June 28th, 2007

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Oh, you mean *those* muscles...

For months now, I've been using the elliptical semi-regularly, and I've gotten almost casual about it. It raises a good sweat, but it doesn't affect my breathing or anything much. Which would make one think that my cardio condition is pretty good. But that's at odds with what I've observed in real-world cases, especially the few times I've tried swinging a sword or something.

So this week's experiment is to try really using the *arms* on the elliptical. I've tended to treat the thing as a low-impact treadmill, running with my legs but having my arms just along for the ride. Now, I'm trying to actually use my arms to move the thing. As it turns out, that kicks my butt remarkably fast. I can "run" on the thing for 4.5 miles easily, at a steady pace, but it only takes about 30 seconds of real arm pushing to tire me right out and get me breathing hard. And now, a couple of hours later, my upper arms are still remarkably tired.

Which is actually fine. I'd kind of hit a rut with the elliptical -- still making progress on the running side, but very slowly, and it was getting a little easy. By switching to arm-focused regularly, though, I kick it back up to being a *really* serious workout. For the moment, just 30-60 seconds of that is enough to wipe me out enough that I have to slow to a modest jog for several minutes, so it's clear that this is a fair way to keep pushing on the cardio front. And it's probably going to improve my wretched upper body strength, a necessity if I'm to be anything more than a tentpeg with sword-and-board...
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Things the world needs, #4938

The heck with being able to share bookmarks between machines -- I want to be able to share my bloody *dictionary*. I confess, this business of having to add "Pennsic" to the dictionary in every program on every computer I use gets old after a while. (Yes, yes -- I could just ignore the red underlines. But the pedant in me sees that blood-red mark with real pain.)

Really, it would be pretty easy to write an online system that lets you define your personal dictionary extensions, and that maybe even allows you to share them with friends. The only tricky part is getting programs to make use of it. Might make a good Firefox extension to start with, though...
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Hmm. Y'know, that's kind of interesting...

Here's a more serious project -- heck, maybe even a business in the vague Web 2.0 business sense. (That is, I'm not sure it has a real business plan, but I bet I could get a million bucks in seed capital to explore it.) It's inspired by my previous posting, a few minutes ago.

Generic socially-shared data. There are a bunch of sites that are about sharing a very specific kind of thing, usually in a fairly restricted way. del.icio.us lets you share bookmarks; Digg lets you share links; etc. But what I'm thinking here is a system that has a general DB architecture at its heart, rather than a specific app. The system lets you pull in flists from all your various social networks, as a number of current projects do, but goes further: it establishes data sharing among those social networks. The members of the service can define data types more or less at will; you can choose to define whatever data you want within those data types, and automatically share them with all of your friends.

So the online dictionary I described a few minutes ago would be a special case of this. There would be a dictionary-word schema, and a Firefox plugin. The plugin talks to the APIs of the service, letting you add and query for words. All of your machines could share this dictionary, as could all of your friends. Between us, my flist would probably have every bit of SCA jargon defined in that shared dictionary in about three days.

Basically, it's a conceptual mashup between the new meta-social-network tools people are working on, and GoogleBase. No idea what other kinds of apps it would be used for, but I'd bet that a hundred could be thought up in reasonably short order, especially if you combined it with a mechanism for building sites based on that data. And I have no idea at all how to monetize the damned thing, but that doesn't seem to be stopping people with interesting ideas at the moment. Rather neat -- I'll have to stick that onto my "to explore" list...