July 7th, 2011, Late Evening | permalink

I’m finally in the newest of the new, much touted Facebook killer that is Google+, and instead of going through it’s pros and cons, I’m in the more sentimental view of social networking of yesteryear. Firstly I’ll say it’s not a Facebook killer for two reasons, a) it’s only a week old and b) it’s clearly a work in progress, and the only thing that will kill Facebook is Facebook it’s self. Social networks are fickle, cynical and cyclical at best, nothing lasts forever, ask SixDegrees, Friendster and MySpace, everything rises to a rousing crescendo and eventually the wave breaks, it just depends on how high the water mark that’s left is.

Flickr is a great example, from my experience at least, 2004 to 2007 was it’s peak time, the owners cashed in and it more or less fell stagnant, not that it wasn’t worked on by Yahoo, but after a few years of uploading, favouriting and commenting on pictures, as well as active groups, it just fell off the proverbial cliff fast. Just last month I was debating on renewing my Pro account, I only did because I had Getty royalties money in my PayPal account. I’ve barely been on the actual site since 2007, a combination of smartphone emailing or using an app to upload random pictures and using the Flickr uploader for mass dumps as well as moving from the imploding Atlanta area group to Charlotte where there wasn’t as many social events gave me no reason to check back. I still use it, mostly out of habit and, sadly, I’m invested to the tune of almost 6,300 pictures that I can’t be bothered re-uploading to another site that will most likely end up the same as Flickr.

Facebook, I know a few people who are or have already approached burn out on the whole encompassing Facebook experience. I found I’ve went in cycles, didn’t really use it when I was first invited, had the same contacts as Flickr, Twitter and the APWBWGTTD mob were very social anyways, then old school friends found me and I caught up with them for a while then another lull, then old SixDegrees people found me and again I was active before the next lull, even now I don’t do much, my feed is mostly information pulled in from 3rd party applications like Flickr, Foursquare, YouTube etc. Not even the lure of chat and video calling can do much to lure me back, I’ve went on many large purges of my friends list because I honestly can’t be bothered with other people’s lives. Petty reasons too, like if your profile pic was of either your kid or pet, you were gone like yesterday.

Twitter is the only one that’s really lasted, I’ve been there since September 2006, I take great pride in my early adopter status of the 4 digit user id I have (5628). And to some extent Google+ feels like Twitter did in those early days, it’s only the hardcore nerds who are in there, there’s no businesses trying to push their wares to you, no bots spamming links, just people. Signal is high, noise is low and I know it won’t stay that way, as soon as it’s open the inevitable hoardes will descend upon it and it’ll be just like everywhere else. Then something new will come along and we’ll all move en masse to there and wonder what’s the next thing that’s ready to come down the pike…

It’s not a Facebook killer, the only thing Google+ is is a Google+ killer.

June 30th, 2011, Lunch Time | permalink
Get Me  1

No, not in the “oohhhhh, get me!” way, more in the “nobody gets me and here’s why” train of thought…

It’s sometimes funny how something so innocuous can trigger a search that explains everything. I’ve been back for 6 months now, back with my family who would, supposedly, take care of me after my American dream turned super sour but as yet it’s been difficult work… They don’t get me. They try but I’m always compared, rather unfairly, to the actions of my brother, and most of the advice I’m getting is based on what he would and could do. Fair enough, I’ve not really been in their day-to-day lives for the best part of seven years, I’d like to think I’ve changed but the reality is I’m the same I ever was and ever will be.

It’s always been labels, oh he’s a shy guy, oh he’s just quiet and unassuming, oh he’s this and that. No, I’m just an extreme introvert.

I realised this yesterday when I was filling out an application for a sales position with a mobile phone provider as I’m long past the part where I can be choosy about jobs and just take anything out there, there was a 15 part scenario questionnaire that, basically, I answered as I’d expect to be treated but was deemed unworthy enough to continue. I’ve always stated that I’d much rather get a job I’d be happy in as I’m more concerned about my mental health than money right now, but what do you do if your personality just doesn’t allow it? I hate talking to people I don’t know, how can I ever expect to succeed in a sales environment? My brother, going back to that comparison, can talk and talk and talk to anybody about anything, but I doubt he could thrive in a job that would require him not to talk to anyone, that’s my ideal job. I’m happiest when I can put on headphones and shut out the world for 8 hours a day and I’ve been very lucky that every job I’ve had since 2003 allowed me to do just that, at least most of the day.

I struggle to build rapports with people, I’ve never really been a social person, it took me quite a few months to open up to the people at the APWBWGTTD meetings, in fact I had to sort of drag Robyn to the first one (and that landed me in more trouble than I care to go into) I went to in June 2005 so I’d at least have someone to talk to, a crutch of sorts. It wasn’t until the December 2005 one, some 6 months later I felt comfortable to go alone. I had very few friends in Charlotte, it wasn’t until a few years of living there I felt comfortable to go to tweetups, actually the first social event I went to was the WordCamp in November 2008, I’d been living in Charlotte since January 2007, nearly two years.

Now Robyn was an extrovert, she could mingle at parties with the best of them, but she also got me, she knew I was uncomfortable in large groups of people and she tried to help me as best as she could but invariably I’d end up separated from her and feel rather lost and have the urge to go home. A good example is a birthday party of one of her co-workers we went to in June 2008. I knew everyone there, I had met them before multiple times, but I still wasn’t comfortable without my crutch. Unfortunately as it was June, it was stinking hot outside, but nearly everyone had made their way out there, I’d rather stay inside in the cool air conditioned air but I was struggling as Robyn was outside with her co-workers, things came to a head as the hours past and I was ready to go home but, of course, Robyn wasn’t ready so we ended up in an argument.

Sadly the one person in the world who got me decided it was too much and here I am, I think that why I still wear my wedding ring, it’s still a connection to that person I’m still technically married to, because as soon as we’re divorced and I have to take it off then I’m all alone in this world. Misunderstood, as usual.

June 20th, 2011, Late Afternoon | permalink

Flickr: Interactive Wimbledon

June 10th, 2011, Late at Night | permalink

Flickr: Going On A Trip

May 13th, 2011, Late Afternoon | permalink

Anatomy of a Mashup. The entire piece is composed from the latest HTML5 and CSS3 technology (canvas, audio, transforms & transitions) and all of the waveform and spectrum visualisation is performed in realtime, so your browser is rendering a music video on the fly!

May 7th, 2011, Late Evening | permalink

The Home Alone House ($2.4 million) is up for sale, offering old-school luxury and instant McCallister bragging rights to the owners. This stately home features four bedrooms, a designer kitchen, dual patios, an outdoor greenhouse, a full, unfinished basement, and, yes, even the scary third floor.

April 26th, 2011, Lunch Time | permalink

Eight minutes after coming on as a substitute in his 14th game for Chelsea, Fernando Torres finally scored a goal, thus ending my silly little joke site turned social media experiment. The total time of his barren spell (not counting time with Liverpool and Spain) was an astonishing 12 hours and 12 minutes, just over eight full 90 minute games worth of play.

So what did my site finally rack up as of yesterday? Around 425,000 visitors in just under 3 weeks all brought in by seeding single links on Twitter and Facebook, admittedly it was a subject that caught people’s attention causing it to snowball around the world (the only region that didn’t register a single visit was the Sahara part of Africa (Libya, Chad, Niger, Mali and Guinea)).

So the numbers:

hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com visitor data from Wednesday April 6th to Monday April 25th

337,000 unique visitors, not too shabby if I do say so myself. and thanks to adding the Facebook Like button I was able to gleam information about the shares and likes on Facebook.

hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com Facebook Engagement data from Wednesday April 6th to Monday April 25th

This gave me just over 30,000 combined likes and shares, down from my unscientific search which provided just over 70,000. I’m unsure about the 40,000 discrepancy in the numbers, but again my search method is completely un-scientific…

Shared links on Facebook

And finally, the key demographics:

hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com Facebook Demographic data from Wednesday April 6th to Monday April 25th

No surprises that it was younger men aged 18-24 who were sharing and liking this.

It was a silly but enjoyable few weeks, but all good things must come to an end…

April 14th, 2011, Early Afternoon | permalink

There’s an old adage that says “misery loves company” and I can say this is quite true when surrounding Fernando Torres’ futility in front of goal since his £50M transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea.

During the first leg of the Champions League quarter final match between Chelsea and Manchester United, Torres was snatching at chances and on a whim I checked to see if www.hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com was available, and as it was I purchased it and put together a quick single serving site that answered this particular question.

Has Fernando Torres Scored For Chelsea?

The answer is obviously a resounding no, so to supplement this I trawled through his stats for this season at Soccer Base and put a little line of game and minutes just for giggles. At the end of the game I posted the link to Twitter and Facebook expecting nothing (or very little) in return. To my surprise the Daily Mirror football Twitter feed picked it up (describing it as “treads all over the border between idiocy and genius”) and from there it snowballed…

A few hours after launch it racked up nearly 3,000 visits and I was a giggling mess, I’d be happy if it ended there but no, the next day was in the 12,000 range. It averaged around 10,000/day up until Monday night when Andy Carroll (the man Liverpool bought for £35M to replace Torres) scored… I quickly bought www.hasandycarrollscoredforliverpool.com for comparison sake, both site got tweeted to hell and back Monday night. The Andy Carroll site peaked fast and died down by Wednesday averaging 10,000/day over Monday and Tuesday.

hasandycarrollscoredforliverpool.com visitor data from Monday April 11th to Wednesday April 13th

On Tuesday Chelsea and Manchester United faced off again and Torres didn’t have any luck again and suffered the indignity of being substituted at half time, this caused a massive spike in visitors to the 50,000 range which continued through last night peaking at just under 60,000. My giggling continues.

hasfernandotorresscoredforchelsea.com visitor data from Wednesday April 6th to Wednesday April 13th

Facebook has the highest number of referrers so a quick unscientific search leads me to these numbers.

Comparison of shared links on Facebook

I’m rather impressed by a couple of quick silly domain purchases and a few links on Twitter and Facebook. The only downside is I have to maintain the Torres site until he finally scores…

April 10th, 2011, Evening Time | permalink

The 2011 Easter-Egg Audit. This is what happens when the taxman and the Easter Bunny meet.

April 4th, 2011, Mid-Morning | permalink

As a follow up to my own Burned Out on Google Doodles, it seems there is now a sort of backlash against the last one celebrating the 119th anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae.

The main points of contention is as follows:

  1. Is it really the 119th anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae?
  2. Google UK completely ignored Mother’s Day over here with it

I would also add the 119th anniversary of the Ice Cream Sundae is kind of a silly anniversary to observe, if you’re doing that then you might as well do it every yea, which then falls into the category of “was it kind-of/sort-of sneaky advertising the upcoming new release of Android (often speculated to be call… Ice Cream, or maybe Ice Cream Sundae if you follow the FroYo way of thinking)”.

Either way we’re now at 56 Doodles this year with only 94 days gone in 2011.

April 3rd, 2011, Lunch Time | permalink
March 29th, 2011, Late Evening | permalink
March 22nd, 2011, The Midnight Hour | permalink

The Smithsonian knows what’s up…

Genghis Khan - Historically Hardcore

March 19th, 2011, Late Evening | permalink

Since moving back to the UK I had to get rid of my US iPhone, and it was with much sadness as I’d had use of an iPhone on a daily basis for over 3 years. I could have kept it and tried to unlock it but it was too much hassle, and, to be honest, I needed the money it was worth…

Now, you say, why not just get a iPhone over here? Well, as I was without a regular source of income I decided to forgo a monthly contract and go with a pay as you go phone and a PAYG iPhone is a ridiculous amount, and I had a bad user experience with an iPhone 4 in the US. So I opted for a HTC Wildfire, a low end Android device, so a period of adjustment was required. First thing to get used to was the new “desktop” which HTC call Sense, this is the shiny interface you can add widgets to, coming from the iPhone environment of pages of icons and a static dock, it was quite a change. Soon enough I had filled my 7 pages with useful widgets like a music player, scrollable messages, weather and contacts.

Now the differences, Android handles notifications so much better than the iPhone, instead of an annoying pop up each time you get a text, Facebook message, tweet mention or whatever, you get a little alert icon in the top bar with a brief description, hold that bar and drag it down and you get a list of your notifications, as well as a list of items that may be running (like current song playing for example). Much nicer, less obtrusive. Being a Google phone, apps like Maps are far superior to the iPhone equivalent, with Maps you also get Google Navigation, free turn-by-turn directions. This proved to be most helpful when I drove to Cambridge last month. You can also get a Car Mode, I have it setup so when the phone connects to the car stereo via bluetooth, it jumps over to car mode, which is a simplified interface with large buttons to operate items you’re most likely to need while driving, like navigation, music, phone and contacts.

You can also link contacts with their Facebook, Flickr and Twitter profiles so when you open up their contact info, you can view all their updates without ever opening up another app. Though one slight downside is when you add your Facebook info to sync, it then add all your friends with phone numbers entered into Facebook into your contact list, but a little fiddling can filter these.

There are a few things I miss from the iPhone, like visual voicemail (you can get this via apps but I don’t trust a third-party to handle this), the ability to take screenshots on the device (for Android you have to download a bunch of development tools to do this), and apps like Instagram and Angry Birds (Angry Birds is available for Android but not for my device as the screen is too small). I’ve noticed a few apps that aren’t available for my device for a multitude of reasons, that would be my one real gripe about it, the Android fragmentation. And the upgrade support for Android is surprisingly short, usually you get one software upgrade, rarely do you get two. So my device was upgraded from Android 2.1 (Eclair) to 2.2 (Froyo), it’s unlikely to get 2.3/4 (Gingerbread) despite being less than a year old, Apple on the other hand give you two iOS updates.

Would I go back to an iPhone? Possibly. Would I get another Android? Maybe. Both are good and bad in their own ways, Android is easily personalised but iPhone offers a better user experience (at least in my opinion), that said I’m pretty happy with my Wildfire…

March 19th, 2011, Evening Time | permalink

Flickr: Multitasking