Hearing Aids Can Look Cool [en]

As the founding editor of Phonak’s community blog “Open Ears” (now part of “Hearing Like Me“) I contributed a series of articles on hearing loss between 2014 and 2015. Here they are.

When I was fitted nearly two years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that hearing aids now came in quite a range of fun colours and textures. Blue, pink, metallic silver, green, you name it. Quite a change from the plastic skin-tones that where the only option available at the time of my first (failed) fitting many years ago as a teenager. Needless to say, I picked pink — my trademark colour — and I’m never shy of showing them off around me.

I discovered more recently that many people go a step further with their hearing aids and implants, decorating them with stickers and gems, nail foils, shoe charms, you name it. The results are fantastic! Vincent regularly shows off his favourites on the Phonak Facebook page. Here are some of those I particularly like.

Pink purple hearing aid with charm Flower Implants Flower on hearing aid Cascading Peace Hearing Aid Charm

Housekeeping note: I’ve done my best to link to what seems like the original source of each photo, click on them to see!Steph's Pink Hearing Aid

This trend reminds me of something I heard Helga (Hack & Hear blog) say in her 28c3 conference talk: the industry tendency is to try and make hearing aids as invisible as possible, whereas she — like others — would prefer them more visible, so that people immediately notice that she is a hearing aid user. Helga also mentioned that there is very little hacking being done on hearing aids, because they are expensive, we need them, and opening them up voids warranties.

Turquoise hearing aid tubes

As I see it, however, people who pimp their aids and implants are actually a variety of hackers — appearance, design, and style hackers. Pretty cool and inspiring.

Can’t get enough? Lipreading Mom has a super collection on her “Show Me Your Ears” page.

How Will CoComment Change Our Commenting Habits? [en]

I was really excited to be able to talk about coComment yesterday Saturday night, and I really think it’s a great service, but I never thought it would pick up as fast as it did. As I heard Robert saying at LIFT, the blogosphere is not about how many people read you, but about who does, and how things scale and can get out of hand once the masses get hold of them.

CoComment is already changing the way I participate in comments (conversations!) on other blogs. I feel more connected. I feel like it makes more sense to leave a comment on a blog I scarcely visit, because it’s not a message in a bottle anymore: I have an easy way to get back to it. CoComment makes my activity on other blogs visible, so it encourages me to be active (yeah, that’s how I am! I like the spotlights, didn’t they tell you?) and maybe more conversational.

On the other hand, this is what I see coming: more popularity for popular blogs or posts or commenters (coComment will amplify the feedback loop effect for comments). Easy celeb’ stalking. Maybe more self-consciousness about “where I comment” and “what I comment”? Comments by top commenters will have a different weight on your blog, and different consequences, because they’ll get a different visibility. A-lister X’s comment on a lowly blog may have gone unnoticed until now, but if they use coComment, it won’t anymore. Will we start signing out of coComment to retain privacy over a certain amounts of comments we make, and that we don’t want in the public eye?

I’m really happy to see coComment gaining so much popularity. I’m just a bit worried. Is this too much success/visibility to soon? I’ve seen people (gently) bitching around already about what a shame it was that coComment did not support all blog platforms, or that it only tracked comments by coCommenters. Laurent says he’s pushing to open it up on Monday night, but I wonder: is it really a good idea? What are the risks involved? What has the most potential for damage: frustrating people because they can’t yet be “part of it”, or not being able to manage the scaling, user feedback, and user expectations for a public service?

I know I’m a worry-bug, and Laurent and Nicolas are smart and know the insides of the service much better than I do — so I’ll just go and prepare my stuff for school and worry about useful things for my life just now (like, what am I going to teach this morning). All the same, guys: “Soyez prudents!”

Easier TopicExchange Trackbacks for WordPress [en]

A WordPress hack which makes it quicker to add TopicExchange channels to trackback, and makes them visible (like categories) in the weblog. (Sorry for the duplicate postings, trying to fix it.)

[fr] Ce 'hack' pour WordPress permet d'ajouter facilement des trackbacks vers les canaux de TopicExchange, et liste sur le weblog les canaux concernés pour chaque billet.

Here is a solution to make it a little quicker to trackback TopicExchange channels with WordPress, and make those channels visible in your weblog.

I love TopicExchange. When I asked Suw what they had talked about during BlogWalk, she mentioned trackbacks. I asked if anything had been discussed about trackback etiquette. For example, I’m often tempted to trackback people who have written posts related to mine, but which I haven’t linked to. Well, the consensus is that this is not what trackback is for. Trackback is really for making a “backlink”. TopicExchange is the answer to the “related posts” issue.

I’ve been using TopicExchange a lot during the last weeks, but nobody has noticed it, apart from those people who already use TopicExchange as a source of information. As Seb Paquet notes, TopicExchange needs to be made more viral. It needs visibility. What follows is my interpretation of “making ITE easier to use, and more visible.”

This WordPress hack creates an extra field in the posting form where ITE channel ID’s (e.g. “wordpress”, “multilingual_blogging”) can be entered (I was tired of typing the whole trackback URL’s all the time). It then stores these channel ID’s as post meta data (in the postmeta table), so that it can retrieve them and display links to the corresponding channels along with the post, just as is usually done with categories.

First of all, add the following code to my-hacks.php. Then, edit post.php (in your wp-admin directory) and add this code where indicated (the comment at the top of the file explains where to insert the code).

Also in post.php, after the line add_meta($post_ID);, insert the following code:

// add topic exchange channels
		$_POST['metakeyselect'] = 'ite_topic';
		foreach($topics as $topic)
    		$_POST['metavalue'] = $topic;

In edit-form.php, add this code to create an extra input field for ITE trackbacks:

$form_ite = '<p><label for="ite-topic"><strong>Trackback</strong> TopicExchange:</label>
(Separate multiple channel ID's with spaces.)<br />
<input type="text" name="ite-topic" style="width: 360px" id="ite-topic"
tabindex="8" /></p>';

It goes near the top of the file, after the line which defines $form_trackback (do a search for that and you’ll find it).

Finally, in your index.php template, you can use <?php the_ite_channels(); ?> to display a paragraph containing a comma-separated list of channels trackbacked for each post. If you want to change the formatting, play around with the function definition in my-hacks.php.

If, like me, you have old posts with trackbacks to TopicExchange, and you would also like these to appear on your posts, use this patch from inside wp-admin. The patch will tell you what meta data it is adding — just load it once in your browser and check the result in your weblog. (Don’t load it twice — it’s supposed to be able to check the existing channels in the database to avoid duplicate entries, but I haven’t got it to work. Read instructions and debug notes at the top of the patch file.)

In future, it will also be possible to use the TopicExchange API to return the “nice title” for the channels listed — so we sould have “Multilingual blogging” instead of “multilingual_blogging”. (I’ve asked, it will behas been added to the API.)

Good luck with this if you try it, and as always, comments most welcome!

Note: as far as I have tested, the code seems to work now.