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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Friday Links on Monday

Take a look at Gliffy. Gliffy is a diagramming tool, in the same general family as Visio - but its a web app. Like a lot of the web apps I find noteworthy these days, its not so much that this service will change your life, as it will show you what is possible with new browser-based programming techniques. But this flash-based software is not a toy application either - you can use it build network diagrams, entity-relationship diagrams, floorplans, mockups of user-interfaces... And there is a lot to be said for free software that requires no installation. Take a look.

I've also been exploring DesktopTwo- this application came to my attention via Emily Chang's eHub site. It's is a totally new genre of application - a browser-based "desktop" of the sort Windows or Mac users are accustomed to. And it comes equiped with a range of applications you can open from the desktop, including RedHat's distribution of the web-based office suite. And a 1 G "hard drive" for storing and sharing files. Again, I suggest you take a look at this more as food for thought that as a suggestion that you change your entire personal computing paradigm.

Desktop Two comes from Sapotek, who tell us on their home page that they are committed to developing web applications that are indistinguishable from traditional desktop applications. Does this mean we've reached the end of the road for new ideas about user interface? In The future of Human-Computer Interaction, John Canny explores new UI ideas like context sensitivity - where the system utilizes information about location, time, and situation to control the interface. But the author points out that almost any idea in this area also raises serious privacy issues. For example, he has lots of ideas based on the possibility that your phone could use face and voice recognition software to know who is around you physically when you are using the phone. It could know, for example, not to ring when your executive director is holding forth.
Speaking of phone interfaces, Jeremy Wagstaff, in his Loose Wire blog, comments on the shortcomings of trying to use a desktop point-and-click approach on a phone.
I think in the near future we’ll wonder what the hell we were doing with our mobile interfaces. Why is it harder to answer a smartphone than it is to answer a normal mobile phone?
He's right. I've been using the Palm Treo 650 for some time, and while I love the Palm-based PDA, and love having only one gadget to carry, there is a lot of phone-related stuff that is hard to do without the stylus. Including dialing on that tiny qwerty keyboard.

A couple sophisticated posts on the do's and don'ts of blogging came to my attention this week. One is from Vickie Davis's Cool Cat Teacher Blog. There are a lot of exciting technology related blogs in the educational sector, and the issues these folks are dealing with have a lot of overlap with non-profit and NGO bloggers. Vicki takes on the role of commenting in building your visibility as a blogger, and discusses in some depth how to comment effectively and constructively. Meanwhile, Amy Gahran takes on the etiquette of editing already posted material. Her gist:
If you make a mistake or go seriously overboard, you’ve got to expect some heat for it. But believe me, you’ll look much better in to long run if you own up to errors than if you try to cover them up. Removing published content without explanation always looks like a coverup – or that you’re a hothead or thin-skinned.
And now for something completely different.
I can't remember who pointed me at this piece from the Onion - but those of us working with non-profits will recognize at least ONE place we've worked, I'm sure...

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Comments on "Friday Links on Monday"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (August 10, 2006 at 9:43 PM) : 

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the Gliffy link. I'm going to try it out. I have some Gantt and network diagrams to make, and it seems that some of the software packages out there are overkill.

And the Onion piece on nonprofits was priceless. I remember squishing bugs by throwing my dictionary at them -- it was heavy and flat. I tore of the cover and tossed it, bug and all. No way to live!


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