Monday, December 17, 2007

Sea Change

A month back, Scott Beale wrote about a shirt created by Improv Everywhere; the shirt allegedly infringed a trademark of Best Buy. On Tuesday, December 11, Beale got a cease and desist letter from a Best Buy lawyer (or shell script). But by Wednesday December 12, not only did Best Buy acknowledge the first amendment rights of bloggers (their word choice, not mine) they actually sincerely apologized.

Similarly, on Friday, December 14, T-mobile stopped delivering customers' SMSes to or from twitter.com. In arrogant letters, "Executive" customer service representatives claimed that *not only* is twitter an unapproved third party application, but any attempt to cancel one's service over the issue will result in a $200 charge. But by Sunday, the issue was mysteriously resolved.

Both corporations back-pedaled; Beale and Twitter both graciously called the events a misunderstanding. Not the power dynamic you'd expect, is it?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

crowdvine.com

Crowdvine is a tool that allows you to create your own social network in just a few minutes. It works, but *man* is it ugly. No I mean really, it looks like a thirteen year old cobbled it together while working his or her way through a "Learning Ruby on Rails" book.

I checked; it turns out the "thirteen year old" is an industry veteran, Tony Stubblebine, who you might recognize because he wrote the O'Reilly Regular Expression Pocket Reference that some of us can't live without. But the amount of press this fun prototype has gotten is disproportionate to its utility. It's spooky, actually.

Now, sites based on crowdvine and re-skinned by professionals are pleasantly functional and smooth. But clearly a lot of time has gone in to these custom versions. Nice framework, but rapid code deployment definitely doesn't translate to rapid site launch.

VoodooPad for Mac OS X

VoodooPad is a desktop wiki, recommended to me by a cow orker. It's made by Flying Meat, who describe it as a "garden for your thoughts." Some folks thoughts are ticker-tapes, others slag heaps, I like a garden.

I'm trying to replace the myriad Stickies on my desktop with a "notebook" type of app and this is the best I've seen so far. It's easy to get started by copying and pasting old notes into it ... and it's just as easy to go the next step to full wiki-style linking and templating and categorizing madness.

VoodooPad includes a plugin framework and comes standard with things like word count, alphabetize and record audio. You can even insert quick sketches that you draw right on a page using your mouse.

It's awesome! And free to download and try out. $29.95 removes the fifteen-page limit imposed on the free trial.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Various, Inc. Assimilated

Penthouse Media Group has reportedly acquired Various Inc. Various runs a handful of "dating" sites including Adult Friend Finder and its anti-particle Big Church.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

habbo.com

Habbo is like Second Life with Lego people.

Create and dress an avatar, then walk around and chat with folks. Uh, that is if you have Shockwave installed, which doesn't run on Mac OS X or Linux. (Parallels running Windows XP with IE 6 works!)

Visit other people's rooms or create a room of your own for free. Though to decorate your room, you must spend Habbo Coins. Things like chairs and rugs are around a buck each ... and they have a many ways to collect your payment: credit cards, 976 numbers, prepaid cards, premium-fee SMS ... more options than a skuzzy porn site!

Overall a great idea, but the up-sell is sleazy. (Particularly when 90% of their users are 13-18 years old.) At least in real life you can scrounge up cinder-block shelving and cable-spool coffee tables ...