Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Subjectivity of Relationships

There is this great insight about human relationships that I keep coming back to. The whole concept of it makes my mind spin because it is so meta and fresh. I first read the piece more than half a year ago, but I keep coming back to it. In fact, it's the most important blog post I ever read! Even if it would turn out that this theory has got it all wrong, the concept is still stupendous and enriches the understanding of social behavior.

I am referring to Steve Pavlina's article from early this year, titled "Understanding Human Relationships". In it, Pavlina puts forward an idea where all relationships are purely perceptions. He says that the relationship exists entirely inside you and by making a change in yourself you will change your perception of the other party. This works in parallel in two different ways.

Firstly, by changing yourself you can see the other person from a slightly different perspective. Pavlina argues that the errors we see in others are typically a reflection of our own shortcomings.

Secondly, your partner will be mirroring your behavior and see you as a model for herself. There is always an opportunity that you can change their behavior by being a better role model.

Realizing that inter-personal problems often can be solved by changing your own behavior is a great mind-opener. In situation where you previously felt option-less, you are now empowered to being able to improve the situation.

If you have the slightest interest in working on, or understanding relationships I urge you to read the full article online. If you find it as fascinating as I do, you can go on to read a long discussion about the blog post on Pavlina's message boards.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FeedJournal.com Status Report

A while back I decided to port FeedJournal into a web application and offer it at feedjournal.com. The decision was greatly inspired by the user community who strongly voiced their opinion about choosing the web option. I had a vote here on my blog a month ago and a very large majority voted in favor of the web. The two most important factors were:
  1. Not having to install the application locally
  2. Cross platform availability
I am happy to announce that the development is well underway and going smooth. Due to the fact that the code base is C#/.NET 2.0, my choice of technology has naturally fallen on ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server. As is a standard these days, I plan on including some AJAX in the interface to improve the user experience.

Users can expect a launch sometime this year. I plan to roll out features incrementally and having an early release with a basic feature set. The idea is to early on grow a strong user base who will influence FeedJournal's direction and future.

On the development side of things I am so far impressed with the development speed using ASP.NET. Together with Visual Studio and SubSonic for auto-generation of the database layer I am very satisfied with my work environment.

FeedJournal's progress will be posted here, so please sign up for the RSS feed and you will be sure to be first to know when the site will be operational for printing your own newspapers. The Windows version of FeedJournal will of course continue to be available as before.

Two major question marks at this stage are web design and hosting. I'd be happy to receive ideas from my readers to guide me in these decisions.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New FeedJournal 2.0 Build (#184)

A new version of FeedJournal is available for download!

What's new in this version:

  • Improved installation program.
  • Improved support for Atom 1.0 feeds.

Download the build from FeedJournal's download page.

Note about Blogspot/Blogger feeds:

If you previously had issues with Blogspot's Atom feeds you should try the new build. If you are using Blogspot's new feed URLs (ending with "posts/default") please use the workaround outlined in the FAQ.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Google? What's Going On?

Google? What's going on? I used to like you, but lately you've been disappointing me plenty.

I'm not going to regurgitate that the Redmond guys beat you to the live RSS feeds for web searches.

I still feel burned about the way you deleted my iGoogle start page a few months back, and didn't acknowledge the problem until much later. I still can't access my Google Calendar over HTTPS on iGoogle. Google Analytics were non-functional in iGoogle for more than a month, perhaps not surprisingly considering there is not even an official Google Analytics control! But who cares, I've moved on to another start page anyway. Greener pastures.

But what's really annoys me is what's happening with Google Reader. Lately I've been suffering intolerable delays in retrieving my feeds. Pushing the Refresh button does absolutely nothing. Today, more than 18 hours after I published my last blog post on Blogger (also Google-owned) it showed up in Reader. Pffft...

And additionally, for how long will you rely on Stylish hackers to provide search in Reader?

Sure, you say - Google Reader has the Labs tag, which I guess is pre-beta. But still. This is not the way to keep your users

Monday, July 9, 2007

Tuning in to The Micro-ISV Show

On my daily commute to and from the office I enjoy listening to podcasts on my iPod. One of my favorite shows is Microsoft/Channel-9 sponsored "The Micro-ISV Show", where Michael Lehman and Bob Walsh interview software developers who run their own businesses with small means, often on a smaller scale. The podcast is a spin-off from Bob's book "Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality", where he describes how to plan, market, host and sell your software.

While the book itself contains plenty of interviews with independent software vendors (ISVs), the audio interviews is a great addition and I always look forward to tuning in to new shows. The interview questions are all relevant and always shed new light on areas where software and business intersect. Some of the many notable shows have featured Eric Sink, Joel Spolsky and Nick Bradbury.

My only criticism is regarding the audio quality. It sounds as if the interviews are being recorded over a regular phone line, with the result of the voice coming out very flat and far from the radio quality many other podcasts offer. It's a big shame that the voice quality is not on par with the show's top-notch content.

Please keep the shows coming!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Book Review: Founders at Work

"Founders at Work" is a inspiring book for anyone interested in reading the stories of successful software companies' early days. A lot of well-known companies' founders get to tell their story on how they made it all happen, and how they felt at the time of the start-up.

It is fascinating to learn that so many successful companies struggled in their early days, and that they often didn't know which product to market. Many of the founders tell stories of how they stumbled upon their successful idea after many failed attempts, and that the product which finally took off was just a side project. This is for example true for both Blogger and PayPal, among many more.

"Founders at Work" should be mandatory reading for anyone running a start-up software company or with such aspirations. It is especially interesting to read the founders take on venture capital and company ownership.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Toodledo for Online GTD

Let me be the first to admit (after my wife) that I spend too much time optimizing my to do-lists and calendar implementations - more than I actually earn from the process. Like a large number of other like-minded, I am trying to find the perfect balance between easy note-taking and a manageable and computerized system.

I love the immediate availability of a pen and paper in my pocket, although I have been through a lot of other systems like a larger Filofax system (not mobile enough), Palm and PocketPC (too slow compared to handwriting) as well as the cool index-card based Hipster PDA (too difficult to sync with the PC).

GTD is obviously the system of choice these days, with a splash of Covey's Weekly Reviews and role-based goals thrown in for good measures. An eruption of online GTD implementations have become available lately but it's not until now that we are finally starting to see them mature into useful tools.

My vote goes to Toodledo - it has a nice AJAXy interface with GTD contexts, projects, priorities and deadlines. You are able to export your to do lists as RSS feeds, iCAL, and (drumroll...) as a PDF booklet. The PDF export is the feature which really makes it usable for me, and makes me happy to switch from my current Hipster PDA implementation. Basically, it allows you to print out your to do lists to an A4 page which you cut & fold into A7 size, fitting nicely into even the smallest pockets.

I also found out that the classy notebook Moleskine is finally available in Israel. I bought mine from Soho in Dizengoff Center, Tel Aviv.