tasty morsels of goodness on open platforms, developer relations and motherhood 2.0

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

bug day at the randall museum

Last Saturday, we went and checked out Bug Day here in SF. If you have kids in San Francisco, you need to check out the Randall Musuem. It is an absolute treasure for city parents, with a petting area for animals, an exhibit on the 1906 earthquake for kids, and is entirely run volunteers and the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department. I don't know what quirk of urban planning fate put a kids museum under the hospices of SF Parks & Rec, but it works.

Bug day was a lot of fun booths for kids, including pipe cleaner bug antennae hats, a bee keeper working with a live colony of honey bees, a composting exhibit (can't even type the "m" word, ewwwwww). We even marched in the bug parade, with a queen bee and an ant playing the sax to the tune of "the ants go marching".

blythe loved it.

Could ROR mean RIP for PHP?

i rarely link to my husband's blog. mostly because I rarely understand what he's going on about in there most of the time.

this post, however, for once made me laugh harder than it confused me. I remember in March when he came back from the Server Side conference all gung ho about Ruby on Rails, and how it is going to be the death knell of PHP.

he's so cute when he's all fired up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Web 2.0 as an enzyme: breaking down the hype

I've made no secret of my passion for the The Economist. Its byline-less wisdom is a refreshing treat in an age of biased rantings that pass for news. While other periodicals are falling all over themselves publishing stories entitled "It Feels Like 1998 All Over Again", I can depend on a dry, archly written subtitle from the Big E: "If it's cool, it's probably Web 2.0."

The latest? A short and sweet piece on the hype and evolution of meaning behind Web 2.0, with the requisite snappy quote: "We think of ourselves as an enzyme,” says Mr O'Reilly. “When we see something coalescing, we give it a name.” An enzyme, matter that catalyzes, or speeds up, a chemical reaction. Snappy.

According to the article, Web 2.0 began with a specific and useful definition. In contrast to the static web pages of the 1990s, the second wave of websites would make web pages look like dynamic software applications that traditionally run only on personal computers.

Then, at some point, " 'Web 2.0' took on a life of its own, being applied to online social networks, collective intelligence, blogging and podcasting and “participation” in general. It started being used in sentences that also contained other buzzwords, such as the “long tail”, “folksonomies”, or the “semantic web”. It is in danger of meeting the fate of “core”, “synergy”, and “leverage”, but, for the time being, Mr O'Reilly is delighted."

Hype-ase anyone?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The DevCon Unconference - in Vegas, baby!

I'm excited about this year's Developers Conference, June 10-12 in Las Vegas. My favorite part of every developer event is getting to reconnect with familiar faces and meeting new ones. Such a cool group.

This year, we're trying something new at DevCon - a half day Unconference, where conference intersects with community. Following two days of traditional keynotes, labs and breakout sessions at the eBay Developers Conference in Las Vegas, Monday morning will be about about dialogue over presentation, whiteboard over slide deck, couch over podium.

From now until the opening of the Developers Conference on Saturday, June 10th, developers can use the Conference wiki to propose and vote on Unconference Community Sessions. The Top 18 most popular topics by the end of lunchtime on Sunday, June 11, will be scheduled for Monday morning. The rest of the morning will be filled with sessions (discussions, 1:1 Meetings) led by eBay, PayPal, and Skype team members.

Check out the current structure of the Unconference agenda - to be filled in with sessions and voted on by you, in the wiki and then at the conference.

If you haven't signed up yet, take a look at the complete agenda for all three days and register today. See you in Vegas!

If you comment on my blog with a link back to your helpful contribution on the Conference wiki, I'll hook you up with a sweet discount on registration, so you can be a part of our first ever Unconference. :)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cool eBay Info from your Phone: Mpire Researcher Mobile

On Monday night, it hits me. I need to send off a gift to my newest nephew, Michael William. Cute as a button, born April 22nd, 7 lbs, 7 oz., 19 inches.

Suddenly, I'm on a mission, in the middle of a store, grinding through my checklist of weekly errands. Something practical, I think. Something colorful. Something he won't outgrow in a month. What was the useful stuff we got at our baby shower...? Yes! I know. A Bumbo Chair. Looks like it will cost me $39.99 if I buy it here, plus dealing with the line at the post office during lunch, or worse, at the weekend, plus purchasing proper packaging for shipping. Ick. I wonder how much are they selling for on eBay?

Mprielogoleft Nowhere near a desktop? No problem. Enter Mpire Researcher Mobile. In the middle of the store aisle, I quickly typed in Keyword "bumbo chair" in my mobile phone (loving the Treo 650 QWERTY keyboard right now), and waited about 40 seconds for the researcher service to download the results. I typed in an "ipod nano" search later that came back in under 5 seconds.

Once downloaded, the Quick Summary and Details results were very zippy. The Quick Summary screen came back with the info I was looking for: during the month of April 2006, bumbo chairs averaged a selling price of $38.35 and 96% of all bumbo chair listings sold. I guess more than one cute nephew was born in April! Cheaper, no post office line AND I can get out of this store immediately? Now you're talking.

The Mpire Researcher mobile service allows users to access data about items sold on eBay from anywhere by using their web-enabled mobile phone. The general idea is to enable eBay buyers and eBay sellers to use historical market data from millions of eBay listings to make better buying and selling decisions. eBay buyers can find out useful data, such as Average Selling Price and % sold. eBay sellers can use the service for recommendations on how to price their items and which listing upgrades have worked best in the past.

It's definitely easy to read and navigate on the screen of your mobile phone - here a screenshot of the Quick Summary screen: Mobile_screen2

So, how about when my daughter has outgrown her own Bumbo chair? I could loan it to another new mommy - or sell it on eBay. According to the recommendations on Mpire Researcher Mobile's Details menu, I should sell it as a 1-day Auction Listing ending between 6-7PM PT on Tuesday, place it under the Baby > Feeding > High Chairs & Booster Chairs category, and Yes, I should do the gallery image listing upgrade, but No, not to bother with bold or highlight listing upgrades for this item. Helpful.

My only delay in gratification with Mpire Researcher Mobile was with the initial set-up. After signing up online for the free trial, I immediately received a text message with the web address to access for the download. Ease of set-up from this point varied wildly depending on the particular mobile device type and carrier combination, from Very Easy on my co-worker's Nokia 6682 on Cingular, to Very Hard on the Treo 650 on Sprint (involving my husband, a JVM reinstall and a soft reboot), to Impossible on a Samsung on T-Mobile (not listed as a supported manufacturer/carrier combo).

I got to meet Dave Cotter of Mpire at an Innovation Day that eBay hosted in mid-March, where he was showing off his demo of the desktop Researcher product. Their mobile product is free through the initial launch period, and after the launch period, it will be $4.99 a month for unlimited searches via your cell phone. For when strokes of genius gift-giving hit you in the middle of the baby supplies aisle.