The new Aardvark tool is quite handy. Once installed into Firefox, you can use it to inspect and to edit a web page using the mouse and the keyboard.
After Aardvark has been activated using the Tools menu, it shows a red highlight around the item under the the mouse pointer on the web page. It then responds to a series of keyboard commands to, among other things, delete, isolate, and view source on the item. One very cool use is to use it to take a stock web page and then trim it down to just what you need for printing.
In a stunning feat of recursion, I did just this to the Aardvark home page, removing everything except the list of keyboard commands, which I then printed, as a handy-dandy quick reference.
The folks at WeatherBug just announced an API. The information is live, up to the minute, as collected from over 8,000 tracking stations all over the US.. There’s a lot of info: live weather and wind information, 3 day forecasts, 7 day highs and lows, and severe weather alerts. Very cool. Looks like it is all REST-style, with a license key required. The calls are:
- getStations – Return a list of weather stations for a given zip code.
- getFullForecast – Get the full weather forecast for a zip code.
- getLiveWeather – Get full weather conditions at a weather station.
- getLiveCompactWeather – Get summary weather conditions at a weather station.
- getAlerts – Get any extant weather alerts at a given zip code
Couple of odd things: The license code is present at 2 points in the call, and call names have the string “.aspx” at the end. This will make it slightly harder to evolve the API if they ever switch to a newer or different implementation.
They are also rolling out RSS support, weather feeds by Zip Code.
The first day of Gnomedex was a blast. lots of great presentations, lots of cool people, and lots of new things to look at and experiment with. We had a very informative post-session meeting with people interested in the FeedMesh concept.
The Microsoft “We Get RSS” demo was pretty cool. One of the demos showed how easy it would be to pull in data from an Amazon wish list as an RSS feed. A bunch of people have asked me when we would be rolling out this feature. The great news is that it is available right now. Using the Amazon E-Commerce Service, it is easy to get wish list data in Amazon’s XML format and to transform it to RSS using Amazon’s XSLT processor. I put this in a separate post, Accessing an Amazon Wish List.
Julie Leung is talking now, a very different talk than the others, full of pictures, life, and emotion.
Here’s the info on how to get an Amazon Wishlist.
I’ve linked each of the ECS functions to the corresponding page on the AWS Zone, a third-party site with easy-to-use prompts for each function. You can use AWS Zone to experiment with each ECS operation and to create the REST URLs or SOAP code for your application.
Here’s an ECS query to grab a Wishlist:
This request uses the ListSearch operation. The ListID parameter to this request specifies the list to retrieve. If you don’t have one of these, you can use the ListLookup request to search for Wishlists by name, email, and state. This operation performs a “loose match”; the calling application can then display all of the potential matches so that the user can find the one they want.
I don’t happen to have the URL to an XSLT transform handy, but there’s full info on doing this in the ECS Docs.
Bernard Moon asks “Do you know Chris Pirillo?“. Why yes, I do, actually. In fact, I can’t prove it, but I am fairly certain that I introduced him to the concept of RSS sometime in 1999, back when I was building Headline Viewer.
Later today I will be attending the opening session of Chris‘ Gnomedex conference, right here in Seattle. If this is half as good as the last one (in Lake Tahoe) it will be a rip-roaringly good time. I’m looking forward to hearing from Dave and Adam, and I know that Microsoft will be announcing something pretty cool.
If you will be at Gnomedex, find me and say hello. I’ll be happy to talk about the Amazon Web Services, RSS, or Syndic8.
Oh yeah, and my name is in a press release that will be issued at the conference, but I won’t spill the beans on that one just yet.
I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird for a year or so, and it has worked really well for me. I get a lot of email (and I do my best to respond to it, even if it takes me a while).
One feature that I really like is the ability to color-code individual messages in my inbox at the touch of a key. Pressing “1″ makes the message header red, “2″ is orange, “3″ is green, “4″ is blue, and “5″ is purple. The “0″ key returns the item to its normal color.
When an especially urgent email comes in and I want to be sure to respond, I can simply hit “1″. You can see my Inbox in the picture. I am also trying to use blue for items that I want to post to my blog. The other colors are more or less random at this point, but I could assign meanings to them if I wanted to.
I’m a big believer in keyboard shortcuts, and I am a big believer in making use of all interesting application features, not just the obvious ones. I do read and re-read user guides and FAQs from time to time in search of handy little things like this.
ICourtesy of CNET, I found a great video on the subject of on-demand air travel. In this video, Esther Dyson introduces the general concept of the air taxi, and then interviews two of the folks working to bring this concept to life.
First, she interviews Robert Crandall of Pogo. Then she talks to Vern Raburn, one-time Microsoft big-wig and now CEO of Eclipse Aviation. Vern compares the current commercial airliners to a bus service, carrying large loads of passengers on a relatively small number of routes, with no flexibility vis-a-vis schedule or destination. The air taxi is, as Vern says, “about choice.”
At the heart of these efforts lies a desire to bypass the crowded and inefficient major airports, made possible by advances in composite technology, advanced software for aircraft design and route planning, and a growing demand for a more flexible alternative to the existing travel system.
Having had the opportunity to travel by private jet a few times in my life, I can really appreciate the flexibility and time-efficiency that this new system will allow.
RSS is great, and enterprises are willing to pay real money for real solutions. Put them together and you get RSS for the Enterprise. Here are some resources that happened to cross my inbox today:
Getting the right info to the right people (and keeping it out of the hands of the wrong people) on a timely basis is a real challenge for an organization of any size.
In addition to the folks who need to stay informed on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis, a good enterprise information distribution system should allow newcomers to easily delve into historic information, and it should allow more casual observers and overseers to take a quick peek at what’s going on. Also, many organizations have permeable boundaries. In the old days, there were insiders (the folks who worked there) and the outsiders. These days, there are often partners, contractors, outsourced laborers, advisers, and so forth, all with some level of elevated privilege.
A nice set of RSS feeds can definitely play a part in keeping all of these parties in the loop. Getting this all set up is still not trivial, but I know that some really good people are working on this.
Like any really great technology, it often turns out that the highest and best use isn’t the one that it was originally designed for. I could definitely see this happening with RSS.
During last year’s presidential campaign, John Kerry made headlines when he was caught slipping a piece of paper into his jacket after one of the debates. The pundits quickly labeled this “jacketgate“, and one of my sons had the bright idea to register jacketgate.com. He never did anything with it, and now I will either sell it or let it lapse. If you want to make an offer on it, please contact me.
I have a knack for creating some horribly bad puns, and the title of this post is no exception. My kids know better than anyone else just how horribly prolific I can be in this regard. So, with that said, the title of this post is actually quite accurate:
- “Raining Cats”: Some “professionals” complain that the blogging world is all about cats, and that the proper use of internet is for “real” corpororate information. Now, this need not be an either/or proposition. The Purina corporation now has a number of RSS feeds, including the category-spanning Real Cats, Real Stories.
- “Raining Blogs”: I am pleased to report that we now have 400,000 feeds on Syndic8. Yowza, that’s a lot of data to pull down every day. Right now each daily poll is pulling in about 4.5 GB of XML.