Stay away from my contacts

In what is quickly surpassing CAPTCHAs as the most annoying, and frightening part of registering for a new web service, we, as users are being asked to give up our email contacts in order to get more “friends” to use the service. I’ve been pondering this for a week or so, but Jeremy Zawodny summed up my feelings pretty well in his post about Spock:

That’s right. They want me to provide my username and password for the on-line services that may contain some of my most sensitive information, including: Gmail, Plaxo, Yahoo, Hotmail, and AOL.

I can’t think of a very polite way to say “no fucking way”, so I won’t even try. There wasn’t a button for that.

Blame it on Facebook, Flixster, or whatever spam.. cough cough, I mean “viral marketing” success story there is out there that has led to this trend. I wish it would stop and I wish it would stop now. I have no problems with a service providing me some copy that I can send to my friends, or even let me put in some email addresses to send invites to. But asking for username and passwords to online email accounts is beginning to cross the line. How am I suppose to trust what you do with all of this information? I realize there is a “skip this step” in these examples, but note how small it usually is.

I admit I fell for this on Facebook and they found several people that were in my contacts, and it got me started. But that’s Facebook, one of the biggest sites on the web and they have little incentive to abuse the information. I have since wised up though and even that fact will not dupe me into falling for this again.

Here’s a quick look at some doing this in addition to facebook and spock:




Sherwood: best place to live in Oregon

It must be time to start a Sherwood Web Innovators group now that it’s been named the #18 best place to live in the country (and top Oregon city). Well, we’re probably not that far along yet, but maybe someday. Here’s the write-up:

Like much of the Northwest, Sherwood is home to an array of beautiful parks and natural beauty. But the quickly growing commercial sites of Sherwood offer true insight into the town’s character: a juxtaposition of old and new, with reverence toward both the city’s historic past and its bright, expanding future. The community events calendar is always full and the town’s location makes for a fairly easy commute to nearby Portland. -A.B.

As much as I complain about living so far out, Sherwood does indeed have a nice community feel to it, the downtown/old town area has a great throwback vibe, and there are nice parks and sports facilities. I grew up in a town of only a couple thousand people, near Eugene, and that was definitely too small for me. But the 15,000 population range, while near a bigger city is an appealing mix. Plus, you can have a decent backyard. That makes it great for families.

If you don’t have a family, you would probably go crazy in this town. I’m betting there is a picture of Sherwood in the dictionary next to the definition of “suburbia.” I can’t believe the “fairly easy commute” line from the author. Say what? Personally, I think Sherwood is by far, the most difficult commute of the west-side suburbs (Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, Wilsonville, Beaverton, Hillsboro). There are minimal mass-transit options (nowhere near MAX, one bus running up HWY 99), and driving down Tualatin-Sherwood road to I-5 is one of the most aggravating stretches of road you will ever travel. I know a lot of people make the commute, but I would never refer to it as easy.

But, it’s great to see the city get some exposure, perhaps we’ll get some better restaurants now. One can only eat at Red Robin so many times.

Portland suburbanites avoid iPhone hype

I found this report about remaining iPhone stock funny. Despite the fact that there was a line 50 deep at the Sherwood AT&T store on launch night (I checked), the closest Apple store still has stock:

Stocks of iPhones were depleted at all but two of Apple’s retail stores by the end of business on July 4th. Only the Shadyside (Pittsburgh) and Bridgeport Village (Portland area) stores report stock when they open Thursday, July 5th. Estimates of initial iPhone supplies by analysts range from 700,000 down to about 350,000, not including iPhones shipped to 1,800 AT&T stores.

One of my colleagues managed to flip two iPhones on eBay for a modest profit that were purchased at the Bridgeport store shortly after they were released, and without having to wait in line more than a couple minutes.

I guess I’ll know where to go next time there’s a hot Apple release. And, no I didn’t get an iPhone yet, and yes I do want one. The real web, not some crippled mobile browser, in the palm of my hand wherever I go. Sounds like a dream to me.

WebVisions starting

I’m at WebVisions today and tomorrow. Jeremiah is streaming live on Ustream if you want to check out the action.

Ahhh, conferences. If I had the time and money, I’d probably just go to conferences and classes for a career. It’s a blast to learn new things and listen to different perspectives. But, I’m practical and know that you won’t get much done if you’re only learning, so usually end up doing one or two outings a year. This is my third year at WebVisions, and I have to say, I much rather would’ve gone to Microsoft’s Mix. Ok, maybe being in Vegas has a lot to do with that preference. Local conferences aren’t always much fun, you don’t get to experience the whole thing as real life is still very present. But, with baby #2 nearing arrival, leaving town wasn’t an option.

The WebVisions lineup and sessions seem a bit weaker (IMO) than in years past, but we’ll see how how I feel afterwards. Take any of my criticisms with a grain of salt though, it would take mountains moving for me to get in front of an audience to present. I can barely ask a question without shaking.

AJAX Workshop

I was late (shocking, I know) but this turned out to be a bust. The speaker was definitely knowledgeable about the topic, pretty similar to my own level of knowledge I’d say. But, unfortunately I didn’t take my own advice about not attending technical/programming sessions at a designer’s conference. The presentation was geared at beginners and it was a “presentation,” not a workshop. I was expecting to be able to plug in the laptop and work through some examples and exercises after seeing some demos and a bit of lecutre/presentation. But instead it was just demos/presentation without the ability to reinforce what was being said through concrete exercises. You can’t learn this stuff by listening, you have to do it.

More later, the Inventrepreneurship session is shaping up nicely.

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Have you heard of John Arnold?

I bet you will soon. I remember how aghast my sociology prof was in college when some CEO made $100 million in one year. Well, imagine what will be thought of about this hedge fund manager’s 2006 take: $1.5 – $2 billion.

Given Arnold’s record 2006 — the largest sum, we believe, anyone has ever earned in one year — a slap like that just might land someone in intensive care.

I am stunned.

(via Paul Kedrosky)

Thank you programming book gods

Yes! Somebody wrote a book about NHibernate. I can’t tell how woefully lacking NHibernate is on helpful documentation and articles. Couple that with the little time I have to work on building out my app and I am not nearly as efficient as I could be. I hope this will help. Maybe now I’ll be able to figure out how to delete a persistent object without breaking into plain old SQL and ADO.NET.

NHibernate in Action

(via Ayende)

Belkin is a disaster

I’ve long thought Belkin was the home of crappy/cheap electronic accessories that fell apart easily or never worked quite right. This mainly comes from buying a few things in college, when the funds were low and you generally look for the cheapest version of whatever you’re buying. You get what you pay for right? Well, I thought they were improving with their current generation of products including their iPod accessories. I just bought a Nano as a present for my wife’s birthday and needed to get a car adapter for it. We stopped at Target on our way out of town this past week and I quickly grabbed the Auto Kit for $30, it said “Power and Play your iPod in your car,” that was all I needed right? Plus, it had a nice design and was a much better deal than the $70 Monster iCarPlay.

So, we’re heading down the road and my wife’s trying to get the thing setup and what do you know, the damn Auto Kit is just for power, there’s no way to actually play the iPod through this thing. WTF? I had assumed incorrectly it was an FM adapter, but it’s only a power charger and amplifier. What part of “play” are they talking about? You have to buy a separate FM adapter to actually play your iPod in your car, which when you combine the Auto Kit, adds up to about the same price as the iCarPlay. Guess which one I have now? Yes, the iCarPlay. Belkin may have been trying to provide flexibility with their separate power adapter and FM transmitter (and plethora of other combinations thereof), but they ended up providing confusion and distrust. I have finally learned my lesson with Belkin and I will never buy another one of their product’s again.

Lucky, perhaps, but there is more to the story of Ducks big win

Football is in the air again and that means I can root for the Ducks again instead of congratulating the beavers. Like most Duck fans, I was a bit delirious on Saturday after the big win over Oklahoma. Honestly, I had pretty much given up hope after Dixon’s second interception. I mean, how are you supposed to win the game if your offense can’t stay on the field for more than a play or two? But, I kept watching, because who knows, right? Well, the unthinkable happened and the Ducks scored 14 points and blocked an OU field goal in the last 1:22 of the game.

Now, they had a little help from a disputed onside kick. Well, as there usually is, there’s more to the story about why the play was not overruled by the replay official (sorry for the annoying oregon live survey, they really need to get rid of that). Turns out the replay official may have got the video late, didn’t have the same angles as ABC did, and was being pressured to make a call. In such situations, the replay official goes with the call on the field. Seems logical to me. Sure, if it happened to my team, I’d be pissed. Still, I’m not going to feel guilty about this win, because Oklahoma choked at the end giving up those two touchdowns and geting the kick blocked. They still had plenty of opportunity to win the game even with the bad call.

But, to me, the most interesting thing from that article was that the replay offical is paid $400 a game. So, you spend all this money implementing replay, for which decisions can mean millions of dollars in bowl revenue, and you pay $400? Something doesn’t seem right about that.