Create Your Own Temporary Message Board

Cl1p_LogoNow this is a bit of fun and actually quite useful. The service is called cl1p.net it provides a service that lets you create an instant message board or clipboard with a unique URL for access and number of handy and useful features. I am sure that there are uses for this that would present themselves to people on a daily basis. A great service to put in your bookmarks, you never know when you might need it.

To set up a message board or clipboard all you have to do is visit cl1p.net and follow the instructions which are very simple. You will see a box like this:

Cl1p_Creation_Box

Fill in what you want the page URL to be after the /. Click the “Show My cl1p” button and you are done. There is no need to register, but you can if you want to to track your cl1ps. Once your page is generated (you should now be looking at it); there are a few options that you may want to activate.

The page is an Internet accessible clipboard or a message board, you select which on the right pull-down menu. The clipboard is the default. Copy and paste anything either plain text or HTML into the space provided. Or upload a file up to 2MB. Want someone else to be able to see the pasted text or file? Just point them to the URL. This is very useful. Say you were helping someone with some code for their blog or web page. You could get them to post their code on the “board”, edit it and then they could then reload and copy and paste it out to their page. Anyone that has tried to use Instant messaging for this knows exactly why this feature is so good. Plus it is way faster then email.

There are a number of options for how long you want the page open for from one hour to “as long as possible” (however long that is). You can change the title if you wish from the default to one that you prefer. I like the idea of being able to password protect the page as well in the “Security” options. Activating this for a message board enables moderation by the creator of the page and prevents others from modifying comments. Create an account to track your “cl1ps” or there is the option to buy the URL that you have essentially created. Enable HTML or plain text to suit your needs. Message boards are plain text which is a good idea.

At the bottom of the page is the option to upload a file up to 2MB, which might be an interesting way to share a file with a lot of people that you can’t host yourself. Finally you can adjust the number of lines that are viewable, save and print the text. Phew… loads of features for a simple page. But that is what makes it great. Good things are simplistic and easy to use and this fits all the requirements for that.

If you purchased the URL it could be a permanent message board for your blog readers. The good thing about this is that there is no registration required, no login, no email submission. You might get more comments from your readers by having one. If you had no blog then this might be a fun way to leave messages for your friends or have an asynchronous conversation. You could start a great flame war with this one, once the URL disappears your comments go with it and it is anonymous. These ideas are just off the top of my head and I am sure that people can think of much better ones.

The URL or page is accessible to anyone with Internet access, just point your browser to it and you can see the page you or someone else has created. Nice. This is also an advantage if you were working with someone in another time zone. Or you had friends that were in a different country. It is another way of communicating and collaborating.

I think it is a great idea and has loads of potential and an early start to a sound business model. In the future I would expect there to be advertising and such but that won’t take away from a great, interesting, simple and fun idea. The idea of accessibility and ease of use is an achievement. I can definitely see myself using this from time to time for a number of uses and a lot that I am yet to think of.

See the Rooster’s Rail Message Board Here [ http://cl1p.net/roosters_rail ] go nuts and tell me what you think about it.

UPDATE: Killed the Message Board it became a spam mecca. This post is getting on and the spammers followed it. Just glad that HTML was off 🙂 Please check out the service and create your own.

Cl1p.net_Screenshot

Helipad: Think Notepad but Better

Helipad LogoThis new on-line note taking service looks good. Although “note taking” seems a very bland way to describe a service that looks and feels as good as this does.

Helipad is a note service, however there are few things that make it so much better than the standard Windows notepad. I use notepad a lot, it is great for stripping HTML and a quick way to jot a note. But then you end up with all these .txt files that have really weird file names that you thought made sense at the time. They don’t now. Helipad makes creating, editing and finding those notes very easy and fun.

It has a “widget-like” look to the main page with the Ajax type interface. Obviously you can create a new note or document very easily. However, the one feature that sets this apart from others and especially notepad is the ability to tag your notes. The tags create a “tag cloud” at the top of the page which makes finding related notes easy. Other features include an auto save, live searching, different themes and plug-ins, sharing of documents and changing fonts in preparation for printing. There is a plan for the ability to export documents as a PDF as well as a drop and drop interface.
The site also makes available the API for developers and a separate one to write add-ons for the service. It will be interesting to see what applications can be generated and the “inventions” that people come up with.

So you are nowhere near your PC or laptop and get a surge of inspiration. No problem, whip out the mobile or something like a Treo™ and access Helipad from the mobile friendly web-page. Very cool. If you can access the Internet you can access your documents.
If you don’t like the look of the default theme or others you can also customise the colour and add functionality to it. But I must admit I am a fan of the K.I.S.S ideology; Keep It Simple Stupid. Notepad is simple and that is what makes it good. Helipad does this but does it better.

Mac users keep an eye out for the downloadable version that is coming soon, enables you to work offline.

No word on the site or their blog exactly how they are going to make money from the service. It would be great to see it stick around, it deserves to. All this costs someone something, so I hope that they either have heaps of cash or someone else that has heaps of cash and that they are doing it for the love of it. Great ideas and originality seem to be able to stick around, especially with the API made available. Perhaps some bright spark will come up with some way to implement it into MySpace or something like that.

Good luck to them though as it looks like a good idea and one that has huge potential for lots of applications and uses.

Helipad Homepage Screenshot

Marketing Podcasting

I was reading Don Thorson’s Blog today and he was talking about “Whole Product“. Marketing he says:

“…come[s] down to a few basic rules. They’re basically the same rules we were taught in our first marketing class.”

I am not a marketer, nor have I studied it in any great detail. I would however say that I do marketing. I have been marketing The Global Geek Podcast since it’s inception as well as this blog and the brands associated with them. So given Don’s formulae I thought that I might try to apply them to podcasting and see what I come up with.

The rules of marketing are simple enough:

  1. Does it solve a problem?
  2. Is it easy to understand?
  3. Is it easy to get?
  4. Is it easy to use?
  5. Is it easy to share?

Does Podcasting Solve a Problem?

In my opinion podcasting is an audio or content delivery system. So I would answer yes to this question. You have content that you want to share and “casting” it is a solution. Syndicating your podcast is a method that makes it available to your listeners. Although that statement is a bit of a weird one because podcasting is syndication of audio content.

Podcasting also solves the problem that radio does not always deliver the content that I want to listen to. More often than not the radio is terrible and contains content that I have no interest in at all. The radio also demands that I listen to it at a certain time in order to listen to the content that I am interested in.

I can listen to podcasts when I want to for how long I want to. So podcasts are “on demand” they do not dictate to the listener, the listener gains more control over what they listen to. That in my opinion means that podcasters need to remember that they have an audience that knows these things and that they should “target” their audience.

Is It Easy to Understand?

You say “podcast” to someone and more often than not you will get a dumb look. The dumb look is not their fault. Podcasting is a new media delivery method, it has not become mainstream. This presents a problem, does that automatically mean that it is hard to understand just because it is a new “product”? I don’t think it should be.

I try to explain podcasting as: A radio show on the Internet. That at least fits into the category of a product that can be explained in five words or less. It would probably pass the “Mum test” as well. But I do think that seriously undercuts what podcasting really is and because of stereo types causes the other person to make some inaccurate assumptions.

This is especially true when you look at the Wikipedia definition of a podcast which is 123 words long! But it does take into the account the special attributes that make podcasts very appealing.

However, John Dodds in his “Geek Marketing 101” Post makes me feel a little better in that he states that:

“Reductive marketing that simplifies ideas does not undersell your complex creation.”

In other words, just because you describe something simply does not mean that you are selling your idea short or degrading it’s potential. So maybe my very simplistic definition is a good one for people that have never heard of podcasting. The idea and the medium itself is not a difficult one to understand but the fact that it is wrapped up in “geekology” and “tech” does cause a block. They think that because it uses a computer and the Internet it is hard to understand. Which means the delivery is important.

Is It Easy to Get?

This is where I think the idea of podcasting is a failure as far as a marketing is concerned. No, I do not think it will fail but the current state of podcasting means that there are issues with accessibility, especially for the new listener.

The simplist way to listen to a podcast is a flash player on a website where a podcast calls home. Any podcast should have one for this reason. Vist the page and hit play, it could not get any simpler right. But, this type of listener is not taking advantage of podcasting especially if you are applying the strict definition where according to Wikipedia:

“Though podcasters’ web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital audio formats by its ability to be downloaded automatically using software capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.”

So someone listening off the web page is not listening to a podcast, they are listening to streaming media that calls itself a podcast. Strange but true according to the definition.

For a listener to subscribe to a podcast via an RSS reader or aggregator that supports enclosures is; in my opinion is one of the biggest failures of podcasting. Podcasts or any feed for that matter are not easy to understand or subscribe to. This needs to be simplified in a big way for podcasts to “take off”.

I have managed to get one friend that I know of to understand how to subscribe to feeds and podcasts and use it regularly. He is a fairly smart person and computer literate, even then on more than one occasion I had to assist him to subscribe to a feed or understand something about RSS feeds, or his aggregator. What hope is there for the person that just uses their computer to email and look at a few [add interest here] sites? Or the person that has no help at all, who I can almost guarantee will give up soon after clicking a feed button and they see the raw RSS feed and write it off, who wouldn’t?:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<rss version="2.0">
  <channel>
    <title>Liftoff News</title>
    <link>http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/</link>
    <description>Liftoff to Space Exploration.</description>
    <language>en-us</language>
    <pubDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 04:00:00 GMT</pubDate>
    <lastBuildDate>Tue, 10 Jun 2003 09:41:01 GMT</lastBuildDate>
    <docs>http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss</docs>
    <generator>Weblog Editor 2.0</generator>
    <managingEditor>editor@example.com</managingEditor>
    <webMaster>webmaster@example.com</webMaster>

etc…

Once a user has got this far they need to either listen to the media on their computer or transfer the file to an MP3 player. This for some people is put in the “too hard basket”. Listening to it on the computer negates the “on demand” concept I talked about earlier in so much as they are restricted to listening to it when they are on their computer. It also makes a podcast a less attractive product.

There are moves however that are dealing with the complexities of subscribing to content. As much as I loathe iTunes I think part of it’s success has to do with the fact that it makes this process easy. Subscribing, downloading, transferring to a portable player – it is all done seamlessly. I am sure that some iTunes users have no idea they are subscribed to an RSS feed. You can get up in the morning, the iPod is charged with new content and off you go.

Firefox 2 that launched this week is also a step closer to making RSS feeds more accessible, one click subscribing to an RSS feed with the aggregator of your choice. At least when users click on the RSS feed link they get a note at the top of the screen explaining what it is and what they can do about it. IE 7 also has better RSS management as of the latest release. This makes podcasts that much easier to get. Although Windows Media Player is yet to see the light, which is poor to say the least and little wonder Apple has the market wrapped up, at present anyway.

Podcasts and RSS feed subscription has to become seamless and invisible for it to hit mainstream. Otherwise podcasts and feeds will just remain a neat geek technology trick.

Is It Easy to Use?

I think most people can play a music file now, or an .mp3 file. Here is one of the powerful aspects of podcast marketing, if you can double-click or press play then you can listen to a podcast. The fact that even a basic install of a computer recognises file types and associates the appropreate application to play it with. From a listener’s perspective once you can get your hands on the file it is easy and accessible. Even vidcasts would fit into the easy to use category.

Don says that at Apple they had a rule:

“”1 minute after they start to use it , they feel like calling their friends”. ……” You will not believe what I just got””

I am sure that given insight into the powerful medium, a listener would see the advantages of the medium. That is of course assuming they have downloaded a quality podcast and not something that has awful production and content. Podcasters, you are ambassadors for podcasting and it’s future, indeed your own future as a podcaster. I am sure there is a marketing rule that says something like: “make sure that you have a product that people will want”. If I have described a listeners first experience of a podcast and that is you, please just try again there is some great, great content out there of any topic you care to name. There is a pile of rubbish as well, like anything.

Is It Easy to Share?

I had to think about what sharing is within the product of podcasting. Can I easily share an .mp3 file? Yes, I could do that but but it is not really sharing the “concept” of podcasting. That is the key, podcasting is not a thing, it is a concept. How do you convince people that you have a concept that is worth having? You become a podcasting evangelist; that is how.

I talk to people when ever I can about podcasting, blogging and whatever else might be associated with it. I have found that you don’t have to sit people down and give them the Podcasting 101 talk (unless they want it, then great).

I am reminded of someone that I work with, about as much of an anti-geek as you could find. More of a “hippy” than anything geek. She has heard me talking about podcasting and she has even asked how she could listen to a show. Yes she has listened to a show. I have mentioned small things about the show or how things have been going to her. The other day she come right out of the blue and asked me how the new co-host was working out! Blew me away. No, she is not a podcasting guru now, but she knows what a podcast is and she won’t give you the “cow in the headlights look” if you said “podcast”. That in my opinion is marketing podcasting, moving it from the geek arena to the mainstream at this present time involves word of mouth education and enlightenment of everyday people to the medium.

This is not about marketing a specific show, that is a another mega post it is about podcasting and marketing the concept. Making the medium understood in the public. Understanding leads to acceptance, use and finally demand. Understanding exerts pressure on developers to overcome the “Easy to Get” problem.

“Marketing is a conversation, but most people don’t speak geek.”

– Rule Number 2 of Geek Marketing

So yes podcasting is easy to share. Do you know about podcasting and subscribe to some yourself? If you can answer yes to this then tell people about it. You might have a podcast in your iPod, people ask you what you are listening to, offer them a listen. Get them interested in wanting the content then they will want to know how. Why not assist someone to set up an aggregator to subscribe to podcasts? Once you have got someone hooked on podcasts they will want to tell others as well. Demonstrate by example how it is done. Something that I do is to wear my “The Podcast Network” T-Shirt as soon as it is washed and ironed! It is a great way to start a conversation.

This is really my take on Geek Marketing 101 Rule Number 10:

10) Marketing demystifies.

“As the conversations develop, the users comprehend your products better and you better understand their needs. With increased confidence, they utilise more and more of your geekiness and, with increased awareness, you are better able to adapt to their behaviours. They feel more warmly about geeks and you may get the chance to buy them a drink. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?”

Nope.

My conclusion is that podcasting is a marketable product or concept but there are significant blocks to it becoming a successful one. Given the rules of marketing it fails. Podcasts solve a problem, are relatively easy to understand, use and share but they are hard to get. Four out of Five is not bad for a new technology medium. But for it to be a successful whole product it has to make five out of five. The main hurdle is that software remains relatively complicated and detailed and the user requires some assistance to set up. For podcasting to be a “whole product” we need to make the process of accessability one that is seamless within the user experience. They should be able to subscribe and listen to podcasts without needing to know anything about an RSS feed or an enclosure. It should be as simple as clicking “play”.

I am not sure how I have done as a marketer in this post, but it has made me really think about podcasting and viewing it as a product. Any real marketers out there have an opinion?

AllPeers: New Version

AllPeers LogoAs regular readers will know I have been following the AllPeers release closely. I have as I said removed it from my extensions list. This was mainly due to the fact that no one that I knew was using it and it was slowing the start up of Firefox. But this new version of it might give me cause to have another look.

The AllPeers Road map was released over the last week or so. I have not covered it as it was a projected pace and changes to match. But it appears that they have come good and just released AllPeers v0.51. The key features that they claim to have added and addressed are:

  • A Work-Offline feature
  • The inclusion of a hide toolbar link
  • Better registration process
  • Added an option to create a new group in Add Contact form
  • Various small performance, download and presence improvements
  • Included an option to select the download directory

The last inclusion was one of my previous criticisms in that I did not have a clue where the downloads were going! So that is good to see. I have not installed it yet so I am not sure what the performance improvements would be. But it would not appear that they have addressed the slow start up of Firefox. Which is disappointing.

To be honest the next two versions look a lot more promising. If you are holding off I would recommend that you wait until version 0.60 surfaces as that seems to be when the most significant improvements and bug fixes would have been implemented. I am considering this myself, especially with the lack of people to use it with.

The AllPeers crew still seem to be doing their best to please their user base and are working hard at improving their product. I still believe that users are being very critical of an application that is in beta.

I concur with one suggestion of the inclusion of a simple change log between versions, I am looking forward to where it goes from here.

AllPeers is LIVE!

AllPeers LogoNow this is exciting. I have just discovered that AllPeers has gone live and is available for download from the official Mozilla extensions site. You can check out the features of AllPeers by having a look at the All Peers homepage.

AllPeers is a sharing extension for everything! You can share files from your local machine, web-pages and if you don’t want to share the whole page just share a picture; no problem – just drag and drop the picture you want to share to the contact that you want to share it with. Drag and drop goodness.From the screen shots it looks like you have contacts that are easily added with an invite via email. It is cross platform with XP, Mac and LINUX support.

I am keen to try it out. No more huge emails! Maybe email will be used as it is supposed to be used now… for text? They are also touting that it is secure, my only concern is that it is. I have just checked the All Peers FAQ and all transfers are made using SSL. Any app that has access to your files in this manner needs to be.

It would appear that it installs yet another toolbar on Firefox. I am not sure if it is toolbar worthy though, I will have to see. I am very guarded about what toolbars I let Firefox have, one toolbar means a sacrifice of screen real-estate – so the application has to be great for me to be totally in favour. But like most Firefox applications and extensions there the toolbar is usually fully customisable and you decide where it goes if at all. I trust that this is the case with AllPeers.

This really does look like a killer application. The question now is how fast is it? I am assuming that it is going to be quicker than sharing files using IM clients. From reports it would seem that the transfer rate is reasonable, they have been described as “very good”.

“… and I received very good transfer speeds.”

Please remember that this is Beta and the usual rules apply for “beta” stuff. I would stay tuned for this one to be updated rapidly and development to be fast and furious as this exert implies from the AllPeers Official Blog, PeerPressure:

“…this is still a beta and we’re keen to hear about any suggestions you have for improving AllPeers. We’ve built a fabulous foundation (if I may say so myself) so you can expect to see rapid progress from here on out. I’ve seen a lot of questions of various stripes here and around the blogosphere. I’ll get a FAQ out as soon as possible that addresses them all and gives some more insight into our long-term plans.”

No doubt we will review this extension on the next The Global Geek Podcast, it looks like a great application that will solve many, many problems. Myself and my friends are always trying to share large files and constantly sharing web images and URL’s, this is a God-send in my opinion. Can’t wait to see what is next.

I am off to lunch. Don’t know why I am telling you that but I am…