Posted by: gregboyko | March 12, 2009

Your digital life and the concept of online personas

Joe Wilcox over at Microsoft Watch recently posted a fascinating article on the topic of our digital identities and how we manage them, or rather how we might like to manage them, but are unable to do so because of the technological limitations of the services we use.

Joe’s claim is that we all have different personas, both in real life and online. In real life it is easy to choose what aspects we share based on the social context. Online it is much more difficult.

There are a couple of very interesting insights in Joe’s article. First is the need for a single digital identity. The idea has been around for a while, but no one has made it a reality, partly because of the lack of standardization, and partly because of the critical missing piece Joe mentions next: the concept of digital personas, separate from identity. Traditionally, separate personas have been maintained online through the use of different handles/nicks (identities). But with social networking services such as Facebook playing such an important role in so many people’s lives today, and with the line between real life and digital life blurring, this isn’t really practical anymore. There is a desire for a single identity. You still want to be you (identity) regardless of the social context, but you may wish to share only certain aspects of your digital life (persona) depending on the context.

Clearly we all have different personas, both in real life and online. Behavior should depend on social context. But there’s also something to be said about personas that are so far removed from each other that they conflict. We’ve all heard stories about people losing their jobs or getting disciplined in school for something they said online or for a picture they posted on Facebook or MySpace. Typically, this occurs in situations where the online persona is so at odds with the real-life persona in that particular context (e.g. work) that the conflict is irreconcilable. While Joe’s concept of digital personas might help people who fall into this category, I think it’s rather unhealthy to be in this category in the first place.

Give Joe’s article a read. It’s really quite good.

Posted by: gregboyko | February 21, 2009

The Problem With Facebook

I’m a big Facebook fan. Facebook is the obvious best social network for most people for a couple of reasons. First, it’s hugely popular. Chances are pretty good the people you’re interested in connecting with are already on Facebook, or will have heard of it and be willing to join. Second, it’s pretty intuitive and easy to use.

But there is one major problem with Facebook: it’s a closed environment. Facebook does provide Facebook Connect, but this just doesn’t go far enough. I want to see true interoperability between my social network and the other applications and web sites/services I use. I want a unified personal status, whether I set it on Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, or Twitter. I want the option for unified contacts and calendars, with open APIs that will allow any authenticated application to participate in synchronization of this data. Bits and pieces of this are beginning to emerge, but we’re not there yet. What’s required is an open, documented, social networking platform.

I think Microsoft’s Windows Live services are our best bet for getting there. Microsoft (which is the company I happen to work for) is playing catch up when it comes to social networking and web applications in general. Large strides have been made with the most recent Windows Live release, but clearly much more needs to be done. When it comes to providing platforms, Microsoft has a pretty successful history. The only other companies (in my mind) with the capability to provide a unified platform such as what I’m envisioning are Google, and possibly Facebook.

The next five years are going to be very interesting….

Posted by: gregboyko | January 15, 2009

Windows 7 First Thoughts

I’ve been running the Windows 7 beta for about a week now. I’m very impressed.

It feels snappy. Probably partly because I did a clean install, but partly because it feels like Seven has had performance tuning since Vista.

The UI is very clean. The biggest visible change is the new task bar:


I wasn’t sure I’d like it, and I’m still getting used to it, but I think I’m going to like it a lot. The innovation over Vista is that the task bar intermingles running programs with shortcuts to start the programs. The beauty of this approach is that there is no ambiguity about how to find your most commonly-used applications. Once an application is pinned to the task bar, you always go to that pinned icon to access that program, regardless of whether the application is running or not. And for anyone that misses the window names, they can still optionally be shown.

I’m also fond of the new Libraries functionality, which provides consolidated views for certain folders (Pictures, Documents, Videos, and Music by default). It’s nice to have this view without caring where on your drive or on your network the actual files are stored.

Stability has been good so far. No OS crashes at all. I’ve had a couple of application crashes, and am more inclined to blame the apps than to blame Seven.

Obviously this is still a beta, and on one of the machines I’m using, I notice some fairly regular issues with the mouse cursor not painting quite right. I had trouble installing the driver for one of my ethernet adapters as well. This was the only device Seven didn’t get right on the initial install (and I’m not sure why, either, since the driver actually shipped with Seven).

But overall, I expect this to be a very good release.

Posted by: gregboyko | December 25, 2008

Video of Boyko Family at Church Christmas Program

Last Sabbath our family sang a short song for our church Christmas program. Here’s the video. Good job, kids!

Boyko Family – Wasn’t That a Mighty Day

Posted by: gregboyko | December 21, 2008

LiveUpload to Facebook (easy photo uploads)

Lately I’ve been using Facebook more and more to keep in touch with people I know. One problem with Facebook is that uploading and managing photos in Facebook is harder than it should be.

On my own PC, I use the excellent (and getting better all the time) Windows Live Photo Gallery to manage photos. This software is currently in beta, but I don’t have any qualms about recommending it as a primary photo management tool. One cool feature of this software is that it provides a Publish menu, under which you will find options for publishing the photos on your PC to online photo services. Out of the box, it supports only Microsoft’s online photo service and Flickr, but it also provides a plugin model that allows developers to create plugins to publish to other online services. I found one (called LiveUpload to Facebook) for publishing to Facebook, and it worked well the first time I tried it.

For anyone that uses Facebook, and uploads photos to Facebook, give it a try. Even if you’re not currently using Windows Live Photo Gallery, it’s worth your time to download it and play around with it to see if you like it.

Posted by: gregboyko | October 1, 2008

Laying a brick patio

This week we finally got around to laying the brick patio we’ve been planning for a while. It’s been a long, hard–and at times, frustrating–process, but it’s coming along nicely. It’s not quite finished yet–and even after we’re done, we still have a huge pile of dirt to deal with–but we’re getting close. The digging and leveling was the worst. Laying the brick actually isn’t too bad.

Here are a few photos:

Posted by: gregboyko | May 17, 2008

Bloglines – Online RSS Feed Reader Service

Just wanted to point out a great online RSS reader service. It’s not new or anything. I’ve been using it for almost 2 years, and the service has been around for at least a couple more. But for anyone who isn’t aware of it’s existence, check it out.

What is Bloglines? It’s an online RSS feed aggregator. I never used to be much of a believer in online services like this, particularly because the user experience of web-based applications has always been sub-standard when compared to a rich Windows-based application. But web applications are getting much better (the newer beta version of Bloglines is pretty good), and the benefits of a cloud-based service like Bloglines are hard to deny, since your personal news feeds will be available to you from any internet-connected device with a web browser.

Cloud-based services like Bloglines (and a whole slew of other services some of which already exist and some of which are yet to be developed) will clearly play a major role in how people interact with their computers in the next decade.

Posted by: gregboyko | April 25, 2008

What is the Mesh?

The Mesh and all it represents is quite possibly the most significant development in the computing industry since the creation of the Internet. It starts with Live Mesh, but the ultimate vision is so much more. It will be years before the full potential is realized, but the Mesh will fundamentally change how we interact with software and how software is written in the coming decade.

Posted by: gregboyko | April 19, 2008

Alyssa in the Sandbox

Check out these photos of Alyssa in the sandbox yesterday evening. I think they turned out very well. The lighting was perfect, and Gretchen got some great shots.
Click here for higher resolution photos

Posted by: gregboyko | April 13, 2008

Josh loses his first tooth!

Today, at age 5 1/2, josh lost his first tooth. It was the lower left incisor. It first appeared just a little over 4 years ago, when he was about 1 1/2. Now, 4 years later, the tooth is gone, and the permanent tooth is poking through. 🙂

Josh is very excited and is quite proud. Yet another milestone in the life of a child.
Full-Resolution Album Link

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