Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz not buzzing with me (and my email) all that much

OK, so Google launched Google Buzz yesterday. Their next attempt to do something about this whole social media stuff that they never managed to pull off. Facebook and Twitter are growing like crazy and the search giant (well, all the giants, including Yahoo and Microsoft) seem not to comprehend the social craziness.

Google_buzz

People seem to like buzz, but I have mixed feelings about it:

Integration with Gmail adds noise to my email

Google decided to use their Gmail user base to make sure the buzz is being used... so now everyone has buzz in their Gmail account. I get enough messages in my email inbox that it distracts me from my work, so I don't need more noise.

Furthermore, if someone comments on a buzz, I get it to my inbox... I don't want more stuff in my inbox. I grew up in the "Inbox zero" world and it's hard enough to keep it up anyway... Luckily there is a hack for that :-)

New profile, new followers....

So I had to set up a new Google Profile, and it seems I need to set up new followers and following! No thank you, I've been working hard enough on my Twitter following and I have more than 8K+ followers (thanks guys and gals!) and I don't feel like building it all again.

My current social media flow...

My main hub is my Twitter account. Statuses from there go to my Facebook profile and Linkedin profile... I occassionally use comments on Facebook and I use Llinkedin strictly for business related stuff. Why do I need Buzz? Can't find any real use for that.

Can you convince me to give Google Buzz a try? Like it? Hate it? What's your take?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Google launched an iPhone and forgot to innovate. Where's the passion?

Yesterday Google launched the long awaited iPhone killer. Some folks love it, others don't. What worries me though is the fact that Google didn't innovate at all with this device... they're just playing a catch-up with the iPhone... and that's just sad.

Nexus-iphone

Don't get me wrong, it's not the fanboy in me talking... I actually like Google's innovations and I'm not saying the Nexus One (what kind of name is that?) is a bad phone... it's supposedly even a little faster than the 3GS... but still, I thought Google knew better. After all, they have great engineers... and infinite money.

iPhone re-invented the way we use mobile phones.

In one of my past posts I wrote that iPhone re-invented the way we use and interact with the mobile phones. iPhone brought real Internet to our phones, created Appstore, made us fall in love with the multi-touch etc. What did Google's phone bring? Faster processor. Big deal. Specs don't matter. User Experience does.

Google knows how to innovate... they forgot this time around?

I mean c'mon - these guys reinvented the search - they made giants like Altavista and Infoseek pack their bags and go home. They made search really work.

Google re-invented the e-mail with Gmail - Gmail is the best webmail possible and by a large margin - when it showed up - we had lots of storage and great and super-fast interface, conversations and google-powered search. Just great.

Why didn't Google innovate this time? Answer: no passion.

When Apple went to reinvent the phone, Steve was all passionate about it. He wanted something new, fresh, different. And they did. When Google showed up with search - same story - lots of passion and drive to make something better and new.

The mobile phone market is a "me too" business for Google.

I think Google just wants to be in the mobile phone market and they believe it's a right thing to do. No passion here, no conviction we need to do something better or different. Google is just doing a "me-too" stunt like they did with many of their projects that failed (or are doing so-so).

Passion is everything. You need to be passionate in order to succeed.

I've seen many entrepreneurs or startup owners going for business that they thought was just a right thing to do and even though they had the skills, they failed. I created Nozbe because I needed this app and I keep on using it every day and love improving it. Apple created the iPod or iPhone for the same reasons, and this month they'll change the industry again with a rumored iSlate...

Passion makes the difference. Passion inspires people. Passion is love. And love is all we need.

Don't you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

URL shortening services just in time for short-cial media

With the boost of Twitter and its limitation of 140 characters, URLs need to be increasingly (decreasingly?) shorter. There is a grandpa among these types of services called TinyURL which used to be a leader but now as Twitter has assigned Bit.ly its official URL provider, some services like is.gd continue to operate, tr.im even died as a result (and later was resurrected, but for how long?), others want to win the crown over (Google's goo.gl and Facebook's fb.me) and organizations are also doing their own...

2482513_low

Yesterday Techcrunch wrote about Bit.ly's PRO service to serve short URLs for big companies and they are giving it a shot.

Now, if you're a Twitter user, which service should you use? And how to use it?

1. First of all, don't use short URL's in blog posts and comments

I may change my mind about it but for now, I believe that real links should point to real destinations, without any URL shortening in between. You're not limited to 140 characters outside of Twitter, so use real links. I've already seen people using bit.ly links inside comments and blog posts and I have two problems with them:

- they hide the branding - if you're posting a bit.ly link, the person clicking on it is not sure where they'll be going. On the contrary, if you use the original link, everything's clear.

- they break the Internet's logic - Google's PageRank (tm) and all the indexing mechanisms as well as the whole logic of the Internet is based on good full-blown links and I like this logic.

My take for now - stick with the short URL's when in Twitter. Anywhere else use the original links.

2. If you're not a webmaster (or don't have webmasters working for you) - use 3rd party services like bit.ly

Bit.ly has all the statistics, widgets and all the mechanisms that help creating short links a snap. And if you're using Twitter clients like Tweetdeck, just give them our bit.ly username and they'll create short links for you automagically. Easy to set up and use. Go for it.

3. If you do have webmasters working for you and care about the links - get your own URL shortener

I know HTML/PHP etc. and still wanted to go with the 3rd party provider but when tr.im closed their doors and wrote their URLs will not be served past 2010, I decided I want to control the links better myself and cannot trust a free URL shortening services enough.

I built my own URL shortening service just for myself (with stats and all) to use not only inside my Productive Magazine but also to promote my web app Nozbe and other cool stuff. It took one week of development time so it wasn't that bad.

The advantages are really cool for me:

- I own the domain (pmagz.com) so I control the traffic
- I can customize the shortener and how it works (and I use it for various purposes)
- I can promote my brands on twitter by installing redirections on nozbe.com and other sites
- I can add other cool features (especially tracking for marketing purposes) as I need them, and I've already added a few

If you can't build your own but know some PHP, get yourls - it's a free script and you can install it on your server - I've heard good things about them. I didn't know about them prior to building my own service.

Disclaimer: I don't use my in-house URL shortener only when I post on this blog, as posterous uses their own (post.ly) for that purpose and I like the fact that it's automatic. This is the only exception to my rule.

Conclusion: Link shorteners will be popular as long as Twitter will be popular so it's good to establish your own URL shortening strategy to make sure people reading our Tweets do click through to the content we want to show them.

What's your take on URL shortening? What's your strategy for posting links on Twitter? 

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Google Chrome OS - 7 seconds to internet - doesn't look for floppy - promotes the Cloud

I've been watching the presentation of Google Chrome OS (Operating System) recently and I must admit I have mixed feelings. On one hand, the idea of bringing the user to the Internet as quick as possible is great... on the other, my macbook air wakes up from sleep in 2-3 seconds (counting the time I'm writing my password) and I'm already online! So what's the big deal? Well, ...
Chrome_os_screenshot_sdres_000

The Google Chrome OS doesn't look for floppy

This is good. The idea that current computers are still looking for floppies during system boot made me laugh. But I can believe it might still be possible... on PCs :-)

Floppies belong in the museums, this is where the PCs should be looking for them :-)

Google Chrome boots in 7 seconds

Great... but who boots a computer anyway? I'm not booting my Macbook Air at all.. once every two-three weeks or so. And it boots in 30 seconds. Big deal.

But I'm a geek, I've watched my friends using laptops (and most of the people are buying laptops now anyway) and they still shut them down and boot them up. So this might be a good selling point. Actually I'm happy Google revealed the "sick path" of system boot and decided to make it easy... maybe finally PC makers will get the idea.

Chrome is the browser and the system

This is actually a valid point... For me my browser is also kind of my central app for computing... and I'm using Opera as my main browser, Safari as additional one... and Firefox for web development. I have Camino and Chrome installed because I'm a web app developer... and I've got IE 6,7,8 running on my Windows machine.

OK, back to the point - my point was is that while the browser is my central app.... it's not my only app. I actually like Gmail... but I also like the mail.app from Apple (this one I'm using now to write this blog post). And there are other cool native apps on the mac which I really like....

But being a web app developer I know where it's going... it's going into the cloud... and there's no turning back.

Google Chrome OS is a good thing - it will make the cloud more like-able.

Nozbe is a cloud based service. The app I'm working on right now is a cloud-based service too. Posterous (which is hosting this blog) is a cloud-based service.

People are still afraid of the cloud... but thanks to the apps like Twitter, Facebook... and now Google Chrome OS... I'm sure many skeptical folks will embrace the cloud too.

Conclusion? The Cloud is king... or queen?

While I like that Google Chrome OS boots so fast, doesn't look for floppy and all... the idea that it makes cloud services like their own and the ones like my Nozbe more approachable also by the skeptics. Cloud is here and it's not going anywhere. Cloud is standard. Cloud is your world. Embrace it.

What do you think?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Is Google Wave an Email 2.0 service? What about Inbox Zero?

So I received my Google Wave invite and started playing around... if you don't know what Google Wave is, make sure to check out this great (but very long) intro video.

So here's how Google Wave looks like:

Screenshot

Well it looks pretty much like Gmail (or any other email client for that matter), doesn't it?

It does, but it can do more - it can be a live chat, a product collaboration, an email on steroids, a word processor, an app container (Nozbe for Wave?) thanks to the API and widgets....

All in all, it can be a lot, it can be a new wave of productivity movement....

... or not :-(

I'm just not sure I like this kind of all-in-one or all-you-can-eat product.

I still haven't tested Google Wave fully, I just received my invite and started waving with my friends but the problem is, that I believe when I start using it fully... I may want to stop quickly.

There is just too much noise. Too many things happening.

Why I still prefer Email?

With Email I have a steady workflow

As I explained in one of my videos, I check email, reply if it's less than 2 minutes (GTD 2-minute rule), move to "reply" folder when I want to deal with the thing later, and move other stuff to "all mail" or trash.

This process keeps me sane, makes sure I don't live in email and have time to do other things.

I'm just afraid that after initial "wow" the Wave will not improve my productivity, or even make it worse...

Questions: Have you tried Google Wave? What's your initial reaction? Will you be switching from email to Wave?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.