Watch for more video reviews and demos

January 24, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

play-button.gif Video product demos are such a good idea. Compared to reading a few bullet points, seeing a thumbnail image and maybe a slightly larger photo, the marketing power of video demos is tremendous. Unless you are buying a piece of art, you're almost certainly going to have physical interaction with whatever you're buying. Seeing a video of someone interacting with the item provides a wealth of information that is much harder or even impossible to convey using only still images and text. B&H Photo has started to figure this out. While browsing their catalog for new light stands, I noticed this "View Demo" link that provides a video overview of some of their Impact brand products. It's a good start, but there is still some room for improvement. For example, I'd like to see videos for individual products where they are actually being used. As a consumer, I want as much info as I can get about products I'm interested in. This is true in the real world and doubly so when shopping online. I may not use it all, but if you haven't answered all my questions, I'm less likely to buy. On the other hand, if you show me a video of basically everything the product can do and how to do it, my comfort level goes way up and so will the likelihood that I'm going to buy it.


Video production and delivery is now well within the reach of even the smallest of businesses. Compared to the cost to produce and air a television commercial, a web demo costs peanuts. If you take my experience of seeing the video when I was searching for that type of product you see the extra benefit gained based on my state of mind. I was literally looking to make a purchase and then I found extra info about something I was already thinking about buying. The video was helpful instead of being an annoyance that was interrupting the football game on TV. I expect we'll be seeing more of this type of demo from across the market. First, from people and business that "get it". Long term, I see it becoming the norm. Longer term, these demos have the possibility of approaching the impact of commercials on TV.


Back to Mac

January 23, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

macbook-pro.jpg After several years of working on Windows XP machines, I've recently made the switch back to Mac. The difference is profound and makes me regret that I didn't push for the Mac a long time ago. A rough analogy would be switching from a 1987 Ford Taurus to a brand new BMW M3. I build things that run on web sites and those sites all run on Linux. When I has to work on a Windows machine, the only way I could really do development was to use a Virtual Machine which let me effectively have a Linux server running "inside" Windows. While this works, it means constantly jumping through a lot of hoops. It also means everything runs slower because hardware that was designed to be used as a single computer is being asked to do the work of two or more. With a Mac these issues simply go away. Under the hood, a Mac works basically the same as the servers I write code for. This allows me to do what is called "Native Development". No more jumping through hoops. No more forcing hardware to pull multiple-duty. Take this along with the improvements Apple made to the Mac's operating system since 2001 (which is when Windows XP was released) and I'd guess I'm 25-30% more efficient on a Mac. It's good to be back.


I have no faith in "Lost"

January 23, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

I just read a post titled "How Lost bends the rules" on Boing Boing. I'm one of the people the article talks about that dropped out of the show some time ago and hasn't watched it since. I think it was in the middle of the second season I got tiered of the constant "twist". I remember a promo that ran before one of the episodes that was along the lines of "Three answers to big questions in tonight's episode". Of course, there weren't any real answers and they actually piled on more questions. I love the idea of a show where you aren't spoon fed everything in the first five minutes and I'm a huge fan of complexity in stories. Battlestar Galactica being a prime example. When I first start watching "Lost" I thought it might be like that, but in the second season those thoughts quickly soured. The producers of Battlestar have said that they really wanted the overall narrative to have a beginning, middle and end. They didn't want to create something that, if it became highly successful, just went on and on simply because it was attracting viewers. My impression of Lost became that their producers were doing just the opposite. I had visions of them sitting around a table every few weeks pitching ideas for what kinda crazy, off-the-wall shit they could come up with next. I hope I'm wrong and that when the series wraps up, it turns out that it really was a hugely complex and intricately assembled narrative. Based on how it felt like I was getting jerked around to the point where I stopped watching, I'm not optimistic about that.


Collection of photos from the Inauguration of President Barack Obama

January 22, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

Boston.com has posted this collection of photos taken on Jan. 20, 2009. The day that Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. I can not imagine having to look out over all those people and trying to speak.


Superfad's Reel

January 17, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

The video below has been making the rounds over the past few days. It's a commercial for Durex condoms featuring condom/balloon animals going at it. It was created by a company called Superfad who have done a lot of other great work. For one, they created "outtakes" of the Durex commercial that are well worth a watch. More impressive is their reel. It's got some beautiful images in there and stands as a great example of why we don't have much of a chance against commercials. I mean, when stuff looks that cool, you'd have to be lacking a pulse not to be influenced. superfad-reel-grab.png Excellent stuff.


Video draws traffic and the 3 rules of the net

January 15, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

More and more the content I see come across my new reader contains video, and the quality of that video (both technically and content wise) continues to increase. Most of the video I consume is not from the original site. More often than not it's a youTube video that is embedded on another site. If you are just going for views of your video this is fine, but the real key is to make sure that views know who the hell you are. I expect to see an increasing number of people posting little banners at the start and end of their videos that contain their specific web site. This is critical if the creator wants to draw traffic to their own site and generally speaking, this is the goal since that's where the ads served make them money. Here's an entertaining example I found on Laughing Squid: Song # 10! “3 Rules of the Internet” from rockcookiebottom.com. NOTE: For those of you who are afraid of monkeys, don't worry about the slate in the video window. Other than that photo, I don't think monkeys even make an appearance.


Download the skill set you desire

January 14, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

trinity.jpgIBM has started releasing a new set of offerings they are calling "Skill kits" built on their Toolkit for Custom and Reusable Solution Information. The kits themselves are packages of reference information their developers have identified as being valuable to a given topic. This content is then assembled into a single package for easy consumption via a mini web server that runs locally on your machine. When I've been working in a new language or dealing with part of a language I haven't used in a long time, I go straight to the web and search for what I need. After years of doing this, I'm pretty good at getting to what I need quickly but the fact that I'm searching the open web has a few main drawbacks:

  1. It's not topic specific. Even keying in on terms to help limit the results, irrelevant information leaks in.
  2. It's not vetted. Most of the time answers you find will get solve the issue, but they may be a poor way to do it. The result could be as simply as a process running slower than it needs to, or something more severe like opening up a security hole.
  3. It may not be up to date. Technology moves fast. The answer you find that worked for version 1.0 may not work or cause issues in the 1.1 release.
  4. Only a partial solution may be presented. Problems in programming often involve multiple step solutions. It may take cross referencing several potential solutions and assembling various parts from each to get to the answer of a related but distinct problem.

The Skill Kits idea avoids the first two issues completely and if you have the proper version, the third issue dissolves as well. The last issue about only partial solutions being available will depend on the depth of the kit that is assembled. Once it hits a certain level, even if it doesn't have specific answers, it will provide the framework for developing the answer.


Right now, there is only one kit listed: Project Zero WebSphere sMash skill kit, but I expect there will be at least a few more on the way. Of course, it wouldn't have to be limited to programming. Just about any topic could be put into the framework. Even though there is very little difference between these kits and a really good reference/tutorial site, I love the idea. Of course, this could also be the basis for building a system like Trinity used in The Matrix to learn how to fly a Huey by downloading flight skills directly into her brain. Just gotta figure out where to plug in the wires.


Use tr.im to shorten URLs

January 14, 2009

Note: This post was migrated from my old blog software. It hasn't been cleaned up yet (and might not ever be). Don't be surprised if the formatting, links, images, etc... are messed up.

There are a few tools out there that let you take a long URL and turn it into a short one. One that I've used in the past is tinyurl.com, but I've recently found another service at http://tr.im/. For a shortening service, that's about as short a name as you can get. Bonus for the fact that it makes sense and applies to what they do. To use tr.im, all you have to do is copy a long URL from the address bar, paste it into the box on their home page and hit the "tr.im!" button. They'll take your long URL like:

and turn it into something like this: http://tr.im/71mv. The trimmed URL is much easier to deal with in email messages and status updates.


The tr.im service provides an additional tracking services as well. Each time someone uses one of your trimmed URLs, the browser will bounce through their server momentarily while it figures out where to send them for the final page. The tr.im server uses this to capture stats on how your shortened URL is used. Going to back to tr.im on the same browser that you used to create the shortened URLs will show you the stats. If you create an account, you can log in and see these stats from any browser (and you won't loose the information if you clear the cookies on your machine).


There are a few concerns with the service. For one, you have to make sure you are okay with the fact that you are sending traffic through their servers. This shouldn't be an issue for anything that's not sensitive information, but it's something to think about. The other thing to think about is permanence. I'm not sure how tr.im makes money, but it surely costs them something to host the service. If you post all your links through them, but their company goes away, those links would stop working. Not a big deal in cases for things like old status messages that you'll probably never look at again. It is also possible at some point that they change the way their service works. For example, instead of immediately jumping to the destination URL, they could easily put an ad in between, or even launch a pop-up that you have no control over. It seems unlikely that they would be that aggressive, but as with any free service like this, it is worth keeping in mind that they can change the way things work at any time.


Go To Index Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107


© Alan W. Smith
RSS Feed