Recent Entries in Digital

Digital Ffffound ffffiles

I was uncluttering my home computer a few weeks back and stumbled on a bunch of random files.  They're the kind of things that end up in "My Documents" and you never really need them again but just can't throw them away. (see: everything in your apartment)  So I thought I'd emulate ffffound and just upload a few.


  • An excel spreadsheet tracking my college GPA, from 1998-2002: gpa.xls (17k)
  • A letter to an HSBC branch asking to release my funds to another, from my 2005 England stint: hsbc letter.doc (27k)
  • A scanned map of Ithaca, for getting around during college, from 1998: map.psd (6.0mb)
  • The ad Mozilla bought in the New York Times thanking its donators (my name is buried somewhere in it), from early 2000's: nytimes-firefox-final.pdf (736k)
  • A random video of a rain puddle, when I was testing my new 3MP Canon digital camera, from 2003: rain puddle.AVI (16.2mb)
  • My mom's sauce recipe, from 2002: sauce recipe.psd (1810kb)
  • One of the first and all-time best shared internet files, the Star Wars animation / rap, from 1998: Starwarz.exe (1918kb)
  • A font of my handwriting, from 2009: Tabone5000.ttf (19kb)
  • Four audio files of J.R.R. Tolkien reading snippets of The Hobbit, from 2000: tolkien reading (5283k), tolkien reading (5324k), tolkien reading (5324k), tolkien reading (5367k)
FB privacy.jpg

Digital Make A Chart Day!

It's Friday, which means it's Make A Chart Day!  You can send them to me through Twitter (@tabone) using the hashtag #makeachartday, or comment to this post to submit.

Update: By request, I'll post newer submissions first.

Update 2: And that's this weeks Make A Chart Day!  Thanks everyone for your contributions!

Issam's first #makeachartday, with an excellent visual explaining a @jpbarlow tweet

Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 6.02.49 PM.png
This seriously needs to start happening

Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 4.16.37 PM.png
(no comment)

Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 4.37.34 PM.png
Me and Pie.jpg
Feel better!
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 4.03.39 PM.png
Always pretty, always complicated.
Pleading the fifth on this one.
Whoever discovers / invents said mythical game has my immediate participation.

Greatest Game  by ishquez.jpeg
Note the fantasy novel peeking out of the corner

Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 3.06.48 PM.png
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 2.09.28 PM.png
Send our boy some love on teh Twitters, people.
Nail on head.
Take note, hares.
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 1.04.42 PM.png
"Memestream" FTW!
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 1.02.11 PM.png

I lol'ed.
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 1.00.29 PM.png
That's just science.
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 12.57.33 PM.png
BE's second submission of the day

With Jen's upcoming move, #makeachartday submissions from NYC will be increasing significantly.  (ps - welcome!)

#makeachartday by lilmissjen.jpeg
Especially true on Fridays
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 11.53.23 AM.png
(Don't even get me started on Lost.)

Sad but true.

Here's my chart to kick things off:
Screen shot 2010-05-21 at 10.57.24 AM.png

Digital iPad survey results


When Apple releases a New Shiny Object, the web goes abuzz.  Individual reviews of products are great and most of us have our go-to sources.  I'm a big fan of Gizmodo myself, but I'll tend to Google "Shiny Object Review" regardless and get some other thoughts and opinions to round out my own secondhand assessments.  I've never been totally comfortable with getting only one sources' thoughts; what if their one review gadget was a dud in some way? should their negative review apply to everyone?  Point being, when assessing my gadgets, I like the quantitative approach over the qualitative one.

With first-gen Apple hardware, surveying a pool of stalwart early adopters could better inform us majority.  (I am an early adopter of some things, but Apple gadgets are not one of them.)  I'm not exactly sure when Apple is planning on another brand new Object, but if this little experiment has proven useful for anyone in their assessment of the iPad, I may run another for the eventual second generation.

So here are the results to the survey.  To reiterate: this is not a review of the iPad, this is just an informal look at a few iPad owners' experiences and opinions from their first few days of ownership.  Please excuse the generic and poorly formatted pie charts; there was enough data to manage that caring about appearances was quickly eclipsed by the need to output.

The answers are presented in the order in which they were asked, and some are grouped by theme or commonality.  There were 16 total respondents, and all but 4 questions were mandatory (the non-charted answers were open-ended optional questions.)

Some basics
Hard drive choices were almost perfectly split, and only 3 of 16 users aren't using any accessories with their iPad.  But as you'll see in later answers, some who are using cases highly recommend them.

Apps, apps, apps
03b_apps_like_most.jpgWhile some people (2) haven't paid for any apps, every user has downloaded at least one.  11 respondents have downloaded at least 11 free apps, while only 4 have downloaded 11 or more paid apps.

In terms of usage, Safari (5) and Netflix (3) are the most popular, together constituting half of the respondents' most used apps.  But in terms of preference, responses are all over the board; only Netflix got multiple responses (2).

04_tasks.jpgMost everyone is using their iPad for many of the devices upfront capabilities: for overall usage, all 16 responded with email, 15 said web, 14 said video, 14 said games, 12 said books, 10 said photos, and 9 said writing.  Music, magazines, and iWorks all received 8 nods, just 50% of the respondent pool.

I find the lesser responses about music particularly interesting.  It makes sense that a larger tethered machine like the iPad is less convenient for listening to music compared to, say, an iPhone.  A lot of conversation about the iPad though categorizes it as a device for consumption (at least contrasted against its ability to produce).  This could be a potential area of distinction and differentiation for the iPad, though more data would need to be provided to analyze any further.

New behaviors

Here are (synthesized) answers to an open-ended question about new behaviors:

Has owning an iPad resulted in any new behaviors, and if so, what are they? (For example, do you now read newspapers when you didn't before?)

  • More books
  • More magazines
  • Started reading comics
  • Study Linux more
  • Read the news more (x2)
  • Read newspapers more (x4)
  • Cook more
  • Doodle more
  • Wasting more time
  • Watching TV in bed (x2)
  • Checking weather more often
  • Checking stocks more often
  • Read RSS (x2)
  • Less use of other computer (x2)
  • Nothing new
  • Stay awake reading in bed
  • Blogging more
  • More time on the web
  • Read more in general
  • More games
Immediately, reading pops out as a commonality, though sources are wide-varying: books, magazines, comics, programming languages, news, newspapers, RSS, and web surfing.  Apple and their partners are touting the iPad as a revolutionary device for the news and newspaper industry, which I've often heard disputed in iPad reviews online.  However, you can't argue with the fact that as a platform, the iPad serves up information in a way that is leading to new consumption behaviors.

I find it interesting too that so many respondents are consuming more information in bed specifically (a bit more on this in the next sections) and that these behaviors - watching TV and reading - are longer-form.  I would imagine reading books or watching TV on the iPhone in bed is less than ideal (I've certainly never done either in my 2+ years of iPhone ownership), so this may be another area for the iPad to differentiate itself: where you use it, compared to the iPhone or a computer.  (Apple alludes to this in their print ads that show off this 'casual computing' behavior.)

06_where_positioned.jpgHome and office unsurprisingly dominate place of use.  Most respondents are using their iPad either in a sitting position (chair / bench, couch) or sitting / leaning / lying down in bed.  I was also glad to see one respondent write-in and admit their toilet use, if not dismayed at others' sheepishness about their own admission.

What's interesting to me is how transferable these answers could be to a question about books instead of iPads, and how this batch of answers really drives home the point about the iPad's niche as a legitimate platform for both video & non-web-native text (i.e. books, magazines, newspapers).  That dual usage coupled with great portability constitutes serious 'casual computing'.  Personally, it's this realization that has gotten me genuinely excited about tablet computing.

07_how_often.jpgThe variance here is interesting.  The same number of respondents (4) keep their iPad with them for only 1-10 hours per week as do those who keep the iPad with them for 60 hours or more.  Though it makes sense that if you bring your iPad to work with you, you're likely automatically in the 60+ hours group.

08_features.jpgBattery life, multitouch, and indoors viewing are all positive, as is the general performance.  (Anecdotally, I've heard the sentiment reiterated about performance from users IRL and around the web.)  Display outdoors is also generally positive, but connectivity is an issue for some (3).  Most respondents find typing to be good or better (11), though 4 are on the fence and 1 feels negatively about it.  This is interesting because typing was one of the public's early questions about the iPad, but it seems respondents are generally comfortable and/or satisfied with the experience.

09_physical_aspects.jpgScreen size and body size are almost unanimously 'great'.  Weight is a slightly polarizing feature, apparently; 3 respondents feel negatively about it.  I've heard generally good things about the iPad weight - that it's noticeably lighter than laptops and even netbooks.  But I'll let this point rest since it's so subjective.

10_flash.jpgProbably the most talked-about feature - or lacking feature - of both the iPad and the iPhone: Flash.  I'm actually surprised how many people say the lack of Flash has affected them (6); I had thought it would be less.  With the rift gulf chasm between Adobe and Apple only getting wider, this will not only continue to be a polarizing issue for the iPad, but for all of the dev world.

3G envy
11_3g.jpgLooking back at the earlier questions about when and where iPad owners are using it, these responses make sense: enough people use the iPad in non-wifi areas to pine for 3G coverage.  Something to keep in mind when assessing personal usage of an iPad.

12_expectations.jpgAll 16 respondents say the iPad has met or exceeded their expectations.  From a scientific method perspective, we can't assume "met expectations" necessarily means the same as "satisfied"; we can only assume whatever their expectations were going into their ownership - objective or otherwise - were met or exceeded.  Nonetheless, a telling indicator from a pool of iPad'ers.

Final thoughts

Here are synthesized responses to some open-ended questions from the survey (multiple similar responses indicted by multiplier in parentheses):

Any recommendations or tips for other iPad users?
  • AirVideo is a must-have
  • Buy a case for gripping
  • Buy a docking case if you want to dock
  • Try Instapaper for web reading
  • Buy the Apple case
  • Read the user guide
There clearly seems to be a need for an iPad case, be it for gripping, docking, or general protection.

Any recommendations for those who don't own an iPad?
  • Wait for 3G
  • Wait for an OS update
  • Try it out in person first
  • Buy one (3x)
  • Great entertainment system for kids when traveling
"Buy one" was a repeated suggestion, as were calls to wait for various updates.  But some insight from a user with kids: the iPad apparently makes great entertainment for them on trips.

Any final thoughts or comments on the iPad?
  • Lots of potential (x2)
  • It will change everything about casual computing
  • Keynote is terrible and a huge step backwards in presentation software
  • Syncing is terrible
  • The wifi is glitchy
  • Needs more apps
  • Looking forward to forward-facing camera
  • Looking forward to multi-tasking
  • Developers need to migrate to HTML5
  • Buy the case both for protection and standing options
  • It's given me separation anxiety
My personal takeaway from this last question: if one is interested in an iPad, wait.  These responses echo previous answers from this survey, as well as other anecdotal evidence I've seen around the web.  "Lots of potential", "It will change...", "Looking forward to..." are indicators to me that Apple has yet again started on the right innovating foot, but that they have much to improve upon before the iPad truly begins to live up to the hype.


Thanks again to everyone who retweeted the link to the survey, and of course a huge thanks to the 16 respondents who filled it out.  (I forgot to decide anonymity or disclosure in the survey itself, so no respondent's Twitter names here.)

And if you're interested, you can download the raw data here as an .xls file.

Digital iPad survey: closed

Thanks to everyone who filled out the iPad usage survey.  I'm grabbing the data and prepping in Excel to make sense of the responses.  As soon as I've garnered some insight, I'll post the results.

Special thanks to @brandianice, @bud_caddell, @conradlisco, @clayparkerjones, @tokyohanna for helping spread the word on teh Twitter.

Digital iPad Survey

If you have an iPad, I'd love to hear from you!  If you've got 5-10 minutes, it would be super rad if you filled this out.  Once I've got a good number of responses, I'll close it and publish the results.

This survey is intended for anyone who is currently using an iPad.  The questions are generally batched and somewhat similar, so while it looks a little lengthy, it shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes.  I'm looking for some general information on usage and opinions.  Most questions are required for the sake of completion, but if you run into any problems or confusion, just leave a note in the last question, or in the comments of this blog entry.

Please feel free to direct any questions to @tabone on Twitter, or work [at]

Thanks in advance!

[Update (4.12.10): Survey is closed]

Digital Google nav redesign

For all the great things Google does, it's pretty bad at organization and layout (ironically enough, just like its adversary, Apple).  Google's navigation doesn't just leave something to be desired, it is an outright time sink.  You're usually better off typing in every direct URL instead of clicking through, but a) their URL's aren't very consistent (, but; and b) that's why we have navigation in the first place.

After doing a brief audit of the current navigation links, I reorganized a bit and put together a little prototype.  Comments below.

Please note: I am not a designer, an info architect, or a UX'er.  I am just a user with an idea.

Google nav design.jpg
I'm making a few assumptions, and a taking a handful of small liberties.

First, I'm assuming the simple CSS-based linking criteria employed by the current system has meaning and reasoning behind it (i.e. reasons for not going graphics crazy).  As such, core styles remain the same.

Secondly, I'm sure Google has done all kinds of user testing, but the current navigation organization is pure chaos to users.  So trusting that Google has its reasons for the current system that just aren't being communicated, I've focused more on the organization and layout by moving things around a bit, and just adding slight additional visual separation through color.

Lastly - and I don't know that this is even an assumption as much as it is a given - vertical spacing across the top of any Google page is at a premium.  Clearly this design beefs up to three horizontal lines, up from one, and so I've tightened the existing spacings a few pixels, both vertically and horizontally, to bring everything in a bit.

Liberties include replacing the labs beaker with the word "Labs" for consistency (why only one icon?), and the titles of each group ("Google", "More", account name, "Settings").  But most obvious would be the actual grouping choices.  Until now, I hadn't realized the navigations change depending on what page you're on within the Googleverse.  So again, in assuming that Google has its reasons for the current nav items' (loose) orders, I'm simply defining buckets and making their groups standard, like a real nav.

Usefulness of this design is subjective; it lies in my own interpretation of what I see on the site.  But I'm interested to know what other users think, both about this suggestion and Google's current system in general.  Is it actually "broken" for you too, or could you not care less?
sprout.jpgSpecific details are sparse, but has The Seattle Times cracked the code to staying profitable in 2009?
At the risk of stating the obvious: print media is dead, and broadcast journalism may have suffered a deathblow.

It's been a rough two weeks for MSM.  Iran is revolting its stolen election and defying its dictator for the first time in 30 years.  I know this because I use the internet, and not because I read the newspaper (sadly, I don't anymore) or because I watch broadcast news (gag me).  Throughout the past week, while traversing through rumors, journalism, heresy, and first-person accounts, I kept an eye on the internet's own revolt (further) against traditional media.

While internet communities - which include Iranians - were sharing information in real-time, some broadcast media essentially went dark on the protests for days.  As much as of a love-hate relationship I've got going with Twitter right now, I can at least say honestly that it brought me real news faster than the boob tube.  The whole thing is laughable, but also pretty sad.

It's true that social networking services like Twitter have no verification.  You have to take every individual #iran tweet with a grain of salt.  But because Iran has the kind of government it does, there would obviously be no foreign journalists with a camera anywhere within its borders this week.  In 2003, Salam Pax blogged from Baghdad while the bombs fell.  The difference then being there were also correspondents on the ground, reporting live for broadcast.  Six years (and two presidential elections) later, it appears the scales have tipped well in the internet's favor.


Over the weekend, the lady and I were out of town for a wedding.  When we checked into the hotel, the TV in the lobby had on cable news, which was covering the Iranian protests.  As soon as we settled in our room, I put on the same.

At the same time, I turned on my iPhone and loaded my Twitter application.  The cable news station had cameras shooting computer monitors (at bad angles) displaying Twitter.  On my phone, I was in Twitter - which is to say, I was reading it firsthand, as well as participating in the conversation.

On TV, I saw melodramatic journalist-personalities ("journalisties"?) embellish unnewsworthy tweets, such as "If an innocent girl gets shot halfway across the world, does she make a sound? Yes, the whole world hears her."  While in Twitter itself, I skimmed past the same updates and read dozens of other more meaningful notes.

On TV, I saw commercial breaks.  In Twitter, the news never stopped (surprisingly great uptime this weekend).

On TV, I heard anchors repeat themselves every few minutes.  In Twitter, I saw heavy retweeting - fast-growing groups of different people rallying around information together, not a one-way, aimless talking head.

When cable news finally decided to take a full break and let the news catch up to them, they spent 30 minutes recapping a news topic Americans hold dear: international soccer.  This news organization was very obviously - and, to their credit, transparently - trying to play catch-up with the internet.  But they've all swung the pendulum so far in the other direction, they're now also trying to play make-up.


I don't usually advocate token charity gestures online, but if you're on Twitter, there are two very easy things you can do to really support protesting Iranians.

First, change your Twitter account settings to Tehran time.  If true, the rumors of Iranian Twitter crackdown means the more people posing as Iranians in Twitter, the harder it will be for them to silence real tweetin' Iranians.  It might all be bunk, but it doesn't hurt and it takes about 7 seconds.

Secondly, change your Twitter profile picture to a shade of green.  I used Photoshop, but you can use this nifty site to do it all online, or just pick a new one from this collection.  It's the color of the opposing party, and it shows any Iranian on Twitter that you're listening and they have your support, wherever and whoever you are.  If Alyssa Milano can do it, you can too.
In a walk to grab coffee with Mike, I starting thinking about how much I was looking forward to tonight's new episode of 30 Rock.  It hadn't occurred to me that it might actually be a repeat; I just got it in my head that Thursday = 30 Rock = likely a new episode.

My brain-wires had apparently shorted and took itself back to 10 years ago, when we used to rush home on specific days at specific times so we didn't miss TV.  (This fuse was particularly suitable to the mid-90's stranglehold NBC had had on Thursday nights.)  Today with our DVR's, who rushes home for broadcasts?  Let the show wait for us, we say!

And yet there are still shows that resonate so deeply that you can't help but need the most immediate consumption possible.  I actually could wait a night for new 30 Rock's.  But in this recent last season of Battlestar Galactica?  Not a chance.  My fiance & Gossip Girl: night of; it's practically a law.  My mom recently got a DVR and records about 98% of all television, and yet new Grey's Anatomy is a reason to leave Thursday nights commitment-less.

In a period of time-less television (as in scheduling, certainly not in terms of quality), we still find ourselves the occasional slave to programming.  Even online versions of broadcast shows has us calculating viewings on the fly.  And in this period, the networks cry foul: if viewers timeshift, ad revenue plummets.

Woe is the channel with slightly less money.

But if networks had such compelling content that viewers couldn't help but have to be a part of the most exclusive event possible - watching it live - then when the first ad block hits, there's no future for the DVR button to fast forward to: viewers are forced to watch.  (Or at least chat about the first segment. Or flip to another channel.  Or get up to pee.)  The music industry is finally adapting to this new digital model: abandon all hope of sales profits, and focus capitalization on singular, non-repeatable experiences.

I remember Battlestar Galacticas last seasons' episodes far more than the earlier ones because they were the most compelling.  To the point where I can even recall the ad campaigns run during that time.  (Nerd alert, in 3... 2... 1...) On a Friday night, I wanted nothing more than to get home, open a beer, hit the couch, and utterly consume the final episodes.  In a way, today, I can say, "I was there".

In this era of timeshifting, on-demand, and endless content, you better give us something truly compelling - addictive even - if you expect us to stop blogging, creating videos, or rocking the plastic guitar.


Eric Tabone is Operations Manager at the digital strategy consultancy, Undercurrent. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his awesome wife and two kick-ass cats.

All original opinions and commentary throughout this blog (comments excluded) are Eric's alone, and do not necessarily represent Undercurrent in any way.


Recent Entries