Kevin: December 24th, 2010. We look back at the stories we loved and the browsers we loved to hate in 2010. I’m Kevin Yank and this is the SitePoint Podcast #93: The Zombies of Christmas Past.
Welcome to the last episode of the SitePoint Podcast for 2010, and I’m very happy to say we’ve got all the guys in the house. Patrick, Brad, Stephan, hello!
Patrick: Happy Holidays.
Kevin: You guys still working at this point or have you started holidays early?
Brad: I think I’m working harder than I have all year at this point.
Kevin: I know the feeling.
Brad: It’s just that time of the year where everything seems to happen at the same time so it’s tough.
Patrick: I’m always working.
Kevin: Always working.
Patrick: That doesn’t mean you can’t sneak a little egg nog in there, right, Brad?
Brad: Absolutely, especially if it’s spiked.
Kevin: Patrick and Brad are set up with egg nog, Stephan and myself sadly without our yuletide drinks at hand.
Stephan: It’s a little warm in Houston right now for egg nog.
Brad: I don’t wanna hear it.
Kevin: Everyone is working hard heading into the holidays, and it seems they’re working too hard to be making headlines because there’s not a lot of news which is why I thought it would be fun to sort of take a look back at the year behind us, do sort of a year in review show. We’ve covered a lot in the past year; in fact, this is #93 and the very first show of the year was #43, and by my count that means that more than half of the shows of the SitePoint Podcast ever were recorded in the past year; that’s what happens when you go from every two weeks to every one week. We’ve got half the history of this podcast to cover, guys.
Stephan: It’s gonna be a long show. (laughter)
Brad: Strap in and get ready.
Kevin: So there were a lot of stories that dominated the headlines in 2010. Brad, what was your number one?
Brad: Well, I think — I don’t know if it was the top story, but I think one of my favorite episodes was #47 and that was when the infamous “checkmate Apple” line came into play from Mr. Stephan Segraves (laughter). Every time I see that or hear it I still crack up.
Kevin: Say it again, Stephan, say it again.
Stephan: Checkmate Apple (laughter).
Kevin: Well, what had they done? That was to do with the whole Flash versus HTML5 thing. So back in February Apple announced the iPad claiming that the iPad would offer “the best web browsing experience available”, then quickly had to clarify that that experience would not include Flash. That was a big story this past year, I mean it was not a news story, it was something that we had all wrestled with, with the iPhone being a browser, a popular new mobile browser that didn’t support Flash, but the iPad seemed to be the first “big” screen browser experience that would not be offering Flash, and opinion was pretty polarized to begin with. Stephan, you thought Apple had it locked up.
Stephan: Yeah, I thought, you know, obviously I was wrong (laughter).
Kevin: Were you, though, were you; where is Flash now a year later?
Stephan: Well, I mean it’s still not on the iPad, but I think that Adobe’s making some, you know, there’s some concessions going on on both sides.
Patrick: It feels like we spent a portion of the year, maybe it’s just my own, you know how you get those perspectives that are incorrect, but it seems like we spent at least a portion of the year talking about Adobe and Flash in a somewhat negative way. And being a developer oriented show I guess that’s kind of a natural thing, especially with HTML5 and how here in the echo chamber— But I was reminded of that just yesterday or the day before when Adobe reported its first one billion dollar quarter in revenue. So, like I said, here in the echo chamber maybe Adobe came under criticism, but out there in the rest of the world Adobe just had its best quarter ever, its first quarter of making a billion dollars in revenue.
Stephan: More proof that I don’t live in the real world (laughter).
Patrick: None of us do.
Kevin: So initially they were going to release the iPad with no Flash support, then Adobe said not to worry, we’re going to release Adobe Creative Suite 5 which will have a Flash compiler that lets you compile your Flash applications into native iPhone applications and iPad applications. And then in April Apple quietly slipped into their SDK terms of service that said compiled Flash or compiled non-Objective-C Code of any kind was not welcome on the App Store which set up a whole new controversy around that. And then in September after the dust had settled from the CS5 release Apple again changed its mind and allowed compiled Flash apps in. Since that change of policy I can’t say I have noticed any big ticket apps that have appeared on the app store that at least it hasn’t been highlighted the fact that they’re Flash apps under the surface, I don’t know if I’m the only one but it feels like Apple— mission accomplished for Apple that they killed the Flash app ecosystem without actually having to keep that in their terms of service; they kept it in just long enough to quash the CS5 launch I think.
But it’s true, with their first billion dollar quarter under their belts Adobe is not going out of business anytime soon; we were sort of tossing around the office theories of where that billion dollars could’ve come from. The stereotype is that Adobe makes all their money from Photoshop.
Stephan: Nah, I don’t think so.
Patrick: And maybe the Creative Suite.
Brad: Dreamweaver’s not cheap; really, none of their products are cheap.
Kevin: So the Creative Suite in general, but yeah, it feels like Adobe is strong in creative tools and they’ve repeatedly tried to break into developer tools by, in some cases, turning Flash into a development platform with Adobe AIR, these sorts of things, the Flex initiative before it which was kind of like Adobe AIR only in the browser so Flash applications, desktop-like application user interfaces built in Flash. Adobe’s tried this repeatedly. I don’t feel like they’ve made much money out of that yet; I would be surprised if they had. But I suspect they’re making still plenty of money out of their creative tools, certainly the CS5 release this year probably made them a good pile of dough.
The other thing that’s new this year probably in Adobe’s books, or not new but on the rise, is ebooks; all of these different ereaders, these book readers, the Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple’s iPad for one thing, all of these things except for the Kindle, they all use the EPUB format protected by Adobe DRM. And so all of these companies that are releasing ereaders and selling these books, they’re all paying their little percentage to Adobe for those books because Adobe is providing the copy protection that’s wrapped around those electronic books, so I suspect they’re probably making a good bit of change out of licensing fees around their eBook DRM this year.
Patrick: Take this for what it is because it doesn’t, again, it’s not terribly helpful in and of itself, I’m trying to drill down a little bit here, but they do have a division of revenue into five business segments: Creative Solutions accounts for 54% of their revenue, Digital Enterprise Solutions accounts for 27%, Omniture is 10%, Platform 4%, and Print and Publishing 5%. So, again, drilling down on that would be more helpful but those are the four high-level categories that they have in their report.
Kevin: So the two big ones again at the top of the list, what were they?
Patrick: Creative Solutions and Digital Enterprise Solutions.
Kevin: So Creative Solutions has got to be the Creative Suite and all that. Digital Enterprise, uh…
Patrick: Okay, so yeah you’re right about Creative Interactive Solutions being Creative Suite and all their related applications, AIR is in there, Flash Player, any Flash thing is in there, Flex is in there, Digital Publishing is in there.
Kevin: It’s all in there.
Patrick: Digital Enterprise, yeah, it doesn’t really help very much, but Digital Enterprise products under there are Acrobat, LiveCycle, CQ5, Connect, Central Pro Output Server, products I’m not familiar with but I guess you might be familiar with in a more business environment and enterprise environment anyway. Omniture is, again, site catalyst, site search, merchandising, inside genesis, I guess these are applications that I’m not familiar with. Print and Publishing is things like Authorware, ColdFusion, Director, Font Folio, PageMaker and so on, so I guess that helps a little bit.
Stephan: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, they’re still making money off of ColdFusion? (laughter)
Kevin: They sure are. They sure are.
Patrick: I’m just reading.
Kevin: Brad, I was going to expect your big story of the year to be WordPress 3.
Brad: That is a big story. It’s certainly a big one, in fact, 3.1 is right around the corner too, but WordPress 3.0, codename Thelonious after Thelonious Monk the famous jazz musician, was released on June 17th, and that was certainly a big one for anyone that does anything with WordPress because it introduced a lot of new features and some really big ones, namely the WordPress MU merge into the core of standard WordPress, and the new default theme 2010 which finally, finally, finally got rid of or at least downgraded Kubrick, the standard blue one with the rounded edges that we’re all used to, to not be the default anymore because I was kind of tired of looking at that. So, that was pretty exciting.
Kevin: The biggest thing with WordPress 3, I don’t know if it was technically part of this particular release, but that release, that major release, seemed to me to signal the turning point where people stopped talking about WordPress as a blogging platform and started talking about it more as a content management framework or just a general system for building websites.
Brad: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. I think the big reason behind that is the Custom Post Type enhancements that came along with 3.0, so you basically could make additional post types, so you had Posts and Pages where you could make a Cars post type and add cars to it, or you could make a Books post type and add all of your different books to it. So it really made it to where you could have these different types of content and do all sorts of different things rather than the old way of doing it where you would maybe have a category and you would tree all posts in that category as a car or as a book. So the enhancements that they made actually you can register a post type and it would pop up as a menu, so all the backend UI stuff is handled by WordPress which is great. So that was a huge step forward in kind of pushing WordPress into the whole CMS territory.
Kevin: Apart from WordPress 3, the other big WordPress story this year was the premium themes and the GPL debate. We talked about it in detail in Podcast 71 back in July; I can’t believe it’s so long ago.
Stephan: The Revolving Internet.
Patrick: Our lives are just flying by, you know.
Kevin: Where did that story land, Brad?
strong>Brad: It’s definitely still around, I think anything surrounded or that has anything to do with open source and licensing, I think there’s always going to be some controversy—
Kevin: It’s still really touchy.
Kevin: Back in October at, what was that big conference, BlogWorld Expo (laughter), the biggest thing we did this year.
Brad: The one where we all hung out together for the first time ever.
Patrick: AKA the only place we’ve ever met in person.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly, but Brad just a few weeks ago we published your WordPress related interviews from BlogWorld Expo and you were speaking to I think it was Headway Themes.
Brad: Headway Themes, yeah, Grant Griffiths of Headway Themes.
Kevin: Yeah, and you kind of said— you touched very briefly on his licensing but said “I know it’s controversial, we won’t spend too much time discussing that,” and he said yeah, thanks, I appreciate it.
Brad: Yeah, in fact, for Grant and the team at Headway they actually went 100% GPL with their theme which prior to that it was not, it was essentially doing the same thing that Thesis was doing having commercialized license, so they are now 100% GPL, they’re completely compatible with WordPress and the WordPress license, so hat’s off to Grant.
Kevin: So what’s the discomfort there? Correct me if I’m wrong, my impression is that a lot of these premium theme makers have decided alright we’re gonna do the right thing, we’re gonna go GPL, but we don’t want to talk about it too much because we don’t want our customers to realize that rather than paying a license fee they could just download our source code and circumvent the licensing process. So they’ve kind of done it but they don’t want to talk about it, is that fair to say?
Brad: Well, some have; Headway came out and certainly when the big Headway 2.0 release came out they announced that they were GPL, so they did come out and announce it, it just hadn’t come out at that time at BlogWorld; I think it came out a week or two after. I think the real reservation is once you go GPL the developers or the theme makers or plugin developers, whoever they are, they’re worried that essentially like you said people will download their code and pass it around because essentially you can. I could download, I could purchase Headway Theme, download it and send it over to my friend and it’s completely legal.
Patrick: Brad’s a dangerous man if you didn’t already know that.
Brad: I wouldn’t do that, but what they’re starting to realize is that people are paying for more than just the actual theme, they’re paying for the support behind it, they’re paying for the community that’s going to help them work on this theme. So there’s a lot more that goes into it than just the actual code behind it, and I think there are enough companies out there that have very successful businesses that are completely GPL that are very proven and they can say, look, we’re doing great and the licensing has not affected us at all. So I think more and more people are realizing that. At the end of the day it’s only going to help Open Source if they do have a GPL license or something similar.
Patrick: I don’t know if I’d call this my highlight of the year, but one of the stories that I kind of dug into was the story about Global Grind, kind of a hip hop focused Digg sort of site with some other features that was taking content from other publications just through really scraping, and then in addition submitting that to Google News and linking out via a top bar at the top of the website, so not even a direct link. And that kind of played into a discussion we had earlier in the year about the Digg bar, it seemed like it was the year, or at least the couple months of the top bars on the show. And both cases I think resolved themselves fairly well even if they might have taken at least in the Global Grind case a little public attention and pressure, but in the end I think Digg made the right decision and Global Grind adjusted and began utilizing more acceptable practices.
Kevin: Yeah, I feel like this year in 2010 best practice on the Web has been less of an overriding concern as it has previously. In past years I have memories of us fighting a great battle for web standards, and 2007 and before we were spending a lot of time here at SitePoint educating people on the merits of standards, and these were overriding concerns that covered everything you do on the Web. This year it feels like those battles have been fought and won and there are just these little skirmishes, people testing best practice on the Web. So like you say we had the Digg bar testing whether it was okay to frame content in 2010 even though we decided many years ago with frames that that was a bad idea, you know, Digg thought you know let’s try that one more time this year and see how people respond, maybe 2010 is the year for top bars, but the Web slapped it down. And similarly Global Grind tried their hand at stealing content, or as they would’ve called it republishing it.
Brad: And Cook’s Source, don’t forget about— this reminds me of Cook’s Source which came later on with the stolen content.
Patrick: Yeah, Cook’s Source as well. That’s the only other story I have here. Don’t steal content. (laughs)
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. We saw other stories along these lines like cookie stuffing in August was finally ruled officially illegal by a U.S. court, but it was sort of this murky, not-talked-about but a lot of sites did it as a revenue stream before then. What else have we got? We’ve had redirects this year that I think that’s something that’s still being decided; I can’t see redirects go away quick enough personally, but they don’t seem to be going away that quick even though Twitter has announced their intent to sort of phase long URLs out of the count for the length of a Tweet, this isn’t something that has actually happened in practice yet, and so URL shorteners continue to be used and continue to have value-add features like statistics tracking added to them that will cause these services to remain around for years to come, in my opinion to the detriment of the Web, but that is still something to be decided I suppose.
Stephan: And we also had the FireSheep and the SSL scare I guess we could call it…
Stephan: …which I still think is a big deal.
Kevin: Yes, the fallout of that is still happening, probably the biggest mainstream site in the world, Facebook, is still not protected by SSL and is still vulnerable to FireSheep stealing your cookies and stealing your accounts. I know I’ve had my account stolen at least once this year when I was traveling to London for the .net Awards to accept our Podcast of the Year award.
Patrick: (cough) Highlight of the year. (cough)
Kevin: (Laughs) At a stopover in, oh, which airport was it, I think it was in Singapore where this happened, I stopped and downloaded an update to one of my iPhone apps over their free airport Wi-Fi, and I guess it mustn’t have been encrypted because my iTunes password was stolen and by the time I arrived back in Melbourne all of the credit— I had about fifty bucks of credit in my iTunes account, and it had been emptied out purchasing apps with indecipherable Chinese character names. I reported that to Apple and they helped me reset my account’s password and they restored my credit, that was all great, but I think it was the first time I can remember actually being a victim of some form of clear-cut identity theft. It took us a little while to puzzle out exactly what the benefit was for the people who had done this. What we figured was that those apps that they had purchased they had published themselves, they were little do-nothing apps that had desktop backgrounds that you could install on your phone, they were really sort of junk apps. And so what they did was publish these apps in the App Store and then go through this process of stealing people’s iTunes passwords and buying their own apps and therefore profiting from them. A very…
Stephan: It’s a very roundabout way of making some money.
Kevin: Yeah, money laundering. I suppose it’s the most roundabout money laundering scheme I’ve ever heard of.
Patrick: Poor innocent Kevin caught in the middle.
Kevin: (Laughs) But, yeah, SSL would have saved me from that, that’s for sure.
The biggest story when I sat down to prepare this podcast and I thought, okay, what’s number one, the first thing I wrote for my notes was ‘HTML5’. And I think it was definitely the buzzword of 2010, I’m not sure if it was the story of 2010 just because over the course of the year the term has become virtually meaningless. Way back in January we were talking about a Newcastle, Australia based web design firm called Newism that was experimenting with HTML5 in practice in their client work for the first time, and it was this groundbreaking article that we linked to. And now 12 months later nearly it seems like HTML5 is— If you’re developing new websites today you do it with HTML5, it’s just a question of what you take HTML5 to mean.
Stephan: The kitchen sink, yeah.
Patrick: HTML5 is everything.
Brad: The meaning of life.
Patrick: It’s Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, forums, and everything rolled into one.
Brad: I think a quarter of our spotlights were HTML5 examples.
Kevin: Well, it can mean everything from the actual markup language standard which is still a draft under development, which we hear is not going to be finalized until 2013; I suppose that’s one end of the spectrum.
Patrick: So the world will end before we get HTML5 more or less, that’s our understanding right now of the progress of HTML5.
Kevin: According to Hollywood, yeah! And the other end of the spectrum is HTML5 is everything but Flash.
Brad: Yeah, I mean if you look at the history of our spotlights I mean I think at the beginning of the year we had a few HTML5 spotlights that were kind of cool, maybe some birds flying or something neat like that. The last episode we had we had the best website of all time with Ben the Bodyguard, you know, so look how it’s evolved in one year.
Kevin: Was Ben the Bodyguard HTML5?
Brad: I assumed it was, is it not?
Kevin: I’m going to take a look at the source code here and find this out.
Patrick: Yeah, those early spotlights were for suckers. No, what you can see is how far we’ve progressed, not the code, just us.
Stephan: So it’s like Kleenex to tissue.
Stephan: I think it’s interesting in the same episode, Podcast #43, we were also talking about MySQL and its future and what we thought Oracle would do with it. So, we can answer that now: not much.
Kevin: What have they done with it?
Stephan: Not much (laughter).
Kevin: Yeah, no, not much has changed for MySQL in the past year.
Stephan: Which I think is a good thing.
Kevin: I suppose it is a good thing.
Stephan: They’ve kept their word that they weren’t gonna touch it, so that’s a good thing.
Brad: Well, there’s a new version out.
Stephan: That’s true.
Kevin: Well, Oracle did have a go at doing something with something else that they acquired which was Java. And they had major exhibitors walking out of JavaOne, the big annual Java Conference, just because of their threats to bring legal action against Google for their use of the Java language in Android. So I think the worries about MySQL under Oracle’s guidance were not unfounded, and I’d say we’re still worried about it. They’ve been too busy sinking their hooks into Java.
Stephan: Yep, well, let’s keep them distracted a little longer.
Kevin: (Laughs) “You can have Java just leave MySQL alone!” (laughter)
IE 6, a continuing theme here at the SitePoint Podcast this year mostly because it’s the browser we love to hate.
Brad: Another year we’re still talking about IE 6.
Patrick: Actually, when you think about it we actually want IE 6 to live as long as possible, if you really think about.
Patrick: For the Podcast, you should think about it.
Brad: Our top episodes are the IE 6 rants.
Kevin: So, back in February, which was the first time we mentioned IE 6 this year that I could figure, we had a big story of Google dropping support for what they called “non-modern browsers,” which was code for IE 6, they were going to drop support for that browser on March 1, 2010 across an increasing number of their web applications, but the main one they were talking about was Google Apps their online office suite that so many people are switching to. So March 1st I suppose was that line, and at the time we were hoping that that switch would be a catalyst for other web developers to begin phasing Internet Explorer out of their own testing matrices, their own workflows. By March, by mid-March, we were covering a story where corporate users were continuing to cling to IE 6, but by September Facebook announced they were dropping IE 6 support, which I suppose there’s no bigger site than that; if you’re looking for some other site to make the switch and give you the excuse to do it, Facebook doing it in September was the one to be waiting for. But I don’t know; are you guys still testing IE6?
Brad: I stopped about the time Google stopped.
Kevin: Alright, what does that mean for you though, stopping, do you literally not have a copy of IE 6 to test against?
Brad: No, I certainly do, and I always offer the option, but by default we don’t test it; if you want us to test it, it would be additional cost.
Kevin: Well, I know at SitePoint we sat down and said, alright, we’re not gonna test IE 6 anymore. But, to say that is one thing to do it is another, because if your front-end developers, as ours do, have IE 6 installed for testing, and they’ve got this perfect site done it’s very tempting for them if only for bragging rights to see what it would look like in IE 6, and once you’ve seen what it looks like you can’t un-see it. If there’s just one little bug that they could fix then they could go, aha, look at that, it works in IE 6 as well, it’s just so tempting.
Patrick: An interesting side note is that I pulled up the Statcounter.com global stats for the past 12 months just to see how IE 6 has fared in this past year, and in December of ’09 it had a usage rate of 14.04%.
Patrick: For the most recent month, which is November, it is at 6.44% so it has more than halved.
Kevin: More than halved in a year, good work folks.
Patrick: Now is that U.S. stats or global?
Kevin: As long as we’re talking about browsers we should be talking about the browsers that are taking over this market share from Internet Explorer 6.
Kevin: Yeah, Chrome is the big one.
Brad: I have some Chrome trivia for you: do you know how many major versions of Chrome were released in 2010? (laughter)
Patrick: What version are we on now?
Kevin: I’m not looking at my notes.
Patrick: I still haven’t downloaded it.
Kevin: I’m guessing we were at Chrome 4 at the start of the year, and Chrome 9 just came out if I’m not mistaken. Would I be right in saying five?
Brad: Uh, it actually is five, but not 9’s still in beta—
Brad: —so I’m not counting 9, but 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 all came out in 2010.
Patrick: Wow. And I pulled up the U.S. stats for IE 6 just out of curiosity, and in December U.S. usage was 6.43% and in November 2.79%, so that number also halved down to 2.79% usage in the United States.
Stephan: Moving closer to the dead pool, that’s awesome.
Brad: That would be a glorious episode (laughter).
Kevin: So the big story in January was that Chrome overtook Safari in market share, and that is an almost laughable headline here in December that Chrome and Safari would be on even footing. I think Chrome is as big now as Firefox is, in the minds of web developers anyway, whereas Safari continues to be that interesting curiosity that comes installed by default on Macs, Chrome seems to be the choice. I have to say I’m still using Safari full time as my main web browser. Chrome has never been more tempting though.
Stephan: So wait, you still use Safari as your main browser?
Kevin: I still do. And I’ll tell you why, it’s because for me I’ve kind of done away with tabs, I don’t really use tabs I use multiple windows, and I find that having what other people would keep open in all their tabs I keep open as multiple browser windows and I just use my operating system’s window-switching features and window management features, and I find that a lot more pleasant and nimble an experience than flipping through tabs in browser windows. And then every once in a while if I do want to group a set of sites together then I’ll sometimes use tabs in one browser window for that purpose. But Chrome, as fast and slick and auto-updating a browser as it is, seems to me user interface-wise seems to be very biased towards tab users; if you’re not using tabs in Chrome it kind of looks weird because all your windows have one tab at the top.
Stephan: So you’re not going to be a Chrome OS first adopter, are you?
Kevin: Who is?
Stephan: (laughs) I signed up for the CR48 handout, I haven’t gotten one yet.
Kevin: It’s a pretty box I’ll give them that, I like the cardboard box it comes in.
Brad: What’s interesting about Chrome, version 4.0 is the version that introduced extensions when that came out in January and there are over 10,000 extensions now.
Kevin: And here we are in December with Opera 11 having just come out with it adding extensions.
Brad: This time next year we’ll have to see how many extensions Opera has and see if they’re on pace to stay current with Google.
Kevin: Yeah, and Safari as well brought out extension support this year with Safari 5. So, geez, the last browser left without a easy-to-use for web developers extension API would have to be, oh, let me think, what would it be (laughs), Internet Explorer. IE 9, which is now in beta since September 15th was the big beta release of IE 9. It’s got a lot in it, a lot to like; I think as much as we love to hate Internet Explorer 6, IE 9 is shaping up to be the most inoffensive release of Internet Explorer yet for web developers.
Patrick: Since we’re talking about browser wars, and since I have the stats handy, I thought I would talk about where the browsers have I guess gone market share-wise, not versions but just the individual browser. So, you’ve got IE at the top still, in December it was at 55.72%, it’s fallen to 48.16% overall Internet Explorer usage, so it’s fallen about 7% over the past 12 months, where Firefox has gone from 31.97% to 31.17%, so stagnant I guess you could say, just about the exact same usage for Firefox.
Kevin: I prefer to call it stable.
Patrick: Stable, that’s one way to look at it, sure. I’m sure IE would like to be stable.
Stephan: Stagnant is such a bad marketing term.
Patrick: Well, you’re the one who has to maintain our friendships with Mozilla, so, anyway. Chrome was at 5.45% in December and now finds itself at 13.35%, and looking at the charts it’s clear that that’s where IE’s market share is going, it’s going right to Chrome which makes sense of course. Safari 3.48% to 4.17%, so a gain of about 1%, a little over 1% Safari has, and Opera rounding out the top five from 2.06% to 2.01%, it actually dropped .05% over the year.
So really no changes overall except for IE down and Chrome up.
Kevin: Yeah, that seems to be indicative of the sort of technology market overall, that Google seems to be the new big boy on the block and Microsoft is kind of fading into history. Microsoft is still strong, they still make a lot of money, but they aren’t the cutting edge company they once were; Google seems to be the one that’s making the headlines. And so be it, I suppose. If IE 9, as I said, if it’s the most inoffensive browser release they’ve put out maybe that is the role of Internet Explorer being the default browser on Windows—
Patrick: The most inoffensive, you’re talking about kind terms here, come on now, find a better one (laughs).
Kevin: Well, if you’re building the default browser that comes on the World’s most popular operating system, what is your target here; is to break ground, is it to be cutting edge, is it to be the most forward looking browser in the world? I don’t think so.
Stephan: Should be the easiest to use.
Kevin: Easiest to use, the least confusing, yeah, it should provide a good starting point.
Brad: I remember when Chrome came out wasn’t their big thing they pretty much said we don’t care how many people use it we’re just gonna build a good browser.
Kevin: Yeah. I haven’t heard them say that lately.
Brad: No, that was 2009 when they were talking that way.
Kevin: (laughs) But they continue to be the browser of, what would you call it, innovation; they’re the ones that are tinkering behind the scenes with the HTTP protocol and figuring out how to eek one less HTTP request, one less DNS lookup out of the Web and make it that much faster, and I’m glad they’re doing that, but yeah if they thought they were gonna be doing that without actually getting market share I guess market share is a nice side effect. Which we saw with Firefox, as soon as you become the developer’s choice a few years later the entire families of those developers are using that browser and next thing you know it’s the next big browser that hits the mainstream.
What else have we got here on our story list?
Stephan: We’ve got the dead pool stuff.
Kevin: Oh, alright, take us through it.
Stephan: Okay, so we had some dead pool big stories that happened, products that were killed off or died a slow painful death (laughter).
Kevin: We mourn their passing in 2010.
Stephan: A few big ones and there were some resurrections as well. A few big ones, Bloglines, Patrick I know you’re weeping, is dead; is it completely dead now Patrick?
Patrick: Actually, no, it was bought out by a company called something Commerce, I forget the name right now, but they have been bought out and they’re actually continuing, and I think it bought from the ask.com group companies, whatever you want to call it, and yeah, so they are still in —
Brad: Merchant Circle.
Patrick: Thank you, Merchant Circle.
Kevin: Merchant Circle, that sounds like the company I want running my news system (laughter).
Stephan: Put some ads on it.
Kevin: (Laughs) What else, what else?
Stephan: There was Xmarks, which during BlogWorld we announced that they had this pool going, or I shouldn’t say pool, but a fund going to resurrect them, and were they successful, I don’t remember.
Kevin: Yeah, they got bought out as well.
Stephan: Okay, cool. So we have a bunch of resurrections. I don’t know—
Patrick: Is this the dead pool, Stephan, can you get this right? No, I’m just kidding, sorry (laughter).
Stephan: They’re apparently zombies is what they are.
Kevin: Yeah, the zombie pool.
Brad: It’s like the going out of business sale, you know, they go out of business then they make all this money and then they’re still there.
Patrick: It’s all just an attention grab.
Kevin: Well, we’ve got a new entry in that list which is Delicious that for the past week have had a lot of uncertainty around their future, and Yahoo! services in general, we’ve seen plenty of employees at Yahoo! getting the axe and the services they worked on along with them. For the past week there was absolute panic as another social bookmarking service like Xmarks, in this case delicious.com, looked like it was going to get the axe. Certainly the people, the development team that worked on it is out the door, but we are told that rather than being shut down they are shopping for people to acquire it, so at this point your bookmarks, just like the ones stored in Xmarks, remain safe on Delicious, but I would be keeping an eye on whoever ends up purchasing that to decide if you trust them with your bookmarks. I know a lot of people like myself have been switching to alternatives like Pinboard which is a paid sort of equivalent to Delicious with a few fewer social features and a few extra integration with other web service features. There’s Diigo as well that I know Patrick you’re quite a fan of.
Patrick: Yeah, I use it for another podcast that I co-host, yep. Just remember what me and Kevin always say, don’t trust The Cloud.
Kevin: (Laughs) Yeah, well, don’t trust only The Cloud; keep a backup is what I say.
Stephan: I have nowhere else to store my bookmarks!
Patrick: I like Pinboard’s slogan, Anti-Social Bookmarking.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly. The Pinboard model is really interesting because when they first launched their sign-up fee was one cent, and as they have continued to acquire users they have kept their sign-up fee to be one cent times the number of users that they have. So last week I paid about $7.00 for my account, and that’s a one-time sign-up fee.
Stephan: It’s $8.89 now.
Kevin: $8.89, so you can tell just by looking at their sign-up fee the number of subscribers, number of users they have. I think it’s 10,000 times the number of users actually, so 889 would tell you they have 88,000 users.
Patrick: A tenth of a cent times by the number of users, so, yeah.
Kevin: So Pinboard is growing, certainly the day that news about Delicious hit I bet was their most profitable day in history, I wouldn’t be surprised if they doubled their user base that day.
How does Diigo compare, Patrick?
Patrick: Well, I use it for the podcast only and it’s because the other host uses it, but I will say that in my usage of it, it seems like a pretty slick service, I have their Firefox add-on installed on my browser because it allows you to easily highlight different passages and then have them on the Diigo site, but really I use it for highlighting different stories as I get ready to read or comment on them, so it seems like a pretty slick service, it has an attractive website. I don’t know, I’d have to say I don’t, and I posted this on Twitter, I said, “It is kind of weird that I actually don’t use any of these services, isn’t it,” because I don’t use any of them and I don’t know why that is, I think maybe it’s just that I consume information a little differently and I don’t know, I don’t really rely on bookmarks all that much and when I do I don’t mind the browser one, so I guess I’m just kind of weird.
Kevin: So when you find a site that you think I’m going to want to find this again in a year’s time but might not look at it between now and then, what do you do with it?
Patrick: Um, I never visit it again (laughter).
Kevin: You immerse yourself in the impermanence of the experience.
Brad: We know you have a text file on your desktop.
Stephan: Yeah, he said text file or Notepad.
Patrick: Text file, actually that is the kind of thing I would do, have a text file on the desktop.
Brad: A file and a thumb drive.
Patrick: No, not a thumb drive, don’t trust thumb drives or The Cloud (laughter). But, I do have some text files in different categories, and it’s funny because the sites that I tend to want to keep track on usually fall under fairly narrow categories, like for example I have like five different folders in my bookmarks on my browser that are actually constantly used, they’re conferences that I might want to speak at, website tools I want to look back at in the future, ad networks to consider, and I think there’s two others. And it seems like most of the ones that I want to save for later fall into those categories, so I mean for me I just try to keep it I guess kind of simple.
Kevin: Yeah. What else was in the dead pool Stephan? Did anything actually die?
Stephan: There was Vox, I’m pretty sure it’s dead.
Kevin: Vox? Yeah, I think that’s dead as a doornail.
Patrick: No, I bought it. It’s back. Sorry. (laughter)
Stephan: Yeah, I don’t think that one’s coming back; they put a bullet in its head (laughter).
Brad: That’s one way to put it.
That’s the only way you can kill a zombie, right?
Stephan: Sorry, yeah, I’ve been watching these zombie shows, and so bullet in the head it’s in the back of my brain. Irony, you know. The other one was Google Wave, but it’s now become Apache Wave or whatever it is.
Kevin: Well, it remains to be seen if it will have a life beyond Google, really. Like I think two weeks ago when we covered this I said with some optimism that maybe Open Source and Apache is the right place for Google Wave, but at the same time Apace is often the place where Open Source projects go to die, they don’t have enough support in and of themselves from their communities to continue progressing, so they offer themselves up to Apache, Apache goes sure we’ll take another pile of code, and goes into the Apache foundation and it continues to be ignored it’s just ignored with an official stamp of approval from Apache.
Stephan: Woo hoo.
Patrick: So you could say that Apache goes around with a gun (laughter) and puts a bullet directly into the head of a lot of different Open Source projects. Okay, just to put that into terms that we can understand.
Kevin: I don’t think Apache does that, I think maybe it whacks you across the back of the head with the butt of the gun and you pass out for a few years.
Patrick: Got it.
Kevin: But Wave was certainly the poster child for failed experiments this year. There were plenty I’m sure, and it felt like more than ever; maybe since the 2001 bubble burst people have been doing crazy, zany things on the Web and then admitting failure mere months later. The climate is a little different, there’s certainly an air of skepticism now that we didn’t have in 2001 that even at the height of its hype there were naysayers about Google Wave who said you’ve made a really impressive one-hour video explaining this thing that I still don’t understand what it is or why I would want it.
Stephan: Well, I think in our show we covered it, we covered Wave. I think we all kind of said that, we all were kind of scratching our heads saying okay what is it, what does it do?
Kevin: I loved Wave! I have to admit I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I loved it!
Stephan: I like it now, but I didn’t understand it back then and then I started using it for collaboration projects and now I love it, now I don’t know what I’m gonna do if they get rid of it.
Kevin: Maybe we should be switching from Delicious to Apache Wave for collecting bookmarks for this podcast.
Stephan: I like that idea; or Diigo.
Kevin: (laughs) Does anyone else have any big stories they want to cover? Because I threw open to Twitter asking for suggestions of what people found was the big theme for them, and there were a lot of the usual suspects, but the big one that jumped out at me from my Twitter feed that I had not considered on my own was geolocation. Jason Foss, who’s known as @Rockyshark on Twitter responded to me, and he said that for him the big theme was these location-based applications. At the start of the year it was kind of Foursquare versus Gowalla, these two services for your iPhone that a lot of people considered to be a joke, that you would go around and every place you go you’d whip out your phone and tell it where you are so that the service can stalk you and then people can advertise to you and your friends can ignore you. I’m not sure that they have progressed that far beyond that point here at the end of the year, but certainly we’ve had more people pile on, not least of which Facebook with their Facebook Places.
Brad: Yelp. You can check into Yelp now.
Patrick: So Foursquare is just a big joke you whip out.
Kevin: (Laughs) I still use Foursquare I have to say, of those three services Foursquare is the only one I use.
Patrick: I think all of you became acquainted with my cheap pay-as-you-go cell phone when we were at BlogWorld Expo, so that’s just a clue that I really don’t use any service, but if I did I would use TriOut, and on a related note we had the business development marketing strategist for TriOut, Wayne Sutton, on episode 72 and 92, so if you want to hear some geolocation stuff check back on those episodes as well.
Brad: I still use Foursquare. In fact, the latest version allows you to post pictures which is probably the most significant update they’ve had all year.
Kevin: Yeah, that came out yesterday. It seems like every major update they redesign the interface pretty significantly as well, so I have to say it looks all brand new yet again for like the third time this year. But you’re right, you can post pictures, which is something that Gowalla had over them previously, so they’re kind of me-tooing with that feature. Gowalla meanwhile about a week ago released their latest version which one-ups their competition by basically incorporating them, so if you use the Gowalla application you can use it not only to check in and monitor your Gowalla contacts, but you can also check into Foursquare and monitor your Foursquare contacts and check into I believe Facebook Places and monitor your friends’ movements on there. So they are trying to win by building a client that does it all, I installed it on my phone and it crashes at startup so I can’t use it.
Patrick: And the funny thing about that is, and when we talked to Wayne at BlogWorld Expo he was telling us how TriOut already did those things.
Patrick: So it’s funny when you talk about me-tooing stuff, and I don’t know, I guess in a space, and this is any space really online and with the Internet in general, there’s a lot of influencing I guess you could say it another way. Not bullet to the head copying necessarily, but a lot of me-tooing and influence.
Kevin: I know what you mean; sometimes that most feature rich, the most promising it seems technologies often suffer from the fact that the people building them are passionate about building them not necessarily about marketing them. And then they’re swept away a few months later by a competitor with a big marketing team who just go, oh yeah, we’ll implement all the same features, thank you very much. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen to TriOut, they certainly have a passionate team doing great work, but that’s the risk I feel; if you become too focused on just building the best app you forget that you have to compete with people who can build those same features pretty quickly after you.
Patrick: Yeah, and it’s such a young space anyway that, you know, who knows; even Foursquare being as big as they are as the big fish in the space really when Facebook Places launches Facebook might be the elephant in the room already. So, I don’t know.
Kevin: So I think maybe 2011 will see all of this shake out, at this point this year was kind of for me it was the nascent phase of these features and we’ll see which ones survive and which ones fade away into obscurity through the course of the next year, so maybe we’ll revisit this next December and see, maybe geolocation will make our big list of things that we talked about throughout the year. Any other stories from you guys? If not, we’ll wrap it up with our host spotlights, our last ones for the year.
Patrick: My story of the year was when I spotlighted Back to the Future being 25 years old, 25 years since Marty took the trip in the time machine to the day in the movie, and one of the reasons it’s my highlight of the year is because we had a little funny moment and after the spotlight Kevin said, “Brad, what is your obviously less interesting spotlight?” And that’s one of the funniest moments of the year (laughter).
Brad: I always get the shaft on the spotlight, I don’t know why I’m always at the end and it’s always right after the best thing you’ve said all episode.
Patrick: The best website, the best everything.
Kevin: Best podcast of all time (laughter).
Patrick: Thankyou. Thankyou.
Kevin: Alright, well I think we owe it to Brad to let him lead the pack with our final spotlights of the year, so Brad, what have you got for us?
Brad: Oh, man, pressure’s on. So I gotta go, well, looking back just to say I think my favorite spotlight of the year, and I do have a new one but I kind of wanted to — I went through all my old spotlights and I still think my favorite one is therevolvinginternet.com because it makes absolutely no sense and the music behind it is strangely mesmerizing, so you could actually sit there and watch that thing, so check out therevolvinginternet.com. And my new spotlight, and I told you guys something completely different because I like to mix it up, back on episode I think it was 80-something, we talked about the Google engineer Brian Kennish that made the Facebook Disconnect extension for Chrome which essentially blocked all outbound requests to Facebook and would block any kind of tracking cookies or sessions or anything like that. Well, he actually has quit Google about three weeks after he released that, and this has become his full time gig.
Kevin: Wow! Wait a minute, did he go and work at Facebook, tell me he didn’t.
Brad: No, this is his full time gig, so he’s actually converted Facebook Connect into an extension just called Disconnect, and rather than just blocking Facebook it actually blocks all sorts of different services, so it blocks Facebook, Digg, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo! currently. He’s added a lot of new cool features so you can actually see how many are being blocked from each service, it allows you to do de-personalized searches on Google and Yahoo! but not actually log you out, so it’ll still keep you logged in but it’s not actually tracking what you’re searching. So it’s actually a pretty cool idea and I’ve gone ahead and installed it on all my browsers, and it’s amazing watching the ticker, you know you go to like a news site like TechCrunch and refresh and watch and there’s 20 or 30 things that it blocks on every page load, it’s actually a little bit scary, but I thought it makes a good spotlight and kind of a nice follow-up to something we already talked about.
Kevin: So he quit his day job?
Brad: Yeah, he quit Google three weeks after releasing, so probably shortly after our episode came out he left Google and now he does this full time, and he actually rebuilt the extension into Disconnect.
Kevin: Does it cost money?
Brad: No, still free. Still free, so.
Kevin: How do you quit your day job and build a free—?
Brad: I have no idea. He’s a stronger man than I am (laughter).
Kevin: Oh, well, we look forward to hearing your business model, sir. Let’s see, I’ve got one, I’m revisiting a past spotlight as well, something I covered in a previous episode was a service called Syphir, and this was a service that you could connect to your Gmail or your Google Apps Mail account and it would monitor your Gmail inbox and apply rules to it, rules that were more flexible and useful than the simple rules that you can set up using the built-in tools of Gmail. And the most important feature for me was that it would analyze the text of email landing in your inbox and decide which messages were most likely to be requiring a reply from you. So they’d look for — it was special sauce, they weren’t talking about how they did it, but having used it for several months the best I could figure is it was looking for key phrases like “by noon today,” or “please let me know,” and stuff like that. It would find those and it would send — you could either tag those with labels in Gmail to mark them as requiring a reply and stuff like that, and you could even ask the service to notify you with push notifications to your iPhone, so rather than having your iPhone ding for every single email you receive you can have it just ding for the important ones that are requiring your attention or needing a reply. I found that a really useful service. Unfortunately we learned in the past week that they didn’t make as much money as they were hoping even though they did sell the iPhone app that received those notifications commercially; I guess after the initial spate of interest in their app it quieted down and they didn’t make enough money to continue developing it, so they have had to switch off the servers that send those notifications to your phone, and so all of the users at Syphir are looking for something new, myself included, and the one I found was awayfind.com, and this is another one of these services that has a website and an iPhone app that you can install, and it pretty much has a similar secret sauce in it with I think a more polished interface. So for one thing you can monitor multiple email accounts which is something Syphir’s iPhone app never let you do. And you can tell it to notify you of important looking emails using similar black magic, but also you can give it a list of especially important email addresses or contacts and it will also weigh that in and notify you of emails coming from those people. A really nice service, free as far as I can tell for now; I think in addition to notifications to the iPhone app, which is free, they can also send you things like instant message notifications and SMS notifications if you configure it, there may be fees associated with those things, but honestly I haven’t gotten that far, I just installed the app, set up my account, I never even had to visit their website, it’s all free at this point if you’re an iPhone user, so check it out, awayfind.com. Stephan?
Stephan: So I’ve got something a little goofy, possibly a little inappropriate, but with all the TSA rage going on I found a 2011 Miss TSA calendar and it is just like it sounds.
Kevin: Is it women in blue overalls with badges?
Stephan: No, it is not. It is women in what we would consider interesting poses but they’re being x-rayed, so it’s kind of funny and a little jab at the TSA, so check it out, I’ll post a link up, it’s a long link.
Kevin: So it’s a calendar you can buy.
Stephan: It is a calendar you can buy.
Kevin: (laughs) Alright, that’s excellent. Patrick, it’s all up to you, our final spotlight of the year.
Brad: Don’t disappoint us Patrick.
Kevin: Send us into the holidays with something fun.
Patrick: I saw this coming. I saw this coming and I feel like there’s this burden on me now, like I don’t know, but host spotlights used to be fun and now it’s pressure, but I can deliver, I can carry this. My spotlight is, and I should say warning: explicit, explicit, explicit. My spotlight is the new music video for a song called “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island, featuring Akon. The Lonely Island is a trio of three comedians, they’ve been posting videos online for a long time, I think two out of three or three of them work on SNL, Andy Samberg is a regular cast member on there, and Akon of course is a singer, and these are they guys who released “I’m on a Boat” featuring T-Pain which got a lot of traffic online, so if you’re familiar with that you should definitely check out this and there are just so many funny things in this video that make me laugh, and I’ve watched it like eight times and I still find new things. So, I don’t know, have you guys had a chance to check it out?
Brad: I saw it. I saw it, it’s great. It actually reminded me of the “I’m on a Boat” video but it might even be funnier, it’s pretty funny. It’s not something we could really play on the podcast though.
Kevin: I love a sequel that’s better than the original. I wouldn’t say that of “Back to the Future 2”, but it was close.
Patrick: I’ll just say this of it and then we’ll leave it there, and you’ll get this if you watch it, she put a bag on my head — still counts! (Laughter)
Kevin: Oh man. Alright, well that’s it for the SitePoint Podcast this year. I look forward to talking with you guys in the New Year, we’re on a break next week so we’re going to take the week off, but we’ll be back in the new year. Haven’t decided yet if we’ll lead it off with an interview or a news show, I guess we’ll figure it out depending on what happens over the holidays, whether we have stuff to talk about or not.
Let’s go around the table.
Brad: I’m Brad Williams from Webdev Studios and you can find me on Twitter @williamsba.
Stephan: I’m Stephan Segraves, I blog at badice.com and you can find me on Twitter @ssegraves.
Kevin: And as always you can follow me on Twitter@sentience and SitePoint @sitepointdotcom. Visit the podcast at sitepoint.com/podcast to leave us comments on this show, let us know what your highlights of 2010 were and what you’re hoping for in 2011. Also while you’re there subscribe to receive every show automatically. The SitePoint Podcast is produced by Carl Longnecker and I’m Kevin Yank. Thanks for listening, see you in 2011. Bye, bye.
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