November 23, 2014

Google Contributor

Wired on Google Contributor:

Launched on Thursday, the service is called Google Contributor, and it asks you to pay $1, $2, or $3 a month to back the websites you particularly like. In exchange for your support, you’ll see “thank you” messages where ads used to be—at least on the websites that participate in the program. At the moment, Google is testing the idea with ten online publishers, including The Onion, ScienceDaily, Urban Dictionary, and Mashable.

The thank-you notes are served up through Google’s existing advertising channels, and Google still takes a cut of each contribution. According to Google, the $1 to $3 users pay essentially covers the cost of that ad space. But all of this is subject to change, she says, as the platform develops. “At this point, what we’ve rolled out is very much an experiment,” a Google spokesperson tells us. “We’re getting the publishers on board today. We’ll see not just how it works but also the public interest level.”

There are several alternatives to advertising today, ranging from member sites to Patreon and donation driven publications. Google Contributor is off the mark in its current form, because it’s based on Google’s ad platform. The purpose of Patreon, Flattr, or even just a donate button, is to get out of the advertisement game. Google is targeting, and monetizing, the same publications that are their (trusted, obviously) customers today. This’ll be dead in the water, unless they’ve got something groundbreaking up their sleeve.

Humiliated

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, on how they think of changing their service at Slack:

Oh, God, yeah. I try to instill this into the rest of the team but certainly I feel that what we have right now is just a giant piece of shit. Like, it’s just terrible and we should be humiliated that we offer this to the public. Not everyone finds that motivational, though.

I’ll say. I can’t see how this sort of management is positive in the long run. Then again, Slack is incredibly popular (we’re fans at Odd Alice), so what do I know?

November 21, 2014

Recode cans comments

Recode turns off comments, their biggest change to the site yet.

The biggest change for some of you, however, will be that we have decided to remove the commenting function from the site. We thought about this decision long and hard, since we do value reader opinion. But we concluded that, as social media has continued its robust growth, the bulk of discussion of our stories is increasingly taking place there, making onsite comments less and less used and less and less useful.

Here’s why there are no comments on TDH.me.

WordPress 4.0.1 is an important security release

WordPress 4.0.1 is out, and you shouldn’t wait to install the update. This is an important security release that addresses serious issues. If you’ve got automatic updates on, you’re probably already rolling 4.0.1, but if you don’t, or if the automatic install failed for some reason, then now’s the time to update.

Older versions of WordPress are affected by the vulnerabilities as well, so make sure you update to 4.0.1 as soon as possible.

Fake Steve Jobs to head up Valleywag

Love it or hate it, but Silicon Valley rag Valleywag is something of an online institution. Come January next year, it has a new captain at the helm, none other than Dan “Fake Steve Jobs” Lyons, who had this to say regarding his plans, in an interview with Recode’s Peter Kafka.

I think, at least for now, it’s going to be a two-person blog [with writer Kevin Montgomery]. I feel like Valleywag has been different things with different writers over the years. Up and down. I think it’s at their best when they get a legitimate scoop, like when someone leaks them documents. I feel like we could do more of that, breaking stories.

Valleywag was on the map way back when I was the editor of The Blog Herald. A lot of people enjoyed Fake Steve Jobs, Lyons’s claim to fame (nevermind that he was a Forbes journalist), and when that blog was at its best, it was quite entertaining. A Valleywag with tongue in cheek commentary, and breaking some stories, would be swell.

November 20, 2014

Firefox dumps Google for Yahoo

Firefox dumps Google for Yahoo in USA, and for Yandex in Russia.

Today we are announcing a change to our strategy for Firefox search partnerships. We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider. We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the Web, with new and expanded search partnerships by country.

China keeps Baidu, no word on Europe yet. You can still pick either search engine, just like in any other web browser. There’s also talk about more integrated Yahoo products, which brings back horrible memories of toolbars of the 90s.

November 19, 2014

Google’s mobile friendly search

Google will highlight what they believe to be mobile friendly web pages in mobile search.

Starting today, to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.

Details here, but just about any responsive site should be fine. This is a good thing for the web, and I hope other search engines will follow.

WatchKit’s out

Apple has released the WatchKit, which lets developer create apps for Apple Watch. The apps aren’t stand-alone though, they live on your iPhone, at least until later in 2015. If you’re not ready to jump into Apple’s developer pages, even the public ones, then check out iMore’s need to know piece.

Rosetta and Philae

Science magazine writes about Rosetta, and the probe Philae, and the adventures it endures, as well as the future of them both. It’s an interesting piece.

This tidbit stands out though, regarding how water could’ve come to Earth.

And ROSINA, a Rosetta instrument that uses spectrometers to measure gas abundances, has obtained a highly sought after result: the so-called deuterium-to-hydrogen ratio of water in the comet’s thin atmosphere, or coma. The measured value for 67P is much higher than the ratio in Earth’s oceans and higher than in other comets, says ROSINA principal investigator Kathrin Altwegg, of the University of Bern. Three years ago, the comet Hartley–2 was found to have a D-to-H ratio near that of Earth’s oceans—sparking interest in the notion that comet impacts delivered much of Earth’s water. Altwegg says the result for 67P could make asteroids the primary suspect again.

Yuvi Zalkow’s writing machine

I’m still not quite ready to write about iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but Yuvi Zalkov is, and he prefers the larger model.

I love this thing. I find it so worth the size and the price. But I don’t think it is for everyone. There are 5.5 inches of tradeoffs to consider. For many people, it is just too big. But I want a mobile writing machine – badly.

I always want to be carrying around my crappy writing projects. And to be able to write more crap whenever I want. And for that purpose, hot damn this thing is amazing.