January 2008 – Stay N Alive

Bebo Announces Auto-play for All for Flash on User Profiles

Bebo LogoA really cool feature of the Bebo API is that, unlike the Facebook API, they are committed to allow autoplay on Flash widgets placed on Profile pages.  Facebook has turned off this feature, requiring users to click on the widget before it is allowed to play.  Today, Bebo became even more appealing by announcing they are going to allow the user to have preference over what autoplays and what does not.

On Bebo, Developers have the choice to have the sound on their Flash widgets play when the page is loaded, have the sound off when the page is loaded, or disable the sound entirely.  Users have the ability to disable sound entirely when they load pages:

“bebo users can opt to not autoplay flash content on profiles they view – if such a viewer is viewing a page then all sn:swf tags that requested sound=”on” will be set to “off”

Flash Widgets still autoplay, with or without sound.  The user then has the opportunity to turn on the sound with a little speaker icon in the upper-right corner of the widget.

I think this is a great way to prevent spam of music or other sounds playing as you load others’ profiles, similar to how MySpace does it.  At the same time, it stays flexible for developers in that they can have a completely running flash application (instead of an image, like Facebook), right as the page loads.  Apps like the Skype app for Facebook and my GrandCentral app actually have purpose with this method.

Cha Cha Saved My Brother – Why I’m a Believer

ChaCha LogoA few weeks ago, I met at a Tweetup with Justin Keller from ChaCha.com and a few others that were in town visiting for Sundance.  He gave me a cool, free scarf with the Cha Cha and Sundance Logos on it.  It was my first official “Sundance Swag”.   That was also my first introduction to Cha Cha, and from then on I heard a lot of cool things on Twitter about Cha Cha, and lots of celebrities up in Sundance that were loving it.

Today, that meetup had meaning when my brother called me from I-40 in New Mexico on his way to Las Vegas, between Gallup and Albuquerque saying he was stranded.  He wanted to know why traffic was at a standstill on what would usually be a pretty vacant Road (it is in the middle of the desert!).  I checked Google, couldn’t find any traffic info for that area.  Then I checked Google Maps to look at the traffic, and no traffic showed for the area.  I checked accuweather.com and weather.com to see if it might be weather, but couldn’t see any evidence.

Then I remembered Cha Cha had a “Human Powered” search engine.  I sent a question to “242242” (CHACHA on your cell phone) via text message on my iPhone asking why my brother was at a standstill.  Within just a couple minutes I received a response saying they were cleaning up after near white-out conditions, and to wait out until they cleared up the roads.  A link was attached, which also told me there were several accidents ahead and the road was closed (I love my iPhone’s browser!).  I quickly called my brother and told him the details so he could decide to find the nearest hotel and wait it out.

Cha Cha in this case saved my brother from a pretty tough situation!  Consider Cha Cha your personal, real life social, search engine for your cell phone – you send it a text message, a human “guide” that gets paid $.20 per transaction sends you your answer back, with a link to the source(s).  There is also a web version, which takes you to a chat box where you can ask a live person your question.  I had worse results with that – the person just returned a bunch of vague links with no real answer.

Regardless of my one bad experience, I have now added 242242 to my cell phone contacts list.  It will be my new friend when I need to find things on the go.  Don’t forget to add it to your contacts!

Better Blog Visibility With Facebook Notes Tagging

On FacebookAdvice.com (the official blog for the book, “I’m On Facebook — Now What???”), I go over how you can use Facebook Notes tagging to get the attention of those with larger networks in Facebook. This is my first time using video, so be light on me! I see a lot of potential for using video in this manner, so expect more! Click here to read more on FacebookAdvice.com.

MySpace Announces Developer Platform, OpenSocial to Leave Beta Feb. 5?

Myspace developer platformTonight, MySpace released a signup to enter their development platform. Mashable is reporting that the Platform will go live February 5, and will support OpenSocial from day 1. The MySpace Platform is also rumored to provide revenue sharing options for developers, perhaps providing a solution to the ad sharing networks becoming so rampant on Facebook today.

However, I think the really big news is that MySpace is talking about actually launching their platform on February 5. I have yet to hear that it will be a beta like all the other networks currently. OpenSocial is currently at version 0.7, so that means they are nearing production. Does this mean OpenSocial will officially be out of beta by February 5? I think this could very well be the case, and possibly the reason for MySpace’s late entry – expect this to happen very soon.

Prologue – OpenSocial for Twitter

Just today, Matt Mullenweg, founding developer and owner of Automattic, announced a new, open source, theme for WordPress called Prologue. The theme essentially turns your blog into a “mini-Twitter”, with a “Whatcha up to?” text box at the top where your users can post what they are currently doing. This is an excellent way to build community on a site, just for your own users – it will be interesting, as cell phone networks open up, to see if there will be ways to integrate “mini-communities” such as this onto users’ cell phones. I also anticipate someone writing some sort of Twitter plugin that integrates with this theme, and I’d love to figure out a way to use this theme in conjunction with my current theme so I can add this as a link to my current blog.

The theme has been released as Open Source, completely free, under the GPL. The release of this reminds me very much of Google’s OpenSocial initiative, of which they are releasing platform code, very similar to the way Facebook’s platform works (Facebook is a very closed platform currently), for anyone and everyone to load onto their own blogs as they wish. Basically, you can “create your own Twitter” with this code they are releasing!

Joseph Scott, a very good friend of mine, was one of the writers of this and he’s going to give me a demo this Thursday – I’ll post a video of it when I’m done (unless someone wants to buy me an N95, which I’ll post live via Qik.com!). Matt Mullenweg will also be in town this Saturday and meeting with local bloggers and social media advocates – if I can make it work, I may try some video of that as well.

A Very Social Farewell to Gordon B. Hinckley, President and Prophet of the Mormon Church

Tonight at 7:00 pm Gordon B. Hinckley, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away in the company of loved ones. President Hinckley was 97 at his passing. I’ve been alive through the death of a few LDS prophets, but never has the death of one President hit the world with such force as this one. I heard of the news first through Twitter, then through the Phone, then the TV, and soon the Internet was ablaze with tributes to President Hinckley. This has been so amazing to watch! I’ve seen at least 5 Facebook Groups created, and even created an Event of my own in memorial of his death. On Twitter, I’ve tracked the term, “Hinckley”, and was already tracking the term, “Mormon”. My cell phone has been going nuts all night! The Twitter and Facebook responses themselves have been tribute enough. President Hinckley truly led a worldwide church, and spoke to a worldwide audience, something very different from previous Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. President Hinkley – we will truly miss you!

An official statement of his passing can be found at:


UPDATE: btw, this article is at 130 Diggs, and still hasn’t made the front page of Digg!  Is this due to the algorithm change?

Why Facebook Did *Not* Release Their Platform Last Night

It’s all over the web right now that Facebook supposedly “released their platform last night”. I want to clarify the situation – Facebook did not release their platform last night! What Facebook did release, as the title of their announcement states, is a Javascript Client API library for Facebook.

First, let’s discuss what a platform is. A platform is simply this – an interface to a major website or operating system, of which Software Developers can write their own software for. Back in May, Facebook opened their platform for developers. They have also announced plans to license their platform to third party websites at one point in the future. However, after last nights release of a javascript library, I still do not have the capability to let other Facebook developers write applications, using the same architecture (think Bebo) as Facebook on my own website.

What Facebook released last night is simply a client-based API (that loads into the user’s memory) which has access to access Facebook Data for an application that already exists on Facebook’s systems. I am still tied to Facebook with this, it requires an application API key like all other APIs, and nothing has changed. In fact, the Javascript library is even more limited than the other, server-side APIs, in that I cannot upload Photos with the Javascript library like I can, say, in PHP or Perl.

What you can do is have access to an existing application on Facebook’s servers, and tie your external website to that application. This has always been the case with the Facebook API, and will continue to be in the future. iLike uses this with their iTunes application. We’re Related uses this in their registration process on the FamilyLink.com site. It’s just you can now do it in Javascript.

I was going to blog on this last night when the announcement came out, but the announcement last night does mean something significant. It means Facebook is starting to compete with OpenSocial. OpenSocial, a javascript-based library currently, gives you access to a library of friends on a single social network, only requiring static html to access that API, just like Facebook’s new API library does. What OpenSocial has that Facebook doesn’t however, is what they term the “Apache Shindig Project”. Shindig is a truly open platform, which does allow you to allow your own users to create their own apps on your site only, and even share them with other Shindig-supported websites.

I repeat – Facebook is not there yet! The announcement last night means Facebook is closer to competing with OpenSocial, but they are still just as closed as they have always been.

Pownce – Why it May be Worth Considering

I’m very surprised that Twitter is not trying to compete with Pownce. As some of you may know, Pownce recently went out of beta, and opened their platform to anyone interested in joining. For awhile, I wasn’t much of a proponent for Pownce, but just recently, I’ve decided to give Pownce a try and see if it could be a good alternative to Twitter.

The last time I tried Pownce, I was unaware of Twitter – to me, Pownce just didn’t make sense at the time. Why would anyone need another way of sharing things with their friends? Isn’t that what a chat client is for?

It wasn’t until today, when I wanted a way to share a song my brother’s band did with friends, I realized Twitter just didn’t fulfill my need. You see, with anything but text updates, you have to go to an external website, upload the file, then post an external link to that file, photo, or video for others to see.

Pownce took care of that issue for me. With one integrated client, I was able to upload the file I wanted to share, and boom – it was available to all my friends to not only click, but play directly from the Pownce client! Not only that, but I opened up http://m.pownce.com on my iPhone, and I was able to play it right on my iPhone, without having to download the file! Pownce supports most file types, as well as links, and events, as well as plain status updates like Twitter.

The other thing that I thought I may complain about, which Pownce has, is ads. Because Pownce supplies users with its own client (they do have an API – I’m sure there will be other clients available in the future), they are able to provide users with inline ads, separate from their updates, right in the client. Honestly, I kind of feel this is somewhat comforting – from these I know my update service has an actual revenue model. There’s organization among the chaos, and I know my update client will be around for awhile longer. We complain when there are ads, but honestly, I think this is a flaw that will catch up with Twitter – the unknowns of how Twitter will make money are making the community ask questions.

So, now that I’m on Pownce will I move away from Twitter? For now, no – Pownce needs an SMS option before I completely switch. There’s something to say about having my phone make an SMS sound every time I get an @ reply or a direct message. Also, Pownce does not yet support tracking – this is an extremely valuable tool on Twitter! I also have a great network on Twitter. For now, I can see myself having both Pownce, and Twitter open – I’m really hoping the missing features of Pownce are taken care of, and my network also gradually moves over so I can take advantage of this great service! You can find me on Pownce at:


Next Utah Social Media Developers Garage Meeting: February 2nd

I have learned from Joseph Scott (a local developer at Automattic, the owners of WordPress) that Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress will be in town on February 2nd. Originally we were going to plan on the next Utah SMDev meeting being February 12th, but due to Matt’s appearance, we’re going to join other interested bloggers and developers on February 2nd at the Taj India at 12pm. A Facebook event will be created, but please also be sure to RSVP at the official event page here. Again, here are the details:

Date: Saturday, February 2, 2008
Time: 12:00 PM (noon)
RSVP: at Upcoming Event Page
Taj India Restaurant
3540 South State St
Salt Lake City, Utah 84115

Taj India has Wi-Fi so bring your laptops and be ready for a great time! Our next meeting will be the second Tuesday in April (April 8). I’ll announce that again here as plans are solidified.

UPDATE: I previously said the meeting was February 5th – that is INCORRECT. The correct date is February 2nd, so be sure your calendars are correct!