Ironic: The Interview

With all the International intrigue about the new film ‘The Interview’ that was meant to be released tomorrow, the picture was nearly canceled altogether. Sony got hacked, probably by North Korea, threats were made and contents of Sony email was released. The ironic thing is, the film might otherwise have gone largely unnoticed in the grand scheme of things and now it could become a future cult favorite in the West. Something that can probably be tracked in Google Trends.

Steve Jobs PBS Video Interview

Check out what Steve Jobs is saying here, and consider it in context with the time it was filmed. He describes the spark of a computing revolution coming from a spreadsheet program. It was that program he cites as being responsible for Apple’s success. Computers do great at math, as the name “computer” implies. It follows what came next, brought print to its knees.

Now if you’re interested in my additional observations, note his prediction at the start of the 1990s he alludes to ‘interpersonal computing’ and the Internet from DARPA. His idea of the future held true for the following two decades, not just one, as the first was marked by strides in networking on the Internet itself which led to a second wave resulting in the social media of today.

The infectious fun we had in the ‘beehive’ days of I-Search starting in 1997 through to the ocean of distraction that is social media today, you can see where Steve Jobs is caught in that time thinking about the future of possibilities. The age of interpersonal computing as described by Steve Jobs is here. I am struck by other thoughts from his NeXt software initiative and platform thinking.

The notion of platform thinking intrigues me greatly. Apple has taken this to a great height by way of confining the Mac operating system to a mobile extension with touch features built into iOS. The revolution we are seeing now is his vision played out in the third decade, one that hearkens back to the terminal days of the mid-seventies. The tablet is the terminal we use to log into the cloud.

He also speaks of wanting to be able to operate his computer separate from the cloud. The iOS platform delivers this. He also wants third-party developers to extend on the platform designing software to make the whole machine more valuable. The Apple store delivers this. The difference in thinking between Apple and Google is that the closed architecture ensures quality that Google is missing.

The approach I want to take with Sidecar, after the original Sidecar prototype, is in pursuit of what can be done with the concept of platform thinking in a microcosm of distributed Web crawling software that is Sidecar. The goal is to realize with software code what I-Search was like for me more than ten years ago. You can hear Steve’s enthusiasm for something he lived to see in his lifetime with email lists such as I-Search and later ultimately with what Twitter is now. The power of our connected world can bring us together to conferences, or allow us to benefit without being there.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to work with Kevin Mitnick to put together the more difficult cryptograms for the paperback version of his Ghost in the Wires. When Steve Jobs remembers building ‘blue boxes’ with Woz, I know Kevin was doing the same thing. Kevin and Woz are now friends. I was on the phone with Kevin when news about the death of Steve Jobs came across Twitter. We both took note and he wanted to immediately break away and call Woz about it. Regardless how the media characterizes relationships, Steve and Woz were close by way of their shared history, which is special to them.

Responsive WordPress Themes

Update: WordPress default themes are now responsive too.

A number of nice Responsive WordPress Themes are coming out. Running several experimental sites I get to test across some of the better looking ones. Not all free ones are ready for primetime and they also might come with link payloads, so lookout. I have only tried a handful of paid ones and there aren’t that many paid ones out now anyway. That will change.

A nice paid one launched today called Appetizer. Appetizer is mainly targeted at restaurants but you can tune to anything you like if you’re handy with hacking on WordPress. If you would prefer to start from scratch, try the free bootstrap theme. I’m checking out Bootstrap version 2.3 and it’s good, if you don’t mind commercial messages in the admin area.

I don’t like this so much and will torch it for my own framework. One of the problems of historical WordPress blogs are the plugins and themes from the past that may contain bits your client is tied to commercially or emotionally. That means finding a viable alternative or replacement that can retrofit content for a purpose in the upgrade. One particularly nasty thing can be a haphazard multi-site installation for a client who was sold on it for no good reason. Look for something I might write up on that.

Initializer Responsive HTML5 SEO

It has never been a greater time to be in SEO with developer skills. WordPress has dominated the last several years as the world’s publishing tool of choice. This has led to the prevalence of blogs, with Google-owned Blogger contributing to this, alongside bona-fide CMS software such as Drupal, Joomla and more that have blog widgets. The last year has ushered in a quiet revolution in Adaptive and now Responsive Web design, which is what is so encouraging to me.

There are templates, themes and mobile plugins that are going to help transform a website into something that is mobile friendly. Alternatively, few SEOs that I read are talking about how exciting frameworks are, and how they have entered the fray and given us cause to rethink such reliance on WordPress alone. Certainly, WordPress when used for blogging is the way to go, especially if you create a child of a responsive theme, then you are golden. That is what this blog is. But wait, there’s more.

Literally starting odd with a HTML5 index document, Initializr allows you to choose responsive with Twitter Bootstrap for real mobile adherence to standard and the benefits of SEO built straight in by its basic nature. Other content generation tools, such as Adobe, utilize the framework in their software for building websites. It’s smart. Basically what you get is jQuery, CSS3 with media queries for Responsive design, mobile-ready Twitter design layout by default with HTML5 SEO. Check it out.

Sometimes on a Saturday

Sometimes on a Saturday I seem to be able to get things done with code that I can’t do during any time during the work week. When I used to work at big agencies, my weekends were pretty sacred which allowed me to recharge the batteries for managing my department. If I imagine myself still doing agency work, outside my own Search Return agency of course, then I think the advances made in mobile computing alongside social media has given anyone the ability to work 24/7. And that includes Saturday.

Thinking back on some Saturdays I think some of my best innovative ideas came out of Saturday dabbling in code. Rather than feeling boxed in by the cubicle in my corner office I get the freedom that the iPad can bring, or the mental space to dig deeper than when being intruded upon by employees. Saturdays now provide me that same freedom of space even when I’m not working at an agency. That is because if I have client work to do, I can’t be expected to accomplish it on my weekend unless it’s an emergency issue.

The last few weeks there have been some moderate emergency issues to deal with. Cleaning up after when people make a technical wreck of things can be lucrative work when the sham industry tap doesn’t stop flowing. This is the year I plan to get back to industriousness after taking somewhat of a break. I am writing more frequently and that takes time. I am coding and tinkering with Mobile Sidecar applications, preparing for our SEO future. Everyone knows the future of content and a few know the future of tech.

I love my Saturdays. The work-week pressure is on hold and I can get my creative thinking going again. I’ve spent the last few years thinking about my transition physically, now my thoughts have returned to thinking about my transition from SEO tech to social optimization tech. There are new plugins, platforms and protocols which all affect our rankings. Personalization in search prepared with its DNA the era of social search, where Google and Bing are bringing it. You’ll see Facebook matches in Bing and +Plus matches in Google.

One thing that intrigues me which goes beyond social search is what’s possible around the corner. While we optimize our social graph and content with posts and Tweets, Twitter Discover and Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer are giving us an indication of a future with push content again. Twitter Discover and Marissa Mayer’s Interest Graph description from World Economic Forum reminds me of the Pointcast service. That was such a long time ago, yet prophetic of the future. Much like LinkedIn, which started around the same time, long before Facebook. Sometimes on a Saturday I think wider in scope to peer around the corner.

Good Things That Fail

There are many launches that deserve to take off without incident but suffer from epic fail. The phenomenon seems to be worse in our digital world, as consolidation and patent suits limit or squander innovative ideas. The notion of the ‘four horsemen’ in tech as cited by Eric Schmidt are Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. In the case of what happened today, Felix the space man from Austria was planning to jump from the edge of space and reach super-sonic speeds in a specially designed suit to break records, capture attention and important data for the physical sciences. Too bad gusty winds cancelled the jump. Better safe than sorry. Postscript: He eventually made the leap!

While this failure to launch won’t console you or me when we start something that we think will take off for the pure genius of it, that doesn’t mean you can’t withdraw and survive to fight another day. Even when you are on the brink of going flat broke, there are ways to claw your way back in. Remember to create something great and try and try again until it goes. Being persistent is a trait of successful personalities. Sometimes you have to turn back to the things you love to find your solace in order to see what is right in front of you.

These thoughts are going through my mind a lot these days as I am writing some of my best material, and working with a developer to create an innovative crawler that most people, when they hear about it, have no idea what makes it so outstanding. I think sometimes I am viewed as a total madcap. It’s my vision and a passion for seeing things that are as yet intangible that scare people. The way I’m going to tackle the problem this time is through demonstration (again and again). The original prototype that is Mobile Sidecar is a toy compared with Mobile Sidecar 2.0 that is due for release soon. It’s operational on my laptop in developer mode. It’s very different, and very exciting. At least it is to me.

A Content Queen Comes Alive

There is no question that when it comes to online content, Heather Lloyd is search engine marketing’s SEO Copywriting content queen. Heather and I have a unique relationship. I worked alongside her and learned a lot. We traded great content knowledge for solid SEO tech know-how. I got the better end of the deal. I get to use the things I learned from her now.

I learned neat things watching Heather at work. How she went about getting to work and benefit from the simple act of writing content. When I first came to know Heather, she worked over a dial-up modem, writing her pieces then sending them to the Rank Write newsletter that she was a part of. I know she got herself motivated at that time by way of a work habit. I picture her that way still, with Corky and cat, in a house among the tall woods of Sudden Valley.

Living there was like losing oneself in the forest by day, to have the night descend among the trees, quickly in late afternoon. Though the wood had its hidden creature benefits, soon enough our broadband connection to the outside world opened up a whole new life. That, and a T-Mobile Starbucks Hotspot fell right into place for Heather. I know she still writes from Starbucks in Portland.

In Bellingham, I played a role in support of her writing her first book, purely focused on copywriting for search engines. We innovated things together back then. She had me contributing resources she could turn to, the website, the network, and our broadband. I discovered Blogger. Hey, it was new back in 2002! I figured Google would grow to love blogs. I was right about that, wrong about which platform. Now I’m writing on it.

With SEO2Go in 2002, we were way too early, by several years. There were other search engines to write for, and after about a year of posting (mostly Heather posting), Heather’s focus on the book and our writing for clients took attention away from me blogging until much later. I was more keen about code. She published her book, and things took off. She’s blogging again, as am I. it’s very different for us today, with her in Portland and my sweet home Chicago.

Apple Wins Patent Skirmish Against Google

Crazy to think that right as I put the finishing touches on some text, news broke through on my iPhone Apple v. Samsung verdict is in: $1 billion loss for Samsung. I wasn’t expecting this to go to Apple, and that’s a hefty amount for any company to have to pay. It’s pretty harsh for Google.

This is a ‘thermo-nuclear war’ that Steve Jobs vowed to conduct shortly before his death. Patent wars are nasty business. Huge day for Apple. Bad day for Google. Google owns Motorola, and just made their first tablet with ASUS (I bought one). What manufacturer in their right mind would make a product based-around Android now? I’m sure there will still be many who do. There is always taking the Kindle/Nook approach, leaving Android mostly out of the device so it runs purely with your own brand.