On Blogs and Blogging

Writing about my blog or blogging in general feels too ‘meta’ to me, it’s best to leave that up to the Adsense cash cows, but Om Malik’s reflections on his experience is an interesting read and has some valuable insight worth sharing.

Today we differentiate between blogging on blogging platforms and sharing on social platforms, but that is just semantics. The essence of blogging is not defined by a platform but by what I learned from Dave and his blogging platform — that media now is raw, collaborative and instantaneous.

Unlike Om Malik I can’t write a detailed history. I have had a personal site or blog for over 14 years now – at first it was an experiment, an exercise to learn something new, then it evolved into short twitter style entries detailing my life overseas. All this was done by hand as the exhausting amount of platforms didn’t exist then. I posted my resume and a portfolio of my work, I read the handful of blogs that existed in the beginning to learn, and tried to do the same by sharing links and insights I found. For a while I had an early and fun project sharing street photographs of life in Asia, which though I’m not a skilled photographer is probably one of my most enjoyable personal projects. I’ve tried all kinds of fun online experiments and some not so fun, like the largely unknown first internal corporate blogging venture at a ‘big company’ I worked for. I would be hired again much later to try and reinstate that culture of sharing. Then with new interests came the experiment I called Popwuping, a half dozen other blogs, twitter and increasingly more time on a site I have mixed feelings about called Facebook. Sharing, or curating as the more hip and skilled would call it, is very much a part of my personal and professional practice. Writing, especially in the long form, not always so much so.
I don’t post regularly, one of Om Malik’s lessons I’m about to share, and perhaps I should apologize for that but I seldom assume people notice. Here are a few of his lessons that I feel strongly about during my experience:

Write everything as if your mom is reading your work, a good way to maintain civility and keep your work comprehensible.
Blogging is not about opinion but it is about viewing the world in a certain way and sharing it with others how you look at things. I share the things I see as interesting and shared my view of the world.
Being authentic in your thoughts and voice is the only way to survive the test of time.

… and forget the SEO nonsense.
Om Malik: My 10 years of blogging: Reflections, Lessons & Some Stats Too

Networked Society ‘On the Brink’

In On The Brink we discuss the past, present and future of connectivity with a mix of people including David Rowan, chief editor of Wired UK; Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr; and Eric Wahlforss, the co-founder of Soundcloud. Each of the interviewees discusses the emerging opportunities being enabled by technology as we enter the Networked Society. Concepts such as borderless opportunities and creativity, new open business models, and today’s ‘dumb society’ are brought up and discussed.

iPhone Christmas Skin Kit

iPhone Christmas Skin Kit
This is an interesting idea which I don’t remember seeing or thinking of in the past. Taking an attractive pattern, of your choosing, from the outside of the device to the wallpaper of home screen. Not brilliant but might appeal to some.
In this case I think it is simply an artist rendering of what is an attractive pattern for the coming holiday season. Canadian ‘Nitza’ designs the artwork and the skin is shipped to you from the US. Nice. especially if you would like to add sue extra scratch protection or get tired of the cool Rams inspired aesthetic of the iPhone.
iPhone Christmas Skin Kit

Timbuk2 Kindle & Kindle Touch Slim Sleeve

Timbuk2 Kindle & Kindle Touch Slim Sleeve
I’m a big fan of my kindle (I want to be a fan of the Fire but the reviews thus far are very poor) and like many of my devices I like to dress it up in a protective case. Timbuk2 recently introduced this thin sleeve specifically for the Kindle and the new Kindle Touch. The Slim Sleeve features high-density foam padding, a scratch-resistant lining, and a convenient velcro opening. It looks great too. Reasonably priced and a great way to keep your device protected and dust free.
Timbuk2 Kindle & Kindle Touch Slim Sleeve

Tumi Portfolio Briefcase

Tumi 'T-Tech Forge - Bethlehem' Portfolio Briefcase
I like the colour of this handsome bag from Tumi. The ‘T-Tech Forge – Bethlehem’ is a portfolio-style briefcase crafted from durable ballistic nylon, complemented with distressed leather trim and antiqued brass hardware. I don’t see the vintage aesthetic they mention in their brief but it’s just the right mix of utilitarian and fashion to suit my tastes. for a vintage-inspired, utilitarian aesthetic. The interior and exterior of the bag feature the usual number of organizational pockets and flaps, none of which I ever use.
Tumi ‘T-Tech Forge – Bethlehem’ Portfolio Briefcase

Hacoa iPhone BaseStation

Hacoa iPhone BaseStation
Hacoa iPhone BaseStation
Hacoa iPhone BaseStation
I’ve been looking at iPhone bases lately and this one from Hocoa caught my eye. Made from either Maple or Walnut the BaseStation puts your iPhone on display while it syncs and charges. It looks beautiful and the use of wood makes for a nice contrast to cold sharp lines of the iPhone.
Hacoa iPhone BaseStation

Nose & Ban Dang’s Story

Follow the story of two deaf brothers growing up in a remote hill tribe in Thailand whose lives were forever changed after moving to the Children’s Shelter Foundation in Chiang Mai. Beautiful heart wrenching story.

For the kids growing up in the hill tribes of Northern Thailand, home can be a tough place. Poor health conditions have left many vulnerable as orphans, and for those growing up with a disability a lack of understanding can lead to a life of total isolation. But at the Children’s Shelter Foundation a tough past is a rule rather than exception, and its also part of the reason these kids just can’t stop smiling in their new home.

More here.

Wacom Inkling

Wacom’s Inkling bridges the gap between traditional, freehand sketching and digital development by capturing a digital likeness of a pen-on-paper sketch. I’ve been waiting for a product like this for a long time. Many many possibilities. But there is a big caveat – it thus far seems you are limited to their ink refills and well … ink. I seldom use ink.
Though reported for a mid November release it hasn’t yet appeared on Amazon.
Wacom Inkling

Lenses free in Hong Kong

Lense free
This crazy Taiwan trend, which allegedly originated in Japan in the 1990’s, has now become popular elsewhere. In Hong Kong the city’s hip young crowd wear glasses not to see but wears them to be seen.

That’s clear when you look closely at the people crowding Hong Kong’s busy shopping streets. In many cases the glasses have no glass. The plastic frames, usually in black, tortoiseshell or bright colors, are empty.
Why not frames with plain glass in them?
“The girls don’t like the reflection from the lenses. It impacts on their overall look,” says Kenny Chan, general manager of Optical 88 Ltd., a chain of stores that sells over a quarter of all eyewear in the territory.
On a recent Saturday afternoon in Causeway Bay, one of the city’s congested shopping meccas, dozens of young people walked the crowded streets wearing lens-free glasses.
“It makes my eyes look bigger,” said Raymond Chan, a Hong Kong nurse in his twenties who happens to have perfect vision. He was wearing dark frames with air where the lenses normally go. He has worn them for some time now, usually when he is out shopping, a favorite pastime here.

How to Make a Spectacle of Yourself in Frames With No Glass in Them

Apple App Store to Accept Payments in Yuan in China

The Wall Street Journal reports on how Apple has begun accepting payment in Chinese yuan for purchases in its online App Store, the company’s latest expansion in what has become a key growth market.

The change makes it easier for users in China to pay for software applications for iPhones, iPads and iPods. Customers of more than 20 Chinese banks can now make payments to an App Store account to buy games and other downloads.
They previously needed a dual-currency credit card–a requirement that led many to either hack their iPhones in order to use apps from other sources, or make purchases in the App Store using false identities and fraudulent gift cards.
After long neglecting the Chinese market, Apple has been aggressively expanding in the country in the last two years–opening new retail stores, an ecommerce site and a version of its App Store using simplified Chinese characters, making it easier for local users to navigate.

Though we have no trouble using local credit cards, Apple customers in Taiwan must still pay in US currency.
Read: Apple Adopts Yuan for Apps. Via textually.

Laundry list of ‘Obscene’ Words Banned in Pakistan SMS

Laundry list of 'Obscene' Words Banned in Pakistan SMS
Cell phone carriers in Pakistan say they have been told to ban the use of about 1,500 words deemed indecent or offensive in text messages. From CNN:

The notice from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was received by three Pakistani cell phone carriers — Mobilink, Warid and Telenor — this week, officials at the companies confirmed.
The words include “taxi” — often used to refer to prostitutes in Pakistan — “gay,” “tongue,” “homosexual,” “intercourse,” “condom” and “hole.”
In the notice, the PTA — the agency that regulates cell phone and internet carriers in Pakistan — cited a law that bans the transmission of indecent and obscene messages.
The notice says the banned words are part of an effort to cut down on spam and unsolicited text messages, the officials said.

Others on the list include “lotion”, “tongue”, “period”, “flatulence” and “athletes foot”.
Pakistan bans ‘obscene’ words from text messages

Goodnight iPad, Ann Droyd

This book was a big part of our nightly ritual for a long long time. Great parody. Almost poignant in it’s exaggeration of reality.

Modern life is abuzz. There are huge LCD WiFi HD TVs and Facebook requests and thumbs tapping texts and new viral clips of cats doing flips. Wouldn’t it be nice to say goodnight to all that? Like the rest of us who cannot resist just a few more scrolls and clicks, you may find yourself ready for bed while still clinging to your electronics long after dark. This book, which is made of paper, is a reminder for the child in all of us to power down at the end of the day. This hilarious parody not only pokes loving fun at the bygone quiet of the original classic, but also at our modern plugged-in lives. It will make you laugh, and it will also help you put yourself and your machines to sleep. Don’t worry, though. Your gadgets will be waiting for you, fully charged, in the morning.

Goodnight iPad – a Parody for the next generation. Via Brainpickings (lovely write up).

iCow: Kenyans manage their herds via mobile phone

iCow: Kenyans manage their herds via mobile phone
The iCow mobile-phone app, invented by an organic farmer outside of Nairobi, Kenya, is just one example of the country’s growing high-tech entrepreneurial culture. Love the name. From the Christian Science Monitor:

As an organic farmer outside of Nairobi, Su Kahumbu could see the challenge that her cattle-herding neighbors had in handling the expenses of their most precious assets, the female cow.
So, Ms. Kahumbu came up with iCow, a mobile-phone application that allows herders to register each individual cow, and to receive individualized text messages on their mobile phones, including advice for veterinary care and feeding schedules, a database of experts, and updated market rates on cattle prices. It’s an example of how high technology can help out even in the low-tech business of agriculture, in which 80 percent of Kenyans make a living.
Charging a few shillings (a Kenyan shilling is worth about one cent) per SMS for iCow’s services, or a few hundred shillings per month for a jerry-rigged wireless network may not seem, at first appearance, to be the way to make a typical African fortune. But on a continent with nearly a billion people, nearly half of whom have at least a basic form of technology in the form of a cell phone, small-scale low-cost technology solutions may become a huge area of growth for a large number of individual innovators.
“If we can only do what I’m trying to do with iCow, riding on the back of technology, we can make a huge impact on ordinary people’s lives,” says Kahumbu.


iPhone app tracks Catholics’ religious fervor

Although religious applications for mobile devices have been around for a while, Ignio creators boast their app is the only one that helps Catholics live, share and track their faith. The Boston Herald hosts this report from the Associated Press:

A new iPhone application gaining popularity across the country tracks users’ religious activity — everything from reading Scriptures to posting prayers — and reflects it in the flame of a virtual candle tied to the app that grows larger and brighter with every completed task. Stray from the path and the flame burns out — only to be rekindled if another user physically “bumps” mobile devices with the holder of the extinguished flame.
The free app called Ignio — “ignite” in Latin — was released last month as an innovative way for Catholics to encourage young people to be more active followers.
After downloading the app, Ignio appears on the cell phone screen as an unlit candle. Ignio users can choose candles with images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Francis or other Catholic symbols.
To spark the candle’s wick, the user must physically “bump” or repeatedly tap iPhones with a current Ignio user.
The flame stays lit as long as one participates in a variety of spiritual activities, such as posting prayers on Ignio, commenting on friends’ prayer requests, using the app to find a nearby church or just to “check-in” to let friends know you are at church or were there that week. Ignio also keeps track of how often one reads the prescribed daily Scriptures and verses found on the app.

An interesting use of the Bump api. As smartphones become more commonplace we will see greater application to those with specific interests and needs.
iPhone app tracks Catholics’ religious fervor