Monday, March 24, 2008

Convert Anything on a spreadsheet

Ok, maybe not 'anything' - but pretty close... It uses a lesser known feature of the Google search box. For example, If you want to know how many feet there are in 12 meters, you type "12 meters in feet" and you get your answer. Or let's say your british friend tells you he has a friend who wants to get to know you better - and you say "describe him" and he says, "right... he's got a good personality, and...well... he weighs 14 stone". Of course, instead of seeming like a naive American (of course not, not you), you quickly go to the google search box and type "14 stone in pounds" and then decide... and maybe then you can use this same method to figure out how many USD (yes, that's dollars) you'll need to buy dinner in GBP (of course, that's pound sterling) - it's not a pretty answer.

Well - now that you know that trick - here's the real trick. In a spreadsheet (yes, on Google, of course) you can send that query to the Google search page in the background, get back the answer, parse it and display the answer in your spreadsheet. All this through the magic of the "ImportHTML()" formula.

I'm not going to go into the details of how to do that here - but I will give you a link to get your own copy of this sample spreadsheet (yes, you'll be asked to login to your google account, if you aren't already, to get this spreadsheet added to your doc list).

I must admit, I've had this fun thing (wha? you don't think this is fun?) lying around for a bit - but I figured I should clear the decks given that I've got some new ideas to post...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Digital Culture what?

In February, I was interviewed on a show (which, for you wine enthusiasts, is the equivalent of the second label of Good Morning America) called Good Morning America Now - shown on cable TV and on the web. This was a bit of a tanget for me, but there was definitely some relevance to cloud computing and the intersection of our social lives and the web.

Funny part #1 was to see how sensationalism drives the media. It's clear from the way they framed this story, that it was deemed interesting only due to the snippets of sensationalism which could be drawn from a consumer survey. Funnier part #2 was how they titled me in the first half of the clip... almost Seinfeld-worthy.

Whatever the result, it was really a fun experience...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A dinner-time story to break the monotony

I looked at my blog today... and I didn't like what I saw... a very sparse set of posts, all of which seemed like boring recalls of what I've been doing in the world of conferences (ouch! I just yawned so wide I pulled a muscle)...
so... just to break that cycle... here's something complete irrelevant:

I haven't felt that feeling of uncontrollable laughter in a while - but last night at the dinner table, my four-year old son triggered it.
he: "Daddy - I saw a squirrel today.."
me: "oh, really?"
he: " was dead"
me: "awww... that's sad"
he: "his eyeball popped out"
(I swear, he said it so matter of factly... and at the Dinner table!... and I'm supposed to be the "that's not proper dinner-table talk" daddy, and instead I'm trying to hold back extreme hysterics)
me: (bouncing up and down from in-audible laughter) "oh... uh... that's not great dinner table talk..."
he: "yeah... and a bird was eating it"
me: all-out laughter... no holding back... too much pain...

Sometimes it just feels so good to be 4 again.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Web Services at UPenn's Wharton

I spent my Friday at the Business Technology Conference at Wharton Business School (University of Pennsylvania). Besides feeling under-dressed next to all the MBA students in suits, it was a very satisfying day - I met a new group of great people and learned things about activities in this area (Web Services) which is slowly becoming a standard part of the foundation of business and life.

The Panel I participated in was really high energy (I thought) and interactive. It was entitled: Internet & Web Services Panel, Subtitled: The Web as Platform: How Cloud Computing Will Change the Software Industry. The Panel was moderated by Jeff Barr - Senior Web Services Evangelist,, and the panelists were:
  • Alex Chan - Director, Connected Systems Division, Microsoft
  • Ramon Estopina - Strategy Director, BT Design, BT
  • Adam Gross - Vice President of Platform and Developer Marketing,
  • Rick Treitman - Entrepreneur in Residence, Adobe Systems
  • Me

Too bad there seems to be no recording or video of the panel - and not even too much blogging activity about the content, 'cause I think there were some good questions and good points made. If you attended, feel free to comment to either counter that point or provide some detail that you might remember (....crickets...).
Hey Rick - How'd you get the title? I gotta get me one a those ;)