Blackbird Is Not About Tech, It’s About Being #blck


Blackbird is a browser created specifically for black people. Now, it’s pretty self-explanatory, so here is a snippet from the website to explain it:

The Blackbird Browser gives you access to Internet sites just like Internet Explorer, plus more community-specific features when you want them. For example, Black Search moves important information from African American sites higher in your search results. Try the Blackbird Browser and see how we are customizing the web experience just for you.

I have seen some great posts on this browser and had some great discussions about it on Twitter (#blackbird). There are a bunch of different viewpoints and opinions that surround this #blck browser. Hate it or love it, it’s here. What I aim to do in this post is simply lay out just a few of the things I’ve heard about it so far.

IBIBSI Syndrome

I have to credit Karsh over at for the nifty acronym, but it means: “It’s black, I’m black: Support It!” I believe this is usually a good mentality to have. We need unity in the community to succeed as a whole, but I also don’t think this syndrome is going to work once we start talking about technology and media. Look at the music industry as an example. We can’t just blindly support and endorse everything black. We will destroy ourselves in the process.

Black People Are Stupid

Are black people really having a hard time finding black content in two-thousand-eight-about-to-be-two-thousand-and-nine? I didn’t think that was the case. Most of us know how to type things into The Google just like other cultures do. That’s Internet 101. You search for stuff. Are black people so dumb that we can’t find things on our own? We need a browser that “gives you access to Internet sites just like Internet Explorer” to make sure we find black stuff on the web? If that’s the case, all you black tech bloggers (that don’t actually exist) need to step your SEO game up. First person that says Google is purposely burying black content gets a open-hand smack in the mouth.

Blackbird Is Not Innovative

Any tech person can take one quick look around Blackbird and see that there is nothing new there.  It doesn’t DO anything. Nukirk already talked about why Blackbird is not that special and they share a lot of my views AroundHarlem, but here is how you make Blackbird:

  • Install Firefox (you probably already did this, who the heck uses IE anymore?)
  • Get a black (as in color) theme, a hard to read one, with white text
  • Get these #blck bookmarks I saved for you on Diigo
  • These black video “channels” are a huge selling point and are included above (although I heard they’re a little dated)
  • Replace your default search with this black search to make sure you bury all the not-black stuff
  • Also, keeping philanthropy in mind, you’ll need this link

Technology has to bring something new to the table in order to succeed. It has to solve a problem or do something better than or before it’s competitors. Simply being black is not going to make Blackbird a competitor against Internet Explorer, Firefox, Flock, Chrome, Safari, Opera or any other browser you could think of because there is nothing that it does that no other browser can do.

Windows is not the best operating system ever created. It has never done the best job of operating a system. They succeeded because they made the first move and captured the market in a choke hold. Twitter actually kinda sucks. They had to disable nice features like IM and Track due to instability and they still go down on ocassion. None of that matters because they were first and anything coming later will have to rip Twitter’s users away, kicking and screaming, from their community they have built there. I don’t see what Blackbird can possibly offer anyone when they have decided to show up to the browser wars late and unarmed.

Good Idea, Bad Implementation

surf_blackbirdWhy is this a browser? Refer back to the “Black People are Stupid” section and you’ll see where I mentioned that the creators thought a download was simpler for black people to utilize than a browser plugin or link to a portal or social site. Oh, did I forget to mention that up there? Sorry.

I actually think it is a good idea to have a bunch of black content all aggregated, linked, and archived in one place. Being that it’s almost 2010 (I hear we’re gonna get flying cars), I would prefer this to be a website that automatically update itself by scouring the web for black content. Maybe some type of “spider” algorithm that could seek out websites based on keywords and then you could perform search queries to….oh, nevermind.

I don’t know these Blackbird people. I looked at the About page and it named three guys I have never heard of. I don’t even think they are the developers. They didn’t have pics or bios or even links to their Twitter profiles. I heard one of them used to have something to do with The Source back before they started posting malt-liquor ads or something, but what does any of that have to do with the price of tea in China? Who are they to tell me what is black? Why should I let them filter my content at all?

It’s a Teaching Tool for Kids

I have kids, 2 sons and a daughter. I would never let them anywhere near this browser. What if you had to buy a special television set so that you could see black shows? What if you could only get black books at a special library? What if you had to purchase a different type of CD player to listen to black music as opposed to everything else? What would be going through your child’s head if they had to use a special piece of software just to find out about their culture?

  • Why can’t we just use what everyone else uses?
  • Why do I have to use a “black” browser?
  • Is there a “white” browser or an “Asian” browser?
  • Does the “white” browser block all the “black” stuff?
  • Why can’t black stuff be on the same Internet as everything else?

I have heard people say that it’s good for kids to have things that “look like” them. That’s probably good for toys, books, and other objects, but I’m not sure that really translates to technology. Maybe next we can start teaching black kids in a school with nothing but black students, and only black books in the library. We could also make sure there were only black teachers. Of course, all the computers will only download black content via Blackbird. We could call it Segregation 2.0!

That’s All I Have

I don’t want to down any one’s hustle. I don’t want to belittle any one’s work. I just want you to try and think of the big picture regarding this browser. This is not a new black-owned business in your city. It’s a piece of technology and the rules surrounding it’s success are not the same as a brick and mortar business. You can’t come with a weak product and expect people to buy in based on cultural factors. That’s actually kinda disrespectful.

I also don’t appreciate the fact that I can’t share Blackbird content outside of blackbird. Go ahead and share something from Blackbird and see if it doesn’t tell the recipient they have to download Blackbird to view it. Did Blackbird make the content? No (refer to bookmarks above). So why is it locked inside their software? I see potential for shenanigans.

What do you think about Blackbird? Do you use it? Do you have ideas on how it should have been done? Do you love it as-is? Are you afraid to say anything because you don’t want to be tossed out of the black community? Speak now or forever hold your peice.Can you Digg it?

Pownce Refugees Now Have a Home at Rejaw

After logging into my Rejaw account, I noticed a curious note at the top:

Pownce refugees: Import your old notes into your Rejaw account!

After checking out the link, it looks like the Rejaw guys have got the Pownce import game locked up. View the full shout for details and to ask any questions you may have.

I took a look at the actual Pownce import page and the process seems pretty simple. All you have to do is download your notes and upload the file to Rejaw.

Now you can easily move your old Pownce notes into your Rejaw account. Please be aware that we only import your public notes and any replies to those. We will ignore any private notes and notes to your friends, as well as replies to them.

As I said before, there are many reasons that Rejaw is the best place to set up shop for those that will miss Pownce. With the new import ability, you definitely can’t lose. Again, if you have questions about the import process, the devs are available in this discussion. Also, when you join Rejaw, make sure you shout at me.

TwitterFeed: Yer Doin It Wrong

There are many different uses of Twitter that I find somewhat disturbing and annoying. At the heart of it is the fact that I don’t believe Twitter should be your personal billboard. It’s one thing to be highly active and engaged in the community, but it’s quite another to flood your followers with automated Tweets. One of the primary culprits of this is TwitterFeed. TwitterFeed is a way to pipe an RSS feed directly into Twitter. It checks your feed at an interval that you specify, grabs the newest items, and posts them to Twitter.

I’m quite positive that the person who developed this tool (@mario) did not intend for it to be a problem. I’m sure it was created to add value to the Twitter experience, but mostly it just gets on my nerves. After a heads up from @isthisstupid (her blog is here), I decided to check and see if there were actually some settings that could make Twitterfeed less…uh…evil. No matter how great a tool is, there is usually some training that needs to be done on the part of the user to make sure everything goes as planned.

Now, this is Chewbaca a screenshot of the Twitterfeed settings page for creating a new feed. As you can see here, you have the option to specify how often Twitterfeed is checking to see if there is anything new from your feed. Every hour seems pretty reasonable.

This is the other setting you can change on that same page. Twitterfeed also gives you the option to specify how many updates it will spit out at a time. I think this is where most of us are messing up.

These are the default settings, which means that Twitterfeed will check my feed every hour. If there are 5 new posts at that time, Twitterfeed is going to dump all of them into Twitter. All of them.

Take another look at the pic at the top of this post. Do you think your followers are interested in seeing 5 back-to-back, automated updates from you? What would you think if you saw 5 updates in a row from someone you followed? How about if you and a friend are talking and someone just busts into the conversation and talks nonstop for 5 minutes? I’m quite positive you’d both walk away.

So, in the interest of making yourself more valuable to your followers, check your settings. I would change that 5 to, at most, a 2. What you’re doing here is spreading your content over a longer period of time. This gives your audience a chance to actually digest what you’re posting at a normal pace, rather than seeing a huge set of links and just ignoring it entirely.

Are there any services that you think people are abusing or misusing? How do you feel about people pulling in automated Tweets? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Why You Should Pownce on Rejaw

Image representing Pownce as depicted in Crunc...
Image by via CrunchBase

Six Apart recently purchased Pownce, shut it down, and scrapped it for parts. Their blog says Welcome Pownce Team, so the users of the Pownce service need to find another place to be accepted. The Pownce service will officially shut down on December 15th, according to The Pownce Blog.

It’s very unfortunate that Pownce users are being left out in the cold, but I offer a solution: Rejaw. There are a million micro-blogging alternatives out there. Let’s review:

  • Twitter – No videos, no photos, no audio, no media at all, period. No threaded conversation.
  • – Same issues as Twitter. It’s just not anywhere near what Pownce is.
  • FriendFeed – A truly awesome service. My home on the web. You can import all types of media, but it will usually only display if imported via RSS. Some people have also found FriendFeed to be a bit overwhelming at first glance.

What is Rejaw?

Rejaw is a new way to communicate in real-time with friends, family, and co-workers. You can shout messages to your followers, or whisper to your friends. Monologue or dialogue, micro-blog or status update, soliloquy or dialectic – how you use Rejaw is up to you.

You can also add links to images and audio within your shouts and they can be automatically embedded within your message. Threads build around each item or Shout posted. The interface updates automatically via AJAX, always showing you the most active discussions. The Whisper feature allows you to send private messages to individuals and groups.

Rejaw Tools

The Rejaw web interface is also the primary client. It provides you access to all features and updates in real time. There are also other tools available to access Rejaw:

Rejaw Radar

Rejaw Radar is a desktop application for Mac that keeps you up-to-date with the latest shouts, whispers and replies on Rejaw.

Rejaw for iPhone

Rejaw for iPhone is a simple, fast iPhone client that allows you to keep up-to-date with the latest shouts, whispers and replies on Rejaw.

There is also a Google Gadget, a Firefox Plugin and more available on Rejaw tools page.

You Can’t Lose

Maybe you lost a good service and I’m sure there isn’t a true replacement out there, but Rejaw may be an excellent substitute. Check it out. You can use it to send stuff to your friends. If you’re looking for people to follow, most of these guys rock.

Rejaw would also like to offer some support in making sure you retain your data from Pownce:

We would like to support Pownce import- if you have a Pownce export file, and you want to help us out, please forward it to support [at], so that we can decipher the file format. Thanks! –(original shout)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I Am an XML Superstar

I like making videos, so I when I came across this XLM Contest, you already know I had to put in my 2 cents. The contest is easy to enter. You can do a song, create a documentary, or make a screencast. Just about anything you can think of is fair game as long as it’s entertaining and related to XML, XQuery or DB2. Ok, it doesn’t really have to be entertaining, but why bother otherwise? The contest runs on a monthly basis and the highest rated video each month gets a cool prize. This month, you have the chance to get an 8GB iPod nano.

This IDUG contest (International DB2® Users Group) allows 1 entry each month, so you can increase your chances of winning a prize. You don’t have to know anything about XML or any of this stuff as long as you can incorporate the required subjects into your video. When you enter the contest, you’ll take a quiz before you can submit your video. This actually helps to teach you a few basics about XML, DB2 and XQuery. You get the answers before each question and the quiz itself is quite short, but the information will give you ammo for the awesome video you’re going to create.

Go join the contest so you can become an XML Superstar, you have until the 17th to win the December prize, but I think I have that one in the bag.

Find more videos like this on ChannelDB2


How I Keep Track of Facebook Without Visiting Facebook

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

I can’t stand Facebook. It’s not really anything they did. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t really like going there. It wasn’t as bad before the site redesign, but they managed to do exactly what was necessary to make the interface more annoying and confusing. The redesign does have some redeeming qualities, but mostly it makes my head hurt.

My friends over on FriendFeed actually got me interested in using Facebook again. Not that they all love it or anything, but some of them do use it. After adding them as friends, I found I was actually getting comments on my status messages, people were throwing sheep at me, and I felt kinda bad that I wasn’t engaging them there.


I use a combination of methods for tracking what’s going on with my FB friends when I’m not there. The first method is via my mobile phone. I don’t have the web or a camera, but I do have text messaging. I went to my Account Settings->Mobile and activated Facebook Mobile. The default settings seem to work just fine.

Via IM

This part was a little trickier, but only because I had no clue how to do it at first. The solution was Notify.Me and I would have liked to link to the article where I read about it, but my ADD has since pushed that out of my mind for newer and shinier things. Notify.Me is definitely the primary method I use for keeping up…with Facebook.

Once you have signed up for Notify.Me, visit this tutorial on their Wiki. It details how to follow your Notifications and Friends’ Status updates. Depending on your friends, you may not want the status updates feed. It could possibly get annoying.

Via Email

Facebook recently lost everyone’s email notification settings. I think they did it on purpose to mess with us, but I can’t prove it. I don’t really use email to track things like Facebook because I don’t live in my email like some people do. I want my Facebook interactions to be immediate and not rely on me checking anything. Some people may find this option useful, though. You can configure this in Account Settings->Notifications.

You can also have Notify.Me send you email alerts if you prefer these over IM alerts.


This is just how I do it and, while I hope this setup works for you out of the box, keep in mind that you have a lot of options here. Play around with what feeds you track and which notification methods you use. If you do decide to tweak things or know of a way to improve this, leave a comment. I’d be interested in hearing about it.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore My Ads

Contextual advertising
Image by mirkoshanghai via Flickr

You may have noticed the ad block in the sidebar here. I think that has been pretty consistent since the beginning. What you may not realize is that all the ads on my site are actual endorsements. Wait…let’s back up…

On most blogs, you will probably find contextual advertising. Blocks of advertising that try to market things to you based on what the blogger has written about. The blogger makes money when people click these advertisements. The amount of traffic they bring to their blog has a direct effect on how much income they can generate.

I started to go with this standard approach, but something bothered me. I think of my blog as an extension of myself. I don’t like to promote or advertise people or companies or anything that I don’t actually believe in (at least a little, anyway). So, I ripped out the ads I had and started thinking of other ways to monetize my blog. I have to pay for it somehow, right?

What I ended up doing was selecting a few things that I actually benefit from. These are products and services that I use to increase the quality of my life. You may see programs I use to make money, products I use for my health and nutrition, and stuff that I just think is cool.

In any case, you can think of the advertising here as me giving you a direct referral. Don’t even think of them as ads. Let’s look at them as little windows into my life in addition to what you can learn from the actual content I write.

So, shake of the ad-blindness. I have taken time to promote things that have been useful to me, because I figure you may benefit as well. This is not a demand, just a little heads-up.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What Do You Do When You Need iPod Repair?

4 GB blue iPod nano
Image via Wikipedia

It makes you happy. It makes you sad. It makes you reminisce. It gives you motivation. It reminds you of family and friends. It’s a huge part of your life and who you are, so what do you do when it goes away? What do you do when that piece of you dies? What happens when your iPod breaks?

Don’t act surprised, you know your iPod means the world to you. Whether it’s an iPod Nano, iPod Touch, or whatever random adjective or verb they’re throwing on the end of it this week, you need to know how to handle ipod repair. Now, I went to the apple website to inquire about how to handle this and the process seems kinda complicated. I’m also pretty sure that Apple would probably charge an arm and a leg for ipod repair, since they don’t really seem to be interested in making things all that affordable in the first place.

So, me being the do-it-yourself tech expert, I just went ahead and Google’d “ipod repair” and found a few different sites that help you fix your iPod. You can order a little kit that will help you fix it yourself, or you can simply mail your ipod in and have it repaired for you. Most sites say they fix it within a day and mail it right back. I also read that most problems with the ipod can be corrected simply by replacing the battery. Whatever the case may be, review your options before you spend too much money.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

What’s Your Cigar?

Many people consider cigars to be a special treat. Connoisseurs and hobbyists alike enjoy a good cigar, possibly with a little port, as many other people would enjoy a fine and rich dessert. Great consideration and care is taken to make sure the temperature and humidity are just right so that the cigar matures properly and maintains it’s flavor. There are different brands such as Cohiba and Macanudo. You enjoy the cigar, savoring it, maybe even sampling different premium brands. Even some people that don’t actually partake of the cigars, still enjoy the smell.

Why am I talking about cigars? Well, cigars are a treat. The exclamation point at the end of a celebration. A way to reward yourself. A way to simply relax. We all need simple pleasures in our lives. If you keep pushing ahead day after day without ever rewarding yourself for all your hard work, you’d surely go mad. You can’t rely on the people you work for or those you work with to recognize your diligent efforts. At some point, you have to go ahead and pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a hug. Look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself you’ve done good.

Maybe you don’t like cigars. Maybe you like ice cream, wine, knitting, reading, bad reality TV shows, or FriendFeed. Whatever your guilty pleasures may be, don’t feel so guilty about them! You deserve to spoil yourself every once in a while.

So, what’s your cigar?

Remember The Milk: Adding Tags While Sending Tasks

In my post, Remember The Milk: Posting Directly from Your Desktop, we covered how to add items to Remember The Milk using the popular desktop launcher Launchy. This provides us with a lightning-quick way to capture tasks and ideas without interrupting whatever we may currently be working on.

With a simple tweak, we can actually make this setup just a little more useful by allowing us to add tags to the items we are sending to RTM.

Here is the command-line we are currently using for “blat” to email RTM:

– -body ” ” -subject “$$” -to <unique key> -u <gmail username> -pw <gmail pass> -f <gmail username> -server

We are using “$$” here to tell the Launchy Runner plugin to pass our first argument as the subject of the email. What we need to be able to do is to specify a second argument that can be passed as the body of the email:

– -subject “$$” -body “$$” -to <unique key> -u <gmail username> -pw <gmail pass> -f <gmail username> -server

Notice that we have:

  • Swapped the positions of the “subject” and “body” options
  • We are now passing another “$$” to the “body” option

This tells Launchy to use the first argument we send as the subject and the second argument as the body. Now, we can set tags for our tasks as we add them via Launchy:

Pressing the TAB key within Launchy separates the “rtm” command from it’s two arguments. The first argument is the name of the task, and the second are the additional options describing that task.

Keep in mind that we have the choice to set other options for the task besides the tags. You can view the details in the Remember The Milk FAQ on Sending Tasks via Email.

The one caveat here is that you may only specify one option as Launchy doesn’t allow us to enter a line-break.

Was this article helpful? Do you have a better way to do this? I would love to hear from you.

WordPress 2.5.1 Migration and Redirect

So, I decided to go ahead and upgrade WordPress since I was tired of seeing the damned reminder in the admin area. In the process, I figured I might as well move WP to my top-level (if you recall, it was stored at /blog) and slap on a snazzy theme.

Still working on the “snazzy theme” part. I looked for hours while watching TV and just couldn’t find anything I liked all that much, so I just picked one.

Of course, now we are left with the problem of redirecting from /blog back to the root directory. A quick search on Google turned up this site, which gives you the code to do a proper permanent redirect with HTTP 301 in various languages. This will make sure that Google knows I moved and I don’t lose any Rank (as if I had any to begin with).

If you know where I can find a good theme site and not one that just recycles what’s already out there, let me know.