When time is short or my brain is full, I have two ways of marking content as worth reading at some point in the future:

  • if it’s in google reader I star it
  • if it’s on the wild wild web then I add it to delicious and tag it ‘readme’

The fact that I have over 600 ‘readme’ items in delicious, going back to 2004 tells us one of two things:

  1. I am not reading those items, or
  2. I am not untagging them once read.

Sadly for me, the answer is (1) and I’ve not previously worked out a way of making serious damage to the number of unread articles without declaring bankruptcy and potentially starting again – except of course that I would still have no strategy for actually reading them!

Enter – a two-year old (yet new to me) service from HP that lets you add any number of feeds you like and it will, on a daily or weekly schedule, grab those feeds, merge the results, sort by time, select the most recent items and generate a PDF which it will then email to you.

I’m going for a weekly delivery of both my starred items and readme items – my first one arrived in my inbox the other day, I printed it out and am very happy indeed. Of course it means that each week I’m giving myself a job to go through my Tabbloid printout and de-star or remove the tag in delicious, but at least I’m making progress!

For generating PDFs from RSS I’ve previously used but it’s been choking on the feeds I want processed. is also a competitor, but with a less-slick website, and thus I didn’t try it. Yes, I really am that fickle.

That isn’t to say there aren’t any pain points with this whole process – I haven’t yet sussed how to queue up video items tagged with “watchme” for example, or watch videos I’ve starred in Google Reader – presumably there’s something about parsing the feeds, grabbing the video where possible, encoding to a phone-friendly format and then subscribing on a mobile feedreader, but that sounds like a lot of work right now for a relatively small issue and I’m more than happy to be able to have a piece of my online reading experience come offline with me, and be ready whenever I am.

Scrum in web teams – an apology

A few months ago at the Institutional Web Manager’s Workshop I helped run a session on PRINCE2 and Scrum with Peter Barnes from the University of Reading.

I was terrible.

At the start of the session we collected several common problems that people face on their projects. From memory, these included:

  • missed deadlines
  • incomplete specs
  • feature creep
  • under-resourcing
  • no requirement to finish (managers don’t care about the project)

I failed to address any of these points, managing only to give a reasonably poor overview of Scrum as a whole, making both myself and Scrum look bad.

I plan on addressing the issues above in a series of blog posts tagged with “iwmw2010” which was the hashtag for the event to try and cover what I should have done at the time. Feel free to subscribe to the feed for just that content!

In case of theft

In the last few months, several of my friends have had either their laptops or phones stolen.

It’s only after I really thought what that would mean to me that I realised how serious this would be.

It used to be that if my phone got stolen then I would lose my address book and my text messages; if it gets stolen now then I lose a device which has full access to my Google account, is signed into more than a dozen other web services and has “remember my password” for the others.

If my laptop was stolen it would be a similar effect.

I am a very very happy user of Dropbox and use it to store my documents, photos, and so on. The Dropbox website allows me to remotely remove computers from the list of machines that sync, which is useful, but there’s still no way of then pulling all those files off of that machine.

There are quite a few apps in the Android Market that allow you to back up and then remotely wipe your phone (as well as do other things like lock the install/uninstall process, report GPS position etc.), but I haven’t been able to find something similar for laptops – I could encrypt my hard drive, but would the hit to performance be worth it? I’ve tried setting up Prey, but although it installs on my phone, it chokes on my laptop!

The youth of today

.. are really impressive.

A few weeks back I watched several of the video presentations (that page is also probably the best writeup!) from Young Rewired State, and then last Saturday I got to meet some of the people from the teams at OpenTech. Here’s a wordy summary of what happened on the YRS blog, but basically, groups of 15-18 year olds writing software (desktop, mobile, web, whatever) using government data sources. Very cool.

Alongside that is Apps for Good. About themselves they say:

Apps For Good is a leading-edge technology programme where young people learn to create mobile and web apps that change their world. With special focus around solving real life issues that matter to them and their community.

So, among others, they’ve done things like write an Android app that tells you your rights for Stop and Search.

I love seeing this level of engagement from a group of people half my age! Gumption, opportunities, actually producing something in a single week – if that isn’t enough to give anyone of my age both fear and inspiration then I really don’t know what is.

Blogging duck

Any writing is better than no writing, so here are some things I’ve been thinking about and doing lately:

I have a new camera – a simple Canon Ixus 100 to replace my old point and shoot which got dust in the lens. It has HDMI out for the 720p video it takes, face tracking, auto scene selection (such that if I point it at something close it switches into macro mode automatically), and is slightly bigger than a credit card. I keep touching the screen to try and interact with it.

I’ve been reading all about the Young Rewired State, which is something I’d not heard about until after it had happened, but is really inspiring.

I’ve been going back and re-reading some of Matt Jones’s old blog posts, and getting some book recommendations – mainly Neal Stephenson. I’m no longer sure what is meant by “the Internet of Things” – it made sense a few years ago but isn’t it now just “the Internet” and we’ve changed our perception of what is and can be connected?

This week I bought a pen. It has 8GB storage, a microphone, a speaker, basic handwriting recognition, comes with special paper which has playback controls on it, and it has its own app store. The SDK is freely available. I will be bringing it to OpenTech 2010 on the 11th September.

Another cool pen that’s just launched is the Sharpie Liquid Pencil which contains liquid graphite. I like the idea of this a lot.

All the Java bloggers I read are posting about Clojure, a dialect of Lisp that runs on the JVM, and have been for months. I have no particular inclination to actually try it out.

I didn’t originally think I’d care, but I increasingly want to be able to back up all the data I enter into Twitter and Facebook. For twitter there is an easy API and plenty of code for doing that. For Facebook there seem to be sites that will do it for you, but that requires giving them your login details, or full access to your account, which isn’t something I’m massively prepared to do.