Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yet Another Social Network

Over the past few years, social networks has been all the rage. Sites like MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook has garnered a lot of media attention and the term has moved into the mainstream. I don't have a problem with the term "social network", but it does tickle my funny bone when I hear people talk about how social networks are new and pioneered by the likes of sites like MySpace or Facebook. Social networks has been in existence since... well, when Man crawled out of the ocean and saw that other naked person crawling out next to him. Humans are , by nature, social creatures and we tend to like interacting with others.

What bloggers and the media really mean when they talk about "social networks" is the technical application for communication on the web. I bring this up only because it annoys me when they make sound like social networks are some brand new thing (like Web 2.0? ^^) pioneered by the likes of MySpace or Facebook and any new site is just "yet another social network." Yes, any new site is just another social network, but so is MySpace and Facebook. Pick up the phone book and there is a social network application that your great grandparent probably was already using and that is probably thousands of years removed from the first social network. Ultimately it boils down to how useful each of the site fulfill their purpose which often is for improving communication.

Mash fugly... avoiding the fate of MySpace

One common criticism of MySpace profiles is that they can be so hideously ugly or impossible to read. Y! Mash wants to be able to give users the flexibility to customize their profiles too but also protect the eyes of the unsuspecting viewer so if you run across a profile that just hurts your eyes and brains, try clicking on the "fugly" link and it'll take away the crazy CSS and let you see the contents in a very basic format.

Mash vs My!

I've been reading some of the blog postings from new users of Yahoo! Mash and one of things mentioned but a few is whether Mash replaces My Yahoo!. I thought I should point out that these two product serves a very different purpose. Mash is information you want to share with the world while My! is information you want to see for yourself from the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Today, Yahoo released the beta of a new site called Yahoo! Mash. Because it is currently an invite-only site, going to the link might now reveal very much, but Tech Crunch has some coverage and screen shots here. Now, normally I don't tend to talk much about my work or give my opinions about it other then to mention some new features coming out of Yahoo, but Mash is a little different in that I'm directly involved with it. I switched out of my previous group where I had been for the past few years to work on this project and be its engineering manager.

Mash is a strange beast and is different for different people. Some view it as a social network site. Some view it as a Facebook competitor. Some believe that it is a Y! 360 replacement. Mash is all of these and none of these.

At its core, Mash is your Yahoo! Profile with additional functionality often found in social networking site with a very wiki-like philosophy. Additional functionality can be obtained through "modules". Not only can you customize your profile, but your friends can also help you build it (with your permission) by editing the profile and adding new modules for you. We hope to open it up so that everyone can write their own modules to share with others, but until them we're giving people as much freedom as possible to customize the page. You will be able to edit and create your own CSS to make the page look however you like (or your friends can do it for you if you're not so artistically inclined. ^^;).

I hope people find the site to be both fun and useful. Keep an eye out for the Hot Potato (get it? mash...potato...) module that jumps from profile to profile! It's still in beta so we know there are some features that users are wanting. I encourage people to make suggestions on our suggestions board.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Bears vs Chargers

Fox advertised the Bears vs Chargers as the top game in week 1 so obviously the game being shown in my area is between the football power houses Lions vs Raiders. Nice!

Listened to the game on the 'net and thought I was hearing an archived game. Bears defense playing great and put in some monster stops, but after constantly being on the field they eventually gets worn down but still keep other team's offense out-of-sync. Bears offense then helps other team get some easy scores since they aren't able to generate any TDs for their own team. After the game, team defends their QB and offense and comments that it's hard to have 4 turn-overs and beat a good team like the Chargers.

Here's the problem, Chicago has to win games where they give up turn-overs because they are a turn-over prone team starting with Rex Grossman and down to their running backs. This is the type of offense that Chicago has decided to go with when they decided to stick with a quarterback that flip-flops between being great and being terrible. Even if it is not a reflection on the quality of the QB, it is the quality of the coaching staff. Given their philosophy, I'm surprised that they made any change for this year.

Why didn't they just stick with the same core of talented players and depend on luck to get to and win the Superbowl? Obviously, I disagree with this and I'm sure that it wasn't the team's real intentions, but the truth is that they didn't put out a better team. They put out a mentally weaker offense from last year because their "leader" is just trying to survive each game without screwing up regardless whether the team wins-or-loses. He's not ready to take a team on his shoulders and carry them to victory so first he must try to hold on to his job and make sure blame doesn't fall on him.

Some comments on chicago bears forum are pretty reflective of how the fans feel about the team. String the two extreme ends of the criticism, the feel is still that the Bears are unpredictable and can't win without an early big lead that put pressure on the other team. Trailing 0-3, fans were already giving up because they don't feel that Grossman can be counted on get a scoring drive together. They didn't necessarily give up the game since the Defense can scrore some TDEs, but the a QB needs to be both a good player and a person who can inspire confidence around him.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Apple fanboys rejoice, Apple supporters groans.

In response to the cryings of many Apple early adopters of the iPhone after Apple lowered the price by $200, Apple decided to issue a $100 credit to those folks. The folks who were complaining that it was too soon to drop the price should continue to complain although I suspect they won't. I guess that means it's ok to drop the price by $100 after 2 months but not by $200.

Those who cried that Apple was punishing their most loyal users who waited in line to buy the iPhone at launch and would be pacified by this credit obviously are not really loyal Apple users. By demanding to be compensated, they are effectively trying to weaken the company by taking away revenue. Hard to break it to you folks, but companies need revenue and profit to survive. The argument that these folks are true supporters of Apple just doesn't fly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

iPhone for $399

Apple announced a $200 price cut on the iPhone just two months after its release and it has set off a firestorm of indignant comments by Apple fan boys (uh, I mean early adopters) of how they got screwed by Apple and they should sue the company for lowering the price. All this for a product that as far as I can tell anyone can get if they go to the Apple store since it's far from selling out.

I don't think I need to say much on how silly their arguments are although I can also sympathize to a certain extent especially for those who might have have bought it only a couple of weeks ago because they needed a new phone. However, the one argument that just seems so ridiculous is the one that says, "I'm ok with the price cuts if it happens 6 months after launch rather then two." How does 6 months, or 5 months, 3 months or 2 months matter? What changed during those extra 4 months?

I wonder if any of the complainers will be home buyers 'cause they're going to suffer from a serious case of buyer's remorse.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


While Fedora 7 has stabilized since its release, I continue to find minor problems which I don't remember encountering in the past. The latest is when I tried to use the UI tool to configure Samba. I wanted to add another share drive, but it does not seem to work. When you click on the "Add Share" button, the dialog pops up but the "Save" button doesn't do anything. The dialog stays open unless you cancel and so nothing gets saved.

ESPN and Michael Vick

The new NFL season starts this week and as a Chicago Bears fan it's been a long off season. In the weeks leading up to the start, the stories has not been the usual camp reports and draft signings news but rather the news of Michael Vick. Wherever a sports fan turn, the Vick story was there right in front of them. At one point, I remember watching ESPN and they had the ticker of upcoming stories with nearly every other segment on Vick's trial!

How much coverage can they squeeze out of one story? Michael Vick's crime is pretty heinous. At the least it demonstrate a lot of cruelty in what he did to another living creature, but with the constant barrage of news coverage I started to get numb to it and the story became another statistical news item. I wondered whether it was orchestrated by Vick's PR machine to save his career and if it was then the people responsible are geniuses. From the initial reaction of "Vick's career is over", ESPN put so many commentators in front of sports fans to argue that Vick shouldn't be punished by the NFL that I'm sure that people started thinking, "Just shut up about this story, who cares if Vick plays." In the end, it really took the focus off Vick and put it on everyone else.

The media can be scary...