WordPress In Your Pocket

WordPress has been around a long time and is quite a powerful web publishing platform available to virtually everyone at no cost.

I finally got around to installing the official WordPress app onto my iPod Touch and I have to say I’m impressed with the app. It quickly accepted the credentials to my own WordPress blog, and I found I could update my site directly from my iPod. More impressive to me was when I discovered the ease with which I was able to take photos (or videos) with the iPod’s camera and instantly embed them into blog posts.

Nothing is more powerful than to be able to quickly update one’s own site with not only words but images as well. The official WordPress for iOS is a free download on the iPod/iPad/iPhone/iOS App Store. If you have a WordPress blog and an iOS device, this free app is worth installing.

Google Family Safety Centre

Google FamilyGoogle has setup the Family Safety Centre to help parents and teachers keep their children safe online.  After spending a little time in the resource, it seems to be a good introduction to online safety for children from a parent’s point of view.  If you need to know more, you can then take it further through some of the links.

The Centre has four main sections:

i) Google Safety Tools – information on Safesearch, which stops inappropriate material being returned in searches, and YouTube Safety Mode, which similarly stops age-restricted videos from appearing.

ii) Advice from partners – information from children’s organisations on cyberbullying, privacy, talking to strangers online, adult content and malware.

iii) Reporting abuse – if you find inappropriate material on any of Google’s properties (YouTube, Buzz, Picasa, Blogger), here’s how to flag the material to Google.

iv) Video tips from Google parents – a set of videos on YouTube from parents to parents.  In this section there’s also six basic tips for on-line safety.  Frankly, I think these tips should be more prominent as they’re good.
Keep computers in a central place
– Know where your children go online
– Teach internet safety
– Help prevent viruses
– Teach your children to communicate responsibly
– View all content critically

Each country has its own slight variant, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US and UK versions – there are probably others for non-English speakers. The main difference seems to be the list of partner organisations that Google has worked with (and spelling).

If you are a parent, you should spend a few minutes having a read of the information here.

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?For some time we’ve been hearing about the virtues of cloud-based computing.

Certain functions seem to lend themselves to the cloud. Online word processing, spreadsheets, etc. can seem to make sense in some situations, such as collaborating with others.

In everyday use scenarios, does the cloud really make sense in more traditional private computer-use situations? I contend that it does not.

Right now I’m typing this into Microsoft Word on my MacBook Pro. At the moment I have rather lousy Sprint and Verizon connectivity, even though 12 hours ago at this very same location I had really good connectivity from both. The only thing that changed is the time of day. If I was currently limited to using Google Docs chances are I would be unable to write this. Network demand constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day and location.

Is there enough bandwidth available? With the tsunami of smartphones that are on the immediate horizon, will the carriers be able to keep up with the average five-fold bandwidth demand increase that the average smartphone user pulls from the network? Can carriers keep up with a smartphone-saturated public all trying to pull down data at the same time?

However, for the sake of argument let’s say that mobile Internet connectivity isn’t an issue.

What if the Internet is turned off due to a declared cyber attack and all of your documents are online? What good would the network appliance approach to computing be then?

Can e-books be revised after the fact? If government can simply decide to turn off the Internet, then it’s not that much of a leap to imagine laws and regulations being passed banning certain types of blogs or even books that have been deemed dangerous or seditious. There have already been books sold such as “1984” by Amazon that were deleted from Kindles after the fact by Amazon when it was determined that Amazon didn’t have the legal right to sell it in e-book form. What if instead of banning books, they were simply rewritten to remove the offending parts? What’s to stop instant revision of e-books that have been declared dangerous?

Is CNN Calling For Curbs On Free Speech?

On July 23, 2010, CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed on air the idea that bloggers should be somehow “held accountable” or perhaps regulated in some way. Here’s the video of that exchange.

It’s no secret that CNN and other so-called mainstream media outlets, both broadcast and print, have had for some time now an ongoing loss of viewers and readers. A number of traditional journalists from time to time have had and expressed an almost open hostility towards bloggers and the Internet. They perceive the Internet as a threat to their business models, and their vaunted self-appointed job as information “gatekeepers.”

If you look back over the past few years, almost every major story, particularly scandal stories, originated first on blogs. In many cases the mainstream media were dragged kicking and screaming into reporting stories. The clearly forged National Guard documents that ultimately ended up forcing CBS to fire evening news anchor Dan Rather comes to mind from a few years ago. Bloggers quickly picked up on the fact that the supposed National Guard documents had been typed up in the default template for Microsoft Word and then ran through a fax and/or copy machine a number of times to make the documents look dirty and/or old. The trouble was, Microsoft Word didn’t exist in 1973. If it weren’t for bloggers, this story would have likely never come to public light, and what is clearly a forgery and a made-up story would have passed into the public mind as the truth.

Should free speech be curbed? Should bloggers somehow be licensed or officially regulated in what is purportedly a free country? Should we be forced to get our news from “professional” or even “licensed” journalists?

Web Reporting. Can doesn’t equal should.

1178168_54262801 2-250rdWatching the news has always been a necessary evil.  It seems filled with tragic and depressing stories.  On occasion I have doubted the wisdom in showing what is shown.  In an unofficial and unresearched opinion, it seems to me that the more murder suicide stories they show about a man and his family, the more that occur.  Sick people are not helped and deterred by seeing the stories.  Healthy people are no safer.  I’ve had the unfortunate task of going with the police to give news of a murder suicide to a family.  Should I Twitter, Facebook, or blog about it?
Paul Carr over at Tech Crunch has written a second time about the subject of unwise and foolish micro-bloggers.  My summary:  Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  We have had storm chasers, now we have Twitter and blogging chasers?  It frightens me.  Many times I’ve heard Todd Cochrane, the host of GNC, say “I’m not ready to comment on this until I’ve thought it through.”  How can we pass on some of Todd’s common sense to the rest of the world?
Censorship and regulation frightens us.  Anarchy and absence of accountability  scares me much more.  I have friends who are citizens of countries other than the United States.  They know what it is like to live in a dictatorship or close to it.  As a matter of fact I am currently touring countries with much less freedom.  I am not speaking without a foreign awareness.  The same freedom of the press and freedom of speech that we hold dear, we could be using as a weapon of destruction upon ourselves.  We must act responsibly.  Hold our tongue.  Getting the news out is secondary to immediate concern for the people involved.
This week in Florida a missing baby was found alive.  Further news revealed that the mother was part of the disappearance.  That baby will forever be etched in the inter-webs and sought after for interviews when she is a teen.  “How does it feel to have had your mother fake your kidnapping when you were a child?”  Maybe it should be a live Twitter interview.
Well enough of the rant.  Next article I’ll give some of my opinions on responsible blogging and micro-blogging.  Thanks for reading and taking a few minutes to think through it all before you react.

Bloggers have it. Newspapers want it.

There are many articles comparing the pros and cons of physical print news versus the online/blogging news.  The following lists are not pros and cons but what each group has that the other side wants.  What could happen with the merging of the two?  Thanks to Tech Crunch for stirring my brain.

What Newspapers Have and Bloggers Want/Need:

  1. Bloggers have less official access to many press conferences and meetings. Who gets the press pass?  How do you get the press pass?  Will it not eventually recreate a few sources for news as different agencies pick and stick with favorites?  Newspapers made narrowing it down easy.
  2. covetBloggers have less incentive/time to investigate and search out multiples sources. Bloggers seem to surf the web not pound the streets and interview people face to face.  Newspapers live that way.
  3. Bloggers write about what interests them, not what interests others. With no boss giving assignments, who will report on those needed but sometimes mundane happenings?  Will we be stuck piecing together all of our news from 500 RSS feeds?  Newspapers make basic world, national, and local news easy.
  4. Bloggers are not the one “go to” place for news. Difficult to find a local blogger.  I do not know of a single blogger reporting on news in our area of 175,000 people .  I guess I would have to look if the paper shut down.
  5. Bloggers have less accountability/oversight to preserve the truth. I know, I know, that the community could police itself just like Wikipedia.  I’m not sure they will or really have the ability.  Besides, most people believe whatever they read and probably won’t go back to see any updates or corrections.

What Bloggers Have and Newspapers Want/Need:

  1. Print Media has a narrow chain of command that dictates what and when news is published. It is no wonder why dictator, communistic, and extreme governments want control of the media?  Why are news agencies tending to endorse political candidates? The news has been far from fair and balanced for a long, long time.  Blogs are more numerous, yield less individual influence, say what they think, and allow more free interaction.
  2. Print Media has a need to make a larger profit.  Bloggers hope to pay the bills.  There is nothing wrong with this.  It is the goal of every business owner to make money.  Why should newspapers be any different?  The problem is that it is a very low margin/no margin business that is about to go on a ventilator.  The motivation and ability to survive is decreasing.
  3. Print Media has a high overhead for getting the news to the reader. Ouch this is number one.  Manufacturing and delivery is expensive.  Presses are extremely expensive, paper is expensive, labor is expensive, management is expensive, delivery is expensive.   The web does it on the cheap.  I can deliver the same news to as many people for pennies on the dollar as a blogger.  And it won’t take much ad revenue to pay for that delivery.
  4. Print Media has few ways to guage how much of their content is read. The newspaper does not create a log file ever time my eyes read a certain article or ad.  Advertisers are left to subjective decisions on whether business increased because of the ad most of the time.  The web brings freedom and analytics.
  5. Print Media locks down the content and its distribution. There is no open source in this land.  Republish the AP article and receive a DMCA.  Everything is copyrighted.
  6. Print media now publishes old news. 24 hours is not soon enough.  12 hours is not soon enough.  2 hours is not soon enough.  What do you mean “The game was not finished as of press time”?  By the time your article reaches me 36 hours after the game, you have lost me.  I can visit a site, use an RSS reader to get the headlines, or subscribe to email updates and text alerts.  I do not even have to wait for the “top of the hour”, “quarter of the hour” news on the radio.

Enough of my opinion.  What is the real truth?  Will you, the community, let me know?  Are we really ready for this new world of news?

We’re Hiring

Help-wantedGeek News Central is looking to add three more contributing editors to the team. If you would like to be part of the editorial team drop a line to geeknews@gmail.com this is a immediate fill so act fast.

Contributing editor positions carry no minimum posting requirements. But is a pay per post independent contractor position. If you have previous blogging experience please provide references. If no previous blogging experience please provide two sample articles submissions from current tech news.

Will the Blogger – Google Integration make a difference!

Little do people know that this Blog started out in its early days as a Blogger blog, within weeks of using Blogger I resented the fact that it was near impossible to modify the templates to make my site look unique, and quickly moved to MovableType this site today is pretty unique in it’s look which we would have never achieved on Blogger.

The biggest mistake Google and Blogger did early on was pull RSS support, it is a decision that to this date most of us cannot comprehend.

What many blogger users have come to realize over the past three years was that Google who bought Blogger essentially quit updating it, while other blog applications vendors continued to move forward bringing modern tool sets to the space. Today Google is trying to catch up, and have launched a public beta of the new blogger and as they get the bugs worked out everyone will likely be migrated to the new system.

No longer will you use your Blogger login but you will be forced to transition to a Google login and if Google is smart they will incorporate some of their other offerings. Time will tell and one thing is for sure it’s about time that Blogger was updated. Most of us had already written it of as DOA

The question I have to ask is how are they going to combat all the spam blogs out there? Blogger has been the breeding grounds for countless thousands of blogs that do nothing but steal content and have adsense ads on them only time will tell. [beta.blogger.com]

Google Page Creator

Google has released what it looking to be one of the most talked about features on Google in a while. The question to ask is this going to be a replacement for Blogger or just a place where people can easily and for free create home pages.

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The site is getting slammed at the moment and my attempt to get in resulted in a 404 error, I am sure every geek in the country is trying to look into Google Pages. [pages.google.com]