Archive | February, 2008

links for 2008-02-21


Simple Mail – who is this for?

With the Simple Mail Add-On you can get notified, read and write email messages right in Firefox. I saw this and immediately thought “Wow, now I can do my gmail, yahoo mail, pop and imap accounts all in Firefox!”

Then I thought for a minute and realized that all my pop and imap accounts are gmail and yahoo which already have great browser clients. I love that we’re moving closer and closer to a Firefox-based world where the differences between OSX and Vista don’t matter but I’m not sure why I would ever need this client as both yahoo and gmail can check any other pop/imap accounts for me already.

Any while I’m on the subject of the ‘Firefox-based world’ let’s talk about memory management. Memory management in Firefox 2 is terrible; there are leaks everywhere. Now I’m going to run all my apps in there? I don’t think so. I hear tell of FF3 improving on this but until Mozilla concentrate’s on it I think the Herokus and Zimbras of the world are going to remain second class citizens to Intellij and Outlook.

links for 2008-02-20

links for 2008-02-19

The cost of our time and attention is set too low – Merlin Mann

Merlin Mann’s “Vision track” presentation at Macworld Conference 2008 in San Francisco. This is really a great talk about smartly utilizing your time and attention at work. The theme is that the cost of our time and attention is set too low

My favorite slide below gets at the fact that people will just keeping throwing things at you (regardless of their relevance to the task at hand) and still expect you to deliver flawless quality on time. It’s up to you to safeguard your time & attention from Henderson and his 30-second questions as nobody cares what happens in the Black Box.

Merlin Mann’s Black Box Job slide

links for 2008-02-18

PageOnce – 1999 is calling and I'm answering

PageOnce is self proclaimed as the first Personal Internet Assistant web site. I disagree with the marketing message but I do really like the site. PageOnce reminds me of the account aggregation that many startups tried to do in the first web bubble but I think that PageOnce finally does it right. The difference may just be the CSS and the number of accounts it integrates with but I’d recommend checking it out:

Here’s a screenshot of my actual PageOnce page:

PageOnce screenshot

links for 2008-02-17

The Big Switch and Ironic Links about Amazon S3

Unintentionally the two links I posted today seem to be arguing with each other. The GigaOm post asks why a new web application would create it’s own infrastructure when it can rely on services like Amazon EC2 and S3 for servers and storage. The ZDNet post shows that Amazon’s S3 storage service was down for the bulk of the business day yesterday. I think that these two posts get to the heart of where we are in the transition to Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch. We’re headed to renting our hardware but we certainly aren’t there yet as the S3 outage was largely unnoticed by the ‘real world’ of people living outside the Bay.

In his book Carr posits that IT infrastructure now is analogous to electricity in the 19th century. Like electricity generating equipment was in 1880 (energy generators like waterwheels) in today’s world servers and networking devices are things that a company must maintain in order to deliver their core services. Obviously however electricity and servers are not eBay or Facebook’s core service and if someone can provide them cheaper and more reliably as a utility then world should get them there.

I don’t believe that Carr really understands ‘IT’ as he makes the argument that physical hardware, email and business-specific web-apps are all headed towards being provided as utilities. Much like we still get electricity in a variety of ways (AC wall outlets, batteries, solar panels) I think Carr overestimates the homogeneity of ‘IT’. Unpredictably his lack of knowledge on the subject works to his benefit as he is able to really look at his electricity metaphor very generally and make many predictions that I agree with such as the inevitability of renting virtual machine slices instead of maintaining dozens of your own servers.

The area I think Carr actually falls down is when evaluating his own industry. Carr devotes some time in his book to talking about the industries that centralized electricity had destroyed like the delivery of ice to preserve food in the 1800s. Carr indicates that while that’s too bad for an ice delivery man progress even with casualties is still good.

In a later chapter devoted to how the world wide web is impacting the news industry Carr laments all the recent upheaval and the impending death of long form content such as newspaper investigative pieces. In this chapter Carr is unable to look at his industry from the same intellectual distance that he could ‘IT’ and that is my main complaint about The Big Switch.

Ice delivery still happens today [link] albeit very sporadically and long form content will live as well. I recently read a 10 or 15 page article in the Atlantic Monthly about Barack Obama and loved it. There will always be millions more long form content consumers than there are ice delivery customers and thus there will always be long form content.

links for 2008-02-16