Archive for June, 2009

iPhone as Trackpad

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I just wrote a blog post about an external trackpad for the Mac with multi-touch (found here). But wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote an app that allows you to tether your phone to your laptop and use it as a multi-touch trackpad?

All you would have to do is open the app on your phone and you’d be able to control the mouse on your screen. You can control your lights from your phone and your iTunes from your phone, so why not your mouse? For all i know the app might already be out there. If it is, someone tell me, otherwise, someone write it :).

Bing! Hunch! Decision Engine!

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I know, the title is an awful play on Batman from the 60s, but I thought it was funny, so tough. Anyway, Bing as most of you know is Microsoft‘s attempt to fix search (if you think search is actually broken, but that’s a whole other post).

Bing (which for those of you who don’t know is: Bing Is Not Google) is touting itself as a decision engine. If I understand what a decision engine does correctly, it helps you take a bunch of variables related to the outcome and depending on your feelings about those variables, helps you to get to the end state (a decision).

(overly simplified) example: Should I live in New York City?
Variables: Noise, Transportation, Money
Q 1: Do you mind a lot of noise at night?
A 1: Yes, New York City is fine.
Q 2: Do you like driving everywhere?
A 2: Yes I like driving. New York City is better for people who like mass transportation. Parking and timeliness of movement can be a problem.
Q 3: Do you have the money to live in New York City?
A 3: New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. No, I don’t make enough to live in New York City.
Outcome: 2 of 3 answers are contrary to living in New York City. Therefore you should probably not live in New York City.

I don’t see how Bing does this for you.

Enter Hunch. Hunch is an actual decision engine (or a much closer version than Bing). Just to give you an idea of how Hunch works, I decided to ask it whether I should get a netbook or a laptop (even though I know full I need a laptop and I love my MacBook Pro). This is what Hunch did for me.

Using multiple choice questions for everything, Hunch asked me about my usage plans. I told Hunch that I need it for photos, videos, music, etc. Then Hunch asked me how much I would be willing to pay. I need power and I know that comes at a cost, so I told Hunch greater than $1200. Hunch asked me about my travel habits and I said I travel a lot, but I still need power. It asked me about an OS (which I of course said Mac). It asked me about my keyboard size preference, which I prefer a larger keyboard. Finally it asked me whether this would be my primary computer. I said yes. It came up with the suggestion that there is an 85% chance that I should get a MacBook Pro based on my needs. Sounds good to me :). Hunch will even tell you why it came to that conclusion (based on your answers).

As an aside (since I am an email administrator by day), I found it interesting that Hunch, when sending their welcome email, sends a vcard to ensure that their email address is properly added to your contacts. And it is located just a few blocks from my office. Small world.

I am really excited for this product to go fully live. I think it is an absolutely outstanding engine and once live will be a great asset to the web (no I am not being paid to say that). I just think that its about time stuff like this happened. Now if they can just get the experts involved for people who want more advanced information…

Remembering that Content Is King

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Recently, Matt Cutts answered the question “Will SEO still exist in five years?” His answer is available here. To paraphrase, he said, “There will likely be SEO because there will always be people wanting to put the icing on the cake to get themselves found.”

I think that’s an obvious statement (not that I am taking anything away from everything Matt Cutts has said/done). I say this because the more search engines evolve combined with faster computers and more available computing power, the more they will have at their disposal to weed out the garbage. Eventually it will all boil down to content. How often do users actually search for advertisements?

The meme “Content Is King” refers to the idea that there should be unique or original text supporting whatever product or idea that you are trying to put forth. I believe that some of the biggest offenders of this are corporations (small or large). They are so intent on getting people on the phone that they (for the most part) do not put enough information on their web site about their products. Restaurants have their entire web site (including menus) in flash. This is a migration away from having original content sufficient to convey your intentions and ideas.

So as people create web sites, I believe that the following items need to be kept in mind:

  • People come to you for your ideas. That means that your content is what separates you from the other guy. Once you engage your readers, they will continue to come back for more. If you just tease them with partial content, then they probably won’t come back more than once or twice.
  • Context adds to the content. If you are consistently writing solid content about a subject, then people (and therefore search engines) will see all your ideas within the context of your content. For example, if you have a blog about cars and you write about a show that you went to at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York City in April, then by context, the search engine and your readers will expect that to be about a car show. The more content you have, the more context is built up around your content.
  • Don’t write towards the search engines. Write your content the way you want your ideas conveyed to people. The search engines will do the rest.

Although the content of a site is not the only thing that accounts for a quality site, it is certainly incredibly important. If one does not consistently have relevant content, then people will not continue to visit or link to their site. Content is not a concept to be overlooked in designing a web site, especially in the long term.