Monday, March 31, 2008
Interviewed late this afternoon at his office in New York's Silicon Alley, the CEO and founder of PleaseDontBeMyFriend.com was absolute and direct in his comments.
"This site is for people that are completely fed up with the whole world knowing everything about them. These websites are exposing their deepest secrets. For every Twitter proposal, there are two aggregator divorces (NomScore). We're here for the 'experts' that keep running, but can't keep up with the latest trends (and probably need new sneakers). Consider us the do-not-call list of the Internet. We defend you and win.".
For just $20 / month, the website claims it will protect your rights, the integrity of your feeds and shared feeds, and have them removed from the barrage of newly-popular so-called lifestreaming sites such as RSSMeMe, LinkRiver, Readburner, and yes, the latest hyper-growing craze, FriendFeed.
Note: Re-checking our sources this morning, there was absolutely nobody answering the phone at the startup's NY headquarters. (In fact, the domain name appears to be available?)...
So, why don't you go buy it and enjoy the buzz, and remember.....
Ugh ... April Fools (Whew).
It's a 'quick take on just about every sector on the web', and continues to grow in popularity.
In recent weeks, Thomas has been turning up the volume a bit, with a new separate IT page, numerous new features, more content, and earlier today, an all-new cluster view.
Unlike Guy Kawasaki's recently-introduced Alltop.com, PopUrls doesn't break down categories to pages, but instead, attempts to give you a quick view of the web, updated dynamically, on one page.
Obviously, that's somewhat impossible, but we find ourselves visiting daily. There's something there for literally everyone .... and probably something that you wanted to know about and didn't.
Check out the latest version of PopUrls here.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
No, it's not the occasional mention on TechMeMe or Hacker News that spikes the readership through the roof (although I admit that feels good). It's not (entirely) that I have been able to get through to people that I've been trying to find since 'the old days'.
It is, that the blog is finally realizing one of the missions. A very important one to me personally, and ....
By following the technology closely, and yes, being an early adopter, you can accomplish what you want to, if you follow the 'right vehicle'.
When I closed my export company 7 years ago and quietly moved into SEO and SEM, I was doing what I wanted to, and loving it. It came naturally and the results were tremendously gratifying. I called it 'playing chess with Google' and it was fun.
It was apparent to me 6 months ago that the landscape was changing quickly and in order to continue to do what I wanted to, I'd have to come out of the shadows of travel and tourism and Search Engine Management, and find some of the people I knew many years ago (when you could fit the websites on the Net in a book), and also engage some of the 'newer' so-called A-list players.
What I wanted to do was some more traveling, work on something exciting, maybe a start-up, maybe with Google, but not be in business for myself anymore. Evangelist? Writer? Video? You get the idea.
I had numerous conversations over time via Twitter, Facebook, Pownce, and I began getting a little discouraged. (Getting discouraged never stopped me before ...)
Things weren't moving fast enough.
I picked a few SEM accounts as they came along, knowing it really wasn't what I wanted to do anymore.
Warning, here we go again.....
Then came Friendfeed and the piece that I wrote last week which not only caused the largest two day spike to this blog in it's short history, but also brought a barrage of new Facebook 'friends', Twitter followers, and Friendfeed subscribers.
Last night, I started sifting through the list, following back most on Twitter (no we're not talking thousands but that's the way I like it) and more importantly, engaging a small number of people directly on Friendfeed.
Now this was interesting, productive, AND fun, and I really only spent about a half hour doing it.
I wouldn't admit it to myself, but I was quietly jealous of Scoble, Calacanis and a few others that were obviously loving what they were doing. I had been quiet for too long, and the reality was, for a 51 year old guy that feels 30, the doors were tough to open.
The difference between the social networks, Twitter, and Friendfeed is that with Friendfeed, you can literally engage in a one-way (or 10-way) conversation and make a point. You can hit the people that you want to, and start the discussion or join it, and it just works. It's also self-perpetuating if my Feedburner numbers are right.
The other really cool thing (some don't like this but it works for me), is that I don't have to open and moderate comments on this blog. Have something to say? For now, say it on Friendfeed, unmoderated, and have fun.
Of the 'short list' that I made a while back of people I wanted to engage, the ONLY ONE that hasn't returned an e-mail, Facebook e-mail, Twit, or subscribed to my Friendfeed is Michael Arrington (TechCrunch). That's OK Mike. I still read you...
A-listers (new and old) have been called snobs by some. I realized a long time ago that if I was getting 1000 e-mails, tweets, or whatever a day, I probably wouldn't answer all of them either. It's annoying and impossible. The tech paparazzi is here!
So Scoble's reading my Friendfeed as of yesterday. Sure he's a little noisy on Twitter (and I have to turn him on and off). Same for Calacanis and others. (Memo to Calacanis: You should be speaking to your audience, not twittering that you're in the same bar with Lindsay Lohan at 5 grand a table. It's obvious you get excited, but stuff like that is an outright turn off to a lot of people ... and you're spearheading a start-up!).
The point is, that there are many of you out there, just like me. We can, and should, be doing what excites us, because we not only KNOW that we can be an asset to specific companies and/or ventures .... We should be part of the all-important dialog.
IF the Friendfeed gang continues to innovate, Friendfeed will be 'the connection vehicle that works'.
Scoble is excited that he's going to visit Feedfriend on Monday. So am I. Let's see what he finds out :)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
The explanation and links you may be interested in can be found here.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Will you check them? Probably not.
Facebook made a few changes this past week.
The published stuff said "We're adding new privacy controls".
Simultaneously, they added "People you may know" right on your log-in page.
Well how cool is this?
I admit it. There were actually a few people that showed up that I do know and/or wanted to network with in the next six months. I sent five. They showed me a LOT more.
Bigtime backfire on the way?.
We all know there are a lot of 'friend junkies' out there that want to be associated with you (or maybe someone else :). On this blog I've been a proponent of 'opening the door' to those you don't know because you never know 'what they have to bring to your party'.
This new Facebook feature takes it a little too far.
There's a good chance that this weekend, if you've been around for a while, you're going to be bombarded with Facebook friend requests.
While this feature may be good for college students, or in other circles, it's outright self-defeating in most spaces. 'Invite overload' will turn off users.
So, if you did send a Facebook friend request to someone the past few days, you may have to do it again. In some cases, your request may 'get flushed' with a few hundred others without the user even looking at it.
This is one of those features you want to have to go and look for, and not have show up all of a sudden on your profile page.
Did I just rant? :)
Friendfeed was very smart over the past week and they really should be congratulated. Facebook-level stuff (or better).
It makes me wonder why Microsoft, with all their resources, can't move like this (They used to???) and, instead, still be looking at spending a rediculous amount of money on Yahoo.
What did Friendfeed do that was different?. How did they cross-over from the 'tech world' to social networking, and a variety of other niche audiences almost overnight?
They grabbed 'the buzz' and they ran with it.
These guys must have been working day and night?
The 'buzz' is FREE ADVERTISING and you never let it get away if you have the time and/or resources.
Just when almost everyone in the tech sector was talking about Friendfeed (practically to the day), they introduced the open API and developers jumped all over it. At the same time, they introduced numerous new features, like the one for me (He who types too fast). You can edit a comment. (I like this :)
Ever try to edit a Twitter comment? You have to 're-twit' and by that time your audience is probably off doing something else ....
"Well, this guy can't spell ... let's not follow him anymore" Zap!
Then it comes back around. If you happen to be curious what the heck I was talking about at 3 AM (and half asleep) on Twitter, you could look at my FriendFeed and see the follow-up Twitter posts in less than a minute.
It may sound simple but this is beyond very cool stuff, and somehow I think it's just the beginning.
Think about it. Twitter was pretty simple too. How many apps are out there now??
Now, if we don't have any 'FightMeMe' stuff this weekend, that'll make two weekends in a row of stuff I don't want to read anyway....
Maybe I'll be able to catch a good movie :)
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Mozilla issues patch for Firefox 2.0
Mozilla released Firefox version 184.108.40.206 earlier today.
If your browser doesn't automatically update, you can hit the 'help' tab, the 'check for updates'.
The update addresses a number of security issues.
Upcoming Firefox 3.0 is looking better all the time, both from a user standpoint and 'under the hood', as we continue to test the nightly builds of Firefox 3.0 Beta 5 (or Minefield).
We've been running the first release candidate of XP SP3 (RC1) since it was first made available, on a few test computers.
Microsoft, thankfully, is one of those companies that differentiates between beta software and release candidates (with release candidates being closer to "OK for you to mess with, but preferably not on a mission-critical or your main computer". Their beta software, as shown by the recent release of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, is literally for developers only (and likely will not be stable).
Back to SP3. We have had NO issues with the initial release (RC1). In fact, it has been stable on 3 boxes here. Microsoft has issued extensive documentation on this service pack / roll-up.
Mostly security, but, we are seeing what others have been reporting. A slight improvement in performance and stability. (This is not in the documentation so take it for what it's worth?).
Which brings us to the confusion.
There were a few builds of this service pack, the latest of which is Windows XP SP3 RC2. Note: RC1 users must offload the first version of SP3 before installing this newer build.
Microsoft advises that the latest version user experience shouldn't differ that much from SP3 RC1 ... which is exactly why we're downloading it right now :)
As always, we'll keep you posted :)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The feature has been spotted under numerous keyword searches by several of our readers since the weekend. The videos appear at the top of the page (unlike Google's universal search, which still, in most cases, is putting them lower on page 1 or 2 for many search terms).
Is the feature permanent or are they testing ?
It appears to be the first roll-out of the feature, as next to the videos, it does ask "Is this useful?".
Video IS here.
Video is becoming an integral part of search (and ranking in many cases). Our take is that the top of the page takes up an awful lot of real estate and if Live.com (MSN) plans to implement the feature permanently, they should be further down the page.
Video search results have met with mixed reviews. While some users love them, others still prefer text and audio, while others have commented that they simply don't have time to watch them.
Monday, March 24, 2008
TechMeMe, which I'm sure many of our readers are well aware of, has a few sister sites, one of which has literally rocketed in the past two weeks.
There's the celebrity news aggregator WeSmirch, there's one for baseball fans BallBug, any yes, the Political Meme, Memeorandom.com.
With the political campaigns pouring over (in a big way) at Twitter and other places, I thought a little reminder was a good idea.
If there's one thing Gabe Rivera's projects do really well, it's to seek out blogs that many people aren't aware of.
From that persprective, Gabe and his bots are probably a little busy right now :)
staff edit 8:49 PM EST March 24 (Charlie is getting new glasses - Whew!)
Both stocks rallied today on the news with XM (XMSR) ending the day at $13.79 and Sirius (SIRI) climbing to $3.15.
Both companies have had large capital expenditures including satellites, land-based transponders and most significantly, unique content to compete.
XM and Sirius both enjoy a loyal and diverse subscriber base, especially among those that drive long distances, commute, or live in rural areas.
Update: The merger, as of this post, is still awaiting approval by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Saturday, March 22, 2008
This past week, with sponsorship from Intel, the site introduced a new Enterprise (IT) edition dubbed PopUrls Blue.
Other new features announced this week. Personal customization - log-on and customize, using your Facebook or OpenID, at PopUrls.net.
This morning, yet another feature, which allows you to hover over Flickr photos or YouTube Videos and play them directly from within the PopUrls main page. (This is very cool).
Kudos to Thomas (again) for what is truly a clean layout, easy to navigate, and without the information overload.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Last month, using the Ning platform, he launched Social News Central.
Bringing together the users of Twitter, StumbleUpon, Mixx, Technorati, Digg, Reddit, Propeller, Pownce, Sphinn, Newsvine, del.icio.us and more, in one place.
A casual place for the 'bookmarking crowd' to hang out and exchange ideas.
Visiting the site a short while ago, there were quite a few names I recognized. The reason should be obvious. The social 'voting' sites are having are much larger influence on the blog and website visiting counts than any of us first anticipated.
Earlier today, Social News Central hit the 250 member mark.
Should we discount 250 members? Passing fad?
The answer is NO, because Social News Central is different.
In fact, it's different from the new crop of lifestream apps, it's different than TechMeMe, Mahalo, Alltop, and certainly different from any of the existing popular social networking websites.
Social News Central (or something like it) is exactly what some of the well-known websites have been fearing (and commenting heavily on this past week, one way or another). A community of bookmarkers. They're joining for a reason.
I've said it before. This blogging platform is far too dynamic for ANYONE to truly predict what will happen next, and it's just fascinating to watch.
I suppose it may not be too fascinating to some that have spent the last 3 years building something they thought for sure would be around forever, and/or their investors.
In this environment, you have to be constantly thinking outside of the box, almost all of the time.
There's no doubt, from what I've been able to gather so far, that this is just the beginning for David.
My advice? Go for it Dave. It's all fair, and none of us really know who (or what vehicle) will bring the important stories to the top each day. We certainly can't find it all ourselves (any of us!), and too many of us are spending way too much time on numerous platforms.
You may have the beginning of a solution .... at least for now.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
A new low price for 'basic services', similar to what some of the others have been promoting, has been added.
Attenalert was featured here not too long ago.
There are now other low cost providers as well.
Trackur's new price breakdown can be found here .
For every good idea ... Well, you know.
Staff edit Mar 21
The latest build of Minefield (Codename for the project) just went into code freeze.
Regular visitors to this blog (and thank you all for helping us reach yet another FeedBurner milestone today!), know that I love messin' and reporting to you on Beta stuff.
We've been 'surface-testing' Internet Explroer Beta 1, Nightly builds of Firefox 3.0 Beta, Flock 1.1 (now out-of-beta) and the newly-released Safari for Windows (now also out of beta).
Here's a brief weather report, so far:
IE8 - developers only! Some cool stuff under the hood but very instable at this stage on most systems.
Firefox pre-release: Fast, stable here and will be great when the extensions catch up!.
Safari for Windows - Very cool. Makes it look like you're looking at a Mac (and renders your web pages live a MAC would on your PC). Lightning FAST.
Here I go again?
Flock saves me a third computer monitor. Period.
While you'll probably be able to do the same thing with Firefox 3.0 when the extensions catch up, for now, Flock's built-in media viewers, web e-mail (Gmail now onboard), Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasaweb, YouTube, stock feeds, blog editor, people finder integration and more have really simplified my life!.
I do keep Twirl opened separately. I haven't figured out why yet.
Memo to Flock: FRIENDFEED integration now?!
edit mar 21 am
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Starting today, Microsoft is beginning to deliver Windows Vista Service Pack 1 via Windows Update.
A new page has been posted at Microsoft's website explaining various issues that have come up in recent weeks and can be found here.
If you have automatic updates turned off, you'll need to visit Windows Update for the Service Pack.
Earlier this week, Microsoft released a new March edition of DirectX covering numerous other versions of Windows.
The feature is quickly picking up steam and, unless I just haven't noticed(??), they're now embedding some of them right on the news page. (Click on the graphic if it's small).
The same page this morning has 5 articles where notable people at various activist organizations, think tanks, etc. commented on the news stories, and were just one click away.
This feature will be interesting to watch evolve, especially on the politics page.
Can Google accommodate the reactions?
How will they choose who to embed, and who not to?
Worse case scenario, the note at the bottom covers it :)
"The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
A beta version of Safari for the Microsoft Windows platform has been available for some time. It's fast and different. It makes it look like you're looking at websites on a MAC, and much more.
Could there be a three-way browser war with this release? Will Safari break out to higher numbers here?
Mozilla is making gains with Firefox, and Internet Explorer 8 has been released in early beta to developers (as covered in earlier posts). We've been talking about Flock.
The last beta of Safari for Windows was stable and quick.
We're taking the new Safari for a test drive now.
Stay tuned :)
Regular readers know how I feel about 'the buzz', and how it can make or break start-ups. In this environment, you've got to have people talking about you (and/or attend every single trade show?).
When the buzz continues for four days, good or bad, while there are other huge news stories breaking that can effect everyone, you just have to admit that Friendfeed just hit a PR home run.
If you haven't been follow the 'drama', you can read numerous views and recaps in our Google shared feed at right and / or subscribe (for free). There's no sense in recapping it here as numerous blogs and websites already have.
The past couple of weeks have seen a few weekend 'spats' hitting Techmeme between a variety of authors, reporters, journalists and bloggers.
Start-ups now have a new vehicle for press. Ask someone to start a weekend online argument?
I'm NOT implying that Friendfeed in any way has done that, but that's what happened.
Most of these new services are still in their infancy. They're interesting and that's it? Period.
LinkRiver, RSSMeme, Friendfeed, and evidently a re-invigorated Readburner (now owned by Adam Ostrow of Mashable and company).
I consider both Louis Gray and Duncan Riley informative and interesting bloggers. I've engaged both of them briefly in the past few months.
I don't think the A-list thing will play much in coming years. There are D-listers are becoming A-listers overnight in this new website/blog/social networking hyper-blogging environment.
The future is very simply in cutting deals, face to face, or via Video over IP, not who you are or who you know.
It may sound naive now, but keep of copy of this. It's going to happen, and those that have been dismissed by others will emerge from the woodwork, at times in a matter of days, while others will retire or lose THEIR buzz. There are simply way to many people taking to this platform, and many are very informative, others simply brilliant.
The challenge to the mainstream media is to quickly capture some of this talent, before someone else does.
Should Friendfeed truly break out of the gate early (which it appears it already has), they have these guys to thank, and everyone that wrote about it after, regardless of how you feel about any of the posts.
To stop reading any of these guys (or gals) because of a reaction to one post is carrying baggage that's counter-productive to YOUR future.
I suppose I just added to it. Why not. When you sit back and look at it objectively, it's fascinating, a sign of time times, and very possibly of things to come, whether we like it or not.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Here's a quick rundown of who's live blogging from Search Engine Strategies at the Hilton, New York City:
Lisa Barone can be found with the play-by-lay at the Bruce Clay Blog.
Barry Schwartz, Tamar Weinberg, and Jeff Quipp are keeping the bases covered at SEORoundtable.
Lee Odden and Jolina are providing easy-to-read coverage at the Online Marketing Blog.
Jeff Quipp is also posting with Marty Weintraub to the aimClear blog and, Li Evans and crew are also delivering SES NY to the web audience at Search Engine Gurus.
Barry Schwartz is also posting to Search Engine Land . An excellent and diverse list covering day three of SES NY can be found here.
Show 'host' Search Engine Strategies is now posting updates as well here.
The 'SEO and Tech Daily convention award for first photos' this time around goes back to Lee Odden with an early (nice!) photo set collection at Flickr :)
Mike MacDonald with video at WebProNews
YouTube Channel with coverage from SES NY now delivering.
webmasterradio.fm is delivering live and archived audio interviews from the annual search engine experts conference in NY.
More photos: Big Mouth Media on Flickr and 100+ photos from Li Evans.
Links corrected and many more added for day Three - Staff Final Update Mar 19 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2008
A boatload of mainstream reporters and others opened Twitter accounts just after the South by Southwest Austin Tech / Music Fest. Feed aggregators were delivering Twitter and a lot of media gurus woke up.
Twitter will be continue to gather a HUGE tech buzz in 2008 unless the crew at Pownce takes a direct (and now potentially expensive) shot right at them.
Of course, the unprecedented US Democratic primary race between Barack Obama (1) and Hillary Clinton (84). is well underway. The strategists aren't going to miss a trick. Numerous professional SEO and Internet Marketing companies are embedded in each camp, as they head right here for Pennsylvania, a critical swing state.
Obviously, they're all over Twitter, from numerous angles.
Lots of people in lots of spaces are still discovering and joining Twitter. Those using it to promote 'whatever' are are rapidly discovering tools like Twemes, TwitterSearch and Twitterholic. Many aren't 'reading the book' and are being very transparent, which makes it all the more cool.
Why is a web app that's relatively simple growing at a rocket pace?
Sure, it's partially the buzz that many of us are creating. It's also the API that allowed developers to create the applications above (and tons more). Tools anyone can use. (Some that had closed their Twitter accounts as a 'distraction', are now admitting to re-opening them).
Will people turn off when Twitter decides to monitize? Will they get acquired in 2009? Will Twitter ever make money?
A look back at ICQ, for me at least, tells a story. Twitter is different yet similar, and the biggest difference is that people LOVE to be a fly on the wall.
That is Twitter's secret sauce.
Can Twitter predict an election with Obama booting Robert Scoble to No. 2, and Hillary now in Twitter post position 84 as I write this?
I seriously doubt it, but something tells me the Twitter 100 will be changing a lot over the next few weeks.
Update 1: Jason Calacanis is now trying to BUY his way to the number one Twitter position ?! Free MacBook?
Update 2: A reader chimed in to advise there is a website tracking Political Tweets politweets.com.
Browser usage update:
I averaged the analytics of 10 websites that I have access to early this evening. There are some surprises here.
The scoreboard on Firefox vs. Internet Explorer is now rapidly changing in some spaces.
Mainstream websites (IE: Stuff 'regular people' might visit):
Firefox jumps a point this month to an average 15% and IE now has an identity problem?.
While still maintaining a healthy share of the enterprise market at 82%, half of the Internet Explorer users are using IE6 and the other half have upgraded to IE7. 98% of Firefox users were using the latest stable version, with a few using Firefox 3.0 Beta 4. Safari is still wandering around 2-3 per cent.
Geek department: Bloggers, Social Networkers, visitors to tech-related websites, and visitors to this blog are averaging ... ugh .... 62% Firefox. That is a HUGE jump from last month!
Important sidebar: For you blog and web designers (Obviously, from the look of this blog, I am not one of them :). 800 x 600 is virtually dead and we're seeing gobs of important websites 'playing it sale' in that area?. There simply is no longer any reason to. Less than 3% of the market. It limits your delivery real estate, not to mention what you can put 'above the fold'.
Beta 5 of Firefox, (also known as Minefield), is currently in code freeze (This usually means a release soon) and is again improved on numerous fronts over the released Beta 4.
IE8, as I've mentioned in the past, should only be being used by developers. IE8 Beta 1, released at Mix08, has some really neat stuff under the dashboard but is no where ready for 'prime time'.
On a personal note, I still find myself (No, they don't pay me :) using Flock 1.1 a lot. It's just a cool piece of software.
Freebie pick of the week : VirtuaWin Version 4.0 for Windows. I never liked virtual (multiple) desktops. Now, I do. It works and is great a time-saver.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I'm also a big fan of shared RSS feeds and yes, Twitter.
A couple of weeks ago, Guy Kawasaki launched Alltop.com.
The very cool thing he did was give credit to Popurls (in numerous places) for the inspiration. The other cool thing was to keep the layout very clean and 'easy'.
If you're an informationholic like me, it's bad enough that you've discovered the Internet.
If you discover Alltop, kiss today's productivity goodbye.
If you CAN practice time management, be sure and check out the site here.
(Memo to GK: Unless I missed them, Reuters and Times UK would be good adds.)
Update Mar 14 PM: Guy K advised (via Twitter) that both of the above publications are available on Alltop in several categories.
Of course, I ran down the list.
Some of these websites and apps are pretty neat, even if just to look at.
Did I say 3-D in the last post?
From the creators of Twittervision, introducing Twittervision3D.
Kudos to Dave Troy.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've been somewhat skeptical about the latest 'sky' products, particularly after numerous 'stellar' reviews of Microsoft's upcoming sky mapping project.
I may have to take it back.
This is not only cool but it's captivating, even if you know nothing at all about astronomy.
No log-in required. You can access Google Sky here.
Take a few minutes and be sure and check it out.
What's next? Google UFO's in 3-D?
AOL announced this morning that they have acquired the worldwide social networking community Bebo for $850 million (US).
As over 100 sites (and climbing) have already written this story, you can compare information and opinion at TechMeMe here.
The official announcement from AOL can be found here.
The official announcement from Bebo is now posted here.
staff edit 3/13 PM
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
In all honestly, I never thought much about it, or knew a lot about the organization.
Well, today has been declared Online Free Expression Day by Reporters without Borders.
It's a fascinating group with a specific mission. At times, a very difficult and controversial mission. (Be sure and check out the piece about UNESCO withdrawing support for the 'event').
Take a little time today to visit the website. See what you think.
There's probably a lot that you will agree with, and very possibly, one or two initiatives you won't. That's the position that I found myself in.
Regardless, it's a brave effort that has been embraced by many around the world.
Online Free Expression Day runs 24 hours beginning today at 11 AM Paris time (GMT +1).
This is simply a must-try for just about everyone.
SproutBuilder allows you to create a variety of interactive websites, banners, videos, music photos, rss feeds, and more and is completely web-based.
The Hawaii-based company has been testing the product in closed beta over the past 5 weeks. In that time, over 6000 'sprouts' were published in 30 countries.
Sprout exhibited at DemoFall and that video can be found archived here.
Reviewed here numerous times during the closed beta period, we polled a group of first time users today, and the response was 95% positive (This was NOT a scientific study and covered 18 users).
Hulu has added a tremendous amount of full-length television video content. Despite the additions, the server(s) were not bogged down by the increase in public traffic, and the site remains easy on the eyes as well as easy to navigate. A small library of Hi-Def products have been added as well.
The limited advertising is not distracting. Hulu has partnered with OMD as an agency partner (according to today's addition of AdAge).
The question becomes "Will people watch TV on their PC?"
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Although, the positive ruling was widely expected, it is now a virtual certainty that acquisition of DoubleClick by Google will be a 'done deal' as soon as any remaining 'pieces' are in place (IE: 'subject to shareholder approval', etc.).
In other news for market watchers, the Fed this morning announced an unprecedented plan to inject 200 Billion (US dollars) into the ailing US mortgage market, sending stocks rocketing upwards as of 10:30 AM EST.
One analyst characterized the move as "The most significant step the Fed has taken to alleviate the crisis". Other market pundits were much more reserved in their optimism.
UPDATE: Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt has posted the Doubleclick acquisition announcement to the Official Google blog here with additional details.
"Our services may be tax-deductible. Check with your tax professional".
I'll qualify this piece by saying I am not an accountant, CPA or tax professional.
I did, however, review business versions of several major tax software packages this morning and they include SEO fees among a group of lesser-known business tax deductions.
I briefly checked the IRS website and could not find any reference to SEO or Search Engine Optimization.
Regardless, it's timely advice. It's also a great heads up for the industry to see if, in fact, there's a solid business base that can deduct SEO services.
and .... maybe you'll save a few bucks.
Update: One of our readers passed along this reference in the IRS online publications.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Firefox 3.0 Beta 4 was released earlier today and incorporates a significant number of improvements that we have been commenting on as we continue to test the 'nightly builds'.
This time, it's worth a try (as usual, not on a mission-critical or your main computer).
We think Firefox fanatics will begin to embrace 3.0 with this release. Much less memory hogging and much more stable than Beta 3.
The download is here
Flock, the social network and (highly-addictive) media browser also made news over the weekend as Flock version 1.1 came out of beta on Friday with the addition on Picasaweb (Google photos) and some improvements on e-mail, feed, and video integration.
Our tests showed that you may have to offload version 1.0 or 1.1 beta first in order to activate to new features properly.
As for Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1, for now, the browser has been taken off our beta box and is residing on our development box only. A number of issues were identified and we're simply waiting for the next build from Microsoft. In all fairness, many of the other new products and betas launched at MIX08 are operating flawlessly.
Finally, Safari has gained a little market share (no doubt due to the iPhone) and we found the latest Windows Version Beta stable and fast. Page rendering is interesting as it almost looks like you're looking at a Mac.
You may not realize it, but you and your company are now everywhere on the Internet.
A week ago, Andy Beal's Trackur, an online Reputation Management tool, went live.
This morning, another online brand monitoring tool for small and medium size businesses, Attenalert, went online.AttenAlert was written by David Mytton, the php lead developer at UK-based welovelocal.com.
A modest guy, David described the service as "nothing amazing or revolutionary but is designed just to do a single job, well". "It is very similar to the Google Alerts service except that is has a variety of extra features including RSS feeds and trend statistics".
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Depending on your perspective, this week it gets a little cooler.
South By Southwest or SXSW, the music and media festival started Friday and runs a little over a week.
Billed as one of the largest music festivals in the United States, this year's SXSW has conquered more sectors of the blog world than ever already. Wherever you look, you see a post from, or about SXSW.
Many of the 'noted' bloggers are there and, of course, controversy is already started to cross the headlines with Business Week's Sarah Lacy facing a difficult interview and audience while attempting to interview the 'shy' founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.
Both had a 'vested interest' in the interview. Zuckerberg just appointed a new CEO to Facebook and Lacy has a book on Facebook coming out.
As a (proud) member of the Woodstock generation, looking back, it may have been cool to have Wi-Fi access 'on the lawn' back then?
One thing we can expect. Some very strange blog posts as the parties get into gear. "I apologize for that post, I was drunk ... ".
Did someone say Gawker? Underway tonight, the controversial NY - based Gawker Media party was attracting a lot more than geeks on Sunday night.
Will they wait 'til morning to post? We'll see :)
Here's a few references if you want to 'check-in' virtually on SXSWeek 2008:
The official website: sxsw.com
Twitter feed www.twitter.com/sxsw (and a whole bunch of 'unofficial feeds' as well)
Just possible hundreds (thousands?) of photos on Flickr here
A little more about the music (site from Australia) http://www.themusic.com.au/sxsw/
The Austin Chronicle (TX) SXSW Coverage
... and probably hundreds of film, music and, of course, tech news and geeky blogs...
Friday, March 7, 2008
New and updated web design platforms from Microsoft (Silverlight) and Adobe (Flash) and others are now adding creative and exciting effects to websites.
We've been testing beta versions of some our websites using a variety of tools, and also, keeping a close eye on the adaptation of new web-connected desktop applications (Adobe Flex / AIR and others).
SEO? Much of this is not new. Beyond anything else, you want your websites to deliver relevent and current content, while being easy to navigate. You want to capture your audience and keep them.
You want your website to be sticky, deliver RSS, be easy to bookmark on the various bookmarking websites, and sell your product or service.
Don't let the competition scare you OR rush you to a rich media solution.
What you don't want, is for the 'bots' not to be able to read your content. That can take some fine tuning but definitely can be accomplished, and new tools are being introduced every day to make it easier. This is why your SEM company MUST stay on the leading edge, every day.
Google's Webmaster Central has added new 'gadget' that you can add to iGoogle. missing URL's, short descriptions, etc. The feedback is all there. Just log on. (Then, go fix it!).
A great deal of our research in the past 6 weeks has been in 'legacy migration' while maintaining SEO compatibility. Hopefully, we'll unleash those websites soon. and be able to point to what we did, for your reference.
Quick trip on tap - We'll keep the shared feed up to date to the best of our ability.
The best stuff on this blog is in the months ahead.
Be sure and subscribe to our feed directly or the shared feed today (links at right).
Great weekend all
Thursday, March 6, 2008
In the past few days, I've literally been bombarded with e-mails over a recently introduced piece of legislation in the US Senate.
Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) with support of Senator, Bill Nelson (D-Florida) and Senator, Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) have introduced a bill entitled the 'Anti-Phishing Consumer Protection Act of 2008'.
The act, on the surface, appears to be aimed at (1) protecting consumers that still aren't entirely Internet savvy from dangerous websites and e-mail, and (2) to protect Trademark holders from individuals who register websites with their names for the sole sake of profit.
I would guess that the bill will effect a small (possibly large?) percentage of our readers, and that is the reason for this post.
I am going to provide a few links to other articles and perspectives below.
As for me, I'll stay naive and say it's a shame we can't police ourselves. I'm not big on regulations of any kind.
It will also be interesting to see how the larger registrars respond to this bill.
Maybe pose the question at the next YouTube presidential debate ?? :)
From Circle D: John Levine
LexText: Bret Fausett
Coalition of Domain Name Abuse
Internet Commerce Association
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Late today, Ziff Davis Media, parent company of PC Magazine (and PCMag.com) announced they had filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition and had reached an agreement with an ad hoc group more than 80 per cent of it's senior note holders to reduce the company's liabilities substantially.
(In the US, Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a company to restructure under court administration while protecting it from creditors).
The company noted that they expect operations to continue as usual.
Ziff Davis Media is a recognized and long time mainstream brand in computer publications and related ventures. Online brands include Extemetech, dl.tv, 1up.com, Filefront, and others. Print publications include PC Magazine, Games for Windows, and EGM. The company also holds a numbers of events including the Electronic Gaming Summit.
The company is privately held and based in New York City.
It is important to note that ZDnet (and other similar brands) are part of CNET Networks, Inc. and not associated with Ziff Davis Media.
What we got, in fact, was an early public developer release of IE8 Beta 1 and Silverlight 2.0 Beta.
With all of the public speculation and interest and Microsoft's recent announcement that the browser has been changed to better adhere to current standards, the company, in a somewhat unprecedented move, put IE8 Beta 1 online and available to the general public.
The usual disclaimer. The is a very early Beta. Don't try it on a mission-critical machine or your main computer.
Update 2 March 5, 2008 PM
Our first tests of the IE8 beta immediately reflected the the Acid 2 compatibility problem documented here. We also noted some conflicts with other Microsoft betas loaded on the same machine. Once the others were offloaded, we found it interesting that StumbleUpon integration was right there on the intro page. (Look out StumbleUpon. Microsoft's watchin' you! :)
There are now numerous online publications (many more than we expected) reviewing the initial release of both IE8 Beta 1 and Silverlight 2 Beta 1, which was also released today.
Rather than duplicate those efforts here, you can check out a variety of online reviews at the TechMeMe archived page here. Be sure to check out the great piece at Read / Write Web.
As always, we'll keep you informed as to our findings after a thorough test drive of the Beta (s).
The conference is sold out.
MIX08 will we webcast at the conference site and Don Dodge has also recommended TechMeMe for updates.
The session agenda and speakers are here.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
RetirementDebate.com is partnering with Pluck's BlogBurst network for blog content and opinion.
The announcement by the Journal came just one day before news came late today that Pluck has been acquired by Demand Media.
Demand Media has made a number of other internet-related acquisitions over the past year and owns registrar Enom (and enom.tv), along with a wide variety of websites.
There's still building permits, building, and gobs of tech companies continuing to converge on the city as the Internet, Media and Wall Street develop more and more in common.
Search Engine Strategies comes to New York from March 17-19th.
One look at the sponsors and speakers and it become apparent that this could be the most heavily attended SES-NY ever.
Keeping in mind, that last year, there were more than a few people hanging out in the hall, on the floor, with laptops ... Hopefully this year, they'll be a more easy-to-follow and extensive layout.
Some tips (from an ex-New Yorker?).....
Use mass-transit or limo service from the airport if at all possible. If you get stuck in traffic uptown (or wherever), you might (will) regret it.
For those of you driving, some of the tolls have just, this past weekend, gone up. A trip across the George Washington Bridge now costs you 8 bucks (you read that right)....and parking in that part of the city could run $40-$80. Keep some cash on hand?
If you've never been to New York, make sure to register. I'm not entirely objective here, but visiting NY really is a fascinating experience, especially if you can squeeze a few extra days in for a show, shopping or site seeing, not to mention one of the largest varieties of restaurants in the world.
No hotel?. Book early .... and don't go into sticker shock. Like I said, New York is back!
Finally, in the event you're totally 'green' on the east coast, three major airports service the city plus one a little further away. JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark (EWR). About an hour and a half away, now part of the Port Authority system is Stewart International (SWF).
Need more info? Lots at the Port Authority website here .
National Public Radio (NPR) has added Mixx buttons to their website.
Mixx has received varied reviews. They recently raised an additional $2 million in financing.
Details can be found at the MIXX blog here.
Sidebar: NPR also added Yahoo Buzz which is a brand new social voting site launched last week by Yahoo.
Update 1 : The NY Times has also added MIXX to it's bookmarks as of March 11, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
(If you aren't familiar with scraping, a bot or individual lifts your content and plants it on their blog or website, with their advertisers, sometimes with credit, most times not).
I did a piece a few days ago that appeared within hours on another site, then the day after on a site that was specializing in something that, very simply, I would never endorse.
Earlier tonight, I read two articles that got me a little wired. One was a war of words, naming names, one site attempting to trash the other, and visa versa. The second piece was about a relatively newer social networking trend, 'negative marketing'. In essence, instead of promoting your own product or content, you quietly and methodically trash your competitors.
This is really nothing new, whether it's on the Internet or not. It's practically a mainstay of political campaigns.
It is a real issue on the 'net, in my view, particularly for young people that are busy building careers, some of whom put their name on a web post, comment, twitter (or wherever), without thinking much about it.
Real or not, you never know when this stuff will come back and you'll need to explain it or even worse, not get that great job or promotion.
Schools and corporations know how to search, and they do.
The result. We now have a growing industry within and industry. Reputation Management. There are numerous companies now promoting themselves in this niche, and larger SEM / SEO companies are venturing into the field as well.
Andy Beal (better known to some as Marketing Pilgrim) last week launched Trackur.com . Andy was ahead of the curve with this one.
It is, in fact, a Internet reputation 'tracking' service.
There's no doubt, that as web competition increases in select spaces and particularly in the blog and forum portion of the Internet, it's going to get worse before it gets better.
A sad reality, especially when most of us want the Internet to remain uncensored, for a variety of positive reasons.
For now, I suppose, teenagers, college students and others who haven't made their way yet in their career ambitions, should be conscious of what they post where. Whether it's words or photos.
By all means, stand by your convictions. Don't get paranoid, but keep in the back of your mind what you're putting out there and the fact, that most of this stuff is archived somewhere.
My first ever disclaimer : Despite an exchange some may notice on Twitter, I was not compensated in any way for this post. Whew!
For those of you that haven't been following the former Microsoft (and Podcast) employee's globe trotting and video escapades, Robert Scoble has been in love with the Microsoft Research's new online telescope project since it's first private showing and it among his lead stories this morning on Fast Company Magazine's new venture.
Scoble left Podcast to join Fast Company as the General Manager of the new video venture several month's ago.
The first edition defaults to 'Scobleizer.tv' but there is another channel as well appropriately called Fast Company Live. The outspoken and opinionated Scoble has a huge blogger audience and is closely followed by many in the industry providing FastCompany.tv a smooth launch.
Will it stick? We'll have to wait and see.
The limited beta invite is at http://www.mosbeta.com .
There's no doubt Microsoft is about to strike a slew of challenges this Wednesday at MIX08, among them Silverlight 2.0, IE8 Beta, and more. The stage is positively being set for some very pro-active moves from Redmond.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
It was, at the very least, a serious pain!
Internet Explorer 8 is in the wings. Beta testers (a small exclusive group) have IE 8 Beta 1 now and it is expected to be previewed at MIX08. This is one of the few times I can remember not receiving a significant Beta invite from Microsoft. The tentative reply is it WILL be available to developers shortly after Mix08. Guess it's a deep dark secret until Wednesday??
In the meantime, I've been messing (don't do this unless you have a dedicated beta box) with the nightly builds of Firefox 3.0B4 (Codenamed: Minefield), expected to be the final Beta.
All I can say is duck!
Compatible? Yes. New Features? Yes. Customizable? Yes. Getting better along the way? Yes.
The most significant feature that is immediately apparent (and a function of the revised engine and page rendering) is ..... This browser is fast!
With Firefox commanding about a 12-15% market share now (and significantly higher for bloggers and the social network community), I would hope that most of you already know that you need to be compatible. Firefox sticks to strict W3C standards and there are still a lot websites that show borders in Firefox that are invisible in Internet Explorer 6 AND 7. There are other issues as well. You should be compatible with all of your sites now. Download a copy of the current stable release of Firefox (link at left) and make sure! You simply can't ignore the analytics anymore.
Microsoft has been making more and more of their websites compatible with Firefox. Silverlight works with Firefox too. They're not all the way home yet. I got a message earlier tonight while logging on to the Microsoft Partner website "Your browser is not compatible. Please log on with Internet Explorer 7".
Let's hope that the cross-platform and recent open source 'embracing' by Microsoft will mean that we can write websites to a one standard and not have to worry (all over again) about multiple browser compatibility. Rich media or not.
Update (Mar 3) : Microsoft has changed their view on IE8 interoperability and made a fresh post to the IE Blog here
Saturday, March 1, 2008
The buzz began when TechCrunch broke the news (as Robert Scoble was speaking in France and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington was blogging from the audience :), that Scoble was leaving Podcast.
Scoble confirmed shortly thereafter on his own blog that he was joining FastCompany Magazine to launch their new video portal FastCompany.tv, which will go live on Monday.
Scoble has already appeared numerous times on the magazine's website with video and on his own blog and other spaces, using the Qik platform.
Fast Company Magazine is based in New York City.
Adobe's AIR desktop development platform is being embraced by a lot of companies, in a very fast way. Some cool AIR applications are being developed by individuals and small companies as well. (The SDK is free).
In 'our' space, I suppose Pownce threw a few of us the first AIR wake-up call. Pownce's app is handy, but I actually like the online version better.
My favorite (so far) is the AIR Google Analytics client which is faster, and, as good or better than the on-line client, in many ways. If you use Google Analytics, try it .... you'll like it.
Note: You must be using the latest release of Adobe AIR to use most of the current desktop applications. Many of them will remind you to install it automatically.
AOL, EBay, Finetune, NASDAQ, Nickelodeon are just some of the names that have already embraced the latest AIR release with refined and rich desktop applications. They can be found at Adobe's website. The AIR gallery is where you can find lots more, many written by individuals during the beta release of AIR. Yahoo has also announced plans to release an AIR app soon.
Download a few and see what you think. As usual, in some cases, watch the 'Beta' stuff and check the system requirements.
Have a GREAT weekend all. We've got snow (I may be skiing :)