The Last Podcast Opinionated Web 2.0 News and Commentary

Flickr View All » Old Tillamook Railroad TrainStoneslooks like @techmeme just got a new design:And this is why a daily iPad paper just doesn't cut it:And this is why a daily iPad paper just doesn't cut it:Techmeme's top 100 is looking good :) (never made it on there with my old blog back in the day - #75 right now)

Posted
28 April 2009 @ 11pm

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Talk about a smart way of using Flickr…

The original page is at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/norby

Created with Skitch from plasq – http://plasq.com

Posted
27 April 2009 @ 11am

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Posted
26 March 2009 @ 9pm

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Come on Microsoft – that ad doesn’t even make sense (aka: Why I just bought a Macbook)

The Windows vs. Mac discussion never stops to amaze me. That’s probably because I’m pretty agnostic when it comes to my operating systems. I’ve used Windows 3.1 to 7, Ubuntu was the main OS on my laptop for the last three years, I wrote some of my best stuff on an LC 630 Macintosh back in the day, and last weekend I bought a Macbook to replace my dead Dell laptop.

[Read more →]


Friendfeed is for Early Adopters. Why? Because Nobody Else Needs It

<rant> Allen Stern wrote a nice, concise rant about Friendfeed today, where he argues that FF still has to fix a lot of usability issues before it can ever go mainstream. I mostly agree with Allen, but I think that FF’s real issue goes far deeper than just usability.

Sadly, being a big fan of Friendfeed in the past, I have to agree with most of what he says (except for the gmail part of his rant).

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Posted
9 January 2009 @ 11am

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Did Google Just Get a New Favicon?

Not much of a news story, but I just noticed a different favicon for Google in my browser. Is this new?

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Happy New Year

image I’m not blogging today, but just wanted to wish everybody a Happy New Year.

I’ve got some new things planned for this blog, which pretty much went into hibernation after I started blogging for ReadWriteWeb, so stay tuned for that!

As always: thanks for reading and subscribing! Without my readers and commenters here, I surely wouldn’t be where I am right now and I’m deeply grateful for that!


Posted
27 December 2008 @ 11am

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We Don’t Need Authority on Twitter

image There is an interesting discussion about Twitter search on Techmeme right now, but as much as I would like to see some innovative Twitter search, the proposed solution of creating an authority-based system feels completely wrong to me.

One of the great features of new social services like Twitter and Friendfeed is that they are completely democratic. When I put a hashtag in a tweet, people will see it. If I like an item on Friendfeed, it will bubble up to the top. It doesn’t matter if I’m a newbie or have more than 500 (or 15.000) followers.

There is a place for authority-based algorithms – as Dave Winer points out, these work great on Techmeme and Memeorandum – but Twitter is a different beast, even if I can’t quite put my finger on it. If ‘authority’ means ‘number of followers,’ then this seems too much like high school to me.

Instead, I would love to have the option to see results from my own friends (or those who I have communicated with through @replies) bubble up to the top. I’m sure, just like the authority search, some third-party developer is already working on this. Twitter itself should rather use its energy to stabilize its core functions and work on a comment feature.


Five Web Apps that Deserved More Attention in 2008

Even though 2008 isn’t exactly ending on a high note, we have definitely seen our fair share of interesting new web apps and online services this year. Some of those, however, never quite caught on, even though they are really interesting and cool. [Read more →]


Testing WordPress on the iPhone

So WordPress has finally released a native iPhone application. Not only do you get to try out how good you can type on the virtual keyboard, but you can also check which version of WP you are using, as it need at least version 2.5.1.

Update: cool – worked just like advertised.

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To Pay or Not to Pay for iPhone Apps?

Here is an exceedingly dumb article from the Time Magazine website. You might want to read it in all its glory, but I will just give you the last paragraph:

If Apple ever does decide to let all iPhone apps be free, it would be a radical departure from its typical way of doing business. To switch to an ad-supported model, it would have to partner with a company that already has a huge inventory of interactive ads. Google would be the most obvious choice, but the search giant is already poised to be Apple’s top rival in the mobile arena once its Android handsets go on sale this fall. Such an alliance might be a little too close for comfort.

So – dear Time writer – in the time you researched this article, where did you miss the part where developers could chose the price of their iPhone apps (including FREE!)?

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Posted
1 July 2008 @ 2pm

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Twitter Ain’t Worth Anything Right Now

image Silicon Alley Insider argued that Twitter might be worth over a billion dollars in a year. Sure – and I might be worth over a billion dollars by the end of this year as well…

Let’s face it – Twitter hasn’t worked at all lately. Every time you want to log in, it kicks you back the Fail Whale, a white page, or if you are really lucky, your login page – just don’t expect the next page to load up.

More and more folks are moving away from Twitter over to Friendfeed now. Some people are still holding on, arguing that all their followers are worth oh so much to them… But those followers are worth absolutely nothing right now, because Twitter simply doesn’t work anymore.

I give Twitter another week or two – after that, I think it will have reached its point of no return…


Moving Along and Posting on RWW

imageAs some of you might have noticed already, updates here have been a bit sparse lately. There is a good reason for that. After a whirlwind of activity last week, I started posting on ReadWriteWeb today and officially joined the most dangerous profession of all.

This will keep me busy and off the streets for a while. My responsibility over at RWW is to post news and reviews during the weekday mornings and with doing my graduate work during the afternoons, my spare time has suddenly become a bit more limited (in a very good way!).

While my friend Steven Hodson has been saying that I would sooner or later start writing for one of the bigger blogs, I didn’t really think that was going to happen, and I sure didn’t think it was a blog I respect as much as ReadWriteWeb. However, when I saw that ReadWriteWeb’s editor Richard MacManus post saying that they were looking for writers last Monday, I jumped on the chance and send him my application. The rest, as the old cliche says, is history.

One of the greatest things about RWW is that I get to work with great bloggers like Richard MacManus, Marshall Kirkpatrick, Sarah Perez, Alex Iskold, Bernard Lunn, and Corvida. Everybody over at RWW has been extremely supportive as I stumble with RWW’s publishing system and try to adapt to the RWW style of doing things. With Marshall also being here in Portland, I guess RWW is now indeed a bit of a Portland blog as some have been pointing out.

This is definitely a case of turning your hobby in a job – and even though that can often be dangerous, I can already see how the crew over at RWW will keep me grounded and provide a great support network.

So what’s next for the Last Podcast?

Things will be a bit quiet here over the next few weeks. Once I get into a bit more of a rhythm, I will start posting here more often again. As RWW has a very specific focus as to what kind of news and reviews I will post there, there will be plenty of material left for me to write about. Also, as I focus on news and reviews there, all my rants will still appear here for the foreseeable future.

Until then, my future looks something like this (just kidding!):


Posted
20 June 2008 @ 12pm

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Google Adds Website Traffic Comparison to Trends

Google has decided to jump into the Web Traffic comparison business by releasing a new layer to Google Trends names Google Trends for Websites.

Very few people these days take the data from publicly available website traffic comparison tools like Alexa and Compete too seriously. At best, both can be used to analyze trends, as their exact numbers for traffic often vary widely. The major problem with any traffic comparison tool is that there are very few trustworthy sources for that data. Alexa uses data from a toolbar plugin, while Compete relies on data from 2 Million Internet users it gathers from ISPs, ASPs, Opt-in Panels and the Compete toolbar.

How is Google Trends different?

Google of course sits on a wellspring of data and they are using it to power Google Trends for Websites. According to the FAQ, Google gets its data from,

“aggregated Google search data, aggregated opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data, opt-in consumer panel data, and other third-party market research.”

With this, Google might be able to get a slight edge on both Alexa and Compete in terms of quality of data, though ‘third-party market research’ casts a very wide net and could include pretty much all of the sources Compete also uses.

Like Compete, the user can easily filter the data by country and dates, but the only metric available is ‘Daily Unique Visitors.’ This is quite similar to Alexa’s rather limited and confusing ‘Reach’ and ‘Page Views’ data, but Compete displays a wider array of engagement data such as average length of stay and visits per month.

One area where Google’s data is most likely going to be far more trustworthy than any of its competitors is in displaying search trends for a particular site.

What’s Not to Like?

imageLike all Google tools, Trends for Websites follows Google’s minimalist design philosophy, yet its overall feature set is also quite minimalist. It is not possible to embed a graph or export data, for example.

Also, while Trends for Websites displays data for up to five different sites, it is limited in its abilities to actually compare them beyond number of unique visits.

Right now, the data Google displays also doesn’t seem to go back in time very far. Even for a site like CNN, the longest time period Trends will display is from June 2007 to today – for sites that have been around for a long time, that’s not a lot of information and obviously doesn’t display any longterm trends.

Verdict

Google Trends for Websites still feels a bit limited, but it is a Google Labs product and I would expect them to start adding more features soon. Right now, if anything, it is good to see more competition in the analytics market as this might drive the other players to start innovating and becoming more reliable as well.


GPS Will Turn Us All Into Idiots

image According to a bunch of so called experts interviewed by ABC News, using a GPS will make you dumb and will herald the end of human communication (or at least our ability to ask for and give directions):

“There is a social function of being lost,” Slavin said. “And that social function of being lost will itself be lost. Think about how many times in the last month or so you have asked somebody for directions, or somebody has asked you for directions. That bit of social communication, in which a stranger and native meet at some point, will slowly ebb away. The question is: Will we feel ourselves to be natives everywhere, or to be strangers everywhere?”

But soon, people may not need to have any sense of direction whatsoever. The GPS on the iPhone allows a person to search for a type of place, such as a Chinese restaurant, eliminating search time for places people don’t yet know exist, but also ending that human impulse to explore.

These arguments are so ludicrous, they are almost not worth discussing, but they are also part of a historical pattern:  maps made us lose our internal compass; spell checkers were supposed to ruin our ability to write; the typewriter ruined our ability to write; the book ruined our ability to memorize and so on…

Sure, we all used to be able to memorize phone numbers better than before we had cell-phones – but we also had a lot fewer numbers to remember.

Unless you have a strange fetish for wasting time on getting lost, a GPS is a god-send (and besides – how many people do you know who have a horrible sense of direction already?).

Are we going to lose our “human impulse to explore”? Of course not – it just means we get to the places we want to explore quicker!


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