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The Cloud has a silver lining

The Cloud has a silver lining published on No Comments on The Cloud has a silver lining

Originally published on ReadWriteWeb

There are times in our lives, extraordinary times, that call on us to open our hearts like never before. To embrace those who are suffering, and offer them comfort and support.

This, my friends, is such a time.

If you know a BlackBerry user, reach out to them. (Not with email. That’s just mean.) Let them know you care, and that just because they were offline for a few days, you still love and respect them.

It’s good karma. And don’t be surprised it makes your iPhone or EVO feel just a little lighter in your pocket.


Workaround published on 1 Comment on Workaround

I usually like being at airports. The kid in me loves the big planes taking off and landing; the grownup in me likes the chance to sit down and get some work done uninterrupted in a big, bright area.

And in more and more airports, I can do it with free, fast WiFi. Enough of the airports (and coffee shops, and hotel lobbies, and restaurants, and…) that I visit have free WiFi, in fact, that I’ve started to take it for granted.

So last week, when I cleared security at an international airport and popped my laptop open with two hours before my flight boarded, I was thrown when I saw a login screen that demanded payment. And not just a token payment, either: they wanted $10 for an hour’s connection.

Now, I’m willing to acknowledge an over-developed sense of entitlement on this score. WiFi isn’t free, and if I’m not paying for it, then travellers who don’t use WiFi will probably be subsidizing me. (As opposed to, say, offering bathrooms, which are a universal need, except for those who have superhuman bladder control.) But $10 an hour?

I turned to my Twitter amigas and amigos for some sober second thought on the issue. Here’s a sampling of what they said:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/doriantaylor/statuses/71342290643337216″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/BlackDogBrand/statuses/71342353666932736″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/peterscampbell/statuses/71346196760895488″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Shatankiawaz/statuses/71364086939660290″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Ducksburg/statuses/71527280966500354″]

As for me, I finally hit on a solution that bypasses the whole issue:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/RobCottingham/status/71343422572728321″]

A big thanks to Alexandra Samuel, Tris Hussey, Lauren Bacon and David Eaves for their honest and highly useful feedback on the cartoon.

Hey, have you entered the caption contest yet? You could win two signed prints and a lovely mug. The contest closes in two days!

Devices and desires

Devices and desires published on No Comments on Devices and desires

I realized the other day, in the middle of a conversation with someone, that – for just a moment – I had stopped thinking of them as a human being, and started thinking of them as the thing that stood between me and some quality time with my iPad.

(If you were talking to me in the past few days, and wondering if you’re the person in question, let me assure you that you weren’t. It was someone else. Really.)

And, you know, that happens. At parties, some of us catch ourselves looking over the shoulder of the person we’re talking to, in case there’s someone we actually want to talk with nearby. A friend could be pouring their hearts out to us, and a stray anxiety could drift up from our subconscious long enough to distract us. Even when we give someone our full attention, we’re rehearsing what to say next or wondering how they’re reacting to what we just said.

All of which is to say, let’s cut devices a little slack. They have the reputation of sucking our attention away from other people, but it’s not like there isn’t plenty of competition for that attention already, devices or no devices. Hell, the Cro-Magnon probably had that problem. (“Ogg stalk mammoth for hours. Then mammoth turn and look at Ogg, and – hey! You not listening to Ogg!”)

And one of the nice things about a connected device is that it often connects us to others who aren’tin the room. There’s a terrific Ze Frank TED Talk where he projects a photo of a woman looking down at her iPhone and smiling. (You’ll find it around 6:25.) While this is the stereotypical image of someone zoning out of the real world, he points out that “life is being lived there, somewhere up in that weird, dense network.”

That said, it’s still possible to be a thoughtless jerk about these things, and I’m living proof. We’re still working out the etiquette and sifting through conflicting protocols. And as with nearly everything that really matters, it comes down to human connection.

Or high-velocity connections between pigs and angry birds. Those are fun, too.


ENJ_Y O_R FRE_ WIR_LE_S published on 3 Comments on ENJ_Y O_R FRE_ WIR_LE_S

Flaky wireless connections are a fact of life for bloggers on the move. If it isn’t tortoise-slow downloads, it’s a password that never seems to “take”. If it isn’t a connection that keeps dropping, it’s a router that refuses to give you an IP address.

Okay. So the connection’s too unreliable to let you post to your blog, and your mobile contract doesn’t include tethering. Don’t let that keep you from blogging. Here are five ways you can work on your blog, even when you aren’t connected to the hive mind:

  1. Outline your next blog post. Maybe you can’t do the research you want, find the URLs of the posts you’d like to link to, or hunt down the perfect Creative Commons image to illustrate your post. But you can sketch out the bare bones, and add the muscles, organs and stylish accessories once you’re back online.
  2. Clean up your hard drive. If you’re like me, you have little snippets of blog ideas and drafts all over the place. Bring them together in one folder, or one text file (your workflow will vary), and you’ll be miles ahead of the game next time you’re stumped for a post idea.
  3. Raid your subconscious. Break out the mind-mapping software, open up your Moleskine or just scribble on a napkin – but brainstorm ideas for your next five, ten or fifty posts. Don’t try to assess them at first; just get as many down as possible. Then, once the storm peters out, pick out the best and add them to your idea file.
  4. Make a to-do list. Chances are there are things you’ve been meaning to do for your blog: add a Delicious feed, check out an e-commerce plug-in, create a promo card to hand out at conferences. Set priorities according to the effort each task will require and the impact you expect each one to have, and you’ve just built yourself a development queue.
  5. Doodle. Draw something funny, or funny-ish. Then snap your doodle with your camera phone or digital camera. Once you’re online, upload it as a blog post. Hey – it works for me.

Relaxing and doing nothing? There’s an app for that

Relaxing and doing nothing? There’s an app for that published on 1 Comment on Relaxing and doing nothing? There’s an app for that

This one’s in honor of all of us for whom ubiquitous connectivity means you’re never really 100% present in physical space.

Oh, sure, it has its drawbacks – the car accidents, the walking into parking meters, the wedding that got called off because you just had to Twitpic a photo of the moment to your tweeps (awkward, as you were the bride).

So here’s a salute to all of us who proud members of the hive mind.

And if you’re not just a member of the hive mind, but helping to build it, you’ll seriously want to consider attending ReadWriteWeb‘s 2010 Mobile Summit (facilitated by friend-of-the-show Kaliya Hamlin). It looks like it’ll rock.

And if you’d like to see this one being drawn, here’s the high-speed version…

…and here’s the full video!