Evolving to Dvorak

peekI have never learned to touch type. As much as Ma Henry tried, she just couldn’t get me to spend enough time with Mavis Beacon. Over the years, as my hunt-and-peck style morphed into a jumble of half-memorized keystroke combinations, I began to regret this. Several weeks ago I began to mull over the idea of learning the Dvorak keyboard layout. If I was going to spend the time learning to type, why not do it right?

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Disability Etiquette

The United Spinal Association has a great pamphlet on Disability Etiquette. It’s light, conversational (plenty of comics with situational examples), and friendly in tone.

This goes a long way in increasing awareness about a host of disabilities. It also is a very useful tool in combating the fear that stems from not knowing how to communicate with someone. How many times have you seen a person completely ignore someone else, for no other than they didn’t know how to communicate with them?

I found out about it because today is veterans day. The version I saw, in paper form, was branded with a VA logo instead of the United Spinal brand on the cover. Whatever form you find it in, grab (or order) a few extra copies to send along to friends and colleagues.

WordPress Greatest Hits widget

One of my favorite best practices in blogging is the use of a greatest hits list on the home page. I find myself looking for this list every time I come across a new blog. With that in mind, I’ve been wanting to display a list of my favorite entries from this space for quite a while. The end result of this is a modified WordPress widget tool that you can use too.

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Nate Koechley on the YUI Library CSS components

If you ever find yourself doing layouts on the web, you owe it to yourself (and your clients) to take the YAHOO! CSS Foundation for a spin. There are other CSS frameworks out there (I really prefer blueprint‘s naming conventions for example, and am looking forward to seeing future updates), but not all are as robust and extensively tested as the YUI CSS components.

This video presentation by Nate Koechley, the author of the library, is a great way to start. Not only does he provide an overview of the tools, but he does a great job of describing some core CSS concepts. I especially enjoyed the color coded illustrations of inheritance and selectivity (about four minutes in).

Standing meetings

Think about your last staff or team meeting. How long was it? Was everything captured that needed to be? Did it stay on task?

Chances are it could have gone smoother, faster, and been more productive. One way to make recurring meetings more efficient and productive is by reviewing the structure which guides the meeting.

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Dummy text at your fingertips

Sometimes I find myself in need of more than just the block of Lorem Ipsum text that magically appears from typing “lorem” and hitting tab in Textmate. Sure, I could use a handy widget, but flipping back and forth from the dashboard gets tiresome after a few iterations.

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The power of aggregated attention data

Feed readership represents a significant disconnect between traffic data and actual content consumption. Aggregated attention data is going to play a big role in bridging that gap.

Brent Simmons recently noted this gem from Nick Bradbury:

“…future releases of FeedDemon, NetNewsWire and NewsGator Inbox are all planning to support APML.”

This is a logical next step for these products, and they’re not alone – Bloglines is also planning APML support. From a users’ perspective, it will address one of the features I’ve been sorely missing from NetNewsWire – that my feeds will be sorted by most read/bookmarked/etc across all my synched locations. But there are larger implications here.

What shared attention data represents is a powerful shift in how we collect information and what we do with the content we consume. It goes beyond publishing reading lists, bookmarks and favorites. It is a much more passive way of applying importance to the information that we encounter. By the simple act of consuming information sources (i.e. reading, clicking, etc.), we are ranking those sources, without having to do anything outside our normal workflow.

Publishing those rankings in a standard attention data format means that you can easily share with your friends and readers the sites that you read most often, not just a list of all your feeds in alphabetical order.

But the real power of standardized, published attention data lies in it’s aggregation. That attention data can provide much richer traffic and consumption statistics than simple feed counts alone. It provides a mechanism for content providers to better see who is actually reading their content, as opposed to just subscription numbers.

Aggregated attention data is going to significantly affect how we assess traffic, flow, and popularity. In other words, publishers will have a better picture of their audience. And that will affect advertising, income, and the shape of the web.

missing links

My friend David has a new blog. He kicks it off with a tasty philosophical morsel.

Traffic flow and community development

Most of the major streets leading into and out of in my neighborhood are one-way – a fact that appears to run counter to the city’s revitalization efforts in the area.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of businesses come and go, just within a block or so of us. There have certainly been some success stories, but the come and go of these small retail shops and eateries seem to outnumber the ones that are sticking around. The other day, I was lamenting this situation to a friend who lives a few blocks away. He mentioned the lack of two-way streets going to and from downtown Burlington, and the effect that has on the area.

I’m not a city planner, or a community development expert, but this idea got me thinking. Here are some of those thoughts.

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The first Blog Action Day, and the Superfund365 project

Blog Action Day 2007I’m almost too late, but I just discovered that today was the first ever Blog Action Day. This year’s subject is the environment:

“On October 15th – Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind … In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment.”

So in the spirit of this event, here is something from my reading list that has been burning a hole in my drafts pile. It’s the Superfund365 project:

Superfund365, A Site-A-Day, is an online data visualization application with an accompanying RSS-feed and email alert system. Each day for a year, starting on September 1, 2007, Superfund365 will visit one toxic site currently active in the Superfund program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We begin the journey in the New York City area and work our way across the country, ending the year in Hawaii. (We will need a beach vacation by then!) In the end, the archive will consist of 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the total number on the Superfund’s National Priorities List (NPL).

What a great way to raise awareness about places that seem to be in nobody’s back yard.