Friday, May 26, 2006

User-Level RSS now available at Blue Dot

Due to popular demand, we have put out an initial implementation of RSS for you to tinker around with. What we've made available so far (thanks, Derek!) is at the user-level and displays public Dots for any Blue Dot user. You can access these feeds through the following url: <- (just replace my username "eric" with the username you want to use) Check it out and let us know what you think. Do any of you actually use readers that handle authenticated feeds? What RSS features would you like to see on Blue Dot?

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blue Dot: Making your offline world better

There was an interesting blog post a couple days ago over at cataloging 7 reasons why web apps fail. My favorite reason was #7, regarding not thinking holistically:
The amazing thing about Flickr is that nobody uses the service to upload pictures. Nobody says to themselves “I need to upload me some pictures”. Instead, they’re satisfying some other need in their lives, like showing off the new kid to relatives. Or showing their friends how their trip to Europe went. Or letting their co-workers in on their conference activity. All of these things have to do with their life, their relationships, their everyday activities that aren’t centered on the Web, but are made much easier by it. If we look closely, that’s what most successful web apps do: they make our offline lives richer.
Luckily, being a user of Blue Dot makes my life more rich, even when I'm away from my computer. The other night my friend Jeff called me from Portland while I was watching basketball. We started chatting and our conversation was great because he already knew everything I'd been doing because he'd checked out my Dots. Conversely, I had seen what he'd been Dotting. We had a great conversation about some science articles, business ideas, etc. and didn't spend time wondering what to talk about (i.e. "how's the weather down there..."). This sort of happy information exchange occurs all the time when you and your friends are Dotting. The best part is that it feels natural to keep up with what everyone is doing. I never even realize how much I've learned about my friends until I'm hanging out with them, they start talking, and I realize that I'm already familiar with the things that are motivating them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ok fine, it's my turn now.

Eric's been bugging me for months to post a little something on this blog. I figured since I did a quick redesign of the blog, now is a good time. I don't like to write too much, so don't hold this short post against me, k? Aside from coding cool new features for our cool users, I like to use Blue Dot to better keep in touch with my friends and family. Phone calls can cost me over $2/min at times, so I figured Blue Dot would be a cheaper alternative. And so far, I have to say that's it's been working rather well. And don't worry, I still get to talk to my family once in a while and our conversations are more fun thanks to Blue Dot. So there you have it, Eric... my first blog post EVER!

New Site Release: 20060517

Hello! We put out a new site release today. Here are the key changes: - Your Blue Dot Profile is now fully explorable by people who are not yet members of Blue Dot. This means that you can give non-Blue Dot users a link to your profile page and they will be able to explore your public Dots. It's a great way to share your Dots with people who haven't yet become users. Don't worry, all non-public Dots will not be accessible via this view. To see a sample, feel free to check out my profile here. - The Blue Dot name change referenced in prior post - Numerous bug fixes

Why the name change? Blue.Us becomes Blue Dot

Hello folks! As you will probably notice, we've changed our name and where you find us. The site is now known simple as "Blue Dot" and we're located at Don't worry, existing bookmarks should continue to work, we'll just forward you over to the new domain. We made this change to remove some of the confusion surrounding the old name. When people did not know the employees of Blue Dot personally, the site was being called Blue (or even worse "Blue Us"). That's not what we were going for and it caused a few snickers on campus when we were telling people about our site. We'd rather be clear with people that we're Blue Dot because it's a better name with actual significance to all of us who work here. To my knowledge, there are two stories behind the name Blue Dot: 1) The earth looks like a Blue Dot from space. We like the idea that we're making the earth more navigable for our users. 2) A Dot is the smallest and simplest usability experience available. We want Dotting to be non-intrusive and simple. There you go. You've learned something new today.

Blue.Us is undergoing a few changes...

The site will be down for a bit o' time here this morning. Please hang tight and we'll be right back!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bribery Wordsmith Challenge #1: Can I get a sentence?

For those of you interested in a challenge, I'd like to hear you come up with a single-sentence explanation of why people should Dot and what Dotting can be used for (short haiku is acceptable if you're looking for a true challenge). If I like your entry, I may buy you a beer. If I really like your entry, you could get a pitcher. You must be a registered Blue.Us user to participate/win and you're going to have to come down to Pioneer Square to get your drink. Dare to dream. Put on your thinking cap and look forward to the possible dulling of your mental faculties via alcoholic libation. I'm not just trying to get your marketing ideas. This is an attempt to understand exactly what people think is good/bad about Dotting and how we can make it better. I want to hear everyone's unadulterated opinions of how Dotting should be described to a broader audience.