On Mobile Browsing

I’m on the road today, riding along and catching up on my reading – news, blog posts and the like. I’m using a Cingular 8525 running Windows Mobile, which is a lot better than nothing but it’s a long way from an optimal browsing experience.

For exmple I’ve been trying to get a message to Thomas Hawk for the past couple of days but he doesn’t seem to be seeing my posts on Twitter or Zooomr’s Zipline.

I figured I’d get to him on his blog, via a comment on his post about Flickr, and this ‘mobile’ version of the browser lets me fill in the comment form completely… But the button to actually post won’t work. Arrgh! As Michael would say, paraphrasing a Seinfeld episode, “it’s not enough to take the comment, you’ve got to post the comment.”

The mobile browser’s also going a bit overboard on security; I’ve tried to get onto Twitter but can’t because it’s login & password-reset forms won’t work for me — the browser’s disabled them. There’s an option to show or hide warnings on pages that are ‘blocked by security settings.’ There’s just no way to see what the settings are, though, or to change them. Double-Arrgh!

My blog’s WordPress posting screen doesn’t look right on this device either – the text fields are all one character wide, so I’m typing into a ‘notepad’ app and then pastinginto the browser.

And now gmail refuses to send any mail for me… man is this becoming a frustrating ride, technology-wise anyway.

But hey, at least I can post to flickr from the phone via a non-gmail account. :)

Talk About Value, not Technology

Jon Udell, in Talking to everyone, asks

How do you talk to everyone about the transformative benefits of the technologies we’re so excited about, in ways that don’t make people flip the bozo switch and tune you out? How do you tell stories that make the benefits of the technology come alive for people, in ways they can understand, without overwhelming them with technical detail, but at the same time without dumbing down your explanation of the technology?

I think the answer is that the first thing we’ve got to do is to listen. Pay attention to their comments, see what their needs are.

Maybe you want to tell your family all about the wonders of RSS and “end-user” publication, but why would they care – they get their news from the paper and TV and don’t see what they could possibly publish that would be of interest to anyone.

But hey, grandma sure loves to see pictures of the little ones as they grow up. So rather than printing pictures and mailing them to her, filling her AOL mailbox with JPGs, or sending URLs that she may not know what to do with, buy her a picture frame that uses RSS. Point it at your flickr account and make sure you post new pictures of the grandkids each week.

By the time you visit again, all the other family members are going to be asking how it works, how they can get their kids’ pictures on grandma’s wall. That’s your opening to talk, in general terms, about the ways you are “publishing content,” how it’s distributed and the value that they can share with others.

The Net’s Not Free Here

I’m in Dallas Texas this week. — where everything’s bigger. The weather’s great, the food’s tasty, and things are going pretty smoothly at my customer’s site. Dallas hotelBut either I’m spoiled or I don’t properly appreciate the economic differences between hotels here and those in Columbus GA.

Over the past 8 weeks or so I’ve spent many nights at three different hotels, all of which provided Internet access for free.

In the hotel here they want $10/day. Jim G. tells me, via Twitter, that his hotel wants “$15 and change,” so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. I wonder however, with the ‘net becoming more & more pervasive every day, how much longer hotels will be able to collect fees like this.

Dinner With John Porcaro

I had dinner last night with John Porcaro. Good time, great conversation. It’s refreshing to talk with someone who “gets” Doc & the Cluetrain, Clayton Christensen, Purple Cows & Re-invent! (unlike anyone in the groups I have to deal with at work, most of who’ve not even heard of ’em) and is struggling with some of the same challenges – both technical and business.

Thanks, John. By the way, as those kids get older, the book to look for is Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall: A Parents Guide to the New Teenager.

Stopping Auto.Search.MSN.com

Still using Internet Explorer and tired of being taken off to auto.search.msn.com when you mis-type a URL? That’s easily changed.

  1. Start IE.
  2. From the View menu, select Explorer Bar > Search.
  3. Click the Change Preferences link. (if steps 3 and 4 don’t quite look like your system, look for a [Customize] button at the top of that panel (see below))
  4. Click the Change Internet search behavior link.
  5. Choose the With Classic Internet search radio button and pick a search engine (I choose Google).
  6. Click Ok (and optionally, close the Search Companion panel).

Done. Or are you? If you’ve closed the Search Companion panel, all looks good – typing garbage into the Address toolbar results in a “real” error message instead of a trip to MSN’s search engine.

But… quit IE and restart it and turn on the Search Explorer Bar again. Do you get anything you’ve seen before? No, because you’ve turned the Search Companion off. The problem is that the so-called “Classic Internet search” doesn’t give you the same options as you already selected. It defaults to using MSN to search, and the Customize button on this search bar gives a different set of options – one that does not include Google.

Goofy. Not a problem if you’ve installed Google’s toolbar, but odd nontheless.

(to get back, btw, choose that customize box to Use Search Companion again)