Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Vonage vs. Skype call quality

Awhile ago I tried Vonage for two weeks, and wound up returning it. Although its feature set is rich, call quality was rather poor. Very high latency made the call as bad as a cell phone call, with participants talking on top of eachother.

I recently tried Skype again (it had been years), and was blown away at the call quality; by far the closest thing to hard-line quality on the market; anyone suggesting otherwise thinks mobile phone quality (on even the best of carriers) is good. There was almost zero latency, which amazes me from a technology standpoint. I'm curious to know whether Skype is using TCP, or UDP.

Obviously Skype and Vonage are wildly different products, with wildly different feature sets, but, I passed my judgement based on the primary function they both purport to delivery, phone calls.

Vonage vs. Skype call quality

Awhile ago I tried Vonage for two weeks, and wound up returning it. Although its feature set is rich, call quality was rather poor. Very high latency made the call as bad as a cell phone call, with participants talking on top of eachother.

I recently tried Skype again (it had been years), and was blown away at the call quality; by far the closest thing to hard-line quality on the market; anyone suggesting otherwise thinks mobile phone quality (on even the best of carriers) is good. There was almost zero latency, which amazes me from a technology standpoint. I'm curious to know whether Skype is using TCP, or UDP.

Obviously Skype and Vonage are wildly different products, with wildly different feature sets, but, I passed my judgement based on the primary function they both purport to delivery, phone calls.

Vonage vs. Skype call quality

Awhile ago I tried Vonage for two weeks, and wound up returning it. Although its feature set is rich, call quality was rather poor. Very high latency made the call as bad as a cell phone call, with participants talking on top of eachother.

I recently tried Skype again (it had been years), and was blown away at the call quality; by far the closest thing to hard-line quality on the market; anyone suggesting otherwise thinks mobile phone quality (on even the best of carriers) is good. There was almost zero latency, which amazes me from a technology standpoint. I'm curious to know whether Skype is using TCP, or UDP.

Obviously Skype and Vonage are wildly different products, with wildly different feature sets, but, I passed my judgement based on the primary function they both purport to delivery, phone calls.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

To acronym or not to acronym?

It's been fun watching all the hype fly around AJAX application programming over the past year or so. Especially fun considering that XMLHttpRequest has been in existence since June 2000.Even prior to that, while working at Netscape/Mozilla, I recall considering transferring application state via cookies, over non-page-transitioning HTTP 200 responses. The demands of other Gecko networking layer optimizations derailed any prototyping on that front. That was probably a good thing considering using cookies as a transport mechanism would have been woefully underpowered; hurray for XML over HTTP!

It does make me wonder what really kicked off the AJAX rage (including the acronym). I heard something about someone using the acronym in a blog posting somewhere, and that gave everyone a hook to hang their hat.

To acronym or not to acronym?

It's been fun watching all the hype fly around AJAXapplication programming over the past year or so. Especially funconsidering that XMLHttpRequest has been in existence since June 2000.Even prior to that, while working at Netscape/Mozilla, I recallconsidering transferring application state via cookies, overnon-page-transitioning HTTP 200 responses. The demands of other Geckonetworking layer optimizations derailed any prototyping on that front.That was probably a good thing considering using cookies as a transportmechanism would have been woefully underpowered; hurray for XML overHTTP!

It does make me wonder what really kicked off the AJAX rage(including the acronym). I heard something about someone using theacronym in a blog posting somewhere, and that gave everyone a hook tohang their hat.

To acronym or not to acronym?

It's been fun watching all the hype fly around AJAXapplication programming over the past year or so. Especially funconsidering that XMLHttpRequest has been in existence since June 2000.Even prior to that, while working at Netscape/Mozilla, I recallconsidering transferring application state via cookies, overnon-page-transitioning HTTP 200 responses. The demands of other Geckonetworking layer optimizations derailed any prototyping on that front.That was probably a good thing considering using cookies as a transportmechanism would have been woefully underpowered; hurray for XML overHTTP!

It does make me wonder what really kicked off the AJAX rage(including the acronym). I heard something about someone using theacronym in a blog posting somewhere, and that gave everyone a hook tohang their hat.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Slow startup times are ok.

Does an application's launch time matter so much anymore? Being in the desktop software business for ten years now, I've spent in-ordinate amounts of time and energy focusing, and optimizing application launch times. With machines as fast as they are these days, I'm not sure this is such an interesting metric anymore; particularly given that the applications I spend the vast majority of my time in can run for weeks at a time. Utility applications that I use sparingly, raw text editors, Preview.app, and the like, should indeed launch very quickly, however, I'm not sure it matters much anymore if your email client, your IM client, and your browser take a relatively long time to fire up. Consider how long your operating system takes to boot-up; relatively very long.

Back in my Netscape/Mozilla client days, I recall working on projects to reduce the amount of time it would take to load the browser. When that wasn't enough, we introduced "pre-loading" which would load all the code into memory at system login time, but not display actual UI until the user invoked the application. Pre-loading works really well, but, again, I'm not sure it's worth the effort to get your application to do it anymore. We also spent a lot of time carving up the libraries so only what was actually needed would load into memory.

If you're the kind of user that is bringing up your primary applications, and tearing them down, many times throughout the day, then startup times are going to matter to you. But, I think this kind of use is deteriorating. Application stability, at least among the applications I use (OS X for operating system, Firefox for browser, Thunderbird for mail, and Adium for my IM client) is so good now, that those applications can run for weeks on end without crashing or requiring shutdown.

I've also created a script that loads my primary applications upon system login. In effect, I'm pre-loading all of my applications these days anyway.

To summarize, I see the trend in desktop applications to be greater stability, yielding much longer up-times for applications, and subsequently, the need for quick-launching software is deteriorating; with the exception of "utility" applications.

Slow startup times are ok.

Does an application's launch time matter so much anymore? Being in the desktop software business for ten years now, I've spent in-ordinate amounts of time and energy focusing, and optimizing application launch times. With machines as fast as they are these days, I'm not sure this is such an interesting metric anymore; particularly given that the applications I spend the vast majority of my time in can run for weeks at a time. Utility applications that I use sparingly, raw text editors, Preview.app, and the like, should indeed launch very quickly, however, I'm not sure it matters much anymore if your email client, your IM client, and your browser take a relatively long time to fire up. Consider how long your operating system takes to boot-up; relatively very long.

Back in my Netscape/Mozilla client days, I recall working on projects to reduce the amount of time it would take to load the browser. When that wasn't enough, we introduced "pre-loading" which would load all the code into memory at system login time, but not display actual UI until the user invoked the application. Pre-loading works really well, but, again, I'm not sure it's worth the effort to get your application to do it anymore. We also spent a lot of time carving up the libraries so only what was actually needed would load into memory.

If you're the kind of user that is bringing up your primary applications, and tearing them down, many times throughout the day, then startup times are going to matter to you. But, I think this kind of use is deteriorating. Application stability, at least among the applications I use (OS X for operating system, Firefox for browser, Thunderbird for mail, and Adium for my IM client) is so good now, that those applications can run for weeks on end without crashing or requiring shutdown.

I've also created a script that loads my primary applications upon system login. In effect, I'm pre-loading all of my applications these days anyway.

To summarize, I see the trend in desktop applications to be greater stability, yielding much longer up-times for applications, and subsequently, the need for quick-launching software is deteriorating; with the exception of "utility" applications.

Slow startup times are ok.

Does an application's launch time matter so much anymore? Being in the desktop software business for ten years now, I've spent in-ordinate amounts of time and energy focusing, and optimizing application launch times. With machines as fast as they are these days, I'm not sure this is such an interesting metric anymore; particularly given that the applications I spend the vast majority of my time in can run for weeks at a time. Utility applications that I use sparingly, raw text editors, Preview.app, and the like, should indeed launch very quickly, however, I'm not sure it matters much anymore if your email client, your IM client, and your browser take a relatively long time to fire up. Consider how long your operating system takes to boot-up; relatively very long.

Back in my Netscape/Mozilla client days, I recall working on projects to reduce the amount of time it would take to load the browser. When that wasn't enough, we introduced "pre-loading" which would load all the code into memory at system login time, but not display actual UI until the user invoked the application. Pre-loading works really well, but, again, I'm not sure it's worth the effort to get your application to do it anymore. We also spent a lot of time carving up the libraries so only what was actually needed would load into memory.

If you're the kind of user that is bringing up your primary applications, and tearing them down, many times throughout the day, then startup times are going to matter to you. But, I think this kind of use is deteriorating. Application stability, at least among the applications I use (OS X for operating system, Firefox for browser, Thunderbird for mail, and Adium for my IM client) is so good now, that those applications can run for weeks on end without crashing or requiring shutdown.

I've also created a script that loads my primary applications upon system login. In effect, I'm pre-loading all of my applications these days anyway.

To summarize, I see the trend in desktop applications to be greater stability, yielding much longer up-times for applications, and subsequently, the need for quick-launching software is deteriorating; with the exception of "utility" applications.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Vertical Search: Down with shotgun searching!

I don't mean to pick exclusively on Google here, but they're synonymous with the kind of shotgun approach to searching that we poor consumers have come to know and love (or hate as my case may be).

The usefulness of top-level search engines has been rapidly deteriorating for me over the past 6-12 months or so, not because they're getting worse, but because the shine is rubbing off. I find search results are usually non-authoratative, which is generally the kind of info I'm after (I can only tolerate random musings from random people for so long). I like to have some context for content I consume. If I search for "nice Paris hotels" in Google, I get a blast of random results; some of them useful, most of them not. If, however, I go to an authoritative (by my definition) travel site, and do the same search, I get meaningful results that allow me to form a more useful opinion (perhaps the results are standardized/familiar, or I understand and have come to rely on a known rating system, etc.).

Indexing the entire web is actually not very useful unless you channel the top-level query somehow. One way to accomplish this is to constrain the context of all searches coming into the search field of some site. For example, MapQuest searches are constrained to location specific outcome. Searching consumerreports.org yields product specific results. I'm finding the data I share with others, and consider of personal high value and relevancy, is coming much less frequently from Google, and rather through vertical searches I do at tailored, context specific sites.

If I want to get reputable news, I go to reputable sites (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc), and happily pay subscription fees for said content. If I want medical research, I go to discipline specific sites and ante up the money they ask for in return for a report/document. The adage "you get what you pay for" comes to mind.

A major problem with Google-type crawling and indexing is that it will never reach the dark web (the content out there that is only accessible via usernames and logins). I suspect that this content dwarfs the amount of content openly available on the web. Some search products are on board with the value of vertical search. a9.com has hundreds of vertical search plugins that you can checkbox on/off to constrain your searches (and yes, you can search through the list of vertical search plugins :-) ). I recently found an obscure medical study that provided evidence of a hunch I've had all my life for a specific medical condition surrounding headaches; I wouldn't have found that report in a million years using Google.

Consumer oriented products are too general to be very useful. If these products added just one level of indirection, our experiences would be significantly enhanced. Disambiguation at search.aol.com (left hand column) is a great way to start to narrow things. As is, vertical search plugin selection at a9.com.

Imagine how much more useful Tivo recommendations would be if, after you thumbs up'ed something, you were asked to answer a multiple choice question: "why did you thumbs up this program: you liked the actors, you liked the subject matter, you liked the length, etc?"

Imagine how much more useful the web would be if you could further constrain your thinking when you set off on your quest for information.

Business Week gets it: "A Search Engine for Every Subject"

Wall Street Journal gets it: "Beyond Google"

Vertical Search: Down with shotgun searching!

I don't mean to pick exclusively on Google here, but they'resynonymous with the kind of shotgun approach to searching that we poorconsumers have come to know and love (or hate as my case may be).

The usefulness of top-level search engines has been rapidly deteriorating forme over the past 6-12 months or so, not because they're gettingworse, but because the shine is rubbing off. I find search results are usually non-authoratative, which is generally the kind of info I'mafter (I can only tolerate random musings from random people for solong). I like to have some context for content I consume. If I searchfor "nice Paris hotels" in Google, I get a blast of random results;some of them useful, most of them not. If, however, I go to anauthoritative (by my definition) travel site, and do the same search, Iget meaningful results that allow me to form a more useful opinion(perhaps the results are standardized/familiar, or I understand andhave come to rely on a known rating system, etc.).

Indexing the entire web is actually not very useful unless you channel thetop-level query somehow. One way to accomplish this is to constrain thecontext of all searches coming into the search field of some site. Forexample, MapQuest searches are constrained to location specificoutcome. Searching consumerreports.org yields product specific results.I'm finding the data I share with others, and consider of personal highvalue and relevancy, is coming much less frequently from Google, andrather through vertical searches I do at tailored, context specificsites.

If I want to get reputable news, I go to reputablesites (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc), and happily paysubscription fees for said content. If I want medical research, I go todiscipline specific sites and ante up the money they ask for in returnfor a report/document. The adage "you get what you pay for" comes tomind.

A major problem with Google-type crawling andindexing is that it will never reach the dark web (the content outthere that is only accessible via usernames and logins). I suspect thatthis content dwarfs the amount of content openly available on the web.Some search products are on board with the value of vertical search.a9.com has hundreds of vertical search plugins that you can checkboxon/off to constrain your searches (and yes, you can search through thelist of vertical search plugins :-) ). I recently found an obscuremedical study that provided evidence of a hunch I've had all my lifefor a specific medical condition surrounding headaches; I wouldn't havefound that report in a million years using Google.

Consumer oriented products are too general to be very useful. Ifthese products added just one level of indirection, our experienceswould be significantly enhanced. Disambiguation at search.aol.com (lefthand column) is a great way to start to narrow things. As is, verticalsearch plugin selection at a9.com.

Imagine how much more useful Tivo recommendations would be if, afteryou thumbs up'ed something, you were asked to answer a multiple choicequestion: "why did you thumbs up this program: you liked the actors,you liked the subject matter, you liked the length, etc?"

Imagine howmuch more useful the web would be if you could further constrain yourthinking when you set off on your quest for information.

BusinessWeek gets it: "ASearch Engine for Every Subject"

WallStreet Journal gets it: "BeyondGoogle"

Vertical Search: Down with shotgun searching!

I don't mean to pick exclusively on Google here, but they'resynonymous with the kind of shotgun approach to searching that we poorconsumers have come to know and love (or hate as my case may be).

The usefulness of top-level search engines has been rapidly deteriorating forme over the past 6-12 months or so, not because they're gettingworse, but because the shine is rubbing off. I find search results are usually non-authoratative, which is generally the kind of info I'mafter (I can only tolerate random musings from random people for solong). I like to have some context for content I consume. If I searchfor "nice Paris hotels" in Google, I get a blast of random results;some of them useful, most of them not. If, however, I go to anauthoritative (by my definition) travel site, and do the same search, Iget meaningful results that allow me to form a more useful opinion(perhaps the results are standardized/familiar, or I understand andhave come to rely on a known rating system, etc.).

Indexing the entire web is actually not very useful unless you channel thetop-level query somehow. One way to accomplish this is to constrain thecontext of all searches coming into the search field of some site. Forexample, MapQuest searches are constrained to location specificoutcome. Searching consumerreports.org yields product specific results.I'm finding the data I share with others, and consider of personal highvalue and relevancy, is coming much less frequently from Google, andrather through vertical searches I do at tailored, context specificsites.

If I want to get reputable news, I go to reputablesites (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc), and happily paysubscription fees for said content. If I want medical research, I go todiscipline specific sites and ante up the money they ask for in returnfor a report/document. The adage "you get what you pay for" comes tomind.

A major problem with Google-type crawling andindexing is that it will never reach the dark web (the content outthere that is only accessible via usernames and logins). I suspect thatthis content dwarfs the amount of content openly available on the web.Some search products are on board with the value of vertical search.a9.com has hundreds of vertical search plugins that you can checkboxon/off to constrain your searches (and yes, you can search through thelist of vertical search plugins :-) ). I recently found an obscuremedical study that provided evidence of a hunch I've had all my lifefor a specific medical condition surrounding headaches; I wouldn't havefound that report in a million years using Google.

Consumer oriented products are too general to be very useful. Ifthese products added just one level of indirection, our experienceswould be significantly enhanced. Disambiguation at search.aol.com (lefthand column) is a great way to start to narrow things. As is, verticalsearch plugin selection at a9.com.

Imagine how much more useful Tivo recommendations would be if, afteryou thumbs up'ed something, you were asked to answer a multiple choicequestion: "why did you thumbs up this program: you liked the actors,you liked the subject matter, you liked the length, etc?"

Imagine howmuch more useful the web would be if you could further constrain yourthinking when you set off on your quest for information.

BusinessWeek gets it: "ASearch Engine for Every Subject"

WallStreet Journal gets it: "BeyondGoogle"

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Table jumpers!

This entry is a rant. I'm not sure how much ranting to do in this blog. I'll try this one out and see how I feel about it.

I am constantly amazed at a growing problem I call "table jumping." Table jumping is when someone stakes claim to a chair/table before they have actually purchased anything to eat/drink. It is the first-come-first-served "right" gone bad.

The "claim" is made by placing a personal belonging down on the table/chair prior to actually settling in. I live in a large college town, and students regularly walk through the front door of a cafe, drop their book-bag on a table top, then proceed to the queue to order their their drink/food.

Cafes in my town are always overflowing with patrons, so empty seats/tables are hard to find. If a joint is relatively empty, then "jumping a table" is fine, but this is rarely the case. So, paid patrons (me) are often looking for a place to sit after buying their drink, only to find a handful of tables "claimed" by others only now standing in the long queue that the paid patron just went through.

If I'm alone, as to not embarrass anyone I'm with, I'll remove the "claiming" item, set it aside (or on the floor), and take the seat. Obviously I wouldn't do this unless I knew for certain that someone just waltzed in and staked the claim. Responses I've gotten in response to doing this have ranged from apologetic, to hostile.

Table jumping wasn't a big deal pre-children, but now that I have kids, it's uncool to essentially cut in-line, when a family could really need the table a jumper just claimed.

Table jumpers!

This entry is a rant. I'm not sure how much ranting to do in this blog. I'll try this one out and see how I feel about it.

I am constantly amazed at a growing problem I call "table jumping." Table jumping is when someone stakes claim to a chair/table before they have actually purchased anything to eat/drink. It is the first-come-first-served "right" gone bad.

The "claim" is made by placing a personal belonging down on the table/chair prior to actually settling in. I live in a large college town, and students regularly walk through the front door of a cafe, drop their book-bag on a table top, then proceed to the queue to order their their drink/food.

Cafes in my town are always overflowing with patrons, so empty seats/tables are hard to find. If a joint is relatively empty, then "jumping a table" is fine, but this is rarely the case. So, paid patrons (me) are often looking for a place to sit after buying their drink, only to find a handful of tables "claimed" by others only now standing in the long queue that the paid patron just went through.

If I'm alone, as to not embarrass anyone I'm with, I'll remove the "claiming" item, set it aside (or on the floor), and take the seat. Obviously I wouldn't do this unless I knew for certain that someone just waltzed in and staked the claim. Responses I've gotten in response to doing this have ranged from apologetic, to hostile.

Table jumping wasn't a big deal pre-children, but now that I have kids, it's uncool to essentially cut in-line, when a family could really need the table a jumper just claimed.

Table jumpers!

This entry is a rant. I'm not sure how much ranting to do in this blog. I'll try this one out and see how I feel about it.

I am constantly amazed at a growing problem I call "table jumping." Table jumping is when someone stakes claim to a chair/table before they have actually purchased anything to eat/drink. It is the first-come-first-served "right" gone bad.

The "claim" is made by placing a personal belonging down on the table/chair prior to actually settling in. I live in a large college town, and students regularly walk through the front door of a cafe, drop their book-bag on a table top, then proceed to the queue to order their their drink/food.

Cafes in my town are always overflowing with patrons, so empty seats/tables are hard to find. If a joint is relatively empty, then "jumping a table" is fine, but this is rarely the case. So, paid patrons (me) are often looking for a place to sit after buying their drink, only to find a handful of tables "claimed" by others only now standing in the long queue that the paid patron just went through.

If I'm alone, as to not embarrass anyone I'm with, I'll remove the "claiming" item, set it aside (or on the floor), and take the seat. Obviously I wouldn't do this unless I knew for certain that someone just waltzed in and staked the claim. Responses I've gotten in response to doing this have ranged from apologetic, to hostile.

Table jumping wasn't a big deal pre-children, but now that I have kids, it's uncool to essentially cut in-line, when a family could really need the table a jumper just claimed.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Founding Fathers: Geniuses, or knaves?

Several months ago a book group I'm sporadically a part of read and reviewed "The Empire of Wealth." One of the discussion topics was around what we valued most as U.S. citizens. Someone said something about the foresight of our founding fathers.

During that discussion I speculated that most of them were likely not much different than you or me, and that we shouldn't put them up on pedestals. I was grilled by everyone else in the review for holding this position.

I felt somewhat vindicated earlier today while reading Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" biography, which read: "Clearly Hamilton was reading the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume, and he quoted his view that in framing a government 'every man ought to be supposed a knave and to have no other end in all his actions but private interests.' The task of government was not to stop selfish striving - a hopeless task - but to harness it for the public good. In starting to outline the contours of his own vision of government, Hamilton was spurred by Hume's dark vision of human nature, which corresponded to his own."

Such a powerful quotation... touching on the mortality of all of us, and that the best we can do is try to harness our selfishness for the greater good. Kind of ironic that Hamilton himself, a founding father, had a similar thought.

Founding Fathers: Geniuses, or knaves?

Several months ago a book group I'm sporadically a part of read and reviewed "The Empire of Wealth." One of the discussion topics was around what we valued most as U.S. citizens. Someone said something about the foresight of our founding fathers.

During that discussion I speculated that most of them were likely not much different than you or me, and that we shouldn't put them up on pedestals. I was grilled by everyone else in the review for holding this position.

I felt somewhat vindicated earlier today while reading Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" biography, which read: "Clearly Hamilton was reading the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume, and he quoted his view that in framing a government 'every man ought to be supposed a knave and to have no other end in all his actions but private interests.' The task of government was not to stop selfish striving - a hopeless task - but to harness it for the public good. In starting to outline the contours of his own vision of government, Hamilton was spurred by Hume's dark vision of human nature, which corresponded to his own."

Such a powerful quotation... touching on the mortality of all of us, and that the best we can do is try to harness our selfishness for the greater good. Kind of ironic that Hamilton himself, a founding father, had a similar thought.

Founding Fathers: Geniuses, or knaves?

Several months ago a book group I'm sporadically a part of read and reviewed "The Empire of Wealth." One of the discussion topics was around what we valued most as U.S. citizens. Someone said something about the foresight of our founding fathers.

During that discussion I speculated that most of them were likely not much different than you or me, and that we shouldn't put them up on pedestals. I was grilled by everyone else in the review for holding this position.

I felt somewhat vindicated earlier today while reading Ron Chernow's "Alexander Hamilton" biography, which read: "Clearly Hamilton was reading the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume, and he quoted his view that in framing a government 'every man ought to be supposed a knave and to have no other end in all his actions but private interests.' The task of government was not to stop selfish striving - a hopeless task - but to harness it for the public good. In starting to outline the contours of his own vision of government, Hamilton was spurred by Hume's dark vision of human nature, which corresponded to his own."

Such a powerful quotation... touching on the mortality of all of us, and that the best we can do is try to harness our selfishness for the greater good. Kind of ironic that Hamilton himself, a founding father, had a similar thought.

30boxes calendar application

I came across a new online calendar last night called 30 boxes; 30boxes.com. In a word, wow! I've long had personal calendar requirements that have defied nearly all calendar application's (online, or desktop) ability to win me over. 30b might just do it.

After seven, or so, years as a Yahoo! calendar user, I'm seriously considering moving over to 30b. I don't have complete control over this decision however, as my spouse shares a calendar account with me, so, I'll have to convince her too.

Let me start by describing the four calendar requirements I have that narrow the calendar playing field significantly for me. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing I'll finally have a URL to send people to when they ask about my bizzarre calendar requirements. I can finally stop repeating this mess.

- Shared login/account. My wife and I need to use the same login/account. Sharing calendars and entries, as opposed to the account itself, as all calendar applications would recommend we do, doesn't cut it for us. Think about a refridgerator calendar affixed with a magnet to your ice-box; it's a shared page, there isn't a page for me, and a page for my spouse. So, we carry this metaphor into our online calendar experience; we share the login/account ID and password. For us, it's the only way to ensure we don't miss something the other person added.

- Mobile phone access. XHTML/WAP browsers must be able to access a stripped down version of the calendar (no superfluous graphics/UI please). Add/delete, and view events by day are required features. Mobile is required as 75% or so of the events I want to add to my calendar come up when I'm nowhere near a desktop machine. Therefore, I need to be able to view/add from anywhere, via my phone (currently a Treo 650).

- Native online/web access. Sadly, this rules out iCal (I'm a Mac user). I need full-access, to live (not sync'd, see below) data in my calendar from an arbitrary set of computers of various operating systems.

- No sync'ing required. Synchronization yields latency, and latency is a very bad thing. Notice that the three requirements above are all in support of this no-sync requirement. My life moves fast (married, with two children), and long ago I vowed never to be bitten by the calendar entry collision problem. My wife adds something to the calendar, while I'm adding something at the same time in the same time-slot. Sharing a login, and always being connected, live, reduces the likelihood of entry collision to its smallest possible probability. This isn't to say that I don't want the application to support sync'ing. I'm close to making that another requirement. There are data sources I want blended into my calendar, of which, I don't care about latency; just not my, or my family's, data.

That's really it. Of course I need all the add/delete/categorize/edit/move/notify/remind/repeat/update/blah/blah/blah functionality that any calendar app worth a second look would have, but I'm assuming a base level of functionality here; this is the 21st century afterall. You may know of a calendar app that does mobile, but if it doesn't do it well, or its web browser UI is broken, it's off my list of possibilities.

The killer for nearly all online calendar applications is mobile phone access; very few actually support this (Yahoo! and 30b do; obviously).

So, with my base requirements fulfilled, I dove into the standard functionality provided by 30b. I couldn't figure out how to add events from my mobile initially because there was a single text input field associated with an "add" button. How could I add an entry with only a single field? After looking through the bug list to see if they were going to fix the bug, I discovered it wasn't a bug at all. One of the pivotal features of 30b is what they call "One box" (I used to work for a company called onebox.com; funny coincidence). As the name suggests, it's a single box for calendar event entry. The catch is that they do some fun parsing of the text to extract an entries' relevant info. "3/12 6pm dinner" creates an entry on March 12th (current year), at 6pm, for "dinner." Now we're talking! Generally speaking, ordering of text doesn't matter "dinner 6pm 3/12" would have done the same thing. You can get fancy too with entries like "2-3pm Monday Meeting with Bob (at his place) tag meetings." That would create an entry for the next occurring Monday at 2pm, for one hour, with subject "Meeting with Bob", and notes "at his place", tagged as "meetings." It goes on from there, with much more complex entries. Such a cool way to create a calendar entry relative to the six to twelve steps I have to go through with Yahoo! to create similar entries.

This kind of intuitive UI is something I love. I should note however that most of the world does need explicit UI thrust in front of them to accomplish something. For example, MapQuest tried single text field address/location input(ala Google maps) at one point, but negative user reaction brought back the field-per-component UI; sad but true.

Unless Yahoo! revs its calendar application really soon, 30b will become my personal calendar.

30boxes calendar application

I came across a new online calendar last night called 30 boxes; 30boxes.com. In a word, wow! I've long had personal calendar requirements that have defied nearly all calendar application's (online, or desktop) ability to win me over. 30b might just do it.

After seven, or so, years as a Yahoo! calendar user, I'm seriously considering moving over to 30b. I don't have complete control over this decision however, as my spouse shares a calendar account with me, so, I'll have to convince her too.

Let me start by describing the four calendar requirements I have that narrow the calendar playing field significantly for me. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing I'll finally have a URL to send people to when they ask about my bizzarre calendar requirements. I can finally stop repeating this mess.

- Shared login/account. My wife and I need to use the same login/account. Sharing calendars and entries, as opposed to the account itself, as all calendar applications would recommend we do, doesn't cut it for us. Think about a refridgerator calendar affixed with a magnet to your ice-box; it's a shared page, there isn't a page for me, and a page for my spouse. So, we carry this metaphor into our online calendar experience; we share the login/account ID and password. For us, it's the only way to ensure we don't miss something the other person added.

- Mobile phone access. XHTML/WAP browsers must be able to access a stripped down version of the calendar (no superfluous graphics/UI please). Add/delete, and view events by day are required features. Mobile is required as 75% or so of the events I want to add to my calendar come up when I'm nowhere near a desktop machine. Therefore, I need to be able to view/add from anywhere, via my phone (currently a Treo 650).

- Native online/web access. Sadly, this rules out iCal (I'm a Mac user). I need full-access, to live (not sync'd, see below) data in my calendar from an arbitrary set of computers of various operating systems.

- No sync'ing required. Synchronization yields latency, and latency is a very bad thing. Notice that the three requirements above are all in support of this no-sync requirement. My life moves fast (married, with two children), and long ago I vowed never to be bitten by the calendar entry collision problem. My wife adds something to the calendar, while I'm adding something at the same time in the same time-slot. Sharing a login, and always being connected, live, reduces the likelihood of entry collision to its smallest possible probability. This isn't to say that I don't want the application to support sync'ing. I'm close to making that another requirement. There are data sources I want blended into my calendar, of which, I don't care about latency; just not my, or my family's, data.

That's really it. Of course I need all the add/delete/categorize/edit/move/notify/remind/repeat/update/blah/blah/blah functionality that any calendar app worth a second look would have, but I'm assuming a base level of functionality here; this is the 21st century afterall. You may know of a calendar app that does mobile, but if it doesn't do it well, or its web browser UI is broken, it's off my list of possibilities.

The killer for nearly all online calendar applications is mobile phone access; very few actually support this (Yahoo! and 30b do; obviously).

So, with my base requirements fulfilled, I dove into the standard functionality provided by 30b. I couldn't figure out how to add events from my mobile initially because there was a single text input field associated with an "add" button. How could I add an entry with only a single field? After looking through the bug list to see if they were going to fix the bug, I discovered it wasn't a bug at all. One of the pivotal features of 30b is what they call "One box" (I used to work for a company called onebox.com; funny coincidence). As the name suggests, it's a single box for calendar event entry. The catch is that they do some fun parsing of the text to extract an entries' relevant info. "3/12 6pm dinner" creates an entry on March 12th (current year), at 6pm, for "dinner." Now we're talking! Generally speaking, ordering of text doesn't matter "dinner 6pm 3/12" would have done the same thing. You can get fancy too with entries like "2-3pm Monday Meeting with Bob (at his place) tag meetings." That would create an entry for the next occurring Monday at 2pm, for one hour, with subject "Meeting with Bob", and notes "at his place", tagged as "meetings." It goes on from there, with much more complex entries. Such a cool way to create a calendar entry relative to the six to twelve steps I have to go through with Yahoo! to create similar entries.

This kind of intuitive UI is something I love. I should note however that most of the world does need explicit UI thrust in front of them to accomplish something. For example, MapQuest tried single text field address/location input(ala Google maps) at one point, but negative user reaction brought back the field-per-component UI; sad but true.

Unless Yahoo! revs its calendar application really soon, 30b will become my personal calendar.

30boxes calendar application

I came across a new online calendar last night called 30 boxes; 30boxes.com. In a word, wow! I've long had personal calendar requirements that have defied nearly all calendar application's (online, or desktop) ability to win me over. 30b might just do it.

After seven, or so, years as a Yahoo! calendar user, I'm seriously considering moving over to 30b. I don't have complete control over this decision however, as my spouse shares a calendar account with me, so, I'll have to convince her too.

Let me start by describing the four calendar requirements I have that narrow the calendar playing field significantly for me. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing I'll finally have a URL to send people to when they ask about my bizzarre calendar requirements. I can finally stop repeating this mess.

- Shared login/account. My wife and I need to use the same login/account. Sharing calendars and entries, as opposed to the account itself, as all calendar applications would recommend we do, doesn't cut it for us. Think about a refridgerator calendar affixed with a magnet to your ice-box; it's a shared page, there isn't a page for me, and a page for my spouse. So, we carry this metaphor into our online calendar experience; we share the login/account ID and password. For us, it's the only way to ensure we don't miss something the other person added.

- Mobile phone access. XHTML/WAP browsers must be able to access a stripped down version of the calendar (no superfluous graphics/UI please). Add/delete, and view events by day are required features. Mobile is required as 75% or so of the events I want to add to my calendar come up when I'm nowhere near a desktop machine. Therefore, I need to be able to view/add from anywhere, via my phone (currently a Treo 650).

- Native online/web access. Sadly, this rules out iCal (I'm a Mac user). I need full-access, to live (not sync'd, see below) data in my calendar from an arbitrary set of computers of various operating systems.

- No sync'ing required. Synchronization yields latency, and latency is a very bad thing. Notice that the three requirements above are all in support of this no-sync requirement. My life moves fast (married, with two children), and long ago I vowed never to be bitten by the calendar entry collision problem. My wife adds something to the calendar, while I'm adding something at the same time in the same time-slot. Sharing a login, and always being connected, live, reduces the likelihood of entry collision to its smallest possible probability. This isn't to say that I don't want the application to support sync'ing. I'm close to making that another requirement. There are data sources I want blended into my calendar, of which, I don't care about latency; just not my, or my family's, data.

That's really it. Of course I need all the add/delete/categorize/edit/move/notify/remind/repeat/update/blah/blah/blah functionality that any calendar app worth a second look would have, but I'm assuming a base level of functionality here; this is the 21st century afterall. You may know of a calendar app that does mobile, but if it doesn't do it well, or its web browser UI is broken, it's off my list of possibilities.

The killer for nearly all online calendar applications is mobile phone access; very few actually support this (Yahoo! and 30b do; obviously).

So, with my base requirements fulfilled, I dove into the standard functionality provided by 30b. I couldn't figure out how to add events from my mobile initially because there was a single text input field associated with an "add" button. How could I add an entry with only a single field? After looking through the bug list to see if they were going to fix the bug, I discovered it wasn't a bug at all. One of the pivotal features of 30b is what they call "One box" (I used to work for a company called onebox.com; funny coincidence). As the name suggests, it's a single box for calendar event entry. The catch is that they do some fun parsing of the text to extract an entries' relevant info. "3/12 6pm dinner" creates an entry on March 12th (current year), at 6pm, for "dinner." Now we're talking! Generally speaking, ordering of text doesn't matter "dinner 6pm 3/12" would have done the same thing. You can get fancy too with entries like "2-3pm Monday Meeting with Bob (at his place) tag meetings." That would create an entry for the next occurring Monday at 2pm, for one hour, with subject "Meeting with Bob", and notes "at his place", tagged as "meetings." It goes on from there, with much more complex entries. Such a cool way to create a calendar entry relative to the six to twelve steps I have to go through with Yahoo! to create similar entries.

This kind of intuitive UI is something I love. I should note however that most of the world does need explicit UI thrust in front of them to accomplish something. For example, MapQuest tried single text field address/location input(ala Google maps) at one point, but negative user reaction brought back the field-per-component UI; sad but true.

Unless Yahoo! revs its calendar application really soon, 30b will become my personal calendar.