Two Screens: Huffington Post and Livestream

Hey everybody – just a quick Two Screens post, which is where I point out two screenshots that recently caught my eye.

First, I was watching Leo Laporte’s talk at the Online News Association conference and was underwhelmed by the Livestream player. It’s a great service, but I think the player could be easier. Actually, I think this about a lot of video players. Check out the “on-air” and progress boxes on Livesteam’s player. Both are really small and tough to read or understand. Vimeo is the gold standard for me.
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Alright, next up is Huffington Post. I was browsing on Tuesday and noticed that the words “Professional SEO” appeared right below my profile photo. I have no idea why, but it looked like the site had been hacked by malware.

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AND a bonus screen. This ad for enterprise network services came up and the word survey is spelled “servey.” Not exactly inspiring my trust.

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Wishing House Was On Tonight? Here’s What You Missed

So, Fox decided that there wouldn’t be a new episode of House tonight, but that’s ok – I’m here to fill you in on exactly what you missed.

The episode opens in an ornate opera house. If you’re from anywhere near Princeton you’ll assume its got to be New York, but for the sake of House let’s just call it the Princeton-Plainsboro Opera House. Anyway, quick shot to the contralto belting out a few lines, sweating, looking a little sick. Cut to a shot of an unstable lighting fixture swinging precariously above her. Is she having a heart attack? Will the light fixture fall? C’mon, you’re a bright kid, you can outsmart House!

The fixture falls, glass flies everywhere, the audience gasps, but the massive stage light narrowly avoids the sweaty, corpulent singer. In the VIP boxes, an old man – presumably a donor of some sort – gasps a little harder than the others and slumps over.

Cue theme.

I won’t spoil the details for you, but here’s the rundown. Foreman thinks he knows what’s wrong with the man. House thinks he’s wrong, but is too much of an arrogant prick to offer a real suggestion, leaving his minions to perform needless and probably painful tests on the patient.

Cuddy gets angry at one of a million of House’s wacky antics. Cut to Cameron and Chase fighting. How long til those two get a divorce anyway? They’re too pretty to be married. Thirteen leaves Foreman a voicemail. It distracts him so much that he does something wrong with the patient and misses a critical clue.

Back to the conference room. Foreman realizes the clue he missed. House chastises him. Chase isn’t paying attention because he murdered the Omar al-Bashir stand-in. House chastises him. Cameron is on the ball, but worries about the emotional stability of all the men in the room. She says so. House chastises her.

The patient deteriorates, and the team complains that they’re still missing something. But what? Is it lupus? Cancer? Wilson is called in and says it’s not cancer, which might still mean it’s cancer because he’s not as smart as House. No one is.

The patient almost dies. Three to four theories have turned out to be wrong. What could it be? A young, beautiful stranger appears. Nope, it’s not House’s delusion, it’s the patient’s maid. She’s been boffing him on the side for some time now, and turns out she’s got any manner of STDs. But now, she feels bad and wants to save him.
 
That’s it! He’s got a lymphosciatic melonomic case of herpes! Why didn’t we think of that sooner? Just give him some goddamn antibiotics and send him on his way to apologize and/or divorce his wife of fifty years and live the rest of his short days in Cabo with his hot maid. Everybody wins.

House is still alone and lusting for Cuddy, who’s also lusting for him but has bigger things to worry about since she seems to have lost her baby that she wanted so much. Where is that thing? Maybe Thirteen stole it when she disappeared. Cameron and Chase are still barely speaking, and Foreman is on his trajectory to become the next House.

End scene. See you next week.

Live Feed, News Feed? WTF? Explaining Facebook’s Big Changes

So you say you’re confused about Facebook’s new homepage changes? Me too – it’s confusing at first, but pretty easy to understand once you get the hang of it.

The Live Feed is the easier one to understand – it’s a live view of what’s happening in your entire network. Who’s posting what, who’s becoming friends with who, etc, all as it happens. Unless you manually remove someone from your feed (just like you always could), you’re seeing all the news that’s fit to print, or something of that sort.

The News Feed is something altogether different, and ultimately it will be the more useful of the two feeds, because it automatically displays the news Facebook thinks is most interesting and relevant to you. How? Facebook isn’t saying, but it’s combination of lots of different factors – how close you are to the person, how many people comment, share, or click “Like” on a piece of content, how close you are to those people, and I’m assuming lots more that we don’t know about.

Hopefully that helps! I’m going to be researching this change in more detail, so please share your questions and thoughts with me.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Right?

Hey there, friends. It’s been a whopping 22 days since I last blogged. Forgive me, Father. I’ll say 10 Hail Mary’s and promise not to do it again. And really, this post isn’t anything special, but some miscellany:

  • The FakeAPStylebook Twitter account rocks my world and makes me laugh multiple times a day. Gems like this one make it all worth it: “The noun “Wang Chung” should be capitalized, but not the verb.” Good to know.
  • The New York Times only lost $25 million this quarter. That’s almost break-even. (2008Q3 they lost $150 million)
  • I’ve mothballed GovTechNerd in favor of some more exciting projects.
  • I’m starting a new website with some friends. It’ll be up very soon, but in the meantime check out CitizeNYC on Twitter and Facebook. Lots of cool stuff happening there, including…
  • Our very own web podcast show, hosted by Ryan Davis and me.
  • I can’t wait until Going Rogue comes out, nicely timed to launch the same day as Going Rouge. Yup, that’s serious.

Ok, well we’re all caught up now, right?

Two Screens: GQ and Target

I’m a big proponent of great copywriting. I think it has the power to salvage an average site, and is the only thing that takes a site from exceptional to outstanding. It’s a shame when big brands don’t engage in robust content strategy. Here are two examples:

GQ Magazine: I was reading an old profile of Ted Kennedy, and this was the footer of the article. What’s bothersome? Who goes to GQ or any other monthly magazine for “breaking news”? No one. Lesson: Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not.

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Target: Every once in a while I order something from Target (given that there are none in NYC). This was the response screen after I placed my order. Sins? Multiple.

  • “We cannot confirm the price of an item until your order enters the shipping process…” What? Telling me rules *after* I order, and right after you thank me for my purchase?
  • “…a small number of items on our Web site may be mispriced…” followed by a few lines of instructions basically saying if they figure out they should have charged you more, they cancel the order.
  • And finally, a note tacked on to the end saying not everything might come in one box.

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Ok, what’s so crazy about this? Not much that’s complicated, but again things that should be addressed with great writing and content. This page isn’t a genuine “Thank You” at all, it’s a terms and conditions sheet, hidden *after* you order. Boo Target. Bad customer experience.