Friday, April 28, 2006

Dotting Demo

Several Blue.Us users have requested more posts on the blog from developers (our excuse: too busy building features). In any case, I've temporarily ascended from my "development dungeon" today (inspired, in large part, by the 70 degree Seattle weather) to talk a little bit about Dotting, one of my favorite Blue.Us features (in my best 80's Shake-n-Bake commercial voice: And I Helped!). One of the coolest things about Dotting is that you don't need to install any software -- in most cases, you can just drag the links into your toolbar and you're ready to go. For those who haven't yet seen Dotting in action, I put together a brief video which demonstrates (in all the fuzzy glory that is Flash video at 425x350) the installation process, followed by a quick floor lamp shopping exercise. So, it's that simple ... if that was tough to follow, here's the rundown of the action:
  1. Click the "Set up Dotting" link.
  2. Drag the "Dot This!" link to links toolbar.
  3. Visit a Web site (in this case, I chose lamp shopping, because that's what all developers do on the Internet).
  4. Click the "Dot This!" link in the toolbar. This is where the "magic" happens -- notice that Blue.Us has automatically selected an image, categorized the page as "Shopping", and extracted a description of the item. Since every field is optional, I could publish it right away -- in this case, I type a simple comment, add a tag (notice the tag auto-completion as I type), and rate it. This will help me later when I compare all of the other lamps I find on the Web (seriously, developers shop for lamps on the Internet ALL the time).
  5. Finally, I click publish, and I'm all finished. Notice how I never need to leave the page I'm on while Dotting -- you can even Dot while watching the Dotting video demo (<keanu>whoa</keanu>).
This can be simplified even further -- if you'll allow me to borrow the Pavlovian phrase of an ex-co-worker: "Push button, get banana chip". Enough said. -Derek Slager

Using Dots for File Sharing: Some Ideas

So here is a cool way that I have found for using Dots to file share with the people you care about. In my personal life, I love to record author talks and ahare them with friends. Using Dots, I can make these files available to just the friends I think would be interested in them. This helps me control bandwidth of the downloads (because I know who has access to upload them). First of all, you need to get an online file sharing provider. I have a paid account at and think that their site and system are really fantastic. You can also get a free account with 1GB of storage if you just want to try this out. I really like because they allow you to upload files, make them publicly accessible on the internet via a webpage, and also allow you to set up a password for each file. This is important because you're going to want to password protect the file but post that password in your Dot to your intended audience (unless your audience is the public - in which case, make double-sure that you have license to post what you're going to post). Once you have uploaded the file to your provider and possibly password protected it, you just need to Dot it! This morning I Dotted an audio file just for the folks at work. I included a password so that they could access it. Works like a charm! I think this is the best way to share files with friends, make them persistently available via search and tags at Blue.Us, and control who has overall access to each file. Another benefit to this is that you can create a password list for all of your files using Dots. I can just go through my tags - and I use a consistent tag for all my file shares - and this allows me to maintain a unique (more secure) password for each file. What are you using Dots for? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

We're back up

That was quick now wasn't it? Hopefully painless for you...

The site will be down temporarily...

We are going to be making some site changes and taking the down access for a little while. I'll post more when we're back up! Thanks!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Nikki's Daily Dot Review

Disclaimer: And by Daily I mean, whenever I feel like it, or when Seattle looks like this and I'm stuck inside with my climbing shoes. Oh, and it also depends on the readership too. If you like, I blog. Disclaimer 2: These are the Dots that I found funny, profound, and basically interesting (I know, such a catch-all word, but what other word can you use to describe *both* funny *and* boring?) My reviews don't necessarily reflect what's going on on Blue.Us, or what anyone else thinks, though, sometimes I think they really should, because like Carter says: I'm the president, I'm the emperor, I'm the king. I'm Michael Jackson, you Tito. Your a** belongs to me. Um just kidding. (Sometimes I really do think I'm a funny Black man, judging by how often I quote Chris Rock. I know, a small Asian girl imitating Chris Rock imitating Lil John, what a sight eh.) Fun contest: Guess which one of these Dots got reDotted the most. Answer at the end of the post. Ok, on to the Dots. Easter egg found on Jet Blue! Aka "whoa how'd you find that" Dot of the Day (tm). Derek dotted this thing from Jet Blue, where if you click on a city, hold down the Shift key, and type in "pbj", you'd find the Easter Egg. You can't go there now, because the pbj is gone, but hopefully not the brilliant programmer's job, because that was funny, and it made me want to fly Jet Blue, as did Kabir. But, you can go here and see what you missed. On a side note, if you know the programmer and he is canned from Jet Blue, start a petition! He put a personal face on Jet Blue and gave it... well, some personality. And you know what Mizz Hilton would say? That's hot. Alright, Derek also dotted another awesome adult toy. Ahem, not *that* kind of adult toy, mind you. I am talking about the kind of toy not found at Toys R Us (I'm assuming, since I don't frequent Toys R Us). Derek found the Manta Ray, and doesn't it look fun? So I nominate the Manta Ray to be "Fun Dot Toy of the Day". update: Upon closer inspection I realized that Mike Dotted about this first. Mike is always ahead of the Dot Curve. Finally, one last Dot from Derek that I liked was the coffee art/ads from El Diablo, a coffee shop on Queen Anne. Intermission Q&A Q: Nikki, why THREE Dots from Derek, and why does he get reviewed first? A: Because he has a really cute kitty picture as his profile pic. I'm a sucker for cute kitties. You should be too, so don't let this happen. Seeing that reminds me of Sung, so let's go see what he Dotted today. One thing you should know about me is that I'm very easily amused, especially by clever/cheesy word play. So the "Best Use of Word Play" Dot of the Day from Sung is a site called WhatTheFont. It tells you what font an image is using. Sung's other neat "I Don't Understand How it Works but I'm Glad it Does" Dot is about a technology that uses laser for precise microfabrication (wait, does this mean I understand it?) OMG, it's The Fly, Reloaded! Intermission Q&A Q: Um.... none A: Actually, the answer is, Sung has a bus load of cool Dots on funny vids and crazy design stuff, since he is, well, a crazy designer. No, he's not crazy crazy, but funny crazy. So if ya bored, head to Sung's Dots. Since we are on the topic of flies and flying, Don Dotted something from up high, and it's won the "Webcam Dot of the Day" award. If you can't afford to take your sweetie up the Space Needle for a romantic evening, turn down the light and turn on your computer for a 360 view of Seattle from the Space Needle. This works for out of town relatives as well. Here is the "Caption Contest Dot of the Day" from Mike: , which reminds me of something I Dotted yesterday: Captioning the Bushes. I hate Caption Contest because I would spend 30 minutes trying to think of something witty only to convince myself it's actually not that witty. But you, dear readers, I'm sure are very witty, so please, comment and let us know what brings to your mind when you see this picture. You can also consult some Chinese lessons which I dot, purely for academic reasons, of course. The "Human Rights Dot of the Day" also came from Mike, about the Tianenment Square Chronicle. Without fail, this issue, and the pictures, make me cry without fail every time. The candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park Monday in 2001 to mark the 12th anniversary of the millitary crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Sometimes it's not just the number of airplanes or software licenses sold. Speaking of software, Adam Dotted a pic of how IT projects are done, which everyone agreed and had a good laugh, albeit nervously, because we all contribute to that distorted view of that golden goal: What the Customer really Wants. Seriously, someone just might win a Nobel Prize someday if he/she/they figure that one out. Elsewhere though, someone *is* winning a Nobel Prize for Journalism, but, unfortunately called "for Treason". What a bunch of hogwash, as Eric noted. Phew... how long is this post already? And I don't think I've gone through all the Dots I wanted to go through. Not even *close*. And this is just my Friends view, not the UW view. The cool kids at UW had lots of cool Dots too. Ok this is exhausting. I never realized I found out so much in a day from Blue.Us. I guess that's cuz it feels... really easy, actually. Like, effortless. Well, this concludes my first Dot Review post. Before I go, did you guess which Dot got reDotted the most? ... ... ... Drum rolls please... It's the Jet Blue Easter Egg! Congratulations Mike you won the "Most Likely To get reDotted" Prize for Wednesday April 19th! Nikki 10-4

Why I Dot, part deux

If you've read Why I Dot, part One, you might say to yourself, "well geez, that's all fine and dandy, Nikki, so you're an information hoarder, here's a sticker, but I'm not like you, what use do I have of this thing called Dotting?" Ah, so glad you asked. Planning That's right, Dotting is the new Planner. When I need to plan something, I just dot all and anything related to it, and give it a unique tag name, so I can type it in the search box and have everything come up. Comparison Shopping I am terribly indecisive. I have been known to camp out at my local grocery store because I can't decide between 60% dark chocolate or 70% dark chocolate. Oh yes, it's that bad. Ok, maybe not *that* bad, but it's pretty bad. So, you can imagine the magnitude of a task when I need to buy a big tix item, like a laptop. I dotted everything I saw on laptops: reviews, pictures, specs, prices, deals, everything. The benefits: - I can keep track of what I've seen - I don't waste someone's time, or mine, when I want to show someone what I've seen - My friends can help me decide too, because it's like me taking them shopping with me (without having to buy them lunch or dinner, bonus!) To-do list Have you ever come across something you wanna read online but run short ontime? That happens to me all the time. So I Dot it, and later on when I check my Dots, I'll know which ones I haven't read or checked out. Those are just three things for now. There are, of course, many other uses of Dotting, I'm sure. What's yours? What other ways do you think Dotting can be used for? (I know, uncharacteristic of me to not have a gazillion links in a blog, but don't you worry, next time, Linkzilla will be back ;) ) 10-4

Beers with adam

A bunch of us went down the block last night for some beers at Temple Billiards with Adam to pick his brain about how we can make Blue.Us better (thanks for being a good sport, Adam!). I found out about him because he blogged a bit about us and I saw that he had mentioned us via Technorati. I was happy to go check his blog and see a sparkling little Blue.Us widget on the right-hand side of the page. Sweet! Those little widgets have made it out onto some of our user's blogs already and have proven to be an awesome way of keeping their content fresh. On his blog, we had a small conversation about what he liked and what he did not like so much about Blue.Us. Adam is fairly new to the site but he's a pretty active Dotter already (he created 120+ Dots since early March). He described himself as sort of an information junkie and as someone who didn't really want to miss anything that might be going on anywhere that he cares about. He had a ton of great ideas about making the site better. One of them was to be a bit better at posting to this blog... so Adam, here you go... Here's what I think - I think we should go out to more beers with more users, that's what I think. So blog about us. Send us feedback using the feedback form on our site. Tell us you know the secret that's going to make the world go Dot-crazy. Finally, make sure to ask me for some beer. It can happen for you just like it happened for Adam (and Nikki, for that matter, who also came along - she got free beer in the deal). It was good times and I love pitchers of Manny's. Actually, I'll pretty much drink any beer you want to drink (my co-workers will vouch for that) - I'm flexible that way. Unfortunately, no photographic evidence of last night is available for public consumption. That's a mistake I'll have to remedy next time.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Release on April 13, 2006 – New Features

Hello Dot-people. We put out a fresh release this evening with some new features for you to check out: - Improved “Dot This!” – You may have to clear your browser cache to see it, but the new “Dot This!” is beautiful, sleek, and uber-user-friendly. Feel free to try it out on this blog post. - New Blue.Us flash widget – You folks wanted a flash widget, you get a flash widget, complete with lovely images from your three most recent Dots. This widget works at MySpace, Facebook, etc. It will, of course, also work on other sites. - Auto-Dot from Blog – You can now configure all of your blog posts to automatically become a Dot at Blue.Us. It’s the easiest way to let people know when you’ve updated your blog! - Improved Help Section – New and improved help pages. There’s more on the way. Let us know what you think and how we can get better.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I Dot

I was driving home one day on the Alaskan Viaduct (which has generated a lot of debate and scary thoughts) , listening to KUOW (one of my fav stations). It was one of those beautiful sunny Spring afternoons that's so breath-taking you'd think you could be riding a motorcycle in slo-mo by the beach with wind in your hair. Anyway, on this perfect afternoon driving home, I was listening to The World, where I learned all sorts of fascinating facts, like the "path of totality", and this Chilean music group named Los Bunkers. Before that I was listening to an interview with the author of a curious book called The Trouble with Tom : The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine. I listened and listened, and you know what I really wanted to do? I just wanted to talk out loud, to tell everybody "hey, did YOU know this whole crazy thing about Tom Paine's afterlife travel?", "did you know we're gonna have a total solar eclipse tomorrow?", "did you know....", "did you know...", "have you heard about..." But of course no one was around, and I couldn't just stick my head out the window. (That notorious Seattle traffic was particularly good on that day). One of my frustrations is finding something good to talk about, and having NO ONE to share it with. I could always talk to my cat, but she isn't very responsive. She often gives that cold stare that says frankly my dear.... You probably know the feeling. You're sitting somewhere, reading the news, listening to something, watching something, and no one's around, and you really, really, *really* have the urge to talk about it, to discuss it, to share it. What makes it worse is I heart the internet. I'm one of those people that could be called, in technical terms, "information whore". Or, if that term doesn't sit well with you, "information hoarder". Do you have a friend that *always* IMs or emails you links after links after links? And they always seem to have a web site for *everything*? And they can't write a blog entry without at least 60 links per capita? That's me. My brother once half-jokingly told me "You've defeated the Internet, it's waving a white flag." I like to socialize, gossip, and talk about the news, the weather, the party last night, the latest music hits, whatever. (Good thing I have a way to gain attention as a girl). I also come across a lot of stuff/news/useless facts, and love to share them, as quickly and as easily as possible. Oh sure, I could blog, and I do, I'm a blog whore too, and that's another story. But blogging is tiresome when you're copying, cutting, and pasting 10, 20 links a day. And it doesn't have that spontaneous feel, that, I'm only here for a night feel, that, I'm so excited I could jump around on your couch! feel. I wanna share stuff with my friends and I want to do it now! Like, in a touch of a button. Like, in a Dot. It's elementary, my dear Watson, that's why I Dot.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The iPod (and beer) Winner

Why hello there! Yesterday, we gave away a lovely and very tiny black nano to the winner of our very first contest. So if you haven't heard from us yet, you, uh, did not win. The lucky person who did win the prize is Luke Rogers. Congratulations, Luke! Since Luke also happens to be over the legal drinking age, some of us folks at Blue.Us Headquarters asked him to come down and meet with us so that we could show him around the office and take him to a beer (or two) at Temple Billiards. He was gracious enough to accept. We even snapped a photo for posterity: Aren't we Dotters a lovely lot? Please congratulate Luke if you see him walking around campus. You can also check out his Dots at the link below (that way when you run into him you can surprise him with how much you already know about him): Luke's Dots