A Few Notes on 2014 [en]

[fr] 2014, une longue année en très résumé.

It seems like 2014 was a long year, although it also feels like it’s ended barely after it started. Oh well. There is much to write, but here’s a little catch-up dump for those of you who aren’t stalking me on Facebook or seeing me offline.

Météo variable pour mes 40 ans 21

Over the summer I turned 40, and it’s been a much bigger “thing” that I’d envisioned. I will write more about this too, but the TL;DR is that being a childless and single 40-year-old woman when it’s not exactly what you wanted for yourself isn’t a piece of cake. Added bonus if your mother died precisely at that age, just 30 years ago. This accounts for a good part of 2014 being a “difficult” year.

Other than that, 2014 was physically very active. I skied, my first complete ski season in more years than I care to think of. I started kitesurfing, went sailing of course, and received a Fitbit One for my birthday. The Fitbit made me realise how little I was walking (5-6k steps for a “normal” day), and so when somebody told me about this game called Ingress that made you walk, I pounced on it. Now I’m hooked (much much more about Ingress in future posts) and days where I clock 15k steps are far from rare. Let’s not forgot regular judo training during the time I wasn’t moving around too much. I’m also still doing Body By You on and off. The result is that I feel in better shape physically than I have for years.

Professionally, I spent most of the year working on a lovely gig for Phonak as the editor of their community blog, Open Ears — an ongoing project. Eclau, “my” coworking space, is doing fine, and I’ve been teaching a bit at CREADIGITAL in Geneva.

The cats are living their cat lives, though they did provide me both with major health scares. Quintus now has a 1500CHF eye (it’s his eye, it just cost that much to save it) and Tounsi will be under close surveillance the last week of July next summer (there was a somewhat similar scare last summer at nearly exactly the same date). I helped a friend fix up her house for sale in the UK over part of the summer, and around that period also had a friend visiting from India. For a couple of months there I was really running around a lot, and it took me some time to settle down after that. I decided to not go to India over the winter as I had planned initially, but to stay here and go skiing again.

I got a Kindle and have been reading avidly thanks to it. I play around with Calibre. In the same dematerialisation move, I have an XBMC server (now renamed Kodi) and I have started making space in my cellar for all the CDs, DVDs, and some of the books which are taking up so much space in my flat. Oh, and I’ve been learning to fly my tiny quadcopter.

Most of my online activity has gravitated around Facebook, clearly my sharing, publishing, and communication central this year. I am wary of putting all my eggs in the same basket, though, and it bothers me more and more that all the links and quotes I share end up going down the real-time drain. I started using Google+ more over the last months. Twitter is a bit on the back-burner, so is Path. I use Google Drive and associated docs daily. I discovered Slack and enthusiastically fell in love with it.

Finally, 2014 has been the first year since… 1999 that I have not been writing regularly online (let’s not count Facebook interaction as “writing”, shall we? that’s really conversation). And I feel a bit like a pressure-cooker that’s been on the stove for too long.

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More About Hearing Aids (And Geeking Out a Bit) [en]

[fr] Des nouvelles de mes aventures au pays des appareils auditifs: réflexions pour geeks et moins geeks, tant l'expérience humaine que la technologique sont passionnantes!

I got my hearing aids a month and a half ago, and I thought I’d write a bit more about some of the techy aspects as well as what it means to (a) be wearing hearing aids and (b) be hearing better.

Past the initial shock of “OMG do people really hear sounds this loud?!”, I’m really appreciating how relaxing it is to understand pretty much every word people say to me. Even in “good/easy” situations, I realize how much of my hearing is actually “deducing” — specially on the rare occasions nowadays when I talk to people without ma aids in.

As my brother aptly put it when we compared notes as I was coming out of the audiologist’s, it’s “as if sound were coming to me, rather than having to go and fetch the sound”.

Physically, my hearing aids are really comfy now, and I am generally not aware that I’m wearing them. Like a pair of glasses (or a bra!) — you know they’re there if you think of it, but they’re not drawing your attention to them all the time.

The model I’m trying now (I’ll be moving on to my second trial when I get back from holiday, more about that below) is the Widex Clear220 C2-PA (here’s the Widex product page, but it’s not nicely linkable, you’ll have to click around to see the once I have). It’s a mini-BTE (“behind the ear”) with the receiver in the canal (RIC). I’m still learning the terminology, and I have to say “receiver” sounds like a very illogical word for what is in fact the “loundspeaker”.

There are two microphones on the top of the piece that lies behind the ear. My audiologist told me that in noisy environments, the second one kicks in and the aid then reduces the sound coming from the sides and back to focus mainly on what comes in from the front microphone (theoretically: the person I’m speaking with).

The two hearing aids also communicate wirelessly with each other, and do fancy stuff to help with sound spatialisation (ears do fancy stuff too, but with RIC the hearing aid is sticking sound directly in your ear canal, so it needs to mimic what your ear does to sound before that).

The aids also clip loud sounds so that they don’t go above (a) potentially damaging volume (b) the volume above which sound becomes uncomfortable for me (I think).


If you look at the line around 80-100dB, that’s where my discomfort to sound is. It’s quite common that people with hearing loss also have a low tolerance to noise. That means there is less “bandwidth” for the audiologist to work with.

Oh, and you know one of the things associated with hearing aids? The Larsen effect? You don’t really get that with digital hearing aids, because they’re programmed to detect that kind of sound and remove it.

So, what about the less exciting stuff? Well, I was lucky enough to have a car on loan during the first weeks I had my aids. That gave me a chance to test their reaction to loud singing (!) at different frequencies ;-).

Here’s where it gets interesting: my left hearing aid (in theory the one with slightly less amplification) would clip or chirp at certain frequencies (understand: me singing at the top of my voice as high as I can go — only in the car, people). It’s annoying enough to hear sound that seems to be coming out of a saturated loudspeaker, but when it’s only in one ear, it’s quite maddening.

Other than that, during my first few weeks of test, I had one or two occurrences of chirping. Chirp! You’re walking around in town, and suddenly one of your ears chirp. It happens so fast it leaves you wondering if you dreamed or if it really happened. I’ve actually managed to produce some frequencies (in the car, not reproducible elsewhere ;-)) that reasonably reliably make it chirp, but other than that I’ve had trouble reproducing the problem.

Early on, another problem I had was that I had the impression my left hearing aid wasn’t amplifying some frequencies. The symptom was I felt as if I had a blocked ear, or cotton in my ear — but it was very mild. It felt as if the receiver was maybe not in the right place (but it was, my audiologist checked). So we did a few tests, and during one of those, one of the frequencies we tried sent the aid into a long continuous beep that didn’t stop until we opened the battery casing to turn it off. I had to pull it out of my ear, and my audiologist was able to witness the sound himself (he has a stethoscope with a special attachment that allows him to listen to what is coming out of a hearing aid). Bug, he said! That hearing aid will be going back to the manufacturer at some point…

We never did completely pinpoint what it was that caused this “muffled” sound, but spatial orientation tests showed that I was slightly disoriented towards the left. So we boosted the right ear by 1dB (counterintuitive… but oh well, audiology is an experimental science). I suspect that the “muffled” feeling could in fact be due to the pressure of the tip in my ear (my left canal is smaller than the right) or something like that. Later on, I discovered that the top of the BTE casing was a tiny bit loose, and we changed it. Right now I have to say I feel this “muffled” problem has completely gone away. Either I got used to it, or something we did made it go… Don’t know.

A couple of weeks back I got an extra 2dB (I started at -8dB, and my audiologist usually starts people at -4dB). It was loud, but bearable. However, the clipping got worse, and worse than that, I found myself having trouble understanding people in situations where it seemed to me I should not be having so much trouble. Restaurants, hallways, noisy places. Back in the office, we actually tested this: word recognition in noisy environments. And the verdict seems to confirm my experience: I understand more words with less amplification. One more reason to try another hearing aid before making any final decision.

I walked out of the office with an extra toy: the M-DEX. The M-DEX does a bunch of things:

  • it connects to your phone by bluetooth and allows your hearing aids to function like a bluetooth headset, streaming sound directly into your aids
  • it’s a remote for the hearing aids (sound up, down, left, right, zoom, mute, music/voice programmes).


As far as I’m concerned, the phone bit (what makes it so expensive) is a complete fail. Pairing with the phone is not a problem, and I manage to get sound into my hearing aids, but the sound quality is much much worse than if I simply put the phone to my ear or stick in my earbuds. This reminds me to mention that I can actually fit my earbuds in my earn “over” the hearing aids. They’re a bit loose and fall out easier, and the sound doesn’t really get amplified by the hearing aid, but it works. For the moment my preferred option is still “earbuds and no hearing-aid” for the phone.

I tried with music rather than phone, and I have the same problem: a huge amount of static background noise, and volume so low that even at maximum setting I have trouble recognizing the song that is playing.

The M-DEX comes with a jack cable, so I tried connecting my phone to it with the cable rather than bluetooth. There is much less static, the sound is much better, but it’s still not really loud enough or clear enough to be an interesting alternative to simply wearing the earbuds, even over the hearing aids.

I have to say I’m pretty disappointed about this bit: I use the phone quite regularly, and listen to a lot of music and podcasts. I can’t believe there isn’t a simple “equalizer” software or application for my phone which I could feed my audiogram to and which would then amplify the frequencies I need. Clearly it wouldn’t be as good as a proper hearing aid, but I’m sure it would help a bit. If you know more about why this isn’t done, I’m all ears (!).

One thing I’m really happy with, though, is the remote function of the M-DEX. Given the problems described above in noisy places, it really helps to be able to bring amplification down a notch (both for troubleshooting and better hearing). I’ve toyed about with the zoom function a bit (selectively amplify sound from behind, left, right, in front) but for the moment I haven’t found a real use for it. Same for selectively amplifying left/right ear.

I absolutely love the “mute” button. Even though I’m trying to wear my aids as much as possible to train my brain to adapt to my new sound environment, it’s quite a relief to be able to just switch them off when it gets too noisy, or when I want to concentrate on something (reading on the train, working in the office), without having to physically remove the hearing aids.

One other annoying thing about the M-DEX (this is a comment I saw somewhere, can’t remember where) is this idea that the M-DEX is going to be the device you interact with rather than your phone. You can dial from it, pick up calls, hang up. Well, OK, maybe this makes sense for technology-confused people, but as far as I’m concerned I’d rather have, as the author of that same comment suggested, an app on my iPhone to control my M-DEX. Leave it to phone manufacturers (or Apple) to make phones.

Leaving aside the tech, one of the effects of wearing hearing aids is that I hear my tinnitus more. Luckily, it’s not bothersome: “white noise” type, not too loud, and not an annoying sound to me. It’s a normal phenomenon: while wearing hearing aids, I’m training my brain to tune out other ambient sounds which are louder than I’m used to, and as everything is louder, my brain doesn’t spend the whole day tuning out my tinnitus so I can hear stuff. It’s relaxing, but it means I’m “out of practice” tuning out the tinnitus, so I hear it more when I remove the hearing aids. No biggie, but I thought I’d mention it, because it’s an interesting phenomenon.

And as far as sharing online goes, I stumbled upon the Hearing Aid Forums — a lively online community of hearing aid users and professionals.

So, where am I, overall? I’m now pretty much “habituated” to hearing better (still -6dB from my “ideal” settings), and if you give me the choice between giving back my hearing aids and keeping them, with the glitches, I am definitely keeping them. But maybe the next trial will give me something even better!

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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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Google Groups Pain in the Neck [en]

[fr] Google Groups trouve qu'il n'est pas raisonnable de vouloir ajouter plus d'une dizaine de personnes à la fois à une newsletter nouvellement créée.

I’ve used Google Groups to set up a [newsletter for Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/2008/04/30/going-solo-has-a-newsletter/).

[Here it is](http://groups.google.com/group/going-solo-news/), with added proof (if needed) of my hopeless lack of design sense.

When I set up the group, I did what most normal newsletter creators would do: went through my contacts to invite those who might be interested in joining. I selected 30 or so people to start with.

My action triggered a flag for review, as I might be a potential spammer:

> **Your request to invite X new members has been flagged for review by our staff.**

>In order to protect our members from unsolicited email, Google manually reviews invite requests which meet various criteria. Your request will not be reviewed unless you provide us with more information in the form below. Reviews generally take 1 – 2 business days.

>Please provide an explanation for where these new members come from and why they would want to be part of your group. Note that Google takes a very dim view of Spam. The people you invite must know you and be expecting your message. If they complain, you will be banned from our service and your group will be deleted.


Well, I wrote up an explanation, saying I was setting up this newsletter so that people could stay informed about [Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/) ([registration](http://going-solo.net/registration/) is closing soon btw), and that I was going through my address book to let people know about it.

Anything wrong with that, in your opinion? I think not, and Google obviously didn’t think there was anything wrong either, because they let my invitations go through after a few hours.


Now, each time I invite even **one single person**, my request is flagged.

Google Groups: Threatening!

What a pain! I’m going to be inviting people many times a day over the next week, as I dig out e-mail addresses. And obviously, just announcing the existence of the newsletter is not enough to get people to sign up — ever heard of lower the barrier to entry? If I’m creating this newsletter, it’s because I’m finally coming to my senses (!) and realising that not everybody [follows Twitter](http://going-solo.net/twitter), [subscribes to blogs](http://going-solo.net), hangs out on [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8828618221) or [upcoming](http://upcoming.yahoo.com/event/407911/), and that *good ol’ e-mail* still has some good days before it when it comes to getting information out to people.

I am really annoyed at Google Groups for making this so difficult. Shouldn’t there be a way for me to get the limit “lifted” for my group, by offering proof I’m not a nasty spammer, but a businesswoman (OMG!) who is very much aware that she will very quickly use up her social capital if she spams her network with irrelevant stuff? And therefore, that I actually *need* to send out invites to a few hundred people?

Also, look at this form:

Google Groups invite members

Don’t you think that “e-mail addresses” field invites a reasonably large number of addresses?

I went through the help, and it wasn’t very encouraging, but I did learn a few useful things:

– [the “flagging limit” seems to be **10** invites at a time](http://groups.google.com/group/Managing-Your-Group/msg/034a807378fbdfd5) (talk about being unreasonably low for newsletters, bound to trigger TONS of false positives)
– you can [create a Google Groups account easily](https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount) even with a non-Gmail address (I think I had grief with this last year when I was struggling with Google Groups not wanting to send e-mail to the client I was setting up the discussion list for)
– messages from staff in the relevant threads seem to focus on [filling in the fields](http://groups.google.com/group/Managing-Your-Group/msg/d8efc2db78fc1502), which I’ve been doing, of course
– I’m not alone in thinking the [language Google uses for the warning message is a bit over the top](http://groups.google.com/group/Managing-Your-Group/browse_thread/thread/b5d34348c034b6e9), particularly given the number of false positives their low trigger limit is going to create (and the fact there is no warning that such a limit exists when you fill in the [**huge** field for e-mail addresses to invite](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/2456715554/))
– [I’m not alone.](http://groups.google.com/group/Managing-Your-Group/browse_thread/thread/eca163d042772868/31512ccb7cb93d80?lnk=gst&q=)
– There doesn’t seem to be an official Google Groups blog.

So, please. If you have friends working on Google Groups, please draw their attention to this post and issue. It’s a bloody pain in the neck.

Oh yeah — and [please sign up for the newsletter](groups.google.com/group/going-solo-news/subscribe). I’m going to have trouble inviting you 😉 — [email protected] also works.

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Diigo — I Think I Like the Idea (Bonus Content: Conversation Fragmentation) [en]

[fr] Diigo semble être un outil de commentaire et de bookmarking social intéressant. Regardez les images si le texte vous rebute. En prime, petite digression sur la fragmentation des conversations.

I’m a bit of a [referrer obsessive](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/2444646183/), and today that little habit of mine led me to discover [Diigo](http://diigo.com), a social bookmarking tool which does way more than that. It seems at first view to be a mix of [del.icio.us](http://del.icio.us) and what [coComment](http://cocomment.com) could have been, with a pinch of [MyBlogLog](http://mybloglog.com) and maybe [StumbleUpon](http://stumbleupon.com) thrown in.

[This is the link](http://www.diigo.com/01zr1) that led me to it. It’s pretty well-designed, because it immediately gave me an idea of what the service might be able to do for me. Look for yourself:

Diigo non-user landing page

That’s the page that was bookmarked, with a “toolbar” (a fake one) on top. Close-up:

Close-up of "fake" Diigo toolbar

Oh-oh! I can bookmark, *highlight*, annotate, comment… sounds nice! If I scroll down [the page](http://www.diigo.com/01zr1), I get to see what “highlight” might look like:

Diigo highlighting

That’s actually pretty good, because it allows me to **see** what I could get out of the service without having to sign up. Good marketing, guys and gals. Well, I don’t know about you, but that was enough for me to sign up and see what it was really about (specially as I’m keeping an eye open for something that could [replace what I use coComment for](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/19/more-on-cocomment-advertising/) — but it doesn’t seem this will be it, I’m afraid).

So, here goes. Sign-up was pretty straightforward. Sadly, Diigo commits the [password anti-pattern](http://adactio.com/journal/1357) crime, which **no social tool is allowed to do anymore** now that [Google has a password-free API](http://googledataapis.blogspot.com/2008/03/3-2-1-contact-api-has-landed.html) to get around that (see [Flickr and Dopplr: the Right Way to Import GMail Contacts](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/09/flickr-and-dopplr-the-right-way-to-import-gmail-contacts/)). I’m from now on refusing to give my password to any “find your friends” interface, even if it makes my life more difficult. One has to take a stand, sometimes.

So, finding friends will be hard. Let’s have a look around, however. Diigo has a toolbar, which installed quite nicely. The FireFox add-on provides a side drawer for Diigo.

My Dashboard | Diigo

Amongst other things, this makes it easy to leave a comment on any page. A good point for Diigo: they make it possible to share annotations with non-users (which is how they got me interested, as I just explained). So for the comment in the screenshot above, I can get a “[share link](http://www.diigo.com/annotated/a0a33a0bc4ae67a60050cb5f8f05b7ba)”:

Diigo -- Sharing annotated link

Which means people I give this link to get to see this:

Diigo comment visible to non users

Oh, and they have [OpenID](http://openid.net/) too! Another good point for them. In case it wasn’t clear from what I’ve already said, I think that leaving the functionalities of the tool **visible to non-users** like that is a great thing. It makes it easier to use for me when I don’t already have friends, and it allows people who haven’t joined yet to see more clearly what they might get out of doing so.

Back to the tour.

Diigo does bookmarking. I’ve been faithful to del.icio.us from the start, but it doesn’t mean I’m closed to switching if I find something better. If I can bookmark and post [Skitch](http://skitch.com/)-like sticky notes and comments on the web pages I’m bookmarking, well, that could win me over. First thing I checked, though, was import/export capability. One of the things I feel burnt with about my coComment experience is that there seems to be now way to leave *with my data* — so export is one of the first things I check before I consider using a new service I’m going to be storing data in.

Import is important, because if I’m going to switch to Diigo, I want to bring my past data in. Well, in that department, good marks:

Social Annotation: Seamless Integration of Social Bookmarking, Web Highlighter, Sticky-Note & Clipping

And even better, the “save elsewhere” feature:

Save Elsewhere

This means I can start saving my bookmarks to Diigo right away, and get Diigo to post them to del.icio.us. That way, it doesn’t break anything in the way I work — it just changes the input method and allows me to test a new tool “without risk”. Great.

I tried importing my bookmarks through the API and it seemed to stall in the middle:

My Bookmarks -- import fail

I can’t say I’m wild about the amount of advertising on the site, but it seems in slighter good taste than [coComment](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/04/19/more-on-cocomment-advertising/) (I encountered a seizure-inducing vibrating banner ad on their site just minutes ago — but to say the good, I also discovered that they now support OpenID during that trip).

So, after the first import seemed to fail halfway, I followed Diigo’s advice and imported my bookmarks through the HTML export file del.icio.us provides. I got the following message:

Diigo File Import from del.icio.us

…which made me fear I would end up with duplicates — but no, everything worked fine. It’s now possible to see my “[goingsolo+coverage](http://www.diigo.com/user/sbooth/goingsolo%2Ccoverage)” bookmarks on Diigo.

The interface is sometimes a bit difficult — I’ve found how to do things, but it doesn’t “flow” as easily as I’d expect it too. I guess they still could use some work there, and it sometimes has a feeling of “rough around the edges” (ie, import message that says things are ok when they aren’t, extra space in URL when filtering two different tags in bookmarks, chopped usernames under avatars…). This, for example, looks like it could use a bit more work in the design/usability department:

Reader Community for twitter.com ,Twitter: What are you doing?

What would be really nice would be if Diigo could capture comments made in traditional commenting forms, in addition to letting me add “separate” comments:

Could Diigo do comment capture?

This is important because comments made through normal commenting forms appear on the page immediately — so site owners aren’t going to get rid of them right away. I need to dig into what [Disqus](http://disqus.com/) is doing, though, haven’t yet had a close look. A bunch of people ([Loïc Le Meur](http://www.loiclemeur.com/english/2008/03/my-social-map-i.html), [Louis Gray](http://www.louisgray.com/live/2008/04/should-fractured-feed-reader-comments.html), [Stowe Boyd](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2008/04/the-great-conve.html), amongst others) have been noting lately that conversation/commentary is moving away from blog comments.

**The conversation is now forked or fragmented**, something that [Ben Metcalfe noted as a problem with coComment, already at the time](http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/index.php/2006/02/05/cocomment-semantically-forked-conversation/). I remember that at one point in time, the direction coComment was taking (with groups, mainly) was to abandon the idea of one conversation” and the move towards “multiple conversations” per post/page. I guess I never really liked that idea, because as a blogger before anything else, it’s important to me that *commentary* about what I publish can easily be found using the original post/video/whatever as a starting point.

On the other hand, I don’t believe in forcing people to use this or that system to leave their comments. Lots of people comment on my posts through Twitter, and that’s fine — but I regret there isn’t a system to indicate that those tweets are part of the commentary on this or that post. So, comment through Twitter, the comment form, Facebook, Diigo, on [my FriendFeed](http://friendfeed.com/sbooth) or on your own blog, even with a [Seesmic video comment](http://wiki.seesmic.com/Wp-plugin) if you want — but as a content provider, I’d like a way to collect all that commentary with a big net and display it on my blog post page.

Comments have more value when they are displayed alongside the content they’re referencing, but the process of leaving a comment should be tool-agnostic.

So anyway, end of bonus digression, and back to the Diigo tour. This Diigo thing is social, so I need to find friends. As I refuse to do the password-thingy, I tried typing a few names of superconnectors I know (Robert Scoble, Stowe Boyd, Michael Arrington, Chris Brogan… for starters). Only Arrington had an account, but it had one test bookmark and zero friends… not too good for a start.

I’d noticed the Diigo side drawer had a “Readers” tab. So I loaded up my blog in the browser, and scanned the [list of my readers](http://www.diigo.com/community/reader/climbtothestars.org) for known names (I figured I might know some of my readers). Lo and behold!

Climb to the Stars (Stephanie Booth) » More than just a blog.

My friend [Thomas Vanderwal](http://vanderwal.net/random) was in the list. Here’s his bookmarks page:

Thomas Vander Wal - Bookmarks

(Note the “tasteful” German-language ad — because [I’m in Switzerland, I speak German, of course (not)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/04/not-all-switzerland-speaks-german-dammit/).)

I had to poke around a bit for the “ad friend” button, but finally found it on Thomas’s profile page:

Thomas vander wal Profile

Unfortunately, it seems not many people from “our bloggy-twitter circle” have joined yet — Thomas only has two friends, and I don’t know them (I think). Or Diigo need to work hard on their “finding friends and adding them” processes.

Well, there we are. Looks interesting. Will try to use it. More to be said of course, but already spent way too long on this “quick post with a few screenshots”!

If you join Diigo, [here’s my profile page](http://www.diigo.com/profile/sbooth) if you want to add me. Tell them I sent you! (Who was saying I should get paid to write this kind of stuff, already? ;-))

**Update:** Diigo isn’t new, though I don’t recall having ever heard of it. Seems Techcrunch mentioned it in [2005](http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/27/diigo/), [2006](http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/08/02/diigo-is-a-research-tool-that-rocks/), and again [last month](http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/diigo-revamps-social-bookmarking-service-with-v30/). Maybe I should read Techcrunch more often 😉

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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](http://2008.blogtalk.net/) and the preceding [WebCamp on Social Network Portability](http://webcamp.org/SocialNetworkPortability), from 2nd to 4th.

Then, I head for Austin, Texas for [SXSW Interactive](http://2008.sxsw.com/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 [Kayak.com](http://kayak.com) 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 Kayak.com 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.com:

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

And here is what I got:


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


…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:**

Kayak.com 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](http://easyjet.com), so what about the other low-costs? From the Cork airport site, I got a [list of airlines flying there](http://www.corkairport.com/flight_info/airlines.html). Then I went to individual airline sites — I’ll pass you the details, save to say that [RyanAir](http://ryanair.com) 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:

Kayak.com GVA - LON

That’s helpful, actually. I wouldn’t have thought to check [BA](http://ba.com). The flight is way too early, though. And Kayak.com 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?

Kayak.com LON - ORK

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

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:

Kayak.com 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.


ORK-AUS: $509

Kayak.com ORK - AUS

AUS-SFO: $125

Kayak.com AUS - SFO

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:

Kayak.com 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:

Kayak.com ORK-AUS-SFO-GVA 1029$

As you can see, American Airlines seem to like Chicago airport, ORD. [Dennis Howlett](http://twitter.com/dahowlett) 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 Kayak.com (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 Kayak.com about:

AUS-SFO-GVA: $1669

Kayak.com AUS - SFO - GVA

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:

Kayak.com: 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:

Kayak.com 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](http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/austinairport/nonstops.htm). I can’t find that kind of information for DFW, unfortunately. I’m keeping an eye on [DFW](http://www.dfwairport.com/) 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:

Kayak.com: 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](http://2008.blogtalk.net/travelling) (they have a great “travelling” page, btw, I’ll have to take example on them for [Going Solo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/12/14/announcing-going-solo/):

Aer Arann: ORK-DUB

Cheap flight, $36. What would Kayak say?

Kayak.com: 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](http://www.shannonairport.com/), 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.

Kayak.com: 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?

Kayak.com 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:

Kayak.com: 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:

Kayak.com: 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](http://twitter.com/stephtara), [Bill O’Donnel](http://egopoly.com/) (find him [on Twitter](http://twitter.com/agentbillo), he’s the Chief Architect at Kayak!) sent me a message saying he [wanted to read my post](http://twitter.com/agentbillo/statuses/524594472) when I was done. He also added that he was [forwarding my twitters to the UI team](http://twitter.com/agentbillo/statuses/524596032). So, guys, hope you enjoy the free [experiential marketing](http://climbtothestars.org/focus/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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Finally Getting Tumblr [en]

[fr] Un tumblelog, c'est un blog réduit à sa plus simple expression: des articles, des liens permanents, un fil RSS. Pas de commentaires, pas de gadgets, pas de tags, pas de catégories. Un bookmarklet permet de facilement choisir entre six sortes de billets prédéfinis (texte, citation, lien, photo, chat, vidéo) et devine même pour vous si vous le cliquez depuis une page web.

C'est un lieu idéal pour bloguer en passant, au fil des lectures. Noter une idée en vitesse. Mettre en valeur une photo ou une vidéo qu'on a appréciée. Prendre des notes sous forme de citation lorsque l'on lit.

I’ve had a [tumblelog](http://steph.tumblr.com) since February of this year, but it’s taken me a long time to figure out where it fit into my online presence.

I first tried importing **everything** into it, but that was a mess. [Jaiku](http://steph.jaiku.com/) is better when it comes to lifestreaming, for the moment. (Wow, just checked, and [Suprglu’s still alive](http://steph.suprglu.com/) — head there if you want the “fuller” version of my lifestream… with the lag, though.)

Anyway. This is what I publish on it nowadays: comments from other blogs, screenshots, quotes, and passing thoughts.

Let’s take a closer look.

#### What on Earth is This Tumblelog Thing?

A [tumblelog](http://tumblr.com) is a blog stripped of all the non-essential stuff: no categories, no comments, no monthly archives, no fancy layouts, widgets. What is left? Posts, permalinks, RSS feeds… and a simple, no-nonsense layout.


Back in 2000 when I started blogging, the revolutionary thing about blogging tools (which at the time meant Blogger, there weren’t that many others) was that they **made it dead easy to publish** things online.

Tumblr has focused on that. Make it simple. Remove everything that gets in the way. Make the act of blogging so effortless that it can really [become a true backup brain](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/08/la-paralysie-du-blogueur/).

It’s a place for passing thoughts, interesting links, a video here or there. No time lost for anything else than the act of posting. Whatever you do, don’t think before posting.

A tumblelog is really a “me first!” thing. Stuff for me, first. Maybe you’ll find it interesting too — but if you don’t, no heat.

#### What I’m Importing

Tumblr Feed Settings

At the beginning, as I said, I imported everything into my Tumblr. But then, I wanted to import my Tumblr into my lifestream on Jaiku, and I ended up with duplicate content.

I decided to remove all my imports from Tumblr except for comments — through [coComment](http://cocomment.com/comments/steph). Comments on other people’s blogs are an important part of my online activity, and they deserve to be “kept” somewhere. CoComment does that, of course, but not in a really comfortable way for readers (the RSS feed is fine, and included on my blog, but it’s only the last comments). Reminds me that I never wrote that post about the disastrous launch of the 2.0 version, btw. Oh, well.

So, my comments go in my Tumblr.

During my stay in San Francisco this summer, I was converted (quite easily) to [Skitch](http://myskitch.com/) by [Mr. Messina](http://flickr.com/photos/factoryjoe/tags/skitch), and since then, my (http://flickr.com/photos/bunny) has seen the arrival of a great many screenshots. I feel like I finally have a camera to take photographs of my online life — as soon as I see something of note or bump into a problem, Skitch allows me [http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/skitch](effortlessly upload a screenshot).

These screenshots are a narrative of my online wanderings, and as such, deserve to be displayed in a timeline separate from my thousands of photographs.

In the Tumblr they go.

#### What I’m Posting

So far, I’ve found two really important uses to Tumblr: quotes and thoughts. The Tumblr bookmarklet is smart enough that it recognizes that I want to post a quote if I select some text on the page before clicking it:

Posting a Quote to Tumblr

This makes posting quotes dead easy. It’s suddenly made my online reading way more valuable: I’ve always read books taking notes on what I was reading, copying quotes so I had them handy in the future — and when a lot of my reading shifted online, I lost that. With Tumblr, I’ve found it again. (Finding the quotes will be trickier, I hope Google’s indexing of the Tumblr will be sufficient.)

The [Tumblr Dashboard](http://www.tumblr.com/dashboard) has six pre-set types of posts: text, photo, quote, link, chat, video.

Tumblr Dashboard

These pre-set post types offer different formatting and posting forms.

I’ve started to use the text post type to jot down random thoughts that occur to me, or notes to myself. For example, I’ve spent quite a bit of today thinking about a talk I’m going to give tomorrow, and jotted down some thoughts like [this one](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/12816615).

As you can see, Tumblr allows me to link to an individual post.

A few times, I’ve also posted [snippets of chat/IM conversations](http://steph.tumblr.com/post/8217594).

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Satisfaction Looks Neat [en]

[fr] Un outil de "customer care" qui permet d'une part aux "clients" de s'entre-aider, et au personnel de participer à la conversation. Ça semble vraiment pas mal! Quelques petits problèmes après 20 minutes d'utilisation.

I read about [Satisfaction](http://getsatisfaction.com/) yesterday somewhere and saw it again today [in Brian Oberkirch’s blog](http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/09/13/beyond-trouble-tickets-can-satisfaction-make-customer-service-fun/). I went to [sign up](http://getsatisfaction.com/people/new) and [give it a quick toss around](http://getsatisfaction.com/people/e217220ab7592d9724e9137d6d35aeae376f9ee4/). Here are the first screenshots.

The nice thing is that as this is a support tool, I used it to [record the problems I bumped in](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction) too.

Satisfaction: submitting a problem_idea_question_chat

I think it’s a pretty neat tool and I’m going to use it in future when I bump into problems, in addition to [posting them to Flickr with Skitch](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/skitch). It’s community-based support, but with an option for company employees to participate with a “label” that identifies them as staff.

The first thing that annoyed me was that I had trouble finding where to change my profile photo. I clicked on “Account” and expected to find something there, but in fact it’s under “Dashboard”.

Satisfaction -- change image

Here is [the topic I created about this problem](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/account_details_place_confusing).

Next issue, a rather important workflow/design flaw:

Recently active topics in Satisfaction Unlimited about Satisfaction Beta Release

I was a bit wordy in [explaining it](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/submission_workflow_breaks) (early Sunday morning here), but I hope this makes sense:

> Ideally, when fill in the first “chatbox”, I’m going to want to check out the links before saying “not quite right, want to add details and submit”.

> Unfortunately, once I’ve done that, it seems I can’t come back to the page with the link inviting me to “add details and submit”.

> That doesn’t encourage me to click the links and check out first! It encourages me to go straight to “add details and submit”.

> So, if those links are really expected to be useful, encourage me to click on them by providing the “add details and submit” form on them too.

Last but not least:

Get Satisfaction: two gripes

1. If you’re telling me that I’m set to receive e-mail updates, that’s really nice of you — but it would be even nicer to give me a link to where to change it.
2. Please, please, please. [Space-separated tags](http://getsatisfaction.com/satisfaction/topics/i_only_just_discovered_that_you_support_commas_in_your_tags). At least support them. I’ve talked about this [elsewhere](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/22/wordpress-finally-has-tags/) (and before, too, but I can’t remember when or where). It breaks the current input model we’re used to (del.icio.us, Flickr…). It makes us type an extra character.

Go try out Satisfaction!

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MindMeister: Google Docs-Style Mind Mapping [en]

[fr] MindMeister est un logiciel de mind-mapping (comme FreeMind ou Mind Manager) en ligne, à la Google Docs. J'ai des invitations si vous désirez essayer. On peut collaborer sur des documents à plusieurs et les publier sur le web.

A quickie before I head out to write more hopefully useful stuff for teenagers: my friend [Gabriel](http://iblog.ch) sent me an invitation to [MindMeister](http://www.mindmeister.com/), an [online mind-mapping service](http://www.mindmeister.com/home/about). Actually, I almost spammed it, but luckily had a closer look just in time.

Sign up is nice and easy, I was able to import a mindmap from [Freemind](http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page) in three effortless clicks, and the whole interface is very Google Docs-like. If you like Google Docs and have use for mind mapping (you should!), then you’ll probably like MindMeister. It’s still a little green, of course, but trust me — this is screaming for an acquisition 🙂

You can of course collaborate on mind maps and share them with the public (I just did that with the [very ugly brainstorming](http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddcrwvm8_16d3fhsz) related to [my reboot talk proposal](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html)). They autosave, so you don’t have to worry about losing your work (like I almost did — [again!](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/9602221) — with this blog post). You can also [export to Mind Manager or FreeMind](http://mindmeister.com/home/show_news/5), of course (guys, you need to make your permalinks more visible in the blog; I had to go through the RSS feed to find that one).

Interested? It’s a closed beta, but I have invites. Just ask!

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Nokia 6280 Shortcomings [en]

[fr] Au début, j'étais réjouie du fait que mon Nokia 6280 était compatible mac. Maintenant, j'ai un peu la gueule de bois, même si j'aime toujours autant le toucher du clavier.

Appareil photo de vraiment mauvaise qualité, synchronisation capricieuse, dictionnaire t9 à la mémoire courte, impossibilité de marquer comme lus tous les SMS pas lus, volume d'alerte de SMS trop fort par rapport à la sonnerie (impossible à régler séparément), réveil qu'il faut réenclencher chaque jour, et lien vers Sunrise Live (qui n'est pas mon opérateur) gravé pour l'éternité dans le menu rapide que l'on peut soi-disant configurer entièrement.

I’ve had a Nokia 6280 since September, and unfortunately the initial excitement of managing to make it sync with my Mac has worn down. Here’s a round-up of what works, and doesn’t work.

The phone is pretty, it’s the right size to fit in my hand, and the keyboard has a very nice touch (particularly important to me as I have RSI). The sliding mechanism is fun to play with (specially to answer calls or hang up), and it overall behaves quite correctly as a device to call other people and be called.

However. Not all is well.

One of the reasons I bought this phone was the 2Mpx camera. Well, to put it simply, it’s crap. Too much compression, artefacts, patchy colors, and an overall impression of digital zoom.

As I said, the phone works over iSync to sync contacts and calendars. When it works, that is. Half the time computer and phone are unable to recognize each other. (Yes, it could have something to do with the computer, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to blame it on the phone.)

The T9 dictionary works fine until you want to teach it new words. It remembers them for a little while, and then forgets about them. Obviously, instead of being permanently added to the dictionary, they are kept in some kind of short-term memory of very limited capacity.

Flooded with many unread SMS, maybe because you use Twitter on your mobile and forgot to turn it off? Fear not, you will be given the chance to trudge through those 30 messages one by one to mark them as read. You can “mark” them individually and then delete them all in one go, but you can’t “mark as read” in a batch.

There also seems to be no way to set the volume for SMS reception and incoming calls separately. This means that the “beep-beep” announcing the arrival of text messages is way too loud, and the ringing for incoming calls is still not loud enough.

The alarm has to be reset each day. Learning this involved quite a bit of oversleeping, until I understood that just checking the alarm time was right and then exiting was not sufficient. The “OK” button needs to be pressed each day to reactivate the alarm.

The icing on the cake? The customizable “Go to” menu (for easy access to frequently requested functions) sports a shiny shortcut to the web portal homepage of a carrier which happens to not be mine. Hard-coded. First position. Unmovable.

Crossposted to hate.my.phone.

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