SitePoint Podcast #43: Passive Over-sharing
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Here are the topics covered in this episode:
Google Chrome Overtakes Safari Market Share
Experimenting with HTML5 in the Real World
MySQL in Danger of Acquisition by Oracle
- Sign Up to Save MySQL? (SitePoint)
- Oracle Makes Commitments to Customers, Developers and Users of MySQL (Oracle)
- Save MySQL!
- Helpmysql.org campaign delivers first 14.000 signatures to competition authorities (Save MySQL!)
- Help keep the Internet free (Monty Says)
- Introducing Blippy, the Shopaholic Social Network! (SitePoint)
- MacBreak Weekly #173 (TWiT)
- Withings Wi-Fi Scale (Withings)
- Patrick: The Top 10 Copyright Stories of the 2000s (Plagiarism Today)
- Stephan: MagicPrefs
- Kevin: InstaPaper (also PHP Advent and 24 ways)
Kevin: January 8, 2010. Chrome overtakes Safari, MySQL is at risk, and is now the time to try HTML5? I’m Kevin Yank and this is the SitePoint Podcast #43: Passive Over-sharing.
And welcome to the first news episode of the SitePoint Podcast for 2010. We had our interview with @garyvee last week, which was actually recorded before the New Year but it was a great way to ring in the New Year, Patrick, thanks for doing that.
Patrick: Thanks, Kevin and thanks for ruining the surprise about it being recorded in 2009. They had no idea.
Kevin: (laugh) I don’t think anyone thought that you were up on New Year’s Day recording a podcast with Gary Vaynerchuk.
Kevin: You’re a dedicated guy, but I don’t expect that from you.
Patrick: Okay, thank you.
Kevin: We have Patrick O’Keefe with us today, resident Froggy at the iFroggy Network, which celebrated its 10 year anniversary this week?
Patrick: Yes, thank you for mentioning that, Kevin. I’m totally surprised. I’m totally surprised. No, I appreciate that. Yeah, it was 10 years since I registered the name which was on January 1, 2000 – Y2K. So after all the computers kind of blinked off and crashed, I was registering a domain name.
Kevin: Well, yeah, geez, 10 years, it goes by fast.
Kevin: We also have Stephan Segraves with us today, recovering programmer from Houston, Texas.
Stephan, I understand the less said about what you’re doing, the better?
Kevin: Well, fair enough.
Let’s dive right in with our first story which is Google Chrome beating Safari’s market share in December. We spoke about Google Chrome in podcast #40, I think it was, last time we mentioned it and that’s when they brought out Chrome beta for Mac. It seems like it’s done them some good.
Stephan: Yeah, I think it is. I mean it’s a good browser, it’s fast and the version for Mac is pretty stable and I haven’t had really any real issues. There is one quirk – the bookmarks. I can’t delete bookmarks. There’s no bookmarks manager.
Kevin: Yeah, there’s no bookmark manager.
Stephan: That irritates me.
Kevin: That qualifies as alpha software for me. For beta, you got to at least be able to delete the things that you can create with the app.
Stephan: Yeah, I know and I didn’t realize it until I had imported all my Safari bookmarks. I’m like aawww man, because I didn’t want them all.
Kevin: So are you working on Google Chrome as your primary browser right now?
Stephan: I’m kind of using it as secondary, just playing with it. I still like Safari as my primary.
Kevin: Well, I presume if you really waned to get rid of your bookmarks, you could go in and delete the bookmark file or something like that…. Something hacky.
Stephan: Yeah, but I’m not going to worry about it you know. I’d just rather play around with it and it’s fun to play around with because it’s so fast. I mean it’s really fast. I like it.
Kevin: So Safari tried the same trick and I had to look this up because I couldn’t really believe it but mid-2007 is when Safari for Windows was first announced as a beta at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. So it’s been 2½ years since we’ve had Safari for Windows but just by releasing a version for a new platform, the Mac, Chrome has jumped, leapfrogged Safari’s market share. I don’t know.
What’s the lesson here? Is Apple wasting its time developing a browser?
Stephan: I think it’s just the Google name. That’s all.
I mean, I think there’s a place for it but I still think that Safari is a great browser. Firefox is a great browser. So I don’t know. I guess I don’t understand the jump. Maybe it’s a lot of people bandwagon jumpers you know, “Let’s try it out,” and who knows.
Kevin: Are you still wrestling with Firefox, Patrick?
Patrick: Yeah, I use Firefox primarily, actually, really exclusively and I haven’t really even tried Chrome, I don’t think… maybe since the first hoopla about it way back when but now I just had no reason.
Stephan: I will say that I use Chrome primarily at work, like it’s my primarily browser at work.
Stephan: Yeah, on Windows and Safari is my backup on Windows.
Kevin: On Windows? Wow, you must be one of the few Safari users on Windows.
Stephan: I just like how lightweight it is. I don’t have a great computer at work.
Kevin: Yeah. I’m a Safari user as well but I find that Safari is the browser that still has the most compatibility issues. I mean maybe Opera would have a lot of compatibility issues if I used that.
Stephan: With like with what though? Like what?
I find certain sites download files in a hinky way that Safari doesn’t quite support. I end up getting files downloaded as the filename of the script that generated them rather than the actual filename that I’m expecting, whereas Firefox works properly. And again, I’m sure that’s just a subtle coding issue that they haven’t tested for just because Safari isn’t on their radar the way Firefox is.
Stephan: Yeah. Yeah, I can understand that.
Kevin: Well, hopefully, Apple finds a way to make their browser – I don’t want to say relevant because it is still the default browser for Mac users, but it’s surprising. Mac is garnering some great market share and yet the default browser on the Mac isn’t as much. So a lot of Mac users must, as their first step, install something like Firefox.
Stephan: Which I find kind of interesting because – I mean Safari is a good browser right out of the box. I guess I don’t understand why people would want to go and – I mean, unless that they’re using websites that it automatically always breaks and the only websites I’ve had issues with on the Mac are things that are Microsoft generated usually.
The Safari breaks like on Outlook for the Web or whatever it’s called, it breaks it and can’t use it. So things like that annoy me but other than that, Safari seems to get the job done for the most part.
Kevin: HTML5 in the real world. Have either of you done any experimentation with HTML5 at all?
Stephan: I haven’t touched it yet. I was reading through the forums. There’s a tutorial out there on forms. I can’t remember who wrote it but I was reading through that, and it looks like it’s pretty verbose. I like that.
Kevin: Yeah, this is Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into HTML5 book?
Stephan: Yes, yes, that’s the one. Yes.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s good. We’ll have to put a link to that.
Stephan: Yeah, it’s good.
Kevin: This blog post from Australian web design from Newism documents their experience actually using HTML5 for the first time. For the first time. There’s a lot of people out there talking a lot about HTML5 and arguing point and counterpoint on the little details of the spec but there’s one big stumbling block when it comes to actually using HTML5 and that’s that Internet Explorer doesn’t handle unknown elements the way other browsers do. The way we expect browsers to work is that if they don’t understand an HTML tag, they’ll effectively ignore it. They won’t apply any formatting to it by default but if you want to go and apply your own CSS styles to that, that tag that it doesn’t recognize, you should have that freedom to do it.
But for whatever reason, Internet Explorer doesn’t treat unknown tags that way. If you’ve got a start tag and an end tag, it treats the start tag as the start and end of that unknown element and then it ignores your end tag later. So in order to get HTML5 tags like
But Newism had – I guess it was the perfect project for this kind of thing. It was a one-page only design project for a law firm and they said “To heck with it, we’re going to use HTML5.” So they did it, whole hog with all of these elements that most developers aren’t even aware of; they’ve just heard of them in connection with HTML5. They tried out
<section> and found it really changed the way that they approached coding.
Did you read this blog post, Stephan?
Stephan: I read part of it, yeah. It’s interesting that they can – just the way they went about it is really cool.
Kevin: I’m not sure I would recommend anyone else to do the same experiment unless you have that sort of perfect low-risk project like Newism did. The only people I knew who were actively working with HTML5 were the guys at 99designs and for those who don’t know, 99designs used to be SitePoint Contests within the SitePoint Forums but they have split off into their own company but they’re still working with us at SitePoint Headquarters and I knew that they were doing some experimentation with HTML5 but in a more conservative way than the Newism folks did. So I went down and I cornered Adam Schilling, their front end developer, for a few minutes and here’s what he had to say:
Kevin: I’m here with Adam Schilling, the Designer and resident Front End Ninja in 99designs and I wanted to talk to you, Adam, because I know 99designs recently did a bit of an experiment by putting a bit of HTML5 into its home page. Is that right?
Adam: Yes, that’s right. The front page is now, in a pseudo sense, compliant with HTML5.
Kevin: What does that mean, a pseudo sense?
Adam: Well, we’re not using all the new elements strictly that are in HTML5 particularly the ones that aren’t covered by Internet Explorer but in place of those, we are using class names that are representative of those new elements. And so we’re sort of still thinking in terms of HTML5 but not necessarily using the full HTML5 spec.
Kevin: So what are some of these elements that you’re representing as class names at the moment?
Adam: Right, so things like
<nav>, for example, wherever we have navigation, we’re using the
nav element as a class and sort of using ID to sort of distinguish between the various
nav elements but we get this nice crossover effect, just using Cascading Style Sheets to sort of bring those all together.
Kevin: So you use a
class="nav" or a list with
Adam: That’s correct.
Kevin: Right. So why did you do this and are you happy you did?
Adam: Oh yeah definitely, and I think this would be the way that we want to continue forward. We’ve wanted to try HTML5 because there’s a lot of talk about it and we wanted to sort of be – you know, we wanted our side to be relevant, we wanted to learn by using the new spec particularly with the decision sort of coming out that XHTML2 wasn’t going to sort of go forward and we needed a front page redesign and it just seemed logical. When we’d figured out that we could use pseudo-HTML5 to sort of complete the whole from page redesign, it just became an interesting experiment and one that didn’t really have any downsides.
Kevin: So yeah, I mean the only real code that you could point at and say “that is HTML5 code” would be the DOCTYPE at the top of the page, right?
Adam: Essentially, yeah.
Kevin: Yeah and I think the
<meta> tag that says the character set that you’re using.
Adam: Yeah, we’re using a sort of a minimal definition for specifying UTF-8.
Kevin: So what would it take for you guys to take the same plunge that Newism did? Obviously, they had a pretty cherry project. It was one page, they could take some risks and have a bit of a play with it, and if anything went wrong, it’s just one page. They can revert back to the old way of doing things. What’s keeping you from taking that leap in the work you’re doing?
Kevin: Nevertheless it’s an interesting experiment to read about. I mean did you learn anything?
Kevin: I mean I guess you probably, in order to get your pseudo HTML 5 working that same way, did you read the spec and then think back to how that would translate?
Adam: Yeah, I remember reading up about
<footer> specifically and at the time there was—I mean there might still be—a fair bit of debate about why these new elements should be used. There’s a camp that is fixed on the idea that
<footer> is something that sort of happens at the base of your page only, it’s not sort of happening within articles or sections, and there’s another camp that sort of saying in terms of like a byline or something, per-article or per-post you can have footage nested.
Kevin: Yeah, I’m pretty sure the official thinking on that has actually changed since the 99designs home page was done. So that’s something that you probably would have done differently than what we’re seeing in the Newism example. So in short, pseudo HTML 5 is what you’d recommend at the moment to someone building a new site?
Adam: Absolutely, absolutely.
Adam: Thank you.
Kevin: So based on that chat with Adam, I think SitePoint is going to have to publish an article about pseudo-HTML5 because much as I’d like to tell everyone to go out and find just the right project in 2010 to experiment with some real HTML5 code, I think the downsides… as much as Newism pulled it off, I think there are big enough downsides to using HTML5 in the real world right now that I can’t really recommend it.
So it’s a risky thing they’ve done. I congratulate them for doing it. I think for most people you need to try and find a way to do this pseudo-HTML5 that 99designs are doing. Keep your HTML4 elements but start using HTML5 structures so that when the time comes to really use HTML5, you’re familiar with that way of doing things.
On a less technical bent, we have MySQL in danger of acquisition by Oracle. The Web is up in arms. It seems like everywhere I look I’m reading about this effort to keep MySQL out of the clutches of Oracle.
Guys, have you read about this?
Stephan: Yeah, I thought it was dead like six months ago.
Kevin: I think a lot of people did. Oracle said they wanted to buy MySQL. The European Commission said that’s not going to happen, and everyone sort of thought they could rest easy.
Stephan: Yeah and I guess not.
Kevin: It seems like Oracle put up a statement saying these are all of the evil things we promise not to do with MySQL if you let us acquire it and the European Commission made some noises saying, well, this is an important – they’re turning over a new leaf and I think this maybe the thing that turns the deal in their favor and it sounded like they were going to let it go ahead.
So the creator of MySQL, Monty, as most people know him, he started a petition at HelpMySQL.org and he’s asking for anyone all over the world who cares about MySQL and wants to make sure it doesn’t get acquired and killed by Oracle to sign up. It was launched over the holidays. I think it’s pretty much not the worst time of year to try and do something like this but things were moving fast. He was afraid that the European Commission was going to approve this over the holiday, so he launched the petition and in just one week over the holidays, they collected 14,000 signatures. As of January 4th, that’s the number that they presented to the authorities and in the couple of days since then up to this recording, they’re now up to 21,326 signatures. At this point they’re collecting over 2,000 new signatures a day. But yeah, they say in less than one week, this is quoting from their press release, “During the holiday season, we gathered 50 times more support than Oracle claimed three weeks ago when it presented a few hundred orchestrated letters from customers to the European Commission.”
So it sounds like Monty has numbers on his side.
But Stephan, what do you think about this? Is Oracle acquiring MySQL really that disastrous a proposition?
Stephan: I’m not really sure they’re going to kill it. I don’t think they would. I think that they would have an uprising but they might. I mean, I think he said that they apparently lose a billion dollars a year to MySQL installations. So a billion dollars is a good chunk of money to any company. So maybe killing it is not a bad idea for them.
Kevin: Is that one of those numbers like when the music studios say “We lost $50 trillion to piracy this year”, counting everyone who downloaded an MP3 file illegally as someone who would have otherwise bought that album? Is this one of those artificial numbers that if Oracle killed MySQL, would they really get a billion dollars in business or would another open source database spring up and everyone move to that?
Stephan: Yeah, I don’t know.
Kevin: That’s what I think.
Patrick: Yeah, I don’t think Oracle said that and for the sake of disclosure, I’m actually an Oracle shareholder, but I found Monty’s points interesting. I think it’s an interesting story just because of how important MySQL is to countless websites, how many people run MySQL and don’t even think about it, how many open source software scripts already just simply run on MySQL right out of the box from forum software (which is what I use) to everything else?
No, he’s looking for two things: Oracle to either divest MySQL or to change the license of it to a more permissive open source license. I mean obviously if Oracle buys Sun, MySQL is a part of that package. I don’t know if Oracle has an obligation to make nice or how important Monty’s thoughts are. I think it’s a political war on some levels. What he may call the letters contrived or well-orchestrated 300 or hundreds of letters, I’m sure those are letters with real names attached to them, real companies where an online petition with 14,000 and plus may or may not be influential if he wants to tie the names, who these people are, how influential are they, how many customers do they have and what their influence is because at the end of the day, a hundreds of letters with real names associated with them could be worth way more than 14,000 random signatures on an online petition. I think it’ll be interesting to watch just because of the influence of MySQL. I don’t know. I’m not particularly worried but he seems to be and obviously, it was his baby so that makes me pause for sure.
Kevin: You’re right that the unique position, the fact that MySQL is so crucial to the Web at the moment makes it – even if it’s a small risk that Oracle are going to do the wrong thing or that MySQL will suffer as a result of an acquisition … with any other product I might say, well, let’s take the risk and let the market sort it out but with MySQL, that’s a big risk to take.
Patrick: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that and I think that’s why there’s an uprising. I don’t know. I guess the EC or whatever the regulatory boards are will have to get some experts in there, some technology people. I’m sure they already have them to sit in there because this is a really techie, tech-savvy discussion as far as databases and what that means because even the majority of the customers of MySQL and of Oracle’s databases really aren’t that technically involved with them. So it will be interesting to see how high level those discussions are and what the end result is.
Stephan: I was going to say let’s not forget that Sun bought MySQL for a billion dollars, right? I think that was the original purchase price. Maybe that’s where Monty is getting his number and I think that people need to remember why Sun bought MySQL and why they want it.
Kevin: Why?! I couldn’t figure it out at the time!
Stephan: I couldn’t figure it… that’s my point is you can’t, you can’t tell me why Sun bought it. The only reason I can think of is that they had a connector, right? They have JDBC and they wanted a database to pass out with Java.
Patrick: Well, here’s the thing, I think his post… it’s a long post but there’s an FAQ in there because he’s definitely invested in this from a business perspective because he benefited from the sale of MySQL to Sun. He got a portion of that money, and he is in this business of forking MySQL. I mean I’m sure he has the best of intentions – not judging in any way – but he definitely has his own conflicts here and one of the questions that he answers is “Sun paid a billion for MySQL. What did Sun buy?”, and he says they bought the MySQL trademark, they bought the copyright to the MySQL server and other components, in his opinion, control of the MySQL economic ecosystem, access to their community of 15 million users and 15 million installations, their customer contracts, their core developer contracts and all other assets of MySQL AB. So that is what he says they got for a billion dollars.
Obviously there is value there in the customer contracts in the community. I guess the catch with these communities, with open source communities. and when they become a business item or an object is always how do you monetize those properties. It’s a services business. Obviously, Sun saw a value in that and now Sun is now looking to go with Oracle where they had been hated competitors in the past. Monty says that he was on board with Sun because he felt the company was the right one to have MySQL under their umbrella but obviously, he doesn’t feel that way about Oracle.
Kevin: Well, yeah, reading his big Frequently Asked Questions, the key difference for him is the fact that Oracle has a competing product in their Oracle database, various incarnations of their Oracle database servers, whereas Sun didn’t have a database product or at least not a significant one in the market.
You said it’s a very technical argument but it’s also the fact that MySQL is an open source product makes a lot of the implications of acquisitions and stuff like that less than obvious because on the surface of it, you say “Okay, MySQL is open source, it’s released under an open source license. If Oracle does acquire it, they can do whatever they want with it but that open source code base will still exist, worst case, up to the day that Oracle acquired it. And if people aren’t happy with what Oracle does with that product, they can take that code base and go their own way with it.”
The issue is that what Oracle is buying is really the commercial rights because MySQL is a dual-licensed entity. You can get it under an open source license for free but because it’s the GPL license, anything you build with it must also be released for free but if you want to build a commercial product on top of MySQL, you have to license it commercially and that’s the crucial thing that Oracle would be getting control of here. Anyone who has a commercial product built on top of MySQL will be losing control if Oracle takes over and decides to kill that as a commercial product.
Stephan: Here’s one thing that I disagree wholeheartedly with Monty on, and that is, are Oracle and MySQL truly competing products? Anyone who has used Oracle knows that it is not a simple product but MySQL is, and he makes a statement that Oracle hasn’t been able to get into the web area because of MySQL and I think that’s completely false. I think the reason that Oracle hasn’t made the move into the Web is because it’s prohibitively expensive and it takes a lot of technical knowledge to get it running and working the way you want.
So are they truly competing? Yeah, they’re competing because they’re both databases but they’re not competing in the way of an apple from one farm stand to an apple to another farm stand; they’re not the same. I think that’s a poor argument for this and I don’t think people should fight against Oracle taking over MySQL just because of that. I think if you’re really a GPL person and you really believe in the open source code, then that’s a good reason to support MySQL and be against this, but to say that Oracle is going to kill it because it compete, I don’t think that that’s a good argument.
Patrick: Interestingly, he answers the question “Who would be interested in buying MySQL if Oracle made the decision to drop it from the portfolio?” and one of the companies he mentions is IBM…
Patrick: …Fujitsu, any of the major Linux distribution vendors. So I mean it’d be interesting, one big company to another, IBM. He says because IBM DB2 and MySQL are working in mostly different markets and our salespersons very seldom compete with DB2; that’s his reasoning for IBM.
Stephan: When Novell bought SUSE, the Linux installation, that kernel I guess, everyone thought it was going to die. I don’t think it’s dead, right? I still see SUSE installations all around so I think we’d still see it and hopefully, they do, Oracle, does dump it from their portfolio, I’d love to see an open source project like Fedora pick it up or something.
Kevin: Our last story today is about Blippy.
Patrick, what is Blippy?
Patrick: Well, Blippy is – I saw a lot of services launching these days. It’s very similar to another service we all know and love, Twitter, but Blippy is more or less for your purchases. When you buy something in an online store, if it’s hooked up to your Blippy account, it will tell your followers, and I guess there’s a public profile, Blippy is private right now. I don’t have access to it, so I can’t go on anything but screenshots and there’s a blog post at SitePoint about this as well that we’ll link to in the show notes. But more or less, as you purchase something that you opted to share with Blippy, it will automatically update your feed telling your followers how much you spent and in many cases what you bought.
So if you buy something from Amazon, it’ll tell your followers what you bought and no matter how embarrassing. If you hook it up to your credit card, I guess you can hook it up to your credit card and to your bank and so on and it will tell people you spent X amount of dollars at this online store and then they can comment and kind of talk about your purchases and maybe buy those things as well.
Stephan: That’s it. The internet wins. I’m out. I’m done. (laugh)
Kevin: (laugh) What happened?
Stephan: It’s just I don’t know the point of this. I don’t get it. I kind of get Twitter, but I don’t get this.
Kevin: I was listening to the MacBreak Weekly podcast a couple of weeks ago and they were talking about a new bathroom scale that would automatically tweet your weight every time you weighed yourself with it. This has a similar ickyness associated with it for me. It’s sharing something that – I don’t know… maybe I’m old fashioned, but it seems to me that the information about what you buy should be something you share on a case by case basis deliberately and consciously.
What kind of people… I can imagine a very small niche of people – the—I don’t know—‘commercialist exhibitionists’ out there wanting to use a service like this but could this ever be a mass market service? Could this ever be something that more than a thousand people want to use?
Patrick: I’m not sure. I think more than a thousand is a good possibility as far as mainstream service. I don’t think so. I do think that it has some potential though for that niche audience and I’m not sure that it’s a super small audience either, consider what people share online and how they aggregate it already.
If you hook it up to your online stores, it’s a way of sharing the music you’re buying. It’s if you’re aware of it… I’m sure there are ways you can stop it momentarily and buy something that you don’t want your followers to know about. But I definitely think it’s something that some people will pick up on and will enjoy. And then I think that there is – we know making money is a big thing and if people are already talking about products they’re buying and that’s the basis of the service and then they do achieve some level of scale and some audience, it’s not hard to see how that could then by monetized with the product data and with the affiliate sales and so on and so forth.
So they have some people that are well known, that are behind it or at least pushing it like Jason Calacanis and Philip Kaplan and some others. It will be interesting to see – me, personally, I’m with you; I don’t expect to use this but when I think about aggregation in general and how people share things, is a lot of the content you see in your Twitter stream of followers really that interesting? No, maybe not to you but some people will be interested in purchasing and they’re sort of interesting in this. I don’t know if it’s a curiosity thing or a voyeuristic desire or something like that, but it’s an interesting thing.
One of the concerns I saw on the comments at SitePoint was sharing their bank and credit card information and I think that’s a legitimate concern. But I think of this almost in a way as Mint. It’s kind of like playing with your money. It’s like a game in some level. Mint is obviously useful, I’m a Mint user, and I had apprehension to sharing my bank information and my credit card information but I looked into it and I decided to go ahead and do it, and I’m sure that Blippy is operating under the same security principles. So I don’t think that’s such a big deal but obviously, that’s a road block for them is that trust that people need to have and then to share this purchase information.
Stephan: I don’t know. I think my gut tells me it’s too much focus on consumerism. I don’t know. Me, I’m kind of the guy that you don’t need to buy a bunch of stuff to be happy and going out and watching what other people buy just seems like one of those… you know you like live in an alter universe like, “Oh, that person bought that. That’s so cool.” I don’t know. It just seems strange to me and maybe that’s me being – I’m being…
Patrick: It’s definitely not for everyone.
Stephan: Yeah, no.
Kevin: I’m kind of with you. I mean what does that say about – I don’t want to take potshots at the developers of this thing, but if you as a developer make a choice, you are the master of some internet technology and the way you decide to contribute to the world by using that skill is to build this thing for people to keep track of what they buy…
Stephan: No, to keep track of what other people buy.
Kevin: I’m curious what the philosophical argument is. The developers behind this, what drives them to do this?
Patrick: How many times have you heard someone say Twitter is narcissistic?
Kevin: Well the difference between Twitter… like 2009 was the – if for the sake of argument, we accept 2009 as the year of mass marketing things like Facebook statuses and Twitter, those things going mainstream, those things are all about being able to share whatever you want when you want to share something. But these new services, like Blippy that are coming out, are all about what the SitePoint blog post calls passive sharing. These services start to share information without you having to intervene automatically and we’re seeing a lot of sort of location base services doing the same thing. You switch on an app on your phone and from that point forward, it will automatically advertise your location, let people know where you are and what you’re doing without any intervention.
That’s an important differentiation for me – active sharing versus passive sharing.
Stephan: Wasn’t it Beacon, wasn’t it the Beacon Facebook thing that there was a whole controversy because it was sharing things people bought on websites on Facebook?
Kevin: I can’t keep track of what’s true and what’s urban legend when it comes to Facebook.
Stephan: Well, that was Beacon though. That was a big deal because you had to turn it off.
I can remember that story that some guy bought something and his wife found out about it or something and it was on Facebook. That’s passive sharing. It’s the same thing to me. I don’t know. It just bugs me.
Patrick: No, I mean the problem with Beacon is that it was this sort of covert thing where obviously, this is an opt-in thing. I mean they’re going to give their information over, they know what to expect. I think Kevin makes a great point; I think that that is a great difference between Twitter and Blippy. Obviously, they’re not the same but I look at it from the same way; people say Twitter is narcissistic. People will say this is blatant consumerism, is all about material possessions, but there will be a segment in the market I think that clues in on this and likes it and will tie it in to Twitter. A part of Twitter already is this passive sharing in automation, sharing the blog post, sharing your bookmarked items, and so on and so forth.
I’m not saying this will succeed but I’m saying I won’t be surprised if it does achieve some level of notoriety.
Kevin: It’s really interesting. We’re moving from a place where it has become okay for people to over-share on the internet. For better or worse, the Internet is a medium for over-sharing from time to time but we’re moving towards the Internet becoming a medium for the world to spy on you. For you to press a button that says it’s okay for people to spy on me if that’s what they want to do and it just goes from there. I’m really curious if the mass market is going to buy into that the way they have bought into the narcissism of over-sharing as they have with Twitter. I’m curious if they’re going to take that next step.
Stephan: We’re six months away from me never having to leave the house ever again.
Kevin: What, because you’re living your life vicariously through everyone else?
Stephan: Yeah, through everyone else, yes.
Kevin: Alright. Well, juicy discussion, guys, but all good things must come to an end and that means it’s time for our host spotlights.
Patrick, what have you got for us?
Patrick: I’m going to spotlight an article at PlagiarismToday.com. It’s the top 10 copyright stories of the 2000s. We’ve seen a lot of these articles obviously with the 00 to 09 decade coming to an end, the top stories of the decade. This one is copyright focused and talks about some of the obviously larger copyright disputes of the decade from the RIAA lawsuits to the Google Book storage stuff and if you’re interested in that sort of topic, copyright and plagiarism, I think it’s a great summary of the important articles of the decade in that area. Check it out.
Kevin: That stuff really interests me. I was really interested, again, going back to your interview with Gary Vaynerchuk last episode, and for those who haven’t heard it yet, definitely go check it out. It’s short but meaty, and I loved the insight he had into the book market and how that is changing.
Stephan: I was given a Magic Mouse for Christmas.
Kevin: Ooh! My Magic Mouse ran out of batteries yesterday, and I miss the flick scrolling so much.
Stephan: Yeah, it’s a really neat mouse. I love it so far and it’s taking some getting used to the size of it but I really, really do like it and I’ve had some issues with clicking and tapping because you can tap on it.
I’ve been searching and there’s an application out there called MagicPrefs and you can download it and it goes into your prefs pane and you can edit a bunch of – you can tweak more settings than what Apple lets you tweak and it’s a really cool tool. If you have a Magic Mouse, download it, it’s worth it. It’s free. It’s awesome.
Kevin: So it adds like the extra gestures that you expect. As soon as they say, “Oh, it’s a multi-touch mouse,” you’re thinking you can do pinches and zooms and things like that with it, it adds that stuff.
Stephan: Exactly, because the Apple default install stuff doesn’t have that and this has it. It’s got some cool things.
Kevin: What kind of things are you using your mouse for with it now that you didn’t before?
Stephan: I’ve been playing with the tap because as you know during the podcast, you can hear clicky, clicky and I want to get it so that I can have it so I can just tap the right and left click rather than actually clicking it and that way you don’t actually have to hear it during the podcast or it doesn’t have to be edited out and things like that. I’m doing some swipe stuff so I can quickly change applications and Exposé type stuff. It’s useful.
Kevin: The thing I miss, because my other mouse – it sounds like a bumper sticker – my other mouse is a Logitech with one of these things that’s like festooned with buttons all over it, and one of the things I use those buttons for is on the Mac to trigger Exposé. All of the windows shrink and then I can pick another window very quickly using a button on my mouse.
The problem with the Magic Mouse, although its scrolling and tracking is all very nice, it has no extra buttons for anything and so I had to go reach for the keyboard when I was using my mouse to do things like Exposé, and so these gestures I’m really interested in using them for that.
Stephan: You can just tap the Apple logo on your mouse and it will bring up Exposé.
Kevin: There’s an Apple logo on the mouse? Oh, so there is!
Stephan: You can just like run your finger down there and just tap it once and it will bring up Exposé. It’s really nice.
Kevin: Oh, great. Thank you.
My host spotlight is Instapaper.com and this is a service that’s been around for a little while. It gained popularity last year when they released an iPhone app. If you’re familiar with services like Delicious that are sort of websites that house all of your bookmarks, on the surface, Instapaper seems like one of those, but rather than being designed and specialized and set up with tools for archiving a vast collection of bookmarks, Instapaper is all about keeping track of the things you plan to read later. And so at its core, you set up a bookmarklet in your browser and you call it ‘Read Later’ and so every time you get to a blog post or something that you’re interested in reading but you don’t have time to read it right now, you click Read Later and that sends it to Instapaper. A lot of people use Delicious for this. They’ll setup a tag in Delicious, a tag called ‘readlater’ and that lets them keep a list of things that they plan to read later but they never get around to it because going into Delicious and going through that list of things to read later and clicking through each one is not a fun process. When you have a bit of spare time, that’s not the kind of thing you reach for because it’s not a fun thing to do in your spare time. Instapaper has designed its interface so that going and reading your things that you planned to read later is fun and it’s something you will want to do in your spare time.
So the main thing it does is it strips out all the navigation out of the pages. It’s very good at identifying the core piece of content from the page and only importing that into your Instapaper account. If you’ve got an iPhone, you can use the iPhone app to read just that content in a very spartan interface that isn’t marred by ad banners and navigation bars and that sort of stuff. It’s great.
Stephan: Have you noticed that you can’t do – if you have a multi-page article, it doesn’t get the extra pages?
Kevin: That is one of the problems with it. If the article is split over multiple pages, you’re going to have to add each one of those pages to Instapaper but when you get to the end of the first page, you can click the view the actual story online link and if you have an internet connection, it will take you back to the site and you can read the next page. So it’s not perfect, there are niggles.
So Instapaper.com, PHPAdvent.org, 24ways.org are, together, my pick for this week.
That brings our show to an end. Sign offs, guys?
Kevin: Patrick, you need one of those, like, 10th anniversary banners in your signoff, “The iFroggy Network celebrating 10 years of iFroggy.”
Patrick: Sounds good. You can record that for me and we can have it added it in at the end of every episode.
Kevin: You can follow me on Twitter @sentience and SitePoint on Twitter @sitepointdotcom. Visit us at sitepoint.com/podcast to leave comments on the show and subscribe to receive every show automatically.
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The SitePoint podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker, and I’m Kevin Yank. Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.
Theme music by Mike Mella.
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