Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

At least, according to HowManyofMe.com. Supposedly their conclusions are based on census data.

The good news is I’m unique. The bad news is I can’t claim those bills belong to someone else. At least it makes my LinkedIn profile easy to figure out.

Actually, I’m the 3rd of 4 people with my full name, Tolliver Cleveland Callison. My grandfather was Papa to his grandkids and Mr. Callison to just about every else, including my grandmother. My father was T.C., Jr. (known as T.C., aka Top Cat, aka Yip). They’re both deceased now, and greatly missed. My son Todd is actually T.C. the IV, but he lives in Mexico so the qualification “in the U.S.” still applies.

I don’t know what they mean by “1 or fewer” people with my name. How can there be fewer than 1 of me? Oh no! It’s like that Twilight Zone episode with Rod Taylor as the astronaut who knows he’s about to disap . . .

For my wife Jenny they’re emphatic: “There is 1 person in the U.S. named Jenny Callison.” The 1 and only. They got that right.

–Thanks to the J-Walk Blog

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Maybe not.

I don’t care.

I want one.

I tried to put an iPad through its paces at my local Apple store. I am doing an increasing number of presentations, and something about using this sleek little hunk o’ user-friendliness was singing to me. I don’t have the unencumbered cash now, but here are my impressions:

Maybe not (see this post from The Speed of Creativity blog):

  • You have to purchase a video-out adapter, so you’re tethered to the projector and can’t walk around. I’m not aware of a remote control such as can be used by a laptop.
  • The version of Keynote used by the iPad apparently differs from that in the Mac OS. For example, you can’t (or with great difficulty) embed videos; hyperlinks may be problematic; the font set may not be compatible; themes aren’t quite the same.


  • I WANT one. Really.

My overall impression is that the iPad is not a smaller laptop, as I had hoped, but a larger iPod Touch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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MacSE from Wikimedia Commons

This morning I presented the blogging workshop I wrote about in a previous post. Amazingly, not one of the folks who showed up at Cincinnati’s Return to Work Center were blogging right now, but several of them seemed eager to try (possibly today!). So I definitely hit the target audience.

I had several requests to make available the PowerPoint from the session. It’s a little more information-oriented than some presentations I’ve done, so it’s probably a good candidate. Not every presentation makes sense without commentary, but I guess this one does. There’s no audio — I guess you had to be there.

I’m also trying to post this on my LinkedIn profile via SlideShare. SlideShare tells me the presentation exists, but I’m not seeing it in my profile. Hmmm.

Like all my presentations, I created this in Keynote on a Mac. But I don’t have a fast laptop these days, and because of concerns that the room might be set up only for PCs, I made up a PowerPoint version which is pretty close. That’s what’s linked here.

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Interesting article in Mashable this week:

On the campus of Penn State University, a rivalry between a rogue campus blog and the official newspaper has become a fascinating mirror of the strife between old and new media. In only a matter of months, the unofficial campus blog Onward State, has marshaled the power of social media to compete with the award winning 112-year-old campus paper The Daily Collegian. With one-tenth of the Collegian’s staff size, Onward State has constructed a virtual newsroom that collaborates in real-time with Google Wave, outsourced its tip-line to Twitter, and is unabashed about linking to a competitor’s story…

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Twitter Search Fail?

This is odd.

I was looking to add a couple of folks to those I follow on Twitter and none of the names showed up. I finally decided that Twitter’s Search function is messed up. Here’s the evidence.

I suppose Twitter will be a success when they get a few people named Smith in their pool.

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MacSE from Wikimedia Commons

From the Associated Press:

Bill Warren founded an early online job board in the 1990s, helped kick-start an industry and was president of Monster.com, one of the leading Internet career sites. But these days he’s not very happy with the results.

So he’s taking another crack at it . . .

Here’s the link.

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How do you envision the way people use your website? According to Steve Krug, web designers think “great literature” (or at least “product brochure”), but users think “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”

The notion above comes from Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think. There’s a chapter called “How we really use the web” on his site, Advanced Common Sense. It’s sobering reading if you’re a designer, but probably a lot closer to how people do use the web. Some of his other points:

  • We don’t read web pages. We scan them.
  • We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.*
  • We don’t figure things out. We muddle through.

Problem is, designers are people who DO like to figure things out.

This chapter is well worth a look. There are powerful implications for my career field, radio, which I’ll explore in different blog post.

*Satisfice was coined by economist Herbert Simon as a cross between “satisfying” and “sufficing” in Models of Man: Social and Rational (Wiley, 1957).

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Last week I attended a demonstration of the presentation style PechaKucha (alternatively Pecha Kucha, or just PK). Named for the Japanese term for “chit-chat,” it was developed in Japan as a way of combating the familiar phenomenon of “death by PowerPoint.” Based on one exposure – eh, maybe.

In theory it couldn’t be simpler: 20 x 20, or 20 slides, 20 seconds each, 6 minutes 40 seconds precisely. That’s it. You can see the correspondence with the Japanese esthetic of haiku, to take one example: 3 lines, 17 syllables. The idea is to strip content from the tyranny of bullet points and pare it down to its essence. Not surprisingly, since it was developed by artists and architects, the focus is on images, not text.

PechaKucha is pronounced pe-chak-cha, by the way. Since its beginning in February 2003, PK has spread virally to cities around the world; here in Cincinnati there have been three instances of PechaKucha Night (r) — yes, that’s a registered trademark — in the past year. The emphasis on night is a further reflection of its social/artistic origins, and the distance between PK on the one hand and business and academic presentations on the other. Not that the latter couldn’t use a little shaking up — but I’m not sure PK is it.

To be fair, the presentations I saw did not appear for the most part to have been produced from the ground up in this style; they looked more like conventional presentations re-worked to fit PK. The biggest problem I saw is that the form in essence demands not a single presentation but a series of 20 micro-presentations. Because presenters needed to view their screens to keep the timing right, there was not much eye contact with their audiences. Quite often the comments on individual slides went long, but ones that were too short were even more problematic.

I know from my radio experience that one of its indispensable skills is the ability to match vocal content to a precise length in a hide-the-artifice way. Doing that 20 times in a row is an enormous task. Comments of 18 or 22 seconds — even comments of 19 or 21 seconds — don’t quite get it. And if it’s not done right, the technique calls attention to itself in a bad way: the audience pays less attention to the presentation because they’re wondering if the speaker will make it. Over and over again.

I hope to attend a PK night in Cincinnati and see how artists and architects do it. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I suspect that the power of this form is not going to transfer very well to more formal settings, where innovative concepts like those from TED.com may be better bets (or Garr Reynolds’ approach in Presentation Zen, also inspired by Japanese models).

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I’ve been neglecting this blog lately to work on a couple of projects. One involved a comparison of different communication methods over the years. In researching it, I learned that when the IBM PC 5150 (the first personal computer) came out, it cost $1,565 and had a whopping 40 kilobytes of RAM. That works out to $39,125 per megabyte, or $88,176 in 2007 dollars. (I used 2007 inflation figures because that was the last year used by the on-line calculator I found).

The first Macintosh, the 128K, come out in 1984. It cost more, $2,495, but the cost per megabyte was a comparative bargain — just $19,392 ($38,429 in 2007 dollars).

How about now? I assembled a hypothetical generic Dual Core Intel machine with the usual features from a 2007 price list. At $421 for the computer, including a huge hard drive and DVD burner, it included 2 gigabytes of memory. That works out to just over 42 cents per megabyte — $0.42065, to be precise.

Here’s a chart showing the trend (apologies to J-Walk):

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freecycle_logoMy friend John put me on to FreeCycle. It’s essentially an on-line “swap & shop” radio show (remember them?). If you have something you want to get rid of and don’t want the hassle of selling it, just offer it on your local FreeCycle. I joined about a month ago, specifically to see if I could locate a scanner. Last week an office about a mile from my home offered an HP scanner that works with my Mac, has OCR, and can scan slides and negatives. Perfect.

Here’s what their website says:

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,851 groups with 6,690,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free.

Here in Cincinnati there are 3 flavors, organized geographically (City, East Side, West Side), with a few thousand people in each one.

WARNING: do NOT confuse this with FreeCycle.com, which appears to be a rip-off site advertising deals which are for the most part not free.

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