Video ads, the background MIDI file of the aughts?

Hey remember in the early days of the internet when people figured out that Netscape and IE would let you play a background MIDI or audio file? Remember clicking on a link to open a page and then getting up to get a cup of coffee (’cause we were all on 28.8k modems back then) only to have to sprint back to your computer and turn off the speakers so that you didn’t have Ode To Joy or something like that blasting out, waking your family? Well, it pissed so many people off that eventually everyone stopped doing it and then the tags got lost to history (except on Ebay, where it still pops up sometimes).

Welcome to the aughts, where we all browse with 20 tabs open all the time. And then one of those tabs has some shitty Microsoft video ad or something and all of the sudden we’re back to the old days, trying to figure out which fucking window is blowing out our speakers and ruining our day.

The beauty of Beta

The beauty of Google is that they never release anything. Almost all their software is in beta, which absolves them of almost all sins: if the software doesn’t work or if they want to come out with new features every day or if they want to yank it entirely, they can. It was never released! You are using it at your own risk! The problem is that when they unveiled a web-based e-mail product, they changed the the equation a bit. They want you to store everything. They give you the space to do it, they even let you download it if you want, and now you can import mail from other services too!

This is great and would be awesome if it were bulletproof, but unfortunately, someone exploited a bug in firefox (don’t even get me started on the open-source version of this discussion), that deleted people’s mail. This would be bad with any mail system, except all fee-based systems (released systems) include backups for just this occurrence. Google doesn’t, but then again, they don’t have to, they are BETA! Mail is just a platform to deliver ads to you, they can’t make money on it as a pay service, so there is no incentive for them to ever release it.

What amazes me is how many people not only use GMail as their primary (if not only) mail service, but actually use it for their business mail as well. That is crazy-insane, especially in light of the privacy issues as well (a beta service would guarantee no damages to you if someone breaks into your mail or if Google decides to peruse it themselves).

tools and ideas for your blog

Add Links for, Digg, and More to Blog Posts at ExplodingBoy
I was looking for how to do this simply for WP, and here it was!

Creating a Basic Print Stylesheet at ExplodingBoy
I haven’t done this yet, I have to see the interaction with my blog pages, but I will when I get a chance.

LightboxJS V2.0
A useful script for showing images on top of your pages, now with fancy shmancy effects.

ThickBox on
this is similar to LightBox functionality-wise, but adds a lot of support for non-image types. It’s based on the jquery javascript library which looks like it might be cool.

Alternative Style: Working With Alternate Style Sheets at AListApart
Nice article on switching stylesheets at runtime.

The Trackback List plugin and Making comments stand out on Tamba2: I was interested in figuring out how to show trackbacks separately and these two articles were very instructive.

SECOND LIFE: A story too good to check – Valleywag

SECOND LIFE: A story too good to check – Valleywag

As someone who was very involved in the second wave of virtual worlds on the internet (it depends if you count Habitat or MUDs as the first wave or not), I’ve watched them periodically come up and die again with amusement. It was always obvious the first time around, that it wasn’t a technology problem. Sure, Alphaworlds, Black Sun, Microsoft Virtual Worlds and V-Chat (my project) could have looked better or been slightly more responsive, but their main failings weren’t polygon counts. The main failings were all about having no reason to exist. none. They were novel, they were amusing for a short time, but they didn’t really bring much to the table that wasn’t there before. In the end it was just providing a new way of text chat. Adobe Atmosphere came out, gave me and the V-World’ers I know a laugh, and then died looking for a market.

Then came Linden Labs. Especially when the first details came out, I was really unimpressed. It seemed like a technology built by cyberhippies with nothing new to offer except some vague notions of on-line togetherness. I read some articles about it, and then ignored it, expecting it to go away soon. It persevered though and grew. They took their economy seriously and started selling real estate and making it possible for people to easily make a living within world (neither of these things was their idea, both have been done before). They started making large deals and announcing incredible usage (not profit) numbers. Of course, it is all a sham. The above article does a nice job skewering the Linden Labs numbers. Does this mean Second Life is a failure? Nope, even their (corrected) meager numbers are quite nice. Does this mean that Second Life is the first viable (long term) virtual world? Well, depends on if you want to count the on-line RPGs. Those were successful and have been around a lot longer. The question is if a purpose-less (non-game) virtual world can make it.

I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out.

Wow, talk about a buzzkill…

A non-profit group has constructed a billboard in second life to let people know how many preventable child deaths they could have done something about while f’ing around in the non-real-world.

Second Life escapists told to wake up | The Register

In this case, I can sorta see both sides. It seems kind of trivial to be spending zillions of hours and some dollars in a role playing game when you could be fighting injustice in the real world. Yup, absolutely right. However, having an outlet from the horrors of real life is sometimes a necessity for our information-overload, news-drenched, overworking lives. I guess there is always a happy medium, isn’t there?

Google doesn’t use Google Docs

I was reading the following post from Niall Kennedy: Google Mondrian: web-based code review and storage, and one line stuck out: “Recently some design reviews have moved onto an internal version of Google Docs.” The thing that interested me about that is I’ve heard Jason Calacanis and others on The Gillmor Gang talk about using Google Docs for coporate data. Now maybe Google isn’t using the public docs because they are dogfooding new features before they are unveiled to the public. More scarily, maybe they are using an internal version because the public version isn’t secure or stable enough to host their important documents.