Two-thousand five, was a year of big expectations for me and for the most part it lived up to its billing. I felt it was in some ways a year I could do no wrong. Maybe it is because I am the fifth Frank and the five at the end of 2005 was going to align and somehow bring great fortune. Call it arrogance or maybe it was just pure ignorance for other years. Nonetheless, I used the following catch phrase far too many times then I would like to repeat at this time:
"2005 is my year!"
However here is a very quick month-by-month overview of some of the happenings in my life and the Somewhat Frank blog.
January 2005 :
In response to David Sifry's post on the Technorati Weblog, asking:
"What are your New Years Resolutions?"
My New Years resolution for 2006 is two fold. First of all, I would like to spend more time on taking care of my body. I had a rough year in which I did not spend as much time in the gym as much as I should have and due to my various projects and a taxing work schedule which contributed to me getting mono in September. I lost a lot of weight and I would like to be more healthy in general. Working out your body helps relieve stress and helps bolster happy thoughts that you need to have while living in Chicago and it's 8 or 9 months of winter weather.
Secondly, I would like to spend more time smelling the roses in 2006. 2005 was a blur and while it was enjoyable it was also stress and tight schedule filled. In 2006, I would like to make a better effort to take some time to enjoy life.
Now I understand both of these items may appear to be total opposites however, I believe that they can be done. Will this take away from my time blogging on Somewhat Frank? No probably not. In 2006, I plan to focus my energy on my career, my MBA pursuit and blogging on business, technology and how it affects life. I feel it can be balanced with taking care of my body and smelling the roses. We will know it a year if I am able to follow through.
Amazon has announced they are plunging deeper into the realm of user generated content by hosting author blogs. Amazon has dabbled with user generated content before in offering visitors the ability to upload images related to products as well as some wiki experiments. However, famous authors blogging takes the content's quality and value to another level. According to this report by Click Z News:
"The Amazon Connect program, in beta for the past month, aims to increase the engagement between readers and authors, and between readers and Amazon.com."
I think this is a solid move in the right direction for Amazon who also using ratings as a way to gather user generated content I different items for sale on the site. I think the addition of author blog content will add value to the website and help attract visitors to their favorite authors books.
Has Technorati done something different recently with their search results? I have been noticing an extraordinary large number of LiveJournal entries in the search results that are making searching for relevant blog posts to reference in my own posts a bigger task then ever before. Do a search for "iPod" on Technorati and you should see for yourself what I am describing. Earlier today, I was looking for a post about the "video iPod" and I had trouble navigating through the large number of LiveJournal posts in the search results to find a post worth linking to. Now don't get me wrong, LiveJournal posts have every right to be in the Technorati search results however, I feel LiveJournal accounts are are not as well formatted as other blogs which makes it difficult to determine simple blog attributes like the blog title or the author of the blog. It appears LiveJournal accounts use an alias or username as the blog title and byline therefore it is difficult to give proper credit to these bloggers when referencing them in a post. For example, when I create a blog post I sometimes pull in other posts about the same topic for additional perspective. With LiveJournal accounts are setup with username which could be anything from "Sweeta$$_4sure" to something even more degrading which would most definitely look odd in a Somewhat Frank post. Therefore I have to sift through to find legitimate posts to link to.
So I am just wondering if Technorati has always had LiveJournal posts in the results or has something changed recently to bring them in?
With the video iPod an extremely popular holiday gift item the Washington Post has reported that Yahoo and the CBS network have teamed up to offer up some of the CBS sitcoms for download. Yahoo and CBS are taking a different approach then other networks and are offering two of their hit sitcoms for free. According to the Post:
"For this week only, the shows -- "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" -- will each have two previously aired full-length episodes available on Yahoo Inc.'s television site (http://tv.yahoo.com) and its video search."
Unfortunately, I did not get a video iPod for Christmas this year (but my two nieces who are both under the age of 12 each got an iPod Shuffle and that is the closest I have come to getting an iPod this year) so I cannot take full advantage of this free sitcom offering. However, there are plenty of people that can, like Rick Klau who recently blogged about how he found a video iPod under the tree this year and RockClimber106 who wasn't even expecting a video iPod but received one. It makes me happy to see the holiday spirit in others and I am happy that their holiday dreams came true. So my advice is to keep those downloads flowing and take full advantage of your new video player!
As for my iPod situation, I'll have to snag one sometime after the new year but by then Apple may come out with two or three new pods that not only play video and music but also do the laundry, clean your living spage, and care for your pets (wishful thinking). So maybe I should wait and see what the next iPod has to offer?
The blogosphere has been loaded with these types of posts with the end of year drawing close. I figured I would join in the fun in point that BlogPulse released the top 2005 trends in the blogosphere. Webosphere actually pointed me to the BlogPulse report. I thought that BlogPulse would the perfect source to mention since they monitor the trends of the blogosphere and are now publishing their data which means they are not going to be as biased as just some blog posting their favorite trends of 2005.
With 2005 nearly through, the Mercury News released predictions on the top 10 tech trends of 2006 and these tech trends are worth a read. There were not any real surprises in the list however, I did notice the omission of the further growth of syndication from the list. I think syndication should at least be an honorable mention since RSS and other forms of syndication are still not fully adopted by the majority of the mainstream population and their popularity continues to grow. Additionally, new uses for syndication can spring up can spread like wildfire as we saw in the last year with podcast. I think this creativity will continue. What do you think?
This Christmas I decided to give my brother a gift that keeps on giving by designing and setting up a weblog for him. In essence, I was giving him the gift of blogging. My brother Jack is a senior in college with plans to go to law school next year. He also has political aspirations. So I thought the creating a blog for him to start connecting with others in the blogosphere would be the perfect gift in conjunction with the DVDs, books and gift cards that usually accumulate during the holiday season. We discussed blogging over Thanksgiving dessert and he express interest so I decided I would help him get started.
With the help of my girlfriend, we set out brainstorming names that would fit his blog and personality. We really wanted to use his name Jack in a cliche. We had initial discussions on what a logo might look like. We decided to go with the name A Jack In The Blog and a new blog was born!
Next, I had to decide on a blogging platform. I decided to go with TypePad as the host despite Six Apart's recent outage because I think TypePad offers the most updated feature set as well as the easiest set of tools. Once I registered the blog with TypePad, it was time to develop a design and actual logo which is shown to the right. Yes, that is a caricature of Jack as the "O" in the word blog.
The design I used was one that was conservative and classic. It has three columns and I preloaded a few of the side bar features with different items that my brother would enjoy. For example the right rail is filled with a syndicate link which I have configured to a FeedBurner account. I have set up a tip jar in case some one wants to leave a tip for Jack's two cents on this blog. I also set up a TypeList filled with some of the books that Jack had on his Christmas list figuring they were the books that most interested him at the present moment. I also set up a widgets TypeList which will hold all of his random blog related widgets. It currently holds his Creative Commons license. Additionally, I preloaded the left rail with a blog-roll of blogs about national politics but I figured he could use the links as a reference in getting started and change them to whatever he wanted to once he figured out the direction and focus he wanted to use on this blog.
I must mention that while setting up this new TypePad account I found that TypePad had added many improvements since I first started blogging and set up Somewhat Frank. A few of the notable improvements include:
These new features have made it easier to design and customize a blog. However, I still believe there are few features that TypePad could add that would eliminate the need to have to shift to advanced templates that allow you to edit the HTML by hand. These new features include:
I feel that with these additional offerings it would help simplify the blog setup process even more and allow added customization and optimization that serious bloggers look for when setting up a blog.
Visit the new blog by going to A Jack In The Blog. I still am waiting for my domain register to complete a DNS mapping that would mask the URL to just ajackintheblog.com but I am cutting them some slack with the timing of this project and the holiday season. There are few more things on my list to complete but I wanted to get Jack's input before I proceed. Not to mention I need to prep Jack a little bit on "how to blog." If you visit the blog and are interested in blogging but do not know how to set a blog up yourself, I could help. Contact me and I will take on a few clients for a minimal price for a one time setup of a blog.
I have seen this orange icon before in the bottom right corner of the Firefox browser. It does not solely represent RSS or XML or Atom but all of these different types of feeds at one time. As Jeff Jarvis mentions in his recent post:
"...there’s a movement rising to replace both XML and RSS icons with an acronym-free icon that has been adopted by both Firefox and Microsoft."
It appears Steve Rubel adopted the new icon on his redesigned MicroPersuasion blog. The Technology Evangelist also has a similar and equally effective implementation. Somewhat Frank offers a number of different options however I am considering switching to to something similar soon, since my can be sent to my FeedBurner feed page and select the type of reader they use via a dropdown anyway.
I noticed recently that I received a few new inbound link that were showing up in my list of items that link to Somewhat Frank but did not increment the inbound link counter that also appears in my account profile.
"Technorati updates inbound links about once a week since it is rather difficult to do real-time with 23 million blogs to keep track of and the number of blogs growing every day."
I am glad I asks. It appears to me that there is probably some sort of cronjob or something that runs and determines inbound links every 5 to 7 days then recalculates blog rank.
The release of the Google Maps API by Google has facilitated the creation of some wonderful mashups this year. Some of the most notable mashups are ChicagoCrime.org which plots Chicago crime using Google Maps and HousingMaps.com which combines Craiglist classified housing listings with Google Maps.
So at what point can you consider the Google Maps API a household term?
If Grandma brings it up at the dinner table over the holidays, I would consider it "household," but that is not the answer I was shooting for. I was referring to last Saturday evening (December 17, 2005) when the NBC comedy program Saturday Night Live mentioned the Google Maps API as lyric in a skit. You can watch the entire hilarious rap parody here.
What do you think?
UPDATE (12/27/05): I posted about the SNL skit a few days ago but now the NY Times has picked up on this story in this article.
A Firefox extension for Performancing was released by Nick Wilson and his team yesterday (December 20, 2005) according to this post on the Performancing Blog. Performancing is a browser based product that allows you to post to an existing weblog via the browser. This is very similar to a feature that the "social browser" Flock had released however based on some of the comments and posts I have read in the blogosphere it appears that Performancing offers more ease of use then the Flock feature. So basically, you download and install the Firefox extension to your Firefox browser. Next you can configure your existing weblog. Finally, any time you see something on the web while surfing using Firefox you can right click your mouse anywhere within the browser to open a blogging text editor and beginning posting to your blog instantly. I had to update my Firefox browser first before installing the new extension. Also I had to uninstall a few other extensions due to some issues I encountered.
Technorati has given the blogosphere a holiday gift early by releasing a redesign of its search results page and an updated member profile page. Our pal, Niall Kennedy, Community Manager at Technorati explains the updates with his favorite feature being the a new personal tag cloud in saying:
"Technorati now displays a personal tag cloud for each member profile! You can now glance at a blogger's profile and get a pretty good idea about his or her most blogged about topics."
You can see this new tag cloud feature compliments I snagged from my Technorati Profile. From the looks of it I am staying true to my focus of technology, business, and life. Apparently this feature was available via the API previously but now appears on the site as well. I wouldn't mind implementing the tag cloud on Somewhat Frank.
The one change that I noticed immediately was the search results shown below. Basically, Technorati has remove inbound link counts and replaced them with a slicker display that allows you to hover over a talk icon to see inbound links. The image below shows this new display in a search result of an inbound link to Somewhat Frank from Doc Searl. Thanks Doc, for the mention!
There are a few other bells and whistles which include charts, tags an a few other items but Technorati's CEO David Sifry explains all the changes on the Technorati Weblog and on his personal blog Sifry Alerts so I'd rather not rehash them again here. However I would like to mention that, David Sifry's post on his personal weblog has an image of a search result of a colleague of mine, Matt Terenzio. Small world. Additionally, Steve Rubel (who has recently had nice site redesign himself) also voiced his opinion on the Technorati changes.