Monthly Archives: May 2007

Joost and the Apple TV?

I used to think a lot about “convergence,” and ubiquitous computing. It’s obvious that I’m not doing much of that any more, because it took me until now to have me consider the fact that the Apple TV runs OS X might mean that 3rd party apps, like, maybe, Joost, end up running on it.

What finally jogged my brain was this item from Om Malik’s live blogging of a talk by Steve Jobs at the D conference.

Q: Why do you call AppleTV a hobby?
A: What every body has tried is that coming from computer market, you think about getting content from your computer to your TV. I am not sure that is what consumers want. More we think about it, they are like peas. We think the content from the Internet is the real play.
GigaOM LIVE BLOGGING: Apple adds YouTube to AppleTV «

Update: Not surprisingly, this dim insight isn’t exactly news. People have already hacked the AppleTV to run 3rd party apps, including Joost.

Buyer Beware: Consumer Reports

I subscribed to the Consumer Reports website quite a while ago. I think I signed up for a one month subscription because I had a specific need, and then decided to let it ride another month, because I was planning on making another big purchase.

Skip forward a year or two to today. I’m looking for articles on new autos and I realize that I’m probably still on a month to month subscription. I start digging around and realize I’ve probably been paying 2x as much annually as I have to. Nice of a consumer magazine not to let me know that I might want to change my subscription. Even cell phone companies have been known to do better about letting customers know how to save some money.

Next I try to find a way to change my subscription from monthly to annual. I can’t find any way to do it without jumping through the hoop of canceling and resubscribing, so I look for a way to contact a customer service rep. Can’t find a way to do that either.

It just goes to show, ya can’t trust no one.

Update: After a little more digging, I found a way to contact customer service. After I did, they suggested some help topics that might answer my question. One of them was about upgrading from a monthly to an annual subscription. I clicked, followed the instructions and found myself at a dead end. The option to upgrade my subscription was no where to be found on the page they directed me to.

Technorati breaks Technorati

Technorati was probably the premier blog-focused search site, but today, they’ve launched a major update. This update ropes in other “user created content” like videos and photos into the search results. In the process of doing so, they seem to have all but abandoned blogsearch, or at the very least, broken it severely. If I do a search on technorati, the results page has absolutely no blog posts.

This is so wrong, it must be a bug, but what a lousy bug to have. The new media types are confusing enough.

Google Experiments with Timeline View

Google has been experimenting with it’s search UI lately. It’s nice to see, because for the most part, there has been very little search UI innovation reaching the mainstream in the last decade.

I’ve been making use of their timeline view lately. They extract dates from the text of pages and then present them in chronological order with a timeline for drilling down. It’s been really handy for finding blog posts talking about specific presentations at various conferences — often the slides from the talk are published, but the added context the speaker gives is usually missing and people’s lecture notes help fill in the gaps.
Google Timeline View
There is no exposed UI for invoking the timeline view, other than some examples on Google Labs, but you can trigger it by adding “view:timeline” to the end of your search terms. For example:

“Applying Game Mechanics to Social Software view:timeline

It’s already quite handy, but there are a few things I’d like to see that would make it more useful to me:

  • Reverse chronological view by default — I’d like to see the most recent dates first. Barring that, I’d like a way to swap the sort order with a single click.
  • Full range timeline for paging — Right now, the timeline at the top of the page only displays dates associated with the 10 results on the current page, which makes me think there aren’t more recent results (even though there often are). I’d like to see either the timeline for the entire result set, or some sort of indication on the timeline that there are earlier or later results available.
  • Better result titles and summaries — Ordinary google search results show the page title and then a snippet of text containing your search term. The timeline search moves the page title to the bottom of the result (and often cuts it off) and replaces it with the year found in the text. The summary text then emphasizes the year. My reaction is that I’d rather have basically the same result format as ordinary search results with the addition of the year somewhere less obtrusive, perhaps at the end of the title line. The date is really secondary to the search term, it’s a handy way of ordering the results, but it’s not necessarily important in its own right (if it were, I would probably try using it as part of my search term)

It seems like I had one other gripepiece of constructive criticism, but I can’t think of it now.

It will be interesting to see if this ever makes it into the main google search UI.