Fake Steve Revealed

What do Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and just about anyone in tech have in common besides using computers? They all read The Secret Diary of [Fake] Steve Jobs. Fake Steve has been a cult icon the tech community, especially bloggers within the tech community. There has been an ongoing search for who the mystery blogger is. Fake Steve hinted last night that something was happening today, and it couldn’t be Apple related since it’s Sunday not Tuesday.

The New York Times revealed it’s Daniel Lyons of Forbes.com. His personal blog is less humorous but still pretty interesting (there’s another feed to keep tabs on).

Thankfully, since we all knew he was a fake, even though we now know who he really is, it will still be entertaining. And yes, Fake Steve does intend to continue but notes Forbes.com will be a new sponsor. He’s got a book coming out too. After this publicity I’m guessing it will do very well.

[Hat tip: Photo Matt]

David Bienvenu Blogs

It took a few years of occasional pestering, but finally we have a core Thunderbird developer blogging. Next step is to get another. Planet is a bit Firefox centric because of Firefox having a much larger team and user base, but I feel Thunderbird is still way underrepresented.

Blogging has become part of community building, and interacting with users. It’s great to see more and more developers coming out and directly interacting with the community.

Comment Liability

Interesting to see that after a Blogger was sued over comments posted a blog, there is a federal court ruling that pretty much says that’s not allowed.

Something tells me, if a kid clicks on a blog spam link that goes to a porn site, you can still get 40 years in prison.

Spam is easy these days, there is enough filtering technology available. But legitimate, yet vile comments still can sneak by. It’s hard to police sites at times. We don’t all have the time to sit and watch them. I do my best but every so often, I do believe one may slip by that if I had thought longer, I would perhaps have moderated.

In The Pipes

I’ve got a couple of larger (more research/data) style blog posts in the works here. I’m hoping to post them shortly, once I get a chance to finish them. I’ve got to get a new schedule for posting around here. It’s happening more in bursts than I like.

Off Topic Mail

It seems to be happening more and more. I get emails sent either through my contact page or emailed directly to me that are extremely misguided. Often to the point where you question if they would give you their credit card number, social security number, or proof of a sacrificed first born if you just replied and asked for it. We aren’t talking about spam, but questions that really have no purpose being directed towards me, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would pick me.

I’ve tried with the “emails about _____ will be ignored” warnings on the contact page, but they were ignored, so to make the page cleaner I just removed it. Apparently people who do this are so misdirected, that didn’t help ;-).

Among the more memorable ones:

  • Account/Invite Requests – This is the most popular. They typically want an account on: Orkut, Reporter, Gmail, something about ‘Mozilla Email Service’ or something like that once or twice a few years ago. Are there plans to compete with Gmail that I haven’t heard about? Even The Venice Project (which I can’t confirm or deny any sneak peak, much less share if I did).
  • It’s Broken – I answer if it’s related to code that I wrote (extension, website, etc.). If it’s a “Firefox doesn’t work” I always point to mozillaZine forums for this (since those forums do a pretty good job), can’t login to some random site including online banking or their work email, or some other site. Requests about lost passwords? Yup.
  • He’s picking on me – How to get revenge? I got one of these before too.
  • Can you help me make… – Typically a request for me to do all the work (for free) behind someones moronic business idea. Like I don’t have enough things I want to do for myself.
  • Angry Mail – These are the ones where people feel that if your online, it’s your legally binding obligation is to be their digital slave. Not even a simple request, but a demand or threat, often either abrasive or just outright offensive in nature.

There are others, but not quite as memorable. 9/10 that fall into the above categories are just ignored and deleted with no reply. After all, why even get them started. Some people do get worse than me, so I really can’t complain too much.

A few months ago I was getting some serious spam, but since I rewrote the system to include several anti-spam defenses, that’s been remedied. That of course doesn’t solve this.

It doesn’t bother me to much (it’s not like it’s flooding my email), but just one of those silly things you have to deal with. I understand the Firefox related questions on occasion, or things related to work I’ve done. But much of it is so off target it’s funny.

I do wonder if there is a better way to handle it.

Small Changes

Over the past few days I’ve made about a dozen small changes to this blog, including code cleanup, slight layout tweaks, optimization, etc. I also managed to cut page size and requests down a little bit, which is always welcome.

Every once in a while it’s necessary to stop developing and just cleanup after yourself. Overall, while most of the changes should be pretty transparent it resolves some of the rough edges that have been around for way too long.

Blog Marketing

I do have a business degree, so occasionally I like to discuss how tech and business collide (yes it does happen). This time it’s about blogging and business.

Most corporate blogging is pretty poor. For the most part it’s slightly reworded press releases put on a blog-styled webpage. A few companies on the other hand break this model such as Lenovo, Sunbelt Software, Sun, and Google’s various blogs (though the official Google blog is rather lame, the product blogs are pretty good as are some prominent Google employees such as Matt Cutts). Even Microsoft has blogs. Apple so far has not been blogging with the exception of WebKit. There are others, but these are my favorite of the tech sites.

Then you have some who have used blogging for grassroots marketing, most notably the Firefox marketing effort. There is also blogging among the people behind it that give anyone interested a good detailed look at what’s coming. In my personal opinion that has been extremely successful in a marketing sense, and as a form of sharing information.

Some companies apparently try to get into blogging through a concept called Pay Per Post. Pretty much as it’s name implies bloggers are paid to link and discuss products/services. In my opinion it’s a rather dishonest technique to boost page rank and convince people that bloggers like their product/service. Of course search engines are effectively helpless in this technique since it would be somewhat hard to tell the difference since they are disguised to look legitimate and done in coordination with the site owner, rather than the linkbombing comment spam does. Search engines don’t seem to mind, though note if the links aren’t relevant it may be the exception to the rule. Though that all could (and likely would) change if it starts to degrade the quality of search indexes. It wouldn’t be the first time a problem was initially underestimated (think spam).

Then there is the ethical side of things. Do they all require you disclose that you were paid for the post? Until now, they haven’t had to, though that’s changing. The FTC obviously has an opinion on what they think of marketing without disclosure. Toni Schneider doesn’t think it will catch on, and he’s one of the guys behind WordPress.com. I hope he’s right.

The ever insightful Matt Mullenweg (also behind WordPress.com) notes that blog posts matter and marketing needs to adjust to the new online world. The question I pose is how? So far the only answer I see is the model Lenovo, Sun, Google use that involves good open honest community building and information. People seem to appreciate the inside look they provide. I know I do. I read several of them on a routine basis. But will they all go this route?

It’s important to note it’s not just blogs that are drifting into commercialization with everyone wondering just how to go about it. Digg is another example with a Pay Per Digg scheme threatening it. YouTube also got fooled by pro’s pretending to be someone they aren’t.

I do believe that 2007 will prove to be an important year for blogging in general. This is one of the ongoing struggles that will likely be realized in the upcoming months. How will this effect credibility of those who choose blogging as a medium to communicate? Dunno. Looking at the success of organizations that do use the medium, I’m pretty sure it will be worth keeping around for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to see how things play out. One thing is for certain: these are very interesting times on the net.

Some Changes

I just made some changes around here, cleaning up some of the older code. Most notable changes:

  • Comments – New lighter ajax comment script in place, this should make the pages load a little faster (actually quite a bit if your on 56k). Could use a little help testing so feel free to leave a comment. If it doesn’t work contact me.
  • Menu Bar – Some CSS changes to make it look more consistent across browsers, and it now highlights the current section.

Some other, more obscure changes were also made. Let me know if there is trouble.