Timed tech delivery

2396121246_41877b4a27You know when you’re working on something and all of a sudden you see it all around you? Well, that’s happening to me now. For MADS we’re working on a project about technology and the way it arranges the world / how people experience the world. Quite a broad topic. As you might have guessed, if you say ‘tech’, I say ‘web’, so that’s where I’ve taken my research. How do people use the web to structure their life? And to experience it?

And what do you know, all of a sudden I am reading about the internet and what people use it for (see here, for a Universal McCann Social Media Tracker study (pdf) on the internet worldwide, found at Marketingfacts), and having conversations with people at work about it (I find it decidedly odd that there are people that have iPhones but are too scared of setting up a delicious account!).

I admit, I’m quite the geek-girl, and use quite a lot of online tools* and am always amazed when other people don’t use them. Or don’t know about them. This is how I order my online existence, and hence, my online world. I read my email, scan 5 or 6 newspapers, have about 530 RSS feeds (although I only manage to keep active track of about 100 or so). What I’m curious about is what you guys do/use online? How many applications do you use and why do you use these? Which ones can’t you live without? Yep, that is a call for a little audience participation.

* my most frequently used web2.0 tools: yahoo mail (x3), delicious, facebook, bloglines, tumblr (x2), flickr, typepad, linkedin, backpackit, last.fm and am starting to use friendfeed. Have killed all other social / business networking sites. And have set up my own homepage. *end geek alert*

The latest in cool

This is the coolest idea I’ve seen in a while… a company called Moo is offering calling cards/business cards (read up on your 19th century English novels if you can’t remember calling cards), made with your own Flickr images. How cool is that! And they’re using a nice Web2.0 interface (drag and drop all over the place). I’m in love. Now I just have to put up some more pics on my Flickr account and justify the $20 it will cost to print 100 cards! Check them out at Moo.com (found through Techcrunch, which has some interesting comments on the original post, apparently not everyone likes it as much as I do). I think one reason I’m so interested in this (beyond the fact that I think it’s cool, and I think PY will probably think it’s cool), is my Entrepreneurial Finance course. We discuss cases twice a week, talking about questions such as ‘is the proposed business in this case a good investment?’, ‘what is a good valuation of this company?’, and of course ‘would you invest in this?’. So, do I think the $5 million that went into this company is money well spent? I dunno. I love the idea, I can see a lot of people loving the idea, but I have no clue (and don’t dare predict) if this will take off.

Look what we found!

What a weird day today. A year ago today, 52 people got killed in the 7/7 bombings in London. I remember that day very vividly, it was just so surreal. And this morning on the tube, it was eery. The free newspaper, Metro, had photos of dead people on the cover, and people were reading that ON the Tube. Again I was struck by the senseless-ness of it all. And how short life is sometimes. My thoughts are with the victims’ families and all those affected by this tragedy.

Product_09Life moves on and next thing I know, my thoughts are filled with trivia again. For my internship, I had to go out today and buy loads of stuff to use
as stimulus in a workshop next week. My kinda job, getting paid to
shop! As I was browsing a supermarket (that was more for lunch by the
way, but I figured it might be interesting to see if they had some
stuff I could use), I saw these sauces by a company called ‘Look What We Found‘.
I love the name, the sauces looked awesome, aren’t too pricey (£3.99
per pack), and I think the packaging is brilliantly done. Plus they have that word-of-mouth quality, something your friends would say (‘oh, look what i’ve found!’). Next
dinnerparty, I’m going to have to give them a testdrive.

Oh, I wish the British Postal Service implements this soon!!! No more email, all my correspondence would go through snail mail ;-)

I subscribe to about 200 feeds on Bloglines, so there’s always something interesting to read. Sometimes, though, stories come in that leave me shaking my head. Here are some examples.

There’s this one, on the Church of the Customer blog, a post about how big companies sometimes COMPLETELY be utter idiots when it comes to blogs and Web2.0 technology. A blogger writes about an upcoming film in a positive way, generating buzz, posts a picture and then gets summoned to take the image dwn by the company. Hello… wake up call. This guy was doing you a favor. Without you having to pay or prompt him. Because he’s a fan, an evangelist. And then you slap him in the face? Ouch.

Who knew that good old GE was into developing Web2.0 applications? Well, I suspect they’re not, but they have created this awesome online collaboration tool. You can use it with others to work on designs, and it is incredibly nifty, my favourite feature being the chat function that goes with it. This means you can chat at the same time you’re creating something on the workscreen. Try it out, preferably with a friend so you can see the full thing in action. Doodling… I love it! Now, if they only add functionality so you can import images, that would make this a supertool.

Serendipity out the window

Afb036Random thought I had just now (in Managment Accounting, honestly, I don’t know why, cause this has little to do with MA). With all this content nowadays you can pull in, and can tailor to your own needs, does that give us a lack of serendipity? You know, you pick up a magazine, flick through it, and all of a sudden you find an article that is talking about exactly your problem. But you weren’t actively looking for it. Serendipity. You run into a person in the hallway, who then turns out to know someone that needs an intern and you turn out to get the job. Serendipity. Are we losing it? With increased efficiency, with more and more pull models of getting content, are we losing our capacity for letting serendipity happen? If you just read the RSS feeds that you subscribe to, are you losing out on accidentally finding information you could use? Or is accidental finding of information out of date anyway?

Businessweek has put together a special report on Web2.0 for CEO’s. So if you’re wondering what all the 2.0 hoo-ha is, this is the place to go (a part I really liked was the interview with a VC, you can find it here).

RSS feeds can save your life

Well, maybe not your life… but they can save you time and effort if you know how to play the RSS-game. I wrote the piece below for a few friends of mine, but reckon that it might be an interesting read for some of the readers of this blog too. Apologies if you’re already familiar with RSS, just skip to the next post.

What are RSS feeds?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, and they are like a subscription you take out on a website. It’s a push mechanism: you get notified of the changes instead having to check the website if there’s anything new. It is often used for websites of which the contents change frequently, such a weblogs, newspapers and magazines. 

What can RSS do for me?
Instead of surfing to your favourite websites, you have the latest news delivered to one webpage, making that page a one-stop shop. If you’re looking for a job, or trying to keep up with a particular industry, RSS can be your best online friend since it allows you to monitor the content of a large group of websites easily. According to the latest statistics a new blog is born every second, with a grand total of 37.3 million blogs out there in the blogosphere (37.3 million +1, 37.2 million + 2, you get the idea).

I like it. How do I set it up?
There are several simple steps you need to take:

1. Find a RSS reader. There are two types: the kind you read online (much like reading your mail online) or ones that deliver the feeds to your inbox (although I’ve yet to find a free one, so I won’t go into this in detail). I am a fan of online because it allows me to check it from any computer with internet access. I use Bloglines which is easy to set up and use. If you have a Gmail account, you can also use Google’s RSS reader. I’ve listed a few of the most popular readers in the Resource section at the end.

2. Find websites that you want to subscribe to. Websites that have RSS feeds often put a ‘subscribe to RSS’ icon (like the ones on the left)Small_rss_iconXmlRss or text on their websites indicating they offer RSS feeds. Almost all blogs have RSS feeds, and once you start reading one, the domino effect will kick in and lead you to other blogs. Use blog search engines such as Technorati to find blogs on topics you’re interested in. Don’t forget to check out trade publications, they often have RSS feeds. For a starter-list of webpages with feeds, see the Resources section at the end.

3. Subscribe to the websites. Open your RSS reader and copy the web-address to your RSS reader, it will then give you a list of RSS feeds that that page offers and you pick the most appropriate. Sometimes they all look alike: just pick the first one.

Where can I find more information?
BBC has a nifty webpage explaining all, as does Wikipedia, see the link below in the Resource section.

Resource section
Online RSS readers

Bloglines

Google Reader

Newsgator

How to find blogs
Technorati
Google Blogsearch
Sphere

Some webpages with RSS feeds:

Businessweek
Brand Republic
New York Times
BBC
Reuters
For MBA related blogs, check out
League of MBA bloggers or
Hella’s list of MBA blogs
and of course my own Divine Miss N

A little sunshine…

Afb0072
A little sunshine, some nice tea and a whole lot of good conversation. What a perfect day to celebrate the first real day of Spring in London! Today was the first day that I walked around without a coat on this year, and it was soooo lovely. I spent the afternoon having tea with a friend in Hampstead, catching up and doing some shopping. She showed me around Hampstead and I’ve fallen in love with the place. It feels so villag-y, and it’s got so many good shops! One of my favourite’s is Rosslyn Delicatessen, which stocks one of my favourite cheeses ever: Rambol. Brings back fond memories of working at a project in the Netherlands with the national gastransport company, going out once a week for sandwiches, and my absolute favourite (best sandwich I ever had in my life) was made with Rambol. Needless to say I splurged (well, sort of) and bought a small piece. The picture top left was taken in their store, I believe these are American sauces (they’ve got quite a large section with American food).

Lately I’ve been listening to a number of podcasts (this branch of internet-sport seems to be growing up a little bit) and one of my favourites are the talks given by entrepreneurs at the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. This program has set up Stanford Educator’s Corner, with a motherload of video, podcasts and other material related to entrepreneurship. Well worth a visit if entrepreneurship is your thing (it’s even got a video featuring LBS Entrepreneurship prof John Bates).

I’ve just finished reading Naked Conversations, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (see for the accompanying blog here, and for a list of all the blogs mentioned in the book here). On a whim yesterday I decided to check out all the books that the London Business School library has in stock on blogging, 3 in total and this was the first I read. I really liked it, it gives great examples about how blogging is used in business, how it could be used, and how it should not be used. Great stuff if you’re interested in blogging (I’m not sure how many people at LBS are, though, I was the first one to check out the book… but then again, it appeared in 2006, so it could have just be put on the shelf).

Taking the plunge: I’m moving!

Afb158I’m moving. I just got fed up. And I wanted something nicer. Something more slick and smooth. Something I could fiddle around with. Metaphorically, I’m trading up from a pair of shoes as a means to get round to a nice, middle class sports car. I changed the blog to Typepad. There, I’ve done it. After wanting to do it for a while now, and after testdriving it for a while, I’ve decided to move the blog to here.

You can find all the old posts on this blog, and slowly I’m getting round to adding categories so that you can more easily find posts on a specific topic. I’m also slowly working on getting the links across, so please be patient, it should all look as intended in a few weeks time. The only thing I couldn’t get across were the comments, so those remain on the old blog (which won’t disappear, it just won’t be updated). Apologies for any inconvenience.

Going, going, gone!

I’m happy to report that after being on the market for less than a week, my apartment is sold! I got a couple of great offers and accepted one today. A little sigh of relief knowing that is sorted and I can add a little money to the bottomless pit that is called MBA-financing.
On a different, but slightly related note, I’ve been thinking about buying an MP3 player. I am one of those people that have watched from the sidelines whilst other people pop white plugs in their ears. I can see the wow-factor of the sleek design of the iPod and I hear it calling to me, but I’ve also heard some negative stories. So far I’ve checked out a few websites and there’s a couple of things that I’m thinking about. My main reasons for buying an MP3 player are
a) a way to store all the music on my cd’s so I don’t have to bring my cd’s to London with me
b) as an extra storage device.
I’ve been thinking about buying a 20 or 30 Gb one, so I can do both, realising that they might be a little more bulky than smaller (say 4 or 5 Gb one). A few players I’ve been looking at are the Sony NW-HD5, IRiver 20 Gb, Samsung YH-920GS, Creative Labs Zen Xtra, iPod 4th generation (40 Gb).
Sooooooo, whilst I’m doing more research, I’d like to know your opinions? What should I look out for? Have you got an MP3 player and can you recommend it?