Google Reader OPML Export Converter

In case you haven’t heard, b5media in partnership with Virtual Reach released a mobile RSS reader. I’ve been using it for several weeks as we’ve been testing it in-house. I must say, it’s very nice. While a Windows Mobile version will be available soon, the Blackberry client is currently available – b5media branded and all. If you’re a Blackberry user, you’ll want to have this because:

  1. It’s important to look at your Blackberry while you’re driving,
  2. It’s fun to read feeds when you have nothing else to do while sitting at a bar, and
  3. It’s an easy replacement for that Popular Science magazine while you’re sitting on the toilet.

For real. Like I said, we’ve been testing it! :-)

At any rate, one annoying thing I’ve experienced is that Google Reader OPML files cannot be imported in the form they are provided. For this reason, I’ve developed a handy OPML conversion tool that will allow you to make Google Reader OPML exports valid for our Virtual Reach software as well as, in theory, other applications that don’t particularly like the OPML file.

Feel free to go wild.

Hacking and Slashing the RSS Reader

The time has come once again for the Great Purge and Clean™ of my feed reader. My apologies to all who did not make the cut. My criteria has become very clear over the past month: Read only what contributes to your job or your hobbies. Everything else is a distraction.

With that in mind, my feed reader has dropped from 135 feeds to 71 and for those playing at home, here’s your OPML file.

Case Update: Columbia Pictures v Bunnell

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a California magistrate in California who ruled on behalf of the motion picture industry and issued new precedent which claimed that IP addresses stored only in RAM were subject to preservation for discovery (text of decision). At that time, I wrote:

The curious part about this ruling has nothing to do with the MPAA or TorrentSpy. The real issue, and much bigger, is the precedent set by the lower court. If this ruling is to stand, for the first time ever, temporary data in RAM would be considered under the law “œStorage” and subject to subpoena. It does not take a whole lot of imagination to extrapolate how government and complainants can get access to information that they really shouldn’t have access to.

I’ve been paying attention to the “details” here and yesterday I received an email from an EFF.org attorney noting that the EFF has filed an amicus brief in District Court urging the judge to overturn the ruling. The hearing will probably be late in July sometime.

A portion of the text of the brief (located here) is as follows:

If allowed to stand, this Order would mark a radical expansion of the scope of federal electronic discovery obligations, far beyond anything contemplated by the drafters of Rule 34. Virtually every business in the United States relies on digital technologies for all kinds of communications. And virtually every function carried out by those technologies depend on and results in the temporary creation of RAM data that is not ordinarily retained. The, the order threatens actual and potential litigants with the specter of having to capture and compile an avalanche of RAM data that would otherwise be automatically overwritten in the ordinary course of computer processing. Further, the court’s expansive reading of Rule 34 undermines the right to read, speak, and associate anonymously online by making it impossible for businesses to stand behind strong privacy policies intended to foster those constitutionally protected activities. As a result, the Order destabilizes the carefully crafted balance that Congress and the courts have erected in the discovery context over the past two decades. Finally, the Order unnecessarily puts federal discovery obligations on a collision course with federal electronic privacy laws.

And this, my friends, is a wonderful smackdown of the MPAA and demonstrates why they should keep making movies and leave the tech to those who are competent to know how the interwebs and computers work.

I Will Not Be Your Twitter Whore

There’s a lot of uptake on Twitter in recent months. The service that allows folks to tell the world what they are doing in 140 charachters or less has become the new playground of marketing types looking for the next big thing. Now let me say that I love Twitter. I love finding out what my Twitter friends are up to whether it’s a new aspirations or what they really think about a topic.

The great thing about Tweets like this is that it makes you feel like you know the person on the other hand. It’s a vast global playground where people are swinging on swings and sliding down slides and just having fun. They are having conversation.

We had this big global conversation a few years back when marketers were trying to figure out how to leverage this new blogging fad. It was so raw and real, and folks were transparent. It challenged traditional PR types to think differently. The problem is that these same PR folks may have learned about blogging but instantly regress to old habits in other forms of Web 2.0.

In the end, the conversation is still the important thing.

Lately, Twitter marketers have taken to using this global instant messaging service to promote their products, their political candidates, their new service without much thought to those of us who were on the ground floor of Twitter (defined here as pre-SXSW ’07) and using it for it’s purpose.

Robert Scoble said somewhere that he loved Twitter because it was where he could have a window into the minds of early adopters. And this is true. In the end though, traditional marketing types have failed to realize that it’s not the tool that matters. Use a blog, use Twitter, use MySpace. I don’t care! The tool matters not. What matters is the conversation.

Treating my time and my focus as a cheap trick is not winning me over to your thing. I don’t care if John Edwards is using Twitter. I will not come to your event if I have to see it promoted on Twitter. Period. End of story. I am not your whore. If you want my trime, at least buy me a drink and lets spend some quality time first.

You may use Web 2.0 tools, but Web 2.0 is not the answer to marketing. Conversations and relationships are. Use Twitter for what it was intended.

Dragons in the Yahoo-MySpace Talks

The rumor, as yet unconfirmed, yesterday and today has centered around the possibility that NewsCorp/Fox Interactive is in talks with Yahoo to trade off MySpace in exchange for a 30% stake in the Yahoo Corporation. Given that that would value MySpace at approx $15B, the big winner would be Rupert Murdoch who bought MySpace 2 years ago for $580M.

Raw numbers aside, let’s look at what this deal could potentially do if it were to happen.

  • MySpace video would in the short term still favor Google’s YouTube, however ease of use restrictions will be lifted for Jumpcut videos.
  • Integrate Flickr photo sharing into MySpace and implement Facebook-style tagging of photos
  • Manage Yahoo! Fantasy Sports teams from within MySpace and display results.
  • Manage rights and buy/sell of Yahoo! Music from MySpace and in conjunction with MySpace artists
  • Eliminate Yahoo! 360
  • Allow sharing of MySpace modules to My Yahoo!
  • MySpace messaging via modified Yahoo! Mail
  • Premium MySpace content for folks looking to “hook up” in conjunction with Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Personals
  • Integrated Yahoo! Search in MySpace
  • Integrate MyBlogLog into MySpace to enhance the “Friends” experience
  • Turn the Yahoo! Developers Network Loose on improving MySpace modules and user experience
  • Yahoo turns over 30% of its companies, possibly requiring shareholder approval
  • Increase Yahoo’s News reach via NewsCorp 28 newspapers, 27 of which are not in the United States and enhance other services via NewsCorp’s empire of organizations.

At the end of the day, if the deal happens and if Yahoo! executes well on and fires on every cylinder and if NewsCorp brought internet street smarts to the table (which is no slam dunk), this deal could be a very strong move for both companies. If not, someone is going to look very silly.

Yahoo Could Have Owned Social Networking

Get this. Yahoo owns tons of social networking sites. They own MyBlogLog, Flickr and Del.icio.us. They own Upcoming.org. They own Konfabulator, now known as Yahoo! Widgets which is not social networking but adds features for potential social networking applications. They own Jumpcut, the upstart video platform.

Yahoo partners with Zillow to provide estimates on real estate to Yahoo! Real Estate users. Single handedly, Yahoo dominates the fantasy sports market, a demographic that is fiercely loyal and extensive use type users.

To cap it off, Yahoo could have owned Facebook if it wasn’t for management dropping the ball. Given Facebook’s recent emergence, a $1B investment in Facebook would probably return to Yahoo 3-5 times over in the next 2 years in terms of Facebook valuation.

The problem with Yahoo, of course, is not Yahoo. Yahoo has certainly not helped itself. But as Elise Ackerman at the Merc points out, “…that Yahoo shouldn’t try to out-Google Google“.

Google is the king of search. It is the king of remnant advertising in terms of pure marketshare. It is the king of web-based productivity tools (Gmail, Documents & Spreadsheets, Calendar). Yahoo can’t compete on Google’s turf.

However, they can beef up their social networking and become the king of that niche. Web 2.0 is all about the mashup so Yahoo’s challenge is figuring out how to actually integrate all these social networks they own into a compelling product or group of products.

Incidentally, the buzz today is that Fox Interactive may be in talks with Yahoo to trade off MySpace for a 30% stake in Yahoo. There be dragons in those talks. Watch closely!

Where Does Yahoo Go From Here?

Yahoo has just announced the resignation of CEO Terry Semel amid chaos that is going on at Corporate. Terry’s departure is a long time in coming as the internet giant has fallen from grace with stockholders and users. The New York Times speculates that in a year, Yahoo will no longer be an independent company raising rumors again that Yahoo could be acquired or a merger could occur.

Before I dive into that, let me say that I’m very disappointed in Yahoo. I once said that if there was any company I would drop everything to work for, it was Yahoo. I’ve admired folks Like Jeremy Zawodny and the entire Flickr team and at one point would have dropped everything to work for them. This is no longer the case. For one, there seems to be a steady stream of Yahoos exiting the company. We hired Chad as our Director of Ad Sales and he still has his finger on the pulse of Yahoo. He says, the stream isn’t ending.

So where does Yahoo go from here now that Jerry Yang, the founder of Yahoo, is back at the helm. In some cases, the return to glory comes when the originator of the company vision returns. Take Steve Jobs return to Apple. (It’s too recent to know how Michael Dell’s return to Dell will affect the company).

Yang’s primary mission now, should he remain as longterm CEO, is to trim the top management, return the power of innovation and creativity to the Yahoos that make things happen. Google benefits from employee creativity by providing 20% time where 20% of the employees billable hours can go to whatever they want to grow the company. I don’t know much about Yahoo’s corporate culture, but it does not seem like they are doing very well judging by employee mass exodus.

Maybe a company like Microsoft could buy them but why would they? There’s too much bloat. Not enough value add. Portions of Yahoo could benefit Microsoft, I suppose. Or Google for that matter. Google could benefit from graphical ads. Microsoft could benefit from Flickr. YouTube/Google could find some nice integration with MyBlogLog. Microsoft could probably revive the Yahoo! Music group as a value add to their own music service which is in a lot of pain.

The question posed is where is Yahoo in a year? I don’t know. I think it’s more likely that, if Yang cannot turn the company around, the company will spin its business units off and sell assets. They need to find a core business. Apparently, it’s not search. So what is it? If they can trim the fat and find their core business, maybe they survive 2008. If not, it’s been a nice ride. I’m pretty happy I never took a job with Yahoo.

Reader Question: What does Yahoo have to do to remain relevant in the 2007-2008 era of the interwebs?

Other Blogs Talking about the Yahoo Shake Up

The Carnival of Maryland #9

As mentioned earlier this week, Technosailor.com is hosting the Carnival of Maryland #9. Carnivals are a great way to highlight content from a certain group or niche and in this sense, an entire State. While the Carnival is mostly spearheaded by the Maryland Blogger Alliance, it is open to anyone who is in Maryland.

Let’s get right into this edition of the Carnival:

John, from Montgomery County, participated in a field trip to Little Bennett Regional Park where he consumed the beauty of a variety of birds. Apparently, some birds are hard to see in the wild: “On this occasion, we would not get a second look at the summer tanager, though we could hear the bird singing nearby. Brightly-colored birds may not always be easy to spot, but they offer a high reward to those that can find them. On Saturday we were rewarded with stunning looks at great birds.” John is not the only birdbrain this week. The Greenbelt also observes some interesting birds.

The Voltage Gate looks at the blue crab population in Maryland, linking to a story From Science Daily about an invasion of Chinese Mitten Crabs. CMC’s are a dangerous introduction to the ecosystem for blue crabs, a main source of economic (and foodie!) interest in the State of Maryland.

Global Warming Swindle?” is the question asked by David Keelan from HoCoMd, the Howard County Maryland public watchdog blog. He attaches a video that demonstrates the cyclicar method of climate change over the millenia. I think I’ll stay out of this conversation. ;)

Frederick County blogger and golfer Phil Bundy, introduces us to “The Quest“, his personal journey to enter the PGA Tour. Phil writes, “For Phil, his quest is not about winning major championships but about learning the answer to the question, “œCan I make it on the Tour?” As the Embedded Golfer, he will learn the answer to that question.

Soccer Dad, from Owings Mills, discovered that an hours drive can net him gas 10 cents cheaper, but also afforded him the opportunity to instill some wisdom of age into his daughter. The funniest part of this post was when he quoted non-Maryland blogger, Book Worm Room, describing teenage drivers and cell phones.

… the worst teenage threat was the time it takes to dial a cell phone. (Adults click in a number or two, then check the road, then click in more numbers; teenagers just click in the whole sequence, road be damned.)

Funniest quote of the day, in my not so humble opinion. :)

P. Kenneth Burns, the prolific editor of Maryland Politics Today, writes that Governor Martin O’Malley needs to stop placing all the blame on his former nemesis and Governor Bob Ehrlich and start keeping his own campaign promises… something so far he is miserable at doing.

The Annapolis Police have been botching quite a few house raids of late. Atilla of Pillage Idiot tells us about the how the spokesman even seems to have botched the statement:

Dalton said that the warrant “was factually correct,” but since the address where the raid took place was wrong, I have to assume this means that either the police misread the correct address on the warrant, or they simply went into the wrong building.

Leviathan Montgomery complains about renovations happening to the Metro Station in Silver Spring, MD on a gargantuan scale. As I mention in his comments, my guess is that the “enhancements” he is complaining about has to do with future construction of the long argued about “purple line” (thus far, vaporware only). This blogs also happens to be one of the few blogs in the MBA that is run on WordPress (in this case, WordPress.com), so we have to do a shout out.

Is MySpace Dead?

Last week, I asked Facebookers “Is MySpace Dead?” The answers were very interesting. There seemed to be as much neutrality as there was bias one way or another.

Scott Matthewman says: It still seems to be as busy as ever from where I’m sitting. But the whole customisation thing is reminiscent of late 90’s Geocities — all those animated backgrounds. My eyes!

Jon Phillips says: Its soul is old world and fb folks tell me that mass migration from myspace to fb is happening.

Rachel Clarke says: Not yet. There is a definite move towards facebook for some but MySpace will remain and have uses because of its more public nature.

Gary Grant says: It may still have some life left for the kids. It never came alive for me though, not addictive like FB.

Justin Heim says: The life line is slowing down, and it is proving to be a slow and painful death… But it is still kicking!

Brian Layman says: Yes. It is packed garbage. + too many people never joined it because it was always just a place for pre-teens. With WordPress making it so easy to create real sites, it doesn’t even have that going for them. Now Facebook offers a mature social network.

Mark Jaquith says: Not yet. But I suspect that the exodus will be as swift as the rise, if not more so.

Jessica Doyle says: I never used myspace at all so therefor it didn’t exist to me. If it was never alive then it can’t be dead.

Laurarose Dunn says: Nope. I use myspace more than facebook simply because I have more friends from over the years on it. ALthough I am finding that facebook is pretty cool too!

Rico Mossegeld says: Never tried it, so it was never alive for me.

Devon Rutherford says: I know lots of 20, 30 and 40-some-year-olds that still use myspace (not just teens). Yes, the interface sucks, but non-technical individuals typically aren’t that discriminating when it comes to selecting a social networking interface. Facebook FTW! :)

Scott Allen says: Nope – that’s still where my kids (age 12-25) are. They don’t even know about FB. MS ate Friendster only indirectly because of the interface – the musicians and artists were too restricted by Friendster, so they migrated, then everyone else followed.

Kimberly Williams says: i don’t think so but i prefer facebook over myspace any day because the things on her are better than myspace and i think you can do more.

James Joyner says: I’ve never really used it. Then again, I’m not their target demo.

Robert Barac says: I bloody well hope so… I think MySpace is the old black.

Sasha Manuel says: What is MySpace? :-P

Travis Seitler says: Not yet. Maybe in two years…

Chris Cree says: Never got into MySpace. Skipped right past it, I guess.

Minic Rivera says: Yes.

Premium: Interview With Tony Hung From Blog Herald

Tony HungTony Hung is the editor of the Blog Herald and writes incessantly at his personal blog, Deep Jive Interests. He is also finishing up his residency and preparing to go into medical practice. How he has time to blog is beyond me.

***

Tony, you’re quickly becoming a household name among bloggers. Can you tell me why that is?

I have no idea. Actually, I had no idea my name *was* a household name for bloggers! But I suppose for those of whom I am known, it might be because my story’s a bit unique: resident in medicine who blogs about technology when he has the time, and got hired as the editor of the Blog Herald. Or perhaps its the way that I write. Or perhaps there aren’t too many Asian bloggers. Maybe its all three, or some combination of the above. If anyone can tell me I’d love to know. ;)

You’re also the most humble person you know, right? :)

I try and remain grounded when I can ;)

How many writers do you have at the Blog Herald today?

We have about 15 active bloggers on our roster, but that number isn’t really fixed in stone. It might go up or down depending on how we see the content doing. In fact, we are always looking for talent — not sure if this is the right forum, but if you think that you’ve got the right stuff, send me an email: anthony{dot}hung{at}gmail{dot}com … and maybe we can work something out!

Do you see the Blog Herald fulfilling the initial mission that Duncan Riley set out when he established the brand years ago?

Its definitely changed over the brief time that I’ve been at the Blog Herald, but I think we’re trying to bring it back to news and information that is relevant to bloggers. The blogging world has changed since Duncan sold it to Matt Craven and Problogging (formerly BlogMedia), and has only continued to do so after it changed hands once again to Splashpress. Blogging as a medium has exploded, and there’s an incredible diversity of voices — and many of them aren’t even in the English language. At the Blog Herald we want to try and uphold the standard that Duncan left us, and its something we’re always going to try and work towards, particularly being mindful of what our audience wants and needs.

Duncan was always about the news and trying to get stories first. I blasted the Herald when Matt Craven owned it for getting away from that and really being slow. Do you see a more effective strategy being the “Drink from the firehose” method where volume masks lack of breaking stories?

Well, I’ll say this — the Blog Herald is trying to concentrate on issues and information that are relevant to bloggers. Tech related information isn’t directly related to that. What happens on Techmeme may not be related to that, nor is what Mike Arrington writes. In fact, most of the time its not. I think when you’ve refined what it means to be a “herald” for “blogging” it becomes easier to decide on what to concentrate on and what doesn’t make too much sense.

You were quite active at Mesh this year, speaking on a panel. Tell us a bit about your experiences.

It was wild. I sat on a panel with Steve Herrman of BBC interactive, and Paul Sullivan of Orato.com — heavyweights in new media. I think I held my own, but it was a great experience meeting them, and everyone else at Mesh, really, including the guys from b5, such as Jeremy Wright, Gary King, Mark Evans (of course), and you. I ran into a few bloggers, such as David Peralty (of Blogging Pro), and he was such a nice guy. I also ran into Jim Courtney, of SkypeJournal, who, as it turns out, is someone I have one degree of separation with. One of the guys in my class, as it turns out, is his son! Small world, huh? But, on the flipside, it would have been great to run into even more bloggers. Makes you wonder if Toronto is ready for a blogging convention so we could all get together or something … ;)

You are one of the most well known Canadian bloggers around and it’s not even your full time job. Do you ever anticipate blogging full time or will blogging always be “something extra”?

That’s a great question and something I’m asked about all the time. What I will say is that blogging is a part of my life that I can’t quite see myself *not* doing — how much it takes up is something that is in evolution, as I have competing interests for my time, not including my family, friends, and of course, work and school. It will be interesting after I finish this year, as I will probably end up certified and *in* practice somewhere — as I may end up blogging a little more. Or doing other blogging related things. But, hey, you never know ;)

Well, Dr. Hung – I need to put you on The Seat of Heat. Jon Stewart used to do this on the Daily Show and I’ll be asking all of these interviewees the same kind of question. The Seat of Heat forces you to answer a question outside of your area of expertise.

Should Paris Hilton be getting the amount of publicity she is for her reasons stunts and being released from jail early and subsequently being sent back? :)

Interesting question. I think it should be getting publicity, but not because Paris is fabulous and needs the sympathy; rather, we don’t often get the chance to see that the Law is something that should apply to all equally, regardless of wealth or fame. And Paris Hilton’s misadventures are a great example of that.