In Love With Evernote [en]

[fr] Evernote est un must si vous avez un iPhone. Cette application vous permet de prendre des notes dans toutes les formes (audio, texte, et image avec un bout de reconnaissance de caractères), les taguer, et les synchroniser via le serveur d'Evernote avec votre accès web ou l'application qui tourne sur votre ordinateur. Il y a également un plugin Firefox. Même si vous n'avez pas d'iPhone, je vous encourage vivement à voir en quoi Evernote peut vous être utile.

Pour ma part, voici quelques utilisations que j'en fais:

  • photos de cartes de visite, d'horaires de bus/train, d'heures d'ouverture de commerces
  • liste-photos de choses prêtées
  • notes de recherche ramassées sur le web
  • idées à creuser quand je serai en ligne
  • choses à écrire/bloguer
  • choses à acheter
  • livres lus et films vus
  • photos des choses que j'ai laissées au chalet, pour savoir si j'y ai déjà un pyjama ou non
  • ... et je cherche encore!

Et vous?

When I told you about my favourite iPhone apps, I wasn’t sure yet whether I’d like Evernote or not, as I had only just installed it.

I now know.

Evernote is your ubiquitous backup brain. It’s a place to store all the stuff you want to remember, be it snapshots (with text recognition to some extent), text, or audio notes. You can add notes and access them from the web, the desktop app (Mac <strong>and</strong> Windows, please), or your iPhone or Windows mobile phone.

If you have an iPhone and aren’t using Evernote yet, do not waste one second. Download the free Evernote iPhone app immediately, and sign up for an account. Even if you don’t have an iPhone (or a phone running Windows mobile), I really recommend you sign up, install the desktop app, and take a close look to see how it can be useful to you.

You should also install the Firefox extension or the bookmarklet if you’re using another browser.

Now that you’re done, here are some screenshots and ideas to get started using Evernote with your iPhone. First, here’s what it looks like:


The little “Tips” tab near the bottom has a bunch of good ideas in it that made me go “oooh” and “aaaah” as I read through them. Amongst other things, I learnt to take screenshots on my iPhone:

Evernote 1

You can easily record any kind of note from your iPhone. Take a snapshot, or record some thoughts in audio format. The notes sync with the server, which will in turn sync with your desktop app — so you have everything everywhere.

Evernote 2

As you can see, notes are tagged. You can prevent the iPhone from syncing over 3G if you’re worried about bandwidth limits. I’m personally so way under mine that I turned it on.

Evernote 6

Here’s a list of what I’ve been putting in Evernote so far:

  • business cards (a bit disappointing with the MacBook iSight, haven’t tried with the iPhone camera so far — but I was a bit let down by my high hopes for textual recognition in photographs; expect it to work “a little”)
  • bus and train timetables (Lausanne and elsewhere)
  • opening hours
  • photos of things left at the chalet
  • photos of things lent to people (books, DVDs)
  • ideas for blog posts (with or without photo)
  • things I need to look up or think about
  • books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen
  • things I want to buy
  • “quotes” from books I’m reading

Other ideas:

  • recipes
  • research material
  • & (limited here only by creativity and current needs)

Bus timetable, to come back home from town without missing my last bus at night:

Evernote 4

Contents of my drawer at the chalet to help me remember that I already have a woolly pullover, a cap, a pair of pyjamas and toothpaste up there next time I go:

Evernote 5

Now, even if you tag your stuff, the pile of notes is going to build up, and you might want a little more organisation. You store notes in notebooks. Here are some of those I’ve created (with the desktop app):

Evernote 3

Notebooks can be public. For example, “Things Read and Seen” is online for everybody to see.

As notes may be a little slow to load on the iPhone (and connectivity might abandon you) you can mark some notes as favorites — they will be available offline.

With the Firefox extension, you can put snippets of web pages into notes (just highlight and click on Evernote), as well as whole pages. You can import bookmarks and notes from delicious or Google Notebook.

I’m curious. What are the other great uses of Evernote I haven’t discovered yet? The comments are yours.

Thanks to Stowe for pointing out Evernote to me way back when, even though I didn’t “get it” at the time. Thanks to Julien for recently telling me how much he liked it on his iPhone and how he was using it.

Similar Posts:

Happy iPhone Owner: My Favourite Apps [en]

[fr] Après quelques semaines d'utilisation, une liste des applications que j'utilise régulièrement et que j'apprécie. Deux recommandations en particulier pour la Suisse sont en tête de liste.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had my iPhone for a few weeks now and installed a whole bunch of apps on it. Here are those I’ve found usefull (order not an indication of importance).

Swiss specials

If you don’t live in Switzerland, skip this section. If you do live in Switzerland, download these two apps right away.

  • 20 minutes in French, because when I take the bus at the end of the day there aren’t any left (it’s one of our crappy free papers). Plus, less paper waste. You can download to go while on wifi so that you don’t use up data. Also exists in German.
  • SBB travel planner because I use public transport and the iPhone app is nicer than the train timetable SMS service (which is pretty good already if you don’t have an iPhone). Works great for trains, less well for busses and trams. Particularly appreciated: it knows where I am and where my “home” is, and when I hit the “take me home” button it tells me when my next train home is — wherever I am :-). Note: I’ve just downloaded Transport, which is an open source app which does the same thing, to compare.

Online geekery

For the geeks out there. Play with your web2.0 toys on your iPhone.

  • Tweetie for Twitter. Not free, but not expensive either. Does multiple accounts (haven’t set that up yet) and works just the way I expect a Twitter client to work. Rien à redire.
  • Facebook — really great. Almost better than the Facebook site. Even has chat. My only regret is that I can’t see wall posts on events and groups through it.
  • Fring in case I need to chat or contact people through IM. Not using it much, because I’m not very agile yet with the keyboard, but it comes in handy.
  • Google Mobile gives you direct access to all your online Google stuff: Gmail, Gtalk, Docs, Calendar, Reader, and all the rest. It opens in Safari, but the shortcuts are really handy.


I guess I’m exactly what you’d call a casual gamer. I don’t play games much, but if you put one between my hands, I’ll have fun with it. I like simple stuff that doesn’t require much brain power.

  • Aurora Feint: The Beginning has got me completely hooked. It has a Tetris-like dimension (assemble blocks by threes or more and they “pop”, allowing upper blocks to fall down in the hole), and when you pass levels you can buy tools and powers that make your playing more effective. It has beautiful graphics, is very easy to get started with, and when you feel the need for more& head over to the player boards to learn some strategy!
  • Marble Mash is almost a “physical” game. You hold your iPhone flat, and try to guide the marbles through the maze without falling in the holes, by tilting the iPhone slightly in various directions. I had a woodem marble maze toy when I was a kid, and loved it. This is almost like the real thing, and great fun.
  • Crazy Penguin Catapult Lite is funny. You’re at the head of a team of kamikaze penguins who catapult themselves through the air to knock out polar bears by falling on them. Sounded a bit weird to me, but you quickly get into it and learn to avoid catapulting your fellow penguins into the walls. Squish.
  • iMinesweeper isn’t free, but for 1$, it almost is. Does anybody here need to be introduced to the famous Minesweeper game? Hours of fun ahead. Just a bit frustrating when you forget to change “modes” and expose a mine instead of flagging it. Ah& concentration.
  • JellyCar is another of these funny games. You must guide a rubbery, shape-changing car through a series of obstacles. You can grow the car or shrink it, or make it tilt forwards or backwards by tilting the iPhone. I haven’t played much, but the whole thing just makes me giggle along.


  • If found allows you to enter your contact details and a reward for if your iPhone is found. I hope it never comes in handy.


These are applications that haven’t yet won me over — either because I haven’t used them enough, or because I just installed them and I haven’t decided if they were promising or a disappointment.

  • Tumblrette for Tumblr. Not free, and I’m not sure about it yet. It keeps logging me out because there is a “+” in my e-mail address, and it mainly seems to display a webpage view of the dashboard. Haven’t really had a chance to see what more if offers me than the regular site.
  • Evernote looks good. I have it installed on my mac, and having it on the iPhone looks like a handy way to store visual “stuff”. I only installed it yesterday, so I can’t really tell you yet if I’m using it.
  • WordPress gives me access to post on my blogs, but honestly, I don’t see myself writing posts on my iPhone. I had hoped the application would give me access to my comment management screen, but it doesn’t. Maybe later?
  • Enigmo is a pretty fun puzzle game, where you use a variety of tools to guide streams of water (or oil, or lava) into their final recipients. I enjoyed it until I got desperately stuck somewhere around level 8. Maybe I just need to get unstuck. It’s another of these “almost free” apps.

I’ve installed a bunch of other apps, but I’m not mentioning them as I really haven’t used them. Do you have any other great apps to share?

Oh, a tip: to get the URL of something in the iTunes Store, ctrl+click on the app (or song, or album) and select “Copy iTunes Store URL”.

Similar Posts:

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.

Similar Posts:

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](

[Here it is](, 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]( ([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](, [subscribes to blogs](, hangs out on [Facebook]( or [upcoming](, 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]( (talk about being unreasonably low for newsletters, bound to trigger TONS of false positives)
– you can [create a Google Groups account easily]( 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](, 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](, 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](
– [I’m not alone.](
– 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]( I’m going to have trouble inviting you 😉 — [email protected] also works.

Similar Posts:

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](, and today that little habit of mine led me to discover [Diigo](, a social bookmarking tool which does way more than that. It seems at first view to be a mix of []( and what [coComment]( could have been, with a pinch of [MyBlogLog]( and maybe [StumbleUpon]( thrown in.

[This is the link]( 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](, 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]( — 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]( crime, which **no social tool is allowed to do anymore** now that [Google has a password-free API]( to get around that (see [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](”:

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]( 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 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]( 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 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]( (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 provides. I got the following message:

Diigo File Import from

…which made me fear I would end up with duplicates — but no, everything worked fine. It’s now possible to see my “[goingsolo+coverage](” 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: 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]( is doing, though, haven’t yet had a close look. A bunch of people ([Loïc Le Meur](, [Louis Gray](, [Stowe Boyd](, 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]( 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]( or on your own blog, even with a [Seesmic video comment]( 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]( 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]( 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)](

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]( 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](, [2006](, and again [last month]( Maybe I should read Techcrunch more often 😉

Similar Posts:

FriendFeed Appeals to Women, Too! [en]

[fr] Quelques commentaires sur FriendFeed, un nouveau service de lifestreaming. Et en réaction à une liste de "blogueurs élite" quasi entièrement masculine, allez -- une liste de femmes de mon entourage qui sont sur FriendFeed.

*Scroll to the bottom of the post for **The List**.*

[Brian Solis on]( joins [Louis Gray]( in commenting upon the fact that [“elite bloggers” are joining FriendFeed]( in respectable numbers. [FriendFeed](http://friendfeed) is a lifestreaming service, which allows you to aggregate all your online presence and publications in one place.

The first such application I bumped into was [Suprglu]( (just checked, it’s still running, wow!), [two years ago]( I was happy with it for some time, and then disappointed that it had too much of a lag (they didn’t have much resources, at least at the time).

Then came [Jaiku](, which I liked, but I never quite got used to the layout and the fact that only titles were posted. [Tumblr]( entered my world at about the same time, and for a while, I wasn’t sure how to use both these tools without being redundant. I finally decided that [Tumblr wasn’t for lifestreaming]( At that point I was also on [Facebook](, and the newsfeed there was pretty nice as a lifestreaming service. Then the apps arrived and [things started to get ugly]( — but I still like my newsfeed, particularly as it does some editing for me (selecting stories I’m likely to find relevant, based on a magic mix of criteria including my “thumbs up/thumbs down” ratings on existing newsfeed elements).

Lifestreaming has two purposes:

– gather all my stuff in one place, so that I can point people to it
– gather all the stuff of all my friends in one place, so that I can follow them all together (this is more presence-like).

For the first, nothing beats (to this day) [Jeremy Keith’s lifestream]( in readability. I keep telling myself I need to [grab the code]( and do it for myself.

For the second, I’m ambivalent. I like jaiku, but I find it not very readable. The Facebook newsfeed is more readable and is edited down to a readable amount of information, but not everybody is on Facebook, and it’s not public. FriendFeed is promising, in that it’s rather easy to set up, but I don’t find it very readable, and it would need some editing features (so I can filter out stuff manually, of course, but also some automatic editing which I could turn on and off).

So, I like FriendFeed. I wish they’d make it easier to add people, though. One quick example. Here is a screenshot of the listing of my “followers” (=people who have subscribed to me):

FriendFeed - People Subscribed to Me

There is no indication of if I’ve subscribed back or not. Compare with Twitter:

Twitter / People Who Follow stephtara

This, in my opinion, is a user interface problem that has been “solved”. If you create a new social tool, please don’t give us an interface which looks like it ignores existing solutions to obvious user headaches, like figuring out if you’re following back people who are following you (there is a higher chance that the people you want to follow will be amongst the people follow you already).

So, I’m looking forward to seeing where this will go. As such, I’m not actually using FriendFeed so much as sitting on it, waiting to see when it becomes usable.

**Coming back to the two posts I mentioned at the beginning of this article**, my initial reaction while going through the list of “elite bloggers” using FriendFeed was “hmm, I’m not in it”.

Well, of course. I mean, I’m quite lucid about the fact that all this blogging and online presence does have at stake (amongst other things) receiving a certain amount of recognition — and although I’m reasonably good at not letting this kind of motivation drive my activities. But it’s there, somewhere in the background. I’ve talked about this a lot in French, I realise — particularly in [interviews I’ve given to the press](/about/presse) and [talks]( about blogging in general, but not much in English. Anyway, I’m not dwelling on this as it’s not my main point, but I always have this little secret hope (that I’m not overly proud of) that I’ll “make it” into this kind of listing. But enough with that.

My second reaction was: **where are the women?** Now, sorry to pull the whole “sexist” card — and those who know me are aware I’m far from a flag-carrying bra-burning feminist (though who knows, in another place and time, I might very well have ended up burning underwear in public) — but when lists of “influential/elite/top whatevers” show up and women are totally unrepresented in them, I think “ah, another guy who is mainly interested in what other guys have to say, and who might suggest at some point that we need to talk about the problem of ‘women in technology'”. *(Nothing personal, Louis — this is more about my reaction than about who you are.)*

So, in an attempt to encourage you to check out **some of the women in my world which I have found on FriendFeed**, here is a list of Some Women On FriendFeed. And yes, I’ve put myself in the list, of course. **Oh yeah, this *does* have a taste of linkbait.** But I won’t be offended if nobody picks it up. So, here goes.

– Ambiome / [Ambiome[Dot]Net](
– Cathy Brooks / [other than that…](
– danah boyd / [apophenia](
– Dannie Jost / [uncondition](
– Dori Smith / [Backup Brain](
– Emily Chang / [Strategic Designer](
– Gabriela Avram / [CONIECTO](
– Gia Milinovich / [Gia’s blog](
– Hillary Hartley / [static{fade}](
– Laura Fitton / [Pistachio Consulting](
– Lilia Efimova / [Mathemagenic](
– Lisa McMillan / [Lisa McMillan dot com](
– Nicole Simon / [Cruel to be Kind](
– Stephanie Booth / [Climb to the Stars](
[]( *whoops, sbooth, not steph!*
– Suw Charman-Anderson / [Strange Attractor](
– Tara Hunt / [HorsePigCow](
– Virginie Pfeiffer / [Mistress of the Web](

*Self-promotion: follow me on [Twitter]( or [FriendFeed]( and don’t forget to [blog about]( [Going Solo](, or even [register](!*

Similar Posts:

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.

Similar Posts:

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]( 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]( is better when it comes to lifestreaming, for the moment. (Wow, just checked, and [Suprglu’s still alive]( — 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]( 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](

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]( 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]( by [Mr. Messina](, and since then, my ( 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 [](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]( 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](

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](

Similar Posts:

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]( yesterday somewhere and saw it again today [in Brian Oberkirch’s blog]( I went to [sign up]( and [give it a quick toss around]( 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]( 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]( 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](

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]( (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]( At least support them. I’ve talked about this [elsewhere]( (and before, too, but I can’t remember when or where). It breaks the current input model we’re used to (, Flickr…). It makes us type an extra character.

Go try out Satisfaction!

Similar Posts:

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!

Similar Posts: