Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting past Log-in gates

You've probably come across sites like this on the web, it has those annoying blurred overlays that require you to log-in/sign-up using a social account just to get to something you might or might not find useful. The example I've given here is Quora. So annoying these type of things have even been given a name - Dark Patterns.

Fear not, there is usually a way around this. Usually these blurred overlays are no more than a < div > in the page source code. Here's how to get around them...

Hit F12 on the keyboard. This will bring up the Page Insprector and the source code of the page. Scroll with your mouse pointer down all the lines of < div >s until you come to the one that highlights the blurred area or the log-in box. For Quora, below, you can see it's called '...signup_wrapper'.

Right-click and select 'Delete Node'.

It's usually that simple.

Simple fix for an annoying dark pattern.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The new design of the LA Times has put sharing at the forefront of publishing - quite literally. Every article on the LA Times now starts with 'sharelines', pre-formatted quotes or facts from the article to make it even easier for you to share.

Often the headlines of articles will be creatively cryptic, too long, or not describing the main point you want to get across. Sharelines aims to do all the work for you. And it's not just the LA Times, across the web publishers are looking for ways to make sharing easier and more enjoyable.

Here's a quick run-down of some of the ways this is happening:

LA Times – they start each article with key facts

Good Magazine – they have a tweet button on quotes they highlight
Other publishers are customising tweet text so the shared text is shorter than the original headline:

Many more mobile sites are emphasising sharing as well. At The Atlantic, the top of the article has share buttons and when you scroll below the fold, the design of the site keeps two share buttons permanently at the top.

Top of page:
Scrolled view:

With friends, family and colleagues sharing more often, it is interesting to think that there could be room for 'professional sharers'. Adrienne LaFrance takes up this theory in her Atlantic article discussing that there could become a marketplace for subscribing to customised news feeds.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

3D projection mapping and face tracking

What's the future of the 24 hour news cycle?

Image credit: LOC
Today Crikey revealed more hard numbers on the state of the Australian newspaper business, revealing  News Corp advertising fell $320 million in 2012-13.

The daily news cycle agenda is largely set by the morning newspapers. Hard as that may be to believe, it's still kinda the general rule. Newspapers report, radio talks about the newspaper reporting and TV comes in later in the day to re-cap what happened with these stories during the day.

Take the morning newspapers out of the mix and what happens? Where will the radio stations get their news to complain about? How will TV stations know which stories to package up and which ones to leave?

I'm not for one minute suggesting that newspaper reporting is going to disappear just because some legacy operations are losing money. In fact, the quantity of written news and reporting is probably larger than it has ever been. What has changed is that the masses of reporting cannot be neatly bundled under a single Masthead - it has fragmented to niche publishers or niche sections within larger publishers.

Readers are picking the news they read online more selectively, subscribing to only the sections/authors/topics that interest them.

The question is then: how does radio and TV choose what to focus on if the papers can no longer set the agenda? Indeed, it is telling that there is a dearth of news variety on radio and TV compared to the print/online news that has been forced to adapt its offering.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time to visit your local library

While to many memories of the library might bring back long arduous hours of University researching and study, the library of today is a world away from the rows and rows of dimly lit books.

Today, libraries are, by necessity, one of the most digitally innovative institutions i know of. And it might seem strange to you, but some of the most digitally innovative people I know are librarians.

We've all heard about the statistics of how much more information is being produced every year and the librarians profession as an organiser and cataloger of information continues, but with ever larger volume, mediums and complexities.

I strongly recommend that you visit your local library or your library's website to browse their inventory of digital subscriptions - you will not be disappointed. After all many of you, through your local Council rates pay for the service of a library so make sure you damn well take advantage of it!

Here are just two services that I use:

Zinio - The World's Largest Newsstand. Most local libraries will subscribe to Zinio which offers the latest edition magazines for digital viewing. My local library subscribes to 70 different titles. I'm a bit of a home reno addict, so having access to Home Beautiful, Vogue Living and Gardening Australia is great. There are also heaps of titles on Photography, Business, Lifestyle and Sports.

PressDisplay / Press Reader. Remember when libraries used to have a few daily newspapers hanging off big wooden poles on a rack? No more, now with Press Display local libraries give you access to thousands (yes, thousands) of daily newspapers every day. I keep tabs on the major city Dailies to see what's hot in each city and have the occasional laugh with the US and UK tabloids.

There's also academic databases, eBooks, eAudio, videos and heaps more. I dare say it is one of the most under-utilised Council services out there.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Maker time: beer bottle washer

I've just finished my latest brew and the time has come to wash my bottles. Boo.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the good old maker community of tinkerers and DIY dads has sorted it all out.

MalFat has made this beauty, washes 30 bottles at a time!

This is going on my to-do list.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Embracing Internet Radio and a world of music

An article in today's Age focused on the pressure Australian bands have to supposedly conform to a sound that the national youth broadcaster, Triple J, will appreciate. With precious little airtime for unsigned bands on commercial radio, Triple J is seen as the only real avenue for bands to be found.

But as a former dedicated Triple J listener (it's still my no.1 Australian music station) my tastes have broadened and nowadays Triple J has less airtime in my house. One of the reasons is the radio you see above.

This is my first Internet radio and it has opened up my house to literally a world of music radio stations. Here is my current list of world radio stations:

  1. BBC Radio 4
  2. BBC Radio 1
  3. BBC World Service
  4. NPR
  5. WWOZ 90.7fm
  6. Calm Radio - Big Band
  7. El Vacilon Musical Radio
  8. Radio Campesina Cubana
I now have news from the UK and USA, jazz from New Orleans, Big Band from Canada and amazing sounds from the Caribbean and Cuba.

Triple J will always be my number one station for Great Australian music, but with the world being such an interconnected place, Australian bands should embrace the fact that Triple J is just one channel in the world of music.

Embrace as many digital channels as possible because there will be people like me on the other side of the world doing the same as me and discovering a world of music via the Internet.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The evolution to Vendor Relationship Management

I won't go into the theory behind Vendor Relationship Management because you can do that at Harvard and on the VRM blog but the basic premise is that the future of the brand/company and customer/consumer relationship will be defined by the consumer and not the company.

Consumers will choose when and how they want to engage with a brand/company and when they don't want to be engaged by a brand/company.

It has been bubbling around in my head ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago, but the thing that reminded me of it was a new feature on Campaign Monitor. Here it is:

In order to maintain good list health and keep the spam filters away Campaign Monitor has always been good at ensuring that permission has been granted by the receiver of email. But this new feature takes it to the next level by adding a second level of confirmation even in the admin interface.

What it shows to me is that be it by increased privacy laws (eg Cookie notifications in the EU) or self-regulation (Campaign Monitor's increased checking) the consumers are slowing building their case against brand/company intrusion.

The 'killer app' has not yet arrived to manage all your advertising interactions, and the dis-integrated nature of media probably means it never will, but I think it does show a path towards a media future where consumers will manage their relationships with brands.

Personally I also think that both the consumer AND the brand will be all the better for it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Simple back-link request

I'm never quite sure about how to approach bloggers or website managers about requesting back links. Someone has just sent me one that I think is concise and polite so I thought I'd share it with you (I've taken out the details):

Dear Sir/Madam, I hope you are well. My name is [NAME] and I am writing on behalf of [Company] with regard to an article on your site [Website URL] featuring [Company] here: [Full URL link] I was wondering if it would be possible to get a link back to the [Company] website from this article for the convenience of your readers, in case readers would like to find out more about the brand? If possible, the URL is: [Company URL] Info page: [Company Info URL] We would really appreciate your help with this, but if it's not possible, I’d still like to take the opportunity to thank you for the mention of [Company]. I understand that you are really busy and I truly appreciate your time. Please let me know if this is something that you could assist with. Many thanks and I look forward to hearing back from you. Kind regards, [Name]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Having the right perspective

If you take your time to look at things from the right angles and get just the right perspective things become clear. I took these two pictures the other day from Collins Street. You can see so clearly where the architects of the modern Rialto towers took their inspiration - straight from the original Rialto building. But, of course, this would never be clear unless you had the right perspective.