My Dashboard Widget (Sort of …)

Like most Mac users who’ve made the switch to 10.4 I use Dashboard. I’ve thought about looking at how to create one, but never really had the time … Over the break I’ve been thinking about ripping Apple’s sample Widget code apart to learn how to do it … this morning I grabbed their sample RSS reader code and changed a couple of strings to point to this blog. I didn’t alter the look and feel at all, just updated a couple of things. I know, not very original but its a start. At any rate here is a zipped up version of it. If I can make the time over the break to bang a little more, I will.

Roaming Rates Could Apply

I am actually typing from somewhere above the western part of PA, central Ohio, or maybe eastern Indiana. I spent probably the shittiest three and a half hours wandering the Philly Airport trying to figure out what gate my continuously delayed flight was to leave from. Was it F17, F37, F27, or as it turns out F36 that my flight was to leave from. I don’t want to turn into a pain in the ass over a little delay, but winter time travel in the Northeast — particularly from Filthadelphia –is a real drag. I am honestly still not 100% sure my “carry on” that needed to be put under the plane will arrive with me. If it doesn’t, my time with the CIC will be spent in blue jeans and a lime green button up … oh well, that’s life.

The flight itself isn’t all that bad, smooth so far, but I am always worried about actually saying anything about a flight until it lands safely on the ground. I was going to use the typical language of, “when it hits the ground,” but that just freaks me out to type (too much time around my wife I guess). As I sit here in coach hell, I am reminded that we do live in an amazing World … here’s an example, I woke up this morning to the ground covered with a fantastic sheet of white … I actually hoped it would cancel my trip so I could spend a quiet Sunday with my girls watching football, making a fire, and chilling out. While I am sitting here somewhere above the US (see above) I am struck with just how beautiful the cloud covering is below me. It is like that blanket of white that would typically cover a field in central PA before anyone, or anything, touched it … pure white, rolling like a sea of snow as far as the eye could see. Really. Amazing. Stuff.

When you spend an hour sitting on the runway you start to notice strange things — here’s an example, which way do you flip the little latch that governs your tray table? Mine is pointing left while my seatmate’s is pointing to the right. Not sure what that means. I also noticed that, since I am a miserable flyer, that the steward gave me two packs of pretzels because I ordered wine — three of them to be exact — while my neighbor only got one (BTW, I think I am only one on the plane who ordered a drink). Strange. At this point, about the only thing I know is that I will miss dinner and spend a quiet evening in a hotel room in Indy … maybe I might try a podcast.

Speaking of podcasts, I loaded up my Nano with a bunch. I listened to several episodes of the Bitterest Pill and laughed out loud more than once. I even downloaded a couple Daily Source Codes (haven’t done that in a while) … My old friend Adam was busy defending his updates to the entry on podcasting … too funny when you step back and think that the guy who really played a huge role in starting it all has to defend his view of the history. All in all it has me ready to jump back in with both feet. It also makes me wonder what would’ve happened if we’d stayed in the game with From the Basement and really worked that … either way, the sky is not falling and Indy is only another 45 minutes away. A new live version of “Daughters” by John Meyer that iTunes “made” me buy just played in my ears and I am missing my girls. Tomorrow I’ll hopefully have a smoother ride and I can get back to all the things that make my World so wonderful.

Easy Podcasting … Finally

It looks like companies are really starting to get the hint — people want to podcast. Although it is still a little tough to get the software side of it setup (if you really want to produce something with multiple inputs), the hardware end is getting a reall boost lately. Some time ago, I got one the new USB powered Samson Audio microphone. It looks and sounds very good … it did take me quite a bit of time to get it setup, but now that it is the results are great.

To add to that, on Friday at work one of my new staff came in to show me what he had just purchased for the group, the Blue Microphones Snowball Microphone … he picked it up from the Apple Store. Here is another one of those plug and play kinds of things. Although I haven’t used it myself he says the quality is fantastic. It doesn’t look quite as good as the Samson in its shock cage, but if it really works as well as he says, this might be the one. Then yesterday I saw the M-Audio has released the Podcast Factory setup … its a nice mic, some software, and a breakout box all in one package. While I was the director of the Solutions Institute, our podcast studio used two M-Audio mics and a USB breakout box — not easy to setup, but the quality was unmatched. I am curious about this new release by them.

Remember, its also really simple to just open QuickTime Pro and use your iSight as a microphone. I do that for quick class releated podcasts and the quality is strong as well. If you have a PowerBook, the built in mic isn’t too bad either, but nothing like the iSight’s mic. Garage Band has some good support as well, but not nearly as easy as QT Pro.All in all, it seems as though podcasting (and content creation in general) is finally hitting the point where anyone can do it — with the right tools … and the tools are finally available.

Blogging from Dashboard

I just found the coolest little Dashboard Widget, WordPressDash. This little thing lets you post right from the Dashboard under Tiger. Very cool and could have some interesting potential. The more I look at the selection of widgets the more I am struck by the potential uses for them. If only Apple could end up with a larger share of the desktops — even on my campus — I know my group would build some interesting things. Millet and I have been talking about building a basic widget for Edison Services — hey, at least a few of us could use it!

Some Good News for WVU

This has nothing at all to do with learning or innovation … just read that Kevin Pittsnogle is going back to college! Ok, you may be wondering who in the hell is Pittsnogle? Well, he’s the 7 foot center from WVU who knocks down 3 pointers like they’re layups. He was a key in leading my Mountaineers to the Elite Eight of the tourney in March. He had declared for the NBA draft, but has decided he’s returning for his senior year. I guess he wanted to come back for another year of innovative classroom experiences … oh, that means we have four of the five starters back from last year. Could be a great season for WVU next year! As my daughter Madeline says, “Let’s go Mounties!” Here’s the jump to the article at

Adobe is Buying Macromedia!

Yikes, that’s big news … Adobe is dropping 3.4 billion on buying our favorite authoring apps company! I guess if you can’t beat them, buy them. It will be very interesting to see how all this shakes down, but this could be great, or not so great. I am sitting here wondering how this is going to impact our emerging relationship with Macromedia. While at the ADC Institute, I got to talk with Macromedia’s VP for Education and she was very interested in us getting together. You see, most of our tools in the Online IST space are built on ColdFusion … as is the School’s CMS we built this year. Jeez, big news.

I’ve written more about this over at blogs@si … take a look.

This is Starting to Scare Me …

Twice this morning I’ve read two seperate entries about people considering “unswitching” … scares me as I’ve watched Apple climb out of the nightmare that was OS 7.5.x, to the whole Copeland thing, to OS 9 where things worked (sort of), to ultimately OS X and the smooth experience we have today.

It seems people aren’t pissed about the performance issues of the past; it’s the emerging corporate culture starting to get at people. The problem, IMHO, is that Apple is trying to continue in its culture of control and secrecy while the rest (at least a good majority) of the web is opening up. Think about the open source movement, blogging, personal media, etc and you can start to see the Apple isn’t fitting in at the moment. Not enough for me to switch — I’ve never been a user of any other platform … with that said I’ve had jobs that made me use a PC for various reasons (I even have one on my desk at work and a laptop at home for consulting work), but I have been a faithful Mac user since 1984. I wouldn’t give up my Macs for anything, but I do see these emerging points of view.

My wish? That Apple would show its users (dare I call it a fan base?) a little bit more of what is going on inside. I work with a lot of people from Apple (who are smart, energetic, and very together) who would have a lot to say that people would love to read about. How about it Apple, maybe start a corporate blogging program to let people in? I doubt it would ruin Steve Jobs’ “voila moments” at the big shows … at any rate, just thought I’d ask.

B2 Evolution … Multi Blogger Solution?

As I’ve noted before, we are looking for multi user blogging systems … I’ve gotten b2 evolution running and so far seems like a great solution. It has some really nice features, but I haven’t heard too much about it from the community. There are lots of people looking at these types of systems and I haven’t heard of many people talking about it. After I get it working the way I want it to, I’ll post more. For now, if anyone has experience with this version of b2, leave a comment. Thanks.