Buzzword beats current Ajax-based offerings like Google Docs and Zoho Writer in both usability and aesthetic impact. And in a few months, when a desktop version is released, Buzzword will pose a serious challenge to Microsoft Word, the current king of document editing on the desktop.
But Wired is right: this is an amazing product. I managed to snag an early invite to check out the beta, and it already feels polished and more than usable. It uses Adobe’s Flex to achieve near-desktop feel on the web, and eventually is intended to use AIR to run on the desktop as well.Uploading and placing an image, working with tables, saving and undoing with key commands instead of having to use the menus all the time, plus all the word processing basics … it all seems to be there.Very cool.I’ll play with it a little more and post something a bit more detailed …
I’ve been slowly taking my MET graduate degree over the past few years. The course I’ll be taking next semester sounds like it’ll be the most interesting one to date: ETEC 522.
ETEC 522 is an online immersion in the global eLearning marketplace with particular emphasis on the environmental dynamics, evolving business models and success characteristics of eLearning enterprises in public and commercial domains. The course will be delivered in a case-study modality from a venture analysis perspective. The primary learning materials will be a “pitch pool” of authentic 12-minute venture finance presentations by the leading executives and leaders of current, real-world eLearning enterprises spanning the diversity of approaches to eLearning business opportunities. Examples representing entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial ventures will provide a balance between corporate and institutional enterprise. As the foundation for practical learning, students will undertake the critical due diligence analysis of these ventures individually, in groups, and with professional venture finance guidance.
I’ve been searching for a long, long time for a way to save screencasts made on a Mac to Flash. Snapz Pro is an excellent screencast-creating tool, but saves to a QuickTime movie. Flash is more widely available and least likely to have compatability problems.
I’ve downloaded it, and will try it out, then update this post with my thoughts. Something I’m thinking already: wouldn’t it be cool it if did annotated screencasts!
One interesting thing: screen captures and screencasts are automatically uploaded to screencasts.com, where you can share it with anyone you wish. I don’t know much about it yet, but you can imagine the possibilities of a social network built up around screencasts – sort of like Flickr and photos, YouTube and videos, and so on. Intriguing!
Note: this is a paid review – ReviewMe is paying me $50 for posting this. However, all thoughts are my own, and I’m saying only what I decide to say. The payment part is so that I say *something* about Iceberg on Demand.
Iceberg on Demand is one of a new class of development tools designed for the web. They kinda make me think of GUIRAD environments, but they’re for the web, and they’re typically much, much easier to use. Similar tools include Sidewalk (which I’ve mentioned before), The Form Assembly, and WyaCracker.
The difference appears to be that Iceberg on Demand is orders of magnitude more powerful than these other solutions, that pretty much focus on simple web forms to gather data. It’s billed as allowing non-technical users to create “enterprise applications,” which is a major, major claim.
I wanted to personally try it before reviewing the application, so I signed up at their home page for a beta account. However, they appear to be in limited beta, as I haven’t received any access privileges in the 48 hours since I signed up.
The basic premise – giving non-programmers the tools to create full-functionality business applications – is incredibly compelling: use the business process mapping tool to map a process, create your business forms via drag-and-drop, integrate simply into already-built apps such as HR, CRM, project management, and bug tracking … and voila … you have a working enterprise system to run your business on. It reminds me somewhat of Sigurd Rinde‘s thingamy.
I’m sure the reality is a little different: I don’t yet see accounting apps that you need to run a business and I’m sure there’s a number of other missing pieces, but wow … if this takes off and they increase the number of built-in apps over time, this could be very, very exciting.
The reality is, most of what businesses need to function is to get, store, retrieve, and modify data. It’s not rocket science. It’s data that follows business process rules.
If Iceberg on Demand can essentially automate creation of enterprise systems, look out IBM, Oracle, Infosys, and all the other “business services” tech shops out there: the billions you’re hoovering out of clients’ pockets is in danger.
OK, back to reality for a moment.
Right now, this looks like a great tool for start-ups, young companies, anyone with not much budget but need for real business systems.
There’s little question the iPhone pulls a lot of great wireless functions and applications into a very cool package. But most of those features aren’t exactly new. Google Maps for mobile? Practically any smartphone user can download the application to his or her device.
It’s not about: is it possible. It’s about: is it elegant, simple, natural, obvious, easy, beautiful, friendly. Most importantly: is it normal. Does it just feel normal to surf the web on your phone, locate and listen to music on your phone, to make make phone calls even.
(In case you’re wondering why Linux isn’t mainstream, that’s why. The answers are no.)
That’s Apple’s primary genius. Not always to be first – but almost always to make wizardry easy, even commonplace … while still being elegant and sexy.
Those who have followed the blog know that Kathy Sierra had some nastier-than-usual trolls in her audience whose words and actions seemed to be threats against Kathy’s physical and emotional wellbeing. You can find the details on Wikipedia. Most of the issues were resolved reasonably amicably in the subsequent firestorm of media and blogosphere attention.
To be honest, however, I’m really disappointed that she totally dropped the blog after this incident. I can’t help but feel there was an act of surrender here, a capitulation.
I say this knowing that I’m not really aware of what she personally went through, and at risk of causing even more pain. I don’t want it to be seen that way and I don’t wish anything but the best for Kathy Sierra.
She is her own person and needs to do what’s best for her. My opinions are my own and probably should mean nothing to her. But it sure feels like she raised the white flag.
So I got an account on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.
It’s protection – in the personal SEO era, you need to lock up accounts on popular services with your actual name. Amazingly enough, I’m John Koetsier on Facebook.
After being on the service for all of about 25 days, I’ve already formed some conclusions:
Facebook is the anti-MySpace
MySpace is gaudy and busy; Facebook is boring
MySpace is full of ads; haven’t seen many on Facebook
MySpace is web 1.0; Facebook is web 1.0 too. Only difference: it’s designers weren’t on LSD
(I know, I know Facebook is doing all kinds of API deals, I know, I know, it’s a platform now … blah, blah, blah. I’m talking about the visual feel, the scent you get from using it. It’s all been done so, so, so many times, and it’s all very 1.0)
MySpace was programmed by Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel in Over the Hedge, and few things work as advertised; Facebook actually works, which is good, but still does stupid stuff.
Case in point: check out this screenshot from the homepage of Facebook …
Facebook wants me to give it access to my online email so that it can check if any people that I sent messages to and from are also on Facebook … it’s an auto-friend feature.
I don’t have a Hotmail address. Or a Yahoo, MSN, AOL address. I don’t know too many self-respecting technically-proficient over-20 people do. (I have a Gmail account, but that’s mostly for subscriptions and possibly spammy stuff.)
So the feature is useless to me. But can I get rid of it? Can I edit it? Can I dismiss it? No, no, no.
So every visit to the boring uninspired homepage of Facebook is punctuated by the uselessness to me of the largest element on the page.
You might have noticed the “Autoroll” blogroll in the sidebar of this blog. It’s designed to link similar blogs automatically … blogs that discuss similar topics to bizhack will dynamically show up in my blogroll.
AutoRoll is accelerating its expansion in the blogsphere. Compared to last April, we have seen an impressive 50% growth of AutoRoll registered bloggers in May. This means that blog affinities are improving nicely. AutoRoll is indeed getting more and more accurate to find related blogs. This means also that it’s getting increasingly difficult to join the Top 100 blogs which have installed AutoRoll!
It’s kind of nice to know that bizhack is #33 on the list of top blogs currently using Autoroll. Modesty is appropriate, however, Autoroll is nowhere near as popular as some of the other blogroll innovators, such as MyBlogLog.
Not all Russians – just the ones who keep ruining the internet for the rest of us by running half the spam zombies on the planet.
The software that runs this blog (WordPress) notifies me every time I have a new registered user – someone who can post comments, even write posts. A couple times a day, I get a subscriber from Russia.
Every time I do, I know it’s some jerk who’s not reading my posts, not writing comments, and not contributing story. Rather, it’s someone who is going to make Akismet work harder to keep this blog clean of comment spam.
Perhaps it was better when they were the Evil Empire and we were were allowed to hate them.
My brother-in-law Jeroen Vermeulen is an amazing artist … one of his 8′ x 5′ paintings hangs in my dining room. Here’s a site that I recently put up for him:
More content to come, as per usual. We’ve only got his recent paintings up … nothing before January of this year. That’ll come with time, however. It was important to get this up as soon as possible as Jeroen just had a show in the Netherlands, and some of his paintings are going up for public display and sale here in Vancouver next week.
. . .
. . .
PS: Jeroen is pronounced yer-roon. It’s a Dutch name (as is mine, sort of) and Jeroen is originally from the Netherlands.
[tags] jeroen vermeulen, art, website, john koetsier [/tags]
David Meerman Scott just wrote The New Rules of PR and Marketing and he’s thanking bloggers who helped him. Apparently I’m one of them … although I have only a vague recollection of the fact. In any case, thanks!
It’s a great way to alert people that your book has been published … here’s David’s list of those who helped in one way or another …
The last thing I want to see is any links get broken or content get deleted. Lots of people have podcasts on Odeo, and I for one have pieces of personal history, like this last message to my wife from her grandfather before he passed away:
Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s new media. I’m declaring war on all old-school media that just happens to be online. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
What am I talking about? Articles like this one on Apple and music by Joshua Chaffin of the Financial Times. Here’s the paragraph that has me frosted:
The record industry, in particular, has long been frustrated that Apple has reaped most of the profits of the burgeoning online music market through sales of its iPod player. By contrast, they have earned only modest royalties from digital music sales because most of the songs on iPods and other devices result from illegal download.
The problem with the above paragraph is obvious to anyone with half a brain and a reasonable background in technology. Chaffin has uncritically accepted a music industry lie and printed it as fact. He’s participating in propaganda. He’s a lousy, lousy journalist.
Worse, he’s calling me a thief … along with tens of millions of other iPod owners. That burns me up, since I’m very careful to only put music on my iPod that I’ve obtained legally. Some of it is from the iTunes Music Store, most of it is from my CD collection. So in effect, Chaffin is slandering me.
But that’s not why I’m declaring an old-skewl media boycott.
Every piece of writing has things others will disagree with. That’s OK. But online, in new media, it’s now a reasonable expectation that readers can comment on a story. Not on the Financial Times site.
I’m declaring the boycott because Chaffin and the Financial Post don’t allow comments. In other words, I can’t post a comment disputing his facts and assertions. In the new media web 2.0 online world, this is simply unacceptable. It’s outrageous and we need to start recognizing that fact.
Having comments ability ought to be a minimum standard requirement on any website in 2007.
Frankly, this would be a major positive step for FP and writers like Chaffin – purely from their perspective. Why? They’d get a lot smarter, a lot quicker. None of us is as smart as all of us … and comments, properly implemented, can unleash some of that collective intelligence. Errors get pointed out and fixed quickly – which really is in the media organization’s best long-term interests.
So: no more old-skewl media.
And any site that doesn’t blur the traditional publisher/audience role is old-skewl.
Goodbye and good riddance.
[tags] media, ugc, ugm, audience, publisher, web2.0, comments, discussion, financial post, joshua chaffin, apple, music, user-generated content, john koetsier [/tags]
I love the fact that DreamHost goes out of its way to be clear that the DMCA can be used with no legal basis:
While the DMCA does offer some major benefits to both copyright holders and web hosts like DreamHost – legal immunity, woo-hoo! – it’s not always used as a force for good. Occasionally, unscrupulous types (and I’m looking at you, Church of Scientology!) will attempt to use the DMCA as a cudgel to take down sites that they don’t like, even when they are clearly in the legal right under copyright law.
Even better is the fact that DreamHost stands up to those attempts:
Liability issues aside, we’re not about to knowingly help someone silence valid criticism by going along with false or overly broad DMCA Notifications.
There was an obviously non-infringing incident, a person who did not want criticism, and a DMCA takedown. Without doing even the least amount of fact-checking, MediaTemple told me to take down the content within 24 hours, or they’d do it for me.
When I talked to an individual at MediaTemple, I was told that this was corporate policy so that they were not at risk. That’s the legal immunity part.
The bigger risk, though, is that free speech suffers when merely alleging that an incident has occurred is the full and complete basis for censorship … at least in my opinion.
While I can understand MediaTemple not wanting to accept any legal risk whatsoever, I wholeheartedly applaud DreamHost for shouldering their part of the burden of the ongoing fight to keep freedom free.
Kudos to DreamHost!
[tags] dreamhost, mediatemple, dmca, legal, risk, censorship, john koetsier [/tags]
Just so you know, I’m getting paid $50 to write this review of iBegin. I belong to the ReviewMe service, and get an invitation to review a product or site every couple of weeks. I accept about half of them.
Here’s why I decided to do this review of iBegin:
I went to the iBegin site
I clicked on Washington state, where I spend a significant amount of time
‘Nuf said: I clicked accept review and started this article.
Available where I am
Why? I’m fairly used to new online businesses coming out that are going to revolutionize XYZ offline category … but when you go visit, they offer services in San Francisco, New York, and maybe Mountain Village, CA. Then, over the next few months, they add major cities around the US – usually in order of population. In other words, they’re only useful if you’re in a major urban center.
Seeing that iBegin is useful in a smallish Pacific Northwest city is pretty cool. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have accepted this review.
Plumbers aren’t online
The other thing, however, that interests me about iBegin is that it addresses a major problem: plumbers aren’t online. Joe Butt-Crack doesn’t have a website … and that’s a problem.
Why? Because when I need information, I go online – and so do an increasing percentage of people. White pages, yellow pages – I don’t like pages. I like Google, and I like the web. So it’s important that local businesses have an online presence. Since Joe’s never going to start a blog and is probably not too likely to pay his teenage cousin $50 to put up a cheesy 1-page business card … someone’s gotta do it for him.
Taking it deeper
When you actually click on a business name, you get all the basics: address, contact info, etc. You also get a Google Maps view of where they are.
What I’d like to see in addition to that is some social media features. In other words, feedback from clients … “I used Joe, and he’s great,” etc. etc.
In other words, do for local businesses what TripAdvisor does for hotels. I’m sure iBegin has that in mind and will likely add it … I’d like to see it sooner rather than later.
You can actually do something like now, because it’s a wiki and therefore editable, but that might not be totally obvious to people. Some kind of simple star rating might be a little easier, and some slightly more structured way of adding feedback and giving businesses a score (like buyers/sellers on eBay) would be useful.
[tags] ibegin, paid, review, reviewme, local, business, john koetsier [/tags]
If you scroll down you’ll notice I recently added a blogroll-ish type of feature to bizhack: Autoroll. I don’t add a lot of flare to my blog because I like to keep it simple and clean and fast-loading, but I kinda wanted to this time. You would too if you got a nice email like the one I got.
So nice, in fact, that it’s an example of the perfect pitch for bloggers in 8 simple steps:
Suck up (a little)
From what I read, your blog seems to cover a lot of interesting topics around technology,marketing and corporate blogging. Your blog is quite visible (I found you in the first results of Technorati), so I guess you must receive loads of messages.
Sucking up is always good. (By sucking up, I just mean being polite and maybe, just a little, exagerating on the positive side when commenting on someone else’s accomplishments.)
We are just a small tech startup running a beta test for a new widget for blogs.
As the topic of your blog fits pretty well with the type of high end blog we are looking for, it would be very interesting if you could join our AutoRoll beta test.
No-one helps jerks or egomaniacs, so even if you’re achingly hip and working for the most blood-spatteringly cutting-edge sexy startup in the world, pretend you’re just a couple of guys in a garage fighting hard to do something cool.
Simply explain the widget
What’s all about? AutoRoll is the blog roll of your readers. It’s a widget that displays links to blogs your readers are visiting the most often.
Nothing confusing here. Perfect. But intriguing enough to make me continue to read.
Simply explain what it does
How does it work? We trace the number of visits of each unique reader on each blog that has installed AutoRoll. The more often a reader visits a specific blog, the greater his affinity is with this blog.
Hrm … the possibilities …
Simply explain the benefits
What are the benefits for you? First of all, you will provide your readers with a very entertaining blog roll, based on other readers with similar reading habits. Moreover, you will get highly qualified incoming traffic for your blog. Indeed, as other similar blogs display your blog on their AutoRoll, they will feed you with new readers with a strong affinity with your blog.
Entertaining my readers is a top priority, of course (as I listen to Nirvana’s Teen Spirit). And getting fed with new readers is delicious and nutritious.
Zoom in as far as you can, and click “link to this page” at the top right
Now replace the “z” parameter in the URL with a higher value, e.g. 20, 22, or 23, and wait. Some locations will now show more detailed imagery
When I saw this photo of men standing around a well I couldn’t resist adding a caption. There’s one guy looking straight up:
It’s a super-zoom from the country of Chad, in Africa. And perhaps that is someone who the US government suspected of being in cahoots with Osama or Al Quaeda … which is the only reason why satellite image providers would zoom so close.