Thursday, 31 August 2006

More Hay Makes Better Needles

I’m starting to load my 320 feeds and various groupings into FeedSeeder, the development version. Even with a good chunk of that to go, I can see how it’s changing my reading habits for the better.

The interesting bits are unhiding themselves.

This, before it’s even ready for public release and just nearly in time for next week’s MinneDemo. Cool. I’m excited. About browser-based software. For those that have heard me rant about the uselessness of it before – I might just have to change my tune.

Still, probably won’t move my calendaring, email, or to-do lists – but there’s a better-than-decent chance I’ll move my feed reading.

The Serenity of Affligem

If I haven’t praised the beer buyer at St. Anthony Village Liquors before – well, it’s about time. I picked up a sixer of Affligem. A tasty, tasty Belgian Abbey Blond tracing it’s history back to 1074 (900 years older than me, that’s a beer!) and for the last half-dozen years been half-owned by Heineken.

I picked it up on a fluke and have been very pleased. The first sip of the first bottle, took me all the way back to the simplicity of the Reinheitsgebot. (Despite it perhaps not being compliant – I haven’t investigate throughly). It’s yeasty and complex without being overwhelming (like say a Westmalle). A beer, that like a good dog, sits patiently at your side.

Anyway, it’s proved a wonderful companion both for late evening programming and watching Joss Whedon’s Firefly off the Netflix. Firefly is pretty well written, the Victorian-esque language is quite enjoyable and the sci in the sci-fi is kept to a minimum (enough to remind you, not enough to be tech-y). After scratching my head a bit through Serenity, and deja vu-ing through Disc 1 of the series, disc 2 is entertaining and surprising.

The Problem with Badges

Fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Nick Carr points to TopRankBlog’sRSS Button Maker and declares it a problem with RSS.

I’m assuming he’s commenting – not so much on RSS but – on aggregators trying their damnedest to co-opt RSS to their specific silo.

That’s a little unfair of me considering 33 of the brands in the list are aiming to solve a problem I bumped up against again this morning while working on FeedSeeder.

Dealing with URL strings any longer than is cumbersome and error-prone.

The buttons in question, from Yahoo, Google, Technorati, and 30 others are trying to eliminate that problem. Same with the ‘Digg this post’ links on Nick’s site and the pile of bookmarking badges at the bottom of each post at the TopRankBlog proper.

Each badge represents a single action (bookmark or subscribe) at a specific account-based (login/password) site. Once I’ve decided on where I’m doing my bookmarking and where I’m aggregating my feeds and set up the pre-requisite accounts – all of the other badges are irrelevant, noisy, and ignore the fact that most of those places have bookmarklets. If I haven’t set up one yet – it’s the paradox of choice.

I suspect way back at the beginning, these badges were an easy way for publishers to promote and recommend the sites they themselves use. Word-o-mouth and all that. No longer. Today, these are straight-up free advertising (there is a difference).

I’m making the following assumption;
People reading this post and find it interesting and want to bookmark/subscribe know how to deal with URL strings.

31 Oct 2006 Related:

“This focus on campaigning over content seems like a classic case of misplaced priorities. The reason posts wind up at Digg, Delicious, or elsewhere isn’t because the authors made it easier to vote for them (it’s already easy). A post winds up at these sites because people respond to its content and quality.” – Matt Linderman

Blogging Because Your Customers Expect It

“If you are in the Internet industry and you don’t have time to blog about your product then you should quit….by not blogging you basically are giving up and telling the market that you don’t care.” – Jason Calacanis

In 15 minutes, the same will be true in the political realm. In 30 minutes – everywhere else.

As I say in my Blogging for Small Business talks, blogging isn’t an additional thing. It’s a replacement for all the other communications; customer support, newsletters, product development, all that stuff currently in multiple, hard-to-update, un-searchable, systems.

Pageviews Dead: Killed by RSS, AJAX, Widgets

I’ve stopped tracking my web stats. I’ve only got one site left on the useless Google Analytics and haven’t visited the reporting page in forever.

Incoming links and comments are the useful measures to me. Those tools are nowhere as mature as they need to be. Then again, I’m not looking for investors, advertisers, or the press. I’m looking for a way to share my thoughts with you on your terms.

Ev has the same complaints about our current metrics as I mentioned in the above rant:

“But Ajax is only part of the reason pageviews are obsolete. Another one is RSS.”

Also, this beautiful dig on MySpace.

“…part of the reason MySpace drives such an amazing number of pageviews is because their site design is so terrible.”

A little more eloquent than this:

“God I hate MySpace so much.” – Brad Sucks

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

The Benefits of Screencasting in Software Development

Yes, I’ve been too busy working on the FeedSeeder project to write up too much about it. That said, I’ve been privately documenting it’s development with screencasts.

At the end of each development day, I start at the beginning of the app, load up iShowU and walk through all the functionality as if I’m presenting it to someone new.

Sometimes things still don’t work – or don’t work as expected (‘Huh?’). Sometimes they do (‘Yeah!’).

Either way, I’ve found the benefits huge;

  • I see what’s broken, and have a record of how it happened
  • I get practice walking through the app
  • I have a list of things to work on tomorrow
  • I can share it’s status with the small group of very excited people – and guarantee their experience with this early-stage, in-development app.

Also, yes, I’m still on track to present it at MinneDemo next Tuesday and it should be in real good shape in time for the Podcast and Portable Media Expo.

Finally, Dave Winer‘s current work on the River of News has helped frame quite a bit of thinking around this app.

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

iTunes Podcast Directory Strategy – Divert and Distract

Based on the “Promote Your Podcast and Make Money on iTunes” email I just received from the iTunes Podcasting team, Apple’s podcast directory revenue-generation strategy is two-fold:

  1. Divert: Apple wants podcasters to point listeners to the iTunes Podcast directory listing of their podcast – rather then the one controlled by the podcaster. From Apple’s perspective, this increases usage of the iTunes Music Store. From the podcaster’s perspective, you’re handing over full control of your podcast to someone else – that’s suicide. Though, you might get to be listed in the Top Podcasts as a consolation (then again, you might otherwise).
  2. Distract: Once iTunes has your listeners, anything they purchase within 24 hours the directing podcaster receives a 5% commission on (4.95 cents here, 4.95 cents there, soon we’re talking ad money). As should be obvious, this distracts the listener from the entire reason they came to iTunes (the podcast).

As with the iTunes Podcast Directory thus far, the big loser is the podcaster. The smaller loser is the listener.

Monday, 28 August 2006

Real Wages Up, Not Down – Economists Fight

A biased New York Times article on wages being down gets a fisking:

“What keeps my wages high (and yours) is our alternatives…What sets workers wages are the wages of those alternatives…Workers are better educated than ever. That is why I believe that compensation, properly measured, is higher than it was five or ten or twenty or thirty years ago.” – Russel Roberts

Thanks to Tyler @ Marginal Revolution for the pointer.