Helpful iPad and iPhone Apps for Managing Arthritis

A smart phone or pad is a common everyday commodity in almost every home today. With that, did you know that your iPad and iPhone can help you measure, maintain and track pain, symptoms and arthritis activity so you can live a more normal lifestyle. Arthritis tracker app on your iPad and iPhone will give you the freedom and the help to be on top of your arthritis with the touch of your finger tip.

Yes this app does exist on your home or pad for you to access. Some apps are free while other can be install on your system at a minimum cost to you. Some of the more popular apps available to you for helping you with your arthritis are listed below.

DAS Calculator is available for you to install for free. (DAS stands for Disease Activity Score.) This tool helps track and analyze your rheumatoid arthritis activity. It also tracks tender or swollen joint counts (TJC or SJC), your general health and your C-reactive protein through a blood test (CRP). These information is the same information doctors and researchers use to help you maintain and control your arthritis disease. This app makes these information available to you through your smart system.

My Pain Diary is an app that can be purchased or a lite version is available to you to install for free. This app allows you to chart your pain describing the type of pain, its location, its triggers and its remedies that you experienced on a particular date at the touch of your finger tip. No longer do you have to painstakingly write down significant dates and information of your pain, this app will let help you chart the information simply and conveniently without added pain to you. It will summarize the information for you and your rheumatologists so they can better help you. Paying for the full version just make the charting easier for you.

Joy Bauer Food Cures is also another free app that focuses on nutritional information that will better help you manage chronic arthritis and other conditions. Daily tips, recipes and nutritional information are made available to you so you are able to control pain and inflammation due to arthritis. This resource will help you maintain a good diet to reduce pain and inflammation. This app was created by a nutritional expert and registered dietician featured on the Today Show.

Another free app available for your iPad is Bones, Joints and Muscles. This app gives you information about bones, joints and muscles and the medical term or condition in relation to them. You can get the information and this app for free quickly with a touch of a few buttons. Educating yourself about your body can help you with dealing with pains and conditions you have due to the arthritis disease.

Rheumatology – Tendons and Joints is a flash card app that is design to educate you about arthritis in a fun and easy way. You can purchase this flash card app for arthritis for your smart instrument. Understanding the details of your disease can help you avoid unnecessary pain and issues and help you ask key questions and finding poignant solutions to dealing with the disease.

Pain Killer 2.0 uses binaural beats to relieved pain naturally. This app can be purchased to help your brain to release endorphins which help kills the pain caused by arthritis. You must use a headphone for this app and find a fairly quiet environment for it to work properly. There is a warning that comes with this app for people who struggle with seizure.

Smart phones and pads are created to help you manage your life more efficiently and easily. Now they have created apps that are easy to download and use to help you fight against arthritis disease. Though there is no cure yet for the many aspect of arthritis disease, but these app can help you maintain and control the disease so it does not debilitate you further. These app will give you more freedom and simplify tasks in everyday life so that the disease does not run you over. These helpful tools are available to you at the touch of a finger tip. Let it help you make your life easier and help you manage the symptoms and pain that it creates in your life.

Image source: Health 365


An Overview of Technology trend for 2013

2012 captured so much of our imagination in technology that now we are expecting more for this year 2013.

Now we can anticipate techs to be much lighter for mobile and laptops, much bigger for tablets, much faster for internet, more memory for chips, much innovative, and much much more novelties than we can imagine. You name them now; tech companies will devise it tomorrow.

Digitally Conquered

Everything we do, every move we take takes a digital counterpart. We became the digital era, the internet generation. Technology comes but it never goes, it only improves, by the hour.

2012 paved way for tablets and smart phones. The world has been mapped. There is no turning back.

2013: What Tech Savvies can expect

As foreseen, 2013 will be a hub of technology trends. I for one expect much for this year. So let’s see an overview of tech trends this year. Each trend goes with bullets and alliterations for fun.

• Tablets Take Over. As IT stats projected, tablets will get bigger this year. And it will get more audience too. More features and much better interface. There will be a lot of versions too. The cheaper version, the costly version, the high quality version and the low quality version. The truth is, quality is the only choice here. Better quality, better experience. Let’s see it this year.

Clouds Clout. So it doesn’t mean that cloud you see over your head during a sunny day. It was such a hard term to fully appreciate in layman’s term. Cloud is, according to Wikipedia, a computation, software, data access and storage services. It has been quite a choice for COO’s and CEO’s today. With cloud one can virtualize everything to run an office, synch Ipad to Mac to IPod, store in a private infrastructure or database with security and more. This has been introduced a while back but has been predicted to come out better this year.

Mobile Mob. Smart phones now grow much faster than our hair. Seems like every month last year we get to see more updated version of our current mobiles and much more newer units that make our year old phone look jurrasic. And for this 2013, the year of the snake, we are expecting more cunning innovations in this field. Aside from the launch of iphone5, we should see the windows phone and watch out for other phone providers too.

Mobilize and Monopolize. So with everyone going mobile, there is this big internet takeover in mobile browsing. More smart phones means more chances of web access through phones. Thus, there is a bigger market for mobilizing your websites too to meet current mobile needs of users. Mobilizing will get to many web developers and web owners this year because if they don’t, they’ll be taken out of those trending topics.
Application Army. More of mobile talk. Now, again, with mobile dominance there will be more application demands too. If there will be more application demands, then there will be more app stores out there. And that goes for every mobile platform and os.

Big-data beat. We’ve heard of 2.0, but 2013 will have it big for the web 3.0. For now, it shifts its focus to enterprises and its information architecture. So this will lead more business orgs out there for some changes. Let’s watch out for its mainstreaming.

TV Trade. So it’s one tech industry out there that never gets tired of innovations. Trend is, it will keep getting bigger, if not, then better. Gesture and voice sensors gets the best of television now especially with the launch of a certain company’s 56 inch OLED screen. Now you’ll get the picture, in a bigger screen and better features.

Sensor Stake. So everything gets to sensors. Chances are you’ll detect more or be detected or do less work in the future. These sensors will do the job for you, for personal use or to help you in your business endeavors.

Education —Extraordinaire. So everyone get education online today. Seems to be education will be the next field internet is targeting. More enrollees get to these online schools, education to get a degree or training. Better stat for it this year.

Imaging Techniques. So I guess this is where my alliterations fail me. 3D imaging seems to be the future. It is in architecture, security, medicine, manufacturing and entertainment. It is so helpful and keeps its real life application very usable.

Internet of things. Another alliteration fail. Anyway, IoT will be seen through this 2013. Everything or everything that developers and programmers can touch will get to have internet. Appliances for example.

Facebook Friendly. Now that everybody’s unto developing network sites, it seems that everybody or every social media wants to get a like in Facebook. They get this cross platform thing that makes your post or content appear in another social media especially Facebook. That’s a better chance of being seen or followed.

Virtual Network Versatility. So this goes with device continuity too. Having watched a video in your phone and want it in your pc won’t require you to transfer file anymore. This top tech would let you watch it at the same part where you stopped.

Social Platforms Plans. So there will be more innovative social media to be seen this 2013 that would be a lot different than what we have now. The rise of these content platforms should be watched out for this year. Now the question is, will it rival Facebook or will it reach Pinterest’s growing network? That would be for us to see.

We can always predict trends every year, but there will be those which will took us by storm. Now, which TV or phone or tablet or software will make it? We never know. So the above trends aren’t that complete or as detailed, it’s just an overview. You might want to add something to that minus my attempt for alliterations. 

Image credit: Flickr


How Small Businesses Are Using Pinterest to Grow Their Audience


I used to tell my friends once that I know this three little verbs which would help make a starting venture flourish (though I’m not a business expert); create, innovate, market. But that was before Pinterest then.

Making Quite the Statistics

Until 2011, I decided to make it four. I added the word “pin”. And that is to give credit to the newest social media and content sharing site that took the world unexpectedly. From its first launch back in 2010, the site now has over 25 million visitors per month and is now valued at more or less $1.5 billion.

For getting those 25 million visitors per month, pin interest grew wildly saturating the business world for the most part.

With its staggering growth, it became a hub for small business. The idea of pinning and re-pinning became the new marketing trick to attract more customers and generate more audience which would likely spawn more potential buyers too.

How do these small businesses use the site to grow their audience?

With Pinterest quickly catching up with Facebook for generating traffic referral and finally surpassing Twitter, more businesses opt to pin it rather than tweet or make a page of it. But for real time, what do these small businesses do in order to pique interest and gain profits? And for you who’s about to start it, what to do? Let’s do the math:

  • They Signed up, Made boards, Pinned it. So as one can see, these three steps can be categorized in a single bullet since it can only take you 7 minutes max to do it. That is if you already have your pre-existent product or website and is now ready for that small business venture novel advertising approach in digital sense. Though it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a pre-existing business site you can’t do well with it, Pinterest can be a great way to start. Make sure though you signed up for a business account but if you haven’t, you can always convert it. Boards are like albums and your pins are your content such as pictures.
  • They identified their boards. Identifying means defining it into simple and understandable categories. Be straight in defining the products and services that you offer. Build it for long term goal and not for the spur of the moment interest. Use different boards as much as possible to distinguish one product from another and to avoid your audience from being confused too. If you’re unto photography, make boards like single portraits, family portraits, weddings, black and white or commercial photography instead of flocking them all together in a single board.
  • They invited audience and tried to know them.  It doesn’t mean though that you have to do some detailed demographic study of your audience. Just take note of the specific board or pins that they pinned, re-pinned and what they bought from you in the past. That’s as much as personality study. So the next time, try making more innovative but of the same quality as the last time which has drawn the most viewers.

  • They cross promote. Make your pins be seen in Facebook and Twitter too. That’s additional traffic for your friends who haven’t heard of Pinterest yet. Plus it gives you wider audience possibility. So if you posted your new book’s cover in Pinterest, it would surely appear in Facebook and Twitter and that would be likely shared or you would be likely followed.
  • They injected some creativity in it. You can post promotional and artsy vid promoting your products. They don’t only have to see them; they need to hear it from you. Inject coolness and creativity; base it on your target audience and your products too. Example, do a promotional vid on your restaurant or your new site. Keep it short but ingenious.
  • They used clear, high quality images. Grainy and low quality photos would look like it has been grabbed from the web. Plus great photos and higher resolution would look nice and would be more compelling. It conveys your message in a no nonsense way. Like a chocolate cake in blurred photo looking like it has been frosted with ah, bad chocolate, you get the picture.
  • They linked it. This one is the beauty of it all. You can link it to your personal business site. That’s the way of redirecting your audience back to you site for more details. It’s as simple as putting a link to your descriptions.
  • They utilized the “pin it” button. They put that pin it button in their original site for added appeal and to amass more audience too. How? Pinning it means one will have the chance to be on the pinner’s board and be seen by the pinner’s audience.  They can opt to follow you too.
  • They hosted some little contest.  Now that’s what I mean of engaging your audience. A little novelty like that with one of your product as the price would likely to give you followers and audience too.
  • They went for hashtag. Hash tags weren’t only for Facebook, Twitter and the likes. Pinterest has it too. That makes it your product more discoverable with keyword search, you can use SEO here. For a designer can use #dress, #fallcollection, #whatever your pin is all about.
  • They added fun insiders. So what makes business a little fun is this little peek at the people behind it. Post a picture of your product on the making, yourself working or your business partners. It’s like a little humanizing and won’t just make you that man/woman/robot behind the cupcake recipes.
  • They measured their traffic stats. After you’ve got a stable account and starting to get audience, you can now start this. It means analyzing which of your site’s product gets the most traffic from Pinterest. You can start with the figure and go all the way.


The above mentioned ways were, as much as possible given with details and examples. And I can say that Pinterest will see us through some more years. Will it topple Facebook? That’s for us to see.

For an end though it’s not how much “how to” blogs you followed, creativity and inner drive plus great products will still be your means to success. Now pin it.


An Introduction to the New MySpace


I was glad of the idea that after a string of muffed jobs to save MySpace from decline and a series of reshuffling and resignation from its top people, MySpace is on for a revamp and a deliberate reentering in the world of socials.

Now that’s a bit of nostalgia for everyone who literally started their internet and music life with MySpace, left it for something like Facebook and now is trying to come back to it for its newer and slicker interface.

MySpace over the years

MySpace started in the social network world with a flag saying “nothing can beat us” and it’s safe to say that they took the world by storm through its features I.e. focus on music and social networking. But with emergence of Facebook later, the once king of socials slowly faced a series of depression and was eventually upstaged by the coming of Facebook, Twitter and other newer sites.

Following several more bad reviews, the company which was once a hype, was bought by no other than Justin Timberlake with visions of what’s it’s going to be after.

Classic and New MySpace

The classic site was bombarded by so many blunders that the company overlooked such as chaotic profiles, spam accounts and NSFW posts and contents. With such blunders, users overlooked some of it’s once nice features like the mail, the Instant Messenger, the mood sharing, bulletins, school connect, blogs and music.

Nevertheless, it’s now in for some good future with its fresh and innovative edge. Seeing the new MySpace block format would have left you nostalgic for the past yet be amazed too of what it became now.

Look Overhaul—New MySpace Features

I for one like several things about it. Aside from like at first sight, the new MySpace offered new experiences to its old loyal users and new users. Below are the few:

  • Logo. It was the first step that any revamp should do. Old name but new face, new identity. Old name inhibits familiarity and new face exhibits changes. The logo which sometimes puts a blank after the word My (My______) at times contains a picture too or sometimes the word space itself.
  • Slick New Look. With the look I mean it’s the page that meets you after logging in. You can choose to view your news feed in it through three ways, stream view, grid view and playback mode. It’s lay out is clean and doesn’t gets you slap with bloated design of the old site which included 152 templates and 81 buttons. The new MySpace only boasts of just seven templates plus two buttons. Imagine the visual pollution you saved your eye from.  “Minimalist” seems to be their word at this moment.
  • Left to Right Horizontal Navigation. Though this wasn’t new (Google+ has it), still it come out as more novel compared to Facebook and Twitter.
  • Evoking Imagery. If you haven’t been to the new MySpace yet, you’ll be compelled to see its simple options, big visuals, receptive and intuitive design and big fonts. Your pictures may take up the whole browser which would prompt you to use your own high quality pictures than infringing some photos from the net. It gives you the chance to pair your photo albums with your playlists (mixes) too. Though it was said to be inspired by Pinterest’s large photos, it can’t be denied that the latest site is crafted with art.

justin timberlake myspaceMusic Focused. Music, mixes. You can get all of it with its audio controls at the bottom of the screen which is always present and requires you only to hover the mouse beneath the page. It becomes easy to navigate and to find artists, genres and stations to connect with wherein one can create and publicly publish a mix. With the sites new focus on entertainment, it gather’s more fans at its feet. There was a sense of purpose for the integration of music art and photography.

*And try its radio button too. Gets you some live streaming from FMs.

  • Artists-Fans. There is a new look with the artists pages too. The way to knowing some of your legitimate artist account is the blue chain, which means it has been verified by the site itself. With the site’s focus on linking fans and artists, there will be lots of connection and interaction between the two. Pilot release, which would hopefully be followed by other artists, was made by Justin Timberlake with his new single that was exclusively released in the site.
  • Just type. This one is nice among its other feature. You can type in an idle page and voila you’ll get to see what you are searching and what you are typing in large fonts too. Saves you time from looking for that search button and diving for your eyeglasses.
  • Cross Posting. If you can’t beat them join them. The new MySpace allows you to cross post in Twitter and Facebook whether it’s your status update or your photos or music. You get the idea.
  • Trending and Topics. There is a new Topic Pages—which has a display of information around a specific topic or artist or music and a Trending feed too which shows popular music, artists, videos and events. These can be dragged and dropped into your own folders.
  • User Friendly. That should go for all other social media. The new MySpace can take you where you wanted to be in two or three clicks. Plus it plays its videos nicely, may take the whole browser window but the navigation site can reappear at the move of the mouse. It can play back continuously too if you choose to do other things.


These new MySpace is on its beta stage and would take more tweak to finally take it to its final form. For now, it eggs on old users to see it for themselves and to add more invites. If Justin Timberlake made the perfect investment and if the new MySpace will pave better with its artsy and minimalist look, it’s all to be seen in the future. As for now, all is well.



Google Search Options

searchologyI really like the new Google Search Options (as noted by Matt Cutts reporting on the Searchology press event this week). VentureBeat and others also covered the event in detail. I’ve only focussed on the search options in this post.

Now in your Search results, there’s a bunch of additional filtering options in the Options panel on the left (default it doesn’t show and you click a link to display it).

The ability to filter by timeframe has had plenty of interest, and I personally can see this being a major game changer in terms of SEO. Many have alluded to this being a strategy of pushing towards real time search, and I certainly can’t disagree. But to me the main benefit is being able to filter out irrelevant information, and hence I’ll likely be limiting my timeframe to the ‘Past year’ category.

I’m not so interested in the very latest (unless of course it is a breaking story), rather I’m interested in knowing that when I view results on say ‘top wordpress plugins’ I’m not seeing pages from 4 years ago that are likely irrelevant.

I’d ideally like to see a ‘Past month’ filter option also.

Here’s what it looks like when searching for this blog’s title:

Google Search Options

BTW I think the Wonder Wheel is pretty useless – can anyone point out a good use for it?

(via Matt Cutts)


URL shorteners: less is… less

Twitter - adding hurdles to IT I’ve been intrigued by the whole URL shortener explosion. Every man and his network has a shortener these days :-).

Although they’ve been around for years (tinyurl for example), the reason for the rise in popularity is undoubtedly Twitter with its need for brevity. So much so that some are getting funding in the millions (see my post on bit.ly a few weeks back for example).

What if Twitter changed?

But I wonder what would happen if Twitter decided to change its 140 character rule. What if they decided to add a new field for a full URL as part of their interface. One that you could enter any length URL into. You’d still be limited to 140 characters for your message, but the full URL could be ‘attached’ at no cost.

Its unlikely to happen of course, since it’d be a departure from their ‘keep it simple’ approach, and there’d also be outcry from all the Twitter clients (but, hey Twitter happily changed their email format without much care for the 3rd parties, so that probably wouldn’t stop them making other changes).

But just consider for a moment if Twitter did make a change like this.

Besides all the visible benefits to users (ie no need to have shorteners, ability to see the URL and make a judgement call about whether you wanted to visit the site, ability for 3rd parties to easily identify popular domains being tweeted about, and the list goes on), there’d also be one less step in most people’s process (although only small, there is bandwidth and latency overhead in having to visit the shortener site and then be redirected).

But then there’s the most interesting part:

What would happen to all the URL shorteners? They’d be rendered obsolete overnight.

Barriers for the sake of barriers

And here’s why I find this whole thing interesting:

One company – Twitter – has effectively put in place a barrier (the 140 character limit).

And now other companies are securing millions in order to overcome the barrier.

The net result to users is unchanged – they can include URLs in their tweets.

But the cost is high (3rd party services, obfuscated URLs, additional bandwidth overheads).

Taking a step back and looking at this, it seems inefficient and counterintuitive.

Far from encouraging efficiency, sometimes I think the Tech industry adds more inefficiency than it cares to acknowledge.


The next Twitter trend – Protected Updates

Twitter protected updatesI’m predicting that Protected Updates are going to be the next big Twitter trend.

Why? Because the mad rush for maximum followers has run its course. And people are now realising that having thousands (or even millions) of followers is next to useless (except of course for the psychological reasons). There’s so much noise these days.

Instead of quantity of followers, people will want to build a quality following…

Pruning season

I’ve spent the last two weeks pruning back most of my social networking connections. Twitter and FriendFeed are easy (since it actually looks better to have more people following you than you follow right? :-) ) but now I’ve started culling friends on Facebook too. Yes, I’m actively trying to have less friends. Why? I’m trying to reduce the noise. I’m after quality and credibility. In relationship terms its about deeper, not wider.

Protected Updates

So, back to Protected Update Twitter streams… why would this be any better? Here’s my thoughts:

  • Firstly, if your stream is protected, then its likely you aren’t just out to garner a huge following. Instead you want a quality following.
  • Second, if you aren’t out to just get as many followers as possible, then chances are you’ll probably avoid all those ‘noisy’ Twitter tactics (linking to stuff for the sake of linking, asking questions you already know the answer to, criticising companies in the hope of getting a re-tweet, etc).
  • Third, and following from the second, you’ll like be interested in building credibility. It’s much better to have a few passionate people reading most of your tweets, than thousands of people very rarely reading anything you have to say.
  • Fourth, it creates exclusivity. Imagine if SMEs (subject matter experts) had special protected feeds in which they dispensed high value content, perhaps breaking news, or special tips, before they released it publicly. And you could follow their protected stream. Wouldn’t you feel privileged?
  • Fifth, it creates value. If you are amongst the exclusive few who are allowed access to a quality twitter stream, then I suspect you’re going to value the content on those streams more.
  • Sixth, it is a monetization strategy. This is actually the main reason I think. If you currently provide membership programs or pay-per-view content (including everything from small business programs through to Wall Street Journal subscriptions) then having a protected Twitter account is another way to offer value to your members. It is a feature they get for being a paid member. Imagine if you are a respected stock analyst with people on your exclusive members only email list. Providing an exclusive Twitter account for them to get immediate insights is the next logical step.


There’s a few problems to be overcome (eg there’s nothing to stop people simply re-tweeting a protected stream), but they’d get worked out in time (eg the person who re-tweeted the protected stream would likely get blocked).

It’s not about Privacy

You’ll note I haven’t mentioned anything to do with Privacy, since that’s a whole topic in itself.


Twitter (and social networks in general) have reached a point where their mass broadcast value is diminishing. The signal-to-noise ratio drops further everyday. Quantity of followers is becoming less important. Quality of followers is the aim, and credibility of content is the key.

In terms of Twitter, protecting updates is one strategy whereby acknowledged experts in their field can make their presence more valuable. And once the experts (and then the celebrities start doing it) watch as everyone else follows suit.


Microsoft Tag Custom tags contest

Microsoft TagI really like the custom tags idea that Microsoft is enabling via their Microsoft Tag technology.

The idea is that you can take the same concept as the original Microsoft Tags and overlay them on pictures. You can also replace the triangles with dots.

The result is a whole new set of marketing opportunities for your brand as you incorporate a tag into a picture or logo. Time to get those creative juices flowing.

In fact Microsoft is running a competition – called the Tag Slaps Design Contest – to see who can create the coolest custom tag.

Here’s the overview from the contest page:

The Tag Slaps Design Contest challenges you to create an original customized Tag and creative concept for an accompanying mobile experience. Your entry should include a working customized Tag that leads to a mobile web site, as well as a creative concept for a mobile site. The mobile site experience concept should engage your customer and encourage them to take an action such as signing up for a service, getting more information about your product, downloading a special offer or an application, and more.

Here’s a typical original tag:

Microsoft Tag example

And here’s a few examples of custom tags:

Microsoft Tag Custom Tag examples

The contest opens on 4 May 2009 and judging will take place from 22 June.

Don’t get too excited about any big prizes though – this is just for the glory of winning. The winner gets recognition on the tag site, Facebook, Twitter, and select media articles.

(via Neowin)


The #followfriday Twitter scam

Twitter Retweet sillinessIn the race to drum up a following on Twitter, people are using all kinds of silly tactics. The latest one I’m seeing is the fake #followfriday thank you tweets.

Basically you send an @reply to a bunch of people (that probably don’t even follow you) thanking them for recommending you as part of the #followfriday meme. But the thing is they don’t have a clue who you are, and they certainly didn’t recommend you. Perhaps they don’t even do the whole #followfriday thing.

I’m trying to work out what benefit people are getting from using this method – about the only thing I can think of is that by @replying to people with a thank you, the people being thanked might get engaged into some kind of conversation. Perhaps they’ll even follow in order to see what the scammer is talking about.

So, if I were to employ this silly technique I might tweet something like this:

Thanks for the #followfriday love @oprah @aplusk @barackobama @mrskutcher @britneyspears – much appreciated. You guys rock!

Actually, I probably wouldn’t use people this popular – everyone would know it wasn’t real. Instead I’d choose slightly less popular people, perhaps @guykawasaki or @stephenfry. My best case scenario would be if they responded (perhaps reprimanding me for mis-representing them). All the people following them might come and take a look at me and see what the fuss is about.

And the added bonus: any people who were already following me would see this fake thank you, and possibly re-tweet it to their steam.

When will all this silliness end?


Music Piracy and Purchasing

Music Piracy I initially missed this story last week about recent research that found that those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t. Thankfully TorrentFreak pointed me to it.

The research findings are welcome news I’m sure to all modern day pirates :-), and for me also (as I get closer to succumbing to piracy). TorrentFreak attempts to explain why this finding might be the case:

The real reason is in fact very simple. The true music enthusiasts simply want to consume, sample and discover as much new music as they possibly can, and the most straightforward and convenient way to do this is through file-sharing networks. Music pirates are just regular consumers really, and they love music just as much as anyone else.

I’d like to delve further into the whole discussion about the findings, but I have to pull myself up, because once again this is a case where the research referenced is difficult to check. The source (UK Guardian) doesn’t link to the research, nor even to the BI Norwegian School of Management that they claim it came from (and I couldn’t find anything on their site about the research either). The Guardian does state however that the study was based on 2,000 users and asked for proof of purchase from those who said they purchased, so it seems to have some information about the study.

So this raises the issue of credibility (again). I’d really love to learn more about the behaviours of music pirates, and join the conversation about  how piracy can be better understood. But sadly I just don’t have access to real, credible information. Admittedly there are credible studies like this one from Industry Canada (see here for a summary) but it is close to 3 years old now – I’m sure habits have changed dramatically since then.


Outlook 2010 screenshots

Office 2010 For those interested in what Outlook 2010 is shaping up to look like, here’s a few screenshots from the Microsoft PressPass Image Gallery. You may have read our post on Exchange 2010 a few days back. Whilst we were mostly critical of the increasing reliance on email, we also made mention of some of the good things coming that will help with managing your ‘corporate life’ in Exchange (and delivered via Outlook and OWA). These screenshots give an idea of how they will work. Notice also that Outlook has the ribbon in the main application now.

Here’s the ‘conversation view’ (in OWA):

Outlook Web Access Conversation view

Here’s the ‘mute button’ to take yourself out of a conversation:

Outlook 2010 Mute

Here’s the tips that help people stopping doing really stupid stuff:

Outlook 2010 MailTips

And here’s a few more:

Outlook 2010 MailTips

And here’s the voicemail preview:

Outlook 2010 Voicemail Preview

There’s further discussion on Zack Whittaker’s blog (from his April 18 post).

Frustrations with the 60% Twitter Quitter reports

imageI’m getting sick of all the stories that people are writing about this so-called 60% quit rate with Twitter. It’s hit all the news sites by now, and is gaining widespread acceptance. The problem though is that it is unclear what it is based on.

Here’s the grab from the Nielsen blog that reported the ‘findings’:

Currently, more than 60 percent of U.S. Twitter users fail to return the following month, or in other words, Twitter’s audience retention rate, or the percentage of a given month’s users who come back the following month, is currently about 40 percent. For most of the past 12 months, pre-Oprah, Twitter has languished below 30 percent retention.

That’s it. Absolutely nothing about how they arrived at the 60% number, what dataset it is based on, what timeframe etc. And perhaps most importantly, no indication of whether it applies to all Twitter interactions (including Twitter desktop and mobile clients) or just the twitter.com site traffic. It is estimated that the twitter.com site accounts for only 64% of Twitter interaction.

If you read the comments in the post (71 so far), you’ll see people have been repeatedly asking for this clarification, but Nielsen has failed to provide even a reply.

And If you read Mashable you’ll see this was quickly raised as an issue with the data and they’ve asked for clarification also.

So whilst many news articles have jumped to speculating on the seriousness of this 60% abandonment rate, the real story should be focussing on how Nielsen can publish numbers without even explaining what they mean or how they were arrived at. To me they have zero credibility until they do.


Microsoft and the art of making money

Hmmm, do you think we should be smiling about this?I agree with Joe Wilcox and his take on the current position Microsoft finds itself in: a very difficult one.

Times are tough. Interesting then, that announcing a drop in revenue last week resulted in an increase in stock price.

Microsoft share price after Q3 announcements

I’m no stock analyst and I’m not going to event try to understand the numbers, but I do think there is an underlying confidence in Microsoft at the moment.

I suspect there’s a few reasons for this. First, and perhaps this is just me, I’ve seen a lot less hype from Microsoft in the last 6 months. The days of flashy launch events seem to have died down (replaced perhaps by better advertising campaigns) and the company is focussing on delivering quality products. The Microsoft PR machine has played its Windows 7 cards very carefully so far, and it seems to be paying off. The sentiment for Windows 7 is very positive.

Much will depend on the success of Windows 7 later this year, and as I’ve mentioned before, it is my belief that Windows 7 will be the release that is looked back on in years to come as the even that saved Microsoft.

And the number of releases lately is very encouraging. SQL Server, SharePoint, Office, Vista all getting hype-low, quality-high updates (Service Packs); BizTalk and IE getting released; new technologies such as Silverlight 3, and Exchange 2010 Beta getting announced (these last two with perhaps with a little more hype than the others, but with restraint none the less).

As Joe notes, this is a time for Microsoft to be pushing out the updates and pre-release so that when the economy turns around and companies start opening their wallets again, there won’t be such a long lead time to adoption.

As you may know I’ve long been a Microsoft fan-boi but that hasn’t stopped me taking shots where I think they deserve it (example). But that said, the Microsoft I’m seeing today is undoubtedly on a very strong foundation (lay-offs and netbook pressures withstanding) in most areas. I will say however that I think they are weak on the mobile and browser fronts and will lose entirely there.

In terms of the result, Chris Liddell (Microsoft CFO) doesn’t talk up it up too much, although he does look for some light in their cost cutting measures. Overall, the down results won’t be turning around in a hurry (from Microsoft PressPass):

“While market conditions remained weak during the quarter, I was pleased with the organization’s ability to offset revenue pressures with the swift implementation of cost-savings initiatives,” said Chris Liddell, chief financial officer at Microsoft. “We expect the weakness to continue through at least the next quarter.”

You’ll note that in general Microsoft hasn’t attempted to spin its bad news. Bad news is bad news.

But overall, I think the news and outlook for Microsoft is good.


Facebook Open Stream Apps

Facebook Open Stream APIFurther to my post yesterday, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into some of the applications taking advantage of the new Facebook Open Stream API (announced on Monday).

This video from CNET is a wonderful demonstration from Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb where he shows two Open Stream enabled applications. The first, a Silverlight app allows beautiful interaction with a friend’s stream, especially their photos. The speed and UX is impressive. Even more so when noting it was put together in under 72 hours. Brian notes that the applications and their source code will be made available in the next few weeks. Also check out the Silverlight blog for more details.

The second app from Brian is a WPF app that allows rich interaction via the meta data that accompanies the steam. Using links between friends and photos, users can visualise their relationships in news ways. Very impressive.

Microsoft shows off Facebook Open Stream API demos from Rafe Needleman on Vimeo.

(via Neowin)

Attack of the SP2s

SP2It’s a big day of Service Pack Releases from Microsoft, with the following being made available today:

Office 2007 SP2

Office 2007 continues to improve with a substantial list of enhancements and fixes.

Whilst every product in the Office suite has received attention, the major focus (as we’ve mentioned previously) will likely be place on Outlook. The team have worked hard to improve the performance of Outlook, both in start-up and shutdown.

You can download Office 2007 SP2 here.


Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) get a nice update (via the SharePoint Team blog).

This release provides performance and interoperability improvements as well as a check for upgrade potential to SharePoint 2010 (due in the next year or two – nothing like being prepared :-)

Download links are on this Knowledge Base article.

By the way, when you are on the SharePoint blog take a look at the little hover panels when hovering over a link – it’ll tell you which links are the most popular outgoing.


Kinda neat – I’d like to know what the key interest in these posts is – my suspicion was that deployment advice would be, but it doesn’t appear that way.

Vista SP2 (and Windows 2008 SP2)

Here’s the key benefits as noted by The Windows Blog:

  • Windows Search 4.0 for faster and improved relevancy in searches
  • Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack supporting the most recent specification for Bluetooth Technology
  • Ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista
  • Adds Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi Configuration
  • Windows Vista SP2 enables the exFAT file system to support UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones

As well as all the updates since SP1 rolled in. There’s a full rundown on TechNet.

Facebook, data and privacy

Facebook Open Stream APIIt’s early in the backlash cycle as people come to terms with what Facebook is and isn’t providing via its Open Stream API (and developer Wiki). Check out Xobni and Seesmic for details on some of the early examples of how it can be implemented.

ReadWriteWeb however offers a slight lament at how limited the data reach is, and overall Marshall’s post is spot on (IMO). Make sure you read the comments (especially comment 21 which captures the correct attitude pretty well I think).

The debate is mostly around privacy (as it should be) and how much Facebook is honouring privacy, contrasted with whether Facebook users actually understand the privacy terms. Scoble brings monetization into the discussion also. It’s a tricky situation.

The issue for me however is a much longer term one. It’s about credibility. Whilst I agree we are on a juggernaut of openness at the moment, and network after network is clamouring to open up its data, I think the tide is starting to turn. Our brazen flaunting of any need for privacy is starting to change. The pendulum will start swinging back – I’m predicting within the next 12 months – and when it does we’ll see services like Twitter, FriendFeed and the multitude of others come under close scrutiny as to what they provide access to. Watch then as they compete with each other to put the brakes on…

Amidst this, Facebook – if they hold true to their current stance – with be heralded as being reliable and trustworthy. They tread carefully. Credibility will count for much soon, and instead of rushing to ease access to data, companies need to be ensuring they have people’s real interests at heart.

Currently we all think its fine to have our personal information out there for everyone else to consume. But I’m starting to see signs that this casual approach is losing its appeal. The smart social networking companies will be thinking very carefully about how they match openness with privacy. I believe Facebook is one such company.

The FriendFeed chain of command

One of the things that has made Twitter so popular is its simplicity and the 140 character limit.FriendFeed

The reason I’m hardly on Twitter anymore is because it is too simple and has a 140 character limit.

Yep, I can happily live with it going mainstream and having @oprah around doesn’t faze me at all (as opposed to the reactions noted here). Even all the ‘social media experts’ spamming me isn’t really a problem.

For me, its the richness that I’m getting on FriendFeed these days that is really interesting. I made the switch about two weeks ago when the new real-time beta went live. Being able to write longer messages, reply with longer messages, and vote up the items of interest is difficult to do without. It’s like Facebook but a little nicer. I’m liking it there.

But there’s still a few issues. The main one is that many of the people I’ve subscribed to have numerous sources coming into FriendFeed. This results in a lot of duplication. A common example is when people use ping.fm to publish to multiple social networks, that all get aggregated into FriendFeed. Thus I’ll see the same message from them shown 3 or 4 times in a row. Here’s a typical example:

FriendFeed duplication

Chain of Command

So, there just needs to be a simple ‘chain of command’ in place.

Here’s how I’ve set mine up now:

  • I have setup FriendFeed to be the source of all my ‘content’ including messages, comments, and posts from my blogs
  • I post messages to FriendFeed
  • FriendFeed will publish this to Twitter
  • Facebook pulls in my Twitter feed

Thus my message only appears once on each.

I’ve also streamlined my networks, so I no longer post to Identica, LinkedIn and any of the other networks I’ve signed up on in the past few years. I’ve decided to keep my content to just these 3 (Twitter, FF and FB) for now. And Video or Audio content will be referenced by my blog posts, so there’s no need to pull from YouTube or Vimeo.

The final link is any bookmarking sites I use. I’ve limited this to Digg and StumbleUpon for now, and both of these feed into FriendFeed only.

Anyway, that’s how I’m working at the moment. Any suggestions on how I should improve this?

[You can follow me on FriendFeed here.]

BizTalk 2009 Released

Microsoft BizTalk Server 2009Well this one certainly hasn’t had the hype that Windows 7, IE8 or Windows Mobile 6.5 has experienced. And perhaps you aren’t exactly sure what BizTalk is yourself. You wouldn’t be alone. BizTalk is one of Microsoft’s enterprise tools, and has been powering away for almost a decade. It’s now in its sixth version and was quietly released on Monday.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, BizTalk is Microsoft’s platform for enterprise integration (here’s a quick overview). Basically, if you want to connect systems together then BizTalk is your facilitator. Think SOA and interoperability… EDI systems are a typical example implementation.

Here’s the list of new features in BizTalk 2009 (from the Microsoft PressPass announcement):

The BizTalk Server 2009 release delivers the following:

  • Simple, cost-effective service-oriented architecture (SOA) connectivity. With new and updated connectors, BizTalk Server 2009 advances interoperability by providing more than 25 industry adapters that make it easier for customers to connect critical business applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite.
  • Increased developer productivity. BizTalk Server enhances the first-class developer experience provided within Visual Studio 2008 by offering new integrated capabilities including visual debugging, unit testing and access to code artifacts. As a result, BizTalk Server helps democratize and simplify sophisticated integration projects, enabling a broader set of developers to rapidly deliver more standards-based and scalable business applications.
  • Better visibility into data and activities. Enhanced Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities reduce the complexity associated with trusted data collection and simplify access to data.
  • Take advantage of the benefits of virtualization. With BizTalk Server 2009 running on Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V technology, businesses can take advantage of the benefits that virtualization provides, including cost savings, production server consolidation and business continuity management.
  • Simple RFID solutions. RFID capabilities reduce the need for complicated custom coding for disparate device types. Now, businesses can easily extend RFID capabilities to mobile environments and experience the benefits from updated standards such as Tag Data Translation (TDT), EPC Information Services Standard (EPCIS) and Low Level Reader Protocol (LLRP).
  • Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) made easier. BizTalk Server can now participate in the full application development life cycle by including new project management, testing and deployment capabilities that extend ALM capabilities already delivered through Microsoft Visual Studio Team System 2008. As a result, customers experience faster time to solution with improved quality.

The improvements include better integration with the 2008 stack (Windows 2008 Server, Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008) as well as use in virtualized environments (using Hyper-V). In fact its worth pointing to the entire Microsoft Application Platform. I’ve been involved in BizTalk projects in previous companies, and whilst it had a steep learning curve, BizTalk always proved itself to be a rock solid technology.

It’s one of those products that tends to be used widely (90% of Fortune 100 companies for example, according to Microsoft), and yet no one really knows about it. It’s products like BizTalk that often get overlooked by analysts, and yet to me are powerful indicators of Microsoft’s underlying strength across multiple sectors.


WordPress and Comments

WordPress commenting takes another step forwardI’m a big WordPress fan. Especially the self-hosted variety (like this blog is). So I’m always excited to see the new stuff coming in future versions. What get’s put into the wordpress.com (or wp.com for the tired-fingered amongst us) hosted versions usually makes it into the self-hosted release a version or two later.

One feature that is hopefully coming soon is the ability to reply to web comments via email. On the official WordPress blog this week they announced the new feature for replying to comments via email. That is, when someone comments on your blog you receive an email with the comment details. Instead of having to log into respond you can simply reply to the email with your comment. WordPress will take care of the rest. Very nice.

This is hot on the heals of threaded comments that made it into the site (and then the self-host release) a little while back. WordPress goes from strength to strength. This is yet another little example. And they allude to more coming soon…

(via ReadWriteWeb)

The Windows 7 RC drain

Windows 7 RC is comingI’m really excited about the upcoming Windows 7 RC availability (who isn’t?). As the Windows 7 Team blog announced on Friday, it should be appearing on MSDN on 30 April, with the public release to follow on 5 May.

I’ll be downloading it straight away, as will millions of others I’m sure. What’ll be interesting is to see the download performance. In the past I’ve been really impressed with Microsoft’s infrastructure (or more correctly their infrastructure partner’s) ability to provide excellent download performance even with huge spikes. There’s been a few hiccups, for example I remember downloading Visual Studio 2008 was a long process during the first day or so, but in general the user experience has been exceptional. I wonder how the Windows 7 RC release will cope.

One of these days I’d love to meet with an IT guru who sets up these kinds of infrastructures and get a proper understanding. I think it is amazing what IT manages to deliver, usually based on protocols and underlying methods that are decades old and never in their wildest dreams expected to be deliver the kind of traffic they do these days.