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SymbianGuru.com shuts down: No more love for Nokia

SymbianGuru.com used to be my favorite website for all things Nokia-related. But it seems that Symbian 3.0 is going further down a dead-end road, and even the Guru himself can't stand Symbian any more. And that's why he decided to shut the site down and switch to Android. Usually, I'm not a big fan of Ol'Google's Enterprises, but in this case I totally agree: Nokia used to be the number one mobile market mover, but recently they've done a terrible job. And when I read Guru's final article, I realized that both our experiences with Nokia's smartphone flagship N97 are frighteningly similar.

Please read the original posting – there's not much more I can add except for this comment:

I own an N97, and it get's crappier with each firmware update. Since the last one, *every single action* has to be confirmed twice. (Like: “Do you want to allow *insert-computer-name-here* via Bluetooth.” User clicks yes. Next step: “Do you want to allow *insert-computer-name-here* via Bluetooth.” User clicks again. Every single time. I'd love a third button: Yes/No/F**king yeah, I told you before, stop nagging me twice every time!).
The OVI service is a disaster as of yet – I mean, the different parts work fine, but there is no master plan; even gaming isn't integrated. OVI to me seems like one huge roof over a lot of very different isles.

At the end of his posting, Symbian-Guru included a message to Nokia. I totally agree:

To Nokia, you guys are losing. Hard. Wake the hell up. Doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ive been a huge Nokia fan since my 2nd cellphone, and I just cant do it any longer. You guys arent competing like you once were, and everyone but you seems to see that. You used to build the worlds best smartphones, the worlds best cameras, the worlds best GPS units youve lost pretty much all of that, and with nothing to show for it. You unveiled your Ovi vision over 2 years ago I was there. Today, its still a complete mess. I have to log in every single time I visit the site regardless of how many times I check the remember me box. I spent 6 months (and about 3 hours at Nokia World 2009) trying to find someone to help me with Ovi Contacts on the web no one knew who to point me to. You spent millions of dollars purchasing your Ovi pieces Ovi Files, Ovi Share, and a host of other little companies are you proud of what you built with them? Most of your own employees (that Ive talked to) dont even use them, so why should I?

WordPress 3.0: Thelonious rocks and Kubrick retires

Today, the WordPress team released the long-awaited version 3.0 – the third major release of our favorite blogging cms comes with a ton of extremely cool new features: WordPress and WP-MU haven been completely merged, which means that you can now run an unlimited number of blogs from the same installation. Also, the infamous Kubrick theme finally retires and gets replaced by Twenty Ten. Of course the new standard template proudly shows off all the new bells and whistles, including a greatly improved handling of menus, post types and taxonomies. The backend interface has become a lot lighter, 218 programmers contributed 1.217 bug fixes and feature enhancements. Check out the video tour posted on the official WordPress blog:

The new version is ready for download – I haven't upgraded yet but I will keep you updated on my experiences as soon as datadirt is powered by WordPress 3.0!

WordPress 2.9.1 – Minor Updates, Simple Tags Hack

WordPress 2.9 is still quite fresh, but today the team released a new version including some minor bug fixes. WordPress 2.9.1 fixes scheduling-errors which occurred on some hosts. The update can either be triggered via the admin or you can upload the files via ftp, no database update necessary this time.

But there's another plugin-related issue: since the upgrade to 2.9, many WordPress bloggers miss Simple Tags: the tag management plugin just stopped to work, but worry not: it's just a hard-coded version check, a simple hack makes the plugin work again. Read more

WordPress 2.8: A solo for Chet Baker

Yesterday the WordPress Team released the official roadmap version 2.8, named after Jazz musician Chet Baker. Thanks to the update engine most webmasters should be able to do the update via CMS – but of course it's always a good idea to start with a complete Backups. The Highlights of the new version are the improved widget- and template-interfaces, plus there's syntax highlighting for editing templates via the backend.

All the improvements come in very handy and render a couple of plugins workless – no more need for Ozh' Better Plugin page (there is a new list view for all plugins which require an update), and there's no more need for the duplicate widgets plugin: finally, all widgets can be used in multiple sidebars out-of-the box. The team also fixed more than 700 bugs, so updating is highly recommend. There's more details on the official WordPress Blog. This video demonstrates the new features:

PS: Since BarCamp Vienna is starting tomorrow and I'm going to be real busy during the weekend, I decided to run the update-marathon today. No major troubles – great work, dear WordPress team!

A thankful blogger.

The Twitter Auto-Follow accounts list…

The Twitter Auto-Follow List …is deprecated. When I started this project a couple of months ago, Twitter was in its early stages and far from being as spam-flooded as now. While the system worked perfectly for a couple of month, at some points more and more users began turning off the auto-follow feature as an increasing number of spam accounts became more and more annoying. Keeping in mind the current state of Twitter, such an auto-follow list doesn't make sense any more, so I decided to remove the list.

But the increasing success of Twitter did not only show us the downsides of tweet-spam but also produced a couple of very interesting mash-ups. In the Last weeks I found out that TweetLater Pro's brand-new “FriendFinder” feature and Pretty Link Pro's Pretty-Bar are the two most efficient strategies if you want to increase your followers with targetted micro-bloggers and leave spammers and feed-accounts out in the cold. Take a look, TweetLater, an online-mash-up service as well as Pretty Link, a WordPress plugin for using your own domain as a URL-shortener, are available in free trial versions:

tweetlater-250x250prettylink-250x250

For historical reasons…

…I've left the old text online. Thanks for visiting – I'll keep a sharp eye on our favorite micro-blogging service and I will keep you updated about my experiences (by now I run one of the largest European accounts with more than 30k followers. Feel free to follow me; I don't auto-follow any more, but I take a short look at the timelist of all new contacts and follow back everybody who has something interesting to say:

twitter.com/datadirt

Like all web 2.0 services, twitter works best on a give-take (reciprocal) basis. That's why I am starting this list which will help you to build a lot more twitter followers much faster than you usually could, and it's a great way to promote your own account, too! There are a couple of services out there that offer an auto-follow option meaning that you automatically follow every new user who follows you. This is a list of such accounts – which basically means that all you have to do is follow those guys and you are sure to increase your twitter-followership very fast, which is extremely useful if you start new accounts. Update: I have a done a major update today (2009-04-26) and split the list into three sublists: English, German and other accounts. This will make the list a lot more usable as it keeps growing and growing. Also, I've added a mini-FAQ: please read and save you and me some time.

To make targeted following a little easier, I added a couple of additional info. Every entry consists of a link to the twitter account, three tags that specify the general topical field of the account and finally and optional language entry which only applies to twitterers who are not tweeting in English. Being part of this list of course means that you will gain many followers yourself – the longer this list, the greater the gain for all tweet-geeks involved.

datadirt updates via twitter: @datadirtrss

dsrss-twittericon_biggerI'm not too big a fan of mixing personal twitter accounts with automated postings, so I set up a dedicated twitter account for this task. If you prefer to receive datadirt postings via tweet, just follow @datadirtrss. Of course I'll continue to use my personal acccount @datadirt for manual updates, while the frog-bot will send out automated updates via the new account.

Of course I set the profile to auto-follow – by the way, let me remind you of the twitter auto-follow accounts list, which keeps growing and gives you some instant followers (which is especially useful if you're starting a new twitter account and want to “polish” the numbers a bit: it's a psychological issue, as most users won't follow an account which has less than 10 followers).

If you run a WordPress blog and want to set up your own posting-bot, this is what you have to do:

  1. Set up a fresh twitter account.
  2. Optional: use tweetlater to set up account automation. (I highly recommend auto-follow for bot-accounts!)
  3. Optional: Upload an avatar, adjust the twitter colour settings and design your own background – you'll find plenty inspiration at twitterbacks.com.
  4. Install Alex King's Twitter Tools on your blog. The plugin automatically sends a tweet every time a new post goes live. (Optionally, you can can also use Twitter Tools to post an entry every time you send out a tweet and/or show the latest tweets in your sidebar.)
  5. Actually, there's no fifth step – but you need some followers, right? At this point you should think about how you can promote your new twitter-bot on your blog. Usually, it's a good idea to place a button in your sidebar.
twitscreen

So good luck with all your twitter endeavours – seems like building an additional traffic stream always pays off!

PS – Note to twitter-spammers: I realized that many accounts follow fellow tweeters who have their account on auto-follow. After waiting till they receive the follow-back love, they quickly unfollow. I regularly (about twice a month) go through my “following” list anyways – I simply used to kick out the bottom-feeders, but since many are trying more than once, I've started blocking everyone who unfollows me quickly after the follow. And I urge you to do the same if you want to keep your account clean.

TweetLater: New autofollow approval feature

tllogoAuto-follow is a great feature for twitter, because it helps you save a lot of time. On the other hand though, plenty users are afraid of automatically following the likes of spam-bots and such. TweetLater, one of my favorite one-stop-shop twitter mash-up, updated their auto-follow feature today: users may now chose to moderate who to follow and who to keep a respectful distance from. It's called “vet new users” and you have to turn it on once if you're already using a TweetLater account.

And if you use twitter to market your page, you probably already do – besides from the auto-follow, TweetLater offers a couple of other nice features like scheduled tweets and multi-account administration. The new moderation features puts potential auto-follows in a queue first and lets you take a peek before making a decision:

In keeping with TweetLater's mission to provide Twitter productivity tools, I have added a feature where you can still configure your Twitter account for auto-follow and/or auto-welcome, but that allows you to manually vet new followers before your desired actions are executed.
TweetLater keeps a new follower on hold for 72 hours so that you can log in to TweetLater and tell us what you want to do. If you don't log in and record your decision within 72 hours, TweetLater will go ahead and apply your selected automation options. This is done so that new followers don't pile up and you having to wade through hundreds of approval pages if there's a period of time that you cannot do the manual vetting.
You have three options with each follower, namely: a) approve, b) ignore, or c) block.

To me, twitter definitely is a two-way street: I just love the auto-follow feature, and I don't use the new approval system, as Socialtoo.com's Auto-Unfollow feature basically achieves the same results without me having to invest any time. But for those who like to carefully chose who they follow, it's a great add-on, especially since TweetLater puts all new followers from all accounts into one big list. And this is how to turn on the new feature:

  1. Log in to TweetLater;
  2. Click the Accounts button in the sidebar;
  3. Click the Automate button for your Twitter account;
  4. Scroll down and click the “Manually Vet New Followers” option box; and
  5. Click the Save button.

From now on you can click on the “main” button in the sidebar, and then on the “Vet New Followers” link in the menu to see if there are already new followers waiting for you to vet.

tlvetnew

Good luck building your twitter-followership! Micro blogging is a great conversion tool, but requires a lot of manual work. So any mash-ups that take the hassle out of boring “farming quests” are highly welcome.

Weekly Blogistan Round-Up no. 48/2008

weekly round-up KW48Another week bites the dust: and much ado is going on about something that hardly anybody understands: the global financial crisis is spilling over from bankruptcy-filing banks to the car industry and plenty other businesses. Neither Obama nor the new Austrian government (if this comparison sounds strange to you: I live in Austria) will have an easy job: and while the EU is planning coordinated measures, I keep asking myself one question that nobody could answer so far: The governments deem giving cheap credits to banks appropriate. Why don't they hand out those credits – on the same terms – directly to needy companies?

After all, this money is supposed to fuel the economic fire, but so far the amount of money parked at the European central bank by national institutes has increased! Doesn't sound like a good plan to me… but luckily, online-entrepreneurs who specialize in marketing need little to no start-up capital: and that's one of the reasons, why our businesses will bloom in the near future.

Who to follow on twitter

Dan has dug the archives and came up with a list of twitter opinion-leaders:

One of the best ways to get started is by following the

Blogcatalog premium features rule supremely

…over any other blog catalogue. These guys offer very good value for very little money, considering the popularity of the site. Some of my blogs have been listed for quite a while now, and I like the looks and usability of my blog catalogue profile page. Instead of trying to spam as many irrelevant directories as possible, bloggers are much better off concentrating on a handful of important dirs, and bc is definitely one of them.

Today I became a “supporter”: for 6$ a month bc offers a pretty impressive range of feats: supports receive a special profile icon, geta beta access to all new features and surf a completely ad-free site. Any freeware adblocker can do that as well, but not if you're on a public computer.

I can almost hear your thoughts – nice, but why should I pay for this? Okay, here's the two killer features: first of all, donors are able to integrate their other social media profiles and leverage their catalogue presence by doing so. Currently only twitter is supported, but Digg, Delicious, last.fm and others communities will follow in the near future. And finally, here's the juicy part: bc offers increased visibility, or in their words:

As a premium member your blog will be prominently displayed on our homepage, helping you get the exposure your blog deserves!

There's also a weekly snapshot update (a recurring task that bc should do for every users anyways, as it's in their own interest) or you might wanna spend some more money: an additional business model enables users to rent sponsored category links, the prices vary depending on the demand, but start as low as 8$ per month. Recently, Jeremy did an interview with one of the bc founders on these listings and on their newly launched social search. The reason why the made their prices so cheap is that they hope to make a lot of people use the premium services – at least in my case that worked quite well. I think this longtail-business-model is a lot smarter than high-prize premium placements and it shows that a good longtail site (containing no pr0n) *can* indeed be monetized.

[youtube]JW9AHPAiAA0[/youtube]

If donating some money for enhanced exposure in the bigges US blog catalogue (we're talking pagerank 7 here) sound like a good deal to you, simple login and chose “donate” in the account-menu. No subscription fees, just chose the time span (starting form one month), pay via Paypal and you're all set.

Xsara, SEO dog #7: The day after the pagerank update

Yup, there was a pagerank update this weekend which showed a couple of very interesting tendencies: Google is putting even more focus on the update cycles of a given page, gets stricter with domain pagerank but gives away a lot more juice for deeplinks. Incoming links are of course still the most important factor, but sadly Xsara has been relying too much on good reputation…

Xsara, diaries of a SEO dog #7

Read more

Twitter: cosmetic skin updates

While US, Indian and Australian users are still able to fully use twitter's great SMS features, European twitter fans dearly miss the fastest and most direct way to receive updates, a proven system that even works with a 10 year old mobile. I was pretty shocked about the seemingly impossible mission to find a partner for the European market, as one would guess that players like T-Mobile should actually be pretty interested in hugging twitter closely. And I don't believe that a few cosmetic design touches will make up for missing SMS support. I hope that twitter finds a way to enable short message service usage in Europe again, but on the other hand that's the best market-entry point for competitors, as long as they are able to offer SMS integration.

There's no doubt I like the new design – no major surprises in here, just a few investments into the future:

The most significant change you'll notice on the logged-in homepage (/home) is that we've moved the tabs that were on the top of the timeline to the right sidebar. We did this for a couple reasons. For one thing, it makes them larger targets and easier to access. But more importantly, it was an investment in the future. We plan to have more tabs, and we'd run out of room putting them along the top. This was the driving factor for this redesign, but you won't see all the benefits until a future release (hopefully, very soon!).

The completely unnecessary archive tab has been removed (finally – it showed exactly the same tweets that are listed on the personal profile page), some more Ajax is supposed to speed up page loading and the customizable design editor has evolved, featuring a couple of standard templates. The “fave” and “archive” icons have not disappeared completely, but they only become visible now when the mouse pointer hovers a tweet.

Like most power tweeters, I don't care much about those things – I don't know a single heavy user who is actually using the web interface, so the look of the skin is not really a big topic here. There's a large number of clients (from iPhone to Linux) available, and brilliant little pieces of software like Twhirl make twittering a lot more fun. I'm really curious about the new features, and I'm pretty sure the next release will not just be cosmetic one.

btw: Friendfeed bought some new clothes as well.