First impressions of Podio

Podio is a new cloud based business tool, it is sort of the Facebook for business. It is also clearly a direct competitor to SalesForce.com and LotusLive in my opinion. It looks like it has a really nice set of applications right out of the gate and they are tailored for running a business. It has things like email, calendar, meetings, project planning, crm, and all kinds of tools for different industries.

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Is Twitter driving your brand, product, or company?

I find it amazing as more and more areas in the world are using Twitter to drive something. My latest observations have been around Jeff Probst and the American show “Survivor”. You can follow Jeff on Twitter and Facebook and you can also go to his blog. If you are in the technical world, this is really not anything new. What you can see is how Jeff promotes his brand (namely himself) and his product (the show Survivor) on as many social sites as possible. Jeff is spending a lot of time on his blog, facebook, and twitter. I find him writing snippets here and there and many posts on his blog that make the show that much more interesting. I have been a long time Survivor fan since day ne and the value these social tools adds is incredible. It is like you get to connect with the real deal and not just show up on Wednesday nights to be entertained for an hour. This is exactly how a business or brand can take advantage of social software and use it to drive interest and ultimately sales. I also noticed he uses Google Ads on his site – I wonder how much he makes from them…

Why Twitter and Facebook don’t cut it

So I have dove into the whole social network stuff pretty heavily, like most anyone related to technology. I now find myself following many people on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The information for the most part is interesting at best but to be honest about it, most of the information simple stinks. The “rivers” of information are just that, uncontrollable rivers that have no structure or guidance. Someone you follow posts great stuff then all of the sudden has a flurry of useless posts and information, only making the river harder to navigate. When you wake up in the morning and there are over 200 tweets or 300 plus new facebook events that is pretty hard to consume and navigate.

So yes, there are filters, search tags, and a couple of other ways to limit the feed but the reality is the information is inconsistent and not reliable. Twitter is even more of a nightmare to follow for long conversations between people. I spend most of my time in Facebook deleting messages and stop following posts by people or applications than actually reading anything fun, funny or business related.

Then you throw in LinkedIn. I am actually beginning to favor LinkedIn over all of the rest because of one simple element – the professional groups. I can easily navigate to a group and see “what’s going on” in that particular space. Almost like a news section of a newspaper. I also enjoy seeing the job changes, profile updates, etc of the people I follow because usually that information is interesting.

Lastly, there is PlanetLotus and PlanetEclipse. I think there is something here with controlled aggregations. I can go to a centralized place to read things related to a given product or technology or at least be guaranteed the content is somewhat related to the community.

So yes, this is a rant as I sit here tonight and find these social networks more frustrating than useful. Maybe I will feel different tomorrow when I wake up and see 800 things I have to ignore.

How does Facebook serve millions so fast? BigPipe

I was looking at some Facebook source today and I noticed the JavaScript code referencing something called BigPipe. My curiosity lead me to Googling “BigPipe” and I ended up learning a very interesting technique for web site optimization. What is BigPipe?

This is similar to the pipelining performed by most modern microprocessors: multiple instructions are pipelined through different execution units of the processor to achieve the best performance. – link

Facebook does a great job outlining their use of BigPipe and I even found the opensource project on github – check it out here. Check out some of their performance results using a traditional approach versus pipelining the content:

As most know, Facebook is mostly written in PHP. The open source project on gitHub has sample implementations also in PHP so it is very easy to follow.

Great article on OAuth and how Twitter does it “wrong”

Earlier today, passed on by Mikkel on Twitter is an excellent article on OAuth.  Mikkel has created an abstracted view part for use in his TwitNotes that does the OAuth work for you.  As Mikkel outlines, he has gone through the same struggles as Ryan did in his article on Ars.  Even though the article has some great visual graphics, don’t think its not comprehensive.  The article goes deeply into the problem at hand and even offers some suggestions how Twitter could change its OAuth flow like LinkedIn and Google.

Even in the context of server-to-server authentication, OAuth should be viewed as a necessary evil rather than a good idea. It should be approached with extreme trepidation and the high level of caution that is warranted by such a convoluted and incomplete standard. Careless adoption can lead to serious problems, like the issues caused by Twitter’s extremely poor implementation.

Why isn’t IBM.com social?

Reading the many posts about the white paper about XPages and Domino I went ahead and read the link in Ed’s post about the case study CRM application built with Domino XPages.  After reading the article, which I found pretty interesting, I noticed there were no “share” or “tweet” icons anywhere to be seen on the IBM.com site.  Maybe this is just a point in time statement, however it is certainly an opportunity for things like the new Vulcan objectives – maybe IBM.com should be a target to be Vulcanized…

I am sure this post will get some attention but to put it simply, I would have tweeted this if the icon was there!  Ok, I will copy and paste the URL for now…

Fox news crashes Over Fifty is Nifty site

Classic, a major television network (Fox News) has a segment about the Facebook for over 50 year olds and the site crashes almost immediately. The site, Over Fifty Is Nifty crashed within minutes of the broadcast.

Being social in the Lotus Community

Larry Bird Balfe

I just got off of the Lotus Technical Information and Education (LTIE) community call and there was a loud voice that IBM executives be “more social” in the community.   The community wants more executives like Ed Brill to be engaged on a daily basis.  I can definitely understand the reasons for such a request but the problem I see in general with social communities is you either get paid to contribute or you want to contribute (usually in your own time).  Like Ed, I also work out of my house and my “cooler talk” is actually the internet – so I blog, tweet, linkedIn, Facebook, etc more than most of my peers.  Of course I am not an executive and I do it because I enjoy it and I want to understand what the community wants and needs.  I also don’t have an office mate, unless you count my African Grey Parrot Larry (his full name is Larry Bird Balfe, see right) so it gets a bit lonely but he can carry on basic conversations .  I don’t get paid to do it and outside of being a person who spreads the news about development with IBM technologies, my boss never says “we need more posts” or “post something about X”.  What I post is what I feel like sharing or, I do post things that are referred to me by colleagues.  I also have a very different agenda – I am a geek who writes about software development and coding.  My level of posts are more granular and usually never focus on product futures.  You may take away that if I blog about certain topics then the development team is looking into it but it may simply not be true because I also have a wide range of development interests outside of IBM technology.

For those that want to be more involved then I would suggest following PlanetLotus and the wikis.  Being engaged in Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook is pretty important these days because many discussions go on in those places but they are usually a bit raw and may be hard to follow.  There are also more and more groups, meetings and people joining these other social sites and many times that is where I get invites to meetings like the LTIE one today.

And I must add, this is strictly my voice and not the voice of IBM.

Mixing cloud and on premise with WildFire

A big topic in the industry is enterprises mixing cloud and on premise data and what should and should not be supported.    I don’t really have many business related cloud sites today but I am seeing more work related posts on most sites.  I do get a lot of good Lotus community information from Twitter and LinkedIn and now I am actually starting to see more and more stuff on Facebook that is work related.

The problem is I am now seeing things I don’t consider “work related” show in my Notes client.  This could be bad if I happen to have this open in a meeting and someone posts something that is not appropriate.  I have to decide if Facebook is going to stay or not.  It would be great to have WildFire be able to block certain posts from a specific person or service.  Maybe that is a feature request ISW??

Now, I have our internal IBM Connections site added to the list so it will be interesting to see the value that brings.  I have to save this is very cool to see the communications come to me in a real time manner.

Once again, great job ISW!

Facebook changes…again…

I like how Facebook just changes its UI somewhat randomly.  I am sure they announce this stuff somewhere but from a casual users perspective its pretty annoying.  I log on to FB tonight and notice the “Share” field is now gone and I have to click an option of what I want to share:

Click to enlarge

So is this how the cloud works?  Will applications in the cloud “just change” one day when a user logs in?  I wonder how this would fly in real enterprises.  I know when I worked at a large company in IT there had to be all kinds of training, warnings, etc that a new version was coming.  This just seems to easy to frustrate the average employee.

One key thing that may distinguish cloud based applications from on premise custom applications is that they are so intuitive it doesn’t even matter if the stuff changes.  Unfortunately FB has not been so intuitive.  I remember several changes totally frustrated me in the past.  This one change is minor but its funny how I immediately noticed it because I could just click in a field and start typing!