23 Nov

Google Base v. microformats

I think Jeff Jarvis frames the issue properly (open format vs. walled garden) but it’s very early to make a call about Google’s intent. I’d say they want to give themselves a headstart in terms of surfacing Google Base content across their services (e.g. Local) but they’ll probably expose it to the outside world sooner or later. Not doing it seems not only at odds with their roots but more importantly it would leave them vulnerable to a more open joint effort by Microsoft and Yahoo, not to speak of countless smaller competitors.

18 Nov

Web 2.0 and the drive-by upgrade

Fraser Speirs posted this last month but I’m not exactly on the edge these days:

"Imagine this scenario: Overnight someone sneaked into my office and upgraded an application on my computer. An application I had been running happily for months, and one that worked well and served my needs.
Obviously, nobody asked me if I wanted the upgrade. What’s more, the phantom upgrader also didn’t check that the new version was compatible with my Mac. Okay, maybe they did test but decided that the wrinkles weren’t all that bad and that I could probably live with them until they got around to sneaking back in again and doing another drive-by upgrade.
Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Absurd, yet that’s exactly what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was preparing for a trip to San Francisco and mapping all kinds of things – my hotel, the conference venue, my friends’ houses and the place I’m going to show off my awesome born-in-the-UK bowling skills. Then Google decided to roll out a new version of Google Maps and it didn’t work cleanly with Safari.
Here I am, in the middle of an important organisational project and the single most important application for that project was just given a disruptive upgrade. Did anyone warn me that I should expect and plan for disruption? No. Could I pull out the installer CD and go back to an old, known-good version of Google Maps? No. Could I long-term refuse to upgrade on the basis that the current version met my needs and I prized stability over features? Not a chance."

Many people will eventually realize that mainframe computing, even renamed web 2.0 and wrapped around in in the latest verbiage, is not exactly a liberating model. There’s a long way before web-centric architectures provide the kind of control you take for granted on a PC.

03 Nov

Amazon Historical Pricing Service Released

From the AWS blog:

"The Amazon Historical Pricing web service gives developers direct, programmatic access to over three years of actual sales data for books, music, videos, and DVDs sold by third-party sellers on Amazon.com. Third-party sellers can use this data to make pricing decisions based on historical prices and market trends.
Access to this data costs $499 per month for up to 20,000 requests, and $999 per month for up to 60,000 requests. All billing and service usage data is accessible through the “Your Web Services Account” button in the AWS Developer Portal."

02 Nov

Microsoft Office Live

So Microsoft has finally decided to compete with itself instead of letting others cannibalize their core business. I’m curious to see whether this is going to be a half-hearted attempt or something really useful. Windows Live is (but so far not really different from stuff already seen before), Office Live isn’t yet. Filed under “land grab / cut off air supply” until these things actually look and behave like it’s said they will.