Armen Chakmakjian

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

FriendFeed, Plaxo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tweetdeck, Twhirl…

In Random, technology, web 2.0 on December 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm

For those of you (the few, the proud) who follow me on Twitter or are subjected to my Twitter feed on Facebook or Plaxo, you know that I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of ways to use Twitter with everything else.  Given all the choices at some point to you have to focus for just long enough that you have a constant stream of thought.  I think LinkedIn is a true Dark Horse here in that they keep adding features, staying at arms length from all the rest of the social tools and aggregators, acting like they are the serious older cousin of the rest.  In fact there are certain things that I do look for only in LinkedIn and I think they do it really well…and with the addition of the new apps, they have a really tight presentation that looks like a place for solving the problem presented…getting and maintaining a professional contact network.

I think that Twitter is an interesting way to update people on what you are thinking, rather than your status, like on Facebook.  I’ve pretty much relegated the facebook status to be another outlet of my tweets, but it’s not an efficient medium, since people respond to my tweets on Facebook, and then I don’t see them on twitter.

I think that Twitter is an excellent way to building up a list of people who you want to follow to get a “sense” of what is going on in web 2.0.   Is it the only medium? No.  It is a portal/window into more substantial thoughts and content that people have created.   If you like what a person tweets, you’ll go to their site/blog and read more in depth stuff.  Or you might find an interesting picture that they’ve taken in real time.

Twitter also allows you to make contact with people with whom you’d not be friends like on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Facebook in its normal state asks you to focus your friendships to people you know (although how people can know 1500 people is amazing).  Linkedin in its very specific way assumes you have business contacts and exploits the 6 degrees of separation concept by showing you how many steps away a particular person is from you.  Twitter assumes neither of these intimacies.  you follow a person like you’d tune in a radio station (except that all the other radio stations are on at the same time) and you see some very cursory information that they provide.  They don’t agree to have you follow them.  They are broadcasting.  It does allow some security and lockdown, but most people don’t take advantage of it.  If they look at your profile and you seem relevant or interesting, they might follow you too.

All these tools, through their API, allow the ability to build Rube Goldberg contraptions that have your thoughts in one space appear on another.

Eventually the Twitter home page seemed so static that I started experimenting with TweetDeck and Twhirl to see if they allowed me a different view.  I was extremely impressed with both as conduits for Tweets.  I think that Tweetdeck is a better aggregator and filterer, but is less polished than Twhirl.  One limitation of Tweetdeck that I thought was interesting was that it cannot handle Armenian characters.  If they appear in a tweet, Tweetdeck eats them and puts nothing (not even reverse ? in its place).  Twhirl and Twitter native do handle it.  Now for most of the world seeing Armenian in a tweet is probably not interesting, but it is a limitation in that it prevents me from a particular form of communication.   դշբախդաբար…(that’s “unfortunately” in Armenian)

After playing with these tools for a while and seeing that I still had to go to Facebook to see some stuff, and LinkedIn was not connected at all I got frustrated.  I’m a dashboard guy.  When I was in Teradyne’s ICD team, it was my brainchild to create the Digital dashboard and tool synchronization.  Of course others designed and implemented huge pieces of it, but the aggregation and synchronization of disparate tools was something that I was playing with back in 1997.  So my tendency is to try and aggregrate my communication in the same way.   RSS readers are ok, and MyYahoo was ok but those have a newspaper like feel to them meaning no way to do input.  I tried igoogle/google reader and was not impressed.

Then in the last couple of weeks as it seemed everyone was discovering Twitter, I ran across a tool that I had avoided up to this point:  FriendFeed.  FriendFeed represents itself as the uber-aggregator.   Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki were haggling over it, and there were some other nasty fights going on between Twitter people and FriendFeed people (Scoble being the leader of the latter).   So I said, “what the hell?”  I might as well try it and see if it can aggregate all the other things (including bringing in LinkedIn into the fold).

Well for all the jumping up and down about FriendFeed, I was once again underwhelmed.  Basically, I want to have single control of all the social media sites, like a bunch of levers. post status on one or some or all depending on what I’m thinking at the time. See updates/feeds all in one place and be able to respond to one without having it reposted everywhere.  From what Robert Scoble was saying, FriendFeed accomplished a lot of this.  However, that was not what I found.

FriendFeed does allow you to cross post to Twitter, which is nice.  But I got that with Utterli, so that was only an ok.  FriendFeed allows you to sift through your email contact lists to find other people who might be on FriendFeed or allow you to suggest to them that they should.  Where FriendFeed fails is that it doesn’t import your Twitter “following” list the same way it imports your email contacts, and so you have to add them one at a time based on suggestions or you manually typing through searches to get them.  You’d think that if you want to subsume something you’d do everything to make it easy for people to use the tool.

FriendFeed does try to do the “suggestion” thing that started on LinkedIn and moved into Facebook later on where it suggests people you might know based on the 6 degrees thing.  In FriendFeeds case, instead of suggesting friends, Friends of friends appear in your feed so that you can see them and then maybe select to follow them.  I think though that this creates an enormous amount of chatter on your feed.  And since every feed entry (from the outside or inside of FriendFeed) can have its own non published to the world (at least republished) conversations/comments you end up potentially creating a whole new level of data that is streaming by.    The worst part of this is that the feed itself expands to show all the various attached conversations meaning that on my 1400×900 MacBook pro screen when locquacious friends have lots of stuff attached to their feeds, I only get 3 or 5 up on the screen at a time and I have to scroll.  Contrast this to tweetdeck, where it uses the horizontal of the screen to allow you do filter certain groups or search topics.  I guess what I’m saying is that Friendfeed looks like something very web 1.0 to me (with colorful little web 2.0 symbols all over the place to make you feel like your someplace cool).

So in order to get around this limitation, if you bring up the realtime view, it allows you to bring up a mini-feed.  Cool.  But now I both have a browser up AND a minifeed.  I already have this with Tweetdeck and Twitter.  There are times you need to go back to twitter itself to look at something (like a person’s followers list or something) and you have to have the browser up.  So what have I gained (or lost) here?

FriendFeed does one thing really stupid. If you have set the preferences to have things reposted to Twitter from FriendFeed, if you update twitter from your phone or from twitter itself, or a client like tweetdeck, it reposts what you put in right back to twitter again. So you are spamming yourself. I mean you know you are getting a person’s twitter feed, you’re using the API, if something just came in from Twitter, why you would you send it back to Twitter? This is quite disconcerting if you have Facebook also get your Twitter feed because then both Twitter and Facebook status gets 2 copies of everything. That’s just dumb.

I’m going to continue playing with FriendFeed, but like Plaxo before it, I’m underwhelmed, and with FriendFeed also a bit annoyed.
Anyway, there’s my rant for the day and for the Year I guess.   The next time I’ll probably write a blog entry will be in 2009, so…

Happy New Year!!!! and by the way if you haven’t yet looked at QuickBase or the Intuit Partner Platform 2009 is the time.

A little poll…

In Random on December 29, 2008 at 4:05 pm

So I’ve got my book up on the Kindle site.   One of the things I was thinking of experimenting with (that might generate some traffic), is to make a book on tape version of the story and sell it myself.    So if the price were right:

Hope Fades for PS3 as a Comeback Player — Sony once again picks the wrong horse!

In Random on December 29, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Holiday sales of Sony’s Playstation 3 lagged behind Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, as its heavy price tag weighed on a sensitive economy. At the end of September, the Wii had a wide lead with nearly 35 million units sold since its launch in 2006 compared with about 22 million Xbox 360 consoles and 17 million PS3 machines.

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Slump Battering Small Business, The question is whether there is opportunity in this…

In Random on December 29, 2008 at 3:55 am

The downturn is threatening the survival of a major driver of the U.S. economy: small business. The company that employs me, Intuit, is focused on personal finance and small businesses. In every rough time opportunity arises for the strongest businesses that can align themselves as entities that can provide solutions and services that keep people fiscally solvent and organized (or in some cases innovating).

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More Entertainment…

In Holidays, humor, Random on December 24, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas

This is pretty Amazing…and humorous…

Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know

In Random on December 24, 2008 at 4:34 am

An Article I found on the CNET about Self-Publishing. I present this only to show that some of the things that one commenter on my Excerpt download page made are absolutely true. Self-Publishing is probably small time. But as all these guys point out, there is always a glimmer of hope.

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A humorous interlude…

In humor on December 24, 2008 at 3:27 am

Posted for a friend in the hospital at this time so they can find it.

Now some things could only happen because there is a Christmas, like this story:

Moses and Jesus and an old man were in a threesome playing golf one day. Moses pulled up to the tee and drove a long one. The ball landed in the fairway, but rolled directly toward a water hazard. Quickly Moses raised his club, the water parted and it rolled to the other side, safe and sound.

Next, Jesus strolled up to the tee and hit a nice long one directly toward the same water hazard. It landed right in the center of the pond and sat gently on the water without causing a ripple.  Jesus casually walked out on the pond and chipped the ball onto the green.

The old man got up and clumsily whacked the ball. It went over a line of trees and into oncoming traffic on a nearby street. It bounced off a
truck and hit a nearby tree. Then it bounced onto the roof of a shack close by and rolled down into the gutter, down the drain spout, out onto the fairway and straight toward the same water hazard. On the way to the water, the ball hit a stone and bounced out over the water onto a lily pad, where it rested quietly. Suddenly a large bullfrog jumped up on the lily pad and snatched the ball into his mouth. Then an eagle swooped down and grabbed the frog and flew away. As they passed over the green, the frog dropped the ball, which bounced right into the cup for a hole in one.

Moses slumped his shoulders, shook his head, turned to Jesus and said, “I hate playing with your Dad.”

Merry Christmas!

Truly scary…

In Random on December 23, 2008 at 2:32 am

We’ve known that Detroit Big 3 have been horribly mismanaged, but Toyota looked on top of the world…

Toyota warned it expects to post its first-ever operating loss in the fiscal year through March as recessions at home and abroad corral Japan’s biggest automobile maker into as tight a corner as it has ever known.

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Santa and QuickBase?

In technology, web 2.0 on December 22, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Ho Ho Ho.

The QuickBase Team just landed it’s biggest account — there’s a great story, and to go along with it there’s video where I got interviewed about our new customer.

I wonder if Santa likes tuna mac-n-cheese casserole?

Merry Christmas

The plan over the holiday…

In career, Literature, Random, Religion, Science Fiction on December 21, 2008 at 6:46 am

Over the Christmas/New Years Holiday I will be doing 2 basic things (for me…beside the general celebrations and visits):

  • Reading “Troublesome Young Men”
  • Carving out some time to write a significant amount of book 2 of the Urtaru Trilogy.

School (and several releases of software this fall) really got in the way of both reading and writing for pleasure.   Actually both school and work combined with the typical end of first semester for the kids concerts and games and whatnot so that I haven’t worked out since the week after Thanksgiving except for once.

I’ve talked a bit about where I’m going with Urtaru II: The Judge, but “Troublesome Young Men” I’ve not mentioned.  This book tells the story of rebellion of Tory MP’s against Neville Chamberlain’s government and the policy of appeasement and the movement to install Winston Churchill as PM.  The claim is that these men essentially saved Britain and maybe the West.  We’ll see.  If the story is compelling enough, I might work some historical facts into my 3rd book.

Anyway I have to get back on track with reading and writing and working out because this next semester is going to get hairier with me taking the 3 prefoundation classes (in the span of 2 classes).  Finance, Accounting and Managing People.   I think I get the 3rd, and I know a wee bit about Finance from past experience and a class I took about a year ago…but accounting is going to be all new.

Oh yeah and I have to still come up with lesson plans for my Sunday School Class.  They’re real smart kids and I don’t want to waste their time, so I do spend a fair amount of time doing research and prep work for each class.  There’s a link on the 3rd column of this blog my class site if your interested in some Armenian Church Trivia.  I don’t claim unerring knowledge, but there’s about 4 years worth of lecture notes and other stuff there (I’ve been teaching for 10 years now, but the first 6 I taught 1st Grade…which is a little different than teaching High School class I’ve had these last 4 years).

Scobleizer: Tim O’Reilly answers FriendFeeders

In Random on December 21, 2008 at 6:16 am

This is a really interesting interview with Tim O’Reilly. He talks about a lot of different topics: The state of publishing, ebooks, where the unix animals come from. An awesome very informal talk that really gets you thinking…

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Web 2.0 and Personal Branding

In Business & Finance, career, Literature, web 2.0 on December 19, 2008 at 4:52 am

This is an article from The AppGap, a blog about Web 2.0 and Social Media issues. I thought the article was interesting given that there is a certain amount of “marketing” that is done by individuals when sharing info, digging something (like this), posting something to your blog (like this), and then maybe twittering it. Then one can establish Facebook Pages and Squidoo Lenses where you can try to make money by cross branding your thoughts and offerings with Amazon (and other) products in order to make a buck.

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The article makes a point that you have to know, first, why you are doing this.   In my case, the blog was created as a way for me to drive traffic to my book on the Amazon Kindle, while creating my Web 2.0 persona (because my day job is managing a team that is creating web platforms that socialize data).   So after reading the article answer Adm. Stockdale’s question about your presence on the web: “Who am I and why am I here?”

The First Lady Of Star Trek Passes Away

In Random on December 19, 2008 at 4:29 am

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the most ubiquitous actor in Star Trek, died today at age 76. The wife of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, she also provided the computer voices on every version of Trek. And she played three pivotal characters: Number One in the pilot, Nurse Chapel in the original series, and Lwaxana Troi in TNG and DS9.

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Media Watchdog Accuses Weather Channel Of Pro-Weather Bias

In Random on December 18, 2008 at 9:14 pm

This is a riot! Critic claims The Weather Channel shamelessly over-reports stories on hurricanes and weekend forecasts at the expense of other news. Shadow groups like the Knights Doppler controlling the media.

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Amazon’s product ranking

In Business & Finance, Random, technology on December 17, 2008 at 3:40 am

This is a pretty interesting Squidoo Lens about how Amazon calculates its rankings. Being as how I have something listed on Amazon, it is very interesting to me.

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Me and the G1

In technology on December 16, 2008 at 6:47 am

OK so I’ve recently acquired a G1 to do some debug at work for our platforms.  For those of you who do not know, the G1 is the phone from Google, that might someday rival the iPhone.  It’s put out by T-Mobile.

The G1 has a lot of cool feature like excellent integration with the major google apps.  Gmail and Calendar are easy to use and once I dumped my address book on my mac to a csv and uploaded iphoto-19t into google contacts, voi la, the phone was populated.

One interesting thing is that google docs are only readable.  This sucks because I could see editing a spreadsheet (at least doing spreadsheet like calculations) and currently this is not a feature.  The thing is that in a few cases, I’ve done collaborative editting with others with the Google spreadsheet and it’d be nice to be able to do that from this device.

The form factor is kind of brick like.  It is NOT an iPhone and even though I hate my BlackBerry Pearl, it’s size is easier for the chest pocket.   Battery life seems ok.   3G service is much better than Edge on my BlackBerry, but when I am at home, 3G does not replace a wifi connection.

The thing gets pretty hot!  I had it on for a few minutes and when I held it in my hand, it was definitely not cooling.

The screen is very clear and youtube videos look great on it.

The Market app was nice and I was able to quickly find a twitter client, Twitli, that seems to work ok.  That it is free also makes up for being ok.

Oh yeah, and no flash player kind of makes it difficult on any site that has nice charts and stuff.  For example the wordpress blog dashboard works except for the charts, which are the interesting thing to drill down on to see what the traffic flow is.

Now the thing that really irks me.  When the G1 does not have the keyboard exposed, there is no way to do text input.   This is starting to drive me nuts.  Any time I need to type something in, turn the thing sideways and slide.  UGH!  I know the palm stylus is SOOOO 90’s but if you aren’t going to provide a rudimentary virtual keyboard, at least give me finger graffiti.

Anyway I’m going to continue playing…

10 Ways to Cut Down Web Development Time

In Random on December 14, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Purportedly: Getting things done rapidly doesn’t mean working harder – just working smarter. In this article, you’ll find 10 general, time-saving tips to cut down on your development time.

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WSJ.com – Reviving the Martini’s Lost Ancestor

In Random on December 13, 2008 at 1:54 pm

This random article came up today. I’m not much of a martini drinker, but this kind of alcoholic paleontology is interesting…something to try

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WSJ.com – New Payment-Card Data ‘Don’t Need It, Purge it

In Random on December 13, 2008 at 4:45 am

There’s a school of thought in information technology that encourages businesses to save customers’ data — which may include names, addresses and credit-card numbers — because it may come in handy for market research. But this practice is at odds with credit-card issuers’ attempts to persuade businesses to eliminate data they don’t need

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I was poking around on the WSJ site for any articles on software or platforma as a service and came up with this 3 month old article.    Turns out Angus was quoted in it.  It does make a good point that we shouldn’t (and don’t) store unencrypted account data.

A Squidoo Lens for my Book?

In Business & Finance, Random, technology on December 10, 2008 at 6:34 am

In my continuing saga to figure out what the heck is out there, I now have a Squidoo Lens for my book.

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I’m not sure what Squidoo really is, beyond what I filled in and what it appears to empirically do, I’m just reading through all the stuff on it.   But now I have one, and I guess I’ll have to maintain it too…