Archive for Internet

RIP Google Reader; Now What?

Google announced last week, much to the dismay of many people, that Google Reader will be shut down on July 1st. Google Reader has been one of the most popular RSS Readers since it launched in 2005. This is a shame because Google had one of the strongest RSS readers out there and many applications that are built on Google Reader that will either need be be built around another service or shut down.

My Solution:

Personally, I used Google Reader for many years as my primary source of news but have recently moved away from Google Reader in favor of using Twitter as my source of news. This occurred a few weeks prior to the announcement of Google Reader shutting down. My reason for this was because while subscribing to RSS feeds was a good method of reading news, combining my news feeds into my Twitter feed has become a better solution for me. Don’t get me wrong, Google Reader was good, but there was something about the interface that made me dread reading the news that I don’t get with using Twitter as my news feeds.  I subscribed to most of the same sources (blogs, news sites, etc) I had in my Google Reader in fact, I probably follow more sources now than I did with Google Reader. Many call this model”A River of News” where the news flows into one place for the reader to see.  I have a  to  Tweetbot on all my devices to read my Twitter feeds, which syncs across the devices using iCloud so I can pickup where I left off across all my devices. Tweetbot also allows links to be saved later using Instapaper, as I do, or a variety of other services which is useful when going through the news to save articles to read later.

I prefer using Twitter and I think it works better to have it all in one feed that I know I will check frequenly. Twitter also allows interaction with the news with Retweets, Hash Tags and replies and many media organizations interact with their audiences which builds value. This is something that can’t be done as well with most traditional news readers. For those who find a single river of news too daunting, Twitter’s listing feature can be used for those who want to sort the feeds into categories, like: “Tech news” or “International News”. I don’t use this method myself, mostly because I prefer to just have one big stream of tweets I need to check.

Replacements for Google Reader:

While Google Reader isn’t gone yet, it may be time to start looking for alternatives so you are prepared for Google Reader’s inevitable end. Here are some alternatives I have found for Google Reader besides my Twitter-based solution, especially for those desiring an experience similar to Google Reader.

  1. FeedlyWeb, iOS and Android
  2. Fever Web, iOS and Mac
  3. Flipboard iOS and Android
  4. Google Currents- iOS and Android
  5. NetNewsWire- Mac
  6. Netvibes– Web
  7. Newsblur Web iOS and Android
  8. Pulse Web, iOS and Android
  9. TaptuWeb, iOS, Blackberry, Android, Nook
  10. The Old Reader- Web

Why Facebook Needs to Look Out for Google Plus

Google Plus has been quickly growing and has shown that it has a lot of potential. I have actually been using Google Plus more recently than both Facebook and Twitter. There are many features that Google Plus has, but Facebook and Twitter either doesn’t have or some features that are offered but are not well implemented. Google Plus is a much simpler social network that doesn’t have all the extra non-sense that Facebook has but, isn’t essential to social networking like apps. In fact, this week Google Plus just got  games although I personally don’t use them on either network it may persuade people to join Google Plus since they are used to having games on Facebook. I like the fact that it is more minimalist and focuses more other the content than extra features like apps that clutter up social networks and distract the users. Facebook has so much extra on it that I have no interest in and gets in the way of me reading more interesting posts. Here are the killer Google Plus  features that Facebook needs to respond to and implement well, to prevent being out-done by Google Plus.

1. Circles

Circles allow users to group their friends (which is not shared with friends) and lets you choose who to share content with. For example, you may want to share information about a family gathering only with your family so you can just share that post with your “Family” circle. You can also share posts with multiple Circles as well making permissions simple and actually fun. Facebook and Twitter both have listing features to group friends but, they don’t let you choose who you can share posts with, but instead only lets you filter content. Facebook lets you choose to share with friends, friends of friends, networks and other limited groups but not the same way as Google Plus.  Google Plus gives you a lot more control over who can  see you posts and gives you more options for privacy that Facebook and Twitter’s lists just don’t offer. Also, circles on Google Plus are easy to use and very well designed; while lists are very primitive and not the least bit intuitive on Facebook and Twitter.

2. Photos

Pictures on Google Plus are well implemented and easy to use, mainly because they are integrated with Google’s Picassa Web Gallery which was already a well established service. Pictures on Facebook have always been a headache, it’s a pain to upload and  albums are limited to 60 pictures. It is for this reason that I post very few  pictures on Facebook. Twitter has third-party picture sharing services like Y-Frog and TwitPic but that’s only for single pictures, not albums of pictures which is fine because single photos are all  you need on Twitter since it is short form content. The other great feature of Google Plus pictures is that permissions can be set using circles giving users the same controls they have over other content over their pictures as well.

3. Hangouts

Hangouts are one of the most compelling features of Google Plus which allows up to 20 people video chat at once. Facebook has a video chat feature but it’s only for one-on-one calling. I’m not saying that Facebook needs a hangout-esque feature but, it is something Google Plus has that Facebook doesn’t. It is one of those features that can draw attention whether it’s something mainstream users want or not.

What doesn’t Google Plus have? Well, the main thing that Google Plus lacks  that both Facebook and Twitter have is a strong user base. As of the writing of this article, Google Plus has approximately 25 million users, Facebook has 750 Million and Twitter has 200 Million. This is largely because Google Plus is currently still in a private, invite-only beta test meaning you can only join if your invited. If you would like an invite, click this link! I am offering free invites to my readers, as of the writing of this post I have 144 invitations remaining, and if you join you should be able to invite people too and further grow the network by inviting your friends. I urge you to try this network it is a great new social network that really gives Facebook some good competition.  The other thing that Google Plus is missing, as is Facebook is a native iPad app, they both have iPhone apps that can be run at double size, but, a native iPad app will be very important as tablets continue to grow.  I think that Google Plus, as it grows, may be a real competitor for Facebook once it is given time to grow and Facebook will need to really innovate to remain relevant.

Facebook and Twitter, Beware of Google Plus

Last week Google launched Google Plus, and I got an invite yesterday and really like it so far. It has a lot of features similar to Twitter and Facebook like: messages, commenting, +1 (which is like the “Like Button” on Facebook.), chatting and much more. It also has group chatting which they call Huddle and there are also “Hangouts” which are group video calls which would be great for business meetings or any other video conference call. There is also Circles which allow you to group friends so that you can choose who can see content you share on Google Plus and who’s content you want to see. This is done by selecting a Circle on the left side of the stream which shows post just from the circle. You also can choose which circles have access to posts you put on Plus as well so you could choose to share something just with friends and not family or visa-versa.  Facebook and Twitter both have lists, which have similar purposes,  but, they are difficult to create, while circles are easy to make and intuitive to use.

Of course since Google Plus is currently in a private beta test right now, so there aren’t many people on yet but, it has been growing a lot and I think that it will continue to grow with the even more new features that I’m sure are coming soon. It is a great social network but, there are two things that I want to be added to make Plus even better.

1. iOS Application: There is already a Google Plus application for Android and rumor has it there has been one submitted for approval for iOS so hopefully it will be coming soon.  In the meantime, there is a HTML5 mobile site but, there’s no push notifications, huddle or Hangouts all of which would be great to have on iOS devices.

2. Social Media Integration- I would also like it if I could post all my tweets in Google Plus like I do in Facebook, and also do the same with pictures I post on my Flickr Stream. One thing Google can do is merge Buzz and Google Plus since Buzz already has those features.

But this is a great new network which will give Facebook an Twitter a run for their money. The video Hangouts are a feature that Plus launched with that Facebook didn’t have until they recently announced a partnership with Skype bringing video chat to Skype. However, they still don’t offer group video chat and not nearly as compelling as hangouts. I highly recommend Google Plus and if you can get an invite, give it a try and see what Facebook, Twitter and all other social networks need to compete with.

Tips For Selling Stuff Online

I have been selling things online for  a year or two now mostly on Amazon although  I now sell products on E-Bay as well. I thought I would provide some tips on how to sell the old things you have laying around or things you just don’t want.

  1. Be Honest- Be honest about the condition of you product. Make sure the buyer knows about anything worth mentioning about the product. The customers will know what they are getting and will give you better feedback which is crucial to get more customers because people are more likely to buy from someone who has higher feedback. However, keep it brief, don’t make them read an essay about the book they want to buy.
  2. Include Pictures– Amazon usually has stock pictures for most products in their marketplace, but whenever you want to sell something make sure there are pictures and especially of you particular item because if there is damage or anything it will help the buyer assess the damage and decide if they want to buy it or not.
  3. Keep Prices Reasonable- When people buy things online, they are looking for a bargain and don’t want to spend a ton of money. This especially applies to used products, so before listing your item, research competitors’ prices and if possible (or feasible) go slightly lower even by a few cents, and you are more likely to be chosen over your competitors. Unless your product is better quality than your competitors. Amazon makes this easy because you can see the new, used and marketplace price when listing an item.
  4. Help Whenever Possible– If a customer or potential customer contacts you, be sure to get back to them ASAP and be truthful. If you are quick to respond and helpful that will help you over your competitors  and get better feedback further helping your future sales.
  5. Ship quickly-When your product sells get it out as soon as possible, I usually get it out the same day or the next day so I can get it to my customer as soon as possible and so if there are problems, I can resolve them quickly.
  6. Give Refunds if The Customer is Unhappy- If the product has a problem or the customer isn’t happy with the product, just have them send it back and give them a full refund, if you don’t it could ruin your feedback and hinder your future sales. In my experience, customers who get a refund still give you good feedback even though they weren’t happy with the product because you took the care to handle it.

What is Net Neutrality?

If you have heard in the news recently about Verizon and Google making some big deal that would let them “take over the internet”, it is Google and Verizon’s plans to implement a tiered internet on mobile devices. A tiered internet would bring cable-style pricing and services to the internet meaning if you want access to more websites, you have to pay more, if you get the cheapest internet plan, you have access to the larger sites like Google but, to access smaller site you have to buy a more expensive internet package. So the more sites you want to access, the more you have to pay. This is wrong for many reasons. First, this will crush the open market of the Internet and will help the larger sites get more views and will prevent people from visting smaller sites and will just help the bigger websites get bigger. It also will limit the points of view that they will be able to access because only the larger sites unless you want to pay extra.

I think it is the tiered pricing structure that is killing cable and it would destroy the freedom of the internet.The reason I wrote this article is to help people understand what is going on because it will affect everyone on the internet and will especially hurt the smaller sites like mine. If you want to learn more about what is going on in Net Neutrality and to see what you to do to help go to savetheinternet.com and it is every Internet user’s responsibility to fight for net neutrality. If Congress passes legislation for a tiered internet, the web will be terrible and would prevent the free flow of information.

Facebook’s Privacy Issues

By now most people have heard of Facebook’s  issues with their privacy settings when they upgrade the site and cause people’s profiles to become public despite users specifying they want their profiles private.  They have also made chats public, for a brief period of time and Facebook has also been trying to control more web content by connecting to other websites and publishing other content on Facebook, they do this through Facebook Connect and by having other websites adding Like Buttons to many sites on the web.  In the most resent update, they also make you connect your interests (Music, movies, etc) to fan pages, which is something that everyone doesn’t want to connect to. This has caused a major out cry in the community of journalists and standard users as well. These issues caused Leo Laporte to delete his Facebook account live on his TWIT Live video stream. People have established May 31st as “Quit Facebook Day”, but today Facebook has crossed the line in another way.

This afternoon, a radio station posted links to a Wiki How article on how to permanently delete your Facebook account, and video of Leo Laporte deleting his Facebook on TWIT Live. Minutes later, Facebook decided to censor them disable the station’s Facebook page. When Leo found out on while he was doing his live radio show he told the audience to post the link on their profiles and about half of them reported that the post has been removed! Facebook eventually stopped deleting the posts but, just the idea of Facebook deleting content because it was anti-Facebook is wrong, espcially when there are already plenty of other anti-Facebook pages on Facebook.

Facebook has been involved in less than ethical activity in the past month and need to change their privacy and censorship issues. Facebook needs to make their privacy intentions clear and regain the trust of their users. Facebook is also trying to forcefully connect all your web activity to your Facebook profile, which some people don’t want because they want to keep some privacy with their web life. The  privacy settings they should implement is that everything is private unless the User chooses to make some content public. They also absolutely need stop censoring people’s content on Facebook, yes it’s their site but, it is our right to freely criticize things we find unjust. If Facebook doesn’t change this quickly, they will loose the trust of their users and many users will quit Facebook.  I like using Twitter for public updates but, it is also nice to use Facebook for private c0mmunication with friends.

The Internet is the Future of Video Distribution

The internet has been the home to humorous videos of people covering songs, commenting on celebrities, playing lightsaber and other entertaining videos for many years, but, there has also been high quality programming made for the internet as well. People  have been making television-quality programming for the internet like Revision3, and many other production companies making content for the internet like Blame Society productions who make Chad Vader. These shows have become very popular and have made web series a common thing for people to watch.
I think that in the future all video will be distributed if not exclusively, at least as an addition to other distribution methods. Another trend that will be growing is video produced specifically for the internet because it allows people to watch h their programming whenever they want asnd whereever they want. One thing that has  happened recently, is that is Hulu, the popular video site has begun to distribute  independently films and series which provides them a platform to share their content without having to go through a film distribution company. This will continue so more people can produce and distribute their content easily and get their work out!

The Internet Has Revolutionized Video

With the internet, video is becoming easier to produce, and distribute and making content available for the whole world, on-demand! This makes  it more possible for independent producers to distribute their content especially with video cameras becoming as inexpensive as they are now!  There are also many video sharing sites like Youtube that let users post content and share it with the world.

Previous to the internet, pre-production and planning would have to be done with everyone in the same room working on the show and if they had consult people not there, they would have to mail materials causing a major delay in the production process. Now, through email, cloud computing and video conferencing production can be worked on by people around the world and collaboration can occur over the web instantaneously.

It used to be video could only be broadcast over television and could only be seen when it was being broadcasted and only on a certain viewing area. This both made it hard for producers to get their content out to be seen and it made it difficult viewers to watch what they want to because they would have to schedule their time just to watch a particular show. Now, producers can make their content , and edit it on a computer and upload to a video sharing site and advertise it online, and have a worldwide audience instead of just the broadcast area of the channel. This is also much less expensive than producing for TV!

The internet has changed the way video has been made and distributed and has opened the opportunity for anyone to be a movie producer.This also provides access to a much larger viewing audience and lets the viewers see the show anytime. This also provides a better oppertunity to make money and to make money creating internet content like Revision3 has done. This is an exciting time both for producers and viewers to get the content they want when they want it!

Why Email Newsletters Need to Die

In the early days of the internet, email newsletters were the best way to spread information and news to interested people. This was great to inform people because any news you want will be delivered directly to interested people’s inbox and directly to the target market. This was great in the early days, however, now we have RSS feeds that send articles to a RSS reader that you can access anywhere and doesn’t clog-up people’s busy inboxes. This new technology is much easier to access and not only that it keeps your imformation more organized, and  easier to read than newsletters. Although people read their email a lot more, I think that newsletters are past their time and need to switch over to RSS and I reccommend unsubscribing from email newsletters because they will soon become a thing of the past.

Can Live Webstreams Replace Mainstream Broadcasting?

In the late 1990’s a few pioneers began to experiment with stream live video over the Internet. Although the video quality was poor, this laid the groundwork for the live webstreaming of today where, because of services like Sticcam or UStream anyone with a webcam is able to stream live with very little technical skills at all! This has developed the idea of “Lifecasting” where people like Leo Laporte, Chris Pirillo and many others stream themselves continuously throughout the day.

However entertaining this is, I am not sure if Live Webstreams will be able to compete with standard broadcast like Television and Radio in the current state because as of right now, it is mostly people just sitting in front of the camera and giving information. I think inorder for webstreams to compete, people need to produce entertainment streamed live. I think this can be achieved in two ways: first, independant producers creating live entertainment and secondly, for big production companies to live stream their shows in simucast to broadcasting over the air. This would be great because for now at least, to watch TV shows online, you have to wait until the next da. However, the big trend in viewing right now is video-on-demandso that people can watch what they wnat whenever they choose but, if they combind a live web stream and then have a on demand version after the  live webstream then the viewer can get the best of both worlds. I still prefer to watch video on demand however,  many people like watching content live and for things like news live is nessesary but, I think Video-On-Demand is the more popular trends still and will probably remain that way.

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