Webconsuls Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Exploring Side Streets with Chris Brogan

News Flash: I follow Chris Brogan on Twitter. A few months ago I attended Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. I wrote about it. I promised that I would try to apply what I learned. One of the first things I did was to begin following Chris Brogan. Don't get excited. I am one of 124,385 followers. (To put this in perspective I have 41 followers.) You are probably shaking your head and asking "is Judy nuts?" But to that, I say: "Does me being one of 3,400,000 TIME Magazine weekly subscribers or one of 6,685,684 National Geographic monthly subscribers shock you or make you question why I would even think of "following" these honored publications?" I hope not. I subscribe to these publications, local newspapers, SEO/SMO on-line newsletters for the same reason that I follow Chris Brogan - each opens avenues to useful and timely information that can impact my business, Webconsuls' clients, and my personal life.

This past week Chris mentored: Don't Forget the Little Side Streets. Exploring side streets with Chris Brogan is quite a ride. I hope you will take the time to read his post, he offers really good insights and, unlike a few, Chris is optimistic and looks for ways to extend the expiration date for some of these "streets". For example, when was the last time you:
  • examined your "YELP" reviews
  • verified your Google Local Business Center Map
  • updated your Bing Local Listing Center
  • checked out Yahoo Answers
  • refreshed your Facebook Fan page
  • responded to a Trip Advisor review (negatively or positively)
  • tweeted something of positive value, as opposed to a rant

Navigating and maintaining these "streets" takes time. But the beauty of the Internet in general and social media in particular is the fluidity and vitality that you can manage to. Every time you think you don't have time I want you to find a business person who can recall the angst of designing and ordering a brochure. Trust me. Before the ink was dry the area code had been split in two, your AAA rating had changed for the better or the beautiful maple tree that graced your front lawn had fallen. Yes, maintaining your "streets" and exploring side streets takes time, but you can do it on your time and make your journey as interesting as you want. There really is nothing like a road trip.

Here is my favorite photo of a real "side" street.
No Name Street 2000



This post is dedicated to Chris Brogan, thanking him for inspiration.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

5,000 'Overtly Sexual' iPhone Apps Purged

Apple has decided that applications that are 'overtly sexual' no longer have a home in the App Store. Apple's new App Store content policy has resulted in over 5,000 companies' apps being purged. The companies whose apps were deemed 'overtly sexual' were notified last week that their applications were going to be removed due to their content. This doesn't come as a huge surprise, because of iTouch, the App Store needs to cater to children as well as adults; it would seem to be graphic content and wouldn't be good for business.

What's strange about the recent purges, isn't that they are removing sexual content, it's who they are not removing. Playboy has an application that has not been removed from the App Store yet. Companies whose apps were removed are scratching their heads, wondering what makes Playboy special. Did Apple feel like Playboy is as "American as 'Apple' Pie"? It would seem so, or maybe they struck a deal, who knows. I do know that Playboy's app is more graphic than any other apps I have seen, it appears that thousands of companies are being treated unfairly by Apple. Companies should have and ought to have the right to stay in business if Apple is going to allow Playboy's app inside the App Store.

The new App Store policy, it will not accept applications that in any way imply sexual content or include the following:

  • Images of women in bikinis
  • Images of men in bikinis
  • Images of skin
  • Silhouettes indicating that the app includes sexual images
  • Sexual connotations or innuendo
  • Sexually arousing content


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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Brightkite or Buzz?

Google announces a new product that integrates with Gmail inbox that will allow you to start conversations about things that you find interesting. Google Buzz is about location more than anything, sharing information about your day to day online is considered to be richer if there is a location tagged to the post. The idea is that your description will have more weight if the reader has an idea of your whereabouts. Buzz will let you share links, photos, and videos throughout your social network.

Google Buzz on your mobile phone (Information Provided by Google Mobile Blog):

  • Buzz.google.com: A web app that provides access to Buzz from your iPhone or Android phone's browser.
  • Buzz on Google Maps for mobile: The new Buzz layer allows you to see buzz near you or anywhere on the map. You can post public buzz directly from the layer, and even attach a photo from your phone. Also, try visiting a mobile Place Page to read recent comments or to post buzz about that place. You can access Place Pages from the web app as well, by tapping on the place name in any location-tagged post.
  • Buzz Shortcut from Google.com: You will see the buzz icon in the top right corner of the google.com homepage. Just tap on the icon to trigger the posting box.
  • Voice Shortcut: The voice shortcut, which is available in the quick search widget on Android and in Google Mobile App on iPhone, allows you to post buzz without typing anything. Just say 'post buzz,' followed by whatever you'd like to post.


Google Buzz at first glance seems kind of exciting and might be useful. Unfortunately, this is not some new social media idea, Brightkite.com has been implementing the same concept for a long time. Who knows, maybe Google's version will be superior? It seems like Google is focused on so many projects right now it's hard to believe they can manage providing a solid product. What are your thoughts, Brightkite or Buzz?


Below are screen shots of Google Buzz and Brightkite, look familiar?

google buzz


brightkite

Friday, February 5, 2010

Center for Automotive Research at Stanford Modified Audi TTS

The days of driving yourself around may be coming to an end sooner than we all might think! Ever since the automobile was first conceived people have had the shared dream of the day when cars would drive us around. A team of researchers at the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS) has modified an Audi TTS with computers and GPS receivers, creating a vehicle that could handle itself. This year the car will attempt to ascend Pikes Peak without a driver at race speeds. This Audi TTS currently holds the world land speed record at 130 mph for autonomously driven vehicles; the car's computers understand things that the average human driver, shouldn't, but does struggle with - the car knows how to drift, accelerate, brake, park, and more!

How does it work? The "captain" of the vehicle can utilize two different modes or can combine both options. Sensors detect the vehicle's movement, comparing this data to external sensors that pick up objects. The computer uses pixel analyzing software in order to detect the lines in the road or the curb, then the data with the other external and motion sensors send the appropriate commands to the vehicle i.e. stop, accelerate, and turn information. On the race track it will be a little bit different because there will be other variables to factor in. One will need to program some of the necessary functions to complete the race track. It seems like one will need a basic understanding of geometry and physics to complete this task; factors like road camber, surface type, traction information, and corner radius are some of the many things that will need to be considered before top speed travel could take place.

It will probably be several years before the car will be ready for public use, but the dream is what matters at the end of the day. Not to mention the progress that has been achieved by VAIL (Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory) and CARS together, it is unbelievable how far they have come. I encourage you to watch the video below.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Apple's iPad Might Have Some Competition Talk About A Google Tablet

Apple's iPad might have some competition in the coming months with the recent talk about a Google Tablet. Google just released the Nexus One which was their version of the iPhone in the US. It looks like Google now wants to curb the iPad (release date March 2010) sales with their own spin. Glen Murphy, Google's user interface designer, presented what the Google Tablet might look like and created a video of how one will use the device. If I had to guess, the Google Tablet will possess many things that the iPad lacks.

In 2009 Google announced that they would be releasing an Operating System, Chrome OS, which would work and be based around a web browser. This would be mainly for small netbooks, which would have fast boot up times and give the user ease of access to the sleuth of Google applications. Along with releasing a Chrome Netbook this year, Google is considering applying the same platform to a tablet, desktops, and flat screen T.V.s. It will be very interesting to see how we will apply Chromium to our lives.

"Chrome OS is still in development and we are constantly experimenting with various user interfaces to determine what designs would produce the best user experience". Now Apple and Google are in a feud! This is a good thing, because it will force them to one up each other which is great for the consumer. Without competition Apple could take its sweet time making the iPad the way that the users want it. Now Apple has to cater to the needs and demands of the consumer which is the way it should be. Apple will still be the powerhouse in this field of devices; they are ahead of the game in many ways. "It's easy to do hardware, it's really hard to create an ecosystem and Apple's got a head-start on everybody because they've been doing this for four to five years, based around iTunes", said Gartner analyst Robin Simpson.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Google's Battle with Censorship in China

Google is struggling to find its place in China amongst heavy censorship, evaluating its future with the Chinese people. "We like what China is doing in terms of growth...we just don't like censorship. We hope that will change and we can apply some pressure to make things better for the Chinese people," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Just two weeks ago Google dealt an ultimatum to China, unless Google was allowed to offer an uncensored search engine in China, it would no longer provide a censored search engine and would consider pulling out of China entirely.

China which has historically been known for its closed doors, keeping western ideals out of China seems to be the goal. Censorship is extremely thick, the Chinese people are forced to use censored search engines or use proxy servers to access the Internet in other countries which is illegal. Google obviously has a lot invested in the Chinese economy so to pull out completely would never happen; Schmidt hopes that he will be able to meet China in the middle. At the end of the day China will have the final say in this matter.

"We like the Chinese people. We like our Chinese employees ... we remain committed to being there", Schmidt stated last week on Google's fourth-quarter earnings' call. Something interesting to consider is that on the same day that Schmidt made those statements, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended Google for fighting censorship; Internet companies have a "shared responsibility" with the U.S. government in assuring free access to the Internet wherever you are in the world. Unfortunately, that is not an easy task and governments will want to decide for themselves what the people are exposed to.

Will Google succeed in changing Chinese censorship laws? Probably Not! Even if Google shuts down Google.cn, Schmidt is exploring its options in China. Google could still operate a software-development or research presence in China. I guess Google's battle with censorship in China will continue into the future!