Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ubiquitious Blogging

Mozilla.org just released one of the most exciting Firefox add-ons to come down the pike – Ubiquity. This is very alpha – the user interface will definitely mature, so what’s there now is best suited for geeks like me who have always liked command shells and already do things like use the Mac’s Spotlight as their calculator (if you type 2 + 2 in Spotlight, it will tell you it equals 4).

Ubiquity is best described as a macro language for the web, or a personal mashup engine. You assign a hotkey (such as Alt-space or Option-space) and a box comes up, which you can enter ubiquity commands in. I’m not going to tell you all about them – just watch the video:

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

At this point, Ubiquity’s functionality pretty much requires a Google account – the email, calendar, maps and contacts integration is all with Google’s offerings. I expect that to change rapidly, as developing custom commands for Ubiquity is at a very basic programming level.

The case uses that are immediately apparent include adding maps and multimedia content to emails and blog entries (I use Scribefire – this assumption assumes that you compose your blog in your browser); having a lot of info available without having to tab away from the web page you’re on; and making some complex web tasks far more efficient. Mozilla is ambitious, though – they see Ubiquity as the ultimate personal web assistant, that will someday let you issue a command to book a trip; issue another to set up a multi-party meeting, and, who knows? Vacuum the house and feed the fish. Aza discusses that vision here.

Try Ubiquity out. Install it from here. Let me know what you think, and what case uses you envision for it.

Current Projects

In addition to my primary pursuits — managing technology at Earthjustice and being a good member of my family — I’m working on a few additional projects that I’m also excited about:

  • Virtualization Webinar

I’m preparing a webinar for NTEN on the power and benefits of Virtualization technology. Geeky stuff, yes, but the entire concept of server management has been turned on its ear by this development and it’s fascinating stuff for even smaller nonprofits.

  • Software Purchasing article

Idealware will likely publish an article I’m writing on how to successfully accomplish a major software purchase. How to identify the suitable apps, prepare the Request for Proposal/Quote, and get the right people at the evaluation sessions.

  • BDP Website

The Briggs Delaine Pearson Foundation is a nonprofit in Clarendon County, SC, where the first action in what eventually became Brown vs. the Board of Education began. My Grandmother-in-law was one of the original signers of that petition, along with other family and the attorney, Thurgood Marshall. My wife and I are going to revamp the current website to tell the story in an engaging fashion, invite participation from others, and, ideally, make the site more of a tool in garnering support for an organization trying to accomplish the unfullfilled promise of the Brown decision in the community where it all began.

What are you up to?

Web Site Update

Over the weekend, I downsized Techcafeteria.com, something I probably should have done close to a year ago, when I started my job at Earthjustice. What’s left is pretty thin, and is less of a web site than it is a supplement to other things online.

Some say that we’re moving away from blogging to the next trend, dubbed “Lifestreaming“. But I wouldn’t call this a lifestream. “Stream-supplementing” might be more to the point. I hang out in a number of places online, the key ones being, in some kind of meaningful order:

LinkedIn – this is where I keep my resume and stay connected with people I know through work and community.

Twitter – This is where I do most of my online communication lately. My Twitter community is mostly made up of people I know through NTEN and other NPTech circles. You may think I’ve been pretty quiet in the two or three months since I last blogged, but I’ve published about 700 tweets.

NTEN, or, more accurately, the NTEN Groups like NTEN-Discuss and the SF-501TechClub. These are online lists, sponsored by NTEN. I’m also reasonable active on Deborah Elizabeth Finn‘s excellent Information Systems Forum, a Yahoo Group.

Idealware – Laura’s made me a staff writer, of sorts, and I should be contributing more articles this summer. I also comment on the blog regularly. Some of my Idealware articles are also picked up by Techsoup.

So, those are great places to find me. And this is where you come to contact me, or catch up on where I’ve been. I can’t call it “lifestreaming” – my life isn’t a show, and if it was, it wouldn’t be a very interesting one. But I do publish he pieces of it that I think might be valuable to others, and I’d rather publish them in places that others go, so it makes sense to have a web site that serves more as an signpost than a destination.