Sunday, October 30, 2005

Go Flock Yourself

The blogosphere is an amazing thing. I happened upon a great new blog by accident this week. I was on Scoble's new wordpress blog when I linked to the wordpress home-page. One of the top blogs listed was Flocksucks. I had been using flock for a few days and was wondering why someone would build an anti-flock site so quick. After all, Flock is in super early beta. From what I can gather Flocksucks is not an attack on Flock per say (although there does seem to be a personal connection to the attack on flock) but a commentary on the "Web 2.0" phenomena that people all over are stroking themselves over.

Self love aside, the web 2.0 think has been debated lately amongst the blogorati and there seems to be a backlash over the new web. I am an observer who has little investment in web 2.0. There are many smart people that have lived through the 1999 web bubble and you can argue both sides of the new bubble debate, but what I find refreshing about Flock sucks is that it pulls no punches in it's commentary. Much like a blossoming writer finding his voice, Flocksucks often misses with amateurish attacks that add little value to the debate, but mostly has it right with the well written debate of web 2.0 bullshit.

I like new products and services that make life easier. I like the Ruby on rails look that the 37signals and yahoo have pulled off lately, but at the end of the day I want services that will be around in a few years that add value to my blogging and web experience.

The nice aspects of web 2.0 is that we all can have a voice and publish thoughts and commentary. Some of it is fun banter and trolls playing in the fields but much of what we consume is a vital thread of how the web and web services can shape our lives.

Later in the week I will talk more about Flock, Wink, Yahoo's travel planner and other new products I have been looking at.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wink Beta

Thanks to the folks at Techcruch I was able to jump on the beta of Wink. Wink is a new search tool that allows search results to be tagged, ranked and organized. Much like other social bookmarking sites, Wink relies on user metadata to make the search concept more effective.

I was testing the term "Florence", a popular travel destination that I am currently researching. The results are interesting, at the top it lists related tags or terms. The next section lists user submitted links that allows you to add to it by tagging their URL and rate it relevant. Next the normal web search terms are listed with the same tagging and rating options.

I can see the more people that use this, the better results you will get. Nice concept and a real good interface. Clean and intuitive, the wink site requires you to login to make sure you store all tags and ratings. My Page is the list of wink added sites with tags you have added. We have seen this before, but I like the integration of web and user related tags and urls.

You can also create a search set with multiple links. This is useful if you are researching a trip (I am off to Italy soon) or want to collect links. I had some mixed results with this feature, and as a good beta tester, I submitted feedback for the error I got. Beta is fun.

Social bookmarking is a well populated space and other sites have some traction, but the clean interface and simple to use search and tagging make this an good alternative.

I will continue to bang on the site to see what I can break next.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Flock me Amadeus

Flickr Photo

So everyone is buzzing about Flock. The new webish 2.0 app that melds the best of browser, rss, photosharing and social bookmarking into one nice little (albeit buggy) application. Super special beta testers let this one out in the wild so Flock decided to give us no names in the blogorama a try. Labeled a developer pre .5 build the caveats of hell and fire make sure users understand they are working on getting this baby ready for primetime.

Speaking of Primetime most bloggies will come up with catchy or clever titles (I am not immune to this decease) like "Meet the Flockers" or "What the Flock", but the name is catchy and sticks in my mind so they did a good job on naming the product, but what about the meat of this bird?

So far I downloaded it on windows and tried the Browser and RSS functions. Clean browser experience and I like the RSS view, but I still don't see how I can manage 400 feeds with this? I am still playing with the RSS now at home on my Mac, so I will reserve judgment on the RSS experience until later.

One of the interesting features is the blog tool. A light weight blog editor with a flicker tool that makes it easy to add pictures to your post. Attached is my niece and nephew in Rome. Nice touch, but my first post died on the vine and never made it to my blog. Crash and burn on windows (yes Flock people don't go all "Lost" on me I know it is pre-beta). So I though I would give it a try on the Mac version. (note to self save draft now or better yet copy and past to document for safe keeping).

Let me post this bad boy and see how it works....See you soon

Update: So it posted,but I am yet to edit a post. Anytime I bring up a post it hangs and I have to force quit. So I am editing this in the blogger interface.

Some things I would like(that are probably on the list) tags that work and spell check. Not sure what the tags feature does on the blog tool but I though it would create technorati style tags on the fly much like Etco. Anyway I will play with this more, but so far I like the concept. The question is can they deliver a Flocking killer app the doesn't crash?

Check out their getting started page here

Monday, October 10, 2005

Yahoo's Podcast search

Yahoo just released Yahoo Podcasts, a podcast search and directory service. Much like Odeo, Yahoo's service has a clean interface with the ability to tag, rate and review podcasts. I have only played with it for a short time (who does a through review before they blog these days?) but it seems to be a good source for podcasting information.

what's in a name?

I did a vanity search for my podcast (I bet anyone who owns a podcast searches for theirs first) and found it. A good start for Yahoo since I had to add my podcast to Apple's directory in Itunes and claim my podcast in Odeo. Looks like they spent time crawling all the RSS feeds out there to acquire a nice directory. So far so good.

How to's

They have included a good getting started section for both listeners and producers. They even give you code if you want to hand craft your RSS feed. The problem here is they only suggest their Geocities service for hosting options and don't even hint a word of RSS providers like Feedburner. Sure yahoo needs to promote its products, but Geocities? Please.

Search me silly

Like I said before, so far so good. I continued to search some podcasts I frequent to see how hard it is to find content. Yahoo does a good job in posting what I am looking for, so lets take it a step further. I don't know what I am looking for, Yahoo how can you help me? I do a simple search for "movies" because I want to hear podcasts by movie critics. NPR: movies tops the list with the perennial favorite "Ebert and Roeper" ranking a not so hot 5th. Not bad and I like the way they break out Podcasts search by series and episodes.

I like Integration

Yahoo offers a subscribe service that easily integrates with Itunes. They have a simple to follow page that tells you what to do when you hit subscribe, and presto a new podcast in my itunes podcast subscription list. That was easy.......

So I can see the value for me. I want a good search/directory that I can find new podcast content that I can add to Itunes. Yahoo you fulfilled my request.....

In the money

What does Yahoo gain from being the 5th or 6th player in this space? Apple's integration with Itunes made me switch from IpodderX and Yahoo doesn't have a Podcast Player. Or do they. Are they going to integrate this service into their Yahoo music subscription service much like Itunes has? Or is this just another added value to come to my portal so we can advertise the hell out of you ploy? In any event, this is a service that looks good for a short timer. Lets see what happens when I put it up against odeo and itunes........

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Google RSS

Looks like Google's new RSS reader has been getting some heat since it's been out. It is interesting how Google works. They put out stuff with little fanfare and let users beat it up. You can say Gmail was successful, but what else have they released that is a great product? Gtalk? I can't even use the full service because they don't have a Mac client. Google Earth? It may be cool (google maps is) but again I can't use it. Google Blog search? Seems like it is not as good as google's normal search. Well you get the point. Google puts stuff out and people flock to it. Most of the techies bash it and move on while others praise Google for their inventiveness. I wonder when Google is the next Microsoft and people hate them? Get too big and you become unmanageable. Look at the government? Should I say more?

I have been using Googles RSS reader for a few days and I have had varied success. Importing is slow but I was able to get my feeds in. The system was slow on the first day and I did get a few errors, but who doesn't have launch day glitches? We will see how Google does with it's beta RSS reader, but some have to wonder how much it will take for google to take over the world?