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Posted at 8:33 AM on July 15, 2011 by Jon Gordon (0 Comments)

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Posted at 6:53 AM on July 11, 2011 by Jon Gordon (0 Comments)

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Starbucks "free" Wi-Fi a debacle on day 1

Posted at 1:16 PM on June 3, 2008 by Jon Gordon (3 Comments)

I stopped in to one of my local Starbucks stores to test the new AT&T Wi-Fi. Disaster.

It's supposed to work this way: Wi-Fi is free and unlimited for AT&T Internet customers; others load a Starbucks card with at least $5, sign up for the Starbucks Rewards Card Program (providing their name, physical address, and email address), and use the card at least once a month. If you meet all those criteria, you can use the AT&T Wi-Fi in Starbucks stores for two hours per day, but only in one sitting - no coming back for your minutes.

Granted, it's only day one but I'm sitting here in Starbucks trying to cool off with a hot cappuccino after a major hassle getting online. First, the barristas had no idea the new system is supposed to work. Second, the online sign-up process was excruciatingly slow. After the system kept rejecting my new Starbucks card, the local staff suggested I needed to put more money on the card. So I did, and still no luck. I got error after error from the registration site. I did get online eventually, but it took me nearly an hour in the store to make it happen, and I put more money on the Starbucks card than was necessary.

So now I'm online. Whoopee. The "free" Wi-Fi cost me time, frustration, personal information, and $10 on a Starbucks card that I would have preferred spending at a place that makes better coffee.

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Public radio on Twitter

Posted at 3:11 PM on June 2, 2008 by Jon Gordon (1 Comments)

There were very few public radio people on Twitter when I signed up in August of 2007. That's changed. Check out the public media Twitter Pack for a list of people to follow. I'm on there, as are many names you might recognize, including Bob Boilen of All Songs Considered, Clark Boyd from PRI's The World, and MPR's Bob Collins. Others have signed up but rarely use Twitter (can you hear me, Ira Glass?) On the other end of the spectrum you need a tolerance for noise if you follow NPR social media dude Andy Carvin.

I'd rather follow people than programs or organizations, but if you feel differently you can follow NPR News, Whad'Ya Know?, WBUR and MPR.


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Now that's how to use surveillance cameras

Posted at 2:20 AM on June 2, 2008 by Jon Gordon (1 Comments)

Oh this is just brilliant. U.K. band The Get Out Clause hammed it up in front of urban surveillance cameras, then requested the footage under freedom of information laws, and made a video.

From The Telegraph:

Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets.

With an estimated 13 million CCTV cameras in Britain, suitable locations were not hard to come by.

They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester - including on a bus - and proceeded to play to the cameras.

Afterwards they wrote to the companies or organisations involved and asked for the footage under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We wanted to produce something that looked good and that wasn't too expensive to do," guitarist Tony Churnside told Sky News.

UPDATE: This will be the subject of of Future Tense for Tuesday, June 3. Here is the raw audio I will use to create tomorrow's FT segment.

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My Twitter drive meets goal

Posted at 12:29 PM on May 9, 2008 by Jon Gordon (2 Comments)

Being a public radio guy, it occurred to me today that an on-air fundraiser would be a fun and interesting model for boosting the number of people who follow me on Twitter. So this morning on Twitter I announced a follower drive. I wrote,

As public radio colleagues do the important work of raising money, I'd like to start my own drive on Twitter. Goal: 20 new followers today.

I'm small-time compared to A-list Twitterers, so 20 new followers seemed like a lot. Twitter users responded in a mostly positive fashion. Many couldn't resist public radio fundraiser jokes. @esagor said,

If I got you a new follower, do I get a free tote bag?

A few users needled me for begging. @ShawnKing suggested it appeared a little unseemly, while @s4xton wrote,

I just stopped following @jongordon because of his Twitter follower drive. Ha ha ha.

He wasn't kidding. He unfollowed me until the drive was over, but I won him back.

I should have set the bar higher. I exceeded my goal by five followers, and it only took about 90 minutes. It was tempting to keep working the network for more followers, but I quieted down as I promised.

Early in the experiment, @jojeda wondered how I could gain new followers through a Twitter follow drive, as the only people who could see my pleas were already following me. The idea was that people who follow me could tap into their own networks, of which I am not a part, to spread the message. It really worked. I'm certain that a few influencers, such as @chuckumentary, were responsible for the new followers. There's a marketing lesson here somewhere.

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Chumby choo-choo keeps a-rollin'

Posted at 11:08 AM on April 26, 2008 by Jon Gordon

Julio Ojeda-Zapata of the St. Paul Pioneer Press made a nice little video of a recent iChat session about the Chumby. Here it is.

I really have to get a better webcam. The MacBook's built-in iSight camera is not cutting it. Also, I probably should not wear golf attire in future videos...

Sorry Chumby, cute is not enough

Posted at 10:53 AM on April 21, 2008 by Jon Gordon (1 Comments)

I've spent the past few days testing Chumby, a grapefruit-sized, Linux-based widget display device encased in a beanbag. In this interview (RealAudio - MP3 - iTunes) , I compare notes with Dwight Silverman, who previously wrote about Chumby here and here.

Dwight finds the Chumby cute and irresistible, but it does not appeal to me. If I want a weather forecast, an Internet radio stream, a Twitter feed, etc., I know a better way to get them -- on my main computer.

Things I don't like:

-$180 price tag
-Poor choice of Interent radio streams
-Speakers are in the back of the device, making it sound terrible
-You have to plug it in to an electrical outlet (battery power option likely to be added later)
-Cuteness. I don't need cute.

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Saving money the Web 2.0 way

Posted at 2:57 PM on April 11, 2008 by Jon Gordon

SmartyPig is a Web site designed to help people save money for specific goals, like buying an iPhone or a new digital TV. It includes a social element that lets friends and family contribute to an account and monitor a saver's progress.

Today on Future Tense (RealAudio - MP3 - iTunes)
I talked with co-founder Jon Gaskell. He was also interviewed by MarketWatch, and I've included that interview below.

Counterfeit chips raise hacking, terror threats

Posted at 2:15 PM on April 8, 2008 by Jon Gordon

Foreign governments and manufacturers working together could sabotage American computers and computer networks by selling hardware implanted with malicious processors, according to a story in the April issue of Popular Mechanics.

Security experts warn that as supply chains become more global and more opaque, no one can be sure what parts are going into the computers that run, well, everything--from air traffic control towers to banks to weapons systems. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff raised the issue recently at a briefing attended by Popular Mechanics and others. "Increasingly when you buy computers they have components that originate ... all around the world," he said. "We need to look at ... how we assure that people are not embedding in very small components ... that can be triggered remotely."

The scenario seems unlikely, but possible. Security expert Bruce Schneier does a pretty good job of raising doubt about the threat of counterfeit chips:

"It's certainly possible for the world's major espionage services to secretly plant vulnerabilities in our microprocessors, but the threat is overblown," says Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of the data security company BT Counterpane. "Why would anyone go through the effort and take the risk, when there are thousands of vulnerabilities in our computers, networks and operating systems waiting to be discovered with only a few hours' work?"

Tomorrow on Future Tense, I'll talk with Glenn Derene of Popular Mechanics about his story.