Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interface/Off

Work in Progress (2000 film)Image via Wikipedia

The regular user interface updates to our favourite social networking sites are like a strategic massively multiplayer online role playing game. We're the population and the objective is monetization, through features, growth and funding.

Facebook updated their homepage earlier this year, Kevin Rose recently stated that Digg are also going to receive a real-time makeover. I'm intrigued by the real-time vision, the open stream is definitely the future and both Friendfeed and Twitter services are where it's happening. That's why I'm impressed by the latest round of feature updates -

Friendfeed have now made their real-time beta design - that they originally unveiled three weeks ago - the default for all users. All pages now update as they happen, I have found the new user interface has increased the amount of Comments and Likes my imported items have received. More exposure is definitely a move in the right direction especially for bloggers, content providers etc. Also included is an advanced Search; Friendfeed by email; profile information; more powerful "reshare" functionality; you can now sign up for FriendFeed and find all of your friends with a single click from the FriendFeed homepage; a "My discussions" feed that shows every entry you've participated in; notification options for email, IM and our desktop notifier; keyboard shortcuts for the most common commands.

Every public update sent to Twitter from anywhere in the world, at any time can now be instantly indexed and made discoverable via the newly launched real-time search. The Twitter blog refers to the service as a discovery engine for finding out what is happening right now.
Twitter teaches us new and amazing things every day and a big lesson learned is that search is so much more than a box and a button. As public tweets fly in from around the globe, we analyze them to detect when certain words or phrases occur with higher frequency. These trending phrases are surfaced in the Twitter home page just under the new search box and they're updated throughout the day. Built on our search technology, trends are a compelling if rudimentary way to explore a collective global consciousness ~ Biz
I promote trends regularly and believe it's only a matter of time before they are adopted as the primary method of tracking trending phrases. I wrote recently how I felt Friendfeed should introduce real-time trends as with the openness of the service it would be a well received feature. Facebook should also consider trends but with the privacy controls in place it wouldn't provide an accurate portrayal of popular phrases.

As appears to have become standard with Twitter, any announcement always is met with a negative story. Today I learnt that there had been another security breach and someone had achieved access to the Twitter admin interface. It's been a rollercoaster few months but they're in a strong position and these latest updates will only enhance the usability for the users of the service!


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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Most Improved Award

Most Improved AwardImage by joedawson via Flickr

I collected my children from their mother today and my son couldn't wait to tell me about an award he had received. It was presented for being the Most Improved student in recognition of the work he has produced. He received a certificate and also a gold star badge which he wore proudly on his chest.

It's my daughter that usually has details about her latest achievements at school so this was unfamiliar territory. She's not used to him receiving the accolades so it was an experience for her and she was slightly perplexed. I explained that it was positive for him to be recognised, especially for making improvements and that she should be proud for him instead of being concerned that she wasn't acknowledged. She understood which is commendable, I think it's good that they're competitive especially if it leads to achieving better grades.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blue Camp

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Lionel Messi of ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Chelsea's Champions League clashes with Barcelona are always an exciting fixture on the football calendar. Barcelona are the best team in the world right now, playing the best attacking football with Lionel Messi the best footballer, Samuel Eto’o the most dangerous striker, Andres Iniesta the best creative midfielder and Pep Guardiola the most talked about coach.

I have fond memories of the Stamford Bridge clash back in 2005 when John Terry's header sent us into the last eight after an epic clash. The atmosphere that night was electrifying and like nothing I had ever experienced before, watching from the Matthew Harding stand I must have felt every match incident.

Back then Jose Mourinho was the architect, there have been many changes at the Bridge since then, and now Chelsea's interim manager Guus Hiddink has the task of trying to complete the vision of the Roman Empire. After reaching five out of six semi-finals and Manchester United defeating the Blues in the Champions League final last season, will this be the year that Roman Abramovich's investment finally achieves European glory?

The match this evening consisted of attacking flair against defensive determination, both teams playing to their strengths with Barcelona controlling the action but Chelsea were well organised. We were fortunate not to concede as Barcelona have scored in every home fixture this season, they came very close but Cech was at his best and prevented them taking an advantage into the second leg. A rare chance for Chelsea fell to Drogba in the first half but he didn't capitalize. Chelsea need to be a lot more competitive if they want to reach the final for the second year straight. I feel it will be difficult at home as if Barcelona score we will need to score twice, are we capable? I would take another late goal from the captain!


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Monday, April 27, 2009

All For One But Not One For All

A rocky stream in HawaiiImage via Wikipedia

So Facebook have announced an important step toward greater openness through Facebook Platform. The stream, the core Facebook product experience open at last through the Facebook Open Stream API. Amid all the noise many people have already stated that the social networking site still remains closed due to the extensive privacy controls.
Facebook is still keeping most of its users’ data private due to the privacy contract that it has made with its users. See, over on Twitter and friendfeed the bias for most user data is that it is public by default until you make it private ~ Robert Scoble
Facebook has Twitter envy and imitates popular features from Friendfeed but the privacy contract prevents them providing a transparent service. I don't mind the privacy controls on Facebook, complete openness would make a huge difference but I don't want every aspect visible.

The ability to share/view photos/videos, create events and interact with personal friends isn't really something I want in the public domain. I am not a brand and I don't want to maintain a representation of my online identity as a brand on every website.

Robert Scoble and Marshall Kirkpatrick provide interesting views and analysis about the potential of complete openess. The data that Facebook controls, conversations and social connections, could be used for analysis of real-time social patterns.

The real money is in search, Google have become the largest and most powerful Internet company in world mainly because they are synonymous with search and innovation. Facebook is definitely a marketing gold mine but they need to find the right balance, Beacon was a disaster as most users want the choice to share their information.
The thing is, though, this race makes no sense. Facebook and Twitter are simply two different services that need to co-exist on today's web. The only thing they have in common is that their users have a limited number of hours in the day in which to socialize.

At its core, Facebook is about closed sharing between a group of friends.
~ Alex Iskold
Although Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed have a different approach to openness and the interaction they provide, I want a varying experiences across the Internet. I don't want an individual service that offers everything, I enjoy participating in different networks, communities and forums. Variety is the true open web experience and that is the main reason I have embraced social media. Being involved with the early adopters has introduced me to many new services and startups, providing the conclusion that openness isn't about one vision it's about originality.

What are your thoughts?


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Sunday, April 26, 2009

404 Object Not Found

Picnic Network 404Image by willem velthoven via Flickr

Yesterday I joined some friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays around Bexleyheath and Greenwich. Late in the night I ended up separated from my friends and ventured outside for a burger, I wasn't prepared to pay extortionate prices for readmission so decided to face the journey home.

A few years ago when faced with a similar scenario I would have probably paid over the odds for a taxi or phoned someone to come to the rescue. Instead when it reaches that time in the night when the alcohol has taken it's toll and the homing beacon signals I have the iPhone for assistance.

Providing not only the ability to find my location but also plot the route home using public transport, locate restaurants available, listen to music, respond to emails, read feeds etc. I know that I take the functionality for granted but there is no doubt the handset has become an essential item. If only it could drive me home...

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Road Map...

Future Or Bust!Image by Vermin Inc via Flickr

Lately I have been considering my options for the future, the recession has increased unemployment and made finding a new job a competitive market. I don't really have any formal qualifications so I have given plenty of thought to the direction that I want to take my career.

Being a developer is something that interests me especially with desktop clients providing an ecosystem for services on the open web. I have knowledge of programming languages but I have a lot to learn to be able to design and build a decent application. I have assisted in the development of several tools for our customer service and also maintain the changelog and concept builds. I would definitely like to build on the skills I have gained to further my knowledge for work and also as an interest.

I'm also interested in pursuing a career as a writer, this blog has provided an outlet for my thoughts and I would like to eventually write professionally. The aim being to write for an established website although for now I'm concentrating on providing thought provoking articles and increasing the contents exposure. I find that Blogging has many distractions but being a writer you need to interact with your readers. I first became involved with social media early last year and I have been impressed with tools available and being able to interact with bloggers, startups and entrepreneurs. Active participation across blogs and services raises my profile so hopefully this will also increase the unique visitors to my site.


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Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Are You Doing?

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?Image by nolifebeforecoffee via Flickr

Another productive week reaches it's conclusion, consigned to the archives so to unwind I joined some colleagues at a local bar. The usual topics were discussed and Twitter then took centre stage.

I had briefly checked Tweetie to view replies and trending topics and they questioned the validity of what the service offered.

How do you define a service that provides 140 characters and asks 'what are you doing?' I'm regarded as the person to contact regarding social media and networking related queries in my office. I suppose that's valid considering the amount of coverage they receive on my blog, social networks and also when I showcase the potential of data consumption, transparency and the real-time web.

Usually I'm able to quickly respond and acknowledge the perception of the service and provide examples of the benefits to be gained. Here though was my managing director, a person that understands value, providing a service and obviously how to run a successful business.

The microblogging service was viewed as narcissistic, why the constant need to update status? The perception being that there wasn't enough engagement that could be obtained from short messaging. A valid argument but irrelevant when you consider the popularity of the Short Message Service (SMS) which is a communication service standardized in the GSM mobile communication system.

When asked about the usability provided by the service; I responded by detailing transparency
; the ability to follow web services, trends and search; the ability to communicate with peers and that the service could potentially replace my feed reader. There is a learn involved with Twitter but there are so many benefits to be gained. They're slowly realising the potential and with the press coverage and exposure they are beginning to embrace the concept as it becomes a mainstream source of communication.



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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Growing Pains

CheeseImage by joedawson via Flickr

Being a parent can be demanding, challenging and at times exhausting but it's worth every single moment. My children are growing up fast and are flourishing with their different characteristics and personalities.

My daughter has endured problems recently with an individual causing disruption at her school. Although her work hasn't suffered as a consequence I can tell that it's affecting her. I would be naive if I expected my children not to experience issues with other children but it does cause me concern.

This evening playing football with my son she got quite upset when the ball caught her. It was a nothing instance but clearly this individual has had an emotional impact on her mental state. I'm aiming to resolve the matter quickly and have advised their mother to raise it with the school and speak to the individuals parents. It's hopefully nothing but it's always best to be sure.

Aside from the distraction at school she is developing well and has become mature, reliable and responsible. I'm proud of her achievements and I hope with her as a role model the other children will also progress well.

Football has really made the relationship with my son stronger; the weekly training and participation with him when we have the opportunity have brought us closer together. Originally when I separated from their mother he felt distant, what with not interacting with him daily and living apart. He's come to terms with the arrangement now though and I'm happy that I have someone with a real interest in football. I have been a disappointment this year in taking him to Stamford Bridge but next season I will make sure that it's a priority.

Although I spend the most time with the youngest it's not always quality time. I'm working for the majority of the week and on weekends we usually have a busy schedule so I feel I don't always meet expectations. I would appreciate being able to spend more quality time with her but respect that there are certain boundaries (age, father, work etc). She is growing fast and has become inquisitive and curious about everything, now requiring constant stimulation to keep her occupied.

Another addition to the family has been discussed but that's as far as the planning has progressed for now. I would like to experience the whole process again but obviously I am not the one that has to go through pregnancy and child birth!


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chirp, Tweet, Whistle, FAIL

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

After the ego stroking and intense coverage of Twitter this last week, which saw Ashton Kutcher become the first user to break a million followers; Oprah Winfrey, the icon introduce herself to the the microblogging community and the huge influx of new users there is still widespread criticism of the service.

Positive and negative press coverage seem to go hand in hand with Twitter, with the mainstream breakthrough helped by the service becoming increasingly popular with celebrities, breaking news before other channels, monthly growth rates increasing and you would believe Twitter has made the transition. Then also in the news you also have the StalkDaily and Mikeyy attacks, a security issue within the OAuth protocol and Twitter consistently removing features, making changes without warning developers.

Jesse Stay states that his SocialToo application may be one of the hardest hit by the recent changes. He feels that Twitter should introduce a firm Terms of Service and notify developers in advance before implementing changes -
If I knew what I could or couldn’t do on Twitter I could avoid it in the first place. Unfortunately Twitter hasn’t defined that and it’s pretty darn confusing, not to mention extremely risky, to write apps for the Twitter platform right now. With Facebook, on the other hand, I’m required to agree to a very specific agreement, and they’re very clear when they’re going to change any of the terms, giving developers plenty of warning. It’s well written out and well defined. It’s a platform with little risk and high reward for businesses because they give developers time to work with any changes they make to it. [Source]
Twitter state that limiting the number of accounts that a single person can follow in a day to 1000 is to discourage spam. Although by restricting functionality they are impacting the services provided by the developers -
While there are technical reasons behind having some limit on following activites, this per-day limit exists to discourage spamminess. Also, it is unlikely that anyone can actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes the mass following activity disingenuous. [Source]
Twitter acknowledged the developers when addressing the OAuth vulnerability in that they needed to move quickly and responsibly -
It's important to us that we support the ecosystem and developers that have grown around Twitter. Communication is a big part of this support but so is moving quickly and responsibly when security is involved. As we move further away from beta testing, Twitter's OAuth support will grow more dependable and many of us will be able to take advantage of applications that incorporate the protocol. [Source]
Although Twitter are listening I agree with Jesse Stay that there needs to be a firm Terms of Service in place for everyone involved. Thankfully I'm not affected by the issue surrounding followers but I do enjoy the interaction through Twitter and without the developers it wouldn't be the same experience. Twitter although popular does appear to be constantly plagued by growth problems so being a Friendfeed user I found this blog post from Rob Nelson to be an accurate assumption!
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fan Sourcing

TwitScoop and Twitter search filters in TweetdeckImage by Kevglobal via Flickr

This evening I had planned to watch the Premiership match in the local Walkabout Australian bar as there is usually a decent atmosphere during sporting events. I managed to catch the second half of the FA Cup semi Final match Saturday between Chelsea and Arsenal and it was a good experience.

Everything changed during my journey home as I received a call from my partner, her voice full of emotion because the dog had gone missing. I arrived home and after walking the streets I contacted Battersea Dogs home and thankfully someone had seen her walking the streets and taken her home. We were shortly reunited with the dog and I decided that instead of watching the football at a bar I would stay home with my partner.

We don't have the premium Sky Sports package so after attempting to follow the action through online services - Ustream and Sky Sports Live Score Centre - I turned my attention to Twitter. Using search columns in TweetDeck I was able to follow the action in real-time, the desktop client provided an intriguing perspective.

Obviously I would have preferred to watch the action at Anfield but following the reaction of the fans on Twitter was entertaining. I couldn't have chosen a better match to follow via TweetDeck as there was plenty of goal action. Arshavin receiving the majority of the tweets for obvious reasons and raises the question, why wasn't he played against Chelsea at the weekend?

Following trending topics on Twitter, I have noticed that sporting events consistently feature highly on the service. In the same way that news channels have embraced social media services to provide reaction so too should sports sites. Although when you consider the reaction to Skittles incorporating the Twitter stream there needs to be a way to censor some of the responses. Can that be achieved through the Twitter API?

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

To Boldly Go...

capt-kirk_motivationImage by Tom Huesing via Flickr

I take for granted the luxury and ease of accessibility that living close to and working in the capital provides. Being a short distance from many major chains and stores has it's advantages. Also wireless and data connection coverage available provides a gateway to what's happening around the World. Today we were to boldly go where 3G is not widely available...

Our journey took us to East Sussex - a short distance from Hastings - and thankfully I used Google Maps before we left to get directions as there was limited connectivity in the area. It's been a while since we last visited my extended family, it's currently lambing season so it's a busy time of year so we were grateful for the invitation.

We enjoyed the experience, most notably the lambs and kids which were in the stable together. We didn't get to see any lambs/kids being born but I feel that would have been too intense for the children who were happy to see them just jumping around the stable!

My son just like the last time we visited was really excitable and found it difficult to contain his enthusiasm. We shared stories and it's clear that living on a farm is a completely different experience to what we're used to at home. For instance even the dogs work, with each having specific duties around the farm. The children loved the dogs and it was difficult leaving as my son clearly could have thrown sticks until dawn. A really enjoyable day and will definitely make sure to visit again in the next few weeks!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sign In With Twitter? Twitter Connect?

Sign In With TwitterImage by joedawson via Flickr

I am an admirer of both the social platforms available from Google and Facebook, implementing both Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect with this site. What I rate about both services is that they provide the ability to login using simple identity authentication and interact with the site and community. My preferred service is Facebook Connect as I can seamlessly connect my Facebook account and information with third party sites and send activity back to my newsfeed.

Is my preference about to change though as today there is a lot of discussion following an update to the Twitter API Wiki which indicates that Twitter are about to launch a Connect service. Sign in with Twitter is the pattern of authentication that allows users to connect their Twitter account with third-party services in as little is one click. It utilizes OAuth and although the flow is very similar, the authorization URL and workflow differs slightly -
The oauth/authenticate method will perform the following:

1. If the user is logged into Twitter.com and has already approved the calling application, the user will be immediately authenticated and returned to the callback URL.
2. If the user is not logged into Twitter.com and has already approved the calling application, the user will be prompted to login to Twitter.com then will be immediately authenticated and returned to the callback URL.
3. If the user is logged into Twitter.com and has not already approved the calling application, the OAuth authorization prompt will be presented. Authorizing users will then be redirected to the callback URL.
4. If the user is not logged into Twitter.com and has not already approved the calling application, the user will be prompted to login to Twitter.com then will be presented the authorization prompt before redirecting back to the callback URL.
Obviously the most important factor is the value provided by implementing each 'Connect' services authentication login.

Facebook Connect is still a relatively closed environment and it's not known whether Facebook will adopt open standards for their platform API. The advantage of Facebook Connect is the 200m + users, the ability to access a user’s social graph and profile data and the ability to submit activity back to the newsfeed.

Facebook Connect also has fairly robust privacy rules compared to Twitter that allows users to login to many third party Twitter applications/clients using their username and password. Twitter though doesn't have the extended permissions so is a lot more open compared to the more larger social network which has only recently begun opening the walled garden.

Is Sign In With Twitter another competitor to OpenID? Is it a Facebook Connect competitor? Personally I view Sign In With Twitter as the main competitor to Facebook Connect as other
simple identity authentication services haven't really made a significant impact. I'm interested to see how this will develop and whether Twitter has potential or is just another pretender to Facebook's social networking crown!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Dude Where's My Million?

Ashton Kutcher breaks the million follower mar...Image by joedawson via Flickr

Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) today became the first person on Twitter to reach 1,000,000 followers. In doing so he beat CNN (@CNNbrk) with about 2000 followers. The CNN feed reached the mark 30 minutes later to conclude an exciting week for social media.

Many sources feel that microblogging service Twitter has now crossed over into the mainstream. What is certain is that Twitter is hugely popular and the actor is one of several influential celebrities contributing to the service. Britney Spears is another high profile figure close to breaking through the million mark and should achieve that shortly.

For reaching the milestone Ashton Kutcher is donating 10,000 mosquito nets worth $100,000 to Malaria No More. Electronic Arts will make the millionth follower a star in its upcoming video game The Sims 3 and give a free copy of every single game they make in 2009. Ashton Kutcher also stated that he would ding dong ditch (knock down ginger) Ted Turners house so it should be only a matter of time before that appears online!

The service appeared to be experiencing issues leading up to the breakthrough as follower counts were displayed much higher.
Until earlier this week @CNNbrk was run by John Cox, but CNN “acquired” the Twitter account for an unknown amount. According to Twitter rules you aren’t allowed to sell your Twitter account ~ Inquisitr
Ashton Kutcher tweeted the following message after breaking the milestone -



CNN acknowledged Ashton Kutcher reaching the contested follower total with the below tweet -


Ironically, Ashton Kutcher’s public profile on Facebook crossed the million mark a few hours earlier and growing by an incredible 600,000 fans in the last 3 days. What this brings into question is how much longer the talent will need its mainstream middleman? On Friday morning Ashton will appear on Oprah, who also has a Twitter account @oprah and will Tweet on live TV, reaching millions of US households.

With Google synonymous with ‘Search', Tweeting is fast becoming the associated term for conversation on the Internet. Would you prefer to search or instead find what's happening?

What's next for Kutcher? Personally I would like to see him contribute to Friendfeed and if he can have a similar impact on the lifestreaming service.

Million subscribers Ashton?!


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fair Play

BoyImage by joedawson via Flickr

This evening I played football in the garden with my son and as usual I let him win - although I will have to start lying about that soon - he is full of energy and pushes himself hard. I never really had the kind of relationship where I would play sports with my father when I was a child.

The introduction of Sky Sports to the masses has really excelled the interest in football to the extent that it's impossible not to follow.

The fondest memory I have as a child featuring my father is when I was entered into a swimming competition at Riverside Baths in Erith. My father attended and as the race started I saw him positioned in the top tier. The event was backstroke so he was visible through the whole race and it gave me the motivation to really push towards the finish. I won the race but it was just a factor that day as making my father proud was what mattered.

My children make me proud all the time but I do wonder what will be the defining moment that they will cherish most when when they are older. Need to start taking them swimming I reckon :)
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Epic

LONDON - APRIL 30:  Frank Lampard of Chelsea c...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Uefa president Michel Platini may think too many English teams are spoiling the Champions League but what does he know?

Tonight's Champions League quarter-final clash between Chelsea and Liverpool was an epic and memorable encounter. I listened to the previous fixture on the radio and felt confident that we would progress through to the semi-final with our 3-1 advantage.

If there is any team capable of overturning the deficit against the odds it's Liverpool though...

Fabio Aurelio put Liverpool ahead embarrassing Cech from a free kick which caught the Chelsea goalkeeper well out of position. Last weeks hero Branislav Ivanovich then conceded a penalty which Xabi Alonso converted to reduce the aggregate score further.

I began contemplating an exit from the competition as Liverpool had the momentum and looked the more likely to score further.

After half time Chelsea were a different team, first Pepe Reina was forced into a mistake by Drogba and then Alex blasted a stunning equaliser. Lampard then scored to increase our advantage which eased my nerves but I was soon on the edge of my seat again as Lucas and Dirk Kuyt both scored and made it a tense finale before Lampard again found the back of the net to put the game beyond Liverpool and seal a semi-final clash with Barcelona

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Surprise

Something is technically wrongImage by Sweet One via Flickr

Sunday I mentioned trends and how I felt that Friendfeed should introduce the feature as they provide a powerful tool for searching popular words and phrases on the real-time web. I wasn't very active online over the weekend so trending topics and Louis Gray's shared items on Google Reader were my primary source for information.

Quite a weekend for Twitter as StalkDaily and Mikeyy worms filtered through the service causing disruption. Mashable have emphasized that the Mikeyy attack is more a nuisance than malicious.
A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program sometimes introduced by folks with malicious intent to do some harm to a network.
These exploits remind me of the issues that constantly affected MySpace when I was a user and was a factor in my decision to eventually deactivate my account. An update on the Twitter blog informs that they have fought off four attacks of the Mikeyy worm and removed over 10,000 tweets that could have continued to spread the worm.
We are still reviewing all the details, cleaning up, and we remain on alert. Every time we battle an attack, we evaluate our web coding practices to learn how we can do better to prevent them in the future. We will conduct a full review of the weekend activities. Everything from how it happened, how we reacted, and preventative measures will be covered
Another trending topic [#amazonfail] creating a lot of backlash is Amazon’s removal from its sales rankings of gay or lesbian books it considered “adult” in nature. It doesn't seem clear at the moment why Amazon have reclassified the novels but failure to address the matter is proving to be a hot topic at the moment.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friendfeed Needs Real-Time Trends

Google after Twitter...Image by joedawson via Flickr

The real-time web has been a frequent topic of discussion lately, this reflects how the Internet is changing with the requirement for breaking news and a steady stream of updates. Friendfeed recently released real-time enhancements to their already popular lifestreaming service that have since seen increased activity on the site. According to Michael Arrington - Friendfeed is in danger of becoming the coolest app that no one uses but currently no other service has managed to provide such a rich experience.

Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed all have a vision for the real-time web but it's Twitter that has been getting the majority of the press. With sources referring to Twitter as a search engine and indicating that Google were in talks to acquire the microblogging service.

All three social sites have a learn involved although I find Twitter provides the most user friendly experience. To get the benefits from Facebook and Friendfeed you have to manage the noise with filters but Twitter organises the volume through hashtags and trends. Increasingly I have found that I'm checking the latest trending topics on Twitter before anything else to find out what is happening on the Internet.

Largely due to Tweetie becoming my iPhone app of choice!

Although Friendfeed has a Best-of-day feature they should introduce real-time trends as the primary feature. The lifestreaming service has significant leverage as it amalgamates many different social media services including Twitter giving it an advantage. That and can anyone remember a Friendfeed outage? What are your thoughts?

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

I was a dreamer...

mock motivational poster using  Our Blessed El...Image by Gary Bridgman via Flickr

Wasn't very motivated this morning but then neither was anyone, I attempted to build momentum but that failed! Suppose it makes a change to awake on a Saturday morning and not rush around searching for football and horse riding attire for the children.

Couldn't get leave next week so instead the older children are attending their activities. Arrived at football late this morning to finalise the arrangements for my son who will be participating in a Brazilian football event. Apparently international players are going to train with them but details aren't too revealing about what will take place.

My daughter has Pony Club awards next Friday which should be good as she is expected to do really well. Their mother has also secured them a shared ownership of a Pony for the week which I know they're excited about!

Tonight I'm meeting some friends in Bexleyheath to celebrate that I'm in the final year of my twenties. It's a concern of mine that I'm approaching a seasoned age but that won't affect the occasion this evening. If you're in the area it would be good to see you :)

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Can't You Tell Me...

Indy helps out with the egg hunt... [p52 w8]Image by Don Solo via Flickr

The best-laid plans with children can always go awry, even more so when making arrangements with others and today that was exactly what happened. Frustrating as had I known that their mother was going to change the plans I would have made sure I had organised an activity for the weekend.

Last year we had an Easter Egg hunt and also went to Battersea Park Children's Zoo which were both enjoyable so it was disappointing not to have arrangements. The unpredictable weather is also a factor as it's difficult to make any last minute arrangements!

This year I have found there to be a shortage of decent places to purchase Easter Eggs. Usually Woolworths provided the ideal outlet but due to the economic downturn they're no longer with us. Not that the children are concerned as they appear far more interested in the contents of a different variety of egg. That's right, plastic! Inside these Egg is a small alien, I'm seriously out of touch...
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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Echo Boom, Not Enough Room?

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

The popularity of social networking site Facebook can't be questioned as with 200 million users they have a significant population larger than many countries. If Facebook were a country it would be the fifth most populous in the World. At some point though the balance is going to shift and the growth is going to slow.

Twitter has been getting significant coverage lately and is the mainstream media's current "social media it girl". The microblogging service has been getting equal to if not more press than Facebook lately, so can the startup microblogging service surmount a significant challenge to the social networking giant? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg obviously acknowledges the potential of Twitter and comparisons with the service can be drawn with the recent homepage update.

It's no secret that the number of users over 35, 45 and 55 on Facebook is growing fast - parents. I have already witnessed a negative backlash to parents and relatives communicating on the social networking site over what they believe to be too much information being submitted. Generation X are clearly more reserved when it comes to online status and exposure compared to Generation Y. Will this be the eventual downfall of Facebook with Generation Y moving on to another social networking service to establish themselves away from their peers? Is the perception of Twitter cool enough and well positioned to become that service?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Face Your Fears

17 AgainImage by joedawson via Flickr

Today provided extreme thrills but also extreme queues as we were forced to wait in traffic and long queues for the rides!

Forgetting about the Easter holidays we decided to spend the day at Thorpe Park for my birthday. My partner arranged the day as a surprise and it was well appreciated as I haven't been to the theme park for years.

Instead of taking the children with us we chose to spend the day together as it's rare that we get the opportunity to share an activity as a couple.

It was really busy and this led to queue times reaching approximately 90 - 150 minutes for the popular rides. Weren't really interested in waiting around for most of the day so I purchased priority passes that allowed us to eliminate the majority of the waiting time and experience the rides without too much aggravation.

The latest attraction Saw - The Ride which is the world’s first ever horror movie-themed rollercoaster unfortunately didn't allow this luxury so we had to stand and wait for over two hour. It was worth queuing for though as it's well constructed and will definitely test your nerve with it's drop of 100ยบ from a terrifying height of 100ft.

The only disappointment of the day was that I didn't get to see the three children but we're going to have a celebration tomorrow for them.

Photos from Thorpe Park...
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beta Discussion

I wrote yesterday that Friendfeed had introduced a new beta User Interface which you can access by navigating to http://beta.friendfeed.com. Today I wanted to share four videos recorded by Robert Scoble who last week had the opportunity to interact with the Friendfeed team. These videos were brought to my attention by (jeff)isageek who also has them embedded on his site. So with thanks to both Jeff and Robert here are the videos -







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Monday, April 06, 2009

Friendfeed Becomes Better, Faster, Stronger?

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Friendfeed have today announced a new beta User Interface which you can access by navigating to http://beta.friendfeed.com.

Before I joined Friendfeed I was frequently signing up to 'the next big thing' before another would surface and the repetitive signup process would continue. Friendfeed broke that cycle as the vision of the development team is how I saw the future of the Internet.

Mark Zuckerberg also appears to agree with that vision as Facebook have innovated through imitation of the Friendfeed design with the Newsfeed, Likes, Imported Feeds etc.

FriendFeed was founded by Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, Paul Buchheit and Sanjeev Singh. Bret, Jim, Paul and Sanjeev previously worked at Google, where they designed and launched many products, most notably Google Maps, the Google Maps API, Gmail and Google Groups. [Source]

The focus of Friendfeed has always been conversation generated by feeds feeding on feeds, content from other sites imported into a stream allowing other users to consume and action.

The redesigned version of the Friendfeed service that launched today - which is the second since the service launched - sets the standard for real-time discussion by moving the conversation into more of an Instant Messaging environment.

Details from the Friendfeed blog:
  • A consistent look for entries, no matter where they originated from, to help you focus on what your friends are sharing
  • A new and improved share box that can now post entries to multiple feeds
  • The ability to send and receive direct messages
  • Filters so you don’t miss a post from a certain friend or an entry about a specific topic
  • Keyboard shortcuts for the most common commands
  • And, one of the most defining features of our redesign — and what we believe will underlie everything about FriendFeed from now on: real-time. There’s no longer a need for refreshing — every view in FriendFeed now updates in real-time.
Friendfeed, Facebook and Twitter have all favoured imitation over innovation lately as they have adopted each other's popular features. I feel that Friendfeed have released the most intuitive interface though with the core features likely the envy of the more popular social networking sites. Facebook view sharing information as their main objective; Twitter values search, trending topics and filters. Friendfeed have incorporated these features with the redesign and in doing so have provided real-time aggregation, conversation and filters to enhance the experience. How long before Facebook introduce a true real-time Livefeed?

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Social Circles

Sunrise shown in time lapse.  The motions of S...Image via Wikipedia

Combining business with pleasure/social activities often has a negative outcome, the equivalent is introducing online to the real world as this can also be difficult to balance. The introduction consisted of work colleagues meeting my partner for the first time and admittedly I was anxious how the two would collide.

Social Networking has changed the way we interact and increased our social circle to involve many people we don't know on a personal level. This makes introductions to friends-of-friends familiar as we basically know each other but just don't coexist in the same circles
. I don't use Lists on Facebook so accepting friend requests provides 'friends' with the transparency of both my online and real world identities.

From the feeds and stories I submit back to the newsfeed to photos from my children's birthdays, Christmas and holidays etc. These photos and wall posts shape the view of how my online relationships are perceived and across my network this creates a virtual introduction albeit through proxy!

My partner arrived at my office and as has become the normality for Friday afternoon we moved onto a Bar. The evening went really well and my friends informed me that it was surreal meeting someone for the first time that they had become so familiar with online. I trust my friends but it does raise the question over how much we're exposing our lives.

What are your views about your online identity? Do you use Lists on networking sites to separate your social circles? Should the evolution of image based social networking sites like Facebook allow for us to blur our tagged photos for added privacy? Thoughts?
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Friday, April 03, 2009

Anything You Can Do.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

There's a lot of discussion today about a story that TechCrunch broke which is sourced from two separate people close to the supposed negotiations.

The rumour is that Google is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter. Whether this is true we will have to wait and see but I'm hopeful that it's not true and that the service is allowed to spread it's wings a while longer before it's acquired. The value of Twitter can't be brought into question although Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have been in this situation before. They sold Blogger to Google five years ago so will the same occur here? I'm sure we will find out soon enough!

Another story filtering through today is that Friendfeed are to release a new UI Monday and it's rumoured to be very impressive. I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg will be watching closely :)

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

DiggBar Now Available

DiggImage via Wikipedia

Kevin Rose announced earlier today that Digg have begun rolling out a new product which they are calling the DiggBar. I must admit I expected it to just be another browser add-on but it's so much better!

I expect the toolbar to become popular as it requires no installation and provides an easy method of submitting stories to Digg. Included in the toolbar are number of views, comments on the story, related stories and the ability to quickly compress URL's to share across the Internet. I have been most impressed with the Random button as I'm sure that I will utilise that on a regular basis when I have moments that require a minimum of productivity!

Here are the full details from Kevin Rose:
  • Digg directly on the destination site: No more awkward toggling between the story page and Digg.
  • Easily share stories: You can now create a shortened Digg URL to share on Twitter, Facebook or via email. You can also type digg.com/ before the URL of any page you’re on to create a short URL.
  • Access additional analytics: See how many times a story has been viewed.
  • View comments while on the story page: Clicking the ‘Comments’ button expands the DiggBar to show the top comment, latest comment, and most controversial without leaving the page.
  • Discover related stories: Clicking the ‘Related’ button expands the DiggBar to highlight similar stories.
  • See more stories from the same source: Clicking the ‘Source’ button expands the DiggBar to show you more Digg stories from that source site.
  • Discover random stories: Click the ‘Random’ button and you’ll be brought to an entirely new, unexpected story.



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