Monthly Archives: December 2011

Farewell, 2011

2011 was bananas.

I got married, moved to the biggest metro area I’ve lived in since I was 4, worked my butt off, got to see the Space Shuttle with a ton of amazing people, and a whole lot more.

2011, you were a crazy mofo. I can’t even imagine what 2012 will be like.

Thanks to everyone who was a part of one of the most amazing years of my life. Here’s to a healthy, happy 2012.

How Path is winning me over

I’m trying to get into Path more. While the idea of a social network with an extremely low friend limit (150 friends) is hard for me to grasp given my assumptions that anything I publish online is for public consumption, I’m won over by its excellent design — indeed, it has a timeline implementation that Facebook could only dream of — and its ability to be a universal publisher to the big four social sites (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Tumblr).

By far the most interesting use of Path I’ve seen so far is by Jon Mitchell on ReadWriteWeb, where he uses Path to illustrate a story on his experiences serving on a jury and what they mean for the social Web. It only works, too, because Path is so well-designed and thought out.

It will be fun to watch Path’s path. It could be quite a contender in 2012.

Paul Thurrott on RIM

In a column for his SuperSite for Windows explaining why he has never covered the BlackBerry, Paul Thurrott makes a damning case for RIM’s demise:

RIM didn’t declare bankruptcy or exit the market for smart phones or anything. What they did announce, however, was that their next generation mobile OS, now called Blackberry 10, won’t ship until the end of 2012, a full year from now. This comes on the heels of one of the worst years I’ve ever seen any tech company experience, and I’d remind you that this happened during a time in which both Yahoo and HP were stumbling around blindly, looking generally foolish and without aim. RIM makes both of those companies look like huge successes by comparison.

RIM’s downfall started with the BlackBerry Bold 9000. It was a great phone, but it looked like an iPhone with a physical keyboard and was the first BlackBerry I owned with serious stability issues. RIM became reactive with the 9000 and it’s been all downhill since then.

RIM succeeded with consumers for a while because its Facebook integration outclassed everybody. If you wanted to use Facebook on a phone, you got a BlackBerry. The Pearl and the Curve were immensely popular with college students in particular in the mid-late 2000s for this exact reason. As a power smartphone user with a notification fetish, the BlackBerry more than fulfilled my purposes (and I think it may still be unmatched). Great notifications, though, are a drop in the bucket against the power and stability of modern iOS- and Android-based smartphones. The fact that the BlackBerry is still difficult to build apps for and the BES duplicates functionality and adds overhead at an enormous cost are just the nails in the coffin.

Updated at 5:15 PM with a little more context in the first graf.

SAY ReadWriteWeb (Three Times Fast)

ReadWriteWeb’s acquisition by SAY Media is an exciting development, the fruit of many years of hard work by Richard MacManus and the ReadWriteWeb team (which I have been fortunate to be a part of for the past two years). I’m really looking forward to working with my RWW compatriots and the SAY Media team on this next phase of ReadWriteWeb’s evolution — it should be quite a fun ride!

Mysteries of the IntelliStar 2, revealed

I’ve had a fascination with The Weather Channel’s local forecast computers since infantile amnesia set in, so reading this post about the tribulations of the IntelliStar 2, the forecast computer that drives the Local on the 8s programming for The Weather Channel’s high definition simulcast, was a fun read. Apparently the project was in trouble for a while (which is why it took The Weather Channel so long to bring a truly local forecast to the HD channel). The hardware specs are wild:

There ended up being 2 boards and a daughter card to make the I2HD work. The two main boards are PCIe boards and are very complicated. There are several instances of embedded linux running across the boards.

Again, the software was developed in-house. The new renderer was purchased from a 3rd party and integrated into the system (VizRT). The device driver was also done in house. The high level software is written in C#/F# running on Windows Embedded Standard (due to business requirements not present for [IntelliStar 1]).

It’s a pretty complex box doing complex things — constantly ingesting a satellite feed with radar and text products from The Weather Channel and the National Weather Service while driving high definition output 24/7. (Via TWC Today.)

Follow on Twitter

You can now follow a full feed of updates from over on Twitter — just find @jaredwrites for all of my screed here. I’m using Twitterfeed right now to pull in the updates; hopefully its PubSubHubbub engine will pick up my feed and move it off the 30-minute polling interval sooner rather than later.

I will be perfectly honest: I have resisted this move for a very long time. Call me old-fashioned, but I do not believe this is what Twitter is for. As long-time followers of @jaredwsmith can attest, I very infrequently tweet blog links (and usually, I would only tweet links to the most important stuff that I actually spent time thinking about). It has been a very fascinating A/B test to see how posts perform when I get Twitter involved, and I had a couple hits in 2011 (my open letter regarding the National Weather Service in particular was a huge hit) when I got social networks involved. RSS by itself just doesn’t cut it — and this goes for both new bloggers and established big blogs. Like it or not, Twitter is one of the two essential distribution channels now. (Facebook is the other, but I’m not going to do anything with it.) Let’s see how this works out and if the account gets suspended.

I Work for the Internet

I Work for the Internet is a collection of people who rely on and build the Internet in many different and completely legal ways whose livelihood could be threatened by the Stop Online Piracy Act. If you work for the Internet, add yourself (there’s an approval process so you won’t show up right away).

I’ll have a lot more on SOPA in the coming days across my social networks and this blog because it is just that important.