Apr 28 2011

Random Thoughts April 2011

Google Buzz is more Safe for Work (SFW) than Facebook in the sense that it looks like a a typical GMail account and the URL to access it also resemble GMail’s URL. Employers don’t typically block personal email access but do block networking sites. Its so easy to switch between Google Buzz and GMail.

Gutenberg died broke, his problem was that when he invented the printing press he printed the Bible. Ben Bernanke learned that lesson and instead of printing religious tomes he prints cold hard cash.

Between easy and hard, you’ll see a lot less competition if you go for what is difficult and you’ll see a lot more adoption if you make easy what was once hard.

First they seized crack warez sites and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cracker. Then they came for the torret sites and I didn’t speak out because I don’t pirate content. Then they came for offshore online gambling sites and I didn’t speak out because I don’t play poker. The they came for my blog and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Reading about the recent Dropbox security issue and I realized that I have more valuable and personal information in the cloud than in my home. I have family pictures, calendar events for contacts, tax documents, inner most personal writings and journal entries, and much more on Google Docs, Dropbox, Yahoo Mail, and whatever other cloud service I use. Yet police agencies do not require a warrant to access that information but they do to come into my home and conduct a search. The search warrant is now obsolete. Google and other online services has made the search warrant obsolete.

It was recently reported that the US State Department is developing a mobile phone panic button, probably in the form of an app, for pro-democracy activists in foreign countries to erase a phone’s contents when they have are detained by the secret police. At the same time, the US Department of Justice and California’s Supreme Court have upheld the right of police to search the contents of a detained person without being arrested or having a warrant. Police are using digital equipment that can read all of the data in a phone in minutes at the point that police has stopped someone. Welcome to the future of pre-crime proactive policing.


Feb 3 2011

Has Google Jumped The Shark?

Everybody knows that Google’s search results have suffered due to spam, content farms, black hat SEOs, social media marketers, trolls, and gypsies. As Google’s search results continue to degrade due to spam content and its social networks (Orkut, Buzz, Wave) have floundered Google been on the attack against the competition, not so much on the technical front but in the press. It was just a few months that Google lashed out at Facebook over import/export of user data. Now Google has its sights on Microsoft Bing. It was only late last year when tech journalist started to notice Google copy feature which appeared first on Bing, see here and here. Now Google, in an orchestrated and designed PR stunt accuse Microsoft Bing of copying Google’s search results.

Google's Home Page

Google's Home Page

Just like Microsoft, Google uses thousands of data points from users online usage from web crawlers, social media, ad networks, analytics, clickstream, retweets, likes, trends, and other methods. Google uses a lot of different data points to improve their search results, not just crawling from a href to a href. Google has tracking information on users, from every side of the click. Google often has and collects information when a user clicks a link on its search result page and on the visited page (if that site uses any of Google products such as Analytics or Adsense). Google is sitting pretty collecting data from every angle, because it has the market share to do so and tells competitors “No Soup for You.” The orchestrated “synthetic” outrage from Google and associated Bing sting borders into monopolistic behavior.

Is using Twitter’s firehose cheating? In a black and white world, were using calculators in a test is considered cheating, then using Twitter’s firehose is cheating. If using Twitter’s firehose is considered cheating, then Google cheats too.


Sep 3 2010

Apple Ping Is Not a Social Network Site

When it comes to Apple you have two camps, the fanatical Apple fanboys and the Apple haters. The divide in between these two camps is wider than the digital divide and when it comes to real points both sides usually get them wrong. Since Apple announced iTunes 10 and its social commerce component Ping, I’ve seen this debate flare up again with new FUD and fodder. The first misconception between Apple fanboys and haters alike is that Ping is another social networking site. Ping is very much social, but it is not a networking or a site. Ping is a social commerce component integrated into iTunes via the iTunes desktop application and the iOS iTunes app available for the iPhone and iPad. Ping is a game changer, just like the Apple App Store was before that, and the iTunes before that, and the iPod before that. Ping is a game changer and tech pundits and press are trying to make it out with old rules from previous games/products, that’s their first fallacy. It is clear that one will use Ping to contact an old high school buddy or stalk an ex, like they would on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Ping is all about social commerce, not social networking.

Unlike Facebook, that is forced to make money by extorting advertiser to buy ads to their own Facebook Pages, or forcing application developers in using their Facebook currency that is as worthless as a $10 billion Zimbabwe bill, Apple Ping is not about connecting you to friends and family and it sure doesn’t care about your social graph, it care about your consumption graph. Ping won’t compete for users with other social networking sites at the same level that Facebook does with Google Buzz or MySpace. For the most part, social networking sites like Facebook aim to be nothing more than a time sink, and they have grown in large part by social games oblige users to poke and send virtual lasagna to each other. Ping complements the users iTunes experience when they are already on iTunes looking for new music. This is evidently clear especially when you look at how social networking sites like Facebook uses numbers to describe their growth. Facebook describes their growth by counting the number of users that were active in a given month and trying to track the average number of hours a user is on Facebook. Apple tracks its growth by the number of products it has sold. Facebook is designed to simply waste peoples time and have them click on clicks, and Apple designs products that appeal to users.

I want to be clear about the following fact, especially since it is what most Apple haters get wrong. Apple does not need to be the marker leader to make the most money!!! Even though Apple has seen a growth in its market share in laptops, for example, it still has a small slice. But with double digit margins, it means it can sell less product and still make more money than commoditized competitors like Dell or HP. Apple has played this card well before, for example it is choosing a similar approach in the mobile space. It would rather have a small market share, and simply have a better profit margin and more control over its products. Unlike Facebook, Ping doesn’t need market share to be profitable. For example, Facebook requires millions of impressions to make a buck or two on ads.

In its current release, Ping reminds me a lot more to the first generation iPod than the iPod Touch. Currently, Ping feels clunky, is sparely populated, doesn’t have enough bands listed, has a ton of spam, doesn’t support music or apps, etc. At this stage, Ping is still lacking many features to make it comparable to what we expect from a social networking site. For example, when it was released numbers where not formatted with a comma for values larger than a thousand. This issue was fixed within a day of release. I would also like more personalization of my profile page, the ability to add my homepage URL, my other social networking sites, etc. Basically Ping needs a lot more polish, but I’ve heard that Steve Jobs has done that once or twice before for a new revolutionary product line.


Feb 13 2010

Buzz Overkill: One Day with Google Buzz

Aside from my initial shock of Google’s blatant privacy oversight, I immediately jumped on the bandwagon. I learned that if you can’t beat them, join them, and if you going to join them might as well try to get some new followers in the process. Using a Google Mail account that I do not user as my primary private emails, I updated my public profile and began following as many technology influencers as possible. During the course of a full day of using Google Buzz, I buzzed mostly about Google Buzz. Here is what I was buzzing about the first day of using Google Buzz.

  • With any new service there is always a land rush for the vanity url, profile name, and followers?
  • The short for Google Mail is GMail. The abbreviation for Google Voice is GVoice. Will Google Buzz be shorten down to GBuzz? What about Guzz?
  • Google Buzz is a new opportunity for the race to reach 1,000,000 followers. I hope @aplusk hasn’t heard of Google Buzz yet as it would give me a head start.
  • I expected Microsoft to blatantly copy Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare before Google.
  • When Twitter first came out Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose had the most followers for the longest time because the early adopters where mostly technologists. But once celebrities and mass media discovered Twitter, and after the stop laughing at the concept, they quickly gained the most followers and brought on new users. Leo Laporte currently has over 6K++ followers. Just wait until Britney Spears gets her buzz on.
  • I am not sure how Google will combat the additional spam I expect because of Google Buzz and Google Profiles. But I imagine, spammers and marketers are already hard at work developing spam bots that will follow everyone possible and then it is very easy to figure out peoples email address by adding at gmail.com at the end of you profile user name which is public, visible, and searchable.
  • That is the plural of buzz? Buzzes?
  • What is the verb of using Google Buzz? Buzzing? Like, “I can’t talk cause I am buzzing right now.”
  • What I like about Buzz is that it has not been taken over by marketing and SEO bot accounts, just like the early days of Twitter.
  • Does anyone else notice that when you are commenting on a Buzz post the page jumps up and down, kinda like flickering, due to all the updates happening around where you are commenting? There are soo many updates below and above other posts that my comment text box jumps to fit in storm of other comments around it.
  • If you don’t like the flickering, I get’s me dizzy after a while, click on the post’s time stamp in the upper right corner. The link is to the page for this one post and it does have the jumpy flickering visible when commenting in the middle of your stream.
  • I think that Google and Facebook are in a battle for your friends. But it feels more like a Belfast brawl cage fight… Google and Apple are battling it out in in the mobile space with tit for tat guerrilla warfare… i.e. you can use the word ‘Android’ to describe you app on the Apple App Store. Now Google will suck a lot of the hot air valuation from Facebook. I think Jason Calacanis stated that Facebook lost half it’s value because of Google Buzz… and Microsoft is trying to pick a fight with Google in the search space with Bing but it is not getting much traction.
  • I still have not connected my other services into Buzz. I see some people have but they get multiple buzzes (buzz posts) for the same content. It seems like some sort of feed recursion, where the Facebook comment get’s read in by FriendFeed, then read in by Twitter, then feed into Buzz two or three times for each original post, sometimes one buzz post has the same content duplicated. I feel like I need a network architect to help me sort it all out… LOL.
  • Following along and contributing to a conversation is so much easier on Buzz than Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.
  • Not missing Farmville updates on Facebook. This is the longest time I have gone without finding random alien cow on my wall.
  • Now that I filter out Buzz messages in my inbox, I can’t find the buzz threads I commented on.
  • I’m going to buzz my facebook to tweet my tumblr post on myspace and blog about it.
  • Remember when following someone meant stalking… Now it means, friending.
  • Having a buzz attack.
  • My tweets are still no popping up on my buzz.
  • Not liking how tweets show up on my buzz stream, a bunch at a time, in the middle of the night, hours after they were first tweeted. I thought Google had ‘realtime’ access to tweets. I thought Google has access to Twitter’s firehouse.
  • There are a few reasons why I like Buzz over Twitter. The ability to edit buzzes after they have been posted and commented on, and the ability to post more than 140 characters at a time. What I don’t like is that, unlike Facebook, you can’t delete comments left on you posts from trolls or stalkers or folks buzzing on their own supply. Even after you block spammers their comments are still visible in your posts.
  • There is a lot of negative reaction regarding the privacy failures with Google Buzz. I think that the problem with Google Buzz is not that it is integrated in GMail. The problem is the defaults of Google Buzz, including auto-follow, and public profiles, and the inability to use a public profile name other than your private GMail user name, the blocking functionality does not seem to work, etc.
  • Google pulled a Facebook move in terms of privacy… Their motto of ‘do no evil’ did not stop them from doing something so stupid.
  • How does one get verified on Google Buzz/Profile? I certify myself. Does my mom need to call Google to verify my identity? What else will Google verify? What I really need is an alibi and some receipts from a convenience store in Albuquerque, New Mexico for last night.
  • Ansel Adams would not have had used Flickr, Shakespeare would not had has used Twitter, Ghandi would not have had used Facebook, and Columbus would not have had used Foursquare.. But I am sure they would all have had used Google Buzz.