Widgets are the ringtones for the MySpace generation

Today, I was thinking about widgets and marketplaces like the Wallop Modder Network that allow for the buying and selling of widgets. The over-30 curmudgeon in me wondered, “why would anyone ever buy and sell silly little widgets for their blogs?” Then I remembered the always-surprising (at least to me) ringtone market, and a lightbulb went off: widgets are the ringtones for the MySpace generation.

(Of course, it’s much easier to charge a ringtone to a phone and have that bill go to your parents, but what’s stopping anyone from offering pay-by-mobile-phone widget options?).

Subscribe to my blog via email

I love FeedBurner. Every now and then, I check out features I’m not using and try a new one out. Tonight, I added the ability to subscribe to my blog via email using FeedBurner email. The form is permanently in my blog template now, but here’s what it looks like for all you RSS-only readers:

To subscribe to my blog via email, enter your email address below:

Delivered by FeedBurner


WordPress upgrade

I decided to upgrade my 1.x install of WordPress to 2.04 tonight, so those of you reading this on my site and not in RSS, you’ll notice that I changed my theme to Fluid Solution. I had gotten sloppy with my other template, so it was time to clean house. All in all, it was an easy upgrade and I didn’t have to go back to any of my backups to fix any problems.

I did have to upgrade the FeedBurner Plugin to the 2.1 version and it seems to work. If you see anything funky, let me know.

Bradley (my boss) is blogging

If you want to know more about one of the key people driving some of the coolest stuff happening at Yahoo, subscribe to Bradley Horowitz’s blog now. (Bradley happens to be my boss).

I first met Bradley in person when he was on a panel I was moderating at the Syndicate conference last May. A week or so before that, I got an e-mail from Caterina saying something like, “Bradley used to be in a punk rock band in Detroit and he cleared the way for bringing Flickr to Yahoo! You guys should meet.” Thank you, Syndicate, and thank you, Caterina. You did me right.

Be sure to scan Bradley’s bio for an entertaining read and check out Bradley’s first post, “Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers.”

Link: Jeremy welcomes Bradley to the blogosphere.

Beating the commute with EVDO

My blogging output has been miserable as of late and it’s been bugging me because I really like sitting down to write and there are lots of big blogarific thoughts rolling around in my head these days. That being said, getting down to Yahoo! a few times a week (when I’m not working in the Berkeley lab near my house) means a my 43.7 mile commute that has me in the car for several hours every week. Driving is an antidote to writing — not to mention that this calculator told me that my commute costs me $13,731 a year (!!), and this environmental calculator estimates that my car is dumping just under 900 pounds (!!) of pollution into the world every year. Not good. All of this has made me seriously re-evaluate my commute situation and how to make it better.

First, a little more background on the specifics of my commute situation: a lot of people don’t realize this, but the best way to get from Berkeley to Silicon Valley on mass transit is via the Amtrak Capitol Corridor. I’ve taken the train a few times now and it’s a nice ride — but while this particular route that winds down through Silicon Valley seems to be a natural for solid wi-fi service, the wi-fi offering sucks. Check out the message above the byzantine wi-fi “schedule” on the Amtrak site to see why:

Currently, our Wi-Fi enabled cars rotate among different trains, giving all passengers a chance to test the service. Please be aware that trains are rotated out of service for regular maintenance and that there may be times when Wi-Fi service is unavailable. Check the schedule below to find out when Wi-Fi will be on your train!

Yeah, like I really want to add “figure out which trains have wi-fi today” to my morning to-do list.

I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this, but I finally thought: EVDO is the answer to my problems. Within minutes of this realization, I had signed up for the Broadband Access service from Verizon Wireless which promises “typical download speeds of 400 – 700 kbps, capable of reaching speeds up to 2.0 Mbps”. I ordered the Kyocera KPC650 card and it’s on its way. Now, not only will I be able to get high-speed access on the train instead of worrying with their wonky wi-fi, I will be able to get online while I’m waiting for the train. The service is expensive, but easily paid for many times over by eliminating (or at least greatly limiting) the car commute. This is looking like a win-win.

Of course, I had this same level of excitement in late 2001 when I was taking Caltrain to San Mateo and had just ordered the Ricochet modem that never really worked well enough to use on the train. I hope this time is different (the reviews of the service I’ve seen are stellar). Fingers crossed!

Corporate blogging panel at Syndicate

(Update: links added as the wi-fi improved)

I’m sitting in on the corporate blogging panel at Syndicate moderated by Charlene Li from Forrester, featuring Jeremy Zawodny (fellow Yahoo! and my cubemate), David Geller (WhatCounts), Greg Renaicker (Newsgator), and Jodi Baumann (Network Appliance — where Dave Hitz has a blog). A few random thoughts on the panel (if you’re looking for a blow-by-blow summary of the panel, this is not it):

Early in the panel, someone in the audience asked Jeremy what a “blogroll” was when he used the term. I’m pointing that out not because it’s a bad question, but precisely because it’s a reasonable question for someone who wants to learn about blogging. Luckily, there’s a decent blogging glossary that I just found (though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard terms like “blogroach” before and many of the words are superfluous to someone who wants to understand the basics).

Earlier in the panel, Jodi Baumann said, “we’re a public company” a lot in describing their relatively conservative approach to their corporate blog — of course, so is Yahoo! (granted, we are a consumer-facing company, not a hardware company) I work at Yahoo! (so I’m biased), but I think the way Yahoo! handles “corporate blogging” is a model for any public company — and it hasn’t gotten us in trouble yet that I know of (same goes for Microsoft and Sun, of course). We have a handful of official Yahoo! blogs (Y! Search blog, Y! Developer Network blog), but the corporate blogging policy (PDF) for individuals with their own blogs (which I think is reasonable and necessary for a large public company) allows and encourages blogging within well-conceived guidelines that address appropriate legal issues. Official corporate blogs aside, as the talent wars heat up again in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, I think encouraging employees to express themselves in their personal blogs is a competitive advantage in hiring. In that sense, I think companies thinking about “corporate blogging” should have the courage to extend their policies to address employee blogs explicitly. Yahoo’s blogging policy was a big factor in why I joined the company (and since I joined, my blog has helped me meet people within Yahoo! which has helped me get up-to-speed faster).

There’s also a “just do it” quality to blogs (again, within reason). Charlene Li noted in closing the panel that the first GM blog went from conception to launch in eight days. If GM can do it in eight days (with all the legal issues of a giant public company), it shouldn’t take much longer than that for any company to do it.

Syndicate Conference next week

The Syndicate conference is next week in San Francisco, and I think it’s well worth checking out. Last year, the conference was an interesting mix of traditional media types who wanted to know what all the RSS/blogs/syndication fuss was about along with the folks who were creating the new world. This year, Doc Searls is the conference chairperson, so you know it will be both thoughtful and entertaining. Here’s the schedule and how to register.

I’ll be there both days, so if you want to meet up, drop me an e-mail (chadd -at- yahoo-inc -dot- com).

(Disclosure: I am on the Syndicate advisory board, though not nearly as active as last year when I moderated two panels and wrote a bunch of the session descriptions.)

Browser breakdown and other stats for my blog

I’ve never paid much attention to browser usage on my blog, but I just looked and it breaks down like this according to Measure Map (from November 5 to the present):

  • Firefox: 48%
  • MSIE: 35%
  • Safari: 13%
  • Other: 4%

According to Measure Map, my readership is 71% U.S., 5% Australia, 5% Canada, 4% UK, 2% Germany, and 2% India. Overall, I had visitors from 59 countries.

I would like to thank the 2 visitors each from South Africa and Brazil. Also, thanks to the 1 visitor from Tunisia — please stop by and visit again sometime.