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There are several camps when it comes to tags versus folders, and Gmail users are a great example of this. They’ve debated Google’s implementation of labels since their launch. One camp prefers folders because that’s what they’re used to and they may have a meticulously classified document structure in place already. Another camp likes to throw everything into a mixing bowl and perform searches every time to pull out information. Yet a third camp likes to apply labels, or tags to their e-mail and use those tags to create information filters.

Resourceweb One thing all camps can agree on: the goal for all of these methods is to filter information and locate specific pieces of data. My preference is to minimize the amount of administration required to maintain a structure of resources, which I’ll refer to as a resourceweb. To create a low maintenance system I use a combination of search and tagging because each varies in effectiveness depending on a given set of circumstances.

Here are my suggestions on finding files more quickly within your resourceweb. First, become familiar with your operating system’s searching capabilities or install Google Desktop. Next, choose your tagging system. Windows users may want to investigate tag2find, which is free tagging software I’ll review in more detail later. If you’re a Mac OS X user, check out this article on Lifehacker discussing native tagging support.

Finally, the real challenge is to brainstorm what keywords to use. Usually it works well to think of broader categories, especially if they’re words you use in your regular vocabulary, then brainstorm details you might search for later. For example any given file in my music library might have these tags: music, mp3, hiphop. This is already a successful organizational methodology in use by companies like Del.icio.us and Amazon.com, now just think of applying that same efficiency to your resourceweb.

Search usually works well on its own but at times there are too many results. Tagging can help limit search engine scope, and also allows you to browse topics of interest without locking on to the perfect search term.

How do you organize your resourceweb?

Lately there’s been buzz on the inter-web about a new phone service option, Ooma. Their idea is to provide phone calls utilizing a peer to peer (P2P) network. That means everyone on the Ooma platform will end up sharing some bandwidth to facilitate calls.

Ooma The business model is different in that new customers will pay about $400 up front for the device and thereafter will be able to make calls for life within the United States without any additional charge. International rates are promised to be pennies per minute.

I have a couple of thoughts on this approach. First, I wonder what happens when the company distributes enough of its hardware and sales begin to slow. They’ll be making some money from international calls but will it be enough to sustain continued growth and innovation? Anytime there’s a steep up-front fee I’m a little hesitant, especially after my experience as a refugee from VoIP provider Sunrocket’s bankruptcy.

The difference here may be that the hardware will be independent and won’t require maintenance on Ooma’s part, which is the concept behind most modern P2P applications.

Another concern is with the competitive landscape. A product like this challenges the fundamental business model of traditional telephone companies and I would expect a strong response first with some sort of patent lawsuit, and later with innovation.

If you’d like a first hand account of what setting up and using the service is like check out Stephen Shankland’s post, My so-so Ooma setup experience on CNET.

The advent of blogging has created an immense opportunity for traditional companies in the form of free buzz. It’s a way for corporate decision makers to connect directly with their employees and customers with casual dialog. Of course, the expectation is that when people share their opinions a company will take action based on their feedback.

The Way Forward One way to work through this without the same level of expectation is by encouraging employee blogging. This will help build a good online presence especially if employees are happy where they work. However, if negative blog posts are surfacing about your company that’s an indication there are internal problems in need of quick attention.

Essentially, blogging holds a company accountable to the public. Treat employees and customers fairly and this will work positively.

That said, it’s important to give would-be bloggers a few tips, which essentially become the company’s blogging policy. The points below are written from the perspective of an employer, please feel free to copy and modify them to fit your needs.

Are there important points I’m missing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Blogging Policy Template:

Many people participate in blogging for business and pleasure. metaViper recognizes that your time outside of work is your own and that topics you choose to blog about during that time are independent of company domain. That in mind, we would like to recommend a few good practices:

  1. If you identify yourself as an employee of metaViper it’s important to distinguish your opinion from the company’s.
  2. Blogging about metaViper is encouraged with the first premise in mind.
  3. In fact, here are a few things you might be interested in blogging about: metaViper’s focus on quality content, our relaxed culture that encourages diverse and collaborative independence, or some of our most recent articles.
  4. Personal blogging at work shouldn’t interfere with your job. Microbreaks are important but make sure your work gets done.
  5. Information posted to the blogosphere is public and will be accessible for years as part of your online breadcrumb. Remember this when sharing your opinions.
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iPhoneThere’s a lot of hype on the inter-web about the iPhone and like many I’m tempted to buy one. That prompted me to do a little research on the pros and cons of the iPhone, like with any other new gadget. Most of these points are obvious and my only goal here is to create some clarity about whether or not it makes sense to hand out $500 plus $60/month for a service contract to buy a new iPhone.

Pro Con
  • Mashup of cell phone, iPod, and digital camera into one small package
  • Social status symbol
  • Svelte design
  • Visual voicemail
  • Safari browser which potentially could enable easy integration of new webware from third parties
  • Syncing music on the iPhone from multiple computers can be painful as it requires playlists to match exactly.
  • Confined to the AT&T network with a 2 year contract. Widespread reports indicate browsing the Internet away from a hotspot is painfully slow.
  • Battery may be difficult to change

A couple of features that I’m finding anecdotal evidence for on both sides include: image quality of the iPhone’s camera, and whether or not using the on-screen keyboard is quick and intuitive.

What other iPhone pros or cons can you think of?

Toyota PriusGoing green is prime time buzz right now and more businesses are looking at their sustainability practices, questioning what they can do better and how to cash in on the trend. The automotive industry is very visibly working through this transition and there are now many hybrid options available.

 Been thinking about buying a hybrid but not sure how to decide between them? Research now will pay off later, here are some sites that will help.

Think of a site that’s missing? Put it in the comments.

  • GreenHybrid boasts a “Real Hybrid Mileage Database” chart front and center, which graphs out mileage data entered by its users. Very active forums, a buying guide, current news, and appropriately placed ads make this a great place to begin your research.
  • HybridCars provides some great news articles (including some speculation about the next generation Prius). A gas mileage calculator will help determine whether or not buying a hybrid makes sense financially. There’s also some great writing on the history and culture of hybrid technology.
  • Hybrid Center presents a sophisticated comparison engine to mash up features between the models. Their buyer’s guide is also detailed and will help determine cost differences between a traditional and hybrid vehicle.

Text is great. It’s one of the technologies that our species has used stretching into antiquity with the advent of the alphabet. It enables one human to express meaning to another human with a sense of permanence, and with boundaries limited only by the imagination.

Even so, sometimes an image conveys meaning more quickly than writing an entire paragraph or even pages of text. Creating a pleasant visual flow is part of good design and adding images helps do this by encouraging a shift in how the eye greets the screen.

That in mind, where can we find high quality images that add to the quality of a well designed web presence? I suggest visiting YotoPhoto. It’s an image search engine that provides results in the creative commons licensing space. That means the creator has granted use of his or her images as long as they aren’t a primary profit driver. YotoPhoto searches Flickr, Wikipedia, Stock.Xchng, Morguefile, Pixelperfect Digital and OpenPhoto all at once and provides aggregated results as linked thumbnails.

YotoPhoto Advanced Options It’s also possible to search for a specific hexadecimal color using YotoPhoto. So if you’re looking for a bright green colored car, head to the advanced search page and search for car and to the lower right use color 00ff00. It’s a great way to work within color schemes and pump up how creative your pages look.

Apple are you listening? Pulling out popular songs by number of times played on the iPod is good. Giving me a list of my own top rated songs is great too. But I want even more.

First, I’d like you to equalize the volume of all the tracks I add to my iPod on the fly so I’m not wildly adjusting volume from track to track. That’s hard to do when I’m in the middle of a pull-up!

Second, after you do that I’d like you to keep track of which songs I turn up regularly because there’s probably a good chance I like the song if I’m pumping up the volume.

If you haven’t already, see the first post in my series before reading this.

My life continued for many years MMORPG-free. Then, deep in the labs of a company called Turbine some evil genius came up with a way around all of my objections. They offered a one-time payment for a lifetime subscription. A game with a pedigree no D&D game could argue with. Ever wonder where all these D&D races, rules, and ideas came from? The Father of fantasy writing and the idea that would launch all of the fantasy role playing games that would follow, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Following the success of the movie trilogy it was only logical that someone would make video games about the movie. I played a few of the hack ‘n slash, 3rd person RPGs. I wasn’t impressed. So when the MMO was announced, I didn’t pay much attention.

One fateful day a disc arrived in the mail inviting me to try the game in beta for free. Free? Free! “Ha,” I thought, “I can suck all the life out of the game during beta and never play again”. Best of all, my old D&D buddies got copies and we could play together for free!

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It seemed stupid, I told people I wouldn’t do it. What could on online role playing game offer that I didn’t already have? There are many great single player role playing games out there; my favorite of all time is the Gothic series, www.gothic.net . In Gothic there is a medieval world that’s truly alive, everyone stays in character, and you are the center of the universe. No one is better than you, and no one can take away from your experience. But paradoxically, no living person can add to it either.

I found myself learning weaknesses in the AI of almost all video games and exploiting them. No matter how new or great the game there is always a way around the next tough boss or “impossible” puzzle. Don’t believe me? Try building five pieces of +20% blur armor in Elder Scrolls Oblivion. Wear them all at once and say hello to God mode. You’ll be able to walk through the whole game bashing monsters in the face. All they can do is stand there and die.

Dungeons & Dragons Dice The video game industry and I grew up together. Back in the day, and in some respects still today, the RPG world was trying to match table-top gaming. Most video role playing gamers over the age of 20 have roots in Dungeons and Dragons. I did my time as dungeon master for 13 years – yes, I’m an alpha geek. Then everybody grew up, got jobs and the other people in their lives prefer they don’t spend every spare moment on weekends in the basement with potato chips and D&D buddies.

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There are two key components to any valuable web site: its content popularity and traffic. Design is also important, but I’ve visited many poorly designed sites that enjoy thousands of visitors every day so I won’t focus on that now. This article will focus primarily on content popularity.

Many of you are site owners or bloggers trying to build presence and authority. Let’s take a look at a couple of widely known web sites: Blizzard.com and the home page of their wildly successful MMORG, WorldofWarcraft.com.

Below is a drill-down of statistics generated by popuri.us for each site:

Blizzard.com (12 years old) WorldofWarcraft.com (7 years old)
blizzard.com statistics wordofwarcraft.com statistics

The Google PageRank, Alexa, Compete, and QuantCast ranks indicate that WorldofWarcraft.com is the more popular site because each number in this area is lower for WoW. Interestingly, two of the three search engines indicate there are more backlinks to Blizzard.com, perhaps because it’s had more time to attract link love. Then with the last three statistic Technorati, del.icio.us bookmarks, and Bloglines subscribers, WorldofWarcraft is the clear winner. What surprised me here is that Blizzard.com has no Bloglines subscribers. Looks like an opportunity to advertise/create a company RSS feed!

World of Warcraft enjoys a gigantic userbase with over 6 million subscribers and clearly they’re linking back to the game site and finding its content very valuable. Both sites are popular but WoW has outpaced its parent, as children are wont to do :-}

dnScoop happens to agree with this analysis valuing Blizzard.com at $8,932,000 and WorldofWarcraft.com at $10,693,200 !