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7 posts from March 2009

One single picture that shows why I want Google Chrome on Mac OS X...

Why can't I wait for the Mac OS X version of Google Chrome? After tweeting that today, someone asked me again. Here is a very simple picture that shows WHY I want Chrome on Mac OS X:

Yep, there is good old Firefox jacking both my CPUs to close to 100%.

Funny thing is that it wasn't even a large browsing session for me. The session manager plugin I'm now using says that I had 3 windows with 59 tabs.

Yet somewhere on one of those tabs was some kind of screwed up web page that was jacking my CPU up. Perhaps it was a Flash object. Perhaps some kind of multimedia content. Perhaps just lousy design. But the problem is that I can't find that tab easily.

Enter Google Chrome. I want that Process Manager to see which of the many tabs is killing my performance. (And then I want to kill that tab!) I'm looking forward to it!

P.S. And yes, I have indeed tried the Stainless browser for Mac OS X, which implements multi-process browsing like Chrome. It's nice and seems to work well, but it (like Chrome apparently) is still very much a work-in-progress. I'll keep watching it, though, and trying it out from time to time. Perhaps if Chrome continues to take forever and if Firefox keeps sucking up all my CPU from time-to-time... perhaps then I *will* move to Stainless...

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Newspapers fighting to survive - disrupting habits by dropping home delivery days...

As a lover of language, journalism and writing - and yes, as one of those anachronistic subscribers to not one, but two daily newspapers, I've watched with great interest the continued devolution of the newspaper industry. You all know it... the stories are, of course, in the newspapers and online almost every day these days. We're right in the midst of a great chaotic change in media consumption, as Clay Shirky recent wrote in his great essay

Today, though, the changes to the industry started to hit home for me personally. In the editorial page for the New Hampshire Union Leader, publisher Joe McQuaid laid out the (overall comparatively good) situation for the Union Leader, the tough challenges of providing local coverage, and then dropped in the change:

We are taking several steps to deal with it, the most noticeable of which will occur in mid-April. At that time, for areas outside Greater Manchester, we will discontinue Saturday distribution and begin publishing a combined Friday/Saturday Edition. It will contain all of Friday's features plus key sections and features from Saturday's current paper. It will be delivered to state-area subscribers on Friday and be available at retail outlets on Friday and Saturday.

For those who don't know New Hampshire, Keene is very definitely an "area outside Greater Manchester". We're about 1.25 hours to the west of Manchester down in the southwest corner of N.H. over by Vermont and Massachusetts.

No Saturday morning Union Leader for us.

Now as it happens, this isn't really a particularly big deal for my wife and I. The primary reason we get the Union Leader is because it is the only newspaper with daily morning delivery during the week. The Keene Sentinel, the other daily newspaper we get (and one of the oldest in the country still using the same name), is published in the afternoon during the week. However, both newspapers get delivered on Saturday morning. And in truth, both are fairly thin on Saturdays and, with the way the newspapers increasingly print wire stories, etc., they both tend to have a fair amount of duplicate content.

So this change is really no big deal. We'll just read the Sentinel on Saturdays. We really mostly care about the local news anyway (and the comics).

But I have to wonder about those in other areas of N.H. that don't have the duplicate paper. Will this accelerate some people finding (online) alternatives? Perhaps not... after all, it is only one day of service dropped.

Consider, instead, Detroit, where the Detroit Times and Detroit Free Press are reducing home delivery to Thursday, Fridays and Sundays. They are cutting four days of delivery. Which led me to completely agree with this quote (my emphasis added):

"They are accelerating greatly the print-to-digital transformation, and they are taking a great chance there," said Ken Doctor, media analyst with Outsell Inc.

The biggest risk is in breaking readers' newspaper habits, he said. If readers realize they can get by without a newspaper at the doorstep four days of the week, they might conclude they don't need it delivered on the other three days. Circulation could drop, and with it, ad revenue.

I think that is a serious gamble and risk on the part of the Detroit papers. Now, maybe, as the story seems to indicate, this is really a last desperate gamble to keep the papers afloat - but I agree with the analyst that this is probably only going to accelerate the ongoing transformation. Perhaps it's a step that will keep these two papers financially going in the short-term, but in the long-term I can't see how it will do anything but hasten the demise.

You are breaking readers' habits.

A personal story - the reason why we have two newspaper subscriptions is because of our habits. I have been a daily newspaper reader for decades. In every place my wife and I have lived we have subscribed to a daily morning paper. Before my daughter, I always snapped wide awake at 6:00 am pretty much every single morning of my life. My daughter got the early-bird gene but she ratchets that back to 5:00am or 5:30am and over the years my body clock has migrated to that as well. We therefore have tons of time in the morning before work and school start. So we like a morning paper. Great to read before the day begins.

When we moved to Keene last summer, we started out subscribing to the Keene Sentinel, but in comes in the late afternoon, usually around 4:00pm or so. We tried... but it broke our habit and try as we could we just didn't find we ourselves adapting. We even tried reading the previous day's Sentinel the next morning... but that just didn't work. So we sucked it up and subscribed to the Union Leader primarily to get a morning paper. We wound up keeping the Sentinel as we enjoyed getting all the local news that didn't wind up in the state-wide Union Leader.

Because of a habit, we subscribed to a paper. Break that habit, and we'll stop.

If the Union Leader were some day to drop to only doing home delivery three days a week, I can say with probably 99% certainty that we would drop our subscription for those remaining 3 days. It's a daily habit... a pattern... and if that habit can't be fulfilled, what's the point?

I would expect the Detroit papers will be finding this out...

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Of choosing a new image/avatar - and wondering why we choose the images we do?

So I'm thinking of changing the "avatar" image I use across all my blogs and social networks.

In truth, I quite like the current image I have been using (pictured on right), because I'm not really a big fan of most of the pictures of me that are out there. But with this particular one I like the profile... I'm almost smiling... and the purple and pink background is distinctive. My image can easily be found in a batch of other images. I'm also looking to the right, which is again just different from so many of the other images out there.

This image has worked well for me as I've used it across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all my various blogs, my Gravatar, and basically every other social network I'm in (and I'm in a lot as part of my job). Given that "Dan York" is a rather generic name in English, and that there are a good number of other "Dan Yorks" out there, I've tried to use one image everywhere so that when people see my account on some service, they have a very easy visual clue that it is, in fact, the Dan York they know. It's part of my online identity... a bit of personal branding, etc.

However, there's a fundamental problem with the image - I only have it in low resolution.

And in fact, very low resolution. For all the many positive comments I've received about that particular image, the truth is that it is simply a screen capture of a random frame in a video interview that Jeff Pulver did with me back at Fall VON in October 2007. That's it. A screen capture of a web video. No pro photographers. Nothing like that.

The problem is that when conferences ask me for a "headshot", in my ideal world I'd like to give them the same shot that I have on my website and social networks... but I can't give them this one. So I need a new image for which I also have a higher resolution image.

I've thought of going to a local photographer for a shoot... and I may still do that, but as I wrote about over on a Voxeo blog, I was fortunate to have some great shots taken of me out at eComm by photographer Duncan Davidson (click any of the images to jump to his site - you can then click between the images on his site):


(And do check out the rest of the eComm 2009 image gallery - I'm quite impressed by Duncan Davidson's work.)

As Duncan has very kindly given speakers permission to use them for headshots, blogs, etc., I'm now toying with using a cropped version of one of those shots. Something like maybe one of these:

danyork1-1.png danyork3.png danyork2.png danyork8-1.png

I'm thinking maybe the last one... mostly because it's off-center a bit. What do you think?

All of this got me thinking and wondering these thoughts:

  • What do you like in an avatar shot?
  • What made you choose the one that you are using now?
  • Do you like close-up images or farther away?
  • Do you like just the person in them or with other people/kids/significant-others/animals?
  • Serious? Funny? Muted backgrounds? Distinct backgrounds? Posed? Casual?
(Or are you perhaps not the over-analyzing, over-thinking type that I am and just put up random shots and change them around all the time?)

There's no right answer, of course... in this world of social media we all get to choose this part of our online identity... and that persona can of course change and morph over time as we ourselves do. Still, I find it interesting to think about - why do we choose the images we do?

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Moving to comment moderation due to TypePad not protecting against comment spam

UPDATE - Mar 26: I received confirmation from TypePad that they are experiencing a problem with comment spam:

Thanks for your note. We are currently working on a known issue with comment spam, and we will have this rectified very soon. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause!

Hopefully they will have this fixed soon.

Unfortunately, I have had to move this blog to moderating all comments, which I really did not want to do. I like having unmoderated comments because: 1) the comments appear quickly; and 2) there's no interaction required on my part for the comments to appear.

I've been running the blog this way for a couple of years now - with just requiring a CAPTCHA to defeat automatic comment spam bots - but for whatever reason that approach is no longer working! Within the last day alone, I've had about a dozen spam comments get through the CAPTCHA and wind up being posted on the site. I don't know if some spammer out there has figured out an automated way to defeat the CAPTCHA that TypePad is currently using, or if they are paying actual people to answer the CAPTCHAs so that the posts are posted, but whatever the case I'm sick and tired of both having the vile stuff on my web site and also in dealing with reporting the spam and getting it off my site.

It's strange to me, because it's only this site and not my other sites that are also hosted here on TypePad (at least not yet, anyway). I'm just tired of this:


So I'm still going to require the CAPTCHA, but I'm also going to moderate all comments.

I'm going to keep monitoring the flow of comment spam and perhaps at some point soon I can turn off moderation and let the comments just start flowing again.

If anyone else at TypePad is having this problem recently, I'd love to hear about it. Please do leave a comment and I'll approve it as soon as I can. Thanks.

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Topics and links for my FIR report into show #432- March 19, 2009

fir_100x100.gifToday I sent over to Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson my usual weekly report into For Immediate Release. In my actual report, I said I'd post the links to the reports that I was talking about in the report. They are:

Now, as to what I said about each of those.... well, you'll have to wait until Shel & Neville edit/produce FIR #432 and post it on the FIR site sometime today. :-)

TIP: As you'll hear in the report, I recorded it in the field. I did so using the iRecorder app on my iPhone which I've used in the past. The neat thing about iRecorder is that it's trivial to get the files off the iPhone - the iRecorder app simply runs a local web server on your iPhone and you connect to that web server from another PC on your local network.

However, as I discovered today, that is the only way to get the recordings off your iPhone and so if you don't have WiFi access... or more specifically unrestricted WiFi access... you are out of luck.

Today I recorded this segment en route to my local Panera Bread where I planned to work all day offsite and mostly offline. I figured I'd just transfer the file over the free WiFi and send it off. However, this failed miserably. Both my laptop and my iPhone were able to get on Panera's free WiFi, access the web, etc. But when I put iRecorder in its "Sync" mode running a local web server and then tried to connect from my laptop, I couldn't! After a couple of attempts (and a cup of tea) I wound up returning home to do the transfer.

Blame the security folks, methinks. In trying a couple of other connections, it looks like the folks at Panera are very nicely restricting people from connecting to other computers on the free WiFi network. This is a VERY good thing! 99.9% of the time... just not when I want to do a file transfer over the local network. It's actually good to know and honestly makes me more inclined to use Panera's network, since they appear to be protecting me from scanning from other computers on the network. It was just not how I thought today would work out. Ah, well. Lesson learned.

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My new role...

I realized today that in the spirit of full transparency I should probably mention it here as I did over on Disruptive Telephony. My role at Voxeo has changed. I'm now "Director of Conversations" responsible for all marketing, PR, AR, media, social media, blogs, etc. I have a longer writeup over on that explains more of what is going on. The end result may be that you'll see more posts from me over on this blog. I do admit to being excited to have the opportunity to try out many of the things I write about here and we talk about on For Immediate Release. Definitely interesting times ahead...

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The "World Wide Web" is 20 years old today...

www20.jpg It's hard to believe that the "World Wide Web" is 20 years old today. As written on the "[email protected]" site:
Twenty years ago this month, something happened at CERN that would change the world forever: Tim Berners-Lee handed a document to his supervisor Mike Sendall entitled "Information Management : a Proposal". "Vague, but exciting" is how Mike described it, and he gave Tim the nod to take his proposal forward. The following year, the World Wide Web was born.

They are having a celebration today over there where Tim Berners-Lee will speak.

When I tug on my ever-greying-beard a bit, I can think back to the some of the "Intro to the Internet" courses I taught in the Boston corporate market (primarily) back in the very early 1990's. The courseware I wrote had a section at the end that talked about this new thing, called the "World-Wide Web" that you used by telnetting to and navigating through a "line-mode browser" by typing the number of the link you wanted to follow. This was, of course, the era of "gopher", "archie", "veronica", etc. so this new "www" thing was an interesting addition.

And then, of course, came Mosaic in 1993 and everything changed... (including my courseware! ;-) )

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web! And thanks, Tim Berners-Lee, for writing that first proposal...

Some other coverage:

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