Sunday, February 27, 2005

Quick updates!

Midterms are finally over and I'm on Spring Break!

I'm in Seattle with Mike through Wednesday checking out the various neighborhoods and trying to decide where I'd like to live. Today we visited Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, and the University area. I think we'll check out Capitol Hill tomorrow. My basic requirements are a reasonable commute, a relatively new (<10 yrs old) building, and a young, exciting environment (yuppy, artsy, whatever..). Oh, and a dishwasher and washer/dryer in unit (read: convenience). I'm looking at 1-bedrooms right now, but if anyone wants to be my roommate, feel free to drop me a line! I'm also open to any neighborhood advice anyone might have.. so comments will be appreciated as always.

Interestingly, the hotel we're staying at, Hotel Andra, is the first and only non-Hyatt hotel in the US to become a T-Mobile HotSpot. So, I succumbed and added HotSpot service to my mobile phone service for $19.99 a month. They said I could cancel after my stay and it would be prorated, which yields a total cost of $2.67 for wireless Internet during my stay should I decide to do so. So far the hotel has been really great. I found a great deal on Travelzoo.

I'm not sure if people still use Friendster. They've finally rewritten their app in PHP, and it's significantly better than before. Unfortunately, I think they missed their window of opportunity -- but time will tell. The only reason I mention it is because I was able to perform a pretty refined search on my social network (friends within 2 degrees of me and 25 miles of Seattle + a bunch of other options). If these social networking apps provided a bit more incentive/value after the initial "Wow" period, maybe we would start using them again?

Over the last week and a half there's been a bit of controversy over the AutoLink feature of the new Google Toolbar. I've skimmed a wide range of opinions in the "blogosphere", and disagree with most of them. My own opinion? Just like any other product.. you no like, you no buy. Oh wait, it's free. On what grounds do you have to complain again? Yes, I hope Google makes it as customizable as possible. But until then, I categorize issues like Barnes and Noble ISBNs linking to as carelessness rather than evil. Isn't it interesting how as of the time of this writing, Google Local listings still point to MapQuest, not Google Maps for directions? Carelessness. Or is it because Maps is still in "beta"? Don't get me started on Google's beta policy. Back to the toolbar.. Yes, it does put Google in the position to render pages and add/alter links as they see fit, even to their own economic advantage. Heck, they could even insert ads into pages as they're loaded! But they don't. And if you're concerned, don't use it. And if you're concerned about the masses using it, provide a better, less "evil", alternative -- a Mozilla powered browser plugin, perhaps, that isn't backed by a particular corporation (oh wait, isn't Mozilla in bed with Google these days?)

On a less controversial note, I just came across this over at my friend Jonas's blog. Pretty neat.

Finally, as my last quick update of the day, I'd like to take this opportunity to give Kudos to Northwest Airlines. Yesterday I found myself enjoying a burger at Chilis in the (awesome) Detroit Metro Airport. The service was a bit slow, and I found myself wondering if I was going to have to leave without finishing my lunch in order to catch my flight. I found myself thinking.. "I know this airport has a wireless network, but rather than just providing a redirect to paid Internet access, I wish they would provide a redirect to airline services like checking flight/gate status." Then I vaguely remembered some wireless services offered by Northwest. The airport wireless network doesn't have the redirect, which is unfortunate since my phone has GPRS and WiFi, but I was able to hop on the GPRS network, access, and check my flight status. It was delayed 15 minutes -- the perfect amount of time to comfortably finish eating.

I'm well aware that I'm not the average consumer but rather the exception to the rule here. But I do strongly feel the future of mobile computing lies in-part in location based services (like airline services that become readily available when entering an airport region). I have a lot more to say on this subject.. it's something I've been researching and playing with in-depth for the last 6 months. It also ties in with social networking, and realizing some continuous value from a social networking system. I hope to share some of my recent project work here soon.. but this.. is only.. a quick update.

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