Technology


Blockbuster and HMV: Victims of Technology

digitalMarc Weisblott just wrote about Blockbuster and HMV in his Daily Brew blog. Both Blockbuster and HMV are facing uncertain futures resulting in a sudden wave of store closings.

As a teen, there were only a few stores I gave a shit about. Both Blockbuster and HMV appeared on this very short list. VHS cassette rentals was a key source of entertainment, and my Blockbuster membership was well used. Buying CDs was a monthly ritual, and HMV and Sam the Record Man downtown were my go-to spots... unless the disc was cheaper at A&A.

Both Blockbuster and HMV are disappearing because technology has destroyed them. Our digitized universe not only makes piracy easy for a complete n00b but presents more convenient legitimate channels for music and movies as well. Blame iTunes and Netflix as much as The Pirate Bay.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I can't remember the last time I visited a Blockbuster, and HMV is strictly for browsing these days.

Do you still buy CDs or rent DVDs?

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Browser Trends: The Fall of IE and the Rise of Chrome

browserI just analyzed the statistics for visitors to this site in January 2010 and January 2011.

In January 2010, here were the top four web browsers used by you:

  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Safari
  4. Chrome

In January 2011, here were the top four web browsers used by you:

  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Safari
  4. Chrome

You'll note the order remains the same, but there were significant changes when you compare the actual visits year-over-year. Here's the change from 2010 to 2011:

browsers

Although still the top dog, Internet Explorer visits fell by 14%, despite the fact overall traffic over this period increased by 17.95%. Firefox traffic was virtually unchanged, which means large increases by Safari and Chrome made up the IE difference.

Chrome users increased by 131% in just one year. That's pretty stunning, but maybe not. I'm one of those converts.

Are you loyal to your browser? If so, which one has your heart?

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Usage-Based Billing and Our Digital Ghetto

digitalHere in Canada, we still live in a digital ghetto, and it's getting worse.

Our friends at the CRTC have passed new regulations that will force Internet Service Providers to switch to usage-based billing. I'm a web-savvy guy, and I find it all complicated. Essentially, we're talking low data throughput caps and price overage fees.

My current plan with Rogers allots me 60GB / month. I've seen that "you're 75% through your cap" warning a few times, followed by notice I'll be charged when I exceed the damn cap. Rogers knows what they're doing. They sell digital cable services, and most of that data transfer is multimedia that directly competes with their offerings. The same is true with Bell. The conflict of interest here is sickening.

With streaming video services improving, this is awful news for consumers. Even without hitting up the torrent networks, I'm hitting the cap today, with several devices online. There a few laptops, a desktop, an iPod touch, an iPad, the Wii, a couple of Nintendo DS's and who knows what will enter the house next. It all adds up, especially with streaming audio and video. And remember, I'm not even talking about large downloads.

Freddie P is linking to an article that suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered his government on Tuesday to review this CRTC decision. I'm not Harper's biggest fan, but good on him for this. The decision stinks and we Canadians deserve better.

I'm tired of living in a digital ghetto. Please visit stopthemeter.ca and send a clear message to Ottawa.

Sponsored Link:

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Can You Explain What Internet Means?

digital1994 was an interesting year. NAFTA was established, there was no World Series, the Leafs made the conference finals, Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the leg, Kurt Cobain killed himself, Justin Bieber was born, OJ fled police in a white Bronco...

...And Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric didn't know what the Internet was...

I want to know when we stopped displaying that symbol as an "a" in a circle and started using @.

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In Search of the Right Social Media Share Button Balance

justiceI'm a big fan of social media sharing, Twitter in particular. When somebody finds an interesting, funny, insightful or informative entry (like this one!), I'd like it to be easy to share the article with friends and followers. That's where social media share buttons come into play.

They're everywhere these days. Most entries have a button or two (or three or four) to Like in Facebook, Tweet via Twitter, share via Buzz and submit to Digg, Reddit, delicious (if they're still around) or Stumbleupon. In addition, there's often an option to email, print, subscribe via RSS and something called "comment". That's right, you can actually comment on an entry without actually leaving the site. What an age we live in...

The problem with every blog / site having the aforementioned 11 buttons is clutter. That's a lot of buttons tied to every entry, and if you throw in the title, date, author, categories and tags, there's not much room left for the actual entry itself. The challenge is to find the right social media share button balance.

For the longest time I did without any social media share buttons on the home page and permalinks. Recently, I started playing with a Tweet button, and watched it do its magic when I posted Sarah Palin's Target Map last weekend. Today, I'm going to try something new on the home page.

social

Every entry will conclude with four simple calls to action: Permalink, Comment, Tweet or Like. So please start using them, should I actually write something you deem worthy of sharing with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers. In the meantime, I'll keep tweaking. Gotta find that balance...

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Ubuntu 10.10 Is Just More Fun

ubuntuMy mom has been happily running Ubuntu on her desktop for years. She never complains, it just works. She has a little netbook that runs Windows, and I'm always getting support calls about that machine, but I never get a single call about her Ubuntu PC.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about how I salvage PCs that start choking on the weight of Windows. I install Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system. I've done just that a lot this week.

It started when the family desktop suffered a hardware failure. It's been running Windows XP since XP was new, so I tried to save it by installing Ubuntu. I also got my grubby mitts on a couple of old laptops that were fit for the pit, and managed to save one with Ubuntu 8.10. Note: When it runs slow with Ubuntu 10.10, try 8.10 which requires far fewer horses under the hood.

Today, I decided to bite the bullet and actually bought my first new desktop in almost a decade. For $250 I got a fancy new case with an AMD Athlon II X2 245 processor, 2 GB of DDR2 800 memory and a 500 GB hard drive. I brought it home and installed Ubuntu 10.10 and it's super fast and delightfully stable.

Truth be known, I thought Ubuntu 9 was pretty ugly, but Ubuntu 10 looks fantastic. As more and more of our daily computer tasks move to the browser, you have to ask yourself why you'd want to pay for a Windows license when it's just more fun in Ubuntu... not to mention free.

I'm sticking with Ubuntu... at least until the Google O/S gets released and I give that a whirl.

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Never Use MSN Messenger Again

chromeWhen it comes to instant messengers, I'm a Gchat kind of guy, but a lot of people I need to chat with seem to be married to their MSN Messenger.

I hate using MSN Messenger, so I don't. But I need to chat with these MSN Messenger folks, so what's a guy to do? Here's how I roll when it comes to MSN Messenger chatting without touching the MSN Messenger.

Introduce Yourself to Meebo
I was trying to figure out when I started using Meebo for instant messaging, and this entry has me pretty certain it was 2005. That's a pretty long time for a slice of SaaS. Meebo is the last stage of my personal IM evolution.

Simultaneously log in to multiple IM protocols and chat in your browser, using Ajax effects that mimic an installed app. Give Meebo a try and you'll likely never open MSN Messenger again.

meebo

Add the Meebo Notifier Google Chrome Extension
I was looking for a nice desktop notifier for messages via Meebo when I found this extension. It does the trick nicely, and gives me a convenient auto-login that makes accessing Meebo from Chrome extra easy.

Add the Meebo Cleaner Google Chrome Extension
This extension is super simple. It simply removes the ad bar at the bottom of Meebo's interface and closes the blog window when you log in. It cleans things up nicely and enhances the experience.

So there ya have it. Chrome + Meebo + Meebo Notifier + Meebo Cleaner = Chatting with MSN buddies without having to open that damn MSN Messenger.

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IE6 Users: Why?

mouseIt's safe to assume almost nobody is using IE6 by choice, but over the past 30 days 4.11% of visitors to this site were using IE6.

I have one simple question for you 4.11%. Why are you still using IE6? Are you technically unable to upgrade? Does your employer forbid the use of other web browsers?

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* Wants To Buy Facebook

facebookI was just reading that Apple wants to buy Facebook. That got me wondering, who else wants to buy Facebook?

I went to Google and searched for "* wants to buy Facebook". Here are the first ten results.

  1. Microsoft
  2. Yahoo!
  3. Microsoft
  4. Rupert Murdoch
  5. Apple
  6. Apple
  7. Yahoo!
  8. Microsoft
  9. Microsoft
  10. Yahoo!

I get the Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo! chatter, but where's the Google wants to buy Facebook rumours?

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My Google Chrome Extensions

ChromeA loyal Firefox user since before the thing was called Firefox, I switched to Google Chrome in February. You might have read about it. A month later, I was back to Firefox.

About a month ago, I quietly switched back to Chrome. Now that the Chrome extensions are as good, if not better than Firefox's, it's tough to ignore Chrome's speed advantage. It's just faster.

Here are the Chrome extensions I currently have enabled, listed in alphabetical order. I don't know if you care, but I'm always curious what extensions others are enjoying.

  1. AdBlock
  2. Are You Watching This?! Sports
  3. bit.ly | a simple URL shortener
  4. Copy Without Formatting
  5. Docs PDF/PowerPoint Viewer (by Google)
  6. Flickr Upload
  7. Forecastfox Weather
  8. Google Calendar Checker (by Google)
  9. Google Mail Checker Plus
  10. Google News
  11. Google Reader Checker
  12. Google reader RSS Subscriber
  13. Handy Google Shortcuts
  14. IE Tab Classic
  15. Meebo Cleaner
  16. Meebo Notifier
  17. Pendule
  18. Power Twitter for Chrome
  19. Screen Capture (by Google)
  20. Twitter Search Results on Google

If you recommend any Chrome extensions I'm not using, please let me know in the comments.

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