Archive for the ‘chat’ Category

Are We Too Dependent on Skype?

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Skype logoSkype goes down. The world stops. A gazillion blogs post about the outage. Boo hoo. Life goes on…

The majority of Skype users don’t even pay for the service, so it’s pretty hard to point the finger at a company who doesn’t receive compensation from the majority of its users.

In reality, we use Skype because it facilitates our lives and/or saves us loads of money. We should be thanking them. But a greedy few choose not to address this.

On the other side, however, I do feel some sympathy for those who pay to use premium Skype services. They are customers. Such a lengthy outage is inexcusable. If I were a paying customer, I’d be pissed off too.

Another point to note is that Skype is used extensively as a conferencing tool by many small companies and start-ups. These companies live and die by the service. It is very common to see an executive meeting scheduled around a Skype conference call. This free alternative is great, but a paid service offers more reliability and support should a mishap present itself. The companies that use Skype’s free conferencing service have no right to be upset if the service goes down, unless of course they are paying customers.

One thing is for certain: even if Skype does go down for a couple days or even a week, people won’t switch to an alternative service. Why? Because all their friends still use Skype. They would have to presuade their entire contact list to switch over to achieve maximum value. Is this going to happen? Not likely.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you aren’t willing to pay, you can’t expect a perfect service.

Are we too dependent on free services like Skype? Is an outage acceptable to a user who doesn’t pay? Is it OK to demand a lot from a free service?

My 11 Blog Lessons

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

A few days ago, Mark Evans wrote a post outlining some of the blog lessons he has learned since he began. I can definitely relate to most. In light of that post, I will now outline some of the lessons I have learned since I began blogging in September 2006.

1. Content is king. This cannot be over-emphasized enough. Always provide quality content for your readers. If you find that you are unable to come up with interesting, pertinent content on a regular basis, post less often. Do not allow the quality of your content to degrade.

2. NEVER take your readers for granted. Your audience is your basis for being. Thank them for their participation, be sure to respond to their e-mails, and never insult their intelligence.

3. Blogging is a huge time commitment. Well, it can be if you post regularly and plan on successfully marketing your blog. Often, new bloggers underestimate the time needed to successfully operate a blog.

4. Become a part of the blogosphere community. This means commenting on other blogs, adding trackbacks to your posts, linking to other blogs via your blogroll, and leveraging community widgets to enhance your blog experience for readers. This will help build your traffic, provide incoming links, and ensure a certain level of exposure for your blog. Furthermore, community participation will also provide valuable networking opportunities with other bloggers, Internet enthusiasts, and company exceutives.

5. Have a goal and a vision when you begin blogging. What is your reason for blogging? Do you want to provide an update for friends and family, or do you want to write articles on a given niche? Everyone has a different reason and underlying motivation for blogging. Money and financial returns should not be a primary motivator, nor should notoriety and fame.

6. Make yourself extremely accessible to readers. By prominently displaying your contact information and allowing easy communication with readers, you will be bridging the gap and creating a more loyal, trustworthy following. Having said that, you must also make a strong effort to reply to comments and e-mails in a prompt, thoughtful manner. 

7. Post on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean you need to post daily. What it means is that you must post on a consistent basis, whether it be once every two days, weekly, or even monthly. This way, your readers will know when to expect another post and do not become frustrated by an inconsistent posting schedule.

8. Stay on topic. Don’t sway too much from your initial niche and begin posting off topic. This not only disgruntles readers, but also ruins trust and loyalty. Providing high quality content in a given niche will help shape your space in the blogosphere and showcase your expertise.

9. Don’t regurgitate other blogs’ content. Numerous blogs simply choose to paraphrase other blogs or re-write articles in their own words. This provides no value to the reader, as he/she can simply visit the cited location. Every post must provide a unique perspective or view.

10. Don’t be discouraged by stats. It takes time to build a reader base. By posting quality content on a regular basis and participating in the blogosphere community, increased readership is inevitable. Stats can be discouraging at times, but you must stick with your initial vision. Quality and consistency will translate into surprising success.

11. Make design changes every once in awhile. In other words, keep a fresh look. This may mean changes to the overall design, colour schemes, widgets, layout, etc… By making regular changes, you will be providing a fresh look for you and your readers, creating a more enjoyable experience.

What lessons have you learned from blogging? What have been your biggest hurdles and obstacles to overcome? I encourage you to write a list of your own.

Instant Messaging Ruins Friendships

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Conversation BubbleYup, it’s true. It seems counter-intuitive and paradoxical at first, but upon further analysis, there is a case to be made.

Most people assume that IM clients bring people closer together and solidify personal and family relationships. I would agree to some point. But what people fail to see is that instant messenging may unknowingly ruin friendships, as relationships are often taken for granted.

I’m not saying this is the case in all situations, but I would wager it happens more than we care to admit. If you are lost and do not understand what I mean, ask yourself if this sounds familiar:

  1. You add a friend or family member that you haven’t chatted with in awhile.
  2. You chat with them for the first couple times they sign on.
  3. Conversations quickly peter off and chat topics become dry.
  4. They become yet another name on your huge IM list.
  5. You glance over them as you check your list daily.

Sound familiar? It does to me and many others I know. Many friends and family members that I used to love bumping into on the street or enjoying the odd phone call with are now just names. The anticipation and excitement lags. My willingness to connect with them languishes.

Obviously, the longer your IM list, the more likely you can relate. In my case, I have over 150 contacts. Names become intermingled and diluted among the sea of emoticons and aliases.

What I am trying to say is that we take things for granted when they are at our disposal. If communication is easy, we put less value on a conversation with that individual than someone who is hard to get ahold or whom we never see. It’s as simple as that.

In a sick and twisted way, you can compare this phenomenon to buying new clothes. After you buy a specific piece of clothing, you are stoked to wear it for the first few times. Then it is just another piece of clothing in your closet.

Now don’t go running out and deleting all your friends and family from your IM list. Just think about the time and energy you put toward these online relationships. If you feel you are taking them for granted, perhaps you need to message these individuals more often. And if all else fails, delete them. Surprisingly, you may very well be building stronger connections and relationships.

Note: Obviously, many will not agree with me. But from my experiences with various IMs, friends, and family, there is a lot of validity around the argument.

What Makes Meebo Tick?

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Meebo logo“Meebo, the web-based IM service that aggregates all your messengers in one place, has raised $9 million in second round funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson… ”

They’ve also released some stats:

  • 1 million registered users (up from 0.5 million three months ago)
  • 1.2 million daily logins
  • 75 million messages sent per day
  • Average session time of 70 minutes
  • 4.5 million unique screen names sign in monthly

via Mashable

Impressive stats, appropriate rewards… but what’s their secret?

1. They Kept Updates Coming

Ever since I started on Meebo, it has never stopped getting better.  It certainly started with a typical web based messaging package, but over time it all fell into place.  Chat logs were put in place, single sign-ons implemented, designs upgraded, emoticons, offline messaging, avatars - the list just goes on and on.  Done in increments, and communicated well, it leaves the audience happy, but wanting more.

2. They Blogged Well

Healthy communication with your audience is something Meebo pulls off handily - with a blog of course.   Now, you might be saying to yourselves - so what? Everyone does it now.  Well the difference is that rather than treating the blog as a public developmental log, it’s written in a personable friendly manner, revealing nuggets of interesting information every now and then.  How else would we know that hot pink was such a popular font color?

Also, Meebo’s latest blog entry will appear as a message window when you login.  The fact that it makes a good read, and it that appears in an unobtrusive way, gets the message across effectively.

3. They Expanded Your Presence Outside Their Site

It’s surprising that Meebo took so long to come out with their widget which would allow website’s to embed Meebo into them.  It’s even more surprising that NONE of the older and established players came out strong and did it first.  Since it’s release, the widget API increases visibility, provides a linkback, and promotes usage of Meebo, and it has been an invaluable move to release it.

4. They Connected with Their Community

Through wikis and forums, Meebo has established good communication between themselves and the community.  Meebo has even been translated into more than 60 languages at this point, because of user community efforts.  Go all out to help them, and the tech community will repay you in kind.

5. They Used Good old fashioned Link Karma

With good work, comes search engine rewards.  Meebo is king of the hill at the moment.  Do a quick search on Google and you’ll see that Meebo is ranked #3 if you search for “IM”, and #1 when you search for “web instant messaging”.  Do good, let people talk about you on their sites, and more will come.

What will Meebo do next?  I can’t wait.

This web commentary was contributed by James Yeang, editor of Friedbeef’s Tech.  He writes about solving everyday with simple technology.

Say Hello to Plugoo

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

Plugoo logoAs many of you have noticed, I have recently added a new chat widget - some have already messaged me using the system. I am going to continue using this Plugoo widget, instead of the previous InCircles widget, as it is compatible with IM clients. In other words, I can chat with a blog visitor using my MSN Messenger client; I do not have to chat from within the blog. This was a downside of InCircles.

With Plugoo, I am able to connect with more readers and provide a more interactive experience. So please do not hesitate to drop me a message. If the chat box indicates that I am offline, you can still leave a message that I will receive when I sign on. Very cool.

Customization, cross-platform flexibility (across the different IM clients), and slick design all contribute to the overall appeal of the app.

The widget is still in BETA and only available via invite, but I signed up and received an invitation relatively quick.

I once again encourage everyone to join in on the discussion and express your views. I am always eager to hear other opinions. Blogging is all about discovering new perspectives and insights beyond your current realm of knowledge.

And as always, anyone can comment on any post… so let’s get chattin’.