Attention Span and Partial Attention [en]

[fr] Est-ce que l'habitude du multitâches devant l'écran m'a fait perdre mes pouvoirs de concentration? J'ai du mal à  suivre les conférences, alors qu'avec dix ans d'uni, on pourrait considérer que j'ai de l'entraînement...

I spent ten years at university. During those years, I attended lectures on a variety of subject, sometimes from 7am to 8pm, taking notes and understanding most of what was said.

What’s wrong with me now? I can’t seem to follow most of the talks given here. I remember having the same problem at BlogTalk 2.0 a couple of years back. Is it the partial attention thing, because of course, I can’t follow what is being said when I’m typing up a post or chatting in a backchannel. Or uploading photos.

Should I put the computer away and take notes by hand? My writing sucks now, and RSI clearly will prevent me from taking notes during two whole days.

Is it worse that that? Have years of multitasking in front of a screen impaired my ability to concentrate and focus on a single thing? Have I lost the power or the will to concentrate? That, I have to admit, is a scary idea.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just poor audio output in the room (thanks, Jérôme, for making me feel less alone about this) coupled to my usual not-so-good audio input, plus, in some cases, the fact I’m not used to following English spoken by non-native speakers (particularly francophones, because I usually speak French with them)? And the fact that I’m tired?

Oh well. It’s probably a mixture of everything. I wonder if I shouldn’t have posted this on the Cheese Sandwich Blog — but it’s a little late for that.

After Lunch [en]

[fr] Un bon repas, un peu de difficulté à  suivre les conférences (problèmes d'audio dans la salle? mes mauvaises oreilles?)

Had a nice lunch with Robert, Anina, Anne Dominique and Ben. Food was nice, conversation too, but God! am I tired. (And I don’t even have jetlag to blame.)

Cory Doctorow talking

Cory’s talking about DRM and stuff. It’s interesting, but I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a real audio quality issue in the room. My hearing is not quite as good as the average person’s, but it doesn’t usually make it difficult for me to follow talks like this. I know I also tend to have trouble “catching” the train of words to follow what somebody is saying. (Call it “keeping in tune” with what is being said, if you like.) So maybe I’m suffering from a conjunction of “could-be-better” audio quality and “could-be-better” ears and listening skills.

Is anybody else in the room having difficulty understanding the speakers?

I think there is weird stuff going on with the wifi too. Is it hopping? Jumping? Flickering? I’m hardly seeing anybody on Bonjour — they come and go — and uploading photos to Flickr is really slow. Are any naughty bloggers in the room using the wifi for P2P stuff?

(And just in case you’re thinking I complain too much, I’m having a really nice time here; I’m just looking forward to being able to re-listen to some talks through the audio and video links made available.)

Testing Hosted Blog Solutions [en]

I’ve set up a few test blogs on various hosted blogging farms. Nasty feedback for some of them.

[fr] J'ai ouvert des blogs-tests à  divers endroits qui offrent blogs et hébergement. Voici une liste de mes blogs-tests avec quelques commentaires.

I’ve started setting up test blogs here and there to try out hosted blogging solutions, as I’m eager to encourage people to start blogging, but I’m aware that getting server space, a domain, and installing WordPress isn’t something the casual user will do.

So, very brief review here, more details on the blogs themselves (which tend to be lists of complaints and problems I ran into while functioning in my lazy-lambda-user mode).

ViaBloga

My test blog is Chez Steph. ViaBloga is a cousin of Joueb.com, minus the community emphasis, which appears repulsive to some. (Think LiveJournal.)

I’ve run into a few bugs and usability problems there, which have always been quickly responded to and addressed by the staff. I should add that I’ve known Delphine and Stéphane for quite some time now, and that the latter personally asked me if I was interested in testing ViaBloga when they were starting with it.

ViaBloga has got wiki-like features I haven’t really managed to get into. One thing that really has me enthusiastic (and I discovered that today) is the list management system. Just add the url, it fetches the title of the link, the rss feed, and creates a thumbnail. Here is an example of what it can look like — look at Delphine’s blogroll, too. I’d love to see something like this rolled into a plugin for WordPress — it makes me feel like adding all sorts of links to my blog.

Skyblog

I’ve decided to go public with my skyblog, and I hope you appreciate my courage. Skyblog is clearly aimed at a very young public (teens), and even the language in the admin interface reflects that. Many of my pupils have skyblogs on which they post photos of their friends and make brief comments in sms-talk.

I find the blogs themselves ugly, and the admin interface is kludgy, though it seems it works, because my pupils always complain that WordPress is so hard to use and that skyblog is so much better and easier. One thing to be said, skyblog makes it really easy to upload photographs, so many of these skyblogs ressemble a vaguely commented photo album.

I hardly posted anything to my test blog, and upon checking it out again today I was amazed at the amount of (a) visits (nearly 1000) it had had, and (b) nasty aggressive comments complete strangers had left me. I’ve added a photo of my cat, I wonder what the reaction to that will be.

Blogsome

Blogsome is clearly my favourite. Here is my Blogsome test blog, complete with a Pink Lilies theme. It took me less than 30 seconds to open my weblog (a username, an e-mail address, and a title for the weblog — done.)

It’s WordPress, so I’m in known territory, and I’ve been busy posting bugs and comments in the forums. Blogsome is still young, and my biggest gripe for the moment is the caching problems — for example, changes to the template or links are not immediately reflected on the blog (though “publishing” a post helps).

If you’re looking for a free hosted blogging solution right now, Blogsome is the one I would recommend, along with Blogger, of course. I used Blogger for years, before Blogspot existed. I left mainly because it lacked certain features I wanted (like categories) — and I’d say that still now, it’s a little bit poor on the feature side. But it’s a good, reliable service which has been around long enough to be trusted without too many second thoughts.

MSN Spaces

I just opened a test blog at MSN Spaces. My first two posts complain quite a bit (my biggest gripe for the moment being that it doesn’t convert line breaks into paragraphs — a showstopper, if you ask me). My positive experience was changing the template — that worked fine.

So, if you’re interested, keep an eye on those blogs. I’m always happy to try things out and complain about all the problems I run into.

Edit 06.12.04: Got another test blog at NRJ blogs — though in my opinion you can barely call it a blog. I had to log out to figure out what my blog address was, and it seems totally impossible to make outgoing links. Keep an eye on the individual test blogs for comments on the different systems.

Edit 2: OK, got one at CanalBlog too. The admin interface completely takes over the browser, but it seems really usable (I didn’t run into any problems!) and the default layout is clean enough. Just an ad banner on top. That’s enough for tonight, folks!

Edit 3, 07.12.04: Add a 20six.fr test blog to the list. Follow-up post coming.

Edit 4: HautEtFort, and I think I’m done with creating test blogs. Gah.

Edit 5, 08.12.04: Hopefully the last bunch, but you never know. I seem to be suffering from some obsessive-compulsive blog opening disorder. LiveJournal, BlogSpot, Joueb and U-blog. Have I forgotten someone? I count 12 test blogs. Now let me go and update all my blogrolls.

Edit 6: A fresh new French service, open since yesterday: Mon-Blog.org, based on DotClear.