In a nutshell, Amazon has just deployed a FREE*, simple-to-use cloud storage solution for not only your music collection, but also your documents, photos and videos. The entry level Amazon Cloud Drive account gets you 5 GB of free* storage. Later in this post, I will tell you how you can get 20GB of free* storage.
Personally, I love that I can now access my data, photos, videos and music all from the cloud via multiple devices that are located throughout our house, under the couch, our cars, our offices.; oh, and each is running different operating systems.
Here’s a screenshot below of my brand new Amazon Cloud Drive. Notice that there are pre-configured folders already there for you to start uploading and storing your Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. How cool is that? So this Cloud Drive is NOT just for music. You get Amazon’s free* Cloud Drive storage space for multiple kinds of content. For years, I’ve been using Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service S3) cloud storage for my own personal, offsite backup storage and love it. I use Jungle Disk desktop software to manage it all, which looks a lot like this new web app below. So this new Cloud Drive offering is a fantastic solution, very impressive and highly useful as it’s accessible via the web.
Cloud Player for Live Music Streaming on your Android device or Computer’s Web Browser
So now that you know about the new Cloud Drive storage service, let’s look at the Cloud Player which is accessible via web browser: http://www.amazon.com/cloudplayer or via your Android device (smartphone or tablet). Now, you can easily access your Cloud Drive music from multiple devices at the same time (except I’m hearing that it does not work on the Safari browser, per MG Siegler’s TechCrunch post).
Via web browser on my Dell Laptop
The Android ecosystem just got a lot bigger. Amazon just put a huge stake down in the ground and established itself as the first personal cloud storage service that provides you with 24/7 live streaming of your stored music from the web or your Android phone. Oh, and it’s free*. And it’s not stuck in a proprietary desktop application.
Cables vs. Cloud
We all know the drill: you get super excited about some cool new music you just heard *live* at SXSW, you quickly Google the band/song info, then go download the new music onto your computer’s music player; wait… where’s that stupid sync cable?! …ok, you finally found the cable under the couch just before your cat chewed off the plug (phew!). Then you then run back to your computer to attempt a ‘sync’ of the music to your smartphone and also go copy that 1 song across all your other computers and mobile devices all so you can be sure to find it later when you want to hear it (yea right) … what a mess.
This conundrum of managing music across multiple devices has been vexing the mobile generation for some time now. There are a number of rumors circulating on the ‘net about supposed, futuristic music storage services, music “lockers”, MobileX personal cloud/sync services, etc. that all promise this type of seamless and easy-to-use cloud storage solution, but none have yet come to life. That’s why last year I finally gave up on buying, storing, organizing, syncing, copying and managing my own music (not to mention the DRM issues on multiple devices!). To simplify things and save my sanity, I just went with Pandora for live streaming of music on demand, which I love –don’t get me wrong– however, this really wasn’t an ideal solution since I don’t have *my* own music collection on Pandora. So, my music collection was pretty much forgotten and only collecting dust.
So Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and matching Cloud Player solution, which integrates nicely with the accompanying Android app, now allows you to put your music in the cloud (yay!) and play it whenever and wherever you want; whether that be on your work laptop, your personal laptop, your Android tablet on the coffee table, or your new brand new Android smartphone… you get the idea. Finally, no more stupid sync’ing and endless copying of files and trying to manage all those cumbersome music collections, chewed-up cables and lost devices! Now, you can just upload music right to Amazon Cloud Player (or buy MP3s on Amazon for even faster access) and that’s it… just start enjoying the freedom of YOUR music, on demand from the cloud, wherever you want… nice! Of course, this cloud service probably won’t work in Antarctica as you’ll need to have internet access to access the cloud. Sorry polar bears, no cloud drive or cloud player for you!
Go get your piece of the Cloud
So, now it’s your turn. Go get your piece of the cloud! Amazon’s Cloud Drive makes this whole process dead simple and super easy to use. I think this will convert a lot of folks to the “cloud” once and for all.
When you first get started on Amazon’s new Cloud Drive service, you can immediately access the 5 GB of free* storage. However, if you’ve got mounds of music to upload, like I do, then go for the promotional deal and get the 20GB account for free* when you purchase an album on Amazon’s MP3 store site* (there’s a bunch of $5 albums they have for you to choose from). Of course, there’s always more storage and pricing options* you can choose instead to store even more stuff in the cloud; you know, for all of your music that’s currently stuck on your computer’s hard drive, that pen drive rolling around under your car seat for two years, your old cracked MP3 player and your bright, shiny new smartphone.
Remember, this isn’t JUST for music. You can also upload photos, videos and documents. I think some well known music and photo sharing sites will be noticing Amazon’s bold moves today. Personally, I applaud Amazon’s swift, bold move and thank them for being the first to market with this highly useful, cloud-based solution.
Thanks Amazon for liberating music from the shackles of proprietary desktop music software!
So what do you think of this new service from Amazon? Will this get more people interested in the cloud for personal data storage and retrieval? I think this just might do it. Not to mention, the impact this announcement will have on the Android mobile ecosystem, which just got a lot bigger!
*See Amazon’s web site for the full details and legal disclaimers regarding their new cloud offerings, mentioned above.
Here's the evolution of SEO - Search Engine Optimization - a nice visual of the SEO historical timeline.
I remember lots of these early search websites and web directories. I even remember SEO developments like metatags, keywords and link-back strategies. What do you remember? Any SEO tips you care to share?
Google+ is the new hotness on the web. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about this new bright, shiny new toy social media platform from the team over at Google.
It's the best social platform I've seen from Google so far; in fact, it's better than nearly every social platform out on the web today. Clearly, Google absorbed the painful lessons learned from prior experiments like Google Wave, Buzz and even Orkut, and applied that wisdom to building Google + into a very robust, solid experience. I'm very impressed and thoroughly enjoying this new application.
Accordingly, I am being flooded with requests for invites to help others join Google+ (Plus) http://Google.com/+. I've invited well over 200 people so far. Now, I want to share how to send Google+ invites with you.
Follow these steps below to begin sending Google+ invitations to your friends too:
Step 1. First, you must already have access to Google +. I know that might seem kinda obvious, but a few folks have tried and asked for my help who didn't already have access?! Be sure you're already logged in to Google+ on your desktop computer or laptop. (The invite process is similar using the Google+ android app.)
Step 3. Write a note to your friend, e.g. Google+ invite for you! (this becomes the subject line of your invite email).
Step 4.Important! Remove the circles that appear by default, i.e. Public, Your circles, Extended circles. Select each one and click the little "x" that appears on the right. Now that you've removed all three, progress to the next step.
Step 5. Select "+ Add more people" to type in your friend(s) email address(es). Each time you enter an email address, it will appear in a small gray box (select that to confirm). Then it will appear as a blue button (similar to how "Your circles" appears below as a blue button. Once you've entered all the email addresses you want to send invites to, then click the "Share" button to send. You'll get a confirmation for successful send. That's it!
Be aware that Google + is gradually adding people. So your friends, may not gain immediate access. Be persistent and keep trying! It works eventually.
Now that you've sent your friends Google+ invites, you'll see them adding you to their circles (see notification area) after they login. Add them to your circles to "follow" them back. Next send them this blog post so they know how to send invites too! Oh, and connect with me on Google+ too.
Let me know if you have any problems following these steps above. I want to update it if there's anything that needs clarification. Be sure to leave a comment if you tried this and have any feedback.
Update 1 - based on reader feedback (thanks): You need to only send the invite 1 time. Recipients of your invites my get an email message back from Google indicating that they are limiting access, which means they won't be able to login just yet. KEEP TRYING anyway, it works eventually! :)
Update 2. It looks like Google might be holding invite emails back?
Just got feedback from a Google+ user Nilay Shah -- "I tried a test post just now. No email received. But i guess the invite still gets listed with google. Some of my family members and friends didnt received an email but were able to login after sometime using their gmail ids."
ICANN approved new top level domain (TLD) names today. Does this mean major brands now have a shot at having their name as the TLD name? interesting move! So, will we see Dell.dell or IBM.ibm? The web will sure look different!!
Social networks and microblogs have in recent years nudged blogging off the social media pedestal. For some consumers, who have more communication tools at their fingertips than they did a few years ago, Facebook and Twitter have supplanted blogging as life-streaming outlets.
But blogs continue to be important. eMarketer estimates that this year more than half of internet users will read blogs at least monthly. By 2014, readership will rise to more than 150 million Americans, or 60% of the internet population in the US. One reason for the rise in readership is that blogs have become an accepted part of the online media landscape.
“Trends in blog reading are expected to maintain an upward course as blogs continue to gain influence in the mainstream media,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “The Blogosphere: Colliding with Social and Mainstream Media.” “But there is a caveat to this forecast: Over time, blogs will continue to become indistinguishable from other media channels.”
Blog writing, by contrast, is a more niche activity. Just under 12% of the online population will update a blog at least monthly this year, eMarketer estimates. By 2014 that proportion will inch upward to 13.3%.
There are several factors driving the growth of blogging, including the ease of use of personal blogging platforms and the growing comfort level with blogs as a form of media. At the same time, social media like Twitter and Facebook are giving consumers an alternative, less-intensive way to communicate their thoughts to the world. Blogging is no longer a primary way for people to express themselves online.
As I am sure you've all seen the fairly new "retweet" (RT) feature released by Twitter, it has not been fully understood to date. Influence on twitter was previously quite easy to track, but now with the new RT feature, it's becoming less clear who's influencing who. For example, prior to the new RT feature a user would "RT" a tweet by simply copy/pasting the content like so: "RT @username: original content" (sometimes a comment was added too). Then, the RT would be published out to the RTer's followers. Some of those followers would then RT the RT, thus establishing a clear line of influence, stemming from the originating tweet and RTs (to a point, of course).
What the old RT model showed was a path of influence on twitter (and how information travels - interesting stuff for sure!). Now comes the new RT feature and this "influence" model is completely disrupted. No longer can we track who's RT'ing what. It's been completely flattened out. So, folks who RT can no longer see who is RTing a post after them. So we lose the whole influencer in the middle (middle man influencers). Now it's all flat - just the original post and a lateral line to the RTs. Whereas, previously we had the original post and a plethora of tangential RTs, with some fairly obvious track-backs, so to speak.
Why would twitter do this? Two good reasons are potentially driving this decision. First, data management and data storage optimization. Second, establishment of twitter as an authentic news source (more on this in a bit).
Data management is a tricky proposition when a web startup takes off and begins to manage millions of records in their database(s). The new RT feature is a smarter implementation at the database level. Now with the new RT feature, the database could store just 1 original tweet plus a bunch of variable flags turned on/off (1 or 0) for the RT usernames versus the old RT model of originating tweet plus copies (e.g. 72 copies of that same tweet +/- variations thereof). Thus, this is a very smart approach to shrinking the data footprint of RT content.
The whole "News industry" is currently undergoing a rapid change much akin to the industrial revolution. Companies and jobs are folding every day as the old model of journalism is eclipsed by the new real-time web and emergent citizen-journalism model. Twitter is a major component of this new version of "news." Thus, it is in twitter's best interest to develop a trusted system for delivery of real-time news that is timely, reliable, authentic and trackable. Since, the new RT feature preserves the originating author's name and content, this perfectly fits with the news model. Now we can see who tweeted what without alteration. That is a huge move towards authenticity on the web - a must for reliable and trusted news content. Twitter is positioning itself to be the most trusted news source on the web and this new RT feature goes a long way to provide just that.
Originators of news on the web will feel this impact in a number of ways. Specifically, if they are RT'ed, then their tweets will show "Retweeted by x and x others " (shows amount of RTs by users - think "reach" on the web). For what I call the "middle man" influencers - the RTers out there - they will feel a negative impact as they no longer are associated with the originating content (and downstream RTs) as in times past. Now, when a user sees a RT it just shows a pile of #s, so the middle man no longer benefits, i.e. their name is not associated with the originating post as it used to be (middle man influencers will see a drop in engagement levels based on RTs).
Overall, I think this is a fabulous move by twitter and applaude them for making the switch. It's smart and disruptive. I like it. It shows twitter has smart folks at the helm who understand the web and the future of it very well.
For me, I will definitely use the new RT feature anytime I want to preserve the original tweet author/content. If I need to add something (and there's char space!) then I will add my 2 cents and RT that. What's your take? Do you like or dislike the new RT feature? Think of other reasons why twitter would implement this new RT feature and let me know what you see. I'd love to hear all your feedback and ideas on this!
The average Facebook visitor views 661.8 pages on the social network each month, reports Website monitoring service Royal Pingdom (citing Google AdCounter).
Facebook blows away the competition when it comes to this single engagement statistic.
Visitors to Facebook's nearest rival, Hi5, only view an average of 351.2 pages per month. MySpace comes in at 261.8 monthly page views per visitor.
Point is: Not only does Facebook have a huge user-base -- about 350 million people check the site at least once a month -- it has a very engaged user-base. No wonder Facebook ads are finally gaining traction.
Earlier today, I was inspired by Tris Hussey to provide a comprehensive list of Google Chrome "power extensions." So, here is my exhaustive list of forty "must have" Extensions for the Google Chrome browser. But first, to get started you'll need to download the Dev version of Chrome (it works great on my new Windows 7 PC laptop). Mac users can get the mac Dev version here. Google Chrome is by far the best performing browser ever released to the web. It will liberate you from the frustration so common with other browsers.
There are hundreds of Google's extensions, so if you're looking for something not on my list, then go here and search for it! Please do let me know if have any feedback to share. Feel free to recommend different extensions, or perhaps you know of a better version, than I have listed here:
Ok, phew you installed all these great extensions! Ok, now go tweak the "Options" for each extension here --> chrome://extensions/ You can also disable or uninstall extensions. (I had to disable the "Cool Iris" one as it was crashing too much).
Microsoft will close the decade the same as it started, as the worlds biggest tech company, as measured by market capitalization.Will Microsoft still be on top come December 2019? It doesnt look likely. Its a whole different world for Redmond. At the start of the decade, Microsoft seemed invincible. Now, its just trying to catch up as Google and Apple blow past it with search and mobile.
At Google, we are committed to giving you a consistent user experience across products and devices, and we really value the feedback you've given us about Google News for mobile. Today we're excited to announce a completely new Google News offering for iPhone, Android, and Palm Pre users. (We already offer a mobile-optimized version of Google News for other phones, such as Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and S60, and more improvements will be coming to those in the near future)
This new version provides the same richness and personalization on your phone as Google News provides on desktop. Our new homepage displays more stories, sources, and images while keeping a familiar look and feel. Also, you can now reach your favorite sections, discover new ones, find articles and play videos in fewer clicks. If you are an existing Google News reader on desktop, you will find that all of your personalizations are honored in this mobile version too.
Google News for mobile is now available in 29 languages and 70 editions.
So pick up your mobile phone and point your browser to http://news.google.com to catch up on news anytime and anywhere. Feel free to check out more information or leave feedback in our Help Center.
Posted by Ankit "Chunky" Gupta and Alok Goel, Mobile News Team
I recently stumbled across the cluetrain manifesto again. It had a big impact on me when I first read it ten years ago. At the time, I was building web sites for big companies and it gave voice to a lot of the frustration I felt trying to get these companies to really embrace the potential of engaging with consumers directly.
I worked with an airline that refused to handle any consumer inquiries generated by their web site. They actually had an in-house call center for reservations, but didn't even want their phone number listed on the site (let alone an email address). For them, the web site was a cheaper way to book reservations, and they were trying to lower transaction costs, not increase consumer loyalty.
This was particularly odd because the airline prided itself on in-flight customer service.
Reading the cluetrain manifesto, I was struck by the metaphor of the "corporate firewall": "Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall."
This airline (and many companies) had erected a strict corporate firewall that barred the majority of consumer interactions and only let out carefully scripted marketing messages. Loyalty was achieved through frequent flyer miles: essentially buying loyalty rather than earning it.
Ten years later, the 95 theses of the cluetrain manifesto feel prescient now that the tools for social media are commonplace. Social media is part of every marketing plan. Yet, I question how much the corporate firewall has actually changed.
Using social media without first re-evaluating the corporate firewall feels like the same old window dressing. It's today's brochureware. It doesn't achieve the potential that these tools were designed to achieve.
There is an opportunity for companies that tear down (or at least reevaluate and modernize) the corporate firewall. For those that don't, the cluetrain manifesto offers this caution:
Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.