Sunday, October 25, 2009

Facebook changes flip out users

Those of us that follow this kind of stuff knew on Friday (or earlier) that changes to Facebook were coming.

The Facebook blog (and several hundred tech blogs) highlighted the story.

In reality, most Facebook users don't read tech news ....and even if they did, the story disappeared entirely under the weight of the Windows 7 launch on Thursday.

For the majority, the changes to the so-called 'newsfeed' log-on page came as a complete surprise, and as with any change, the reaction from the masses was ..... "Huh? ... Where's my stuff?".

So here's a quick explanation.

This isn't Facebook's first change.  They've tested and implemented changes to the interface numerous times.

This IS the first time that I can remember that they changed it without letting you preview it first.  They simply went ahead and did it.


If the numbers posted by founder Mark Zuckerberg are accurate, Facebook has over 300 million registered users worldwide (Yes, you read that right .....approx the entire population of the United States!).

Talk about messing with success?

Even though Facebook is trying to be a little bit of everything to everybody, and while that may be a good idea, it complicates the formula for the everyday user. From the reactions so far, that's probably an understatement.

An easier-to-navigate new front page, with a user option to try it first, probably would have been a better path.

So what goin' on here ??

As most 'techies' know, not long ago Facebook BOUGHT Friendfeed .  Most loyal Friendfeed users were not only a little 'upset' at the time that their favorite network was being acquired in the early stages, but the odds were on a Google acquisition and this deal caught almost everyone off guard.

The new newsfeed you're currently seeing on Facebook is more-than Friendfeed inspired.  It is a little bit of Friendfeed (without some of Friendfeed's awesome features).

The posts with the most 'Likes' or comments will now bump up to the top ... or at least that's what it's doing for now.  Potentially a good move over time as more people will be seen interacting .... and you'll discover more users.  (IE: Works for them ... and may work for you).

For now, almost everyone I know outside of tech is not happy with this.  It's not just change, or resistance to change, it's a wholesale change to the page you first see when you log on, without any prior explanation for most users.

On the other hand ... Friendfeed loyalists probably love it.  I actually do and already spent more time on Facebook this weekend than I have in months.

This is gonna be a rough one but since Facebook is far and away the largest social network in the world, I suppose they felt they could get away with it.

We'll see.

For now, it's either get just used to it, let you comments be heard on the Facebook blog ... or you can always just give up ..... and play Farmville :)

Update:  While we're on the subject for those that haven't noticed, CNN has also re-launched their website as well.

edited for content Oct 25 11 AM ET

Friday, October 23, 2009

Verizon - Yes, we're looking at you iPhone (Video)

Over the course of the last few weeks, a variety of new cellphones based on Google's Android Operating System have been introduced by several major cellular carriers.

Earlier today, here in the US, Verizon outright dashed rumors about adopting a version of Apple's iPhone (when the US exclusive with AT&T expires).

It's been about two weeks since Verizon launched the "There's a Map for That" TV campaign targeting AT&T directly.

Now, they're looking at Apple.

A new buzz-building campaign on TV and the Internet went live a few hours ago, on the iPhone offensive with numerous mentions of "i" doesn't do this and "i" doesn't do that .... while promoting what Verizon has dubbed 'Droid' ... coming in November.

The website (a redirect to a special Verizon Wireless page) lets you enter your e-mail to be 'among the first'.

You can preview the new Verizon website, here.

Update: 1 AM ET Oct 23:  InformationWeek has more on the Verizon advertising launch here and Boy Genius Report covered Motorola's Droid Internet debut here.

Update 2: Video of the ad now embedded below.

Update Oct 27, 2009 3 AM ET: According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is still interested in the iPhone saying it's Apple's decision.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google and Apple didn't derail Windows 7

The timing couldn't have been a coincidence ... but it won't work.

On Monday, Google announced a massive push (worldwide) for Google apps.  Yesterday, Apple announced all-new MacBooks and iMacs.

Tomorrow is the official release date on Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7.

The 'buzz', which has been around in tech circles for almost a year, is now hitting the (so-called) mainstream media ... and we all know what that means.

I asked some 'regular people' yesterday (IE: non-techies) if they knew what Google Apps or Windows 7 were.  The answer (without getting into some very funny 'Jay-walking' type stuff) was a resounding NO.

On the other hand both Facebook and Twitter were a YES (with over 75% saying they had Facebook accounts and visit them at least twice a week).

Keeping in mind that this was a very limited and completely non-scientific survey, it still points to an important factor. 

People are busy.  They're trying to hedge against the economy, and, in many cases, just trying to make a living. 

If it's not in they're face, they're going to miss it.  (Kinda like marketing YOUR blog? :).

Here in the US, the Windows 7 buzz is already building.  Major news networks are set to cover it .... or already are.


Well, it may not get the same ratings as Jon and Kate ... (ugh!) ... but NOT covering the Windows 7 launch would almost be like not covering a Space Shuttle landing.

Windows still owns the PC desktop, both by home and enterprise users, by a very large margin.  Despite Apple's gains and stellar earnings this week, they're still less than 10 percent of the market.  To most people, Google is where they go to find something.

One of the best pieces I've seen this morning so far comes from CBS News (keeping in mind that CBS owns CNET, one of the oldest and strongest technology news brands).  The piece (for regular people :) can be found here.

It's no secret that I love Windows 7.  It's the closest thing to plug and play ever, and despite numerous claims by blog authors to the contrary, it's a HUGE improvement over XP or Vista.

It's what the public doesn't see (yet) that's the most interesting.  The new war between Google, Apple and Microsoft.  It has now morphed to almost every front and 'could' redefine all of this over the next 5 or ten YEARS.

Google's mobile operating system, Android, is hitting Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the US, and you'll be hearing a lot more about Verizon's 'Droid'. Google Voice, Apps, Gmail and many other products are viable 'players'.

Apple continues on the 'style' streak.  There's just no disputing that Apple computers look cool (and even make you look cool).  A fashion statement that works.  There's also no disputing that when (or if) the masses adopt smartphones, currently the iPhone wins.  Period. Apple's iTunes still dominates the podcast and music scene despite numerous challenges.

Windows 7 was critical to Microsoft.  They did it right on a variety of fronts.  In fact, it's going to be a lot easier to get Grandma on the Internet soon .... without those daily phone calls "Can you come over ... something went wrong". 

No joke .....

I don't remember one piece even mentioning this demographic.  While traditional marketers are all over it (and A LOT of scams), tech is ignoring one of the largest spending groups, at least here in the US.

That may change .... and it may change soon.

Regardless.  Ask someone this Friday is if they know what Windows 7 is.  More importantly, if they plan to get it.  My guess is YES and YES.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Google - We got a lotta green goin on ....

Blog Action Day has been around for some time and although, as of this writing, it doesn't appear to be eclipsing last year's numbers, it just got a boost on the Official Google Blog.

Blog Action Day 2009 is dedicated to Climate Change and has some notable participants and new media partners.

The Google post by Googler Anthony Ravitz showcases some extraordinary sustainable initiatives at the Googleplex including "9,212 photovoltaic solar panels that produce 1.6 MW of electricity — enough energy to power about 1,000 California homes". (Ugh .... Wow!)

For those that don't remember it, or weren't around 'the scene' when it made headlines, the post also makes reference to the company's use of .... ugh .... goats to mow the lawn .

Yes, you read that right .... :).

It's a safe guess that the early morning post from Google will drive a lot of blogs to get onboard the Blog Action Day bandwagon at the last minute (Blog Action Day 2009 is today).

This blog participated in some of the earliest Blog Action Days.  The concept is good and is now being played out in different ways on a variety of platforms.

Blogging, Tweeting (or whatever) for a variety of charities, initiatives etc. certainly can't hurt.  In fact, in many cases, it has solved problems and/or helped a lot.

There it is .... We're in ....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Muck Rack grows - Adds Beer

One of the more interesting Twitter - based websites launched early this year is Muck Rack.

Well-known by the web's 'social' PR crowd but not so well-known (yet) by the masses, Muck Rack is to Twitter what Alltop is to blogs, or at least that's the direction they appear to be going.

Originally, Muck Rack was an aggregator of Tweets by Journalists.  I often went there (after TechMeMe for my 'tech take'), to see what Journalists around the globe were saying, and writing about.  The site does a pretty good job sorting through the so-called noise.

Muck Rack has matured.  Not only have they added features such as 'Mass Follow' for particular News organizations (and lots more), but scrolling across the top, there's now 'racks' for Designers, Coders, Tech, Celebs (gotta have that one :), Humor, Beauty, Musicians, VCs, Sports, Science, Pets, Travel, Colleges, and yes, Beer.

Hey, Beer is the No. 1 consumed alcoholic beverage in America (and probably recession - proof).  Makes  sense to me?

MuckRack also tracks links.  I found this reference to Louis Gray in No. 1 post position pretty interesting. 

No, it was under Beer, it was under Tech.

So if you're one of the many that have cut your Twitter list down because of spam or just too much noise, you may just find what you're looking for on Muck Rack.

You will find a lot of the people behind the blogs you probably read already.

..... not to mention a slew of beer breweries you probably had no idea existed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google got me to re-try Opera - Huh?

Earlier today, the Official Google Blog announced a new website called

The new website is a simple explanation of what a web browser is, and provides direct links not only to Google's Chrome, but also to Apple's Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and yes, the latest version of Opera.

To see Google continue to embrace 'basics' is refreshing.

There are brand new web users every day and tens of thousands of people worldwide discovering coding, search marketing, the latest Internet landscape and more each week.

Factually, there's a lot that many of us probably take for granted. Factually, it's not just kids that are just getting with the 'net.

Emerging countries rolling out broadband, seniors right here in the US, rural communities just getting broadband, and many other groups are just testing the waters for the first time.

The easier it is for them to get information (and reliable information about Internet safety and security), the better.

Opera has been around for a lot of years but doesn't get much press here in the states.  The browser is used extensively on cellphones and also PC's, particularly in Europe. While the market share is relatively low, the browser has, for the most part, always been good.

I gave it a fresh run today, writing this piece using it, and it's just fine on a PC with a few features not offered by other browsers ... (probably something that can be said about each one of them).

I'm not going to look for Google's motivation here.  (It's obvious they'd love if all of us used Chrome as it continues to evolve).  I just think it's great that a major Internet company is continuing to address newcomers.

To keep it fair, Microsoft's recent efforts with Microsoft Security Essentials, a 100% free virus scanner for PC's, was a good move as well.  While it may infringe on the 'pay-for' antivirus market a bit, the 'basic' anti-virus program release, just before the public release of Windows 7 (October 22nd) was important and smart.   Many newcomers, in this economy, simply can't afford a few extra bucks for still necessary add-ons.

Google's Browser Video is below.  While all of these browsers will see new versions emerge, it's a great starter kit!

FTC Rules - 50,000 bloggers move to Canada

In what seemed like a well intentioned move on Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines for endorsements, clarifying an existing law, but for the first time, mentioning bloggers.

I, for one, have always wondered why the same disclosures that appear (and have appeared) on websites for years somehow escaped bloggers and blogging (but never felt it necessary to put any kind of disclosure here).

The ruling has caused nothing less than a firestorm with some embracing the new 'clarification', and others outright hating it.

Personally, I have no problem if I'm helping someone with a website, writing (sometimes along with their lawyers) extensive disclosure pages.  Factually. they usually address typos more than anything else.

On the other hand, this truly seems like an attempt to apply old rules to a new world .... that simply won't work.

First, here in the US, many of us write blogs almost assuming that our audience is in the US.  An FTC ruling will most likely only effect US bloggers (and Tweeters?).  That alone could result in a legal mess.

The World Wide Web is just that ..... and it's getting bigger.  The small audience for this blog comes from  numerous countries (and even more since I added Google Translate above and before that, the Wibiya bar below).

At times, I have turned on Google's Adsense here as more of an experiment than anything else.

Anyone who knows that landscape knows that I am not in full control of those ads .... Google is.

So if I were to disclose something here (not that there's much to disclose?!), and Google matched my writing with Adsense Ads, am I responsible for those advertisers now?

At the very least, it'll be interesting to see what ads appear below this post.

For me, the FTC's time could be much better spent going after virus-laden malware blogs and websites that still proliferate the web.  They are still the biggest problem for average Internet users.

"By the way .... if you buy this FREE product, we are taking control of your computer ... because we need the bandwidth ... and haven't decided what to do with it yet"

Now there's a disclosure.

Links updated 10/6/2009  9:30 ET

Friday, October 2, 2009

Disqus adds Yahoo Log-In ... more

In an e-mail to the Disqus community today, Daniel Ha introduced a variety of features that have been added to the commenting platform over the past few weeks (and seem to have have been overlooked by many).

For those of you that haven't noticed ... Disqus went real-time some time ago.  Comments appear instantaneously and can be imported by a variety of platforms, many now also in real-time.

About a week ago, Disqus added Yahoo! alongside Twitter, OpenID and Facebook (and their own log-in) for commenting on Disqus - enabled websites.

There are also new plug-ins available for WordPress and Movable Type as well as new comment importers.

Finally, the 'reaction list' is now HUGE and includes Friendfeed, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Blogger, WordPress, YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa, Flickr, Typepad, Movable Type and others.

I have enabled Yahoo! along with the recently released Narcissus theme in the comments below as an example (along with Facebook log-in which is now functional here).

You can view all of the recent changes to Disqus here or follow the Disqus blog here.

Have a great weekend all

Updated Oct 2 2009 8:15 AM ET

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Google Syncs Desktop Searches To Your Phone

A few hours ago, Google announced that you can now sync your mobile and desktop Google search history.

Available for Android, iPhone and Palm Web OS, all users need to do is log-in to their Google account. From there it's a matter of enabling or disabling from the settings tab.

More information can be found at the Google Mobile blog here.