How would you archive your “lifestream”?

Lately, I’ve been on this crazy kick in looking for some sort of lifestreaming software or application. Basically, I (and most likely you — if you’re reading this and one of my internet friends) create a ridiculous amount of data each day. From my tweets, to my foursquare checkins, to my Instagram photos, to uploading things to Flickr, to blogging, to liking videos on YouTube, and sharing articles on Google Reader.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately for one reason: this would make an incredible diary of my life. I’m not the first to think this (just read the Wikipedia article I linked to — people were thinking about this in the 1990’s), but it’s something I’ve found myself becoming obsessed with.

When FriendFeed was announced in 2007, I thought, “this is perfect!” It aggregates data from nearly every web service you can imagine. I happily started plugging things in and letting it archive all my data. It ended up being awesome for a number of reasons.

“Oh, man! What was that thing I tweeted about 2 years ago, about some guy bunting a home run?” Well, Twitter search goes back about 7 days, so that was useless. FriendFeed to the rescue! I could easily search for things I tweeted about (and [website-verb]ed about) from the moment I started importing things.

In August of 2009, Facebook acquired FriendFeed and proceeded to let the site rot. Since then, there’s been no easy way to export your data, and their search function eventually broke, making the site useless for searching archived data. To this day, FriendFeed is happily pulling in everything I do on the internet, but sadly, I have no way to search for it.

Earlier this week, I found a brilliant PHP script by Claudio Cicali. It scrapes your FriendFeed profile and saves all your data to a JSON file.

After accumulating over 3 years of data, I ran the script (which took an entire evening) and it scraped something like 300K different things I’ve done on the internet in the past few years. The resulting JSON file is over 300MB (now I need to work on a way to parse the data and feed it back into a MySQL database). Incredible!

Sadly though, I don’t think this is a tenable solution. It’s great for fetching all my past data, but who knows how long FriendFeed will remain around. I’d like something more permanent, open-source, and that I can potentially run on my own server.

Locker sounds like it may be what I’m looking for, but it still has a ways to go. Momento on the iPhone sounds exactly like what I need, but you need to manually kick it off (and it won’t pull in data too far in the past).

Anyone have any ideas or thoughts on this?

Tech etymology on “GIF”

GIF is a graphics file format that all of us encounter each day while browsing the internet. One problem? The Atlantic takes a look at the word and wonders why no one seems to know how to pronounce it. Is it “gif” or “jif”? I’ve always said “jif.”

So, which is it: GIF like a present or GIF like the lube?

“It’s embarrassing because you don’t know if it’s Mr. Gick or Mr. Jick,” lamented William Labov, a linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania. As Dr. Labov explained, in modern English, no hard and fast rule exists for the ‘gi’ combination. Some words take the hard sound, others take the soft sound — it depends on the word’s specific history. Compare gift and gin, for example — same ‘gi’ combination, different ‘gi’ sound.

The Atlantic has really been nailing it lately and is quickly becoming one of my favorite publications.

Sharing your gadgets


This week, we rolled out a new feature at gdgt that allows users to embed their gadget lists onto their own personal website or blog. It’s a pretty awesome way to show off what gadgets you have or want, and even foster new discussion about the technology you’re passionate in.

We previously had a flash widget (ugh) that was designed by a third party — fortunately or unfortunately, they’re going out of business and shutting their service down. So, the team took it upon themselves and designed our own widget in house. It uses javascript, is completely cross platform, and looks dead sexy!

Check it out!

Where do I go in San Francisco?

heatmap - 2009-12-21.png

Where Do You Go is an interesting mashup that shows the areas you most frequent in a city, using a heat map layed on top of Google Maps. The data is derived from your Foursquare checkins.

The above image represents the areas of San Francisco I most frequent, based on nearly 400 checkins with Foursquare over the last year. Red / white are areas visited the most, while blue / green (and grey) are areas I visit the least or not at all.

This is a pretty fantastic use of one’s geo-location data and it’s something I’ve always been curious about. Just where exactly do I go all the time, and what areas do I frequent. This sort of thing might help plan further adventures to parts of the city that I neglect. I just might have to reinstall Foursquare on my iPhone after all!


Of course, when I do finally reinstall Foursquare, what happens?


Go figure.

What startups are like

One of my coworkers, Sam, just tweeted about this essay on what working for startups is really like. I think it really nails what it’s like and highlights the benefits of working for one.

Some choice quotes:

Unconsciously, everyone expects a startup to be like a job, and that explains most of the surprises.

It’s surprising how much you become consumed by your startup, in that you think about it day and night, but never once does it feel like “work.”

I’m surprised by how much better it feels to be working on something that is challenging and creative, something I believe in, as opposed to the hired-gun stuff I was doing before. I knew it would feel better; what’s surprising is how much better.

Everyone said how determined and resilient you must be, but going through it made me realize that the determination required was still understated.

Read more at What Startups Are Really Like.