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25 posts from September 2007

Why does the MacBook Pro camera give you a mirror image picture? (and a solution)

I have to blame Chris Brogan. Some time back he had a picture in his left sidebar of him with some other people, and in that picture, his hair was parted on his right. However, above that, he had a picture in his banner with his hair parted on his left (as you can see in his banner now). Other pictures he put in his header were also different from his left sidebar picture. Now, realizing that people do change their hair parts, I asked him this when we were in the middle of some other other conversation. His answer was something like this:

No, the issue is that the MacBook camera reverses the image.

So naturally when I bought a MacBook Pro, one of the things I did check out was the camera and it's image. Sure enough, it gives you a mirror image. For instance, here's the picture I just recorded in a Facebook video:


Note that my hair is parted on my right. Now, if you were to see me, or take a digital picture of me, you would see that my hair is normally parted on my left:

So this latter one is a more accurate representation of how I look.

Now, the issue with hair parts is not really a huge deal (at least to me), but where this gets more of an issue is with words. For instance, here's some piece of advertising in my hotel room, shot through the normal MacBook Pro camera:
Do we see a problem here? In fact, the image should really be:
How did I correct the image? Well, it turns out that there's a great little piece of software from ecamm network called (of course) iGlasses. For $9.95 you can download this little piece of software that will work with iChat, Photo Booth, Skype and pretty much any other Mac apps that work with the embedded camera. (Except, I discovered, for Facebook video, which seems to use some Flash applet that doesn't appear to make use of iGlasses.) Here's the control panel:
Note the nice little check box at the bottom for "Mirror". Ta da... words read correctly (and hair is parted correctly :-).

Now the question for me is why this isn't something that Apple can just do automagically inside their software? Who at Apple decided that we ought to see mirror images through the camera? Very bizarre to me that they would make that choice. Hopefully sometime they'll fix it.

In the meantime, I've paid my $10 and can show my image correctly (outside of Facebook video).

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Why is Facebook's Application Directory Search so incredibly broken?

One of the greatest bits of buzz around Facebook these days is the application APIs, the "Facebook Platform".  It's also one of the most frustrating aspects from a user perspective.  Very often I'll see on my News Feed that someone installed an application and I'll think to myself that I should check out that app.  However, if I don't do it right at that precise moment, well, the odds are that I won't... because it seems next to impossible to find apps in the directory!

Has anyone else been able to successfully use the "search" feature in Facebook's Application Directory?

Take today... I saw on my Facebook News Feed at some point in the day that someone I know had installed the "Appsaholic" application.  Subsequently in a lunchtime conversation I wound up learning about this app enough that I got curious.  So I went to my Applications page inside my Facebook account and entered "Appsaholic" in the search box.  This was the result (click on image for larger version):


Oops.  I tried several other variations on the name to no avail.  Finally, I just went to Google and searched on "facebook apps-a-holic" which brought me to this article which gave me the application URL inside of Facebook.


Why should I have to go outside of Facebook in order to find an application? 

Unfortunately, this has been my experience several times on different days, and I find it a bit of a concern.  So much of developing an app for Facebook is about being found.  Obviously the viral path through newsfeeds is one way to be found, but the application directory is an obvious one.  If you make it to one of the provided lists, you'll be found, but searching should work, one would think.

Have others experienced this problem?

(Now I would note that I couldn't find any of the applications I've already installed when I searched in the directory - perhaps the issue is that the search engine is down itself.  If so, it would be best for Facebook to put up a statement that the search engine is having problems rather than just saying "No applications found.")

Offline blogging with ecto on a Mac

200709171332One of the immediate challenges with moving over to a Mac was the fact that I needed an offline editor for blogging. As readers know, on my Windows PC, I've been a huge fan of Windows Live Writer, but obviously that doesn't work natively on the Mac. My next thought was to use Parallels in Coherence mode to use WLW, and I may still ultimately do that, but right now I need to get XP running on Parallels first. And meanwhile I want to blog!

So I went back to a tool I used to use on Windows, before I become a fan of WLW..... ecto.

I have to say that I was immediately impressed by the fact that it went to TypePad and brought over the settings for all my weblogs. With WLW, I had to add each weblog individually. This was much nicer. Now I'll start putting it through its paces.

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Heading up to Ottawa tomorrow...

I'm Ottawa-bound early tomorrow morning for two days of closing off my activities with Mitel. Heading back to Vermont on Thursday.  If anyone reading this wants to connect with me in Ottawa tomorrow or Wednesday, please do drop an email, contact me on Skype ("danyork") or leave a comment here.  I will be staying out in the Kanata area.

What should I get for my next laptop? What's the best "social media laptop"? integrated webcam? Apple Macbook with Parallels? or Windows PC?

UPDATE - I gave in and bought a MacBook Pro (with 4 GB of RAM!).  More on that later...

With my impending change in employment, I need to get a new laptop and, given that I'm thinking strongly of going the consulting route, I'm going to pick it up myself right now (versus waiting for an employer).  Obviously I want a laptop that works very well for participating in the world of social media.  An integrated webcam seems to be an absolute must.   People involved with video tell me that Apple Macbooks have the best quality video cameras and, being relatively agnostic toward operating systems, I'm open to Macbooks.  I'd love to get a laptop with a built-in camera that can rotate so that you can face it away from the user and toward the other people in a room, for instance.  But it seems that the current crop of laptops no longer have that - they all seem to have fixed cameras. 

Another "must-have" is the ability to work with a second monitor, but that's usually simple with a laptop.

So I've got a couple of questions for those of you working out there with blogs, podcasts, flickr, etc.:

  • Do you have any specific thoughts on the best laptop for "social media" participation?
  • Any recommendations about specific laptops with integrated cameras?  Know of any that aren't fixed?  (I've looked at the major vendors and they all seem to now be fixed.)
  • Mac versus PC?  Mac users who still have to use Windows apps, have you been happy with Parallels? (Or vmWare Fusion?)

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Facebook fuels student revolt (and eventual victory) over new logo for Middlebury College

image Seems the students didn't quite like the new logo their school came up with - and took to Facebook to mount a campaign against it! Today's Burlington (Vermont) Free Press ran this article: "Middlebury Facebook revolt contributes to college logo revision".  Unfortunately, the online version of the article doesn't include the graphics, (Huh?  Free Press staff - why couldn't you put the logos there?) but the dead tree version that I got this morning did... and I can see the students concerns.  The new logo, shown on the right, is much more "corporate" and looks like something more Canadian.  But I'm getting ahead of myself... here's the background from the article:

In fall 2006, as they began to plan for a major fund-raising drive, college officials thought about coming up with a new logo. A review committee was formed, 10 design firms were considered, three finalists were interviewed, and the winner -- the New York firm of Chermayeff & Geismar, which boasts a portfolio of prominent corporate and university brands -- set to work.

The ultimate design -- a stylized double leaf outline, reminiscent of maple -- went through customary reviews. Like any proposed logo, it drew different reactions -- some people liked it, some didn't, but on balance the reaction was favorable, said Mike McKenna, the college vice president for communications who spearheaded the process.

This summer, as college officials were getting ready to order new stationery for the next academic year, the new logo was "unveiled" to the campus community. What happened next took McKenna and just about everyone else by surprise.

Students weren't very happy when the new logo appeared on the website and so they started a Facebook group called "Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo".  From the article:

Hundreds signed on to register their scornful, amusing comments about the double leaf. Some complained it looked too corporate, others that it was too much like Canada's national symbol, or even that it evoked a marijuana leaf.

At least three students designed T-shirts parodying the logo, and Franco, who also runs her own blog, posted their images on July 11. Two played off the Canadian motif, and one -- designed by student Alex Benepe, who helped Franco with the Facebook project -- worked the logo's "M" into an entirely new college insignia, "LaMe."

Benepe said Franco's creation "grew faster than any Facebook group I've seen."

"In seven days, 777 people joined," Franco said. That was about the time, she said, when the college administration changed course and withdrew the new logo for general use.

McKenna, who already had received plenty of feedback on the logo, said he hadn't expected the Facebook reaction or the numbers. Roughly one-third of the college's students signed on -- in summertime, no less.

So one-third of the college's students joined the group - in the summer

In the end, the Middlebury administration went back and revised the existing logo a bit. As the article says:

While the college administration would not make policy based simply on people going online to express their opinions, McKenna said, the opposition couldn't be ignored, either. What he found heartening, he said, was the strength of students' institutional commitment, along with the favorable comments about the college's traditional, Latin seal.

imageThe college decided to keep using a slightly updated version of the school's traditional "latin seal-style" logo on stationary, official documents, etc.  The new logo will be used on their 5-year fund-raising campaign that is going to reach out to the wider community.  (More information is available in Middlebury's page on their Graphic Identity System and specifically their "About the process page".)

Kudos to the Middlebury administration for working with the students - and somehow I expect we'll see more of these type of stories coming out of Facebook activity!

Jeremiah Owyang demonstrates why Forrester hired him - "Applying a Social Computing Strategy to the entire Product Lifecycle"

Jeremiah Owyang continues to demonstrate today why Forrester hired him with a great (and lengthy) post called "Web Strategy (Advanced): Applying a Social Computing Strategy to the entire Product Lifecycle".  Excerpting from the post doesn't do it justice, so I'll just point you over to the post.  I will include his warning and his intended audience:

Warning: For Advanced Strategists only
This is for the advanced only, not a company that is still trying to answer “what or why”. To gauge the sophistication of your organization,
see this chart. Deploying this strategy without grasping the foundations of social media, the cultural changes it implies or testing trial programs will likely lead to failure.

You: A Social Media Strategist
You’re responsible for the direction of your online strategies for your company or organization, specifically using social media and computing tools to reach, connect, and build communities around your brand. Most folks at your company know this space is important, but don’t know how to do it, they are relying on your expertise to think holistically, integrated, and strategically.

It's a great post... thanks to Jeremiah for putting it together - and for sharing it with all of us.

Version of Windows Live Writer now available for a U3 USB drive

image Courtesy of a tip from Neville Hobson, I learned that Scott Kingery at "TechLifeBlogged" has released a version of Windows Live Writer that works off of a USB drive.   As Scott writes:

This past February I posted a launcher for Windows Live Writer so that you can take it with your between computers and retain all your settings. Today I am releasing version 2.0 of the Launcher. Much has changed with Windows Live Writer and I have learned some new techniques for making it portable. This is a much cleaner implementation and it plays better with Windows Vista.

I don't personally have a real need to be able to do this, but I do think it's a cool idea.  I like the idea of being able to use WLW on any given machine.  Fun stuff!

Congrats to Terry Fallis on "The Best Laid Plans" being published!

photo-of-books-3.jpgCongratulations to Terry Fallis on the publishing of his novel, The Best Laid Plans!  He also notes that the book is now available on!

For those who haven't been following Terry's work, he started podcasting his book out chapter by chapter back in January (scroll to the bottom to see how it began).  Each week (all the way up through May) , we tuned in to hear the latest wacky exploits of Daniel, Angus, Muriel, Lindsay and the two punk-rock campaign workers named Pete.  Even if you didn't understand all the nuances of Canadian politics, it was a fun story to listen to and you definitely found yourself cheering on Angus and Daniel all the way up to the finale when Angus......... well, I can't really give that away, can I?  You have to listen yourself - or now you can buy the book!

Starting in March, Terry began taking us along on his journey into self-publishing, and it was interesting to read over the months how that has all gone.  In the era of and other online bookstores, self-publishing sites like and have gone far to disrupt the traditional gatekeepers of the traditional publishing business - and also done much to remove the stigma traditionally associated with self-publishing (what used to be called (and probably still is) "vanity publishing").  It's definitely a fascinating dynamic and one that I'm certainly considering for some ideas of my own.  Sure, you don't necessarily wind up in bricks-and-mortar bookstores as you would with a traditional bookstore... but in the online era, does that matter? (or does that matter as much?)

Anyway, congrats to Terry and it's great to see it finally out.  I look forward to seeing a copy myself.

My employment status will be changing September 21... (and so I'll be available for employment)

The challenge of now having multiple weblogs... a friend pointed out that when I posted yesterday about my impending change of employment status over on my Disruptive Telephony blog, he missed it because that's one of my blogs he doesn't subscribe to.

So yes, it's true, the great time I've had at my current employer ends on September 21 after I finish a number of transition issues. I'll be in Los Angeles next week at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo doing one final speaking gig (and admittedly networking about what's next) and then I'll be up in Ottawa probably on the 18th and 19th... and then my time is done.

I'm obviously interested in opportunities that might be out there in the social media space... or other interesting areas of disruption.  (My other post talks a bit more about that.)  Please do drop a note if you know of such options.  Thanks!

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