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试驾 | driving seat | 시험 비행

Its the new style

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Yahoo! BookmarksI originally wanted to post this yesterday but Blogger was on the blink. One of the key products I was involved in whilst at Yahoo! was the company’s entrance into the social search space with a product called MyWeb. In the last year or so the company has updated the product to version 2.5, which is immensely usable and purchased delicious.

MyWeb was useful as a ‘memory’ with its repository of saved web pages, however in versions one and two was a pig to set up. Many users didn’t appreciate its utility because it was so hard to initially use.

Last night the company rolled out Yahoo! Bookmarks. Bookmarks is a mix of old and new. The brand name does what is says on the tin and takes the bookmarks function that was on the old My Yahoo! page since 1999 and brings it right up to date. It gets consumers over a major barrier about what the hell the product is.

The interface on the product is slicker than a silk codpiece, with proper drag and drop functionality like the Oddpost-powered Yahoo! Mail. The site thumbnails is one of those so simple its obvious ideas. Big props to Tom Chi – the developer who did much of the super-sharp work.

So that Bookmarks must live, MyWeb must die, there will be a migration path to either del.icio.us or Bookmarks. Migration will be easy because Bookmarks sits on the MyWeb platform and delicious will move over (whilst still retaining a user experience that makes a Benedictine monks cell look decadent).To be honest with you I want both, part of the value of MyWeb is the discovery of great links from other people who are known to you, AND the ability to take a copy of a page that you’ve seen.

The reason that I want to copy a page is that many links, particularly on dynamic content sites like newspapers die, having a cache of the page at the time I originally saw it is a really handy reference.

Anyway, give it a try here. A Yahoo! ID is required.

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试驾 | driving seat | 시험 비행

Driving seat: Sennheiser CX300

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The first thing that you need to do when you get an iPod is get rid of the earphones. Now the latest iPod earphones sound pretty good, but they attract petty criminals like flies to one of them zapper lights.The second reason for me is that I usually wear my iPod on the tube going about my business. I need headphones that can cope with the high ambient noise of the train and still give me a decent sound.

Decent active noise reduction pairs an ok set of headphones with an inconvenient electronics package, requiring an extra battery. My previous favourite earphone of choice Sony’s MDR-EX71SLB worked by providing a variety of silicone gaskets to best match the fit of your ear canal. They provided a good quality sound.

I nipped in to HMV when my previous set fell to pieces and went to the counter to purchase a new set. Since the store wasn’t that busy the shop assistant on duty recommended the Sennheiser CX300 instead.

To be honest I wasn’t convinced, in the packaging they look like a Chinese rebadge job to capitalise on the Sennheiser name arranged by some know nothing marketing person, probably made by 13-year old kids serving as indentured labour in a sweatshop.

I still don’t know how they are made, but they sound amazing, (I’ve used them with soul, jazz, funk and house music tracks) greatly reduce the high noise level of the tube and are a subtle and understated design.

The product design is pretty smart as well; they feature a j-cable: where one headphone lead is longer than the other so it can go around the back of your neck and keep everything in place whilst you take your headphones off. However with most headphones the cable slides easily over your collar and you lose your headphones on the floor, the Sennheisers have a slightly tacky cable cord to keep them in place.

In terms of their robustness compared to the Sony headphones, only time will tell, but if you want an ideal partner for your iPod get out and buy a set now.

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试驾 | driving seat | 시험 비행

Beta Blogger

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Blogger Beta - shocking user experience for Safari users

The new version of Blogger has some nice additions including a faster and reliable republishing process, the ability to label posts, bringing Blogger into the 21st century. Thankfully they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bath water, and have had the good sense to keep the same easy-to-use interface so habitual blog monkeys like myself don’t go into shock. In common with other properties of Google the company is moving to a Gmail log in as a universal ID across its network of services. Now the moan. Blogger still doesn’t have feature parity across the main browsers and is less than useless in Safari. Get the basics right first, you can worry about the whizzy stuff later. Safari users don’t have a WYSIWYG editing environment to blog with, and all the formatting buttons and font selection missing (see above).

The dictionary is snazzily designed but its range still pretty crap.

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试驾 | driving seat | 시험 비행

Goowy Gosh

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My new role has a pretty locked down IT policy so I can’t use a Messenger application like Adium to keep in touch with contacts on various different IM networks.So in my search to find a web equivalent I came across Goowy which provides a ‘desktop’ on the web. It has a messaging client that can handle AOL, ICQ, MSN/.net/Windows Live and Yahoo! Messenger.

The email client will consolidate POP3 accounts but doesn’t handle IMAP, at least not yet. Whilst there are alternatives like Meebo, Goowy provides the slickest service and best user experience (click on the picture to have a better look at the screen shot).

Ok, now for the big question, how will these people make money? Could they be the meta portal that Marc Canter has been saying that web 2.0 services need, which would be financed via contextual advertising a la Google and Yahoo!?

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试驾 | driving seat | 시험 비행

Driving Seat: Veoh and misc. tech stuff

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Veoh Networks is a great company, though I haven’t worked out yet whether it is sailing too close to the wind or not. The company is funded by media conglomerate Time-Warner and Michael Eisner (the former ruler of planet Disney). The website looks like YouTube, but with some important differences:

  • Veoh lets you submit full-sized streaming videos
  • YouTube limits its users to 100 MB files.
  • Veoh can do 2 GB files distributed via a P2P-client available for Mac and that other platform

I’ve been enjoying a selection of ‘so-bad-they’re-good’ 1970s martial arts movies off there. The Mac client is really easy to use. My main concern is how will the company make money in the longer term. I can see someone like TimeWarner using Veoh as a guinea pig to further is experiment with AOL and online TV. On second thoughts just enjoy it while you can!


I’m with Stupid
Apple has apparently moved away from using a PortalPlayer media processor in all its iPods and instead moved to Samsung for the next-generation of MP3 players. PortalPlayer is very exposed to the Apple business, with iPods counting for about 70 per cent of its sales according to a Reuters report that I’ve read. Its not healthy for PortalPlayer, hopefully the company will diversify its client base to become more independent.

However Samsung as a supplier was also a dumb move for Apple. This is not a commodity product like flash memory where Apple can use multiplie suppliers and change at will, the media chip is central to the iPod functionality and experience.

Does it sound like a smart move to work closely with (and educate in the art of engineering a killer MP3 player) a large ambitious, hyper-aggressive company that wants to eat Apple for lunch? It has been alleged that Samsung had meetings with creative agencies in London where the central theme was Kill iPod.

You can chart the fall of the iPod empire from this moment on…