Monday, October 24, 2005

Why Not Use A Pencil?

We've all had that moment of sudden inspiration, the rare instance where the muse plops on our head and says, "Time to be creative!" We frantically rush for a piece of paper, table napkin, your shirt, whatever. We grab our pen, hurriedly scrawl down our ideas, desperately trying to outpace the already-starting fade-out that idea's doing in our head...

Phew. Exhausting to even think about, isn't it? Now think about this. What if I told you about an amazing instrument that won't smear during your scrawlings, takes up less paper space than a pen, is dirt-cheap, available everyhere, is often made of recycled materials, AND actually helps the creative process in your brain? Would you want one?

Well, they're easy to get. The instrument I'm talking about is...a pencil.

I'm serious. Using a pencil for brainstorming, instead of a pen, my creative scribbles have gotten amazingly better. Here's my reasoning.

1. Nothing Permanent Can Stay
Have you ever tried to erase ink with an erasable pen? It leaves big stains on your paper, faded words still visible. Yecch. And that's for the erasable pens; if you're working with an ordinary pen, break out the White-Out. With a pencil, you can erase easily, OR scratch something out. This helps your mental state out a lot, as mentioned below.

2. Brainstorm Forecast
When scrambling to write out an idea, you're aware this is the first level. Your brain isn't trying to slap extra requirements for coherence and structure on pencil scribblings. You're unbound; you can write with abandon. With a pencil, you don't have ink bindings or having-to-go-back-over-that-word-because-the-ink-faded-for-no-reason annoyances.

3. Lightning Hands!
I just write faster with a pencil. I'm not worrying about the ink smearing, spontaneous dry-ups, how neat it looks, etc. Tossing out these subtle blocks makes my hands rush across that page even faster than my typing (which is no slouch at 60 words per minute!).

I'm sure it's not for everyone. But with pencils being so helpful in my haphazard creative bursts, I thought it something everyone could try. See if a pencil can't give a few more seconds to your next brainstorm, instead of a pen.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

WiMax Goes City-Wide In Taiwan

Remember the new broad-range wireless technology I blogged on a few weeks ago, called WiMax? It's getting a shot in the arm with wide-scale testing. But not here...

MOEA, Intel ink pact on WiMAX platform

Taiwan is going wireless. All over. "Made in Taiwan" cliches aside, I think this is an ideal environment for testing WiMax. Signal traffic will be high, from the dense population. Interruptions will be frequent, with so many buildings and electronics around. The perfect way to screen, filter, fix and boost WiMax on a city-wide scale. This is the kind of technology that's best debugged through use, and there is going to be a lot of use on this one!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Copywriting RSS Feeds

I thought I'd do something a bit different today!

In today's breakneck-pace world, we have information coming at us from a thousand different directions. So, I like to filter some of it through my email program and RSS reader. Many blogs I like to check have RSS feeds now, so it saves several minutes of surfing, too.

With that in mind, I decided I'm going to list some of the RSS feeds I subscribe to. Blog - Ecclesiastical overtones aside, virtually every copywriter is (or should be!) a disciple of Bob Bly. Every time I read his posts, there are plenty of wise comments to go along with his information. I was the first to guess the correct answer on one of his quizzes the other day, too!

Dilbert - Yes, someone DOES syndicate Dilbert on RSS. Every day, a reminder of how silly business CAN be. And a reminder not to be that silly!

Google News--Top Stories - Be careful with this one...there's almost TOO much news! Google maintains several feeds for news subjects, from Business to Health. You can find them all at

John Carlton's Big Damn Blog - From a damn good copywriter comes a damn funny blog. Lots of great info here about writing (duh), marketing, weird sights, and other Big Damn stuff. - Lifehack is a great all-around resource for DIY, creativity boosts, stress relievers, and sometimes a good laugh. It expands my mind AND brightens my day.

Nick Usborne's Excess Voice - One of the undisputed Web copywriting masters, Nick Usborne's "Monday Copywriting Tip" is an invaluable way to start the week off on-point and in-gear.

That's all for now! I have more RSS feeds...but if I put them all on here, I couldn't do another RSS Feeds post later, now could I?

Note: If you need an RSS reader program, I highly recommend these two. Both are free, fast, and make RSS reading easy.
GreatNews RSS Reader

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tagging and Weaving Web Content into Web Development

I'm going to start tagging my blog posts with Technorati tags. It'll help improve my blog ranking, as well as get my articles and occasionally-witty commentary out to more Webophiles.

In a way, this links into my topic for today's blog posting. (Ha ha, 'links,' I'm pun-ny today.) I'm going through my text, checking for relevant keywords and phrases people may search for in my relevant topics. In essence, I will be weaving tags into my content from now on.

And here's another example of weaving:
Nine Rules of Good Web Design for Freshers
This one's a basic (but well-rounded) set of tips on good web design.

It's also a great example of how important content is into web development. The value of content is pointed to in 6 of the 9 tips: Message, Readable Texts, Easy Page Flow, Navigation, Privacy and Customer Opinions, & (of course) Spelling, Grammar and Word Choice. The rest of the information is very sensible and comprehensive - a good read for new designers and seasoned professionals alike.

It even ends with an admonition for good content. Kudos to the Freshers!

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Meshed Wi-Fi and Security Concerns

A while back I talked about WiMax, a new wireless technology designed to use radio signals to beam Internet access farther than standard WiFi. Now another protocol's stepping up to the plate.

Long-Distance Wireless: Meshed Wi-Fi

I'm really impressed by all the layering research done in this field. Researchers crisscross the same protocols, trying to find structures that are more efficient and easier to produce. And they keep finding them! A testament to the standard's viability as a TRUE 'World Wide Web,' I think.

Getting Wi-Fi to extend further is very useful, but it's only one of the two major problems hindering widespread proliferation. Wireless also suffers from the danger of transmission insecurity. I don't see a lot about this problem - in fact, I don't see much of anything about wireless security unless I go looking for it.

I believe this to be due to misdirected focus on security at the client and server end. Security professionals put in a lot of time and effort to secure workstations, routers and servers. This is absolutely necessary, but the transmission medium itself often gets downgraded on the priorities list. There are encryption standards available for Wi-Fi security, but these are not reputed to be as secure or as evolved as the end-point security standards I mentioned above.

While I think extending the range, as this Meshed Wi-Fi does quite well, is forms of security necessitate more research. It is, after all, called 'open air' for a reason.