Thursday, April 29, 2010

Picasa Users Can Now Buzz and Tweet!

Earlier this evening Google announced the integration of three new 'sharing' buttons on their online photo site Picasaweb (which is richly integrated with the free image editor from Google, Picasa).

Embracing Twitter, as well as Google's own Buzz and Blogger, the new buttons let you instantly share individual photos.  Notably absent is Facebook, which I suppose, is no surprise.

Picasaweb (or Picasa Web Albums) competes most directly with Yahoo's Flickr, which by any measure is HUGE .... although recent studies have Facebook now exceeding both services in photo (and video) uploads.

Regardless, the social ecosystem of Google just took another step.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Feedburner adds Google Buzz to FeedFlare Options

Google has added 'Post to Google Buzz' as one of the default options in Feedburner's FeedFlare.

A natural (internal) progression for the continued success of Feedburner (which delivers a huge amount of RSS feeds and offers a variety of features) and yet another way for people to find out about Google's latest social endeavor, Google Buzz.

Those new to FeedFlare can read more about it here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wibiya Scores 2M Financing and Integrates Facebook Like Button

Israeli startup Wibiya today announced 5 tools to support the all-new Facebook platform (including the 'Like' function that wasn't immediately made available to everyone by Facebook).

They also announced a 2 million dollar round of financing from Primera Capital (yesterday).

Wibiya was on the forefront off 'bottom bars' for blogs and websites and has appeared here almost since the outset.  It's easy to implement code and multiple (and useful) functions just keep getting better.

Wibiya's product has continued to move across the web and now can be seen on a variety of high profile publications as well as personal blogs.

A short time ago, I tested the new 'Like' function (here to my Facebook account) and, as long as you are on a specific blog post, it works instantly.

In a fashion that Facebook very much wants the web-based 'like button' to work, clicking on my 'Like' redirected a Facebook user (almost instantly) via Facebook to the previous article here. 

There are numerous other plug-in apps, most free, other than you see in use here ..... although the Twitter integration continues to be an outright win.

Facebook Makes Huge Changes - Nobody Notices

Yesterday, the tech press was all over Facebook's f8 conference.

At this stage, there are probably 10 or 20,000 articles out there on the sweeping changes that were announced, along with videos, and more.

It was, in fact, the day that the 'talent grab' that Facebook got from buying Friendfeed took center stage.

It was also a day where Facebook essentially announced that not only did they want you to access all of your information through them, but they wanted you to bring back whatever you find on the web.  Hmmm.

Facebook challenged Google (and Twitter) with some of the announcements, which I'm not going to repeat here but will link below to a few good rundowns.

The obvious conclusion is that Facebook is trying to do what Microsoft and Google have done before them.  One way or another, despite the reports that the privately held company is now profitable, they want to get their hands into the wallets of every single person on the planet (or almost).

That's the bottom line.  Period.

I'm not saying it's wrong.  It's business and there are very few other companies that have done it.  Once you do, you're 'home' ... for a long, long time.

So this morning I chatted with a few friends that regularly use Facebook.  I even spent more than 15 minutes there myself :).

No surprise.  The 'average' Facebook user had NO CLUE that there was even a conference much less wholesale changes to the service, even though an occasional banner could be seen last night and this morning at the top of various pages.

Nobody clicked.

I've said it before.  There's a blind trust in the Internet (that sometimes is just amazing!) and 'major brands'.

Most people don't have the time, or could care less, about reading 'Terms of Service'.

As a techie as heart, I usually get the bulk of my information from people (online, on the phone, by e-mail, or in my Google Reader feeds).  Most people don't.

It's THOSE people that tech companies want.  Factually, their lives could be changed by some of this stuff.

Google has come under 'privacy' fire as of late.  That's totally expected for a company that has over 70% of the search market and that is consistently delivering earnings. Google isn't the 'privacy issue'. The entire Internet is, and MUCH more likely a disgruntled IT worker who has your credit card ..... and probably your Social Security number too.

The reality is that almost any website you visit is collecting some kind of information on you, anonymous or not, and for the most part, it's always been that way.

The 'delete' button is dead. You're being archived somewhere.

I was gratified this morning to see easily understandable posts hitting the mainstream media, like this one by Sarah Perez writing for ReadRightWeb in the NY Times.  If you care about privacy, start reading some of these.  There are simply some things that everyone should do.

Rackspace evangelist Robert Scoble delivered on of his best blog posts in a long time (with links to a lot of other articles and videos from the conference .... as well as an interesting debate beginning in the comments ... here.

Fun, yet disturbing, was how Mark Zuckerberg out right refused (or seemed confused?) by questions posed by veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher at Dow Jones' AllThingsD .... one of the very few tech websites that not only includes (more than you want to know) disclosures .... but even mentions of tracking cookies.  What??  Shhhh!!!

Kara quizzed Zuckerberg on Facebook's new integration of Microsoft's and Google Buzz, and the effect the Facebook changes 'might' have on Google.  He passed.  (According to Swisher, Zuckerberg thinks she writes 'mean' posts).

The reality is that Facebook made changes that those outside the tech world may never realize.  Some were good.  Some kinda 'scary'.

Regardless, they're going to make a lot of money.  It's a given with their existing base.

And, like it or not, the so-called talent grabs of Sheryl Sandberg (Great piece in Vogue) and/or Bret Taylor (and the entire ex-Google startup team at Friendfeed), are coming to fruition.

Contrary to some of what you may read .... they won't own the Internet and Google will be just fine.  Twitter needs to take a huge step out of the box ... as does FourSquare.

The most interesting two years in Internet history continues.  Make no mistake about it.  It effects everyone.

Online or not.

Microsoft extends Windows 7 Trial - TechNet Wiki Goes Live

Microsoft has extended the download period for the trial version of Windows 7 at TechNet.

The 90-day evaluation version, intended primarily for IT professionals, will now be available for download up until December 31, 2010.

In other TechNet news, the Microsoft TechNet Wiki (Beta) has gone live and can be found here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The New Google Product Reviews Program

Google has launched a new program to aggregate user product reviews from a multitude of websites across the web.

The program, announced today, and appropriately called 'The Google Product Reviews Program', will compliment Google Product Search and proposes to deliver new traffic to your site (and potentially increased recognition of your brand) in exchange for re-publishing your user generated product reviews.

Initially, the program will use technology from Bazaarvoice but is promising to add more platforms soon.

Update Your Google News Sitemaps Now

Some time ago, I did a piece on how to get included in Google News.

A reminder was posted to the Google News blog this evening that may effect your site's indexing (and ongoing inclusion).

Google had previous announced a change to the Google News XML sitemap format (The format used for those who wish to be listed on the Google News page).

Now, time is running out.

In two weeks, Google News moves to the new format.

Doing well with your position on Google News?  Miss the original announcement?

It's been five months ... and the countdown is on.

More information on Google News sitemaps can be found here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Google Places Goes Live

Google has changed the name of the Google Local Business Center to Google Places (and added a few new features).

'Local' is one of the most lucrative advertising spaces on the Internet and Google isn't in moving quickly to monetize this space. Portals such as MSN are geo-targeting users whether or not they are signed in.

The new name apparently is designed to make it easier for companies to notice (and probably made shorter so than it can be included in menus such as the 'universal search' links on Google's main search page).

A new simplified URL is also now online at

Google is running ads on their own network announcing the new name and a new video explaining how it works can now be found on YouTube.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Microsoft Launches Visual Studio 2010 and Silverlight 4

This morning, Microsoft announced the availability of Visual Studio 2010 and .Net Framework 4.

Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc also ran a blog post, reminding developers of a brand-new website launched last month 'Develop for Windows'.

With Twitter under fire all weekend for 'buying' Mac-based Tweetie and making it their first Official twitter app and scaring the heck out of an entire development community ..... and Apple announcing that developers could only use a specific Apple-approved platform to develop apps for the iPad, it's not a stretch to imagine that LeBlanc's reminder about Develop for Windows was timed accordingly?

Microsoft also announced the availability of the Silverlight 4 later this week, their latest version of the rich media platform that competes with Adobe Flash.  Silverlight development continues regardless of the fact that Microsoft has also announced that HTML5 will be supported in the next version of Internet Explorer, IE9.

Silverlight 4 will be introduced in a live webcast by Scott Guthrie from Las Vegas in a live (or on-demand) webcast which will be available here.

More information about .Net can be found here.

Trial Versions of Visual Studio 2010 and now available here.

Has Adobe been totally left out in the cold by both Apple and Microsoft?  Well, maybe Flash (for now) ... but other new Adobe releases are garnering rave reviews.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NY Times Gets Sticky ... Very Sticky

Many of us have a set routine when going online.

Although that routine may be changing due to wholesale and rapid changes in social media sites and new brands being tested by early adopters, the fact remains that there are millions of blogs and websites competing for your visits.

For many, the days of visiting a particuar blog or website every day are long over and have been replaced by RSS subscriptions (most of which are FREE) and browsing headlines via RSS readers such as Google Reader.  Others embrace aggregators (PopUrls, AllTop, etc.) for a 'quick take', and, of course, many have switched to Twitter for real-time updates on what's going on in their worlds.

In-depth studies have been done on how to acquire more readers.  All kinds of tactics are employed by individuals and companies, large and small, to attract your viewing and, more importantly, keep you from wandering off-site.

Many blogs and websites have 'most popular' listings, and, of course, Twitter and others have brought us 'trending now' sections.  For some, it's information overload.  For others, once again, the 'conversations' are becoming fragmented.

In the 'old days', you bought a newspaper before getting on the train and pulled 'your' sections ... sports, stocks ... cartoons?? The rest of the paper was left on the seat.

Today, hyperlinks and aggregators have you jumping from site to site while major web players across all verticals are trying to figure out how to keep you 'on-site', but also to monetize that visit without sacrificing design.

Enter the NY Times. 

Sometimes the simplest of ideas are the best and one caught my attention tonight.

While I often visit the Times website, it's usually a fairly brief visit. 

That changed tonight.

Note: This may mot be new but it's the first time I've noticed it ... and it worked.

While the feature doesn't appear on every page, it does appear on many.

As you near the end of an article, a small non-evasive fly-out comes from the bottom right of the screen showing you a similar, current article on similar subject.

Considering the first article caught my attention span long enough to read it through to the end, what better way to bait me to stay on site than this?

Go over to the Times site here.  Pick an article that interests you and spend a few minutes to read it to the end.

Did the fly-out catch your attention and take you to another page .... (with a different ad)?

Whoever came up with the simple yet elegant feature should get a bonus.

It just works.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Google Makes it Official - Speed Counts

Earlier today, Google made the speculation about a change to their ranking algorithm official.

Unlike the 'days of old', the Google algorithm (used to determine organic  rankings for various search terms)  takes into accounts a couple of hundred factors .... while many still obsess over PageRank.

Cross-posted to no less than 4 Google blogs on Friday as well as a few employee blogs, Google described how speed (page weight and off-site imported content) will now enter into the SEO playbook.

Over the past two years, Google has been much more transparent about the ranking process, literally inviting webmasters to participate. (Hello XML sitemaps ?? :)

The fact is .... with approximately 70 per cent of the search market worldwide, Google needs to keep their results relevant, protecting and improving their core product.  A little help directly from webmasters and others helps to help them identify 'trusted sources' .. while weeding through a sea of 'other stuff'.

It's truly a monumental task as the web continues to grow with millions of search terms ... to deliver relevant results on a consistent basis.

Google Webmaster Central continues to add LOTS of information.  Reporting tools are available, as well as a growing library of videos.

The bottom line ... Getting 'above the fold' in Google's listings in their main search index is FREE advertising.

Do it right (or white hat), you may win (and reap gobs of pageviews).

Try to trick Google??? (or 'black hat SEO') ... you could be looking at a penalty (which usually isn't too easy to recover from).

Despite the fact that I only take an occasional small project and maintain a few legacy projects at this point ....  I don't advocate 'do-it-yourself SEO' but there are now hundreds (probably thousands) of good SEO people and companies out there in all different price ranges offering all types of services.

With all the social media madness going on (and a lot of misinformation), and a given that much of it may change in the coming weeks, months and years .... getting with SEO and staying current on changes, such as yesterday's ... is more important than ever.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Finding Those Elusive Windows 7 Drivers

While most new users will get their first experience with Windows 7 on their next computer (or at work), many of you are updating (or thinking about updating) existing PC s with Microsoft's latest operating system.

Over the last two months, I've fielded more questions like 'why doesn't my audio work?' or 'my printer doesn't work' than I can count.  A close friend went out a bought a new printer?!  (WRONG!).

First ... a little perspective.

Windows 7 isn't Vista.  This operating system is the closest Microsoft has ever come to 'plug n play'.  Unlike Vista, in most cases, a fresh install on a relatively recent (2-3 years) PC will find all the drivers you need.  If they're not on the install disk (or download), Windows 7 will download them. 

(If it isn't obvious, back-up your stuff first!!)

There's still a myriad of legacy devices out there and, in some cases, you may need to do a 'little' digging to get them up and running ... but there's help.

Three excellent freeware programs could be your answer.

You need to know what's in the box and these three will do a fine job (and keep getting better).

Belarc Advisor - Somewhat controversial because it renders your computer inventory in a browser, this utility will can your hardware AND define your network then present a printable list in your browser.  The personal (free) edition can be found here.

FreshDiagnose - This client app with a great user interface does an excellent job as well. You may have to navigate their site around ads to find the download (Hey, the author has to make a few bucks somehow?) but the program (and FREE registration) are well worth it.  You can get a copy here.

Speccy - Piriform's site is now clean of ads all 'over the page'.  This is the company that brought us CCleaner and it appears they recognized the need as well and have made a public beta of their new program Speccy available here.

The steps?

First, if it isn't a home-built box, visit your PC manufacturer's website first.  If the latest drivers (firmware, etc) haven't yet made it to Windows Update, there's a very good chance you'll find the installs there.  There are also lots of recent BIOS updates. Some will make a big difference but leave this to someone who has PC experience.  Flashing a BIOS the wrong way could ruin your whole day :)

Now that you know what's in the box, you can also visit component manufacturers' websites to try and find your 'missing' driver (or a later one).  Intel does a great turn-key job with this.  Others may take a little digging.  If you're Googling a component manufacturer, try to find their website and NOT a copy cat or legacy driver site.  There are thousands of component manufacturers but finding these drivers shouldn't be that hard.

Finally, this piece isn't for everybody. If you're not PC hardware literate, leave it to your computer buddy to do the homework or (disclaimer?!), you could wreck a perfectly good install

The bottom line?  If you think you're missing your card-reader driver, audio or print driver, or latest hard disk firmware, it's important to know exactly what device you're dealing with.  This can be said for any PC operating system and one of the three programs above (or all?!) should do the trick .... plus a little.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Twitter creates their own (HUGE) problem

Despite numerous initiatives by Twitter to remove spammers from the service, their latest innovation exposes just that .... and it's serious, very serious.

While it's no secret that spammers (or worse) jump on Twitter's trending topics, I decided to log out (to the relatively new Twitter front page) and click on some of the trending topics.

The result?  A slew of NSFW spammers under various topics. 

Not so good for the kids .... but it gets worse, and my intuition was right on.

I clicked on a few to see what would happen.  In both cases, the spammer link attempted to load malware to my PC.  In my case, it wasn't too hard to get rid of.  For the average, everyday PC user?  This IS a serious problem. (One was really nasty!).

Advice for now?

1) Don't click unless you know what you're clicking (Good advice in general ?!).
2) Use a client app like TweetDeck or Seesmic
3) Log in before using the Twitter homepage.

Most of you know I don't write sensational posts.  This needs to be fixed ... now .... or Twitter should revert back to the old front page for the time being.

Hey Microsoft - Remember Us? We're IBM

I'm sure many of you remember the first IBM PC ... and the operating system that ran it.

It was a couple of young guys that wrote DOS, the Disk Operation System which was not exclusively licensed by the massive company then known as 'Big Blue'. A company that was so HUGE that many used it as a benchmark to predict moves of the US stock market.

(There was no 'technology sector' ... We're talking the entire New York Stock Exchange).

PC-DOS was re-marketed shortly thereafter as MS-DOS by Bill Gates, Paul Allen and company and became the foundation for a then small company ... known as Microsoft.

Of course, IBM is still very much around and has both new and legacy products used by millions of companies worldwide but unless you're a dedicated IT person, IBM rarely makes tech headlines.

So while Google is perceived by almost everyone to be the next big challenger to Microsoft, IBM hasn't gone away.

In an e-mail to developers a short time ago, IBM made a few announcements.

The first was the newest release of IBM Lotus Symphony 3 Beta 2, a free software suite (built on top of OpenOffice).

The notable difference this time around was the wording "Show your organization how much it could save by using Lotus Symphony instead of Microsoft Office" and even pointed to a savings calculator.

The real message was a continued pitch for the space that everyone is looking at, and actually a challenge to both Google and Microsoft's cloud computing services, IBM LotusLive.

While Windows 7 was an out-of-the-box hit and one of the best PC operating systems Microsoft has ever delivered, (and both Office Online and the Office 2010 Beta show real promise), there's simply no doubt that  the heat is on, in a big way, from numerous competitors, as the enterprise landscape continues to change at a hyper pace.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Google moving to Kansas?! Company Changes Name Unexpectedly

In one of the best kept secrets in decades, search giant Google embraced a new company name at the stroke of midnight.

The new brand and corporate name, Topeka, was launched on the main Google (now Topeka) page.

Calls to Mountainview went unanswered all evening as did e-mails.

A representative of the company (who wished to remain anonymous) said that "staff and call centers were being relocated".

Finally, Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Topeka Inc. provided more details on the Official Google (ugh ..Topeka?) blog here.

We'll keep you updated on the ramifications of this mid-boggling change as more details become available.

Update 1 - 4:30 AM ET : The change has cause a firestorm of Internet activity.  See graph below:

Update 2 - April 2, 2010 : Yes, Google is back to being Google. TechCrunch has a good piece on the best of April Fools on the Internet here.