There are things I still sort of like about Skype. I use it a lot for video calls (although for work and muti-party video it's pretty much all about Google Hangouts these days). I have a Philips phone that integrates with Skype for international calls (they seem to have discontinued it, and while the calls are cheap the UI is baroque). But the IM is horrible. It can't remember which messages you've seen between devices and so you're constantly trying to figure out what you have and haven't read.
And the IM on the desktop is nothing compared to the horror of the Skype Android app. This slowly spins up and by the time it's loaded previous messages your battery is dead.
Imo.im made Skype IM tolerable on Android and possible on a Chromebook. In the last week it seems that Skype has kneecapped them and blocked their servers from signing in. I'm limping by with IM+ Pro at the moment, but it's slow and buggy and frustrating.
I sympathize with Imo.im. I've been stiffed by Skype before as an officially sanctioned partner so it's no shock that they'd take out this kind of tool.
It would be nice if they could fix mobile and web access to the network first though.
Not to pick on British Airways but yes, that screenshot is real. It's a marketing email opt out that has not only been pre-populated in favor of spam but has then also been disabled.
It has been brought to my attention that I've been whinging too much recently.
So I'd like to take a break from that and say how much I'm enjoying feedly. It's a wonderfully well designed RSS reader. I use the Chrome Extension version and the Android app. It preserves the Google Reader keyboard shortcuts so I can sail through my subscriptions and it brings back social sharing.
I looked at feedly once before and didn't really get it. I thought it was just one of those algorithmic recommendation news manglers that tries to guess what you want to read. It might do that on the home page but the 'All' view is a perfect replacement for Google Reader.
I love it. I want to pay for it to make sure it stays around. Thank you feedly.
I just discovered that Disqus started running adverts on my blog without permission. It's probably been going on for a little while and I should have paid more attention, sorry.
By 'without permission' I mean that I'm sure I clicked though and didn't read a terms of service document that said they could do what the fuck they like to my site. And reading other accounts of this issue I'm sure I filed without reading the email they sent out that mentioned this new 'feature' in passing. So in a legal sense they probably had all the permission they needed. In a moral sense they're switch-and-bait scum of the highest order.
They should have made this feature opt-in and then sent out an email explaining it in detail. Some sites don't want to run ads. You could have non-commercial Creative Commons content on a site that is suddenly a commercial concern.
It's a free service and at some point they need to make money, fine. If this had been presented as an option I might have considered it. If they wanted to charge for the service I'd probably have paid for it.
Instead I've disabled Disqus and hastily hacked in Facebook Comments which should be coming online as I write this post.
A side effect of this is that all the existing comments are currently unavailable. I have an archive and will try to get them resurrected soon.
The last time we refreshed our earthquake supply kit was because of a smell. It turned out a water container had burst. This rusted most of the cans, and then the became a domestic Superfund Site.
Given the current subscription commerce trend - get a new belt shipped by FedEx every four hours - I think there's a small business or a very interesting nonprofit here.
Deliver a 10-day disaster survival kit every couple of years. Pick up the old one a few months before the food expires and donate it to a homeless shelter. Repeat until the next big one strikes and the kit is actually needed. Different levels for different family sizes, pets, special needs, etc.
As usual any of my billionaire readers who are interested in funding this should drop me a line.
Jiri Novotny at Dextronet wrote a great post this week on improving installers for micro-ISVs.
One essential that I'd add is writing your installer early and including it as part of the build process. It's the first thing that potential customers see and leaving the installer to the last minute is a huge mistake. You should be testing with a complete installer as pretty much the first milestone in any new project.
For Windows products I'd recommend WiX. It's easy to learn, and easy to include in your build. The latest beta includes Burn, a bootstrapper to install dependencies before the main MSI runs. I'm sick of having to do this part myself and I can't wait for Burn to become a stable part of WiX.
Citigroup sent me a nice notice saying they are going to share my information in about four thousand different ways, most of which can’t be limited. For the few that can limit you can’t update preferences on the web site, you apparently need to call them and beg to not be spammed. As I’m writing that number makes you type in your account number and then says ‘I’m sorry, our records are unavailable.’ Most likely they’re in the Citigroup basement behind the Beware of the Leopard sign.
If you decide to just cancel Citi then say that they will continue to share when you are no longer their customer. It reads like even if you take the time to phone in to opt out they’ll revert to happily sharing promiscuously once you leave. But you can contact them again anytime although it’s not clear what can be limited once you leave. Dear customer, we hate you.
Presumably there is some well meaning legislation to require that Citi sends clear information about their marketing policy and opt outs. Only you can’t opt out and I can’t for the life of me understand what happens if I close my account. How about requiring opt out of everything from the web site and no marketing to ex-customers instead?
The Startup Genome people have launched a complicated tool to benchmark your Startup against others.
I’ve developed a simpler model. It used to be you spent too much money on Sun and Oracle. Now it’s fighting off patent trolls.
CNET stopped being a useful source of downloads for me ages ago. Over the lifetime of my account I’ve had nearly 100,000 downloads through CNET, but these days it’s one or two a week. I left my products up there anyway, but I’ve just asked them to remove everything they have listed for Catfood Software.
The reason is that CNET has rolled out a download manager that wraps every single download. Instead of the customer getting the product they thought they were downloading they are dumped into a CNET experience that tries to install a toolbar and push Bing / MSN into your browser defaults. Yuck.
It’s one thing for a vendor to partner this way. It’s quite another to roll it out site wide with little notification and no opt out, let alone a revenue share. CNET sell this as being about analytics. Of course it’s all about referral dollars. This isn’t the experience I want for my customers and so I’m pulling the plug on download.com.
I used to work in Woodley, a small town on the outskirts of Reading in the UK. The town center has a pub, a café, a newsagent, etc. It also had something truly remarkable – two shops that combined fabric and general haberdashery with pet supplies.
I never found out exactly how this came to be. I imagine that there was a fabric shop and a pet shop. The fabric shop was struggling and decided to start selling some dog food. The pet shop responded in kind. Both businesses ended up with no real focus, chasing the competition instead of doing one thing really, really well.
Either that or there was a really messy divorce…