Disposable iPhone apps

I’ve recently noticed several conventions, festivals and movies spending their marketing dollars on iPhone development.  This is an interesting trend that we will see more of in the near future.

iPhone applications built for specific events have brief windows of time where their content is relevant and useful to the customer.  Syfy’s San Diego ComicCon (iTunes) and the Lollapalooza music festival (iTunes) apps contain extremely useful features for time sensitive events.  Schedules, maps, personalized calendars, photo galleries and photo sharing features are contained within these apps, making them very handy for a short period of time.

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Posted in Apple, Mobile, Software | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

NPR’s Scott Simon on how to tell a story

Video link

I’m sure I’m late to the game on this, but I stumbled upon the YouTube Reporter’s Center today and was pleasantly surprised with the content. Ultimately, the goal of this channel is to increase the number of video submissions to YouTube by encouraging citizen journalism.

This encouragement comes form veteran journalists discussing their craft.

I hope we see more of this guidance for the next generation of journalists and bloggers.

YouTube Reporter’s Center

– Dave

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Good-bye Houston!



It’s official, Justine and I will be moving to Denver, Colorado April 30th.  We are in the process of trading our flip-flops for hiking boots and our margaritas for micro-brews.  The adventure begins in a few short weeks.

Over the past 4 years, I have enjoyed working at the Houston Chronicle more than I could have imagined.  My colleagues in the web department are some of the brightest in the industry and I consider myself lucky to have worked with them.  I have no doubt they will continue to serve the Gulf Coast of Texas and beyond with the most comprehensive news site possible.

They have an amazing passion for the industry.  It is truly humbling.

In Denver, I will be taking on a new role as the Director of Marketing and Business Development for Kaango.com, a web-based advertising platform.  I have had the pleasure of working with Kaango while at the Houston Chronicle and they are equally as passionate about their industry and products.  

They have created a best-of-breed classifieds platform to help newspapers evolve online and I am looking forward to joining them.

If I began naming names of all the people in Houston we will miss, this blog post would swell to over 50K words.  Needless to say, we have an amazing group of friends in Houston we will miss very much.  This town is full of unbelievably talented and generous people.  I will miss you all.

The good news: now you have a good excuse to visit Denver.

– Dave

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , , | 36 Comments

Design intuition and serendipity


Douglas Bowman, the visual design lead at Google, recently left his post to pursue greener pastures. In a farewell blog post, he cited a profound reason for leaving (emphasis mine). You can read the entire post here.

Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.

From an engineering perspective, testing multiple colors, recording outcomes and making sound empirical judgments makes all the sense in the world.  If this is done correctly, eventually you will end up with the most effective design implemented.

However, from a design perspective, this tactic may be lacking some things the design world relies upon on a regular basis.

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Posted in Design, Google, Web design | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments



I’m not sure how long it will be around, but Fffoundtape looks like an interesting music sharing service that doesn’t actually move files.  It only “finds” them on the internet and then makes collections of the found files online.

I suspect this will draw the attention of the recording industry much like MuxTape did.

Should we take bets on how long it will survive?

(I’m giving them 8 months, although I hope it’s much longer.)

– Dave

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Back ups outside of Dropbox

dropboc_logoI’m a pretty big fan of DropBox, the remote back up service with version control and file sharing.  It works on Mac, Linux and Windows.  I use it nearly every day to back up important files and pass documents to colleagues in a safe version-controlled environment.  (I wrote a brief explanation of DropBox last summer if you’re interested.)  There is also a web interface that allows access to your files no matter what computer you happen to be using at the time.

The only problem I saw with the service was its inability to back up files residing outside your DropBox folder.

I found a solution to this problem recently on the DropBox wiki.  The solution is brilliantly simple, but requires a short Terminal command to create a symbolic link.  Let’s say you would like to back up a folder called “Projects” that lives inside your “Documents” folder.  Open your Terminal and type the following command:


This command will create a symbolic link of your Projects folder into your DropBox. I have tested this in Mac OSX and Linux (Ubuntu) and it works beautifully.  There is a hack to make it work in Windows as well.

By the way, I’m not affiliated with DropBox in any way, I just happen to think it’s a beautiful piece of software.

If you’re interested, you can get a free DropBox account here.

If you already have a DropBox account, do you have any tips or tricks to share in the comments?

Posted in Apple, Linux, Productivity, Software | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Want fewer emails?

Here’s a quick tip for reducing the number of emails you get in your inbox every day…

Send fewer emails.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the entire secret rolled into one sentence. For every email you send out, there is a good chance you will receive a reply. If you’ve copied multiple people in your outgoing email, you will probably receive numerous replies.

We live in a world with numerous forms of communication, yet most companies disproportionally rely on email for the majority of their contact throughout the working day. Depending upon the situation, email could be the worst form of communication to use with your coworkers, clients and business partners.

Here are some alternate forms of communication you should consider before firing up your email program: face-to-face meeting, collaboration tools (wiki, BaseCamp, Salesforce.com, Google Docs, etc), instant messaging (AOL, GTalk, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, Skype, etc), social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), phone call, text Message, video conference, video chat, blog, fax and last, but not least a good old fashioned hand-written note.

Here are a few instances when email is NOT the best tool for the job.

1. When you need a simple yes/no answer. Use an instant messenger, text message or Twitter direct message. You’re in and out and nobody loses much time in the process.

2. When multiple colleagues need to edit and/or approve a document. Use collaboration tools like Google Docs, BaseCamp, a wiki, etc. Emailing a Word or Excel document to six of your coworkers to edit is shear insanity. Stop the madness. Seriously.

3. You sent an email to several colleagues and you got a reply from someone who clearly confused. Unless you are absolutely sure one simple email reply will clear up the confusion, pick up the phone and call this person. Chances are, one 10 minute phone call will prevent 3 or 4 more emails.

4. You need to sell something. Whether you’re selling a product to a client or an idea to a supervisor nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.

5. Someone just emailed you the funniest joke along with a hilarious photo of a kittens. I beg of you. If you really need to tell the world just how funny this joke is, post it to your blog. Please, under no circumstances should you forward this joke email to your entire address book.

So tell me, are there any communication tools you use (other than email) throughout the day?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Business, Communication, Networking, Social Networking, Software, Technology | 3 Comments

Photoshop toolbar evolution

This is an eye-opening example of how software can become bloated over time.  These images represent around 10 years of Adobe software development.  It’s ironic to me that the earlier toolbars appear more user-friendly than the new ones.  I suspect the UI & UX gurus at Adobe made a conscious effort to simplify the CS3 toolbar (bottom one) and stop the madness.

Which toolbar would you rather use?

Photoshop tool bar

(Image credit – http://dezignus.com)

Posted in Design, Software, Usability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Micro-connections and the speed of news

I think we’ve forgotten something recently.  I think we’ve forgotten how easily social networks allow us to connect with unbelievable speed and accuracy.

There was a time when connecting with old high school or college friends meant contacting your reunion coordinator.  Sending emails.  Phone calls.  Snail mail.  Or worse yet, actually attending a reunion (I’m joking…sort of).

Now, we are able to locate old friends with Facebook accounts in 5 minutes during a coffee break.  One friend leads you another – and down the rabbit hole you go to find dozens more by accident.

Well, not really by accident.  It seems like synchronicity when you stumble upon a friend through another friend’s Facebook account, but it’s not luck at all. It’s good design.

A new speed

So what if we could take this speed to the next level?  What if we could temporarily connect with individuals involved in specific events while they are actually happening?

Yes, we have the ability to peer into blogs, Twitter streams, Brightkite check-ins, Flickr photostreams, etc.  But there isn’t a mechanism to allow us to connect with hundreds or thousands of people at once.

I am talking about something like the Emergency Broadcast System, but using a temporary two-way communication instead of a one-way communication.  Since it would operate over the internet (and not the airwaves) targeting could incorporate very detailed geographic information.  It would need to operate across multiple social networks to incorporate as many users as possible.

Is this a crazy idea?  Probably.  Ok, absolutley,  but think of the amazing life-saving information it could facilitate.  Think of it as crowd-casting at the microscopic level with with gateways to networks opening and closing when needed.

What do you think?

(The photo above is race car driver Bob Burman, from the Library of Congress.  He drove in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.)

Posted in Communication, Design, Social Networking, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

LinkedIn’s launches application platform

LinkedIn has launched its application platform to function much like Facebook, but for professionals. But unlike Facebook, the a LinkedIn application will be required go pass an approval process to be included on the platform. Users will also be limited to a maximum of 15 applications on their profiles.

According to TechCrunch:

“Beyond the quality assurance process, LinkedIn is also limiting the flexibility apps will have when it comes to monetization. Apps won’t be allowed to use third party ad networks – instead, they’ll have to work with LinkedIn’s ad system. For now applications will only have access to LinkedIn’s current ad inventory, which could make targeting ads less effective (though it sounds like there will be more options for targeted ads in the future).”

I’ve always thought the elevator pitch for LinkedIn was “a Facebook for work.” This solidifies the metaphor. I wonder how many newspapers would be interested in creating LinkedIn widgets?

Wanna place bets on how soon the Wall Street Journal launches a LinkedIn application? Or Monster.com? BaseCamp? I’m guessing pretty soon.

I’ve already installed a Slideshare.net application showing my most recent mobile presentation. The Slideshare application is a pretty simple one, but cleanly designed.

You can see it here on my profile.

Current available applications (at the time of this post) are: Slideshare, Box.net, Google presentations, Amazon reading list, WordPress, Blog Link, Company Buzz, My Travel and Huddle Workspaces.

The applications FAQ can be found here.

What applications do you think would make the biggest impact on LinkedIn’s platform?

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