IM the Walrus

Yahoo’s announcement today that it’s “jazzing up” its instant messenger amounts to adding in VOIP service to it and linking it to blogs. Yawn.

It seems to me that Yahoo, third place in the IM game (behind AIM and MSN), has missed the boat on this one. Instant Messenger can be a platform for new things (see SmarterChild) and could be expanded to add more variations and emotional richness, but what Yahoo doesn’t seem to get is that people use IM in particular ways as a form of communication, not as a replacement for another form of communication (voice calls). In much the same way I don’t blog because email is unavailable, I don’t IM because I can’t use my cell phone: I IM because it let’s me have interactions that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to (or want to) have.

IM has a lot going for it as a communication method: it’s silent, fast, indicates availability, and flexible enough for pauses that would be awkward in almost any other medium. It’s personal, yet not, allowing you to reveal as much of yourself as you want with as much control over your availability as you want. If Yahoo really wanted to move out of third place, there’s lots of other enhancements they could do to an IM client besides tethering it to other mediums of communication.

I Hope He’s Right

When I was 35,
It was a very good year.
It was a very good year
For blue-blooded girls of independent means…
We’d ride limousines.
Their chauffeurs would drive.
When I was 35.

-Lyrics of It Was a Very Good Year

Although I’m not quite sure my wife would appreciate my driving around in limousines with blue-blooded girls of independent means. I don’t know anyone who fits that description anyway, I suppose.

It’s my birthday again today and yes I am 35. I’m not as despondent as I was last year, but neither am I as upbeat as I was two years ago. But hey, at least it’s not snowing like usual (but probably will be tomorrow), and my 35th year looks like it will be an interesting one, filled with lots of changes and friends both old and new. So, happy birthday to me.

Conference Envy

These days, it seems like you could spend all your time and money attending one conference after another. Within the next couple of months, there’s like a bazillion conferences I want to attend, not to mention the ones I missed in the fall that I would have loved to have gone to, like Design Engaged. None of them is perfect, but all of them have at least a few sessions I’m very interested in. I’m just going to list them in case perhaps you will be lucky enough to attend some of them in my stead.

This is not to mention stuff like SIGGRAPH, Designing User Experience, the IxDG Summit, and probably a host of others coming down the pike in summer and fall. It’s simply impossible to attend them all unless you have unlimited free time and cash.

Follow the Money…then Destroy Them Too

Comment spam has gotten out of control here at O Danny Boy, so I’ve disabled most comments except on main pages. Please send me email if you want to comment on posts until I can figure out another solution.

But here’s another solution (in addition to this one) to the spam problem: we typically try to prosecute or disable the spammers themselves. Why not implement the Bush doctrine of destroying those that harbor and fund evildoers? Go after the online casinos, the peddlers of online drugs and pictures of Hot Asian Girls directly. Spam the hell out of them. Fine them. Hack the living shit out of them. Make them stop. They abuse the common good, which, more than servers, routers, and clients, is what the internet really runs on.

Why I Don’t “Support Our Troops”

I just got back from my sister’s wedding, which involved quite a few hours driving in a car. A sizable portion of the cars on the road here in the Eastern US are now sporting yellow and/or red, white, and blue ribbon magnets that say simply Support Our Troops. The more I saw them, the more enraged I got.

I should note that I currently have a cousin in the Marines, two uncles who have served (Army, Navy), and both my grandfathers are WWII veterans who saw some serious combat activity. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who serve in the military. No, this rant is about the magnets and the people who sport them.

“Support Our Troops” is about as meaningless a phrase as can be devised. What does that mean? Send them better equipment? Give them a better salary? (I’m all for both.) Recruit more of them? Give them better uniforms? I have no idea.

The idea behind the ribbons (the AIDS ribbon, the breast cancer ribbon, ad nauseum) was to raise awareness about a particular issue so that people would take some action. I think there’s quite a bit of awareness about the war: what we need now is some action towards a goal. Even people like myself who are against the war don’t blame the troops who are fighting it. Tying a yellow ribbon is about bringing a loved one home, and if that’s the message (is it?), I’m all for it. The best way we can support our troops now is to get them the hell out of Iraq in as short a time as possible.

But slapping a magnet on your car is about the very least you can do. If you really want to help those in the military, work towards a concrete goal. Get them better equipment and a better salary. Get them more troops. Honor their sacrifices.

Of course, the best way to support our troops is to not abuse their trust in the government to not send them into pointless wars. But that doesn’t fit on a magnet.

Blog Database Hosed

Well, through some unfortunate accident (or else someone’s malice), my blog database was deleted and is impossible to rebuild. So while I do have all my older entries, I’ve basically had to start over with my blogs. Oy. It’s an annoying and painful loss.