Data Collaboration: a Google Wave Vision

Instead of working in isolation out on the Google Wave Sandbox, I finally got an invite to the public preview, where all the cool kids are getting their feet wet. It has led me to ponder if all technology/software innovations are a case of the chicken or the egg.

The first obvious Wave application is chat.. and so chat happens. and happens and happens. ( even when it doesn’t make sense). People start speculating about what this technology will replace, what will “die” as a result.

Someone “saw” that waves would be interesting for an RPG, made a dicebot and the word got out. Now there are all imaginable forms of RPG gathering in the waves… many still to just discuss and make character sheets, rather than ongoing campaigns.

Someone made a sudoko gadget and there are a multitude of waves where people are collaboratively or competitively playoing sudoku.

The Google Wave infrastructure is truly a case of “build it and they will come”. What is missing is a groundswell of the public asking for functionality. It is all experimental and folks are still building toward Ah Ha moments, so perhaps there will be more of this in the weeks to come. Here is the the thing I wish more people got: Google Wave is not just about real time collaboration. Google Wave is the first functional separation of data from application.

Data exists. I can create it in a Wave, embed it in a blog, share it on twitter, entangle it with a word doc, a presentation or a spreadsheet. It does not matter which application you use to view or interact with the data, you will see the same data, the same updates and the same edits. Because the data is separate from any one application, it is very easy to pass the data to other applications, transform it, visualize it or sync it to other data streams.

This is the truly mind blowing fact that seems to be slipping through the cracks because the functional demonstration of it is not quite finished. What will you do with your data when you can have it any (and every) where?

12 seconds of excitement

It has been a while since a new interactive web tool actually got me buzzed up. I see lots of potential in lots of new tools, but not all of them have applicability to my life directly, other than geek curiosity. Vlogging in some form or another is something that has been teasing at me for more than a year, but I have not been able to find a solution that is easy and portable enough to make it a winner. Qik had an initial attraction, but I do not own a Nokia phone, so it will not work for me. I can not even sign up for an account with Qik without the right phone. uStream has some interesting potential, but again I can not easily upload things from my Treo. I love what ustream is doing with the broadcast of longer events, of bringing events that would have been otherwise unavailable to the masses live across the web. I have watched LOTS of events on uStream, and participate in live chat.. but I have not used it for broadcasting yet. Both of these missed the boat for cases where I want to share something, but have no connectivity at the moment I am recording ( often the case inside a school building, for example)

Kyte looked like it was going to be a lot of fun, but I had to be at the computer to upload and make channels. But now I have 12 seconds. The thing I am most intrigued about with 12 seconds is that I can take video I recorded on my treo and email it in as an attachment, and it is auto shared. I can think of all kinds of potential for this one… vacation video sharing (our family vacation starts this Saturday), event clips (Gencon is around the corner), party bits and clips… all kinds of scrapbook type sharing on top of the daily conversation and discussion that people may be doing. Since my Video Camera and my Treo both use SD cards, it even means I can record with my digital video cam and then email from the treo later. My mind is starting to get a bit excited on this one– who said my Treo is extinct and I need to move on?

Looks like for the next month I am going to be hammering this service hard, please check it out, comment, give feedback and let me know if it works for you. I will do more reviews here as the month progresses. As a bonus, I also have a few invitations left, so if you are interested in trying out 12 seconds yourself comment here and let me know.

Streaming Conferences

This week I have been making heavy use of streaming video to virtually visit several different conferences. Both SAPPhire 2008 and JavaOne2008 have been streaming ( and recording for playback) portions of their conferences. This also led to my lament that the third conference I wished I could participate in (a PMI conference in Chicago) was NOT streaming any of it. For a handful of reasons I could not travel this week, but if I had been able to- I would have been making a choice between these conferences, rather than staying here and participating in more than one of them.

I am no newbie to online video. My fiance currently lives an hour away (for another 2.5 weeks) and we frequently use online video to communicate. My parents are on the east coast, about a 12 hour drive away from their grand kids- we use online video to supplement phone calls and visits to stay connected. I participate in chats, watch Qik and UStream shows and even occasionally talk to complete strangers with online video chat. I have participated in live video Concert Events ( Deep Rock Drive, Live Earth, AT&T BlueRoom, etc) But almost all of what I have use online video for has been either for intimate personal use, or TV type viewing of a concert or event. Using it for a learning situation is a little different. Following is my list of changes that would make the perfect tool from my viewing experience thus far:

1) Dual Camera options. In most cases, I would like to have two screens viewable at all times- one closeup of the slides being shown, the other of the speaker. Trying to read the slides behind the speaker is a headache. Having the cameraman decide when to switch back and forth is really annoying. If having them both as live video in my browser window is problematic. Give me the slide deck on the web page and let me page through it without leaving the page or losing the video also playing.

2) Close Captioning. Truth? We really need this in every video tool.. personal, corporate or otherwise. The Hard of Hearing/Deaf community want to video as well. But even for a good hearing person like myself, close captioning would be great when listening to presentations from people around the world. ( actually.. if you could perfect this.. you could sell it to colleges who could use it live with TAs who can not speak the language well…..)

3. Resize. Most of the current tools have an “in page” fixed window size or “full screen” modes. Let me just say this: use the pop-out feature on Hulu, resize your window a few times and you will understand what I want.

It is true that if someone could perfect the tools, there are times that I would pay to have video access to a conference. I said this on Twitter and immediately started discussion. Let me be very clear. NOTHING beats attending a conference in person. 90 percent of what you get from a conference, you get from the networking. From bumping into people, meeting new people and getting a chance to have live face to face discussions. This is invaluable and can never be replaced. But the truth is that budgets are limited, I can get every trip I want approved.. some years none at all. I could potentially sell online access when I can not sell travel to my management. I do not want, nor do I envision video conferencing replacing the real conference gathering- but it is a great potential supplement- if it were done right and added complete value, not frustration.

linkedIn use #9986

In addition to the obvious uses for LinkedIn ( searching for job, checking out employee prospects, getting questions answered) I came up with a new use for the site today.

Today was the kickoff meeting for the MESA Lean Manufacturing Working Group (it is actually much more interesting than that sounds, but probably more geeky) and after the meeting I went out to LinkedIn to connect with any of my new teammates who were on the site. After some discussion and thought, it became apparent that one of the team members was also a perfect contact and information source for an issue at work (although unrelated to this working group). I confirmed this with him after the meeting and decided having my boss and my grandboss in the teleconference next week was more efficient. Normally I would have written up an intro and overview on his background, relevance to the problem, etc. In this case, since both my boss and my grandboss are connected to me on LinkedIn, I just forwarded them his profile link with a quick note. Hardly any writing on my part, and lots more information than they normally would have gotten the old manual way.

I know there are a bunch of people out there who say all they do is multiply connections on LinkedIn and never really use it, but the more time I spend there, the more useful I find it.

Drop.io tests- come and play please

I have added a Drop.io widget to the page, to test some of the interesting functionality. Feel free to send me something interesting… a poem, a picture of your dog, a virtual gift. Please do NOT upload anything you do not already own the copyright to. It WILL be deleted post haste. This is a public box, so do NOT upload anything you do not want the rest of the world to see( if you don’t care if the rest of the world gets a good glimpse of your latest odd piercing, I don’t mind looking- but others will see). Please remember that this is a public blog and do not upload anything explicit.

I also want to test the voice to mp3 functionality. I will probably be calling later and creating something ya’ll can listen to, but you can try it out as well. Just dial 646-495-9201 x 91355 and leave me a message, or leave a message for the world.

Hmm…. this may turn into an interesting experiment into human nature, graffiti and self control….

Reviews of the technology and the experience in a future blog post. Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts about the user interface/experience.

The Future of Music is FUN!

I am pretty sure I just saw the future of music earning potential, and it was a blast. Tonight I attended a live webcast concert of The Maine on DeepRockDrive ( thanks to TechCrunch for the freebie tix). I dialed in for the Product Launch announcement first and then watched the concert. There is actually a second artist performing at 1am, but it is getting too danged late here in the EST timezone to watch that and THEN do a write up.

Just for kicks, I decided to do a dual trial test and did my first initial beta testing with CoverIt to “livecast” the live webcast. I was not doing this to test the interactive features of Coverit( we will play with that another time), but just to test out the mechanics of it. The archive of that transcript is saved here: http://roguepuppet.blogspot.com/2008/01/coveritarchive.html

But now to focus on DeepRockDrive and the concert.

Here is the setup:
Las Vegas sound stage- a fairly big one, from the pan shots after the announcements. Not a movie set, but nice space. From here you can have Musicians, Comedians, even- god forbid- politicians perform. That performance is broadcast live over the web. In the browser window, you have the video feed, as well as a box to type “shoutOuts” to the band. These are broadcast on multiple large monitors that the band can see. There is also a listing of songs, that the audience can interactively use to vote on the next song they want to hear. You have 4 potential camera angles and you can click and switch between them live at any point. There is a slight lag when switching cameras- at times up to 3 seconds- but the audio continues through fine and it all re-synced seamlessly.

The other audience members were not at any time quiet. The shoutOuts flowed in a fast and furious continuous stream across the bottom of my screen. If you really hate that sort of thing and just want a fine concert experience, go full screen mode and the text chat disappears.

The Maine were a great pick as a first highly promoted band to show.. they have great energy and appeal and even more important, they have the interactive rock gig down pat. They paused between songs to talk to the audience, reading aloud and responding to the messages that flashed on the screen. There was even a series of marriage proposals flying back and forth! It did seem that the band had to step off stage to read the monitors well, then step back on stage to perform again. Because they had mobile cameras, you did not lose visual, but this is something some artists may not be comfortable with at first. The Maine did great, calling people by name, having running chat, and even calling for the audience to type certain messages to respond. There were so many messages flying in simultaneously that there were at times delays of a minute or longer before the message you typed made it to the display. The band did note that everyone’s oddball nicknames and online handles made it very odd and difficult to talk to the by name out loud.. they suggest people use their real names.

Here is the compelling business model I see looming from this. During the product launch, they indicated that in the future real even tickets would cost $6.99. At first this seems like a lot for a web event, but this is a fraction of the cost for real concert tickets. It is even less than typical cover in a bar. This was a fun, high energy event that engaged me WAY more than I was expecting it to. And then I started imagining this with a room full of friends.. I was even standing and dancing to the show here in my bedroom at one point.. I can imagine how silly a group of us with some snacks and drinks would get. This is a concert event I would attend over and over and over again. I am ready to go and cruise the concert catalog right now and see who else interesting is going to be performing soon. They split the concert take with the artist, so the musicians get 3.50/ticket. This does not sound like a lot, but if you can get a few thousand ( or more) people attending an event, that is not a bad take for an evening’s work..

I have to unwind and head for bed soon.. but I am absolutely not done with this topic yet.. Part of me is hotly curious what the web hits on the band page looked like right after this event.. and what the download of their songs does in the next 24 hours. I also have some thoughts about improvements for the deeprockdrive guys, but I am getting too tired to type coherently, my typo rate is starting to scare even me.

although part of me is very very curious if this will play over the wii browser on my tv……. 1am is not that far away, is it??

EDIT:: FYI, I really did stay up and test on the wii… no dice. I am not blaming this on the DRD guys, however- it has to do with the Flash install on the wii. Hulu will not work yet either. Hopefully Nintendo will get their acts together soon, so I do not have to break down and buy an XBox360 or something…

iMeem me?

When imeem.com first beta’d I signed up and checked it out, but it was a very sparse sight and I did not spend much time there. There was nothing that grabbed me hard and made me want to build a home. Then today I was reading this TechCrunch article about Viacom’s newest anti YouTube move, and it mentioned that Viacom was going to distribute video on iMeem. Hmmm.. Maybe it was that, or maybe it was that I was wearing my nifty imeem.com “dezz my jammz” schwag shirt the other day ( I am a schwag whore, I will wear tech schwag any day… send away) and Harv commented on it… but the conincidence of events made me go back and check it out again. I actually finished filling in my profile, and sniffed around a bit. Wow! the place has grown fast and filled in like a sprouting teenager. There is significantly more media that when I first poked around the neighborhood. I was playing with the playlist feature and was happy with how easy it was to create one.. then I found Tiesto stuff on the site. Mmmmmm.. When Tiesto first popped their stuff up on AmieStreet a while back, I was a happy electro-trance fangirl.. and now I can even create and share a cool video playlist with you!.
If you are into media at all, this is probably a site you want to go and check out. If you decide to set up shop in the neighborhood, be sure to add me to your friends and drop me a note!.

I Am a WINNER!!

I responded to a promo on TechCrunch and actually won a free promo ticket to see an online concert on DeepRockDrive. This is a new online event service site, and they are launching tonight. The concert is for a group called The Maine, who by their MySpace page is reasonably good.. so at least the music has potential. I will be online for the announcement and the concert to check out the service and the review will be here either really late tonight or early tomorrow morning. After all the webcasts of the Live Earth concert, it is no surprise to see something like this launch. If you are interested, check it out and let me know if I should look for you there….( I am , of course, roguepuppet on the site…)

Digiposter — The Maine

Viewdle testing

I am not generally a name dropper. I am not much impressed with someone just because they are famous, or their name is batted about. I have no compunctions about walking up to someone and talking to them or asking them a question, if I have something interesting to say, or have a question I really want to ask them. Actions and the person themselves tend to garner my respect more than their title or the famous-ness of their name. However, I do occasionally have reason to mention someone by name, and so the development of Viewdle as a utility intrigues me. This is my post to try it out.

The concept behind Viewdle is that the company is developing and maintain a library of pictures of the faces of famous people ( maybe someday they will allow us to upload pictures of ourselves and have ordinary people registered as well..). By some simple javascript pasting and putting a custom tag around references to people in text, hovering over that person’s name should pop up a picture of the person. I like this idea, because I will often find myself reading someone’s blog, they mention someone and I find myself hitting Google to look them up and remember who the Heck Robert Metcalfe is. If this database expands and the technology works, that mental mind shake in the form of a picture could come to you without ever leaving the page!.

So here, let’s test it out a little bit.

At SC’07 this past November, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with lots of new people, some of them famous and some who probably should be, but aren’t yet.

Dr. Raymond Orbach, the US Undersecretary of State for Science was one of the keynote speakers, and I had a chance to chat with him for a few minutes after his talk. He is very excited about the expanding use of modeling and simulation in manufacturing and wants to see it grow more. It is, he believes, what will give any manufacturer the competitive edge.

I spent a great amount of time with Dave Pokorney. We met in the Twitterverse. I had put in a watch on all Twitters mentioning “SC07” and his ( and a few others) popped up. We chatted back and forth a bit, then met in person. He is deeply involved with the team that does all of the networking for the conference, and got me some great behind the scenes interviews. Hopefully a Network World and a PMI Journal article will come out of those interviews.

All in all, SC07 was great fun and over the next month there should be a good number of publications coming out of it. Too much name dropping here will spoil the fun.

I did notice in the news this afternoon that Marc Andreessen is being a remarkable person and standing up for free speech on Ning, even though there are people up in arms about people chatting about sex on it. Come on folks, chatting sex, is NOT porn. If it were and it were really illegal, they would have to shut down every chat network in the universe. You really think there are NOT people on Yahoo or AIM or Meebo or gTalk out there chatting sex sometimes? I know I am.. being a healthy human who is often separated from her fiance for long periods of time, chat is one of the things that keeps our relationship going. Just because Ning has “networks” published where like minded people can hang out, does not make it the anti-christ. Honestly, I had not spent much time checking out Ning, but it is now on my list of things to test this week. Review and report to come.

So– a little bit of name dropping there, though not the celebrity Madonna type of names…. so it will be interesting to see how Viewdle handles it. Give me some feedback, what do you see? What do you think?

How to earn a loyal customer

Let me just say up front, GooSync rocks. They have now earned my loyalty for a very long time. Here is my story:

I love and live in Google calendars. I live a life that is complex to the point of being confusing. We have a blended household. Both my fiance and I are divorced with kids from previous marriages. Both of us have shared custody situations. I have two girls, he has two sons. Currently we are in a situation where Mon-Fri during the school year he lives in a house an hour away with his two sons and on the weekends, holidays and summers he is back here with me. This means that sometimes there are 6 people who live in this house I call home and sometimes it is just me. Because the members of our clan need to access our schedule from work, from several homes and sometimes from the road- we needed something more flexible than a paper calendar hanging on the wall ( although we still have some of those.. they have such cool pictures…). Both my fiance and I also wanted to be able to have reminders sent to our treos, to keep us in line and make sure no child got left behind. Google Calendars fit this very well. We set up a joint family calendar and began filling it up. It nicely sends text messages to my phone, but it would not sync. When my work life was more crazed and I was running around the plant all day long from meeting to meeting, I used to sync my calendar with Outlook for work( yes, Outlook sucks, but I have no control over what is used from email and calendaring at work- I work for a very large corporation) and only my work appointments were on my treo. But then work shifted, and I work from home more- and do meetings more by teleconference- sitting here in front of my computer which can nicely remind me itself. No need to go through the hoops and hassles of a bluetooth sync up several times a day ( my sync cord for my treo long ago shorted out and refused to work). Before long, I was just ignoring the calendar feature on my Treo. This irritated me some… I wanted an easy way to check my schedule on the go. Besides, having technology that almost works is a pet peeve of mine.

In the meantime, our online google calendar life exploded. My fiance and his ex have a calendar for working out visitation issues- I have read access on that one, as I manage most of the family schedule. I am active in several professional arenas and have meetings for MESA, PMI-CIC IT committee and some other activities. Having all these professional commitments on the BnG Clan calendar was cluttering it up and confusing kids.. so I set up a professional calendar that has my professional commitments only in it. Besides, if I get to the point where my consulting/writing/speech giving schedule continues to grow ( one could hope) I will need a calendar like this to share on a professional website. My daughters rotate between my home and their dad’s home.. so having their family stuff online is helpful to them. They are old enough now that I am working hard to get them to use this as a management tool. Hopefully they will be adding things themselves. But having things like my monthly book club, Curtain Call executive committee meetings and other items of the sort on the family calendar drives clutter that confuses them, as well as puts them at risk for kid learning curve screw ups. So all of my personal life appointments are on their own google calendar.
As time went on, I continued to test and trial new gizmos and services that would sync your google calendar- but they all only synced your main calendar. This is nice, but no longer sufficient in our world.

Then came GooSync. I discovered them a week or so before Christmas. Tested, loved it and imediately bought it so I could sync multiple google calendars and not just one. It was amazing! I could even use categories and have new appointments on my treo auto sync to different google calendars. Brilliant! This was what I had been looking for. Oh ! And look- I can sync with Outlook as well! Cool!! This is a stroke of brilliance. Finally I will be able to use my mobile device the way it was meant to. But wait… Crap. That outlook sync just took all my personal, intimate,family appointments and dumped them into outlook as well. Groan. Facepalm. This is bad. HeadDesk. I quickly cleaned up Outlook to delete them all and moved into the Holidays. OK, honestly I cleaned up most of them, but left some in..the less intimate ones that I did not care if work saw– time was short. No more time to play with syncing gizmos when Santa was about to arrive. But the whole thing was buzzing about in my head in a semi-random way and a couple of days ago, I got the chance to test again. “What if”, I thought, “I did a one way sync from Outlook to my handheld and then a bi directional sync from the handheld to google? Then I get the work appointments dumped into the handheld and the 2 way sync with google. I have no reason to add work appointments on the fly in the treo and then want them to sync with outlook any more… so this should work, right?

(Let me here interject a word of advice that I should have known well. Back up your calendars before experimenting)

Here is what I thought would happen:

Outlook overwrites to the Treo. Treo is now full of only Work Appointments. Bi directional sync via GooSync to google calendars. GooSync: hmm… you have a bunch of appointments in google not on your handheld- let me add those in for you. Result: my entire world schedule in the palm of my hand.

Here is what actually happens:

Outlook overwrites to the Treo. Treo is now full of only Work Appointments. Bi directional sync via GooSync to Google Calendars. GooSync: hmmm…. you have a bunch of appointments that were removed from your handheld.. here let me remove those from Google for you as well. Result: my entire world schedule, other than work? Deleted. Not just from my handheld, but from Google as well. The only things that remained were personal items that had gotten inserted into outlook before Christmas that I had not bothered to delete.

Now, is this normal behavior, or a remnant of the sync and delete in Outlook before Christmas? I do not know. I will not try it again to find out, either. I Twittered my despair. I IM’d my fiance my panic ( especially before he could go to check the calendar and be caught by surprise when things were GONE). This may not seem like a big deal, but it was a total of almost 1700 items. ( I told you I lead a busy and complicated life….). I wrote an email to tech support at GooSync that was really just a rant. I just needed to vent. I did not expect it to fix anything, really. A while later, I got a response ” no problem, we can restore from tape. Just please tell us when this happened and stop syncing in the meantime”.

Holy majoly. This was an unexpected benefit ( you can see I did not carefully read all the fine print). And you know what? They did. All of my messed up calendars have been restored. I am happy syncing again. And I came up with a new solution for getting all of everything onto my treo without risking deletions and cross contaminations. I created a new work calendar in Google. I use a free version of Syncmycal to do a one way dump of Outlook to that specific google calendar. I added the new google calendar to my list of calendars that my treo does a bi drectional sync with over the air.. and everything is in the palm of my hand again. Now that I am using my treo to manage life and events, I need to go back and re-look at RTM for my todo lists as well.

The guys at GooSync? As far as I am concerned- they rock. I will stick with them for a long time now.