Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Google Buzz Will Win

If you recall, when Google launched Wave, it was by invitation only and was completely separate from Gmail. The result is that the interest fizzled out because a majority of users could not use it. Personally, I love Wave; but, there's nobody on the other end to make it useful. By integrating Buzz into their most popular product, Google introduced everybody to its awesomeness to get them hooked.

Secondly, other services launch a finished product, get complaints from users, and then re-engineer the product. Google purposely launched an incomplete service to allow us to help them improve it, thus avoiding the re-engineering part. Things will only get better from here on because they are engineering-as-you-go.

Another reason why Google Buzz will win is because they are doing everything with open source. Whatever mojo FriendFeed did, they didn't share it before being acquired by Facebook. Now FriendFeed has not evolved, nor will it. Facebook is not about to open source, allowing their captive audience to leave the walled garden.

Finally, Google's ultimate goal is not to make you a Google Buzz user. Their goal is to make Google Buzz the glue that holds your web presence together. They will be a nexus of your web presence. They will federate comments using the Salmon protocol; this means that if somebody comments on your Buzz, the Salmon-enabled blog will also have a copy of their comment on your blog.

You must remember that Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. You have to view Google Buzz through that lens. Otherwise, you fall into the thinking that Google is doing a "me too". Google is not trying to catch up; Google is heading the competition off at the pass.

The proof of this is that they launched a stream, a mobile site with geolocation, and automatic integration with other products at the same time. In effect, they launched Twitter, FriendFeed, Brightkite, and Wave all at once; and, they're just getting started.

Unless the other services start sharing their toys, Google will win.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life lesson learned from Wii sword play

Drawing of a blue and red lightsaber fighting....
Image via Wikipedia
Lately, I have been really into one of the games on the Wii Sports Resort, Sword Play. Through the game, I have reinforced a life lesson that I mentioned in another blog post about being deliberate to be effective. Well, it came up again.

First, a little about the game. You wield a lightsaber-looking sword against opponents. One game has you matched against an opponent where you have to knock each other off a platform, much like pugil sticks on a game show. In another one, you compete on chopping things with your sword. The game I enjoy is one where you fight through a gauntlet.

I just started playing this past weekend, so I'm still learning. I've made my way to level 15 already. It was tough getting out of level 6 with my beginner tactics. Naturally, when you are getting your butt kicked, you panic and start flailing with your sword. Not only is this ineffective, it probably helps your opponent defeat you faster. At the very least, it makes you amusing to your family.

I got up to level six simply by beating the players in the gauntlet on the head with my sword. Once there, I simply could not win no matter how hard I tried. Well, my son saved me. He told me that I should push a button to put my weapon in a defensive position. *HEADSLAP*

My son's advice helped me pass the next couple stages. However, I got stuck soon thereafter. Well, one side effect of learning how to guard myself from attacks was that it slowed me down. Prior to learning about the button, I was attacking at break neck speed to keep from being hit, which only worked for a few levels.

Once I slowed down, some interesting things started happening. I noticed there is a rhythm to striking my opponents. Too fast, and your strikes are ineffective. I also started noticing body language. If you pay attention rather than flagellate your sword around, you can see that your opponents almost tell you how they are going to attack. I also notice that you are often better off letting them strike first so you can nail them on their recovery.

I am not the same player today that I was on Sunday. If you watch me now, my strikes are more deliberate and effective. I'm not saying that I am the master of the game. Far from it. It is difficult to fight opponents in bunches, because you are not always sure which one is going to attack. All it takes is three strikes to take you out.

So, the reinforced lesson is, take your time. Be deliberate. Don't waste energy just looking like you are doing something. Being deliberate makes you more effective and reassuring to those who look to you for reassurance. In other words, being deliberate is a winning strategy.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shaine's Fried Rice

I don't own a wok or have a 400 degree flame. But, I make fried rice for my family at home. Here is how I do it.

First, steam the rice. The easiest method is to buy a $20 rice cooker from Wal-Mart.

Rice cookers come with a measuring cup. Typically, four cups of uncooked rice is enough to fill a pot.

You should be sure to rinse the rice at least a couple times to remove the starch. I don't know if it makes a difference; but I use hot water.

You'll need to chop up some kind meat for flavor. You can mix meats if you like. In this case, I'm using beef and sausage. You can also use any combination including shrimp or chicken. Whatever flavor you like. I'm seasoning the meat with some diced onions and minced garlic. Fry it all together until browned.

While the rice is cooking and the meat is browning, chop up some green onions. You'll need those later.

Set the browned meat aside while the rice is still cooking.

I can't tell you the reason why egg is added to fried rice. I can tell you that it makes a difference in the final flavor and texture. So, scramble up an egg right before you add the rice.

Add the steamed rice to the egg in the pan. From experience, if the rice is too moist, it will clump while you're cooking. Next time, add a little less water. Start frying up the rice. Add a little salt and white pepper. Do not add black pepper; it's not the same thing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that restaurants cook this with the flame all the way up. This is a fast process. Turn it up and MOVE!

The reason why fried rice, and deniers that brown rice is fried, is that it has soy sauce to brown it. You will have to stir and stir until the soy sauce is evenly distributed and the rice has reached the desired level of browness. Careful, too much soy sauce will make the dish salty.

Add the meat. Keep stirring.

Add some frozen peas and carrots. The steam from the rice will thaw and cook them quickly.

When you're done cooking, add the green onions and stir them up with the rice. They should be slightly crunchy.

That's it, you're done. Serve it up and eat. I like to eat my fried rice with Sriracha, a hot Asian meat sauce. This is where you learn if your rice is too soggy. If done right, the rice will easily break apart. You may have noticed that restaurant rice has a lot of oil in it. That's what keeps the rice from sticking together, but the first step is not making the rice too moist.

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Some thoughts on Google Buzz

The Potential of Buzz is Great

When Google surprised the world with the release of Buzz, they only released a product with a fraction of its potential. Much more is in the works.

in reference to: How Google Buzz is Disruptive: Open Data Standards (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

How to use Evernote for handwritten notes in digital ink

Side by side comparison of Evernote's digital ink and rendered image

It is difficult for me to explain the difference in how writing notes with digital ink is different while looking at the original ink, versus a representation of the ink notes. It occurred to me that I could take a screenshot of the original digital ink note for comparison.

This is what you would see on my public Evernote notebook.


Here is a screenshot of my original digital ink note written on the Evernote application.


You will notice that there are some differences between what you see and what I see. This does not make digital ink a bad idea; simply, your writing has to be that much neater to compensate for the differences.

This return to handwriting for me is a short experiment. I often wondered if blog scrapers would go so far as to take posts entirely written in an image and try to represent them as their own. Also, do blog readers really care if my blog post is typed or written? Presumably, it's the content that matters rather than the style, right?


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