September 2009 – Stay N Alive

The You, the Me, and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter

Sad PuppyI accidentally unfollowed all my followers.

I was testing out the unfollow all feature on my site,, and just happened to hit the “delete all friends” button by mistake without realizing it. For that, I apologize.  I learned something valuable from it though – out of the 23,000 people I unfollowed on accident, I was very surprised at the number of people that have auto-unfollow on by default.  About 6,000 to be exact.  So out of the 23,000 people following me 1/4th of those probably still have no clue I unfollowed them – 6,000 people following me had a meaningless relationship with me!

There’s more though – I post a lot of links to my profile.  A lot of those promote other people.  Some promote blog posts I write.  In general, for the blog posts I write, I generally only get about 20-50 of you on Twitter that actually click on the links!  That’s a depressing number coming from a follower base of 23,000 people.

This got me thinking about how I can build stronger relationships with the people I follow.  How do I get people to add me to their whitelist?  How can I get to know you better, and how can I get you to know me better at the same time? Twitter is very difficult to nurture this type of relationship – it was built as a broadcasting platform that happened to evolve to become a communications and is trying to be a relationships platform.  It also degraded to the point that most of the people that follow you now aren’t even real people! I would venture to say that a good portion (1/4th?) of Twitter’s populace are there with the sole intent to gain a larger follower base.

This isn’t why I use Twitter. I came here to share something.  I came here to learn something from others. The connections we gain from learning from each other are what matter to me. Some times we entertain each other.  Some times we teach each other.  I’m here to strengthen others’ knowledge and learn from others at the same time, not inflate a number for anyone, especially myself. IMO the whole “numbers thing” should happen naturally.  That’s how we engage.  That’s how we build real relationships – that’s what true marketing is, or should be about.

So starting today I’m starting something new with my Twitter account.  I want to strengthen my relationships with each and every one of you.  I want to build a community, and I’m starting with Twitter.

Starting today I’m now using 3 Twitter accounts.  The first one, which you are already familiar with, @Jesse, is about me.  The second one, which I’m starting today, @JessesLinks, is about YOU.  The third one, @JesseStay, is where the community happens – it’s about WE.  Here’s a little more explanation:


This account is about me.  It’s not your typical Twitter “me” account any more.  Starting today, I’m only posting content here.  Pure content – no links, no replies.  Just 140 character morsels of knowledge as I feel like sharing.  Its intent is to be informative, entertaining, and educational.  I may also share a link to a blog post or two of my own where I feel I need to elaborate.  I won’t be replying to anyone publicly on this account any more.  I won’t be auto following at the moment. The purpose of this account is pure content, for those that want to consume it.  This is a public account for all to see and follow.


This account is about YOU. This is where I share your stuff.  If you have something cool you want to share with me, let me know there.  I may retweet a few good Tweets here.  I’ll even auto follow on this account.  While I won’t be @replying to anyone publicly on this account, this is where I get to share your content. Maybe I’ll do a couple #followfridays to promote specific people as well.  You can DM me here.  This is a public account about you – those that follow this account will learn more about other people and the content they share.


This is actually my old account – I thought I’d put it to good use.  This account is all about US. Those that request access to this account will be followed rigorously by me.  Depending on how big it gets I may even follow your updates via SMS to ensure I get them.  This will become my “favorites list”.  I’ll actively interact with you through this account.  I’ll respond to your tweets.  I’ll import all the best posts from @Jesse and @JessesLinks here.  I’m going to manually (yes, manually) follow every person that is real and requests access to this account.  This is where I want to build true relationships.

I want to try a little experiment with this account though.  I’m going to make it private. This is so our conversation remains intimate.  This is also so you have to do a little something to join the community.  It makes each person in the community a little more real.  As I said earlier, I plan to follow every real person that requests access to this community.  There’s one caveat though – I’m going to ask each individual that joins this community to introduce themselves.  I want you and me to get to know each other better. I want all of us to get to know each other better through this community.

If you have to pick one account to follow I would recommend joining the @JesseStay community. This is where I want to empower relationships between us.  This is where I want our conversation to become one-on-one, and real.  Will you join me here?

This is all just an experiment for now.  I’m curious if I might be able to strengthen the relationships of those that follow me through this method.  I want to build real-life relationships with each of you – let’s work to do this together.  Maybe I’ll post a follow up later on how it all goes.

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Has 8,000 Twitter Followers. And?

Screen shot 2009-09-25 at 12.12.16 PMToday Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, our favorite Twitter political celebrity and Senate candidate who DM Failed his Senate campaign announcement, made another announcement on Twitter (at the same time calling all of us “Twitophiles”) I just had to share with you – yes, (gasp!) he has more than 8,000 Twitter followers.  That’s right my friends – the candidate set to take on Senator Bob Bennett for his Senate seat is “Taking Back America” one Twitter follower at a time until he’s taken them all and he owns Utah on Twitter.  Or is he?

Let’s look at his follower numbers – there’s something fishy here.  While he has 8,063 followers, he’s following 8,743.  From my experience of running an auto-follow service (which he’s not using – buy Utah!), generally when the numbers of people you are following is higher than those that are following you, it generally means a) you are running an auto-follow tool, and b) probably about half of those followers are spam bots, porn accounts, and not even real people.  And sure enough, going through his list of followers I’m seeing names like “PronDb”, “InstantBizHelp”, “QuitYourJob2Day”, and “PokerSSpace”.  Let’s just assume those are real people with real interest in him though.

Assuming all those followers are real, how many are actually listening to him?  How many of them are using “search for followers” services like Twollo and just followed him because they have it set to automatically follow anybody that says “Utah”?  Here’s my point: Twitter follower numbers mean nothing and I certainly hope someone doesn’t win a political campaign because they have more Twitter followers than their other opponents.  As I’ve said before, having a large following on Twitter only means you have to shout louder for everyone to hear.

Rather than focusing on followers, Mr. Shurtleff should instead be focusing on engaging each of his followers – building relationships with them.  Twitter’s a very difficult place to do that.  He could be setting up forums on Facebook where he actively participates and engages his audience in discussion.  He could be blogging, and interacting with his readers in the comments.  He could be responding, in short form on Twitter, while not as effective, to those responding to him on Twitter.  He could be over here, engaging with us in the comments of this blog and other Utah-based blogs.  Looking over his Tweet stream I see a lot of “talking at me”.  Instead he should be “talking with me” – this is a 2-way conversation Mr. Shurtleff, and the fact that you’re bragging about your Twitter followers as a political crutch against your opponents shows to me that you, possibly more than them, still don’t understand these tools.

Based on the way he’s using these tools, I would find it very hard to believe that even a majority of his audience is actually listening to Mark Shurtleff.  Post a link in your Twitter profile through – I think you’d be very surprised how many people of those 8,000 actually click on that link.  Now go over to your blog and post that same link.  I think you’ll see a much greater response.  Twitter has its purpose, but I’m afraid Mark Shurtleff seems clueless when it comes to Social Media.  Of course, it should be noted that his opponent only has 7 Tweets referencing himself in the third person with only 101 followers.  Maybe Utah politicians are just clueless – I’ll vote for that.

Editor’s Note: I neither endorse, nor am I against Mark Shurtleff. Heck, I may even vote for him – I post this only hoping to educate Utah politicians and others in whatever manner possible – this is embarrassing!

The Open Web – Is it Really What We Think it is?

OneWebDayYesterday was OneWebDay, a day to celebrate the open web and bring more awareness to technologies. I just wrote about one thing Google is doing to make the web more open, something I strongly support.  I want to touch on something Facebook is doing which I don’t think is being fully appreciated.  And it’s not what you think it is.  First, I want you to watch this video – it’s Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote from Facebook’s F8 conference for developers last year.  Don’t read on until you see it or you may not understand what I’m trying to get at here.

In the video, Mark Zuckerberg states that Facebook’s mission is in “giving people the power to share in order to make the world more open and connected place.”   I want you to give that some thought. We’ve always talked about the open web being the opening up of content so everyone has access to it.  That’s the essence of the web. It has no borders or boundaries, and has no controls over it.  That is how it was built and how it should be.  The web is about linking documents to each other, and indexing those documents so they are easily accessible and retrievable by those that want to find it.  The traditional open web is about the power to receive.

Enter the social web.  Now we have all these social networks – Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Orkut, Hi5, LinkedIn, and many others all striving to redefine the web, each in their own way.  In the end each of these networks is giving a layer to the web which connects people instead of documents and in the end brings people together.  At the same time we’re indexing people, and from those people comes relevancy and documents which others can share with one-another.  Many argue that this method of indexing is even more accurate, because it is spread from person-to-person, and it’s real-time.

There’s one problem with the social web in terms of openness.  People don’t want their lives exposed.  They just want the documents they prefer to share with the world exposed.  In the end, because we’re dealing with people, there still needs to be some bounds of privacy, yet people should still have the control to make what they want open, open. Without these controls, there is no freedom, as people are required to completely expose their lives to reveal even a bit of content with the rest of the world.

This is why I think on the Social Web, “Open” is defined much differently.  I think Facebook sees this. In a social environment, the role of technology should be in making relationships more open, making the ability to share more open, not necessarily the documents people are sharing themselves. In a Social Web “Open” is about how “Open” you are to enabling your users to make the decision whether they want to make their documents public or not, and fully enabling them to do so if they want to.  The thing is, a Social ecosystem is not “Open” if it doesn’t give users the freedom to keep those documents private if they want to as well.

Facebook takes this new layer of “Open” to another level though. As of last year they have been branching out of their walls, enabling other websites to take these tools, giving each website the control to extend this level of control to their own users.  Now websites can take the existing social graphs of users and enable those users to automatically share what they want with their friends, respecting the privacy controls of those friends.  I should note that Google Friend Connect is doing similar things in that realm (albeit with less privacy controls, IMO making it a less “open” or “free” ecosystem to allow users full control of that data).

I think what we may be defining as a “Walled Garden” or “closed ecosystem” may indeed be the actual definition of “Open” on the social web.  Remember, it’s about opening up the control of the user to share all, some, or none of the content they want to share.  The more “Open” a system is to doing this, the more open users are to share data, the more open it is to having their friends see that data, and the more open it is to allowing others search for that data, while at the same time being open to letting the users that want to control that data keep it under closed wall.  The web has lacked this ability until recently.  In a true “Open” Social Ecosystem, if data is not available via search and other means, it is the fault of the users, not the network itself.  Data that is available to the web is the responsibility of the users, not the responsibility of the network itself. I think Facebook is the closest to this definition of “Open” out there right now.  I think that’s why they have over 300 million users and are still growing.

On the Social Web, “Open” is about the power to give.

<img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-2489" title="I <3 the web." src="" alt="I

Let’s Take This Just One Step Further Google

ChromeI think I speak for all developers when I say that having to develop for IE browsers sucks.  Internet Explorer, unfortunately still the most widely used browser on the internet, has failed the development community and the web in general in keeping up with internet standards. While developers can do some really cool stuff with HTML 5 and open source browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Webkit-based Safari, IE misses the mark. Unfortunately this goes for even the most recent versions of Microsoft’s browser.

This is why I was really happy to see Google produce a plugin for IE called Chrome Frame, which when installed, loads a Chrome browser within IE for the user giving the user all the added functionality of a modern HTML 5-compliant browser without having to do much at all to switch to a new environment or fiddle with the default browser settings.  I think it’s a pretty clever idea.

What I think is even more clever is that Google is now requiring users to install the plugin if they are going to use their upcoming product, Google Wave.  When Google Wave launches, if users visit the product in Internet Explorer, they will get a message that looks like this:

chrome frame message

I think most users won’t even blink an eyelash to installing it, and, just like Flash or Quicktime or any other type of Internet Explorer plugin they’ll have no problem agreeing and installing it within their browser.  This is especially if they want to use Google Wave, something I predict could very well replace Gmail and the way we communicate today in the future.  But I think Google should do more.

Let’s take this one step further.  I think it would be really cool if Google provided simple HTML/JavaScript code that provides the exact html you see above, that any developer can install on their website.  Any developer can do that now by writing their own browser detection code in JavaScript, but let’s make this as easy as possible and standardize it. If users become familiar with this style and look, they will be much less likely to complain and much more likely to install.

As a developer I would be more than happy to install such code on my site, reducing the amount of time I have to spend switching computers to test in IE and messing with entirely different standards, increasing the time I have to develop my app.  As an entrepreneur and business owner it’s simply too costly to have to worry about so many different browsers at once.  If I could focus on simply the standards and get all the new HTML functionality right now without duplicating my effort in 2 browser environments that would be a huge win for me, and definitely worth the investment. I’d install it in a heartbeat.

So how about it Google? Let’s provide that message and plugin install widget for all developers and make this a much more open and modern web outside of the control of Microsoft.  I’m loving where Google is going with this.

This New Trend in Facebook Apps Looks Ugly

HuluI was tipped today onto Hulu’s new Facebook app, which seems to be aiming to bring the Hulu website into Facebook by including videos and a stream in the app itself.  The thing is, it’s hardly an app – it’s just the Hulu website in an HTML tag with an embeded stream widget inside. (Not sure what that is? Click the link to learn more about stream widgets) It’s something anyone (I would even argue you don’t even have to be a developer to do what they did) could do inside or outside Facebook, but they could do much better.  They took the easy way out, and it better have cost them just 2 hours of their developers’ time to implement or they just got ripped off.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this trend of Facebook app design.  I first saw it when a friend showed me the Hurley Pro Facebook app, also just a normal website, with a Facebook fan stream widget embedded inside, something that really barely even utilizes the Facebook API and the reasons you would integrate with Facebook in the first place.  I’m sure Facebook isn’t complaining – in the end it does bring more traffic to Facebook and helps to spread the Facebook brand, but for the brands in question, I just can’t see how this is helping them at all!

Here’s what they’re missing out on by not having deeper integration:

  • Deep tracking – they have the potential to know the exact demographics of everyone visiting their app or site by digging a little deeper
  • Notifications, Invites, and Requests – without some FBML and API integration (see my book to learn more about that) there is no way for users to spread word of the app.  The only way currently to do that via the means they’re doing it is to use the stream widget, which hardly does much to spread word of the app.
  • User tracking and customization – by using the Facebook API they could be knowing exactly who is visiting their app and customizing the experience to that user
  • Friend sharing – the most powerful feature of the Facebook API, there is no way currently to view what your friends are doing within the app.  Hulu, for instance, could be showing the videos your friends are watching and favoriting and subscribing to. They can’t do that the way they’re doing it right now.

If I were Hulu, I would be looking for ways to utilize Facebook Connect to bring Facebook to their own brand.  Look to integrate (see the “3 steps – that’s all!” part of this doc on the Facebook developers wiki) a simple one-click user login and registration button for Facebook on your site.  Use the API to get the user’s friends and share what their other friends on Facebook using Hulu are doing.  You can do all this on your own website.

Then allow your users to take action – share what your users are doing on Hulu with their friends on Facebook.  Their friends on Facebook will see the interaction on Hulu and want to interact with your site as well.  Hulu, you’re really missing out here, and it won’t be much work to just integrate a little more Facebook into your own brand.  It’s time we start creating farms on our own turf and stop going out to do the fishing ourselves.

Hulu, contact me if you want some help in this.

"Fish Where the Fish Are" No Longer Applies

big_fishMy good friend, Jeremiah Owyang had a great quote he liked to share in his presentations, stating that the days of old-style marketing, forcing your customers to your site, no longer applied. He stated that we must “Fish Where the Fish Are“, and right he was. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, YouTube, MySpace, etc. it was now possible for companies to get into the conversations of their customers, where they were conversing rather than trying to get them back to their own site to encourage that. I’d like to suggest that even that philosophy’s evolving though, and like with the previous philosophy, Facebook’s leading the way.  Now, instead of “Fishing where the Fish are”, you can bring the entire lake to your website and again, those conversations are again all happening under your own brand. Now you get to fish in your own backyard.

Last year Facebook introduced Facebook Connect to developers to enable developers to integrate the Facebook Platform right on their own websites. I’m not sure developers or businesses fully knew what was coming at the time, but it sounded good.  Mark Zuckerberg talked about expanding the ability to share on Facebook to the web, and keeping the fine-grained privacy controls Facebook is known for along with that.  I believe a new way of marketing may have begun with that launch.

If you get a chance, go sign into through your Facebook login. Look – all your friends from Facebook just automatically got imported onto with just one click! And you never left the site.  Huffington Post gets this concept – their readers’ conversations on Facebook are all happening through their own website, and they’re enabling new conversations from that!  Their users never have to go back to Facebook to converse the news they’re reading with their friends.

Another great example is If you log in through Facebook there you’ll notice with no effort your friends all get imported as friends on Digg.  Now, every new friend that logs into Digg via those means also gets added, automatically, as a friend on the site. Digg has brought Facebook back to their own brand.

Soon you’ll start to see the same for microblogging. Whether it happens via Facebook, or via open source platforms such as or WordPress, brands will begin to bring ways for you to bring short-form conversations to their sites as well, enabling you to post out to Twitter, Facebook, and others and bring those conversations back into the site. This is the way it all started, and now we’re able to merge the old marketing and new marketing into a more complete solution that brings the brand back into the equation.

There are many tools available now, and many being developed right now that are bringing that “sea of fish” back onto your own property.  Tools like Facebook Connect are teaching you how to fish in that backyard pond so you can feed a multitude.  Now you can swim with the best of them in your own swimming pool!

LazyFeed Becomes First Real-Time Web Aggregator for rssCloud

Lazyfeed LogoToday Lazyfeed announced they had officially launched rssCloud and Pub/sub Hubbub (PSHB) support into their real-time RSS aggregator, making them the first major aggregator for rssCloud outside of Dave Winer’s own River2 client, and the first client of its type for the Web (Dave Winer’s client is written for the desktop OS).  What does this mean? It means now you have a way to get the most relevant information you are looking for real-time, as it happens.

Lazyfeed is a new aggregation service that aims to provide real-time news updates on specific topics you want to know about.  You give it the keywords you’re interested in, and it comes back, as the news happens, with the news written about those keywords.  It goes further though and provides additional suggestions for other keywords you might be interested in as they happen, and you can add those to your list as well.  See Louis Gray’s demo here for a great view of how it works.

Now, with rssCloud and PSHB support for real-time news aggregation, they are now one of the most real-time aggregators on the web.  On their blog they mentioned some of the hurdles they had to jump to get through the implementation, and ironically, Feedburner seemed to have the biggest issues with set up (through PSHB) since the Atom protocol wasn’t built natively with any sort of real-time support. No problems were mentioned about rssCloud, showing promise for the protocol developed by Dave Winer. Lazyfeed seemed to think Feedburner wasn’t even real time, based on their experience, showing a delay of a few minutes on each feed published.

Problems aside, seeing aggregators like Lazyfeed implement these technologies is promising, showing we are on the cusp of the 2010 web and real-time news and updates being at our fingertips.  I’ve talked to several other companies also getting ready to embrace these technologies and I’m pretty sure by the end of 2010 it will be an entirely new web and opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers alike.

UPDATE: Brett Slakin, one of the originators of the PSHB protocol, has clarified some of the PSHB and Feedburner issues here:

The Sony Xplod MEX-BT5700U, a Radio That Complements the Web

xplodblackEarlier this year one of my goals was to try and make a transition on this blog and start to review consumer electronics a little more.  I’ve had a few posts in mind, but none of them seemed to make sense or fit with the flow of this blog.  Recently I received an offer from Sony to try out their new top-of-the-line MEX-BT5700U car stereo unit from their Xplod line. I happened to be looking for a car stereo at the time, had just bought a new one for my wife’s car, so figured I’d give it a try and take them up on their offer, planning to post a review in return.  Little did I know that it may have just given me a new category of posts that I will include on this blog.  I discovered, that in combination with an iPhone that my Truck could quickly become a fully-connected machine powered by the Social web.  I’m going to call these devices “Social Electronics”, and hopefully I can review more of these for you in the future (I already have several in my home).  I’ll explain.

Social Mobile

The SocialMobile

Meet my baby truck. I call it the “SocialMobile”.  I think you can see why.  It’s a 2000 Ford F-150, and I love it – I may even sell my first-born child for it, just maybe (not really honey!).  I bought it a) because I always wanted a truck growing up in Texas, and b) because I needed something to get me through the steep slopes in the middle of the winter of Parley’s Canyon near here when I would drive up to work at in Park City, Utah.  But now it’s just a fun car to drive.

While I can decorate it all I want with stickers, license plates, and more, there has always been one thing lacking, an actual “Social” experience, to live up to its name.  When I got the truck, I bought a Monster iCruze which enabled me to control my iPod from the dash of my factory default Ford stereo system.  It was one of my favorite gadgets, and had magnificent sound when connected to the iPod!  However, when I got an iPhone, I could no longer use the iCruz.  I kept the old iPod and used it as a CD changer of sorts for awhile, but it just didn’t give me what my iPhone was capable of doing.  So I was craving something to give me the full experience, in the car, which my iPhone could give me.

Enter my parents’ car.  My parents have several new Ford cars, one of those is in the hands of my little sisters at the moment. One of the coolest features in their Fords was a technology, powered by Microsoft, called “Sync”, which enabled you to seamlessly connect your phone or iPod or any wireless or USB device, and tell it what to do via voice commands or the in-dash controls of the car.  I craved this technology.  My car didn’t have it, and I would probably not be able to get it until I bought a brand new car, something I just can’t afford right now.  The tough thing was until recently you couldn’t really buy anything that fully duplicated that experience outside of the factory, in-dash stereos that came with new cars.  I was jealous!

The Sony XPlod MEX-BT5700U

At CES this year, Sony rolled out a new line of stereos aimed at solving this problem.  The MEX-BT5700U is the top of their line of these stereos, and thus far has covered everything I craved for from the in-dash factory models that you could only get with a new car.  The advantage here is that anyone can get that technology now, and install it in their own car!

The Features

I’m by far a radio expert, so I’ll just share my personal experience.  These are all my own opinions, and not meant as a comparison to any other model out there.  I encourage you, after reading this, to go out and read the other stereos that are out there and make your own comparisons.  The one thing I do know is that for the most part, this stereo seems to solve all my problems.

To start, let’s share some of the highlights of what you get with the unit:

  • USB Port: In the front of the unit is a USB port that allows you to attach an iPod or other USB device.  It also works with the iPhone and will charge your iPhone.
  • BlueTooth handsfree support with external and internal microphones: There is both an internal and external microphone that comes with the unit.  The external microphone can fit anywhere that makes sense in the car, and if you have a good installer can stay out of sight.  To answer a call, you just push the dial knob, and do the same to hang up.  It also supports voice controls if your device supports it, and will download your address book so you can choose who you want to call from your radio all without ever having to take your phone out of your pocket.  It is also built to support all 3.x operating systems for the iPhone, something I needed.
  • HD-Ready Stereo: Why these devices don’t come with HD pre-installed, I don’t understand, but this is standard.  The stereo has decent quality and typical memory channel presets.  It also is Satellite radio ready.
  • CD Player: The device has a Flip-down front that reveals the CD player.  It will also connect to an optional CD changer if you want.  It supports MP3/WMA/AAC formats as well as traditional CDs.  The cool thing I noticed is that for normal CDs it even detects the song names some how and displays them as they’re playing.  You can also navigate through a submenu of songs on the CD and pick them out individually that way.
  • “Zappin” Jump Mode Technology: If you can’t take your eyes off the road but you want to pick out a certain song, you just click the “ZAP” button, and it will automatically play each song for the device you’re using (CD, iPod, iPhone, etc) in 6, 9, or 30-second clips.  Press the tuner dial knob and it will play the song you’re previewing.
  • A Remote!: I never even knew I needed it! But having a remote is extremely handy if you can’t afford to take your hands off the wheel, for instance.  Or, if you have others in the back of the car you can give the control to them to handle the music.  I think that’s pretty handy.

Things I Liked

Let’s just get this out of the way.  I love this radio! As an iPhone freak it complements my driving completely.  I step into the car, and it recognizes my phone immediately.  Set up was easy – just go into the bluetooth menu (there’s a “bluetooth” button on the face), select your device, and pair as you would any other bluetooth device with your phone. Now, when someone calls you, you push the dial knob and it answers.  If you want to call someone else, just select the number via the dials and it calls them.  If your phone supports it you can even use voice dial.

I noticed some of the reviews saying the display was too dim for middle of the day driving.  I don’t know if they fixed that, but the display is easy to read in the brightest of lights, provides multiple animations and backgrounds you can choose from on the display, and even lets you change the colors of the keys, allowing you to fully customize the experience.  My speakers aren’t anything special, but if you have a system that can support it, it supports up to 52 watts of peak power to all 4 speakers, giving almost a more powerful sound experience than even my home theater can provide!

Another frustration I’ve had with other systems has been that they lock your iPod or iPhone when they’re connected.  Not so with this device.  By default it locks, but by clicking and holding down “Mode”, it exits that lock-down and enters “Passenger Mode”, so your passengers can now have control over the listening experience.  If you have an iPhone, nothing is locked down and it uses the bluetooth stereo audio from the iPhone to play sound direct from the iPhone.  This was useful so I could play other apps on my iPhone.  I’ll go over that in the “Social Technology” section below though.

Things I Didn’t Like

As I mentioned, as an overall system, this system is almost perfect for my needs.  It would not be a fair review however if I didn’t not mention some of my frustrations.  Here they are:

  • No RDS – as far as I can tell, there’s no RDS support with this radio.  RDS is the extra part of the FM wavespace that enables the carrier to carry an additional data signal that tells just a little bit about the song that is playing over the air.  This was a big part of my factory radio, and it will be missed.
  • Phonebook – the in-dash phone book downloader on this thing is great, but I did have issues with the way it imported data from my iPhone.  Most of the entries showed up as “Unknown”, making it very hard to find the names I wanted to find.  In addition, they seemed to be sorted by first name, yet were a bit out of order even in that manner. It would be nice if it could catch the names from my iPhone, and only display the entries that have real phone numbers and real names attached to them.  Otherwise it’s just not useful.
  • Voice Dial – I have yet to upgrade to iPhone 3.1, and I know bluetooth integration with voice dial is supposed to be one of the features.  I’m hoping that I just need to upgrade to get this.  However, the pre-3.1 firmware on the iPhone does not work with the integrated voice dial.  I wish it did, but again that may be a phone limitation.  They say right in the docs that the voice dial is only supposed to work with supported devices. I’m hoping my iPhone upgrade fixes that.
  • Call Quality – My first call with my wife on the device was great – she could hear me fine and I could hear her great.  However, once I got going in the truck, with the loud sounds of the truck the receiving end of the call that I was talking to was having a hard time hearing me.  I was told it sounded like I was on a speaker phone.  You’re supposed to be able to adjust the noise cancellation settings, and I just updated that today so we’ll see how that improves the sound.  I imagine this is a common problem with any car hands free system though, so it’s minor.

“Social” Technology, and Taking That on the Go

As I mentioned earlier, what makes me love this unit the most is that it enables me to truly build a social experience in my own car.  The marketing and promo material for the unit all emphasize the compatibility with modern devices such as the iPhone 3GS.  This is very appealing to me.

Here are some examples:

  • The first time I connected it, I immediately went over to my app on my iPhone.  Despite some embarrassing cases of my kids’ Disney songs coming up in my recommendations, I was immediately playing my songs, on my car stereo, in full stereo sound!  Not just that, but I could favorite any one of those I liked right there in my car without taking my eyes off the road. Those favorites go to FriendFeed, and my friends all see them and can comment on them, or try them out themselves.

  • I immediately downloaded the Sirius XM app and gave it the 7 day free trial they offer at Louis Gray’s recommendation.  In no time I was listening to CNN Radio, right on my car radio, no satellite radio install necessary!  All of it over my AT&T 3G connection.  My wife was very pleased to learn she could listen to Suze Orman on the car radio as well.

  • The iPhone Shazam app tells me what is playing on the radio

  • My favorite – I can open up the Ustream app and have live streams right in my car.  Of course, I don’t watch them – my passengers can, but most streams, like TechCrunch 50 for instance, I can afford to listen to and not miss much.  I did this the other day in fact – I was watching it at home, had to go pick up my son from school, and immediately turned it on my iPhone via the Ustream app.  The Sony Xplod immediately picked up the bluetooth audio as I entered the truck, and I was listening to the stream right in my truck.  If I needed to, I could stop the truck and leave something in the chat even.


To sum up, I’m extremely pleased I gave this radio a try.  This is now my new favorite truck gadget, and fits perfectly with my online and social experience.  The iPhone integration is amazing and seamless too.  The phone retails for $299, and should be available in most stores.

You can buy it on Amazon right now for $284.95.










Facebook Photo Tagging Apps: Intelligent Design or Plain Old Spam?

Screen shot 2009-09-14 at 3.50.45 PMThe photo tagging apps in Facebook have taken over my stream!  Check out the screen shot to the right.  Out of the 12 highlights, only half are legitimate posts.  The other 6 are apps that have seemingly figured out how to abuse the system and take over my highlights section (either intended or not), giving the apps even more exposure on Facebook.  If you ask me, this method of app promotion, while legal and probably even a smart move by the app developers, needs to stop!

Fan Check, Friend Character, PickupFriends, TouchGraph, and others are nothing more than spam with their current techniques of app promotion. From my experience most people using them have not even opted to tag their friends in these photos, and I hope Facebook can put an end to this.  The developers behind these apps (probably many who have read my book) are smart people – can’t they find another way other than deceiving their users to promote their applications?  Or perhaps Facebook can give me a way to filter these so they don’t take up my Highlights any more and I don’t appear as tagged.

I’m hoping “Natural Selection” for these apps sides in my direction. Let’s hope these types of spammy apps go away or change their behavior.

Twitter Starts the Chatter on API Guidelines

TwitterOn the Twitter development mailing list today Twitter began discussion on rules developers should abide by when writing applications for the Twitter API.  Such terms come on the heels of a much broader Terms of Service launched for the general Twitter user today. I’ve long discussed the need for such guidelines, as many developers are embarking on an unknown adventure when writing apps for the platform, unable to tell when something they are doing is breaking rules for Twitter platform usage.  We’ve seen this get out of hand with the launch of many “get-rich-quick” applications, along with applications that Tweet on your behalf either in public or DM form without your knowledge.

Twitter’s initial platform guidelines include the following, stating that developers of Twitter applications must:

  • Identify the user that authored or provided the Tweet, unless you are providing Tweets in an aggregate form or in anonymous form in those exceptional cases where concerns over user security and anonymity are involved.
  • Maintain the integrity of Tweets and not edit or revise them. Tweets may be abbreviated for display purposes and as necessary due to technical limitations or requirements of any networks, devices, services or media.
  • Get each user’s consent before sending Tweets or other messages on their behalf. A user authenticating with your application does not constitute consent to send a message.
  • Get permission from the user that created the Tweet if you want to make their Tweet into a commercial good or product, like using a Tweet on a t-shirt or a poster or making a book based on someone’s Tweets.

The most significant of the 4 items is that apps will no longer be able to send Tweets on a user’s behalf without their permission, although this is unclear if this includes automated DMs, and if this permission must be on a “Tweet-by-Tweet” basis or not.  In addition, users can feel secure that their Tweets will not be used without their permission in a commercial endeavor, although I’m pretty sure Copyright law will protect this.

This is a great move by Twitter, and one I strongly welcome.  Even if it prevents some developers from building applications, it sets the record straight so they know what they can, and can’t be doing.  Keep in mind that this is only a proposal at the moment, and nothing is set in stone.  You can contribute to the discussion on the developers mailing list.