Webkit Sample Repository

These are a list of mobile sites with good examples of webkit code that is easy to replicate, or used to show potential:

Easy to replicate

  • GroupAware – Site that replicates native apple mobile os navigation, lists, orientation hooks and external docs
  • JQTouch – JQuery extensions for webkit
  • Fixed Positioning / Context (Referred by Sherif Tariq)
  • GirlieMac – Blog filtered by “webkit”. Many good code examples.
    • Snow – Falling snow animation. Fading in and out, with fluttering.
    • Matrix – Text at different speeds, oriented 90 degrees
    • Glossy Button – No images used.

Show offs

Feel free to email me or add a comment with more examples that you’d like to have on this list, and I’ll include it, and give you credit for the recommendation.

Influences

A few months ago, my manager asked his team what podcasts/RSS feeds we read. It was a nice exercise, and led me to re-organize Google Reader. and one that I’d love to have access to from everyone.

If you want to share/suggest, I’d love to get your feedback either on Facebook or at http://ben.bemily.com

Here is my list of media that I read/listen/watch all of:

Podcasts:

  • Radiolab
  • This American Life
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • NPR: Planet Money
  • Geekbrief.tv
  • The Onion (audio and video)
  • 60-Second Science
  • The Current Song of the Day
  • NPR: Story of the Day
  • NPR: Technology
  • 1310 The Ticket
  • KEXP Song of the Day
  • President Obama’s Weekly Radio Address
  • Today In The Past (Jonathan Hodgman)

RSS: Work related

  • The Design Blog
  • AppleInsider
  • Engadget

RSS: Entertainment

  • The Gourds live concerts from archive.org
  • The Big Storm Picture
  • Probably Bad News
  • There, I Fixed It
  • GordonKeith.com
  • Ackward Family Photos
  • The FAIL Blog
  • garfield minus garfield
  • xkdc.com
  • Boston.com’s The Big Picture

RSS: Personal Improvement

  • Lifehacker
  • Metaefficient

Keeping Social Media in its Place

Over the last five years or so, there has been an explosion of social media offerings, and many have unique value. There is enough content and enough potential connections for most people to easily spend 40 hours a week maintaining/monitoring all of them.

The way I use these networks takes about 10-15 minutes a day and is more benefit than cost. On Facebook, I read my friend feed about three times a day, until I’ve read to where I left off. Anything that makes me laugh or that I particularly enjoy, I “like” or comment on. I should post more than I do, as often as 1-2 times per day. However, like everyone else, I lurk, reading far more than I write.

In order to have networks improve my life and not detract from them, I have developed some policies to keep them in their place and keep them optimized.

First, some general guidelines for how I manage my online presence:

  • No whining. If you must whine, do it to someone who cares about your venting and helps you feel better after getting it off your chest. If your social network is your support group, you’re in trouble.
  • Curate your posts as a log with a purpose.
  • Don’t clutter your network with off-purpose posts or irrelevant contacts.
  • Delete contacts who add clutter.

Twitter

Twitter is the most misunderstood social media channel.

Twitter is for hype. Share what you want people to know about you, and if they care, it is available to them. There is not an easier way to allow people to opt in to learning about you.

Essentially, it allows you to subscribe to a stream of communications from many different sources that do not need to be read. I can get up to 200 emails a day. Most are not just to me. Many are marketing communications. Twitter allows me to subscribe to the marketing messages I care about (buy.com/mwave/politicians) all in one feed, without worrying if I am reading all the messages, and now communications are no longer hitting my inbox.

Sure, people could tweet every time they go poop. They aren’t doing it in a way that I’d be interested in following. Unless it’s the co-worker prank where they tweet his toots.

A great aspect of Twitter is that it is so casual. Following/unfollowing people generally doesn’t require any reciprocation or permission.

Who/What I Follow:

  • Friends/Neighbors who I’m interested in following
  • Thought leaders – People who research and stay up on topics, and share highlights from their research and also their thoughts about topics
  • Funny things: the onion, shitmydadsays
  • Hot deals: MWave has hourly Specials. Buy.com highlights “What’s Shakin” items.
  • My elected leaders. Sheffie Kadane is merely squatting. Angela Hunt does it right, highlighting her actions and what is driving her policy decisions.

 Facebook

Facebook is probably over 50% of all social media traffic. When used correctly, it enhances real, offline relationships. It’s much easier to meet up with your friends and not have to go through the “so how have you been”, and cut straight to the “So how did your costume end up? Did that wig really stay on?” 

Facebook defaults to private and relationships are required to be reciprocated.

It extends your network by showing you content about your friends when friends that are not in common posts something about them. Because of this, you have to think of your least presentable state that you may ever be photographed in, like drunk at a costume party when you are in drag and hugging strangers. If you get tagged in someone’s picture, all your contacts will be pointed to that picture. Now, what contacts do you want to see you in that state?

That said, here are my Facebook policies:

  • I do not “friend” co-workers or clients. That’s what Linked-In is for. 
  • Drive traffic to my other networks: this blog, Flickr, anything else I want to promote
  • Think about my contacts and post things that I think they would be interested in.
  • Only friend people that I would want to sit with and have a conversation. Personal threshold: If I see them out, I would want to go talk to them, and if it was at a restaraunt, invite them to sit with me.

Linked-In

Linked-In is a professional networking site. It’s a good way to find people to hire, and find connections to jobs. It’s one of those places that are not that useful until you need it, and then it is indispensable.

There is almost no deterrant to growing a giant network.

Myspace

Myspace let their users ruin the presentation of Myspace. However, they did get the band presentation right, and still have a value there. Any band will have a Myspace page with concert dates, songs, news and pictures. The Polyphonic Spree has a hard to navigate official site and I get what I want from their Myspace, so will rarely go to their official site.

Others

For me, other social networks are

  • niche (goodreads)
  • an aggregator (tumblr, maybe)?
  • redundant: orkut, tribe.net…

The above categories are optional, and useful to some people, but will never have the universal applicability of Facebook/Twitter/Linked-In.

Ancedotes:

  • In early 2009, a web design company made huge buzz by giving away some computers for mentioning them in tweets. They took all tweets that mentioned them, and drew from that. They were one of the top trending topics for days and days, above Iran, which was having a huge feed due to their goofy election. Two of my contacts started cluttering up my Twitter feed with posts just to enter. Thankfully, I was able to unfollow them easily for a couple weeks until the marketing campaign ended. I told them that I was un-following them due to them spamming. After following them since, they have not done this again.
  • A colleague of mine who I am fond of sent me a Facebook friend request. I let him know that I don’t let work onto Facebook and wrote him a LinkedIn recommendation instead. He did not reciporcate the recommendation, but did write a nice note about understanding the different use cases.
  • I tweeted how a good use of Adobe Flash is one that doesn’t look like Flash, and referenced samsung.com. Within 30 minutes, SamsungUSA was following me on Twitter. That was cool.
  • Facebook allowed me to go see Mates of State with a friend who had a late cancellation.

Conclusion

Social networks require management and enforcement of policies to keep them from being valuable tools and keep you from turning into one.

I say things like “Did you hear Bob went to Germany?” and not “Did you see that Bob posted on Facebook pictures from his trip to Germany?”  I’d rather talk about my impressions of it with them than have them visit Bob’s page to see it for themselves.

Some people don’t seem to care when their virutal interactions actually get in the way of their real interactions. As for me, I aspire to make the most of real interactions, and therefore will wrap this up and go hang out with my in-laws.

Parallels Between Children and Pets, or Have You Walked Your Kid Today?

If that dog trainer guy and one of the special nannies were to swap programs, I bet the dog trainer guy would be better than the special nanny.

On the airplane yesterday, a girl in her 20’s is on her starter child: a beagle she got as a puppy and is now about one year old. Developmentally, there are a lot of paralells between things she is going through with her dog, that we may be seeing in Joseph and Felix.

Her vet said her dog needs 45-60 minutes of excersize per day or there will be behavior problems. It is easy to see how this could also be applied to children.

Thinking about the excercise parallel also got me thinking about what other parallels there may be. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll read up on dog training to think about this.

Live Blogging the Conan O’Brian Premiere

  1. Loved the running through the country. Generally impressed with his running prowess, and the commitment to many different actual venues across the country. Excellent.
  2. Nice old school peacock logo
  3. General negatives on keeping the same theme song
  4. Four thumbs down for keeping Max Weinberg
  5. Big ups to Andy Richter being back
  6. Questionable first use of video posing the VP as a racist
  7. Conan as studio tour guide: par. Would have been great as a regular bit, but this is premiere night, and could have had more of a bang. Bus going on the streets was a nice touch, but showing the police escort ruined some of the magic.
  8. First commercial break 25 min in. The tone has been set. Different from Leno, but generally appealing. Hopefully he’s grown out of the over-deprication and puppeteering with his pockets.
  9. I wonder how Letterman is going to react to being bumped as the quirky everyman of prime-late-night, and pushed into the “safer” position.
  10. Hollywoo: nice. Making effective progress toward establishing himself in LA/California.
  11. Taurus bit: no, he is not Leno. It was awesome when Brad Pitt drove it like he stole it about ten years ago. Good to know he still has it.
  12. Ashton Kutcher is a blight upon the image of Nikon. He’s a fantastic over the top pompous jerk on Punk’d. But as a pitchman, he gives me the creeps.
  13. Will Ferrell entrance: nice. Fun, silly, premiere appropriate, and ties in with his movie, kinda.
  14. Nice that the first Conan deprecating comment comes from Will Ferrell and not Conan himself.
  15. “Liza Minelli is a communist. Voting for her is like pissing the American flag.” – It’s nice that Conan didn’t try to squelch it too much. I can just hear Leno or Letterman trying to poo poo that kind of crazy talk.
  16. It’s funny that this is toned-down Will Ferrell on Conan. All his other appearances seemed to be him dressed in a green sequined bikini bottom and acting insane. It’s still quirky and funny, but not as crazy as it has been at times.
  17. It’s a nice touch how they’re using Conan’s hair as part of the show’s branding, but his real hair, not that cartooney dot-eyed charactacture from before. And only from the bridge of the nose up. Again, another subtle “not Leno and his trademark chin”.
  18. Pearl Jam: Stone Gossard? Where were you? Their music has gotten sloppier with time. In Vs. and Ten, there were hummable riffs. Recent albums don’t seem to have anything that showcases instruments and single riffs. But on the Conan angle, it’s a stark and welcomed contrast to Leno’s last musical guest James Taylor.
  19. It’ll be interesting to see how Andy will be integrated into the show in the future. It was nice that he came to talk to Will Ferrell at the end of the show to remind people that he was there. Tonight did, and should have highlighted Conan. Hopefully Andy will be a big player in all the skits. Jimmy Fallon’s integration of  his announcer Steve Higgens is nice, with him being on stage and available for obvious eye contact.

Well, show’s over, so Live Blogging must now end. That to everyone (Ryan Burke!) for their participation.

How we got Joseph to stay in bed after he figured out that getting up to pee would be rewarded

Our kids have generally been good at staying in their beds after we tuck them in.

Recently, we have been challenged. Joseph is three and a half and is just potty trained. For the last month or so, he has been getting out of bed 4-8 times a night to visit the bathroom. All parties are aware that he doesn’t have to pee that many times, but as parents, we’re basically extorted into cheering for him after he claims to have peed. So he comes to wherever we are and squeals “I peeeeeeeeeeeeed!” and then there are hugs and kisses, and a cheerful re-tucking in.

Basically, he was getting rewarded for getting out of his bed.

Emily, her body full of hormones being a week and a half away from kiddo #3, started to get stressed out about it.

So, it was time for some boundaries. Literally. The door sill of the hallway to the bedrooms and bathrooms became the border that he was not to cross. The punishment was to be that we would lock him in his room. “Locking” is to bungee the door shut so he could struggle to open it and it would make lots of noise so we could get there before he could squeeze his way out.

To rehearse punishment scenario, I had him step across the line, and I’d tell him that he crossed the line so now he was getting locked in his room, and I’d tell him that this is what happens when he steps across the line. Then, I’d put him in his room and hold the door shut until he started to make some light panic noises. I’d open the door, hold him and tell him that once he gets tucked in, he can’t cross the line, and have him tell me what happened if he crossed the line. Then, we went and had him show me where the line. Then, we brushed teeth and I had him tell me where the line was, and what would happen if he crossed the line.  

There was no doubting that he understood the situation.

Two nights in, he has not crossed that threshold. So for two nights, we’ve avoided roughly sixteen stress inducing trips to the bathroom and tucking in series. Pretty good returns on about five minutes of firm parenting.

Social Networking’s Next Filter will be the Next Big Thing

Facebook and Twitter are excellent at giving large numbers of people forums to generate content. The next big thing will filter that content and make it more relevant and interesting to those who are looking at the conent. 

The buzz around these Social Networking applications is around the scope and size of the user base and not on what is revolutionary about what they are doing.

For a long time, when I had leisure moments to do discretionary web browsing, it would be traditional news sites. Now, I find myself drawn to Facebook to see what my contacts are up to. It is because they are essentially generating news about what they are doing and thinking about.

However, most of the content that they post is not interesting to me. There are a couple solutions that will help maintain interest in this new news source.

First, people should realize that they are creating news and think about what is news worthy and interesting. It is unlikely this will improve significantly.

The more effective solution is for filters to be created to determine what is interesting to the viewer. For this to happen, there will essentially be cross references between what the consumer is interested in and what the content generator has posted.

Without that filter, or engine finding things in common, it ends up being clutter that lowers my satisfaction with Facebook. Twitter is even worse.

But if they started tracking what I clicked on, and looking for trends there, or matching key words in their posts vs. my posts and highlighting things in common, that would be a big deal.

When this happens, it will be the next big thing. Think of it as millions of people panning for gold, but where intelligent machines start filtering out the silt from gold, but where every person panning is interested in different valuables, and where the filter knows what is valuable to each person and only giving them the results they want. That would drastically improve the value of these services.

Why the American Economy Needs to Fall

The American economy needs to have its priorities reset. For that to happen, the economy must reset to something sustainable.

First, there must be a positive savings rate. From 2005-2008, the savings rate for the country was negative. I think this was largely due to people tapping into home equity so they could feel as rich as their six-figure house value increase made them feel. 

There seemed to be a standard of living inflation where people treated themselves to a standard of living that they could not afford.

Spending was no longer restrained by income.

For things to become stable, spending needs to return to less than income.

However, large industries have become dependent on excessive spending. They will have to fall to what a sustainable economy can support.

I’m concerned that the bailout is merely designed to slow the fall so inventories don’t create a huge fallout.

For the last year, car companies have been selling significantly less cars, but they didn’t stop making them. All those made cars are now sitting around waiting. It may be a nine month supply of cars. This means that no cars could be built for the next nine months before they started running out of supply. So, if only enough cars were made to sell what was needed, production would need to be reduced by 15% for 60 months (5 years) to make up for a nine month extra supply. However, you can’t hold 2009 model cars for five years, so the reduction in production will need to be far greater than 15%. 

This doesn’t even account for a current overestimation of demand. Say production has been 15% more than a sustainable market would demand. That would lead to more like a 40% reduction for 3 years to cover for the current access inventory, before ramping up around 2012 to what would still be 15% less than the auto production that we use now.

And that is just one industry. Housing is likely more dramatic than cars. By my estimation, the median house in the US should fall to a sustainable level of around 60% of their current values.

Industries that will likely be impacted even more are the unncessary luxuries. Like Starbucks, Ugg boots, Burberry, and overpriced boutiques everywhere. The definition of overpriced is when a product is 10X+ as expensive as a functionally identical alternative. Examples: automatic watches, women’s fashion shoes.

Those are goods that people could completely stop buying and lose no noticable utility.

When large swaths of the economy go from “What can I spend money on this week?” to “Can I avoid making this purchase?” to “What is the cheapest way I can get by with covering this need?”, there is a major adjustment in the works.

And we could see sustained losses accross the entire economy of 30% for the next four years.

But people are resourceful. There will be innovations for how to help people do more with what they currently have.

Car prices will likely drop to historic discounts as surplusses can’t be held back any longer. This will likely hit severly around May or June, when nearly a year’s supply is backed up and the new models are set to hit the showrooms. It will be an epic purge.

Hydrogen is the Answer

My prediction: Hydrogen will be what powers anything larger than a bicycle.

The premise is that a container of hydrogen works like a battery that is endlessly refillable, and can easily be converted into electricity.

The challenges come with the conversion from something else to pure, compressed hydrogen. 

The faulty logic of many people who have written about this is how expensive hydrogen is to convert. If you have a hydrogen creation machine to plug into a wall socket, that arguement is correct. Why burn one energy source to create another? However, if you start looking at other options for creation, hydrogen becomes more plausible.

With wind and solar becomming more and more viable sources of energy, it’s apparent that in most applications, they don’t provide a consistant enough flow of energy not to have an intermediary store. For those who want to go off the grid, they have to use huge batteries to be ready for their energy use when it comes. 

The solution will be hooking up home or neighborhood power generation stations to hydrogen generation stations at the source of creation. The inneficiencies of hydrogen creation will be made up for because the power required to generate it happens right there. There is some amazing power loss over distance of power lines. Removing the distance electricity has to travel makes the creation of hydrogen much more pratical.

Once this happens, people should see a hard cap of how much energy they can use that will only be increased by adding more generation. This should lead to conservation, and if it doesn’t, it will be due to prevelance of a completely clean source of electricity.

Thoughts on the housing/banking bubble

My job has taken me into many of the major culprits of the banking crisis over the last four years: Freddie Mac, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, and many other “mortgage originators”.

Where I first caught wind that something was amiss was at Countrywide in October 2003, when I found out that the acres of cube farms at Countrywide (7000-15000 employees) that were dedicated to loan originations were making well into six figures by originating loans over the phone. After the third loan originiation of the day, every new origination carried a new cash bonus of $500 above their standard commission, so if you could average six a day (many people were averaging seven), that would be $1500 per day above your base pay and bonus package. That seemed non-sensical.

At Freddie Mac in January, 2004, I saw two other faces of the mortgage market. The people on the phones here were the ones dealing with the banks, but four of the five contacts that I had there were part of a scheme that depended on wildly inflated home prices.

Around DC, there was lots of development of townhouses. Before a development would start, the developer would pre-sell the townhouses for 1% down on a sale price of $300,000, with the mortgage starting a year later, when the building was complete. So, the employees at Freddie Mac would put $3,000 down, wait a year, take posession of the townhouse, immediately put it up for sale for $450,000 and have it sold within a week of owning the townhouse. So, for no more than a $4,000 investment, they would turn around a $140,000 profit. And there was no limit for how many times this could happen.

All of this was funded by a housing prices that were rapidly outpacing earnings. As long as housing prices were going up, it would continue to fund the flipping market.

What few seemed to take into consideration was that this was a rapidly inflating bubble that would eventually burst and anyone holding inflated property would be holding a hot potato, and they would be severely burned when it would start to lose value.

At the same time, anyone who owned a home saw the value of their home rise exponentially. So someone who bought a $100,000 home in the DC area around 2000 would have inadvertantly been in a $600,000 home by 2006. But the only way they could capitalize on this would be to sell their house and move to an apartment until after the bubble burst.

So the same banks who were fueling the inflated home prices saw the dollar signs in current homeowners eyes. They hatched a marketing scheme to sell these people home equity loans on the increased values of their homes based on the bubble. All the people who bought and mortgaged a $100,000 house could now be given a $500,000 loan based on the equity on that house, and if the housing prices kept inflating like they had been, that $500,000 could be paid off in a year or two based on the current growth curve. Obviously there would be a market for their 1500 sq. ft. house 30 minutes from downtown DC and someone would pay $1.2 million for it at that point. Or, they would be able to take an additional $500,000 equity loan at that point.

So, the housing prices was a bubble that was being inflated by the banks loaning money to people who couldn’t afford to pay it backon the premise that housing prices were going up so fast, the banks could merely foreclose on the house and sell it for profit. And, for the people who weren’t foreclosed on, they could breathe out home equity loans based on the inflated values of their home.

If someone wanted to calculate the size of this crisis, I think it could be done this way:

  • Take the historical graph of median house price relative to median income (based on this graph should be around $195,000)
  • Lookat the median mortgaged house value.
  • If the median mortgaged house value is anywhere above $190,000 or so, all those houses should fall relatively down to that value, leaving lots of people holding the bag for their over-mortgages (the hot potatos that they got stuck with) or over extended based on home-equity loans that were made above that.

Another way of looking at it that may work is look at the median home value now ($320,000 based on this graph), subtract the “historical price” based on price to income ($195,000) to get the inflated value ($125,000). Then, multiply that by the total number of houses (58.5 million based on data found here) to get the total inflated value of the housing market: (58,500,000 * $125,000) = $7,312,500,000,000 ($7.3 trillion).

So, the housing bubble size is $7.3 trillion.

Many homeowners didn’t tap into the home equity lines of credit. Many people didn’t buy or sell a home  since 2003, so they won’t be affected much by this bubble. But many other people are heavily leveraged in  the bubble and will be heavily affected by it.

Unfortunately, the bubble doesn’t end there. Lots of banks made loans based on that bubble (that’s where the mortgages and home equity loans were based on). All those loans propped up stock prices of those banks. This is the part of the bubble that we don’t know how big it was, or how far the loan values will fall.

But the housing bubble will be somewhere between $0 and $7.3 trillion. And how far the stock prices will fall based on that is what is being sorted out now, by our semi-free market.


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