Things I Love Thursday

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another TILT (see how nicely that fits into an acronym?) Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. . .

Red velvet cupcakes – specifically the ones Dianne made for me on my birthday. And especially the one in the middle of the picture that she dubbed the Mollie cupcake, thanks to the gravity-defying ratio of cream cheese frosting + sprinkles to actual cake | MC Solaar radio on Pandora | The fact that the In2Books program is starting back up again for the new school year, and the anticipation of meeting my new pen-pal. If you haven’t checked out this great program, where you write back and forth with a kid in an underserved school about the books they’re reading in class, then you definitely should. It’s incredibly fun and fulfilling and only takes 15 minutes a month, if that. Also, it’s just plain good karma | The new season of Mad Men, especially Peggy’s new balls and Joan’s much-deserved new office | Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb perfume, because it smells like heaven and there’s a brand new bottle currently en route to me courtesy of Amazon | Looking forward to the Vegas trip that materialized out of thin air yesterday, and to spending some much needed downtime with two of my best girlfriends | Also looking forward to my little brother’s Bar Mitzvah, which is a little over a week away | Enjoying the fact that my other brother is back, safe and sound, from his dig in Egypt | Finding out from the dermatologist that my skin is all clear, and basking in the self-righteous glow that comes from going to the doctor for annual skin cancer checks and feeling awesome for being so darn proactive about that stuff | Double clicking the home button on my new iPhone and realizing that it makes multitasking even easier (thanks Calvin) | The newly restored full-length version of Metropolis I saw at Cinefamily last night. If you get a chance, it’s definitely worth checking it out at their August screening. It lends a whole new light to an amazing, classic masterpiece of a movie.

WikiLeaks Afghan Diary: Let There Be Light

[Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1L3o9I5N_U%5D

Today, in what Mashable correctly called an unprecedented leak, crusading crowd-sourcer WikiLeaks released what is called the “Afghan War Diary,” a compendium of confidential reports about the Afghan War.

According to WikiLeaks, “The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details...This archive shows the vast range of small tragedies that are almost never reported by the press but which account for the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries resulting from the war.

Now, before we go any further, let it be known that I am an adamant supporter of our troops and an equally adamant questioner of our military. So, while I trust that most of our men and women in uniform are doing what they do with the best intentions and for the right reasons, I certainly don’t extend that trust to the people issuing their orders. Which isn’t to say I think everyone who pulls our military’s strings is necessarily evil or conspiring to commit evil.

It’s just that, having lost someone I loved deeply to a war we didn’t necessarily need to be fighting in Iraq, I’ve also lost the ability to give the folks in charge of our armed services the benefit of the doubt. And, I think that hiding, obscuring or minimizing unsettling facts about an unpopular war strategy is, unfortunately, par for the course in today’s political game. Just count the number of body bags you see coming home from Iraq on the news nowadays. Or the number of reports we read about civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The government may be slow to change, but it’s amazing how quickly it adapted its wartime media relations policies after Vietnam.

Which is why I am a huge supporter of what WikiLeaks is doing in bringing censored stories to the screens of web surfers around the world. And, in trying to expose some of the systematic policies and procedures that make it all too easy for the realities of war to take a buried backseat to the realities of the rose ceremony on tonight’s Bachelorette.

Content like The Afghan War Diary is a huge reason why I’m such a major proponent of an open web and a world where everyone has access to the internet. Like Davis said on Treme, and Justice Lewis Brandeis said before him, “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

Sure, you might not agree with everything about how WikiLeaks does business. But, you certainly can’t argue with their ability to bring some much-needed sunshine down to bear on a war that has been sitting in the shadows of our collective consciousness for far too long.

Calling All Tech Nerds. . .

So, I have this amazing job at a startup website where I get to help create new, exciting features using our massive database and our drag-and-drop listmaking interface. And when I say amazing, I mean ‘it’s sucked up my whole life for the past 2 years but I still love it because of the cool stuff I get to help build.’

And speaking of cool stuff, this week, we officially launched our coolest feature to date – Community Lists. Community Lists are lists anyone can contribute to. All contributions to these lists are aggregated together, to create a real-time ranking that reflects the collective opinion of the entire community. In short, they’re pretty freakin’ awesome.

We’ve got a bunch of great tech lists open for voting now. So this is your official cue to stop reading this blog, click on one of the links below and get ranking already!

Essential Software/Apps We Can’t Live Without

The Best Tech/Social Media Bloggers On The Web

Companies With The Worst Customer Service

The Most Retweetable People On Twitter

The Most Innovative Software Developers In The World

Things I Love Thursday…Belatedly

I know, I know. I just started doing Things I Love Thursday last week and I’m already falling behind on them. But, I so enjoyed doing it last week and I so want to keep on doing it that I’m just going to do yesterday’s today. Better late than never, right?

So close your eyes, pretend it’s Thursday and then open them and read this week’s edition of Things I Love Thursday…belatedly.

The gorgeous clouds that keep rolling by my office in the evenings | My oh-so-fabulous new Twittabling necklace, which says @mollierosev in shiny silver and is officially the coolest techcessory since indestructible bracelets | The best friend who bought me my oh-so-fabulous Twittabling necklace as an early birthday present | Finally having some warm, sunny, summer weather in LA | The fact that my little brother is home, safe and sound, after his month in Egypt | The mani/pedi at Happy Nails, and particularly the way the hot lotion treatment seems to absolve all stiletto sins I may have committed against my feet during the week | Trader Joe’s Hawaiian Style Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips…salty, sour and a little sweet make for the perfect snack as far as I’m concerned | cold Sam Adams Light on a hot, hot day | The True Blood books – trashier (jn a good way), sexier, funnier and (dare I say, better) than the show & that says a lot coming from an avowed fan of all things Alexander Skarsgard | Artichokes – pretty much everything is better when artichokes are involved  | The fact that my Relay For Life team walked the entire 24 hours without fail, making us one of the few teams to pull it off & proving once again how truly awesome my friends are | Passion Pit radio on Pandora | Gluten Free Girl – between the mouthwatering photos and the breathtaking writing, this is one of my favorite food blogs on the web…and I’m not even gluten free | Finally having Community Lists live on Ranker & watching them grow as people come together to collectively rank everything from the best beers to the most life-changing books of all time. Yeah, that was shamelessly self-promotional, but I gotta say, few things this week have come close to being as cool as the amazing feeling that comes from finally seeing a product you poured your heart and soul into being used – and enjoyed – by real, live people.

Open Web, Open Social, Open ID, Open Graph: Definitions & Explanations

This post originally appeared on the Girls in Tech blog

Open – it’s a web buzzword so buzzy you can practically see the vuvuzelas flaring behind it. But, what does it really mean? And, why does everyone care so much?

But first, a little background. Most websites run like their own unique countries. They have specific rules, structures and languages in place to help the site communicate with its users, with its databases, with its developers, etc.  Because every site operates differently, it’s been historically difficult for programmers to create sites that can clearly communicate with each other in an efficient manner. That’s where the API – or application programming interface – comes in. To really simplify things, an API is like an interpreter that allows different sets of site code to communicate with one another coherently and consistently.

The past few years have really seen the rise of the API as an important part of a site’s structure, and as a major selling point for companies like Facebook and Twitter, whose API’s have allowed them to become more than just stand-alone websites. Thanks to API’s, these sites are now more like platforms, from which other developers can draw on the site’s databases and core functionality to create new features, programs and applications. They also allow sites to use information about the entire breadth of a user’s internet use – from the music you like on Pandora being promoted on your Facebook page to the friends you chat with on Gmail getting automatically loaded into your LinkedIn address book. And that’s where the whole open web thing comes into play.

The open web is basically a movement to standardize certain practices across the web, and to share data between developers and the sites they work for. It’s being heavily promoted by groups like the Open Web Foundation, who works to foster communication and collaboration across the web. But, it’s more conceptual than concrete.

Open Social, OpenID and the Facebook Open Graph are all concrete, code-based examples of the movement towards making the web more open.

Open Social, which was developed by Google and MySpace with help from various other partners,  is basically a set of APIs that allow users to sign in and share with one ID across sites that have implemented the OpenSocial code. Facebook’s Open Graph allows users to use their Facebook login information and data across a network of partner sites, and send and share content between their Facebook profiles and their profiles on these partner platforms.

Similarly, OpenID provides users with a single username and password, which can then be used across a variety of sites, including LiveJournal, Google and Yahoo. And, services like OAuth, which Twitter uses,  use the same sort of concept to allow users to give a single set of sign-in information for multiple sites – often with some restrictions on what kinds of data the sites you sign in to using those credentials can get access to.

These are all examples of a single service trying to make it easier for a user to take their login information, personal data and any content they’ve created or shared from site to site across the web. But, that’s not where this story ends. Now that so many of these services exist, there’s a bit of a battle going on to see if any one service can become the standard for everything social and shared across the web.

If any one service can stand out as the single place for users to get login credentials, store their data and share their content from, then the company behind it will have all sorts of power and influence on the internets. Not to mention major monetization opportunities, and unmatched access to all sorts of interesting information about pretty much every person who uses the web. Forget that silly little ring. On today’s web, it’s all about one registration to rule them all.

Of course, it’s not all as big brother as it sounds. In fact, these open web services are responsible for some of the coolest cross-site mashups and mobile apps around, and giving sites the ability to easily communicate with one another and share information across the internet is a surefire way to guarantee even more amazing innovations in years to come – and to save developers a whole lot of money on the Aspirin required to cope with the dizzying array of different standards and systems on the web today.

At this point, only time will tell how all of the new open web standards and services shake out. All I can say for sure is that it’s a really interesting time to be a web user – not to mention someone who works on the web.

And that, my friends, is what all the buzz is about.

USB Wedding Ring: Geekdorable

The USB drive – a symbol of security, portability and the kind of comfort you can only get from knowing that even if the whole world comes crashing down on you, you can still restore your most important files.  It’s actually a pretty apt metaphor for what you (or at least, I) would want out of a marriage. Which is why it warmed my little geek heart to see that someone actually gave their husband this USB drive ring to seal their wedding vows with.

According to Mashable, the geektastic groom is none other than a Software Development Engineer for Microsoft Game Studios. And, the ring is engraved with “For A Lifetime Of Memories”, to reference the USB drive’s storage capabilities. So, even though the drive doesn’t actually work when it comes to holding your files, it does totally work as a symbol of the love between a woman and her geek.

All together now. . . .

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Computational Journalism: One Small Step For Computers, One Giant Leap For Flesh And Blood Journalists

Today, Mashable ran an article titled Can Robots Run the News?, detailing a new program created at Northwestern (ironically, the university where my mother studied journalism) to automatically create complete sports articles — stats, quotes and all.

Of course, the article then delves deeper into what’s called computational journalism – the practice of using robots and algorithms to find, compile, headline and edit news articles. And, even though everyone from HuffPo to the Washington Post automates a certain part of their content, the conclusion was that real, live, flesh-and-blood writers and editors are still needed to contextualize all of that automatically-generated information.

So, like with most things in the wide world of the world wide web, this particular breakthrough proves to be one small step for the machines, one more giant argument in favor of maintaining  at least a small staff of humans to run them. Looks like Hal won’t be getting his very own byline after all – at least not all by himself.

Things I Love Thursday

In the grand tradition of the internets, I’m totally cribbing a great idea from someone else and starting my very own ‘things I love Thursday’ – inspired by the weekly roundup from one of my favorite blogs, Sarah Townsend-Smith’s The One In Pink. Every week, Sarah lists her favorite things of the moment, and every week, I find something interesting and inspiring on her list. Here’s hoping mine can do the concept justice…

Jolene Radio on Pandora: I harbor a secret obsession for all things country, particularly the really bluesy old-school stuff. And, Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Blame it on my Brooklyn-raised dad’s inexplicable love for all things Charlie Daniels. Anyway, this station has some great stuff from Patsy Cline, The Band, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams and – of course – the inimitable miss Dolly. It’s great music to work to. Even if it does make me crave a cold beer and a hot cowboy something fierce.

Apartment Therapy: There are two types of internet porn that I can’t get enough of. Food blogs and decorating sites. Even though I have a serious lack of the space – and savings – required to properly put any of the decorating inspirations I find online into my actual apartment at this point, I still love to look. It’s part voyeurism, part appreciation for the unique aesthetics of designing something that’s both functional and deeply personal. I’ve always been a design buff, but as I get older, I find myself more and more inspired by the domestic – shiny appliances, creative couches, daring decor, etc. Apartment Therapy satisfies both my voyeuristic eye and my aesthetic one. It’s chock full of unique house tours, cool furniture finds and creative tips — some of which even I, with my shoebox of an apartment, can use.

Words With Friends: I’m a huge Scrabble nerd. My family and I play every time we get together, and we take it incredibly seriously. Well, my dad and I do. Everyone else kind of just rolls their eyes and puts up with us. But, as far as I’m concerned, Scrabble is pretty much the best pastime ever invented. There are few things that top the feeling of laying down that perfect 82-point, game-winning word (it was blizzard, by the way) — at least in my humble opinion. That’s why I’m obsessed with Words With Friends – an iPhone app that lets you play ongoing Scrabble games with your friends. While I was waiting in line to grab my lunch today, I laid down an 81-pointer that brought me back from the brink of defeat and brought the badassness of my lunch hour up by at least 81%.

And a few more. . .The smell of a foggy morning and how it reminds me of June gloom by the beach in Malibu | Packing up all the magazines I haven’t had time to read so I can finally get to them during Relay For Life this weekend | Jalapeno & asiago bagels with feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, olive oil and oregano from the coffee shop downstairs | The grill that my neighbor just rehabbed and the fact that when he cooks in front of my apartment, the whole place smells like summer | Having an air purifier to get rid of the grill smell when I’m tired of it | Pretty much everything about my iPhone 4 | Color coordinating my closet (yeah, I’m an anal retentive freak) | Being proud of being an anal retentive freak | Making plans with the new friends I made while waiting in line for my new iPhone | Thursday evening hikes with one of my best childhood friends | This whole Things I Love Thursday concept & having a chance to remind myself of all the little things that I have to be happy about every week.

BlueGlass LA: Get 10% Off Tickets With Girls In Tech Discount

This was originally posted on the Girls in Tech blog.

BlueGlass LA is a unique opportunity to network with, and learn from, some of the top names in search marketing, social media and entrepreneurship. It’s also a great excuse to spend some time in gorgeous Marina Del Rey, and it’s already shaping up to be one of the summer’s premiere industry events.

Speakers include: Ben Huh (Cheezburger Network), Neil Patel (KissMetrics), Dave McClure (Angel Investor), Marshall Simmonds (NY Times), Jason Nazar (DocStoc), Vanessa Fox (Nine by Blue), Jessica Bowman (SEM InHouse), Greg Boser (3 Dog Media), Todd Friesen (Position Technologies), David Szetela (Clix Marketing), Melanie Mitchell (Digitas), Adam Audette (Audette Media), Andy Liu (Buddy TV), Michael Brito (Edelman Digital), Lawrence Coburn (Rate It All), Micah Baldwin (Graphic.ly), Rand Fishkin (SEOMoz) and David Roth (Yahoo!).

The conference starts at 8am on July 19 at the Marina Del Rey Mariott, and it goes until 5pm on July 20. Sessions will focus on SEO, social media marketing, entrepreneurship, raising money from angels & VC partnerships, link building, InHouse SEO and much much more.

Between the amazing speakers and the incredible networking opportunities, this is one conference you can’t afford to miss. And, fortunately for Girls in Tech members, it also happens to be a lot more affordable, thanks to a generous 10% discount on tickets with the code gitbgla.