Stock Market Feed

August 30th, 2004

I’ve seen people write about having RSS feeds of stock quotes. But, having just a feed of the current stock price doesn’t seem that useful to me. If I wanted the current price of a stock, I’d use a stock ticker of some kind. What would seem more useful is being able to set alerts, like when the stock reaches $X or if that stock changes more than X% today, alert me.


Ambient Information WordPress Plugin

August 27th, 2004

I have released my ambient information WordPress plugin. Current release is 0.02 alpha. Use with extreme caution.

Please let me know what you think.


George Lakoff on Framing Political Issues

August 26th, 2004

There is an interesting interview with George Lakoff at UC Berkely News . He talks about how conservatives use language to frame issues from their perspective.

The phrase “Tax relief” began coming out of the White House starting on the very day of Bush’s inauguration. It got picked up by the newspapers as if it were a neutral term, which it is not. First, you have the frame for “relief.” For there to be relief, there has to be an affliction, an afflicted party, somebody who administers the relief, and an act in which you are relieved of the affliction. The reliever is the hero, and anybody who tries to stop them is the bad guy intent on keeping the affliction going. So, add “tax” to “relief” and you get a metaphor that taxation is an affliction, and anybody against relieving this affliction is a villain.

It will be interesting watching the rest of the American political campaign armed with this knowledge.


John Battelle on Sell Side Advertising

August 26th, 2004

John Battelle posted an interesting article about web advertising today . The basic idea is that publishers (web site owners) would be able to pick any ad they wanted at random, add it to a web page and start getting paid for clicks.

To me this is similar to what ad networks like Commission Junction’s CJ Marketplace offer. Here you can choose your ad from a large variety and start using it.

In response to some comments, John argues that affiliate programs aren’t viral, but I think they are. When I’m looking for ads to place on a site a surf similar sites and see what ads they have on their sites. If I like them I’ll see where they got the ads from.

The biggest problem I see with John’s idea of publishers grabbing ads “in the wild” and placing them on their sites is getting paid. To get paid you’d have to be registered somewhere, and that’s what the ad networks bring to the table.



August 25th, 2004

Here is a tip for Bloglines users. Bloglines allows you to create Email Subscriptions. I love using these for announce-only mailing lists, so I created a toolbar button to make creation of these email addresses easy. This button will pop-up a new window that is open to the Blogline Manage Email Subscription page that creates a new email address.

Here is the link to drag into your personal toolbar folder to do this. This works in Mozilla, but it doesn’t seem to work in Explorer. Oh well.

Create Bloglines Email



Requiem for a Dream

August 24th, 2004

I saw ‘Requiem for a Dream’ the other night and really liked it. It was better than Darren Aronofsky’s earlier movie ‘Pi’.

The acting in it was great: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly all did very well. And surprisingly to me, Marlon Wayans managed to hang in there with them too.

I guess not too many movies about addiction are very fun, and this one was no exception. The story was a real downer, but not many of the movies I like are very uplifting.

Two thumbs up.


Ambient Information on the Web

August 22nd, 2004

After thinking about Dunstan Orchard’s panaroma feature I blogged about, I’ve been thinking about ways to embed other ambient information into web sites. I found some references about ambient information and ambient media and found a good definition from the Ambient Display Research Group:

Ambient displays normally communicate on the periphery of human perception, requiring minimal attention and cognitive load. Perceptual bandwidth is minimized; users get the gist of the state of the data source through a quick glance, aural refocus, or gestalt background ambience.

What I’m interested in is ambient information on web sites. As an example, Dunston’s web site displays the current weather in Dorset as an image at the top of the page. It’s ambient, because you don’t have to read or click on anything to know what the weather is like, just a quick glance gives you the information.

I started noodling about other bits of information that could be conveyed in a similar fashion What I came up with was using color to convey the age of posts on my blog. The box at the top of my website fades from green to black as the age of the most recent post increases. If the blog is “fresh”, the color of the box at the top matches the menu bar on the right side of the page. If the latest post is over 4 days old the box will be black. The colored bar on the post title also fade at the same rate.

I used a WordPress plugin to do this.


Context Free Links are Annoying

August 19th, 2004

I’ve noticed a disturbing way of linking to multiple resources lately. For example in a recent post, Dave Winer made each of the words in the phrase “when we hit our stride” a different link. The reader is given no clue about what may lie on the other end of those links. At least put a “title” attribute in the link so hovering over them gives some clue where you’ll pop out on the other side. Or even better, write something like “… when we hit our stride (for example when I blogged about Blah, Foo, Bar, Baz , and Grop) …”.

Jakob Nielsen said “One of the greatest problems on the Web is that users don’t know where they are going when they follow hypertext links”.

This trend seems to be popular among bloggers, but one I’m hoping doesn’t last long.


Tags vs. Hierarchies

August 18th, 2004

I have run across a couple of of systems that allow you to organize items by marking them with arbitrary tags instead of imposing a hierarchical structure. WordPress and both do things this way. I hear tha GMail has this type of tagging too. See a message in the [delicious-discuss] mailing list for reasons why uses tags.

This flexibility is nice when doing ad-hoc activities like writing blog entries or saving bookmarks. It takes some up front work to get the hierarchies right. On the flip side, I think its a little harder to navigate around once there are a lot of entries.

Right now I’m trying out a hybrid approach for categories on this blog. For example, I tagged my last entry about using WordPress with both “Tech” and “Blogging”. “Blogging” is more specific then “Tech” so it could be seen as a sub-category.

I’m hoping this approach will this will allow me to organize things better in the future. For example when you click on the “Tech” archive link, it would be nice if it gives you all the sub-categories of “Tech”, instead of just showing everything. Of course to do this I need to make the super/sub category relationships explicit.

One problem with this approach is that if something gets categorized as “Blogging” but not “Tech”, what does that mean? One solution would be to automatically tag something with all super-categories when you tag it with a sub-category.

>>Update: I upgraded to WordPress 1.2 and discovered they do have super/sub category relationships now. I’ll be experimenting with them.


Panoramic view

August 18th, 2004

I really like the image at the top of Dunstan Orchard’s blog. The picture changes with the actual weather in Dorset, England.

He also expalins how he does it.

Toivo Lainevool’s Random Thoughts is proudly powered by WordPress | Privacy Policy