Nice touches at Huffduffer…

Catching up on my early morning tweets I saw one from Jeremy Keith about the launch of a new site, Huffduffer.

Its an interesting premise. Build your own RSS feed of sounds that you’ve find whilst traversing the Internet. You can then podcast your finds and subscribe to others.

Not so much as of a social network, more a network of social sounds. I could see @disquiet and @warrenellis making interesting use of this.

One nice touch of the design was the sign-up form.
Nice sign-up form
I like the way its laid out, working like I’m filling it in on paper rather than just a series of HTML form fields. The choice of fonts for the filled in information is nice too.

GatherOne other thing I noticed. From the minimal information I gave at sign-up, virtually all of my other Internet places showed up in my profile. There is at least one that is not mine, but someone I worked with who took over my work blog, which could explain it.

Jeremy has said that By its nature, this will never be a popular, mass-market site. But, as is the case with most things built to scratch a particular itch, which is sometimes the best thing.

For the coders out there it shows what you can do with some PHP, HTML5 and microformats.

Geolocation creeps ever onwards

Today marked Sprint’s WIMAX coverage of Baltimore. Though service has been reported as being a bit spotty (about 70%), when you are in a zone the results are fantastic! Mario Armstrong on NPR reported using his laptop and running a TV show as well as NPR shows and some other apps without loss as he was driven around.

Add to this the news that Mozilla is looking to have geolocation in Firefox 3.1 and you have some new interest in the whole internet of things and ambient findability. You can try Geode from Mozilla Labs and start seeing what’s around you.

Is this the end of Twitter as we know it?

As a reader of Simon Willison’s blog, I came across this tool that he created with Natalie DowneTweetersation.

Now this tool lets you combine peoples conversations on Twitter in one time line.  Pretty cool.  So I can now just enter a few peoples names or id’s and I can see the whole conversation I caught the tail end of.

How does this fit with the title? Well, more and more I’m seeing Twitter being absorbed into or used by other tools/applications.  Most Web2.0 social sites let you post to or display from Twitter.  Other people are building tools to show the mood, locale, to search and monitor, and general pull or push whatever they can through the API.

So is that what Titter should resolve itself to be – Just an API to hang communication on?  Maybe that could be it’s business model.  How many people are actually logging in to the Twitter website as opposed to using it through something like HelloTxt or their phone, Snitter, Flock or Twhirl.

As netizens shift from shiny object to shiny object I believe Twitter will still be there.  I just don’t think we’ll be as aware of it’s presence as we are now.  It’ll just be that thing we use to communicate.

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Getting the mix just right…

So it’s been a tad quite here recently.  One of the reasons was that my Mum was over from England for a visit – her first in 4 years.  She dutifully brought gifts for everyone, but the one thing I asked for her to bring was a Pork Pie.  Odd request maybe, but it’s been 6 years today since I lived in the UK and I could get them anytime.

pork pie packagingYou may also thinks its an odd thing to write about here.  Well I suppose the Pork Pie (though excellent) isn’t the thing I wanted to write about.  It’s how the manufacturer’s talk to their customers.

Take the packing.  Usually ignored as we’ve skimmed the “instructions” for eating & storage a thousand times, but with this brand you should pay a little attention.  They obviously have a sense of humour with tid-bits such as:
Where to put this pie (apart from your stomach!) Fridge, good. Airing cupboard bad.

You can also contact their horrified customer service if your pie is in less than great shape.

The company that makes these particular pies are Pork Farms and you can see the humour continue as they took part in the 2007 UK Comedy Awards. They have TV ads that carry this through as well.  I decided to be cheeky and email them, letting them know how much I missed their products and if there was anywhere in the USA I could get them.

I expected an automated response, but was surprised I got an email from a real person the next day, asking for my physical address.

A week later I signed for a registered letter from the UK.  From Pork Farms.  In it was a nice note explaining why they couldn’t ship stuff to the USA but that were happy that I liked the product.  Also money-off coupons I could use for my next trip over to the UK.

Gary Vaynerchuck is always saying that part of his success is answering every email.  This communication and connection helps to build his brand.  Pork Farms found their voice, through humour, which goes from packaging, advertising and the promotion of the company.  They responded not only electronically but physically, sending something to me – someone who can’t buy their products, is an ocean away, and is essentially a non-customer.

This is the kind of connection that most companies miss as they think an automated email is good enough.  Next step for Pork Farms would be to start reaching out into the social web. And shipping to the USA of course.

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TweetFeed in beta

So there’s a new little site called TweetFeed (beta) that’s been pulling time away from my other online pursuits.

TweetFeed lets you build pages to display the latest Twitter activity around any topic or keyword. This means with a set of advanced search commands and a little tweaking to the HTML & CSS you can build pages like this one about power outages on September 14th (we are experiencing the after-effects of Hurricane Ike).

TweetFeed gives you a real nice set of operators, though it does take a little finagling to get some of my pages to show results.  I think a big part of this isn’t TweetFeed but more how people construct their tweets.

This might be a good tool to see how and why people are talking about you or your product or an event (if Twitter sorts out their XMPP service).

Why not sign up and give it a go.

PS – This would’ve posted last night but guess what. Our power went out at 10.30pm.

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Cheap international mobile web access for all…

So my Mum is on a visit from the UK at the moment and one thing she did was but a new mobile phone for the trip.

She wanted to keep in contact with my sister back in the UK and with my Nan, but her old mobile phone would not work in the USA.  So she went to her local Tesco’s and purchased one for £20 and what a bargain it was! on mobileThis Motorola W377 phone can browse the internet, send SMS, work overseas, pick up FM radio, take photos and a whole host of other features.  All for less than $40.  Now it is a pay-as-you-go phone through Virgin, so pulling my web site up & checking voice mail  did deplete the funds a little, but still, to buy the same spec over here is around $80.

I think this shows the leaps & bounds the rest of the world has got over the USA on mobile acceptance.  That I could go and get a fully-featured phone, that will do what I need, for little expense and I would have no qualms ditching it if I wanted too after a trip.

Also, by using CSS on my freelance web design site pulled it up fairly fast and was usable.

update: Apparently all the calls my Mum makes she will recieve Tesco reward points (same as if she went shopping) which she can use towards gas etc.  Great idea all round.

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Was Google Chrome released a little too early?

So this week saw Google release its own browser, Chrome.  But did they rush it and is it worthing downloading?

Google Chrome logoNow Chrome is built upon Webkit and Firefox 3 as well as the new JavaScript V8 virtual machines from Denmark.  The V8 enables each of its tabs to run independently, so if something causes a crash in one tab the whole browser will keep going. The Webkit/Firefox combo keeps the whole thing web standards friendly.

Tech aside, in my opinion I think it was a little rushed.   As soon as the comic was made public extolling the virtues of Chrome, people were clamoring for it, which is great.  But as soon as the downloads started so did the questions.

As of Sept. 4th Chrome had already taken 6% of the market.  So is this the IE killer we’ve been waiting for?  Well Paul Boag has a good post on  that which I agree with a lot of.  I personally don’t think this version is, but a later version? Maybe.

The problem (as Paul points out) is a lot of people still think of the internet as that little “blue e” and would never think of using anything else – why should they?  This is still the battle Firefox faces.  The thing on Google’s side is its apps (being touted on TV commercials for C2) which Chrome will probably join soon, and offering it on their own homepage.

So should you download it?  Yes, I think so.  Anything that can improve your web experience is a good thing and so far it’s run pretty well on our old laptop and my shiny new one but it hasn’t replaced Flock as my default.

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I remember what the future was like…

It was the 90’s and I was just hearing about this whole Internet thingy. I worked on an industrial estate at the end of the Fenchurch Street (train) line in Essex.  We still had a computer that took 5¼” floppy disks and the new Windows machine was solely for the Director.

My knowledge of “the net” came from William Gibson, .NET Magazine and a book called Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold.  Mr. Rheingold’s book become something I read, and shared with friends.  This was what was going to happen!  It was filled with descriptions of old arcade games that emulated motorcycle rides through to teledildonics.

After getting a PC and connecting to “the net” (which really was more frustration than excitement at the start) things didn’t quite pan out the way I foresaw them.

I looked for that book recently, just to re-visit some of the ideas, but found it was one I left behind when we moved to the US.  But as chance would have it I ended up connecting with Mr. Rheingold (virtually) the very next day.  As I fired up Miro, there he was.  A featured channel – vlogging about the social media classroom.

I recommend subscribing through Miro or the RSS feed to see why he’s starting this classroom and the tools he’s included in it.

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Ma.gnolia goes open source…

Great news from Larry and the gang over at Ma.gnolia.

Today at Gnomedex they announced M2, a project to completely re-write ma.gnolia from the ground up and making it an open source project which means it “can be downloaded to remix and run as your own”.

Ma.gnolia has been the keeper of my social bookmarks for sometime now, and I had the opportunity meet Larry and Todd at SXSW last year.

I’m excited about this because they have always had an eye to what’s happening on the web (OpenID etc.) and being one of the first responders.