British Ladies Make Music

image I would like to just note a time-when-I-discovered-them-progression of my favorite women in music that happen to be British.

Ms Dynamite – R&B signer, favorite song “DY-NA-MI-TEE”

Lady SovereignGrime rapper, favorite song “Random 2”

Lily Allen – favorite song “LDN”

Amy Winehouse – favorite song “Tears Dry on Their Own”

Kate Nash – sounds an awful lot like Lily Allen*, favorite song “Foundations”

Adele – sounds an awful lot like Amy Winehouse*, favorite song “My Same”

*In both cases, I mean this in the best possible way.

And even better than just telling you about them, I created a Muxtape (click to listen):

image Tags: ,,,

Text to Speech in Winword 2007

imageWhenever I have an important document to write, I use a trick that got me through high school writing classes: I use Text-to-Speech and have my document read back to me.

The computer reads your document literally, following punctuation via a rules engine, now “how you meant it to sound.” It becomes painfully obvious if you miss a comma or use awkward language.

The original tool I used came with my sound card at the time, this was the beginning of Windows 95 and ran on my 90mhz Pentium. Over the years I’ve used a different packages to do the same thing. In Windows XP and Office XP there was the Language Bar (and its maddening UI quirks).

The other day while writing something for potential Notches angel investors (spots still available smile_regular) on the airplane I tried to get Windows/Office to read my document back to me. Dearly missing Google access I was really frustrated by the whole thing. Vista has a new Narrator tool that is designed for the blind and can read back all sorts of screen elements, but it does not work in Office 2007. You have to copy and paste the text into Notepad. I’m especially forgiving of Microsoft on all sorts of topics, but I really couldn’t believe this one. Surely this must be my error. Something that used to work in 1997 should still work in the latest stuff. But no. Incredibly the functionality is there in Excel, but not Word. How’s that for making sense?

Back on land I eventually found a document called Word text to speech that outlined a workaround using VBA to get it going in Word 2003. The instructions there worked perfectly with just one minor tweak (noted at the bottom of the page). Once the macro(module) is there, you need to just add icons which point to the macros in the quick launch bar, which you probably never noticed, it looks like this:


You can customize the little icons and I went with these semi-obvious choices.

ps. I’m so old school that I call it “Winword” in my head as to distinguish between it and the DOS version that I grew up with.


BU skis Mt Hood 2008

so warm

My BU ski team friends and I have an annual ski trip. We’ve only missed two years in the ten since college.

This year, Brennan and I flew out to Seattle/Portland (long story) where Val and Ben took us Easterners on a snow-storm-chase which ended up at Mt Hood in Oregon.

We stayed at the Salmon River Meadows Lodge, skied three days at the Meadows mountain and did one day of backcountry ski touring. Basically that means you hike up and earn your turns. 

imageYou put “skins” on the bottom of your skis that allow the ski to slide forward, but not backward. Touring bindings have two modes, one locked down for regular alpine skiing and a free heel mode for going up.

At this particular spot called Tom Dick and Harry Mountain, it took us about 45 minutes to hike up (a minute or so to come down) and we made about four laps.

Here is the Flickr image set and some YouTube videos.


Presentation tips for future-Corey

imageTuesday evening, Tim and I presented Notches for the first time in public at the Web2NewYork tech meetup.

I had just flown in from my annual ski vacation, but made it from JFK with enough time to spare. The cab trip in was stressful, but I wasn’t nervous at all going into it the talk.

On the plane ride I put together my final script for the seven minute presentation, and I was pleased at how it turned out. But when it was our turn to present, I didn’t have a good way of keeping my notes, which were digital only, on my laptop in front of me. So when the microphone was passed I suddenly had to wing it and consequently struggled through the first few minutes before I found a more natural groove. Fortunately the reaction we got from the crowd was quite positive and we had a number of really good conversations with folks looking to add reviews to their sites which is exactly what we were hoping to accomplish.

But in the spirit of self-improvement, I made a list of presentation tips for future-Corey.

  1. Focus 67% of your preparation effort on the opening. I’m very comfortable talking through all kinds of details, but because every audience is different, the introductions have to be custom tailored. Focus on the opening and the rest will flow.
  2. Even if the event is heavily demo focused, go with slides to get through introductory content. Give the audience some visual clues and use them to ensure you are hitting the points you need to make in the first minutes.
  3. Figure out a different way to demo mobile tools. Having your partner type something into a phone doesn’t work. Choices are either finding an emulator or maybe even prompting the audience to try something like send a Twitter message.
  4. As painful as it sounds, practice with a microphone and videotape yourself. 


logo-circle March 4th, 2008 is Notches launch day.

Much of this information was already available if you knew where to look or who to talk to, but today, for the first time, we are talking publicly about our business. Straight from the new homepage:

Notches is a free, open, universal platform for reviews. We’re building a network of applications, partners and cool tools. Reviews written in any of the network’s sites will be part of the Notches system everywhere. All the pieces share a common back-end which handles the heavy lifting.

There’s a new homepage

Platforms need applications. We are ready to launch two of our own. These tools are built entirely on the API — the same API available to developers. Hopefully they demonstrate some of the range of things that can be build on Notches. They are fully functional, you can check them out right now. We’ll continue to refine them going forward; this is a taste of what’s to come.

There is a lot to talk about. I can’t cover it all in one post, so we’ll cover each of these things on their own in separate posts.

(cross posted from the Notches Blog) Tags: ,,

from Dan


Dan (Rollman) volunteered to illustrate Colin’s new book and submitted this drawing as testament of his talent.