are two things which can single-handedly ruin a good part of the conference experience for blogging attendees. Oh, and the rows are so tight that unless you sit in the front row, there isn’t enough space to type comfortably.

Do they really believe that people live-blogging the sessions are going to sit right at the back of the room? I take photos too, so I need to be in front. And the whole “power up then go back to it” idea just doesn’t work: there’s a session going on while I “power up” which I might want to follow!

Then, please let me say a word about the £4 sandwich I bought at the break. I know this is England, but… arghl! There are water fountains at the back of the room, but really (particularly when you’re blogging) bottles are way more practical. Which reminds me… I have an empty bottle with me, so I’ll do something smart and fill it up instead of just complain aimlessly (blame a bad day yesterday, food deprivation, and dehydration).

Oh, and next time, I have to remember that these boots are **not** good for sitting cross-legged on the floor. The talk in this room (which I’m only half-listening to, unfortunately) is about accessibility and actually sounds very interesting. I saw Suw typing madly a bit further down the row, so hopefully I’ll be able to read about it.

Aside from that, I’m really happy to be here and see everybody!


**Update**: [Suw wasn’t very happy]( either.

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Google Shared Stuff: First Impressions [en]

[fr] Google Shared Stuff, nouveau venu dans l'arène du social bookmarking. Pas convaincue qu'ils aient pour le moment quelque chose de plus à apporter que leurs concurrents déjà bien établis.

I’ve briefly tried [Google Shared Stuff](, and here are my first impressions. I’m one of those horrible people who always see what the problems are instead of what’s good, so I’ll just say as a preamble to the few gripes I’m raising here that overall, it looks neat, shiny, and it works roughly as it should.

#### Profile Photo

Your Shared Stuff -- Upload Picture

– **nice:** I can choose photos from various sources
– **not so nice:** “The photo you specify here will be used across all Google products and services which display your public photo, including Google Talk and Gmail.”

I already have a photo in my Gmail/Google Talk profile. Why can’t you use it? If I upload a photo here, is it going to overwrite it? Need more info, folks.

#### Private vs. Public

This is my shared stuff:

Your Shared Stuff -- As I See It

Shared stuff can be public or private. Above is the page as *I, the account owner* see it. Below is the page that the public sees:

Shared Stuff from Stephanie Booth -- As Everyone Sees It

See the missing link? (Not difficult, there are only two in total.) “Hah, you’ll say, you made the second link private! That’s why the public can’t see it!” Try again:

Trying - And Failing - To Share CTTS

The link was shared as “public”. This is obviously broken in some way, folks. Please fix it.

#### Email/Share Bookmarklet

The bookmarklet is nice, but nothing revolutionary:

Sharing Bookmarklets and Buttons

What about the sharing pane? It looks very much like the sharing pane, but more cluttered. The nice thing is that it lets you choose a photo to illustrate your share (like FaceBook does, for example):

Google Shared Stuff Email / Share Bookmarklet Pane Sharing Pane

Besides being less cluttered, the pane has a huge advantage over the Google one: it’s a resizable window. Really really appreciated when a link you clicked (or a page opened by Skitch) uses that window for the new tab.

One interesting feature of this sharing pane is that it allows you to share to other social bookmarking services — not just Google’s. That’s nice. Open. No lock-in. But… isn’t it a bit pointless when I can access the bookmarking pane in just one click instead of three?

Google Shared Stuff Bookmarklet Pane

#### What I Wish For


I’d like a one-click bookmarklet which works exactly like the “Share” button in Google Reader:

Google Reader Share Button

Clicking the “Share” button adds the post to the stream of my [Shared Items page/feed]( Painless. I can easily add them to my sidebar:

Google Shared Items on CTTS

However, now that I’m using [the Google Reader “Next” bookmarklet]( more, I find that I’m in Google Reader less, so something like a “Share Bookmarklet” (Google Reader-style) would come in really handy.

The main point here is that to share something in Google Reader, I click once. With Shared Stuff or, I click at least twice.

**[Holes in Buckets!](**

So here we are. Again. Make all this stuff communicate, will ya? **When I share stuff in Google Reader, I’d love it to be pushed to my account automatically, with a preset tag or tags (“shareditem” for example).** It annoys me to have links I’ve saved [in]( **and** in Shared Items (Google Reader). It’s not as bad as it was when you couldn’t search Google Reader, but still.

Am I going to add yet another list of “shared stuff” to my online ecosystem? That’s the question. Make that bookmarklet share to Google Reader Shared Items, and let me push all that to, and you’ll really have something that adds value for me.

Otherwise, I’m not sure where Shared Stuff will fit in my social bookmarking life.

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Lijit Feedback [en]

[fr] Un peu de feedback sur Lijit, un moteur de recherche sympa qui s'organise autour du contenu en ligne d'une personne et de son réseau.

I lost the first version of this post in a Firefox crash while I was writing [my post on structured portable social networks]( (that’s what I get for doing too much at the same time). With a bit of luck it will be better 😉

So, as promised, here’s my feedback to Barney about [Lijit]( First, for those of you new to Lijit, [Stowe Boyd blogged about Lijit]( about a week ago, which is how I discovered it. (Yes, go sign up now, but come back here to read the rest of the post when you’re done. Thanks!)

Signing up must have gone reasonably smoothly, because I don’t have any screenshots of it — which is a good start. (When I bump into any interface problem or bugginess nowadays, I quickly [grab a screenshot]( with [Skitch]( and upload it to Flickr with a few notes. Photographs of my online life, if you like.)

I was disappointed that I could only add my and MyBlogLog networks. The latter is a good addition, but how about my Twitter network? Or a blogroll on [my secondary blog]( CTTS doesn’t have a blogroll (pure laziness). I tried importing my network from Facebook, but it was way too creepy, I disabled it as fast as I could. I got the feeling it was going to allow people to search through my friends’ notes and stuff — as well as mine. I do take advantage of the “walled garden” side of Facebook to publish slightly more personal stuff there than “outside”, and I know I’m not alone here.

What would be really neat would be if I were able to export *just the connections* I have to other people from Facebook, and if they are Lijit users, import their blogs and content into my network. Think [portable social networks](

Being able to import the blogs I read (they’re my “network”, aren’t they?) directly from Google Reader (filter with a tag though, so I can keep all those naughty sex blogs I’m keeping track of out of the public eye).

I used Lijit twice to find the old posts I linked back to in the post above. First, on the Lijit website itself:

Holes in my Buckets (Lijit)

Then, using the wijit I installed on my blog:

Lijit Search On Blog

That’s pretty neat. Lijit opens a “fake window” over the current page with the search results, and when I click on a link in the results, it loads in the initial browser window. Sounds obvious, but I like that it works — many ways it could have gone wrong.

I’m moderately happy about the space the wijit takes up on my blog:

Lijit Wijit on CTTS

I know companies are hungry for screen real estate (“make that logo visible!”) — but be less obtrusive and I’ll love you more! Notice that I now have Lijit search, normal Google search, and WordPress search. Way too many search boxes, but for the moment there isn’t one that seems to do the job well enough to be the only one. (Maybe Lijit, but I haven’t had it long enough…)

Stats page is neat, though I’m still totally unable to tell you what the two pie charts on the right do:

Lijit | My Stats

What on earth is Ma.gnolia doing in there?

There, that’s what’s on my mind concerning Lijit for the moment. Watch out for [the screenshots]( if I bump into anything else!

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Corporate Blogging Talk Draft [en]

[fr] Je donne une conférence dans un peu plus d'un mois à des responsables de communication d'entreprises suisses. On m'a demandé de fournir une présentation de mon intervention, qui figurera sur l'invitation. Voici la version resultant de deux jours en sueur (oui je sais, c'est pas très impressionnant!) -- j'apprécierais votre feedback en la matière si vous lisez l'anglais.

A little over a month from now, I’ll be giving a talk on corporate blogging to leading communications executives of Swiss companies. I’ve been asked to provide an introduction to my talk, which will be included alongside some biographical information in the invitation to the event. Here’s my draft, based on examples of previous invitations I was given:

> Blogs are way more than teenage diaries, and it is now common knowledge that they can be a precious tool in corporate environments. Many companies today are interested in embracing social media, and some take the plunge — unfortunately, not always with the desired results.

> Blogging is not a magical solution. Though it requires little technical skill to exertblog (akin to sending an e-mail), it comes bundled with the culture of openness and real human dialogue described at the beginning of the decade in The Cluetrain Manifesto, which can be at odds with existing corporate communication practice.

> When a corporation starts blogging, whether behind the firewall or on the internet, it changes. Not all corporations are ready for that. Not all corporations can accommodate those sometimes unpredictable changes.

> Though one could just start blogging blindly, it is wiser in a corporate setting to identify some particular needs or problems which can be addressed with social media. Though social media is by nature error-tolerant, it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of learning the “blogging culture”, or the time required to keep a blog alive.

> Stephanie Booth will share her insights on how blogs can find a place inside corporate culture, and how to go around introducing them in such a setting. The focus will be on blogging culture and practices, illustrated by real-world examples taken directly from the blogosphere.

I’ve been struggling with it for the last two days, and I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments (both on the language and the content).

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