Google Wave: Day 1

Posted in Geeking Out, Ranting Like a Lunatic with tags , on October 15, 2009 by kevvyg

Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard about Google Wave. Some of the descriptions that usually surround those two words are things like: innovative, game-changing, a force to be reckoned with. Combined with the mysteriousness of the invite-only system, the Intarwebs sure are all hot and bothered about the whole thing. I admit it: I was, too.

I signed up for Wave months ago, even including a couple of witty little jokes for the developers to snicker at. So when I heard that The Google was finally letting people into the system, I figured I was a shoe-in. I waited. I waited some more. I hit the Gmail refresh button with the furiosity of a septuagenarian at a slots tournament. The emails I could care less about poured in. The one I cared most about didn’t.

Desperation set in. I solicited invites from randoms on Twitter. A few offers resulted in a pile of spammy followers, but that was about it. I filled out the form again, as if pushing the button on the elevator 20 times would make it come faster. A few days later, a friend with less technology savvy than King Ludd himself sent me a text message: “I’m on Google Wave!” My iPhone was once again tested for durability as I chucked it across the room. It buzzed again. “I have invites!”

Mine came just a few hours later. Which was just a few hours ago, actually. And since then, I can pretty much agree with the hype. This one is indeed a game-changer.

I’m not going to point you to the same stinking YouTube video that everyone else has posted. Well actually, I guess I just did. But before you click that, though, here’s the gist of the whole thing: Google Wave is Twitter, IM, message boards, and email, all rolled into one. A “wave” is a real-time, interactive, collaborative conversation. It’s the biggest chat room you’ve every been in. It’s IRC except updated for the 21st century. That’s it.

Inside each wave, you can comment, edit, and update. Embed some pictures or video, why don’t ya, or how about some Google Maps while your at it. You see the words people type as they type them. And if you jumped into the wave halfway into the discussion, you can replay it to see how it progressed. Like DVR for a chit-chat. Active waves rise to the top of your inbox, making it easy to see who is talking about what. Waves can be tagged, archived, marked as spam. And you can use way more than 140 characters. Cooler than ice on Pluto.

I participated in a public wave about the balloon boy’s non-adventure, which ended up being a great demo of this new service. I searched for “with:public” (which means look for publicly-available waves) and added the keywords “balloon” and “kid”. Up came about 10 waves. I clicked one and instantly joined in the conversation with about 30 other people. We talked from the time the UFO was at 8000ft. until the time they figured out no one was in it.

Some of the other public waves I found were: a giant, editable Twitter directory of people on Google Wave, a wave for and about Pittsburgh, and, of course, a wave about our beloved 6-time Super Bowl Champion Steelers. I suppose I should mention that waves can also be private, allowing you to invite who you choose to the discussion.

Wave turns social media on its head. It’s archived conversations that never stop about every conceivable subject matter. The biggest drawback right now is that there aren’t enough people using it. But I’m sure that will change as Google works out the kinks. And once it does, look out. It’ll be one of those technologies that will cause you to wonder how you lived with out it.


Get it together, Twitter

Posted in Information Security, Ranting Like a Lunatic with tags , , on October 13, 2009 by kevvyg

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but c’mon Twitter. This is getting to be a bit much now, don’tcha think?

Mashable pointed out that Twitter is currently asking people not to change their usernames, passwords, or email addresses. Folks who do so may find themselves locked out of their accounts.

What a horrible behavior to reinforce. Don’t change your password – things might break! BE AFRAID OF TAKING A BEST-PRACTICE SECURITY MEASURE!!

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had outage after outage, problems with malware, and now this?

I definitely don’t think the Internet is falling apart, but social media service providers really need to start focusing on security if they’re going to survive. If people don’t feel safe using your service, they won’t. And that’s not a good thing for anyone.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 4 – Oh! I get it now!

Posted in Actual Face Noise with tags on October 13, 2009 by kevvyg
This was some kind of a good time

This was some kind of a good time

I used to be an Internet loudmouth. Blah blah blah, I would say. Just me and my big fat ugly opinions hanging out there, stinking up the joint and usually pissing a few people off. Not trolling, per se, but certainly laying it out there in no uncertain terms. The spew from my young, foolish mind came forth like a ruptured ALCOSAN pipeline.

That was some time ago.

Since then, I’ve shut my trap. Turned down the volume, kept the roar to a minimum… a bit embarrassed by the whole ordeal, really. I decided that, indeed, no one was listening, and if they were, I’d just be annoying them anyway. You can only talk for so long without coming off as a know-it-all. On occasion, though, in a sudden flourish of vanity and narcissism, my noisy face would start doing its thing again. And I’d get all wound up thinking that maybe, just maybe, someone was listening.

I dipped my toe into the social media waters. Frolicked in the Friendster for a few. Mucked around with MySpace. Liked LinkedIn. Had fun with Facebook, though that became way too much way too fast. Why did someone just throw a sheep at me, and how exactly do I never, ever see messages about it again?

I tried to start a blog. I tried again. Yep, never mind. Nothing to see here.

So when I really started getting into Twitter and seeing the power behind it, I started following a bunch of Pittsburgh’s most active tweeps. They were talking about this thing called PodCamp. It rang a bell. An old co-worker of mine, Alan Veeck, did a talk at the last one. Seemed worth checking out. Shortly thereafter, a pile of tweets and retweets came flooding in – they were looking for speakers. The itch, the inexplicable loudmouth itch to tell things I know to people, overcame me. I filled out the form and, much to my surprise, was invited to talk.

I went and I did my thing and that was fun.

But what I learned from everyone I spoke to, from every session I was able to attend, really opened my eyes to the true power of this thing called “social media”. Here were all of these other people showing up, putting who they are and what they know out into the world for all to see. Writers, designers, developers, artists, professionals of every persuasion – all converging on this place to share ideas and ultimately increase the group’s cumulative knowledge. Brave, smart, creative people. Is there a better combination?

It felt familiar. I met one of my best friends via an old Pittsburgh BBS called “Chat Thing” (circa 1990). We knew each other online before finally getting together for coffee at the Beehive. When we did finally meet in person, we spent hours and hours blabbing about this thing called the Internet.

This is what PodCamp looked like to me on a grand scale (except with beer) – just as social media has exploded on a grand and magnificent scale. I finally got it. It’s not just about “look at me”. It’s about “look at me, I know stuff, how ’bout you”. It’s not just about technology. It’s about using technology to express yourself in whatever way you choose. What a powerful, powerful concept. And this was all happening just down the hill from where I live.

I know I missed out on a lot since I was only able to attend on Sunday. But while I was there, what I learned from the people around me was inspirational. Everyone has something to say. Everyone can, and probably should, say something.

So tonight, I make a commitment to my blog. I don’t know what will end up here, nor can I guarantee that you’ll like it or even read it. But I can say that the people at PodCamp Pittsburgh inspired me to finally put it out there, damn the torpedoes. And because of that, I really can’t wait until PodCamp Pittsburgh 5.

This Internet loudmouth is back… to stay this time.

Blowing off the dust

Posted in Actual Face Noise on October 12, 2009 by kevvyg
Wind in the Saraha. NASA took this picture.

Wind in the Saraha. NASA took this picture.

Let’s try this again.

I mean for serious this time.

Card skimming close to home

Posted in Information Security on April 7, 2009 by kevvyg
Skimmer was duct-taped to a WaMu ATM

Skimmer was duct-taped to a WaMu ATM

Well isn’t that neat?  Here’s what one man found the last time he visited his friendly neighborhood WaMu ATM. It was a compact card skimmer, complete with battery and USB port, that was grabbing the data off of every card put into the machine. Luckily, his keen senses alerted him to the fact that it was attached with duct tape and likely placed there by a shifty character, but still. Chances are that Grandma or your average everyday Bluetool may not notice such a thing, and that’s why these guys are going through all this trouble.

Brian Krebs from The Washington Post has a similar story about RedBox kiosks. Renting a DVD for a dollar seems like a great idea until you find out it actually cost you your identity and entire credit limit.

The point?  Just because Card A fits into Slot B doesn’t mean you should actually put it in there.  Which is something you should have learned long, long ago anyway.

Blogging – Six Years Too Late?

Posted in Actual Face Noise on April 7, 2009 by kevvyg

So I talked about starting a blog back when Bush was going for Round 2.  Now, so many years later, I’m finally ready to share my juicy tidbits of wisdom with the world.  Or be ridiculed by the masses for such things.  Or both.

So this is it.  Welcome to my blog.