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Check out my new apps page and all the apps I’ve been working on this year:
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I am seriously considering changing my website anthonyfontana.com, which uses wordpress, over to only using my Facebook artist page OR a Google+ page. My site gets around 2,200-2,500 unique visitors per year. Most of this traffic, unfortunately, is not to view my artwork but to find out who I am or to read a blog post I’ve written. But usually only one or two blog post per year get more than 100 viewers.
So here are the pro’s and cons to switching from a blog site to a social site:
- Pro: Better photo galleries. Facebook and G+ both have better photo galleries than WordPress.
- Pro: Easier to manage. I’m in Facebook a lot anyways and already have multiple pages that I manage there. And with Facebook, there’s an app for that.
- Con: No blog. Well no traditional blog anyway. I can still post longer textual posts as Notes on my Facebook and regularly on G+ pages.
- Con: No importing my old blog content to either platform; since neither is a traditional blog. Although, this might not be a bad thing. Fresh starts are nice.
- Con: I only have about 219 followers (Likes) on my Facebook artist/celebrity page and zero on my currently non-existent G+ fan page. Do I want to spend time to build that? How important is that function of the site? How important is building my brand as an artist, technologist, educator?
- Con: No custom URLs for posts. So something that gets hit a lot like anthonyfontana.com/bio won’t be as easy to find it it’s buried in a Facebook info panel.
- Pro: No more WordPress updates. Something inside me cringes that the whole site will break (there’s precedence for this) when I update WordPress.
- Con: Two Anthony Fontana pages on Facebook. One for me, the person, and one for me, the brand.
- Con: No ownership. No export. Although you can export everything from your Timeline and personal profile in Facebook I can’t find this option for brand pages.
Anybody doing this? Has anyone given up on their regular site just to use Facebook or G+? At this point I feel like I’ve talked myself out of this move. However, I might be willing to give it a try. Try: “do or do not, there is no try…” This type of strategy may need an all-in mentality and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I manage two other Squarespace.com websites and I thoroughly LOVE their interface. Another option to get away from WordPress would be to switch to a hosted solution there – which is more than what I pay right now.
A whole other post, but in general I love the look and feel of G+ much more than Facebook. Google has done a great job on the design of their social networking site. I’m sad to see that it’s not doing as well as hoped. I’d invest more in G+ if I had time or energy.
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There have plenty of rumors surrounding the launch of Google’s dropbox service called GDrive. These rumors are growing cold with no new news since the beginning of February.
Why I’m psyched out GDrive:
- Cheaper than iCloud
- Integration with all my Google stuffs: Gmail, Docs, Photos, etc.
- Automatic Sync with my computer (like a Dropbox feature)
- Plenty of storage (unlike iCloud)
- Easy access when I need it (unlike iCloud)
For me, as a Mac and iOS user, this product may actually lead to a giant conundrum: Apple or Google. I’ve been avoiding this fight for as long as I can. Google has made it easy for all my Mac products to work with Google products and services. However, I recently found that my Picasa photo software would no longer import photos from my iOS devices. I am trying iPhoto ’11 and thus far I HATE IT! Like iTunes and Safari, Apple has no clue what a power user wants when it comes to software.
Back on topic: If GDrive doesn’t sync well with all my Mac and iOS devices, I may actually begin to consider making the move to Android and maybe even a Chromebook.
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Here are a few of my predictions for the upcoming iPad 3:
- It will debut on March 7th in Austin, TX at SXSW and I’LL BE THERE!
- A thicker iPad makes no sense! I can’t believe the rumors. Thinner!
- Better Cameras – front and back
- FaceTime Messages – with the new release of Messages for OSX, I think Apple has to realize the potential for FaceTime Messages. You can already send videos in Messages on iOS but it isn’t branded as FaceTime. And if you call someone on FaceTime and they don’t answer… There’s no way to leave a FaceTime message. This is bound to change and it looks like there’s no better time than with the release of iPad 3.
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Looking for a good note taking app for iOS? Audio Notes ($4.99) has a interesting feature that might make it worthwhile: audio recording along each typed line. No matter your note taking skill, audio notes records what was actually said during the meeting and embeds that particular portion of audio with each word or line. This way when reviewing notes, you can simply touch and hear the conversation/lecture/meeting again. Excellent for multitasking!
Although, I’m having a hard time giving up my favorite note taking app: Evernote. I wonder how long before they work something like this into their app?
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Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR), the new Star Wars MMO, is out. While it has a superb new questing system with real story development and the ability to have companion avatars help you along the way… it surprisingly does nothing else to advance the MMO genre.
- Pure roles/classes that don’t involve fighting (dancers, musicians, crafters)
- Houses and virtual items for sale, earn, or trade (SWTOR has ships, but eh…)
SWTOR has crafting, but you actually outsource that job to one of your companions. WoW has crafting but most people add that onto another class. In SWG you actually could be a crafter or musician… and that’s all you did. These things actually led to gameplay that was creative and outside of what the creators had developed. Uber geek confession: I once hosted a speeder bike race for about 20 of my guild friends in SWG where we raced from house to house, purchasing cheap vendor items as we went to mark progress. The winner had to turn them all in at the end. This was MMO user generated content at its best – and we had a party at the guild hall when it was over!
Other things that are easily going to make any new MMO stand out are:
- Classes you can play for free (like a dancer, musician, crafter, etc…) without playing the monthly fee – just to get you in the door; let you see and explore the worlds. This type of class would increase the social features and player set of the MMO. Diversity – imagine that!
- Mobile content – like puzzle games that could actually be played to craft items. I mean, Club Penguin has this!? Why doesn’t a major MMO? Players should be able to interact with the world from an iPad, smartphone, etc…
SWTOR does have space battles which look really boring and don’t look like they cost a lot on the processing power. I’m guessing they might actually have plans to push that onto a mobile platform. Now that would be cool.
Final gripe: Travel. SWTOR looks like a giant and spacious world. This is cool – BUT it means that the majority of game time is NOT spent questing, engaging in stories, or otherwise playing the game. The majority of game time will be spent running or traveling by speeder bike or spaceship from one place to another. BOOOoooRING! I still have nightmares in which I run from place to place in SWG, EQ2 (now free by the way), or WoW. Who wants to play something in which the majority of time is spent traveling? I know I don’t.
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Best of 2011
Device: iPad 2
It’s hard to believe that this device isn’t even a year old! Released last March, iPad 2 brought a quicker processor, front and rear facing cameras, and a thinner and lighter look to an already amazing device. I’ve talked to a few folks who bought an iPad and yet still can’t figure out how to work it into their lives?! I use mine for everything from work to play, making art to storing recipes. Thanks to Google Docs, I also used it while writing this post. It even inspired me to build a web app called QizBox (read more here). Also, this is my favorite smart cover.
All Around App: Vox
This little known gem is the most used app on my iPhone. It touts itself as a walkie-talkie app but it’s real function is asynchronous voice messaging – something sorely lacking from every phone OS. With the touch (and hold) of a button, I can send/record a voice message sent directly to another user. If the other user is available, we can talk in real-time (like a walkie-talkie), and if not… they can listen to the message when they are ready! This beats texting and driving. The app is free on iOS and Android.
Biggest Surprise: Siri
The iPhone 4S seems like a dud to me. Sure, it’s faster and… uhm, I think that’s all. Except for Siri. While there have been a ton of awesome jokes about Siri, it marks the third wave of computer interface milestones in the last several years (the touch interface that kicked off a revolution of phones/tablets AND the kinetic/body interface of the Xbox Kinect). It will be exciting to watch how voice interfacing competes and integrates with the others.
The best game of the year isn’t Skyrim or the new Star Wars MMO, it’s the gamification of everything. Its hard to throw a stick in any direction and not see how gamification, or the idea of adding game mechanics (badges & awards, levels, co-op or competitive play, and something social), is affecting many different fields. From waiting tables to the classroom, making our lives more playful and engaging is gamification’s goal. Check out Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal and her TED talk that influenced the inclusion of gamification in the design of my web app QizBox. Or these articles about Will Wright’s idea to turn life itself into a game called “HiveMind”.
While Google itself is not an operating system, I use more Google apps on my devices. With a fresh new design and a billion functions, the search giant gets me where I’m going, answers all of my questions, stores my life and work, and connects me to friends. Not a day goes by that i don’t use something Google Although they aren’t perfect (Gooogle+ = meh) I’m positive that Google will continue to surprise us big in 2012. And I truely can’t wait until it literally gets me where I’m going!
Music: Spotify Desktop
All the music I could ever want. Streaming. Free. Nuff said.
Movie: Winnie the Pooh
Personally, I’ve never liked Pooh, but this movie was hilarious! My kids and I laughter harder and quote more lines from this movie than any other of the year! This movie is another sign of what John Lasseter is doing for Disney. Yes, Cars 2 & Kung Fu Panda 2 were both awesome as well (Ska-doosh), and the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo was crazy suspenseful, but if you haven’t seen Pooh, try it.
Social: Google Hangouts
Apple’s FaceTime & Microsoft’s Skype should be shivering in their boots. Beyond just conferencing Google Hangouts is an amazing collaboration tool. And with an open API, I’m sure we’ll see more and more integration of Hangouts in 2012.
Worst of 2011:
Device: Kindle Fire
I bought a Kindle Fire, not with expectations that it would measure up to an iPad, but with hopes that this device could be the perfect low-cost solution to those entering the tablet world. I was sorely disappointed! My long list of complaints (uncontrollable carousel, poor Amazon Prime movie selection, a sluggish OS, and super small text) were recently featured front and center in a Mashable.com article. Luckily, the majority of those complaints can (and likely will!) be fixed with a software update. I look forward to an even better and cheaper Fire next year.
All Around App: Facebook
I’m not sure if it’s just me… But I receive dozens of Notifications in my on Facebook for Friends I’m not even subscribed to! It extremely annoying. What was once an easy website/app to use, notifying me when someone interacted with me, is now a cluttered mess that looks more like a Twitter feed. Beyond that, on some posts I can “Like” other users comments and on others I can’t. Also, the settings I have on my computer for whose updates I receive don’t seem to translate to my mobile device. WTF? With other options (Twitter & Google+) in the social network realm, Facebook is giving me many frustrating reasons to leave. – Side note: I was sad to see my favorite location based check-in app, Gowalla, first ruin itself, then shut down altogether to join the Facebook team. This has to be my runner up for Worst app of 2011.
Music: Spotify Mobile
I had 48 free hours of all the music I could love on the Spotify mobile app… Then it asked me to pay. Dear Spotify, I’ve spent a total of $9.99 on music in the last two years! I would never ever think of spending that PER MONTH for music! Your business plan is wack. Serve me more ads and give it to me for free. OR make your service free with the purchase of one 99 cent song per month. Also, as much a I love the desktop app, I de-coupled it from my Facebook account. The idea that I want to a) share what I’m listening to with friends or b) learn about music by hearing what my friends listen to are both false assumptions. I’d much rather rely on a computer algorithm to make recommendations – Thank you Pandora!
My particular gripe with Xbox isn’t it’s new interface (that’s ok), it’s the $9.99 a month they are requesting from me to use other services like Netflix, HBO, or Pandora that I’m already paying for! This attempt at Microsoft is nothing more than a cheap money grab. My friends who play games together online obviously have a reason to pay. However, if Microsoft is going to tout their new “apps” as a real competitor to Google TV or the upcoming Apple TV they’d better drop the Xbox Gold Live price tag altogether. Google doesn’t have one and I’m pretty sure Apple won’t either.
Biggest Surprise: No iPhone 5
While this shouldn’t have been a big surprise given Apples usual development cycle, the hype and media leaks surrounding an iPhone 5 were at a new peak last August. Rumors of a bigger screen and thinner profile are likely to be true when we finally see this model next year. I will definitely be getting one.
The Occupy movement stands for one thing more than any other- Get big business out of government. This message was seemingly lost among the protests and ensuing social media blitz. Furthermore, many smart people I know could not separate the message from the messengers. Yet, I could hardly find a person on either side of the party lines that didn’t agree that our government and politics have been overrun by big business money and lobbyists. It’s time we act like the 99% in a peaceful and cooperative way; without the craziness.
What to look for in 2012:
Devices: iPad 3 (5”x7”) – Sony Gaming TV – iPhone 5
iPad 3: I’m hopeful there will be a 5″x7″ iPad 3 announce in the first quarter of 2012. The 5″x7″ size of the Kindle Fire was one of its best features! Plus, it would make this amazing device more affordable.
Sony Gaming TV: Pushed to 2012, this TV allows two users wearing 3d glasses to see different images when looking at the same screen. I think this tech will quickly move beyond gaming as many families will use the glasses, combined with headphones, to watch different content while looking at the same screen.
iPhone 5 - I think I’ve covered this.
Finally, as information overload continues to grow, curatorial and creative story telling tools, like Storify, will too! Even smaller social networks, like Path, might help to cut down on the increased information stream on Facebook and Twitter.