I am using the OPML Editor, created by Dave Winer, to run two web applications, Radio2 and River2. The OPML Editor is the predecessor to Fargo and is somewhat unique in that it is basically a Windows (and OS X) Server application. You can run it on a desktop computer and use the application's UI to create and edit outlines, but it also has a server component that servers HTML and executes code written in Frontier.

If the desktop computer has an Internet accessible IP address, you can access the applications, or tools, that the OPML Editor supports. I am running the OPML Editor on a Windows 2003 server hosted in the Amazon cloud, and it has been running well for me for more than two years. Because I run the OPML Editor on a server, I can access the Radio2 and River2 applications from any personal computing device on the Internet.

Radio2 is a linkblogging application that works pretty much like Fargo's noteblogs.

06/24/14; 02:13:23 PM

An ecosystem is more like a coral reef than a super market. All sorts of aquatic life depend on a coral reef for their existence and if that coral reef is destroyed most of the aquatic life that depends on it would also die. While I need a super market to buy food, if the super market down the street closes I can always find another one.

I see constant references to "ecosystems" in the context to shopping. The Apple ecosystem is based on the iTunes store where one can buy music and movies, and Apple's retail stores where one can get support and buy products that work with Apple's hardware. The Amazon ecosystem is its web site where one can buy books, music, and movies that can be played on personal computing devices.

In my opinion an ecosystem is more than just the ability to buy stuff, to me an ecosystem is about sustainability. Putting personal computing in context of ecosystems, can a user continually benefit from using a computer that improves their life? For me ecosystems aren't just whether I can buy books, music or movies, but also whether the information I need to grow and be productive is available to me.

Google is an information company that makes money by selling ads associated with information. Apple is a hardware company that makes money by selling the best hardware. Amazon is an online retailer that makes money by making it easy for users to buy stuff.

A coral reef doesn't exist to form an ecosystem, the ecosystem that forms around it is a consequence of its existence. In my opinion, Google is the only company of the three that has as a result of its primary purpose the formation of an ecosystem. It not only provides music and movies, but it also provides access to a wide range of information, from email to maps, to information on Google Now, to web searches.

I have many reasons to go back to the "coral reef Google" because my life involves more than just buying stuff. I need answers to the questions I have as I go about my life, and each time I go back to the "coral reef Google" to nibble on more information, "coral reef Google" benefits from my presence.

When I need to buy something, I usually go to the "supermarket Amazon" because I trust it to have the product I need at an affordable price and the company ships the product to my front door. Frankly, no device whether it is sold by Apple, Samsung, Motorola, or HTC is going to prevent me from shopping at Amazon.

Now we come to the challenge that Amazon has to over come in selling their Fire smartphone. The questions I need answers to occur much more frequently and at many more locations than my need to shop. If I am lost and need directions to the nearest store, I need those directions right now and I know I will find those directions by asking Google on my smartphone.

On the occasions when I need to shop, while it might be convenient for me to do so on my smartphone, I am most likely capable of waiting until I have access to a notebook computer. I most likely don't need to shop right now, and if I do need a product right now, I am going to the store for which I need directions to and not to Amazon's web site.

For most people the need for answers and information is more important than the need to shop. Android phones that have full access to Google's services are best suited for providing answers and information. Unfortunately for Amazon, it is also very easy for me to shop from Amazon on those same Android phones.

06/20/14; 09:52:22 AM

I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect to do list management application. My perfect to do list management application is multi-platform, allows me create tasks in an hierarchical or outline form, allows me to connect tasks items with Evernote notes, connects projects with Evernote notebooks, provides a way to export my data, and stores my data in an encrypted format.

So far, I have not found the perfect to do list app, most have a few of the features I want but not all. For example, I am use Evernote and am glad they added Reminders for notes, but it doesn't have much in the way of structure. What I would like to find is a outlining/to-do app that I can layer on top of Evernote too give it structure.

So, I have decided to give Todoist a try, it is multi-platform and has structure by supporting projects and subtasks.

What I like about Todoist:

  • Online presence. Todoist is very active in social media, providing insights into how to use the app.

  • Support. After I signed up for Todoist, I received a personal email from a person at Todoist, introducing himself and telling me I can contact him with any questions. I've sent a question, we'll see how quick I get a response.

  • Android widget. The widget provides a lot of flexibility to only display specific information. For example, I am able to only display next actions tasks.

  • Projects. Most people who need a to-do list app work on multiple projects. Too many of to-do apps simply provide flat lists. I am also finding that Todoist is easier to navigate to project tasks than Any.do.

  • Zapier Support. Zapier is a web application integration service, much like the popular site, IFTTT.com, and it has support for both Todoist and Evernote. By using this service I am able to send completed tasks to Evernote notebooks and notes, and send Evernote reminders to Todoist.

  • Gmail integration via Chrome extension adds a button that enables you to turn an email into a task.

  • Google Chrome extension adds the ability to add links to web pages as tasks, so if you are doing research relating to a web site, you can add that as a task to Todoist.

What I wish Todoist had:

  • Exporting data. So far, I have not found a way to export data, which is problematic. In my opinion all cloud apps need to provide their users with a way to get their data out of the app. I particularly want to export completed tasks for archiving.

  • Connectivity to Evernote. More and more apps provide some level of integration with Evernote, although in most cases I have found that integration to be lacking. Evernote has an API and with that I imagine it would be possible to connect Todoist projects and tasks to Evernote notebooks and notes.

    • While services like Zapier and IFTTT provide a bridge between apps, they don't function as well as direct integration. For example, I am using a Zapier "zap" that adds new reminders I create in Evernote as tasks in Todoist. When I check the task off as done in Todoist, that indication of completion is not shared back to Evernote, I have to also check off the reminder in Evernote. If there as a direct relationship between the Todoist task and the Evernote reminder in such a way that their status was in sync, it would be possible to check off an Evernote-linked Todoist task one time and see the reflected in both apps.
  • An IFTTT.com channel. IFTTT is a popular web application integration service, that enables you to move data between applications, or what it calls channels when certain events occur. Zapier is similar service, but unlike IFTTT that is free, it costs money if you heavily rely on its services.

06/17/14; 05:52:00 PM

For some reason the menu bar of my Sports Beat blog has disappeared. Curious minds wonder why.

Ah ha, apparently a menutitle directive is need. I wonder if that is new?

06/11/14; 02:51:08 PM

Last built: Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM

By Frank McPherson, Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at 2:51 PM.