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Google Just A Bunch Of Marketing Gimmicks?

Mike Elgan over as ComputerWorld.com let loose on the fact that Google slings around the termsbeta‘ and ‘experimental‘ only to get around blame and criticism. I tend to agree.

Just like Microsoft and many other software companies, Google designates a huge number of its many online services as beta, and many features as merely “experimental.”

For example, did you know that Gmail is still in “beta,” and has been in the “beta” stage of development for five years?

I’m pretty sick and tired of seeing the word Beta whether it deals with Google or some other Web 2.0 site. To a point, I think it’s embarrassing to have the word displayed on a product or service for five years. At face value, you would begin to think that the software would never reach a point of completion. However in Google’s case, they can use that term Beta as a defense against criticism considering end users don’t pay a dime to use their products/services. After five years of being in beta, I throw that line of thought out the window.

Mike sums it up pretty well in one of his closing statements:

New rule: If a “product” is attracting eyeballs and making money, if the users don’t know they’re beta testers, if the beta is unlimited in time and in scope, and if the product will never, ever be offered for sale anyway, the words “beta” and “experimental” have no meaning at all. And the products are open to criticism.

So when everyone is wondering why the word ‘beta’ has been devalued to the point where it means nothing, I hope they do a Google search to find the answer.

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Yahoo Must Love WordPress

YahooShortcutsLogo

By now, you’ve probably heard or seen the mention of the new WordPress exclusive, Yahoo! Shortcuts. Yahoo shortcuts is a WordPress plugin that provides shortcuts to relevant material as you compose your blog post. Simply speaking, the Yahoo Shortcuts is an easy way to tap into the numerous sources of data that make up the Yahoo! network of websites.

There are two ways to display shortcuts to your readers. The first way shows readers certain blue dotted, underlined, terms that show the related content once the mouse cursor is hovered over them. The second way is to present the relevant content as a badge or image embedded into the actual post.

As A Link Or As A Badge

Looking at the way the relevant content is displayed reminds me a lot of how Kontera works. Kontera is a form of in text advertising. As far as I know, Yahoo is not making any money from any of the products that might be displayed on your blog.

One of the negative things about this plugin is it’s size. The plugin folder is comprised of 110 files. I suppose the reason for so many files is so the plugin can support the various shortcuts provided by Yahoo.

In concept, I think the idea works. But it’s my own opinion that these relevant images, text, financial quotes, products, ect do a good job of distracting the reader from your content. I’m one of those individuals that when I see something cool, I click on it. I keep clicking on things until I realize, how off track I’ve become. Then I go back to where I started except now, I’ve lost an hour of time. Don’t you just hate that?

One last thing I wanted to mention about the Yahoo Shortcuts. The shortcuts keep in tact the attribution information for things such as Flickr photos and you will automatically be given credit as the author of the image if it’s used inside of a blog post. If the blog author messes with the shortcut and deletes that attribution, they are actually breaking the Yahoo ShortCuts Terms Of Service and you should report them to Yahoo.

If you would like to see how the plugin works, check out this demo video that Yahoo! created. If you want to download the plugin and give it a try, download it from here.

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FireFox 3.0 Beta Released

FireFox LogoFireFox 3.0 Beta 1 has been released to the public. It’s available in 21 different languages for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This version still has hundreds of bugs in it. Asa Dotzler, Mozilla’s Quality Assurance leader, did say that it is the “most thoroughly tested beta [they’ve] ever shipped” though.

  • Those of you who do decide to throw caution into the wind and give it a whirl should be prepared for poor extension compatibility. Many extensions, especially those pertaining to bookmarks, will probably not function to their full potential if at all.

New features and changes in this milestone that require feedback include:

  • Improved security features such as: better presentation of website identity and security, malware protection, stricter SSL error pages, anti-virus integration in the download manager, and version checking for insecure plugins.
  • Improved ease of use through: better password management, easier add-on installation, new download manager with resumable downloading, full page zoom, animated tab strip, and better integration with Windows Vista and Mac OS X.
  • Richer personalization through: one-click bookmarking, smart search bookmark folders, direct typing in location bar searches your history and bookmarks for URLs and page titles, ability to register web applications as protocol handlers, and better customization of download actions for file types.
  • Improved platform features such as: new graphics and font rendering architecture, major changes to the HTML rendering engine to provide better CSS, float-, and table layout support, native web page form controls, colour profile management, and offline application support.
  • Performance improvements such as: better data reliability for user profiles, architectural improvements to speed up page rendering, over 300 memory leak fixes, and a new XPCOM cycle collector to reduce entire classes of leaks.

Check out what’s all new within this beta by looking at the RELEASE NOTES.

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Joost Goes Live With Public Beta

Joost.com Logo

Joost has officially launched it’s public beta. This means that you no longer need a special invite in order to use the service. It must be stated however that Joost is still a BETA product, so be weary of whatever bugs or quirky UI stuff you may encounter. This version of Joost does contain a couple of user interface enhancements such as search and better navigation across videos in the site. But what may be the biggest offering is the Joost API, which is now open for developers to create third-party applications. So expect to see numerous Joost based widgets popping up on websites in the near future.

I wonder if LocateTV can tell me when programs will be aired on Joost. I’ll have to look into that. In the meantime, if you want to watch an interview that was conducted with the CEO of Joost, check it out on NewTeeVee

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Homework Collaboration Via Shvoong Homework

http://www.shvoong.com

If your a student still in school, your going to like this service. Shvoong Homework provides students with the ability to organize and share homework resources.

Shvoong Homework allows students to type-up their schoolwork, keep it organized, and then share it with individuals, classmates, the entire class or no one at all, all within the confines of their online service. Shvoong claims that they have no intention on replacing the real thing whether it be text books, essays, magazines ect, but rather serve as a tool, to help students wade through the vast amount of information that is widely available at their finger tips.

ShvoongHomework In Action

Some of the noticeable features of Shvoong Homework include:

  • My TimeTable: Let’s students create a Timetable for their personal class schedules using an intuitive wizard. Students can indicate specific lessons, add exam schedules and attach a teacher’s name. Each Timetable is linked to Notebooks and allows Students to easily navigate between their Timetable and any particular Notebook they created. Students can even receive email alerts for upcoming assignments and exams.
  • My Notebook: Let’s students write-up their class notes, homework, summaries, and exam preparations. Of course the number of Notebooks students can create and the amount of content in each Notebook is unlimited.
  • Languages: Shvoong Homework supports an amazing 30 languages. These even include such languages as Hebrew, Hindi, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic, and Farsi.

When asked why Shvoong was created, CEO Eyal Rivlin responded with,

“We spoke to teachers who were frustrated with their students’ lack of dedication to homework. We then spoke to the kids and asked them what would make doing homework more fun. We then took all their feedbacks and created Shvoong Homework.”

“With so many distractions it’s no wonder kids don’t do as much homework as they should. We decided to revolutionize homework and make it fun. The result is Shvoong Homework.”

Shvoong Homework is Privately owned and fully funded by Avi Shaked, founder and main shareholder of 888.com. 

I’ve sent in an email to Shvoong Homework wanting to know how they plan on preventing students from copying each others work over the net. Whenever I see the words Homework and Sharing in the same sentence, I think COPY. This post will be updated later today once I find out the answer.

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