Monthly Archives: June 2007

Need to Take a Detour?

In their continuing demonstration of why they are the greatest thing in the world, Google has added the ability to drag routes in their maps. When you get directions somewhere, you can click and drag the blue route line around and to other destinations. This means that you can get your basic start and destination put in, and then make adjustments to avoid traffic, take a detour, or just realize you need to go somewhere else. The entire route can be changed after your first plotting. Start point, end point, and everything in between. It’s yet another one of those features that makes you love Google all the more.

Apple Hates Your Company

I knew from the get-go that the iPhone was not going to be a big hit with business customers. Apparently, Apple is taking extra steps to make sure that it won’t be. Don MacAskill of SmugMug says that when he tried to get he and his staff iPhones to use, that he was told that wasn’t possible. According to everyone he talked to, in order to get one, it has to be tied to a personal account, not a corporate one. Now this means that if you have your own account that you use for business and just get reimbursed for, you’d still be able to nab one. If the account is completely a corporate one, though, then you’re going to be out of luck. All of this might be a good thing, though, given that Gartner has encouraged IT people to not allow the iPhone onto their networks.

Not Pouncing on Pownce

Kevin Rose announced yesterday his new venture. It’s called Pownce, and is an application for sending files, photos, and messages to others. It is built on the Adobe AIR platform, so it can be used either as a web app, or downloaded and run from the desktop. Kevin’s two previous endeavours have been quite successful. Digg has recently surpassed Facebook in daily visitors, which given Facebook’s success shows just how popular the social news site is. His other business is Revision3, which does online media. It is just like a television channel, but with on-demand, online service. The most popular show on it is, expected, Diggnation.

This new undertaking, though, is a bit different than his previous things. The space he’s entering is already fairly crowded. Also, it doesn’t seem to provide anything that is terribly different than what you can do with other services. It seems to be a combination of email and Twitter, almost. I’m not really sure why you would use this instead of just shooting people an email. Here’s one example they give of how you could use the service.

You might send an event out to a dozen of your friends letting them know you’re
hosting a party this Friday. They could easily get the event details you
entered, respond with questions or comments and then quickly rsvp.

Hmm, sounds an awful lot like email to me. If I want to send a message to multiple people, there are countless services already for this. I can do it on Facebook. I can IM them. I can email them. Why should I use this new service? On top of that, they will all need to be on this service too. So now I have to convince them all to sign up for yet another thing.

The other thing is that this is an ad supported service, which you can pay to upgrade. Once again, where’s the benefit here? Why do I want to use something with ads when I can get the same functionality out of other things without them?

Given the amount of Digg fanboys, I’m guessing that this service will at least get a good amount of buzz, and probably a few die hard fans. However, I personally don’t see how this is going to set itself apart from other services out there, and why I should use it instead of something I already have.

Ads Will Be Shot on Sight

After reading a post about putting ads on your site, I got to thinking about ads on mine. For the longest time, I didn’t put any up for a few reasons. First and foremost is that I had ads. Second, and not by far, is that my readerships is so small that I really didn’t think I’d gain any benefit from having ads. Well, I finally decided that I’d stick some on here, and the second part of my reasoning has held true. My readership really is so small that I don’t really see anything from them. As for my hatred of ads, I think I’ve done an alright job there. Also, the same day that I put the ads on I linked to browser plugins to disable ads. Adblock for Firefox, and IE7Pro for IE. The ads themselves are fairly small and out of the way, I think. Honestly, though, I don’t even see them. I have them on more as an experiment than anything else.
Really, though, I am always amazed at ads on websites when I surf somewhere with my ad filters turned off. I don’t understand how anyone can posisbly stand to visit those places and see the ads. The other thing that I think is funny is that I often don’t even know that a site uses many annoying ads until I turn off the filter. I went for the longest time thinking that Facebook didn’t have banner ads. I’m hopeful for the day when everywhere will just limit themselves to text only ads. I really don’t think I’d mind if that is all that was used.

Kid Sues SMU for Saying He’s a Rapist

Ah, my good ol‘ Alma Mater. SMU has been on the receiving end of a lot of issues lately, with this one being a student suing for them accusing him of rape. My completely biased opinion of the matter makes me assume that this kid probably did have sex with this girl when she wasn’t in her right state of mind. It also makes me assume that this girl probably wasn’t being responsible at the party, and shouldn’t have left with this guy. Now, that’s not to say that I am blaming her, I’m just saying she was probably careless. Personally, they should have just had the guy whacked and been done with it, but I suppose that’s why I’m not allowed to make those types of decisions. The girl probably got drunk, he probably took advantage of that. My heart goes out to her, and my wrath goes out to him.

Musical Choices of Morons

In the ongoing aftermath of Danah Boyd’s paper about MySpace and Facebook users, Mashable looks at some interesting data from the two. They’ve taken the top music picks from the two sites and compared them. In a disclaimer, they say that they only have access to the Maryland stats on Facebook, not the entire site. Their intent was to be fairly unbiased, and just to report what they found. I don’t find their results too surprising. The music preferences on Facebook are what might be considered “classier,” in that there aren’t rappers in there with songs about shooting people and humping like rabbits. That might not be the best term, but you get what I mean. Taken in a purely stereotypical view, the contrasting musical choices play along quite well with her paper, and with my opinion of MySpace users.

iPhone Encourages Evil

I love Lore Sjöberg.

Another feature provided by the iPhone is the ability to play videos from
anywhere in the world. Think of your child gazing into this device, viewing
events taking place elsewhere on the planet and even looking back through time.
The device itself has a “friendly” rounded look to it. Is this Apple’s way of
introducing children to the concept of a crystal ball? Will the next iPhone be a
perfect transparent sphere? Very likely.

Dell Takes a Midol

Dell announced a while ago that they are going to be allowing customers buying certain models of their machines to not have all of the pre-installed crap pre-installed. They will still be installing a few items (antivirus, Acrobat Reader, and Google Toolbar), though, which is unfortunate, but a step in the right direction. Of the three things they are leaving in there, the one from my favorite company is the one that really doesn’t have much merit being left installed. I hate Norton Antivirus, and am not a big fan of Adobe’s reader, but at least they make a bit more sense. Most users are too stupid for Dell to leave an antivirus client off there. As for the PDF reader, I suppose that if Dell is going to be providing documentation in PDF format that I can forgive them for pre-installing the software needed to view it. Even though I don’t like it.
What I find to be the most interesting thing about this is that, as someone points out, Apple doesn’t put all of this crap on their machines. Given that other makers do, and receive money to do so, you would think that this could play a part in Dell systems coming out so much cheaper than Apple’s. However, I couldn’t seem to find any price difference from having the crap pre-installed or not. Does anyone else have experience otherwise? I’m interested to see how a decent subsidy being taken away could affect the pricing.

Semi-Scientific Study Proves My Point…Sorta

I first found this article earlier this morning, but just now have had time to read it. The piece is by Danah Boyd and is titled Viewing American Class Divisions Through MySpace and Facebook. It’s a pretty interesting piece, and I encourage you to read it. Personally, I don’t feel like I necessarily learned anything new, per se, but it was definitely a good piece. Her basic premise is that the “higher” socio-economic class teens go to Facebook, and the “lower” ones are on MySpace. To this, I say, “Well duh.” The interesting part is to see this being said by something that has spent over six months talking to teens around the country and logging thousands of hours online looking at social networking sites. My opinion of these sites are basically based on a few minutes of surfing, and talking to a handful of people. Yet, her conclusion mirrors mine. One of the interesting tidbits she has is a good summary.

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other “good” kids are now going to
Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and
going to college. They are part of what we’d call hegemonic society. They are
primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking
forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens,
“burnouts,” “alternative kids,” “art fags,” punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer
kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity
paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn’t go to college, who are expected to
get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into
the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a
band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially
ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

While I don’t think I’d necessarily call the kids on Facebook “goodie two shoes,” and she does go on to say she’s seen more debauchery on Facebook than MySpace, I think that the point is accurate.

It is very interesting to look at the development of the different social networks, and where they are now. When Friendster first came along, I got my hands on an invite and created my profile. After a few months of being one of two in my network, I started to realize that no one was getting on there.
I avoided MySpace for a long time because I never had a high opinion of it. The ugliness was just too much to make me want to be associated with it. When I finally did create a profile, I immediately replaced the default theme with one that was much cleaner and wrote about how much I hated the site. I even gave links to examples of horrible profiles, and why MySpace should be outlawed. I’ve since erased everything on my account, and have blocked the MySpace domain. Many of the people I found on MySpace were people that I knew from high school who did not go to college, and with whom I wanted no association because they were morons.
Facebook was a very different story. I was one of the people pushing to get my school added, and once it was I was the 8th person from it to sign up. Upon joining, I already had about two dozens friends there, and this was when there still weren’t that many schools. Trying to convince my school colleagues to sign up was a bit harder, though, since when they thought of social networks they thought of MySpace. Now, though, my school has thousands of people on Facebook.

I think that what it comes down to is who got on there first. As Danah mentions, Facebook was founded in the Ivy League schools. It makes sense that it is going to attract the upper educated crowd because likes attract likes. By the same principle, the urban kids that were in bands on MySpace are going to attract their friends.

Brad Feld is an Idiot

Brad Feld, as well as many developers of Facebook apps, seem to misunderstand how reality works. They think that simply creating an app on Facebook and getting a bunch of users is magically going to give them money. The thing they’re missing is that they have to actually have a business plan that works in order for them to get money. Going out and signing up hundreds of thousands of users is great and all, but if you haven’t thought about how you’re going to make money off of them, then that’s your own dumb fault. All that Facebook provides is a platform. It’s not their job to get you users or money. This is akin to a software developer getting mad at Microsoft because they made a Windows application but no one bought it. If your product has no value, of course you’re not going to get any money from it. You have to be able to see how you can monetize the benefit that Facebook provides. Getting a huge user base really quickly on Facebook is, relatively speaking, a simple thing. Once you get them, you have to use them to either generate revenue through a service you have, or via targeting advertising. If you have 200k users, and haven’t made a single penny then one of two things is true. Either you don’t have any sort of plan, and your lack of revenue is your fault, or your plan sucks and your lack of revenue is your fault. Either way, you need to reevaluate your approach and stop thinking that your problems are Facebook’s fault.