The Idea Dude


Friday, February 27, 2009

What's with the glossy screens?

The biggest impediment to buying an Apple notebook or one of their all in one computers is their glossy screens. Seems like the vogue today even with other vendors. If you use the computer 10-14 hours a day like me, you'll realize that having a glossy reflective screen is a no-no. They look great in the store and the colors are unrealistically more vibrant than they really are, but they sure sell. Now you can buy a non-reflective version but only in the 17 inch laptop and you have to pony up an extra $50 to boot.

I guess the wow factor always trumps practicality.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The folly of creativity and genius

It could be like any other day. But it is not, even though it feels like it. Without thinking, the words pour into your blog. Your fingers struggle to keep up. Before you know it, it is over. You preview your work. It is right the first time. Hitting submit, you get up for a cup of coffee.

Within hours, the comments pour in. You go back and reflect on what you did. It is amazing. You wonder why this post and not some other ones you laboured over. You grow afraid, wondering whether you can do it again. Hoping your next post will not disappoint. When the response to subsequent posts are less, you wonder if the blogging gods have left you. Perhaps you're past your best, what will your readers think?

This is the folly of creativity and genius. Elizabeth Gilbert describes this most eloquently at TED. Those infrequent bursts of creativity that people call genius kills us each time because they are singularities that resonate beyond our intent. They set unrealistic bars for us to maintain leaving us feeling decidedly mortal, impotent and unhappy when we fail to reach them every time.

Like Elizabeth, I believe that genius is in everyone of us. Latent not dormant. Waiting for serendipity. Genius are the highlights of what we do. It does not describe our state. Many who have been labeled as such inevitably die remorseful and depressed because they believe it did.

So we blog, because that is what we do. And every now and then when one entry resonates with the world, cherish it. You can't predict it, nor should you expect it. Inevitably it will come. Like the farmer whose grapes are sweeter that one season even though he has done nothing different from other years.

And when you feel the burden of genius. Remember they are singularities to be enjoyed for that moment and that moment only. It should serve as an inspiration not a millstone.

And when you feel ordinary. Keep blogging, because that is what you do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Life's a compromise

Sort of made the blog iPhone friendly. Alas, this is a case of the shoemaker's son has no shoes. This old blog born 3 years ago under Blogger means there is very little I can do to change the format in an elegant way without some server side work. Now I rue the day I didn't start this in Wordpress or something that allows me to do what I want with PHP code like we did at TheGoodBlogs site.

In the end, the best way was to write a script on TheGoodBlogs site that would capture this blog and insert the necessary code to format it appropriately. I could have simply added a css with a meta tag that would detect the iPhone and style it appropriately, but I wanted users to see the original blog if they so wished.

But if you clicked on the iPhone Friendly link, it formats it so that it is more easily read especially in landscape mode.

Back to other stuff... I'm now one day behind and it's only Monday!

The quest to be iPhone friendly

The iPhone has started to permeate my life in many ways. More so because my reading and catchup with the rest of the world is now done while waiting to pick up and drop off kids or waiting at the mall for the rest of the family. I rarely read email on my computer any more. Most of it is done on the go.

And so starts my quest. Most blogs are not iPhone friendly. Although, truth be told, that is true of most web pages. You have to zoom in, pan and adjust until the content fits on your screen. By then, the opportunity or the desire is gone so that page or blog is left unread. Our website, TheGoodBlogs was exactly that, unmanageable and unreadable. Hence our first efforts to make it more pleasing for iPhone readers.

Hopefully by end of today, this blog will read a little better. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TheGoodBlogs gets iPhone friendly

We've been working focusing on the iPhone/iTouch devices in last short while. If you have either device, you'll realize surfing on the web is not a great experience for many websites that have too much page real estate requiring you to zoom and pan to look for anything.

We've made parts of our website iPhone friendly. To test drive this on a normal browser on a computer, simply go to our website at and find the Virtual iPhone icon on the top right hand corner or click here to launch the virtual iPhone immediately. It will give you an idea what your web experience using an iPhone would be. It's identical to what you will see if you were using an iPhone or iTouch to surf our site.

Note: If you're surfing from the iPhone itself, there is a big button in the center of our home page that will provide those pages directly.

Having done this, we're amazed at how few websites are really iPhone friendly. Most sites are so flash-centric that you see very little or nothing at all. Not a great experience for millions of iPhone users who generally are people who are Internet savvy and have disposable income and a likelihood to spend online.

Tony's been working feverishly on a slick iPhone application that we've submitted to Apple for approval. The aim of the app is very simple, allowing you to discover 10 new blogs very quickly without having to visit each blog on your device. Of course, if you like the post, we give you a button to browse the actual blog. It's a great idea if you have a couple of minutes to kill and just want to read some fresh content.

We think there's definitely a business niche helping existing websites become iPhone friendly either via a custom web experience or through an app.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A late Valentine thought

I was reminded of this poem by Emily Dickinson this Valentine's weekend.

"If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Into his nest again,
I shall not live in vain."

Especially the part about "help one fainting robin into his nest again". It reminded me once more of my New Year's Eve adventure. Sent chills up my spine because what she wrote more than half a century ago could so accurately describe my feelings and experience.

It is amazing how deep thoughtful words transcend time and application.

I had another thought about how generosity is a gift that is never asked for or negotiated. Rather the very nature of it is unexpected, cherished and never forgotten. But I guess I should save that for another post...

The blog is dead, long live the blog

My good friend, Mark Evans had a post advocating the blog honeymoon is over. Mark's a smart guy with thousands of posts and many blogging years under his belt. So if anyone has a pulse on the blogosphere, surely he has.

I look to TheGoodBlogs and my own blogging habits and question the same thing. I agree with Mark, it is a sign of a maturing technology. New technology comes in waves. A giant wave followed by smaller and smaller ones until it either dies or hits steady state. The fact that we talk less about it either means it is dead or has become a de facto part of our lives like email, instant messaging, spreadsheets, word processors... I believe it is the latter. Blogging has become part of the stuff we use everyday without thinking too much about it.

Blogs are still the best place to put thoughts, ideas and information that you want to leave around a long time. They become signposts to your life. For me it is the documentation of my journey. Twitter has done bloggers a great favour, not a disservice, because they have helped remove all the mindless, one-liners that used to proliferate the blogs. These dynamic touchpoints are important in their own right but served to be flies in the blogging soup for those of us who looked to blogs for meangingful and deep content. There is a place for the story as well as the soundbite. Stories belong to blogs, soundbites belong to twitter. Imagine going on a date and it consisted of a series of one-liners!

As humans we are always looking for the king of the mountain, the app killer but in reality, all the technologies like email, instant messaging, blogs, social network sites and twitter serve our needs in different ways. It is an AND conversation and the fact that most of us keep multiple accounts will attest to that fact.

At TheGoodBlogs, we get our share of bad and indifferent blogs, blogs that are set up purely for spam. We filter these out the best we can. I am proud of the fact that without fail, if I go to the widget or browse our member blogs, it never fails to amuse, inform or entertain.

Isn't that what blogs should be doing? Isn't that what TheGoodBlogs does?

Long live the blogs!