Portland Topic o’ the Day: XMPP

Seems like I couldn’t read a Portland feed today without encountering a reference to Portland-based Jive Software’s Matt Tucker and his post on XMPP, entitled “XMPP (a.k.a. Jabber) is the future for cloud services.”

It even hit the front page of Digg.

And finally it sunk in: if everyone in Portland is blogging about it, maybe, just maybe, it’s important.

First off… What is XMPP? The acronym stands for eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. To be simplistic, think of it as XML for IM and buddy lists. (You don’t read this blog for the brilliance of my technical mind—and if you do, I have a few things to say to you—so if you’re interested in more, you could read Wikipedia’s XMPP entry or you could visit the XMPP Standards Foundation.)

But the buzz, today, is all about its potential.

In his post, Matt asserts:

[C]loud services aren’t real-time, won’t scale, and often can’t clear the firewall. So, it’s time we blow up those barriers and come to Jesus about the protocol that will fuel the SaaS models of tomorrow–that solution is XMPP (also called Jabber) . Never heard of it? In just a couple of years Google, Apple, AOL, IBM, Livejournal and Jive have all jumped on board.

Dawn Foster, also of Jive Software, continues the thread in her Fast Wonder post, “How XMPP (Jabber) Can Do So Much More Than IM,” mentioning:

I think it is about time we moved beyond the old model of polling and into new, more efficient paradigms. As we come to expect real time, always available tools on the web, we should be thinking about using real time collaboration technologies (like XMPP).

Justin Kistner of Metafluence and Beer and Blog highlights the post, as well. And, word around the campfire is that Portland-based blogger, Marshall Kirkpatrick, is working on a post about it. (Which I’ll link up as soon as it hits.)

As promised, Marshall Kirkpatrick has published a very thoughtful and insightful piece on the XMPP discussion, entitled “Could Instant Messaging (XMPP) Power the Future of Online Communication?” which includes both arguments for:

Ask yourself what a decentralized, open source infrastructure for real time communication could offer. A lot. As an RSS-head, I’d love to see XMPP let my various RSS clients do more faster and get bogged down in fewer unnecessary activities. RSS is all about speed for me but clients can only do so much so often when they have to pester someone else’s server every time they want to check for new information. Those delays can be of real consequence.

And against the potential of XMPP:

First, so much of what’s already been developed is web-centric, based on http, that the options for mashup-fodder are relatively limited for XMPP….The second argument against this rosy picture of the future could be that open standards-based technology falls outside the profit model of many larger companies. If one vendor can corner their respective model with proprietary technology and charge a monopolist’s premium for superior service, then a standards based competitor will have their work cut out for them.

So, Portland—open source mecca we are—seems pretty excited about the potential here. Just a heads up for you, gentle reader, that XMPP might be in your future. Best get up to speed by reading the XMPP post that started the discussion.

Watching the Watcher watching Portland

Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher has a recent post that touches on an interview with Hideshi Hamaguchi and Toru Takasuka of Portland-based startup Lunarr. (You may also remember Hideshi for his presentation, “How to live like Japanese in Portland” at the first Ignite Portland.)

What struck me about “Portland’s High Tech Community And The Space To Think” was this little gem:

When I met with them four months ago, I asked why did they choose Portland as the home base for Lunarr, why not Silicon Valley? After all, there are many companies moving to Silicon Valley every day/week to become part of the great conversation that goes on here.

They said that Portland allowed them to think.

Yes, I know it’s in the headline, too. I get that. I’m just a little dense. Apparently, I need more time to think.

The post also touches on Portland on Fire, Raven Zachary’s side project that introduces us to one interesting Portlander a day. A side project which, coincidentally, is always looking for new folks to profile. So head on over there, and participate.

To read the post in its entirety—and to learn why Portland may be a better place for startups than the Valley—visit “Portland’s High Tech Community And The Space To Think

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

Oregon Public Broadcasting shows you how to talk down to your community

The guidance from OPB on how to participate in their online community is exceptionally effective at controlling the comments—by being so condescending that it stifles any conversation whatsoever. Hey OPB! If you don’t want to manage a Web community, don’t manage a community. That will give you more time to concentrate on “making radio” or annoying me with your fund-driving requests.

SEMpdx Searchfest 08 Mini-Interview: Janet Johnson (O’Johnson Partners)

Janet will be speaking on the “Marketing 2.0 Issues: Online Reputation Management, the dark side of SMM” panel at Searchfest which will take place on March 10th, 2008 at the Portland Zoo.

Scott Kveton · High-bandwidth Twitter Tools

I follow 702 people and its a lot of information to process. Raven Zachary asked me the criteria I use to follow people. It’s pretty simple; if you’re interesting and I’ve found you, I let serendipity reign and follow. I’ve also very recently taken to following every person I can find in Portland, OR (more on that in a moment).

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

MyStrands joins Data Portability Working Group

Corvallis-based MyStrands, the service that—among other things—lets you share and compare your musical tastes, has announced that they have decided to join the Data Portability Working Group.

A number of folks are putting their hopes in the Data Portability concept. And, to be sure, their recent “skyrocketing into the tech-public consciousness” momentum may have given them the best chance of solving the problems at hand.

As Scott Kveton highlights in the MyStrands post:

We’re really excited about the work that the Data Portability (DP) group is chartered to do. The goal of the group is to build a set of technical and policy blueprints based on existing technologies and concepts that will allow for the free-flow and control of data by users among sites on the web. Taking advantage of the building blocks like OpenID, OAuth and microformats allows the effort to move that much faster….

MyStrands is committed to the Data Portability group because we believe we can really help make things happen and be an integral part of its success.

Coincidentally, another little company you may have heard of—named Microsoft—just announced that they were going to join the Data Portability Working Group, as well. But, I’m not interested in covering that, because a) Last time I checked, they were a bit north of the Silicon Forest, and b) They may have gotten a little bit of press about it already.

In fact, Portland-based blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick has an insightful write-up on the Microsoft news:

Microsoft’s joining the group is an event of sufficiently complex historical meaning that I’m hesitant to try and interpret it here. Microsoft has both been the ultimate example of lock-in and also an important force behind other open standards efforts on the web, including OpenID. Though no fan of Microsoft, I am consistently excited about what the Live team in particular does. I’ll look for analysis of this and future news about implementation at Live from my favorite source on the topic, LiveSide.

Deep breath. Okay, I realize I’ve just thrown around a whole bunch of jibber jabber at you, which probably makes absolutely no sense.

Just what is this “data portability” and why would we want it? Here’s a simple explanation. (Apparently, Vimeo’s embed code doesn’t like WordPress, so I’m linking now instead. Apologies for the extra click.)

For more on MyStrands reasoning behind joining, read Why MyStrands is joining the Data Portability Workgroup. For more on the Data Portability Working Group, visit dataportability.org.

Meet: Portland Metroblogs monthly get-together

While I’m totally abusing their Creative Commons license for professional use (I’m willing to withstand Banana Lee Fishbones wrath), I thought it important to mention that the Portland Metroblogs team is hosting a meet-up on Wednesday:

Wednesday, January 23 beginning at 5:30pm
The Chesterfield
1101 E. Burnside (across from Hippo Hardware and next to Portland Rock Gym)

With a full spread. Um, of food:

Metblogs will order some food for everyone, but drinks are on you (or McAngrypants if you compliment his slacks.) The Chesterfield does offer great Happy Hour specials until 7pm.

This is a great opportunity to meet with the folks who run one of the most popular blogs in Portland, Metroblogging Portland.

And if you can’t make it? No worries. We’ll find you another cool opportunity to meet the who’s who of the Portland Web, blogging, and geek community (although, the Metroblogging Portland folks are exceptionally cool).

Oooh. I’ve got it. Ignite Portland, my friend. If you can’t make this meet-up, then make sure to make it to Ignite.

Sandy has more to want

Sandy, the anthropomorphic electronic assistant from Portland-based Values of n, has been brushing up on her skill set. And now, she’s ready to share some more of those skills with you.

First, Sandy now lets you share the love with your friends so you can collaborate on appointments and to-dos, just by letting Sandy in on your email conversations.

Staying organized with friends, family, and coworkers is effortless when I work with them, too.

  • send shared reminders (the movie premiere Friday night)
  • add stuff to each other’s calendars (the dentist appointment)
  • share a to-do list (get those to-dos done together)

…and so much more. No more fussing with different organizing systems and calendar applications — just bring me into the conversation and I’ll take care of the rest.

Second, for you getting-things-done, New-Year’s-resolution types, Sandy has added goals. I mean, Sandy already helps you get where you’re supposed to go in terms of meeting and tasks. But now, she can help you get where you want to go in life, as well:

[W]hat better way to keep your eye on the prize than to write it down and keep it front-and-center as you go about your day.

To that end, we’ve carved out a spot in your Daily Digest to add a goal, guiding principle, or inspirational quote that’ll appear at the top of your Digest email each morning and alongside your appointments and to-dos on your “Today” page.

To meet Sandy, visit I Want Sandy. For more on Sandy’s development team, see Values of n.

Trimet Tracker for your iPhone

Anyone who has ridden public transportation knows the frustration of missing a bus or waiting for a train that is never going to come. Portland public transit, for all the lauding it receives, is no different.

That’s why Matt King, the prolific Portland-based master of the making APIs do cool and useful things, has released a new application for the iPhone to help Portland folks get the TriMet public transit info they need in a format that is actually legible on an iPhone screen.

So I present to to you the Trimet Tracker, an iPhone app that allows you to easily find out when the next bus is going to arrive at your stop. Just enter your Stop ID and you’ll get a list of all the arriving buses (or MAX or Street Car), what time they will be showing up, and how long you have to wait. If you don’t know your Stop ID, you can also do a quick search by picking a route and selecting from all the stops on that route.

To make it even easier, you can also save any stop to your favorites list so you don’t have to enter a Stop ID or search for your stop again. Just hit ‘Favorites’ and select which stop you saved.

The most interesting part about this whole story? It’s written off of a TriMet API. Who knew TriMet even had an API?

Don’t have an iPhone? Don’t ride public transit in Portland? Getting tired of me asking questions? Have no fear. You can still use some of Matt’s other tools, like TwitterWhere, KnitMap, and Unthirsty. (At the time of publishing, Unthirsty was down for maintenance.) (It’s back up.)

For more information, see Matt King’s post on Trimet Tracker.

Tastymate adds an extra ingredient to restaurant reviews

Whether it’s true or not, folks in Portland like to claim that we’ve got more restaurants and bars per capita than any city in the United States. And that has a lot of folks thinking about the ranking and reviewing of those restaurants and bars.

I mean, we have a ton of restaurants. But they’re not all good.

Enter tastymate, a new restaurant review tool, which has quietly launched a BETA of its service.

A Ruby-on-Rails side-project for Graeme Nelson, tastymate was designed to be simple, straightforward, and quick, with a simple premise:

I created tastymate because I wanted a better way to find and share tasty restaurants and bars. I wanted to be able to find tasty spots through my friends and their friends.

“Voting” is based on how many people have added the restaurant or bar to their personal lists of “tasty spots.”

So, it’s another restaurant-review site, you say. What’s the extra ingredient?

The little extra ingredient that makes tastymate interesting—besides its inherent simplicity—is tastymate’s Twitter integration.

Follow tastymate on Twitter and you’ll receive notifications when new folks join or when restaurants are added.

If you have Twitter on all-day, it provides a pretty compelling way to answer the “where should I go to eat?” question when you have recommendations flowing in via your Twitter stream. Especially as the user base continues to grow.

For more information or to register for an account, visit tastymate.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement

Sometimes, a link says more than I could ever say. Here are some fragrant little buds I’ve found recently, courtesy of ma.gnolia.

Join fellow Portland bloggers helping other bloggers over beers at Beer and Blog

Portland bloggers helping bloggers over beers. What could be more Portland than that?

Bay-area employees have “Lizard Eye”

Portland’s Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer at Jive Software, compares working in Silicon Valley to working in Portland, to wit: “Having lived and worked in both San Francisco and Portland, and I can tell you that building a company outside the silicon Petri dish has been one of the best experiences of my career.”

ORblogs and PayPerPost

ORblogs, one of the most popular aggregators of local blogs, has decided to remove pay-per-post bloggers from their directory.

View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia

Calagator gnaws on the Portland tech calendar problem

Last Saturday, the Portland Tech Calendar group dove headlong into a code sprint around the problem of aggregating all of the tech calendars for Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas. The result? Calagator.

The group made a great deal of progress during the code sprint. A full recap is available via Google Groups. Highlights are available on the Calagator blog. (That’s right, they have the beginnings of code and a blog. These guys have accomplished more in a weekend than I’ve accomplished in the last six months.)

Some highlights (Go microformats!):

  • The existing group websites we examined can be imported much more easily with the addition of hCalendar markup for the event details. Selena and Daniel created documentation that we can share with event organizers. We discussed the possibility of using a hCalendar generator to provide ready-made HTML to paste into websites and blogs.
  • A next step for encouraging hCalendar usage will be to contact individual groups who aren’t using a standardized calendar format, and tell them about our project.
  • Paige created a sample email template that can be used to structure event information, for organizers to cc to our system when they send out event announcements. Email seems to be the one tool everyone uses, and this would help with our goal of accessibility.
  • Igal and I set up a new Rails application, and added it to a group repository at http://code.google.com/p/calagator/. The application now has a bare bones structure for adding and viewing events. We also decided that event venues were important attributes, and that combining information on venues across events would be highly useful, so users can now add and update venue information as well. We’re using a temporary view scaffolding system to allow us to add and edit information in the database. We’ll develop a more polished interface as we continue.
  • In order to begin pulling sample data from websites, Igal and Reid are creating an hCalendar event importer. This can also be used as a model for adding other calendar formats to the system.
  • Igal is going to set up our calendar program on a server where people will be able to try it out. Getting feedback early and often will be important to ensuring we’re meeting the needs of our users.

The next code sprint is planned for February 2. That’s Groundhog Day for those of you keeping score at home.

For more information on Calagator, the PDX Tech Calendar project, visit the PDX Tech Calendar Google Group or the Calagator blog.

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