New in the world of

New in the world of Digital Photography (Demo 2004 Series – 4) The beat goes on in the world of Digital Photography. Two very nice (and one less nice) Photo Sharing products were launched at Demo this year. Quick notes on three of those.


PhotoSite from Homestead.  This is a very nice simple online photo album. It’s customizable and has very attractive album pages. There is an annual charge, but it’s probably worth it.


Share-a-lot. This is a different approach. It’s a very easy, peer to peer sharing of photos with specific other people. This is a free service, so the question does arise how they make money. Visually it is less attractive then Photosite. Also you have to specifically indicate with who you would like to share.


Our Pictures is a custom client which delivers pictures peer to peer to your friends and family. The interesting thing about the team building it is that they were the people who developed AOL’s “You Have Pictures” service. It shows: the user Interface is very nice. There’s also a tie-in with the photo retailer to order prints. I think they got it mostly right. They are providing a different transport to send pictures because for various reasons email isn’t ideal. That’s good. However I think they threw the baby out with the bathwater, because they don’t even use email for notification – they have a separate application and notification method.


By the way, here’s an article I came across that goes into more objective detail.

Key Computing’s Xkey: (Demo 2004

Key Computing’s Xkey: (Demo 2004 Series – 3) By my informal survey, this was the favorite at demo. XKey is a tiny USB port device (kind of like one of those little USB flash devices) which, by plugging into a laptop, transforms the host computer into a private, isolated, separate computer, connected by VPN to the corporate network.


It’s hard to explain in a few words, but basically you plug it into the USB port while your computer is connected to your corporate LAN. Magically files, folders, exchange and outlook data, are all copied onto the device. When you take it and plug it into another (‘host’) computer, you get access to all your work, plus your Exchange/Outlook information. All the information is secured inside a ‘sandbox’ and you are protected from and prohibited from letting any of it leak onto the ‘host’ computer. As I said, hard to explain. Look at their web site for more details.


The really clever thing here is to take a bit of raw technology (a portable, USB storage device) to something that solves a real, believable, pain point. Their product is clearly targeted at businesses who want to allow employees to securely use their corporate assets away from the office.


Among Demo attendees this one was often cited as the most interesting product demoed. And credit to Chris  Shipley, she must have seen that, because it was also the very first product to be demoed.

Amazing little rover “calculates its

Amazing little rover “calculates its own location in the universe…..on Mars”: I just can’t get enough of this amazing bit of engineering called the Mars Rover. Get this:

Opportunity also updated its “attitude knowledge,” which fine-tunes the rover’s information about its exact location and position on Mars….To adjust the attitude knowledge, engineers have the rover turn the panoramic camera to the Sun and watch the Sun travel across the sky for 15 minutes. The rover is then smart enough to take the Sun movement data collected from the panoramic camera to calculate its own location in the universe…..on Mars.

This is such an amazing little machine. That’s not even getting into the astronomy, orbitall mechanics, geology, physics, and who knows what other basic science that determines the core algorithms. Hats off to the team who built it.

Search Innovations (Demo 2004 Series

Search Innovations (Demo 2004 Series – 2) – Two interesting Seach products were showcased: Grokker 2 from Groxis and p-Zoom from Big On The Net. They were both variations of a similar idea, with very different visual interfaces.

The core idea is to take the results of a search engine of some kind, and cluster and organize them to make them more understandable. Not a new idea, and in fact, there have been several products who have done this, none of which I can remember right off. Both Grokker and p-Zoom seem to work but in my view they don’t do enough in an effective enough way to be worth recommending. 

In fact let me again my all-time favorite search utility, X-1 from IdeaLab. Now that’s a beautifully executed, and supremely useful search utility. It focuses more on searching of what’s in my own world (files, emails, etc.) which Groxis does but p-Zoom does not.  I recommend it highly.

Two more editorial comments.

Grokker has a visually very pretty user interface employing a graphical device which we started calling the “circles-inside-other-circles” UI which I believe they invented. The interesting thing is that there were two other totally different products which seemed to have copied the idea and were using a very similar visual device.

Secondly, the notion of searching what’s in my personal space – files, emails, contacts, appointments, etc. (which both X1 and Grokker do) is an amazingly useful capability which certainly belongs in the operating system. And Microsoft has on several occasions incorporated this into Windows. In fact it seems like there’s some elaborate technology for search built into Windows XP. But for some reason it’s one of those things (like Collaboration) which Microsoft just never gets right. I wonder why.

Demo 2004 Series – I

Demo 2004 Series – I just returned from the Demo 2004 Conference, and I have some news and ideas that I will be writing about in the coming days. At the highest level, Demo is a conference that I’ve been going to for years. It is in the same league or family as PC Forum and Agenda. You might call it one of the legacy conferences (… to contrast it with the new cool conferences such as the Emerging Technology Forum and BloggerCon.)

If you are interested in what new products are coming out of the mainstream computer industry, Demo is great. Chris Shipley who is the MC/Executive Producer, selects about 60 products from all corners of the industry representing the latest greatest. The selection criteria, as I understand them, require the products to be new (using a semi-flexible definition of “new”) So it could be a brand new product from a brand new company, or a revolutionary new twist or generation of an existing product. But these are all hard-core-we-intend-to-make-a-lot-of-money kinds of deals, vs. the ‘other kind’ of product.

Products that are especially interesting (to Chris) are put onto a break-neck, 7 minute per demo, one and a half day schedule of stage presentations. They are organized, more or less, by themes with Chris herself providing commentary and context setting as the conference progresses. It’s an excellent format and a great way to see a lot and quickly.

In addition to the stage demos, there are ‘booths’ where you can actually see and touch the product, and importantly, speak to the actual people who invented or built the product, and actually get in depth with them about the products that really intrigue you.

Anyway, I took notes during the meetings and I thought, since I had already done the writing for my own benefit, I’d share them here for yours.

New BlogBridge Web Site and other changes

Happy Valentines Day. As you can see, there is a new web site design. This one was created by a designer in China. I just thought I wanted something a little more professional. As for the software, there are several new developments. We are diving into the questions of unread handling. This is leading to new designs in several areas: there is now a BlogBridge Preferences dialog. Included here will be settings allowing Articles to be automatically set to unread under certain conditions. Also there will be some changes required in the low level persistence handling to track unread.