I’ve completely stopped using memeorandum and techmeme and have switched to Blogrunner. Some of the reasons – more attractive design, threading, the ability to dig into the long tail through BR’s “full coverage” links, and most importantly, a full set of topics – politics, science, technology, media, business, economy, law, health, movies, books, religion, entertainment and more. Blogrunner also supports sub topics, for example under technology they have a sub topic on Vista. If you haven’t checked out the site yet I highly recommend you do.

My Obsessions

CurrentWord blog post by category, September 2007

I threw the upper graph together in Excel 2007. It took a simple copy paste of the munged HTML from my WordPress administration page, which Excel somehow managed to properly format into two columns, then a sort by post count with a single click, and the selection of a predefined graph style. I added the cool background gradients, which were selected from some bar graph background presets.

General CurrentWord category breakdown, September 2007

The pie chart above is bit more custom, I choose the color gradient and pie section material from some options in the graph properties, and modified the label backgrounds a bit. All-in-all though pretty easy to put together. For line graphs, I did one up for my Big Change post, you can view it in the comments.

Microsoft really did a great job on 2007, they’ve made it smarter and simpler to use for tasks youÒ€ℒd expect would be a real pain is ars to pull off. The Ribbon interface is incredible, it’s beautiful to look at, easy to work with, well organized, and intuitively switches to the right panel depending on what you’re working on in the sheet. Overall, 2007 is light years ahead of old, dry Excel 2003. It makes this stuff fun, which is the way it should be.

I wish Microsoft would move all the graphing features and ribbon interface over to Microsoft Money, which is in dire need of an major update (although it still beats the pants of Quicken when it comes to graphing and UI.) Come to think of it, why isn’t Money included with the premium version of Microsoft Office?

1000 Posts

I kinda missed the party, this will be 1038, but since I’ve deleted a few since I started posting here since moving off my Spaces blog, I imagine this one clocks in at about 1000. Two years almost exactly, that’s about 500 per year, or about 1.3 per day. I wonder what I could have done with the time I’ve spent sitting here explaining to everyone why they need to listen to me because they’re wrong about everything. πŸ˜› 1000 posts of completely worthless tripe now clogging various search engine databases and the internets. What an accomplishment. πŸ™‚

iStockPhoto – A pretty neat little service. I’ve never liked searching through image search engines looking for images on sites for my blog posts, since I have no idea if I’m violating somebody’s creative license. (Well, except maybe for my sexy images posts.) iStockPhoto is pretty cool, you buy bunches of credits (al la Microsoft Points) and use them to purchase rights to images in the library, which appears to be a rather large. I’m finding images are relatively cheap, about a buck for smaller, general purpose images like the chalk board one on my previous post. (Which I had to shrink down from the original size.) One of the coolest aspects to the site – independent artists can submit content, which gets screened for quality, and then added to the library. That’s what the net is all about – giving the little guy a venue equal too or better than the “big guys”. I love it.

I know it’s easy to just skim the net for this stuff, but odds are you’re stealing from some artist, photographer or stock photo company out there. Always better to take the high road when you can, and it’s also nice to have a single repository you can search through for higher quality stuff.

Blog FOB

One of the author of the blog HotAir, Bryan Preston, recently took a trip to Iraq with Michelle Malkin in an effort to get a perspective on what’s going on in Baghdad. Regardless of how your politics sway, I think we can all appreciate the idea of citizen journalists on the scene detailing “what’s going on”. Check out the the first post here, it’s interesting, and in a number of places highly critical.

I’ve seen Hillary Clinton and Gearge Bush visiting with troops, I’ve seen a few sound bites, and I’ve seen a little video of troops being shot and IED’s going off, but I’ve never seen long chunks of video footage, detailed analysis of what’s going on, or interviews showing what people are saying (on both sides) from the “main street” press. A simple example – in all the conventional coverage I’ve seen, I’ve always had the impression American forces were hunkered down in the “Green Zone”. As it turns out, they have “forward operating bases” in various parts of the city. I found that to be interesting. Again, regardless your politics, I think this is significant.

I”ll point out again I know HotAir tends to be more conservative, so like all citizen journalists, your going to get a particular perspective in the views of the reporter. But I’d also love to see Markos Moulitsas Zúniga and John Amato over there doing the same thing. I don’t have any trust in the MSM, and I’m sure most us feel the same. They do not shed enough light on the situations they report on. HotAir’s reporting from Baghdad is another great example of how the Internet is helping to change things by bringing us information we’ve not had in the past.

Citizen Journalism, it’s here to stay, it’s only going to get more pervasive, and that’s a good thing.

Microsoft Max

The new Microsoft Max incorporates news reading now. This has to be the most compelling way of displaying articles from a feed I’ve ever seen. It feels like your reading a online newspaper. I’m amazed. Now why didn’t I think of that? They are using timeline, and the size of the content, including embedded images, to calculate what size ‘news cell’ to place the article in, and how to group the various cells together into larger ‘pages’. Compared to the traditional top down rectangular news view everyone is familiar with, this is light years ahead. Slick. Max apparently makes use of the new “Windows Presentation Foundation” (Avalon) for it’s UI. Man, suddenly all the apps I’m working on just feel so, dated. πŸ™‚ The UI is amazing, check it out.

Everything about this interface is super slick – every button and control has a slight, fade in animation and graphical change for state changes. The graphics and backgrounds are all very rich, every interface control is simple, and clutter free. The app uses a system of main tabs to block out the various areas of functionality – which is the same approach I’m taking in Daisy – although Daisy has a long way to go UI wise before it get this good. I’m also impressed with the new Presentation Foundation, there’s no flicker, and everything redraws smoothly on resize, with components sliding smoothly into place. One of the biggest complaints about Windows Forms I’ve had is the flicker problem on drawing – with presentation foundation this aspect of the user interface has been perfected. Nice.

The Answer to Shoot From The Hip Blogging

My last Google post, if you caught it after I first published it, was a little rough and had some opinion in it I later changed my mind on. This is something I always do and it annoys the hell out of me. I’ve set this mental rule that after writing a post, it has to sit in my drafts folder for at least one hour before I publish. This of course is a pain in the ars, because you have to remember to go back and publish the article. Also, ‘Saving as Draft’ just doesn’t seem to have the same “It’s going to go out to the world” mental weight as ‘Publish’. (And sometimes I just break my own rules.)

I think I finally found a pretty good answer thanks to this blog. Essentially, WordPress allows you to queue a post for publishing using the timestamp information. Now all I have to do is edit my WordPress PHP scripts so that the time displayed as the default timestamp is 1-2 hours ahead of current time and I’m set. Nice!

I also need to figure out how to set things up so that anything I publish on a Friday or Saturday night between the hours of 11p.m. and 4a.m. goes directly into the trash bin. πŸ™‚