Sunday, November 30, 2014

Throw in Glassboard (TM), Sharepoint (TM), and cloud storage and stir a bit

This is a techy blog posting because I miss Glassboard(TM).  I know why its gone (search the blogsphere for the conversation on why it's so hard to be an independent app developer) but that is not comforting.  So how would I like it to come back.  I hinted in a tweet but that seemed not to resonate with anyone so here's a longer explanation.

If you can't sell it in sufficient quantities to individuals, you look for another target market.  One I think in underused by most casual users is cloud storage, whether it is from one of the biggies or one of the many providers out there.  Yes, you can give others access to your photos on most cloud storage but they aren't annotated and no conversation ensues around them that links right to them on your mobile device.  You can do it with mass emailing or multiparty text conversations but that is awkward and people delete them from their phones and there is no "like" button.

So, you say, use Facebook (TM).  No thank you.   Too "noisy and nosy."  I like my privacy and, being older, like things uncluttered.   And, I would like to be able to share other stuff I can put on cloud storage - any file, any time.  This last is one of my frustrations with Glassboard - that I couldn't share any file but photos and videos.  What I want is to see photos embedded and displayed as Glassboard did and for all else a clickable link that says "View content with extension (fill in the blank)".  If the receiving device has the correct application, when the link is clicked, the file opens in that application to be viewed or downloaded but not changed.  If the device doesn't, it would be helpful to suggest what application is needed but not necessary.

Sharepoint(TM) gives that ability to share any file with a user if that they had the application on their desktop.  I am assuming a mobile version works that way if it exists, but I don't know because, being retired, I am no longer a Sharepoint(TM) user.    Sharepoint(TM) is problematic for casual users because a server has to be set up, users managed, the group has to decide stuff like naming conventions and folder arrangements,  protocol for editting, etc.  A lot of nitty gritty stuff that groups can get hung up on before sharing actually occurs.  If the files are shared around a common activity or goal, it would be nice to keep track of changes, suggestions, and reactions in a simple, textbased way.

Another thing I liked about Glassboard(TM) is that you could have multiple boards with different members so that intimate photo of the newborn could be shared just with the immediate family and your amazing vacation action shot could go to a wider audience.

So that makes me mention why I want Glassboard(TM) for sharing photos - you don't share all of your photos in an album, just the one you are proud of or think is worth it somehow or want to provoke laughter or screams.  You want a reaction of some kind - a like, a dislike, a comment, a followup phone call - something.

So, there is tons of cloud storage out there - you can get it from Apple (TM), from your ISP, your cable provider, Microsoft (TM), Google (TM), and more.  Is it being used fully? Probably not.  Is it protected from casual browsing? I expect it to be and that better be true.

The one item I don't have a good suggestion for is managing your many login ids and passwords.  If the board you are invited onto is one where you already have an id/password because you have your own cloud account there, you should be able to use that.  But if you don't it, it means another id/password combo to manage and keep track of.  It could be worse, I suppose, and someone will solve that problem in the future, probably in a way I won't like.

Anyone up for convincing a major cloud storage provider to build this?  Would it give them an edge in the market?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Trash is new hot button in town

The town purchased a new trash and recycle truck last year in order to reduce their costs for trash pickup and reap the benefits from recycling.  It's been a relatively smooth transition with some bumps around what is recyclable and what is really trash.  They put recycle bins everywhere possible in town including the US post office, churches, Rose Hill Cemetery, and all businesses in order to collect as much recycle material as possible.

When they put a recycle bin at the cemetery, they also put a trash one too as a favor to the Rose Hill Cemetery Board.  The point was to at least get the kids who hang out there under cover of darkness to put their beer bottles in the recycling and other trash like McDonald's wrappers in the trash.    Signs are posted at the cemetery so the cops can roust them if they get too noisy or disruptive but that happens rarely.  The Cemetery lies at the far end of the town's green area called the Grove, so to the kids it is all one roaming ground, just with tombstones instead of trees.

Unfortunately, a few citizens have gotten up in arms because it appears the town is picking up trash for free for a "business."  They brought it up at a Council Meeting in passing and now have tried to put in a OPRA request (a NJ mechanism to get public documents) about it.  Of course, there are no public documents as it was a favor.  The trash bin is being pulled out in response.

Rose Hill Cemetery is not really a business but more like a church.  It is a non-profit corporation under Federal laws and an exempt entity under NJ laws, meaning it pays no income, property, or sales taxes.  Its Board and officers are comprised of volunteers who receive no pay.  Once a year, financial reports are filed with the NJ Board that governs cemeteries operating in the state.  Money is set aside for each burial and memorial stone in a special fund that the state would use if the Cemetery went bankrupt to get grass mowed and other upkeep.

The rest of the funds received at the "sale" of a lot or for a internment are used to pay a lawn service to mow  biweekly in the summer and rake in the fall, and for unforeseen events like trees falling down in storms.  Occasionally funds have to cover plowing snow for a funeral to take place.  Casket burials require a concrete vault be put in place and the funds for an internment cover that cost from a vault company.  All in all, the cemetery breaks about even each year with the lawn care and insurance costs its biggest expenditure. 

Note that there is no cemetery attendant who is paid to take care of the cemetery day to day or make sales.  The lanes are not paved with macadam but stone and graves are cleaned up of excess flowers once a year after Christmas.  This extra "trash" is put in a dumpster arranged for that chore and paid for by the Cemetery Association.  The trash bin put there by the town was not to be used for that chore but as a convenience for visitors who might have a little trash like the wrapping the flowers came in.  In the past, visitors have hauled away their own debris and now they will do it again.

The volunteers who make up the Cemetery Board and its officers consider it a community service not a business.  I am sorry there are people in town who see it the opposite way.  Rose Hill Cemetery has been there since the 1860's; when people first settled around the train depot and called it Newfield.  To think of it as one of those big "retail" cemeteries just seems wrong.