Saturday, January 31, 2009

Real-time updating at KUAM

As we at KUAM make a big push to support and move towards delivering real-time online experiences (web, mobile, desktop, e-mail, RSS, SMS, widget, RIA, IM, etc.) one thing I'm having to reassess is our publishing philosophy. We've evolved from putting news online after-the-fact a decade ago to mirroring our on-air/online content at the same time (synchronous publishing) 5 years back, to now running stories hours before our 6pm newscasts air.

So as we embrace platforms that deliver our items immediately via XMPP, SUP and intelligent AJAX polling as they're published, I'm rethinking how we batch-process stories. At the moment we usually run non-breaking items in groups of 2-5 stories per batch, making the most significant piece the cover story on our site for that cycle. This appeases our followers on Twitter, whose clients repeatedly poll for new updates. But as we inch closer to true real-time, such a load becomes intrusive to impose on the instant messaging/text messaging crowds.

For example, yesterday my team and I published a total of 27 articles to over a 10-hour period, all completely staggered and not all batched - some were 2 at a time but most went live the moment we wrote them.  Today being a weekend, we consolidated our publishing function and ran 11 stories for the day...all were published in a single operation at the same time. With asynchronous RSS aggregators, either format would be fine...but the latter would be a painful batch to push to an IM user - 11 items all at once.

So, we're now adopting a mindset of running items with the former approach: if a news item is good to go, we get it online right away and push it to whatever devices and services are online and listening. Administratively this means a lot more publishing operations, but a lot more IM/SMS updates with smaller payloads and no news queueing (all positive things), and a better overall user experience.

Guam's News Network

Here's a word cloud of's latest RSS data:

Think we've done enough government stories lately? :-)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A single stream of consciousness

I took note earlier today of what others might call "information overload".  As I was at my desk in my office, happy as a clam and chugging along productively, I became cognizant of the true depth of my connectedness.  I had, running simultaneously and running across two separate but networked computers:
  • Thunderbird checking my POP3 e-mail every 2 minutes
  • Twhirl, my Twitter client pulling tweets and replies down every 10 minutes
  • Spark, a desktop IM client relaying messages sent from my FriendFeed social network in real-time
  • Google Reader aggregating and routinely updating items from RSS feeds
  • An IRC room shooting threads back and forth
  • A web forum in which I was asking for help about a problem I'd run into in disconnected fashion
  • SMS on my smartphone going off sporadically
  • My mobile IM client on my BlackBerry alerting me when co-workers were communicating with me
It at one point became a particularly intense period of throwing messages at me.  But it wasn't so much the volume of information being lobbed my way that made me almost lose was the dissonance and disparity between each of the channels that got to me.  The multiple and unsequential streams of consciousness made it hard keeping up, because I'd have to adjust to the pulse of each medium.  So staggering between them became very exhausting in only a matter of minutes.  Productivity was negatively impacted as a result of this anachronism.

As we crawl closer to a real-time web, with experiences that nearly mirror normal human conversation, I'm pushing for a single method of delivery.  I want a unified stream delivering my  messages from every platform I use, service I subscribe to and data source I consume, ordered and presented so I can digest them all at the same pace.

That's my goal to getting organized.

What's the best way to get your apps?

Something hit me last night.  With the landscape constantly changing for the way we distribute software, which modern-day method will be dominant in the coming future?  Today, we've basically got three primary channels for giving users access to applications, highlighted by each platform's canonical champion:
  1. Shrinkwrapped Software (Microsoft) - the classic means still heavily pushed by vendors to get the fruits of their programming labors onto the hard drive of constituents.  Whether through fresh installs or over a network, forced licensing is rapidly falling out of fashion.
  2. Cloud Computing (Google) - 2008's Next Big Thing saw a huge surge of interest move towards the concept of having Internet applicances access services exclusively online.  Lots of SaaS traction.  This has benefits in administration, maintenance and leveraging users to run commodity hardware with broadband connectivity, with all program access, data storage and persistent settings residing in the cloud.
  3. App Store (Apple) - Steve Jobs shook up the world by creating a hybrid of the two former schools of thought, having mobile users provision native OS apps over-the-air for free and for for-cost.  This leverages an advantage of going beyond the limitations of web apps, being able to engineer functionality to access hardware features directly (e.g., accelerometers, GPS, cameras, etc.)  Rival wireless operating system developers, notably Google and RIM, quickly made plans to launch similar app stores for Android and BlackBerry, respectively. 
So which is the best going forward?  It depends. Cloud computing, which gained favor after the iPhone App Store really took off, basically renounces Apple's approach of sustaining the market for installed apps.  Web development certainly does have its limitations, and there's only so much you can do over AJAX, snazzy UIs, limited bandwidth and mobile browsers. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Taking care of your own

In my current profession I'm usually not privy to being able to leverage opinion, lest I give off the slightest hint of subjectivity.  And anyone who knows me knows how apolitical I am.  However, I'm letting loose on this occasion...this is just too good to pass up.

Yesterday we interviewed the head of the Guam Visitors Bureau to get insight on the new "I Am Guam" marketing campaign, which launches tonight.  We've since learned that a major component of the effort will be community involvement and building on the concept of making our island a great place to live, work and play - starting with us locals.  If I was running things, that's exactly what I'd do.

For once, I'm in total agreement with the local government. 

Maybe I'm snuggling up to the concept because this is an application of one of the most fundamental and critical precepts of good organizational management: that if any system is to survive and thrive, you must take proper care of the people that make it up.  The companies that exhibit the worst customer service typically are the ones whose employees are pissed off all the time at their hours, wages, treatment and management.  

If residents aren't enjoying life here collateral damages to the visitor market ensue.  If the people that call this place home feel like they're treated as second-class citizens, we're less likely to wave and smile at visitors, offer a total stranger some fish, invite them to our fiestas, give them directions, or share in the island hospitality.  The "paradise" angle promoted so liberally winds up being one big smokescreen.

I'm interested to see how GVB will implement it, but I'm all for such an approach.  Here's our interview with general manager Gerry Perez about the topic.

One step closer (and I'm about to break)

A problem that I've been mentally chewing on since noting it a couple of days ago is an inability to federate an Openfire server with RIM's closed-source IM network.  This would allow my desktop Spark client to interop with BlackBerry Messenger.  I figured I'm not the first guy to wonder about such, and scant forum posts prove that a more widespread curiosity exists.

Again, a mini-ecosystem of ISV apps exists that allows the smartphones to connect to other IM networks and communicate with users on those systems - but not so for situations where a remote network tries to initiate a conversation from the outside-in.  No Openfire plugins exist to do such a connection, which really surprised me, given the volume of other supported federated networks.
The blockage, I assume, is due to either some technological barrier that prohibited an XMPP gateway from translating messages/presence/rosters between the two systems, or merely (and more annoyingly) a political stance by RIM to not allow their system to be opened up from the outside.

So while discussing the matter with Peter Saint-Andre this morning, it hit me: with the nature of BlackBerries being carrier-driven devices, might the roadblock have something to do with the fact that the BB's proprietary login credentials aren't permitted to be marshaled across the wire via XMPP or HTTP?

Ay, there's the rub.  So is this a protocol issue for which a workaround exists?  Is it possible to write a custom transport to handle this type of traffic?  Is this yet another case of RIM mandating an installation of its costly BlackBerry Enterprise Server to do anything outside of basic usage?  Am I on the right track?

I've asked the experts behind Spark...anyone out there got any other ideas?

I'm also now wondering if it might have something to do with BES itself...would there be a restriction in accessing contacts, if such is done via LDAP?  Further, would there be volume limitations if all contacts are centrally stored on an enterprise-caliber server?  Peter said on FLOSS Weekly that his roster - some 2,100 members strong - is the stress test to see if clients can handle load.

**UPDATE 2**
Well, I guess this does it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Movie review - Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

I'm a big fan of the Underworld franchise and so the third film in the series, "Rise of the Lycans", was the first movie I've seen this year.  The film, a prequel, is incredible - the scenes are huge, the action intense the acting effective and the story well told.  Reprising their earlier roles from the original film are Michael Sheen as Lucian, contrasted by the ominous and malevolent Viktor, played by Bill Nighy.  

The movie profiles the backstory of Lucian going from slave to leader of an uprising of an army of werewolves against their vampiric oppressors.  He's actually seen as Viktor's surrogate son, albeit being his slave as a blacksmith.

The genius is that the characters were portrayed differently than in the original "Underworld", which really made the story-before-the-story approach work.  Lucian shows charisma and optimism about being in love with Viktor's daughter Sonja and desire for freedom, both for the first time, instead of acting as the disgruntled leader of an army of savages in a seemingly endless revolution, hopelessly searching for a descendant of Alexander Corvinus to fulfill prophecy.  

And Viktor, despite being a centuries-old leader of a vampire coven, is more compassionate, outspoken, openly emotional and less corrupt than he becomes in later chronology.  (I guess burning your daughter alive at the stake for getting knocked up by a member of a rival species will do that to a guy.)

The character of the Lycan enforcer-in-waiting Raze also returns, played by Kevin Grevioux.  His story is the movie's appreciated subplot, although I don't think he got enough lines, personally...which is funny considering Grevioux helped write the script.

The movie foreshadows several hints that give away its predictable ending, even though the one thing we can't escape is the outcome, given that we all know Sonja dies and the Lycans become independent.  The cast is also replete with one-liners that come off a little too punchliney, but it's still a very well-written script and helps to tell the unfinished legend the first alluded to.

Whereas the original Underworld had a sexy gothic/technological theme and the second promoted more of a rustic European ambiance, this film descends the audience on a trek into the Dark Ages.  The CGI fight scenes between the Lycans and the Death Dealers are epic, especially the final confrontation.  I've got scant criticism with the misuse of proper Old English in the dialogue, being a tad too colloquial, but I can look past that.  This is an action flick, not Henry V.

The end of Rise of the Lycans also features a flash-forward reference to the opening scene of the first film, with Kate Beckinsale as Seline questioning Viktor's authenticity.  This was obviously a stab at milking just one last drop out of the series' initial story, maybe stimulating DVD sales, but it's a move I could have done without.  The Lycans stood on their own merit.

But despite these few minor oversights, overall the movie is a tremendously great time.  Any fan of the series, despite some widespread disappointment about the second film, will love this.  Very entertaining.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Federation frustration

I'm fit to be tied this afternoon, miffed at an inability to find some solution to federating instant messaging access between an Openfire server I'm on and the BlackBerry Messenger clients my reporters and I use.

Cursory research has led me to believe that making BlackBerries talk to other IM networks can be pulled off only by purchasing licenses for third-party apps for the BlackBerry OS like Vayusphere or Beejive and installed on the smartphones themselves.  The apps support federated IM sessions with other platforms...but not the other way around.  I was hoping for an open source plugin for Openfire that would free up access to RIM's network and negotiate conversations between the two, but no dice.  

Meebo, Pidgin, Spark (my desktop client) and other services/clients allow for proper cross-network, federated IM to most of the major instant messaging platforms - AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo! Messenger, SIMPLE, XMPP, and GTalk - but not BlackBerry Messenger.  

To know that cross-network communications is possible at any level is encouraging, but faced with the realization that RIM forces one-way commercialized access is a big downer.  This nut I intend to crack. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Listening party: Metallica's "Death Magnetic"

I've been a huge Metallica fan since 1986. My birthday present when I turned 13 was "Garage Days, Re-Revisited" and "Master of Puppets" on tape, after listening to the skaters in my neighborhood belt out "Kill 'Em All". I celebrated Metallica when they found mainstream success, and lamented their legal troubles with Napster. (I begrudgingly didn't side with Lars Ulrich on the intellectual property argument.)

And in a display of circuitous karma, I got "Death Magnetic" this past Christmas, the first CD I've owned in nine years since migrating completely over to digital media. I was an aspiring music journalist in college, writing song-by-song reviews of my favorite artists for my own amusement in the hopes that one day such compositions might mature to the level where they might grace the pages of Rolling Stone.  

Life has a funny way of turning out.

So while the "new" CD's been out since last November, I have yet to hear a second of it. Overall, here are some pre-review notes before spinning it in iTunes:
  • I'm trying to stay as objective as possible, but seeing as how Rick Rubin's got producer credits, I'm expecting a lot from the guy who helped churn out winners for The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Slayer.
  • The tracks are LONG. The average length of each song clocks in at around 7:30!
  • The packaging is exquisite. The CD cover is a 3-D, allusively vaginal cut-out of a coffin that falls into the layers of pages within the sleeve. Really neat design concept.
Okay, enough speculation. Here's a real-time, track-by-track review:

"That Was Just Your Life"
A really morbid, low-key intro riff crescendos into Kirk Hammett playing a killer triplet phrase with a classic thrash feel and rapid-fire vocals from James Hetfield. Very reminiscent of how "Blackened" opened "...And Justice for All". There's a half-time break in the pre-chorus right before the bridge that's a nice reprieve from the brutality of the main riff. The solo is a blissful 12-bar frenzy ended with a big tremolo dive. (Oh Kirk, how I've missed you.) Great way to open an album; not at all pop chart-friendly. This is classic Metallica!

"The End of the Line"
Really catchy riff. You can tell James is playing the heavy pedal tone stuff using all downstrokes - the aggression comes through. He's also gone away from the country twang in his vocals that evolved over the years, re-implementing his traditional menacing growl. Not bad for a man in his mid-40's. The song's interlude is really fast, tight and true to thrash. It sounds like Lars is playing a really simple drum kit, with the steel snare sound he adopted on St. Anger. Kirk's solo shows off his wah-wah prowess - completely without structure but totally insane, and it works.

"Broken, Beat & Scarred"
Whereas the opening two tracks reeked of thrash, this is a driving rhythm that's got a nu-metal quality to it. The guitars sound to be in standard tuning, but using a lot of the styles that made Wes Borland, Mark Tremonti, James Root and the guy from Papa Roach (sorry) famous. There's an out-of-scale note in the chorus that I appreciate for its odd dissonance. Kirk's solo is a series of runs up to E, followed by a descending interlude. James sounds PISSED.

"The Day That Never Comes"
It's finally time for a mellow track after the first 21 minutes of punishment. The boys play octaves over a bright, airy phrase and you can hear the country melded with metal. Kirk has a beautiful opening solo and James leverages his ability to sing high to add emotion and feel to the piece. A double-time blitzkrieg is sadly a little too much like "One", replete with low-E string trills and tapping. The sad cry for help in the lyric is no "Unforgiven" (although that's coming up), but it's a decent track.

"All Nightmare Long"
Great title and frightening lyrics - telling the story of relentless pursuit. The bobbing-and-weaving of the dueling rhythm guitars between rapid-fire pedal tones and tempo changes are very un-Metallica, more characteristic to death metal. James' haunting spoken vocal sounds like a modern Rob Halford and the main riff at 2:55 reminds me of the bridge to "Damage, Inc.". It's deliciously infectious...this'll sound great live. I'm headbanging just listening to it.

If any track would be candidate for Top 40 radio, this would be it. A simple song with the classic verse-chorus-verse-solo progression. It also makes a decent stadium piece, with a drum solo you can just see the crowd clapping in unison to. This is probably destined to be a B-side to one of the earlier tracks. Sorry, I'm just not feeling this one.

"The Unforgiven III"
I have high hopes for this song based on how I love the original track and "The Unforgiven II" even more. And that lets me get past the fact a piano intro isn't exactly the salvo I was expecting from the Gods of Thrash Metal (but the string section is a nice touch). The chord progression has a redemptive quality to it, leaning to the intent of the song, with the lyrics "Forgive me/Forgive me not". Kirk steals the show with an awesome bluesy solo that has his again stomp on the wah-wah pedal and exhibits his legato dexterity. Maybe I'll have to spin this a few more times, but it's not instantly resonating with me like the originals did.

"The Judas Kiss"
The riff has a nice eerie vibrato effect to it, and slows to a dirge at 4:45 that segues into a very Hammetesque lead break. Very cool.

"Suicide & Redemption"
At 9:58, this is the epic cut on the CD. Right from the start it builds up, letting you know something scary's on the horizon. 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the track, there's been not even a hint of a lyric - could this be a long-overdue instrumental, akin to the timeless "Orion" and "To Live is to Die"? Rad! As the song goes on, it has the feeling of classic rock. It's very accessible playing, not reserved for shred-masters and gives James and Kirk each a turn in the limelight. Man, I would LOVE to play this live in front of a crowd.

"My Apocalypse"
Finally. The tenth and final track, so what better way to end than a return to thrash? Nothing exactly groundbreaking about this song, except that it's pure Metallica.

So the final judgment? This is a winner, the best CD Metallica's put out for old school fans since "Load". It's such a rock cliche, but the band really returned to doing the things that made them great and made it work. It started strong, had a few moments of concern in the middle, but ended very tight. Mostly everything's in E-minor and A, as it should be.

Also, while I wrote a lot about James and Kirk, the rhythm section with the addition of Rob Trujillo is finally really, really in synch. That's no knock on Jason Newsted, who I love, but more recognition of Lars and James easing up on the reins of their songwriting dictatorship on past albums. Rob's low-end stomp gels really well with Lars' signature kick. But notably missing was the canonical ballad.

Go out and pick this up/buy it online.

And congrats to the boys. Job well done!

I walk a higher path

I had an interesting discussion the other day with a fellow manager about conferences this year. Normally a few key staffers get to attend mainland trade shows relative to the broadcast industry, and while there get primed on the latest concepts, practices and trends in the biz. It's obviously also a chance to swap ideas and horror stories and network.

I've never been so fortunate, so I figure I'm due.

A slew of events were lobbed my way...each of which I summarily dismissed for the main reason that I'd not like to attend a news industry shindig - I want one of the more abstract technical conferences like the Web 2.0 Summit or the Future of Web Apps conference. These shows aren't geared to any particular industry, but deal with the bleeding-edge ideas that will revolutionize all lines of work.

Also, I shy from news industry meetups because of the fact that the industry is historically terribly behind in embracing, adopting and implementing new media, I'd likely spend three days walking a venue looking at stuff we've already been doing for years. Rather than have some media exec talk at me about what plaforms we have to run to be competitive, I'd like to interact with smart folks about cutting-edge concepts and return to base, free and motivated to use them in my own operations.  I prefer this method over having the New Big Thing rammed down my throat. 

So although I wonder/worry about how the conference folks are going to do in this depressed economy, hopefully I'll get a nice breather this year and make it out to a show.

Firehose voyeurism sets FriendFeed apart

Yesterday I noted how FriendFeed's IM notification feature is the closest thing we've got online to legalized phone-tapping.  You can basically listen-in on people's entire conversations in real-time via the service's proprietary comment system.  This is the evolution of the sequence of events that saw us be entertained from other people's streams of consciousness - going from manually browsing of blog post comments to being able to get comment updates via syndication through RSS/Atom.

It just hit me this morning what makes FriendFeed standout: unlike Twitter, in which you can only watch ongoing conversations between replies from the users you have in common with those users you follow and the ones they follow, FriendFeed's IM notification gives you a real-time stream of posts for the entire firehose.  You see everything.  It can make for a hefty (and arguably intrusive) dose of data, but makes for a really neat experience.

This blows me away because this is a huge step forward in bringing online communications one step closer to mirroring actual human conversation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Something I've been carrying on about lately, and hopefully a topic that'll be on my podcast tomorrow night, is the possibility of using a netbook as a personal mobile server.  It's clear that these online appliances are meant from a consumer standpoint to be able to easily access services in the cloud, but how well would they hold up on the other side of the argument?

I'm not expecting such a machine to be an enterprise-caliber, scalable system supporting thousands of users accessing complex applications - but more a portable solution for small communities needing access over HTTP, FTP, SMTP or XMPP; or other specialized uses like being a proxy cache to larger back-end resources.

Today I thought aloud about the realism of loading a $300 netbook of decent specs (1.8Ghz microprocessor, 2GB RAM, 60GB HDD) with the desktop version of Ubuntu Linux, and hooking it up to solid broadband connectivity via WiFi.  I'd then configure DNS, implement the LAMP stack and install/tweak SquidOpenfirevsftp and sendmail, write a few administrative shell scripts, set up some cron jobs, start the daemons and let the system sit, listen and work.  The beauty would be the ability to take it out in the field (factoring in the potential quirky connectivity due to constant jumping in and out of wireless hotspots and outright downtime caused by severed connectivity in dead areas).

Surely it'll be functional...people do it all the time with desktop PCs.  But how well and to what extent?  Think about some of the scenarios from a performance POV:
  • Even with good Internet access, would the meager hardware capabilities of such a computer be able to handle a small surge of users making rampant requests for web data?  Or, could it even handle a couple of simultaneous resources pulling down large files?
  • Could such commodity specs adequately run a web framework like Django or Ruby on Rails?
  • Can it sufficiently handle a load of AJAX pollers, RSS readers and other aggregation apps constantly banging on it, checking for new stuff?
  • Could the long-lived resources spooled by the back-and-forth of ongoing IM conversations and chatrooms survive on such architecture?  
Sounds like a decent enough weekend project.  And inexpensive and fun at that!  Thoughts?

Got my lifestream up

At long last, I setup a lifestream to aggregate all my social app activity on FriendFeed.  I've been meaning to get around to it, but I wanted to make sure I seeded all the services and platforms I belong to with a healthy dose of posts, tweets, pictures, bookmarks, music, dugg stories, podcasts and video.
FriendFeed's really very clever.  Among the many tools it has available to share your stuff, the utility I find the most neat for my own implementation is the new feature to access usage data via instant messaging (assuming you're using Google Talk or Jabber).  I'd heard about this a few weeks back, and I've been using it to track my social network...amazing!

Similarly, Will setup an Openfire server on his Linux box, essentially an XMPP gateway, so he can federate with any other user on any other IM network.  To be able to get a stream of real-time notifications about the updates my friends are making as they make them is really awesome and has great potential for other applications.

One such concept I thought about recently was being able to programmatically tap my BlackBerry's call history or other system logs and export that data, pushing it out routinely as an RSS/Atom feed.  I've also toyed with the idea of creating performance monitors in similar fashion, which would notify admins to downtime or critical alerts, or doing real-time tracking.  It would be cool, albeit trivial and borderline creepy, to have such information archived, accessible and repurposable.

So there - I've given into a constant temptation and peer pressure and joined the crowd.  So much for rebellion.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Know from whence you came

They say reflection is the key to growth. I'm naturally a skeptic, but after today I can buy into that theory a little more.

I took a stroll around the island earlier this afternoon to get some sun and clear my head after thinking pretty intensely this morning. I took a detour in Mangilao and slowly toured the campus of my alma mater, checking to see if there were any weekend tournaments going on at the Field House (there weren't).

Right before leaving, I decided to swing by the house-converted-into-office where I once lived. I made light of the shot on my photostream, but it was admittedly pretty chilling to see how badly the aggregate research facility that is Dean's Circle has become. Leaves strewn about, unkempt foliage, algae growing on everything where algae can grow, faded walls and roofs due to cracked coats of paint and seaspray, trash lying everywhere. Sad, really sad.

But it was pretty decent living for a family of two 31-year-olds with a 4-year-old hellraiser in 1978. When I called the place home the neighborhood was clean, safe, friendly, accessible and quiet. It certainly wasn't Bel Air by any stretch of the imagination...but it wasn't Cabrini-Green, either.

While shooting & uploading some digital shots of the house I wondered where I'll live 30 years from now. And then I also took pause to think about where I've come from, literally and figuratively.

My father spent the better part of four decades working his tail off, sacrificing mightily so that my sister and I wouldn't have to endure the childhood that he did. While he and my mom provided us as best they could with everything we needed and asked for, Dad was always quick to point out - either directly or casually through the power of the timeless art that is the Chamorro Guilt Trip - that I'm just one generation removed from total poverty.

Such a harrowing reality has helped keep me on a even keel, given me direction and taught me how to appreciate what I've got. It's a very strong and appreciated life lesson.

And one I can always reflect on.

Graphically track your social network via XMPP, GPS & HTTP

I've always enjoyed the "war room" paradigm, where a team of decision makers track operators in the field.  A few years back when making use of Seattle's taxi system, I noted how the each cab company tracks its drivers via GPS and monitors them graphically over a large grid at their homebase as a means of streamlining logistics and staying competitive.

I've been messing with XMPP over the last several weeks, researching the open standard wire protocol, its underlying principles and intentions, its to-date applications, and discussing it at length with friends to properly grok.  Will and I even got put an Openfire server on the Internet, allowing us to do instant messaging with any user on any IM platform - Jabber, AIM, GTalk, MSN, ICQ or Yahoo! Messenger - all via XMPP.

It's a really cool technology I'm keen on using in several ways.

So I've been thinking of a custom application in which I can productively leverage messaging and presence.  And this morning while scrubbing the toilet (of course) the notion hit me about a business process at KUAM that I could improve with XMPP: a real-time geolocation tracking service with a web front-end for social network monitoring.

My idea is to have a service running on the BlackBerries my reporters carry that continually pushes updates about a reporter's latitude and longitude, sending message fragments to an XML stream over the wire via XMPP and depositing the data into a server-side database.  Google Maps could then ingest this information by way of a RESTful web service exporting a JSON payload.  Running such a UI on large monitors with the appropriate level of magnification delivers an instant feedback loop to management of how to best deploy resources and get proper news coverage.  

In essence, we've got our own war room.

This solves an inefficiency we have with news directors and producers needing to know where reporters are and their ETAs, an issue we solve by using push-to-talk radios to manually inquire about their whereabouts.  During times when we have a big breaking story, it's time-consuming to have to sequentially radio multiple reporters, find out their locales, determine who's closest to the scene of a news event, and send them out.  If displayed in graphical fashion, our response capability increases dramatically.

Ok, so there's my project.  All I've got to do now is build the damn thing.  Wish me luck.  :-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

KUAM on the big screen (and I mean BIG)

Damn, I love being in showbiz.

Earlier today I was hacking my station's main RSS feed to get it in a custom format so it could run on a giant digital display that runs in front of the Guam Reef Hotel in Tumon...a stone's throw from my apartment.  After getting the feed up and operational, I took a leisurely stroll down the hill after work this evening to go and check it out and see it in action.  Absolutely awesome.

Damn, I love being in showbiz.

You and us: collaboratively reporting the news

My friend Gene, a newspaper reporter in Hawaii, argued yesterday that online news gives people too much information, to the point that it begins to negatively impact mainstream media's traditional monopoly over society's awareness of what's going on in the world.  I won't disagree, and I'm well aware as a TV news anchor that your eyeballs no longer belong exclusively to me in the Digital Age.

But my counterpoint was that this rampant saturation is also the beauty of it all.  We at the web software architectural level need to give all people access to massive amounts of information, coupled with content authoring, search, personalization and filtering tools to both contribute to the ongoing symphony of documenting human history and to (hopefully) make sense of it all.

As an example, here's what I gleaned in about 90 seconds this morning on my mobile phone from tweets posted by my social network:
  • Plane crash.
  • Hudson River. 
  • US  Airways.
  • No one hurt. 
  • Pix available.
Honestly, that's good enough for me.  I'm not a hard news junkie, so the limited depth of information is satisfactory.   It doesn't bother me that the abbreviated nature of these news bytes aren't of Pulitzer caliber.  I'm adequately informed.  If my intrigue leads me to want richer coverage, I'll visit more authoritative sources like my colleagues in CNN, MSNBC, or local New York City affiliates.  

And that, my friends, is the essence of the relationship between citizen journalism and mainstream media today.  Accept it.  Embrace it.  Use it.  Live it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Qik v.0.0.4 includes 'stream restore' feature

I've written much about my favorite Web 2.0 service for the last several weeks, Qik.  I finally got my reporters' BlackBerry Bolds configured to shoot live mobile video from the field (here's our gallery) and I've been embedding captured clips within the stories they reference, as well as webcasting live events as they break.

This came after exhaustive testing on our end - with me taking copious note the impacts of smartphones severely overheating due to non-stop uploading, loss in connectivity due to spotty network coverage, bandwidth variance due to 3G/EDGE roaming, SD cards running out of memory, clip length, batteries dying in transit, etc.  With Qik having released Version 0.0.4 of its client software, one thing I happily discovered this week was an evolution of an earlier problem I noted in v.0.0.3, with clips not fully uploaded immediately after being captured being truncated on the server.  Fortunately that issue's been resolved.  

I noticed how several of one reporter's interviews uploaded 7 hours after the fact when she came back to the station over WiFi and after re-joining our WLAN.  She said she accidentally exited Qik to make a call, which previously would have cancelled the upload process and destroyed the clip, making it only a few seconds.  I tried reinitializing the program and to my surprise, all her stored interviews were queued and rapidly posted automatically.   I inquired about this, and here's what Qik's support team says:
All partially sent videos will be uploaded if user quits Qik app or battery dies or some connection issues  occurs. This is what we call our 'Stream Restore' feature and it is available from v0.0.4.
That's a VERY helpful addition.  Kudos!  As a mainstream broadcast media guy it still blows my mind how the service basically opens up a platform that for decades took us in the biz millions per year to do, requiring telecomm links, satellite feeds, live trucks, expensive hardware, etc.

I'm planning an interview for my podcast with the Qik team to find out some more on the technical and product fronts about the platform, so stay subscribed!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What will Google Chrome's extension model be?

"Nice...nice.  Not thrilling, but nice." 
- Dom DeLuise as Julius Caesar, History of the World, Part 1

I just finished some cursory work on a Firefox extension I'm writing, and then I thought about it...I don't even use Firefox that much anymore.  I was bit by the Google Chrome bug from Day 1 and haven't looked back.  I even challenged myself and my friends to practice browser monogamy this year.  But the lack of extension support, even in Chrome's pre-beta 2.0 release, can be a setback when I could use some custom functionality or clever gimmick to help me work smarter, not harder.  (Gee, where have I heard that before?)

So I'm now left pondering what development model the fine folks in Mountain View have in store for us as their web browser continues to mature.  The current workaround seems to be a hack on leveraging Greasemonkey scripts and using bookmarklets to achieve page manipulation and/or extrabrowser functionality.  This works, but isn't optimal.  And it's not truly writing add-ons.  Everyone knows such are going to have to be baked into the product, if it stands a chance in the new round of the Browser Wars.

The structure for building Mozilla add-ons continues to be custom UIs written in XUL, with feaure componentization via XPCOM written JavaScript or C++.  Microsoft will likely lean on XAML for IE8.  This top-heavy recipe makes for good products, but alienates the developer community.  The learning curve isn't impossible, but isn't a lunchtime gig, either.

So I think if Google streamline and simplify the process of writing the front- and back-ends for its extensions, that'll really give Mozilla a run for their money.  It's a stretch, but if they could leverage the most basic of skill sets for web workers - HTML, CSS and JavaScript, just as RIA platforms like Adobe AIR and Palm's new Pre initiative are touting - this would make for some really neat things to compete with Firefox's massive tome of extensions. 

Further, since all logic and speculation seems to point in the direction of Chrome being the browser within Google Android, could we see seamless translation of add-ons written for Chrome to mobiles AND the desktop?

It's going to be fun to watch how this all plays out.

Guam's gridiron grind

Many of you reading this not on or from Guam won't be able to empathize with this quasi-rant, but here goes: watching live football out here - especially pro football - is TOUGH.  

There's no home team for us to glom onto, with the nearest NFL field nearly 6,200 miles away (San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium).  Team pride and devout loyalty give way to fairweather interest in the latest trends.  We don't have much of a well-versed pro sports media community to give insightful perspective on the games - I hosted a sportstalk radio program locally that bombed because of a lack of listenership.  

And because of the time difference between our little 30-x-7 island and the mainland, catching playoff games requires fans, sportswriters, established venues and tertiary passersby to do several things.  We need to painfully get up at ungodly hours, resist the body's natural tendency to want to return to sleep, endure satellite broadcasts that are at best sketchy, often call in late for work or miss school, and suffer sloth-like fatigue and red-eye the rest of the day.  

But man, is it ever worth it.  

As I now creep towards my 35th year, I look back on nearly three full decades of enduring such inconveniences and recall some of the magical moments I've seen live on TV.  Jim Burt knocking Joe Montana into another plane of existence at The Meadowlands.  The Music City Miracle.  Charles Woodson's inadvertent invention of the Tuck Rule.  The perpetual poetry in motion that was Jerry Rice.  The Drive.  T.O. showing up the Lone Star in Big D.  Primetime.  The legend of Frank Reich.  Tommy Kramer and Anthony Carter carving up Candlestick Park.  Tim Krumrie's sickening Super Bowl XXIII ankle injury that even now turns my stomach just thinking about it.  More Dan Marino heroics than I have room here to list.  And of course, the genius of Howard Cosell.

I love athletics because it makes for that rare type of unpredictable theater where you never know if an event you witness today might be the type of history-making play, game-ending finish, injury or performance that your grandchildren's kids will talk about around their water cooler (or whatever type of refreshment dispenser they have in the future).  

This makes the labor all worthwhile.

I've often thought how different the experience might be to live in a market where I could take in NFL games proper on Sunday afternoons instead of waking at 4:30am Monday...or, God forbid, being able to watch a game live and in person.  But then I think back to all the work I put in as a kid struggling alone to stay awake in my pajamas, trying to block out the surrounding environment - my sister's complaining about fair-and-equal TV time, my dad's apathy and my mom's confusion - watching history being made.  And I realize I was making my own history.

So as awkward as it always has been to tune into games throughout my childhood and as an adult living on Guam, it's part of who I am.  These are MY football memories, part of the narration of my life.  And that's the beauty of it.

I wouldn't give up the experience for anything.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On the inevitable forthcoming BCS playoff format

Simply stated, it's time for BCS 2.0. If you've ever followed anything I've ever written here, understand this: we live in a society under complete control of the media. It's true. And that, I fully believe, will give rise to a playoff system to determine a national champion for college football.

Mounting pressure from networks, pundits and coaches will force the bell to finally toll for the flawed Bowl Championship Series, and bring about a true tournament to determine the best team in the land. President-elect Obama's in full support of such.

The funny thing is that I think back a decade when then-president Bill Clinton sang the praises of the BCS, extolling the merits of its perceived ability to pick a single national title holder. This was supposed to be the savior of college football. Nope. We're replete with controversy, ambiguity and unreliability from the BCS.

What I'm laughing at now are the problems that I foresee with a tournament. What about all the high-priced, sponsor-driven bowl games? What about the network TV contracts? What about representation for the major athletic conferences? But the largest sin would be those schools who cry foul when not getting invited to the Big Dance (see: March Madness). Several teams will always get screwed out of a shot. But then again, the Cinderellas and bubble teams typically barely make it in by the skins of their teeth anyway.

We're due for a new format. The current one, despite profitability, simply is counterproductive and isn't carrying out its intended function. In the final wash it'll be more tolerable to have arguments about which cellar dwellar didn't get a chance to play in the tourney than what undefeated team got left out of a title shot.

Location, location, location

I'm a big supporter of doing hyperlocal news - giving insightful coverage of the events, issues and occurences that affect a specific market.  But the limited scope of the stories therein often has its drawbacks when you're constantly dreaming big.  Sometimes it bums me out.

As a professional communicator, there are events that fall under the umbrella of things I'm really passionate about that I would LOVE to cover and comment on.  I'd love to work some of the high-profile news events and I'd do an amazing job.  

This week we saw broadcasters, beat writers, analysts, bloggers, vloggers, lifestreamers and the like, credentialed and otherwise - sending their content out in a variety of formats over a multitude of devices on near-realtime (and in some cases, truly live) - covering the BCS National Championship Game, CES, and MacWorld to a global audience online and through traditional channels.

Meanwhile, yesterday I was stuck in the newstoom responding to hometown calls like this.  :-(

What's an honest documentarian of human experience to do?

Podcast (Slight Return), Episode #1

After a long hiatus, I'm back behind the mic!  Will and I laid down about 55 minutes of ramblings and rants about stuff that amuses us from the worlds of tech, music & sports.  Hope it has the same effect for you.

Show notes:
  • iTunes, how far you've come
  • Monetizing Twitter
  • We love Qik
  • Props to VH-1
  • Go Gators!
  • Remembering "The Land of Frooze"
This is the maiden voyage of a ship that won't always be the same thing twice, so I'll keep it fresh and keep you guessing.  I've got lots of cool ideas about turning this into a fun weekly way for you to be entertained.  Enjoy...and subscribe!

Download this podcast (MP3) | Subscribe to this podcast (RSS)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Why didn't I think of that? Because I'm stupid.

At the risk of coming off as the faintest bit arrogant and momentarily suspending my self-deprecating sense of humor, I'm a damn good product manager.  I'm one of the most effective platform evangelists you'll ever meet.  You'll be hard-pressed to find someone as passionate, informed, technical or charismatic as I am when it comes to getting people to get into new things.  Few people that spend even five minutes with me come away not reaching for their pocketbooks or rushing to the Web to signup for a service.

Having said that, as an inventor I'm a complete noob.  I've struck out more times than Reggie Jackson.  For every ten ideas I conceieve, maybe one ever sees the light of day.  My marketing enthusiasm often conflicts with the rigid rules of nature.  The catch is that for all my wacky ideas, I need a man of science.  Someone who can verify the engineering behind the theory and put me in my place, refining my crazy concoctions.  That's where Will's always come in.

A couple of months ago I called him and simply yapped into my mobile phone, "Dude!  Wireless laptop battery chargers!  How can we do it?"  The sardonic laughter with which my theory was met indicated that being able to send A/C current over the air and provide short-range recharging, like Bluetooth or WiFi for computer power, just wasn't possible.  Or at the very least, inherently dangerous.  (Imagine walking through a stream of unconducted, unidirectional electrical current being distributed through the air.  Ouch.)

Anyway, I came across Palm's new Pre initiative to provide wireless charging to its smartphones today.  Being a docking station, it's not truly the OTA method I had thought up, but it's still really, really cool.  My Sonicare electric toothbrush uses a similar approach with a base station.

Science marches on!  I'm just trying to keep up.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Twitter Effect heard it here first.

I'm posting this rant to my traditional blog rather than my microblog, seeing as how at least my thoughts here stand a fighting chance at being stumbled across sometime in the future.  Seeing as how Twitter feeds aren't indexed by search engines (a good move...can you imagine Google results inundated with 140-character nonsense?), my following prediction wouldn't be recalled in the annals of history as me helping to make the Web run better if I did a Tweet. 

Here goes: will the continuing embrace of Twitter cause sites to which links point to crash under duress, not being able to facilitate a sudden and extreme sugre in page requests - a la The Digg Effect or being Slashdotted?  Are garage/DIY sites based on the LAMP stack doomed to crumble under the one thing they seek to attain?  Will there be a surge in interest in web caching via Squid?

We'll see...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Fun family night

My sister leaves back to the mainland in a few days after being in town for the holidays, so she wanted to show off her fancy East Coast food & beverage school education by cooking my folks and I a chicken cacciatore dinner we wouldn't forget.  And I don't think I will. 

After my belly was filled heartily, my clan sneakily decided to take advantage of my over-hyped IT wizardy and help them with consumer tech problems.

Here's a synopsis:
Work, outside projects and the daily grind has kept us apart for a long time, so my family just hung out tonight.  It made for our belated was a good night!  :-)

Why Utah's getting no BCS love

Make no mistake: if I was coaching a college football team this season, I'd be scared to face Utah.  Damn scared.  It's unfortunate that the Utes, who finished this season as the only undefeated BCS team, aren't getting more consideration as this year's national champion.  It's a downright shame.  

The team has Mercurial speed.  The defense could match you up front or be in your face step for step downfield with the best of them.  Brian Johnson has got crazy game and will play on Sunday.

But there's a reason Utah isn't getting more love from the writers, coaches and computers that determine the ridiculous system that is the Bowl Championship Series we're forced to deal with.  Several of them, actually.  All of which arguably merited, and all of which unfair. 

The Mountain West Conference
The Utes basically crushed the notion that conferences not named the Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big East or Big 12 can't hang with the big boys after stomping Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  Hawaii's monumental 41-10 loss to Georgia in last year's Sugar Bowl made a huge statement about non-BCS conferences being able to compete despite their regular season dominance.  Still, the Mountain West is unfairly treated by the media more as a fetish than a collection of legitimate athletic programs that can produce a few teams that can consistently be nationally competitive. 

USC, Florida and Oklahoma
Building on my previous point, let's face it - as good as the Utes have consistently played this season, conventional logic projects them coming up short against the other traditional powerhouses vying for the crystal pigskin.  And in lieu of a tournament system, we'll never know.  I'd like to see two national semi-finals pitting USC/Utah and OU/Florida.  That would be really cool.   

Utah isn't even the biggest program in its own state
Even though recent history under Urban Meyer brought Utah to national prominence, BYU in many people's eyes remains the Green Mountain State's premiere program.  Historically the school has owned more NCAA records, Heismans, national titles - ergo more luster - than their in-state rivals from Salt Lake City. 

Hoops remains the big sport on campus
The U of U still lays claim to being the former stomping grounds of the likes of Andre Miller, Keith Van Horn and Andrew Bogut - and eternally under the tutelage of hardcourt Svengali Rick Majerus.  Even though their days of March miracles are now a distant memory, it's still got a great feel as a hoops school.  And the eternal shadow cast over the state by John Stockton and Karl Malone will always make Utah very basketball-friendly.  This doesn't bode well the later we get into the Fall. 

Network TV's warm, glowing light doesn't shine on thee
Aside from a scant few early season out-of-conference games, Utah's time zone makes it tough for fans throughout the country to really see how good the Utes are.  Too late for the East Coast and not exactly L.A. time, they're in a tough spot marketwise.

The program lives in sports story purgatory
The funny thing about Utah is that it features a roster with several two-star recruits, so it doesn't get scouts oohing an ahhing over a bench full of high school all-Americans.  It's caught in that limbo that doesn't get them enough street cred to be held in the same light with the Michigans and Florida States of the world, but not enough of the "shocking success" value that the school can engender the Cinderella storyline like Vanderbilt got this year.  They're just a very well coached, disciplined football program that executes incredibly well...but being vanilla isn't conducive to drawing the ire of national media.

It's freakin' Utah!
Remember the classic line from Wayne's World?  "Hi...I'm in...Delaware."  Yep.  I'll avoid making any obvious cracks about how the only things going for the state are the Jazz and polygamy, but with sports on a national scale being 70% image, Utah just doesn't have the sexiness that markets like Miami, Texas or LSU naturally draw.  And the program lacks the historical context that makes Nebraska, Oklahoma and Ohio State the perpetual darlings of pollsters and servers.  Don't get me wrong, Utah's a beautiful state with outstanding citizens and I'd love to live there someday, but with the way of the sports world being heavily predicated on the lure of the host market, it just doesn't gel.

But all is not lost - there is hope.  Buffalo's come a long way and is reaping the rewards.  South Florida makes routine appearances on the boob tube.  Appalachian State's gotten its share of the national spotlight over the last couple of seasons.  Here's hoping that Utah and the impressive body of work its put together gets some more respect from national writers, networks and voters.

Because they've certainly earned it.

I kissed a cloud agent (and I liked it)!

I humbly consider myself to be an unashamed capitalist, but also a responsible technologist.  So while I don't think twice about exploiting the possibility of spreading awareness of my products and making a buck off of anything, I try and exercise a bit of pragmatism in how I manage my systems and digital resources. Yep, I'm a walking contradiction, the very personification of oxymoron.  

Feel free to throw  :-)

Anyway, I noticed something very clever happening to my Twitter account this morning.  Seeing as how we're now in the middle of the NFL playoffs, I started following ESPN's feed, establishing the relationship connection on my smartphone right before I went to bed at 1am.  When I woke, I noticed that only a few minutes after taking that action, Fox Sports' Best Damn Sports Show Period started following my feed.

Why?  What in the wide, wide world of sports (pun somewhat intended) would Fox want with me, some schnook from Guam?  My instant reaction was to check out BDSSP's feed, and liking the frequency and humor in its posts I started following it, making myself part of their digital pipeline.  So they got me - hook, line and sinker.

The sequence of events, I thought afterward, were too linked to be chalked up to mere conincidence, and thought it smelled awfully like the result of some algorhithm.  Llike Chris Pirillo, Fox's number of friends almost equalled its number of followers, further adding to the suspiciousness.  

I surmised that BDSSP is using a cloud agent of some sort to monitor the stream of ESPN's followers, and when detecting profile changes to that feed, auto-follow any new members, enticing them to follow it in return, building traffic for itself.  The prospect of this guerilla marketing tactic literally had me salivating.  To me, this is genius in three parts:
  1. Awesome use of the Twitter platform
  2. Downright shameless in promotion
  3. Slick in its abilty to piggyback off the larger ESPN's legion of followers
Might this be a new evolution of viral marketing, being a maturation of word-of-mouth giving rise to deep linking, giving rise to social network-driven promotion, giving rise to programmatic propagation of digital media?  It extends the metaphor of a virus spreading, triggered by a deliberate/accidental action on the host's part.

But again, this is just a theory I had.  Maybe it was purely happenstance.  If this is truly the end result of some cloud agent, I'm blown away and duly impressed.  Really, really clever, Fox.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

The hunters have become the hunted

Emphasizing production quality is an age-old tactic of separating the sharks from the sheep when it comes to producing great media.  It's how studios, labels, stations, publishers and firms tout their stuff as being better than the DIY products that threaten to steal their thunder.  And customers.

I was reminded of this business truism after downloading some old episodes of "The Classic Metal Show", one of my favorite podcasts, listening to a very entertaining diatribe between hosts Chris and Neely about the frequent prolific (over)use of prose by the columnists in Guitar World Magazine.  (Download the episode here.)   The hosts spared no quarter in railing on the writers for excessively using linguistics and constantly employing the use of vocabulary that would make a thesuarus blush.  It's quite entertaining and a great demonstration of how new media is impacting traditional mainstream communications.

When I got into podcasting in 2005, there were only a couple hundred of us in the world creating time-shifted, RSS-based audio content - creating, producing and distributing what was essentially this generation's pirate radio.  It was especially fun for me, not being bound to the limitations of the FCC in producing audio content and letting people all over the world listen in time-shifted format via RSS.  While I kept the format of my show clean and relatively consistent in duration, having the freedom to go outside the bounds of mainstream audio programming if I ever wanted to was the beauty of the genre. 

And that's precisely what scared the bejeezus out of mainstream media.  We all knew once Corporate America started releasing their own podcasts the main arrow in their quill to use against the garage band'ers - regardless of the entertainment value - would be production quality.  Dangle a squeaky-clean product and a hacked production in front of most consumers eyes and they'll go for it 9 times out of 10 they'll go for the lustre.

Doing even a low-budget audio production takes some elbow grease, so it's work.  And when confronted by an ESPN or an NBC News or an NPR, essentially distributing either professionally-produced versions of online audio shows, or merely regurgitations of their terrestrial radio programming, it's easy to be cast aside if you're of the DIY crowd.  Sound effects, intro/outro music, interacting with live callers, engaging talent, pro-grade equipment and all the things that makes radio great are hard to combat when it's just you in your basement.

So this is the main advantage mainstream media leverages against the self-produced podcasters, and I would dare say all types of content creation in the Information Age.  And it's working.  Once mainstream content creators embrace a new format, they take it over.

There's always going to be a market for good, well-produced, reliable media.  And to a minor extent, they'll always be an audience - albeit a minority one - for grassroots media (i.e., punk rock).  Sure, the masses these days may prefer to know about a breaking news event or big occurence from a blog, MySpace or Twitter post if it gets to them faster or in a format they find interesting...but more often than not, audiences will still seek out coverage of that same event from authoritative sources.  So there's the challenge: the profession won't change, but the platform will.

So getting back to Chris & Neely's argument - that mainstream writers are overly-verbose and too wordy in their delivery - this is the same application of the production quality principle, just applied in written form.  When the blogosphere started making major dents in how we in professional media (and I use that term very loosely) get our content out to readers, the natural reaction was to emphasize the quality of writing.

Being an excessive wordsmith and likening your compositions to those found in The New Yorker by genre magazines like Guitar World are just the natural byproduct of big players in that medium trying to distinguish themselves from those that seek to steal their eyeballs.

Time to reinvent the wheel again.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

You're still tagging? That's SO 2006.

Many of the people in my social network have shared with me that they gave up on tagging their admission typically brought about me expressing my frustration at the practice.  I used to be all about adding value to my online text, imagery, audio and video content by embedding descriptors to establish relationships between shared tagged resources and/or link them to larger more widely-distributed services like

But this growing habit to abandon marking up media is borne largely of lethargy (I know that's the main motive for me).  Let's face it: tagging is a chore.  Users who don't produce geat volumes of digital content don't see the point of incessantly thinking up tags; high-cap members of the digerati see such additional manual labor as cumbersome for the amount of work they're churning out.  And both are right.

With the future of the Web moving towards semantic relationships and the natural progressive principle of data-describing-data, we content creators thankfully won't have to spend even more time tagging up our stuff.  Web 3.0 services already are being refined that auto-tag content.  This is itself an evolution of the feature of most wiki platforms to auto-embed hyperlinks to related internal resources based on quick passover scans of words within a document.

So Tagging, the bell doesn't exactly toll for thee - yet - but your days are numbered.

Mobile broadband options on Guam

I've done a fair amount of testing into Guam's mobile broadband accessibility over the past few weeks - comparing/contrasting IT&E's EVDO and DOCOMO's HSDPA (aka, 3G).  So now that I've properly figured out how to stream long-form videos off my handset, here's a video tutorial I did in my apartment on what to consider when you head to your local wireless provider to signup for service.

Enjoy!  (Or at least try and count how many times I say "actually" and "umm".  Next time, I'm bringing my station's teleprompter home with me.)

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