RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
I just created by PeopleAggregator.com profile. PeopleAggregator feels a lot like MySpace, Friendster, MSN Spaces. I'm not sure what differentiates it from the rest, other than it's new. Which is all you need for today's Net savvy teens. More notes follow.
Tell me if you see my profile and don't forget to make a connection with me.
Here's the final results of the blogging tools survey that we did earlier this month. FeedBurner is the big winner. I summarized the data in an XLS spreadsheet which you are free to use. A summary of my findings follow.
Stewart Butterfield published some great numbers in the comments of Paul Kedrosky's blog on the marketshare of photosharing applications.
Nielsen/NetRatings just announced US numbers for April which were significantly different. Summary (in thousands of unique users):
Photobucket: 7,838 (vs 5,419 a year ago for 45% growth)
Y! Photos: 7,772 (vs 6,439 a year ago for 21% growth)
Kodak: 7,633 (vs 6,508 a year ago for 17% growth)
Webshots: 6,070 (vs 6,070 a year ago for -15% growth)
Flickr: 4,816 (vs 1,080 a year ago for 346% growth)
Meanwhile, Comscore's US numbers for May have been out for a while. [cut]
Y! Photos: 11,328 (vs 9,778 a year ago, for 16% growth)
Photobucket: 10,292 (vs 3,224 a year ago, for 217% growth)
Webshots: 8,478 (vs11,082 a year ago, for -23.5% growth)
Kodak: 7,431 (vs 5,625 a year ago, for 32.1% growth)
Flickr: 5,163 (vs 923 a year ago, for 459% growth)
Imageshack: 5,006 (vs 3,593 a year ago, for 39% growth)
SnapFish: 4,755 (N/A)
Shutterfly: 4,126 (vs 2,732 a year ago, for 51% growth)
PIcturetrail: 1,286 (vs 2,020 a year ago, for -36% growth)
Slide: 1,072 (N/A)
Comscore's latest worldwide figures for all these sites only go to April:
Y! Photos: 30,736 (vs 27,217 a year ago, for 13% growth)
Imageshack: 23,862 (vs 12,448 a year ago, for 92% growth)
Webshots: 19,755 (vs 24,901 a year ago, for -21% growth)
Photobucket: 16,763 (vs 8,896 a year ago, for 88% growth)
Flickr: 16,516 (vs 3,423 a year ago, for 383% growth)
Kodak: 9,552 (vs 7,313 a year ago, for 31% growth)
SnapFish: 6,714 (N/A)
Shutterfly: 4,609 (vs 3,841 a year ago, for 20% growth)
PIcturetrail: 2,493 (vs 2,778 a year ago, for -10% growth)
Slide: 1,360 (N/A)
FrÃ©dÃ©rick Giasson of TalkDigger is looking for people to join his alpha testing team and help him out.
I need about one hundred of hardcore users that will be willing to test this new web site, find and report bugs, suggest layout modifications and new features, and tell me what is wrong with this new version.
Darren Rowse published an extensive list of blogging tools.
Cory Doctorow on Neutricide: And for these providers to be screaming for the protection of the free market is sheer hypocrisy--they themselves are creatures of government regulation, basing their business on government-granted extraordinary privileges.
Randy: Cory's article on net neutrality is entirely based in socialist thoughts and that's why it's completely wrong for North America. North American, a.k.a. the United States and Canada, have gained on the rest of the world thru freedom of market principles and de-regulation. What Cory is talking about is penalizing the telcos because they have benefited from regulation themselves. Socialism for socialism. Unfortunately, an eye for an eye, doesn't fly in my world. Corporations should have the right to charge for premium content or to choose which content they wish to publish. Do we impose left-wing view on Fox News? Of course not. Instead of looking to pretectionism to settle this issue, we should rather be looking at how we can make that protectionist decision fail. This is a free marketplace. If some telco wants to block Google because they aren't paying the bills, then lets organize ourselves to block that's telco's content and users and partners. That's the free marketplace that will succeed. No regulartion is necessary.
Remember, this is no longer the 1900s. It's the new millenium and the voice of the people, the Internet users, the bloggers are more important than the voice of government. If you want to excerpt change, then government is the last place you should bother with. If you want to excerpt change, then let's do it thru old fashion democracy. If XYZ telco wants to block Internet users, then let them. Our first step will be to block their users from our blogs. We own the Internet. The content providers like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft will follow and the telcos will provide a 403 Forbidden haven for their users.
Coolz0r has compiled a list of all the Flickr copycats, that is, those Web 2.0 startups that have dropped the usual e from their suffix.
I'm just experimenting with the FeedBurner FAN ads. I'm likely going to move all the ads around a bit to find something I'm comfortable with. I'll most likely be dropping some of the other ads in favor of FeedBurner FAN or returning back to the old template.
Todd Berkowitz: We're thrilled to introduce the newest member of the NewsGator family: NewsGator for Yahoo! Messenger.
Om Malik: Photobucket, the plain vanilla photo hosting site is now officially the king of online photo business. It now has a whopping 44% of the total market. [cut] Amazing - success has nothing to do with Ajax, or cool stuff. It has everything to do with simplicity and giving users what they want.
Randy: Om hits the nail real hard here. A couple years back, I tried to start a photosharing company called BubbleShare. Unfortunately, I could never convince the team to keep it simple and today they still have one of the coolest unused photosharing websites on the Net. Too bad, I still think there's room for an ultra simple photosharing website to clean house and knock these guys off.
Truth be told, the image above is hosted on photobucket. Why? Because I've tried them all and none allow me to simply upload a photo. I use to use Flick, but then I got a copyright complaint on a thumbnail (fair use) that I uploaded (with a link back to the source). I also used ImageShack, but they blocked me because I was hosting porn (their words). I replied back asking where the porn was and they replied with a URL with pictures of sexy women. But the women had clothes on (some bikinis, but others fully clothed) and none were in sexual positions. I replied back asking which of the pictures were pornographic and they immediately re-activated my account and apologized. A week later I was blocked again and I've never used them since.
For the last 3 years, I've had this dream of the perfect image hosting website. Simple to use, even for my mom and dad. But honestly, my mom or dad wouldn't even know how to use Photobucket. Image sharing has a long way to go. If anybody wants to spend a couple hours in Toronto talking about how to do this, then ping me.
One of the best ideas I heard in the last 12 months was Edgeio. This is a classified listing Website similar to Google Base. Back in early May, I tried creating an account on Edgeio and no matter what I did, there was always an error message between me and account creation. Eventually, after hours of frustration, someone at Edgeio told me that all the errors I was encountering were known problems, soon to be fixed soon. He setup my account manually and promised to send me a gift for my troubles, which I never did receive. In the time since, I've tried countless time to import listings, but I fail 9 times out of 10. I've tried claiming blogs and this also fails 9 times out of 10. I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong. I've double checked the steps over and over and NADA. For some feeds, it works the first time, while others repeatedly don't work.
Randy: Wow! We now have a board that includes pretty much all the major players in RSS.
Yahoo! Local Team: Weâre happy to announce Yahoo! Local fully supports the hCalendar, hCard, and hReview microformats on almost all business listings, search results, events, and reviews. [cut] At Yahoo, weâve been big microformat fans â Yahoo! Tech uses the hReview microformat for all product reviews, Flickr supports XFN and hCard on all profile pages, and our own Upcoming.org was the first big hCalendar supporter.
Randy: This could spur development of Microformat based applications.
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Pallavi Gogoi: In the latest high-profile tech-patent scuffle, Internet-calling pioneer Net2Phone is suing Skype Technologies over technology that helps customers make inexpensive phone via the Internet.
Randy: At first glance (and I'm not a lawyer), it appears that Net2Phone has a legitimate case and that this could be the next $1/2 billion lawsuit. It should be interesting as the details emerge. I think it's time to subscribe to a couple RSS feeds for news related to Skype and Net2Phone. MSN RSS Rmail. Yahoo! RSS Rmail.
Here's an excerpt that's pretty valuable from the e-book I'm writing Ten Steps to Professional Blogging.
One way of increasing the chance of getting blog readers to randomly stumble upon your blog is to include relevant tags with each and every blog entry. The idea of tags is that you would associated one or more word phrases with each blog entry. Now, if a user wanted to find posts on a particular subject, he can use a tag search engine like IceRocket to find the latest blog entries with this tag.
Creating tags unfortunately involves writing a bit of HTML. HTML is for geeks and I'm writing this tutorial for non-geeks, so I'll leave the HTML discussions short. HTML can be a little difficult, so I've created a tag code generator to help you out.
When you are finished creating the tag code, then simply copy this code to the end of your blog entry.
Feeling the pressure of an angry blogosphere, Moz seems to be hinting that it's backing off on the FeedIcon trademark.
Michell Baker, CEO of Moz Corp.: My belief is that trying to have the Mozilla Foundation officially responsible for an icon that is already in use is going to cause angst as well as make it harder to have calm discussions about the RSS icon and the proper role for trademark in community-driven activities. This is counterproductive.
Frank Hecker, Executive Director of Moz Foundation: I want to personally apologize for any confusion and miscommunication around the issue of the feed icon and our proposals for promoting its use, as well as the delays in getting this issue dealt with.
You know you're doing something right when they copy you. Congrats Digg! In honor of this righteous plagiarism (the newly launched www.beta.netscape.com looks a lot like Digg) I've added a +digg link to all the articles on The RSS Blog and will eventually move those to the entire KBCafe blog network (over 100 blogs now). Digg me! BTW, I find Digg painfully slow these days.
Creating the links was trivial. Simply append the url you want to digg to the following URL fragment.
Tim Bray: This is why we need the Atom protocol.
Randy: I guess you should have created a SOAP-friendly protocol, like you promised. Instead, we get something with less interop than MetaWeblogAPI. I didn't think it was possible, but you proved me wrong.
Bob Wyman: I can't deny that things are not going well for us [PubSub]. Our days are numbered.
Randy: I was once told by an insider that I was right and to keep pushing PubSub on their fatal mistake. I kept pushing and they kept ignoring. Too bad!
Over the past month, I've been trying to force myself into podcasting. I've done a few podcasts on other blogs, but this is the first one I'm posting to The RSS Blog. Basically, this podcast is about how creating a podcast is more difficult than I thought and too difficult for the average person.
Randy: Another interesting thought on Kevin's blog by an anonymous source.
Anonymous: I wonder if that means Firefox will no longer be distributed in Debian and other such Linux distros. Debian already required as âfree softwareâ version which removed the Firefox logo. Theyâd now have to remove the feed icon as well.
Shayne Sweeney: This may sound stupid, but when I tried to filter Ask.com to work using my methodsâ¦ I came to find out, theyâre not putting a <link> node in their RSS!!!
Randy: I have to wonder what part of optional Shayne doesn't understand? On more than a few occasions of late, I've encountered the situation where aggregator developers expect the optional elements. I think that's the difference between a good RSS aggregator and a bad one; expecting the optional.
Daniel Goldman: The Mozilla Foundation asked Opera to sign an agreement on the use of its RSS feed icon in the Opera browser.
Randy: Mozilla's trademark filing can be found here.
This is very disturbing. The Mozilla foundation should have made their intentions known from the beginning. I'm not aware of the details of the agreement, but simply on the fact that Opera had to pull the icon from its browser is enough for me say the blogosphere must act now and boldly. You can read more on Michell Baker's blog in What do icons mean? (Part 1) and What do icons mean? (Part 2). A nice quote follows.
Michell Baker: Options 1 [cut] use an open source license. [cut] Option 2. The other extreme is a classic trademark licensing program. In this setting the Mozilla Foundation licenses the icon as a trademark to everyone on the same terms and has a formal process for managing the evolution and use of the mark.
I finally got around to building that blogging tools survey I've been promising. Please complete the survey, the results are available to everyone and I'll compile it into a spreadsheet after the survey is closed in one week. This survey specifically excluded blog search engines, blog hosting services or blog readers.
Update: A reader asked if he could put this poll on his own blog. Please do it! The more responses we get, the better the data. Thank!
I was putting together a grid of the popular blogging platforms and rating yes/no on whether they supported some key features; whether it's free, hosted and allows AdSense. I want to get this right and I'm asking my readers for help.
Which platforms do you think I'm missing? What other features do you think I should list? Am I wrong on any of the features?
Fred Wilson: Technorati is doing the blog world a great service by maintaining these link counts. But unfortunately, they are not doing it well enough for my taste.
Randy: It looks like Fred is seeing the light.
Dave Sifry responds: Great post, and sorry about the problems and confusion you've been having with Technorati.
Randy: The blogosphere is like this big wall. We've known for at least a year that Technorati is broken. Dave Sifry knows. And responds with the same we're having problems posts. Here's Dave comments on this blog back in 2004.
Dave Sifry: We're having some ops issues this morning. We're working on it, and we'll get back to you as soon as things are fixed. Sorry about that!
Randy: It's unbelievable to me that people continue to think that Technorati actually works. I've been documenting the problem for 2 years. It's like talking to a wall. Hundreds of users are complaining and nothing is getting fixed. I have blogs that haven't been indexed by Technorati in 95 days and 23 days. Yes, Dave can kick start Fred's blog by getting it indexed, but a one off solution to appease a-list bloggers leaves the rest of the blogosphere in the cold.
The rumours are true, Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft to join PodTech.net. This is great news! Well, maybe not for Microsoft. Robert being a Microsoft evangelist, his blog was focused on Microsoft. Now, the chains are removed and he can become that star blogger that the blogosphere has always wanted him to be.
Jim Woolley of Feedpass recently brought an interesting point to my attention. The existing RSS landing pages, like FeedBurner, that are based on client side styling of the RSS feeds don't work in IE7. Jim's words follow...
If you are using Microsoft IE7 (beta 2 currently) and you click a FeedBurner link, like yours on The RSS Blog, instead of taking you to the FeedBurner subscription page, Microsoft actually snags the page and brings up their own landing page...with no options for subscription using ANY reader or tool other than "Subscribe to this feed." using the browser. And the browser-based RSS tool in the beta version doesn't look very good at all.
Just got an email from John Goodall of LiteFeeds saying are releasing a new version of the LiteFeeds RSS reader. LiteFeeds is a mobile RSS reader that works on any phone with a JVM. A list new features follows...
This last week, I've been testing out podcasting alternatives. The only podcast hosting service that I've previously used with success was Odeo. But I found their recorder wasn't reliable and I'd often lose my podcast. I then decided to create the audio using a mobile device and upload the audio file to Odeo. I created a few sample sound bites and I've uploaded them. If I use the Odeo player, then I sound like a chipmunk. If I use the download URL, the audio plays fine, but the first few seconds are overlapped with an Odeo ad. This brings me to my point, Odeo sucks! Can anybody suggest an alternative?
Update: I checked a few other audio files on Odeo and they all seem to be recorded by chipmunks. That is, the player seems to play the audio files too quickly, thus raising the pitch of the podcaster's voice. Remember playing 33 RPM records at 45 RPM?
Update III: I was finally able to find a solution here. I guess you have to encode your MP3 at 11.025, 22.05 or 44.1 kHz. Amazing that this bug has existed in Odeo for up to a year and hasn't been fixed.
So, it turns out the audio recording device I purchased encodes the audio as a WAV file. That didn't strike me as a problem, until today. I tried uploading the audio in Odeo studio. It crapped. I then used Media Encoder to convert it to WMA. Odeo doesn't accept WMA. I then looked for a WAV to MP3 converter. Yikes! Everything sucks. Which means it's time to start a blog entry and piss all over everybody.
If you have any last minute suggestions, then I'll be pleased to accept them in the next few hours only.
Randy: Not very good news for Ask.com. Bloglines has gone no-where since they drafted it in the first round of the Web 2.0 draft. With Mark leaving, I expect the going no-where to continue full force. And Mark, thanks for a great product.
Robert Scoble: If I were in Bill Gates' office right now wondering how I'd deal with Google, one of my first proposals would be to take a deep look at why Technorati is succeeding in the marketplace on Google's home turf: search.
Randy: I really wonder sometime whether Robert even uses Technorati. He always talks like it's the greatest thing, but I fail to see what he's seeing. So today, I did a search for Scoble's blog on Technorati.
Ouch! Anyhow, I'm not gonna lie and say Technorati does nothing, the results from there were much better, although still suspect. But, it's plain to see that Robert Scoble wears pink glasses when using Technorati.
I also posted similar comments on Robert's blog.
Update: My comment on Robert's blog seems to have disappeared. Unsure why!
Derek Jones: Although there's no official announcement, the sudden appearance of the new RSS feed (rss.xml) within my blog directory gives a good indication that this new feature has been implemented.
Randy: Wow! Blogger isn't dead after all. I've also failed to notice any splog coming from Blogspot these last few days. Blogger may become that blogging platform, we all new Google could make, after all. Now, when are they gonna upgrade that Atom 0.3 to something not deprecated? Here's the RSS from my test Blogger blog.
My comments on the new RSS 2.0 from Google's Blogger.
Overall, I'm giving this effort an A-. Awesome, but could be better.
Today, I played a bit with OPML Manager. It's very cool. You can easy create your own OPML file. I was able to quickly import my entire OPML reading list. But at the end of the day, it left me wanting more.
I ended up simply importing my OPML from Google Reader. There's big unexplored potential here.
Most Web 2.0 companies will fail and I'll tell you why. Whenever a new Web 2.0 product is released, I usually pop off an email or comment on their blog or other similar correspondence asking a question or two about their services. The vast majority of the time, I never receive a response. Those that respond, tend to be in business 2 years later and those that don't respond, are AWL within 2 years. Effort goes a long way. Examples follow...
It's little clues like this that tell me which Web 2.0 startups are gonna fail and which are gonna succeed.
Later this week, I'd like to do a survey of my readers on the blogging tools they are using. To create a good list of tools to include in the survey, I'm asking my readers to suggest their favorites now. I'll use the most popular suggestions for the complete survey. You can suggest as many as 10 different tools. Thanks!
Steve Rubel nails it when he says "The product leaves me largely cold" about the new Bloglines and Ask.com blog search. I found it a step backwards from the existing Bloglines search, which I had already written off as mostly broken, at best. But, of course, the blogosphere is ripe with BOGUmeister reviews about how cool this new search is. I have to wonder, if these reviewers even tried it before they wrote their blog entries.
My favorite part of the old Bloglines search was Bloglines Citations. This returned all the blog entries that were pointing to me. This same query now returns all sorts of weird stuff. If I do a search for simply kbcafe, then it also returns mostly my blog entries. I image that it's matching on the <link> or <author> element :-)
After democamp, a few of us geeks hanging at the local pub wondered what was happening with Bloglines and remarked that it had degraded considerabily since the Ask.com take-out. Now, we know what they've been up to and I'm personally disappointed.