It's been a month and a day since my last blog post. This isn't down to
a lack of enthusiasm, just the pressures of work combined with not
having my own personal computer to use in the evenings! I'm hoping for
new MacBooks to be out soon and solve that particular problem.
In the meantime, this blog is going into hibernation. Let's see if it
survives the winter...
I'm currently pretty active at foomandoonian.posterous.com, so you know...
Mozilla have a prototype called Prism that lets you turn web applications, like Buzzword or the Aviary suite into stand-alone apps, that still use the browser's engine, but presents the app in a new window. You may not realise that the slick new Google browser, Chrome, lets you easily do the same trick.
Simply navigate to a page that you want to use as a stand-alone app, say Gmail, and select the drop down 'page' icon to the right of the 'omnibar'. Now decide what shortcuts you want created, and boom, you're done. Even if you don't like Chrome as a browser, it does run webapps nice and sharpish, and this is a great way to use your calendar or RSS reader. Of course, with Google Gears support, you can even use some applications offline. Handy.
Last month, the mixtape website Muxtape went down, leaving the understated message: 'Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.'
Users jumped to the pretty reasonable conclusion that Muxtape is effectively dead, although the official support tumblelog says: 'No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned.'
Muxtape is dead. Long live Opentape.fm
Dead or not, seemingly the same instant Muxtape went down, Opentape.fm sprung up.
Opentape's creation and design are inspired by Muxtape's success and sleek interface. We were disappointed with its untimely shutdown and wanted the web mixtape movement to continue.
Molly Wood on Buzz Out Loud expressed a theory that 'the RIAA's constant crackdown on sites and services that ought to be fair use is creating cockroach-like, drug-resistant strains... like Opentape'. Speculation aside, Opentape is all the cooler for being open source and easy to install on your own website. The same slick Ajaxy page is all there, except instead of the links to buy music on Amazon, Opentape has a direct link to the MP3. It also has a flash player you can embed elsewhere:
Here's another simple service that I like - MeeID. Pick a name, add a picture, write up to ten lines about yourself. Each line can be a link, but doesn't have to be. At least some HTML is allowed.
That's about it. You can link your profile to others, but even this feature is pretty limited. The obvious use is to have your MeeID page be a central reference point. It's the link you stick in your Twitter bio, or on your moo card.
(I can be found at http://www.meeid.com/foomandoonian/)
Today Google launched a new open-source web browser called Chrome. I'm not going to waste your time with some made up on-the-spot analysis and opinioneering - instead, here is a handy list of the key things you need to know:
- You can download Google Chrome here: http://www.google.com/chrome
- It looks simple, uncluttered, minimalistic and very Google-ish (click image to enlarge):
- There is a comic drawn by the legendary Scott McCloud explaining they key principles behind the browser. You can read it here: http://www.google.com/googlebooks/chrome/
Drop.io - simple private file sharingIn the (grand?) tradition of my blog, this is yet another 'web 2.0' service that does something very simple, but does it brilliantly. In fact, drop.io takes the concept of sharing small files and adds on so many clever tricks, it's actually hard to know where to start.
Things start simply enough - you pick a name for your 'drop'. This will become the URL, so although you can go with a randomly generated sequence of characters, you have the option of picking something a bit more memorable. Then add your files and decide if you want them to be private (ie. password protected), set an expiry date, and choose what rights you want any visitors to have. You'll be offered one chance to set an admin password, giving you the ability to edit the drop later. And that's it - see an example at http://drop.io/foomandoonian.
You can view your files by media type, as a blog or like a system folder. There's even PicLens support. The blog view is especially interesting, as drop.io can be used to store notes, links and even has commenting - in fact, it's a fully featured blogging platform!
In addition to uploading files from the web, you can email them, phone in messages and even send faxes to a drop. As many ways as there are to add content, there are even more ways to share content!
If the blogging capabilities are a neat feature, then the podcast hack (found at drop.io/hacks) is brilliant: since drop.io supports audio files (and other media) and provides an RSS feed, it naturally makes it possible to host a podcast (or a 'dropcast' as they call it).
This is hardly an exhaustive overview of drop.io, but I'm sure you can see how useful this service could be. Go and have a play. There are some tutorials and a FAQ if you want to read some more.
Drag & Drop.ioOne new feature, currently in the testing phase, is a Firefox extension that will sit in the status bar and let you upload files by simply dragging them from your desktop, right onto a drop, or the icon. Sadly, it seems to conflict with Gmail Manager somehow, but it's early days. It also lets you bookmark drops, which could be very handy if you use several.
Cloud.io - a new generation of Twitter client?In barely-related news, Cloud.io has revealed a little information about itself, in this Vimeo video:
Clearly it is a new Twitter app, with the ability to display rich content that individual tweets may point to, even if the links are hidden behind a shortened URL. Since it promises to be 'a better way to navigate the twitterverse' I imagine we may see other media embedded in the client, like YouTube videos or mp3s, and some other neat tricks.
I hope the creators are thinking beyond the 'twitterverse', as they have one cool feature that many other Twitter clients don't - they are not riding on the Twitter brand. There are no bird metaphors in the name or the design, so if they are so inclined, they could add support for Plurk, Identi.ca, Ping.fm, FriendFeed, Blip.fm, bit.ly, Kwippy and all the other services that are crying out for unification in some form or other.
Whatever we get, hopefully we will only have to wait until the end of this month.
If you've spent even a little time on the popular website Twitter you will notice a few things about it. You may notice that there is quite a bit of downtime, or the avatars won't load, maybe your tweets don't get submitted or you can't follow people, sometimes. I am here to tell you today that these aren't even the biggest of problems that Twitter faces. Furthermore the main reason why Twitter is ruined right now, is you.
When I first heard of Twitter I thought it was a fantastic idea. For a creative person like myself it could be the ideal avenue to throw out some funny lines that I come up with and get instant feedback. It was like a dream world where I could harass people in new and hilarious ways, all the while getting instant feedback from the harassed and anyone who cared to read. Then reality kicked in.
I soon started to notice that Twitter was being used for sub-awesome ventures. I started getting attacked by a barrage of lameness like "eating food" or "I'm bored" and even the dreaded "driving to work". Uggggggh... I found that my new avenue of awesomeness was getting crowded with genuinely boring people. People with no imagination, with no vision, and apparently no fucking lives.
You have a great way to meet and chat with an unending amount of new people, and you decide the best way to befriend them is to fill them in on all the boring little details of your life? Not only that, but these people tend to have 5x as many followers as me. How can this be possible when they have the personality of an acorn and I'm the king of awesomeness? Simple. Most of these people only care about building huge follower/followee situations and upping their "tweet" count. Wow, what an ultra fulfilling and rewarding life you must live.
Being the nice guy that I am I want to help some of these people. I'm not helping the tweet count and follower count whores, they've already sold their souls to mediocrity and are forever in my little black book of hate. I will, however, help those people who tend to just be completely boring. They seem like nice enough people, and I want to follow them back, I just can't torture my mind reading their banalities on my timeline.
So here are a few examples of boring posts that I've seen, and my version of the same line. This should help you lame people spice it up a bit...
Original: "Off to take a shower."
New: "Uh-Ohs, It's shower time... Join me?"
Not only are you adding some semblance of personality, but you also see who is attracted to you and out the gays.
Original: "Eating a sandwich."
New: "I'm mouth fucking a turkey club right now."
Some people may find this comical, others may find it kind of gross, but at least you're getting a reaction out of people besides indifference.
Original: "Listening to *insert shitty band here*."
New: "Rocking out to *awesome band*, drinking Red Bull, and hitting my spouse."
Not only do I expect you to put a little more effort into tweets, but I also fully expect you to change your tastes from terrible music and movies, to awesome ones. Maybe it's the generic lines from the terrible movies and music you intake that are taking you over filtering into your tweets.
With any luck a large majority of the twitter community will read this post, realize that they're a failure to society, and then change their ways. It's going to take a lot of work to get these disappointments to turn it around, so I'll need your help. The next time you see someone getting their boring on, I want you to textually bitch slap them right in front of everyone. I feel if you make fun of the relentlessly they'll either be forced to change their ways, or they will just kill themselves. Either way it's win/win.
Blip.fm is a new micro-blogging service, from Fuzz, that has a truly brilliant unique selling point - music. Twitter asks 'What are you doing?' but Blip.fm asks instead 'What are you listening to?' You simply search for a tune, scroll through a list of results, preview the ones you like to make sure it's working. Add a message and 'blip' it to the world.
Music is clearly the killer feature here, but that's not the only great thing about Blip.fm. It's really easy to find and add people with similar musical tastes. After each post, Blip will show you a handful of others who have recently played the same song, and ask if you want to follow them. Additionally, the main page dynamically loads in new blips, without you having to reload the page. All micro-blogs should do this, but it's particularly hand on Blip as it means you can just keep listening, indefinitely.
I do wonder about the legality of this, but ultimately this could be a great tool for music discovery. Let's hope it survives!
Here, have an invite to Blip.fm, on me.