After writing this entry and this one, I took inventory of the web services that work for me. Using Firefox as my gateway to the web, there's a small handful of web service suites that have become more than mere web pages to me.
As I was assembling this rather small list, it soon became obvious to me that such detail would be better presented as an image. Yes, Facebook is there, because despite my threats to quit, I'm still an active user. Why am I there? Because their developers understand the importance of user interface and when something works, it's tough to say goodbye.
* Click the image to see it in Flickr where I've added notes to explain what each service does for me.
I instantly hated the idea of Microsoft buying Yahoo!. Microsoft may be the big boys on the desktop, but they've always sucked at the web. Google and Yahoo either started or bought up most of the web sites and services that work, everything from YouTube to Gmail to Flickr. Microsoft has never launched a well-accepted web 2.0 web services suite, in fact, every time they attempt to compete they fail miserably.
Back in 2004, I fell in love (if you can fall in love with a web service) with Flickr. Flickr was founded by Ludicorp, a nice little Canadian company, and in 2004 I actually paid Flickr money for a pro account. I never pay for anything on the web, so the fact I was willing to hand over actual coin is all the evidence of my loyalty you need. This was something worth paying for, a photo sharing website that enhanced my life.
Why did Flickr work while many other photo sharing sites failed? Lord knows I tried several before falling for Flickr. What did Ludicorp do that Microsoft was never able to do? The answer is simple. It's the interface, stupid.
Flickr reflected a brilliant user interface that evolved into the epitome of Web 2.0 utilizing Ajax techniques that made one forget they were in a browser. Uploading pictures, tagging them, embedding them on the web and organizing ones photos isn't just easy, it's a pleasure. Flickr understands the importance of user interface and when they built a better mousetrap, passionate users followed in droves.
Flickr users aren't just users, they're part of a vibrant community. Creating passionate users is precisely what Microsoft fails at time and time again. Passionate users grow abundantly in such fertile ground. When Yahoo! bought Flickr, they understood what they had purchased and let it be. Other than forcing Flickr users to tie their accounts to a Yahoo! login, Yahoo! hasn't caused a single disruption in the force. Flickr is better than ever with several awesome upgrades of late. I'm happily sharing 4,713 photos right now, and it's all because of Flickr's interface.
If/when Microsoft buys Yahoo!, they'll own Flickr as well. I'm actually dreading this transition. I don't trust Microsoft to "let it be". They've proven time and time again that they don't get it. They don't lure passionate users because they don't do good user interface. If they end up with Flickr and don't announce plans to sell it to someone who cares, I'll leave the community.
I'll leave with my 4,713 photos and every ounce of my passion.
The first Google, before Google became Google, was Yahoo!. Here's a little love letter I once wrote to Yahoo! and here's my recollection of the World Wide Web's beginning. As I said, Yahoo! was my Google before Google became my Google.
Yahoo! is being wooed by the evil empire. Microsoft has made an unsolicited $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo!. The bid, which would consist of cash and Microsoft stock, values Yahoo! shares at $31 a share, a 62% premium on Thursdays closing price.
Don't sell, Yahoo! Not now, not ever, and definitely not to them.
I'm a Photoshop user. It's my tool of choice for all my imaging needs. I pop into Photoshop at least once every day and I'm pretty good at it, but I know there's still a great deal to learn.
There's a series of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube that absolutely rock. They're not only educational, they're hilarious. Heck, even if you don't use Photoshop I'd recommend them.
Here's episode #4.
Here are the previous chapters:
The first computer I ever enjoyed was the Commodore PET. My dad would bring it home from work on weekends in the late 70s and very early 80s. My three favourite games were horse racing, where I'd essentially bet against simulated racetrack odds, lemonade stand, where I'd manage a virtual lemonade stand, and Eat Man, a complete rip-off of Pac Man.
Comparing the Commodore PET to today's PCs is a lot of nostalgic fun. We had virtually no graphics to speak of, no colour, no mouse and the storage medium was something we called a Commodore Datassette. That was essentially a dedicated computer tape recorder that looked like a cassette deck.
We eventually got a Commodore 64, but the Datassette lived on. "Press Play on Tape #1" was our marching orders and we complied. 'Load"*",8,1' 'Run'
In 1995, during the brief period I dated my wife, Taryn bought a Packard Bell computer from the University of Toronto computer store. She paid for it monthly, so I believe it cost us about $400,000 by the time it was all said and done. I say us because we married in January 1996 and this crappy Packard Bell computer with Windows 3.1 was part of the deal.
The PC itself is long gone, but I held onto the monitor. It worked, and I always felt we should have a 2nd monitor on stand by, especially back in the day when monitors were fairly pricey.
This thing sat in our basement forever, and last week I finally threw it out. I didn't even bother giving it to someone because I can't imagine someone being so desperate as to want a 12 year old 15 inch CRT.
Before the sanitary engineers came by to take her away, I snapped a couple of shots. At one point I recall it was an off-white before becoming a lovely tint of yellow.
This blog is powered by Movable Type. Movable Type is what gives this site its bloggy goodness: comments, trackbacks, RSS, category archives, date archives, and all of that. I've spent a lot of time installing, configuring and optimizing Movable Type for various purposes. Humble's blog runs off of it, Freddie's blog runs off of it, the SLS page runs off of it and Buffalo Boy's new blog runs off of it. I believe in this blogging platform and it just got better.
Movable Type is now open source. As explained on the Movable Type Community Blog, this means we can freely modify, redistribute, and use Movable Type for any purpose we choose. If that wasn't clear enough, here's how they spelt it out in the comments. You can:
- use it for your business
- get paid to install it
- get paid to support it
- modify it (and release your modifications)
- rebrand it, modify it, and sell it
This leads nicely to my next point. Now that Movable Type is free for both non-commercial and commercial endeavours, anyone can be managing their own Movable Type powered blog or website with just a little help from a Movable Type expert. That's me. I install the wonderful new version, MT4, configure it, optimize it for SEO, write the XHTML and CSS templates so it looks and feels the way you want it and teach you how to use it. Next thing you know, you're a hero to thousands in cyber space and a guest on CBC RadioOne.
Smooth move Movable Type. I like freedom.
This video does a good job of explaining blogs in plain English. Of course, this is a kin to preaching to the choir, but you might have a friend, co-worker or aunt who just doesn't get it.
It's pretty good, but it needs more cowbell... and RSS.
In my write up about this year's Santa Claus Parade I mentioned a new float from Yahoo! Canada. I'm pretty sure this is the first time a web-only company sponsored a float in the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, so it's worth discussing it further.
The float, which you'll see below in photos I took from two different angles, is a young girl enjoying the world of Alice in Wonderland she discovered via a Yahoo! Canada search. For extra webby effect, there are emoticons alongside the trailer.
It's worth noting Yahoo! beat Google and Microsoft to the float sponsoring punch. Today there were still floats sponsored by the old standards Canadian Tire, The Bay, Sears, Walmart, Mattel, Dominion and McDonalds. One day we'll see other clicks-only companies joining Yahoo! until such an event isn't even blog-worthy.
Here's the Yahoo! float as the parade goes 2.0
I haven't been keeping up with "Weeds". I've also dropped "Rescue Me" and rarely catch "The Office". My non-sports television these days is primarily focused on programs I can access via Rogers On Demand.
Rogers On Demand, channel 308 at my house, comes with TMN and is how I watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm", "Dexter" and "Tell Me You Love Me". It's also how I catch movies, because it's so damn convenient. The movie starts when I'm ready to watch and I can pause, rewind and all of that good stuff. I'm aware of the PVR option, but I'm hesitant to increase my cable bill any further. Rogers On Demand is currently my television life blood.
Unfortunately, every once in a while, Rogers On Demand goes AWOL. That's what's happening right now. When I visit channel 308, it tells me to "please wait..." and then states it's "unable to contact Rogers On Demand17". Did it try Rogers On Demand 1-16 first?
I'm precisely the kind of guy who would love a PVR. When I'm ready, I want to be able to watch my Sunday night cartoons, "The Office", "30 Rock" or whatever. Until I take the plunge, 308 will have to do.
Maybe it will actually start working again soon...
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