Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Secret Weapon for organizing clubs, and non-profit oranizations -- Google Groups (now out of beta)

Coordinating the volunteers of small clubs and organizations is a challenge. Email has made this communication quicker, but not always surer. You not only need to swap ideas among members, you also need something of a repository of ideas so that you have continuity as volunteers come on and off the group.

Google Groups gives clubs, interest groups, and non-profit organizations the tools they need to communicate with their members. The new version (released today) extends their services beyond just delivery of email. Google Groups now lets you share web pages, and resource files and all of the services have custom permission settings which allow you to be selective about who sees and edits the information on those messages, files, and web pages.

Today's Announcement from Google Groups:

New Options for Custom, Private Web Pages Take Groups Beyond Message Boards

Starting today, the latest version of Google Groups can give your group its own easy-to-build home on the web for sharing and maintaining information, including tools for creating customized web pages that help you give your group its own special look and feel. Whether you're running a forum for technology lovers, sharing the latest reviews from your book or wine club, posting practice schedules and team information for your soccer league, or planning a neighborhood barbecue, Google Groups gives you a colorful, central place to collect photos, documents, links, messages, and more over time.

Web products for groups have traditionally focused on an email thread or message board format; they've been largely text based. Google Groups, however, now provides a richer forum for group collaboration with the following new features:
  • Pages. Create and contribute to shared web pages with simple drag, drops, cuts, pastes, and clicks (i.e., no coding).
  • Customized look and feel. Select pictures, colors, and styles to express your group's style.
  • Member profiles. See who else is in the group and read their profiles. Personalize your own profile with a photo and other details.
  • File sharing. Post documents that anyone in the group can access.
  • Easy reading of group discussions. Read easily in a Gmail-style interface.
Group owners have a variety of options for managing access to the group. They can choose to make all content completely private and visible only to group members, or they can offer their pages and resources up to the world. There are also options for controlling viewing and editing capabilities for individual group members.
qv: Google Groups

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Video: WYFF - Buyer Beware - Toolbar can grab personal information

WYFF posted the video of the interview I did last week about Take a look and see what you think.

[Watch the video]

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Google plans to spend up to $600 million on data center in NC

MapAccording to the AP, Google will build a data center in Lenoir, NC:
Search engine giant Google Inc. will expand its high-tech infrastructure into a small town in western North Carolina, creating up to 210 jobs and investing as much as $600 million, state and company officials said Friday.
Hmmmm.... Lenoir, not Blythewood as previously hoped by The State newspaper..

qv: Google plans to spend up to $600 million...


Friday, January 19, 2007

The Secret Life of Pilots

It's a guilty pleasure to laugh at the antics of Dean Martin and Foster Brooks. They are still funny, still charming after all these years...

Thanks Travis!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Google opening data center in South Carolina?

Google believed to be considering massive data center near Blythewood, SC

The State Reports

The proposed $200 million to $800 million data center, which could be built in two stages, could employ as many as 600 people.

The complex would include eight 10-acre warehouses chock-full of computer servers...
qv: The State

Where is Blythewood, SC?


Monday, January 15, 2007

Spiders on Drugs

Finally, something of real educational value on YouTube:

There is a great article about the "success" of this video at:
My Wild Million-Hit Ride on YouTube

FYI -- The Orange Yeti made me do this.

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Your Data for Sale -- On WYFF-TV Tonight

Tim Waller called and asked if we could talk a bit about my blog post and the privacy issues created by The answer was, of course, yes. Look for it tonight on the 6 PM News on WYFF-TV.

Photo by JL Watkins.

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Double the fun on Wednesday

We've got the full hour on the radio this Wednesday. Given everything that's been going on, I am sure we'll need it. Of course, the bulk of the time is calls from you.

An excerpt from the official Press Release:
CLEMSON -- The following "Your Day" radio programs from Clemson University Radio Productions are scheduled to air on South Carolina ETV Radio for the week of January 15, 2007. The program airs from noon to 1:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Listeners can call in during a "live” show by using the toll-free phone number: 1-888-539-8859.

A live call-in hour on the Internet and related technologies.
Eric Rodgers hosts Internet expert and blogger Phil Yanov, executive director of the GSA Technology Council and president of Thinkhammer Communications. Listeners can call in via the tollfree number 888-539-8859 to ask questions about using the Internet, computers, new digital devices, and related topics.
The show airs on all of the Public Radio Stations in South Carolina, including WEPR 90.1 FM in Greenville, SC.

If you care to send us a question in advance, you can always use this link or one of the others on this page.

qv: Your Day

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007 is Evil has built a scheme to capture and then sell the personal contact information of practically everyone connected via e-mail. The plan is genius -- evil genius. Read on... says it is growing rapidly. Their press release claims:
Since introducing its free service in August 2006, Spoke Software has added more than three million new contacts to its database and has enabled more than 6,000 sales and marketing professionals to improve sales productivity with higher quality, more targeted leads. With no requirement to track points, make trades or give away the direct contact information of colleagues, users are flocking to Spoke's online business contact information database which now provides access to more than 35 million people and 900,000 companies -- more than any other online business database.
This means that over 6000 sales people now have access to 35 million other people using If you are in the business of selling stuff that sounds like a good thing. The problem is that as one of those 6000 people you have entered into a real Faustian bargain.

How the devil will get your soul...

Spoke says that it launched it's free service in August and that they have added 3 million new names since August. How did they do that? It was easy! To get access to Spoke's "free" service, you must install the Spoke toolbar. The Spoke toolbar then copies all of the information from your address book into the Spoke database. It's at this point you should be able to smell the burning sulfur.

If, for example, I pressed the button for Spoke's free service, the Spoke toolbar would install and then copy the roughly 2100 names, phone numbers, and email addresses out of my Outlook Contact database and then add them to Spoke's database. Spoke would then be able to sell those names, titles, companies, addresses, and email addresses to direct marketing organizations. Participating in this scheme is a sure path to hell.

Consider the horrors:
  • You will be submitting the unlisted phone numbers of family, friends, and confidants that may appear in your address book.
  • You may be submitting passwords, PIN numbers, and other private, privileged information stored in your address book because you think no one has access to it.
  • If you are in sales, you've just given away the contact information (and trust) you have worked to develop with your best clients. Now every S&M (sales and marketing) person in the Spoke universe will be bombarding your best clients with calls and potentially competitive offerings.
Instead of joining Spoke, you should be asking congress to outlaw it.

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You oughta' be in pictures & today is your chance!

George Clooney's movie Leatherheads is coming to town and needs extras:
People are needed to work as background extras for the Universal Pictures film "Leatherheads." Extras Casting director Tona B. Dahlquist ( of "Forrest Gump", Radio", "3 -The Dale Earnhardt Story") says "ALL TYPES AND ALL AGES ARE NEEDED." (However, very young children need not attend the call. Parents can complete the child's casting form and attach a photo.) "We are especially looking for those with great character faces."

Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Anytime between 3 pm –8 pm
Palmetto Expo Center –Hall A
1 Exposition Ave ( -Use Eisenhower Dr Entrance)
Greenville, SC 29607
via: Janice

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Baby gets an endorserment deal -- sort of....

Kathryn Ball 6293
Over the summer, my brother in law left a beach ball at the house that he had picked up from a Lab Corp trade show booth. The baby and I have had a big time playing with the ball on our back deck and I have snapped a few shots of her learning to walk and manipulate the ball. I posted a few to Flickr, including the one appearing on the right.

Last week, a fellow blogger dropped me a line and let me know that she had used the picture in a post discussing the failings of Lab Corp's customer service.

We'll be adding this to baby's list of modeling credentials.

qv: Baby's First Appearance in a Web Article by a non-family member

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Happy Birthday Elvis

Happy Birthday to the King of Rock and Roll, as well as my friends, Mark and Dave.

As always, we invite you to join the party over at the Elvis Blog.

qv: [Elvis Blog]


Ding! Dong! DRM is Dead

It looks like DRM (Digital Rights Management) is finally dying.

A flurry of articles indicates, as we have been hoping, that the music industry will stop hobbling our music, rendering it unusable by those of us who have paid for it.

Digital Music Says:
There are rumors flying that one of the big four is set to release a significant portion of their catalog in DRM-free mp3 format, which means that somewhere in label-land, someone finally managed to get their medication all straightened out. The big question is, who?

Net Music Countdown:
Amazon may be offering DRM-free MP3's to compete with Apple's iTunes,

Reuters says:
Ailing Music Biz Set to Relax Digital Restrictions

It's about time. The articles seem to indicate that the treason for this increasing interest is flat CD music sales. It's also interesting to note, that the newest DRM scheme on the block, Microsoft's Zune is having some trouble gaining traction as well.

Market research firm Current Analysis, has released results on how Microsoft's digital music player Zune has fared in the market. According to the results, Zune could not get into the top ten list of music players sold during the holiday season in the United States.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Geotagging with Picasa, Google Earth

From the Google sightseer newsletter:

geotagging in Google Earth, PicasaStarting with Picasa version 2.5, Picasa allows you to use Google Earth to quickly locate (or geotag) the place your photos were taken. You can then create a map in Google Earth to share your photos with your friends. The process is really simple. Once you have your photos in Picasa, simply select a group of photos you want to locate. Then choose the "Tools ->Geotag with Google Earth" option. Google Earth will open and a small window with thumbnails of your photos appears. Find the location where the photo was taken in Google Earth using search, or by moving to it with your mouse. Zoom in as close as you need to identify the location. Finally, select the "Geotag" button. You can also select a group of photos taken at the same location and choose the "Geotag All" option. The location information is stored in a standardized fashion in the photo file itself.

qv: Picasa, Google Earth

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Mike Angelo on Mr. Picassohead

Today on On Your Day, we (they?) will play a segment we recorded some weeks (months?) ago on the Mr. Picassohead art toy that I blogged in October. Since then I have received the occasional submission from our fabulous blog readers and thought I'd bring the story back to the top by featuring this piece by my pal, Mike Angelo.

Warning: Mr. Picassohead is hazardous to your deadlines. He's too much fun to ignore.

Start Drawing -- Mr. Picassohead

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Make Art not Spreadsheets

Apophysys FlameYou can use your computer to create beautiful free form fractal flames. These fractal flames and their associated editors and rederers have been around since 1992, and they just keep getting better.

You can now run the software standalone, creating these images for your own enjoyment, or you can participate in a larger community of people creating these images via a screen saver which generates the images and allows you to vote and thus influence the longevity of images being created on the computers of others.

Create your own: [Apophysis]

Get the "Electric Sheep" screen saver:

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Are you on the List? A resolution for YOU!

It's hard for me to believe that many of my nerd friends still haven't gotten the Heroes bug. Heroes is an unexpectedly great show about ordinary people learning to cope with their newly discovered comic book hero powers as well as the knowledge that something very big and very bad is about to happen.

I can understand that some people haven't heard of it, and that other completely reasonable people who actually love the super hero genre are expecting something awful and have thus ignored the show. I have taken it as my own missionary project to let my nerd friend network know that Heroes is nothing like "the Greatest American Hero."

Heroes is clever and fun. The characters are wrestling with themselves and each other. There are good guys and bad guys, but it's often hard to tell who is which. The show has a strong story arc and it would be best to watch the episodes in order. Lucky for you, you can still watch the first eleven episodes online.

Your new years resolution? Get caught up with your backlog of Heroes episodes before the new shows start running on January 22.

qv: Watch Heroes at