Heck, last night I was trying to use Anagram to see if I could easily save contact info from Facebook into Outlook. It wasn’t working. Turns out that it’s very hard to get data OUT of Facebook. (Anagram is a cool utility to grab emails, Web addresses, and other info off of emails and Web pages and add them to Outlook’s contact manager).
First, he notes that Facebook isn't terribly open - data goes in, and it doesn't come back out. You're left with the screen scraping kind of access that Jon Udell has written about so often. He then goes on to still call it open:
Look at how that cool new Google Reader app works inside Facebook. Data comes in, but it doesn’t leave.
That leads me to why Facebook is cool and AOL wasn’t. Facebook is somewhat open where AOL wasn’t open at all. Facebook is evolving rapidly because they opened up to third-party developers where AOL didn’t open up to third-party developers.
By that token, any proprietary application is "open" if third parties can write software for it. I think I'm still confused :)
Add that component to your own Facebook Profile and hook it up to YOUR OWN Google Reader shared page (I call it a link blog, but Google calls them “Shared Items.”). If you do, you’ll see a page that lets you see your shared items, your friends’ shared items, and top shared items. Wait a second, top shared items? Yeah! But only from other Facebookers. It shows you top items for the past 12 hours, or 24 hours, or 48 hours, or the past week. And it shows how many times each item was shared.
Here's the part I find fascinating: 10 years ago, there were walled gardens like Facebook that had a lot of members - AOL (and its pre-internet brethren) that had made the jump to the web. There were even primitive social software applications - recall that AIM was initially an AOL only thing.
The nascent "web community" did nothing but talk smack about it. Yet here we are, a decade later - and Facebook is more or less "AOL 2.0". Sure, it's opened itself up to application developers more, but that has more to do with current "fashion" than with anything else.
So here's my question: why was AOL looked down on, and Facebook is admired? Is it as simple as "all the cool kids like Facebook" ?
Well, I stayed up late playing Civ IV, and there in my mailbox when I finished was a Pownce invite. I have a few left, so if you're curious about it, send me a request and I'll drop an invite. It's a lot like Twitter, but without an API (yet - supposedly one is coming). Until then, it's more or less a semi-closed beta.
Still - I'll keep my eyes on it and see what develops.
I could go extra negative on Vista, but it's useful to remember that XP wasn't fully "baked" until service pack 2. Vista has only been out for 6 months - so the sorts of driver issues mentioned in the linked article really aren't much of a surprise.
Update: I'm promoting this from the comments, as I've said things very much like this about Vista before. It's no accident that I'm running XP in Parallels on this Mac :)
I think that when Vista went back for a rewrite, they canceled anything new and concentrated on pleasing the media companies. They should have concentrated on pleasing the user and owner of the computer instead.
Time for my weekly look at the logs - BottomFeeder downloads went at a rate of 227/day, which isn't bad. The details:
Next, the HTML stats - Mozilla still rules those, and my raw traffic bounced back after the holiday week:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
The syndication usage continues to rise, and IE access to it is staying high:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||4.5%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.8%|
If you like Harry Potter and Dr. Who, then pay attention to tonight's episode - there's a Potter reference in a very appropriate spot :)
I see it's Continental Airlines turn to play "let's create a stupidity driven PR event". Here's what seems to have happened: a long delayed (weather) flight finally taxis for takeoff, and a toddler sees a plane out the window - and starts saying "Bye Bye Plane" - over and over again.
Yeah sure - after the 20th time or so, I'm sure that got annoying. However, it didn't justify what one of the flight attendants did - ask the mom to shut the kid up, and then, when the mother refused to give the kid something to knock him out, claimed that the woman had threatened her as a way of getting the Captain to turn the plane around:
"She put her hand on her hip and informed everyone that it was her plane and she was not going to listen to it. And she then went to the flight attendant station, was there for a few minutes, came back and informed the cabin that we were turning around. And she looked at me and said, 'You and your baby are getting off the plane.' And we did, we turned around and security came and escorted my child and me off the plane."
That was bad enough, but a prompt apology from management would have put this to rest. But no - management pulled the stupid pills out, and issued this statement:
A spokeswoman for Express Jet Airlines told 11Alive News that due to potential litigation over the incident, the company would have no comment other than this statement: "We received Ms. Penland's letter expressing her concerns and intend to investigate its contents."
I'll say it again: pushing lawyers out to do PR work is a really, really stupid idea. This makes the airline look like a set of callous idiots, and ensures that the matter will roll forward towards a lawsuit. An apology would almost certainly have ended the matter. Sure - the pet theory is that an apology is an opening to legal damage, but this kind of response is an invitation to ridicule - and it does nothing to stop the possibility of a lawsuit anyway.
Instead of looking at everything through the lens of legal risk, it's long past time for companies to look at things through the "how would I want to be treated" lens.
Readers of this blog know that I read a lot of history, so imagine my astonishment at this news: Britain is dropping a bunch of prominent figures as required parts of the curriculum:
Britain's World War II prime minister Winston Churchill has been cut from a list of key historical figures recommended for teaching in English secondary schools, a government agency says.
It doesn't stop there:
But although Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and Martin Luther King have also been dropped from the detailed guidance accompanying the curriculum, Sir Winston's exclusion is likely to leave traditionalists aghast.
This is fairly stupid. I can't even tell why they think this is a good idea. They claim to be giving teachers "more flexibility" in covering history; how do you propose to cover the 1930-1950 era without mentioning those people?
Wired has today's "too simple to believe" criminal story:
A Pennsylvania thief uses a default master passcode to get extra cash from a grocery store ATM machine. Police are baffled but Threat Level readers have an idea.
You'll love this: the passcode was "123456", and the manual detailing that fact is on the web.
Matthew Yglesias has a nice comparison on computers "back in the day" and now:
it seems that back in 1982, James Fallows paid $4,000 for his computer featuring 64k of RAM plus another $800 for a floppy disk drive. According to the handy CPI calculator on the BLS website, $4,800 in 1982 is equivalent to a bit over $10,000 in today's money.
Naturally, I had no choice but to scroll over to the Apple Store and see how much computer I could get for $10,000. Well, I got myself a Mac Pro with two 3.0 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon processors, 8 gigs of RAM, four 750 gig hard drives, two Super Drives capable of reading and writing CDs and DVDs, a 30 inch Apple HD Cinema Display, a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse. That comes to $9,449.
I remember spending $3000 on a 386 DOS box with a 40 MB HD back in the late 80's. In this realm, there's no denying that things have improved a lot.
SCI FI Wire has an interesting window into the thought process of the movie industry:
Looking for the next Harry Potter-like franchise, Warner Brothers on July 11 announced that it has acquired the film rights to Septimus Heap, a seven-book series filled with wizards and spells, while Relativity Media unveiled its acquisition of Tunnels, another British children's fantasy series, Variety reported.
You can almost see the gears turning: "7 books, magic, written by a British author: we can't miss!". The same kind of herd following happens in software - why do you think that there's always a "mainstream" set of development languages, and everything else is a niche operation, for instance?
The thing is, just because someone had success with X - a storyline, a software tool, a business plan - doesn't mean that you'll be able to succeed with something that's a close match to it. For one thing, the circumstances that led to the initial success probably aren't the same, even if all the superficial tools are.
Technorati Tags: movies
Scoble is calling for the same thing on Facebook that I've seen lots of marketers yearn for: ads that are more tightly tied to the specific person or thing you're looking at:
Imagine if advertisers could “buy people.” I just clicked on Ryan’s profile, hes into Running and Golf. Why don’t ads for running and golf gear get put onto his profile? Wouldn’t that make sense? He’s also a software developer. Where’s the Visual Studio advertisement? He’s into video games. Where’s the Halo 3 advertisement? Translation: Facebook needs an advertising platform and it needs one in the worst way. I’m not going to even look at the ads until the ads are tied to the people on Facebook. Facebook knows what we’re into, put ads for those things onto our profiles and messages.
There are some obvious issues (like the periodically hilarious contextual ads you get from Google), but there's a deeper one as well: make this suggestion in a group full of non-developers and non-marketers. Now, watch the reaction and you'll see what I'm on about.
If stupid has an address, it's at RIAA HQ. They are letting the copyright board go forward with the new internet charge rates, which will simply kill most of internet radio. Via CNET:
Barring a last-minute industry compromise on changes, new royalty rates that Internet radio operators argue could cripple their services are slated to kick in Sunday.
This s one of those fascinating disconnects between fantasy and reality. The RIAA apparently believes that (insert huge amount of money here) is available for the taking from internet radio. What they don't realize is that the actual amount of money available is (insert much smaller value here), and that the effect of these rules will be something like (insert zero here).
I guess they skipped the section of elementary school math where they explained magnitude.
No day starts well when you have a surprise phone conference at 8 AM. Through some glitch of our email system, I got the message about it at 4 AM (amazing - I wasn't awake for it :) ). So there I was, getting coffee and breakfast (and getting ready to take my daughter to drama camp) with my phone ringing. The first time, I figured "let it go to voice mail". The second time, I was still groggy, so I had the same thought.
Then it switched to my cell phone, so I figured I'd pick up. One groggy conversation later, and I was on a conference call with a customer. I hope I sounded more awake than I felt. t didn't help that Windows updated itself last night, so I had to wait for it to start up before I could access an email with crucial information.
Man, I need more coffee :)
I just got back from the latest Potter flick - "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phenix". I loved it - good pacing, and the story line with the Ministry of Magic's "head in the sand" reaction was perfect. My wife and daughter both that the woman who played "The Trunchbull" in "Mathilda" would have made a better weasel than the actress who played that role, but I thought she was quite good.
Anyway - well worth seeing.
I'll be offline for a bit, as I'm headed out to see the new Potter flick with the family. I'll have more to say after I see it :)
Looks like Microsoft understands that Nintendo has hit the sweet spot with the Wii - check out their stance at E3:
As Microsoft executives played down the impact of an extensive repair program for defective Xbox 360 game machines, they announced several efforts to broaden the appeal of their machine to families.
As I posted last week, it sounds to me like they're on top of the defect problem. With this, it sounds like they know where they have to go to broaden their appeal: which means that the next generation XBox will probably be a very interesting piece of equipment.
Scoble explains why he stopped using ICQ:
Why? Everytime I start it up I get a flurry of messages. Unlike Twitter IM has an expectation that you’ll answer it sometime soon. But that’s my problem and I’m an outlier. So why did everyone else stop using ICQ? It got too cluttered and stopped being developed. In 1996 it seemed like there was a new feature every few days. At some point after 2001 it stopped seeing radical improvements.
That really wasn't my problem. My problem was a lot simpler: spam requests for chat. As I recall things, ICQ got flooded with that kind of thing - I'd bring up the client, and I'd get tons of pr0n messages fired at me. I get one or two a month like that on skype, and virtually none on AIM. That's the thing that drove me off ICQ.
PR Differently has a good post up on corporate attire. Now, I'm kind of an odd one to be agreeing with him - I spent much of my career raging against "proper" attire. There comes a point where you have to decide something simple though:
Do you want to tilt at windmills, or do you want to be taken seriously?
I figured that being taken seriously made a lot more sense. It seems that this is a lesson that many people have to learn for themselves, though. From USA Today, a woman who was yanked from a meeting for dressing too casually said:
"Each generation seems to have a different idea of what is acceptable in the workplace, and in this situation I was highly offended," says Cohen, who works at a marketing firm in Philadelphia. "I was actually not allowed to attend a meeting because my attire was deemed 'inappropriate.' People my age are taught to express themselves, and saying something negative about someone's fashion is saying something negative about them."
Well, yes - it is a negative comment on you, just like it was a negative comment on me when I dressed down for meetings. You can imagine that it's a "rugged demonstration of individuality" all you want, but everyone else in the meeting is thinking "what a moron". It took me way too long to figure that out.
The latest dev build has been stable for a couple of weeks now, so I'm releasing it as BottomFeeder 4.4. What's new? With some advice from Michael Lucas-Smith, and a ton of help from Rich Demers (including updated Doc), here's a summary:
Changes from version 4.3
- Eliminated Feedlists folder. Importing a feedlist now adds feeds directly to your subscription list
- Eliminated the separate "Searches" folder. Search feeds are now part of your subscription list, and are marked with a new icon
- Tabs now open empty, and remember their previous state
- Newspaper view is now a mode, not a feed setting
- Simplified the context menus for the item and HTML panes
- Added an item level toolbar with common item functions
- Simplified the main toolbar and menu
- Simplified the context menus for feeds and folders
- Feeds that redirect on initial add (i.e., FeedBurner) now follow the redirect on initial add
- The Enclosure Manager is now shipped as a standard plugin
- An updated Pongo (MSN) client is included with this build
- Simplified settings. The text file can still be edited by advanced users
- "Subscriptions" folder is now renamed "My Feeds"
- Filters can be built to either filter in matches, or filter out matches
- Many other bug fixes
I'm sure there will be updates along the way, but things look good for now.
After yesterday's excitement, this sort of thing just upsets me more: you too can make the world just a little worse for just $19.99. Via Darren Rowse (I won't link to the SEO twerps directly), we find this:
Blog comments help your site rank better in the SERPs. We hired a few people who go through a list of blogs in a database we set up and pick out blogs that are in your niche. They then read through blog posts and leave a comment that has to do with the blog post they read, that way it wont get deleted. Your backlink will then be on a targeted blog, giving you more weight in the search engines.
This is how you end up with "related" comments that say "great site, thanks for the information" - and then link over to pharmaceuticals. I think Glenn Reynolds has the proper level of contempt for these guys.
Eric Bowers takes us back to the dawn of OO:
Well, I finally got several gigs of the smalltalk/xerox alto disk image archives uploaded to my host. It will be a few days before I get the links posted to my site.
I really like the new MacBook, but there are a couple of things that are bothersome - and interestingly enough, they both involve the power. First: yes, the magsafe power adaptor is cool. However, it's not compatible with anything else, so I had to buy a new plane adaptor. My old iGo supply is just a brick now. Second: Why does the plug have to be on the brick itself? Was there some odd desire to take up as much space as possible in the power strip?
Update: Doh! As pointed out in the comments, the 2 prong plug comes off, and the three prong plug slides in. I had just ignored that piece when I unpacked the box :)
We had some confusion this afternoon - the IS security folks for a bank found some phishing files that had been uploaded to the Wiki (meaning - not in a terribly dangerous spot). They looked bad though, so they contacted our IT folks. In a nice comedy of errors, we had never properly recorded the contact info for this server, and it was after hours. That resulted in the box being taken off the net until we could get that straightened out. The contact info is all straightened out now, so here's hoping we don't have that problem again :)
And it's all topped off by a height-adjustable stand and optional integrated speakers. With the Samsung 225BW, it's not hard to imagine.
However, as Ed Foster notes, those speakers don't exist:
As I write this, more than a week after the reader complained to Samsung, the description of the 225BW monitor on Samsung's webpage remains unchanged. And a quick perusal of the online retailers that have the monitor for sale finds several that echo Samsung's description of the optional integrated speakers, but I can't find any that actually offer the option for sale.
It takes a special kind of stupid to make an offer that you can't fulfill. There's no upside to it, only negatives. What were they thinking?
Technorati Tags: advertising
From my point of view, I prefer to develop cross platform apps. Dolphin is Windows only at the moment. Dolphin is an affordable Smalltalk. Price is, I admit, a sticking point with Cincom’s Smalltalk.,,the price is simply not available in the open, and I suspect it will be expensive for a one person developer who wishes to sell applications.
That's a natural conclusion to come to, but it's not really the case in that circumstance. Cincom as a corporate entity doesn't make prices public (for any product), and I have no real ability to change that policy. However, I can tell you to point your browser here, where I've detailed the basic VAR program. The terms listed there are the "no one negotiated anything" terms (meaning - you can always negotiate with Cincom sales).
Blaine Buxton riffs on what Smalltalk needs to do, and he's mostly on the ball:
Now, that being said, I think a better looking Squeak, VisualWorks, and VisualAge is a must. I think they should all look at Dolphin. Dolphin is everything a modern Smalltalk should be. It's gorgeous. The key bindings are consistent, tools are easy to understand, and it's a pleasure to work with. They are also constantly adding new tools to help productivity (IdeaSpace) as well. In fact, I usually show developers Dolphin first to get them interested.
He makes a lot of other good points as well. The thing is, Blaine's right - and we are working on many of the things he brings up. One of the things I'm committed to is "no 10 year plans". We'll be making continuous improvements in the product, and not deferring things off into the hazy future - because our customers need progress now, not later.
One thing is a constant about our parties: we always buy more food than we need. I have a bunch of burgers and hot dogs in the freezer, lots of deli meats, and more potato salad than I know what to do with. Witness my fridge:
My friend Mike brought his Wii over for our party yesterday, and he brought along the new Tiger Woods golf game - which is amazingly good. It's also hilarious - as you play, the announcers get very snarky about your game. Anyway, that success is contrasted by this Wikipedia article that Andres pointed out to me - apparently, Sony isn't the only console vendor with a few issues:
In the early months after the console launch Microsoft claimed in the press that failure rate was in industry average 3-5%. However, the company have not released any official statistics on the failure rate of the console since its launch, and the company's policy is not to do so, instead focusing on a prompt solution of any technical problems arising. Despite Microsoft's reticence, some retailers have reported abnormally high failure rates, with one ex-employee of a retailer estimating the rate to be between 30-33%. FOX News reported 2.5 million consoles broken in the world.
You can follow the link for the citations - there are links to various sources in the original text I've quoted here. I haven't heard about these issues cropping up with the Wii, but Nintendo also didn't reach very far into the "bleeding edge" for their technology.
Update: Boris Popov reports that a lot of companies could go to school on the customer service offered by Microsoft on this. Rather than obfuscation and denial, it looks like they have stepped up and taken ownership of the problems.
Technorati Tags: xbox 360
Dave Buck and I discussed Smalltalk application deployment Friday night - this is coming to you on Sunday for two reasons: first, Audacity crashed while we were recording, so I had to go to my PowerGramo backup. Second, we had a big cookout yesterday - so I didn't get to all the editing before today.
We covered deploying client apps and server apps, and how those differ - including a stroll through "the bad old days" and how hard it used to be to prepare a runtime application. I have to make a tip of the hat to listener Peter Fraser for the topic suggestion - he sent us a huge list of ideas recently, and they'll be fodder for many, many shows.
Well, it was a holiday week - BottomFeeder downloads went at a rate of 132/day. The details:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
meanwhile, even as IE use seems to be dropping on the pure HTML side, it's rising on the syndication front:
|Tool||Percentage of Accesses|
|Net News Wire||4%|
|Google Feed Fetcher||3.6%|