Monday, January 26, 2009

Why We Spend Hours on MSN Chatting

As they watch impatiently as their children are overwhelmed by a flood of instant messages and respond to each one of them with a slight smile on their face, parents wonder, "Why the hell can't they just talk on the phone?" Well, that's when the psychology kicks in; adolescent minds work very differently from those of adults. Here's the chatting phenomenon explained:

6. People feel under pressure to say something constantly on the phone but can do other things on the computer

The fact is that people don't feel uncomfortable not saying anything for half an hour while in a chat because they know that their fellow chatter is aware that they are doing something else. On the other hand, not saying something for more than five seconds counts as an awkward silence and with the number of awkward things these days, who needs another.

5. We're usually on the computer anyway

Hey, it's true. This generation is starting to use the computer more and more as it becomes more and more "useful". So I guess we're just getting so lazy that we can't walk a few steps to pick up a phone; instead, we just want to sit in our chairs, typing and staring, typing and staring.

4. People feel more comfortable expressing themselves with IMs than with long speeches

Maybe long speeches were trendy back in the 80s but they definitely aren't now. Plus, some feel like they're revealing more when they're talking face to face or even just on the phone but they feel more secure hiding behind their trusty e-wall.

3. Most are more fluent in writing than talking

When you speak, you can pause for a minute thinking of how to word something; you just have to go ahead and unless you're a really good talker, you'll get mixed up with what you're trying to say. On the other hand, on the computer, you can take your own sweet time thinking of something to say and then how to say it.

2. You can mask your true personality and reactions with simple cyber-surgery

Thoughts can quickly be translated to speech so a conversation can quickly turn sour if you can't hide your emotions. However, in a chat, you don't see thoughts or hear words, you watch letters slowly appear on the screen. And who says these letters have to be truly showing what you think; in fact, you can be a whole different person online.

1. Because everyone else does

What's popular is what's popular and people can't resist following the trends. Almost everone has an Windows Messenger account and if you don't, you're pretty much seen as an outsider. To add to that, if you're not on every hour of every day, you're seen as an outsider too.

More Than Just Games: Playstation Portable

I'd been wanting a Playstation Portable, better known as the PSP, for months and finally, a month ago I got it. And now, I only have raves about its spectacular features.
Well, for starters, this is a gaming device and boy can it game. The graphics are absolutely amazing for a handheld device and the screen is remarkably large allowing for the most advanced gameplay that you'll never see on Gameboys. And of course, the games on the PSP are not stupid collections of mini-games that you get bored of after a few weeks but real, hardcore games that include Grand Theft Auto, MLB 08: The Show, Shaun White Snowboarding, God of War, Rainbow Six Vegas and many more excellent titles.
Of course, the PSP isn't just about games and in fact, Sony totally re-defines the rules of the handheld with their device, which can also act as an MP3 player, a photo viewer and a movie player. Plus, as long as you establish a connection point, the PSP can be a web browser as well. And with this, you don't just get a handful of sites that actually work; in fact, it's tough to find one that isn't supported by the PSP's Javascript-friendly browser. And with internet, there's Skype, internet radios and customizable RSS feeds that are pre-installed onto your system and online gameplay too.
But that's not all; there's tons of little extras that you won't find anywhere else. For example, the PSP comes in several different actually stylish colors (not just black, white and pink) that can make gamer nerds look cool. Moreover, you can download PSP themes that range from Windows Vista backgrounds to Christmas looks. Further, this little device has a USB slot, a headphone jack, a memory stick slot and slots for other things that I don't even know about. To back it all up though, you can customize almost anything on your PSP.
So think about it. What's a barely functional touch screen compared to the PSP's multimedia capabilities and top-quality games. Well, not much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Blogging and Everything About the Blogosphere Sucks

Back in 2003, which now seems like centuries ago, blogs were a new and very innovative idea. The blogosphere was fresh and untainted, and everyone loved this absurd but cool idea. However, shiny became dull and now blogging is in trend but that's pretty much what defeats the purpose. The glory days have faded.
One main reason is that back in the day, if you wrote an interesting blog post, your page would be sure to surge to some of the top rankings in search engines and attract tons of traffic. But today, it's almost impossible for an amateur blogger who simply writes as a pastime to obtain a decent search engine ranking. Instead, the Wikipedias and CNNs of the world have taken over because they are considered "reliable sources". Sure, they have the facts but what happened to all the excitement to read cold, hard opinion and spirit. But if you are enthusiastic enough about blogging, you might try some stupid little tricks like search engine optimization, social networking and whatever the hell else but ordinary people don't have the time to do these things. They have to work, make a living and pay the bills.
On the other hand, big corporations and major "professional" blogs have the time, money and ability to do all these things. Now, smaller blogs don't have any chance of squeezing through the thick canopy of those Engadgets, Huffington Posts, Gizmodos and DailyKos, which by the way each have writers who are just plain writers. They don't have any jobs, so they don't know how real people feel. They're essentially robots. There's no more clever thought and hearty authenticism in the world of blogs; there's only the companies' paid arsenal of jounalistists.
And now, apparently they're re-making the rules of the blog: Zap all life out, write with apathy, don't write with emotion and don't you dare write as if you were directing each word at readers individually. Impersonal is the key to the kingdom now. Just look at all the lists of the top blogs; sure you might find the outlying personal blog, but then the other 98% are basically just online newspapers.
Plus, now you don't just have to compete with your fellow bloggers for readers but with other webbies who share videos on Youtube, share photos on Flickr and share personal information on Facebook.
So to try and do everything to get to that elusive 10-visitor per day mark, bloggers are now making an effort to be like the "professionals". Blog about the elections. Blog about Google. Blog about the stock market. It's all so overwhelming and irritating. The evil organization of writers is guiding the entire blogosphere into a bottomless pit of boring, boring crap.
So, this is all you get for spending many of your valuable hours pumping out posts? I could think of about a billion other things to do that are much more rewarding and satisfying.
All in all, people are asking a lot of you to show off your wit to compete with the likes of The New York Times, Time Magazine and Michelle Malkin. But I guess I'll stay in this garbage dump disguised as paradise ... for now.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Your Guide to Being the Next Google: 9 Things that Google Does Better Than Anyone Else

9. Always aesthetic design

It's never cluttered or hard on the eye. You may notice that each Google page is based on achieving an appealing design by focusing not on how awesome everything looks but just beauty by simpicity.

8. Free is not bad

It's tough to name more than a few Google services that require you to give up a dime, which is particularly helpful in these tough economical times. In fact, rarely does Google even offer you a upgraded version that you must pay for, which often gives users a sense that this company is more credible.

7. The cool factor

Steve Jobs and his company, Apple, are cool factor masterminds with their line of iPods and the revolutionary iPod. However, Google is definitely a contender with many features that basically are meant not so much for useful application but just to entice people into trying something out. For instance, all of their unique search features make people "wow" every time and their extensive news archives are always alluring.

6. Publicity

If you think about it, there's a lot Google does to get into the media. Whether it's introducing a new feature (however small) or hitting the top 100 best employers list, people will always find ways to read about Google. Bloggers will keep posting, newspapers will keep publishing and TV stations will keep broadcasting everything that happens with this internet giant. And sometimes, indeed, there is no such thing as bad publicity, especially for a website.

5. Put things in a good light

Some will never realize that them constantly typing feedback to Google or telling others their "Google stories" is only part of Google's plan. They make you think that you'll benefit from something or they're doing everyone a favor when really, the only thing happening is that Google is earning some major cha-ching. And note how all the words, colors, fonts etc. always appear to be positive. There's never a negative message out in the open so as not to discourage use of services.

4. Accomodate the user

If you asked someone on the street what they liked about Google, a great number of them would probably say that everything they want is right there for them on Google. This is because Google knows users inside and out and know exactly what their complaints are and even understand the most trivial of issues.

3. Attention to detail

Before something is put on their site, Google ensures that it is totally flawless. No typos, no coding errors, no anything errors. And again, they always pay full attention to what users want and deliver this to them.

2. Fill the gaps

Instead of focusing on things where competition is thriving and everywhere, Google focuses on markets where they know that they can be dominant. Google doesn't have Google Sports (they know Sports Illustrated is already there); Google doesn't have Google Music (they know MTV is already there); and Google doesn't have Google Movies (they know IMDB is already there). Instead, they have a collection of all the other stuff from Google Documents to Google Code to Google Scholar, which have not been explored by many others. Likewise, with the essentials, Google adds never-before-seen features to enhance their users' experience by just that little bit that gives them the edge.

1. Simplicity

All Google services are easy to use and pretty much can be quickly comprehended by anyone. Each little nook and cranny is so apparent and nothing is hidden. Their titles, labels and graphics are so incredibly idiot-proof that some even get embarassed if they can't understand a Google product. Plus, even if you do have trouble with something, you can always consult their help pages, which are comprehensive and have a quality that's unheard of.

These don't seem like much but I guess doing your homework a bit goes a long way. Good luck, Yahoo! on beating Google with it's massive arsenal of weapons.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Top 15 Best and Most Useful Facebook Applications

Facebook is arguably the most popular social network in the world right now and the entire website is based on the humble application. Applications are either user-generated or native-Facebook web programs (no downloads) that allow users to do such things as share favorite music, write notes, and compare people. Here are the 20 best user-generated applications:

15. Profile HTML

Get funky with your profile! Add some HTML to really spice it up possibly adding links to your websites, or other promotional banners.

14. Restaurants

This applications has a massive list of restaurants from around the world, complete with a few important details and reviews and ratings. This is your one stop shop for guidance for eating out.

13. tvClickr

Here's another review oriented application, which features a type of forum for comments on almost any show as well as a short summary and even a few videos. The main thing about this app though is the fact that you can participate in games to earn credits that allow you to participate in contests, all tv-related of course.

12. Movies

This application is the ultimate movie guide where you can quickly rate movies you've seen, compile a list of movies you want to see, watch trailers, find movies that are in theatres and even compare your preferences with friends.

11. iLike

Here's the music version of the previous one. This is very well-designed and lets you find concert dates, rate artists, songs and videos and finally show off all your likes and dislikes. Of course, quite a bit of music information is provided too.

10. Causes

With this innovative application, users can donate money to different causes, all categorized into groups such as animals, environment and political campaigns. As well, you can create your own causes to raise money.

9. StyleFeeder

With this application, you can tell the whole world about how you shop; what clothes, furniture, CDs or whatever you like. Then, theres coupons, suggestions of thing you might like and available friends' preferences to see what the trends are these days.

8. weRead

Now you have an excuse to get Facebook. Tell your parents about weRead, which features everything books. And when I say everything I mean everything including top authors, top books, top searched books, new releases and user-made book reviews. Plus, you can add books to your personal library to really keep track of what you're reading.

7. NHL Scores & News/NFL Scores & News/NBA Scores & News/MLB Scores & News etc.

If you're a sports fan, you won't be able to live without this. Many applications are here to serve your needs and provide news, analysis and most importantly scores that are updated daily to feed your constant sports craving.

6. Stocks

With the application made by Forbes, you can track all of your stocks right from your favorite social network. Find news, earnings and even friends' portfolios right from this nifty little thing.

5. Study Groups

Create well... you may have guessed it, study groups. Instead of going to the library to study with friends and classmates, just use everyone's favorite social network, Facebook. Basically, you can create study groups for others to join and join other study groups.

4. My Blogs

This application publishes a post on your wall whenever you write something on your blog. Just give them the URL of either the blog or the RSS feed and they'll handle it from there.

3. Captain Resume

This is really an amazing application and I'll bet that in many lists this would be first. With the state of the economy and the number of job losses, there's been a lot of talk lately about promoting yourself using the internet. This lets you do just that allowing you to upload your resume, edit tags and proudly display it on your Facebook profile.

2. ProductPulse

With excellent interface and very simple controls, ProductPulse is a very well-designed application. But that's not all, you can share reviews to maybe praise a good product or let off steam about a bad one. And of course, you can read reviews and ratings that others have given to things before you go out and buy them.

1. Social Calendar

The main feature of this app is to remember all the "social events" in your life, whether it be birthdays, holidays or other occasions. But you can do a lot more as well; Add wishlists, see movie calendars and give gifts to friends.

Honorable Mention:


This application is both extremely well-designed and very useful and innovative. The main idea is to let users send virtual packages to friends enclosed with a message, a link, photos, gifts and even files. And of course, if the message is private, then you don't have to have the story published in your profile.

If You're Thinking of Buying an MP3 Player or iPod, Just Remember Sandisk Sansa Sucks

Let's face the facts; in terms of initial quality of MP3 players, Apple's ingenious innovation, the iPod leads the way with the ever unpopular Microsoft Zune not that far behind. Then, there's the other guys. It seems these days that everyone is trying to obtain some type of a share of the MP3 player/song/accessory/whatever-the-hell-else market with Sony's Walkman series, Creative's Zen series, Samsung's YP series or- Sandisk's Sansa Series.
How about another cold hard fact: Sandisk Sansa sucks (SSS). I'll give it to you that this device looks very good for its relatively low device but here's why you'll be making a major mistake if you buy one of these.
First of all, you must understand that the website (which, by the way, has some pretty good design) totally distorts how these players look. The web designer nerds actually have some design sense and make the Sansas appear very sleek and cool and iPodish if you will. And just on a sidenote, Sansas are no substitute for the all-mighty iPod; Sansas are not trendy, cool, popular or for that matter good.
To add, the scrollwheel on many of these devices aren't even touch-based and therefore, the flimsy little wheels are very undurable and currently my Sansas scrollwheel and hence total navigation system is experiencing major difficulties.
Also, all of the Sandisk players lack features in a major, major way; in fact, so much so that a few of the main features of their best MP3 are a built-in microphone and video capabilities (no wi-fi, touch screen or event organizer to boast, just a 2.4" screen and a 30-day trial of Rhapsody).
Moreover, virtually every part of the Sansa that I have is intensely faulty and error-filled. Just a few right off the top of my head include random files showing up; an inability to upload new files even though it wasn't even halfway to full capacity; several freezings where I was unable to do anything for about 10 minutes; an unbelievably slow interface where when I press something, it actually has to load for a while; and an inability to show photos although they are on the player and photo-viewing was supposed to be a feature.
Oh yeah, the last thing I have to say is that the battery life of Sansas absolutely suck. The advertisements claim long battery lives but mine barely lasts 5 or 6 hours (only music playback) and I've only had for about a year. The Sansa View's product page says that it has 32 hours of battery life but even though I don't have this player, but I already know that it will only possibly have maybe 15hours.
So all in all, with what I'm seeing with Sansa, I'd just recommend Sandisk to stay with USBs and memory cards, things that they can actually make.