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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Google me

Adam Greenfield's comment about his first name ranking seventh in Google reminds me to note here that for some time, entering Mike Lee into Google brings both old and new curiousLee sites to the top. It's been dang handy to just tell people to go to Google and drop my name in, and yet another good reason to finish my About page.

As of this writing I rank above:

Mike Lee, Vegas Sports Handicapper

Mike Lee, ABC News Journalist

Mike Lee, Jazz Saxophonist

Mike Lee, Professional Bull Rider

Mike Lee, Christian Radio DJ

Mike Lee, Editor of Network Computing Magazine

and way above

Reverend Mike Lee

It's kinda cool that an information architect ranks with all these Mikes, and it certainly helps to have blogged for three years. You can see more Mike Lees on Googlism.

Given my current rank, I'm going to have some business cards made to read simply:

Google me: Mike Lee

Curiously, with no recent web promotion except a mention on curiousLee, wife Amy ranks fourth in her name query after a jazz saxophonist, singer, and bodybuilding champion.

11:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Monday, October 27, 2003



Continuing my exploration of photography in bad weather, I walked out on the Tide Point promenade in steady rain this evening to make a photo. I set my camera down on the wet wooden deck to capture the Baltimore skyline reflected in the thin film of water on the promenade planks. The low rain clouds, underlit by the nightglow, topped the scene in a painterly way. The security guard thought I was crazy crawling on my hands and knees in the rain. (Click the photo above to see a large version of the craziness.) If you're a longtime reader of curiousLee you might realize that the old masthead is made from a similar photo flipped 180 degrees. After making the photo, I was off to breastfeeding class.

11:22 PM in Baltimore, Photography | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Mobile Mike feeds curiousLee

After looking at the now defunct RSS Monkey and Adam Curry's somewhat clunky RSS Box Viewer, I discovered and implemented the newly-released CaRP RSS to Javascript Conversion Service. Since TypePad can't yet pull in syndicated feeds as blog content, CaRP works well as a way to retrieve the latest headlines from my mobile blog at hiptop Nation to include in the sidebar here on curiousLee.

Once an hour, the CaRP server retrieves and caches the RSS feed from hiptop Nation. Via my account at CaRP, I've configured the system to strip everything except the 10 most recent linked headlines. After adding some list item tags, the resulting snippet of data sits on the CaRP server waiting to be retrieved.

When this blog page is loaded by your web browser, a line of Javascript code embedded in the template of the sidebar is executed to pull and insert the feed headlines and links. The hosted service costs $14.95 a year and saves me the hassle of installing and maintaining a piece of PHP code on another server to accomplish the function. But for those who want to tinker, there's a version for you to download and install yourself, or the developer will do the installation for a modest fee.

The Web-based administrative interface to CaRP is competently designed, but should only be used by people who are comfortable with coding HTML, and understand the RSS mechanism. There's room for vast improvement in the area of user interfaces for syndication feed management, and hopefully, the TypePad team will rise to the task.

Having my moblog headlines above the fold on curiousLee better represents my overall content creation activity. I post to hiptop Nation almost every day, so along with bits of information in the Brain Food section, the sidebar will be the most active area of the page. I can certainly post directly here from my Sidekick, but I like keeping my moblog separate and I'm very accustomed to working with hiptop Nation's unique four column picture grid.

With all the life changes looming, I suspect I'll be taking advantage of free minutes on the run to moblog more frequently with shorter illustrated posts, and posting longer entries here much less often. The next curiousLee improvements will be a link above the fold to a filled-in About page, global and footer navigation, a blogroll, and (most likely) Atomz Express Search.

UPDATE: Due to a clash between the way TypePad maps from the root directory to curiousLee and CaRPs limitation of one absolute URL path per news feed, viewing this page via http://curiouslee.typepad.com will break the script. Please use the official curiousLee URL: http://curiouslee.typepad.com/weblog. I'm hoping to work with the developer of CaRP on a fix.

11:56 PM in Blogging, Moblogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Architect speaks


Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here.

—Words I'd like to use one day spoken by The [Information] Architect in The Matrix Reloaded.

11:24 PM in Film, Information Architecture, Information Design | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Finding Noobie


With Ben Shneiderman and his lab coming to the fore of my mind again in anticipation of his recent talk at AARP, I went back to some photos I took at the May 2002 open house of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) at the University of Maryland. It was in the offices of the lab that I discovered and photographed the ultimate home of Noobie, lab researcher Allison Druin's masters degree assignment from her mid-80s years at the MIT Media Lab. Noobie is a giant furry stuffed animal designed by a member of Jim Henson's workshop and augmented by a Macintosh computer in its belly. When Noobie was new, children could sit on his lap, squeeze his tail, move his arms or hug him to trigger switches that would cause the computer to display fictional animal designs. It was the making of Noobie that sparked Druin's ongoing interest in interaction design for children.

Noobie now sits quietly outside of Druin's office and seems to serve as the mascot for the Intergenerational Design Team's laboratory, which is essentially a technology playground at HCIL led by Druin to enable children to act as design partners in the lab's interaction design process. Seven children, ages seven to eleven, join computer researchers twice a week. The team delves into such things as how children might engage in collaborative storytelling in an electronic drawing tool and how a child who is too young to read might use a visual search engine.

That kids, guided by adult experts, can design technologies for the future, was not necessarily what left me most impressed during my tour of the lab. In this organized playland, scientific method accommodates the laughter of children at play to produce tools that offer delight before utility. This is a joyous display of design motive that is rare in the adult business world.

Try not to miss the lab's next open house in May or June 2004.

10:45 PM in Human-Computer Interaction | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Mobile and miscellaneous

Baby bits - Today brings us into week 34 of my wife's pregnancy, and Thursday's check-up went very well with Amy and baby girl along a perfectly normal course. This morning we went to our first Parent Education Class. The instructor delivered lots of useful information, but I again noted how technical all this birthing stuff gets. The baby also got an earful of Tarantino's Kill Bill this evening.

Art in DC - Friend Geoff Harris and I rode the MARC train down to DC with Amy to see the show of J. Seward Johnson's enchanting sculptures of impressionist art at the Corcoran. We lucked into an in-person appearance of Johnson himself who was taping some segments with a film crew. He graciously walked a group of us past several of the installed works. After the exhibit, we hopped a taxi back to AARP, where the Web Strategy & Operations (WSO) staff had a surprise baby shower for Amy. Many fun baby-related artifacts were unwrapped, and content editor Liz gave me a quick tour of the offices as I'll be starting work in WSO November 1st.

Shneiderman's presentation - Tuesday's talk and lunch with Ben Shneiderman were pleasant. The talk provided a good overview of his book Leonardo's Laptop. AARP's Older Wiser Wired site now offers the PowerPoint presentation and some links to additional resources.

America 24/7 - The PR machine around the arrival of the America 24/7 book is kicking into high gear. I recently found an article in Newsday where the book's co-author David Elliot Cohen revealed that my photo of the Woolworth Building is the first image spread in the book after the cover!

The competition was stiff: Cohen said that in the final judging, only 32 amateur photos were selected. "But some were awfully good and will end up as double-page spreads," he said. Indeed, the first image in the book - a full-page shot of the Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan, shrouded in fog - was made just after midnight on the first day of the project by amateur Michael Lee of New York City.

Elsewhere, Creative Pro offers an interesting article about the production workflow of the book. And CBS News Sunday Morning will be airing a story on the project tomorrow morning. A transcript is already on their website. I'm hoping my photo makes it into the program.

In an e-mail update from the director of America 24/7's photographer relations, I learned that the books are flying off the presses in Japan to amass an unprecedented initial print run of 500,000 copies. The book will be released on October 27th and should trickle into bookstores a couple weeks after. Amazon is offering a 30% discount. The project web site just launched an innovative custom cover service where you can have one of your own digital photographs to create a personalized dust jacket.

One mobile year with my Sidekick - At the beginning of this month, I observed my one year anniversary of my owning the T-mobile Sidekick. There are many tempting new devices on the market now, but I'll stick with the Sidekick for at least few more months.

Hanging out at the MIT Media Lab - My plane and hotel are booked for a trip to the MIT Media Lab on October 20-22. I'll be attending a couple symposia with co-workers from AARP:

The theme of the i:o meeting is Rethinking Healthcare, with the goal of reducing the demand on the healthcare system by a factor of 10. We will explore approaches that: (1) encourage active lifestyles, using music, arts, and games to keep people active and healthy; (2) enable self-, family-, and friends-care, using pervasive lifestyle data-capture and social pressure; and (3) technological intervention, including pooling data, the computer as coach or companion, and the use of media artifacts as a catalyst for reflective practices.

Building Blocks will explore the role of modularity in design, engineering, and learning: how will new materials and new technologies change the ways we build the world--and build new ideas? Building Blocks will be examined from nanoscale to macroscale, from physical to digital, from education to manufacturing. The symposium will include hands-on activities to spark new ways of thinking.

I also got word that Richard Saul Wurman will be presenting. I'm hoping to get a look around the lab in addition to the afternoon I'll have before the events to wander around Cambridge.

Last IA work - I'm putting in some hours back at my old office in the next couple weeks to finish the information architecture strategy for an insurance claims products web site. Since I'm going into a design management role in November, this might be my last hands-on IA work for six months or more. I'll still be active in the discipline as I will manage IA activity for the AARP.org web site, and I'll be going to the IA Summit in February.

Ear Candy - And I'm really jazzed about the tickets Amy and I have to see Candy Dulfer at The Rams Head Tavern early next month.

11:51 PM in Moblogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Picturing Jodi


In pursuit of the goal of expanding my photography portfolio, I'm averaging one photo session a week with a female subject—at least until I start my new job in November. A few weeks ago, I had a great session with friend Jodi, who is a successful technology consultant here in Baltimore. The photo shown here is our mutual favorite and is just one of a series of expressive images. She was also a good sport in working with me to make the first phonecam mosaic of a human head. Jodi, you rock.

09:55 PM in Photography | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Thinking Shneiderman

The gang at Older Wiser Wired (OWW), AARP's community of practice advocating web usability for older adult audiences, has published an interview with Ben Shneiderman. Shneiderman is the founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at The University of Maryland (1983-2000), and author of the book Leonardo's Laptop - Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies. The interview coincides with Shneiderman's free-to-the-public discussion on Universal Usability this Tuesday, October 7th at AARP Headquarters. I'll be making the commute down to DC to take in the event with wife Amy, who is part of the OWW gang (which I'm joining next month). I'll try to moblog the event and lunch if I have a GPRS signal.

11:48 PM in Human-Computer Interaction, Usability | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Baltimore is (truly) unwired

Mirrored from hiptop Nation minus some thumb typos:

baltimore_harbor_wifi.jpgI just tested out the newly unveiled free WiFi [www.baltimoreunwired.com] here at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. MacStumbler on my PowerBook G4 shows an unusable weak intermittent signal all around the promenade from the Science Center (where the signal is broadcast from an antenna on the roof), past the Light Street Pavillion, to the end of the Pratt Pavillion by the World Trade Center. These areas are the advertised access zone. I have never had a problem at the dozens of hotspots I've visited in multiple cities. This should just work.

Perhaps it's a technical glitch, or maybe I'll hear a lame excuse about Macs not being supported, but the choice to launch on the eve of the first frost warnings suggests more of a PR misstep. I hear the program was mentioned as far back as January, and that the vendor who donated the service only had to install $10,000 worth of equipment. Rolling this out in April would have given them an entire summer's worth of good will.

I also see no signage outside or literature in the pavillions advertising the new service. Truthfully, I'm one of the few hardy fools in town that will brave the cold to really test something like this, and merely having some signs up to hype the free access would have been enough to impress tourists who are unlikely to be carrying around WiFi capable laptops or PDAs.

I'll be contacting the economic development people and the ISP tomorrow.

- mike lee - baltimore

11:50 PM in Baltimore | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack