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February 2010

A Web Celeb Is Born....

Sunday, February 21, 2010 0

Yesterday I wrote about the downsides of http://www.chatroulette.com/, today I bring you something positive.....a guy who's mission it seems is to cheer up the web with a webcam and a notebook.

Check it out here....

How Flash Could Kill The iPhone….

Saturday, February 20, 2010 0

Every now and again I like to consider the possibilities of certain moves within the Tech Industry and how things could so very quickly change.

Over the past few months I’ve been reading articles closely on the rift that is developing between Apple and Google, the two partners who worked together very closely in the success of the iPhone. Since that time, relations appear to have gone south, Google CEO Erik Schmit was forced to leave the Apple Board due to FCC Investigations into the blocking of Google Voice running on the Apple iPhone.

Google of course then created the “Open Handset Alliance”, which spearheaded the open source community and the development of Android, Google’s own mobile phone operating system platform to rival Apple’s dominance – a move that seemed very logical and thought out, especially as many of the core applications on the iPhone were powered by Google owned services; maps, YouTube, search.

It seems the rift between the two companies has now turned up to notch, after Job’s threw down the gauntlet that Google were “insignificant” in the mobile market place and Apple still lead the way with their ‘X’ millions of applications. Job’s has also been talking down the insignificants of Adobe Flash too and that’s why it has yet to be integrated into either the iPhone or more recently the iPad tablet. Complaints about “battery life killer”, “difficult to work with” and “incompatibilities” all directed as the reasons why Adobe Flash will never make it to an Apple branded device.

Apple of course are betting on better and direct H.264 video codec integration in HTML5 as the cure to all of these Flash problems, but this could be a mistake especially as Flash is a proven technology and H.264 is still a closed and buggy codec that would cause just as many problems.

But back to Google for a moment, last week they bought a company called “reMail” and speculation grew that the reason for doing so was that where on the verge of releasing an iPhone application that allowed users to search through their email directly from their phone. A tactical purchase if you will and potential evidence that Google are now playing to win within the mobile market.

Right now the key to popularity on the mobile market is ‘applications’ and Apple lead the way because they were first to develop an App Store and encourage developers to code for them. Since that time things have changed a little bit, Apple has managed to upset the developers with their approval process and stringent rules to limit functionality.

Meanwhile Google has embraced the development community with their open sourced code and the mobile phone manufacturers who are onboard with the “Open Handset Alliance” are keen to strike back against Apple also after being made fools of in their own back garden. If Google were smart (and they are), it would be entirely feasible for them to consider bringing Flash to the Android platform.

Bringing Flash to the platform allows Google to work with their other partners to start allowing developers to write applications that work not only on Android phones, but any other manufacturer that also runs Flash. Its a code-once (based on Flash), and transfer to any platform solution that would allow multiple manufacturers to be equalised on the app store market, allowing them also to focus purely on the ‘core features’ of their phone’s hardware and ‘core applications’ – something Google already does very well remember!

In my mind, its a smart play and something that would not necessarily benefit Google directly, but would place Google at the centre of the mobile and application network, elevating Flash in the process which Google are already happily using on their YouTube video network.

Another article that caught my eye in the Google vs Apple battle was the potential for Microsoft to position Bing as the default search and mapping tool directly on the iPhone replacing Google. Not only would Microsoft position itself right on their rivals handsets (something they would never be able to do on the Android platform), but it would also compete directly with Google’s services that are already embedded on the iPhone.

If Microsoft were able to pull this off and gain primetime on the Apple iPhone and iPad, it would be a massive blow to Google who have enjoyed dominance of mobile search and mobile mapping for so long, effectively meaning Google would need to fight back some how – a bold move such as integrating Flash and bringing manufacturers together could be that answer.

The only drawback to my Google/Flash love-in however is that Google are also keen supporters of the HTML5 movement and would like a video codec standard built directly into the browser too to prevent third party add-ons.

Microsoft on the opposite hand are keen to push their own Flash alternative – Silverlight – which many of their mapping tools and applications are built on top of. Would Apple be keen to install Silverlight onto their devices too? Would other handset manufacturers?

Many thought the mobile phone market place was already won by Apple and the popular iPhone. In my opinion the mobile phone market space is only just starting to gain some traction and there is a long way to go yet……

History Repeated: A Random Post On Chat Room Protection….


In the mid to late 1990’s, just as the Internet was really starting to take off and enter people’s homes a lot of the major Internet Service Providers (ISPs), were keen to feature some sort of “Chat” facility. 


Of the major ISPs at the time, I have memories of AOL UK featuring an extensive chat room facility, catered and provided for just about every possible demographic available to encourage Internet users to socialise and communicate with one another – which is possibly the greatest ever benefit to this World Wide Communication platform.


Other major players on the Internet scene were also in on the “chat room”; Yahoo!, Microsoft, CompuServe, AOL, etc.  These chat communities grew and grew and were a bit draw to Internet users, but then something happened, chat rooms were no longer considered safe.  Why?  Because the main inhabitants of chat rooms were teenagers and kids – which made them prime territory for the unsavoury folk of this world to have an open communication with their unsuspecting and naive prey. 


Being able to hid behind a screen and be anyone you could ever want to be is a powerful thing and also a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands; pretend to be someone your not, with someone who is willing to believe and they will follow.  At some point, the big players all saw the tipping point and decided that enough was enough and those chat rooms would be closed for the “safety of our children”.  A bold and noble move from the great and good of the Internet.


Those online communities that had grown up along side the users of those ISPs were quickly wiped out, leaving them with no where to go.  Instead these Internet companies released Instant Messaging tools to replace the open “chat room”, forcing users to exchange an email address before they were able to communicate – creating a more closed off chat system, allowing only those you trusted most to communicate with you.


For the past 10 years or so, IM messaging seemed to be working, SMS text messaging was added to mobile phones – but more recently a whole new technology generation of technology focused on “Social Internet” has taken over.  Facebook being the biggest key player in this arena today. 


It was always kind of inevitable that allowing “friends” to communicate in real time on the web was to make a come back and Facebook did add that functionality onto their website – continuing the theme of a closed system, allowing only those most trusted to enter your ‘online space’.


Until a few weeks ago I’d never thought about chat room, but I started to see the same site over and over again – www.chatroulette.com – a site that allows anyone to enter, click a button to start and then be paired up randomly with a complete stranger to chat, if you find you then have nothing in common, you press a button and the next  chatter appears on your screen, totally by random. 


Initially I was intrigued; a new twist on bring people who wouldn’t normally be thrust together to chat to see what happens on a social level, allowing the mind to be expanded and new worlds opened up right before your eyes – especially as chatroulette spins the chat room into something more, as it shows your webcam image!


Spend any more than an hour on this site however and you can quickly see the problem – the users are a mixed bag and tend to not use the site in the spirit it was intended.  It should be tagged with “NSFW”.  But what struck me as I used it was the amount of teenagers and younger people who use the site right alongside those of an older generation, and those who the ISPs were protecting kids from 10 years ago.


Its not just ChatRoulette that have re-introduced the random chat room experience though; TinyChat have launched their own product for group/communities to come together and www.PopJam.com have brought Facebook users together randomly – effectively opening up their closed chat/IM feature. 


History repeating anyone?  Its only a matter of time before chat rooms are splashed across the news once more and the dangers of the Internet being printed across every newspaper headline when the next unsuspecting child ends up chatting with the wrong person.


The past 10 years, social networking has really made big changes to its image online and finally got a large population using services such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, GoWalla, etc, but doubt around the use of these services could come back quicker than anyone anticipated if these sites don’t change to protect those that need protecting.


Trust me, I fear its only a matter of time before something unfortunate happens in this online space….I hope I’m wrong. 

It's Groundhog Day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010 0

It's Groundhog Day!

And as is tradition for me, every year I watch the classic Bill Murray film "Groundhog Day" - it keeps my day similar every year and its an epic, comedy film that I absolutely adore (even more so as someone kind bought me the DVD).

So, regardless of whether we have six more weeks of winter, today is the day to celebrate - "It's Groundhog day!".

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