Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Chihoogle Home Page



Google today is introducing artists themes for your iGoogle start page. With a click of a button your personal Google home page will transform itself into your own personal gallery space. You can change out the art whenever you like from a large selection of artists, including Anne Geddess and Jackie Chan.

That is if you don't mind your art being displayed behind a text entry box in banner graphic format. If you want a larger canvas get a bigger monitor.

There is good news for those looking to keep a local tie going when they search the Internet, keep informed with world news, play games and email. They also are offering a Dale Chihuly theme among the 70 or so offerings. Graphics are available complete with floats, sea forms and many of the images we have come to recognize.

I will call it my Chihoogle search page.

I would love to see more local artists themes. Perhaps some South Sound artists will step up and create them.

Perhaps they could even start with the Chalk Challenge Collection featuring a variety pack of sorts.

From the official press release:

Where Art Thou?

Did you notice the chrome tulips on Google's homepage today? They are part of a special Google doodle done by renowned artist Jeff Koons. And that isn't the only art appearing anew on Google today. As part of our iGoogle Artists project, we have collaborated with almost 70 artists in 17 countries on 6 continents to create special iGoogle themes -- works of art that appeal to all ages and interests. Artists, designers and other notables involved include Jeff Koons, Dale Chihuly, Coldplay, Diane von Furstenberg, Dolce & Gabbana, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, Robert Mankoff, Mark Morris, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Geddes and Tory Burch. While the list of those who have contributed themes is impressive (I've only listed 1/5th(!) of the artists here), even more impressive is the art itself -- it's spectacularly beautiful!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Information Technology as Economy Builder


(Employment Bubble Diagram from Cluster Chart, Prosperity Partnership)

This week the class Entrepreneurship in Technology had a visit from guest speaker Bruce Kendall. Bruce is the President & CEO of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County (EDB), a private, non-profit corporation focused on the retention and recruitment of primary industries in Tacoma and Pierce County, Washington.

He was also, as was I, one of the many people representing business, local governments, nonprofit organizations, port districts, work force development councils and chambers of commerce to help build a Puget Sound coalition called the Prosperity Partnership. This partnership was launched by and is a project of the Puget Sound Regional Council, a four county transportation, economic and growth planning agency.

The Prosperity Partnership’s task was to build an economic strategy which focused on fostering growth among five strategic industry clusters identified in their studies as the best suited to sustain and grow high-wage jobs.

One of the rationales behind having a class like Entrepreneurship in Technology is that the opportunities that arise from technological innovation, which happens at a high speed pace, are unique in many ways and provide extremely fertile ground for new businesses and products. Students in the class, made up more of Computer Science and Engineering majors than Business Majors, have as one of their deliverables a basic business plan that utilizes innovation and rapid change as an advantage. This includes getting advice and direction from guest lecturers whose expertise runs from business planning for technology based companies to human resource strategies when encountering a high demand workforce. A hiring manager from Vulcan, Inc. helps them fill out one part of the plan while a angel investor gives them advice on another.

This week it was about understanding the effects of the Information Technology cluster, identified by the Prosperity Partnership as important to the economic future of the region.

Photo: Patrick Hagerty

Bruce’s presentation outlined the clusters and how they ranked in terms of the Puget Sounds ability to succeed in those spaces. He also expressed how important finding property that would work for your business was and how the availability of a qualified workforce was a key component to getting a company to locate in your area.

He noted that a company needed to be at a certain size to take advantage of the EDB’s services, but was able to detail the small business support organizations that help to grow companies into that size.

An interesting note on a slide he presented which represented the clusters in the South Sound via 2003. Tech companies were on the downturn at that time, an aftershock of both the Dot.com bust and the economic aftermath of 9/11 no doubt.

The next evaluation of the tech sector and other clusters is scheduled to come in 2009, and from the activity I am seeing in company growth and new company creation here in the South Sound, I expect that there will be a significant change in the charting of its trajectory.

Unfortunately, there were more questions than time to answer them, which is often a good thing because it means people are thinking and the conversation has not ended, but is just getting started.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Visual Searches for Web Pages



Last month, Searchme.com launched a private beta of their search engine which uses visual representation in order for the user to find what they are looking for.

After using it for a few weeks, I can say that I find it a valuable addition to the methods we use to locate data, people and information from the web.

It almost feels like a luxury version of search. Rather than being given a text based list of results with accompanying pictures associated with the pages, it gives you a look at the pages themselves and the web sites they are from.

Think about the cues that you draw from a web page. Your experience includes the style and layout of how the information is delivered as well as the raw information that is contained within the post. Even Google, with it's sparse home page for keyword input, changes its logo graphic to communicate visually. (Today's Earth Day Google is a good example.)

The suggested search results on Search Me are presented like the CD or album covers that you would flip through on an old jukebox. The slider allows you to move quickly along the row of selections and a right click opens them up in a new window.



Other search engines have algorithms that attempt to present the most valuable search results first. Google has won the search market through its highly protected search algorithms and Yahoo recently fought back with "Search Assist".

Because of its approach, Searchme cannot fill the initial screen with as many results as a text based results page might, but they allow for a refinement of the category of search right from the initial request. And it does so intelligently.

When I search for "Andrew Fry" alone, one of the suggested categories is "genealogy" and another is "blogs". When I add the keyword "Tacoma" following it, the first category suggested is "colleges and universities". Obviously the engine is referencing the results prior to presentation in order to suggest the most fitting subcategory for the search results.



The approach is taking advantage of the size and bandwidth of today's internet.

Searchme has been around a while. There first round of funding came three years ago in January of 2005. The have significant backing from Sequoia Capital among others with around 31 million in funding.

Though they have a long way to go, they have indexed over a billion pages, and as the site gets more use, the results will become more valuable. Because they are not built off of the Google or Yahoo! search engines, they have freedom to optimize their own categorical results, but it also means they have some catching up to do.

Overall, an excellent addition to the world of search.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Blog It" to Many Posts at Once



Six Apart, makers of Movable Type, Typepad and other services, have launched "Blog It" a new Facebook application designed to broadcast your posts to multiple locations at once. These locations might include Blogger (the engine which runs this blog) or TypePad or WordPress or even micro-blogs like Twitter.

Now I tend to run a little longer when it comes to blog entries, so I am not certain as to whether I would want to Twitter post something that is 400 words in length.

But here is where I can see this being advantageous. I also have blog authority to post at TacomaTechConnect and at uwtech.blogspot.com. There have been occasions when I have cross posted on these along with Living and Working Virtually here. When I have done so, I have created the post and when it was complete and published on my main site, I would go into edit mode and copy and paste them over where appropriate. Once or twice this has been to all three, but it is rare.

But there have been several occasions when I would actually have liked to post an entry across all three. If Institute of Technology students are engaged in an activity that I find interesting and involves the technology community of the South Sound then I see good reason to do cross posting. But even getting one post done is sometimes difficult to do, let alone the copying and pasting etc. The last post on this blog could easily been shared across all three (and may still be).

Here is where I can see some real value in the Blog It application.

But will it work? We will see, as this post is being written in Blog It to be posted on this site.

-------------

And there you have it. Tada!

However, now I am adding a graphic to the post. I may be able to do that through Blog It, but not as conveniently or in the same manner as with Blogger. They allow for HTML editing within the post, but I have gotten used to the simple interface used with this application.

There is a press release out with more information including the following:

In addition to the ability to easily post to multiple blogging services from within Facebook, Blog It offers the ability to notify friends and colleagues around the web about new posts. When writing a post, the blogger can choose to automatically share it via Twitter and Pownce in addition to the Facebook Newsfeed. While many Facebook applications rely solely on the Newsfeed to share activity, Blog It is unique in that it helps bloggers share what they're creating with people they know across the web.


Check it out here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Local and Regional Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Events



Mark your calendars for a couple of upcoming events if you have an interest in computer and information security. The first is coordinated and produced by and the second is being participated in by the Grey Hat Group, a student organization at the University of Washington, Tacoma dedicated to promoting awareness, education, and research into computer security. The event the group is presenting, now in its second year, is the Northwest Security Symposium. Knows as NWSec, the event features student, academic, and professional presentations on topics ranging from cryptography to computer forensics.

The conference is scheduled for May 7th and 8th, 2008 and will provide a broad perspective and in-depth technical sessions based on leading information assurance and cyber security topics. This event invites local businesses, military personnel, and Fortune 500 corporations to interact with each other, increase awareness of critical issues, and view important academic and industry presentations.

Presentations will be given in the Carwein Auditorium of the Keystone building on the UWT Campus and has a great array of speakers from Dickie George to Kirk Bailey. Check it out on their web site.

The Grey Hats are also competing in the upcoming 1st Pacific Rim Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition on April 26 – 27, 2008 in conjunction with the Center for Information Assurance & Cybersecurity, University of Washington. The event will happen on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond and is similar to the great event that the group held with West Point and Fort Lewis last year.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Blogger in Draft Scheduled Posting

Well, I am back from vacation and it has been a while since I’ve posted. I could have logged in from the Disneyland Resort and posted something or other, but that is just not how I like to vacate. I also don’t feel secure in telling the world that I am not at home and won’t be back for several days. I am not directing my caution at you of course. I am referring to that other guy, lurking over there.

What I had hoped for, but couldn’t manage, was the ability to create a post and publish it at some day and time in the future. That way I could have prepared for my trip and known that I could continue to steadily fuel the blog fire in an automated fashion. Sort of like leaving those dissolving food pellets for the fish to eat while you are away.

When I mentioned this to fellow blogger Erik Handberg, he steered me to Blogger in Draft. It has the very feature that I am looking for, but not yet integrated into the official Blogger site. Blogger in Draft has been around for less than a year but was launched in June of 2007.

As Blogger announced at that time:

we released something for Blogger that we've long wanted to do - an experimental version of the site where the early adopters among you can try out new features before they're ready for full release. We're calling it Blogger in draft because the features are almost ready for publishing, but not quite.


I love the way they provide their warning of what may happen if you work with a Beta.

If you’re feeling adventurous, all you need to do to try it out is log in to draft.blogger.com instead of www.blogger.com. If you see the blueprint logo then you’re in the right place.


Just last month they announced the new feature of scheduled post publishing. In the Blogger in Draft mode, if you write a post and set the post’s date and time to some time in the future, they schedule that post to appear on that date and time.

This is exactly what I attempted to do on the official site, with unsuccessful results.

So I am going to try again. If you have read this blog post, then it has been a successful trial, and I will have no trouble in keeping the posts coming even when traveling about or taking some time off. Very cool.