New Weekend Project – SimpleIPaddress .com

Hello, My IP Address is

UPDATE:  I recently changed the site from SimpleIPAddress.com to ipNotebook.net  Click here for more info

Completed a new weekend project… www.simpleipaddress.com

If you’re like me and use a cable internet service, your IP address changes on a regular basis… when the power goes out, you disconnect your modem to reset it, or whenever your ISP feels like changing it.

As a web developer, I need to know this on a regular basis for access to different services and networks.  While there are different services available online that offer this type of service, I wanted to create one of my own with a minimal design.

The “hello” sticker was created from scratch in Photoshop using a free paper texture from PSDtuts+ and a little trial and error.

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New Augmented Reality Cards for Valentines Day

When you think of a High Tech Media company,  the name Hallmark doesn’t normally come to mind.

However, this Valentines day, you might just change your toon…

Hallmark will be offering new Web Based Augmented reality greeting cards for Valentines day!

Video of the technology after the jump.

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The Lie That Will Ultimately Kill Facebook

Yesterday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to an audience at the TechCrunch Crunchie awards about privacy and their descision to automatically make all content open and publicly available by default.

His statement and reasoning is that privacy is no longer a “social norm”.  Essentially that we should assume everything we say and do will be made publicaly available.

Bullshit.

This is an all-out lie, plain and simple.

The reasoning for Facebook to open up their content – and actually their users content – to the public is about money and nothing else.

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Improve RSS and Email Followers

noSubscribeRSS and Email subscriptions are great ways to improve the traffic and brand recognition of your web site or blog.  However, few site owners know of a simple UI tweak that can make a HUGE difference in your subscription rates.

Simply change “Subscribe” to “Get Updates

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Why Twitter is Significant

Twitter LogoIt seems lately that on almost a weekly basis I get asked or overhear someone talking about how they don’t understand what the all fuss is about Twitter.

At first Glance, this is a rather obvious and understandable statement.  After all, what can you REALLY do with 140 characters?  Just take a look at this article on CNN Money as a perfect example of this mis-understanding.

The problem is that people are viewing Twitter at face value… a free, easy to use service that asks the simple question – “What are you doing?” – in 140 characters or less.

But wait… did you catch that?  Those four little words in the previous sentence:

“What are you doing?”

In other words, what are you doing RIGHT NOW.  What is happening AS WE SPEAK.

You see, Twitter is significant because it’s the first real-world implementation of the Real-Time Web.  It allows people to see what is going on in the world while it is happening.  Not hours later during the evening news, not when the paper comes out tomorrow morning, or even after a blogger writes a story about it… it’s happening right now.

The 140 character limitation actually adds to its success in this field.  It keeps the message short and quick…

“Earthquake in LA… walls are rattling, but it seems like it’s subsiding”

Sure, most “Tweets” are pretty boring… I mean, who really cares what you’re eating for lunch, or what you think of the movie you’re currently watching… or, maybe they do?

If you’re a restaurant owner, you can get instant feedback from people while they’re eating their food.  If you’re in line to buy tickets to a movie, you can find out what other people thought of it while they’re watching.  Or, in more recent current events… View reports of beatings during the Iranian protests.

Twitter as a company itself, like most companies, probably won’t be around forever.  But what it represents is a sea change for the web and how we communicate.  You’ve already begun to see how this is changing the way we communicate and do business.

Not since Google has another company changed the landscape of the web like Twitter has.  So, the question is… What are you doing?

Newspapers: It’s not the Format, It’s the Experience.

NewsPapers

For years now, the publishing industry has been having problems.  From Magazines to Newspapers, readers are leaving in droves to the web.

So, what is the obsession with having an newspaper delivered to your door every morning?  Why does it matter if the same content is delivered via email, on a phone, or on a browser?  Why are so many people so upset about having their local newspaper shut down? 

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Which Came First, the Science or the Logo?

New Pepsi LogoAs some of you may have noticed, Pepsi recently redesigned their logo with a fresh new twist on their old design. 

Now, this may not be something most people would comment about, but a recently leaked document on the design process, attributed to the Arnell Group, shows the process behind the remaking of this iconic brand identity.

If you’re into design or branding, I recommend you take a look at this pdf.

Here’s a small excerpt from this document:

 The Pepsi ethos has evolved over time. The vocabulary of truth and simplicity is a reoccurring phenomena in the brand’s history. It communicates the brand in a timeless manner and with an expression of clarity.

Once you go into the document, it’s clear that a lot of time and effort has been put into the concept of the new logo and branding. 

They examined everything, from the history of the logo, the bottles, even into classical art and concepts of the early masters.

So, I have to wonder… was all of this research prior to the launch of the new logo… or did they come up with it afterwards?  However, if you’re spending millions of dollars on a new logo, you probably want more than a napkin sketch.

Great job to the people over at Arnell Group. It’s a brilliant piece of work.

1 Second Ad = Hours of Free Publicity

1 Second AdAs I’m watching the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the second guest tonight is the lead actor in a 1 second SuperBowl commercial for Miller High Life. I had heard about this on CNN, Yahoo! News, and a few other news feeds I subscribe to and really haven’t given it much thought until now. 

However, as I’m watching this, I’m starting to realize that this is actually a genius piece of marketing by Saatchi & Saatchi of New York.

Think about it… they may have only bought a one second spot during the Superbowl, but they’re getting a ridiculous amount of publicity… simply because it’s different. 

After all, this guy isn’t on the tonight show because he delivered a brilliant piece of acting in less than a second.  He’s there because the advertising is new, creative, and therefore causing a buzz.

What will be interesting to watch is if this trend will be copied by thousands of other B-list marketing agencies out there.  Will this lead to more 1 second advertising spots for other products?  Will this become another “Got Milk” campaign?

GOD I HOPE NOT. 

To all those out there looking to copy this… a little word of advice.  This only works the first time.

Below is a video compilation of various 1 second ads they tried or will try.

The Curious Case of JPG Magazine

For those of you following the publishing industry and it’s current growing pains (or death throws if you’re on the other side of the fence), you may have heard of the recent demise of JPG Magazine.

What’s interesting about this and makes it worth following, is it provides us with a real-life test case for the problems (and possible solutions) facing the industry today. 

The Industry Problem

JPG Magazine, Issue 19

JPG Magazine, Issue 19

As is painfully obvious to most people born after 1975, getting your news or magazine content from an actual print magazine may be an archaic way of getting your news.  Everything that is in print is currently out of date and old news on the web.

People are quickly moving towards online magazines, blogs, and other digital media outlets for their news and commentary.

Naturally, the advertisers are following in kind.  Steadily moving from Print to the more less expensive, measurable, and profitable online ads.
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The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

You know, I never understood the meaning of “The Only Thing We have To Fear is Fear Itself”. I thought I did, but not until I experienced my first real recession as a professional and as a father. Now I know.

With all this Doom and Gloom around the economy and the current state of world affairs, I came across this paragraph from a president:

“In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone…”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932

It’s funny how history sometimes repeats itself.  How the challenges we faced so long ago, seem to be so close to everyone once again.
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Linear Thought – The Parking Lot Manifesto

I often times get my inspiration from the oddest places.  Sometimes it’s watching my kids play… sometimes it’s at work.  And sometimes, it’s  while trying to find a parking spot at the local Walmart during Christmas time.

As I approached the parking lot, only a few days before Christmas, I began to dread the thought of dodging old drivers and young alike.  All vying for the “rock star” position; the parking spot closest to the door.

Living in Northern Minnesota, this is a coveted spot.  Since it can get down well below Zero degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis… you want to try and keep the exposure to the cold and wind at a minimum.

As I entered the parking lot, I was amazed at how far the lot had stretched out beyond the typical 15 or so cars deep.  As more and more people drove in, the rows just got longer and longer.  Like a icle, drawn out by gravity… clinging to the origin of thawed water.

At this point, I realized something about the pattern.  People seemed to be reserved to the fact parking in the rows – perpendicular to the door – seemed to be the fastest way from their car to the store  After all, common thought is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

With a rather smug and probably arrogant smile on my face, I quickly drove around the perimeter of the parking lot until I reached the side lot (you know, the one typically used by the employees).  Sure, I couldn’t see the door, but it’s actually the shortest distance from my car to the entrance.  Well, at least the shortest distance the least amount of effort finding a spot.

All this aside, it got me thinking… why do people park this way?  Is the herd mentality that ingrained in our thinking that they can’t pull themselves out of this thought process and just look to the side of the building?

Now, you may jest at this… but, it’s actually a microcosm of human behavior.  Look at the recent gas shortages in Georgia and Tennessee.  Yeah, there was a shortage, but it could have been dealt with and manageable if it weren’t for group thought and herd mentality.  Everyone else is buying gas, so I better get there before the rest of them do.  It then turns into a self fulfilling prophesy.  Everyone buys gas for fear of no gas -> Result = No Gas.

Same thing with the parking lot… people see that the lines are getting longer and longer, with more people behind them. So, they pick the closest spot perpendicular to the door… before the guy behind them does.

This is all obviously mental floss, but do me a favor… next time you’re in a parking lot… look to the side of the building.

A Revenue Model (or two) for Twitter

Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the past year or so, you’ve probably realized that Twitter has been one of the biggest influences on web culture in years.  It’s changed the way we communicate, how we think scaling applications, and launched countless startups based on it’s api.

Now, there have been countless blog posts, articles, and essays on this subject, so I’m obviously not breaking any ground here.  But, I thought it would be interesting to put my own two cents into the mix and propose a revenue model of my own.

Build Now, Pay Later

One thing Twitter hasn’t been able to nail down (at least publicly) is a revenue model.   They’re the poster-child of the web 2.0 “build now, monetize later” strategy so typical of startups in the past few years.  But, in today’s economy, this simply won’t fly.

To be honest, I never understood this approach to application development.  Now, I do understand the whole “design for design’s sake” mentality. However, if you’re going to take it beyond something that you can enjoy with friends or family, there has to be something supporting it.

Vertical Discussion

With the election only a few months ago, one of the most fascinating and extremely addictive I visited (on a daily basis) was Election.twitter.com.  This site provided me with something I couldn’t find anywhere else on the web; instant feedback on debates, polling results, commercials… really anything in or around the election.

Now, what if they took this same approach and applied it to other events or industries?

The 30k ft view here is to create communities or discussion groups around a specific topic or industry that provides like minded users to discuss their passion in real time.

As a case study, let’s look at Professional sports – and more specifically… the upcoming Superbowl.

 Here we have an opportunity to provide enthusiasts a way to instantly communicate in real time, as the event is happening.  Now, all those arm chair coaches and referees have an opportunity to voice their opinions to something other than the TV or their friends and family.

The revenue opportunity here could be from sponsored pages, in-stream advertising (sponsored tweets), or market research.

TweetSense?

CPC Text Ads have become an extremely effective advertising vehicles.  After all, Google has built an empire out of those simple, unobtrusive, yet targeted text ads in search results.  Why not take this same approach and apply it to sponsored tweets?

Now, this is obviously a very sensitive area to croach in on, and if it’s not done right, it can do more bad than good. 

The ads would need to be easily identifiable as advertising and few enough to not impede on the user experience.

Since they’re text ads, it would provide an excellent opportunity for an automated system, similar to Adsense, where advertisers could quickly and easily create, purchase, and manage their own ads online.  It would also provide an excellent opportunity for a partnership between Google, Yahoo!, or any other well established ad management infrastructures out there.

Final Words

With the current economic situation, I think 2009 will see some sort of revenue stream come to Twitter.  They’ve obviously been planning something, but I think under the current circumstances, their investors will be looking for something sooner than later.

Luck Favors the Prepared…

Browsing through my daily blog reads for the morning, I came across this article from Seth Godin entitled; Is Effort a Myth?.

It’s an interesting little article and one that got me thinking about one of my favorite quotes of all time… “Luck Favors the Prepared” by Edna Mode in the movie The Incredibles.

This little quote has always struck a note with me because so much of our lives seem centered around luck – both good and bad… or at least, that’s the way it seems.  After all, I was lucky enough to be out with my friends that night I met my wife. I was lucky enough to see the ad in the paper that got me my first job in the web.

So, then if everything in our lives are centered around luck, then what’s the point of preparing for anything if life is centered around just dumb luck?

Most successful, self made people will tell you that there was some element of luck in their success.  That there was some event that was the catalyst for their rise to the top.  They happened to be at the right place at the right time, and it just went from there.

How well are prepared to handle a lucky situation is the different between someone who is successful and someone who just got lucky once.

Google Chrome – It’s Not a Browser… It’s a Revolt.

By now, most of you have probably heard of the release of Google’s new Web Browser called Chrome. You may be thinking… big whup, another browser to account for when designing a site. Well, the big picture is actually much larger than that.

The Following paragraphs will demonstrate how this just isn’t a simple new application in the market place – it’s the tip of the spear in an assault on how we view and interact with a computer.

The Revolution Will be Streamed

Before I can talk about the application itself, I first need to discuss a relatively new concept in the industry called “Cloud Computing”.

Cloud computing is essentially a theory that instead of having your applications, files, and documents all housed on your local computer, these services and storage capabilities are all handled by online SaaS (Software as a Service) applications.

A perfect example of this would be Google Docs. Google Docs is a free online office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and other business applications. So, instead of creating your documents and storing them on your local machine, it’s all done online.

Over the past few years, Google has been slowly gobbling up startups and creating applications associated with productivity and business needs. Examples of this are Gmail, Google Docs, Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and many more.

The Browser that will one day become an OS

While Chrome in it’s current release is just another browser… what you may not realize is that it is in fact a new operating system. From the interface design to the back end programming and architecture, everything is set up to run as an operating system.

One can foresee in the not to distant future, hardware created around Google Chrome that consist of essentially a monitor and a modem with limited computing power and local storage.

Essentially, everything you do on a computer would be access through the browser.

OK, But What About Offline Access?

The answer to this question is simple… Google Gears.

Google Gears is an open source application introduced by Google to improve several things:

  1. Provide offline access to applications such as Gmail, WordPress, and Google Docs.
  2. Improve performance by storing certain online components to your local machine.
  3. Running Javascript applications in the background to improve browsing speed.

So, if you’re off-line on say an airplane or camping and don’t have access to the internet, Google Gears will allow you to work on your documents and will automatically upload any changes once it detects an Internet access.

In hindsight, this was one of the building blocks of Google Chrome and a component that will be essential to any online operating system.

Security and Reliability

Security and Reliability are major hurdles to overcome. The security aspect is more of a mental barrier than a technical one, but it’s still a concern when important and sensitive information is stored online.

The privacy and security issue is something Google (and every other major online company) has been fighting for years. Right now, the fight is centered around the government wanting access to anonymous search records. But, imagine of the same laws were used to grant the government access to your documents and files without you knowing? It’s a scary prospect to say the least.

Another concern is reliability, because after all… if one component on the cloud fails, it’s not just your local machine that’s down… it’s everyone using the system. Entire companies and even industries can be affected by a single technical error.

Final

In my opinion, this is a very exciting development and one that may change the way we do business, interact with friends, and go about our daily lives in the very near future.

Many people will probably have an issue with this, however if you think about it… many things you do today are already “in the cloud”. We store our photo’s, write novels, and interact with friends online all the time. This is just one more step in a completely connected world.

Any thoughts, concerns, or observations you have, please feel free to comment below.

Lifecasting as an Organic “About Us” Page.

With the relatively recent popularity of “lifecasting” applications, there’s been a lot of discussion in the Blog community lately about the future of the “traditional” blog medium. Many argue that blogging has lost it’s social roots and with the popularity of applications such as Twitter and Plurk, the medium may be well on it’s way to being obsolete. Below are a few notes on my position of this discussion and a possible new concept I’ve been experimenting with.

A Complement, Not A Replacement

First and foremost, I think it’s rather ridiculous to think that an application such as Twitter will ever take the place of a blog. In my opinion, lifecasting applications work more like post-it notes in 140 characters or less… not a conversation like blogging is. And yes, you could have a conversation on an application like Twitter… but, have you ever tried it? It’s virtually impossible to keep up with the constant stream of information.

That being said, I do believe that lifecasting is and will be an important part of the blogging medium. Not as a replacement, but as a complement. It’s another way of connecting with your audience on a more personal level. A way to not only tell your visitor who you are, but show them who you are by allowing them to follow you throughout the day.

A New Approach

One thought I’ve been playing around with lately is the concept of using Twitter, Plurk, or other lifecasting applications as an ongoing and organic “About Us” page.

The concept is rather simple. Anyone today can start a blog or web site in a matter of minutes – for little to no cost – and claim to be an expert on any given subject. Typically, the only information a visitor has to confirm the blogger or site owner’s credentials is an about us page; Which – as most of you know – can created as easily as copy/paste. This in turn, causes an automatic distrust for new sites and bloggers.

But, what if you could provide your visitors with a stream of information that includes not only who you are, but what you do as well; Sites you visit, blog comments you make, sites you bookmark, etc. It could provide them with more information to subscribe or just hit the back button.

Support For My Theory

Case in point is how I use Twitter in conjunction with my Blog at Addoursearch.com. I actually have two twitter accounts; twitter.com/addoursearch and twitter.com/tpeterson. The addoursearch username is used strictly for blog posts and business purposes… kind of like a hybrid RSS reader. At the time of writing I only have about 17 followers on this account, even though it has much more exposure to a larger audience through the blog. On the other hand, I have over 305 followers in about the same (active) timeframe to my personal tpeterson account.

Now, both accounts are being populated with my blog posts through TwitterFeed. However, in addition to the blog posts, I also add random thoughts and observations throughout the day to my tpeterson account. What I’ve found is that not only have my personal account followers been increasing at a much faster rate, I’ve also seen a much higher repeat click-thru’s to my blog as well.

So, why is this? Why are my follower rates increasing and why are the click thru’s so high?
My theory is that people see who I am and what I do on a daily basis, therefore they tend to trust the information I’m going to provide for them on my blog.

Your Opinion?

Now, since my personal Twitter account is just that… personal, I haven’t actually implemented this theory into practice on the blog. Giving hundreds, if not thousands of people access to my daily life can be a double edge sword. Not only personally, but professionally as well.

Please feel free to comment