Archive by Author - Sky (Jim Schuyler)

Backstage Pass- Tom Foremski

by on January 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

This is a Backstage Pass interview of Tom Foremski, from Traveling Geeks at LeWeb in Paris, December, 2009.

Tom writes at Silicon Valley Watcher. Tom is a veteran Traveling Geek and can reflect on past experiences as well as the Paris trip. He’s also an experienced and professional journalist.

[Photo at left is by JD Lasica, from the London 2009 trip.]

(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

Backstage Pass- Amanda Coolong

by on January 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm

This is the first of my Backstage Pass interviews from Traveling Geeks at LeWeb in Paris, December, 2009.

Amanda writes at TechZulu and is happy to strike up a yoga pose almost anywhere (not in this video, but in the Traveling Geeks Flickr photos).

[Photo at left is by Rodrigo Sepulveda-Schulz (CC)by-nc-sa.]

(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

Backstage Pass- Sky interviews the geeks

by on January 4, 2010 at 12:00 pm

It’s time to pick up your backstage pass for the Traveling Geeks tour. As the “geeks’ geek” I have the enjoyable task of herding the last few animals into the barn before the tour actually takes place. This means (primarily) that I’m handed the web site a couple of weeks before we take off and I make a ton of last-minute additions and adjustments—and have to debug various processes, sometimes over and over. For the Paris trip there were some new and interesting twists because of changes taking place in the social media scene. So let’s go behind the scenes with my recollections and introduction:

(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

Culture, Language and the Online World

by on December 30, 2009 at 2:02 am

tg-icon-74x74In my teens, on two different occasions, I spent a few months living in each of two countries (outside my native US), learning the predominant language and picking up the culture. Every once in a while it smacks me in the face that this makes me significantly different from many people in the US.[1] And it often affects how I react in both business and personal situations.

In northern Mexico, as a teen, I learned first hand how teenage boys functioned in a society that was moving from poverty and religious conservatism to modern urban life. In Québec City (Canada) I studied at the largest French-speaking university outside of France, and learned the pride a community takes in its native language and culture.[2] And I became aware of some of the movements working to preserve the language.[3]

franceSo when one of the Traveling Geeks became somewhat stuck to the tar baby of how the French are going about world brand-building all wrong[4], I um kinda felt it in my gut more from the point of view of the French than the American. Robert might be right about what has to be done to build a world-wide brand, but maybe these companies weren’t about building world-brands, at least at this moment. (more…)

(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

Electronic Picture Frames are getting lots better

by on December 29, 2009 at 9:18 pm

I’ve been playing with electronic picture frames for almost two years. I started with a Ceiva frame two years ago, because it was capable of placing a phone call (modem) to pick up photos, and this frame was for a relative who doesn’t have access to any Internet services at all. It seemed like it would be perfect. It functioned well, held about a hundred photos (I bounced against its capacity, but it wasn’t annoying at all), and the only problem for me was the yearly fee for the dial-up service. But it meant that I could upload photos and within 24 hours they’d appear in the frame on the other side of the US. (If you’re like me, you write a paper letter once a year, to that rare relative who hasn’t yet gotten an email address—so sending photos electronically is a breeze compared to printing out those photos and writing a letter.)

But the Parrot Grande Specchio (pictured at left) has advanced considerably, and I like that. Continue reading to see what has happened in the last two years… (more…)

(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

The Real-Time Web – Indeed!

by on December 7, 2009 at 4:24 pm

pipesUnbelievable how much time it takes to keep a “live” blog functioning properly when you’re working with new software.

It’s after 1:00am and I’ve just finished wrestling with the day’s blog entries. Reformatting them to make them look better, and making sure that the feeds of more than a dozen geeks are coming in and being handled properly. (And here and there a little bit of editorial work.)

I’m afraid this is what is known as the Real-time web. [See LeWeb]Yahoo Pipes still saves me a zillion hours almost every day. I’m still monitoring 18 geek blogs in close-to-real-time and when a post is written that falls within certain limits, it has to be published. And it has to be published as close to real-time as possible. I have to review about half of these feeds and then approve the posts, but most are on “automatic” and the post is published on Traveling Geeks right away.

Yahoo Pipes is used in two ways in this environment:

First, for some of the geeks it monitors two or three blogs and mashes them together into a single feed, which is then examined, filtered, and goes to Traveling Geeks for possible publication.

Second, in some cases it takes the output of a Typepad blog (which produces a different type of feed/output) and massages it so it can be properly evaluated and processed by the WordPress software which lies under Traveling Geeks.

Without it, I would have been up until after 1:00am tonight.

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(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

Building out infrastructure for a Traveling Geeks tour

by on December 3, 2009 at 10:12 am

Traveling Geeks 2009 FranceThe Traveling Geeks are at it again. This time the destination is Paris for LeWeb and some other tech meetings.

Organizing a tour for 15 geeks was a nightmarish task for TG Co-Founder Renee Blodgett, who worked for weeks to put this one together – much shorter lead time than for previous tours. And her co-organizers Eliane Fiolet and Phil Jeudy, plus two web developers, did a heroic job.

The online developers were tasked with creating the new web site, but I came in for the last few weeks to preside over one of my (current) specialties –  ensuring that we can mash information together in real time. Here’s what it required and what I learned:

{Eliane’s photo-mosaic of the geeks – at left.Traveling Geeks 2009 France}

This trip is largely a different set of geeks than for the UK, with only Renee Blodgett, Tom Foremski, Robert Scoble and myself overlapping from the summer UK visit.

The issues: 1) mashup of geek blog posts; 2) Flickr photos; 3) conferencing.

Pickup geek’s writing from their own blogs: The biggest issue is to create a central web site that incorporates information from all of the geeks while they’re on the road. You can’t ask busy people to write up duplicate posts for a central blog — they’re busy writing for their own blogs. So the answer is to syndicate their blog posts — pick up posts from their blogs, copy them to travelinggeeks.com and insert them there, with a minimum of fuss. Ideally this is a 100% automated process. Well, surprisingly, this still is a very hand-built kind of process, although once you’re done, it can run 100% automatically. Underneath everything the site is built on WordPress, which supports blogging as well as more “static” pages. feedwordpressThere’s a neat WordPress plug-in called FeedWordPress[1] that lets the blog read RSS feeds from each geek blog and copy the relevant posts over to the TG blog for republication. But things have gotten more complex since the geeks visited London… now we need to not only bring in blog posts, but we need to deal with Twitter streams, Twitter hashtags, Flickr photos and YouTube channels. Our “bloggers” are no longer simply bloggers.

pipesMash multiple feeds together: OK, so some of our bloggers have several places where they interact online. The trick is that most of these now present/expose RSS feeds, and you can read and manipulate data from those feeds to create a single mashed feed that contains only the information that you want to use. Yeah, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, all present RSS feeds that let you get at your photo-stream, your video-stream, and your tweet-stream. The trick here is to use Yahoo Pipes[2] to mash them together. Pipes will read multiple blogs’ RSS feeds, check to see if there are blog entries in a particular category, and then mash only those articles into a new RSS feed that Yahoo Pipes creates. The system is so flexible that not only can it recognize categories, but it can search through the text of a blog entry or any of the other characteristics that typically appear in an RSS feed. If one of our geeks has, for instance, three feeds, Pipes can filter each feed according to different criteria, and then can merge them together into a single feed, with things interleaved chronologically, that I can have FeedWordPress read and digest. (FeedWordPress can’t do this mashing of multiple feeds…)

Mashing the geeks’ photos: On the UK trip we used a couple of tools to help manage photos. One of those was MobyPicture, which lets you upload a photo once and have it copied to your accounts on multiple online photo sites. It’s particularly useful for mobile phone users, and there’s also an iPhone app, which I find very handy. Though I do love Moby, on this trip we didn’t need this kind of multiple uploading, so we gave all of the geeks access to a Flickr group Traveling Geeks, making the membership “Invitation only” but the viewing “Public.” They’ll upload to their personal accounts, mark the photos for the group, and we use the flickrSliDR slideshow maker to then include all photos, even the most recent, in a slideshow.

Zorap: This hot media-sharing space provides video, audio (mp3), photo and other media sharing within a common space (a room). The tech is rather demanding, so it’s not for the faint-of-heart and you’d better have a fast computer, but when it works it is marvelous. Multi-way (not just two-way like Skype) video conferencing is coming of age.

We are counting on broadly-available wi-fi support at most of the venues in Paris. Orange is supplying us with 3G connectivity to fill in when we can’t find wi-fi. Over the last two days (on my way to Europe) I have used a 3G iPhone tethered to my MacBook while on the California Zephyr (rail in the US) for 5 hours, and wi-fi on American Airlines (excellent bandwidth) within the US. So more and more I’m becoming accustomed to haveing a connection wherever I go.


[1] FeedWordPress main site (with info and download). The developer could use some donations – I donated – so if you like and use this plug-in, please donate.

[2] Yeah, I’ve used Yahoo Pipes for some time now.

[3] Yahoo Pipes has a problem with Typepad-generated “categories” that took me some hours to puzzle out. Typepad “categories” have an extra layer that appears with the XML of an RSS feed that makes filtering impossible if a post has more than one category. Rather than create a whole inscrutable article about it, let me point out that a solution has been developed, which consists of breaking the categories out into a list and then processing the elements of that list rather than trying (unsuccessfully) to parse the malformed feed. I’ll have to write an article on this later.

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(From an original article by Sky (Jim Schuyler))
 

All those watches! All that bandwidth?

by on September 6, 2009 at 1:55 am

Traveling Geeks 2009 UKBeing on the road mid-summer, and having to watch my use of bandwidth, I noticed an uptick in the number of spam messages encouraging me to buy cheap watches; or more watches; or fabulous watches; well, you get the drift. Since I already have enough watches, I would like to ignore these messages, but rather than cause me to look at other folks’ wrists, they have caused me to look at the ticking clock of my broadband network usage. (more…)

Howard Rheingold- 21st Century Literacies

by on August 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

howard-rheingold-by-JDHoward Rheingold’s message is that we need to attend to 21st-Century literacies. meaning that we need to know (or learn) how to sort out the good from the bad.

Howard suggests the critical skills are: attention; participation; collaboration; network-savvy and critical consumption (what Howard often calls crap detection). (more…)

Tech Recap from Traveling Geeks

by on August 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

sky-studio-2009JD Lasica interviewed me (for socialmedia.biz) about some of the tech we used on the Traveling Geeks trip to London. Topics covered are connectivity using cellular modems (provided by BT), the FeedWordPress plug-in, Flip (Mino and Ultra) video cameras, video streaming (on Nokia n79 using kyte.com), Google Latitude…

You can download and use Google Latitude in the US, but you can’t download Google Latitude in the UK because it is “voluntarily” blocked by BT for privacy reasons (it discloses your location to others).

I just can’t say enough about how much use I get out of the little Flip MinoHD and UltraHD video cameras. I use them for all of my interviews now, and for shooting “trailers” to serve as proposals for projects. (more…)

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