Will Yahoo! Screw Up Tumblr?

Today Yahoo! announced they have purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Of course, Yahoo’s track record for buying companies seems to be that of a kid with ADHD at Christmas time – by February they want new toys. Will this be a great deal for Yahoo! or will we they just push aside for another acquisition down the road.

Yahoo! Acquires Tumblr

Tumblr, a microblogging and social networking platform that was founded by David Karp in 2007 was purchased by Yahoo! for $1.1 billion dollars. Tumblr brings in 175 employees and 108.5 million blogs that reach 44 million people. This inlcudes the thousands of blogs that were imported from Posterous a few months back.

The Exodus from Tumblr to WordPress May Show No Faith in Yahoo! Tumblr

Yahoo Keep Calm gif

Yahoo Keep Calm animated gif (click on to see the image)

According to Matt Mullenweg’s blog today, imports have spiked to WordPress after the news of Yahoo! purchase. “Normally we import 400-600 posts and hour from Tumblr, last hour is was over 72,000.”

Marissa Meyer replied with a “We won’t screw this up” answer. She posted on her own Tumblr (the one with a very annoying gif saying “NOW PANIC and FREAK OUT” followed by “Keep Calm and Carry On”. You can see the annoying gif here.

“We promise not to screw it up.” says Mayer. “Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going.  We will operate Tumblr independently.  David Karp will remain CEO.  The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve.  Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.”

WordPress Runs Almost Half of the Web’s Top Blogs

Recently a study was released by Pingdom regarding the content management systems (CMS) used by the web’s top blogs and, perhaps not surprisingly, almost half of those sites were powered by WordPress.  48 of the top 100 are using WordPress as their backend system, while Movable Type, the second most used CMS, powers only 7 of the top 100 blogs.

To break the numbers down a bit further, 39 sites were using WordPress and an additional 9 were hosted by WordPress.  In addition, 12 sites used their own custom CMS, Typepad accounted for 8 blogs, and at the bottom end, one was using Tumblr and one was on Diderot.  Gawker sites all run on their own custom software and counts under “Gawker” as opposed to “Custom”.  There is a smattering of Blogger, Drupal, BlogSmith, and others, while 8 blogs declined to answer.  You can check out the chart below to see the full breakdown.

pingdom cms chart

Sony Connects Up At CES

Sony LogoSony‘s CES focus this year is on electronics, content and network services combining to deliver high quality entertainment anytime and anywhere. Supported by a slew of product announcements, new connected devices range from TVs, Blu-ray players and A/V receivers through to tablets, smartphones and PCs and on to camcorders and mobile music players. Sony is combining these with online services for music, video and game delivery, creating a great user experience (as they say). TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets are key to this experience as the four main devices used for entertainment.

Sony is committed to designing technologies for every aspect of consumer entertainment – in or out of the home, on the go, in the air, at work, at play, or wherever life takes you,” said Kazuo Hirai, Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. “When these products are combined with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN), which offers innovative services like Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited, as well as PlayStation Network, the user experience is truly unmatched and only made possible by a company like Sony.”

The Bravia TV line has been expanded in all three areas; entry level BX, step-up EX and flagship HX. Brightness and contrast levels have been increased and picture quality improved with Sony’s X-Reality and Motionflow video technologies. In particular the latter helps to reduce blur caused by rapid camera movements which is often a problem with LCD screens. Sony is sticking with the Google TV platform with a new network player and Blu-ray player featuring Google TV. Certain Bravia models will link seamlessly to these devices to provide Google TV features directly on the TV.

Sony Xperia ion smartphoneSony’s Vaio range of computers will continue to be updated with more entertainment feature and new designs that fit with consumers’ needs and increasing mobility. At CES, Sony will be demonstrating new technologies and prototypes for a range of technologies including glasses-free 3D.

In the smartphone space, the Xperia brand has done reasonably well, but increasing the smartphone share in North America is now one of Sony’s highest priorities. Sony Ericsson will be subsumed into Sony Mobile Communications and all new phones will carry Sony branding. The latest addition to the Xperia line-up is the Xperia ion, Sony’s first LTE smartphone coming with an HD 720p display and aluminium body. Also new is the Xperia S which comes with 3D image capture.

Sony Bloggie LiveOn the imaging front, no less than 13 new Handycam camcorders are being unveiled. A new image stabilisation system called Balanced Optical Steady Shot has been developed that controls the complete optical path from lens to sensor as a single floating unit. This reduces handshake blur by up to 13 times compared to the previous models. There’s a new camcorder model with a built-in video projector that has improved brightness and enhanced audio. The trusty Bloggie range now has a “Live” model which will live stream HD video over a Wi-Fi connection and there’s an unboxing over at sister channel TPN.tv. Of course, Sony has a bunch of new Cybershot digital still cameras.

Z Series Audio MP3 PlayerFinally, it wouldn’t be CES if Sony didn’t announce a Walkman or two. The new Z series of MP3 players comes with an application interface and connectivity to both Sony’s Music Unlimited and the Android Market. Content can be played from Z series devices either wirelessly using DLNA or via HDMI to Bravia TVs. To further improve the audio experience, no less than eleven new Balanced Armature earbud-style headphones are now available as well.

That’s it – a quick overview of the products on show at CES by Sony and they all look like fun.

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.

Poster for WebOS and the HP Palm Pre

As regular listeners to the podcast will know, the Geek News Central website is powered by WordPress. Until now, I’ve always used the web interface to write posts. “It works” is about the kindest thing you can say about it.

Browsing the Palm App Catalog, I came across Poster for WordPress, an app that allows blogging from the Palm Pre and other WebOS devices. It had lots of good reviews so I paid up and downloaded Poster.

Poster can link to multiple blogs and obviously the first thing to do is to setup accounts for the WordPress sites that you want to access.

After setting up access to Geek News Central, Poster shows the last five posts on the site. More can be loaded if needed.

This is entire blog post is written entirely in Poster. You can embolden, italicise, underline and do all three. You can insert pictures or in this case, a screenshot of Poster’s editing screen.

Poster Screenshot

When uploading images, there a four preset sizes you can choose from. Of course, hyperlinks are there too – here’s a link to the App Catalog. This doesn’t quite work perfectly in-line as the image or hyperlink seems to go at the end of the text. Not a problem if you write and edit linearly. However, if you are like me and write before editing in the pictures and hyperlinks, it’s a bit of a pain.

All is not lost as Poster offers three editing modes – Visual, Visual without images and HTML. So in this instance, you can swap to HTML view and then copy’n’paste to move stuff around.

Work in progress drafts can be saved to the blog but once the post is ready, tags and categories can be set before finally changing the status to Published and uploading it. The tags and categories are downloaded from the website itself so everything connects up.

Although I haven’t explored the app further, it also looks like you can work with comments, which could be pretty handy for the active blogger.

Overall, I’m impressed by this app and provided the end result – the post on GNC – is good, this app comes highly recommended.

Poster for WordPress by Gabriele Nizzoli is available from the AppCatalog for £1.59.

Update – I was pretty happy with way the post came out but to be upfront with the review, I added in a few extra links using the web interface and made one correction to the formatting.

PowerPress Podcasting Plugin Updated

My team at RawVoice this morning released version 2.0 of the PowerPress Podcast plugin for WordPress. The work committed to this update was well over 1 month of coding. I have been running the beta here at Geek News Central for several weeks, and many of you have already commented on the new video player experience as being superior to what you have seen on other podcasters websites. Now that the update has been made available to the 80,000 podcaster worldwide we are excited to watch the implementation across the web.

Folks making video will want to check out the new HTML5 video player, WebM support and Embeds feature! PowerPress 2.0 provides an optimized viewing experience for the widest spectrum of hardware/software including  web browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari), mobile devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Android), and TV’s (e.g. Google TV, Roku, Boxee).

Some of the new features and enhancements include:

  • HTML5 video player
  • HTML5 audio player
  • Embeds your audience can take with them just like YouTube.
  • WebM video support
  • Ogg audio/video support improvements
  • MP4+WebM (for mp4/m4v video, a new alternative WebM URL field is available. This is ideal for supporting all browser based HTML5 video players)
  • Flow Player Classic can now play m4a audio and mp4/m4v video
  • New Video Player settings page added
  • Settings pages enhanced with new options such as location, frequency and T.V. options
  • Episode Entry box enhanced with new ‘isHD’ option when video entered into Media URL box
  • Episode Entry box now includes option to configure video player width/height on a per-episode basis
  • Upload image option added to supplement the video poster image field. Images are uploaded to the built-in image gallery in WordPress.
  • Plus a number of improvements

I have created a short video on some of the coolest features and hope you will take a few minutes to overview the update. Please note that the video embed below is from the actual posting on our official PowerPress site. No longer do we need Blip or YouTube we can share our content from our sites with the embed feature.

Make sure you Upgrade today!

Wylio Searches For Free Pictures For Bloggers

If you have a blog and are always looking for photos to spice up your posts then there’s anew site that you will want to check out.  It’s called Wylio.  It searches millions of creative commons photos to find what you are looking for.  Just use common sense about what you find, as their website states:

“be pragmatic when you decide what photo to use. If it’s painfully obvious that “flickr_user_1234″ isn’t the copyright owner for that Coca-Cola logo they uploaded… don’t use it.”

It’s free to use and sing-up is required.  To get started simply visit the website and enter your search term and see what you find.

Adding a photo is not quite as easy as right-clicking and choosing  “copy image”, though.  Instead, once you have selected your photo, you click the “get the code” button and then paste the code into your blog’s HTML.  It will add links back to the photographer.

This is one of the easier ways to find pictures, but it is NOT the easiest way to add them to a blog.  In fact, it’s downright difficult to get their code to work, at least in WordPress, which is what we use.  It’s a good resource and if you have time to play around then you’ll love it.  If you’re a casual blogger or not particularly tech-savvy then you may want to look elsewhere.

The Long Tail

In the world of blogging, podcasting and social networking, much has been said about the so-called “long tail.” The concept of the “long tail” revolves around the idea that available content living on the Internet gets a lot of extra audience over a long period of time, as opposed to traditional print and broadcast content which has a much more limited lifespan.

As services such as Netflix gain popularity, yet another form of content is experiencing the benefits of the long tail – movies and TV shows that are available for long-term streaming. An excellent example of how the “long tail” benefits movies in particular are obscure documentaries that in the old pre-streaming days would have a limited initial audience and then end up on a shelf somewhere or be sold in consumer video release one at a time.

Now more obscure movies and TV shows that had a limited lifespan and limited impact are able to take a new lease-on life that used to simply not exist.

I am particularly enjoying streaming documentaries on Netflix. There are some real gems out there. One documentary I really enjoyed in particular that I’d never heard of before I found it on Netflix is called “Cowboy Del Amor.” It’s about a Texas matchmaker who specializes in matching up American men with Mexican women. If you haven’t seen this gem, I highly recommend it. “Cowboy Del Amor” is but one example of movies that have a very limited promotion budgets and therefore are unable to make much of a publicity splash when they are released, yet they can be absolutely fantastic movies to not only watch yourself but to share later with friends and family.

I dropped my Dish Network account in July 2010 and have not looked back. Streaming videos via services such as Netflix forces me to take a much more active role in selecting something good to watch. Having literally tens of thousands of movies and videos available for instant streaming on demand is a far superior way to find and consume commercial content.

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?