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Tag Archives: yahoo

  • How Facebook and Candy Crush Got You Hooked
    A short article about a theory on why we get hooked on things like games and using apps. A good surface look but some associated reading is needed to really dig into the topic.
  • What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs
    After 2 years on the job as Yahoo!’s CEO, Marissa Mayer hasn’t really turned the ship around as she was meant to. This article takes a look at her changes – where she’s succeeded, and where she seems to be struggling.

    Mayer also had a habit of operating on her own time. Every Monday at 3 p.m. Pacific, she asked her direct reports to gather for a three-hour meeting. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Invariably, Mayer herself would be at least 45 minutes late; some calls were so delayed that Yahoo executives in Europe couldn’t hang up till after 3 a.m.

  • Whitewood under Siege
    A fascinating inside the world of…shipping pallets – you know, those things that you see in warehouse where goods are stacked on. There’s apparently a long battle between a couple of different business models/companies and possibly some technological revolutions in the future

    For more than half a century, pallet futurists have announced the next big thing, only to see the basic wooden variety remain the workhorse of global logistics. “Lots of people have tried to invent a better pallet,” Robert Bush, a professor at Virginia Tech affiliated with the school’s Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design, told me. “We see them almost every day at our testing lab. But it’s harder than people think. It’s surprisingly hard. It’s one of those things that people got pretty close to right the first time.”

  • Christmas Tree, Inc
    A somewhat bland, but informative article on how Christmas trees are “farmed” and how they end up in your millions of home across America.

    “We’ve seen [a bust] four times in the last 40 years. That’s how stupid we are,” Ken says. “Just as sure as we’re sitting here, we will overplant again, and there will be an over-harvest of Christmas trees in 2022.”

    But, as Ken noted optimistically, trees will be really expensive in 2016 — a six-foot Noble fir that cost $16.75 wholesale in 2013 might be as high as $22.

    And people will pay. The recession did not impact the demand for Christmas trees, for instance. Christmas trees are remarkably recession-proof. People will find that $40, even if it’s been a tough year.

  • Sneaking Into The Super Bowl — And Everything Else
    A story about sneaking into a bunch of sporting events like college football and the World Series. There’s also a teaser about sneaking into the Super Bowl, but you’ll need to buy his book (which doesn’t have a publisher yet) to read that… actually after reading the article, it’s not really that interesting.

    Cooper passed through the turnstile and turned left. Confidently, I strode through the same turnstile, my right hand reaching deep into my pocket, the ticket taker on my right. She paused ever so briefly, as if to convey that her elderly mind wasn’t processing why things were taking place out of order — that her monotonous task had been inexplicably altered in some way. I looked straight ahead and said nothing.

I signed up and was accepted into the beta program for Facebook Questions. It’s a lot like Yahoo! Answers, except of course it is integrated with your social network (well Yahoo! has a social network thing too, I forget what is called now that Yahoo! 360° is dead). I don’t think the concept is revolutionary or even evolutionary, it’s just that Facebook has the critical mass to make it popular and successful.

To get into the program, you need to answer 3 questions in a non-spastic/crazy manner. Oh and you get to pick your own questions too! Here are the 3 that I answered:

Why is it necessary for the web to have multiple search engines?

The existence of multiple search engines provide competition which in turns spurs growth and innovation.

When there are multiple search engines on the market, each search engine is in a competition to gain and maintain users. In order to achieve this goal, a search engine has to provide additional value to end users beyond what their competitors can provide. This can be through a variety of means such as by being able to search more sources, or having a better understanding of the goals of the user. One example is when Microsoft Bing launched, they integrated a travel tab to provide searchers with quick travel information in order to accelerate the process of booking travel (source). This innovation targeted travelers using search engines and improved the user experience for those users.

If there was only a single search engine, there is no need for the search engine to continually improve its offering. The feature set and functionality may become stagnant for the end user. By having multiple search engines, a competitive environment can be fostered resulting in a larger feature set for the web searcher.

How is Foursquare different than other web/mobile applications?

Foursquare ( is a mobile application where users can ‘check-in’ into real world locations and share this data with a user-defined set of friends. I consider Foursquare different due to the combination of the following reasons:
1) It is quite popular, having over a million users worldwide (source).
2) It is one of the first mobile applications that programatically extracts a user’s physical location.
3) Incorporated a social aspect and friends list
4) Incorporated a game aspect (e.g., badges and points)

Currently and in the past, there have been web/mobile applications that are either popular (e.g., Twitter or Facebook), or used a user’s physical location and had a social aspect (e.g., Gowalla, Dodgeball) but none of have combined all of these aspects. I consider Foursquare different because it has become successful while combining all of these elements.

If you had a choice of sleeping in in the morning, or getting to work on time, which should you choose?

I think it’s more important to get to work on time, but I do like to sleep in as well. How I get around this difficult choice is by getting as many things prepared for work as I can the night before. That means packing my lunch, figuring out what I’m going to wear, preparing breakfast and packing my work bag before going to sleep. Then, the next morning I can enjoy another 10 minutes of sleep before I have to wake up and go to work!

I should start this post off with the disclaimer that I know there is a perfectly good solution, namely IMAP, that was engineered to solve this problem; but I don’t have a data plan and the point is to try and figure out a way to get a notification when I get an email, with the tools I have available (i.e., unlimited incoming SMS due to a text plan).

The idea is simple. When I get an email, I want to be texted on my phone with the subject, sender, and whatever else from the body that can fit within 160 characters. But the some of the details make this convoluted: 1) Sending SMS is “expensive” so it’s difficult to find a reliable, quick AND free resource to send texts, and 2) I don’t want to share my GMail login with some random provider to retrieve my mail (since it’s my Google Accounts login which is tied to Calendar, Adsense, etc; not to mention just having random people read my private mail).

The first problem has a relatively easy solution, and that is to go through Twitter. I can set my Twitter account to subscribe to another dummy Twitter account that I own. Whenever that dummy account is updated, Twitter can quickly and for free, send a text to my phone. Now I just need to get my mail onto Twitter.

GMail has an RSS feed, and if you embed your login information in the URL, then anything can pull the mail from your account. Also, a Twitter account can be tied to a RSS feed through services like TwitterFeed (which I tried using for FiD). But their service runs on a one-hour delay and I’m not entirely comfortable sharing my info with this third party. Then I found out that FeedBurner has a new FeedBurner Socialize feature which can push RSS updates to a Twitter account. Feedburner is now owned by Google so I feel more comfortable storing my login info there.

With that setup, I can accomplish what I set out to. So to summarize:

  • Grab mail as RSS feed by embedding login data into feed URL
  • Burn feed through FeedBurner and socialize to a new, protected, Twitter account
  • Follow dummy Twitter from main Twitter account and have updates sent to phone.

Now on to the problems. The GMail RSS feed stores the email body preview in a summary element within the feed, instead of the description. This means that when FeedBurner pushes to Twitter, it just pushes the title (and also there is no author etc). I think this can be solved by taking the FeedBurner feed and “fixing” it with Yahoo! Pipes. For some reason, Yahoo! Pipes doesn’t take an authenticated RSS feed as a source (or GMail ignores it on purpose) so you have to use your burned feed. Once the feed is fixed, then you have to burn it a second time in FeedBurner to push to Twitter. This introduces even more polling delay.

Next, the dummy Twitter account ends up polluting your actual Twitter account with updates (i.e., your mail). I don’t know how to solve this yet since there is no filtering mechanism on the main Twitter site. It is actually quite annoying and counter-balances the usefulness of pushing email notifications to my mobile.

Also, I was thinking that it might be good to funnel my mail through to a second, read-only, GMail account in order to protect my login (it might be good to have a second GMail account which shadows my primary account for security purposes anyways). But again this adds more delay.

In summary, it can be done, but it is just not streamlined enough to be of good use.

I signed up awhile ago to FriendFeed, although I never really used it (I had to get my username before someone else took it you see). FriendFeed is kind of like the Facebook newsfeed in that it aggregates everything you’re doing into one stream, except it’s not limited to Facebook, but the entire web (although you lose granularity of course). The trick is that it scrapes your RSS feed from various sites, and aggregates them into one single feed.

I’ve been thinking of replacing the main orangefever RSS feed with FriendFeed, but FriendFeed isn’t exactly what I wanted. FriendFeed’s RSS feed of me just lists the headline of each item in my aggregated feed, but I would rather have a “lifefeed” that contains the content of all of my feeds. Instead, I slapped together something in Yahoo! Pipes, and now I proudly present my LifeFeed*.

My LifeFeed contains my old “everything” feed (blogs, links and comments) and now replaces it. You’ll also get my Facebook status feed, YouTube feed, new Flickr pictures (Flickr’s no longer in my doghouse), Digg history (I should Digg more…), my public Picasa web albums, and my Xbox blog. Have fun stalking me!

* Internet life only

We use Pixelpost as our photoblogging software on Hot Photatoes. I have a bunch of criticisms about the software, but I’m not motivated enough to roll my own, so I can’t complain. Well, I guess I can complain about one thing.

What always struck me as odd was that the RSS feed generated by Pixelpost would not include full resolution versions of the photos. On the one hand it’s good, because it forces the subscriber to click on the item and visit the original site; but it’s not like we run advertisements on Hot Photatoes. I would rather view the site through my feed readers.

Today, I had an epiphany. I could use Yahoo! Pipes to hack the RSS feed and replace the thumbnails with full-resolution shots (also I could fix the retarded problem of not evaluating Markdown code — at least for the bold text that I use in my signature). So I did that. If you’ve been subscribing to the Hot Photatoes RSS feed, you will automatically see the changes. If you want the old thumbnail version, I guess you are up the creek.

(oh yeah, I also created an RSS feed just for my photoblogs, but I don’t think it is of use to most of you due to my sporadic posting regimen)

I finally got around to playing with Yahoo! Pipes. The interweb said it was cool, I thought it might be useful, and when I finally tried making stuff in it, it is pretty neat! This just cements my opinion that Yahoo! is the new Google. If you haven’t tried Pipes, it’s basically the concept of Unix pipes brought onto the Web, where your inputs are RSS feeds and so forth.

Just to see how things work, I created an orangefever master RSS feed. It combines my existing blog, comments, and links feed into one feed and arranges them in chronological order. It’s probably more convenient for you than subscribing to three separate feeds; plus took 5 minutes to create!

About five years ago, I realized that Yahoo was releasing a whole bunch of different services on the web such as Yahoo Mail, Groups, Briefcase, etc and all of it was for free. Obviously, giving away stuff isn’t a sustainable business model so I wondered what they were going to do to make money. Their bright idea was to offer premium services at a cost which realistically was much less popular than their free services.

So now, I see them snapping up a load of popular services that so called alpha geeks use: Flickr,,,, consumating, Konfabulator, and many more. So what are they going to do now? the same strategy as before? or are they going to sell ads through them with Overture? I have no idea, but I hope they are more successful then last time.