Cool Little Trick for Multiplication

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What’s 23 x 33? Here’s a visual way to solve the problem.

Draw 2 lines and then 3 lines to represent 23 and cross them with 3 lines followed by another 3 lines for 33 as in the drawing above. Add up the number of intersections in each corner of the square as if they were columns.

A=6 for the hundreds or 600

C=9 + B=6 is 15 for the tens column or 150

D=9

Add 600+150+9=759.

This new method of addition is all the rage in Japanese who have imported it from India as a new way to teach young children how to break down complex problems into smaller, solvable problems.

Bloglines beta – so nice to see ya.

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The Time & Newsweek of the Web 2.0 blogosphere both mention the re-launch of Bloglines. It’s great to see another reader on the market just for variety’s sake. I moved to Google Reader a while ago as my main reader mostly because of it’s mobile interface which looks great on the Blackberry. I had left Bloglines a good while back because of their annoying tendency to mark everything in a folder as “read” just because you opened it.

In the release notes, they say they will address the lack of mobile support in a future release. If they solve this, I may actually switch back to Bloglines because they have two other features that are not in Google Reader.

1. People wonder why I have Earthlink’s Reader as my home page on my browser. I tell them it’s the best way to browse full text feeds. I have my “firehose” feeds that post several times a day loaded up there and the Earthlink Reader is set up to scroll very quickly through them and has a handy marker which shows you when you start getting into articles that were current during your last session.

As you can see in the screenshot up top, there’s a nice browse feature which toggles between the My Yahoo-like tile view which they call “Quick View” and a river of news view which scrolls the articles full text called “Full View.” Bloglines even includes “3-pane view” for all you Outlook/Newsgator junkies.

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2. Search. Logging back into Bloglines tonight I was re-acquainted with the Bloglines search. I had stopped using this feature since I left Bloglines and the only vestige of the whole sharing of your subscriptions community I had on Bloglines was from an old ego-search that used the aggregated subscriptions of all the Bloglines users as a way to focus on hits from quality blogs. From the main window, you can search and an advanced option gives you a whole lot of power that, as far as I can tell, isn’t available on any other reader platform. The integration to Ask’s broader web search is a bit clumsy but hopefully that will be addressed now that there seems to be renewed attention on Bloglines as a product.

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The ability to limit keyword searches to your subscribed feeds or search any other Bloglines user’s public feeds, is a very cool option. No need to bookmark things for later, just let it flow by knowing that you can always reach in and retrieve it, using your subscription list as a helpful filter on sources you trust. I suppose you could do this with Google Coop or Lijit but Bloglines does it in an integrated way.

I’ll have to play around with this for a while; I noticed just now that Bloglines doesn’t seem to refresh as often for instance and I don’t see a “refresh” link anywhere on the Beta UI Paul Querna from Ask posts in the comments that Bloglines refreshes every 5 minutes or you can use “r” as a hotkey.

Update: Below is the breakdown of my feed subscribers as of this week. It’ll be interesting to see if people switch to Bloglines in any quantity.

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Update II: Nice, detailed review of the new Bloglines from Nathan Weinberg at Inside Google who interviewed Eric Engleman, the new GM of Bloglines.

Realtime Map Tracking

Maybe it’s the air traffic controller in me but there’s something oddly compelling about watching little dots move across the screen when you know they represent objects in the physical world.

TechCrunch posts about Bill from BitGravity is streaming his driving trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles over a live video stream showing the traffic out his front dashboard and a Google Maps tile showing his position as he drives down Interstate 5. He’s just south of Tracy as I write this so tune in now if you want to see it live.

BitGravity SF to LA

And tomorrow morning, before I head over to pick up my wife and kids as they return from Japan, I will fire up Google Earth and use Aeroseek to follow Northwest Flight 28 as it soars over the Pacific and make sure they’re coming in on time.

Northwest Flight 28

BarCampBlock and the Great Beyond

BarCampBlock Panorama

I had a great time at BarCampBlock this past weekend. Regretfully, I could only attend on Saturday but got to soak in the scene and definitely will chip in and help out in future BarCamp events when I can. The excitement surrounding the sessions reminded me of the early BloggerCon events that got me into blogging in the first place. A lot of earnest excitement and a tangible electricity in the air that we had the ability to change the world and make things better.

My favorite session was Brad Fitzpatrick & David Recordon’s discussion on Portable Social Networks where they made clear that they are trying to build a simple way to “glue” social networks together into a unified social graph that is openly accessible by anyone and everyone. The thought is that closed social networks which require you to drag all your friends along with you are distracting at best, destructive at worst. All this pulling people back and forth is resulting in frustration and friction which, if not addressed, will sap the ability of innovative new social networking services from gaining a significant audience and give any early adopters yet another username and password to remember. Additionally, there is the concern that existing solutions to pull your existing relationships along with you to the latest shiny object by crawling your AOL, Google, or Yahoo mailbox are training people to give over their username and password to untrusted third parties which is just asking for trouble.

While the motives for a public database of relationships is simple enough (someone at the session described it like a Technorati backlink index for social networking links, “who’s linking to me?”), the true genius is the assertion by Brad and David that they are laser focused on the geeky bits of building the database as a platform and that it’s up to the community to figure out what they want to do with it and if anyone wants to build something to add value on top of it to, “go for it.” People will continue to search for jobs or recruits via LinkedIn, this service will only help fill in the missing blanks and make your LinkedIn network a better representation of who you know. If you have a good friend down as a connection on flickr, why shouldn’t you also be connected to them on LinkedIn? This yet-to-be-named service will highlight the gap and make it easy for you to act on it.

In a later session on Open Authentication (now known as “o-auth”), David spoke of delegated authentication systems such as flickr’s in which you manage which services have access to your flickr photos. At anytime you have the ability to revoke any permissions that you have given. This let to a discussion of existing ways you let people get in touch with you and the need for a similar grant/revoke model for granting people access to you. If you’re outside of a social network such as Facebook where you can de-friend someone, an email address is the universal access key. Yet, these cannot be revoked and if you change your email address, it breaks for everyone including the person you’re trying to get away from. In this new world, maybe you can turn on & off access just as you would subscribe & unsubscribe from an RSS feed.

Is email broken? Is this the vision of a world beyond email?

SXSW Panel Picker – Pick Me!

South-by-Southwest Interactive was probably the best conference I’ve been to this year in terms of bang for buck. Each of the panels was engaging and I was always learning something new. Part of this is because the panels are chosen by those planning on attending.

Out of the 680+ topics proposed, only 80 will be chosen. I’ve submitted an entry for a topic that we like to call around here your “digital wake” – I hope to bring together a panel of experts from the SEO, Academic, and Digital Forensics professions to speak about the trails we leave behind as we navigate through digital space. The full description is below.

Description
If you are what you eat in the offline world, what makes up “you” online? We each leave a “digital wake” behind us, what does that tell the world about us. What are the benefits and pitfalls of promiscuous online behavior? What lessons can we learn about building online communities?

Three Takeaways:
1. Learn the dos and don’t around gathering and reflecting back what you know about your community
2. What are the cultural and age differences between how we share our activities online.
3. What are the implications for history, if our profile stops updating, are we really gone?

This will be a panel discussion. I would like to get three groups represented:
1. Vendor – someone who runs an online site that gathers user activity
2. Criminal Forensics – it’d be cool to hear from someone in law enforcement about what they can learn from your social profile online
3. Academic – want to get someone who can talk either from experience or study about how social networks are different across age and geographic boundaries

If you’re interested in this kind of thing and would like to attend such a session, please register a vote for me here.

Grim Visualizations : Crime Mashups 2.0

We all remember the Chicago Crime Map which took Chicago police reports and overlayed it on top of Google Maps. For many, this was their first exposure into the world of mashups and to a large extent opened everyone’s eyes to the benefits of opening up your data. That was 2005. Now the UED crowd has taken a shot at the concept and are starting to publish their own versions:

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Oakland Crimespotting by Stamen Design

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LA Times’ Homicide Map (anyone know who built this?)

Portable Social Networks

Very happy to hear that Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon will be at BarCampBlock this weekend to talk about their ideas around portable social networks. I’ve done a fair bit of thinking about this problem as well but could do with a dose of feedback to solidify my thinking. I have a good feeling there are going to be some exciting breakthroughs this weekend

The Web as a loose federation of contractors

Matt McAllister has a great post about the dangers of taking taking the label of Web OS too literally. He writes that an operating system is about “command and control” while the loose collection of services that make up the internet is more like the network of vendors that a contractor might call in to build your house.

Jeremy Zawodny shed light on this concept for me using building construction analogies.

He noted that my building contractor doesn’t exclusively buy Makita or DeWalt or Ryobi tools, though some tools make more sense in bundles. He buys the tool that is best for the job and what he needs.

My contractor doesn’t employ plumbers, roofers and electricians himself. Rather he maintains a network of favorite providers who will serve different needs on different jobs.

He provides value to me as an experienced distribution and aggregation point, but I am not exclusively tied to using him for everything I want to do with my house, either.

Similarly, the Internet market is a network of services. The trick to understanding what the business model looks like is figuring out how to open and connect services in ways that add value to the business.

I like Jeremy’s illustration – an OS gives you the impression of an integrated stack which leads to strategies which favor things like user lock-in to guarantee performance and consistency of experience. If you think of the web as a loose collections of services that work together on discreet projects, then you start to think of value in other ways such as making your meta-data as portable and accessible as possible so it can be accessed over and over again in many different contexts.

read on: The Business of Network Effects