Security risks, threats from viruses, privacy invasion, lack of consumer protection laws and the many problems associated with may be far less real than many Internet users believe. That isn't the point. It's what they believe that matters.That quote is from eight years ago. You'd think we'd learned our lesson... The recent flap over MySpace is nothing new. We see it every time a new technology comes out, and the source is always the same: parents, special interest groups, and news outlets.
These fall into two categories:
those that have been convinced that there is a major problem when there really isn't.
This is the group I hope most parents are in. The news outlets are to blame for the most part. After all, loving parents are an easy target for a sensationalist headline. What better way to sell newspapers and advertising than to make it seem like there is an extreme danger threatening their kids? This, of course is evil. But there's money to be had, so they do it anyway. Special interest groups aren't far behind.
then there are those parents who want someone else to do their job for them
These are the parents I hope you're not. Unfortunately, there are parents out there who really don't care enough about their kids to be troubled in learning about online safety. Since they don't have the time to teach their kids morals or responsibility, they'd rather just try to make the threat go away.
In a twist of irony, their unwillingness to be responsible for the education of their kids results in the kids never having the chance to develop their own sense of responsibility or morals. Unfortunately, these kids are programmed to go astray; after all, 'if they shouldn't be doing something, surely someone would have kept them from it...' Hopefully these parents will realize that it's easier to teach their kids to drive the road of life, than to try to pave a road in front of the car...
Special interest groups
These mostly appear to be:
terrified parents with some money or political clout who forgot to do their homework polititians who want to look like they're doing something so terrified parents will vote for them
one is trigger happy, the other manipulative. 'nough said.
Some of these guys aren't as bad as you would believe:
If you look at stories about online danger in the last 10 years, some of them have been trying to steer parents into education. What's interesting is that they usually have stories every 8 months or so advocating the co-education of parents and students, often suggesting they go online together and talk about safety. Kudos to CNN and a few others.
Then there's the rags and soundbyte hunters. Again, loving parents are an easy target for a sensationalist headline. The good news is that people are learning that they can get their news elsewhere, besides the few companies that control nearly all news outlets. Kudos to all of you who refuse to be spoon-fed what your opinions should be.
Finally, if you're one of these people who still is gung-ho about going after MySpace, like you were about video games two years ago, like you were about chat rooms four years ago, like you were about the internet six years ago, and like you were about the internet eight years ago, please do everyone a favor:
Back up eight years and start educating yourself on the proper way to use technology with your kids. (article is from 1998, but it's good to go back to when the paranoia started)
Anyone ready to place bets on how long it will be until people start asking for the Gov. to get rid of the Child-Food-Processor (tm) that is MySpace?|W|P|114433701032141842|W|P|Please Government, protect me from MySpace!|W|P|
Which OS are You?
(Just pray you don’t end up as Windows Me)|W|P|114401623098542924|W|P|Test Results questionable|W|P|
So I was checking out one of Scoble's posts with a video of a recent party on Rocketboom. Apparently he gets a little "naked" to promote his book, 'Naked Conversations'. Wish I had known that BEFORE I clicked on it.Check this out - I kid you not! The entire rocketboom broadcast was playing fine. About 2 or 3 frames into the shirt-taking-off of Scoble, GAAH! BROWSER CRASH!
I've never seen this error before. I've heard of 'breaking the camera, but geez! (click screenshot to enlarge) Apparently, Firefox is looking out for me and my sensitive eyes... What I want to know is, when did I install the 'NSFW' extension?
In an act of IT-helpdesk-based gluttony for punishment, I tried to replicate the issue. Regrettably, the video was able to play in its entirity the second time.|W|P|114433685862570691|W|P|Scoble broke my browser|W|P|
Electrons in Wonderland
Priuses and Patents. Hydrogen Hummers and Homemade Hybrids. These are the weapons being waged. At stake? The privilege to be paid to fuel America's need for mobility. The future of transportation in the US is obviously electric, whether it be in a hybrid vehicle or 100% electric vehicle, this is unavoidable. But ever wonder why hybrids really aren't taking off that fast? After all, this technology has the potential to save Americans billions per year, while significantly lessening the strain on our environment. As it turns out, the issue is money, of course.
The batteries in electric cars (hybrid or electric) need to be very powerful. So powerful, in fact, that we need to use very powerful nickel metal hydride batteries. NiMH batteries are the same as the ones in your TV remote, but obviously a bit larger in vehicles. However, if these batteries are able to be so strong, why is it so hard to make an affordable electric or hybrid-electric car? The answer, it seems, is in a clash between two massive corporations. And into the rabbit hole we go...
Ovonic Battery Company is the leading developer of advanced materials for NiMH batteries. After all, this makes sense, as Stanford Ovshinsky founded the company in the 1960 for NiMH development. Ovonic is a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, who currently holds the NiMH patent. ECD makes commercial and transportation NiMH batteries via it's spinoff copany, Cobasys. Cobasis is a joint operation between ECD and ChevronTexaco.
That's right, the 125-year-old petroleum company has a substantial stake in the production of commercial-grade NiMH batteries. You might be asking yourself what a company that has spent billions on an industry to serve you gasoline might want with the manufacturing arm of the NiMH patent holders. The answer is easy: to keep you buying gas. You'd better believe that ChevronTexaco would rather have you fill up with gas than recharge an electric car with a solar panel while you're at work, or with a few dollars of electric while you sleep.
A new hope from the land of the rising sun
Panasonic thought they'd partner with Toyota and make a fortune bringing in the new era of transportation with vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 EV. This was a 'normal' car with a 100 mile range. It was relatively affordable and cost a fraction per mile of its gas siblings. Since it could be set to charge while you sleep, you'd never know the difference, except for the missing tailpipe, gas door and extra cash on the wallet. In addition, they would easily cruise at 80 mph. I know all of these things because I've driven one. They were sold in the US for a very short time, and several exist, despite attempts to have them erased from automotive history. My family was lucky enough to find one at the end of its lease, and it happily powers around in the mountains of Colorado to this day. For a vehicle that costs nearly nothing to maintain (no coolant, oil, gas, ignition, emissions, etc.)and an original MSRP of about $17,000 (most sold for over MSRP - now they sell for $40K with 30K on the odometer), one could make the argument that this is the ideal vehicle for most people.
So what happened? As it turns out, to have an electric vehicle come close to the performance of a gas vehicle, you need a powerful battery. A NiMH is the only type that is powerful enough to get to the 80 Amp/hour range to provide good performance at an attractive price. (An amp-hour is defined as "constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed 1 meter apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2×10–7 newton per meter of length." In English, this means it measures how much and how hard electricity is being shoved down the pipe. For the RAV4 EV, Panasonic found they would have to make a battery rumored to be as high as 85Ah. They made this battery for Toyota and implemented it successfully in the RAV4 EV.
Unfortunately for Panasonic, Toyota and automotive progress, Panasonic wasn't supposed to make batteries good enough for vehicles. Cobasys, of which Chevron is a 50% stakeholder, limits the Ah of commercial NiMH batteries when someone requests a license to their NiMH batteries. Although the Ah limit numbers are confidential, the limits have been leaked to be in the range of 10 Ah, and only to be used (and only suitable for) hybrid-electric applications.
In 2003, Cobasys sued Panasonic for making the electric car batteries instead of the hybrid batteries and eventually won $30 million in late February, 2006. The advent of the electric car had been successfully blocked, and as the RAV4 EV's disappeared from the dealership lots, people attributed it to a lack of interest or failure of the vehicle to be a workable commuting vehicle. The inability of Panasonic to offer replacement batteries for these vehicles looked like it would send them to the scrap heap within a few years when the batteries needed to be replaced. Or so we thought.
The new kid on the block
You may have heard about President Bush visiting Johnson Controls recently to have a look at their Lithium Ion batteries. Li-Ion is a battery like NiMH, but gives off more power in a battery of the same size, and are much lighter (which becomes very important when the battery has to move itself around in a vehicle). In addition, Li-Ion batteries don't 'go dead' as quickly when you use them, and can survive a lot longer than NiMH when being constantly charged.
In the past, Li-Ion batteries were only used in cell phones and laptops for good reason. Li-Ion costs just as much as NiMH to manufacture, but due it its construction is prone to a 30%+ failure rate. When you are making AA batteries for a remote or a cell phone battery, it hurts to throw away every third battery, but due to the power gains and weight savings, it is acceptable. Laptops are at the edge of this compromise, as they can't live without Li-Ion due to their weight and power requirements, and the battery costs too much to produce. Since the alternative is no laptops, manufacturers compromise by using lower-powered (and lower performance) parts, and charging more for a laptop, due to the cos of throwing away one $100+ battery for every two produced. About $50 is added onto the other batteries to compensate.
In an electric vehicle system, a Li-Ion battery of sufficient power would be somewhere in the range of $3000. A much better cost solution would be NiMH, but we already know why that won't happen. So what is the big deal with Johnson Controls rolling out a new Li-Ion battery for gas-electric hybrids? They're starting to find a way to make Li-Ion cheap enough to work. In late September, 2005, Johnson Controls built a new $4 million research facility dedicated to developing Li-Ion batteries for Hybrid and Full Electric vehicles. The new facility is sponsored by $14.4 million from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, a group of companies consisting of DaimlerChrysler, Ford and GM, along with the US Department of Energy (the "Big Three" manufacture basically every car not made in Japan). Note the absence of anyone interested in preserving the gasoline-based infrastructure. The next two years, 2006-2008
It will be interesting to see where we go from this point. We seem to be on an electric car breakthrough wih new battery technology that isn't controlled by a dominant petroleum company. The idea of the electric car being weak is shattered by this Lithium-Ion 180-mph prototype sportscar. It appears as if President Bush has expressed a dedication towards advancing large-scale Li-Ion battery development in the US with his support of our main research lab. For everything people say about Bush, this may well be one of the things he is most remembered for: eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and electric vehicle technology.
What can you do?
If people only knew how hard Cobasys has worked to keep the gas flowing to you and the money flowing to them. (And the emissions flowing to the environment). The best thing you can do is to get the word out. Link to this post. Write about it. Tell your friends. Write the people who represent you in government and tell them you support Li-Ion and Electric Vehicle technology in the US. You support budgeting that will give the Johnson Controls battery lab what they need to make an easily-manufactured Electric Vehicle Li-Ion battery. You need to tell them these things yourself. Gasoline companies have invested millions in lobbyists, whose sole goal is to perpetuate our addiction to gasoline.
Finally, do all of these things for yourself. Even if you don't care about the environmental effects, do it for the money you'll save on gas and complex gasoline-powered vehicles. Do it because it's the right thing to do. Do it because you're a Technocrat.
This won't be a war fought with guns at the expense of soldiers. This will be a war fought with patents and corporations, meant to continue a source of revenue for companies that believe in purchasing political power.
At stake is the right to use the best solution possible to solve one of the world's greatest problems. ---
I've made as best an effort as I could to verify the historical facts from sources close to the action. Due to the confidential nature of many of these events, it has been extremely rough putting them together. If you have any information or corrections, please let me know. My main goal is to get the information out and have it be as accurate as possible.|W|P|114433677827176398|W|P|The new war, in the US, 2006-08|W|P|
Interesting argument on the Scobleizer today on RSS feeds and the reasons behind full or partial text feeds. THis actually is a big deal as far as traffic is concerned, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents:
Jeremy Wright had this to say:
FYI Jeremy, I just asked wordpress how hard it would be to map a second line on the traffic graph for RSS pickups. If you want it too, hit the feedback button and ask for it. I love the idea of being able to graph Web views vs. RSS pickups. (I realize that there are problems here, like people who have their reader set to update every 5 minutes, so there would have to be something to distinguish between unique hosts...)
Traffic doesn’t equal readers. RSS subscribers don’t equal traffic.
..but getting to the matter at hand, he also had this to say:
The reason you want full text RSS feeds is so you don’t have to visit a site, after all.
I agree. I just went and changed my feed to full text due to that comment. Here's why I had it in partial though:
The web-based readers NEED to have partial text, IMHO. Otherwise, with one post, you completely push out any other post a few page-downs from the bottom of the screen. I've been trying really hard to keep as many posts on the main page as possible. Compare this to my older posts that were imported from Blogger that I haven't fixed yet. There is no way anyone is going to scroll past the 'don't get ripped off on a laser printer' post on that page to see the rest. I'd much rather be able to give them 5 snippets that fit on a 1024x800 screen, rather than one monster post and hope they'll scroll down to see the other 5 monster posts.
Based on these reasons going on over on the Scoblizer, I really think the way to go is to do partial text on the web, and full text on RSS. In this way, you tailor your content for the medium, as they are both very different.
Most people do full text on RSS, and full text on the web posts, which IMHO is pretty painful to the web viewers with all the scrolling they have to do to look at more than 1 or 2 posts.
As far as money making is concerned, that's not what I'm interested in, but it seems that partial posts are indeed a good way to con people into loading up an ad-loaded page. Give them just enough text, them make them go to the site to see your ads and get paid.
Of course, Ozh makes a good point, in that the RSS aggregation sites will have an easier time indexing if you do full text RSS, which may get you more interested readers.
In the end, it's all up in the air as to what will be the most profitable using RSS and Web publishing. Until more people use RSS, it's not going to be clear, as there just isn't enough data to go off of. In the meantime though, you can follow my suggestion of partial web posts and full rss feed to make it easier for people to get your work...|W|P|114433670453544146|W|P|Blogs and RSS: full text or partial?|W|P|
A VirusScan utility. Preferably something like Symantec Antivirus or other application that comes on a CD. Costs money, but so does a hijacked box. I can't recommend Norton, I've seen way too many machines destroyed for it to be a coincidence... haven't been impressed with the free offerings, but the last time I tried was about 18 months ago, and haven't had a reason to test since then...
A browser. Firefox. Possibly with Google toolbar (for the spellcheck, he's a blogger also) and StumbleUpon (we all get bored) Got any other killer extensions?
An email client / RSS aggregator. Thunderbird 1.5, but I would set him up myself. I'll be writing a post later on the annoyances of Thunderbird, and how once you get them sorted out, it rocks! (default settings are counter-intuitive, though - what's with putting my sig underneath the inline reply text???) The RSS is a nice addition. It's an easy-to-use tech that most people have never heard of.
Spyware protection. Spybot Search and Destroy with TeaTimer and IE. Update the def's and scan, WinXP MCE had a few red flags out of the box...
Productivity suite. He had a free copy of Office XP through his graduate program, but otherwise I'd advise people to use OpenOffice. A few days ago I completely uninstalled Office XP (my org's standard). Only annoyances so far are difficulty graphing in Calc. Definitely set it up to save as Microsoft file format by default though, otherwise no-one else will be able to open your stuff. (for now. When the next version of office natively supports the open office standard, wait 5 years fr everyone to upgrade, then switch the defaults back...) If they don't already have Office, install OO and go spend the $373 they save on a new __________? Multifunction printer? iPod? 7 day thermostat and light bulbs? (ok, shameless, nerdy plug) $20 donations to each of the free softwares listed here?
PrimoPDF. This free utility will allow you to make anything printable into a pdf file, no adobe products needed. (except viewer).
What else? I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Post your suggestions with the URL's. Save Google some bandwidth. (That last one is a joke, obviously)
In additon, you'll want to make some tweaks to the OS, of course.|W|P|114433649976924846|W|P|What to install on a new PC|W|P|
Hello all, hope you enjoyed your weekend!Continuing on in my series, I've taken a few suggestions from Robert Scoble and tried to expand on them to make a full-featured how-to on blog improvement. I'll continue polling other leading bloggers and posting how-to's based on their suggestions, but today we'll look at Scoble's tagging suggestion:
Another way? Steph Booth taught me this one: tag often. Tag frequently. Tag better. In Wordpress.com your categories are also tags. Don’t worry about using too many tags. The more tags you use, the more likely someone will find you in a search engine.
This is a new concept for me, since I'm new to Wordpress (moved from a very basic blog at blogger). One of the reasons I moved from blogger was for the categories wordpress offers. Categories/tagging in a blog can take two very different approaches. I've done both, so I'll try to summarize them:
If you have a look at the screenshot of this blog before I started improving it, you'll notice that the category structure was very different. This was a direct result of my writing style. I tend to tackle some larger-than-normal topics on this blog, and I has been trying to keep the different 'part 1', part 2' topics organized on blogger. This ended up being a mess, so I moved to Wordpress and basically used the categories as a table of contents for my content. This method of organization ensures that people will quickly find what they are looking for. Unfortunately, people who read your blog most often will not know what they are looking for. In this respect having 'a great roadmap' of your blog isn't nearly as helpful as you would think, since the bulk of visitors aren't looking for an exact post, they're looking to browse a genre (category) of posts.
This was okay, or so I thought. But after watching Wordpress' analysis tools, I found that people who wanted the 'free money - at home' category were missing out 'Tomorrow's solutions - in the home' postings. They were obviously interested in tech for the home, so why not give tme both? Sure, the would no longer get exactly what they were looking for, but as I mentioned before, most people don't know exactly what they're looking for.
So the key seems to be: get an idea of what they want in general, and throw everything you've got at them. I don't neccessarily like this method, as it is much less precise, but tfor.Sobers speak for themselves: my visitors are staying longer and visiting more posts now, since I am giving them a winecessarily based loosely on what they want,lesstead of narrow offering tailored to their wishes. In the end, I hope that visitors come away with more than they were looking for.
As you can tell, I'm still on the fence about all of this, but the results show that the second method produces more traffic by far, so it's hard to argue with that. Thsi is why for.Astegories listed above are now organized as:
In addition, each post now belongs to multiple categories, instead of being in its own (i.e. an electric motorcycle post is in the 'Automotive' and 'Renewable Energy' categories instead of the 'On the Road' category under 'Tomorrow's Solutions'. In this way, that post will get exposure to people interested in both Automotive and Renewable Energy, instead of people interested in just 'Tomorrow's solutions on the road'.
Hopefully this explains how to use the "shotgun approach" to get more posts exposed to your audience, while at the same time giving them something close to what they're looking for. The method is somewhat less precise/organized than what this IT guy would prefer, but it seems to profoundly increase the number of posts that get viewed, so I view it as a 'neccessary evil'.|W|P|114433642630708833|W|P|Deconstructing Scoble IV: Categories/Tagging|W|P|
To recap, I had a lot of good content, but the blog itself looked a little drab [screenshot], and I wasn’t advertising my content as well as I could have.
I’ve already gone over the first suggestion, and added a few common-sense suggestions of my own. (then again, it took a second look for me to realize it, so maybe not that common)
Here I’ll take a second look at what can be done about another powerful promotional tool: personalization. To quote Scoble,
Another thing? Dan’s title tag is boring. You need some personality! Look at Darren Barefoot’s title tag. Lots of personality and gives me some sense of who Darren is. Oh, and his blog’s design sticks out too. Different. Clean. Personal. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that smile? Yeah, Wordpress.com makes it hard to change the template right now (Matt Mullenweg promises that’s changing soon, but in the meantime you can get ready by doing the other things — come up with a better title tag, write better headlines, work on finding interesting content that’ll help you stick out of the crowd on search engines and memetrackers.
An unlevel playing field
Darren’s site is pretty customized, and after looking high and low for ways to customize a Wordpress blog, I don’t think there is one. It’s not ‘pretty hard’ like Scoble says, it’s ‘pretty impossible’. Right now, you’re limited to using one of a very few templates that have customization in their control panels, and that’s it. I agree that customization would be ideal, but for those of us who don’t have an in with wordpress.com, you’re out of luck. Coincidentally, a quick look at the source code for Scoble’s blog shows that his Wordpress customization is definitely some sort of special arrangement. Score one for Blogger.com. I like Wordpress’ tagging feature, though, so we can make do for now…
In the meantime, compare the current site to the screenshot. I added a little human element on the ‘what is a technocrat?’ page and in the ‘Hall of Fame’ and ‘Links’ sidebars. It gives it a little more flavor as to who I really am, and how much it means to me that people read my stuff. (explained on the ‘what is a technocrat?’ page)
‘In the meantime’
come up with a better title tag
Gotcha. And I agree on that one. My Blog’s title was boring. I just hadn’t been able to think up a better one. Then I was called a technocrat by a co-worker. Wasn’t sure if they meant that in a derogatory way, (later they admitted that they meant it as a compliment) but after looking it up, I liked it! (I hadn’t heard the term beofre, which I guess is surprising since it’s supposedly common…?)
So I got the new name. I’m definitely a technocrat by the definition of a person who “…supports the control of technology for the benefit of humanity.” I also try to post at least one meaningful article per day. So, ‘The Daily Technocrat’. Appropriate and different.
write better headlines
…like ‘Deconstructing Scoble’? I realize it probably is a little inflammatory, and might seem like I’m going to be breaking down Scoble in these articles. In a way, I am, and the title is describing exactly what I’m doing. I also am aware that it might imply controversy, which there is a small amount, I suppose. My past headlines were (for the most part) pretty dry, but accurate. I guess I do need to spice up the title, if I want them to get to the actual content. The main point is that it gets people in the door. If they read the article, who cares if it wasn’t exactly what they thought it might be. The title is accurate, and if they get past the first paragraph, they’re interested in improving thir blog, and I’m happy to offer my own insight, extrapolated from Scoble’s suggestions. In the end, they might not get what they thought, but probably something that will provide quite a bit more value, hopefully. If it was the dual-meaning title that got them in the door, then so be it, I’m glad they read it for the possible benefit to them.
work on finding interesting content that’ll help you stick out of the crowd on search engines and memetrackers
I’m thinking this was a general suggestion (albeit a valid one) since I try very hard to come up with original, interesting content. The reason I try so hard is because I’m sick to death of every blog being a mirror of Slashdot, Wired and CNN! If I want CNN, I’ll go to CNN, I’m coming to your blog for you. If you don’t have anything to contribute, wait until you do. You’re much more likely to capture an audience posting a great post every 3 days or so than posting 10 times a day on something that a million other bloggers are posting on. You have great ideas, don’t bury them in a pile of filler posts.
Eventually, I might run out of things to post seriously about, but the worst thing I could do is to compensate by filling in the spot with a goofy post. I already have enough of those…
In a way, you should find this encouraging. By coming up with original content twice a week, you’re probably in the top third of all bloggers, quality-wise. The bottom two-thirds are the ones doing the me-too latest-news posts, or the play-by-play-of-my-adolescent-life blogs. Congratulate yourself with a trip down to the corner.
Speaking of which, have a great weekend everyone!|W|P|114401532496779067|W|P|Deconstructing Scoble III: Personalization|W|P|
Trailer that has logo of StumbleUpon:
I know technology isn’t for everyone, but upon completion of the new high-speed tolling lanes, the DOT put out this sign, which flashed:
“IDOT”, (something like ‘2 lanes open’) and then “Open Road Tolling (OTR)”
Nope, I didn’t type that incorrectly. It said OTR for about 4 days, likely to the amusement to millions of commuters. I started making up my own acronyms, like Open Toad Rolling… Sorry for the pic, but you get the idea. (this pic was after they fixed it, I wanted to show how giant the sign was though…)
I had to take a cab from Midway to O’Hare a while back, and the cab had this CarPutuer installed. I thought it was cool. The driver said it was normally set up for people to use the yellow pages online while the cab was driving around. Note I said normally. Instead, the machine would POST, Show the Windows 2000 splash screen, blue-screen and restart. Repeat this process for the entire 45-minute trip, in the dark, to O’Hare. I offered to fix it, but alas, no keyboard, and the touch-screen drivers weren’t loaded until the OS booted, which never happened. The flashing effect on my early-morning (~5-6AM) eyes was very Clockwork-Orange-ish. Since the driver couldn’t turn it off, I wanted to take the opportunity to write ‘don’t let this happen to you’ on a bunch of my side-work cards and stuff them around the screen. Alas, all I had were my official work cards, and I didn’t want to give that info to a bunch of strangers… next time… (pic is blurry from combination of taxi suspension and highway pavement…)
The following are examples of how not to use tech, in this case, personalized plates. In fact, this should be considered abuse…
Hopping on the Leet-speek bandwagon: your future pridePersonalized
plates for your new SUV in Illinois: $190
Being branded as a ‘Roxr’ when leet-speek goes out of style 2 weeks later: priceless
…and the winner…
Personalized plates: IWAGB4
I can’t imagine why this “lady” would want to advertise ‘I Was A Guy Before’…|W|P|114401501899191817|W|P|Ridiculous commute-related tech photos|W|P|
Scoble, commenting on this blog, as of 2/14/06 (screenshot):
First notice how his blog looks very similar to tons of other blogs? That’s hurting him.
One of TechCrunch’s popularity secrets is that he uses lots of graphics and screen shots. Makes his blog more pleasing to the eye. Sorta the way Technorati looks better than Google’s blog search.
TechCrunch isn’t bad looking, and I can understand where Scoble was coming from.
You can divide TechCrunch’s use of graphics into two categories, the use of screenshots/pictures and the use of logos. Both have their benefits:
This should be obvious, but pictures add to an article/posting. ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’? This is as true today as when Fred R. Barnard supposedly said it in 1921. Apparently, this phrase was used to sell advertising on the side of streetcars.
This is an interesting comparison. People would only see streetcars for a moment, and then they were gone, so it was important to have something that would capture their attention. Sounds awfully familiar to blogs!
This is easy enough to demonstrate. Consider the following comparison: “I have installed a freeware application called LClock (supposedly named for LonghornClock) that installs on top of the standard windows tray clock. It makes the clock look like the upcoming Vista clock, and provides additional functionality. When I click on the time, it shows a full calendar with a few butons that enable me to scroll back and forth to previous or future months. It also shows the date and time in a nice format when you hover over it. I think this is an improvement on the standard WinXP clock.”
or, I could just do this:
“I have installed a freeware application called LClock (supposedly named for LonghornClock) that installs on top of the standard windows tray clock. You can click on it to get a calendar, and I like how it looks:”
Much better. To summarize, I would say that Scoble/TechCrunch have something going for this style. IF I were to sun it up, I would say the rule would be “If you find yourself describing the characteristics of something visible, just give the picture”.
This is something I never thought of, but is a great idea that TechCrunch seems to use quite frequently. Take a page from Nike’s playbook and use their branding. Everyone knows the “swoop” logo. The next time you’re doing a story about Nike, don’t wait for your reader to see your zippy headline, start reading and see that “Oh, this is about Nike”. Just throw the logo in there. People don’t want to read what the story is about, they want to know what the story is about, and as quickly as possible. Billions of dollars have been spent by these companies to make sure their logos are instantly recognizable. Use it! One word of caution, though. I would discourage the use of logos simply to make a story seem more legitimate. Adding a logo makes a story seem more legitimate/knowledgeable, but all that means is that it had better be legitimate/knowledgeable. The harder you try to make a poor post seem legit, the bigger of a flame war you’ll get into. The
use of logos/avatars has been used extensively on Slashdot and Tom’s Hardware for a long time, and the result is great! It’s a wonder why no-one on the blog front has adopted this ‘graphic tagging’. This is especially true for wordpress users, since they have a bank of easily-accessed images right below the text box when they are entering a post!
The legal side of this should be covered under Fair Use in the United States, which states that the use of copyrighted materials in “…criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” In addition, if the logo/avatar isn’t copyrighted, but trademarked, the law says that trademarks can be used to refer to a product in the same way as a copyrighted article. Ultimately, this means that if you are writing a post about the Apple iPod, you are allowed to use the name ‘iPod’ (trademark) and the Apple logo in your posting. Just make sure that the purpose of your posting is for “…criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research”.|W|P|114401492241954796|W|P|Deconstructing Scoble II: Images and Graphics|W|P|
From: me To: Scoble Subject: blog success - a 15 second question
Hi. I’ve had a blog for 3-4 months now, but despite having good content (I think), no success.
You’re obviously doing something right. I was wondering if you would take a 15 second look at my blog and let me know what I’m doing right/wrong?
I appreciate it, and it’s cool if you don’t, I just figured I’d ask someone who knows what to do…
Much to my surprise, he wrote quite a lengthy article in reply, and posted it to his own blog, entitling it ‘Tips for joining the A list’. I appreciate the lengthy response immensely, but I want to clarify that my intentions are not for fame personal gain. In fact, I commented later on in his thread with the following:
My personal goals for traffic are to give away information for free that has worked well for me…
(like investigating the value of Compact Fluorescents - ok, a little nerdy, but $30-50/month in my Toy Fund is pretty sweet - got a USB GPS unit this month)
…or get discussions going on things that are important
(like maybe getting lobbyist influence in the public eye instead of Britney Spears!)
Kinda like a think-tank-coop/tech-mob idea…
OK, that said, his suggestions are very good no matter what your goals, and I plan to have a second look at my own blog based on his suggestions. Since it’s going to be a process, I’ll start a new sub-category dedicated to designing an effective blog.
Be sure to point your feed reader to http://techandother.wordpress.com/feed/, and follow along on the path to blog improvement, no matter what your motivation!
I’ll be deconstructing all of Scoble’s suggestions into several how-to’s and discussions. Stay tuned!|W|P|114401483121264824|W|P|Deconstructing Scoble|W|P|
“Wardriving” with GPS
On my way to work this morning, I ran NetStumbler with the GPS receiver and recorded all of the wireless access points on my way to work. There were quite a few! It’s all fine and good to have this info, but what to do with it?
Visualization First of all, I wanted to see it myself. I tries a few online sites, and settled on a very high-quality script put together over at GPSVisualizer.com. They have the ability to output this info as a google map, which is exactly what I was looking for. The only downside is that they can only accept up to 2MB files at a time, which is about half my commute. After splitting NetStumbler’s .ns1 file into two 1.8MB files, I fed them into the script:
Commute 1 of 2 (available for a limited time as an active google map, here is a screenshot) Commute 2 of 2 (available for a limited time as an active google map, here is a screenshot)
Nice! I now have a map of accessible WAP’s. (Note the green ones are not password protected - ouch!) Not too much use, though, unless I have evil intentions…or maybe just want to find a public access point, like a Starbucks or something. Also, since there seems to be a WAP every few feet, it’s fairly easy to track my course…
Navigation Now that I have a map of Access Points along my route, I might not even need GPS to find my way.
GPS navigation systems in cars work because they know where you are, and what you have to do to get to your destination. They are extremely accurate because they know where you are, and use a database to look up the rest.
Well, I could know where I am if I had a script that would translate the WAP’s I can see to my global position. In this way, I would be able to use a database of known access points to find my way, without GPS, as long as I had a map database to take along with me. However, the low cost of GPS is rapidly making WiFi location awareness irrelevant.
For now, I can’t access Google Maps on the fly in Chicago, but that day is rapidly approaching, I hope. If I could get a wifi connection of the fly, however, it’s not that big of a stretch to change Google Maps from ‘Address 1 to Address 2′ to ‘Current Location to Address 2′.
(It really is only a matter of time until internet access is regarded as a utility and is offered like cellular service, but I’ll save that for a different post)
This opens up a whole new area of service, as well. Car low on gas? Have it automatically find the lowest gas prices at gas stations along your way when it gets to 1/8th of a tank. Convenient and cheap. Hungry? Thirsty? Need a pinball machine ASAP? Sync up a voice-recognition program to a steering-wheel mic control (common in current nav units) and ask Google Local to find one along your route.
Connection of current location to relevant, local information
Subject to high overhead, navigation systems are $2K+ OEM, but a good CarPuter design that fits in a standard radio bracket could revolutionize this industry. My recommendations would be a design like this with a touch-screen, but with USB port and an embedded Ubuntu-like Linux OS to foster OSS development and ease of use.
Since I picked up this GPS receiver for $30+shipping, it’s a hard case to make for not going this route. There is freeware out there that will provide you with driving navigation, and it’s only a matter of time (depending on interest) until there will be an open-source solution out there that will provide a quality interface.
The possibilities of combining location awareness with information management is probably one of the biggest things we’ll ever see happen. The location awareness part seems to be finally met by such a low cost of the GPS unit. The advent of Municipal WiFi (powered by 802.11n - and therefore Municipal Mobile WiFi) will connect the information of the internet to the location awareness of GPS in a world-changing partnership.|W|P|114401522385165926|W|P|Local Info and Navigation with GPS and 802.11n|W|P|
In the spirit of doing something good for our climate, and also in line with the ‘free money’ series I get into, I wanted to share the following link:
Top 100 Renewable Energy Projects
This really is a great site. It makes you wonder - why don’t these ideas take off? Could it be that the politicians under corporate oil control don’t want to lose their method of revenue? But what good is money if the climate kills you?
Seriously, if it’s not obvious already, the reason why electric cars, etc. haven’t taken off is because the energy companies want to develop their own lines of distribution so they can continue to profit. Hydrogen? Much less efficient than 100% electric vehicles. But the oil company lobbyists want to profit, not do what’s right. The bad part about blocking the best technologies for profit is tht it ends up taking money out of your pocket. Instead of a dollar or two for 100 miles in an electric car, you’ll spend much more to fill up on hydrogen.
And that’s just the way they want it. And since they own enough sway in government, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Or is there?
Here’s an interesting idea: Clean Elections. Basically, this means you can’t buy your way into a political office. Everyone gets the same amount, and it is up to you to get elected, based on your principals. But why not apply that to all politics? If a company wants to drill for oil in your backyard, should they be allowed to buy off your representative? If anything, why not have them try to put the money towards the citizens, and let them decide? After all, we are the ones who have to live with these decisions…|W|P|114401450172561235|W|P|Killing us all for profit|W|P|
In fact, I then replaced every bulb in my entire house with CF, including bathrooms, lamps, outside lights, even the garage light. Total cost was around $325, no small amount, to be sure. But then again, saving $50 per month on 70+ bulbs...pretty sweet.Project Name: Compact Fluorescent Replacement x 50 Initial Cost: $250 Recurring cost: $250 every 8000 hours, plus $14.92/month (new bulbs and energy costs, bulbs will probably be cheaper by then) Time involved: 90 minutes (Get the bulbs, remove old, install new) Time to pay off initial investment: about 8 months (varies, the more you use them, the faster they pay off) FREE MONEY: $31.37/month for 50 replacements (about 63 cents per bulb replaced) *Combine these savings with a seven-day thermostat and save $54.11 per month! (about $650 per year!) |W|P|114314749180097718|W|P|Money for free: compact fluorescent light bulbs|W|P|
If you haven't found a template you want to use, or want to use the default templates, either go find one or skip ahead...In the admin backend, hit Installers > Templates - Site (because we want to change the look of the web site, not the admin backend) Hit 'browse' and find the .zip file you downloaded for your template. Click 'upload and install'. It's that easy. (Note: Joomla looks for a specifically-put-together zip file. Sometimes people have the template zip file along with a README or something inside of another zip file. Joomla doesn't like this, you'll have to get to the bare template .zip file. Hit 'Continue' and repeat for all of your templates. When you're done, log out and go to the web site frontend to play with the templates. Choose your favorite. I decided on one that is called apple_com. It basically looks exactly like the www.apple.com web site. I figure I'll put a real apple on top and have a humorous educational site... :-) Now you can unpublish the template chooser module, and go to site > templates > site templates. Select your template of choice and choose 'default'. 'assign' is used if you want different templates for different parts of your site. Note: I noticed what may be a bug, in that, if you leave template chooser on a template, it will use that template, even when the template chooser module is unpublished. No matter what template to tell the site to use in the admin backend. ??? Workaround: make sure your template is chosen when you un-publish the template chooser module, and then set the default template in the backend. Summary Time spent in article: 60 minutes (30 minutes to read admin manual) Time left for project: 295 minutes (over halfway done on time, and looking great!) Goals accomplished:
Joomla should be done uploading by now. If it's not, see if there are any other components you might want. Or look for a template that will make your web site look the way you want. I went over to joomlaya and found a few good ones that are 1024 pixels wide (a lot of templates are only 800 wide - watch out if you don't want this). As with the components, the look of my site might not be what fits your situation.Now that all of the files are on the server, fire up your browser and go to http://yourserver.domain.com/joomla. You should be greeted by the 'pre-installation check' page. Yes, it really is going to be this easy! Check that the required folders have the right permissions. You can usually set the permissions using your FTP client. If having the permissions set to 755 doesn't work, you can set them to 777 and then switch them back to 755 later. Test to make sure this works on your web server though. Don't worry about configuration.php, we'll get it later. When able, hit next. Agree to the GPL, next. host name - localhost username - joomla (remember?) password - ********** DB name - joomla database prefix - jos_ This last setting is OK. A lot of tables get put in the joomla DB from components, etc., and the table prefix just makes it easier to tell what tables belong to what component. I've seen some components rely on the jos_ prefix for Joomla tables, so just leave it. I always install sample data. It's easier/faster to modify existing menus, etc. than to create them. Name your site. Enter in an admin email address and password. You can choose what default permissions get applied to new folders and files when you install components, etc. I kept the defaults. OK, this part is important. Fire up the FTP client and copy the text it gives you and replace the contents of configuration.php-dist with that text. Rename configuration.php-dist to configuration.php. Delete the /installation directory. NOW you can see your site by clicking the 'view site' button. The website is online. And has a lot of sample news and menus. Good job. Summary Time spent in this article: 60 minutes Time remaining for project: 325 minutes Goals accomplished: