Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

LEAVE, and don’t come back

This blog is defunct.  We’ve moved to:

I switched from (which is a wonderful place to write a blog) to a self-hosted blog.  I am still using WordPress, but I got the install package for WordPress 2.6.

Thanks for visiting – please come see us at our new home.

Advertisements launches in alpha

My Review: I am not issuing a review score due to conflict of interest.

Let me disclaim in no uncertain terms that this site was started by some very close friends of mine, and I am personally involved as well.  I mean for this post to be informational.  I want both of my readers to know about 12seconds.

As you will see from their blog post, is launching their public alpha today.

12seconds is the brainchild of some friends in Santa Cruz who love the web, love technology, love twitter, love their iPhones, and can’t help but start company after company.  This is serial entrepreneurship at its best.  The basic idea behind 12seconds is video status, being able to record and share little moments from your life.  Use a webcam or cell phone you can record videos up to twelve seconds long.  That’s it.

You can link your videos to your Twitter account, so anyone who follows you there can receive will receive videos through your Twitter feed.  Friends can also visit your 12seconds page directly, or subscribe to your 12seconds RSS feed. You do NOT have to be a member of the site in order to watch other people’s videos. Request an invitation to join the site here.

This idea is a cool one, especially if you have a cell phone that records video. It’s easy to imagine being out at a bar with friends, out on the street where you see something funny, or at a Bar Mitzvah during the Haftorah service and wanting to publish the moment and share it with friends. What if you’re on vacation at the grand canyon and standing over that crazy skywalk platform? What a cool moment to share with friends and loved ones.  Here’s a link to my 12seconds channelHere’s Jeremy’s channel.

This is also posted at: LIVEdigitally

Techmeme Search

My Review: 9

Techmeme has added search capability to it’s news aggregation site.  The story broke on Techcrunch a few minutes ago.  Their exclusive was busted a few minutes later when Techmeme announced it themselves on their company blog / news page.

If you haven’t used Techmeme before, it’s a neat site for taking a overview look at what technology news is hot at the moment.  Techmeme aggregates news stories that are popular across the web.  Popularity is established according to a number of metrics, an important one being cross-linking.  The more inbound and outbound links in a story, the higher it rises on the Techmeme site.  The self-congratulatory Techmeme leaderboard has become a fashionable place for bloggers to feel good about themselves as well.  It’s not surprising that the news site who broke this news (Techcrunch) is also consistently number one on the leaderboard.

Techmeme does offer a neat look at what news is hopping, though it is sometimes criticized as a popularity contest.  It also is subject to gaming, as many bloggers make an effort to exchange links and push their own site / story onto the Techmeme homepage.

All that being said however, the search feature is really cool.  It’s a great opportunity to find hot stories on specific topics you want to research or analyze.  And it offers a very cool snapshot look at how popular a topic was at a given time.  Founder Gabe Rivera told us a long time ago that we should not hold our breath waiting for search on Techmeme.  I’m glad that he decided it was time to pull the trigger, and it’s a feature I will certainly use a lot.  9 out of 10, and thanks for the memories.

twhirl site is down

My Review: 2

twhirl‘s website is down.  I can’t download the app from them. will let you download it successfully, though of course you need Adobe Air installed in order to open and run the app.  I’ve done a bunch of news and blog searches, but I can’t seem to find any information.  The twhirl blog is still up, and even has links to the home page to download the latest ( 0.8 ) version.  But that link is dead too.

I don’t know if I’m on crack and this is old news, or if I’ve happened on something new and troubling.  But I don’t like it.  So twhirl being down gets a 2 out of 10.  Boo.

UPDATE: The site appears to be back up and working fine now.  Everyone relax.

docstoc got a nice round of funding

My Review: 9

A buddy I went to college with and was in AEPi with named Jason Nazar is the CEO of docstoc.  He just closed a $3.25 million B round from Rustic Canyon Capitol.  I saw the update via Twitterific from Michael Arrington, and then read Jason Kincaid’s full article on Techcrunch.

I’ve used docstoc a couple of times to find templates for various documents (I think I got a NDA off of there once.)  I’ve also uploaded some docs, including a really nice expense reporting template.  The service has worked perfectly well for me in that regard.  I’ve never had a need to embed a flash document before, but who knows what excitement the future may hold.

I don’t have a whole lot to add to TC’s article, other than my personal relationship. I reconnected with Jason last week at the Web 2.0 expo in San Francisco, and this is a great, exciting follow up.   Jason is a buddy and a brother (Nazar, not Kincaid.  I’m sure Jason Kincaid is a lovely guy, I just haven’t met him yet) and I’m thrilled for his success and wish him and the rest of the docstoc team the very best of luck.  A solid 9 for them, and my heartfelt good wishes.

One note: Jason, I do think you guys should update your blog and announce the news officially, take that tiger by the tail.

A Review of Twitterific, Totally Almost Awesome

My Review: 6

Twitterific is an Apple-only application from Icon Factory that allows you to follow updates from twitter on your Mac.  You can download it for free here, on Apple’s download site.  Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb wrote an article about Adobe Air apps that covered Twirhl (a Twitterific competitor.)  So there are lots of options out there (free, paid, competitive apps, etc.) that will let you accomplish the relatively simple task of monitoring your Twitter friends.  But here I am focusing on Twitterific.

What’s the good?  The app is shiny and semi-transparent (always a lot of fun) and really easy to install and to use.  And it works great.  It will give you a brief pop up every time someone you are following updates their Twitter, but it is unobtrusive and self-limiting, so it doesn’t get it your way.  It has shortcuts to update your own Twitter status, and to reply to someone directly (i.e. @thesolster) if you want to send a direct Twitter messsage.  In fact, because it’s super simple, pretty and does exactly what it supposed to, it should probably get a 9 or 10.

So what’s the bad? It keeps breaking.  Every 20 minutes to an hour, I will get a “lost network connection” error message.  Supposedly it’s Twitter’s servers breaking down under huge and strenuous loads.  Either that or my internet connection is spotty.  However, since all my other online apps and services seem to continue uninterrupted, I don’t think it’s my connection.  And, whenever I try to update or refresh my twitter through Twitter’s own website, it seems to work fine there as well.  So what’s the issue?

Now I like Twitter just fine.  I don’t agree with Andy Ihnatko’s blog post that Twitter is the best web app ever, but he’s for damn sure entitled to his opinion.  Myself, I’m a recent and reluctant new twitterer, sucked in along with my friend Jeremy’s recent explorations.  And it is kind of fun and sometimes useful.  But that’s not really the point of this post.

The point is, Twitterific is a good app and I like it, I just wish it would stop effing breaking. And until it does stop breaking, I can’t in good conscience give it more than a 6 out of 10.

Muxtapes: These Are Pretty Cool

My Review: 6

I like  Sol told me about it (more or less) when he sent me a muxtape that he had made.  It was good (we like similar music) and it inspired me to make my own.

The idea is super cool.  You can upload as many as 12 .mp3 files to muxtape, name the “set,” and even configure the header bar color.  Then you can share it with friends.  They can opt to buy the songs on your set list (presumably the founders are getting a cut.)  It’s neat.

However, it’s also sort of cumbersome.  It would be a huge improvement if you could pick multiple songs and do a bulk upload.  The current setup requires you to upload a single song at a time, which is annoying.  I also found that quite a few songs failed.  I don’t know if it was because the files were corrupt somehow, or if maybe the meta data was too ugly to deal with, or what.  There are clearly stated restrictions that it must be a .mp3 file, and that it must be under 10 MB (all the files I attempted met those criteria.)  Having my chosen songs be un-uploadable was annoying.

They have a blog up on Tumblr and seem very interested in and open to feedback.  I like that openness a lot, it’s the right way to go.

The UI is pretty plain-jane, but I kind of like that. It certainly wasn’t confusing, and that is a huge plus in my humble estimation.  I think the concept rules, the product is cool, and the implementation is pretty-ok-kinda-good.  A solid 6, though the idea is really an 8 or a 9.  Just needs some more work.


You know what else would be sweet?  There should be some kind of “Number of times this mix has been played” hit counter.  Currently there is an RSS feed meter that tells you how many people have favorited your mix, but not a total number of times it’s been played.  Everyone thinks their own mix is rad.  Muxtape should take advantage of that.  Come on muxtape, feed my ego.

Google Apps for Business Gmail IMAP Support

My Review: 5

Google either dropped or lost IMAP support today.  Techcrunch’s Mark Hendrickson reported it here.

Now it’s back up – it seems to look fine and work fine.

It’s lame that it failed and/or went down and / or was taken away – lots of businesses rely on it.

It’s good that it is working now and seems as though it’s going to stay there.  If it was a bug then it’s weird that it actually disapperaed from the settings tab itself (as opposed to simply not working.)

But, since it’s there now and appears to be working, we’ll just call it a 5 and keep an even keel.  😉

Hulu, a video website

My Review: 9


I first read about Hulu, as usual, on Techcrunch. I also go my invite to the private Hulu beta back in January by reading an article Mark Hendrickson wrote for Techcrunch.  Many people across the blogosphere have now written about Hulu, largely with good things to say.   I don’t plan to be unique in this instance – I have good things to say too.  Below is a brisk, bulleted battery of reasons why I think Hulu is excellent and likely to be a winner in this space.  Note to developers and Hulu competitors: most of my likes have to do with, you guessed it, user experience.  Try to keep up.

  • Hulu has lots of good content, most importantly: full length movies as well as TV shows
  • Great selections from multiple networks (Fox, NBC, etc.)
  • Fun, old school TV content as well as new / popular content: lots of old school shows like Battlestar Galactica (the original), Knight Rider, and Flipper 🙂
  • Incredible Selection of full length movies
  • User Interface and User Experience:
    • The in screen player shows video in very high quality
    • There is a full screen mode, still very good quality
    • There is a pop-out player, so you can arrange your desktop as you like – the pop-out size is adjustable
    • Outstanding memory features: I watched 1 1/2 hours of a movie, and then had to close my computer.  I came back the next day and as soon as I logged into Hulu, it the movie restarted from the exact same spot where I had stopped
  • Queues and Favorites – you can easily set up a list of favorites or shows / movies that you want to watch


The site is clean, easy to navigate, and well thought out.  There are some basic social features, for instance you can set up a profile with your favorite shows, movie, books and music.  And you can rate content as you watch it, and see feedback from other users.  I’ve used many other video sites before, like Veoh, Daily Motion,  and obviously YouTube.  None of them even come close to Hulu in terms of content variety, content quality, or user experience.  Huge thumbs up and a resounding 9 out of 10.

kwiry helps you remember… stuff

My Review: 8


Disclaimer: I work with kwiry.

kwiry is a reminder service. Imagine you are on the bus, or at a restaurant with a friend, and you see or hear about… something. It might be a book, or anew movie, or a new album by Jimi Hendrix (even though he’s been dead for 38 years…) You know this is something you want to check out, but you will probably forget about it by the time you get home again. kwiry lets you send a text message about the movie/book/album/whatever and stores that message for you online, and sends you an email. That way, when you get home with a keyboard and a monitor at your disposal, you get your reminder email and you can check out said movie/book/album/whatever. In addition to the email reminder, kwiry also delivers search results (Yahoo!, Amazon, iTunes, etc.) on your kwiry.

Some people might raise objections: why not just send yourself an email directly with your smart phone?, or using the memo pad function on your phone? But not all phones do email. And you still need to remember to look at your memo pad when you get home. But all cell phones do text messaging, and most people have their cell phones with them all the time. kwiry took the least common denominator (texting) for the most number of people (mobile phone users in America) and created a useful service.

One of the things I like most about kwiry, aside from emailed reminders and search results, is the centralized list of ALL my reminders. Post it notes get thrown away. The tasks I put in my calendar (pay the bills, pick up the Hanukkah bush, etc.) get lost in the shuffle. I think it’s neat (and useful) to have a centralized list of all the little notes to myself that I wanted to remember – these are things I can look at weeks or months after the fact.

I tagged this under the gadgets category, even though it’s a website. I did that becasue it’s useful, and I use it with my phone most of the time. In my mind that makes it (sort of) a gadget. I think kwiry is a cool service, and it’s free. Even though I work with kwiry to promote the service, I still find myself using it on a regular basis, for my own personal needs. And I’m a fan of kwiry on Facebook.

In spite of any potential conflict of interest, I independently find kwiry useful. That’s high praise compared with most of the web 2.0 garbage that I see, take note of, and then promptly disregard as unnecessary. kwiry gets an 8 out of 10; it helps me remember things on a daily basis.