Monday, March 30, 2009

What Facebook Needs to do before it Obsoletes Twitter

Have a "status friend" list which is specially tailored to provide the loose-friendship status that Twitter offers (200,000 people follow Shaq, but I don't think he wants that many Facebook friends!)

have a desktop-level app or a easy to access way to update status (like Twitter's supposedly awesome API)

Also, it should take a tip from replies on Twitter and make it a single click to reply to wall posts. Currently, i have to click on wall-to wall and another click to post. Why isn't it easier?

The integration of Twitter status into Facebook would be hard to get right, but user-wise it could have much more impact. Also, my friendship base on Facebook is much more developed and applicable to my daily life than Twitter. If one of my friends "tweets" (facebook tweets) that there's something going on in the quad, it is more applicable to me than someone I follow responding to something that I know nothing about.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Viewing Tabs

Just an idea: what if there were a cool, quick way to look at all the tabs open in a browser session (for any browser, but personally I'm interested in Chrome or IE8). It could be Expose-style where a quick shortcut key shows you thumbnails of all the current tabs, or perhaps Aero-peek style where you can a thumbnail of them as you go over the tab. This would be extremely helpful for long sessions where you have many things that you're going back and forth between. Personally I would find it exceptionally useful when I'm doing research on scientific journal articles and I find myself looking back at certain pages often while reading others.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

ShareThis - Bringing the Social Web Together

I just saw this when trying to share a post on (the post was hilarious, and I'd quote it here, but they removed it) when I saw the "share this" button in the corner. I've seen it on other sites but not used it. Upon going back to those sites, they seem nice but the multiple buttons kind of puts me off and reminds me how much consolidation is needed in the social web space. Honestly, somebody needs to pony up some cash and buy out their competitors, integrate their strengths, and becoming powerful. Anyway, so this button is clear, has all the sites, and works quite well! It seems there's one called "AddThis", which is similar but seems less powerful. I'm guessing these have been around for a while, but not so much on the sites I frequent - Ars Technica, the NYT, the WSJ (which has a weirdly limited set), even Lifehacker! I highly suggest any bloggers out there to include this in their site, and for the time being allow easy expression through any medium, until some consolidation occurs. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mac-Like Apps on PC

So lately I've been trying out some apps that simulate Mac-style functionality/prettiness on a PC. Needless to say, they suck in comparison. But they get close. Here's some issues:

Yahoo! Widgets: Same thing as below on Switcher - I want to be able to hit the same button to get out of it, rather than having to click. And it needs to work better to not get "stuck" after the Heads-Up display. Some way to be able to use other widgets would be nice too. But overall it does an alright job. It's just not as smooth as it could be!

Update: I take it back. For some reason I decided to give Y! Widgets another shot (perhaps because negative feedback loops are really boring), and it randomly works. My current setup includes a 24-style clock (with sound at the end of the hour), an egg-shaped iTunes controller, stock ticker, a text-file read/write compatible post it note widget (exactly what I wanted), and weather. I set it up only to show on "Heads up", without any annoying dock. 

Rocketdock: haha. This one is even better than OSX's dock. Wayyyyy better.

Switcher: a "peek" style switch, where I can hit the shortcut to see all windows laid out, and then hit it again once I've check on the window I want. This integrates the Aero-peek style functionality seen in Vista and more in Windows 7, and works like Mac's Switcher as well. I wish I could close windows when I see all the thumbnails. That would be really cool.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why Can't Google Break Out Its Apps?

All the important Google apps that I use every day are all offered on my iPhone - Calendar, Docs, Gmail, [Reader]). But they're all stuck in that stupid Google Mobile app. Why? It's sure nice to have them all in the same app, nicely locked away, but by iPhone 3.0 (which should allow app grouping/folders), I'm pretty adamant that Google gets its act together and makes it a one-touch click to any one of their apps. I don't care about a two touch to all apps as much as one-touch to a select few. What's the point of having GReader on my iPhone if it takes approximately 5 seconds to open up Google Mobile and then another three to load the non-offline supported GReader for iPhone? They should be separate apps (or offered as both) and Reader should be more like the third party apps that offer sync through it (Byline, Feeds, Gazette, Doppler). Or just dead-simple and sleek like NetNewsWire. Don't even get me started on how ugly GReader web looks compared to NewsGator online. Functionality is better in Google's, sure (with sharing and tagging, etc.), but I love to read the news when it looks nice. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Programmed Cell Death

Almost every biology book and PowerPoint in lectures refers to apoptosis as "programmed cell death". But really, apoptosis need not be "programmed" - it's a result of intracellular pathways sure, but usually it's caused by some extracellular signal - death ligands, physiological signals, etc. "Programmed" gives the connotation of something innate, which refers more to the Hayflick limit or something than apoptosis which is less predictable. Anyway, rant.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thoughts on Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good

While reading Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good by Sarah Lacy, I've been wondering about the Silicon Valley built by insiders and what was built by outsiders. Several "old tech" bastions like HP (both founders grew up in Palo Alto and the area), Intel (Moore, born in SF), and Apple (Jobs and Woz, from Homestead High School ) all have strong links between their founders and growing up in the Valley. On the flip side, many of the companies started during the opportunistic dot com boom were started by outsiders who flocked from MIT, Urbana-Champaign, and other such places (PayPal and others started this way). However, there's no super-strong trend that I can state. However, what I want to explore is if there is an effect here... what does a company started by someone who grew up in the Valley look like?

I've found in my work at Homestead FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) that many kids whose parents work at tech companies and who see VC's Ferraris driving around Sand Hill and Foothill have a different view of the world than those who come here with a EE/CS degree in hand. Realizing the potential and culture of the Valley early on in one's life has to have some sort of effect - does it make us more wary or get us started earlier? Definitely, we tend to consider venture as a much more likely source of funding of startups than do people who see business start on the East Coast, where loans are more the norm. Entrepreneurship seems to be baked right into us, whereas coming out of East Coast schools, investment banking is more the norm and entrepreneurs are more like the golden nuggets stashed away, waiting to pop out. I'm going to have to keep reading this book, but there's something here.