Falling all over the green line

I’m not really from NY but if I had to pick a city that I considered mine it would be NY. This is mostly because all my local channels were out of NY and not Philly. In NY, and possibly other cities, There is a stigma if you can’t stay standing on the subway. All the local laugh at the out of towners as they try and stay standing. It’s amazing to watch some one who takes the subway all the time. Some people can stand and read with out holding on to a single thing.

On my trips in the sub way I was fairly skilled. I didn’t need to always hold on though every once in a while I would lose my balance and reading while not holding on was out of the question. I was definitely not from NY. Boston has a public transportation system called the T and if not now, I will soon have ridden the T more then the subway in NY. The great things about the T is that everybody falls down. Way out on the green line the T is above ground and lurches through stoplights and attempts not to hit people running across the tracks. It’s impossible to not need to hold on while riding the above ground T.

It so nice being in a place where it’s hard to tell the seasoned professionals from the newcomers.

boston, greenline, subway, ny

Podcast reviews at the Bostonist

For any interested I’m going to be doing a series of Boston podcast reviews over at the Bostonist. After moving up to boston and being O so bored for the first week or so I feel confident that I am a podcast expert. With podcasting being so new there is a real lack of reviews. While ranking systems at Podcast Alley, iTunes, and our lovable friends over at Odeo help they can’t be the only way to find good new content.

podcasts, boston, bostonist, reviews

Ask Jeeves

Blogs of big business has always interested me. Google was the first to jump out at me as they do a good job of not being boring. Not being boring really is key and something tells me that General Motor would not try to make their blog anything more then a car commercial. One of the blogs that not as many jumped on was Ask Jeeves. Bloglines said Ask Jeeves only has 435 while Google has 10,500 subscribers. As much as Ask Jeeves isn’t dominating the market I find their blog much more interesting then Google’s. I could never pinpoint why, it was just a general sense that they were having more fun and were just a bit zany.

Today i think I really found why I was so attracted to their blog and it turn out that their deep sarcasm is close to my own. Ask Jeeves just announced Virtual Neptune which makes fun of Virtual Earth by name and Google maps by interface. By their own promise, “Virtual Neptune utilizes powerful satellite imagery, and will soon be combined with mapping and local search to put Neptune’s geographic information at your fingertips.” I can’t tell you how much I look forward to local search and how much I love the barley tampered with clouds photoshop filter.

While I don’t really use ask Jeeves that much beyond Bloglines they sure are having fun and I hope they find ways to best google beyond biting sarcasm.

ask jeeves, google maps, virtual earth

My Adventures with hCal, iCal, webcal and their lack of support

Working on a project that involved events I wanted to add the ability to click a button and add that particular event to you iCal enabled calendar. iCal does not work every where and right now it is limited to a select number of calender programs. In general this is a rather new idea and and is only implemented will in a couple of places (like Upcoming.org).

There are a couple of reasons that this feature has not proliferated more. One is that the programs that support iCal are not widely use and are not always associated with the iCal standard by the typical user. Second is that iCal is not easy to write out. It’s meant to be read by a computer, not a person and so most will shy away from manually typing the awkward formatting. Another reason is that the way to bridge this problem of human/machine readability was only created about a year ago. Called hCal it stands as a XHTML solution to adding event information directly in a web page.

What does adding these XHTML tags to your page get you? Well that’s the problem as of today there is not a large advantage to adding the tags. The tags are there to be read by some other online application that will see these tags and then do something with them. These exciting applications that interact with hCal tags are almost nonexistent at this point though. Currently the only Fancy widget I know of to work with the tags (beyond the occasional CMS plug-in to list the events) is XV2 which can actually take the XHTML tags and turn it in to an .ics iCal file that you can add to the iCal enabled calendar on your computer. But even this is listed as a beta and is only done on a small scale.

Another feature to bootstrap the iCal technology is a (new?) web protocol called webcal. With this you replace http:// with webcal:// and this gets your browser to launch your iCal enabled calendar to add the event. I don’t know much about webcal since there is little written about the protocol. While Firefox recognises the protocol IE has no idea what it is and just refuses to do anything. It reminds me of another protocol where you replace http:// with feed:// to denote a xml feed but even my up-to-date firefox doesn’t know what to do with that and I don’t know exactly what program does. Even Wikipedia doesn’t seem to have anything to say about either feed:// or webcal://.

So if you see event information and are lucky enough for them to be formatted in the special hCal tags and there happens to be a link to add the event to your iCal enabled calendar and you happen to actually have an iCal enabled calendar AND your browser suports the webcal protocol you have a killer combination of technology. Until more applications can do things with hCal adding the tags don’t really have much of an advantage. XV2 is letting me use my hCal tags to generate iCal files but if the load got to be to large it would not be fair to pass that onto XV2. Something needs to take a bigger role in hCal and iCal before it really gets a chance to take of. A while a go there was report that google might come out with some support for hCal. I think technorati would be a good place to have some hCal support and with Tantek kind of spear heading the microformats I would not be surprised if they were that far off from releasing something.

here are some iCal enabled calendars: Linux: KOrganizer, Kronolith, Mozilla Calendar, Novell Evolution, Sunbird
Macintosh: iCal, Mozilla Calendar, Sunbird
Windows: EventSherpa, Microsoft Works (Version 8 or higher), Mozilla Calendar, Sunbird, WinDates

hcal, ical, webcal, upcoming, technorati, microformats


NEWD was very cool and I’m so glad I was up in Boston in time to meet some really great local designers. In fact it was not as local as you might think Dan and Ethan seem to have a little bigger draw with people coming out from Connecticut and the like. Dan and Ethan were great host and were really gracious to all the geeks who showed up. I think they enjoy the randomness of some of the people who do show up.

Because they knew techy web designers were coming the power went out in the general area. I’m still not exactly sure what happened as street lights were out as I was walking to the bar and the bar’s power was out but all the surrounding businesses seemed to have power. We ended up just going to a pool hall around the corner.

Networking is tons of fun and anyone who says other wise isn’t doing it right. I read some where recently that the average person can only have about 150 casual relationships (not the article but something close enough). Casual meaning if you bumped in to them on in a restaurant you would feel comfortable grabbing a meal with them. Now I don’t know if I’ve ever known that many people at one time but if I do in Boston I’m gonna see how many web designer connections I can make on my way to employment.