Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Site Review – Pixoo.us

January 26, 2008

Pixoo, currently in private beta, offers a pretty unique service. They claim to be the first digital beauty salon who will rework personal photos that can then be used on any number of today’s social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube etc.

With everyone being vein by nature and having at least one thing about then that they would like to change, I thought the site was on to something.

After being accepted as a beta tester, I thought I’d give the site a try and submitted a photo of myself. I paid the $9.90 and was looking forward to seeing the results.

originalThe Original

I asked them to clean the photo up, remove the red-eye, change the background and perhaps change the shirt. I also mentioned that I’d like to use the new photo for professional purposes.
finished
The finished Product

This is the finished product that I received after 3 attempts. Needless to say I’m not sold. I only approved the final version to conclude the process as I felt that not much more was going to be done to improve the photo.

I still think the site is a really good idea. Perhaps the original that I sent them was not of the best quality or perhaps there is not much that can be done to a mug like mine.

I have no formal complaints other than I’m not happy with the result and will not be using it on my Facebook profile.

Link

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Songza, A great new free music service

December 19, 2007

Songza is a new online jukebox that pulls its songs from YouTube clips. Launched in November 2007 by Aza Raskin, the site presents the user with a very simple and effective interface for searching for and playing music. It’s pretty much what Google will do if they ever allow music search from their front page. Minus the white background.

http://songza.com

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Facebook Ads: The Birth of Something Huge

November 7, 2007

Facebook today released something that I’m positive will be as big as Google Adwords. They are now providing anyone, from big business to a mother selling cookies as a hobby, with the ability to target advertising at an exact audience.

Something that makes this interesting is that you don’t need a website before taking advantage of the service. Unlike Google Adwords, where a user generated advert directs to an existing website, Facebook allows you to create Facebook Pages free of charge. With features like a news feed, photos, videos, fans and reviews, Facebook Pages provides a tool for truly connecting a company or a product with its customers. Word-of-mouth is soon to be replaced with Word-of-Facebook.

While creating the ad, you are presented with a approximate number of users that you will reach. For example, South African males, 18 to 25 who like rugby returns a result of about 5140 users. You can even narrow the selection on political views, relationship status and workplaces. When before have marketers been given this power?

Another way to promote your business or product is to use Facebook Beacon. Beacon allows you to publish actions taken on your site to a users Facebook profile. Imagine advertising the fact that a member sat down to play in an on-line poker tournament to all their Facebook friends. The possibilities are endless.

Welcome to a new era, things are getting interesting!

Update:

TechCrunch has an interesting post this morning on the latest forecast for Internet Advertising from eMarketer. They say that in the U.S. Internet advertising will rise from $21 billion this year to $42 billion in 2011. They also state that the web’s share of the advertising pie will roughly double from 7.4 percent to 13.3 percent. Link

Facebook: Strike Two

August 12, 2007

After the reported problems on the 31st July, Facebook has taken another knock with someone posting the PHP source code of their home page on a new blog called Facebook Secrets.

This is the response from Facebook’s Brandee Barker who commented on the TechCrunch coverage:

Some of Facebook’s source code was exposed to a small number of users due to a bug on a single server that was misconfigured and then fixed immediately. It was not a security breach and did not compromise user data in any way. The reprinting of this code violates several laws and we ask that people not distribute it further.

One has to think the the bad press Facebook has received over the last couple of weeks has really dented their potential value.

Link to Facebook Secrets where the code is posted.

.Mac Web Gallery: Great use of JavaScript

August 8, 2007

During Apple’s keynote yesterday in which they announced a new iMac, iLife 08, iWork 08, Airport Extreme and a new Mac mini, they also announced an update for .Mac.

The .Mac update included personal domains, increased storage and transfer limit and a Web Gallary.

The web gallery which can be published with one button from iPhoto gives a rich Web 2.0 experience and even works on IE on a PC. Developed using the Prototype and Scriptaculous JavaScript libraries, it introduces some really innovative ideas for displaying a large number of albums and photos.

The main page is a collection of album thumbnails that change as the user hovers over them. The powerful effect allows the user to quickly scan through the album’s photos without the need for a single click.

Once within an album, the photos are displayed in either a grid, mosaic, carousel or a slideshow. The user can quickly change the background colour, resize the photo thumbnails and subscribe to the galleries RSS feed. The carousel view is the same as the cover-flow album art display that iTunes and the new iPhone uses. Once the photo’s are fully loaded, its performance is really slick.

Congrats must go to the Apple developers that worked on the site. As a JavaScript developer, I’m really inspired by the quality of the work. My only criticism is that the main gallery JavaScript file weights in at an whopping 404 kb. A minor issue thou if you consider the prevalence of broadband connections.

Link to a sample Web Gallery

Update:
Steve Brewer has posted a great analysis of the JavaScript Code. He details how Apple left 128 lines of comments and how the images are used inefficiently. By combining the images into batches of 20 each being 160px by 3200px and then by using them as a positioned backgrounds, Steve’s test results show speed improvements of over 400%. Pretty Impressive!

Update:
Adam Houghton has done the seeminly impossible by creating a JavaScript version of coverflow. He has done great job using GWT.
Link to demo
Link to Adam’s blog announcing GWT Flow

Facebook Still Insecure?

August 5, 2007

On the 31st of July I posted my thoughts on the problems Facebook where having during the course of the day. According the Facebook, the problems were isolated and was not as result of a security breach. The bug, which was fixed that day, caused some third party proxy servers to cache otherwise inaccessible content.

With all the commotion and with Facebook being down for a couple of hours on the 31st July, people seem to have assumed that the security holes as detailed by Adrienne Felt in this pdf document have been fixed.

Well according to Adrienne, this is not the case. Adrienne posted a comment on my post saying that Facebook has not fixed the XSS hole or the underlying design problems that make the site insecure. She goes on to say that the site was temporarily sorta-fixed for two days but has since been taken down.

Adrienne has done the correct thing by censoring the document in which she details the attack. I feel that this however has reduced the true impact of the security hole. It is almost as if Facebook do not believe that they have a problem. I suppose they’ll need to learn the hard way, something similar to what MySpace went through a couple of years back.

Link to an interesting article on myadsl.co.za: Hackers steal information from Facebook and MySpace members

First real stumble by Facebook

July 31, 2007

I’m a Facebook fan and strongly believe that it is destined to break all records when it is either bought or is listed. Today however, Facebook took its first real knock with users reporting that they were getting data that was not their own. The team at my office first thought it was a proxy issue but we later discovered that the problems were widespread. Facebook is currently down with an “We’re upgrading” message on their sparse home page. I wish I was a fly on their wall. The tension must be excruciating.

Will the rumored offer of something like $5 billion be something that the owners later look at with broken hearts. Can you imagine the disappointment if similar offers fail to materialize.

Update:
Here is a link to a pdf document detailing an xss attack on Facebook. The document, written by Adrienne Felt, has been censored by the author until the vulnerability has been fixed by Facebook. It appears that the outage today was to correct security holes as identified in the document.

Update:
Facebook is online. I’ve noticed that now after the update if you click on a profile of a member that is not one of your friends, you are redirected to the basic search screen. All profiles, even those marked as public behave in a similar manner.

Update:
Facebook PR has a group that they’ve invited some of the press and bloggers into. Here’s an official statement that was just posted to that group:

This morning, we temporarily took down the Facebook site to fix a bug we identified earlier today. This was not the result of a security breach. Specifically, the bug caused some third party proxy servers to cache otherwise inaccessible content. The result was that an isolated group of users could see some pages that were not intended for them. The site has now been restored and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Update:
Is Facebook still insecure?

Facebook Platform Analysis

June 14, 2007

Marc Andreessen has posted a great blog post on the newest version of the Facebook Platform. He provides an overview and analysis of the platform and what has been learnt since it launched on the 24th May.

Here are a view key points from the post:

  1. In a nutshell, the Facebook API enables outside web developers to inject new features and content into the Facebook environment.
  2. Facebook is providing a full suite of APIs — including a network protocol, a database query language, and a text markup language — that allow third party applications to integrate tightly with the Facebook user experience and database of user and activity information.
  3. Facebook is promising economic freedom — third-party applications can run ads and sell goods and services to their hearts’ content.
  4. the most architecturally interesting aspect of the Facebook platform is the fact that everything routes through Facebook’s servers.
  5. When you develop a new Facebook application, you submit it to the directory and someone at Facebook Inc. approves it — or not.

    If your application is not approved for any reason — or if it’s just taking too long — you apparently have the option of letting your application go out “underground”.

Link to the full post

Mahalo: Get paid for search results

June 13, 2007

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Jason Calacanis has just announced Mahalo Greenhouse as part of the new human-powered search directory, Mahalo.

Greenhouse will allow the public to add search results and if accepted by the site’s guides, get paid for them. Mahalo currently employs 40 full-time guides and expects to expand to 100.

At this time, payment is only available to U.S. citizens. If you are not a U.S. citizen, Mahalo will make a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation in your name.

Pay Scale:
Number of Results Accepted Compensation Per Result
1-5 $10
6-10 $11
11-15 $12
16-25 $13
26-50 $14
50+ $15

Link

JS Framework CSS Selector Speed Tests

June 12, 2007

Here is a link to a great test page, slickspeed,  that tests the CSS selector speeds and accuracy of the top JavaScript Frameworks.

The frameworks tested include:

  1. prototype 1.5.1
  2. jQuery 1.1.2dev
  3. MooTools 1.2dev
  4. ext 1.1b1
  5. cssQuery

From my initial tests, prototype seems to be taking the lead. I ran my tests on Firefox 2.0. It will be interesting to see how IE7 and the new Safari for windows compares.

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