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i attended part of barcamp hong kong 2008 today and learned about a lot of cool new stuff.  among the things catching my eye was a demonstration of an open source app called levelhead, created by julian oliver of australia as a spatial memory game.  i’m not sure whether this would more accurately be considered art or a game, but there is no question that it is cool.  it’s actually been around for about a year so i may be late to the party.

it is setup by using cubes with barcode-like designs imprinted on each side.  these are viewed with a webcam and the app decodes the bar code into a game screen.  each cube represents a room in which a small figure resides.  by tilting, flipping, and moving the cube, the figure will walk in the direction you choose.  the object is to pass through appropriate doorways in a given amount of time.  that’s probably a pretty crappy explanation, so check it out in the video below.

levelHead v1.0, 3 cube speed-run (spoiler!) from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.

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a lurker is like a wallflower.  it’s a person who reads, but does not contribute.  does not post.  does not comment.  does not reply.  this, for some, is one of the virtues of the internet.  the ability to anonymously digest information without anyone knowing (except maybe big brother).

[this is one of the reasons why i struggle with blogging.  how do i know who is really reading all of this information?  how much do i want to share online – more or less than i share offline?  if you really think about it, there is an opposing level of anonymity in my personal information generation.  although much of what i post may be personal to me, does it really affect me if someone in moldova or madagascar or mexico or myanmar is reading it?]

rejoice because posterous is here.  why does this affect you?  maybe you are a lurker.  you enjoy reading but can’t really find the time to post.  maybe you post, but can’t find the time to manipulate your blog so that it looks the way you want it.  maybe you have time for manipulation, but only get around to posting once a month (or less – you know who you are!).  maybe you can’t be bothered with all of this crazy technology since email took years to master.

enter posterous.  hands down, this is the most frictionless blogging technology out there today.  you start by emailing a message to post@posterous.com.  the subject becomes your post title, and the text becomes the content of your post.  a new blog is created instantly for you – no signup necessary.  each succeeding post can be created the same way.  want pics?  attach them to your email and watch as they are instantly laid out in a great looking image gallery.  music?  your mp3 files appear in an easy-to-use embedded player.  include a youtube url and a player is automatically embedded.  think about it – you can use your blackberry to create posts without web access.  users in the us (to be expanded internationally) can sms a post via short code.

and in a bid to help you aggregate any existing services you use, you can also tweak the settings to have your posts auto-copied to blogger, wordpress, twitter, flickr, etc.

here’s a great sample post for you to look at starring michael phelps.  head over to posterous.  take it for a spin.  tell your lurker friends.  and let me know what you think.

very clever.

for me (unfortunately) it immediately reminds me of an econometrics class in undergrad – we used a program called shazam to test regression models.  i have to say that it was my least favorite piece of software ever.

many years later, shazam is now the name of a cool web app that brings an easy solution for one of my problems.  in our travels we have often been exposed to music popular in another culture.  the problem is that usually it is playing on a radio or in someone’s car as they drive by, or as part of a random compilation being played in a store where the employees are not familiar with the artist.

in the past, i used to just try to remember the tune as best i could, and then listen for it another time when i might hear the artist/song name.  over the past few years, i’ve developed a sneakier google-powered technique, where i listen carefully for a key set of lyrics and write them down (or save them on my phone as a draft SMS).  then when i find an internet access point i can google those lyrics and 99% of the time i find my song, my artist and a new playlist for my musical enjoyment.

now some of you will say, why not just use last.fm, or pandora, etc.  unfortunately pandora stopped working about a year ago outside the united states due to drm issues, or i probably would rely on it more.  anyway it does not solve the immediate problem of identifying the song i am hearing.

shazam seems to solve my problems.  you hear a song you like, you dial in, you hold the phone to the music, and shazam!  your song is id’d.  cool.  it’s available by registering your mobile phone in select countries and for select carriers (verizon and at&t in the usa, 3, o2 & virgin in the uk) or by downloading the app to your iphone.

Shazam - experience music

anyone out there using this?  i know sometimes being outside of the us i am behind the times for technology…

maybe this only applies to me: Online Alarm Clock.

warning – the site is in flash so will not work (as yet) on your un-modded iphone.

i have a friend who swore by his franklin planner.  he spent loads of cash decking out his leather-bound bundle of organization and by doing so peer-pressure me into getting one of my own.  unfortunately, my little black book didn’t have the same effect on me (even his CD collection was alphabetized!! :O) and after a few years i finally made myself throw out the hundreds of little blank pages.  (why a few years, you ask?  because i have the pack rat mentality sometimes and i’m also a little cheap.  i was hoping to make it through enough years that the days and dates would match up again.  i know.  it’s sick.)

since paper tech is yesterday’s news and i’m all about being green, i’ve tried various means of organizing myself with technology.  sadly, the most effective technology i have going for me today uses recycled scraps of paper and something called a pen, which makes amazing notations on the scraps that provide simple reminders of to-do’s for the day.  i can fold these scraps and leave them in my pockets so that kai can play with the fun paper balls that come out of the laundry.

i’ve recently started using remember the milk, a web-based task manager that helps you keep track of things you need to do.  i like the flexibility in the way your info is presented  – you can use the web interface to see lists, cloud tags, or a filtered table.  you can access it from your phone or almost any social networking app.  and you can add new tasks by web, SMS, or email.  it embeds location tracking and lets you share your tasks with others.  it’s also got a handy widget for your dashboard (or PC).  and apparently it is quite popular in japan.

give it a try, and let me know what you think.  note that it is still in beta.

inspiration

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it."

~ Steve Jobs

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