Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

RemoteControlMail Becomes EarthClassMail

Posted by telecommatt on August 11, 2007

I mentioned RemoteControlMail.com some time ago and I was really excited by the idea. Imagine being able to sort through your mail from your web browser and receive only the items that you select. What’s even better is that (at least reading) you can have them recycle your junk mail for you.

I received an email from the RemoteControlMail team last week with some news.

This past weekend, Earth Class Mail officially changed its Web domain
from RemoteControlMail.com to EarthClassMail.com. The new home address
for Earth Class Mail Online Postal Mail Forwarding Service is <http://www.earthclassmail.com>.

Thanks in advance,
Web Team
Earth Class Mail

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Posted in Green, web-based services | 2 Comments »

Roll Your Own Bobbleheads With JibJab’s “Starring You”

Posted by telecommatt on August 10, 2007

A bit of Friday fun. This was just too good to pass up. For all it’s silliness, I can foresee using this to create social, political, and environmental statements that people actually pay attention to. Imagine bringing into a classroom a skit with about saving electricity starring their teacher  as a bobblehead!

JibJab’s ‘Starring You!’ is the greatest office time-waster in history

from Webware.com by Caroline McCarthyTrust me–I know procrastination. But this one really takes the cake.

JibJab, as you
probably know already, made a name for itself by creating corny (yet
socially relevant) musical skits that superimposed the heads of
politicians and celebrities onto cartoon bodies. Now that
user-generated content is nothing new, it almost seems overdue that
JibJab would introduce a “make your own” feature. But now, at long
last, here it is: “JibJab Starring You!”

The concept, at least according to the creators, is to JibJab
yourself by uploading a photo, easily crop it with the Flash-based
tools to make a bobblehead-like image, and then revel at the absurdity
of watching yourself dance the Charleston.

But don’t let that fool you. The real purpose of “Starring You!” is
to dig up photos of your boss and put them into any number of the dorky
dance videos. As a bonus, most of them require two dancers, so you can
use the likenesses of multiple co-workers–or choose from a small
library of celebrity heads that range from Donald Trump to Barack Obama.

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Posted in Geekstuff, Green, Humor, Politics, Random Things | Leave a Comment »

Matt’s Cuppa Interviews Reactee

Posted by telecommatt on July 18, 2007

I’m sitting outside right now blogging in the sun, and, of course, wearing my Reactee. I love my WiFi, I love summer, and I love it when I get to review a product that I believe in. I first came across Reactee in a post from the MoMB website with a rather minimalist description: “Shirts that text you back.” I mentioned the Reactee website back in June and was super excited by what I saw. Now, after I’ve had a chance to see their product, try things out for a bit, and talk to some people, I can honestly say that Reactee is doing some great things.

Reactee Home

The concept behind Reactee is pretty straightforward. You go to their site and design a shirt with your message and a customized keyword. You type up a few sentences that you want someone to see when the text your keyword to 41411. I chose “I geek for you” with the keyword “egeek”. (Want to see how it works? Go ahead and give it a try by sending an SMS with the word egeek to 41411.) You can change this text as often as you like, and when someone texts your keyword you get a nice little SMS letting you know. You can check out what other users have come up with at the Reactee Gallery.

Just being out and about with my Reactee on has gotten some great responses. People come up and ask about it. If you’re using it to spread some sort of message, you really get responses on two levels. People see the shirt and text you, but they also come up and ask about it face to face. And the shirts look cool, too. I’m definitely not embarrassed to be seen in public wearing my Reactee. The shirts themselves are rather thin, but mine has survived my washing machine so I’m happy. The print has that stylish I’ve-had-this-forever faded look. (I love that! It’s carefully crafted to make it look like all you did to look this cool is throw on the first thing you found, when you know you picked your outfit the night before!) I was really impressed that the website has a handy little chart that helps you figure out what size to order, a killer feature since clothing sizes vary so much from vendor to vendor.

Being an environmentally concerned netizen, there are a few things Reactee is doing that I definitely applaud. Their shirts are manufactured in the United States, reducing the amount of carbon required to get the shirts from the manufacturer. (Reactee is a US-based company.) Their “natural” colored shirts are made from organic materials. The shirts are also printed using water-based inks. I think that every company has a responsibility to my children minimize the impact that they have on the planet, and I’m am very pleased that Reactee is stepping up.

Reacteeism

As I’ve said, the concept behind Reactee is straightforward. What excites me, however, is much broader in scope. SMS activism is changing the political and social landscape across the globe. From elections in Nigeria to chemical plants in China, we see the true power of SMS communication. Closer to home, we see something like Live Earth and wonder, “What do I do next?” Reactee encourages you to take your message to the streets and put a face to your cause. Sure, you’re just one person, but armed with a Reactee, just imagine what you could do!

I contacted Reactee asking if they had any interest in an article or an interview, and Ariel emailed me the very same day. After wearing my Reactee around for a while, and seeing the reactions it got, I couldn’t wait to hear Ariel’s thoughts on the questions I sent. As you can see, he got back to me with some great responses:

# I understand that Reactee is a partnership between TextMarks, Inc. and Revel Industries. Can you talk a little about this? How did it all begin? There always seems to be a great story behind a successful startup. What’s the Reactee story?

The initial idea was to offer shirts to TextMarks users as a way of promoting their keywords. The idea for focusing on the shirts as a standalone product came in a meeting I had with my friend Joe Greenstein (CEO of Flixster). We thought: why limit this product to people who already had a TextMark? Why not make an “interactive shirt” that anyone can use? As to the connection with Revel, I sent an email to the alumni list at Stanford Business School asking for suggestions on people familiar with the t-shirt industry – as I had little experience in it. Someone suggested Chris Gorog, the CEO of Revel Industries and a Stanford alum. We got together at hit it off.

# What about competition? Do you feel that there is competition in your market, or has Reactee created their own market niche? What’s in store for the future of your market space?

So far, we are the only ones offering interactive t-shirts. It is actually not that easy to make this product well. You have the text messaging infrastructure on one side, designing a shirt that balances aesthetics with functionality, making the shirts on demand with good quality, and then integrating the whole thing. As to the future, we are working on a number of features to make the shirts even more interactive and fun, we are also getting lots of requests from abroad, so we are looking into that.

# Define your audience. Who is the average person who will be wearing a Reactee? Do you see a future in individuals or groups? Or will you continue to cater to both? Is there a corporate interest in your product?

We are seeing interest (and orders) from several types of customers:

– Individuals with shirts such as “Think I Am Hot” or “Love Movies”

– Lots of small business, e.g., “Need a Realtor”, “French Lessons”, “Fitness Max”, “I Design Websites”

– Non profits, e.g., “Peace Now”, “Santa Barbara Symphony”, “Change the World with Tech”

– Corporations: we’ve gotten a number of large orders from corporations for promotions, internal events, and as gifts for employees.

# In the wake of financial scandals and more recent concerns over climate change, corporate values are becoming more and more of a deciding factor for today’s consumer. Are there any values that Reactee holds dear? Does Reactee find a way to give back to the community?

Lots of non-profit organizations are using Reactee to promote great causes. In addition to helping them with promotion, we share our revenues with them, helping them financially. And we donate free shirts to some small organizations. All of us involved with Reactee care deeply about our communities and individually each one is involved with more than one project. We are a very socially responsible company. For example, we use shirts that are made in the USA and print with environmentally friendly water-based ink.

# What’s the best thing about being a part of Reactee? What is it that makes you shiver with excitement when you’re telling someone about Reactee? Is there anything in particular that makes you get out of bed in the mornings?

The most fun aspect of Reactee is seeing the creative uses that our customers find for the shirts. I love going to ourgallery to see the latest shirts that our customers have built. I also love the fact that we are producing a physical good. While it sure is a LOT more work than when you are just selling “bits”, it is also a lot more satisfying when our customers receive their shirts and send us emails telling us how much they love them and how much their friends liked them.

I really want to thank Ariel for the thoughtful and thought-provoking answers, and also the Reactee team for putting together a great product. I love what you guys are doing, I love the fact that you’re environmentally conscious, and I’m totally excited by all the possibilities that are out there for anyone with a message and a mobile phone.

Posted in Fashion, Geekstuff, Green, Interviews, Social Web, web-based services, web2.0 | 5 Comments »

Matt’s Cuppa LinkRoundup for 7-11-07

Posted by telecommatt on July 11, 2007

Web Analytics and Google

Google Analytics,
is a great, free tool to help you better understand where you traffic
is coming from, what keywords are generating traffic and even how your
landing pages are converting.

Great article on the ins and outs of Google Analytics

OnStar teams with Red Cross for location-based disaster info

OnStar‘s
new Crisis Assist capabilities will not only provide access to
“specially trained crisis advisers” that can contact emergency
responders and provide real-time updates to the situation(s) at hand,
but subscribers that can actually drive away from the disaster will be
routed to the nearest established shelter. Additionally, frantic
customers can be connected
to friends and family that they have listed as close to their heart on
the American Red Cross Safe and Well website, and public safety
officials can be notified of a request for help and track down that
person’s location using OnStar’s embedded GPS.

Uber-Eco-Towers: Top 10 Green Skyscrapers

Green skyscrapers offer so much for the average “EcoGeek” to drool
over. Each one can contain hundreds of innovations that make the world
a cleaner place, they build up, rather than out, and many of them are
freaking gorgeous. Here are the top 10.

Startup Tips Day 6: Sumaya Kazi from TheCulturalConnect.com

Sumaya’s Tips

  1. Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. It can only breed success.
  2. While having a start-up you and everyone else on your core team
    must have a PhD mentality. That is, of course, to be poor, hungry and
    driven.
  3. More often than not, people sit on great ideas. Don’t be one of them.
  4. If you think you can’t do something – you probably can’t. It’s
    those that reach for the impossible that make many more things possible
    happen along the way.
  5. Network like hell. When you’re young and have a start-up, it’s
    important to leverage the connections you’ve made. You’d be surprised
    to see how far you can go when others are just excited about your
    start-up and about your ideas.
  6. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. You might have a great idea today, but will it be the same tomorrow?
  7. Try to maintain enough ambition and energy to achieve your goals,
    but also enough humility to accept the challenges and rejection that
    comes with being an entrepreneur.

Bob Thurman on happiness and becoming Buddha — on TED.com

Amid TEDGlobal’s talk of our global connection and interconnection, it’s a fine time to present Bob Thurman,
Buddhist monk and scholar, on the Buddhist view of the universe. In our
hyperlinked world, we can know anything, anytime. And this mass
enlightenment, says Thurman, is our first step toward becoming Buddha.
When we can know everything, we can see how everything is
interconnected — and we can begin to feel compassion for every living
being. (Recorded December 2006 in New York City. Duration: 12:17) Read Bob Thurman’s profile on TED.com >>

Do-gooders doing Google Earth

The mapping app has become a powerful tool for nonprofits with global messages about saving forests–and lives.

Featured Firefox Extension: Make all web page text interactive with Hyperwords

Who needs environmental monitoring?

We monitor the stock market, the weather, our blood pressure. Yet
environmental monitoring is often criticized as being unscientific,
expensive, and wasteful.

New Green Social Network Is Planting Trees

Green Six will plant 6 trees for every person who signs up for a sneak peek to their beta site.

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Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Consciousness, Entrepeneurism, Environment, Google, Green, LinkRoundup, Technology | 1 Comment »

Don’t Forget Live Earth Tomorrow

Posted by telecommatt on July 6, 2007

Don’t forget to show your support for the Live Earth concert tomorrow. 24 straight hours of music all over the world to help spread the urgent need to act on climate change.

You can watch the concerts live via the MSN Live Earth website.

Live Earth on MSN: The Concerts For A Climate In Crisis

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Posted in Environment, Green | Leave a Comment »

Matt’s Daily Diigo Post 06/27/2007

Posted by telecommatt on June 27, 2007

Playgreen – The wiki on green living Annotated

  • Ah, web2.0, collaboration, and environmental initiative- what a great combination! I swear I’ve bookmarked this already,but Diigo seems to think not.
    – post by telecommatt

Wiki green living!

  • Here, visitors are editors and reviewers
  • Anybody could improve the knowledge
  • Together, we’re building the biggest book on green living

Pownce Annotated

  • Thought this was noteworthy because the downloadable app uses Adobe AIR. If this service could interact with my Gmail address book, I’d be all over it. As it is, I’m sort of tired of having to redundantly enter my friends contact info into each new service I try.
    – post by telecommatt

The software is available right now for Windows and Mac users and will available for Linux soon too. It takes advantage of a new technology from Adobe called AIR, which is super useful.

Web Worker Daily » Blog Archive 4 Ways to Manage Your Personal Stack « Annotated

These days, genius is one percent attention and ninety-nine percent stack management.

  • While this is certainly true today, it was no less true years ago. One of my favorite techniques for productivity comes from the work ethic of one of the great steel magnates. I heard the story so long ago that I’ve forgotten the details , but the message remains imprinted in my mind. Basically, you draw up a list of your top ten things that need to be done. You cross out five. You circle three. And that’s what, at whatever cost, will get done today. If those three are completed, you move on to the rest of the five. If those are completed, you look at the next five, circle three and cross out two and apply the same process until those five are also done. I used this method throughout college, and, while my teachers may not have always agreed, I always felt confident about my priorities. – post by telecommatt

make sure that the less important stuff doesn’t get lost

  • I think that this may be the more difficult piece for many of us today. The sheer volume of information that we are confronted with now is nothing short of overwhelming. And each peice of information is important to the person who shared it with us. It’s a little like having to clear the snow off your sidewalk by classifiying and categorizing each snowflake as it falls. So how do we deal with this? I have over 780 bookmarks on Diigo, and hundreds more articles saved on Google Reader. It’s impossible not to lose some items of relevance. We have to be realistic about that. Another fact that we have to be realistic about is that some items will lose their relevance over time. We may not be abl to prioritize them at the time, but by the time they’ve come to the top of our stack, we’ve missed the opportunity to make them useful. Most of us don’t have a system in place to deal with these items at all. – post by telecommatt

we’ve covered 20 different ways to track them.

  • I think that the most important thing we can do with our list is to start crossing things off. This sounds rather, “Well, duh.” But I can personally attest to how much potentially productive time can go into finding the perfect method for creating and organizing one’s lists. There’s the threat of turning into list-fiends. We sit around endlessly organizing and perfecting our list-making techniques. We become experts on list theory. Our task are meticulously mapped out. But in this mode, we rarely get to actually cross something off one of our lists. Yes, it’s true that you have to find the method that works best for you, but if, in the meantime, you find one that sort of works, start using it! Start doing the stuff and crossing it off! I’m always amazed at how fulfilling it is to cross something off. – post by telecommatt

The goal of the GTD system is simple

  • I am an aspiring GTD’er. Actually, I don’t think anyone has perfected it’s use. I am drawn to it because of it’s simplicity. In particular, I find the use of “contexts” helpful. Contexts refer to where you need to be in order to do some task. Your tasks are assigned contexts- work, home, phone, computer, etc. When you are in a certain context, you look at your lists for tasks that can be accomplished while you are there. This is great because it means that no matter where you are, you can always be doing something that is productive. It really helps you plan your day as well. Knowing that you’ve got X number of things that can only be done in the office tells you how much of your day to devote to being in the office. It’s a killer time saver! – post by telecommatt

I find the tabbed browser interface to be one of the greatest inventions for stack management ever.

  • How did I ever live without a tabbed browser?! If I used tabs in the manner the author does, I’d constantly have at least 17 tabs open. I love tabs because there is certain information that I refer to constantly. The amount of time I have by keeping these open in another tab is huge. And it’s not just websites that you can keep open. You can easily create HTML pages that contain often referred to information or hyperlinks to often used files on your PC. I use Firefox as the central command center for my day, something that would have been impossible before browser tabs. – post by telecommatt

If you know you’re not going to need to work on something for a week or a month, get it out of your inbox and file it away.

  • I actually use Remember the Milk (RTM) for this. RTM is my to-do list manager. Highly recommended, check it out if you haven’t already. With RTM (some others do this as well) you can set a due date for a task. RTM can then send you a reminder before the task is due. For example, I get an SMS message each morning reminding me which tasks are due that day.
    – post by telecommatt
  • I’m surprised that the author does not mention tags as a way to help organize relevant information in your stack. My previously-mentioned 788 Diigo bookmarks would be a complete waste of time if I didn’t apply tags to each bookmark. Tagging makes it easy to filter my information, my stack, for a certain topic. Contexts in the GTD system are another use of tags. I can put together my list of items that need to be done today, but each item is tagged with a context that allows me to structure my day even more efficiently. As you may have guessed, my system relies heavily on tags. What I like about tags is that they allow you to organize your information without physically moving it. Emails, for example, stay in my inbox. If I’ve ever recieved an email, I know that they only place it will be is in my inbox. However, I can find that email easily because I tagged it with an appropriate label. Just like GTD, this approach doesn’t work of everyone, but like GTD, I without my tags I’d be hopelessly, nonproductively lost. – post by telecommatt

Posted in Betas (as in not-the-fish), Green, GTD, Productivity | Leave a Comment »

Greenhouse Gases, Webernets for Green, and the Climate Crisis on YouTube

Posted by telecommatt on May 31, 2007

I’m going through articles that I’ve clipped recently, and thought I’d combine these in a single post. Make sure you hit the link to the second article; there is a ton of good resources to check out.

Poor nations brake greenhouse gas rise: U.N. draft

OSLO (Reuters) – Developing nations that are fast
industrializing, such as China and India, have braked their
rising greenhouse gas emissions by more than the total cuts
demanded of rich nations by the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol.

Putting Web to work for Eco Change

The single most important issue of our time – global warming – is being
empowered by the greatest communication revolution of our day. In other
words, the fight against climate change will be waged by the new tools
of the web — social networks, collaboration software and
community sites.

Climate Crisis, the Happiness Conundrum & the Evolution of Religions: TED Talks on YouTube

Once upon a time we told you about TED Talks,
the annual conference that brings together the world’s
“thought-leaders, movers and shakers.” These talks have been available
on iTunes in both audio (iTunesFeed) and video (iTunesFeed). And now you can apparently find some on YouTube.

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Posted in Environment, Green | Leave a Comment »

More Than Satellites in Jeopardy

Posted by telecommatt on May 21, 2007

U.S. environment satellites in jeopardy: scientists – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Environmental satellites that monitor global warming are in jeopardy because of cost cuts, as military and human spaceflight programs get larger shares of the U.S. budget, a science policy expert said on Wednesday.

This isn’t really “new” news. It’s dated from earlier this month. It’s taken me forever to post this article, because every time I sit down to write, I get  frustrated. The more I reread this article, the more it seems that a major issue is at stake.

“In the overall budget, Congress and the president have so
far reduced domestic spending as the primary way of reducing
the deficit,” Koizumi said by telephone. “And clearly they have
not reduced military spending. In fact it keeps growing,
primarily because the cost of our war keeps increasing …”

Let’s keep cutting money out of these programs that are below the public radar so we can say we reduced the deficit and then look better in the opinion polls. I get irritated that our politics is so focused on short term goals. What about long term investment? Guess what? In order to protect our environment, we’re going to have to spend money! That means taking on some risk. We don’t know if the policies and programs we put in place now will help us regain some control over the human impact on our planet. But we’ve got to allocate money to find out.

I keep thinking back on President Bush’s State of the Union Address.

Tonight I’m proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that
America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered
automobiles.

An investment in hydrogen-fueled vehicles sounds great. It’s easy to sell because people like new, shiny gadgets. But it’s a bit like sowing a shiny new button on an old coat. I’m not saying that new satellites is a better option. I’m saying that we need to be able to see the impact that we are creating. We need to be able to monitor our impact on the environment from as many positions as possible. You get what you pay for. Use outdated, sub par equipment, and you’ll get outdated, sub par results.

To understand where I’m coming from. you’ll have remember that I’m an admitted geek. I’m an information geek. So, let’s put the power of information in perspective. Google keeps the information from every user interaction it generates. Every web search creates data that it stores. It’s been doing this for a long time now. Back when Google first started, it didn’t have a lot of information. It was a (relatively) simple search engine. You fed it a search term, for example, the word “geek.” It gave you some websites about geeks. In the meantime, it went out and crawled over the web looking for websites, so it knew what to give you when you the next time you asked for websites about geeks.

Now let’s fast forward to today. Google has become Google.

It’s spent research money on the best ways to gather information. It uses all the information it’s gathered, not just to tell you websites about geeks, but to tailor it’s actions to suit your unique interests and needs based on what it knows about you. Try doing a search for the word “geeks” now. You get a comprehensive page listing websites, businesses, advertisers that want to be known to geeks. You get pictures, maps, news, and videos all related to geeks. You can even see how long the search took, how many results were found, and you can view your own search history in case there might be something related to a search for “geeks.”

This is the true power of relational information. The more we have, the better we can predict the specific needs of our future world. Can you imagine if we could “google” climate change like this? Can you imagine being that much closer to seeing how every action we take effects the world around us and understand how to stop the effects of actions we have already taken? And that power, that possibility is being taken away from us, so it looks like we did a bit to balance the budget?? Are we really that short sighted?

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Posted in Environment, Green | Leave a Comment »

Green Apples

Posted by telecommatt on May 6, 2007

Apple unveils plans to go greener – Yahoo! News

Apple Inc., responding to criticism from environmental groups, unveiled plans on Wednesday that Chief Executive
Steve Jobs claimed would make the company greener than most of its competitors.
In a message titled, “A Greener Apple,” posted on the company’s Web site, Jobs gave details for the first time of what the company was doing to remove toxic chemicals from its new products and more aggressively recycle old products.

“Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple,” Jobs wrote. “I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas.”

Among the initiatives are Apple’s plans to completely eliminate the use of arsenic in all of its displays, and stop using polyvinyl chloride and brominated flame retardants in its products by the end of 2008.

Admittedly, I’m not a Macaddict, and I have a healthy fear of Steve Jobs, but I am certainly glad that he is directly addressing taking his company to the next greener level. Although Apple is not the only computing company to take on the environment, (See this blog post by Dell’s head of Dell Sustainability.) Jobs is probably one of the most influential figures in the industry right now. When he says “jump,” hopefully more people will say, “How green?”

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Matt’s Daily Diigo Post 04/26/2007

Posted by telecommatt on April 26, 2007

AIGA Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services: Design & Business: AIGA

    » 101 Essential Freelancing Resources

    • Wow! Good stuff here! This going on my “review monthly” list.
       – post by telecommatt

    wcco.com – The Local Wins Award For Most Whiskey Consumption

    • For the record, this has been my favorite pub for years!
       – post by telecommatt

    Environment Podcasts : Page 1 : Podfeed.net

      Posted in Freelancing, Green, Our World | Leave a Comment »