Category Archives: Featured

Picked Up My iPad 2 Today at the Apple Popup Store

Today I took a break from SXSWI and went over to Apple’s Popup store in Austin on Congress Avenue to pickup my new iPad 2. My wait was only 10 minutes and Apple employees were coming out and giving free Smart Waters and making sure the model of the iPad that you wanted was in stock.

Once I got into the store I had my iPad and new cover in less then 5 minutes. Once I went to checkout I actually saw the stash of iPad’s in the corner. It was like seeing a palette of gold!! Now I know why they had uniform State Trooper at the door.

My first impression of my new white iPad is good. The iPad 2 is faster then my original iPad and I didn’t think my original iPad was slow. I do like having the front and rear facing cameras. The new iPad is noticeably lighter and I like the new magnetic cover.

Apple OS4 Release

Apple Releases OS4 for the iPad, iPhone and iTouch

Mr. Apple himself, Tom Parish, breaks down “Apple’s release of OS4 for the iPhone, iTouch and iPad.” Thanks Tom for taking the time to share this article. -Bill

Avinash Birnale provides a useful overview with some analysis of the lastest ‘Tent Pole’ additions for the iPhone and soon the iPad running OS4, all recently announced by Apple. He covers the following changes or ‘tent poles’, as Apple calls them, because these features are really more a set of APIs that will be used by Apple developers in ways I’m sure even Apple hasn’t  dreamed up. And that’s the power of working with creative technical types.

  • Multitasking Support
  • True Enterprise Support
  • Local Push Notifications
  • New Addition – Game Center
  • After iBook, now iAd!

Avinash covers some good news and the not-so-good news. For example, the new OS4 upgrade will not be coming to the older iTouch and first-generation iPhones. The second-generation iPhones will get an upgrade, but no multitasking. The 3Gs will have the full upgrade (lucky me).

The iPad will get the OS4 upgrade this fall. I’m somewhat bummed about that as I’m looking forward to these new capabilities in the iPad, which I’m using more and more each day.

Avinash downloaded the SDK and BETA firmware upgrade where he observed some crashes and one instance of things freezing up. Well, we all know how it goes. It’s going to take some time to sort out some of the bugs before  fully testing and then delivering apps with  this rich new array of APIs.

Avinash also mentioned something I did not know:

“I did the firmware upgrade on my iPod Touch (2G). It has a nice home screen, enhanced folder feature on the menu icons and nice iPod features to create my own playlist, folder view of the playlist! I like it :)

He has a follow-up article where he talks more about additional technical aspects of the OS4 upgrades from a developer’s perspective. This is where I think things get more interesting. It’s the developers that work with these tools on a daily basis and really know what’s possible with enterprise mobility. It gets complicated fast when you work in the enterprise arena where apps have to be ported to multiple smartphones, and services are being accessed from a combination of public and private  clouds. It’s important to step back and ask myself what am I wanting to accomplish and will it be perceived as a benefit to the business. Helps to work with people who have done this before too.

Reminds me of when I was a kid and the skate arena guy would say, “OK, it is guys and girls. Now pick a partner for this tune.” Yeah … pick your partner but make sure they can stand up without falling. That skating arena was tricky.

OK, back to work.

Tom

Tell us what you think about Apples’s new OS4 release…

How long should a video be for Lead Generation?

Content Strategiest Tom Parish jumps in and answers the big question “How long should a video be on your web site for lead generation?”  Sometimes too much information kills the lead generation process. – Bill

Useful links: Twistage •  YouTube

I get asked this question by clients, and I’ve been curious about it for some time. Why do we humans seem to want to watch a video for only 1-2-ish minutes when it comes to introducing an idea? What is it about that slice of time that feels like we’re getting something of value, yet watching any longer (and occasionally any less) just doesn’t seem to appeal to us?

In 2009 I read two surveys that showed in detail that most viewers dropped off from watching videos after 2+ minutes. Earlier this year I did an informal survey of all my video podcasts, which tend to run as long as my audio interviews (10-20 minutes), and I looked at my clients’ videos, too, which run 3-10 minutes in length. What I saw in the engagement metrics at Twistage.com (a hosting company I admire, respect and use) showed clearly that I’d lost half my audience after 2 minutes of the video podcast, and by 10 minutes only 10% of the viewers were left. Same results happened to my clients. However, based on feedback from listeners, the audio versions are getting listened to the entire time.

Part of the deal here is two heads talking (interview style) doesn’t offer the eye a lot to look at. Clearly an audio version gives you all you need.  However, people seem more and more interested in video versions of long conversations, but getting them ‘into’ the meat of the conversation takes some extra effort. A short version can do this along with front-loading the longer interview with a ‘call out’ or ‘hot point’ that is pulled from the conversation to keep people hanging on for more. But I digress ….

There was one exception around length, especially with B2B content: Any time a video had well-defined ‘how to’ steps in it, the viewers stayed on for the entire video, almost without regard for length. But that’s been the case even for audio podcasts. If the content is compelling and impacts what you do in your job or at home, you’re going to listen and get the scoop for yourself. That’s a key message I’ve used for years in my podcasting with clients. Now that there’s greater emphasis on video, what is the best strategy for including video podcasts in a lead-generation process?

First, why 2-3 minutes for videos? My thinking is we’re all subconsciously programmed in some way for that amount of time. Music singles (remember 45 rpm records?) were rarely longer than 3 minutes. More relevant, I think, is the length of movie trailers, which are almost always less than 2.5 minutes – really, check for yourself. They are carefully crafted to draw you into the movie (some better than others) within that 2.5-minute limit. Sometimes you’ll see a movie trailer that is 1-1.5 minutes, and so often you feel kinda cheated. It was not long enough to give you a good feel for the plot. Like with my 45s, songs that were short made me feel a bit short-changed because I had to pay for those records, and they broke if I wasn’t careful, and they scratched easily. But those were the old days …

So the lesson here is take the “how to” approach and create a 1- to 3-minute introduction as your lead generation to draw people in and get the most interested to follow you back to your site for the longer version and maybe an accompanying white paper or other related resources on your site.

We’re all familiar with YouTube, and the average video length of the most popular ones, if I recall, is less than 3 minutes. Likely the best way to use video for a website that has really valuable long-form content (interviews) is to focus on keeping the interview fairly tightly edited and less than 10 minutes. Then create a 1- to 2-minute YouTube short version to capture people’s attention and bring them back to your website. The reason for this is YouTube allows you to insert a lot of keywords into your description and tags, and YouTube videos rank well (meaning, very visible) in Google searches. Reminds me of the old days of SEO when you focused on putting lots of tags on web pages to improve ranking. Now people put those tags on videos. But remember, you want to drive people back to your website for your lead-generation purposes. So put the longer version of the interview there, where you can include a sign-up form for viewers to get more information, or to see the entire interview for free.

Tom

Tell us what you think below…

Video Podcasting Using Skype – B2B Example

Another great example of video podcasting using Skype from guest author Tom Parish. Tom presents a B2B example using the popular chatting, video and telephony software Skype which is available for Macs, Windows, Linux and smart phones.

Useful links:  Skype •  ECAMM

I have hosted a weekly podcast show at BMC Software for five years now and there are more than 200 episodes. This type of video podcasting is a highly informative conversation around IT thought leadership topics. Length is roughly 10-15 minutes. I get questions about how I produce these, so here is a short summary of what I do and how I craft them for the video aspects of the production. I’ll post another article on the particular style of show notes that we use and how that impacts visibility in the search engines.

Though the majority of the interviews are audio, listeners have expressed a growing interest (no surprise) for these to be in both video and audio. In the B2B world, experts in IT technology reside all over the globe, and the only reasonable way to capture their interviews is to use Skype. I’ve completed a lot of testing on how to capture thought leadership-style interviews from remotely located experts. These days you can’t send a video crew out, even if you work in an enterprise.

This last year I’ve experimented extensively with Skype and iChat video webcam recording for the remote caller. I typically use a local camera in the studio for my side of the video. It’s extra work but worth the trouble. I’ve also asked some people who were up for it to use their video camera and send me the files via DVD later (or FTP).

So as background, I use a Sony EX1 camera in the studio and convert both the camera’s video and the Skype video to Apple ProRes 422 so I can easily edit my video and the interviewee’s, despite the original files’ being from different video hardware. I’ll use the 720P setting at 30 fps. The conversion to Apple ProRes is an extra step, but it’s just the best way to do this for maximum quality and to simplify the editing process when you have video that is encoded from such entirely different sources.

As you can imagine I have no control over the mic that the interviewee is using. With Skype and iChat, the built-in laptop mic or headset is what you get and it turns out the quality is surprising good – better than a phone line. I just have to watch the levels and be careful how the headset mic is placed so there is not too much ’splat’ noise coming from the interviewee’s microphone circuit being overloaded. On my end, I’ll either use a Sennheiser wireless mic directly into the Sony EX1 (preferred approach) or the Sennheiser shotgun mic into the Sony EX1. I’ll always record an audio track of my side with Skype as a kind of sync track and backup if something goes wrong.

On a couple of a video podcasts I’ve used a USB headset for the audio on my side and it’s been ok – but not nearly as clean and clear as the higher-quality Sennheiser mics.

To see all the videos produced with the approaches mentioned here, visit TomParish.com/media

The topic of this particular podcast is “Enterprise Mobility Trends and Applications with Dan Turchin” and we used Skype. I only had video being recorded for his side – ‘only’ to maximize quality. To record Skype calls, I use a software package from http://ecamm.com/ which has worked flawlessly for dozens of calls. Recommended.

This article is cross-posted with permission from Tom Parish.  The original article of “B2B Example of Video Podcasting using Skype” is located at TomParish.com.

My Review of Google's Nexus One Smartphone vs. G1

First of all let me give you a little background about me and my Smartphones.  I currently use a BlackBerry Curve on the Verizon network.  I have been using a BlackBerry since 1996.  Prior to getting my CrackBerry I used the Palm Treo.  My office tried using the BlackBerry Storm last year when we switched to Verizon from Sprint, but we returned all of them within 14 days.  No one liked them, including me and I tried real hard to make the phone work.  With the Storm I went from sending 50-75 messages a day (and being productive) to sending less then 5 messages day (and not being productive).  Each message that was composed on the phone was a challenge and a very short message.  The Storm was just not a productive solution for me or anybody in my office.  When the first person said, I don’t like it and I want to swap it out for the regular BlackBerry, it was like a sigh of relief had gone through our whole office.  I have an old iPhone that I use to test our websites with over WiFi.  The reason I’ve taken a big interest in the Google phones is because I truly believe that Google will dominate the mobile market in searches and advertising.  Because of this I bought the G1 to see if I could make it work in my everyday life.

In October 2008 when Google released the HTC G1 through T-Mobile, I bought one the fist day the phone was released.  I liked the concept of the phone, but it had some issues and was clearly a version 1 phone.  My biggest complaint was the battery life.  For as much as I use my Smartphone for talking, e-mailing and instant messaging the battery would be dead in a short period of time.  My second complaint was the lack of native support for Microsoft Exchange E-mail.  I like Gmail, but my office doesn’t use Gmail for its corporate mail.  Quite frankly I was really surprised that the phone didn’t have Exchange support built into it since the iPhone had started supporting Exchange email prior to the G1’s release date.  I had always felt that when Apple added Exchange e-mail support to the iPhone that it had increased it’s potential market share considering most businesses have their e-mail on an Exchange Server.  I had a few other minor issues with the G1, but once I upgraded the phones operating system to Android 1.6 most of those issues had worked themselves out, except for the battery life and Microsoft Exchange E-mail.  I found the camera on the G1 to be decent, but it didn’t have a flash, so the lighting had to be decent inorder to get a decent picture from the phone.  When I would take pictures outside with the G1 I would almost always get a great picture.  With Twidroid, FaceBook and Flickr app’s installed on the G1 having a decent camera and flash would of made picture sharing more better.  At first I didn’t like the slide out keyboard on the G1, but I found myself liking it more each time I used it.  I noticed Motorola Droid’s keyboard only has four rows of keys and the HTC G1 has five rows.  I like the fifth row a lot.  For everyday geek typing I preferred the G1’s keyboard.

Ok now to the Nexus One!  I bought an unlocked Nexus One from Google’s website on the day they were released.  The phone had free overnight shipping and was delivered in two days.  What can I say, other then I think they got this one right for an all touch screen phone.  I prefer a regular keyboard, but I can type on the Nexus One decent and I’m becoming more productive in my typing and thats coming from a BlackBerry keyboard.  The Curve is very forgiving on fast typing!  I do hope they add AutoText like the BlackBerry has.  This was one of they perks of having a BlackBerry.  I found AutoText to be a very productive and necessary tool.

The battery life seems to be doing well considering how much screen real estate has to powered.  I have always had to charge my BlackBerry’s each night, so charing the Nexus One each night isn’t a big deal to me.

The email is awesome and it has native Exchange e-mail support.  If your office uses Gmail, then you will have nothing to worry about, because it works great.  I had my Microsoft Exchange E-mail setup within five minutes of turning on the phone.  It was very easy to setup my Exchange e-mail, calendar and contacts on the Nexus One.  I like how I can manage my contacts on the Nexus One to show my Exchange contacts or not to show my Exchange contacts.  I have also been testing in my office Google Apps Premier E-mail as a possible solution for getting away from Exchange e-mail (you can’t beat the price of $50 a year per user for 25 gig).  The Nexus One makes it very easy to switch between Google Apps Premier E-mail and multiple Gmail accounts.

The camera is great.  It’s a 5 megapixel camera with a flash.  It’s very easy to share your pictures with instant messengers, FaceBook, e-mail, Twitter and other installed apps.  You can even record video on the Nexus One.  I haven’t used this feature yet.

I have found the Nexus One to be light weight and not to big.  It’s about the same size as the iPhone.  The phone is very slim and came with a carrying case (pouch) to put the phone in, but I prefer a holster for my phones .  I will have to go find an aftermarket holster for the Nexus One.

Google’s Android Market Apps Store has added a lot of apps since the G1 debuted.  I’m sure over time it will be as full as Apple’s App Store.  So far I’m finding the a lot of the same apps in both stores.

I will try to post more updates on the Nexus One as I use the phone more.  Verizon is suppose to get the Nexus One in the Spring of this year, so I bet I will end up hanging up my BlackBerry and use the Nexus One for my everyday Smartphone.  Congratulations to HTC and Google’s Android Team for putting a phone out that can compete with the iPhone.

Google Wave Extensions List for Integration Bots

Here a a few Google Wave Extensions for Integration.  Some of these bots are still in “In Progress” including the PlonieBot which is suppose to bring wave document editing capabilities to Plone.  If anyone has any real applications that they have used with Google Wave please post a comment below showing us your work.  The original list was pulled from http://sites.google.com/site/gwaveextensions/extensions-list.

  • drop.io Robot – mikeswaverobot@appspot.com
    Creates a drop and puts the info into the wave whenever the robot is added as a participant.
  • Emaily Robot – In Progress – emaily-wave@appspot.com
    The goal is to allow send and receive emails in Google Wave.
  • Let Wave Talk – letwavetalk@appspot.com
    It send IM alerts in Gtalk whenever any participant adds new blips or edits older blips. Works only with Gmail accounts.
  • Link-Easy Robot – link-easy@appspot.com
    Multifunctional robot with optional panel and live easycode to perform with. like make-public, emoticon, sweepy-empty, lock-title, insert gadget … etc.
  • PlonieBot – In Progress – ploniebot@appspot.com
    Brings wave document editing capabilities to the Plone CMS
  • Poppy – In Progress – poppywave@appspot.com
    Helps bridge Google Wave conversations to email users outside the Wave.
  • Rssybot – rssybot@appspot.com
    Turn Google wave into an RSS reader! Add Rssybot to a thread, then enter the URL to the RSS feed you want watch and press subscribe. When a new post appears on the feed Rssybot will put it into the wave for you! Clicking on the post will expand the feed.
  • Starify Bot – starifybot@appspot.com
    Lets you star waves, in sort of bookmarking style.
  • Tweety the Twitbot – tweety-wave@appspot.com
    You can access your Twitter account.
  • TweetWave – wavetweets@appspot.com
    TweetWave is wave bot which integrates with twitter API’s to get latest tweets. You can Update your status and reply to any user. Unlike Tweety the twitbot all the tweets are sorted.
  • Twiliobot – twiliobot@appspot.com
    Transforms phone numbers into click-to-call links. If user clicks a link, a call is placed to his phone and to the number in the link. The call can be transcribed and inserted into the wave as text with a link to the audio.
  • WaveEmail – In Progress – wave-email@appspot.com
    Provide an extension to Google Wave which will allow the integration of both sending and receiving emails.
  • Wavepedia bot – In Progress – wave-pedia@appspot.com
    Wavepedia is a Wikipedia to Google Wave gateway bot.
  • Wave Live Messenger – wavelivemessenger@appspot.com
    Allows you to chat to your windows live messenger contacts from inside a wave.

Google Wave – A Writer's Tool?

I wonder if others are seeing what I’m seeing in Google Wave. I am finding Google Wave a perfect tool for writing down ideas and refining them before publishing. I create a Wave, jot down some thoughts then come back to them when I’m ready to expand the notion into a blog post.   I realize I can do this with email and save the draft. I do that in fact at times.  Email seems so overwhelming at times that I just find it refreshing to sit down in a new environment to write. There is the added ability to share a Wave with someone I want to review and feedback on my ideas and that is where Google Wave really shines. Again it’s possible to do that in email but the back and forth sloshing of email replies gets messy to read and frankly just lost in the wash of email that is constantly coming in. There is a robot that will post a Google Wave directly to Posterous and it seems to work well though you can’t go back and edit the Wave and expect the post to be edited. That’s not possible at this time. I’d like the ability to add attachments from the Google Wave into Posterous also. I imagine that’s all coming over time.

I’m curious now what it would be like to develop a video short or documentary using Google Wave with collaborators. Sure seems like it would help make it possible to capture, explore and refine ideas easier with crew. The ability to quickly add one or two people to share your Wave with is part of the joy. Again, this can be done in Google Docs easily enough. There is just something about Google Wave that makes for a more immediate and intimate collaboration process.  I’ll see how this pans out over time as more of my business contacts and friends are on Google Wave and I actually use Waves as part of my social interactions.