Category: Online


Pop-ups and Freethought Blogs

Awesome blogs - freethoughtblogs.com

Feel the awesome Freethought Blogs

Freethought blogs, I love them all. Ok, almost all of them… or something and some more than others, but you get the idea. I read many of them very often and of course it’s where PZ is found now and god (heh) knows I enjoy his writing. And let me say this right from the start, I don’t have  a problem with advertising as such. I realise hosting servers costs money; I have… a couple of my own and I realise the hardware and bandwidth one needs to run high traffic sites like freethoughtblogs.com is substantial.

While I hate banner advertising, I can live with it. I don’t want to live with it, but I can and will because I realise that those banner adverts are paying for hosting and distributing the content I like to read. But pop-ups? I freaking despise pop-ups and the evil little bastards that have found its way onto freethoughtblogs.com drives me freaking mental. Chrome doesn’t block them. Why? Because the sneaky advertising agency makes them load on a click. So only when you click on the page does the damn thing load. Mental, it drives me that.

Anyway, it seems the script that creates the pop-up adverts on freethoughtblogs.com are served from a single domain at the moment: c5.zedo.com (I have no doubt that this domain changes regularly and I might put a little script together that polls freethoughtblogs.com to check for changes).

To block it I have added the following to my hosts file:

127.0.0.1    c5.zedo.com

It seems to be working for now – at least until they change the domain the script is loaded from (or if my shoddy early morning testing missed something…).

To the awesome people at freethoughtblogs.com, I’m sorry, but pop-ups are a gigantic pain in arse of epic proportions. Use ugly banners and bland AdWords and spurious DoubleClick and stuff but please, are the pop-ups really necessary?

Everybody else should really go around and have a look at the quality blogs hosted at freethoughtblogs.com, you won’t be disappointed. Except, perhaps, by the pop-ups.

You’re a media producer, music say, and you don’t want people to pirate your stuff, you want them to pay for it. You’re an author, you want people to buy your book so you can make money from the ‘fruits of your labour’. Fair enough, I get it, I understand and I agree with you. I also want to be paid for my work.

However, if you are the RIAA, MPAA or Macmillan books, for example, it’s time that you wake up and face reality. The internet is here, it’s not going away and there is nothing you can do about it.

This post by Naveet Alang : http://www.techi.com/2010/04/the-riaa-and-mpaa-have-failed-to-understand-a-cultural-shift/ lays it out nicely.

What I have to add to that, is this: If you want me to buy your stuff, you have got to make sure that:

  1. It’s easier and more convenient to get it from you than to pirate or download it.
  2. Paying your price must feel like a better deal than the effort I need to go through to pirate it. Most people (including me) don’t have the inclination to spend time searching for a pirate version of your stuff in the first place.

Books are a good example; Apple and authors, pay attention. I have a Kindle and I buy 3 or 4 books a month. I buy them because Amazon has made it REALLY simple for me to get the books and they have made them a REALLY good price. At $5 to $9 for a book it’s not worth the effort of pirating those books and I prefer not to pirate things in the first place.

Apple and some publishers on the other hand, feel that this is too cheap for a digital book with absolutely no distribution overhead. Let me put it to you simply, I will not pay $15 or $20 for that book, I will pirate it. Accept that fact now and move on, it is not going to change anytime soon. You cannot control the internet so why spend the time and money to try to get control over something you can not and fight what is obviously right?

Another thing, authors: if your book is not available digitally, easily, I will not buy it. There may be few like me right now, but soon we will be many. If I cannot find your book on my Kindle, I am not going to buy it. If I find your book on my Kindle and it is a ridiculous price, I will not buy it but I will read it anyway, it’s really your choice how I go about it.

As far as I can tell, Amazon has done their part of the deal, they have made it very, very easy for me to buy your stuff so now all you need to do is make it the right price.

If you want people to pay for your stuff, make it the most convenient way for them to get your stuff, people pay for convenience, all, the, time.

If a llama is agitated, it will lay its ears back.

Check it out, the good people from Lazy Gamer want to give me free stuff but to make it seem legit, they are running a competition. To make it seem even more legit I need to win the competition but I don’t know what the hell a Plasmid is… so, if you don’t mind, help me out and send me some ‘Plasmid suggestions that aren’t in the game’. Help a guy out?

The post is here: http://www.lazygamer.co.za/xbox-360/the-bigdaddy-2010-bioshock-2-competition/

The article looks summin like this:

So January was a bit lean when it came to competitions but we are back in the full swing of things now with Megarom jumping on board with a pretty awesome Bioshock 2 bundle to give away this month.

First the important bits, what are you going to win?

In this the first major competition of 2010 you stand the chance of winning the following

Bioshock 2 Collectors Edition bundle of awesomeness which includes

  • The game (Xbox 360)
  • Bioshock 2 LP (yeah you read right)
  • Bioshock 2 CD (for us normal folk)
  • Bioshock 2 Pen
  • Bioshock 2 pins
  • A little sister… or if you prefer a doll representing a Little Sister from the game.

You get the idea, pretty much anything you would want to be able to do in real life with very little effort…

So what do you need to do for this awesome prize, well as usual we cater for the laziness evident in each of you. To gain an entry into the comp all you need to do is email me (comps@lazygamer.co.za) and tell me a Plasmid that isn’t in the game, but should be.

You will get one entry for every Plasmid offered and the comp is only open to locals of South Africa.

Some possible plasmids you could use are

Automatic clothing remover

Water to beer transformer

Cell atomiser

You get the idea, pretty much anything you would want to be able to do in real life with very little effort…

Save a sheep, love a llama.

HootSuite is pretty cool and pretty useful but I think the TweetDeck interface is nicer even though it lacks some of HootSuite functionality (and obviously HootSuite lacks some TweetDeck functionality).

The real reason I looked at HootSuite is because they just recently integrated WordPress functionality into it. My first thought was, cool, all four major social networking tools I use in one application. And since I use Chrome as my web browser, I can set HootSuite (like I do GMail, Google Analytics, Google Reader etc.) to launch like an application, which I have pinned to my task bar, making it feel like any normal application (possibly one of my favourite features of Chrome).

So I made this post in HootSuite (to start with) but realised that we’re back to square one then as far as setting a decent subject, selecting categories and keywords go. In the end it is much the same as posting from an email, with an email having the added advantage of being able to specify a subject.

HootSuite has a couple of features that TweetDeck really needs: scheduled tweets and Facebook status updates and the ability to have multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts from a single interface. I also like the way HootSuite works with tabs, TweetDeck could use some of that.

I’ll keep an eye on HootSuite but I don’t think I’ll be dumping TweetDeck for it and the WordPress integration isn’t nearly good enough for me to stop using the WordPress interface for that.

I hope the guys at TweetDeck are paying attention though, because I would hate to see them fall behind, they have done good work with their product so far.

Google Nexus One – GMail

This post was re-posted from the Official Gmail Blog:

Posted by Anna de Paula Hanika, Android Product Marketing Manager

Not only does the just-announced Nexus One have a beautiful display, snappy processor, and five megapixel camera complete with flash and geotagging, but you can also buy it online with or without a service plan. Plus, it runs Android 2.1, which adds a couple of new features to the native Gmail application:

  • Quick contact badge: Press the contact status icon within Gmail, and a handy box shows all of the ways you can reply to a contact — including email, chat, SMS, and Facebook.
  • Voice input: Swipe the keyboard, then just speak to select contacts or write an email, complete with punctuation. Period!

Nexus One also features the Gmail updates of Android 2.0, including:

  • Multiple Gmail accounts: Sync multiple accounts to the same device and switch between them without leaving the app.
  • Undo: A handy ‘undo’ link makes it easier to retrieve messages when you hit archive or delete by mistake. (Note: you can’t yet undo send as you can with the desktop version of Gmail).

For more information on Nexus One visit google.com/phone. To learn more about Gmail on this and other Android devices, check out the Gmail page on mobile.google.com/android, or watch this video:

Read the original article here

Ich, bin, ein, Nerd!

But first, let us establish the exact extent of the Nerdity:

I was thinking about starting a series of posts on programming an evolution simulator, about how I am going to go about it this time (I’ve started a couple of times but some of the details eluded me in the past). But then my ThinkGeek order arrived and now I can’t concentrate properly on what I wanted to write about before, my mind clouded with the geekly awesome currently in the air.

So, I’m going to show off the Nerd!(tm) gear that arrived today instead.

The shirts I got for myself (ok, I may have gone a bit overboard, but that is entirely besides the point):

Go away or I will replace you a small shell script

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/frustrations/374d/

Do or Do Not

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/itdepartment/9e4a/

user error

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/frustrations/59fe/

Killer Coding Ninja Monkeys

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/itdepartment/5e89/

Arrgh

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/generic/7666/

You are dumb v2.0

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/generic/38db/

And for my wife:

GeeKISSexy Babydoll Tee

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/womens/5c8f/

Geek Love Poem Babydoll

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/womens/724f/

Pixel Angel

http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/womens/ccb7/

Can you feel the awesome? Can you? No doubt that you can.

Many sheep and goat producers indicate a special bond quickly develops between lambs and their guard llama and that the llama is particularly protective of the lambs. Guard Llamas. Cool.

I started off this latest bout of blogging by essentially trying three different platforms, all at the same time.

I registered onefuriousllama.wordpress.com, onefuriousllama.blogspot.com and onefuriousllama.posterous.com and then went ahead and set up a distribution group in my Google Apps so that I could send one email to the group and have it forwarded on to the email posting service of each blogging platform.

I set up each site to be more or less similar so that I could get a real feel for which way I wanted to go. My previous blog was a self hosted WordPress site which did work pretty well but I was in the market for some edutainmusement.

The first couple of posts went along fine and got posted to all three the sites nicely (Google is probably still nailing me for posting in triplicate, but I have, as yet, still not bothered to find out). As I got more into the swing of things, things like tags and categories needed to be added which couldn’t be done from an email. This quickly made the three blog idea… not so great.

It was apparent almost from the beginning that Posterous wasn’t going to cut it. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s ok, just not quite for me. I’ll probably end up using it to post galleries at some point, possibly. Ok, probably not, but that’s not the point.

It was basically a toss up between Blogger/Blogspot and WordPress.

This is the thing you see, Blogspot is cool. The interface works, the options are great, the site templates are passable. Overall it’s not terrible, but it’s hardly mind blowing. What put me off properly was the number of ‘gadgets’ that didn’t work at all or that just looked hideous and the fact that the management interface… doesn’t feel like an application, it feels like a website. Perhaps it’s just the developer in me but when I use an on-line ‘application’ I want it to feel like an application, not a front end.

WordPress, however, rocks. Ok, sure, I may be biased but I did say that when I started this process.

I like the WordPress admin interface, I like the way the plug-ins and modules work. I like the API, the template system, the blogging interface, the theme management, the widget system and most of all, I like the quality of the plug-ins. Again, I may be biased but it *feels* like the general quality of  WordPress plug-ins are better than, say, Joomla. It is possible that I was just unlucky with the Joomla plug-ins I tried. Possibly.

I have used Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and Silverstripe and I have also written my own comprehensive CMS systems from the ground up, twice, and WordPress is my favourite. Drupal is too complicated, Joomla suffers from a general lack of quality in my opinion, Silverstripe is ok until you try write a module and my own CMSes suffered from a severe lack of attention and age.

My migration back to WordPress sort of just happened naturally. I started using the WordPress interface for writing the posts instead of GMail and I was two posts in before I realised that the other two sites hadn’t been updated.

And that, was that.

There are a couple of things that can be improved inWordPress, obviously (more AJAX in the admin interface, some additional tools for blog post development and I would dearly like to make the editor window bigger and have it stay that way) but on a whole, for a blog or for a normal site, WordPress is the shit. THE shit. (Except for the lack of Google analytics on wordpress.com, that does suck a bit).

So the bottom line is this: use WordPress, it’s better that way.

One of the main uses for llamas at the time of the Spanish conquest was to bring down ore from the mines in the mountains.

ThinkGeek is made of win

I love shopping at ThinkGeek and I’ve shopped there many times before. My wife literally has to hold me back from bankrupting us on that site, such is the level of my geek.

Some of the stuff I have had those guys send me include (but are not limited to):

When I started this post I had no intention of saying anything other than ThinkGeek is made of win but I realise now that it sounds more like an advert than a blog post.

Well, it’s meant to be an advert, in so far as that I personally think ThinkGeek is great and that everybody should buy from them. I did. Today. A whole *bunch* of T-Shirts, much to the dismay of my wife, who is now much poorer in cash but much richer in geek awesomeness (yes, I bought her some also).

ThinkGeek does not (yet) sell any llama apparel.

What is a good idea really worth?

Working as a software developer for just over a decade I have seen my fair share of ideas and execution, dismal failures and (insert interesting adjective) successes.

The basis of this post comes from a post by Derek Sivers (and the comments to that post), the dude who made CDBaby.com ,where he wrote some interesting things about the value of ideas versus the value of the execution of those ideas. Read the entry here.

Which ideas are we talking about here, you are no doubt thinking to yourself. I am distinguishing ‘ideas’ into two broad categories, commercial/business and intellectual. By commercial/business I mean ideas like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Kreepy Krauly; ideas that people came up with that made them money or that were made into a successful businesses. I am not talking about intellectual ideas like those had by Plato, Nietzsche, Galileo or Da Vinci which changed the world (and no doubt could have and did make them some money) but are not currently raking in the cash. Obviously I am also biased towards software/web type ideas, since that is where I have virtually all my experience.

In Derek’s post, he basically states that the ‘idea’ is purely a multiplier to the value that is the ‘execution’. It works like this:

Ideas:

  • Awful idea: -1
  • Weak idea: 1
  • Average idea: 5
  • Good idea: 10
  • Great idea: 15
  • Brilliant idea: 20

Execution:

  • No execution: $1
  • Weak execution: $1000
  • Average execution: $10,000
  • Good execution: $100,000
  • Great execution: $1,000,000
  • Brilliant execution: $10,000,000

To make a business, you multiply the two:

  • A brilliant idea with no execution: $20
  • A brilliant idea takes brilliant execution to make it worth $200,000,000

Fundamentally, I agree with him. A great idea with no execution is basically worthless but there are some other factors to think about around this concept.

When you consider an entire project/product, how much of the totality of the project is the idea and how much is the execution. From a pure time and effort point of view, the idea may very well end up being a very small fraction (say 0.1%) of the project effort while the execution is the other 99.9%. Sure, some people may put a lot of effort into developing an idea, but I have never seen a project where the idea part of the project was more than the ‘very small fraction’ of the whole project. If you think about it, the idea of Facebook was relatively straightforward and pretty simple and when you compare the initial idea (regardless of the hours spent on developing it at the outset) to just the millions of development hours that have gone into creating the system it is today,  it is pretty easy to see that the idea vs. execution effort is hugely skewed towards execution. It works the same for all the big ones like Google and Amazon and most (if not all) of the smaller ones.

Other things that affect that simple ‘idea multiplied by execution’ equation is timing and market saturation. A brilliant idea, brilliantly executed may still end up being worthless if it’s done at the wrong time. You may argue though, that timing is part of the execution. I agree. A lot of the dotcom bubble companies had very good ideas  which were executed brilliantly but were premature, the market just wasn’t ready for doing business on the internet to the extent which the start-ups needed. Amazon was nearly one of these casualties but managed to hold on long enough for the timing problem to be worked out. That, in my opinion, is part of the brilliant execution.

As far as market saturation goes, I think Apple in the smart phone market is a prime example of how a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed can succeed even if there are very many players already operating in the same space. Again, I think overcoming market saturation is a function of execution and not a completely separate factor entirely.

In my career as a software developer I have seen some good ideas executed terribly and fail and I have seen some reasonably terrible ideas executed exceedingly well and win, big time. In every single case I can think of, executing the idea was wildly more difficult than developing the idea in the first place and I think that this is where the ‘ideas’ people can learn a lot. Coming up with a reasonably good idea is not that difficult. Many people have good ideas. In fact, I have several. Executing those ideas, however, is a completely different ball game and is what makes the difference and the insanely big bucks in the end.

Having said that, I do believe in protecting ideas. While in the bigger scheme of things, developing the idea may only make up a fraction of a project, that may still and does usually add up to a huge amount of effort and let’s face it, nothing is worse than working your ass off on something just to have it taken away and not get anything for it. There will always be somebody better able to execute an idea than you are (unless you are Google possibly) and so you need some protection against this happening. No protection is complete though and big names like Microsoft have made a business out of crushing ‘the little guy’ reasonably often.

All things considered, I would rather have an average idea executed brilliantly than a brilliant idea executed averagely.

The price for a male llama varies between $200 and $1000 while a female fetches between $400 and $3500+.

Interesting, no?

iBurst.

Actually, I’m grasping at straws here. Either today was a particularly quiet day where nothing at all happened (hardly impossible) or my brain is refusing to record anything vaguely interesting (hardly impossibly). 6 straight hours of Top Gear will do that I guess.

I’ve been toying with the idea of ranting about iBurst, how I get disconnected and how it makes me furious (which it does, spitting mad even) but I’m not going to.

The llama is a South American camelid (seriously), widely used as a pack and meat animal by Andean cultures since pre-hispanic times. In popular culture llamas are mostly associated with the Incans.

And so it comes to pass, it was morning and it was night and that was the first day of MMX.

Respect the Llama.

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