Thursday, July 29, 2010

Facebook Questions - The Next Logical Step

Facebook unleashed Facebook Questions to all users late yesterday. 

In testing for some time, the new feature is now appearing at the top of all if not most  news feed pages.

If you asked the question "What does the fastest growing phenomenon on the Internet do next?", this very well may have been the answer.

Have a question? ... Ask your 'friends' and a few hundred million other people.  All it'll take is one good question and the activity on the network could increase dramatically .... and so will the buzz ... again.

I've been a fan of Quora since the launch.  Started by ex-Facebook execs, the relatively new start-up is very similar to this concept and has been gaining traction  (I get a few Quora followers each day).

Facebook employees claim their implementation is different.

Regardless, after all the privacy criticism this past year, this is one of the smartest moves the company could have made ..... to increase activity in people's streams and make the network that much more 'sticky'.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Apple Addresses Safari Bug and Adds Extensions

It's kind of easy to imagine the reaction in Cupertino, just a couple of weeks after the 'iPhone bumper crisis' when numerous tech publications reported a serious security flaw in Apple's browser .... Safari.

Today, in classic Apple style, not only did they announce a fix with the release of Safari 5.0.1 .... but the company coupled it with a 'product announcement' of sorts.

Apple has added 'extensions' to Safari along with a brand new extension gallery.

Extensions have been popular with the Firefox crowd for years and a whole new crop have been developed for Google's Chrome browser.  Microsoft, on the other hand, has not embraced the idea with either Internet Explorer 8 or the upcoming IE9.

Bottom line.

Fix your Safari.

You can download the complete package for OS X or Windows here. (Be sure and read the system requirements).

You can also preview some of the all-new extensions in the Safari Extensions Gallery here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The New Firefox 4 Beta 2 Screams in Windows 7 ! (Update)

Earlier today, Mozilla took the wraps off the 2nd Beta of the upcoming 'next generation' browser Firefox 4.0.

Since the most recent versions of Google's Chrome captivated most (if not all) of my laptop and desktop browsing, both in Windows 7 and Linux ... I honestly didn't expect much from this latest Firefox release other than improvements in the latest cosmetic changes.

I downloaded the new version this evening for (what was intended to be) a brief run on a modest laptop that I use often.

I did not enable the experimental DirectX 2D support.  I also didn't read the bottom of the new download page and was a little surprised when this guy popped up after about 5 minutes:

You can opt-out quickly and easily and still provide feedback as you wish .... and when you wish.

I know Mozilla's been working on their engine.  I read the other release notes.

I'm fully aware this is completely non-scientific and may even be hardware specific but the browser was moving so fast, I went over to SpeedTest.Net to see if my ISP had cranked up the volume ?!


Early adopters (competitors?!) ... Give this latest Gecko a spin and see if you agree.

Mozilla calls it "retained layers".  More on that can be found in today's blog post here.

About an hour in, and using it to write this post (and a few other things at the same time),  it feels like my laptop is jumping off the table?

If I'm guessing right, the Firefox team may have just set a new speed record.

Now off to try the Direct2D hardware accelerator!

Update 1 - 11:20 PM July 27, 2010 ET: A few more observations

1) The Direct 2 hardware accelerator (in my case) wasn't a winner but that is, no doubt, a hardware issue.
2) Our bottom bar (by Wibiya) still has the same problems as it did in Firefox 4.0 Beta 1

On the very positive side ....

WebM tests on YouTube are simply incredible.  HD on a medium speed wireless broadband connection (Full Screen) plus 'real-time' pages (Twitter and Buzz) all rendering faster.

and ..... Special thanks to @ScepticGeek for confirming I wasn't hallucinating :)

UPDATE September 9, 2010 - The latest version is currently Firefox 4.0 Beta 5 and is available here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

CCleaner Updates - Now Cleans HTML5 Storage

CCleaner has continued to be rated, by almost every tech publication, one of the most effective Windows utilities for cleaning unnecessary files and restoring 'clean' browsing.

This morning, Piriform updated the program to version 2.34, adding a variety of improvements not the least of which includes HTML 5 PC storage.  The complete list of updates can be found here.

The 'donateware' download is here.

Note: In some cases, CCleaner will remove your 'saved passwords' and other information which you may use daily.  You should have a complete understanding of how web files and cookies are stored, and what they do,  before using this program or others like it.

Why Ford Motor Company Went Viral Two Weeks In a Row

The web marketing team at Ford Motor Company just did it again and it appears that the premier of the new 2011 Ford Explorer will be trending on Google (and Twitter) for another 8 hours or more.

Last week's viral news story was pretty much a given.

When a company reports incredible earnings in the midst of a recession, the story is going to be picked up by everyone, but the web marketing team had a secret up their sleeves.

Early this morning, Ford started to premier the 2011 Ford Explorer "for the first time" .... on Facebook.

Sounds like no big deal right?


Crossing two huge web demographics .... Auto and Tech ..... the story is being picked up by blogs, news sites, auto enthusiast forums and others and is trending in the top-10 ... 8 hours later.

This simple stroke of brilliance gets even better.

The Ford Explorer preview on Facebook (which you don't have to be signed in to see) is being unraveled along a time line throughout the day,  Subtle stuff that's working.

The tech and auto press are all over this which means that the mainstream press will be right behind (count on it).

It's called FREE ADVERTISING and Ford just saved a bundle so if you buy one of these puppies ... make sure they throw in the floor mats?! ... :)

Maybe this guy can explain it better than I can ....

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pardon our Dust - Times are changing!

A variety of changes will be coming here between now and the fall.

Disqus - powered comments are back as of tonight ... Previous comments have been archived due to a changed implementation.

Lots more to come.  Thanks to all!

and ..  stay tuned :)


Pennsylvania Tornado (s) .... and Twitter

Those of you that know me, know that among my (way too many) hobbies over the years has been 'weather watching', more accurately storm chasing.  Non-computer geeky stuff? 

Not exactly.  Read on.

In the earlier days of this blog, I noted early web-based weather experiments with a variety of groups and companies and one of the best 'draws' to one of my first websites in the 1990's, then considered 'cool' (now rather mundane) .... a live weather camera and professional weather station in Northeast Pennsylvania which later became a multi-site experiment with a retired Microsoft executive and a weather professional.

We had a lot of fun .... and A LOT of hits ... and like today, it was VERY difficult to monetize :)

My 'cam', as I used to call it, brought e-mail from all over the US as people watched wildlife wander through our backyard, then located in Pike County, Pennsylvania (where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania come together).  It became apparent that not only was there a HUGE community of weather fanatics but also many people in the cities just found some calm just watching a deer (or occasional bear .. ?!) wander around in front of the camera.

Yes, I was a long way from my long-time roots on Long Island :)

I became acquainted with a young guy (online) who was building what became the largest interactive community of weather watchers on the Internet ... WeatherMatrix.

The network, along with its founder Jesse Ferrell, was acquired by Accuweather (not necessarily in that order) and years later I  had the pleasure of touring their incredible facility in State College, Pennsylvania.

Now this was geek (and weather) heaven.  A weather 'war room' along with banks of computers analyzing weather models for analysis by then over 100 meteorologists.

Which brings us to this weekend's crazy (hot) weather and apparently some Tornado activity right here in Central Pennsylvania, An event crazy people (like me) still enjoy watching and, when possible, contributing to the documentation and early warnings.

I revisited the weather landscape for the first time in a while late Saturday night as a Tornado Watch was posted for our area.  The Weather Channel went on our TV ... and had (very) limited information ... but it was apparent that there were numerous warnings right here near Bloomsburg, PA.

It was also pretty apparent .. ugh ... outside :)

I also visited the new Weather Channel Beta website and (completely putting aside my possible bias towards AccuWeather) was somewhat horrified that I couldn't quickly zoom in to 'our' situation in two or three clicks.  Making a website clean and simple is one thing.  In this case (Note: It is marked 'beta') , it didn't deliver the value I was looking for.

Next was the AccuWeather website which let me easily zoom into our local radar in almost real-time as storms continued to pop up to our east then west then ... right over us .... then south. Incredible stuff.  (Note: This may be a situation where paywalls actually can work as going over to provided even more).

I found this post by Jesse on the night before's activity.  Searching the National Weather Service storm reports, I was able to confirm that there was 'some' significant activity on Friday, not only in State College, but a possible F1 Tornado just north of where we used to live near the Woodloch Pines resort in Pike County.

I'm guessing Jesse's on vacation because I remember him well enough to know he would have been all over Saturday night's stuff as well.  (Everyone needs a day off ... :).  The team and website continued to deliver Saturday nights activity.

Potential tornado activity in Bradford PA and numerous severe reports including road closures and trees down within 30 miles of our home ... in all four directions on Saturday night.

Then I stumbled across this.

Apparently (and how I missed this is beyond me), the National Weather Service is testing Twitter for storm reports from both professionally trained spotters ... and just regular everyday people.

The hashtag is #wxreport and when I back-traced those, it was pretty much all there. Pretty cool stuff.

While I was tempted to check-in to Foursquare at 'Thunderstorm in Danville' ... I kinda decided to kick back and watch a movie.  It was a long night :)

If you don't own a S.A.M.E. encoded weather receiver ... get one.  Severe weather, as evidenced above, can happen ANYWHERE and NOAA weather radio now covers almost the entire country.  It should be right up there on your list with smoke detectors.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Firefox Moves to Version 3.6.7 Stable (Updated - Make that 3.6.8 !)

Firefox has taken another mini-step along the way to the highly anticipated 4.0 milestone.

Yes, version 3.6.7 is here .... but as of this post, many readers are not yet being automatically updated.

The usual procedure works for this.  Just tap 'Help' at the top of your browser, then 'Check for Updates'.

A BUNCH of security updates are addressed in this update (some considered critical):

In addition, more stability improvements are onboard.

Update: Less than 48 hours later, Mozilla has released Firefox 3.6.8 which fixes a stability issue with some plug-ins. 

The release notes can be found here and the download page for various systems and languages is now available here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Is the Future the Cloud and Mobile ?

Like Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet (who apparently has jumped ship ?!), I've spent most of my life using a PC.

Put a Mac in front of me and my reaction is ... "I don't have time for this".

I have (recently) been playing with Ubuntu's build of  Linux.  There's a reason for that.  The upcoming Google Chrome OS expected later this year (and getting current again with 'the engine').

Back to Apple.  The company that etched out a small market share early on but producing computers that did graphics better and created a fan crowd of graphic artists and publishers, never managed to convert me.

Factually, I was a little stunned when attending an SEO show a few years ago and noted that many of the 'players' were using MacBooks. Status symbol?  I honestly had no idea.  Apple knows how to make their stuff (and marketing) sexy.

Of course, Apple is a very different company now.

The return of Steve Jobs and his visionary out-of-the-box thinking brought us the hugely-popular iPod and the iPhone.

While the iPhone is 'under attack' by a barrage of  releases of Android-powered phones (and Google), it's still a valid argument, that, not only did Apple change the mobile landscape but, despite the recent horrid antenna PR, the iPhone 4 is probably the best and most versatile cell phone on the market ......hindered only by it's closed app ecosystem and, of course, it's exclusive with US carrier AT&T.

Those two factors alone could prove to be a win for Android and iPhone-competing phones like Verizon's Droid X (which sold out the first day).

Today, the other huge tech player, Microsoft, reported earnings.  The headlines are blaring.

What did people expect?

Windows 7 (and Office 2010) weren't 'improved' products.  They were both 'surprises' and were, in fact, both somewhat revolutionary.  Perhaps most notably, looking back at at the 'old days', are the dramatically improved graphics in Windows 7 ... and the fact that 'it just works'.

Just about everyone expected 'tech' to lead any economic recovery.  Microsoft not only firmed up it's core business with these products (and free add-ons such as Windows Live Essentials and the free Security Essentials anti-virus software) but they stopped giving away samples of their 'cloud product' Azure ... and started charging users.

Despite recent giveaways to employees and public demos of the new Windows Phone, the jury is still out on Redmond's new entry into mobile.

This Microsoft earnings report is just the beginning.  Most major companies are still holding off on major upgrade expenditures.

Microsoft and Google (as well as others like Rackspace and IBM) are players in the cloud computing arena.  Cloud computing is here. It's still anyone's guess what percentage of corporate users will embrace the off-site cluster computing platform and by how much but economics pretty much dictate that everyone will ... to some extent.

A few week ago, Steve Rubel penned this piece for AdAge.  To some extent, he's probably right and the 'next' generation will be using smartphones in a very big way (and visiting the optometrist earlier in life?) ... but anyone counting out the PC platform, new and exciting laptops (yes, with keyboards) and desktops are wrong. Very wrong.

They'll be around for a long, long time and if Microsoft continues to innovate, there's a very good chance that they'll keep a very large portion of that market share.

It's all about productivity and price.

The migration has begun ... and it's going to be a fascinating 5 years (or less! ....).

Google Turns Up the Buzz on Life in a Day

Those visiting Google's home page this evening found a little reminder of the (huge?) YouTube experiment set for this Saturday.

YouTube unveiled a new countdown logo as well:

 Here's the explanation (from YouTube):

"Life In A Day is a global experiment to create a user-generated feature film: a documentary, shot in a single day, by you. On 24 July, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald".

Yes, fame can be yours and ...

"If your video is included in the final film, you'll be credited as a co-director and may be one of 20 contributors selected to attend the film's world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival."

The Film Festival is all over it,

is promoting the event on the Institute's front page as well as creating a pretty awesome promo on .. ugh ... , YouTube.

So charge those cellphone or Flip batteries .. Maybe even buy a few extras.

Of course, you can really make a splash and buy one of these ..... or .... a small car.

Forget the dentist appointment.

Family picnic?  What an opportunity.

Gotta work? Use up that really great excuse.

Convince your best friend to follow you around Saturday.  They'll love it (You may want to set some limits here? ...).

Me?  I'll be working.

Boring huh?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yet Another Twitter Earthquake - Wrong Coast?

As people began waking up for work on the east coast of the US Friday, those that monitor trends on Twitter noticed what is becoming a fairly common term .... "Earthquake!"

For whatever the reason, people seem to rush to Twitter whenever (and more recently wherever) an earthquake strikes to announce 'they felt it'.

The USGS has even embraced the service.

While it used to be almost a certainty that the earthquake was occurring in Silicon Valley when it hit the 'Twitter wire', those days are long gone as the micro-blogging platform has made itself known across the globe.

A short time ago the familiar EARTHQUAKE lit up on Twitter once again.  This time it was a small yet potent (for the area) 3.6 quake about 20 miles from Washington DC centered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

This is what Twitscoop looked like at 5:45 ET:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Google Buzz Rolls Out New Feature - The Right Way

It's yet another new feature for Google Buzz and it looks like the Buzz team has not only learned from their own launch but from Facebook criticism as well.

A short time ago, many Buzz users were greeted with a top screen that looked like this (Note: You'll have to tap the image to enlarge it):

Note: The default is opt-in, NOT opt-out.

Despite the fact that the feature isn't completely revolutionary (Friendfeed has a similar function), Kudos go out  to the team at Buzz for rolling out features slowly, allowing users time to experiment, and for making each step opt-in rather than opt-out.

More on the new Google Buzz feature can be found at the Google Buzz Team Buzz profile here.

So far, it appears those who have commented agree with me ....

I suggest you 'like' it!

Google Maps - Now Available in 20 Car Brands

As the navigation landscape continues to heat up with various players outright buying other players and various satellite companies partnering with a variety of navigation and cellular providers, Google isn't sitting by quietly. The company's 'Send to Sync' and other programs have seen numerous announcements in the US, UK and elsewhere.

A short time ago, Google announced that Google Maps can now send destinations directly to more than 20 car brands worldwide.

With smartphones now with navigation systems built-in and cars now getting them in the dash, I'd be curious how long it will be before stand-alone auto GPS units simply become obsolete?

Here's the video demo from Google:

The complete post can be found on the Google Lat Long blog here.

Picnik comes to Picasa Photo Albums

Perhaps one of the most visited posts to this blog in recent months this year was when I categorized Google's acquisition of online photo editor Picnik as "HUGE".

There were a lot of reasons, some of when can be found here.

Earlier today, Picnik was integrated into Google's Picasa Web Albums.  Users can now edit photos in the cloud (without opening Google's Picasa client software) and use a variety of cool effects, most of which are free.

Users can also sync those photos to Picasa easily whenever they wish.

While Picnik was used on Yahoo's Flickr prior to the Google acquisition ... and still is, the Picnik / Picasa integration is another step towards Google's Chrome OS Cloud computing platform while further monetizing Picnik.... as well as bringing recognition to Picasa for those that have yet to use it.

While it's not the only game in town, Picnik is accurate, fast, fun .... and just works.

With Music, Entertainment and other already popular Internet spaces now on Google's radar, it's become obvious that a 'complete' cloud-based platform is being laid out prior to the anticipated launch of a fast-loading Ubuntu-like Google Chrome based operating system later this year.

The official announcement can now be found on the Google Photo Blog here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BING Officially Launches In Japan

Microsoft's Bing 'Decision Engine' is now officially live in Japan.

In most parts of the world, you can access the latest Bing rollout at in Japanese or your own language.

If you read Japanese (or have a really good online translator), you can access the Press Release here.

It's Time to Stop Blaming Google

Since the very start of the 'commercial' Internet, there has been wholesale changes in almost every business on the planet.

It seems, only now, that we're hearing ongoing complaints about Google and their aggregation of content.

The reason?

Most of us read the news, and more of us every day are doing it on the Internet.

Newspapers (and entire news organizations) are being threatened and downsized ... but it's not Google.  It's not Google at all.  It's MILLIONS of blogs and websites with good (or great) writers delivering quality content.

It's the Internet and the hyper change the platform continues to deliver to every business.

Newspapers on the Internet are nothing new.  They too can be traced back to the very early days of the web.  The difference now is that there are of thousands of them where back then, when we all found it pretty amazing, there were only a few.

Local web-only news sites spring up and were immediately popular.  Very popular. People wanted to know what was going on in their own backyard.  Like today, they found it difficult, if not impossible, to monetize.  Citizen Journalism was born way back then and in some cases created (successfully) citizen activism.  

In the late 1990's, I launched one of those local sites .. and then another.  They were both incredibly popular. Covering local news became a passion.  Neither site made money online .. one survived in print .... and I bailed (late) on both attempts despite the fact that I couldn't even keep up with the e-mail.

There was no Google Adsense and trying to sell web ads in those days was VERY premature.

Now we have news organizations blaming Google for the erosion of their bottom line.

It's simply ridiculous.

There are 10 of millions of blogs and websites delivering relevant content.

It's getting more difficult for even Google to index them as many don't embrace SEO (which is crazy?!).

While companies like, well CNN (who recently broke ties with the AP), AOL and Yahoo are trying to be content providers, it IS Google and to some extent Microsoft's Bing that are delivering the news websites to the Internet with the exception of the few holdouts that find it difficult to change and read the same 'paper' each morning ... more likely now, on the Internet.

Journalists have joined Internet companies.  It's a trend that continues in it's very early stages.

People like Mathew Ingram, and as recently as today, Peter Vidani are exiting 'classic' newspapers and magazines and joining Internet-based companies.

Aggregators are HUGE.  As noted many times in the early days of this blog (when it was 'easy' to be picked up by Reuters and others).

The trend continues.

Google News (despite the new, somewhat horrid 'new look'?!) is one of those aggregators.

One can only wonder where half of the news organizations would be today without Google and niche aggregators such as the recently-sold PopUrls, AllTop, Techmeme (and their new sister aggregator Mediagazer) and others.

The NY Times did a piece on Techmeme yesterday.  I tweeted it:

Tonight it's a news story:

The chance for most blogs like this to be syndicated still exists, but in new ways.  The days of 'major names' picking up stories from here are over for now as the 'big Internet names' in Tech have negotiated multi-media deals with big name newspaper, TV, and other branded outlets.  Smart.

Change is what the Internet is about but Google, the Huffington Post, or anyone else pointing to others in a direct and/or hybrid way is not the problem.  For now, it's part of the solution.

Think of it this way.

The early days of cable brought us new and unique channels.  Cable systems today (and satellite) deliver not only several hundreds of channels but 'pay-per-view' as well.  Nothing on tonight?  I doubt it BUT if your neighbor or co-worker plays aggregator and tells you about a cool new show ... you may just watch it.  More importantly, you may go back again.  You might even buy an episode .... electronically or otherwise??

To the AP, News Corp and others.  PLEASE stop crying.  While I have empathy for small news creators, you guys still have plenty of options to make money and produce your own unique content.

I suppose we all have Time-Warner to thank.  Their (very) premature decision to change the format of Headline News (now HLN) has literally forced many of us to the web to get the latest headlines ......

.... and discover new and brilliant sources every day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Posterous Takes a Few Bold Shots at Google and Microsoft

Posterous wants your blog.

In recent weeks, Posterous, the blogging platform that bills itself as 'the dead simple place to post everything' has been making blog posts targeting yes, Google and Microsoft ... as well as Squarespace, LiveJournal, Movable Type, Ning, Active Rain, Xanga, Tumblr and others.

The Angel / VC - funded platform apparently wants you to switch from whatever you're currently using to blog to Posterous and they're willing the make some pretty bold statements to get you to do it.

The past two weeks saw a flurry of posts to the Posterous blog. This post targets Google's Blogger. The most recent post takes aim at Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces.

The titles of all the posts are enticing (at the very least) and while there's no doubt that Posterous is interesting, useful and has already captured the imagination of numerous prominent bloggers, it seems like there are some ego problems goin' on here .... and/or they're feeling a little pressure from their financiers.

There were numerous quotes, both on the blog and elsewhere like "Posterous launches new tools to switch from dying platforms".  That new tool, which continues to add more platforms, is here.

In reality, Posterous is pretty neat and reliable but calling WordPress or Blogger "dying platforms' is a reach.

Regretfully, comments are currently turned off here as I update the template in my spare time (or this could have been fun :) but., as always, this post will automatically tweet, go to Google Reader, Friendfeed, Google Buzz and numerous other places if you want to chime in.

Is it me ... or are these guys getting a little too aggressive?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Microsoft Drops Another Freebie - WebMatrix (Beta)

Microsoft has unleashed yet another public beta (and yet another new product name).

WebMatrix arrived late yesterday as part of Microsoft's Web Platform delivery system but also as a direct download via it's own new webpage.

WebMatrix is a suite of products for web development that combines a new easy-to-use interface with other products already available in the web platform including Visual Studio 2010 Express and SQL Server 2008 R2.

The program is a combination of existing blogging platforms, templates, WYSIWG web editing tools and  more than a few nifty scripts.  The WebMatrix front end makes it easier for non-coders.

Two caveats before heading for this Free checkout counter .....

1) It is still a Beta (IE: If you're nervous about this kind of stuff, don't do it ?)
2) On a system with fairly decent resources, it could take up to a half hour to install, as the ASP .Net 4 Framework and other necessary files are needed before use.

You can read (lots more) about Microsoft WebMatrix here before you decide if you want to try it.  The Microsoft Web Platform site (if you haven't used it previously) can be found here.

Important: If this is your first install of Web Platform 3.0, you should log on occasionally using the Web Platform Installer (IE: not Windows Update) for the latest performance enhancements, product additions and fixes, after installation and occasionally thereafter.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mozilla Launches Firefox 4 Beta 1 (Officially)

Early Firefox 4 initial beta build have been available from Mozilla's FTP server for several weeks.

Today, Mozilla took it to the next level .... officially releasing Firefox 4 Beta 1 in a blog post and asking for user feedback.

Small emoticons can be used to send comments to Mozilla participating developers.

The latest Firefox sports WebGL support and embraces the Google / Adobe-promoted WebM video format for HD HTML5 video.

A partial list of the numerous changes in Firefox 4 can be found here.

You can download a copy here.

Hello Facebook - We're Google and You're Not

It's no secret that a majority of Google's income comes from their advertising platform(s).

Wall Street has come to expect a LOT from Google and the (slightly crazy) double digit increases that the company has delivered for it's shareholders.

In recent months, the search giant has made numerous acquisitions.  More importantly, they have made moves to protect their home turf: Highly relevant search results and ads that work.  Yahoo! and others might want to take notice that Google is ramping up their display advertising programs, potentially including them in products such as Gmail.

More specifically, the ongoing push of Android, first via direct sales (which didn't work) followed quickly thereafter by carrier marketed Android powered phones (to counter any ad platform threat from Apple).

Apparently, Google is going one step further in the 'Apple' world introducing a music download platform later this year.  (Apple acquired some months ago ... Google had promoted the service heavily in their search index and inside bets were on them).

Similarly, bets were on Google to acquire hyper start-up Friendfeed.  A network that grew exponentially and was started by a group of prominent ex-Googlers (not exclusive of the founder of Gmail and others).

Privately held Facebook made that (very expensive) talent buy literally overnight, and got Friendfeed along with it to the dismay of many Friendfeed loyalists.  Friendfeed co-founder and ex-Googler Bret Taylor was recently named CTO at Facebook and head of platform development.

So while Google is betting heavily on other services such as the Chrome OS to enter even more markets, it's not only possible but now probable that Facebook could and probably will make a dent in Google's targeted  marketing platforms and it's highly likely they aren't going to sit by and watch.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about the rumored Google Me project (a Facebook competitor) at the Guardian's technology conference last Thursday.  He didn't say no.  He said "That would be a product announcement, and I won't say".

Make no mistake about it.  Marketing genius and innovation at Apple.  Microsoft with more than a few surprises last year and Windows 7 sales at a high clip. Facebook with more users than the entire population of the United States.

This 'war' is heating up ... again ..... and is going to start getting real interesting in the Fall and particularly as we enter the next holiday shopping season.  A wholesale change in the web advertising landscape is distinctly possible and deals by all of these companies with content providers is likely.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Flickr Previewing New Photo Page

Launched slowly to a select audience about one week ago, Flickr has a new photo page layout and they're rolling it out the right way.

Preview first.  Then you can opt in to stay if you wish and/or and provide feedback.

They probably would have gotten more press but just turning it on, but, no doubt after seeing reactions to changes in Facebook and more recently Google News, the majority might have been negative.

People by nature are resistant to change and Flickr still is one of the largest repositories of photos on the Internet.

Apparently the gang at parent company Yahoo! weren't taking chances as Facebook (in a much different way) is catching up quickly with photo hosting and Google's Picasa client software continues to improve somewhat dramatically ...... Not to mention the fact that Google recently purchased Picnik, the start-up used by Flickr for online editing.

After logging in, you'll probably be greeting with this banner:

What's new? 

1) The default photo size is now bigger.
2) They've (finally) increased the overall page size.
3) An new 'actions' menu consolidates things.
4) More privacy options (Did we see this coming? :)

....and a variety of other changes and new features.

Most users can now opt in to the 'new' Flickr here.

Update:  According to this post by Josh Lowensohn at CNET, the opt-in period will last one month at which point all users will see the 'new' Flickr.

Google Celebrates The Fourth With Goldberg Animation

Those hitting the Google Main Page this morning, at least here in the US, are being treated to yet another animation. This one, celebrating the Fourth of July .... and the birthday of inventor and cartoonist Rube Goldberg.

The last time Google put a 'working' Doodle on the front page, it captured an entire generation (and trended on Twitter worldwide for days).  For those that didn't see it, it was Pac-Man (and can still be played here!)

Goldberg was best known for his approach to unique gizmos that automated 'things' through a serious of unexpected steps.  His style was so radical and thought-provoking that his name literally became part of the American vernacular.  "Wow, that's a real Rube Goldberg set-up" , etc.

In this Google Doodle, tapping the arrow sets of a 'Goldberg-like' chain reaction that results in .... well you try it :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Write Your Blog Post Now. There Are No Readers .... Huh?

Over the past two years, the proliferation of new blogs, websites and even entire platforms has continued to grow exponentially on the web.

It's outright mind-boggling.

Blogs that used to see a few hundred comments now just see a sprinkle.  For many readers, the growth of the web has meant 'switching channels' and/or looking for new ones.

It's getting harder to keep your site 'sticky' and keep that return visitor number up.

For some sites, it's meant a decline in RSS subscribers and / or page views.  For those that make a serious business out of it, they're hanging in there through a combination of SEO, PPC and Social Network Marketing.  Some are even using not-so-fair tricks (like employing small armies of DIGGers or Facebook LIKEers).

One big factor in the lack of 'readers' is that here in the US it's summer.  While those still fighting the economy might be working one (or two?) jobs, others are taking time off to simply enjoy the weather.

Also just here in the US, it's a holiday weekend.

Add to all of that the massive downsizing of 'traditional' media ....and weekends typically becoming 'slow news days' despite the fact that the news goes on.

Readers are not only not reading but writers aren't writing.

Welcome to Prime Time.

Looking to get noticed?  Have a product you want to test in the marketplace?  A big (to you) announcement?

If you know just a little about marketing your blog or website, your opportunity is now.  Right now.
Not only are aggregators hungry for content but (in case you haven't noticed? :), there's a relatively new game in town.

Yes, it's mobile.  The now huge shift means that book or newspaper that many used to take on vacation may very well be at home BUT they may tune in on their smartphone or iPad?

There aren't a lot of summer holidays.  Seize the opportunity.  There's a good chance you'll get a pleasant surprise.

Sidenote: The of the announcement of the Zemanta Assistant for Blogger this past week seemed pretty cool.

It is.

This what what came up while I was writing this piece:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, July 2, 2010

Want To Know More About Google? There's A Sitemap for That

Every so often, it occurs to me that 'basics' of search and Google are missed not only by newcomers but also by the press ... and even a few 'experts'.

It also still boggles my mind (I guess I'm jaded?) when I run into someone that has no idea what SEO is, or if they do, they've never visited Webmaster Central.

The bigger picture.

Google has come a long way, especially in the last few years .... and in lots of different ways.  Too many ways to even think of listing in this post.

While the title of this brief piece might have SEO - saavy people thinking that I'm referring to XML sitemaps (something that every website should have), I'm not.

Google has a good 'old-fashioned' sitemap and the discovery there can be fascinating.

It's not all-encompassing but leads down a variety of roads and is updated on a regular basis.

Want to know how many (and what kind of) Twitter accounts Google has?  It's there.

Looking for a list of Google Blogs or have a specific question about something?

How about an RSS feed of press releases ?

Sitemaps go all the way way back to the days of HTML 1.  While they play a role in SEO, I'd doubt Google's too worried about that.

In classic Google 'simple style', the Google Main Sitemap can be found here.

A warning for marketers, the press, and many others .....

..... Visiting this page may take you on a journey that could last all day :)

Simplicity is bliss.

Have Fun,

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google Buys Modern Day OAG - Sets Sights on Travel

I'm sure many of you remember the days when Compuserve was owned by H&R Block and one of the many online services offered (very early in the game) was reserving an airline ticket.  The provider of that information was OAG (or Official Airline Guide).

It was a time that just being able to do it and know it was a 'done deal' was exciting for many of us.

OAG is still very much around. Their primary clients are Travel Professionals, Aviation and Cargo.  Compuserve is also 'still around' and was acquired in 1998 by AOL.

We live in a time where real-time information is everything.  Mapping and GPS information companies have been acquired and deals have been cut with satellite companies to provide information directly to Internet and  many other companies.

This bring us to the announcement today on the Official Google Blog - "Taking off with ITA".

Yes, Google has acquired a significant real-time information provider ... in the airline space....  known as ITA Software. Coincidentally (I'm sure) an information provider to Microsoft's competing search engine Bing and Bing Travel.

In addition to Bing, ITA lists many prominent clients including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Bing, Continental Airlines, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, Southwest Airlines, TripAdvisor, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and (lots of) others.

The tentative price tag is $700 million which appears on the surface to be a bargain in a highly competitive (and often search and web visited) industry.

Google mapped the deal here as well as promising to honor existing agreements and commenting that "the deal  will not alter existing market shares".

As someone who spent 5 1/2 years doing in-house SEO for a small (but potent :) Internet based travel provider, I found the following statement interesting:

"The acquisition will benefit passengers, airlines and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares and by driving more potential customers to airlines' and online travel agencies' websites. Google won't be setting airfare prices and has no plans to sell airline tickets to consumers."

As Google continues to integrate their various services, I can imagine not only shortcuts to airlines and flights in the main Google search index, but possibly recent photos of destinations from Picasa, imagery in Google Earth (and the thousands of photos and videos there from Google-owned services such as YouTube and Panoramio).

Those that follow the search space and / or content-licensing arena can only begin to imagine to monetization possibilities here.

Yahoo!'s CEO Carol Bartz recently commented that Google "needed to diversify".

While I have felt they have been all along, if there was ever any doubt by anyone, they just did ... and in a big way.

You can read the Press Release from ITA here (PDF) or the Google Press Release here.