Jan 31

Movers arrived

The next few hours are going to be interesting. I apparently sent 43 boxes to the US and they are being delivered and unpacked as we speak. I’m trying to stay out of the way.

Jan 31

Flickr and Yahoo accounts – relationships are hard to break up

It’s finally arrived, the time when you have to merge your Flickr and Yahoo accounts. It was obvious it was coming and now they want to move the final 5% of users across to the Yahoo! login system to simplify things.

95% of your fellow Flickrites already use this system and their experience is just the same as yours is now, except they sign in on a different page. It’s easy to switch: it takes about a minute if you already have a Yahoo! ID and about five minutes if you don’t.

Now, the last time I tried this, I got demerged very, very quickly. The incessant need to Yahoo to be reassured that you were you and could remember your password drove me insane. Flickr is cookied and that’s the way I like it – if I go to the page, then it remembers me and I never. This lets me have the system set up on my parents PC as well and they can see the stuff without having to create an account.

But it looks like there is no longer a choice. Read the >700 message thread about the changes over on the Flickr site or take a look at the BBC report. There is so much passion about this service and so much dislike and distrust of Yahoo! that tempers are running high. Many of the last stalwarts are threatening or have left.

The main issues as I can see are:

  • the inability to stay logged in or to use other Yahoo accounts at the same time. Supposedly fixed, as attested to by Flickr staff in the forums. I know i can deliberately sign out of Yahoo and still be in Flickr, but it depends now if it ever asks me for my password. My general Yahoo account seems to ask me about once a month to sign in, which is about on par with gmail, so not too much worries.

    Flickr Staff: mroth says:

    loupiote: can i use some yahoo services (e.g. Instant Messenger) with a yahoo-ID while at the same time i am logged on flickr using another yahoo-ID?

    Yes, I do this nearly every day, since I have a separate account for work and personal stuff. My Flickr account always “just stays” logged in on my computer, and isn’t affected when I log in and out of IM with different accounts.

  • Why do I have to give them all this info to sign up with a service I don’t want. They are after gender, birthdate and postcode at the moment, which is not as much as some I’ve seen. However, I can’t seem to delete other personal information that I’ve given them inthe past such as job, which was collected for a completely different reason/service and associated with the account. They do ask too much that is mandatory overall, but not for straight signup.
  • I have to get a Yahoo email address and if I don’t use it, it gets deleted and my Flickr account will go. On the sign up page it does imply that your user name becomes an email address, so this does appear to be compulsory but again the Flickr staff have answered that they have set it up so that you don’t have to use the email. I’m not actually sure what to make of this one as there are many different stories in the comments. My Yahoo id is associated with my gmail account, but, according to my YIM, I have a Yahoo email account as it occasionally tells me I have messages (about 1 per year) but if I go into my account on Yahoo it says I don’t have one and I should sign up. I’m not sure what is the real situation but everything works so far with this
  • I’m going to get spammed by Yahoo. Again, there is history of yahoo not been the best at all with personal data. But I have a yahoo account tied into gmail and as far as I can tell I’ve never received marketing messages from them (I opted out) and I’m blind to online ads these days. So I know that I’m not getting spammed.

So there’s a list of facts and experiences about Yahoo and the challenges that have been raised. It does not appear to be that bad.

But unfortunately, passion for a brand is not fact based. I feel the same way now as I did when I started this post – angry and annoyed. I like my Flickr, I like the way it feels to me. My mental picture of it is nowhere near the same as it is of Yahoo, I have far more of a relationship with the photo brand than I do with the parent one. Flickr lived through it’s brand advocates; this is going to lose some of them. It has a place in peoples hearts that many brands would give their eye-teeth for. I’ve merged by accounts but my subscription is up on 13th Mar, 2 days before it becomes compulsory to have a yahoo signin and I’ve not decided to carry on with it yet. This is not a fact based decision, this is emotional-based. And sometimes, however much good customer service you have, however many times you respond in the forums and pay attention to the people who are angry at this, nothing will break through the emotional hurt.

Update: if you want to read a summary of the feelings instead of wade through the rapidly approaching 800 messages, see Thomas Hawk’s blog post. Yes, he is the CEO of Zooomr but he is also a passionate user of Flickr who has over 5000 friends and belongs to a couple of pages of groups.

1/2: A final update..from Heather going above and beyond.

Despite current thinking, we’re not evil and we don’t want this to dominate the conversation, so I’ll just pay the refund myself so it doesn’t have to be giant process. The money will just come from my personal PayPal account and no receipts sent or anything.

Jan 30

NYC January Mobile Monday

Update: I got the wrong impression from the talk (see, told you that this was all new) and Chaals has updated more in the comments and gives me a far clearer picture of what I was trying to understand.

On Monday I went along to Mobile Monday, this month a 5 hour celebration of SVG or Scalable Vector Graphics. This was held at the Samsung Experience in the Time Warner centre, which remained open during the event so I’m sure the people wandering around looking at the electronics were suitably bemused.

Whilst developing in SVG goes way over my head, it was interesting in hearing from people and companies that develop in the space, giving me an idea of where applications are going. Whilst not ubiquitous, SVG is on enough phones on models to make an impact across the board, being particularly prevalent in high end corporate models where the main applications appear to be in business intelligence and other professional services. But with the release of it far more phones with Java, applications are going to expand.

One point pushed by Charles McCathieNevile, Chief Standards Officer at Opera, is that SVG is perfect for building platform agnostic web applications, or would be if IE and firefox adopted it. He particular emphasised it’s use in building accessible websites, a passion of his. A lot of the same challenges that come with building computer-based accessible applications are there for all apps on the browser, tiny type, limited access to keyboard, lack of colours etc, so solving those issues for the small screen means that your apps should be better on a larger screen. His desire, and that of others speaking, was for one web – the same code being used across all platforms. Charles was someone I’d love to have had a longer conversation with.

Another speaker was Daniel Appelquist, from Vodafone and one of the founders of Mobile Monday London. I must admist when he started to explain what Vodafone was I thought he was being ironic, not realising that the brand is not known very well in the US at all (being 40% of Verizon Wireless only). One of his key focuses in his job is Open standards and vodafone’s participation in setting and evangelising such standards so that it is easy to build mobile platforms across manufacturers and carriers. They’ve been using SVG to develop soem great applications, one such being a Bubdesliga Player that launched in Germany 2 weeks ago, which brings you live scores from football games, news and live video clips. The demo he showed looked pretty cool. One last thing he announced was that within the next 2 weeks, Vodafone would be launching a developer community network, called betaVine. Targeted at individual or small company developers, the idea is to support them and give a showcase for their applications so that early adopters can find and test them them out. This will launch sometime in the next 2 weeks.

I didn’t stay til the end, moving out to go to the Google speaker event, but some thought starters about what could be possible in the US.

Jan 30

Waiting in Chicago

I’m sitting here in Chicago after travelling here at the last minute, only to have arrived and find that the meeting I’m here for has been cancelled. Whist waiting to see of something else is being organised I’ve managed to find a desk at our local office. Of course, without the work PC little work can be done. At least there is webmail that sort of works. It’s a pity I made a conscious decision not to bring my camera this morning, otherwise I could have been out and about snapping away.

Jan 29

University or Not

An interesting article in The Sunday Times examining the state of the UK universities and whether it is worth going to them to get a degree. Nothing too new in the writing, it’s a story that pops up every few months in various papers. On the one hand you need a degree to get a ‘decent’ job and the earning potential of graduates is higher over their lifetime than non-graduates. On the other hand, a lot of degree courses are useless and does not really teach you anything about life.

Buried in the middle of it is a link to Will I See My Tutor a site that has been whirled round in the Web2.0 tumbledrier but actually gives you some interesting statistics about tutor to student ratio. Still in alpha, it looks like it pulls out the official stats about a university and presents it in an easy to read way, graphing them out so you can see if you would have a chance of being in small groups or always just stuck in a pack. There does not appear to be any way of adding your own comments to the ratings (except through the blog) but the Times is reporting that the institutes are threatening legal action and I can;t see this happening without more than official statistics being on the site, so maybe they have been removed.

My university courses were pretty useless when it came to my career – there’s not that much call for biology when doing project management or web stuff. But I didn;t go to university for direct career reasons, I went because I love learning and I could go. And I had no idea what I wanted to do – it was a way of putting entry into real life off for a few years. (and to my parents who contributed money, it was fun and useful and thank you very much!)

The did get me past the first job hurdles, ie I needed a degree just to apply. But the independent study required was far more useful. The lectures just gave you the basics, you had to get the rest of the stuff from finding it out yourself. That’s the best and most long lasting skill I picked up.

Jan 29

Soul Limbo Song

Adrian had me smiling today with his TunAtheday, Soul Limbo from BookerT and the MGs. I song I know from endless cricket broadcasts but never knew it who it was by or that it was the same band as performed Green Onions. Go and smile at the happy sound, even if you have no idea what cricket is ;-)

Jan 29

Video tracking with VidMeter

Vidmeter tracks the popular videos across the web, giving you a hourly updated list that reflects what’s hot across 11 sites. You can get a widget that displays the hot stuff on your site as well.

Now what would really help me is if I can take this site and its monitoring and use it for videos that I want to track – let me put in a list of video URLS and track views and comments for me. Even if it can’t do that, it does give me some benchmarks of ‘successful videos’ so I can use for clients.

Jan 28

Linkage

After Robert Scoble manages to piss off quite a few people yesterday with his post about big blogs not linking to people, who writes a post today questioning whether the ‘A-listers’ have a responsibility to link to others and opens up his comments to people to post their links:

Another thing I can do? Ask you to post your link in the comment area on this post. I’ll visit them all and subscribe to good tech blogs, which will mean more links in the future from my link blog.

He’s got a 100 comments to work his way through – and how many will he add to his subscriptions. The key difference here is the promise to read the links, after all every comment usually comes with a URL attached or at least that opportunity.

So how many bloggers go and read the blogs of their commenters and add to their feeds? I tend to (helps that I don’t have that many commenters) and it’s a good way to find some gems.

Jan 28

The Day After

Sci Fi is running at 23 yo movie called The Day After, about the impact of an all out nuclear war between the USA and the USSR. The apartment i was in before this one still had the fallout shelter stickers in the basement, as a place the building residents would have to shelter, whilst waiting for the fallout to reduce. If anything actually survived the direct strike I’m sure New York was targeted for. However, with my shopping habits I’d unlikely to have the food or drink to survive,

Right… I think it’s time to find something more cheerful to watch. Where’s that YouTube Comedy list.

Posted in TV
Jan 28

Blogging ROI

Charlene Li over at Forrester has completed a report on ROI for corporate blogs. I need to be at work to access the full report but looking forward to reading it.

The metric is not cut and dried, it never can be for something as subjective as opinion leading and conversations, but the framework is a great starting place that can be adapted based on the business objectives.

It’s something I’m struggling with on a number of different clients, both the value of being online and for the different aspects of it. Proving ROI for a website that is all about engagement and not about ecommerce is not always the easiest. And I don’t think it’ll ever become clear, you just move towards standardisation across the industry. As with TV advertising, the numbers aren’t necesarily accurate it’s just that everyone believes the same set of numbers.

Jan 28

Fainting Goats

From Charlie, I link to a video about fainting goats. I’m not sure what to make about this; it’s pretty funny seeing them fall over when startled but the fact of their owner going at them with umbrellas to demonstrate it for the camera is a little too much. This is a disease that could have only arisen in domesticated animals, because otherwise they would all have been eaten pretty quickly!

Posted in fun
Jan 25

Domino’s Anything Goes – Tracking a video

This is now back…some changes but nothing substantial.

One of the projects I’ve been working on, at least from a metrics and tracking perspective, is a US campaign for Domino’s Pizza: Anything Goes, any large pizza, any topping any crust for $9.99. Supported by a heavy TV promotion, in-store, email, SMS, online advertising, all the usual stuff, it also had an unusual contest and teaser video component.

The concept behind the online promotion is that anything goes for $9.99. So for 5 weeks, starting 1 Jan, Dominos have been auctioning items on eBay for $9.99. From ipods to video cameras to home entertainment systems everything was the one price. It was set up as an Buy it Now auction; to find the items, a clue was posted everyday on the microsite that when solved gave the keywords associated with the auction page and you were told within what time period the items would be posted. There was a lot of commetary about it within the eBay community as well, as this was a new thing for the service to participate in.

There were also 4 big prizes. With each of these, there is an associated set of videos that tell a story that leads up to why the item is being sold. The first one went up 15 Jan, 2 weeks before the campaign was launched, in 3 video channels (YT, metacafe, AOL Uncut). So, meet Mackenzie.

Mackenzie is a sweet (!) 16 year whose father bought her the wrong colour car for her birthday. Looking at her videos, you eventually find out that she gets the car that she wants and she puts her Saab convertible up on ebay to sell it. And it went pretty quickly – see the winner here. A second series set up the sale of a big screen TV and there are 2 more that went up this week, one for a Harley Davidson and one for one last big surprise. (the big surprise was a Lotus car)

So that’s the campaign, let’s take a look a little closer at Mackenzie. Her behaviour drove a lot of comments, most people condemning her at various levels of politeness (it definitely brought out the worst online attitude in some people). And the views that the series for, especially the first one, were OK but not spectacular. That was until it was ‘borrowed’ – downloaded from one of the services and reposted. If any of the initial re-posters credited their source, I could not find it, which again indicates an interesting attitude. We found it first on YouTube, then Break, then 4 other sites and saw the views really stack up. Break has by far got the most views that we can count. It may be in many other places that we’ve not found yet.

The pinnacle has been appearing on the front page of AOL, on their video blog,(where it is the most commented at the moment) making their top viral video and being picked as video of the day. If only we could get the viewing numbers!

Mackenzie on AOL

Interestingly, AOL got the video from iFilm. Now, none of these reposts are branded, although the connection is normally made in the comments. But the company is still getting the benefit, being able to talk about the success in press and on TV.

Some lessons from this:

  • Don’t be surprised how long it takes for something to take off. Most views on the videos have taken place after the auctions are complete, items can have a slow burn
  • Be prepared for the comments. Once it’s out on the web, people can say anything. However, comments were closed on the video with the winner in it – there’s a difference between a character and a prize winner.
  • Don’t expect success with everything, even if the creative team is the same. Mackenzie did well, Rich man not so much. It’ll be a few weeks before we now the results of the last 2 sets.
  • Don’t be surprised when things are taken and not credited to you. Work out how to make that a success as well

After that, I’m back to recording video views.

Jan 25

Soundtrack to my life

I’ve finally got me, time and my music all together in the same place to answer Ewan’s tagging of me for the latest meme to go round. What is the soundtrack of your life, if your soundtrack was on random. So, following the instructions, open the library, press random play, see what you get.

Opening Credits: Greenday Massacre, by Dean Gray.
First Day At School: 40 by U2
Falling In Love: Karma Killer by Robbie Williams
Breaking Up: Good as Gold by the Beautiful South
Prom: The Real Slim Shady by Enimem
Mental Breakdown: St Jimmy the Prankster, Dean Gray
Flashbacks: Run, Snow Patrol.
Getting Back Together: Pop Song 2006, Razorlight
Wedding Scene: Because of your Brainstew Kelly Clarkson vs Greenday
Final Battle: Fur Elise, Beethoven
Death Scene: Eleanor Ciccone, ccc.
Funeral Song: Somebody Told Me, The Killers
End Credits: I want to Hold your hand, The Beatles
Finale: Fix You, Coldplay

I’m not sure what that says or how representative it is. There’s fewer mash-ups on the list than I would expect just by looking at the music list; most of the stuff I have is still in CD format which is something I need to rectify once they have made their way from Philadelphia (London to Phily via ship, now waiting for them to be on a truck and delivered here). I’m not going to tag this time..sometimes you just don’t.

Jan 24

Get a First Life and take a Blog Survey

You will, I hope, have seen Darren’s Get a First Life site, a call for people everywhere to sign up and try some of this real life stuff; you have to scroll down to comment 16 to get the real social impact of this, with Linden Labs posting their take on it and giving a licence for the logo to be used in making of the First Life tshirts.

Get a First Life

But, just before you rush out and use your real genitals, take the blog survey over at whydoyoublog.com, giving Darren lots of numbers for his Northern Voice presentation (and you may just win something)

Jan 24

SXSW NYC drinks and Social Media Club

In between work, I managed to get out to two interesting gatherings this week. The first was a pre-SXSW reception for people who have been to SXSW or are planning to go. For a couple of hours we got to gather and socialise, making new acquaintances to chat to when to get to Austin. The first person I chatted to actually worked in the next building to me; I subsequently bumped into him at the lunch place the following day ;-)

Last night was a get together of the NYC Social Media Club. Unfortunately I missed the networking part of the evening, only getting there when it reached a more formalised discussion stage and had to run away again beofre the dinner. From what I could tell, there were a number of experts in the audience but the majority were marketing and PR professionals who were looking to understand the space, as evidenced from the agenda. I think this group is going to be a good resource to help people understand what they can and can’t do. Next time, I have to get there for the full time and stay for dinner!

Jan 22

Search update

I love looking at the search terms that get people to my site. Today we have a specific target in mind, with the person who got to me with “can you put porn on myspace” where I make the top 10 in google. In answer to this, I have no idea. I know it seems to do a good job closing down the explicit groups (it’s owned by Fox, always a conservative group when it comes to sex), but of you are going to do that sort of stuff, there’s probably far more appropriate targets.

Jan 22

BarCamp London 2

Ian’s updated the BarCamp London information and spaces are going quickly by the look of it. The main sponsor is BT, who are providing the venue and the wifi. Get over here and sign up!

Update: The sign-up went live about 1pm GMT this morning and an hour latr about 60% of the places are gone. They won’t last the day!

Jan 18

Sky and Timeshifting programmes

Sky is bar far the largest purveyor of DVR/time shifting services in the UK. A review of their service released last week shows that they have over 2 million boxes out there, with around 5million people using it – that’s around 8% of the UK population. As a long time user of TiVo, where the programme information is provided by Sky since TiVo left the UK market, I’m a big fan of time- (and place-) shifting when it comes to my entertainment. The time shifting numbers are show what areas are most popular – and there’s no surprise for me that drama is the most recorded and current affairs/news the least

* Drama is the genre of programming most frequently recorded by Sky+ customers, accounting for 39.3% of all time-shifted viewing. Other popular genres are documentaries (14.9%), entertainment (13.0%) and movies (9.5%). In contrast, some genres of content remain at their most popular when consumed live. News and weather account for just 0.6% of time-shifted viewing by Sky+ viewers, while current affairs programmes account for 1.2%. (Source: Sky View)
* These trends are reflected in the ranking of channels whose programming is subject to most time-shifting by Sky+ viewers:
1. FX 33.1% of viewing is time-shifted (01/02/06-20/12/06)
2. More 4 27.7%
3. Hallmark 24.8%
4. Living TV 23.3%
5. ITV3 23.1%
* Across all channels, time-shifting accounts for an average of 12.2% of total viewing through Sky+ boxes. (01/02/06-20/12/06)

Last weekend I volunteered to have a tivoless weekend as an experiment for weekend. Withdrawal symptoms set in quickly just from the thought of not using, even if I didn’t want to use it there and then. A bad weekend – definitely confirms I won;t go back.