Web 2.0

The browser war III

Google Chrome, a new open-source browser from Google that builds in parts on Apple's WebKit and in parts on Mozilla Firefox, was announced yesterday and just launched today at 3:02 pm EDT.

GoogleChromeComic Here is an interesting twist: most of the technical details about Chrome cannot be found in blog postings or technical web documentation, but rather in the form of a comic book. Talk about weird! But the comic is actually full of very interesting details - definitely worth reading, especially if you are a web developer.

Btw, the most interesting thing from a developer's perspective is that Chrome is built on a totally new JavaScript virtual machine called V8. According to the Google Blog:

"We also built a more powerful JavaScript engine, V8, to power the next generation of web applications that aren't even possible in today's browsers."

Steven Vaughan-Nichols has an excellent analysis of why V8 is really the big news, and what Google's motivations are for releasing Chrome. Fred Wilson adds some cloud computing perspective to the mix.

I'd be curious to see what kind of XML processing capabilities are included in V8 and what kind of XSLT stylesheet rendering Chrome is capable of (1.0 or 2.0). Unfortunately, so far Google hasn't released any technical details yet.

Needless to say, the blogosphere is buzzing with postings...

And to contrast all the excitement, there are also those who say the Chrome is irrelevant (at least until 2010).

Update: Very interesting review by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal just appeared.

Update: Great article in Wired News just came out.

Impressions from PodCamp Boston 3 (#pcb3)

DSC04154 I was at PodCamp Boston 3 yesterday and wanted to briefly share a few impressions here. The funny video is at the bottom, so if you have no patience and just want to hear Chris Brogan, you may scroll down a page or so... :)

The event was held at Harvard Medical School and was completely sold out. Bloggers, Audio and Video Podcasters came together to discuss and present all aspects of Social Media in a community-oriented style.

Even though there was a schedule of formal presentations, a lot of the real action happened in the hallways, coffee breaks, and in several impromptu sessions.

I found most presentations to be very good (e.g. Stever Robbins aka the Get It Done Guy), but some were also a disappointment and I walked out - only to run into people in the hallway and strike up a great conversation. One panel discussion was almost putting me to sleep.

DSC04165 Being a rather podcasting-oriented event you could always find people in the hallway being interviewed by others, and in some cases the interviewer and interviewee would trade roles after a few minutes - it was actually pretty funny to watch.

One thing that was pretty amazing during the event was to observe others in the audience during the presentation sessions: about half the people were working on laptops during the presentation, the rest was on Blackberrys, iPhones, and I saw one person even working on a PSP. I also noticed one person holding an old-fashioned paper-pad. Most laptop and iPhone users were on Twitter reporting live from the event, or looking up whatever the presenter was talking about on Wikipedia, Google, etc. and taking notes.

DSC04167 Probably the best session I was a part of wasn't a scheduled presentation at all. As I took a quick break in the cafeteria, an impromptu event formed (and was promptly twittered about) where a couple of people came together and started a discussion on Old Media vs. New Media. It was a lively discussion that encompassed everything from advertising, journalistic styles, different ad sales strategies and staffing levels, to how Social Media is affecting the way we consume media, respond to advertising, and making purchasing decisions. Several people were recording the session with high-quality video equipment, but then stopped after a while - I guess their memory cards must have been getting full by then.

So I whipped out my trusted old Sony DSC-T50 digital camera and recorded about 20 minutes worth of raw 640x480 video. Not a quality that video podcasters would aim for, but sure enough in those 20 minutes I captured this great statement from Chris Brogan:

I apologize for the bad audio-quality (since I only used the built-in mic), so if you are having trouble hearing it, this is Chris Brogan's insight: "Wait a second. I buy my media. And I watch ads for free. Hmmm..."

The other conclusions reached during the discussion were:

  • that Social Media actually causes large companies to lose control of their brands - and some even argued that they are only losing the illusion of ever having been in control of their brand;
  • that Social Media actually forces companies to focus on creating a great product, because anything less than a great product will be exposed very quickly;
  • that any Old Media company who doesn't "get it" will soon be reduced to irrelevance.

PodCamp Boston 3 is still going on today, but I unfortunately can't make it into town due to the new puppy. If you are also missing the event, you can follow live updates from PodCamp Boston 3 using Twitter Search (aka Summize).

Talking of Twitter, if you'd likee to follow my updates, you can do so here...

Mint promises to save me $35,977

I have previously written about the scalability issues that have crippled Mint since the public launch a few days ago - and those issues prevented me from adding even a single account.

Today I was finally able to take one giant leap and get one step further in the process of testing this site to see if there was anything to the hype. After numerous attempts over the past few days, Mint was able to connect to one credit card company today in the late evening (out of the four banks that I tried to add):

I was, of course, delighted beyond belief, when Mint promptly informed me that it did not only just load 50 days of transaction history (about 210 transations), but it immediately found some great savings for me to realize:

So let me see if I got the math straight here...

I currently use an American Express credit card which has a 0.00% interest rate and I pay my full balance every single month. By switching from 0% interest on American Express to 13.89% on CapitalOne, my interest rate just went up by a factor of, say, approximately ∞. But despite this monumental increase in my interest rate, Mint actually promises me that I will be able to save $35,977. I have no idea what mathematical theory would support that calculation (or what planet the math genius is from, who came up with this theory), but I am intrigued by the promise to "GET DETAILS AND COMPARE", so I click on the link and get this:

Turns out I can not only save $35,977 - I can actually do it in just 10 minutes....

Here is some free advice for the creators of Mint: if you are offering a financial software, you better get your math straightened out pretty damn fast...

Never mind that most blog comments in the last couple of days talk about people's anxiety to entrust your software with the login info to access all their bank accounts - if they can't trust you to do the math right, then why should they use your software at all!

Unless, of course, you don't have any mathematician on staff and this entire thing is nothing but a big advertising machine trying to lure unsuspecting customers with false promises...

The only hypothetical question remaining is: if I did indeed sign up with CapitalOne and then was not able to see $36k in savings, who would I have to sue for false advertising? Mint or CapitalOne?

Mint not ready to scale?

After reading much blogging about TechCrunch 40 by others, and listening to many people talking excitedly about Mint, I wanted to see for myself what the buzz is all about.

So I signed up on their website to be notifed when the service goes live - and today at 3:39 pm (EST) I received an e-mail with the subject "Mint.com is now live!". Shortly thereafter I went to Mint.com to check it out....

It's a pretty website design, for sure. But it was excruciatingly slow during the registration phase, and trying to set up my bank accounts I got nothing but trickle-filling progress bars for any bank that I tried to set up (and I do indeed have real accounts on those and entered my real user-ids to test this) - and after several minutes (must have been about 10-15 or so) I got this result:

Not very impressive. I guess they have some scalability issue...