Deep Thoughts with Matt Hand

Here's what is on my mind...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Flock's Engine: Firefox

So, you want to know what my most favorite, Favorite Flock Function (FFF) is. It has to be the simple fact that Flock is based upon the popular, open-source web browser, Firefox. The swift and ultra-stable grandchild of the Netscape browser forms the core of the Flock application. In many ways, Flock is a group of software extensions that are packaged together and plugged into the Firefox browser. Of course, there are some tweaks, such as the switch from Google to Yahoo for the built-in search bar. It makes sense, especially since Flock is also linked to Flickr, which is now a Yahoo service.

Firefox and the open-source development model is how Flock exists. The Firefox code already has a huge army of software developers behind it endlessly refining and improving the program. So, most web-security and standards-compliance issues are dealt with by the Firefox coders. This enables the Flock staff to focus on coding social-internet features into the software and slipping them over Firefox like a favorite glove. Well, it's more like you just drove out of the dealership in an brand new VW Golf that's upgraded with every optional feature, and under the hood is a Turbo Diesel Engine that's dependable, powerful and efficient with over a hundered years of engineering behind it. Ah, the Firefox engine. Now on Version 1.9L... errr, I mean 1.5!

VW Golf TDI

VW Golf TDI

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Flock Stars: Social Bookmarking


I'm back! I've been working on another web project, www.matthand.com. I installed a WordPress blog over there and the whole process was smooth as butter. So, I've been favoring that blog, www.matthand.com/deepthoughts, way more this past month. I spent Thanksgiving there but I plan to spend Christmas with both of you! Feedburner is going to help me broadcast links to my other posts over to here. You should check it out If you have multiple webpages and want to do RSS Feeds. Read this for more info on how RSS Feeds are spread like wild fire accross the internet.

Well, what I'm really here to talk about is my newest FFF (Favorite Flock Function), Social Bookmarking with Flock Stars! Hey, I got a few nibbles on my previous Flock post and now I'm reeling you in! So, get this, Flock's bookmark / favorites capability is housed online and can be accessed from multiple computer locations with Flock installations. The bookmarking is called Stars and I can add stars from home and click on them at work. It saves me so much time not having to rebuild a collection of my favorite links on every computer I use.

How's it do that? If you don't know about del.icio.us yet, read this and come back. Flock integrates with del.icio.us, where you share your list of favorites in a mass network ranking webpages by social popularity. Cool way to find out what exactly everybody is doing online, besides just dodging work at their jobs. (By the way, those footsteps are your bosses coming down the hallway.) And it lets you have some neat benefits, such as keeping one concise list of your favorite bookmarks in a central online location. After this ability, all you need is Flock which comes hardwired to plug into del.icio.us. If you really want to kick it into overdrive though, you gotta do the tagging thing. Very cool, and an awesome way to search the internet. Isn't this new "participatory internet" fun?

Now, I do believe I mentioned my newest, but I don't believe I've mentioned what the coolest FFF is yet. By all means, it has to be the...

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Bob Visits DC

Bob at the Washington MonumentI had a really cool weekend with my brother, Bob. It was his first real stay in DC and we did the tourist thing to the nth degree. We squeezed in a bunch of attractions on the National Mall. We hit up the new World War II Memorial first. This memorial is best viewed at night, when the glow of the fountains seem to transform the water into fire. It's a real neat illusion, watching fire flow and spill in the central fountain. We got a chance to look up our grandpa, Gerald Hand, in the WWII veterans database. He's listed several times by multiple members of our family. He has a listing for every town he's ever lived in. I'm not sure if that's allowed, so let's keep that between us.

Next, we walked along the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln Memorial. We were reprimanded by some TV crew that was filming for waltzing through their shot. Then we joined a flock of two other groups and finished the walk and climbed the steps to Lincoln. He's actually under construction right now and mostly blocked by scaffolding. However, the view from the top of the steps is so amazing, especially the waves that play with the reflection of the Washington Monument. Also, I'll always like how the WWII Memorial is nestled into the ground near the reflecting pool in a way that it does not interrupt the sight-line between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The two pillars of the WWII Memorial actually frame the scene nicely now.

Then we walked through the Vietnam Wall, hung a u-turn and went to see the Korean War Memorial. On the walk back down the path near the reflecting pool, we stopped off at the little-known Great War Memorial. I really like the architecture with this one, especially the dome ceiling. However, the center-piece seems to be a man-hole cover. Very strange. We finally made our way to the Washington Monument. We had some fun here, took a bunch of photos, laid on the ground and stared up at it. It's funny how similar the Monument looks to the plane of receding words at the beginning of Star Wars. Nearly identical!

Well, that was our tour of the National Mall. We did a good job of getting the basic monuments covered. I was disappointed that I didn't show him the FDR Memorial and the new Museum of the American Indian. I guess that's just material for the next visit!

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Flock: the Web Browser for Me

Now, I've read some of the blogs taking relentless pot-shots at the newly released, Developer Preview of Flock. This beta version stands accused of being thrust into public too early, too ripe with bugs, and too short on substance. I must say that I digress.

I downloaded it within the first couple of days of release. I heard the buzz being generated from tech.memeorandum.com and I took the plunge. That day I switched my main browser from Firefox to Flock and I have not regretted that decision since. Yeah, I'm well aware of some of the bugs through first-hand experience. The one that plagues me most is the memory leak on Mac OS X because I use my browser for many hours in a row. But just like the recent memory leak I experienced using Firefox, it's no big deal and only requires a relaunch of the application. The current bugs may be annoying, but they are tolerable, especially when considering that this software is only the start of some really big ideas for what a web browser can be.

What truly excites the staff, the initial Flock community, and myself is that there are some very innovative features being built into this browser. So innovative, that it alters the way future browsers should be judged. No longer will quick page loading and web compatibility be enough to make a successful browser. From now on, we should expect that our browser be integrated with popular and useful social web activities like blogging and photo sharing. The browser is the command center for your internet experience, don't you deserve to have more control over it? Shouldn't you be able to post to your many blogs from one place? Yes you should, and that is why you need Flock.

I'm sure there's plenty of old-hat bloggers out there who don't see a need for Flock. I myself have blogged in the past, but the ease of use behind the Flock blogging topbar and blog editor features has really motivated me. In the past week or so since I started using Flock, I created this blog and have really stuck to it. I give full credit to my newfound interest in blog writing to my Flock experience. Blogging is now my newest hobby and I'm having a blast with it. I don't have much of an audience or ad revenue yet, but just as the Flock team is not giving up on their browser, I will not give up on my blogging. It's too much fun to let go.

Now, Flock has also been labeled as not living up to the hype. That all of the innovations the developers are speaking about are not clearly evident in the current release. To that, I say, "Duh! It's still in development and this was only the first public release!" At this stage, I would expect only basic functionality as a means to give a taste of what is to come. I mean, the first step is to lay down the groundwork, establish a base community of users to contribute to the project and find a direction for the development tree. In these respects, Flock is highly successful. Even if a team sets out to build a mammouth sky scraper, they first begin with a strong foundation. Now is the time to show some patience for this project and suspend judgement until it is at least through the incubator stage. In the meantime, they have a call for volunteers. Why not roll up your sleaves and lend a hand?

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Here's Roger, That Damn Cute Kitty!

Flickr PhotoFlickr PhotoI cannot believe how cute my cat is. I can't stand it! His cuteness alone demands attention. So, I decided to do a chalk drawing of him at the Museum of Modern Arf. His green eyes really are as piercing as they seem in the drawing. He's the best lookin' tabby EVER.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

No War at the Washington Monument in DC S24

Flickr Photo

Thought you might want to see one of my flickr photos. This is taken September 24 on the National Mall. The day was electric. An amazed feeling overtook you while looking upon the mass of peaceful demonstrators. Thoughts of togetherness circulated amoung strangers. I was by myself but never fealt alone. I was connected in my yearning for peace during the beginning years of an unjust war. I stood side by side with unforgettable participants such as angry grandmothers and anarchist teenagers. In this matter, however, it is the thought that counts. And the thought on everybody's mind that day was, "Peace Now!"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Novel Idea -- November is National Novel Writing Month

Flickr PhotoFor years I tossed the idea of writing a novel around in my head. I fealt that a good story, one worthy of sharing, was always just below the surface in my imagination. I even developed some characters, patterned after the most memorable people I've encountered in my life. Of course, for every inckling of enthusuasm for writing the novel I had, there was an equal or stronger urge to not start. Whether that be a lack of confidence in my writing ability, or the worry of starting yet another project that I could not fully commit to and therefore would not finish. I always reluctantly decided that I could wear many hats, but the one for novelist was not for me.



For the past week, however, again I am entertaining the idea of wrting a novel, and for the first time it is not so scary. I stumbled accross a website that truly has a wonderful approach to novel writing, a huge community of writers, and an infectious amount of enthusiasm that has ripped away my previous doubts and instilled a creative spark in their place. The website is www.nanowrimo.org which is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. The site has an exciting description of the event.

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo

Now, it is obvious that the short deadline and high word count would translate into tons of real crappy material. But, it is equally obvious that I would end up with a few gems as well. Released from my usual editing-while-writing technique, I'm sure a bunch of intriguing storylines would develop. I'm very excited about this opportunity for me to uncover another side of my creativity. On November 1st at 12am, I will start my novel, with gusto.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Online Poker

What is the big deal? My friend plays online poker for days at a time. He participates in free tournaments that last for up to 5 hours. All to win like $100. I guess it works out for the person who wins the overall poker tournament, they make $20 an hour. But for everybody else, it's only just a good time. Most poker players seem to enjoy the trash-talking involved. Other play a very quiet, intense poker game.

Now, I am a huge fan of cards. I totally dig Texas Hold-Em, the style of poker that everybody seems to be playing these days. It is way interesting to share cards with the whole table. Funny how one card solidifies a player's win, while that same card eliminates another.

I doubt I'll start playing poker online anytime soon, however. I know I have addictive tendancies for online games and I do not need to start a new one. But, if there's a real, live poker game going on, I'm in! Just let my grab my jar of nickles... Heheh.

Traveling Man -- Beach Vacation or Metropolitan?

I think it's almost time to cut loose! Skip town, head out West, or East... maybe North. Yeah, North to Vacouver, British Columbia. Some friends have been raving about Vancouver. Seems it's way liberal, way peaceful, descent weather and plenty of art to see. Also, there's a strong communtiy around local art. I truly want to check it out.

Of course, I could head South. Costa Rica is alluring for sure! Beautiful beaches at a bargain price.

I plan to save each month for a nice vacation next year. Alyssa and I totally deserve it.