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I’ve seen better UI design

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Toshiba is working on a new display technology that allows you to get a 360 degree view of what’s on your screen. The downside is you’ve got to strap on a 6 lbs. helmet that makes you look like a bobble-head Neil Armstrong. I think they should have kept this one under wraps before releasing press photos of their prototype. (link to Daily Mail story)

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If Doritos are your thing. . .

If beaming messages of Hope and Beauty are not your thing – through December 4th you can try your hand at creating the next advertisement for Doritos. Win prizes (cash and a trip to Miami for the Superbowl, having your video shown on TV during one of the coveted million dollar ad spots).

More info on the Crash the Superbowl site which gives you access to high quality graphics, music, and video clips that you can mix into your home movies using Jumpcut, the online video editing tool recently acquired by Yahoo.

Maybe we should beam this stuff into space as well.

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The Internet as a Ball of Thread

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The concept is simple. Provide an easy interface so that people from around the world can upload photos, drawings, movies, sounds, and writings to a time capsule. The inbox is open until November 8th and after that will entrusted to the Smithsonian as a snapshot of our time until it’s opened up again in 2020.

The project organizers are calling it a “digital anthropology project.” In terms of sheer volume, I’ve often thought that future civilizations will look back upon this period as one of the most richly documented times in history (where else are you going to find 500+ photos of insects having sex?). The cost of capturing events has dropped to the point where the biggest problem is going to be sifting through everything to pull out some kind of meaning.

Since the Yahoo! Time Capsule was opened on October 10th, over 27,000 submissions have been published and categorized with the most popular theme being Love (7,988) and the least popular being Anger (391). Other interesting stats on the Facts page.

For highlights of the most interesting submissions, visit the timecapsule blog.

From the artist behind the Time Capsule, Jonathan Harris, on the About page.

The aesthetic of the Time Capsule is that of a ball of thread, spinning like a globe, its shifting surface entirely composed of words and pictures submitted by people around the world. The thread ball concept relates to threads of memory and threads of time, where threads are taken to be any continuous and self-consistent narrative strand. When the Time Capsule opens, it displays the 100 most recent contributions, which form the spinning globe. The ten themes orbit the globe in a pinwheel pattern. At any moment, any individual tile can be clicked, causing the globe to fall away and the selected tile to expand, revealing detailed information about the tile and the person who created it. Using a search interface, viewers can specify the population they wish to see, exploring such demographics as “men in their 20s from New York City”, and “Iraqi women who submitted drawings in response to the question: What do you love?”. There are an infinite number of ways to slice the data, and each resulting slice then becomes its own thread, which can be browsed independently, tile by tile, like a filmstrip.

Oh, and keep your contributions to just the good stuff because we’re going to beam this stuff off into space just to see if anyone’s listening.

Amazon want to Pump You Up

Fully 70 percent of the effort required to do business online involves doing the heavy lifting that supports Web-scale applications, he said. After a decade of training, Amazon got really good at pumping iron, and now you can hire its muscle to do some heavy lifting for you.

Jon Udell on Amazon’s new web services.

Sun CEO thinks the internet provides broader distribution than traditional media

The reaction to this will be interesting.

This (sun.com) website is a tremendous vehicle for the broad delivery of timely and robust information about our company. It is our view that proprietary news outlets are insufficiently accessible to the broad majority of Internet users and individual shareholders. It is certainly the case that the Internet represents a broader user base than those able to afford subscriptions to traditional forms of media and thus usage of this or any other freely available company blog or web site should be considered sufficient in satisfying the objectives of Regulation Fair Disclosure.

Sun CEO Johnathan Schwartz describes the benefits of using his blog to disclose financial information in a fax to the SEC

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“We can’t control the puppets”

Success on the internet is not a zero sum game. New activity can come from any corner and audience and attention often expands to meet this demand. Much has to do with the spirit of “giving back” which is one of the principles upon which the internet is founded. Take what you need and when you can, give something back to make the online world a better place for the rest of us.

This same spirit is what drives the Hack Day efforts at Yahoo. “Mash up or Shut Up” was one of the early mottos for Hack Day. It encapsulated the idea that grumbling about a shortcoming or missing feature is a waste of bandwidth. Tackle the problem yourself and lead the way. Be resourceful, lead by example, show us how it works. Sell your idea with a prototype, not a powerpoint.

This past weekend Yahoo opened its doors to outside developers, invited them to pitch tents on the grassy commons. We showed them the knobs and levers they could use to make the world a better place. Many Yahoos cleared out their busy schedules to welcome people from all over and show them around. I was working the tables at registration and it was really great to meet people from as far away as Canada, Chicago, Florida, and New Jersey. No one really knew what to expect when the weekend started but we were all pleasantly suprised.

When Beck was first pitched to play at Yahoo (through a skateboarding connection!) the organizers were thinking it’d be cool to have him play a few tunes on acoustic guitar while sitting on a stool in our cafeteria. Not only did Beck say he’d be happy to play to a crowd of Yahoo hackers, he countered that he wanted to bring his full stage show. Another pleasant suprise.

Wonderful things happen when you let your audience participate. Yahoo understands that we are defined by the people that use our services. If we give them the tools to participate, both with Yahoo and with each other, we will all be pleasantly suprised by what they give back. The world will be a better place and audience attention will expand to support what gets created.

Hack Day was started to let Yahoo engineers in the search group scratch an itch and show off their coding chops to their colleagues. With each successive Hack Day, the group of participants grew so now anyone, regardless of location or business unit can be part of it. It only made sense to continue this inclusive trend and open it up to outsiders. Expand the pool and raise the bar. Isn’t that how evolution works? I am so proud that Chad, Bradley, and the executives at Yahoo followed through on their intuition and made this event happen. It was a risk that they didn’t have to take. The standard developer’s conference is usually more structured and shys away from marshmallow guns.

We do things a little differently at Yahoo and I think our approach will pay us back in many unexpected ways for years to come. The barriers to participation are lower than they’ve ever been, the only thing holding you back is your creativity. Come on by and help define the world you live in.

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Tyler gives his first speech

Tyler has been writing stories for class assignments and his story was picked as something to read in front of the school at their last weekly assembly.

The class went to the Taiko Drum Show. I almost cried because it reminded me of Japan. I was born in Japan. There were two Japanese people in the show. The taiko drums are made from wood, iron metal, and cow skin. They played a shell too. They said Japanese words. They did martial arts. They did a lot of throwing. I had fun and my class liked it too.

I would say more about what he felt but Tyler didn’t really talk about it too much – he’s kind of embarassed to be singled out this way.

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Current Events

Putting out fires with a 747 Supertanker

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Flying down to Burbank this morning I could see the smoke from the massive forest fire that has been raging in the hills to the North of Los Angeles since Labor Day. I heard that they beat back the flames using a DC-10 reconfigured for firefighting and while looking for a photo of this jet, I found this video of a 747 in a flight test. Too bad it’s not approved for use.

Polaroid-o-nizer – creating an online version of a classic offline medium

deepthought.jpgAll sorts of fun this week with image manipulation. The Image-Rich Blogroll got a fair bit of play but there was some grumbling on that it was too manual. Yes, it would be good to automate this stuff I dream up – that’s a project for a rainy day.

Next on the agenda of cool web services that could be used in interesting ways is B3ta’s Polaroid-o-nizer service. Point it to any image file URL, type in some text and then hit the “Onize” button and they’ll generate a realistic looking Polaroid of the image.

There’s even a check box if you want to upload the image to Imageshack to have them host your image for you.

So if earlier this week the project was a graphical representation of your blogroll, how about using Polaroid-o-nizer to become your annotated feed of images you come across on the web?

– found while reading Pacific IT

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Ten Thousand Thundering Typhoons! It’s me Pirates day again!