Gmail Mobile.

Google Mail Mobile imageDamn you, Google. As if my email addiction weren’t bad enough already, you have to go and create Google Mobile, a Java app for my cellphone that lets me read my Gmail messages, even on my crappy but stylish Razr V3. Message threading, easy scanning, and most importantly, quick message deletion–all the features I look for in a mail client are there. Too bad the app crashes my phone almost daily, and has a hard time hanging on to a data connection when I’m using it on the train, and is probably running me up a fortune in data transfer charges from Cingular. I just can’t help returning to it time and again, like a junkie returning for a fix of smack even though his needles are rusty and the junk is mixed with too much rat poison.

Gmail Mobile.

I did it in my head!

Last night Clara was working on her homework, part of which involved math problems — simple addition. (Math homework! In kindergarten! But that’s another post.) 2+2, 2+3, 6+0, etc. Karen set her up with a handful of clementines on the table and her homework folder. For 2+3, Clara put two clementines on one side of the folder, and three on the other. Then she “smooshed them together” and counted the total, which she wrote down on the homework sheet. Once she got the hang of it she was pretty self sufficient, although she needed some help re-locating each sum on the sheet after doing the clementines, since the sheet had about 20 different problems. Towards the end, she had a problem, 2+0, and wrote the correct answer without using the clementines. How did you figure out the right answer, Clara? “I did it in my head!” She proceeded to add a couple more sums the same way, but she checked her answers with the clementines this time.

Clara, after dinner: “Mommy, can I do some more homework now?”

I did it in my head!

Freedom from training wheels.

Jean helps Clara break free of her training wheels!At the start of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, near the McLaren Lodge at Fell and Stanyan, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition holds a monthly “Freedom from Training Wheels” event to help kids learn to ride their bikes without training wheels. On Sundays the drive is closed to car traffic, except for the occasional police car or fire engine, so kids have the added bonus of being able to ride in the middle of the street. On Sunday we met Jean, a volunteer trainer and SF Bike board member. Jean is a great trainer, with lots of experience helping kids learn to ride and with a simple, straightforward approach and an easygoing confidence that quickly won Clara’s trust. The fact that she’s not the parent helps a lot too.

So, I removed the training wheels from Clara’s bike and lowered the seat as far down as it would go so her feet could rest comfortably on the ground and support her. Then Jean helped Clara get started, holding on to the back of her seat to push and stabilize her as she got going.

Inside of a minute Clara was yelling to Jean “let go! let go!,” and after a couple of minutes Jean finally complied. (“I’ve never had a kid tell me that before,” she confided later.) Clara’s bike wobbled, then straightened, as she took off on her own for the first time. “Pedal, Clara, pedal!” We shouted. “You’re doing it!” We all started whooping and shouting as Clara, grinning broadly, cruised right down the yellow line in the middle of the road.

Clara went on to make many more successful rides that morning, up and down the low, shallow rise in the road, and one time she rode up the hill, turned around at the top, and rode back down. She fell down a couple times, but recovered well each time and got right back on the back, even when she scraped herself once. By the end of the hour we were yelling at Clara to open her eyes and put her feet on the pedals, because she’d been closing her eyes and lifting her feet up to make the ride more exciting.

As a bonus, in between successful training wheel-free rides, Clara got to take a few rides on the bake of Jean’s bike, which has been extended so it has extra carrying capacity — she might be able to fit six bags of groceries on the supersized rack, and tells us she’s carried as many as four kids on it at one time. “It’s my sport utility bicycle,” Jean said, though it was surprisingly light and stable.

When the hour was up, Clara asked to have her training wheels put back on — to make it easier to ride to lunch. There’s riding for fun, and then there’s practical transportation.

Freedom from training wheels.

2,714 unread messages.

That’s what my inbox contained on my first day of work at Wired News. My inbox had been open for less than 2 weeks prior to my start date, so that represents about 10 days’ worth of mail, of which only one message was directed at me specifically (that I know of — I didn’t read them all). I’ve never worked in an environment where I received so much mail: story pitches, press releases, feedback on published stories, subscription requests, spam. Needless to say, my approach to email will be changing somewhat. I’ll no longer be responding to every story idea, or even most. Here’s how I’m dealing with email now:

  • If something is important, relevant, and requires my response, I’ll respond quickly.
  • If you are initiating an email conversation (ie sending a story idea, pitch, press release, or invitation) and you don’t hear back from me in a day or two, you can assume I’m not interested.
  • If we’ve been in conversation and you don’t hear back from me, I probably overlooked, lost, or forgot about your message. Give me a couple days and then, if it’s still important, send me another message.

Wondering how to reach me, by email, phone, or snail? Here’s my contact info.

2,714 unread messages.

Fame! I wanna live forever!

FOLIO magazine logoOK, forgive the cheesy 80’s TV show reference, but I couldn’t resist using it to announce that not one, but two of the online events I produced while at PC Magazine have won FAME awards from Folio Magazine. As the announcement states, “10 gold winners were chosen from more than 150 entries from consumer, b-to-b, association, and city and regional magazines that have created innovative, revenue-generating and brand-building events” in 2007. PCMagCast walked away with one gold award, for best online event (for the August 2006 Virtual Tradeshow on Security & Mobility we produced) and one bronze, in the same category, for the “How to Select and Set up an HDTV” event from last November. These awards should be a great kickoff for PCMagCast’s second year. And they’re a testament to the hard work and talent of the PCMagCast team I (sadly) left behind last week.

UPDATE: Here’s a quote from Jason Young, president of the consumer and small business division of Ziff Davis: “PCMagCasts have quickly become one of Ziff Davis’s most successful initiatives.” PC Magazine’s PCMagCasts Win Two Folio: FAME Awards for Best Online Events

Fame! I wanna live forever!

My new job at Wired News.

I started a new job this week, as business editor at Wired News, the online arm of Wired magazine. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this new assignment. I’ll be responsible for the web site’s business and gadgets coverage, including overseeing the blogs Gadget Lab and Epicenter.

Wired News doesn’t really have any business coverage per se yet, so I have some scope to define that beat. The way I see it, Wired already covers the essentials of business — innovation, smart people, trends in infotech, biotech, nanotech, space — and it’s simply my job to continue and expand that mission. So you won’t see us trying to clone Business Week’s, or CNet’s biz tech coverage — instead, we’ll be pursuing business coverage in a uniquely Wired way. The front line of that coverage will be the Epicenter blog.

And, of course, there’s the gadgets–I get to play with and write about lots of toys again. As an added bonus, I get to do this with some of my buddies from Mobile PC, including Wired’s products editor Mark McClusky, Danny Dumas, and Chris Imlay.
Wired’s parent, Conde Nast, is in the process of launching a new business magazine called Portfolio. I’m not involved with that at all and I know nothing about it. But this article from last week nicely summarizes why I’m psyched to be doing business news for Wired:

Why Wired is (already) the best biz magazine

My new job at Wired News.