Archive for the 'Internet' Category

This is why we can’t have nice things

I’m not much of a game player. I’ve had phases in my life where I played computer games for a while, but I’m not very persistent and I have the attention span of a fruit fly, so most of them I grew tired of after a rather short while.

So to my utter surprise I was finally caught up in a game that turned out to captivate me beyond any other games I’d ever encountered. It’s name – Glitch – is but a tiny indicator for the creativity, the quirkiness, the all-encompassing thoroughness in thought that pervaded this game.

Its relaxed nature of allowing me to play whenever and to whatever extent I wanted made it the perfect companion for all times and whenever I did play I was lulled in by its charm and general friendliness. Its ever growing massive world and the vast number of quests, items and quirks to explore seemed endless.

Endless, unfortunately, aren’t many things, and as it turns out, Glitch isn’t either. Two days ago it was announced that the game will be closing down. Why? Well, simply because there was no way to turn it into a viable business model. Once again, real-world constraints collided with the vision and creativity of an amazing bunch of people and whether we like it or not, there’s not a whole lot that can be done about it. While they had a subscription service, one of its great advantages, namely that every aspect of the game could be played without having to be a paying customer, was probably the one thing that took them down. It’s a terrible shame and the next time a VC invests in yet another photo-sharing app for the iPad, maybe they should remember that there may be more unique things out there deserving of their money.

The company behind the game, Tiny Speck, handled the situation very graciously, offering ever subscriber a refund for every monthly payment, something they had no obligation to do at all. Fortunately, it was just an offer, so I had the opportunity to give what I had already paid to a charity of their choosing (they did have the option of simply letting the company keep it, but I’m fairly certain that their employees will be paid out with whatever money is still left from their VC rounds).

On December 9th, Ur, the massive world of wonders in which Glitch was set, my little Glitchen, together with his house, the pigs, chicken and butterflies that live outside it, will disappear into that ether of all things that once were. What will remain will be a few snapshots taken during my travels as well as the knowledge that the world isn’t yet ready for something as unobtrusively amazing as Glitch.

Here’s to Glitch and the power if imagination.

PS: The good people at Tiny Speck created a downloads page where you can download artwork and music from the game. Do have a look, it’s all very charming.

Twitter Friend Requests or The Pitfalls of Viral Marketing

Twitter, the reinvention of the wheel (if a wheel was in fact something people use but don’t actually know if they actually need it), lets people follow other people’s activity stream. So far so good.

The fact that Twitter is by now more popular than the Ribwich has led to constant notifications telling me that this or that person is now following me. Most of the time, the person is either a bot or a spammer (which, btw, is a great sign that you’re in fact not exactly the quarterback of the Interwebs). I usually don’t reciprocate the favour and don’t follow them (a good indicator always is the ratio followers versus following – if you’ve got someone who’s following 3000 people but has a measly following of 10 people, you know that person is either mighty unpopular or a bot, both you should stay clear of, for different reasons).

So today I received another notification of someone following me, the rather telling name was termpapers. Clearly a spambot, but as with human nature and all, I was still curious to see what exactly they were offering. Well, turns out they offer, tadaaa, termpapers. From their homepage:

Paper Masters writes custom term papers and research papers. Our research paper services provide a completed term paper, exactly as if our writer was you! You give us the complete details of your project, the date that you want the research from us and that’s it! Receive your custom research paper in your e-mail complete and ready to go!

I am flattered that someone is reading my updates so diligently as to actually glean from them that I’m still not done with my thesis. But no, buying your thesis is not a solution. It’s actually just very, very stupid.

So no, dear termpaper, I will not follow you and your exploits on Twitter. Even though your first and as of now only tweet is, in its naive attempt to mimic viral marketing methods, quite charming.

Last.fm subscriptions – worth it?

A posting on Michael Kamleitner’s blog once again brought to my attention last.fm’s subscription model. Next to Flickr and Diigo, last.fm is one of the rare services I actually use daily. And apart from Flickr, there is no webservice I’m actually paying money for.

The question is, why change that by paying 2,50€/month for last.fm? Well, here are the reasons given by last.fm:

Subscription Benefits

  1. Blue icon status
    Trade your grey user icon in for a blue one.
  2. No ads
    You won’t see them; visitors to your page won’t see them. No one will, because they won’t exist.
  3. Recent Visitors
    See who’s been visiting your profile page.
  4. Personal radio paradise
    Turn your profile page and tags into a portable radio station you and others can listen to from anywhere. It’s like a smart playlist for the music you’ve tagged.
  5. Share the Love
    Your “Loved Tracks” become a listenable radio station for you and others.
  6. Red carpet treatment
    Get top priority with our webservers and radio servers at peak traffic times.
  7. Top secret beta access
    Be the first to know and try what we’re working on and help shape the development of the site. You’ll see a subscriber-only announcement during beta.

Well, here’s what I think:

  1. The Blue icon really does have me sold already. That’s it, I’m buying!
  2. That I like. Even though, quite frankly, certain Firefox plugins take care of that already.
  3. That I like as well. I love knowing who’s been checking out my sexy music collection, so that’s worth at least, say, 0,5€.
  4. This is it, that’s one reason that’ll make me pay, if I decide to. The current radio limitations for unpaid members are a drag.
  5. That’s where the last.fm marketing guy cheated a bit. Because, actually, that’s part of the above point. Still worth 0,5€.
  6. Considering that the last.fm website is sometimes so slow, it makes a snail look fast (pretty good image, right? witty even), this one is worth the 2,50€ alone.*
  7. You know me, I like me a bit of secret betas once in a while. I can’t really say how much that is worth, as I haven’t ever paid for access to betas (it’s unfinished software after all), but I’ll give it a symbolic 0,1 €. *Selling tolerable speed is actually a bit cheeky. Not able to scale your service? Not my problem. In the end though, you won’t get more speed by complaining, so you might as well hand over those 2,5€.

Well, after this lengthy and thorough analysis, a last.fm subscription actually adds up to 6,1€. Which is considerably more than 2,5€, in case you haven’t noticed.

So, teleologically speaking, a last.fm subscription is worth it. Which of course doesn’t mean I’ll buy it, but at least I won’t feel like a total ass once I do.

Any subjective opinions out there as well? Leave them in the comments!

Update: I just ventured forth and subscribed for a month. Doing is better than blogging, as the old saying goes. I’ll see how I like it.

Podophile – worst name, worst tagline

podophile

Somehow even my crude humour doesn’t allow me to fully appreciate the bruhaha of that tagline.

Flickr’s in hot water again

Yesterday Flickr released localization for their service in German, Spanish, French and a few other languages. Which would be a good thing, if they wouldn’t in return censor search results for certain users of these localizations. Images that are flagged by Flickr as “moderate” or “restricted” will not show up in search results for German users for example. And you can’t turn this so-called “safe search” off either.

Considering that only last week famed blogger Violet Blue had her account more or less turned off, this doesn’t seem like coincidence anymore. While Violet Blue has had her account restored (with a personal apology by Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr), the issue with the safe-search result is still unresolved.

In a Flickr group discussing the drama, Stewart replies too, but what he says really is too vague to mean anything:

We really apologize for the delay in responding to these threads. The whole Flickr team has been in ongoing discussions, trying to hammer out a solution.

We have absolutely no intention of censoring the content on the community’s behalf. It is always been our intention that Flickr members participate to whatever extent they want and are as free as possible create their own experience. Currently, switching the SafeSearch function off is not available for German members. It is a really complex situation — we have been in deliberation on this for a while, and we had to make the decision whether or not to leave Germany and the German language out of the international launch.

The decision came down to the wire, but we decided to include Germany. We’re still hoping that that was the right decision. It definitely was not a decision that was made lightly and there is no intention to annoy, frustrate or inconvenience Flickr members in Germany. Rest assured, we do hear you loud and clearly (painfully loud, even) and are doing our best. We hope to have more to say soon.

And about seven hours and hundreds of still furious Flickr-users later, this comment:

Unfortunately I can’t give a more detailed update yet or any concrete good news, but please don’t take our silence to mean that nothing is happening. We are doing our best to make the situation better as quickly as possible. I’m sure it doesn’t make a lot of sense from the outside, and we would prefer to be able to share all the context — believe me, this is extremely uncomfortable and we’d strongly prefer not to be in this position — but we don’t have a choice at this time.

Again, we will post more as soon as we can — in the meantime, all we can do is apologize.

While I do sense honest discomfort on Stewart’s side, I just can’t help but feel that there are things in the universe a lot more complicated than the fact that some people display their tits in public. Enraging your loyal fanbase because somehow you’ve turned the issue of potentially offending images into rocket-science, really looks ridiculous from where I’m standing. And considering that many of those fans actually pay good money to use the service, it’s just not ridiculous, it’s downright bad business-sense.

Take that from me, the man who’s as much a business man as Donald Trump is a sensitive singer-songwriter. Which I’m not either, by the way.




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