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Facebook has 500 million users today

22/07/2010 Leave a comment

Facebook

Facebook

The company confirmed today that it has hit the 500 million user mark. Thinking back to the start of Facebook in 2004 its impressive to see how far the company has progressed. But it has not been all rosy.  Facebook in recent times has had to deal with the many concerns about privacy. It is also interesting to look back see how when Facebook went public practically every company saw it as a threat and wanted the social networking site blocked. Since that time companies have shifted their thinking and every marketing opportunity to use Facebook has popped up.

Facebook has brought a new principle for the working environment, “the need to interact” it has also proven that by trying to block facebook in the early stages all employers did was to enable their staff to find innovation ways of interacting with Facebook and gave Facebook a reason to build on the mobile platform.

The lesson is be careful how to try to curb staff from interacting as this forces them to find alternatives and being human, the very first post would be something along the lines of “my company sucks – they don’t allow Facebook” as an example. It is also wise to be smart, when you see a trend appear, instead of just looking at the risks, try to see how this so-called can be positively used in business.

No doubt most companies at this very point are building on creating a more social environment within the business. This is a good step forward, and hats off to Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s amazing milestone.

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YouTube is down (Wednesday 14 July 2010)

14/07/2010 10 comments

Hey for the last few minutes I keep getting an error message from YouTube, so before any other blogger out there post it, I thought I would be the first to let you know.

The site comes back with a server error and says please try again after 30 seconds.

Android 2.2 and Adobe Flash 10.1

27/05/2010 Leave a comment

Android 2.2 (Froyo) running Adobe Flash 10.1

Android 2.2 (Froyo) running Adobe Flash 10.1

Ok, so I am pretty much sick and tired of people writing crappy blogs about how Adobe Flash on a mobile phone slows it down and that’s why they are in favour of Apple.

Lets once again lay the ground work to understanding this.

Adobe Flash was designed to bring rich media content (eg. cool games and videos) to the web, it provided a medium for developers and designers to create amazing web content and deliver to multiple platforms.

By the very nature of it Flash based content would slow down a web page because it it using rich content. Now take this logic to Mobile. Mobi sites loaded faster because there was no rich content for mobile it would just use more bandwidth and was not feasible.

But now with Adobe looking at creating software that allows content to go to any platform the logical next step is to take rich content to Mobile.

If you are not stupid then you would already know that naturally a web / mobi page will load slower if there is rich content on it. Alot of mobile phones come with a YouTube app, have you tried loading up a video on it? It’s really slow!

The idea is to get your head out your bum and realize that the early stages of any new development is always the shakiest. This is when the bugs get ironed out and when you start building on the development to create a master piece.

Adobe Flash on Mobile is exactly the same. Give the platform a chance and you will see objectively whether it is worthwhile or not.

For the crazy people who lack a brain – damn guys, whether you browse a website with rich content or a mobi site with rich content, it is not Flash that slows it down, it is Flash trying to give you an amazing experience by playing that rich content that slows it down. (It is not the YouTube mobile app that is slow it is the videos YouTube is streaming.) Getit?

Cheers

HTML5

21/05/2010 Leave a comment

HTML5 – The explanation

With the natural progression of the web language from HTML 1 to current 4.01, the logical next step would be HTML5, and there’s more to it than just a name change.

The main idea or focus of HTML5 is to lessen the need for plugins to display rich internet applications. Plugins would refer to such apps as Adobe’s Flash Player, Microsoft’s Silverlight and Sun Micro systems JavaFX.

You all would be familiar with at least 1 or 2 of these names, seeing that the majority of Internet video is played of a Flash player.

HTML5 is still just in early stages, there are working stable modules and I am certain that they will start being used more and more, Adobe are already looking at implementing the necessary changes to allow users to generate webpage’s in HTML5.

The deeper you look in to HTML5 the more you start to see where it is all going. Semantic web often tagged Web 3.0 is leading toward making the web smarter. The idea that a parrot repeats what a human says but does not understand it is where we are with the internet at the moment. We tell the web what to do and it does it but does not understand why we are giving that instruction.

The semantic web changes that into helping our computers understand what we are doing. So the way a web page is coded will be designed at making the web page “computer friendly”.

In turn this will aid us as our computers offer a better array of features. When we search, the results would be better, when we interact the experience would be richer and so on goes.

Will HTML5 get rid of Adobe Flash, Silverlight and Java – Yes and No. Yes in the long term HTML5 will develop and become more widely used. As for now – Adobe Flash is here to stay. Silverlight never took off and Java runs so quietly in background that you never even know it’s there.

The prep work however needs to start now – start incorporating the standard into how we currently work on web and when the wave hits, all we need to do is take out our surf boards and ride the wave…

The Guiding Principles – How Online becomes Digital

03/09/2009 1 comment

Having grown up in a family of I.T. professionals and having seen them work, learn and evolve over many years gives one a deep understanding of how quickly technology can and does change.

It’s been said that now in 2008 /2009 humans beings have conversed nearly 38% more than any other time known to man. Why? Well, because social networking has become a fashion and if you’re not on Facebook, MySpace, MXit or Twitter then you are living in the dark ages.

Online has evolved and if online is your business then you are aware that this monster called the internet is no longer just about websites or mobile sites. The world is becoming Digital and where you had an Online campaign last year which was a website created to promote your brand, this year it would be called a digital campaign and would include a website, emailer, sms, ussd, rss, toolbars, widgets and the list could go on forever.

In changing times, businesses and its people need to change and adapt as well. You cannot be a part of a dying technology, because you will die too.

What adds to the incredible growth of digital is that it is a unique effective way of reaching your audience, especially if you have a trust-worthy brand. It is also worth mentioning that the global recession has also had it’s effect on the audience, which means they are more aware how they spend their money.

Which leads to me to the point of this entry; here are a few thoughts on why you should go digital:

  1. Tried – Tested – Failed – Sucess

The digital medium is about the only medium that allows you to “try” something without heavy consequences should it fail, and if it does fail, it can be tweaked and reworked until you get the formula right. Digital allows you to create safe enviroments to test and even test a campaign live and if it is not working, simily rework it.

  1. The Ad-on benefit

If your core business is not internet based, the digital realm provides you with great ad-on’s especially if you’re on tight budget. The amount of people using social networking as a full marketing package is growing by the second. Retailer’s, Banks and Broadcasters are all getting in on the action. If you’re a guy then you are probably part of the Markham Facebook group, if you listener to 94.7 Highveld Stereo then you might also be following them on Twitter and if you bank with FNB then you know that you can perform nearly all your banking from your cellphone, with tons of value added features, like avoiding the queue for a lotto ticket, you can buy from your cellphone.

  1. Participation

Media and Advertising in the past has always been one-sided, it was always a TV AD at you or a Radio AD giving you only one way to turn. Now in this day and age, people want to interact, they want to be a part of it. Do whatever you want to just make sure that it allows for the maximum amount of participation and at whatever cost avoid interaction that allows for only a few people.

  1. Think like your audience to please your client

This is an important point, and needs to be stressed! If you want to please your client, (either someone paying you to create a digital campaign or just yourself creating your own brands awareness) think like your audience. Do not limit yourself to just a website – think smarter, predict what your audience would do and interact with them in that way. It may not be a website. I repeat it may not be a website. Here is an example: If you want foreigners arriving in S.A. to be interested in what you have to offer, first go to the airport, its logical – that’s where they check in!

  1. Break the rules and thinking

You will not survive in this environment if you cannot push your limits. Companies tell you to work within boundaries and yes boundaries are needed, but be weary that you do not use boundaries as a scapegoat from learning and exploring. If you feel like you are in a comfort zone, then I assure you – you suck at what you do. Digital is not a sit down and relax place, it changes and moves every second of every day. When you are having Christmas lunch on 25 December at home, technology is still progressing. Take your mind off web pages and start seeing the web as an ever growing application. Facebook is an application not just a webpage. Break the rules and your thinking, but do it responsibly.

  1. Listen to your Audience / Analytics

Your audience does not have to speak to say something, most if not all companies use some kind of analytical system to learn about their audience. Knowledge is most powerful when it is applied. It is pointless knowing your audience does not like rock music and then you design a radio ad and use rock music in the background. Companies get so caught up in pleasing the client, that they forget that is it the audience who determines the success of your business and if your client would return for further advertising solutions from you!

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Research indicates that 60 of all website traffic is generated from a search engine and having been involved in the analytical information of more than 10 large and medium brands, I can tell you that the 60% figure is almost always right. So give a little thought to how Google and Yahoo and all the search engines rank you.

  1. Aesthetics

This should by now be grounded into your mind already. A user will determine if they like your website within 30 seconds of being on your website. This is way to little time for them to read your longs lines of text. Get creative and start thinking outside the box, while bandwidth may be a concern now, it will disappear in time, and when it does, will you be ready or will you till be sacrificing Quality for Quantity? It is better to have one amazing banner on Facebook (as an example) that 40 crap banners across the internet.

  1. Functionality

What makes one website better than the other? Functionality! All radio station websites have the same core design. They all tell you what song is playing, they all list their presenters, and they all have some competition or promotion. What sets one apart from the other is what they have to offer in functionality. The Internet is about creating an experience, one that causes your audience to return because of the amazing experience they have had.

Don’t be afraid to invest in good functionality, look at trends and predict what will become popular and use it. Current trends in Digital include ways of consolidating all your social networking to control it from one central point. On a mobile you can use Fring as a central place to chat to MSN, Skype, Gmail chat, Yahoo Chat and many others.

  1. Trust the experts

You want to bake a cake, ask the baker not the plumber. You want a shit hot digital campaign, ask the digital team not the finance department. You get the point – too often we go about doing exactly this, trust the expertise of a person who is not in the digital realm and then when the campaign fails, everyone is up in arms. Stop being stupid and understand that you do not know everything as I do not know everything.

Ask me a digital question and I will give you a digital answer – that’s what I do.

The above principles are exactly that – principles, the likihood of them changing is very high, just because this environment changes so often.

If you are a company then use this as a guide, build on it and ensure that is forms part of the culture of your online team. I would even go so far as to stay, stop calling them the Online Team or department and start calling them the Digital Team.

People (Are we Penguins or Bees)

20/06/2009 Leave a comment

Probably the most controversial chapter of this book is the one you are currently about to read.

This book is about technology and in particular design – what type of people are needed in this sphere, the creative kind. The free thinkers, visionaries and normally they have the big mouths too. The human element in every aspect of life has both good and bad properties. Knowledge in general gets used for good and bad and not surprisingly because we decide this.

A good example to better explain this is a person that creates a weapon, he or she may have created that weapon to be used to defend our country a noble cause, yet that very weapon will get into the hands of evil men who’s purpose is to cause destruction. The weapon cannot choose good or bad, it was made for a purpose if it’s a gun then it’s purpose would be to fire a bullet. The person holding the gun determines if he is using the weapon rightfully or wrongfully.

The human element is needed and there is no way around it, it has been said in times past that a computer is only as intelligent as the person who created it and so this simple statement holds many truths. We need humans, even though Terminator seems to give the idea that robots can run without us, it is still many years in the future before we (the humans) get taken out.

But lets be real, we’re not designing nuclear weapons here, we interested in technology and design in particular. The character of persons you have working in your team will determine the success of that team. There are no two ways about it. Companies and individuals have got to start taking the human element more serious. The sad reality is that the wrong people are in creative positions and because of this arises many problems that can only be fixed by having the right person in this position. Take any industry in the world and you will see that you cannot have a cook designing weapons, just like you cannot have a fisherman building websites; it does not make sense in fact just saying it sounds crazy.

It’s so clear to see that we should never do it, yet why are we? We need to have web designers designing websites. That is the long and short of it, you cannot Google this for a different solution, actually maybe you should and then Google would reply “dumbass” because really that’s what we are when we have fisherman and bartender and cooks designing websites.

Fine, we can see that but does this now mean I have to fire the creative department or is there a solution to the people problem?

The solution likes in the department – as strange as it sounds it is fact. The creative department or team requires creative people. Lets not be confused creative is not just the person who can create a work of art master piece, creativity extends far deeper than that, creative people are everywhere.

A creative person is not an alien, a lot of the time a creative person is the average Joe Soap. The deciding factor is the attitude that he or she has; this is the secret ingredient in a creative person – Attitude!

Now you’re probably saying “he’s off his head” attitude can’t be all that’s needed to be a creative person. You’re right there is more involved however, without the right attitude there can be no passion and without the passion there will certainly be no interest in growing ones skill and knowledge.

This also means that it is something that can be harnessed and developed, the more you practice what you need to do to have the right attitude the easier it becomes. Pretty soon you’ll be a master at it. Once you have attitude right you will automatically star seeing things differently, you will start to love your mind, because you are aware that everything you need to do comes out of that mind of yours. Science teaches us that we use only 10% of the full potential of our minds, that should be a shocking statistic and should make you think about what we as humans have done with that 10%, sent a man to the moon, built a brick shape object that allows us to talk to each other over vast areas of land (mobile phone), build objects that float on the sea (ship), built objects that fly in the air (plane) these wonders of technology and design were done by – you and I – everyday ordinary people. These people were creative but think back and imagine if Hendry Ford came to you and said I want to build a car, I most certainly would have laughed at him after he explained what a car was! “A box on wheels that you sit in, are you insane?” Yet here we are, years later with Lamborghini and Ferrari and Mercedes Benz and BMW and VW and all these other brands of vehicle, no one is laughing now.

Being a creative person requires having the ability to respect other people and there ideas. The promotional manager at Primedia Broadcasting would say “No idea is a bad idea” and this correct, we have to appreciate the ideas and concepts people create not because we’re being nice but because we may not entirely see what they do and to shoot them down without a hope is limiting them and us. Ideas and concepts are interesting in there own right, they are very difficult at times to explain because it’s our mind working at full power and what tends to happen is if we don’t grab that idea or concept and save it, it may be lost forever. Which is why a creative person cannot work a 9 – 5 job, it’s impossible because you are not stretching or using the mind. You’re simply a robot completing assigned tasks.

True creative people can be sitting at home watching a commercial in between a big soccer game and wham an idea or concept will hit them. Normally the excitement hits them so hard that they either have to tell someone, write it down to remember it or try to implement it immediately.

Creative people are always trying to find easier, smarter ways of working, they are not conformed to the standard and for very good reason, technology has proven that it stands still for no man, and because of this man has had to keep up it is these creative people that are the one that find a solution to help bridge the gap between where technology is and we are as individuals or companies.

Creative people can add such a great deal of value just in the moral of the team, they are focused on what they are doing and will pass the spirit of creativity to everyone around them. There thinking is unique, I heard Robyn Sharma give a talk on leadership and recall his words “If you have not failed once every seven days then you have not stretched yourself” Failure to creative people are stepping stones to success, a failure should allow you to challenge your mind. If you think about it without failure and the need to succeed, why would you need to think at all?

We should take the wise approach and start building on the foundation of our mind, exercise your brain, get the blood flowing and use it to be a creative person. It is again a matter of the mind, take the poor old penguin as n example, he has the wings yet cannot fly, he wondles along and is officially a bird but without flight.

Humans are like that and if left like that we would more than happily stay in this poor state. But we have wings and must spread them and fly.

A creative person is one who wants to always know “why” or “how”, this is key to a creative person because knowledge is valuable and the sooner we see this, the quicker we can implement it in our own lives. Creative people stand as having the ability to motivate themselves, however don’t fool yourself into thinking that they will never get unhappy, they are still human and which by the very nature means that they come with 10 tons of emotional baggage anyway.

Creative people will also pretty much nag or beg or do whatever is needed to obtain what they want – I think the nice word for this one is persistence. This is a good characteristic to have it means you trust what you do and have faith in it. That is a good sign of a creative person.

I have learnt over the years to appreciate cartoons, it takes a lot of imagination to come up with some of the characters they do, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck while we have bunnies and ducks, it still takes a lot of brain power to make it a reality in a cartoon for you and I. So the next time you watch an animated movie or a cartoon, appreciate the creative person that worked on project.

While having all these wonderful characteristics, the creative people still need to be professional and able to distinguish between work from play. He or she should have an excellent knowledge of the environment they are in and must constantly be learning. They should also be honest and open – transparency is a golden point in business.

It is also important to have people that add value, this then needs people to change the thinking from I have a job to I have a career. A job is 9 – 5 you do it because you have to, a career is life long, you do it because you want to.

So what’s the conclusion to the matter, well it’s simple if you have people, then train them to have the right attitude and they will be creative, if you are the one trying to be creative then get your head screwed on right and start pushing your limits. You need to fail more to succeed more, you need to fail more to learn more and you need to start thinking outside the box.

Stop being the penguin and start being the Bee. (Why a bee? Bees defy laws of physics, there body is too big and there wings are too small, they by reason should not be able to fly, yet they do. Further to this they take something simple – pollen and create something magical – honey. We should all work at being like the bee.)

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