Sunday, August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

YouTube in 1985 - collab (flash)

'Flash back' to how YouTube was in 1985 (rated PG).

Eagle Squadron Plane

Plane from an 'Eagle' Squadron near LAX. American and British pilots
flew these 1940-1942 for Britian in World War II.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Family Guy Chicken Fight (flash)

Peter fights the chicken again. Season 5: Episode 16 (rated R).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WB Water Tower

Warner Brothers water tower on the Warner lot in Burbank, CA.

Twitter With Full URLs

When twittering, or otherwise posting a URL online, putting the http://www prefix on the web address will automatically be recognized as a URL and be made a link by various systems (e.g., Google's spiders, twitter's web interface, tweetie, etc.).

Facebook, for instance, automatically recognizes a full URL and makes it a link almost everywhere, and includes the page description and image in messages and wall posts. You can customize the default image, title and description that Facebook sharing uses too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do Not Autoplay Video and Audio

Let the user start the video or audio on a page, or risk losing visitors. A notable exception is if the page in question exists solely to let people watch the video, like YouTube's pages for individual videos. The are other places to use autoplay well, but use it carefully. Taumata's twitter sums up the why:

If your site has music or video that autoplays (especially when it's way at the bottom or otherwise hidden) I will never come back.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Social Media Video Can Be a Conversation

As Mashable points out, EA has successfully navigated what could become a negative demerit amongst the hardcore fans of the game franchise into a widely talked about marketing move. The video is talking with, not at, customers. And it's fun.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

China Reacts to Olympic Protests (news)

Chinese police removed protestors near the Olympics last week (rated PG).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

iTwinkle.tv Trailer (flash)

Preview of the upcoming dark, sexy series iTwinkle.tv (rated PG-13).

French Free Running (flash)

An amazing chase out of an apartment (rated PG).

Monday, August 18, 2008

Synchronized Motorbikes (flash)

1953 B&W film of a synchronized motorbike riding display done by the police in Rome, Italy (rated PG).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Strike.tv Teaser (flash)

Taste of what some writers wrote during the strike in this trailer (rated PG-13).


Thursday, August 14, 2008

8 Reasons Your Web Site is Underperforming (That You Don't Already Know)

A web site's ranking and user experience are affected by many things you may not know because they're beyond the HTML on the web pages themselves. They can help or hurt your search engine ranking and your user's experience.

  1. Domain name not registered for maximum length; Google and others take domains registered for many years more seriously

  2. Server response time is slow and/or uptime is low

  3. Server and/or name servers are in a "bad neighborhood"

  4. Server hosts other sites too
    • looks like you are not as serious and are not stable enough to weather a spike in traffic (e.g., the Slashdot effect)
    • at risk of server going down, and taking your site with it, if another site on the server has an error or spike in traffic (slash-dotted/dugg)
  5. no robots.txt file

  6. no valid xml sitemaps

  7. Dynamic looking URLs; they have a "?" in them

  8. Character encoding mismatches
    • encoding declared in the HTTP headers doesn't match the encoding declared in the page's meta tag
    • Encoding on the actual page doesn't match either the encoding declared in the header and/or in the meta tag

There are also lots of things that affect your success that are on the web page; subscribe to learn more about those too.

Toronto Propane Explosion (flash)

Feels like Cloverfield and has multiple angles (rated PG).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Large Hadron Collider Rap (flash)

Rappin' about CERN's Large Hadron Collider, the big particle physics experiment on the border of France and Switzerland (rated PG).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stretching My Face Out (flash)

Fred stretches his face, he has a stretchy skull (rated PG).

Friday, August 8, 2008

Social Media eBooks

A friend mentioned a list of eBooks about Social Media; it looks like a good one.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Epic Fail: Hulu's Capacity (or Lack Thereof)

As long as Hulu fails to invest in the infrastructure to serve a television show with out skips or buffer under runs on a Thursday night, they will always live in the shadow of sites like YouTube.

Top 6 Online Writing Tips

Online writing is different than print writing. Make writing for the internet concise, clear and actionable. Readers prefer short articles that help them get something done; readers don't read the whole text online (only 20-28% of an online writing is actually read).

There are six key ways to write for the internet:

  1. Scan-Ability Is Readability Online
  2. Passive Voice May Help SEO And Readability
  3. Titles, Subjects And Headings Need Inverted Pyramid Extreme
  4. Vocabulary and Keywords Should Be Old Words Placed Carefully
  5. Acronyms And Abbreviations Need Mark-Up
  6. Numerals Are Better In Online Writing

Online Writing - Scan-Ability Is Readability Online

Users scan more than read online, and they scan in an F-shaped pattern. This is a heat map of where readers' eyes look while reading online (red areas are most viewed areas, yellow next most, blue least most viewed; click image to enlarge):

heatmap image
(from Jakob Nielsen's excellent article on Banner Blindness).

Readers scan the first sentences of paragraphs to decide whether to read the rest of the paragraph or not. The first sentence should describe the paragraph, giving readers clues as to whether the rest of the paragraph will interest them. The first two words of each paragraph should be the most information-carrying words.

Even deeply interested and engaged visitors often do not read all of an article's text as the first 30 seconds of this video show:

This is part 1 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Online Writing - Passive Voice May Help SEO And Readability

Readers often read only the first 2 words of a paragraph (Jakob Nielsen's October 22, 2007 Alertbox) so the first two words should carry the meaning of, or abbreviate, the entire paragraph without compromising the writing. The first two words of a paragraph or description must be specific, clear and meaningful to a reader or searcher.

Using the best voice in first sentences and descriptions impacts two things:

  • how often people click on a given search engine result
  • how much of a paragraph the reader reads

Descriptions may be placed in the description meta tag and sometimes accompany non-text items (like video or audio content). They are often used by Google and other search engines as the snippets beneath page titles on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Descriptions benefit from either active voice or passive voice depending on specifics. These are examples of less than ideal use of voice:

  • The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to stimulate economic growth.
  • Paparazzi attacked by Stary McFamous.

Those don't help users, or search engines, understand the entire sentence; the first two words are not particularly information-carrying words. The first sentence is aimed a people interested in interest rates, not those interested in the broader topic of the Federal Reserve. The second likely interests those who want to know about Stary McFamous more than paparazzi in general.

They are better rewritten like this:

  • Interest rates lowered by the Federal Reserve could stimulate economic growth.
  • Stary McFamous attacked paparazzi.

This is part 2 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Online Writing - Titles, Subjects And Headings Need Inverted Pyramid Extreme

Titles, headlines and subheadings all need the most meaningful and significant information first, toward the beginning. Many forms of content are often viewed out of context and in contexts outside the publisher's control:

  • titles
  • subject lines
  • headlines

Microcontent must have an even more exaggerated inverted pyramid style than the larger content they designate; the first word or two should be the most important and meaning imbued words in titles, headlines and subjects.

There has also been some interesting discussion about the use of numbers in headlines.

This is part 3 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Online Writing - Vocabulary and Keywords Should Be Old Words Placed Carefully

Users search for terms they already know more than new, made up words or jargon; If your writing favors made-up terms over legacy words, users won't find your site (Jakob Nielsen August 28, 2006 Alertbox). The keywords you are targeting on a given page should be words often searched by the people you want to have find that page, as Google advises in their guidelines. They should also be pleased to find the page after searching for those words; they should find what they wanted to find.

Targeted Keywords should organically end up in the text since they will be relevant to the text. While some recommend exact percentages of words on a page should be targeted keywords, this can result in very awkward, or transparently keyword-stuffed copy (like this, this, this and this).

The best thing to do, is put the primary keyword somewhere in the first paragraph or first sentence, which should be easy since the keyword is related to the text. If putting the primary keyword in the very start of the text would be repeating a word in the title too soon, and would not be good writing, a secondary keyword can be used near the start of the text. It can also help to put a primary or secondary keyword in the last paragraph or sentence.

Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.

-Winston Churchill

This is part 4 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Online Writing - Acronyms And Abbreviations Need Mark-Up

SEO and accessibility benefit when the meaning of acronyms and abbreviations are clearly spelled out. Instead of leaving search engines to guess which meaning of an acronym you intend, tell them. Using HTML to identify acronyms and abbreviations makes pages more accessible to non-visual browsers as well.

Google indexes acronyms more effectively when they are marked-up properly; Some say they use the acronym tag ...frequently and I have a page that responds to a keyword that only appears in the title attribute.

Even more vital is identifying acronyms and abbreviations when they have many different meanings. For instance "NASA" is both the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Auto Sport Association, or "LA" in the following:

I have a friend from New Orleans, LA who now lives in LA.

Which is marked-up with this syntax:

I have a friend from New Orleans, <abbr title="Louisiana">LA</abbr> who now lives in <acronym title="Los Angeles">LA</acronym>.

In all cases making the meaning of acronyms and abbreviations clear makes for clear online writing.

This is part 5 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Online Writing - Numerals Are Better In Online Writing

For numbers, use digits, not words, online. Users can more easily read and understand these:

  • 24 Reasons Why Marshmallows Are Awesome
  • There are 50 states in the United States.
  • On August 1, 2008 at 6:18:22 PM GMT the US national debt was about $9,535,720,238,424.97.

Than these:

  • Twenty-Four Reasons Why Marshmallows Are Awesome
  • There are fifty states in the United States.
  • On August first two-thousand eight at six eighteen and twenty-two seconds in the evening, GMT the US national debt was about nine trillion, five hundred thirty five billion, seven hundred twenty million, two hundred thirty eight thousand, four hundred twenty-four dollars and ninety seven cents.

Numerals are more scannable than words.

This is part 6 of Top 6 Online Writing Tips
Read parts 1 2 3 4 5 6

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Use a Proxy to Change Internet Location

Web sites can use your ip address to determine your internet location and your location in the real world. They use geolocation to treat visitors from different places differently. For example, Google typically redirects users to the local version of their site, and modifies search results to try to provide more geographically relevant search results (see this in action).

Use a proxy to see what different visitors in different places see. For instance, if you visit spyber.com you will see where spyber.com's machines believe you are located. Also, hostip.info does this (as other sites do too). You can change your internet location, without physically moving or connecting to the internet differently. This is useful to test what a website will look like to visitors outside of your own country. To change your internet location, do this:

  1. go to a proxy web site, like proxify.co.uk
  2. put the URL you want to view through a proxy, like "http://www.spyber.com/", into the text box
  3. hit the button to access the URL though the proxy, in proxify's case, the "Proxify" button

You'll see that spyber.com, or any other site you visit through proxify.co.uk, sees you as coming from the UK, even if you are not in fact in the UK.

Sites are sometimes blocked by proxies, and proxies are sometimes blocked by sites, so you may need to use another proxy site.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds to McCain Ad (flash)

Paris responds to McCain in her own campaign ad (rated PG-13).

Pilobolus on Conan O'Brien (flash)

Pilobolus shadow dances (rated PG).

Emo Kid (flash)

The Emo Song "I Must be EMO" (rated R).

Dinner Time: Robot Chicken (flash)

Robot Chicken's Dinner Time could change how young kids are feed everywhere (rated PG-13).

Facebook Applications Succeed When Good at Being Facebook Applications

This article discusses how the second entry, without the off line brand name recognition, is catching up and poised to trounce the slower, traditional game folks. Something I fear many companies don't realize is that with Facebook applications, fitting the Facebook world and engaging the Facebook user successfully trumps other concerns. For example, being the only offering of a specific type is not that important.

In corporate-speak this would be user affinity, in person-speak this is users liking one more than the other, and therefore using it more, and choosing it more, and sharing it worth friends more. As theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh is said to have said, "match the show to the venue;" user experience and preference can make for an application's success or failure more than most other things.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Atom verses RSS Feeds

The Case for Atom

Embracing Atom now gives you broad compatibility with any standards based system, and in the future should keep your feeds adaptable and compatible with future technologies and tools.

Feeds in the Atom Syndication Format (atom 1.0) will have the widest possible uses, compatibility and longevity of any current syndication feed format. Atom is already a widely supported syndication format, and in the future a full-fledged protocol, that is already in development, ...for using XML (Extensible Markup Language) and HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol) to edit content... an application-level protocol for publishing and editing Web resources belonging to periodically updated websites (from
The Atom Publishing Protocol Memo
).

Video Intro to the Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub):

RFC5023 details the Atom Publishing Protocol.

Atom, not RSS

[Atom has] been through a standardization process organized by an international standards body and there is an RFC that describes exactly what an Atom feed is and how you should parse it.
RSS is only "standard" in the sense that there are lots of people using various flavors of XML that claim to be RSS. There isn't even agreement as to who "owns" RSS 2.0 - Dave says he does, and the RSS Working Group says they do. Now there are 2 versions of the same "standard" floating around

(from Jason Lefkowitz's comment on technologyevangelist.com).

Soccer Mom Trailer (flash)

Trailer for the short film about Soccer Moms who fight (rated R).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Helicopter Fishing (flash)

Demonstration of helicopter fishing, very cool (rated PG).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Social Media is About People

Professor Michael Wesch discusses the anthropological realities of social media, social networking and online interaction:

Internet Trends

Internet Trends from 4 months ago, but still good and useful. It has a nice section on video starting on slide 31 as well:

Anthropological Introduction to YouTube (flash)

Dr. Michael Wesch gives a fascinating academic view of YouTube, UCG and media online (rated PG).