Sunny Mornings on the East Side

This morning I did something I've been needing to do for over a week now, I spent a solid two hours with my dog. Spending time with Rafe (who is four months old now) consists of cleaning up after him, scolding him for gnawing on my hands and arms, coaxing him to walk on a leash, protecting my coffee and face from slobbery kisses, and wrestling with him in the grass over a toy. I woke up to one of those rare mornings in the Pacific Northwest where the early morning sunshine is coming through the window in delicious golden beams, just beckoning me to get outdoors.

Spending time with my dog reminds me to slow down the pace of life sometimes, even on a weekday morning, and put my life and things that generate stress for me into perspective. It used to amaze me that much of a dog's life is spent anticipating the return of its master, but as I steal peeks at Rafe when he doesn't see me watching I actually noticed that he isn't waiting for me - he's doing dog things all by himself like sniffing, playing, and peeing. Ah, the life of a dog.


LiveBlog: Whrrl Tech Talk Tonight [Seattle]

I'll be live blogging the Whrrl tech talk tonight here and on Twitter from BluWater Bistro at Lake Union, starting around 5:30pm. There will be demos of the mobile applications on the iPhone, Blackberry, and others - as well as a demo of the website. There will also be a 20 minute talk from Jeff Holden, CEO of Pelago, on the future of the company and Whrrl.

Not familiar with Whrrl, check out this interview from the SummerMash party from Saturday, which was hosted by Mashable.

*Disclaimer - I work for Pelago, makers of Whrrl - and I'm biased. However, this is not the official company or product blog, and any opinions here are my own. *


Whrrl - DMo Interviews at SummerMash about Whrrl

Check out my interview with Mashable at SummerMash last Friday at Showbox Sodo, talking about Whrrl and our newly released iPhone application. Rate it up - and let me know what you think!

* Disclaimer: This is not the official Whrrl blog. That blog can be found here. *


Are you on Whrrl yet?

What an exciting day it has been for us here at Pelago, as the Apple app store launches on iTunes and people begin to discover Whrrl on their iPhones. I am personally excited because, as some of you already know, I have been without a phone for a couple of months and I will be ditching Verizon tonight and getting myself a brand-spanking-new iPhone 2.0

Come check out Whrrl and friend me! Even if you don't have an iPhone there are lots of other ways to take advantage of Whrrl. Whrrl supports a lot of phones, and if you navigate to m.whrrl.com in your mobile browser you can find out which version to download for yours (it will detect what kind of phone you have). Another option, if you're into texting, is to use SMS with Whrrl. And then there's the "old skool" approach, to use the website.

One reason I love the website (over the mobile and iPhone app) is that it really takes advantage of the screen real estate a larger monitor presents, and gives you a gorgeous map loaded with icons that are relevant to you.

For all the different ways to use Whrrl, I think the filter is just so powerful. The filter I like most is the ability to say "only show me places that are open in 1 hour" so I can make sure a place is still going to be open by the time I get there if I leave shortly, but I don't have to set a certain range of hours. I work on content acquisition so I'm damn proud of the fact that our ability to collect accurate business hours and happy hours is being exposed through this feature. The data team rocks! (just sayin')

And about privacy, because of course people have been talking about stalkers. There is a combination of rational concern about privacy, but also a fair amount of fear mongering and anti-technology talk out there that I have a hard time understanding. In response to the rational concerns, there are robust privacy features that work. Period. To the other people, I don't know what to tell them; I think a good first step is to take a good look at the Whrrl privacy policy and the security settings, because a lot of thought has gone into them. You will find that you completely control who sees your location in Whrrl.

The way I use the privacy settings in Whrrl is pretty simple: I only show my location to people I'd be willing to invite over to my house, and for my "internet friends" I just don't share. It's nice because it basically shows my friends all my other activities (reviews, meetups, notes and stuff) but it just leaves my checkins off their Whrrld feed. As I get to know people better, I can add them to the list of people who can see my location - and my goal is to get more and more people on that list because that means I'm making more and more real world friends. And, for me anyway, that's what this is ultimately about - reconnecting with the real world with the help of technology. That integration between being tech savvy and also having a social life, that seems so elusive sometimes.

* Lil Disclaimer: This isn't the official Whrrl blog or Pelago blog, this is just Danielle Morrill and all the opinions expressed herein are my own. I work for Pelago, the company bringing Whrrl to people everywhere, so I am biased. *


Before You Toss That Out...

I was thinking about some lifehacks yesterday, as I was about to throw out an old disposable electric tooth brush. Here are some ideas about what you should use an otherwise garbage-can-bound item for, before you toss it out.

Disposable Electric Toothbrush - scrub out the sinks, especially detailing around the drains. You'll never have this thing touch your teeth again, but it sure beats scrubbing mildew and grout with the manual type of toothbrush.

Sponges - cut them up into small strips, microwave them (to kill any bacteria) and use them to clean inside of wine glasses, where a normal sponge is just too big.

Cardboard Boxes - flatten them, and create a mat underneath your car to capture any liquids that might drip, including rainwater (which is usually loaded with oil and road grime), and will stain the floor of your garage or driveway.

Cardboard Tube Inside Paper Towel Roll - make your dog's day, give it to him as a toy but make sure to take it away before he decides to eat the mushy goodness. Skip this last step at your own peril.

Have more ideas about how to get just a little more functionality out of everything? Tell me!


What Independence Days Means To Me

One of the dangers of calling today's holiday simply "July Fourth" is that we drop the meaning, often with the result that children (and some adults) forget what is being celebrated. The name "Independence Day" captures the meaning; the day when our country became an independent sovereign nation. There is more to this holiday than parades, barbecues, sunburn, and fireworks.

The principle at stake during the battle for our independence as a nation was independence on the whole, individual independence and rights that make this the most free and greatest country on Earth. In the past few years, it has become frowned upon to be so proud of this fact - and some will try to tell you we are not actually as free as we claim - but in comparison to the rest of the countries in the world, we are the most free. Our freedoms have been infringed upon recently, both by outside attackers and by our own government. While I won't go into that here, I'm not unaware of it.

Washington and Jefferson fought a battle for a principle, and considering how apt people are to rail against principle on principle (how ironic and hypocritical), they fought more than just a battle of might and force - they fought a battle of the mind, for a philosophical principle so crucial to human life that it requires the live-or-death stakes of full out war to defend. These great men fought for our right to live as we see fit, and in turn enforced as the law the moral code requiring that we not infringe on this right in the lives of others. This is so crucial to how we live today in this country, as well as how we influence the countries and individuals in the rest of the world. Understanding independence, and how it makes the United States of America unique, is crucial to understanding the thinking and actions of other nations and individuals.

I'm preaching to the choir, I hope.

So today, I'm celebrating my right to do what I want. I'm drinking white wine, hanging out with my dog, I'm spending money on entertaining and other non-essentials, I'm being anti-social when I want to, and overtly social when I want to. I'm writing about history and philosophy, but I'm also sending vapid status updates into the void via Twitter. I'm working, playing, living and loving in our beautiful house with my beloved husband. There are places in the world today when one or more this simple things is forbidden, and I celebrate the fact that I am not living in one of those places.

I wish all the good people in the world could either live here, or could fight to have their home countries allow them the freedoms that I enjoy. There are a multitude of excellent private charities that support efforts to pursue freedom and justice around the world - but often they fail to correctly evaluate the premises of the culture in these countries, and so money goes to waste because it can't make it past corrupt hands or other barriers. For me, this is one of the most aggravating things of all. Here are in America, with our wealth and awareness of the problems in the world, we often we can't get our dollar to have nearly the impact we would expect it to. I'm always searching for skilled charities, if you know of them please recommend them.