Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Twitter Hype

In my opinion Twitter is 10% useful, 90% hype. How is it useful? The argument that I've heard is that in a corporate team environment, Twitter is more appropriate for short messages than is email. That's the only one that kinda makes sense to me.

Twitter as a real-time search tool doesn't make sense to me. Anyone who has used Twitter for a day or two knows that the "tweets" are mostly garbage. It's more difficult to get context from short messages, so more difficult to sort the garbage from the nugget of information you are looking for.

I've also tried to use it for promotion. Compared to Digg, or Reddit, it doesn't drive traffic nearly as effectively. For that to work, I imagine I'd need real followers who hang on my every tweet, rather than just other people trying to promote their websites. Unfortunately everyone I know in real life thinks Twitter is as stupid as I do.

So why is Twitter the next big thing, and why is everyone talking about it? Short answers, it isn't the next big thing, and people are talking about it because they are being paid to talk about it. So if you have heard about Twitter, or actually tried Twitter and are wondering "what's the point?" you're not alone.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Easy Cross-Browser Test For Web Development

I ran across an interesting website today, and hope it can save me a little time in the future. The website is, and it claims to show you how a website looks in a crazy number of browsers. You enter the URL in the text field and check the browser boxes. There looks to be over 100 browsers to choose from, and you can check or uncheck each individually. Browsers range from the old, like MSIE (microsoft internet explorer) 4, to the new MSIE 8.

This site would be good for doing a quick check while coding css, to make sure everything is proceeding nicely. I did get some strange errors and anomalies when testing one site that would cause me to do further testing before actually using it in production. Some of the errors looked like a problem with the application itself (some Windows pop-up dialogs in German), and others showed problems that I know don't exist, like missing images, that area probably due to slow download of the application. In fact it took a good 4-5 minutes for my 30+ browser images to load, and I was warned it could take up to 35 minutes. Of course that's the free version, and you can purchase priority processing for a monthly sum.

If you are willing to shell out a monthly fee, the priority processing might make browser shots work for you. The problems I encountered with the free version would make me reluctant to trust it's results. Have a different experience? Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Bing Webmaster Center

Bing is a new search engine, or rather a "decision engine" that launched last weekend. Bing is really the new build of Microsoft's LiveSearch, with features designed to one-up Google and take some of it's marketshare, particularly in advertising. Bing is reportedly designed to hold visitors longer and expose them to more advertising.

Along with the new features comes a new "webmaster center." Or rather the old MSN webmaster center, just moved lock, stock and barrel, over to Bing:

The webmaster welcome email talks about a "soon-to-be-updated suite of tools." So we'll look out for that. There's also a link to the Bing API, where you can find information and submit an application:

Finally, there is a Bing community: It's PRETTY dead over there right now. If you have some spare time you could dominate the place. Or not.

So it looks like Bing is on it's way to matching some of Google's features. The danger in copying something that by the time you get it right, the original will have morphed into something else. We can hope that Bing lives up to becoming a "decision engine" and not just a Google me-too. I'm looking forward to seeing something original on Bing and in the Webmaster Center. Until then, we can just wait and hope.