Monday, April 26, 2004

18 months of phone cam photos


With the help of a special query to the hiptop Nation database, I was able to back up over 18 months of moblog posts and phone cam photos to my local hard drive by simply loading everything into a single Netscape window and saving the page. I haven't gone back and read all the text yet, but here are some stats and facts on the images:

  • Date range: 10/14/02 - 4/25/04

  • 557 moblog posts

  • 1715 low-resolution JPEG images totaling 21 megabytes

  • Currently loads on hiptop Nation as 28 archive pages

  • Used two different Danger Hiptop/Sidekick devices and three camera modules

  • Posted from the cities of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Austin and more

  • Transmitted posts from commuter trains, airplanes, ferry boats, subways, taxis, a moving sidewalk and the gondola of a helium balloon

  • 58 photos showing myself (more than I thought)

  • 53 photos showing my wife

  • 106 photos showing my baby daughter

  • 24 photos showing my dog

With all the photos on my local hard drive, I was able to dump them into my iView image catalog utility to create a big thumbnail sheet. You can see the 1200 x 5500 pixel, 1.2 mb image in a pop-up window by clicking on the image above.

Rendered this way, my reaction was that 1715 images didn't look like a lot. Later this year, I'd like to pump another back up of these images into a photomosaic program to generate some Rob Silvers-style artwork.

I think I can sustain a decent rate of 3-4 photo-illustrated moblog posts a week for a long time, and though I'm really interested in the Treo 600 series, I'll likely switch to the next version of the Danger Hiptop when it is released.

I'm going to spend some quality time in the coming days reflecting on this tapestry of moblog posts and images. It was the best 18 months of my life.

11:55 PM in Moblogging, Photography | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, November 23, 2003

On maternity, meetings, mobility and more

The posting to the main area of curiousLee gets sporadic when I'm in periods of transition, as I am now, or simply crushed with work. Hopefully, I'll pick up the pace a bit soon as I discover my new routine. Here are some updates:

Maternity - If you've been visiting for updates on the imminent arrival of the baby, the moblog is the best place to keep up as I'm posting almost every day. Amy's two days beyond her due date, and VERY ready to eject the baby. The doctors are tentatively planning to induce birth this Friday morning (11/28). Otherwise, she's in remarkably good spirits. She's agreed to let me moblog the birth (in text and images), and I promise some thoughtful, tasteful, and hopefully not-too-sappy entries.

Meetings - I can't believe I'm starting my fourth week at AARP headquarters tomorrow. The first week was mostly spent on addressing administrative details. Then I decided to take a fast-paced deep dive into the operations and set up 14 one-on-one meetings over the last two weeks with a large number of team members. I called my meetings with my co-managers "mind melds," as we had 60-90 minute wide-ranging conversations. Traversing the content, community, strategy, technology, and design teams has allowed me to quickly gather the data to create a concept map of the current state of the web site's operations. I also met with many of our key internal clients in production and status meetings. Amy was very correct in describing the life of a manager as one lived in meetings.

Mobility - I'm on the MARC commuter train a little more than two hours every day and it has become a good time to blog. I've snapped images during breaks in the day and written them up on the rail ride home after consuming a beer and pretzel. In case you haven't been scanning the right side of this blog, you'll see a link to recent mobile blog posts, and a list of individual entries under Mobile Mike. You can also bookmark the direct link to the hiptop Nation blog.

I meant to note here the events around the release of the America 24/7 book, which has a photo of mine just inside the front cover. Online pals thoughtfully covered some of the launch events for me. Eric, who works at HBO near Bryant Park in NYC, checked out the outdoor show of photos from the book around the park, and noted that my image didn't make the cut. I suspect I won't see it again since almost all of the images shown in promotions are people shots. Jessica, Rick, and Kale observed the in-store kiosk display that's everywhere. Alas, due to an administrative screwup at the project office, my image didn't make it into the online print sales store. I'm going to keep bugging them, but I don't have high hopes. If you aren't planning to buy the book, you can see about 80% of the images from the book in the online catalog. MSNBC also has a slideshow of a few images set to music.

Update 11/24: Oprah picked America 24/7 as one of her Favorite Things of Holiday 2003 and gave everyone in her studio audience a copy.

11:03 PM in Blogging, Family, Moblogging | 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 will break the script. Please use the official curiousLee URL: I'm hoping to work with the developer of CaRP on a fix.

11:56 PM in Blogging, Moblogging | 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 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

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

recentLee on hiptop Nation

I still love posting to the hiptop Nation communal moblog via my Sidekick, and lately, I've been sorting through the options for syndicating content from that blog into this one. I suspect that the TypePad folks will eventually offer content syndication for the sidebars here. Meantime, here are some annotated direct links to some of my recent hN moblog entries:


Headmapping Jodi (screenshot shown above) is the latest in my series of photo mosaics created and posted wirelessly from my Sidekick. The mosaics exploit hiptop Nation's four-photo-wide layout and some composing tricks I've discovered in my many hours of moblogging. The technique is inspired by David Hockney's famous Polaroid SX-70 photo mosaics from the early 80s. My original desire was simply to capture a larger view with the Sidekick's tiny low resolution images, and I settled on the 4 x 3 grid as a managable size. In the latest mosaic, I'm starting to investigate warping space—in this case unwrapping the surface of Jodi's head. There's also a little bit of the experimental spirit of Andrew Davidhazy happening here. My previous mobile mosaics were:

Posted today, Photos of photo books I'm coveting (at Borders in Towson, MD):

Puppy! - an 8-week-old (correct age) Sheba Enu puppy that lives around the corner from our house.

Visualizing Jenny - some quick screenshots of the results of a portrait session at Jenny's house.

Bellies Bump - I compare my belly to my wife's pregnant one (week 25 at the time).

Moblogging ChicagoLand Soon - putting out the word that I'll be roaming around Chicago for a few days in early September. Tim W: we're on for lunch Sunday if you're game.

Parrot Want A Sidekick? - a surprising encounter with Yago the Parrot while walking the dog. I was inspired to pick up a copy of the book The Parrot Who Owns Me.

Yan - screenshots taken from my laptop as I edited the images from a portrait session with friend Yan.

A gathering of friends of information architecture - there's more coverage of the night in Brooklyn in Michael's and Tanya's blogs.

Insanely Cool Cutting - friend and former student Adam gave me a demo of his new computer-driven VersaLaser laser cutter recently. I have a small photo essay in the works on the visit, and am seriously trying not to go back for a couple weeks because I've got a backlog of possible projects for the machine distracting my brain.

Big organizations and buildings - some photos of AARP Headquarters, where I'll start working in November.

If you haven't had enough, here is the previous summary of mobile posts.

Update 8/20: Our road trip to Ohio at 4, 8 and 10 hours, and another face at aiyaa!

11:55 PM in Baltimore, Moblogging, Photography | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, August 09, 2003

curiousLee Mobile Edition

May pointed out that the default templates in TypePad squeeze the columns of text into a stack of single words on the 240-pixel-wide screen of our T-Mobile Sidekicks. This is a common problem on CSS-based sites and is really a problem in how Danger's mobile web browser parses its HTML. Hopefully they will fix this in a future update.

Ahh, this is the way maintaining a site should be: I went into the Weblog Design section of TypePad and converted the default templates into an advanced set, which exposes all of the constituent pages and support files of the site. I then duplicated the index.html file (the main page of the blog), and saved it as mobile.html. Then I opened the code for that page and hacked out all the CSS IDs and class tag attributes. When I loaded the new page, I got a plain vanilla layout that loads fine and is quite readble on the Sidekick. Coding time: 10 minutes.

The ease of converting the home page demonstrates the power of CSS-based page construction over HTML tables, the benefit of content that is separate from presentation and the well-designed TypePad content management controls. Template adjustments like this are not easy or impossible in the convoluted administrative interfaces of million-dollar content management systems I've used.

I'll probably end up duplicating and converting the other page templates this way to create a complete mobile device-friendly site. The advanced templates are where I'll also begin to create extra pages for curiouslee such as a gateway page to multiple collections of photo albums. In the current template, all photo albums are stuffed into the right navigation, and that won't work when I have more than a handfull of albums. I also want to create a links portal page.

So for May and all my Sidekick buddies:

04:53 PM in Moblogging, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Recombinant Meme: Flash Streaking

I'm intrigued by how fast the Flashmob phenomenon is taking hold. I was just reading the Mammoth End-of-week Flashmob Roundup at Smart Mobs and wondered how long it would be before we see Flash Streaking — a crowd of people gathering at a location to run naked for a few minutes and then dispersing.

11:57 AM in Moblogging, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Pages of photos

Mike Popovic tells me he has pushed out the new 20-posts-per-page format for personal blogs on Hiptop Nation. Now you'll be spared having almost 250 of my moblog posts shoved at you all at once. Thanks for the new feature Mike!

In my recent Hiptop Nation blog you'll see a mosaic of the Hayden Planetarium's sphere and another portrait of Yan.

In case you're wondering how I thumbtyped all of these complex URLs on the Sidekick while on a moving train: I cheated. I asked Amy via IM to send me the URLs in a single e-mail from her desktop PC at work.

Continuing work on this TypePad site, I should be pushing a load of images into the "Best of" photo gallery on this site by tomorrow morning. I need to spend some time studying TypePad's image handling behaviors.

This Amtrak train was 25 minutes late and is now standing room only. I was lucky to get a seat. Oy.

Note: This post was originally sent at 5pm, but it bounced back due to a problem with the TypePad mail server. I just resent it to clear it out of my Sidekick. I also see that I'll have to come back in to manually assign a category to my mobile posts.

11:52 PM in Moblogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Seeding TypePad from my Sidekick

I have a few extra minutes this morning before I head to the train station, so I'm testing out a simultaneous moblog post to my Hiptop Nation blog and my new TypePad. Crossing my thumbs ...

- mike lee - baltimore - curiouslee


Update: Well I had to post here in a separate e-mail from the Color Sidekick because TypePad choked on the mail subject prefix "hn:" required by Hiptop Nation. Not a biggie. As soon as I resent the e-mail to TypePad, I got a reply from remote[at] saying I posted successfully. Very nice.

Note: Public comments are available for the first time in a curiousLee venue. I'm excited and afraid—click below.

08:05 AM in Moblogging | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack