I just read that My Name is Earl has been canceled by NBC after its fourth season. Frankly, I don’t really care. Not, because I don’t like the show, but because I’ve come to believe that for most shows, running for four seasons is enough.

Actually, for a good show, I’d put a nice number of seasons at five. That’s plenty. Four is good. Three is still okayish.There are a couple of shows that I love that I wouldn’t mind lasting longer than five, but I wouldn’t cry out if they didn’t.

Maybe it is because I saw some really good shows get worse with the seasons. Or maybe (and I suspect that’s a more likely reason) I saw some really, really good shows get canceled after one season or less1 and honestly, I’d gladly have sacrificed some later season of a long running show (even if I liked it) to get at least one season more of that. I mean, just imagine: two seasons of Firefly! How cool would that have been? I would totally give you season six of Buffy for that. I also would have liked another one or two seasons of Veronica Mars and Arrested Development but from what I know about the ratings, I always counted myself lucky to even get three seasons of each.

That said, I always am sad when a good show ends. But given the number of new shows starting each year and the fact that try as we might, we just can’t get more than 24 hours into one day, other shows have to end. And sometimes they’re good ones. And sometimes they would probably have stayed good even for another couple of seasons. Who knows?

Right now I think the only show I would really, really miss is How I Met Your Mother. I also still think that Pushing Daisies should have lasted longer. Other than that I think I’m fine. Of course everything with a cliffhanger has to come back next season. (One of the things I can’t stand is when a show ends with a season cliffhanger and then gets canceled. That’s just cruel.)


1Firefly and Wonderfalls, to name two.


24
May 2009

Sunny Sunday

It’s okay. You can hate me. I totally understand. I’d probably hate me, too.

Terrace


24
May 2009

Paint Job Reloaded

Here’s what I did yesterday. I had to wait until morning to take pictures, because the light wasn’t that good once I was done. The color is not up to criticism, only admiration.

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I think it looks awesome – and yes, I was a bit scared that I would end up hating the color. But I don’t. I love it. How I need to hang the old pictures and some new ones and maybe do some more little changes and I should be done.

Next is… the bedroom? I’m thinking blue and brown there, to match the colors of the fabrics already in place.


So, here’s what I have been up to (in no particular order)…

Watching and loving Smart Girls at the Party. From the four episodes I’ve seen so far, I think this one’s my favorite:

Watching and loving this season’s American Idol. I’m now a bit town, but I think I got it figured out now. I want Adam Lambert to win, just because I love him and it would be so damn cool, but from a musical point of view I’d probably buy Kris Allen’s record. Here’s why:

Writing twitter poems at twitter magnets: Here, here and here.

Marvelling at featured workspaces on lifehacker. Who knew I’d ever yearn for an office cubicle, but hell, if it looks like this, I’ll take it. I like the monochrome one, too. Plus, that’s my coffee mug! Hey!

Wondering whether I should paint some more walls when the husband is away in Boston for two weeks. Sorry, can’t show you pictures or links, because it hasn’t happened yet. It might though. I’m thinking blue and brown for the bedroom, but am still unsure what I should do with my tiny office. Any suggestions?


I’ve been using Twitter for a couple of months though and although I agree that sometimes it feels like it is totally overhyped, I still use it on a regular basis which must mean that I think it adds some value to my online life somehow. Could I live without it? Sure. Would I miss it a lot? Not sure, but probably not. Do I use it constantly? No. Do I think it is the bestest thing in the whole wide world? Absolutely not. Worth the hype? Nope. Totally amazing? Not really. Something that still needs some time until it’s fully evolved? Yep. Definitely.

I’d like to make this my major statement regarding Twitter on this very day: I don’t think Twitter is done yet. I think the foundation is there and now we’re going to watch this thing evolve and either go somewhere or die.

What makes Twitter special?
I still have a hard time at describing what really makes Twitter unique and not a mere replacement of something that’s already there. There’s probably always one service more that you can throw at me asking “Isn’t Twitter like that?” So just let me explain how I think Twitter works:
Twitter allows me to throw short observations at the world in a way that is mainly monologic in nature. Dialogue is possible, but not necessary for Twitter to work. What I tweet, how I tweet and how often I tweet is up to me. I may subscribe to other people’s tweets and other people may subscribe to mine, but there’s no forced connection between the two.

How is that different from other services?
You could compare Twitter to blogs, and you’d immediately crash into the 140 characters thing. On the other side no-one’s stopping you from blogging in 140 character entries only. Plus, blogs for me are really about content and though time is an issue in terms of posts being written at a specific date in time and probably outdated by the time I read it, blog posts are usually made to stick a bit longer than a few days. Tweets go out of date fast. I myself don’t care what I tweeted last week. I do care what I wrote in my blog three years ago. I also put a lot more thought in my blog posts (even the shorter ones), re-checking them for typos and readability. I don’t do that for tweets. I also assume that a lot of bloggers share that attitude of weighing their content and trying to make their posts readable and relevant in one way or the other. I’m not saying that every blog post in every blog is important and has valuable value, but the general idea behind the two things is fundamentally different. I tweet about something that’s caught my attention right now, while it might have never ended up in my blog, because I wouldn’t be able to come up with more than two sentences for it.

Compare it to Skype then. Skype is a service where I sign up and you sign up and I can send you something and you can send me something and we can have a dialogue. But: Skype is conversational. It’s intended to chat (vocally or via writing). To be able to connect with you via Skype I need to find you (same on Twitter) and then you have to confirm that you want to talk to me. Plus, for Skype to work you have to use it at the same time. I could send you a message while you’re offline and you’d get it when you get back online and skype me back, but that’s not really how Skype works. Twitter shares the conversation aspect when it comes to direct messages and mentions, but that’s more like a side-effect and a nice additional feature.

In my opinion the service that comes closest to Twitter are tumblelogs. Tumblelogs share the subscribing factor (which could be compared to following on Twitter), the focus on short posts and the timeliness of the content (although tumblelog posts might still have relevance just like in blogs). The easiness of tumblr.com adds to the feeling that tumblelog posts don’t need to be carefully constructed. From this point of view, tumblelogs just like tweets is more like throwing stuff at the world without caring that much about whether the world actually thinks it matters.

How do I use Twitter?
I may not be the typical Twitter user, and I’d like to know how others are using it. I have about 25 followers and follow about the same number of people, which I guess is a very small number compared to the average Twitter user (or maybe not?). Out of these 25 people I follow, I know half in person. A lot of them are actually co-workers, the rest are real life or internet friends. Then there’s small number of people that I already “followed” using blogs and whatnot on the internet, but who I do not personally know. The rest is basically “famous” people, although the range goes from “pretty famous” (e.g. Stephen Fry) to “geeky famous” (e.g. Felicia Day) or even “developer famous” (DevExpress’s Julian Bucknall). Who these people are that follow me other than those that know me, I have no idea. I don’t know who they are or why they are following me and where they know me from.

I tweet mostly what I would sum up as observations about whatever I just thought about. Sometimes I use mentions to reply to something someone else tweeted. Sometimes I post links or pictures. Sometimes I do what would qualify as status updates, which is what a lot of people (probably those that don’t use Twitter themselves) assume Twitter is really about, but I’d say this happens rarely. I might write “Going to bed now”, but probably only when it was really early or really late at night, so the timestamp actually would add another level of meaning. I’ve read plenty of tweets about people getting up, and the underlying message was often only clear when you considered the time they tweeted it (4 am compared to noon).

I could totally live without Twitter. I don’t really think I would miss it and I don’t care for it the same way I care about blogs. However there have been a few examples very recently that made me think about what I think Twitter is actually really useful for.

What can you use Twitter for? Like, really.
Example no. 1: A few days ago a co-worker asked me to bring some new episodes of Dollhouse. I told him I would try to remember and failed. Repeatedly. Then the day came when he was worried about a long boring weekend to come up and asked me again to please provide him with un-boring stuff to get him through the weekend. I told him I’d try to remember it and he said he’d just twitter it. And he did. The nifty thing here was that all the advantages of Twitter made it the ideal tool. The message was also totally unobstrusive. If I hadn’t read it, no biggie. It was just a tweet, no more. E-mail or Skype would have been a lot more attention-seeking and put a lot more social pressure on me. Twitter matched the importance of the request. If I had forgotten it again, despite getting a mail, I would have felt like it was my fault. With Twitter we were both accepting the risk of me forgetting it, but it was okay.

(Failed) Example no. 2: A few nights ago there was a fire close to where we live. We actually walked down there, not for the thrill, but because it was worrying to see and smell smoke and we wanted to get an idea about what was happening and how close it was to where we live. The next morning I tried to find out what actually happened and after the local newspaper didn’t help me I tried Twitter search. In this case it didn’t work either. Apparently the event was not interesting enough and/or no-one using Twitter was living anywhere close. However, by doing this, I realized that for a lot of cases this is a good use case. Something happened, search for it and use that as you starting point for further research. Sure, information on Twitter can be horribly incorrect, but chances are you’ve got a good base on which to build on. Plus, information on Twitter is likely to be more up to date. If I consider myself an example, I would have waited until the evening to blog about the fire, but I would have tweeted about it right in the morning (if not the same night coming home). As it turns out, I didn’t do either.

Where could Twitter go?
I honestly have no idea where exactly Twitter could go, but I have a few more general ideas about useful features. Twitter is good as a newsticker. You can’t take anything for a fact, but it’s the internet, so you should be used to the concept of questioning the sources. Twitter is good for unobtrusive messages not directed at anyone particulary but also not actually worth a blog post. I do admit that in most cases to use Twitter you need to have a tiny attention whore in your heart, just like I do. Don’t deny that you do, too. The tweets I like most are those witty obscure comments on… well, anything basically.

One of the other use cases I see is active information seeking. You have a problem, type it in and see whether someone of your followers reacts. You don’t direct the question to anyone in particular. Maybe the problem isn’t important enough and if there’s no reaction you just solve it yourself or let it be. Maybe you just don’t know who could know the answer, but you guess that someone in your list of followers might. Maybe this is just another channel to use while blogging about it and sending out emails to someone else at the same time.

The thing I like most about Twitter is that it doesn’t carry the same social pressure with it that a lot of other services do. I simply hate the awkward dance you sometimes experience on Skype when no-one seems to be sure whether they’re expected to say something more. (You know, like “Have a nice day” -“Well, you too.” -“I will.” -“Bye then.” -“Bye.” -[some smiley] -[another smiley]. The actual problem has been solved long ago and then you have a long list of unimportant mutterings just to ensure politeness.) I hate that I feel bad when I ignore someone contacting me on Skype because although I’m at my computer I just don’t have the time to talk about something completely different. Both email and Skype still have this social aspect of asking for a reaction, leaving you with a bad conscience when you don’t. Twitter is the service right now that feels like you can do with it whatever damn you please, because nobody’s expecting anything from you.

And that last thing might be what could save Twitter a good and prominent spot in the web world. Because it really does offer a unique way of communication, blending a few characteristics of existing services and adding its own flavor. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Also, don’t believe the hype. But don’t assume that you know what it does and can do, because you’re probably wrong.


… not quite brushing up my Shakespeare, but I have been pretty busy lately with other things. Since I’m in the middle (or rather at the end) of changing bank accounts (which I can’t recommend to anyone with procrastination habits like mine) I’m trying very hard to stay away from my Amazon wishlist. I have two very promising books on my nightstand, but they shall be my reward for when I have gotten some of my more tech related reading done. It’s not like I don’t like reading tech and tech related books, but sometimes it is a bit tedious (we’ll get to that in a minute) and just grabbing a nice novel from the nightstand instead can be very tempting.

However, here’s what I was reading these last weeks:

Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’: I wrote about it before and though what I said back then still is true, I also want to say that this what I consider a must-read for anyone who’s slightly interested in usability. And to be honest, everybody who’s involved in building web sites or applications or what else should have an interest in knowing the basics. You can probably get most of the information somewhere else, be it from other books or from the web, but I’d guess that you’d have a hard time finding it as clear, concise, condensed and engaging. Honestly, if you have a fun time reading a book, it shouldn’t really matter if you already knew some of the stuff. It certainly doesn’t hurt and it usually is a good thing to be reminded of stuff that has been vegetating in the back of your brain for quite a while. If you’re interested, you can have a look at Krug’s web site www.sensible.com.

NHibernate in Action: As you can imagine this was not something that I read for pure fun. Other than so far being the only book on NHibernate you can get, it was pretty decent, although the rush in which I read it unfortunately kept me from playing around with the examples as I had originally planned to. To be clear: With pretty decent I mean that I was able to read a really tech-oriented book without boredom oozing out of my ears, while still getting the feeling that I was learning something. That’s something that a lot of tech books fail to achieve, so I salute the guys who wrote it for making a pretty dry topic interesting enough to keep reading. You can check it out on their publisher house’s page at www.manning.com/kuate.

Neal Ford’s The Productive Programmer: This was one of the books that basically deliver about exactly what I thought they would deliver, not particularly more, but also not less. You won’t go from zero to hero after reading this and a lot of practices are simply not applicable to either me as a person or to the tools I work with, but there were a couple of things in it that I could apply and that I would say already pay off. I now use Launchy regularly, have installed virtual desktops on both my Mac and PC and have successfully disabled those stupid balloon tips in Windows. Very subtle changes, but effective, be it just in making me feel better. I skimmed a few chapters, because it was obvious that they were just not for me. You need to decide for yourself whether it’s worth the price, but to anyone who just expects a few hints rather than the silver bullet and would be satisfied with that, you should at least check it out. Neal’s blog is at memeagora.blogspot.com.

I now returned to reading the official Microsoft Traning Kit for WCF and re-reading Donald A. Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Next in line is getting to know Silverlight, by the way. So all in all I’m positively busy.

And should I decide that I have now earned myself a relaxing no-tech novel, I still have Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Julian Barnes’s The Somnambulist ready to be read. But I try to remain strong.



I don’t think I could match that. I may have 32 songs in my repertoire, but I usually play them from start to end.

Noteboek from Evelien Lohbeck on Vimeo.

Awesome.

I also had great fun watching all the Google Chrome Shorts on the Google Chrome Channel. Some I like a lot more than others, but go find out for yourself which ones are your favorites1. (I also don’t think you have to be a Chrome fan to enjoy them.)

I’m also not sure whether this very post is a good indicator that I need a tumblelog. We’ll see.

1My favorites were Collaborate with the Whole Wide World, You and Your Browser, Google Chrome and Evolution of Simple. And Chromance of course.


28
Apr 2009

Evening Tidbits

I’m currently suffering from literary ADD as proven by my current status on goodreads (which I’m trying to see what it might have that LibraryThing doesn’t have):
Currently Reading

And just because (I really don’t have a reason other than that I’m currently listening to music)… here’s a list of examples for really good cover songs:
Clare and the Reasons: Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Amy Kuney: The Blower’s Daughter
Cake: I Will Survive (my all-time favorite when it comes to cover versions)

Enjoy the evening, sleep well. Me, I’m going to bed. Reading.


27
Apr 2009

Culture Clash

This sums up everything that’s wrong with the current season of DSDS (the German Idol) and everything that’s right with the current season of American Idol.

Compare this…

… to that…

… and please tell me that you see what I mean.

It’s so, so awkward to watch someone who has yet to realize that there’s this thing called rhythm attempting to sing to Marvin Gaye1. Eek.

And while we’re at it, I’d be pretty happy if Kris would win, but I’d be fine with Adam or Matt as well. I like Allison enough, so I wouldn’t hate it if she would win. Danny just bores me to death. I’m sorry, Danny. I even think he has a damn good voice, but it’s like every time American Idol starts I’m trying to remember who the contestants left are and Danny always comes in as an afterthought: “So we have these guys, now who’s missing? There’s one person missing. Oh. Yeah. Danny.”

1Yes, I know, this is Bill Withers, but there was Marvin Gaye that one time and it was just so very wrong.


25
Apr 2009

Watching House

Just when I started to complain that House was getting a bit underwhelming, they got it together and surprised me again and again and again and again.

To start with House nearly literally jumped the shark which made me giggle, then they did the Locked In episode, which was pure TV show genius, in the next episode that happened (and no, I won’t go into any more details, because there might be people out there reading this who have yet to see the episode – besides, if you have seen it you should know what I’m talking about) and then the other thing happened, which was not nearly as dramatic, but kind of nice.

So, all in all great job on those last four episodes. Also, once again I’d like to thank whoever does the music selection, because once more they picked good stuff there (and cost me at least 1.98 € at the iTunes store).