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16 posts from April 2011

Times when you DO wonder about Facebook's ad targeting...

If you spend any time on Facebook, odds are you've had more than one occasion where you just had to go "HUH?" at the ads that are shown to you.... a few moments ago I had another one of those moments:


Some how I'm thinking the ad targeting mechanism was a wee bit too aggressive on that one... :-)

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The iPhone the Most Used Camera on Flickr?

As a photographer, I was intrigued - but NOT surprised - to see these charts in TechCrunch last week about the rise of the iPhone in usage on Flickr - and the demise of point-and-shoot cameras.

Consider this graph showing the iPhone moving up to overtake all but the Nikon D90 in popularity (at least this month) among Flickr members:

IPhone 4 About To Be Flickr s Top Camera Point  Shoots Pretty Much The Opposite

And then this one showing the decline in usage of "point-and-shoot" cameras:

IPhone 4 About To Be Flickr s Top Camera Point  Shoots Pretty Much The Opposite 1

I'm not surprised at all, really... with my iPhone always with me, I've stopped using my "point-and-shoot", entirely. In fact, I've given it to my 9-year-old daughter.

I'm also not surprised to see the popularity of the iPhone in Flickr. With iPhone apps it is so trivial to upload images to Flickr. With my D90, I have to upload the images to my Mac, and then upload them to Flickr... more of a process and so I don't do it as regularly.

Amazing to see the changes going on around us within the world of photography...

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Empire Avenue Gives Me Flashbacks to Farmville & Highlights A Fundamental Difference Between Twitter & Facebook

EmpireAvenueLately, several friends and others whose opinions I value highly have started to play "Empire Avenue", a new social "game" where "Everyone's For Sale" and you can buy and sell shares of "people" who are on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

No big deal, really... I mean, hey, we all need breaks and escapes and if that is how they want to spend their time, that's perfectly fine by me. It's undoubtedly much tamer and better than half a zillion other activities, and being personally a big fan and player of traditional board games, Empire Avenue sounds a whole lot like Monopoly or another similar game.

What's my issue?

All the Empire Avenue updates pollute my Twitter feed.

Suddenly I'm scanning down my tweet stream and keep seeing tweets like this:

Empireavenue 1 1

Grammatical error aside (Hello, Empire Avenue? You need to do a basic check of "if number = 1, use 'share', else use 'shares'.), here's the thing:

I don't CARE if you bought a share in someone!

Really and truly... I don't.

Do I Care About Your (Virtual) Cow?

Which is where I'm getting the flashbacks to Farmville. When it first started in Facebook, suddenly we all saw messages in our Facebook NewsFeed about:

  • how so-and-so bought a new cow; or
  • how their plants needed to be watered; or
  • that they had plowed X new fields; or
  • that we could help them out by buying them a pig.

And either you loved the idea and started playing the game yourself or you hated seeing the updates and wanted to get rid of them.

The Fundamental Difference

Which serves to highlight a fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter:

On Facebook you can hide updates from an APPLICATION, whereas on Twitter you can't.

As most all of us on Facebook now know, you can click on the "X" next to an update in your news feed and if it is from an application you can "hide" updates from that app:

Facebook hideapps 1

Once you do this, you never see another update from that application until you go and unblock that app. (And do any of us really remember where that unblock option is?) So for me personally, Farmville, Cityville and all the animal and jewel games have just gone away... they no longer "pollute" my Facebook newsfeed.

The issue, of course, is:

We don't have this blocking option in Twitter.

Twitter is a much simpler system and in that simplicity is really a great part of its beauty and the reason, in my opinion, for its great success.

The process of using Twitter's API is drop-dead simple... and there isn't any complex process behind it. Anyone can create an app that connects to your Twitter stream... and there are loads of toolkits and services out there that will help you with that.

But you can't easily block updates from an application that someone is using. You have to either "unfollow" the person...

or just learn to ignore their updates.

Which, to be honest, is what I've done with FourSquare updates that many of my friends publish out to their tweet streams... and is obviously what I'm going to be doing with regard to Empire Avenue tweets.

I don't expect Twitter to offer us a solution - although perhaps some of the third-party Twitter clients will offer that option (since they can gain access through the API to what app is posting the tweet and could conceivably block on that app). Of course, with Twitter's recent war on third-party clients, we may never see this kind of innovation, but I digress...

It just highlights a fundamental difference in the level of control that you have between what you see in your feeds for Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. I Could, Of Course, Be Wrong

I should note that I'm still trying to stay open-minded about Empire Avenue itself. I haven't signed up yet (Hey, I was on vacation last week building garden beds and writing :-) ) and I've read what Jeremiah Owyang, Scott Monty and others have written, as well as an interview with the Empire Avenue CEO:

I'm still reading and watching. My initial reaction is what I wrote above... maybe that will change over time... maybe it won't.

Meanwhile, I do find myself wishing I could just hide all updates from some apps like this in my Twitter stream..

What do you think? Do you wish there was a way to NOT see updates from games or apps in your Twitter stream? Or have you just gotten really good at ignoring tweets like these?

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Like WordPress? Check out WordCamp Central to find an upcoming WordCamp near you!

WordCampCentralWould you like to learn more about WordPress and how you could use it for even more than you do today? Would you like to meet with and learn from other WordPress users? If so, checkout:

There you will find a great list of upcoming "WordCamp" events around the world... as well as information about how to create a WordCamp event if there isn't one around you (and you're interested in starting one).

I'm a huge fan of WordPress and use it both for Voxeo's multi-blog site as well as all my newer blog projects like There is a fantastic community of developers around WordPress and it's great to see events like these WordCamp events that help foster that ever-growing community.

I've not yet been able to attend a WordCamp event myself, but I've seen the content coming out of several of the events and I definitely want to attend one... (I was hoping to hit WordCamp Boston this year, but it unfortunately looks like I'm traveling those days). If you get the opportunity, they definitely look like good events to connect and learn with others using WordPress.

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KISSmetrics' Great Infographic on The Evolution of Web Design from 1990's to Today today published a great infographic that was created by KISSmetrics on "The Evolution of Web Design".

For those of us who have been working with the web from its earliest days, it's a great trip down memory lane. I remember learning of "the World-Wide Web" back in 1991 or so when all you could do was telnet into I had written and was teaching an "Introduction to the Internet" class for large companies in the Boston area... and had a section at the end about "new topics" that included a brief mention of this world-wide web thing :-) Shortly, thereafter, of course, I was rapidly developing courseware in how to create HTML pages and helping people learn how to set up websites.

We've come a l..o..n..g.. way from hand-coding all our pages using an editor like "vi" or Notepad...

Kudos to the KISSmetrics team for coming up with the cool infographic. The full graphic is huge... but worth checking out.


P.S. Kudos to the KISSmetrics folks for also providing a "Facts and Stats to Tweet" area below the infographic, complete with links to tweet out those stats. A well-done example of making it easy for people to tell the story you want and get people coming back to your site... ;-)


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Broken Lock
In a blog post titled simply "Security Incident", Matt Mullenweg stated:
Automattic had a low-level (root) break-in to several of our servers, and potentially anything on those servers could have been revealed.


We presume our source code was exposed and copied. While much of our code is Open Source, there are sensitive bits of our and our partners’ code. Beyond that, however, it appears information disclosed was limited.

While there was no specific mention of impacts to users in the post, Matt did reply in the comments:

We don’t have evidence of passwords being taken, and even if they had they’d be difficult to crack. However it’s never a bad idea to update your password, especially if you used the same password in two places.

He later went on to assert that credit card info and other personal info was NOT exposed and also verified this incident affected only the hosting service and not WordPress software itself.

The incident has now been widely reported throughout much of the online tech world, with TechCrunch noting the size of currently serves 18 million publishers, including VIPs like us, TED, CBS and is responsible for 10% of all websites in the world. itself sees about 300 million unique visits monthly.

It's good to see Automattic's openness about the security issue, even when they are still investigating and don't honestly have the answers. Kudos to Matt Mullenweg for diving into the comments and responding as he has been.

The effect of that transparency is certainly visible in the many other comments to the post - including ones like this:

Thanks for letting us know Matt. Admire the transparency so much I’m signing up for a paid account.

Well done!

Image credit: brotherM on Flickr

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Do You Flip? Cisco Says "No" And Shuts Down Flip Video

FlipvideoI've always thought the Flip video cameras were among the coolest of the latest wave of consumer video gadgets out there. Pull one out, point it at someone or something, press the big red button and start recording. Flip out the USB connector to plug it into your PC or Mac and... ta da... your video was up onto YouTube or in email or whatever.

How many zillion videos have been shot with Flip cameras over the past few years? How many "person-on-the-street" video interviews have been shot at events, conferences or just anywhere? How many video podcasts have had episodes quickly created via Flip cameras?

I long desired a Flip camera but held off for the promise of some of the WiFi-enabled versions that Cisco talked about some time back. Meanwhile, many folks continued to buy them.

Not any more.

Cisco Systems announced this morning that it is shutting down the Flip video division and will "support current FlipShare customers and partners with a transition plan".

On one level, it's not a huge surprise... the acquisition by Cisco always seemed a bit strange. While Cisco has had a consumer presence, most notably with the Linksys product line, that consumer focus was still around Cisco's core networking. You could stretch the Flip acquisition to fit in with all of Cisco's other breathless talk about video, video, video... but still, it was a consumer camera and did seem odd. Obviously Cisco management held this view.

One also has to wonder if there really is a place now for a dedicated "pocket" video camera. I do record videos these days... but using my iPhone 4 that is always with me and able to just start recording. With the rise of the iPhone, Android devices and even Blackberries with cameras, the writing may have been on the proverbial wall for Flip for quite some time.

Still, it's worth pausing for a moment and celebrating how effective Flip was at introducing so many people to creating new video content and sharing it online. Thanks, Flip, for all you did... and for your "big red button" that made it so easy for people to get started!

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Is Blogsy the iPad blog editor I've been seeking?

Is Blogsy the blog editor for the iPad that I've been seeking? As I mentioned recently, I'm a huge fan of offline blog editors and on my Mac I use MarsEdit to write up pretty much all my blog posts (including this one). But being a huge user of the iPad, I've been searching for a MarsEdit-equivalent there. Primarily I just want the ability to be able to write up blog posts when I'm offline and then easily publish them when I come back online. Airplane travel is one use case... but there are other times, too. And the iPad format is a perfect one for writing for me.

My solution so far is to use Textastic to write my blog posts and then just copy/paste them over when I'm back online. I'm a bit "old skool" and seriously don't mind writing in HTML code at all... in fact the vast majority of time I'm using MarsEdit in the HTML view. But there is a certain value in just having the blog posts all in one app that can then upload to your blog server when you're online.

I've also used the WordPress app for the iPad, and it definitely has some great features, too.

Now, I don't know yet if Blogsy can do all that I want to do. One basic issue is that while it supports WordPress and Blogger, it doesn't support TypePad where this blog is located. And while my long-term direction is to migrate my blogs away from TypePad over to WordPress, that's not happening for a while. So Blogsy is only a partial solution for me... but it does look pretty cool.

This demo video shows what Blogsy can do:

They have other videos as well on their How-To page (nicely done, by the way).

Given that right now Blogsy only costs $3 in the AppStore, I naturally had to buy the app... we'll see how it goes - and you can be sure I'll be writing more about it here.

What do you think? If you have an iPad, does Blogsy interest you for blogging? Do you already have another solution you like better? What works for you?

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What is PeerIndex all about? (Klout competitor) Listen to this podcast...

Want to learn more about PeerIndex, another of the new companies working to help us understand the online influence someone has? Recently For Immediate Release co-host Neville Hobson interviewed Azeem Azhar, Founder of PeerIndex, to learn more.

The interview covered a good bit of ground and I found it quite interesting. While I may have some issues with what Klout, PeerIndex and others are doing, I commend them for taking on the task and experimenting to try to see what works best. If you haven't checked out what PeerIndex is doing, it is well worth a look. The interview with Neville runs about 25 minutes.

My Top 9 Disruptive Conversations Blog Posts For Q1 2011 (They aren't all from 2011)

With the end of a quarter of the year, I'm always intrigued to look back through Google Analytics and see what were really the top posts that people visited here on Disruptive Conversations. No matter what I may think are the most popular posts, it's always good to see from analytics what really are the most popular.

So here, straight from the "Top Content" page of Google Analytics for the time period January 1, 2011, to March 31, 2011, are the top posts:

  1. How Facebook Now Removes Friends and Pages From Your NewsFeed - And How To Fix It (Feb 2011)

    No surprise to me at all that this post was by far the most visited post of the quarter. It got a lot of pickup... and perhaps more importantly was shared virally throughout Facebook. I've been humbled by the kind words of thanks I've received both as comments, email and Facebook messages. It's just a serious bummer that Facebook made the change they did that required a post like this.

  2. My Canon SD1000 camera dies... "Lens error, restart camera" (Oct 2007)

    Yes, this is a simple, short post from October 2007, but it still reigns as one of my most visited posts. Why? Turns out that a lot of people search for that phrase, and my post is #1. The amusing part is that I don't even use that camera anymore. Still, the comments have been very helpful to people trying to solve this issue.

  3. My Problem With Klout Scores: Beyonce Gets a 50 - Without Ever Sending A Tweet! (Mar 2011)

    No surprise here, either. Klout and other "influence scores" are a hot topic in our part of the blogosphere these days.

  4. At What Point Do We Just Stop Caring About IE6 Visitors? (Nov 2010)

    Everyone loves a good rant, don't they?

  5. Have You Claimed Your Facebook Community Page Yet? Here's How... (Dec 2010)

    I've always believed "How To" posts that solve real problems for people are some of the most useful posts you can write (such as the #1 post). This was another one of those.

  6. A Quick First Look at the New Features for Facebook Pages (Feb 2011)

    When a service like Facebook rolls out new features, often we'd like to read up on those features before trying them out ourselves. As it happened, my post was one of the first out with screenshots and wound up on Techmeme and getting other mentions.

  7. The Back Story Behind The Darth Vader Boy in the VW SuperBowl Commercial (Feb 2011)

    I was admittedly surprised by the interest this post got, but it may be that there weren't many others writing about the back story.

  8. Prezi + ScreenFlow + YouTube = Video/Screencast Awesomeness! (Oct 2010)

    Though geeky, a lot of folks continued to be interested in combining video with a Prezi presentation.

  9. Corporate/enterprise microblogging - my review of Yammer, and (Oct 2008)

    Another older post... this one has consistently been among my top-viewed posts. At this point, of course, it's definitely in need of an update.

The interesting part to me is that outside of the two outliers from 2007 and 2008, all the posts are from within this quarter or the one prior to it (Oct - Dec 2010). I continue to be surprised at the attention that Oct 2007 Canon camera post has... but it shows what a good Google search ranking can do for a post.

Have you done this exercise lately? What are your top posts?

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