Why is it ‘share’ rather than ‘post’?

Well .. we’re more inclined to share with our selected audience than post to the world at large.

IF .. we control our selected audiences, that is. Right, wrong or gray .. let’s look at a proto-social map:

  • I have close friends and family
  • I have friends with whom I have personally interacted on projects, or through connections
  • I have people I ‘know’, due to a mutual introduction or reference
  • I have people of whom I am aware, because of a mutual interest.

These audiences have different attributes. While some overlap, there are items I’d share (or avoid sharing) because of mutual .. or lack of interest.

Is this a privacy issue, or something else? Quick tangent: ‘Social Networking: The “Third Wave” Explained’ tells an interesting (and relevant) tale.

Back to topic .. it’s both .. and more:

  • Privacy dictates content (location and status .. what and how I might word something to a particular audience).
  • Context dictates a “who cares” attribute. My non-game playing friends aren’t too keen on my Mafia Wars posts, so I send these updates to a special list of MW players.
  • Timing dictates when I’ll share a particular item .. I might hold a business blog post for the wee hours to ensure it’s above the fold when the business audience logs on.
    Whoops .. did I just introduce a temporal aspect?

Why yes, yes, I did. A significant component of ‘Information Snacking’ is when you are where and what you seek to do:

  • During the day, I’m in work mode .. I don’t want to be disturbed with notifications from the Gap that my jeans are on sale.
  • From Friday at 6pm to Midnight and Saturday from 6pm to Midnight, I’m in ‘party’ (such as it is) mode .. where I want to hear about special deals in my vicinity.
  • I’m in church (or should be) from 6am to Noon on Sunday, so don’t bug me.

Yah; there’s not much granularity for the general public here .. deal with it. I’m trying to prove a point. The ‘ideal’ system is expected to provide you with a level of control over what you will share; on what you will be alerted as you go about your day .. regardless of the daypart in which you find yourself.

The ‘ideal’ system will also apply the context of your location and your ‘mode’ (as defined above):

  • where you are dictates what you want to see / do
  • when you are dictates in what you might take an interest
  • what you seek (selecting ‘mode’ carefully) helps a system tailor results to your current (temporal and location-based) interests.

Food for thought. Let’s discuss.

iPad – iOS + (HTML5 + Safari) x Facebook =

Developer opportunity!

Hmm .. someone should check my Algebra. Moving on.

In light of Android’s sales figures outpacing the iPhone (ZDNet), it’s no surprise that “iPhone Developers start to work on Android” (Mobile Dev Pro Online). Advanced skills may be necessary to put your apps on the map.

It’s not the first time developers have looked at other platforms. In the past few years, they chased iPhone projects to ride the consumer wave. Prior to that, they moved enterprises to the Windows platform (see “How to store and access (a lot) of protected content” for my thoughts). Developers have gone from moving the enterprise market to chasing the consumer .. with that kind of motivation and a decent universe of reasonably-priced devices, an Android option could really move the needle.

Other motivators? Well, Facebook, Planning an iPad App, Looks to Work around Apple. Their 700 million users (aka, consumers) could establish a significant beachhead on the iPad device. Rather than coding in iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system), Facebook is encouraging developers to write HTML5 code that will run in the Safari browser .. a nifty way to get dynamic code onto the device. When you leverage HTML5 and the Facebook platform, you have a ‘runs-on-PC and runs-on-Apple’ code line for the target market.

The target market? In a word: Huge.

Note that the lack of Flash support on earlier iPad devices may have impacted sales .. without Flash, the iPad could not run FarmVille (or my favorite, Mafia Wars). In the news: iTunes now offers a version of FarmVille by Zygna (the release date was June 2011) for the iOS devices. Somebody got wise.

In the realm of “follow the money”, HTML5-plus-Safari may pilfer sales and the margin Apple collects from the AppStore.

In the realm of breaking chokeholds, leveraging the popularity of the device and combining it with the reach of Facebook gives game and application developers a whole new playground in which to play.

Facebook of the Future?

Well, not just yet. Extrapolating here. Online PhD has information about advanced programs that could provide you with the info you need to compete in today’s Internet market. People who think they could be person to develop the software or site that would bump Facebook out of its top slot may be interested in increasing their skills.

I just read “Using Facebook: One Teenager’s Story” on ExtremeTech and arrived a few interesting thoughts:

  • The student generation is beyond connected .. they’re embedded.
  • Facebook and the social lives / networks of students are so intertwined, those who choose not to participate “fall off the grid” in social interaction.
  • It’s not just just social: Facebook represents the conduit for a wide variety of student activities .. from Senior Skip Day (I remember mine .. there was beer) to school-sanctioned events, oh, like graduation.
  • As to graduation, some schools are distributing information to their students solely via Facebook.
  • It’s not just school activities: students are learning about current events at a pace and participation level not before seen .. students who cannot vote are getting involved. Remember Rock the Vote? This generation wields boulders.

While some of this may sound frivolous to an adult reader, there are some very interesting use cases and situations to consider .. things that didn’t exist when today’s adults were in their teens:

  • We passed notes, met in the cafeteria and made phone calls from our homes.
  • We heard about things from flyers, bulletins and garish signs in the cafeteria (well, it was the 70s).
  • We avoided the table with campaign signs and student volunteers (well, it was the 70s).

So .. what does Facebook (or, insert social network name here) look like in the future? I’m guessing:

  • Always connected, perhaps with surgically-implanted connectivity chips (okay, I’m kidding). Suffice to say that I don’t think the future will suffer a disconnected (or at least, a de-synchronized) user for long.
  • Always relevant to the user. This plays into my “Information Snacking” paradigm, where tomorrow’s home and personalized pages will truly be their own, containing information that is relevant to the page’s owner.
  • Insanely simplified interactive-ness .. the ability to “poke”, alert and engage with other users as a matter of course.

Functional expectations (read: demands) of the embedded generation will drive application development to include services from a variety of sources. if Facebook provides all the content and functionality to meet these demands, then Facebook wins. If they don’t, someone else will.

Original Post: August 20, 2008

IE9: “Fast is now Beautiful” .. but what’s up with the Address Bar?

The Windows Blog touted “Fast is now Beautiful – IE9 Released” back in March, and like the good netizen I am, I downloaded IE9 straight away and gave it a test drive.

But: what’s up with the Address Bar .. now known as the “Anything Bar”? By default, you get this, really narrow, almost unusable space in which to type URLs or search strings:

IE9 with default Anything Bar

It seems Microsoft decided to devote more screen real estate to the browser window, achieving this by putting tabs and the bar on the same horizontal plane. However I don’t use a home page, opting instead to type my search terms into the bar. The size of the bar is an issue for me: makes it difficult to enter all my terms, or see fully-rendered URLs .. this is a pain when wanting to select a URL for a blog post or email.

Hint: pressing F6 toggles the cursor between the browser window and the Anything Bar .. a decent workaround.

Fortunately, Microsoft left the full-width functionality in place. Simply right-click in the space to the right of the tabs and select “Show tabs on separate row” and you get this bit of beauty:

IE9 with full-width Anything Bar

Much better!

Memo to @Clear: 4G Mobile USB Product Review .. wow!

Where Clear is good, they are very, very good. In my region, this includes:

  • Metropolitan Seattle (all over Seattle, actually)
  • Downtown Bellevue, lots of points around Bellevue
  • Downtown Kirkland, lots of points around Kirkland

.. and many points in-between. I think these guys are ahead of the game .. I hope they can get it together and make an impact.

I’m working with the the Clear 4G Mobile USB pretty much wherever I find myself these daze. My office travels with me: where my bag, is my office  .. etc., etc. .. you know the whole ‘hired gun’ deal.

However, this post is not about me: it’s about this spiffy device that I secured on the cheap from Clear. Yes: I’ve had my issues with Clear at my home, and have, in fact abandoned the service there, but I’m keeping this device. I come here to praise Clear, not to bury them.

I’m going to gush about the device and the service .. listing caveats first, praises second:

They call it a ‘mobile’ device: I would call it a ‘portable’ device:
While it is possible a 4G-to-4G handoff works, it is not my experience that the device works worth a darn while moving, say on a bus (I spend a lot of time on buses). From my home experience, I know the device can read a tower over a mile away (as the crow flies), so I’m always surprised at failed hand-offs between towers on short hops. That said, the device reconnects as soon as it can .. no muss, no fuss. It just works. It’s great for sync and Outlook (both of which have offline support). Not so good for online gaming while on the move (but who has time for games besides Angry Birds anyway?)

It is 4G only:
From the above-mentioned bit, I can surmise that the ‘glue’ between the 4G coverage is 3G. My real experience (with a similar Sprint USB device I used last year) supports this. I always had connection whilst in motion. The Clear device doesn’t recognize 3G, so unless you’re in a dense 4G area (see the Clear coverage map .. click ‘check coverage’), there is no glue. As above, the device reconnects seamlessly when it recognizes the strongest tower, which for everything besides streaming just works.

It is reasonably-priced:
The bang: $25 / month. That’s the sweet spot. Hold out for that price. Buy the service and return it within 30 days if you’re not satisfied (hint: be unsatisfied .. they might cut you a deal). Note: AT&T charges $60 per month for wireless USB, last I checked .. memo to AT&T: I cannot direct link to this content. While the AT&T device is truly mobile (unless you’re in an iPhone-infested area; YMMV), examine your own use case to see if you can justify the constantly-connected (to your wallet) lifestyle.

Got Sprint? Get Clear:
Clear IS the Sprint 4G network. Period. If you have a Sprint device and are enjoying 4G, you’re enjoying the Clear network. Check out how Sprint publishes their 3G and 4G speeds comparison, reach and area.

So, from Downtown Kirkland (from where I find myself tonight), during prime time:

The Clear 4G Mobile USB.

It doesn’t suck.

Want cheap and fast, but don’t care much about moving while connected? Call these guys.

A Kudos to Amazon Mobile

.. wonderful to see this implemented so well.

Imagine yourself in the treasure aisle at CostCo.  You’ve spotted a gem you’re certain you simply must have .. but you wonder about the price.

You’re torn .. as it is with many treasures at CostCo, you’re worried that the next time you visit, the elves will have moved this treasure, or worse .. they will run out of stock.

What to do, what to do?

Amazing Amazon has solved this problem for you. Simply download the Amazon App for Android (besides Android, there are versions for the Blackberry and iPhone as well) and you’re good to go.

How good, you might ask?

Start by launching the app and pressing the search button .. you’re presented with a joyous “Scan a barcode” image ..
.. upon scanning with the phone’s camera ..
.. you get delightful search results for your item.

A few more presses (assuming you have an Amazon account and your shipping and credit card information is stored), and your product is on the way to you.

I just love it when software works like it should. Nicely played.

Do you have a home page?

Funny I would ask .. you’re safe: I’m not stalking you @home. Winking smile 

The question still stands .. do you have a home page URL, or better still, at what point does a URL become unimportant?

Note that in the early 00s, URLs started showing up on TV advertising and on billboards .. the coming thing; the way to recognize if a company was with ‘it’. Nowadays, we know that companies own their web URLs as a part of their overall identity.

Answering the ‘unimportant’ question: it’s now. URLs are unimportant. These days, it’s all about browser-enabled search. The best part: we’re doing it without even realizing it.

My evidence? I know people (a lot of people .. many in the ‘John Q. Public’ realm) who do not have a home page set on their browser. This is interesting because any company that introduces you to a toolbar (or other related nonsense) tries to set your home page and search engine to their choice, instead of yours. Security note: Always be wary when clicking ‘next’ .. watch for any little checkboxes with logos or names you do not recognize.

Back to John (and Jane) Q. They’re pretty happy with no home page .. many pursue a ‘clean’ browser environment: one where the home page is set to ‘about:blank”, or they may simple erase whatever home page that opens when they open their browser. Either way, they still do a lot of work on the Web .. but unlike those with iPhones and thick clients, they are “app”-less, yet still getting done what needs to be done.

Here’s how: with modern browsers, the cursor is set to light up in the address bar by default. You can type anything you like there, not necessarily preceded by ‘http’, or ‘www’. Do you want to book a flight from Seattle to Los Angeles on Expedia? In the address bar, type ‘expedia’ (and not http://www.expedia.com). Better still: type “flights from seattle to los angeles” and press enter. If you do this, you’ll be presented with options. If the Expedia search engine optimizers have done their job, one of the links you can select is theirs.

Given this, why remember a URL at all? I’m sure you’ve heard that whitehouse.com is not the place where the President lives, nor will you find what you seek if you navigate to wikipedia.com (update: wikipedia.com now redirects properly to wikipedia.org; the linkbait site has been closed). Why not simply type the company name and look at the results? All the major search engines post ‘best bet’ (and sometimes, paid) results based on perceived intent:

  • Want Wal-Mart? Type “walmart”. Would you normally remember the hyphen? Returns http://www.walmart.com.
  • Want KMart? Type “kmart”. Was there, or wasn’t there a hyphen? Returns http://www.kmart.com.
  • Want Alaska Airlines? Type “alaska airlines”. Returns http://www.alaskaair.com. No hyphen and the delight of ‘air’ appended to Alaska.
    You get the drift .. type the company name into the address bar, and you’re golden. Many companies now sponsor their URLs on the search engines to ensure that entries that are ‘close enough’ will find them. Ditto for common words associated with their products.
    More aggressive companies will also attempt to sponsor the names of their competitors or competitors’ products in an effort to redirect search results to their own benefit. More on that in a future post, but suffice to say: it’s a naughty, competitive, webby world.
    All this said: do you have a home page? Do you need one?

Leap Frogs: Mobile Infrastructure

This one is obvious.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but the facts have been out there for some time, for those who wanted to look.

In some countries (and some areas in the United States .. have you ever read the details on the Universal Service Charge / Universal Connectivity Fee?), getting a telephone land line can be a challenge. It can take YEARS (and political connections) to get.

There is a technology that makes this a totally irrelevant discussion, and it’s right in the palm of your hand: your mobile phone. Wireless infrastructure can be built out at a tiny fraction of the cost of dragging cable. This technology creates market opportunities .. for the cost of a “few” antennas and repeaters (instead of miles and miles of wire), entire markets can be opened.

Costs can be defrayed too: a Washington Times editorial (from 02/2010) argues to “Kill the Universal Service Fund” as it tends to provide too much money to too few (and potentially inappropriate) recipients. From the editorial:

Rural phone companies see the greatest benefit. In 2008, the USF gave the Oregon Telephone Corporation $16,834 federal subsidy for each of the company’s subscribers in Beaver Creek, Wash. Such largess is especially absurd now that satellite phones can provide service anywhere in the country where one has a clear view of the sky at a fraction of the cost.

The evidence is clear: consider India, where pay-as-you-go mobile phone providers emerge on a moments’ notice .. but with the creative use of SIM cards, you can acquire PAYG coverage wherever you find yourself. If you found that sentence confusing, drop me a line and I’ll point you to resources that will help.

Let’s extend to broadband. There are unlimited providers who offer pay-as-you-go service in a number of countries. Take care with your credit card, though: there are a number of shady folks keen to balance their checkbooks with your cash.

There are heroes too: this chap keeps an eye out for potential villains: suggest you consult him before you consider an provider outside your country.

Leap Frogs: Wi-Fi Detector

Kind of a funny story.
Kensington Wi-Fi Finder Plus
I found this item the other day whilst tidying up a drawer in my home office. It’s a Kensington Wi-Fi Detector, designed to detect wireless signals.

You’ll note the package has never been opened.

Why you might ask? I’m not sure I recall. I bought it a few years ago from Amazon, and I just never needed it.

It may have been the ubiquity of Wi-Fi, the speed at which my laptop awakens from sleep (making it easy to check), or being in too many known Wi-Fi environments.

It seemed a good idea at the time, however the speed of technology leapt over it’s practical use case.

The speed of technology must be considered. By the time you’ve finished a drawing, your business opportunity may have passed you by.

How to NOT spend $2.5 MILLION on a Super Bowl Ad ..

.. and get lots of exposure anyway. Here’s how ManCrunch (a gay men’s dating site) did it:

Just look at all the money they saved. But what did they get?

  • Publicity. Lots of it. Cannot swing a dead cat on the video sites without running across this. Note that we’ve seen guys kiss on super bowl commercials before .. remember the Snickers ad from 2007?
  • Impressions. Lots of them, and well before the game. 207,000 on YouTube so far and thousands more scattered around the video sites.
  • News. Bing gives us these answers to the search.

Folks get nuts about these commercials. They talk about them for weeks prior, ensure they’re in their seats at the appropriate (and publicized time) to see them during the game and then go to aggregation sites to watch the line-up of what they’ve missed. That rate them, trash them, discuss them at the water cooler and espresso bars for days.

It’s bigger than this though. Is this a hoax, or very clever marketing? I’m guessing the latter, and I applaud the chaps who put it together.

We’ve seen eHarmony and Match.com ads on the television .. these sites position themselves more as ‘relationship’ (versus ‘hookup’) sites. I cannot tell from the limited information thus far, where ManCrunch site on that scale.

I suspect we’ll all know more in the coming weeks. Will be fun to watch. Thanks to Jessi for the referral.

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