Quality Reads

Friday, January 26, 2007

Prototype's new Website

Prototype, one of the most widely used javascript frameworks, just moved to a new website. They did a great job filling out the API documentation and the site is very well designed.

There is only one thing missing, Search! The documentation doesn't have a search portal so I knocked out a Custom Search Engine (over at Google Coop). Check it out here.

Yes, the URL is ugly but you can add it to your Google Personalized Homepage and never have to type it again.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Return of the Command Line

I'm trying out Enzo, a new product from Humanized. You can think of it as an ever-available, command-linesque, efficiency tool. It handles common tasks such as spellchecking, google searches, opening files & applications with amazing speed. If you're always looking for a way to squeeze an extra ounce of productivity out of the day, check out Enzo. You'll thank yourself for taking time.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Can Business meet Web 2.0...

So you're working at a company that could use some collaborative applications. I'm in the same boat. Pitching a major expense to your boss may or may not fly depending on your position. I know I like to point out free/cheap options where ever possible. Here's the catch, how do you suggest using a Web 2.0 company that doesn't seem to have a viable business plan. What do I mean by that? If you're looking on their website and you can't figure out how their making any money, their business plan is suspect. Bringing me to my main point, I can't justify using a company if I don't know they're going to be around next year and beyond. I'm speaking strictly from a business setting. Almost everyone at my company falls into the category of non-technically inclined, which I'm convinced means "don't read" and "no patience".

What do you do?

You want to provide people with the tools to keep their jobs manageable. At the same time, you don't want someone to take time to learn an interface that might be gone next year. Its not like a desktop application that is physically installed on someone's computer. When a website goes down, its gone along with all the information you have stored there.

Quite the catch 22.

Has anyone else gone out on a limb and integrated their operational process with a Web 2.0 company? If so, how're things going and have you run into any serious pitfalls yet?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Filter :: A New Format

After a couple months of semi-regular posting. I've decided to switch gears with my blog and focus on being a "filter" (note the Google Reader Items above). I'll still be posting at least once a week but my current project is taking up most of my free time. The project is based on Adobe's new cross-OS platform Apollo. Very exciting stuff, I'll keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Is Wazap worth 7.9 Million?

I realize the gaming industry is big money, 12.7 Billion. So any substantial funnel for gaming information, such as a search engine, has a huge marketing potential. But I'm not impressed with Wazap.com. They just received $7.9 million in second round funding. That brings their total to $11.9 million in funding for a product that looks exactly like a Google Coop Search for Gaming information. If I had $7.9 million laying around and I was that enthusiastic about the idea, I'd set out to create my own site. For less than half that amount of money, a decent web development group could build a new search portal from scratch and purchase a 30-second commercial during the Superbowl. I'd definitely end up ahead in exposure (at least in the US) and $$.

I could be underestimating Wazap in a couple areas, such as their draw in Germany, China, and Japan. Perhaps its a powerhouse site and I don't even know it. Also, I didn't play around with their search functionality for more than a couple minutes, its all in German.
To decide for yourself, check out the links below:
  • Wazap :: Main Site
  • Wazap :: Translated to English (via Google Translate)

Friday, January 12, 2007

2 Strikes Against the iPhone

Lets be honest the iPhone is pretty sexy. It has the figure of a widescreen tv, the fun-loving persona of an iPod, and the warm embrace of OS X. So whats wrong with this picture.

Two things so far:
  1. Closed API, no third party application development
  2. Cingular -- Worst Customer Service Ever
Originally, I thought the iPhone would have a scaled back version of Mac's OS X allowing for some very exciting development possibilities. I was picturing myself on a beach in the tropics, "working" on the iPhone with one hand, sipping a rum and coke with the other. Then, today I read an article citing the iPhone will have a closed API. Buzz kill. No natively installed applications. Time to break out the Safari-capatible web apps.

As for Cingular, they just suck. Take a look at the hassle you have to go through in order to get out of one of their contracts. I wish the phone industry interpolated a little more than it currently does. So I could take the iPhone to any provider I wanted.

In the end, I'll probably still get one but I'll hate myself for it....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Over-Marketed Early-Adopters

Warning....This falls into the rant category.
I just glossed over this list of the Top 100 Web 2.0 sites posted on digg. People have been prophesying the Web 2.0 burst for a year or so but for the first time, after checking out this list, I think I agree. Below are all the websites from the aforementioned list which actually charge for their service:
  1. Sprout (Hosted Email Management)
  2. Jajah (VoIP)
  3. Skype (VoIP)
Wow, I stopped looking for paid services because I had to include Jajah and Skype just to make a list. They barely charge for their services, only for certain long-distance phone calls. How are the rest of these services structured? All advertising-Based?!? Unless you have massive, consistent web-traffic, most organizations can't convert an advertising-based business plan into a substantial, sustainable revenue-source. Keep this statistic in mind. The combined yearly revenues of Digg, Del.icio.us, and theFacebook.com don't match the daily revenue of a single Costco.

Web applications that intends to use advertising should have a strong reason built into the product. Pandora, a web-based personal dj, is a great example. A flash music player only takes up a small section of webpage providing ample advertising real estate. Also, its radio-like nature gives it precendence in the advertising-based business realm. They are utilizing a proven approach that traditional companies are open to.
Another thing Pandora seems to get right is they're selling ads for their web space in house. It amazes me how many advertising-based sites seem to be using Google Adwords. Horrendous. FYI, if you run one of those websites, a 900 pound gorilla is gobbling up the majority of your income.

Why don't more websites charge for their services? Some argue that people don't like to pay for online services -- advertising is the only way to create a cult-like following found with the big 2.0's.

Why don't more people purchase online services? I always have concerns when purchasing an online service that I'll read an article tomorrow telling me about a comparable FREE application. If you really standout from the crowd that shouldn't be an issue.

Checkout all the duplicates:
  1. Personal RSS Feed Aggregators
    1. Tiny Tiny RSS
    2. Klipfolio
    3. Google Reader
    4. InstantFeed
  2. Web-Base Microsoft Office Replacements
    1. ThinkFree Office
    2. Zoho
    3. Google Docs & Spreadsheets
    4. EditGrid
  3. Video/Photo Sharing (one of these is a fake service, see the bottom for the answer)
    1. Flickr
    2. VideoSift
    3. MotionBox
    4. Dabble.com
    5. Vimeo
    6. FotoFan
    7. YouTube
...and the list goes on

The defining characteristic between Web 2.0 winners and losers will be tangible product differentiation in the eyes of the average user. Tangible as in: x integrates with y much better than z does. Moreover, tangible in the sense it that the average person can understand its purpose. You can't get someone excited about Google Reader if they've never heard of an RSS/Atom feed...even worse, if you explain the concept and they don't understand why its useful.

PS-FotoFan was the fake service listed under Video/Photo Sharing

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Timing Your Vacation

Scott Berkun had a great post on how to select the best dates for your vacation. I must admit that I enjoyed working the week between Christmas and New Years. Zero phone calls. Euphoric. I'm getting my R&R right before things kick back into full swing (Feb. 3-11) with a trip to Ireland. Yes, the Guinness factory is on my todo list. To use an Irish phrase, should be great crack.

*This is a definitely a strategy of the GTD (Getting Things Done) clan.

Monday, January 01, 2007

My Goals in 2007

I have read a number of blog posts about people's goals for 2007 and it got me thinking about what I want to accomplish. Here's my list:

  1. Finish RSScholar, my web-based RSS/Atom feed creator, and release it publicly. The concept is to allow professors, students, and intellectuals alike to easily tag and share journal articles. I hope to have the beta version finished before the end of the week.
  2. Continue to establish my presence as an operations guru. I've found many small business don't take full advantage of the current technology revolution (web, software, and hardware). Its amazing how much time you can free up with a little integration. I hope to expand my consulting business 200%-300%, which is a little deceiving since I'm working full-time with one company right now.
  3. Get out west and enjoy at least one amazing powder day. I love my work but you have to keep everything in balance. I'm thinking Alta, Jackson Hole, or Big Sky (you never have to fight a crowd in Montana).
  4. Enjoy Life.
I wish everyone the best in the new year. I'd love to know some of your New Year's resolutions, comment away.