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Tying Your Tubes with WordPress – My Session at WordCamp Portland

I’m giving a session at WordCamp Portland today on “Tying Your Tubes with WordPress“, all about integrating all the difference places you probably write, read, and discuss things on the web into your WordPress blog. This post is the reference for the session, with the slides (such as they are – most of it is going to be discussion) and links to the plugins I talk about.

Here are the few slides I put together, on Google Docs. I’m working on them as we speak, but by the time the session starts, they should be more or less final:


And here are links to the plugins/tools that I’m going to talk about:

  • Alex King’s Twitter Tools – to put daily tweet digests on your blog as posts (great for archiving them, since Twitter cut off access to tweets older than a few pages).

  • K2 Theme – besides the TON of other great things it can do, it’s great for putting tweets, etc. in a sidebar using “Asides”. The K2 Support Forum is a GREAT resource if you have questions or need help.
  • How to exclude a category (say, your tweet digest) from your site’s RSS feed. Either have people subscribe to the funky URL you get from this, or if you use FeedBurner, just tell it that the funky URL is your source feed.
  • FriendFeed Comments – show comments and likes that your post gets on FriendFeed right on the post itself.
  • FriendFeed Feed Widget – for showing your last 10 or so items that end up on FriendFeed right on your blog. There are some other cool badges on that page. Similar to Twitter badges, which I don’t use (I use Twitter Tools’ daily digests instead).
  • soup.io, for publishing blended feeds. I use this for my lifestream and my linkblog.

I’ll add any other info that comes up during the session, and if you have any questions, post them in the comments! Woo hoo WordCamp Portland! :-)

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I Was Born to be a Native Citizen of the Internet

I’m re-reading the Cluetrain Manifesto for the nth time (grabbed the text from the website, dropped it into a text file, and threw it onto my Kindle). There’s something distilled and concentrated about the ideas it contains. They just ring true, even though the book was written 10 years ago (ancient history in Internet Time). I can barely get through a few paragraphs of it before my mind is swirling with ideas and things I want to write about. Maybe I should just do a “book report” on it, chapter by chapter, and write up everything I’m thinking as I go along.

I feel like I was born to be a native citizen of the Internet. I was reading the Introduction and part of Chapter 1 of Cluetrain, where Christopher Locke talks about how telling stories to each other is an ancient, intrinsic part of what it means to be human, and how when the Internet (and the Web) came along and started to flourish, people who were used to being isolated in their own homes and used as targets for broadcasters flocked to it by the millions. Why? To BE with each other. To laugh and argue and tell stories and learn and be human together.

I was born in 1976, and computers (and later, the internet) have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Much longer, I suspect, than most people of my age and my experience. I credit my grandfather, Dr. Ron Hansen, for that. He’s one of the smartest, most connected men I know, and from a very early age, he took it upon himself to make sure I had opportunities that most other kids just didn’t. He knew that “computers” were going to be a Big Deal(TM). And not just in the vague sense that someone might look into the future and make that (now obvious) prediction. He was a retired Air Force officer, university vice president, and research scientist, with a PhD, and his own research institute that “spawned many high-tech spin-offs, including WordPerfect, Novell, and Dynix”. He really knew what he was talking about.

I got my first computer when I was five years old. I was in kindergarten, it was 1982. It was an Atari 1200 XL (the top of Atari’s 8-bit line at the time). It had a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM, and it took cartridges. That is, if you wanted to play Dig Dug or Pole Position, you inserted that cartridge. If you wanted to program, you popped in the BASIC cartridge. Without a cartridge inserted, the only thing the computer could do was display the Atari logo in a phasing, shifting rainbow of color. Programs were stored on and loaded from cassette tapes (later, I got a 5.25″ floppy disk drive, which was the size of a large toaster). My grandfather gave me the computer, a few games, and some books on BASIC programming, and I went to town.

I have a very clear memory of one of the first things I ever tried to do with the computer (which is what sparked me to write this). This was before the era of the personal computer, when a computer in the home, using the TV as a monitor, was still a novelty. I remember getting that first command prompt, and typing a question. Something along the lines of “who was daniel boone?” SYNTAX ERROR was the response. I was reasonably sure that wasn’t the right answer. So I tried again. When my parents (who to this day don’t own a computer) saw what I was doing, even they understood why my query wasn’t working. “A computer only knows what you tell it, what you program it with.” That made sense, and I accepted it. But I what I remember so vividly is that before someone told me otherwise, I instinctively grasped the idea of interacting with computers in the way that’s second nature today to us as “citizens of the internet”, living in the Age of Google.

I spent the following years in the isolation of pre-Internet computerdom. Playing, hacking, learning what I could. But it all felt so limited, looking back. I was restricted to book or software that I could get my hands on through my grandfather, or people he knew (many of his associates in the high tech world had a part in my geek upbringing). Entering in BASIC programs (games, mostly) by hand from books and magazines. But somewhere, in the back of my mind. there was always the insistence that we should be able to ask a computer any question, or use it to talk to any person we wanted, and it should just magically obey.

My grandfather continued to supply me with opportunities to use, play with, and be around computers, long before that was a common thing. He got me a “Franklin Ace” (an Apple II clone with a bad ground somewhere in the power supply, that delivered a healthy shock if you touched the right place on the metal case), a huge 20 pound Zenith 8086 “laptop” (one of the first with a hard drive, and a blue-and-gray 4 “color” LCD), and a succession of PCs. He made sure I got to attend summer programs, and learn a few rudimentary programming languages (I remember Pascal and Turtle Graphics). I learned DOS and Windows by messing around, reading help files, and by playing. By the time I hit my teens, he got me access to Brigham Young University computer labs during the summers. The very places that the pre-commercial, pre-consumer Internet was thriving.

I spent the summer of 1994 learning HTML and the basics of the internet in a computer lab at BYU with Paul E. Black and some of Dr. Phil Windley’s graduate students (yes, that Phil Windley). I created the very first website for the BYU Alumni Association, completely by hand. This is the current site – the Wayback Machine at Archive.org doesn’t go that far. Later, in high school (1994), I was the webmaster for the first school in the state of Utah – Springville High School – to have a website, and helped to build a site for the Springville Art Museum.

That was my first exposure to the world of connected computers, and shared access to more information than you could dream of. Web pages that could magically take you to another page just by clicking the blue underlined text. “Surfing” from one link to the next, and when you found something cool, trying to remember how you got there, so you could get back. Exchanging messages with other people, anywhere in the world, via email. Having so many choices, and so many pages to choose from, that you had to start using a directory site like Yahoo! to find what you were looking for (there were no good search engines yet – this was way before Google, and the idea that you could index the WHOLE web in one place). And, looking back, perhaps the most significant of all, in the context of connecting human beings to each other – the reason we all flocked to the Internet in the first place, before companies figured out how to make money off of it – USENET newsgroups. Precursor and grandfather to discussion forums, blogs, and social networks.

I’m going to pause the story for now – this has gotten quite long. I feel like I’m writing a book. Maybe I am. If a few little pages of the Cluetrain can draw out this much, perhaps you and I both had better prepare for a lot more writing like this. I feel compelled to write it, and it’s fun. I hope someone, anyone, wants to read it. It makes me feel more human. Maybe it will help me find and connect with people who feel the same – other native citizens (and immigrants!) of the Internet. :-)

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Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

OK, so I’m a couple days late, and I know I’ve been teasing you with photos and videoappetizers“, but I hope the quality/content of these videos makes up for it. While I was in Shanghai, China last week for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum, I stayed a few extra days to work with the Intel Software Network China team, with the hope that I might be able to score some hands-on time with some of the Mobile Internet Devices that were shown for the first time at IDF.

There are only about 20 MIDs in the world today, all prototypes, and they were pretty much all at IDF. As you can imagine, access to them is jealously guarded, and they were pretty busy being shown off, participating in photo shoots, etc. My access to them got postponed, rescheduled, and moved around a lot, until one afternoon, we got the call. “You can come play with the MIDs if you can be here by 5:30pm.” It was 5:00pm, and Welles and I jumped in a taxi right away, headed for the Intel Software group’s Mobility Enabling Lab. I didn’t have time to go back and get my “big boy” professional video gear, so these videos were shot on my pocket Aiptek Go-HD camera, secured by a GorillaPod. I think they turned out pretty well.

Big disclaimer: the Linux-based software for both the Lenovo and Aigo devices I used is NOT final – there are some features that aren’t implemented, and performance optimizations that haven’t occurred. This is NOT how they’re going to be when they’re released commercially. There are crashes, slowness, and missing features in these videos. Think of this as a preview of the foundations of the software – what it’s capable of in general. Then squint your eyes a little and imagine the final version, a little more polished, sitting happily in your pocket. :-)

First up, here’s a 13 minute video of the Lenovo Ideapad U8 Mobile Internet Device (MID). It’s one of the more unique hardware designs, with it’s flared end, special limited edition Beijing 2008 Olympic color scheme, and hardware number pad, for T9 text entry. In the video, I take a detailed look at the hardware (Intel Atom processor, two cameras – the rear one is 2.0 megapixels, SD slot, GPS, USB ports, etc.), and spend some time poking around with the software/user interface:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version here – the file is about 153 MB. You can also embed/share the video on your own blog or site by grabbing the Show Player code from the video’s page on blip.tv or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Next up is 10 minutes of video with the MID from Aigo. I cover pretty much the same aspects of this device in the video as I did with the Lenovo Ideapad – hardware (sliding QWERTY keyboard, two cameras – the rear one is 3.0 megapixels, MicroSD slot, USB ports, “Smart Key”, etc.) and software and user interface. The Aigo device looks very similar to the Gigabyte MID, which has been floating around, making appearances. So much so that I suspect they’re manufactured by the same OEM, but I didn’t get any concrete information on this, so I’m just speculating. Here’s the video:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version of this video (117 MB) here, and get the embed code to share the video on your own site/blog on the video’s page on blip.tv, or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And, no doubt, you have new questions. I’ll do my very best to get answers for you, so post your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Thanks for being patient while I got these videos ready. I have a TON more video content that I shot at IDF, and that will be coming out as it gets processed/edited. But this is the juicy stuff, so enjoy! :-)

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An Appetizer: Video of the Lenovo and Aigo MIDs at Intel Shanghai

I’m working on the video I shot while I was at the Mobility Software Lab at Intel Shanghai yesterday, getting some face time with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices. I posted the photos late last night (thank you all for the comments!), and ever since then, you’ve all been chomping at the bit to see the videos. I have good news and bad news…

The good news is, I just posted an “appetizer” video, with a quick look at the MID hardware, comparisons to the Fujitsu and Samsung UMPCs (and my iPhone), and a glimpse of the lab. It’s about 2.5 minutes long, and you can watch it right here:


The bad news? The really detailed videos I shot of the UI and applications on both devices are too long to go up on YouTube (which has a 10 minute limit). I don’t want to cut anything out of the videos – I want you to see everything I saw. And I’d really like to have higher quality for the videos than what YouTube allows. But since my video service of choice, Blip.tv, is blocked in China, I can’t upload the videos until I get home. My flight leaves in about 18 hours. It won’t be long!In the mean time, please accept my apologies, and this “appetizer” video as a token of my love, along with the promise that the real “meat” – the UI video you’ve been waiting for – is coming soon. Over 20 minutes of it. And it will look better than YouTube. :-)

Thanks for being patient! :-)

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World Exclusive: I got to play with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) at Intel Shanghai

There are only about 20 Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) existent in the world. Most of them were in Shanghai last week for the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). 10 of them were in the Mobility Software Enabling Lab at Intel Shanghai, where I got special access today to shoot photos and videos, as well as some hands on time to play, with the Lenovo Ideapad U8 MID and the Aigo MID. They also had some other devices around for comparison – an old prototype UMPC with a pivot screen, a Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC, and a Fujitsu Lifebook UMPC. And I threw my iPhone in a few of the photos for size/comparison’s sake.

I’ll post a more detailed writeup of my impressions of the devices soon, as well as the video of the time I had with them (summary: the Lenovo Ideapad U8 looks and feels wonderful in my hands – I WANT one!). I spent several minutes on video with each device, examining the hardware and UI/software features. Right now, thought, it’s almost 1 AM, and I need to get up early to do a blogging training with the Intel Shanghai software guys. But I wanted to get these photos up and available as soon as possible.

Please post any comments or questions you have either in this post, or on the photo’s page on Flickr. I want to answer all of your questions, but I’m going to sleep for a few hours, and don’t want to miss any of them. Please be patient, and I promise I’ll answer all questions. :-)

The entire set of 33 photos is available in this photoset on Flickr. Feel free to browse through all of the photos (bonus photos: some shots of the Intel Shanghai sales offices, which occupy floors 22-24 of the ShanghaiMart tower). Click here to view as a slideshow, and you can see full size/resolution versions of every photo on Flickr by clicking “All Sizes” on the photo’s page.

And now, the photos! Here are some that I think turned out best – be sure to check out all 33 photos in the Flickr set!

Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
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Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
Fujitsu Lifebook, Samsung Q1 Ultra, Lenovo MID, Aigo MID, prototype UMPC
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Keeper of the MIDs, Lenovo Ideapad U8
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Bonus Video: My First Hands-On with a MID (Mobile Internet Device)

A few days before IDF, I met Holly from Intel via an email thread on who was going to Shanghai to blog, etc. She let me know that there was going to be a MID (Mobile Internet Device) photoshoot at some point, and invited me to come, shoot video, and check it out. Well, it turned out that the photoshoot took place at 8 PM the first night after IDF started, and didn’t finish until 8 AM the next morning. These devices are pretty much the only ones in the world right now, and they were needed for the keynote addresses both days of IDF. So the middle of the night was the only time they were available for a photoshoot. I passed.

But! On Day 2 of IDF, Holly came by the Upload Lounge with one of the MIDs – a unit from Gigabyte. She was supposed to do some “man on the street” video, showing people in Shanghai the MID, and asking them to show what they had in their pockets. But her video crew wasn’t available for some reason. SInce I was there with all my gear, and had time before the next session, I happily accompanied her out onto the streets of Shanghai (with Helen, our translator) to do the man on the street video.

But before we hit the streets, I shot this short clip with my Apitek Go-HD, to commemorate my first ever hands-on experience with a real, live MID. Here’s the video – about a minute and a half, not long enough to go into any depth. But it should be enough to give you a glimpse of what they’re like to actually use.


Holly is hard core – she was up all night long for the photoshoot, and still came around to do this. I would have chickened out and hidden in my soft warm bed for a few hours. Hats off to you, Holly! Hope you got some rest! And thank you for letting me touch the MID! :-)

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