BarCampMilwaukee 3 is Coming! T-Shirt Designers Needed!

BarCampMilwaukee3 is coming to a Bucketworks near you (if you happen to live reasonably near Lake Michigan). The annual technology un-conference will be happening October 4-5 in downtown Milwaukee.

And whether you can be here or not (and you really do want to be here), you can still participate. Contribute a design for the t-shirt the hundreds of attendees will wear!

You can find the details for the contest here: BarCampMilwaukee3 T-Shirt Contest | BarCampMilwaukee.. The key detail is that entries are due September 12 at midnight (Central Time). The prize is admittedly not substantial: 2 t-shirts shipped directly, plus of course the undying gratitude of BarCampers everywhere.

Don’t design logos? You can still participate: Voting and commenting takes place next weekend! Watch for the submissions.

And do come if you can. It’s a great time at a great facility with fun and knowledgeable people. Register (for free!) at the site.

More Social Networking: Past, Present, Future

John December and Phil Gerbyshak (the “Make It Great Guy”) are leading this one.

The Past

Some people in the room have been active on the Net since the 1980s (like me). Talking about the Prodigy network, Usenet, BBS systems.

Debate over whether email or IRC is older/more important. Firm, unchangeable positions.

The Present

Jeremey: Facebook obviates the need for school reunions, because your friends never go away.

Justin prefers MySpace to Facebook for its “Wild West” atmosphere; he says you can’t tell anything about a person from a Facebook page. They also claim rights to everything you do.

To select a “time capsule” tool, after much discussion about social networking websites, what comes up as the definition of The Present is: wikis. Curious.

The Future

Justin sees email will need authenticated identity. Discussion of who owns your identity online. Is it some corporation, or will openID solve that problem?

Someone suggests a peer-to-peer model (BitTorrent, GoogleDocs) for the future.

“Social graph” concept from founder of LiveJournal. Turning social networks into email.

Placez: location-based connections

Spider: integrates messaging via multiple social networks.

Cory Doctorow and the reputation economy: back to tribalism?

Justin again: open source = Our Stonehenge? What will last. Wikipedia will last. is a writing site with a social component.

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Idea Capture with Analog Tools

Mike Rohde got tired of technology failures and wondering if he has enough electricity available.

He uses Moleskine notebooks, sketchbooks, Iquelrius grid notebooks to capture notes, ideas and such.

(These are notes: I might go pretty this up later. Bear with me. Granted, using a blog to tell about using analog tools to keep track of one’s life is a little bit wrong.)

Cheap and easy to use is the key.

Whil uses paper for a to-do list, but designs it on a computer and prints it out weekly.

Mike: Spend more time tweaking apps than actually accomplishing things.

Should find a way to combine digital and analog capture methods.

Tip: When you travel, take pictures of everything you eat! Generates memories.

Moleskines: The book is so nice, you want to take care with your writing quality, so the printing gets better!

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Still decompressing…

It’s now been 2+ days since BarCampMilwaukee, and I still haven’t found the amount of time I’ll need to tell you the stories! For now, let’s just say it was an experience like no other (for me, at least). Watch this space for copious details — likely Wednesday!

Meanwhile, feel free to check out the Flickr slideshow. There are a few shots of me in my black Linux Journal t-shirt (on the front, it says “Geek by Nature”). More stuff at the BarCampMilwaukee site as well.

Space Blog!

As I fight trouble with the latest Firefox update in KDE, posts will be on the brief side (though I hope the interruption won’t be long). There’s much to discuss here, but I’ve become addicted to the Performancing interface, with the easy Technorati and tagging.

Meanwhile, you may find it interesting that Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, is blogging. This should be a fun read for the next few days.

Inching Toward (shudder) Celebrity

Fair Warning to my ever-increasing (if still quite tiny) fan base: I just finished taping my first tech-related radio interview. I chatted over the phone with Bill Resnick of “The Old Mole Variety Hour” on KBOO in Portland, Oregon about net neutrality and the open-source movement.

It was fun, and I eventually stopped stammering (“It was not slick,” Bill said, “but we don’t do slick at KBOO.”). We talked for 20 minutes about the corporate “TV” model of the Internet vs. the idea of the net as communications/organizing vehicle, and secondarily about Linux and open-source being another manifestation of the urge for freedom and democracy.

Airdate is not certain, but most likely sometime in August. I hope to get a heads-up, which I will pass on here. The show airs every Monday at 9 AM Pacific Time. KBOO streams live content, but does not have archived shows available. Now I read an article in one of the magazines some months back on how to save streamed audio, here’s hoping I can find that in time. I’ll be at the day job whenever it runs <sigh>.

My Return from the Dead

Greetings all!

I know it’s been an Iron Age since I’ve posted, but I think I’m back regularly for awhile now. In the last few weeks, I’ve completed a few necessary tasks, and seem to have more energy now. These include:

  • Completing my first year in my consulting-firm job with good-to-rave reviews.
  • Closing down the Radio Userland version of Notes from the Metaverse (and greetings to all the old readers who followed me here!)
  • Spending a marvelous week in Boulder, Colorado catching up with friends, family, old co-workers (and bonding a little with the grandkids!)
  • Surviving the week after the vacation with a nasty unidentified affliction that basically had me asleep for the better part of 4 days with intermittent swallowing of various liquids and pharmaceuticals and the odd recurring nightmare. This all managed to depart Saturday morning, and has pretty much left me with just a hacking cough today that I fear will not depart all summer…but that’s just me.
  • Thankfully, the affliction departed in time to celebrate one of my oldest friend’s kids becoming the valedictorian at his high school yesterday. The boy goes on to UW-Madison (as a sophomore with all his AP credits!) in the fall to continue his fight for peace and justice as well.

So with all of that behind me, I can start reporting here refreshed and renewed. Looking forward to a busy summer, too!

New Yahoo Mail Most Impressive

If you are among the hordes of folks who get their DSL through Wisconsin Bell/Ameritech/SBC/AT&T (or whatever it is they’re calling themselves today), you may already have a glimpse of the new face of web-based email. Wednesday, what used to be SBC Yahoo DSL launched the beta of The New AT&T Yahoo Mail. I was lucky enough to be included in the semi-public launch group.

The great thing about web-based mail is that it’s always accessible. So if you’ve got something urgent to deal with via mail, you can check in pretty much anywhere these days. But the old Yahoo Mail interface was almost not worth fighting through to locate that urgent mail, at least if you have to deal with the volume of mail I get in the average day.  I could go on about this (and may wind up doing this yet), but suffice to say that it looked just like GMail, but was considerably more cumbersome.

About a year ago, Yahoo bought another web-mail company, Bloomba, and that acquisition was clearly a smart one. The interface is much more familiar, and the ease of use is tremendous. I will get a screen shot up here soon so you can see for yourself, but users of Thunderbird, KMail, Evolution and even … Outlook will be at home here.

Among the new and positive changes from the old interface:

  • You have the option to view messages (or not) by pressing V. Don’t know whether this is AJAX, but the view pane appears with a minimum of waiting.
  • Clicking on a subject line opens the message in a separate tab, also allowing for multiple messages to be open at the same time.
  • Easy creation of folders for sorting (but filtering is not automatic, at least for now).
  • Automatic mail checks if you leave the client open (I haven’t timed the frequency, but it’s often enough, maybe 10 minutes). You can also check manually with a big button next to the Compose button.
  • Search also happens in the same interface, not on a separate screen (which took several clicks to get to anyway).

The new interface also fixes one of my pet peeves. Yahoo’s spam filters are (or perhaps were) inconsistent, with far too many false positives for my taste. The old interface required you to open a message marked Spam and look at it before you could mark it non-spam. Now you can simply select messages that (to your eye, at least) aren’t spam and mark them OK from the main screen.

One minor kvetch: The first time you send a message to a particular individual from the web interface, you have to prove you’re a human first (type letters from a graphic). It’s annoying, but more than understandable. One of those things you have to put up with.

Yahoo Mail is now also an RSS reader. Click the All RSS Feeds tab and you can read your favorite news items and blogs in the mail client. What I didn’t notice at first was that if you have already set up a My Yahoo page, the client automatically imports all the RSS feeds into this folder. Quite enjoyable. Access to your Yahoo Contacts, Calendar, and Notepad is just as easy.

The mail client officially supports all Mozilla flavors and that other browser in Windows. They have only tested browsers in Windows and Mac. I’ve had no trouble with Firefox 1.5 in SUSE Linux, but it would not open in Konqueror — you got a “Sorry, this won’t work in your browser” message. With Firefox, you got a “we haven’t tested this, but do you want to try it anyway?” warning. Opera’s a no-go in all OSes. Haven’t tested Epiphany yet, but I suspect the same fate as Konqueror.

It’s important to note that in these days of extensive government snooping, Yahoo is not the purest of heart. If you have “dangerous opinions,” you may want to choose another outlet. But if you are stuck with them as a content provider, you could do worse for a web-based mail.

Hello world (again)!

Welcome to Notes from the Metaverse at This is what happens when I stop writing, and have a break from tech writing assignments. I actually start reading blogs again, and find out amazing new things, like that one of my favorite open-source blog environments is now doing hosting too!

There’s much more to come, but this will do for now. Happy New Year!