QuickConsult Contest – Win Free Consulting!

A few weeks ago, I announced a little sideline called QuickConsult, which is designed to provide you with specific, actionable recommendations to improve your website or app. I’m excited about the opportunity to help more companies/organizations than ever and the first few that I’ve done have gone great!

To spread the word, I’m holding a contest giving away one free consultation each week for the next four weeks. Everyone’s eligible – all you’ve got to do is let me know how I can help. Each week, I’ll pick a winner and we’ll work together to make some great improvements on your website.

So what are you waiting for?? Enter the contest!

The Importance of Invitations in our Social World

As most friends know, I’m a stickler about invitations. I rarely arrive anywhere uninvited or assume I’m invited just because my friends are. Turns out I’m not alone, and invitations are an important social signal to connect events with physical attendance:

Plancast and other social event sharing applications are rooted in an idealistic notion that people would feel confident inviting themselves to their friends’ events if only they knew about them. But the informational need here is not only one of event details (such as what’s going to happen, when, where and with whom). People often also need to know through a personal invitation that at least one friend wants them to join.

When you have a service that helps spread personal event information but doesn’t concurrently satisfy that need, you have a situation where many people feel awkwardly aware of events to which they don’t feel welcome.

This speaks right to my passion for using technology to connect people in the “real” world. A great invitation function, or a prompt to invite friends on Facebook’s Event feature, would almost surely increase event attendance.

Path’s Homepage and Lack of Respect for Users

I love Path’s homepage:

But that doesn’t make me less concerned about their lack of respect for user privacy.

David Jacobs, a fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, noted that, once again, an Internet company showed a lack of understanding about the consequences of taking data.

Lawyers I spoke with said that my address book — which contains my reporting sources at companies and in government — is protected under the First Amendment. On Path’s servers, it is frightfully open for anyone to see and use, because the company did not encrypt the data.

Mary Landesman, a senior security researcher at Cisco, says start-ups often do not build apps with security in mind: “Attackers are like electricity; they like to follow the track of least resistance.” …

It seems the management philosophy of “ask for forgiveness, not permission” is becoming the “industry best practice.” And based on the response to Mr. Morin, tech executives are even lauded for it.

TiVo’s UI Updates

TiVo’s latest round of HD UI updates are quite nice, though I still don’t understand why half the system operates on the old SD menus years after the HD interface was released. Anyone know the story? I’m really curious.

Sorry Firefox, I’m Going Back to Chrome

One of my goals this year was to support the Mozilla Foundation by switching back to Firefox. I believe that the future of a free and open internet depends on a diversity of tools, software, etc – Firefox and WordPress are two great examples of that.

So I switched to Firefox and ditched Chrome for a month, and it turns out at Firefox is as big a memory hog as people say. My Macbook, which I’ll admit is due for replacement, slowed to a crawl every day. A month later, I’m back on Chrome. Sorry, Mozilla.

Incidentally… (On Euphemisms)

I’m a sucker for explorations of language, so this Economist column made me happy:

In the upper reaches of the British establishment, euphemism is a fine art, one that new arrivals need to master quickly. “Other Whitehall agencies” or “our friends over the river” means the intelligence services (American spooks often say they “work for the government”). A civil servant warning a minister that a decision would be “courageous” is saying that it will be career-cripplingly unpopular. “Adventurous” is even worse: it means mad and unworkable. A “frank discussion” is a row, while a “robust exchange of views” is a full-scale shouting match. (These kind of euphemisms are also common in Japanese, where the reply maemuki ni kento sasete itadakimasu—I will examine it in a forward-looking manner—means something on the lines of “This idea is so stupid that I am cross you are even asking me and will certainly ignore it.”)

Euphemism is so ingrained in British speech that foreigners, even those who speak fluent English, may miss the signals contained in such bland remarks as “incidentally” (which means, “I am now telling you the purpose of this discussion”); and “with the greatest respect” (“You are mistaken and silly”). This sort of code allows the speaker to express anger, contempt or outright disagreement without making the emotional investment needed to do so directly. Some find that cowardly.