FLOSS Usability Sprint III

This weekend, Aspiration and Blue Oxen Associates are once again co-hosting FLOSS Usability Sprint III, the pre-eminent event for bringing usability to Open Source projects. This year, we’ve moved venues from San Francisco to Mountain View. Thanks to Google and especially Rick Boardman for sponsoring the event!    (LET)

As always, we have a great set of participants, and it should be both productive and fun. What’s even cooler for me this year is that one of my projects, HyperScope, will be a participant. I love it when things converge! The other projects are Drupal, Social Source Commons, Socialtext Open, and Sustainable Civil Society. Really looking forward to it!    (LEU)

Personal Landmarks

Last Friday, en route to some pickup hoops in Mountain View, my car hit the 200,000 mile mark.    (KQ0)

https://i2.wp.com/static.flickr.com/44/168702807_10115b6066_m.jpg?w=700    (KQ1)

I hit the mark around 7pm on a gorgeous, warm day while at the intersection of Alpine Road and Junipero Serra in Palo Alto. It was exactly eight days before the 10th anniversary of my car.    (KQ2)

Okay, I’ve already copped to driving too much. But I love that car, so allow me a brief moment of sentimentality. In celebration of this moment, I promise not to drive as much in the years to come. I’m still pondering what my mileage goals should be.    (KQ3)

Also, this is my 300th blog post. This comes three weeks before the third anniversary of this blog. The power of threes!    (KQ4)

Dumbells and Collective Intelligence

I’ve been a member of 24 Hour Fitness ever since I moved out here, mostly frequenting their Mountain View location. Now that I’m in San Francisco, I go to the location on Ocean Avenue (when I’m not sitting on my lazy butt, that is). Here’s the amazing thing about that location. It’s about three times as big as the Mountain View location, with about three times the number of dumbells. And yet, it is impossible to find the weights you’re looking for there. They’re always scattered all over the place, and no one ever racks them where they’re supposed to go.    (K9J)

Tony Christopher once told me a story about this timeshare cabin he and his family rent. Someone (the owners I think) had the bright idea of actually labelling the drawers so that all of the inhabitants know exactly where to find the silverware and where to return it when they’re done. Brilliant, right? And it works for Tony and his timesharing cohorts.    (K9K)

All gyms already have this for their free weights. And most gyms I’ve been to are decent at keeping their free weights in order, although this is partially because they have some staffer reorganize them on a regular basis. Well, this apparently doesn’t happen enough in San Francisco, and for whatever reason, those who frequent that gym aren’t smart enough to put things back where they belong. And all of us suffer as a result.    (K9L)

This is as good of a metric for measuring a group’s Collective Intelligence as any: How well does a group keep its tools or its artifacts in order? There are two approaches to rating high on this metric: imposing discipline on a group from above, or hoping that your group is smart enough to figure it out on its own. When the latter happens, you’ve got self-organization, and it’s much more compelling than the top-down alternative. This, of course, is what makes Wikis so interesting.    (K9M)

Google Swimming Pool

Dirk Riehle told me a funny story at WikiSym about Google’s swimming pools. There are two, they’re about 10 feet long, and they’re “endless pools” — the equivalent of a swimming treadmill. What’s really funny is that Mountain View required the company to have an on-duty lifeguard for these little pools. Apparently, it’s quite a funny sight to see a lifeguard watching people swim in these tiny pools.    (JYJ)

Dirk has a description and a picture of the pools at his most excellent, A Geek’s Tour of Silicon Valley web site, but unfortunately, he doesn’t have one with the pools occupied and a lifeguard on duty.    (JYK)

https://i2.wp.com/www.ageekstour.com/photos/GoogleSwimmingPool/small.jpg?w=700    (JYL)

The first person who points me to such a picture wins two cookies. Better yet, post it on Dirk’s site (which runs on a Wiki).    (JYM)

Amber Alert in Action

On Monday, I found myself in the middle of a car chase. More importantly, I saw Amber Alert working first-hand.    (23L)

I was driving south on 101 to Campbell from Redwood City for lunch and a slew of meetings. As I drove through Mountain View, I saw an Amber Alert on an electronic billboard, which said that a girl had been abducted in a blue Land Rover. I noted the first few numbers of the license plate in my head, then thought about how great Amber Alert was, and how interesting it would be to see it in action. I was thinking about how Amber Alert could potentially use Instant Messenging in cell phones when I saw the second notice on the sign at Great America in Santa Clara.    (23M)

In San Jose, I merged onto 17 towards Campbell, and a few minutes later, I saw flashing lights in my mirror. I was running a bit late for my lunch appointment, so I glanced at my speedometer to see if I were in trouble, and to my relief, I discovered that — thanks to traffic — I was right at 65 miles per hour.    (23N)

Checking my mirrors again, I noticed the blue SUV behind me change to the fast lane. I remember thinking, “That’s strange. Makes more sense to switch into the slow lane.” Yes, I can be slow at times. As the SUV zoomed past me, I noticed “Land Rover” on the tire cover and recognized the first few letters of the license plate. The three police cars in pursuit confirmed what had slowly dawned on me. That was the kidnapper.    (23O)

I fully realize that if I were truly cool, I would have captured the chase on my cell phone camera and moblogged it immediately. Folks would have seen the chase snapshot live, rather than having to wait for this account two days later. In my defense, I was calm enough to do it. As I watched all of this unfold, I actually called my friend and told him that I was in the middle of a car chase and would be a few minutes late. Unfortunately, my cell phone is four years old. It doesn’t have a camera, and it won’t connect to the Internet.    (23P)

I can happily report that the police did eventually catch the culprit (in San Luis Obispo, about five hours south of San Francisco), and the girl is safe and sound.    (23Q)