I signed up to StumbleUpon a while ago, but have only recently started using it in earnest. I don't think I am deriving the full potential benefit yet.
One benefit is that I constantly run into articles or other web content I am interested in. The clutter up my browser's bookmarks, so this is a good place to keep them separately, and come back to read them when I have the time.
Another benefit is that by using the "Stumble" function you get random articles or sites that may (or may not) be of interest to you. As you use it the program progressively determines your tastes and interests, and (ideally) would be recommending content more and more to your liking.
A third benefit is through your friends lists you Stumble (or just view) articles that they are interested in, and hence "recommending".
So far I have mainly derived the first of the above benefits. The system still doesn't "know" me well enough and a lot of the content that I "Stumble Upon" is not of interest. I also have not added many friends yet, but am trying to increase their number. Maybe when that reaches some critical mass the third benefit will kick in more.
This is all mitigated by the fact that I really shouldn't be spending so much time reading stuff on the internet! It can be endless.
(This post was originallly a message I sent in StumbleUpon to my uncle Sanjit Sengupta, but I thought it summed up my thoughts on StumbleUpon sufficiently to share with others.)
I started using Firefox 3 a few weeks ago and am immensely dissatisfied.
It seems to hang a fair bit. I try to start it up and nothing happens. I take a look in Windows Task Manager and it's there. I kill the process and try again.
Sometimes this fixes the problem, but sometimes it repeats itself. I kill it again, try starting it again, and so on. After a few cycles it may start up. Sometimes I just restart the machine which solves the problem.
I never had this issue with Firefox 2.
I also find it is generally slow to start up. The Bookmarks functionality has also degraded. When I go into my bookmark folders to select a link, I used to be able to right click there and there would be a "Sort by Name" selection. That's not there any more. Adding bookmarks is also very slow. The dialog to add a bookmark is now modal, and with no window title. It is really degraded, as if under development again or something.
The past couple of years saw a great proliferation of bookmarking applications.
Of course del.icio.us has been around for a few years. It even seems to have changed its name to delicious.com.
Then I tried ma.gnolia. Actually I'm never sure where that goddamn period goes. That alone turns me off from using it. I don't know why they would go out of their way to come up with such a difficult-to-remember-precisely name. Unless they are exceptionally good, it's just suicide on their part. And I wouldn't characterize it as exceptionally good.
I have yet to really get into the idea of sharing bookmarks. They seem a bit personal to me.
So the main thing I use is Foxmarks, without sharing.
I've finally settled on Zoho Planner as my To Do list of choice. The more I use Zoho's suite of products the more I come to appreciate it.
The planner doesn't support task hierarchies, but I'm finding I don't really need that. In fact I find it helpful to streamline one's thinking into single tasks, not large tasks with sub-tasks.
Of course you do want some degree of categorization. Zoho Planner lets you make multiple lists, that display very nicely on the page. They can represent different projects. I'm finding this is sufficient for me as far as task decomposition is concerned.
I find I'm recently getting inquiries from various friends and business associates who say they want to try Linux. So I thought I'll post about it here. I'm not an expert by any means, and it's late at night and I need to catch some zzz's, but hopefully this post might help some.
So far I've used three Linux distributions (or distros): Xandros, Ubuntu and Gentoo.
Before I continue, the word distro just inspired me to write this post on my other blog: http://arkaroy.blogspot.com/2008/03/ending-words-with-o.html
Anywhoo, back to my Linux experience.
1) Xandros is very Window-like. It was a good transition for someone like myself coming from Windows. However it is a very minor distro and the community is not very large. A large community results in more standards, more ports of drivers etc. so it is more usable, and there is more support. Of course the Linux kernel is the same regardless of distribution and thus most drivers should work across the board, but in practice most non-hardcore users are helped greatly by distribution-specific installers and availability on package managers. 2) Ubuntu was very pleasant. It has a great GUI and a large community.
Of course the GUI, like anything else in Linux, is customizable in any distribution, but in this post I am only interested in describing the state of things as they are out of the box. That is the audience for whom I write, and compared to whom I am not all that much ahead on the curve either.
I can't recall what may have been any minus points with Ubuntu. Of course, compared to Windows, there are several usability drawbacks stemming from the lack of drivers or application software for some specific pieces of equipment like printers, cell phone, iPod, etc.
3) Gentoo is not pleasant. I only use it because I have to for one of my clients. It is very bare-bones. The installation of major packages is extremely time-consuming because its package manager doesn't have binaries, just source so EVERYTHING has to be compiled. Firefox took ages to compile (whereas in Ubuntu I think it was available right out of the box). I've heard that installing and setting up OpenOffice can take a good chunk of your day. Some people like this DIY approach but I certainly have better things to do.
Of course the advantage is that you only end up with exactly what you want or need. Such zen-like minimalism may be aesthetically pleasing but let's face it, hard disk space is a cheap commodity, heading inexorably toward dirt-cheap-dom, whereas for me (and doubtless you too) time just gets more and more precious.
I will write more going forward on Linux, and hopefully this is a helpful start for some.
I've been in Japan all this time and in recent years I'm noticing back in the States (well, being Canuckistani I guess it is le sacrilege for me to say "back", but compared to Japan I suppose America seems sufficiently Canadian that it qualifies as a kind of "home turf") that people in the tech biz have a way of shortening a word and then sticking an "o "on its ass.
presentation -> preso distribution -> distro (as in Linux distro) algorithm -> algo definitely -> defo
Any other major ones? Feel free to add them to the comments.
Attended the Tokyo2Point0 get-together yesterday, at Fujimama's.
Two web apps were introduced.
This is a photo-sharing site by kakaku.com. It is very focused on cameras and lenses, and the photography aspect of photo-sharing. It ties in with the kakaku.com product database via their API, so that when you upload a photo you are presented with hierarchical pull-down menus that allow you to enter camera and lens information. I've noticed that other photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket also display some camera information which gets embedded into the JPEG header by the digital camera. photohito.com takes this camera / photography aspect to a different level.
This is a site for viral projects. You can set up a profile page for your project. It is then used to track buzz about said project in the media and the blogosphere.
All in all it was a good time. The house wine at Fujimama's was a very nice Cabernet Sauvignon.
A new line is being built on the Tokyo subway, going to our station. Opening date is June 14.
As a result my life is going to get 200% better (not sure of the exact figure, I will admit).
It is going to run along the same route as the Yurakucho Line in our general area west of Ikebukuro. However past Ikebukuro into the city core it will just run directly below Meiji-dori to Waseda (hence Takadanobaba), Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya. All these places will be accessible without having to change trains! In fact Shibuya is my daily commute.
As a former Outlook user I have been surprised by the lack of good To Do lists, or task managers, among the profusion of Web 2.o applications that have been in our collective face in the past few years.
It's pretty incredible, all manner of music recommendation services (cough...) but such a paucity of something so basic, and so comparatively easy to develop.
Yahoo! Calendar does have a task list, but it is very basic, hardly a task manager. The interface is not very slick either. Google Calendar, which otherwise has a superb interface, doesn't even have a task list to begin with.
All the buzz (ya, that inescapable buzz) over the past year seems to be about Remember The Milk... people talk about it as if it is the Second Coming, or Obama. But a glaring shortcoming is the lack of sub-tasks, or task hierarchies.
A new find is Todoist. Finally something with a nice friendly interface and a task hierarchy! It still could use some work, like a calendar view. Another thing, tasks are inextricably tied with appointments and schedules, so I'm surprised that both Remember The Milk and Todoist are not schedulers-come-task-managers. It seems like a no-brainer to me that two genres of application really belong together. I think there is a genre called PIM (personal information manager) that does encompass both. Remember The Milk tries to piggyback itself on Google Calendar, but it is not a very smooth or seamless operation.
Anywhoo, for now I will continue to test-drive Todoist and let you know how things are going!
We had a nice New Year's mid-day meal yesterday at home, cooked by Kasumi. Mio joined us.
Will post pics later... sorry I know I'm sounding like a broken record.
In the evening, the three of us went to Hie Jinja for hatsumode. We dropped by my office because I needed to pick up something. We then went to a Turkish restaurant right near my office called Anatolia. I love that place.
A big countdown party at the home of my German friend, Roy (no relation, hehehe).
I took two bottles of Robert Mondavi, a Zinfandel and a Chardonnay (I think it was!). We bought them at the Bic Camera on Meiji dori for a freaking incredible 950 yen! I don't think it is that cheap in North America.
Will link to some pics after getting them up on Flickr.