Categories
Miscellaneous

Quick Recap of Last Week’s Tech News

There have been a number of things I’ve been meaning to comment on in the last couple of weeks and not got around to it until now. Rather than write long posts on each, I’ll quickly summarise what I think of these points.

AOL wants to buy Yahoo!

This is I think good news. They are both very similar companies and to me at least, it makes sense to create one bigger one to help them both better take on Microsoft and Google. At one stage, AOL even directly copied Yahoo’s own homepage so I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to integrate both of their services together if this were to happen.

BlackBerry Playbook Announced

You may say that this deserves a post of it’s own, but if you want to read that then you’d be on Engadget, TechCrunch, Gizmodo and all of the others. Personally, while I think it’s cool and probably a smart play for a very quickly maturing market, I can’t say I’m very excited for it.

From what I’ve always heard, touch screens by companies other than Apple tend to be more frustrating and hard to press than the multi-touch displays that are such a joy to use. On the software and hardware sides, I can’t see them making anything that can genuinely rival what Apple can do. I liken this to Android in a way. It tries to be mainstream but ends up being too geeky and confusing for a lot of that audience.

Android is making steps forward so it’s not to say Blackberry can’t do the same. I feel the same way about tablets from companies like Samsung. I just doubt whether they really have what it takes to go head to head with Apple, but we’ll find out soon.

Google Launches goo.gl URL Shortening Service Publically

This is hardly huge news, I just wish they had done it much earlier because now they are way too far behind everyone else to compete. Bit.ly, J.mp, fb.me, wp.me and many more including now Twitter‘s own t.co service are all established now and I don’t think Google are going to be able to get a foothold in the market.

In order for them to really be successful with this, they need to get two things started. Firstly, they need to get integrated into Twitter and other news apps on Apple’s and other devices so that more people will be likely to choose to use it. They also need to give users a bookmarklet so that they can shorten links much quicker. Currently, you have to copy the URL, visit goo.gl and paste it in the box to get the short code.

While they are some way behind the competition in the process or shortening the links, where they do shine is in the stats they provide. Google have the best servers in the world and they put them to good use here, tracking data such as clicks, browsers, locations and platform used.

I don’t think until they make the changes I’ve noted, they can challenge the heavyweights of this growing category of service, but it’s Google. If they wanted to take it seriously, they could surely trounce everyone else pretty easily.

My IGN Updates

MY IGN is the cool social networking service built into IGN.com. It replaces the original community aspect of the site and makes it much better. I’ve written a detailed post on it before, so check that out if you need to get up to speed on what it does.

The new updates now allow peace of mind regarding blogging. At first, they had stated that all blog posts written in the new wordpress powered blogging system would be deleted when the service left beta. That is now not an issue and all posts written with either platform will be kept. This is great news.

They have also made the service more stable, have given more security options to prevent people from spamming your wall by only allowing people you follow to do so. You can also block users now.

Finally, you can see who you follow and who follows you and quite a few other improvements including post deletion. I’m really excited to see how they keep improving MY IGN going forward, because it definitely fills a void in the social media market as I’ve said before, and it has great potential.

The next thing I’d like to see them do is integrate the service into the IGN app for iPhone and maybe their m.ign.com mobile site which appears to be inspired by YouTube‘s mobile version.

Apple Updates iTunes Ping

This happened quite a while ago now, but essentially what Apple did was remove the genius sidebar, which I and probably most other people never used to begin with, and replaced it with the Ping sidebar. The new sidebar shows your recent activity from bands or friends you follow. When you click on a song in your library you get the option to like or comment on that song in the sidebar, or by clicking a button next to the track you have highlighted.

When the artist of the song you’ve highlighted has a profile on Ping, you’ll be provided a link to that in the sidebar as well, which is useful if you didn’t know before that they were active on the social network or not, or if you want to quickly check their activity.

It’s not a major upgrade to Ping but it makes sense and probably should have been there from the start. Genius never really needed the sidebar so it’s good that they’re putting that space to better use now.

Categories
Miscellaneous

MY IGN: The Social Network for Gamers

MY IGN is essentially the re-branding and modernising of Club IGN, the part of IGN which enables you to blog, chat on boards and manage, rate and review your game collection.

The new blog system will be based on WordPress MU (Multi User). Of course, I love WP so I’m all for that change. The old IGN blogging system (which is still in use for the moment) is awful and very cumbersome, not to mention not very visually appealing. Replacing it is long overdue and they’ve done it with the best and most powerful blogging platform out there.

Aside from the blogging aspect, you can now also follow people and games on the site. Updates from these sources appear in your news feed. What this means is that now you can know when a review was posted for a game you’re looking forward to, find IGN editor’s blog posts quickly without having to go to their individual blogs to check manually in case there are new posts.

The next new aspect is the levelling up and twitter and facebook style updates. You get XP when you do anything social on the site, from writing a blog post to setting your status, to reviewing a game. It all counts to gaining you levels which is very satisfying and fits in well with a gaming focused social network.

I think overall this service has massive potential and really delivers something that no one else has been able to perfect. Because IGN is a very old and complex site, there are always going to be bugs whenever they make a major update or addition. This is an inherent problem with this type of site and I’m sure they’ll iron out all of the small issues soon.

Personally I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time as I don’t feel comfortable writing things about gaming on my facebook account as people who aren’t gamers at all don’t tend to understand, and I don’t want to burden them with stuff they don’t care about. There are no such worries here, and I’m really excited to see how MY IGN keeps evolving.