Archive for the ‘Website Development’ Category

Released earlier this year, Skype Group Video Calling, a beta version for Windows users. In order to use this software everyone in the call must all be using the same version of Skype 5.0, but hey it’s a beta.

If this rolls out to other devices then could prove to be a killer app for the mobile social massive.

Find out more at :

http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/windows/beta/

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Not so long ago I put up a post about a music website that is powered through recommendation called MFlow. Reflecting on what I am doing here is recommending a website to anyone that maybe interested. Some days I also find people recommending to me what sites they use and the word of mouth concept generally works well.

So it’s interesting to come across a music website whose priority it is to act as a hub for all quality music websites and the users that love them.

Dreamingstreaming.info is the site and is currently in a beta phase. They aim to offer users links to the sites who only provide high quality levels of sound. With the numerous ways of finding and playing music currently on the web Dreamstreaming will definitely help those who are embarking on sorting out their music collections and/or discovering these useful links.

Again it’s hard to tell how quickly or how successfully this site can become a brand name. That will be down to the users and marketing power combined. I think this is definitely a good idea because I cannot remember the last time someone recommended to me such a hub of a music and sound centered site.

Content Courtesy of DreamingStreaming :

DreamStreaming aims to become the most respected internet music information website in the world, for all types of streaming, download and on-demand music sources offering a high quality of service and / or music content through the internet.

Find out more about Dreamingstreaming at :

http://www.dreamstreaming.info/

The other day over the Easter break my five year old nephew asked me a straight forward technology based question, he said “Uncle, can you fast forward the adverts on the television because I hate adverts, they are so boring?” When I got in front of the television, I realised he was watching live TV, and explained to him that generally you can only fast forward adverts if you are watching a recorded program, or if you have paused live TV at some point earlier and you are simply catching up to the point of live transmission. Obviously, I had to use other words and maybe showed some examples of how this would work, but I thought wow, do the next gens really hate adverts? Not really, I feel that that the next gens really don’t react to passive media because their world from day dot is all about interactivity. Therefore until the Internet has converged with the TV, (and we really are not too far away from that) then television adverts cannot create conversions like true digital advertising currently does.

During my experience of using the Internet, I realised a long time ago that adverts as a minimum need to be interactive. If I as a consumer have any interest in a company’s product or service, then what I need more than anything is an emotional interactive experience. To date, I have only come across a small number of these styles of adverts. The first was a banner advert for Gran Turismo 4. It was not just a simple banner advert, it was an invitation to interact with a brand that I love. The advert asked me to play a few videos, and position the in built camera within the video to a point that would capture, what I thought would be a great photograph. The images were then submitted into a competition. I was on that advert for 2 hours, yes that’s right, 2 hours. That is the power of digital advertising, yet still thousands of companies spend thousands of pounds on boring click through adverts.

Now Apple has announced that it is going to allow developers to create adverts that are exactly this type in nature. So when you see an advert, you know that you are not just going to click through to a boring brochure based website, but you can look forward to a fully interactive emotional experience.

Apple told the world about apps, even though Windows Mobile users were already using apps. Now Apple is going to tell the world about creating interactive adverts even though it’s nothing new. But they are going to do it on the mobile, so how long is it going to take the rest of the digital media to catch up?

Watch a demo of iAd below courtesy of lightstab :

10 years ago, marketing your website required the use of simply adding a few popular key words. This was great for bringing in traffic but the conversion rates were well off the mark.

As the dot com bubble burst, website owners demanded much more justification for their marketing budgets and this gave rise to the world of SEO. Parallel to this was the rise of Google who provided a platform for SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) to work well, and although PPC(Pay Per Click) works perfectly fine in the short term, SEO provides long term relevant traffic and growth.

But what else can you do to bring in relevant traffic to your site? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of the Hubspot have written a book called Inbound Marketing which not only covers PPC and SEO, but also explains how the use of Social Media and Blogs is also now just as important. Although not the first book about Inbound Marketing, it presents today’s online marketing strategies in a simple and digestible format, whether you are a techie or not.

If you are serious about marketing on the web, and willing to put the time and effort into utilising some or all of the ideas in this book, then you will begin to see what it takes for websites need to stay on top and continue to bring in relevant traffic.

With nearly 2 billion people across the world surfing the net, now more than ever is the time to start planning where you want your site to be for the next 5-10 years, and Inbound Marketing is what you need to start investigating.

Find out more about the concept of Inbound Marketing on this post on the Hubspot Blog at :

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4416/Inbound-Marketing-the-Next-Phase-of-Marketing-on-the-Web.aspx

Get the book on Amazon at :

In the US :

www.inboundmarketingbook.com

In the UK :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Found-Google-Social/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271112028&sr=8-1

Focusing on fashion, consumers will soon be able to fund designers directly through a website called FashionStake in return for credits on clothes. This model offers an alternative to purchasing from retailers and the communication channels of this model allows for the unique opportunity of supporting the creative process.

Not sure if it will have the same effect as the music industry had with peer-to-peer as suggested by Reuters below, but ‘crowd funding’ models are probably here to stay, and will probably sit alongside existing retail channels. If the model exceeds expectations, then there is no reason why high street retailers cannot begin to try similar models.

Nike has been offering personal sports shoes for some time now through Nike ID. So although this may not be as personal as what FashionStake are offering, but by simply giving consumers the chance to contribute is definitely a way forward.

Content Courtesy of Reuters :

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) – An Internet start-up called Fashion Stake launching in coming weeks aims to shake up the fashion industry, just as peer-to-peer file sharing changed the music industry.

Fashion Stake will allow customers to directly fund fashion designers by browsing on-line collections and buying a stake in a collection in return for credits to buy clothes. Patrons can also share ideas with designers and vote on collections.

Read the full article at :

http://smallbusiness.uk.reuters.com/2010/04/06/new-website-brings-crowd-sourcing-to-fashion/

Find out more about FashionStake at :

http://www.fashionstake.com/

Information Gathering was a class I took at university. As a process, this a very important part for researching and creating web applications. However what are the effects of continuous information gathering in one area?

10 years ago, I thought that the refining process of information would happen quite quickly, because information from websites that we tend to use on a daily basis like shopping data etc, is fairly finite.

But the key sites that hold and gather information as the one stop shop for basic necessities of living are still hard to define.

A few however have clearly emerged for example, if you happen to be the best at creating the basic services of your industry and not necessarily the first, you have a good chance of making your position on the Internet number one in your market place. Examples of this would include Search Engine – Google, Online Book Store – Amazon, Online Auction – Ebay, Reference – Wikipedia and Social Networking – Facebook, whilst the rest cover a vast plethora of niche and other fragmented market places.

Maybe the future will be the same, with just a few more defining sites or companies emerging over the next 10 years whilst the rest of the fragmented market place continues to evolve and fragment even further.

Using the same basic principal of continuous information gathering, sites like Quora are aiming to create these types of one stop shops to find information quicker.

Content courtesy of Quora :

About Quora

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

Accumulating Knowledge

People use Quora to document the world around them. Over time, the database of knowledge should grow and grow until almost everything that anyone wants to know is available in the system. When knowledge is put into Quora, it is there forever to be shared with anyone in the future who is interested.

Another question and answer type of site, this one however throws in a twist of Wiki, in that there is a continuous process if information refining going on by its users.

Created by a few ex-Facebook employees last year and now released on an invite only model, maybe Quora will be one of the next big sites of the future.

Find out more about Quora at :

http://www.quora.com/about

Blippy is a site that allows you to share your online purchasing habits with fellow Internet users. On their website they say that Blippy is a fun and easy way to see and discuss what everyone is buying. It works in a similar way to Twitter, in that you follow other users purchasing habits and a feed of the services they are interacting with is displayed like a list of incoming tweets. Blippy have teamed up with a number of online stores, so that not only do you share your purchasing habits with other users, but Blippy is no doubt collecting all this information in their database.

But this site might throw up some privacy concerns for some users. Within the account settings Blippy does allow you to make the information private and you can then choose the people who you would like to share the information with. Why anyone would make this information available to the public is beyond me. But hey, you have to give users options.

Find out more about Blippy at : http://blippy.com/

Read more about Blippy’s Privacy Rules at : http://blippy.com/privacy

Many people are used to following people on Twitter. But did you know you can follow topics of conversation by following a topic’s Hashtag.

For example, yesterday I blogged about ‘Mothers Who Blog’, but to follow some of the topics around this post I followed the hashtag ‘#bloggybootcamp’ using my TweetDeck. This way I could follow some of the tweets coming in directly related to the hashtag.

So as more and more people begin to tweet, they should start using the hashtag to allow others to follow the trending topic.

To see related tweets to a hashtag visit :

http://hashtags.org/

Update 16.04.2010

Just noticed this message on the link above :

hashtags.org has had a rough history, in both technology and focus. it doesn’t look like these problems will be rectified by the current team. that said, we are looking to sell our assets (@hashtags, hashtags.org, etc.).

if you have any interest in this project, please contact cody marx bailey.

Just tried testing a Hashtag again (#entrepreneur), still working ….phew!

As we begin to use social media more and plan for new campaigns it would be wise to understand the metrics of such activities.

A company by the name of uberUV have created a dashboard to help you understand your user engagements across various social media web applications like Twitter, Friend Feed etc based on keywords and/or phrases.

Watch a video to find out how to use uberUV’s dashboard at :

Find out more about uberUV at : http://www.ubervu.com/

Content Courtesy of uberUV :

uberVU bring you community metrics and analytics. On uberVU you search for something – such as your brand or your blog. We return whole conversations in a single thread – not just the post (like on Google blogsearch), but comments to the post from all over the Web – blogs, Twitter, Digg, FriendFeed, Reddit and a lot more.

Do you need to access files from other computers in your home wireless network, or perhaps you need to transfer data from one device to another?

Then the Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station could be your calling. Introduced in January and available in the shops now, the device runs on a Linux platform and allows you to stream files to your device of choice, with the backing of the DLNA standards.

A couple of useful features include :

Torrent Download Manager, the Iomega iConnect manages peer-to-peer file transfers without the need of a dedicated PC.

You can also transfer files from one device to another using the on board copy process. Again transferring photos from your camera is a pc free process, using the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), no touch, automatic transfer of photos from digital cameras via the USB port.

My only concern is with USB3 around the corner, is it really worth investing a device with 4 USB2 ports right now?

However, the price in the UK currently is on average £60, which doesn’t break the bank if it solves some of your digital needs. And when people ask you, “Hey, is that your router?”

You can say “No….that’s my data station.”

Find out more about the Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station at :

http://go.iomega.com/en-us/products/network-storage-desktop/wireless-data-station/network-hard-drive-iconnect/?partner=4760#tech_specsItem_tab

If are looking for ways to access files across your network then look at :

https://vyber.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/social-usb-mass-storage/

https://vyber.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/boxee-a-social-open-source-media-center/

Read more about the DNLA at :

http://www.dlna.org/industry/home

Purchase the Iomega iConnect from Expansys at :

http://www.expansys.com/d.aspx?i=196377&partner=froogle

I recently found myself looking for a new media center software and came across Boxee.

It has a slick interface and allows you to access all of your computers from one place, throws in content from the Web and is built on open source, not to mention it runs on Windows, Apple and Linux.

The twist for this media center is that you can now share what you watch and find with your friends, which is definitely a neat little touch.

It also allowed me to play my DVR-MS files no issue through my mac, which is another piece of software I have needed. Still testing the Boxee services, but so far so good.

Find out more about Boxee at : http://www.boxee.tv/

If you are interested in looking at other ways to access files across your home network then you might want to take a look at :

https://vyber.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/got-a-network-files-and-drives-on-the-increase-have-you-considered-a-data-station/

https://vyber.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/social-usb-mass-storage/

There seems to be a few sites out there using the concept of ‘recommendations by other users’. Here’s one from New York called Hunch.

Hunch says it gives you customized recommendations and gets smarter the more you use it.

One of the current most popular questions was ‘Should I get a TiVo Premiere?’ Funny they mention that, because I just wrote about it a couple of days ago. Hunch then asks you a series of questions, after which, based on your answers, it gives you a decision. I have to say the questions were quite thorough, and could easily be considered as real.

Though I think this has more to do with my question choice. I need to keep giving it harder questions and see how it copes. My next question would be, do I buy a 3D TV or wait for TiVo? I can’t afford everything Hunch.

Find out more about Hunch at : http://hunch.com/


Facebook is in its prime. Having received $240 million from Microsoft and introducing the Ad system in 2007, the number of users has gone from strength to strength. But where is Facebook going?

At the moment Facebook can not only be accessed directly but through various other sites and platforms like Xbox. This is thanks to the free Facebook Connect APIs which allows developers to create new bridges with Facebook.

Does this mean users spend less time on the main site? Or does this mean Facebook’s current definition changes as users migrate but stay connected. Maybe Facebook will break up into smaller more focussed areas. Will the groups become more advanced allowing users to control more of what and how they share?

Whatever happens, Facebook’s mix of users and games certainly is a very successful partnership, and as games inevitably improve, this part of Facebook certainly has the potential to grow into something exciting. And with its 400 million cross generational worldwide users, it’s database is a world-class directory when you want to find someone. Many companies now have a Fan Page, allowing social communication to go beyond just your friends but to include brand loyalty. So even though Facebook is a huge beast, some parts are going to be the key to driving the future Facebook forwards.

In the meantime Facebook have been working on the main site strategies, like today’s semantic update on the keywords advertisement system. Fresh thinking like this can only add value. As Mark Zuckerberg continues to evolve Facebook, it will be an interesting journey to watch considering we are moving into a very strong phase of social media from plethora of companies.

Find out more about Farmville at : http://www.farmville.com/

Update 16th March 2010

Facebook ousts Google as most popular U.S. site.

Read more about this article at :

http://ow.ly/1mVyY

Update 22nd April 2010

Following the F8 conference yesterday, it looks like we can now see what Facebook has been up to. Replacing the Connect Tool with Social Plug Ins and in the process attempting to connect users relationships with their online engagements through semantic meanings.  In the words of Zuckerman himself  “the most transformative thing we’ve ever done for the web.”


Find out more about the next evolution of Facebook at :

http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/377

Find out more about the latest on Facebook, unofficially at :

http://www.allfacebook.com/

Music used to be simple. You heard a track on the radio, you purchased the record, you made tapes. Nice.

Then came the Internet, and that all changed. Peer-to-peer file sharing created the need for free music. Although file sharing still continues to exist, there is now a significant market for legal streaming services. Music lovers are streaming free music from a variety of sources like Spotify etc.

When Last FM arrived on the scene in 2002 they used a music recommender system called “Audioscrobbler”. It was slightly different with its streaming model in that it recommends music, videos and concerts based on what you listen to. They do this by telling you what other music people are listening to based on the choice of artist you have made. In March 2009 subscription services was introduced to some countries.

But what if it was the people instead of a computer system recommending music, add in the twist of being paid for those recommendations, then sharing music and more importantly making money, may have found a new model within the music industry.

Start-up mflow may have just come up with such a model. They understand that a lot of music that comes into our lives comes from recommendations and therefore could be used a source for music searchers everywhere. The big question is the catalog, without a choice users could find this model a turn off, and therefore the community could fall apart. It’s a good idea, but whether it can work is a bigger question.

Looking to launch in April 2010 mflow whose tag line is ‘music is better shared’, quote some of the following on their site :

We don’t want be told what we ‘might like’ by a software program.

We don’t want to stare at an empty search bar… “a whole world of music at my fingertips, and I can’t think of anything to look for…”

We don’t want to have to subscribe to anything.

We don’t want adverts.

We just want a way for our mates to send us music they think rocks.

Find out more about mflow at : http://www.mflow.com/

Updated 12/03/10, mflow were interviewed on Technology Unplugged Sky News, watch it now :

I love browsers. Hey, it’s the reason we surf the web. But lately they have thrown up more issues than need be required. Let’s take a closer look at why I love and hate web browsers.

People use different web browsers for different reasons. These reasons range from ‘I have no choice, my company has not upgraded my Internet Explorer 6 from 2001’ to a ‘Firefox plug-in connoisseur whose quest it is to maximise their web experience by finding the best and most useful plug ins’. Their options are wider then ever with there being a multitude of web browsers available for download.

This presents two key problems. First for the users, their web experience is altered slightly from browser to browser if a site has not been tested fully, maybe the website does not take into account the user’s browser type, or that the user needs to download RIA technologies like Flash etc. Secondly for businesses, this means having to spend more money developing their web applications to work across all browsers at all times.

But where do you draw the line, between the good browsers and the bad. Unfortunately it’s not that simple, because different browsers can be good for different reasons. For example Flock is built on Firefox, but is targeted towards users in social media. Those web browsers that offer cross-platform compatibility are at least trying to give users a fair choice. So when Microsoft stopped offering Internet Explorer for Apple users back in the day, it was seen by some as a strange move.

Currently a majority of users would use only a few of the industry’s leading browsers, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera & Chrome. However since each of these alone are available in different versions this can also create further issues for both the user and the designer and/or developer.

Personally I use various browsers for different reasons, so as to separate my browsing history. I would use one browser for my favourites, another for social media etc. It helps me get the best from each browser because I get to test and play each one continuously. I am not your average user, therefore my reasoning for picking various browsers may not might sense to some people.

As the digital channels of communication continue to expand, we will start to experience the Internet from a variety of new web browsers like those on your mobile to the ones on your OLED television. That means even more setting up time required for users, designers and developers, that’s just great. Didn’t someone once say ‘what ever you do KEEP IT SIMPLE?’

Let’s hope HTML 5 helps simplify things, but I got a funny feeling it’s not going to be that simple.

Find out more about the history of Web Browsers and HTML 5 at :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_web_browsers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML_5