del.icio.us (this just in!)

Rick West let me know about a service similar to del.icio.us called Furl. He asked me what the difference was, and while I hadn’t heard of Furl before, I found a good comparison at http://blog.ultralab.net/~blogger/andy/archives/001018.html.

It looks like Furl may be for academic arenas — it allows you to save the actual contents of pages and search through them later. (Delicious only saves the URL’s.) You can also export your links in MLA format for bibliographies. Furl’s UI is full of graphics and color — perhaps the type of website most people are more familiar with.

Delicious may be more for techie arenas — it uses a minimalist interface, has an API for allowing 3rd party software to uses its services, and uses ad-hoc tags instead of predefined categories.

Having said this, when I googled for differences between Furl and Delicious, several people said they use both.

Thanks Rick.

richard miller

del.icio.us

Last week I wrote about bookmarklets, but I didn’t include the bookmarklet that I use the most: my “Delicious” bookmarklet. Del.icio.us, with quite a creative domain name, is a “social bookmarks manager”. Here’s what you do:

  1. Go to http://del.icio.us and register for a free account.
  2. After logging in, you will see a link on their About page for a “popup post to del.icio.us”. (It’s a bookmarklet.) Drag it to the bookmarks bar of your browser.
  3. Now, whenever you’re browsing the Web, click on your “Delicious” bookmarklet to bring up the bookmark save window. Enter an extended description or “tags”, if you like, and click Save. Your bookmark is saved.

Unlike your browser’s bookmarks, which only let you save a web site’s name and address, del.icio.us bookmarks will let you save an “extended” description AND “tags”. Tags are where it’s at for del.icio.us. Tags are keywords that YOU choose to identify your favorite web sites. If I find a site about Mac OS X, I save it with the “macosx” tag (it can’t have any spaces) or if I find a site about HTML or security or Brazil, I put those tags on it. I also have a “reading” tag for articles I want to read later. Each page you bookmark can have multiple tags.

Once you have tags on your bookmarks, they have much more meaning. You and everyone can see a list of all your bookmarks at del.icio.us/<your user name>. (Don’t save any bookmarks that would embarrass you, I guess.) My bookmarks are at http://del.icio.us/rkm28. As of right now, I have 408 bookmarks, all of which are tagged, and under each one you’ll see the tags I used to classify them. You will also see, and this is really cool, the number of people who have also saved that page in their bookmarks — a rough indication of the popularity of the page. On the right side of the page you’ll see a list of all the tags I use. You can click any tag to see all the pages with that tag. At the bottom of almost every page is an RSS feed. So if you want to keep track of all bookmarks and be notified when I add one, you can subscribe to http://del.icio.us/rss/rkm28. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds for specific tags. Here are some examples:

Do you see the pattern? And you can make any combination of these you want.

With del.icio.us, your bookmarks are organized, available in any browser, available on any computer, and available for others to look at. (And when I had my hundreds of bookmarks in Safari, it seemed to bog down — Safari was slow — so del.icio.us has solved that problem too.) I absolutely love it.

If any of you sign up for del.icio.us, please let me know — I’ll be interested in subscribing to your RSS feed and seeing what web sites you like.

On an editorial note, some Internet visionaries think this tagging idea is one of the “next big things”. (*I* like it.) A new site called Flickr.com is to photos what del.icio.us is to bookmarks. At Flickr.com you can save photos, tag them, share them with other people, and see other people’s tags. And I’m sure there are other tagging site out there. Let me know if you find any.

richard miller

Bookmarklets

Hi folks, I’m back, and today’s topic is “bookmarklets”.

That’s “bookmarklets” as in the diminuitive form of “bookmarks,” the web sites you save in your Internet browser. (They’re called bookmarks in Safari/Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape or “Favorites” in Internet Explorer.)

Bookmarklets require Javascript to be on (it probably already is) and they give special functionality to your browser. In Safari or Firefox, you can drag the links below right onto your Bookmarks bar. Then just click! Here are some examples:

Resize your browser window to 1024×768 and move it to the upper-left corner of the screen (0,0). You can replace those numbers with anything you want, to automatically make the browser window as small or large as you want:
javascript:self.resizeTo(1024,768);self.moveTo(0,0)

Stretch your browser window to the height of your screen and set the width to 860:
javascript:self.moveTo(40,0);self.resizeTo(860,screen.availHeight);

Stretch your browser window to the height and width of your screen:
javascript:self.moveTo(0,0);self.resizeTo(screen.availWidth,screen.availHeight);

Email the current page URL to the address you specify:
javascript:window.location='mailto:'+prompt('Send message to:','Email@Email.com')+'?body='+window.location+'&subject='+document.title

Validate the HTML of the current page (good for web developers):
javascript:void(document.location='http://validator.w3.org/check?uri='+document.location);

Validate the CSS of the current page (good for web developers):
javascript:void(document.location='http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/validator?uri='+document.location);

Validate the links of the current page (good for web developers):
javascript:void(document.location='http://validator.w3.org/checklink?url='+document.location);

And my favorite bookmarklet and reason for blogging about them today: “Bugmenot”. This bookmarklet opens a window to “www.bugmenot.com” that shows a working name and password for whatever site you’re currently on. Today I opened a news article from some newspaper in the Midwest that was asking me to register before I could read the article. Instead of going through the hassle of registering and giving away my personal information, I simply clicked the “Bugmenot” bookmarklet on my Bookmarks bar and it opened up a window with a name and password I could use for the newspaper. I typed them in and got to my article right away. (By the way, if you click the Bugmenot button and no name/password is available for that site, it will ask you to enter *your* name and password so it can be shared with other bugmenot users. Of course, you would only want to do that for generic registrations that don’t have any of your personal information.)
javascript:void(window.open('http://bugmenot.com/view.php?mode=bookmarklet&url='+escape(location), 'BugMeNot', 'location=no,status=yes,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes,width=385,height=450'))

Let me know if you need help getting bookmarklets to work. I think once you use them you’ll really like them.

richard miller

Anti Pornography Campaign

During the Christmas break, I received a junk email (spam) with am extremely offensive pornographic image. It was a direct assault on everything wholesome and good in my life — a nuisance of the vilest kind. I changed my settings in the Apple Mail program to only show images in emails after I’ve clicked “OK”, so I shouldn’t ever have that problem again. And I’m fortunate not to have had that problem often, but I decided it was just one too many times. I want revenge.

I decided I am going to launch an anti pornography campaign. I’ve studied serial killer Ted Bundy a bit and I know he was highly influenced by pornography. He grew up in a good, Christian home where his parents worked hard and didn’t smoke or drink. Before he was executed, he said his atrocities couldn’t be blamed on his family. But as a boy, he found smutty magazines in a dumpster near his house and thus “dove into the trash”. He became more and more consumed by porn and required harder and harder material to satisfy himself. Eventually the coarseness of his pornographic diet led him to rape and kill 36 women. (Thirty-six is the official count; some believe it may be more than 100.)

And he’s not the only one. Many a serial killer were influenced by pornography — Gary Bishop, Jeffrey Dahmer. Surveys tell that those who view pornography feel an increased desire to commit rape. Undoubtedly pornography is even sewing the seeds of a future serial killer today. Pornography is everyone’s problem — it’s a societal threat that could ruin us if we let it.

It’s ridiculous to say, “I have the right to view pornography in my own home. It is my business. Like illegal drugs, pornography usage by *anyone* affects *everyone*. Playboy ought to be as illegal as cocaine. We breed tomorrow’s serial killers and rapists today by letting pornography spread through our society. In the meantime, marriages are destroyed and homes are broken. I’ve seen very few episodes of Friends, but several of the ones I’ve seen included “light-hearted” and “fun” references to pornography. But the story always stops there. They never show “Chandler the rapist” or “Ross the serial killer” — those don’t make for fun shows.

I told Dave and Brian about my idea over the break, and they both liked it and seemed glad to help. Dave, who just graduated from BYU in advertising, even put together some rough drafts for billboards. You can see his drafts at http://www.richardkmiller.com/apc/.

Originally my intentions were to save this campaign for a few years down the road when I can entirely fund the campaign myself, but Dave and Brian have changed my mind — I think we can do it now. We’ll look into prices of renting a billboard in Las Vegas, and then we’ll start fund raising. We certainly need it now.

richard miller

fellow planner extraordinaire

I mentioned before that I’m hunting for the perfect to-do list or productivity app. Still looking. But I have found a fellow blogger that seems to share the same problem as I — spending so much time trying to arrange my life to be efficient and productive that I neglect just doing what needs to be done. I overplan and underproduce. Hopefully between the two of us we’ll find a solution. You can find his blog at www.43folders.com.

P.S. Even the name of his blog (43 Folders) is a reference to a productivity technique. The idea of using 43 folders — just plain, manilla, file folders — is that you have 31 folders for each day of the month and 12 folders for each month of the year. Then whenever you get a bill to pay or a task to do and you don’t want to take care of it today, you simply slip it into the folder of the day you want to take care of it this month. If you don’t want to take care of it this month, you slip it into the month folder of the month you plan to do it. Then each day you have to remember to look at that day’s folder and take care of everything in it. And on the 1st of each month, you open that month’s folder and put everything into one of the 31 day folders.

richard miller

elementary school fight songs

Today Brian wrote about the advantages of the iTunes Music Store, including the fact that smaller, less-known artists can short cut the music industry machine and make their music available directly to the people. It made me think (loose association, I know) about my elementary school fight song(s). I actually had four elementary schools – one in Texas, one in North Carolina, and two in Las Vegas. When we first moved to Las Vegas, we lived for half a school year in apartments on the east side of town behind Sam’s Town. The apartments were on Jimmy Durante Blvd., and I went to J. M. Ullom elementary school.

Sometime while I was there we had to learn the fight song (what do elementary school kids fight?) which went like this:


J.M. Ullom, J.M. Ullom, The best in the west are we.
J.M. Ullom, J.M. Ullom, The best that we can be.
The principal, the teachers, The students, and the staff
We all work together, In reading, writing, math

And that’s where my memory fades and I can’t remember the rest. But I found it funny that when we moved across town to Doris Reed Elementary, the fight song was the same!


Doris Reed, Doris Reed, the best in the west are we
Doris Reed, Doris Reed, the best that we can be

And as I understand it, everyone who went to elementary school in the Clark County School District had the same fight song. What a scam.

But, what an opportunity for some artist out there, or a band that wants to do a cover. If anyone evers decides they want to sing the Clark County School District Elementary School Fight Song and sell it on the iTunes Music store, you know there will be a market for it, what with every kid who’s ever gone to school in Las Vegas knowing the song.

richard miller

In search of the ultimate to-do list

It was sometime in high school that I got serious about being organized.* During my senior year, I had 8.5 x 11″ DayRunner inserts in my 3-ring binder that I used religiously. Every left page had Monday thru Wednesday and every right page had Thursday thru Sunday, and I wrote everything on those pages — events and tasks. When I completed a task or when an event had passed, I neatly crossed it out. If a week passed and I hadn’t completed some of the tasks, I crossed them out anyway and then rewrote them on the current week’s calendar. It wasn’t the most efficient system, but I stayed very organized.

Since then, I have tried SEVERAL different methods of staying organized but still haven’t found anything that sticks. Here’s what I’ve tried over the last 7 years:

  • 8.5 x 11″ DayRunner calendar inserts
  • Palm Vx handheld w/ both stock and 3rd party software, sync’ed with both Palm Desktop Software and Microsoft Outlook
  • Pocket PC w/ both stock and 3rd party software, sync’ed with Microsoft Outlook
  • Apple iCal, with the calendars automatically FTP’ed to a WAP-enabled web server so I can see my calendars on my cell phone
  • My own homemade web app which I can access from anywhere on the Internet or from my cell phone
  • blue sheets of cardstock paper folded in my shirt pocket
  • a pocket-sized calendar with perforated corners
  • a 59¢ hand-sized spiral notebook
  • a $4 hand-sized 3-ring binder

As for this week, I’ve been writing my to-do’s on a sheet from my brother’s humongous art pad (18 x 24″), folded four times into sixteenths so it [barely] fits into my back pocket. I kind of like it. I can see everything in one glance. If I back up a bit. And for my calendar I’m still using Apple iCal. But I’m sure it won’t be long until I try something else. I’m open to suggestions!

This week while I’m home for Christmas break I’ve been working at my dad’s office. Monday night when I was coming home from work with Michael, we tuned the radio to the Sean Hannity show, as we usually do, and listened to Colonel Oliver North who was covering for Sean. The Colonel was asking callers who had done their Christmas shopping and who hadn’t and was hypothesizing that the ladies had probably done it and the men probably hadn’t. And he was mostly right. I kept thinking, “poor guys that haven’t done their Christmas shopping — they need to get organized!” And while I hadn’t completely forgotten about it, the weight of it finally sunk in today that I still need to do MY Christmas shopping. How did I miss it?

* This summer my mother found a generic Franklin-day-planner-look-a-like that I used in 5th grade. I’m not sure that really counts. I had written in the phone number of 4 friends and 2 events on the calendar. So I didn’t use it much. Can you blame me? Who needs help staying organized in 5th grade?

richard miller

Welcome

After introducing half a dozen friends to blogs and being a strong advocate for them, I decided it was time to walk the walk myself. So here is my blog. This actually wasn’t a spur of the moment or last minute decision. Starting a blog has been on the back-burner of my to-do list for a long time — for maybe as long as a year. I think the first time I heard of blogs was when Phil Windley came to my e-business lectures class in Feb 2003 and told us about his. I’ve read his blog ever since and found several more in the meantime.

For those of you unfamiliar with blogs, you’re not alone. “Blog” was the #1 most-searched term on Merriam-Webster’s website this year. (“incumbent” and “electoral” were #2 and #3.) A blog is an online journal written by one person and read by many people. It’s a platform, a soapbox, a chance to get your ideas out or just write about your day-to-day activities. You can write about anything you want and as often as you want. Some of them are meaningful; some of them stink. Google has some pretty good definitions of a blog. Some Fortune 500 CEO’s have blogs as well as Michael Powell, the head of the FCC, and some other prominent individuals. Prominent or not, blogs give you a candid look into the lives of the “bloggers” that write them.

Everything I’ve read about starting a blog suggests that when you start a blog, you should pick a topic for your blog and stick to it. I’m not sure I want to do that. There are way too many things I want to write about for me to simply choose one topic, or even one genre, and stick to it. I can see this blog including love and advocacy of Apple computers, advice and tips for Windows PC’s users (divest!), political commentary, business ideas, why I hope my marriage is as good as the 18 months with my motorcycle has been, occasional funny moments from my life, and more. Please don’t ask me to stick to just one topic! (one topic = one Lay’s potato chip.)

I just want to say thanks to all my friends who have blogs — I’ve really enjoyed what you write and I am glad to join your ranks now.

One down, 1000 to go.

richard miller