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Happy Birthday Gabe!


Happy Birthday Gabe!, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Gabe turns one year old today! Yay! :-)

We’re kind of bad parents. We’re not having a party, and haven’t really gotten him any presents. We’re going camping this weekend, so maybe we’ll get him a cupcake or something there. Shame on us! :-(

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My network has write permissions to my brain – THAT is the power of social networks

I’ve been doing a lot of interesting reading of some dead tree books lately (thank you, iPhone, for not having an eBook reader!). “Code v2.0” by Lessig. Open Sources 2.0, a collection of essays on open source, etc. Lots of stuff that makes me think, and hopefully makes me smarter. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about my job at Intel Software Network, and what I can add/contribute there.

I read Doc Searls’ essay “Making a New World” yesterday, and it was awesome. Mind opening, perspective changing. Doc is one smart dude, and I fully subscribe to the rule “If Doc says it, it’s true. Believe it. Live it.” :-) You can read the whole essay here on his site, but it was this paragraph that really struck me upside the head:

Information, we observed, is derived from the verb inform, which is related to the verb form. To inform is not to “deliver information”, but rather to form the other party. If you tell me something I didn’t know before, I am changed by that. If I believe you, and value what you say, I have granted you authority. Meaning, I have given you the right to author what I know. Therefore, we are all authors of each other. This is a profoundly human condition in any case, but it is an especially important aspect of the open source value system. By forming each other, as we also form useful software, we are making the world. Not merely changing it.

Emphasis mine. Wow. That crystalizes so many things I’ve been thinking about around my network – people whose blogs I subscribe to, who I follow on Twitter, who I friend on Facebook.

I have granted the people in my network authority – authorship – to form, inform, and shape me. They have write permissions to my brain. That is so true. chmod 775 mybrain.

THAT is the value of social networks.

THAT is what Twitter and Facebook and blogs and all of the other “social networks” are all about.

It extends beyond the geeky stuff on the web, too. The newspaper you read has authorship to form you. The music you like. The TV/video you watch. I guess we really are what we “eat”.

Agree? Disagree?

How do you choose who is in your network? Who you listen to? To whom you grant authority, and the power to inform and form you? How do you “break into” someone’s network? Can you?

Hmm. Lots to think about here. I’m sure I’ll post more about it soon. And if I’m in your network – if you’ve granted me authority and authorship – maybe what I have to say will get you thinking, too, and form/shape you in some way. Pretty freaky, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Domain Name Giveaway – Want one of these?

Hi, my name is Josh, and I’m a domain name-aholic. I have way too many domain names registered (32 to be exact), some of which I’m actively using, but many are just placeholders for ideas that I’ve had, or good names that I’ve come up with that I thought might be useful in the future.

I use 1and1 as my registrar (affiliate link), and despite my other complaints about them, they’re great for domain names. $5.99 a year is all it costs to register a .com/.org/.net domain name. Problem is, with 32 names, it adds up! I’m paying a lot of money for domains that I’m not using. Coupled with the fact that I can’t find a way to tell 1and1 “do not renew this name – let it expire”, it’s time for me to be free of some of these.

That’s where you come in. If you’re interested in one of the domains below, and have a good idea for something to do with it (basically, NO SPAMMERS!), post a comment telling me which one you want, and what you’d like to do with it, and it’s yours. If multiple people are interested in the same name, then I’ll decide which idea I like best. Oh, and I can be persuaded with cool gadgets or cash, if you’re so inclined. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Rules: Post a comment – don’t email, call, or otherwise contact me for the names. You have to have your own domain registrar, and initiate the transfer of the domain. You have to provide your own web hosting for the domain. I’m not providing anything other than ownership of the domain name, though I’ll offer help/advice on web hosting if you need it (I recommend mediatemple – use tinyscreenfuls.com as the “referring domain” when you sign up, and I get a credit equal to your first month’s hosting fees). Or you can use 1and1 (affiliate link), who offer very generous, affordable hosting for low traffic sites.

The Names:

  • creativespecies.org – We humans are a creative species, no? Might be good for a blog, or project hosting.
  • dramatichamster.com – My attempt to cash in on the Dramatic Hamster meme. :-)
  • podseeing.com – Was thinking about “sound seeing tours”, back in the beginning days of podcasting in 2004
  • eatlikeabirdpooplikeanelephant.com – What Guy Kawasaki says a good evangelist does – “consumes” a ton of stuff (eat like a hummingbird) and spreads it around liberally (poops like an elephant). See this blog post and this speech for more background, though Guy seems to have redacted the poop part from the speech. Boo!
  • pooplikeanelephant.com – See above.
  • familyhistorypodcast.com – Had the idea of sitting around and recording stories from family members, then sharing them in podcast format. Could be your own family history, or build a platform/place for others to do their own family history podcasts.
  • bishopstorehouse.com and bishopsstorehouse.com

Like I said, if you want one of these domains, you can have it, provided you have something of an idea for what you want to do with it, and that idea doesn’t involve spam. We can work out transfer details after you’re “selected” – the domains aren’t unlocked for transfer, so don’t initiate one or it will fail.

Looking forward to seeing what ideas you have, and to being rid of the yearly renewal payments for these domains! :-)

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Say Nice Things About Your Competition

When they deserve it.

Chris Wetherell, creator of Google Reader, on the new Bloglines beta (via Twitter):

The new Bloglines beta is wicked cool.

Does that hurt my opinion of Google Reader? No. It makes me like and respect the people behind it even more, knowing they don’t act like jerks towards the competition.

And the new Bloglines Beta is very slick – check it out if you haven’t. Nice enough to make me switch back to Bloglines from Google Reader? Don’t know yet.

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This blog is now hosted on mediatemple, and fast like the wind!

For the past several years, 1and1 has met all of my web hosting needs. I signed up when they were offering 3 years free hosting, and a promotion for their launch in the U.S. (they were established in Germany before that). Once I tried it out, I was impressed with the generous quotas (tons of disk space and bandwidth – more than I ever came close to using), and low prices for domain registration ($5.99 a year, which enabled my bad domain purchasing habit, which is now costing me 28x$5.99 a year ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

But alas, starting about 6 months ago, they began to suffer from their own success, and I noticed that performance on a responsiveness on my various WordPress blogs started to decline. MyIPNeighbors showed me that there were well over a hundred other sites being hosted on the same server/IP address. The slow down was most noticeable on this one, TinyScreenfuls.com, which was by far the most trafficked. Page load times were in excess of 15 seconds, and even after stripping the page down to its bare essentials, and debugging with Firebug (I love you Joe Hewitt!), I narrowed it down. WordPress’s index.php file was taking over 5 seconds to load and render, and since most of the rest of the page depended on that being loaded first, it slowed the whole site down.

Add on a series of support mishaps (all of my sites stopped working – turns out they were disabled for “using too much CPU”, but I never got any notice, and support had no clue, so they just reenabled the sites for me :-) ), and I was ready to move to another host. To step up to a more performance-oriented web host. I was only paying $9.99 a month with 1and1, and was looking for something similar.

I queried my friends in my various networks, and got recommendations (and horror stories) for BlueHost, DreamHost, Rackspace, and others. I waffled back and forth about making the change, not wanting to get stuck with another hosting company that would have the same problems I was suffering with 1and1. And moving more than a dozen sites to a new host is no small task. I wanted to be sure I was making a good decision.

In the end, I decided to go with mediatemple (their lowercase-ization, not mine). It’s a little more expensive than 1and1, BlueHost, or Dreamhost ($20/month for shared hosting, instead of $10). But their GridServer technology impressed me, and they had some pretty glowing reviews from the likes of Mike Arrington of TechCrunch. GridServer, as I understand it, basically puts all shared hosting users in a pool of virtual servers, instead of being tied to a physical server. This allows things to scale as needed for performance, and “roll around” as physical servers are rebooted for maintenance, etc.

The thing I was most concerned about was performance, and as of tonight, when I finished migrating TinyScreenfuls.com over to mediatemple, speed is blazing. Before, I was averaging 15+ page load times for the front page, according to Firebug. The problem child, index.php, was averaging over 5 seconds. Ugh. Now, I’m seeing index.php load in less than 50 milliseconds. A hundred times faster. The whole front page loads in 2 to 3 seconds. Daddy like. :-)

So far, I’m a happy mediatemple customer. The fact that they have an iPhone version of their Account Center control panel is nice, but in reality, it doesn’t let you do much more than pay your bill, buy a new domain, restart services, etc. But hey, it looks cool, right? :-) If you’re looking for hosting, and you need a little more performance than 1and1 or someone similar can offer, check out mediatemple. They’re not paying me anything to say that – in fact, I don’t even know if they have a referral/affiliate program. I should look into that, because I have the feeling I’m going to be talking a few people into signing up with them…

She’s still on her shakedown cruise, and I expect a few glitches over the next few days, so if you notice something weird, or get an error or unexpected behavior, please do let me know! :-)

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iPhone Missing Manual – hot off the press!

iPhone Missing Manual - hot off the press!

iPhone Missing Manual – hot off the press!, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Had lunch with Raven Zachary, who organized iPhoneDevCamp, and apparently has some hookups at O’Reilly. I’ve been waiting for this book – it was only barely published. Thanks a ton, Raven! :-)

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A Perspective on the “Facebook is Opening Up” Story

I’m not trying to take credit for anything here, but I have kind of an interesting perspective on a story that’s been kind of big in the blogosphere in the last day or two – the “Facebook is Opening Up” story.

Yesterday morning, August 14, I was checking updates on Facebook, and I noticed something I thought was new: an option to “Subscribe to Notifications”:

Facebook Notifications Feed

People have long complained that Facebook isn’t “open” enough – it’s like a roach motel for your data. Stuff goes in, but there’s no way to get it out. Up until yesterday, the only RSS feed they offered was one for your Friends’ Status updates. That was it. But now, here was a new one – a feed for all of your “Notifications”, to see when people have accepted friend requests, etc. It’s not the whole “News Feed”, that lets you see everything your friends are doing, but it was a start.

So, I wrote a micropost using Twitter:

Is it just me, or is the RSS feed for “Your Notifications” in Facebook a new feature? Yay! Another RSS feed! A way out of the roach motel!

My active participation in the story ended there, but what happened afterwards is the interesting part of the story.

Rodfather follows me on Twitter, and blogged about my micropost. Dave Winer follows me on Twitter, so he saw my micropost. He’s long been an advocate of open web platforms, and warned us all against the dangers of lock-in. And this was news to him, too, so he started to investigate:

“We’re going to check it out, Josh.”

Dave discovered a couple of other ways that Facebook seemed to be opening up, and wrote about them on his blog, Scripting News. In that post, Dave aggregates other reactions to the news from around the blogosphere, including Mike Arrington writing about it on TechCrunch.

With the cumulative flow of attention that Dave and Mike can bring by writing about a story, it became part of the day’s news. It showed up on TechMeme. It got picked up by some of the blogs that cover Facebook news, like Inside Facebook (who points out that there’s still a long way to go for Facebook to be really “open”) and All Facebook.

Now, 24 hours later, the story has begun to fade. Dave has posted some reflections on what it all means. And there’s more exciting Facebook news to talk about today – the launch of their iPhone interface, which is, in fact, totally awesome. :-)

But it was very interesting to me to watch the evolution of this story from my micropost on Twitter, through the blogosphere, into full blown “news”, and it accentuated the usefulness of some of the tools I use every day. Twitter has become my tool for writing “microposts”, not just some mindless chat room toy. It’s part of set of tools that I use to communicate, and a big part of the “Complete Josh Bancroft Experience” you get from my “life stream” at www.joshbancroft.com. And my “ego” search feeds let me know when someone has written something about me or one of my sites. It’s like having a set of agents out there scouring the web for me, and letting me know when there’s something I should know about. That’s how I found Dave’s and Rodfather’s posts about my tweet, even before I read it in their feeds (I subscribe to both).

It’s things like this that make the web a “place” for me, and not just a collection of pages and information. I have real relationships with real people using the web, and a large part of my life takes place and is documented and shared in that place. That’s why my tagline for this blog is “The Web is my Platform and my Home.”

It’s also the reason I love my iPhone so much – because it allows me to plug in to and use these tools from anywhere, at any time. I can read and post to Twitter, read feeds in Google Reader and share anything interesting on my linkblog, see what the news is on Digg or TechMeme, and now, see what my friends on Facebook are doing. And the web experience is amazing – much better than other mobile web devices out there – and believe me, I’ve used almost all of them. The phone, iPod, email, and other features of the iPhone are really nice, but it’s the way it connects me to the web that makes it a really indispensable part of my life. It keeps me connected to the part of my life that takes place on the web. :-)

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HTC Advantage



HTC Advantage, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Matt “palmsolo” Miller is using the HTC Advantage as his main system here at Gnomedex. It’s an amazing piece of hardware, very impressive in person. ..It’s got an accelerometer that you can use to tilt and scroll web pages – it’s very cool, and a neat idea.

Also, apparently the device is going to be available at retail in the U.S. It’s available at most CompUSA stores and through Amazon. Price is $850. No carrier agreement (even though it is a GSM/HSDPA-capable device). Cool!

I think I want one, though I might hold out for the HTC Shift combination UMPC/Windows Mobile 6 device. ..HTC makes some awesome stuff!

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Dave Winer and his iPhone


Dave Winer and his iPhone

Dave Winer and his iPhone, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Ran into Dave Winer in the lobby of the hotel, and he took my picture, along with a picture of my RSS orange Crocs, and posted them immediately with his wonderful little Flickr to Twitter system. Of course, in return, I did the same for him, although straight to Flickr and then to my blog, without the Twitter integration. It all ends up in the river in the end, anyway. :-)

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