New Soul

posted in Tech Talk on November 14th, 2008

A couple of months ago, I woke up to a a world of hurt: a bad cough and a busted graphics in an aging laptop.

Having faced an identical busted graphics card problem about a year before, too, I knew that repairing my rig would cost me approximately $1,200 to $1,500, depending on the availability of the items that are needed and the amount of man hours required to replace the parts.

While my Toshiba Tecra M4 has served me very well, I am not crazy enough about it to invest such a sum into a device that is 2.5 years old and quite honestly: who would, besides NASA.

The downside of my decision is that I have been laptop-less for close to six months now and since my Tablet PC acted as my primary computing platform, I am actually finding myself in a position where I get less work done in more time, simply due to the lack of adequate processing power.

Before I set out on my trip to the US, I was eying a couple of devices, such as the Asus EEE PC and even though I do not consider myself a geek, just being able to say that I built a web application with the help of the hottest sub notebook currently available, would have been a fun idea.

From a prosumer point of view, however, the EEE PC is definitely not able to cater for all my wishes and as such would not have been much than a secondary backup, computer as opposed to being my (primary) weapon of choice and as such, the hunt for new hardware continued.

Every few years in my computer life, I come to a point, call it a crossroads if you wish; a point where I decide to (radically) alter the way I go about doing things and go in directions I have not gone before, mostly in an effort to make my computing experience more pleasurable, but also: more efficient.

Seven years ago, this meant going the Pocket PC route and I have not regretted this one bit. Five years ago, it meant foraying down the Symbian Smartphone route, then back to Pocket PCs again.

This, eventually, lead to flirting with a Windows Mobile Smartphone, which worked well, due to its form-factor, but essentially changed my mobile computing habits from “creating” to “reading”, in other words: my productivity dropped, so back to Pocket PCs it was, once again.

During that period, I also ventured into the area of Tablet PCs, a technology that appeared interesting to me on a number of levels, mostly due to the fact that it altered the way I would be using my device henceforth.

After having used a Tablet PC for 2.5 years and having followed the scene since literally Day One, I can, wholeheartedly say that I did my best to accept it, love it and not hate it, but it just did not work out the way I hoped it would.

The applications that were killer and hot two years ago, are still the same ones that are hot today because, all in all, the Tablet PC ecosystem has not nearly seen as much influx as everyone predicted.

Their impact on the market is, still, negligible at best: Tablets are used by medical professionals and a few other niche areas, but for me, there is no future in this platform and as such, the hunt for new hardware continued, once again.

I knew that my next device, like my aging Tablet PC, would have to be a true Desktop replacement, because switching devices AND keeping them in sync all the time gets annoying really quick.

Another thing I require from my device is that it just works, in the sense that I do not have to install extra software when I hook up a projector, or, even worse: reinstall my whole operating system, because neither the built-in display adapter nor the external display provide me with any (visual) feedback whatsoever.

Naturally, just having a device that works is not all I want, I also wanted to try something new, venture into, for me, uncharted territory, so to speak. The last time around, this ended up being a Tablet PC, which basically was just an extension to the current operating system I was using at the time, this time around, I am inclined to switch operating systems too.

All in all, and more importantly, to bring this story an end, I have decided, that the best I could make is Apple’s new MacBook Pro and I am looking forward to, as one friend called it, experience that working with your computer can actually be fun.

Of course, while I made the decision on my own, I feel that there are two people I should thank, for putting up with my geekness during this trying time:

First and foremost, my biggest thanks go out to Nate Nelson who helped me put together my order, helped me change it, helped me order more stuff and even got me some nice extras to play with, thanks bro’!

Secondly, Kevin Pilasky for devoting the last three plus years of his life to make me consider and try out the OS X platform and finally have the guts to move to, and I quote: the system that will work for you!

* for the Apple fanboys who scuff at the mention of “New Soul” in combination with a MacBook Pro, I am sorry, I know the song is meant to be used for the MacBook Air, but it was just too tempting.

Taggin’ NYC: I ♥ SMS style

posted in Marketing, Projects on August 12th, 2008

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post about what Treasuremytext is all about and also the announcement of me joining their Board of Advisors, is this visual treat for everybody who loves to tag random things in public … like I did.

During the Software Social Summer BBQ, back in May, I was able to snag a few I ♥ SMS stickers and I decided that, the best way to expose New York City to Treasuremytext, would be by putting some of their stickers in more or less visible locations, such as trains, post boxes, abandoned cars and the likes.

Even though some may call this pointless, I definitely had my fun and, so far, had three people approach me about the sticker and what the message was all about.

In case you want to see even more tagged areas, head on over to my gallery!

And if you have come this far and still have no idea what Treasuremytext is all about, I suggest you have a look at the following clip.

Comments Off


posted in Projects on August 11th, 2008

Many of my friends, at least those whose cellphone numbers I have, know that I am an avid texter. I am, so to speak, a master of the arcane skill of speaking volumes with less than 161 characters and as such, I generate quite a bit of SMS traffic every month.

Ever so often, a short message turns into a good conversation and being a true gatherer, I like to save these messages to read through them again at a later point and chuckle about the past.

Up until a few months ago, I used to store all my messages on my Pocket PC and that started filling up my device pretty quickly; in fact, from July 2007 to July 2008, I have sent and received some 1800 text messages, with a fair number of collectible messages.

Back in 2006, during the first The Next Web conference, I came across Katie Lips and Paul Stringer, from Treasuremytext, a service that would let you save your messages online.

To be honest, back in 2006, I did not see a need for this, for one, the only way to get your messages into the site, was by sending them to a UK phone number, which was too expensive at the time, and what’s more: why would I want to save my SMS anyway?

In 2007, Treasuremytext, underwent a radical transformation: the site became all 2.0-ish, added more, local numbers (even a Dutch one) and added a new feature: TextStreams.

I was invited to join their beta in December and started using it more and more … up until the point where I decided that the TextStream feature would make for a nice addition to my blog’s sidebar, allowing me to microblog from wherever I was.

So far, I have managed to submit more than 130 updates and all in all, I find it a very enjoyable and straight forward experience. Contrary to, say, Twitter, TMT, has not seen any extended downtime since I have been with them and Katie and Paul have been very good sports about turning suggestions into features, something which makes me, as a user, feel good about the time I put into coming up with new ideas.

Treasuremytext has long been a supporter of the iPhone, with an application that would allow you to upload your SMS with a couple o’ taps directly from an iPhone to your TMT account and being a strong supporter of the Windows Mobile platform, I felt that we could not be left behind.

After a couple of emails, Paul was kind enough to open up the TMT API for me and I was able to build an application that allows you to import all your messages with fewer taps than the iPhone does (take that, Steve!).

The application is not yet released for the public, but that day is not too far off, for I was able to import some 500 messages into my account without problems.

What’s more: Paul and Katie were so happy about my involvement with TMT, that they offered me a position on their Board of Advisors, where I will be serving as the resident Social Applications guy, joining both Imran Ali, who is advising TMT on connections and funding and Ian Hay, who is advising TMT on being operator-ready.

All in all, I feel both honored and humbled at the same time for being offered such a chance and Treasuremytext is most definitely a service I am willing to spend more time on.

Fitness 2.0 and more

posted in personal stuff on July 21st, 2008

What do you do when you want to get back in shape but do feel like running in the local park, due to the boring scenery? Simple: you open up WalkJogRun and start planning your routes, then you convince your roomie to gear up and start doing so on a regular basis.

When I started jogging in Brooklyn, I managed to go for about a mile, before I was too exhausted to go on which is a true testament to the fact that I have not done any real exercise in a (too) long time.

WalkJogRun has been essential in making running / jogging a more fun experience, mostly because it tells you how far your route is, what kind of effect it will have on you and what’s more: the site makes it very easy to plan new route or alter existing once to better fit your profile if you want to increase the difficulty / length of a jog.


What do you do when you are pressed for time but still want to do a short workout every day? Simple: you start working out the Tabata way and utilize what little time you have in the best possible way. Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training that takes anywhere from four to sixteen (!) minutes for a full cycle.

The basic idea is that, when you give your body adequate time to recover (10 seconds each), you can do a number of evolutions (20 seconds each) at least eight times in a row (4 minutes in total) and depending on your stamina, continue the cycle for up to four times.

I have been doing Tabata for a couple of weeks now and I like the fact that you can basically do it whenever and wherever you are (at least in theory). I started out with ordinary push-ups, which takes its toll rather quickly but soon moved on to rope jumping to have at least some variety and finally added sit-ups to the package.

All in all, Tabata makes you feel great and helps you work out even when you are busy most of the time. It is also a very nice way to burn calories and get back in shape.

For those (like myself) that have trouble counting down the seconds while working out, here is an MP3 file that will take you through one evolution. Put it on your iPod, make a playlist with this track in there eight times and start your Tabata session!

Yes, I could not be arsed to create a really nice looking cover and went for the first image that I could find on iStockPhoto. The actual sound clips are CC-licensed files from SoundSnap.

taking the Scenic Route

What do you do on a Saturday evening when you do not feel like going out to get drunk or party all night long? Simple: you open up WalkJogRun and plan a route that (most certainly) less than 1% of all New Yorkers will ever walk, then you convince your other roomie to gear up and leave.

Three hours and eight minutes later, you finally arrive at your destination: a subway stop, 7 miles (11.3 km) from your starting point … and you are glad you finally get to sit down.

This is what Becca and me did yesterday, we started out in front of our apartment and walked the whole way from our place to the Williamsburg Bridge, then onto and across the Brooklyn Bridge. We started out at 11:30 pm on Saturday and reached our end point at 02:30 am on Sunday.

You can follow the route visually or have a stab at it yourself.

Comments Off

Postal Service in the US

posted in personal stuff on July 2nd, 2008

One thing I always enjoyed back when I still lived in Austria was the interaction I had with my mail carrier; usually a woman between the age of thirty-five and fifty, they always took the time for a small chat, maybe one, two minutes at most, but nonetheless: that time they invested always made me eager to go out and meet them out the street.

In the Netherlands, the mail carriers I have met so far are straightforward, so much so that they do not even take the time to say anything more than “here’s your mail”, which is a pity, so imagine my surprise when I met two very friendly and outgoing mail carriers here in Brooklyn.

The first one, yesterday, started singing while I went down the stairs and did not feel the need to stop when I was standing right next to him. For one reason or another, African Americans that sing always sound great and that guy truly had an awesome voice.

Today, I met another African American mail carrier and this lady really had a great sense of humor:

Kerim: Sweet, lots of mail for us.
Mail Carrier: Which one is you?
Kerim: Two dash one?
Mail Carrier: Oh son, you ain’t loved, look at that, only four letters today.
Kerim (laughing): Yeah, that’s about the same as yesterday
Mail Carrier: Son, you gotta get famous, ya know?
Kerim: Yeah, maybe…
Mail Carrier: Put your address on the web or sum, get that junkmail, ya know?
Kerim: Yeah, I’m not sure I would want that.
Mail Carrier: well, at least you’d get some more letters!
Kerim: True, true and I’d get to see you more often!
Mail Carrier: damn right, now sign here, cause this package is for you too!
Kerim: See, I’m getting plenty of love!
Mail Carrier: We’ll see, see you tomorrow!
Kerim: Have a good un’!

All in all, two random encounters that made my day just a bit better.

tagged with:,