Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I love Lenovo (well, kinda)

Check out the new IBM Thinkpad TabletPC. This is some sweet stuff. I've evaluated all of the major laptop vendor's hardware and the IBM Thinkpad (or should I say Lenovo) is the clear winner. The one gap they've had is no TabletPC offering... until now. I can't wait to get my paws on that!

What's your view on the TabletPC? In 5 years is it the standard by which all mobile computing platforms are measured? Or is it Gates' wishful thinking?

Monday, April 25, 2005

I love trackbacks

Sorry I'm so late to the game with trackbacks. Check out Haloscan for REALLY REALLY EASY Blogger.com trackbacks. There's no reason for your Blogger.com blog to not have them!

Anyone having problems with Haloscan trackbacks? I'll let you know if I do (not that I really expect anyone to have a reason to trackback to my blog). :)

I love RedBull

The company I work for has lots of offices in Chicago, IL. I live in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. It's a long commute. All joking aside, every month, I make the long drive down I-94 (about 400 miles) so I can work from the mothership in Chicago. I don't mind the drive, I have Audible.com and an iPod Mini that's crammed full of Audiobooks, so I just soak in some books and drive.

Well, the drive is quite boring, and I tend to get sleepy. So I stopped in some no-name exit off of I-94 in Wisconsin (there are many no-name exits off of I-94 in Wisconsin). I fueled up and grabbed a Diet RedBull (the regular is WAY too sweet and sugary for me). That was around 3:30 or 4PM. RedBull really helps keep me awake and attentive during the drive. My only problem is that I'm still awake. It's about 1:40AM right now. This sucks. My alarm goes off at 5AM. Tomorrow is going to be a FUN day if I've only gotten 3 hours of sleep.

Anyone else have this type of problem? Any cures? I need to be attentive during the drive, but I wish there was a switch I could turn off around 11PM so I could get SOME sleep. Then again it makes for some interesting posts on my blog... :)

I love Freakonomics

If you've not heard of it, really, this time, put up the for sale sign and move out from under the rock. Please. I always feel like I'm the last to know these things, so when I hear that someone else hasn't, I think the rock they are living under is just a layer under the pile of rocks that I'm living under. Let me know if I'm more on the cutting edge than I think (although I seriously doubt it).

So here's the link to the book "Freakonomics". It's by two guys named Stephen (well, one's a Steven, but who's counting). One's a University of Chicago Economist (BIIIIGGG propeller on this guy's beanie) and the other is a best selling author.

It's basically a leisurely walk through economics that "puts the cookies on the lower shelf" so everyone can have some (thank you John Maxwell for such a great quote). He takes long held "facts" and debunks them, or he gives you a different skew on them. The point of one section of the book is that we (as a society) tend to worry about high impact stuff that will almost never happen to us, rather than lower impact (or sometimes not) stuff that regularly happens. We are terrible evaluators of risk. Some of the stuff on parenting is truly eye opening (the statistics on child safety seats and children killed from airbags being deployed).

I'm the type of guy that just enjoys the heck out of stuff like this, so it particularly turned my crank. If you enjoyed either of Malcolm Gladwell's books (either of these), you'll probably dig Freakonomics.

Anyone read this yet? Any additional insights that I missed?

I love Improv Class (or I'm going to rather)

So I signed up for Improv Class at Comedy Sportz. A few guys I work with that totally crack me up with their quick wit and on the ball humor mentioned they do it and thought I would enjoy it as well. One of the guys called the other "Johnny Improvseed", not sure if that's true, but he sure seems to be spreading the word.

So I was going into this with very little expectations other than I've always had an interest in sketch comedy and improv, and thought it could help me improve as a public speaker (and all the Toastmaster classes seemed quite dull). After the first chapter in Dan Pink's book, I'm starting to think that this might be a good creative outlet for me. Perhaps this might be the catalyst that really gets my right brain flowing.

So has anyone else out there done an improv class? Is anyone really reading this? Am I just amusing myself (it's ok, it's working)? :) Any other ideas to get the creative mind juices flowing?

I love my left brain

As any of you who've moved out from under that rock can guess, I'm a chapter into reading Dan Pink's new book "A Whole New Mind" and I'm at a mental crossroads (please excuse the terrible pun). Check this out for a blurb regarding the book.

So it talks about what stuff the right brain is primarily directing (the creative side) and what stuff the left brain is directing (the logical side). The more I'm thinking about it, the more I'm not so sure I'm as left brained as I thought. I feel that I have no creative talent whatsoever. I can't sing (well only in the shower when no one is home and in the car when no one else is with me), I can't dance (it's truly embarrassing), I don't play a musical instrument, I can't paint or draw (my almost 2 year old does a better job). The only potential place for creativity in my life is writing, but I don't do much of that other than email at work and home and this blog, but I don't find any of that overly creative, rather a mechanism for communication.

After reading the first chapter of this book, I'm wondering if it's more my perception, or even how I wanted to be rather than how I really am. I can take diverse data, peer into it and discern patterns from chaos. I can step back and look at things in a "big picture" way; see the long view. Those are supposedly right brain dominated traits.

So is it in there somewhere? Is my creativity hidden, locked behind 15+ years of trying to be quintessential alpha geek? All through High School I remember being the Science Geek (I ended up graduating with the equivalent of 8 years of science classes). Drafting class was the closest thing I got to creative, but that was mostly T-Squares and measurements. I didn't even like the artsy elements of drafting; I'd rather draw the threads on a bolt rather than draw the floor plan or elevation of a house. Are there creative aspects to the threads on a bolt?

I'll let you know how much closer I get to figuring things out as I get further into the book. This one already feels like one of those "I can't put it down" sort of books. If you haven't heard of it, you should pick it up... it's great stuff so far.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I love spell check

Well, I love it when it works properly. For example, when I need to figure out how to spell something, I point my browser at Google.com and type away. It figures it out or I click on the definition in the upper right hand corner of the results page to link me to answers.com. It has everything I need all in one. The life of a grammatical numbskull just got better.

So my dichotomous example is Blogger.com's spell check. After typing up my last post, I decided to spell check it for all the fans of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, and what's the first correction that pops up? The word blog to be replaced as bloc. Mmmmmkay. I'm blogging on blogger.com and BLOG gets flagged for being misspelled?!?!?! I can only laugh. I clicked the "learn" button on the spell check, and hopefully it won't make this mistake again. Hey Blogger.com guys... see if you can tap into Google's spell check now that you're part of the mothership. Stay away from the MS Word spell check engine. :)

One more mildly humorous anecdote related to Google's spell check. The text below comes from here (much of the charm is lost without the links, but I've included the Britney Spears one because it's the funniest).

We're exploring large-scale machine learning as a means of improving search quality. Our spelling correction system is one excellent example (spehl korector? phonitick spewling? who needs a dictniary?). People searching for Britney Spears have clearly found it useful on many occasions. In more recent work, we have been working on algorithms and techniques to construct very large scale Bayesian network models to help understand the relationships between words.

Either we as a society aren't doing a good job of teaching our young people how to spell, or Britney Spears has (or is it "had" these days) an inappropriately young following (or both).

Anyone else use Google to spell check? Do you use something else?

I would love to be concise

Why is it that I can't be concise? It's not just on this blog, but it's everywhere. I'm sure my wife's response to this would be "have you ever had a conversation with him?" It's like I'm permanently stuck in verbose mode and can't turn it off.

Anyone else have this problem (especially in a blog)? Have a cure?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I love 800-CEO-READ

So I've long been an Amazon.com customer, I'm a fan of Jeff Bezos and what he's done there, and I love books, so he gets a fair amount of my money.

One thing that I just can't stand is the silly URL they have for all their books. Here's a great example:

I go to Amazon.com. I type in "Whole New Mind" to search for Dan Pink's new book. It's the top entry returned from the search. I click the link which takes me to the URL below:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1573223085/qid=1113932789
/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/104-0163398-7445570?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

(sorry, I had to break it up on two lines to get it to fit)

I take that URL and I trim MORE THAN HALF of it off, it still works and it looks like this:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1573223085

I know there's all this fancy eCommerce that's tracking how I got there and all this other grand stuff, but why not a link that I can right click and "Copy Link Location" (or "Copy Shortcut" for all those who are still on IE and haven't yet switched to Firefox). I don't like the "Email this to a friend". I don't know why but largely I don't trust them when I can just as easily get a URL and paste it into an email.

So you're wondering what this has to do with 800-CEO-READ? Congrats 800-CEO-READ, you've won my linking business. The URL for Dan Pink's book looks like this at 800-CEO-READ:
http://www.1800ceoread.com/details.asp?productid=1573223085

In fact, I won't just make it my "linking business". I promise to make all online purchases of new books that are available at 800-CEO-READ from them. They offer so many value added services that I greatly enjoy, it's time I put my $$ where my mouth is.

So getting back to the point at hand. Am I unique that I like to have a more simple URL, even if I have to click a link to get it? How many people will make the same switch as me? How will that eventually impact Amazon.com's business?

It's probably all negligible, but is this the first snowflake of the avalanche? Is it something simple like this that pushes 800-CEO-READ over the Tipping Point and Amazon.com into oblivion?

(For those who are wondering why the Amazon.com URL's aren't linked... it wasn't on accident)

Monday, April 18, 2005

I REALLY DO love posting

I promise I love posting, but I'm kinda in a bummer of a mood, and Scoble said that if I'm not in a good mood, I shouldn't post, because the post will suck (as this one is so far).

So for the last few weeks I've been bummed, but the year prior to that, I've been a bum (hence no posts).

More to come in the hopefully near future...