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6 posts from October 2008

MTV releases music video library on Web - causes single biggest productivity drop in 2008

mtvmusic.jpgRemember those music videos you used to watch when MTV first launched? C'mon, admit it... I'm sure you do. If you grew up in USA in the 1980's, MTV was definitely part of our collective experience and probably most of can recall videos from that era.

Now, we can watch them. (and newer ones, too, of course)

Yes, indeed, MTV has released thousands of music videos in full form and from what I can see without any advertising at -

I have to agree with CrunchGear that perhaps the coolest aspect is that you can embed the videos and share the links. So here are a few that may take some of you back a few years...

This was perhaps one of my favorites (but then again, I'm a student of the German language):

And who could forget "Major Tom"? (Although I admit to being more partial to the German version...)

And whatever you do, STOP this video before you get to the chorus or it will infect your brain for the rest of the day:

Of course, some songs of the era are just classics (no matter what concerns we may have later had over the lyrics):

And no list would be complete without, of course, "Money for Nothing", which I do recall hearing OVERPLAYED so many zillion times in the mid-1980s... but the lyrics definitely go with this blog post:

Ah, what fun... many more await you at what are your favorites?

Me? Now that I went there yesterday night I think I'll be avoiding it for a while... way too easy to get sucked in!

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Corporate/enterprise microblogging - my review of Yammer, and

What are the benefits of microblogging within a corporation or enterprise? What value does it bring? How can it be used? And how do these new tools like Yammer,, and others measure up?

Over on a Voxeo blog, I went into lengthy detail on all of those points in a post called "Yammer,, Laconica and pushing enterprise microblogging into the cloud". I basically laid out:

  • The benefits and use cases we've seen for corporate microblogging within our company over the few weeks we've been trying it out.
  • Our experience with using Yammer - the positive and negative aspects and how it does and does not compare with Twitter.
  • Some thoughts about how compares to Yammer.
  • Some thoughts on how the open source Laconica could be used to build a corporate microblogging service.
  • Some thoughts on the wide range of companies leaping into the space right now.

Along with some general thoughts on what to think about when investigating these solutions and some pointers to the great work done by Laura Fitton and Jeremiah Owyang among others.

This was also somewhat predictably the topic of my weekly report into the For Immediate Release podcast today.

Rather amusingly, on the same day I published my review, the New York Times came out with two articles on the same general theme - one as an "article" in the main site and one as a blog post:

The comments on the NYT blog post make for interesting reading. Obviously we at Voxeo are not alone in experimenting with Yammer.

I'm sure lots more will be written in the months ahead about corporate microblogging - and I'm sure I'll be writing more on it here. Meanwhile, please do enjoy my review of the tools and please do let me know what you think (either here or there). Have you tried Yammer? or or Or one of the other options? Do you see a role for microblogging within an enterprise?

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Twitter invades the daily comics (well, Zits, at least) - and the annoyance of copyrights prohibiting embeds

So there I was this morning in the usual daily routine of having breakfast and reading the comics in the daily newspaper (yes, I still get a daily paper - two, in fact), when the world of social media landed in the comics. There in the "Zits" comic strip, Jeremy and his friend Pierce are gasping at the thought that students actually passed notes on paper in the time "B.T.", as in "Before Twitter"! I admit to laughing out loud and getting perplexed looks from other household members.

You can see it for yourself (click on the image):


And I would have loved to embed the comic here, but I definitely respect copyright notices and the notice on the page for the comic is very clear (my emphasis added):

© 2008 Zits Partnership. This feature is presented with the permission of King Features Syndicate, Inc. and is furnished solely for personal, non-commercial use. Redistribution in whole or part prohibited.

That last part would indicate to me pretty clearly that I can't just go and embed the graphic in my post, which is too bad, as it would be a lot more interesting for readers to see the comic in the context of my commentary here. But between someone applying stock copyright terms and probably someone else's desire to have the page viewed "on the property", it means viewers here have to go over to that site to see the comic. Some will... some won't. It's just annoying.

Now if they provided "embed" codes for the comics like you have for, say, YouTube videos (or most other video sharing sites), the publishers would be able to ensure they gather statistics but they would also get the added publicity of having their comic strip embedded on other sites and increase the number of people who have seen the strip.

But I digress...

My main point today was merely to point out that it was fun to see a mention of Twitter on the comic pages today. I'm sure there will be a lot of readers of the comics who won't have a clue what this means... but for those of us who do understand, we can laugh along. (While simultaneously realizing again why some schools are futilely trying to ban cell phones.)

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Today's Squawk Box to talk about the use of digital media in election campaigns

On today's Squawk Box at 11am US Eastern time, there will be a topic that continues to fascinate me - the use of "new media" (or "digital media" or "online media", etc.) by election campaigns. Listeners to my weekly Thursday FIR reports will know that I have been mentioning this on several of my recent reports. Here, in the US, the Obama campaign in particular has been very active in new media, with news just yesterday that they have sponsored ads in an XBox 360 racing game. Both campaigns here in the US have been very active with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more... the site has perhaps done the best job writing about this usage (and includes stats as well).

Join us at 11am US Eastern time today to discuss all of this. Or if you can't join at 11am, check out Alec Saunders blog at later today to listen to the episode.

P.S. And since Squawk Box is hosted by a Canadian, Alec will be talking about some election campaign they have been having up there... in fact, they seem to be voting today... although we wouldn't know that here in the US - we're just their geographic neighbor, after all.

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Blogging from the iPhone to WordPress MU works - sort of

As you can see in this screen capture, I am using the WordPress iPhone app and it IS working to post to the Voxeo blog site that runs WordPress MU... However, as shown in that image, the app is confused about the names of the different WPMU blogs. It gave all four of them the same name, even though I went to different urls. I can though post to the different blogs. It is just a UI issue in the app. Maybe in the next version. Pretty cool, I have to say.

UPDATE (a few minutes after posting the text above): Now I posted this blog entry from the TypePad iPhone application, since this Disruptive Conversations blog runs on TypePad versus WordPress or WordPress MU. A couple of thoughts on that experience:

  • Using the TypePad iPhone app is clearly for just jotting a quick note and sending it up to your blog. Presumably I'll get better at iPhone typing, but still, I can't see me writing a length post.
  • More to the point, I didn't see any way to either control formatting in the iPhone TypePad app. Now perhaps I can enter raw HTML... I didn't try that, but I'm not really keen on that given the limited input capability on the iPhone.
  • Similarly, I saw no easy way to enter links... the links in the text above were added when I writing this text in MarsEdit and editing an already-published post.
  • I did not have any image formatting choices that I could see... I couldn't align the image on the right (as I did here) or change the scale. The image was inserted at the top of the post with my text below it.
  • The TypePad iPhone app cropped my image to be square. Now, when I was adding the photo to my post in the app, I could "move and scale" the application, but there seemed to be no way to scale the screenshot down so that the whole screenshot would fit in the area. Everytime I scaled it down, it would pop back up to its full size (and maybe this is just because I'm an iPhone newbie).

Now those are issues with the TypePad app for the iPhone, but it looks like the WordPress app for the iPhone has similar issues. (Now maybe I need to learn more about what other options there are... perhaps I am missing some way to access other commands.)

Having said all this, it's definitely very cool to have the option to post from either TypePad or WordPress to my various blog sites. I don't see me using it too much when I have another option available... but I could see it being great for posting to the blogs while traveling.

What do you all think? Have you used either of these apps? Are there commands I'm missing?

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A special 10-year anniversary - and the awesome power of "beginning" something

Ten years ago today, an action of mine fundamentally changed my life.

I didn't know it then, of course.

Sometimes there are days and times when you know - in the moment - that your life is undergoing a severe change. Usually those moments are new beginnings... an engagement, a wedding, the birth of a child, the day you moved to a new place... or started the job you always dreamed about. Or they are new endings... a death of a parent, child or other loved one, the final granting of a divorce, the ending of a long-held job, an accident or serious injury... whatever the case, you know at the end of the day: I am not who I was when this day began.

Other life-changing moments - perhaps most - are far more subtle... the day passes as a perfectly normal day and it is only later, perhaps much later, upon reflection that you realize that that particular day was so important.

Ten years ago today was one of those latter moments for me.

So what happened, you say, that was of such grand and momentous importance?

Simply this... an article of mine was published in an online magazine.

That's it. I wrote an article. It was published. No big deal, really. Now granted, this was 1998, the time before today's era of ubiquitous self-publishing via blogging. Sure, you could run your own website (I did), but that wouldn't necessarily get you traffic and get your ideas out there. "Search" was still emerging and larger websites were still where the traffic and audience was. So having an article published in a larger website was still a bigger deal then. But in the end, that was still all it was.

Yet I had no idea then how much writing one little article would change the course of my life - and in many ways bring me to where I am today.

Remarkably, ten years later, the article is still online. Even more remarkably, perhaps, it still remains at its original URL. (Or at least the URL I added to my page of articles a good number of years ago.)

The article, "Creating a Linux Certification and Training Program", was published in the October 1998 issue of the Linux Gazette which, if my memory serves me correctly, came out on October 1, 1998. In the piece, I laid out the reasons why I thought a certification program was needed to expand the growth of usage of the Linux operating system, the requirements I thought were necessary for such a program and ended with a request for those interested to contact me or point me in the direction of where such discussion was happening.

As I chronicled over the next months through a series of Linux Gazette articles and summarized in the last piece one year later (note: most of the links don't work anymore), the response to that article led to connections with some amazing people and was one of the threads of action that led to the creation of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), today the leading vendor-neutral certification for Linux professionals giving literally tens of thousands of exams each month around the world.

lpilogo-2.jpgThe creation of LPI involved a huge number of people, an incredible amount of effort and time, uncountable numbers of email messages, raising over a half-million dollars in sponsorships (thank you, dot-Com era!), presentations at conferences around the world... and more exposure to the scientific side of test development than I ever would have even remotely imagined would exist. Someday perhaps those of us involved early on will sit down and write more about the history of what happened... in retrospect it was remarkable in so many ways. And while my own thinking evolved considerably from where it was in that first article, it was the starting point for one thread of what became LPI.

On a personal level it took me from managing the training side of a small IT training center in Bedford, NH, to suddenly being employed by Linuxcare to build LPI and be LPI's first President. From traveling occasionally around New England to traveling globally 2-3 weeks a month speaking at conferences and attending meetings. From being just a regular Linux user to coming to know the CEOs and senior leaders of the leading Linux companies and eventually joining the board of Linux International. From reading the Linux-related news sites to either writing for them or begin written about in them. It was a crazy, insane, yet incredible time. And while I was only involved with LPI really through sometime in 2001 (and then a bit more briefly in 2005), my work there directly led to the offer to work for e-smith in Ottawa, which then was acquired by Mitel... which then led ultimately to Voxeo, where I've been for the last year now.

All coming out of... one... little... article.

Which is why when someone asks me for advice about whether they should publish something online, or start a blog, or launch into a new venture, I usually do encourage them (providing their content is decent) to go ahead and do it. Begin it. One never knows where something you start may take you. One of my favorite quotes has always been one attributed to Goethe:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

And while that quote turns out to only very loosely be from Goethe, the sentiment is one I definitely agree with. There is power in starting. In beginning. In taking that first step. In putting forward ideas knowing that while they may be applauded they may also be shredded (or perhaps worse, completely ignored).

It seems somewhat bizarre to me that that article was published now a decade ago - although perhaps not when I look at the gray now in my hair and beard. (Hmmm... how much of that came from LPI? :-) ) It led to some amazing times, some great friendships that are still there today... and did fundamentally change the path my life took in some wonderful ways. Ten years later, I'm still very glad I wrote that piece. I'm thankful and honored to have met and interacted with so many incredible people (way too many to thank/recognize in a simple blog post). I'm thrilled to see that LPI has grown and thrived in ways that many of us would never have imagined at the beginning... and I look forward to seeing what it may become over the next 10 years.

Amazing what can happen sometimes........ what will you begin today?

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