Pipes by Yahoo!

I’ll put this really simply.

I think Yahoo! Pipes is one of the most revolutionary applications of the internet since the world wide web was invented in 1993.

I’ve had a bash – and failed miserably – but the way I can see this thing developing is just so amazingly powerful. Here’s just some really dumb, topline and basic ideas:

  • PIPE: send me a text message/email saying “Take an umbrella today” if the forecast on the BOM website predicts rain
  • PIPE: scour the thousands of photo websites in the world and bring up hi-res pictures of “London” + “bombings”
  • PIPE: find all references to the word “Juventus” in any language on major news sites around the world, translate them into English and send them to me
  • PIPE: if the keyword “Costello” appears in any of the following shows, save the transcripts from A Current Affair, 60 Minutes, AM, PM and The World Today websites and send them to my inbox on a weekly basis
  • PIPE: scour all the social networking websites such as MySpace, bebo, Flickr, etc for phrases such as “Microsoft” + “sucks” and send me the results
  • PIPE: Get pricing feeds from Amazon.com, Borders.com, etc and notify me when books about Military History are discounted by more than 60%. Or search for an item on ebay within a particular price range, with the results automatically sent to you: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=avkEShi32xG_EF6KZVUMqA
  • PIPE: Get the addresses of 7-Eleven stores, place the locations on Google maps, giving me a visual representation of their coverage
  • PIPE: Looking to travel overseas? Enter the name of the place and it will find 10 of the most recent photos, blog posts and news articles on the place, including travel prices to get there from home from a travel website such as travel.com.au, Travelocity or zuji
  • PIPE: Grab the URLs from a particular site and automatically save them to my Bookmarks feed on Netvibes

PIPES, whether the Yahoo version or an eventual Apple – widget based, easy to use, automated, rule based (or even artificial intelligence-based) mashup of RSS feeds version, WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE USE THE INTERNET.

Typography

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer, was trained in typography. As was Tony Martin, Australia’s best comedian / radio host / film maker / film buff.

Who else?

What is it about typography that enhances lateral thinking and creativity? Or is it just a fluke these two very creative people trained in the same field? Or is it that creative people gravitate to typography, not that typography creates creative people?

Could it be the restrictions of shape, design and layout which hones the brain into looking for another solution – one which is creative and attractive but above all, readable? In other words, make it kooky, and you’ve got to make it simple.

That’s what all good creativity is about, no?

School Ties

Driving through the leafy suburban streets of Balwyn a few weeks ago, I was struck by the number of real estate boards outside homes which had a strange little logo on them “In the Balwyn High School Zone”. Balwyn High, a state school, is one of the best performed schools in Australia based on VCE results.

Every year, the results figures come out and Balwyn High ranks as highly (if not higher) as some of the “established” public schools such as Melbourne Grammar, Scotch College, Geelong Grammer and Mount Scopus. To get into those schools, parents must pay extraordinary school fees. However, to be able to attend Balwyn High (a “free” state school), you must simply live in the “Balwyn High zone”, hence why living in the zone is such a unique and attractive selling point for local properties. Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist, has written an excellent piece on the interesting distortions this places on the local real estate market and the resources of the school.

In essence, he highlights how odd the system is whereby parents pay for their children’s education by paying more for real estate in that area rather than paying less for real estate and paying more to the school itself. They are basically paying the same amount for their children’s education as those parents who choose to send their kids to a public school – however the school gets none of the benefits – the extra “fees” go to the previous landowner!

Another argument for the voucher system?

Borders is in trouble. Not good.

The Australian arm of the fantastic chain of bookstores, Borders, is being put up for sale by its US parent company.

The US company is deep financial troubles and is selling off assets and concentrating on domestic businesses. Let’s hope the excellent service, range and strategy of Borders continues in Australia and it is not split up or dissolved in the event of a botched sale.

The key issue here is – as always – digital channels will evolve quicker than physical ones. While content stays the same: Text, Audio, Video and Images, channels are the things that change – and will change quicker as the digital revolution gathers pace.

With digitisation, we’ll see items of much larger file sizes being downloaded, until such time as the entire world moves from atoms to bits. There may be a time when Star Trek-style “replicators” create items around us, when virtual reality drives a mix of physical and digital.

Exciting times ahead; I’m not sure how Borders will cope. The printed book as a channel may have an enduring lifespan. Let’s hope it does.

No bread for (red)

Have I mentioned this before?

What % of charity money goes to the people in need?

They’ve tried to diffuse it with this. Lame rebuttal. (red) is like many other major charities – a rort, a joke, and a means for people to feel like they’re doing something positive when in fact they’re feathering someone’s opulent nest.

I’ll ask this question until I’m blue in the face: “What % of charity money actually goes to the people in need?”

Bring on genuine, capitalistic microcredit. It’ll bring millions out of poverty in a flash.

Conservatory Hotel – Sydney: Do not stay there

It’s patently clear. Do not stay at the Observatory Hotel in Sydney unless you want news of your most intimate moments splashed all over the newspapers. Rowan Atkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Metallica – all exposed in this piece.

What ever happened to discretion? What a disgrace – those media hungry staff, looking for their 15 minutes of fame by talking about the celebs that stay there, should be sacked!

An Inconvenient Quote

Ayn Rand’s testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee on October 20, 1947:

She opined that filmmakers were adopting “the theory of the Nazi elite – that a choice group of intellectual or other leaders will tell the people lies for their own good”.

I’m beginning to see this everywhere, especially from our friends on the left.

More front than Myer

There is talk that Myer is selling its Londsale Street real estate and will be shifting out of the building.

It will retain the Bourke Street store which faces the Mall, but sell the landmark original store in Lonsdale Street. The famous Australian saying – “More front than Myer”, referring to a person who has more front, more bravado and chutzpah than the massive frontage of the Myer store on Lonsdale – will have Buckley’s chance of remaining in the Aussie lexicon. 😉