Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yap-Take voicemail to the cloud (and gain analytics)

I'm a busy person.  I volunteer, I consult, and I run a nonprofit.  I don't always have time to answer the phone and when I return phone calls, I like to know how to prioritize.  Yap helps with that.  I've used Google Voice (free numbers are nice), but I wanted to give something else a whirl.  I like that I can text/email the caller back. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is the government really closed?

Normally I stick to posts about tools available from corporations.  However, after attending SLS11, I had to write a "real" blog post because I became extremely irked.  See, all these students and their professors at a college in DC kept going on about how the government is closed and it needs to be open.  Then it got into there being only one "real" news site.  So, here's my rant: What ever happened to teaching students to seek out information?  Are we really in an age where everyone must be spoonfed information in order for the information to exist?  The government is open to a large extent.  The data that we see everywhere comes from government funded research and agencies.  When we look at nutrition labels, calorie counters, cool apps that tell us how much pesticides are in our food, where do people think the data came from?  The company didn't spend years researching and collecting it.  It didn't appear out of thin air.  It came from a government website download that's available to EVERYONE.  That's how the Congressional Budget Office gets materials (bills are available online via the feds). See, there's a super site...a FEDERAL .gov site...that gives the information.  Seek and ye shall find.  Want data about food?  USDA has it.  Data about meds, FDA has it, pesticides?  USDA or EPA.  The files are in pdf, doc, rtf, xml, csv, and other files (including pretty cool widgets).  Want a hard copy? Generally, they'll mail it to you.  This infogeek has boxes of materials courtesy of our tax dollars regarding health and wellness (an interest of mine).  I've got so many documents full of html links that I had to upload them to scribd

There are a lot of citizen journalism sites out there.  I like patch.com.  There are other ones out there too.  More and more are sprouting up thanks to the Knight Foundation.  Who?  See...that's the problem.  People don't seek.  The Knight Foundation is a grant making foundation that gives money to projects that promote citizen journalism through use of technology.  It didn't pop up after the Egypt uprising.  It's been around for YEARS and YEARS (since 1950 to be exact).