Tag Archives: wordpress

The year of consolidation

An interesting year so far in terms of online services ending or merging. I don’t have a good enough memory to mention all of those that have vanished this year, but there are a number of notable examples I thought I’d highlight, mainly because I’ve used them in the past. I last did a short review of some of these consolidations about two years ago.

So where to start… well, I just read the news that drop.io has been acquired by Facebook. It’s a file-sharing service which was incredibly easy to get set up. I wrote about drop.io a couple of years ago and at the time it was an exciting service with a lot of potential, a growing developer community, and some very cool plans like location-sensitive drops, content transcoding, and so on. I guess for me its utility was rapidly eclipsed once I discovered Dropbox which I now use to sync content between 2 laptops, a netbook, a home server and my iPhone, and which my Dogear Nation co-hosts and I use to share our content (not using it yet? try this referral link). It looks like drop.io is effectively closing on December 15th.

Two notable (to me) video services are going, too. [well, OK, as I write this, one has gone, and the other one is on its way]. Seesmic – the original video version, not the microblogging / update service – is closing. This was a service which wanted to pioneer a “video Twitter” conversation concept, and it was interesting to start off with – I mentioned it in my round-up of online video services back in February 2008. For me, I enjoyed the experiment, and there are a lot of ways in which video online has grown and become an effective way of delivering content, but text has remained my major conversational medium so Seesmic didn’t work out longer term. Of course it has spawned a successful business on the back of Twitter and other sites in the form of Seesmic Web and Desktop clients (and they acquired Ping.fm as well).

Another fun and fascinating video service has gone away – 12seconds.tv has just a page of video static greeting visitors now. I loved that service, although again I struggled to make longer term use of it… but I’m often to be seen sporting my 12seconds t-shirt 🙂

In the cases of both Seesmic and 12seconds I’m left to wonder where to re-host my content… kudos to both sites for enabling me to get access to what would otherwise be lost. I suspect I will end up dumping them to YouTube since that isn’t likely to go away in a hurry. Of course the Seesmic videos, particularly the conversational ones, won’t make so much sense without the context.

Vox went the way of the dodo in 2010 as well. As an early adopter I tend to try out most services and I had a small but largely inactive blog over on Vox. I can’t say I’m too sad about its end as I’m perfectly comfortable with a blog at WordPress… it’s funny that Windows Live Spaces bloggers are being migrated to WordPress too – a sign of the times I think, as we’re seeing many of these earlier diverse networks collapse into the larger, more established networks (Vox to SixApart/Typepad, and whilst Windows Live Spaces is hardly supported by a non-established brand in Microsoft, but they are obviously refocussing just like everyone else).

The final service worth mentioning, I think, is xMarks. This is a service I only started using in the middle of the year, in an attempt to synchronise my browser content between the iPhone and other devices. The sudden announcement that it was heading for the buffers back in September led to an outpouring of despair and support from the user community, and as a result what was looking like a failure ended up being a near death experience – they initially took user donations, and have now negotiated a sale (so this is more consolidation, in a sense).

So what’s next? Well the microblogging wars seem to have died out, Twitter has won over e.g. former contenders like Jaiku and Pownce, although most online services appear to be integrating their own “updates” concept to continue to seem relevant. The big spaces where I’m personally seeing competition / overlap at the moment are in sites like Tumblr vs Posterous for general content sharing, and in online identity landing pages where about.me, chi.mp and flavors.me want my business. There are a number of fascinating new music-oriented services as well and I think some of those will start to overlap as they add features. The rest of the competition and fight for success seems to me to be in mobile apps and between runtimes on the handhelds. Just a personal point-in-time observation as 2010 starts to draw to a close.

The circle of life played out on the Internet – early innovation and excitement, a plateau of limited success leading to, possibly, monetisation (and/or an explosion of copycats), and a quiet death disappointing a small user community, or heady growth and unlimited stock prices. It’s an interesting space to continue to watch for us early adopters…

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A little refresh

Due to WordPress.com withdrawing the theme I’d been using (Cutline), I’ve had a tiny bit of a polish around here. I received an email last week alerting me that Cutline was being dropped in favour of Coraline. The email was reasonably helpful in outlining the changes I’d need to be aware of to tweak my custom CSS, but it was still something of an effort to make the conversion. Coraline is theoretically much more flexible than Cutline, as it offers more layouts and widget areas. However, a lot of the CSS class names had changed and some of the hierarchies were different, so that took some time to sort out. I’m still not convinced it’s quite what I imagined!

However, since I was at it, I took the opportunity to do a bit of cleaning and readjustment:

  • the static pages (linked from the header) now no longer have a sidebar – that only appears on the blog / post pages.
  • the search box has been restyled to hopefully look a bit nicer and stand out a little more. My first experience fiddling with CSS3 funkiness like shadows and curves. Haven’t tried it in too many browsers yet!
  • the sidebar got rearranged, I dropped a bunch of links and boxes, and moved the archives / calendar displays to the footer “because I can”.
  • added an explicit link to the IBM Social Computing Guidelines in the Disclaimer box.

That was all I wanted to post, really – just a point-in-time reminder to self of a few of the tweaks I’ve just made. If you read my content mainly via the feed then this will be even less relevant 🙂

Vodpod+WordPress.com… blippity blip!

I’ve always known that the options for embedding scripts and things like Flash into WordPress.com blogs were a bit limited – well, at least I thought so. Yesterday I discovered that you can use Vodpod and a special WordPress.com shortcode to capture and then embed various flash objects from around the web… for instance, a Flickr slideshow, or even a blipped track on Blip.fm (not on blip.fm? it’s fun! social music sharing crossed with Twitter)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Trying out iBlogger

image1835434027.jpgA friend pointed out that iBlogger, the iPhone blogging client based on the ecto codebase, is on sale – only £0.59 in the UK app store right now. I’ve previously used the free WordPress app, but since I contribute to blogs on various platforms this seems like a good alternative… and it has nice support for images (test example embedded) and links. Worth a look. Ironically I’ve recently switched from ecto to MarsEdit for my desktop blogging client, but iBlogger seems very nice indeed.

Update: hmm… so it doesn’t pad the images very nicely and I’ve had to edit in the browser subsequently… but otherwise it works well. Need to try with some non-WP.com-hosted blogs. Also it doesn’t appear to have applied any tags, which is annoying.

WP.com branding with blavatars

I just noticed that WordPress.com now enables you to add a little more customisation and branding using “blavatars” or blog avatars (I guess this is built out of Automattic’s acquisition of the Gravatar service).

If you go to the Dashboard -> Settings -> Blog Image you can upload an image which will act as your blog’s favicon:

A look at the page source also indicated that it would appear as an image on the iPhone / iPod Touch Home Screen:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

A nice way to add a little more personalisation to your site. There’s more information on this on the WP.com blog.

(Images courtesy of LittleSnapper on OS X, and Sketches on the iPhone)