Its a very interesting time for the ole’ television. For the majority of my life, and probably the lives of many older than me, TV has not changed much. Sure, there was that big transition from black and white to color, but since then, TV has been largely the same. In recent years, a big push of innovation has been directed towards the TV marketplace. The advent of plasma and LCD has brought about flat panel TV’s, high definition clarity and broadcast, the decommission of analog signal, the introduction of LED for “green” sets, and now the push for IP delivery for shows and movies.
I have had the privilege of working with close friends updating their website as they were working on a new album. The husband approached me, asking my opinion about a couple different hosted website solutions. After talking with him about what they’d like to do, I found that their biggest desire was getting a good-looking website together for the new album, but also finding something easy to maintain and update in the future. I suggested WordPress.
A week after our conversation, I began playing with WordPress on my own webserver and started putting together a website mock up with a template from WooThemes and content from their existing site. It was fairly easy and I like playing around with websites like that. Wordpress worked pretty well for the basic site.
WordPress also provided them with an easy way to keep the website up-to-date from the road or from their iPhones as they traveled and snapped photos. Wordpress is supported and updated as security problems were found and should help them stay secure in the future.
Useful Plugins for Musicians
After putting their existing information into the site, I started looking at what else would be good on the site. I located the fantastic website of developer Dan Coulter, http://blogsforbands.com/. He had developed several WordPress plug-ins for bands, including a gig calendar and discography. I added the discography plug-in to a new install of WordPress and began adding songs from the past album that I had. It worked wondefully — allowing me to post each album, the songs, words to the songs and links to buy the songs from iTunes, Napster or Amazon’s MP3 store. It also allowed a link to buy a physical copy… but from where?
Enter another plug-in – Tips & Tricks HQ – developers of the WordPress eStore. I had used WP E-Commerce in the past, but it didn’t want to install on my musician’s web host and it didn’t easily offer digital downloads, but WordPress eStore did… We added the plugin and began populating it items, like T-Shirts and CD’s.
Our musician friends utilize ReverbNation heavily and so I was able to find their widgets (which our friends were already using on their original site) and place those into text widgets on the sidebar. The cool thing about this approach is that it allows them to update their music players, gig calendar and mailing list all within ReverbNation and have it feed their website. Likewise, their website is feeding ReverbNation new mailing list addresses for future mailings and it is collecting stats of who is listening to their music. ReverbNation is a free service, but offers enhanced and additional pay-for services.
As we were going live and testing everything, I found a couple things – like emails being sent from the eStore were sending from “WordPress”, but Tips & Tricks HQ had another plugin to allow us to customize the friendly name of the sender.
If any other bands or musicians are looking for a solution, I’ll be the first to recommend WordPress!
Last week, I found a deal I could not pass up. B&H Photo has a deal on a Drobo for $299 though 6/30/2010. If you’ve never heard of a Drobo, it is an external storage enclosure from Data Robotics that offers some enterprise-class, automated mirroring/striping for your data across multiple hard drives. Data Robotics calls it Beyond-RAID because unlike a RAID set where drives should be the same size, their technology allows mix and match drive sizes and handles striping and leveling the data across whatever mix of SATA drives you buy. If a drive fails, pull it and replace it and the device will rebuild.
I had been worried about losing my digital home movies. That data is really too large to really push out to a backup service like Mozy and when I load new movies, its usually to the tune of 20 or 30GB at a time, which would take weeks to push up. In addition to that data, I also have Movies and TV shows that we have purchased through iTunes.
Its been a few weeks and I now have a few friends populated in Google Wave. When I first received my invite, it was me, myself and I – ok, that’s just one person – on Wave. I had to turn to the in:public search option to find any waves to try out the service.
My friends and I have created a few waves and now that the novelty has worn off, I’m left with the question of where this fits? Its not instant messaging, per say, and it is more collaborative, but I’ve found it frustrating (perhaps because of a lack of friends on Wave) to try and carry on a conversation with someone in Wave.
But, I recall being the same way with GMail when I first got access to its beta program. Early on, I despised the conversation view I now love in GMail and I couldn’t understand why Google would launch a new chat – as if I needed another one. But those things quickly became assets to the platform that Google was building.
Wave is largely a re-think platform. It is exciting that it can be extended and built upon to bring new tools to the table. The playback feature is a good one that allows for all the communication to happen on the server and be stored there. It is a convergence for email and instant message.
What is great about the hosted message platform is it removes the need for transport – the biggest problem facing email today. I think that moving forward, a hosted conversation may be a much better way of communicating, but at this point – its only hosted by a single provider. The beauty of email is that everyone can host their own or outsource their email server. And if one goes down, the rest of the system survives. Its architecture is distinctly different than Wave.
But Wave offers the opportunity to define a secure and verified transport between Wave providers. Google seems to be supporting this to become an open standard for the world to use – not a closed system which Google controls.
And while discussing transport, regulation has become a major issue facing email today. From HIPPA to SOX, government regulation now dictates how information can be disseminated. A newly architected platform over secure connections could provide a much needed alternative to the largely insecure email used today.
So there is a lot about the system which offers promise, but it is different animal all together. I can see how this could converge into Google Docs and offer similar collaboration that word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents offer in that silo. I can also see how this could neatly fit as a secure email replacement. I’m interested to see what other think or envision for Wave.
Overnight, I received my Google Wave invite. So far, no one I know has a Wave account, I’ve sent out a few invites and hopefully later today, I can begin riding the Wave. More soon…
Following up on my earlier post about Chrome OS, I got to thinking. Google has GMail for email, Talk for chat, Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and a slew of other cloud based apps. But what is missing from their portfolio and therefore missing in Chrome OS? I know we don’t know most of the details yet, but we can imagine that the system (being simple and secure) would have very little in it – maybe Chrome browser and maybe a GTalk client.
1) Music – we’re a world accustomed to iTunes and buying our music online. Where will that fit? How will it — or simply will Chrome OS handle media files?
2) Video – Sure, like music, what about video playback? YouTube is great, but there aren’t any video editing tools online as part of YouTube – you have to somehow capture and piece together your videos. I’ve never encountered an online video editing software (yet…).
3) Gaming – Sure EA is making some of their games available online and it is generally accepted for game consoles to have online portals to download games – but how will Chrome OS accomplish this? Will it shy away from this on its underpowered hardware ?
4) Photo editing – Sure, Google has Picasa, but will it be packaged with Chrome OS? It has Picasaweb, but its features are currently very limited and its space is also.
What else am I missing – I’m sure there is more…
Its been a couple days of using Google’s new browser Chrome here in the office. For the most part, I run my Gmail and Google Reader in it and it works great. For other sites, like Facebook, its not doing quite as well.
To start with the positive, the browser’s minimalist design is very nice. I like the fact that I have a lot of web real estate inside the browser, instead of a lot of buttons, toolbars and real estate devoted to controls. Overall, the design is functional – in line with Firefox, Safari and IE 7 – with tabs to separate your browsing/applications. The other design feature is the special about page which shows your most often visited sites. I think this is a nice, no-typing-necessary innovation to get you exactly where you go.
The browser’s speed is probably its biggest asset. For instance, my local daily’s website has awful load times in all other browsers and its noticeably faster loading in Chrome. I also see nice improvement rendering pages on other sites I visit often.
The browser is still in beta, but I’ve found it to be somewhat incompatible with Facebook and other non-Google, heavy Web 2.0 applications. Somewhat surpisingly, MobileMe’s public Gallery has problems in Chrome (mine never loads for some reason), but the me.com suite of applications work pretty well. I find it a little surprising since Chrome is based on WebKit, like Apple’s Safari. I’ve found Safari really stable with me.com.
One major feature is the isolation of each tab as a process. This allows a single tab to crash and close, without losing the rest of your session. Its understandable why Google would want this functionality as its pushes into web alternatives to desktop applications. I constantly have 4 of 5 tabs open in a browser and its a big inconvenience when your browser crashes and you have to relogin to every single site or application. This functionality will help to stablize their platform and push it more mainstream.
Other bloggers are pointing out many of the flaws, and it is just a beta software, so I expect a lot of streamlining and refinement, but overall I’m inpressed with the initial version released.