My new iMac rocks (and so does Windows 7)

Last night I bought the 27-inch iMac. Sitting next to it is a 24-inch screen. It is totally amazing how freeing this much screen real estate is.

The new iMac? You can’t even tell it’s not just a monitor. It is just barely thicker than my 24-inch monitor. It is faster than my MacBook and it automatically imported all my items from my MacBook. All without hooking up any wires. It’s nice to see how much better the setup process is on these new computers.

The engineering that’s gone into this is just totally amazing. It’s an “all in screen” computer and it sure makes my desk look cool and clean. It’ll be the centerpiece of my home studio as I build that out. The new mouse is actually my favorite thing. It has no buttons. You just touch it to scroll or click on things. It takes a few minutes to get used to it, the same way that it took a few minutes to get used to the iPhone but now I’m already tired of my old mouse on my Dell.

I also have a pretty new Dell laptop that I loaded Windows 7 on. Both computers are so much better than the previous generations it isn’t even funny. If you are running older Windows I HIGHLY recommend getting the new Windows. It is much nicer than either XP or Vista and runs faster and hasn’t crashed in two days, either (my Vista used to crash every few hours). Congrats to Microsoft.

Anyway, in previous years I wouldn’t have considered an all-in-one computer like the iMac but this one gets me totally over that fear. It’s fast, quiet, and looks ultra sexy.

One thing I’d recommend, though, for the iMac, is to get an Ergotron arm for it so you can position it higher on your desk. Or, do what we did at Microsoft: get a few reams of paper and put the monitor on those (the Ergotron arms look a lot nicer and free up your desk space).

I got the dual core version of the iMac. The quad core will be out in six weeks (my boss has ordered one of those). This one is pretty speedy, though.

The biggest difference between Twitter and Facebook

Facebook yesterday turned on a bunch of new features on its news feed (here is TechCrunch’s writeup of the new features). It looks a lot more like FriendFeed, even though Facebook claims that the FriendFeed team didn’t work on these new features.

What does it do? Now Facebook mostly displays items that got engagement. You know, comments. Likes. Tagging. Etc.

This makes Facebook much more useful because you only see the items that your friends have found important enough to comment on or “touch” in some way. Overnight my news feed went from something that looked pretty cold and lame to something that has tons of “warmth.”

I am SO GLAD I deleted most of the people I had friended on Facebook and went down to a core group of people because I’m getting some pretty good items there now.

But I notice it now has the thing that most of my friend’s hated about FriendFeed: there are people on my feed I didn’t invite all of a sudden.

Here’s how that happens. Let’s say I’m a friend of Maryam Scoble, my wife. I see all her items. That is cool. But it also displays me any of HER FRIENDS who comment on her items. I might not care to read her friends’ opinions on politics or whatever. But I can’t easily get rid of them.

Twitter, on the other hand, doesn’t have comments. So you can’t easily have a back and forth conversation about something like you can over on FriendFeed or Facebook. But it has a HUGE advantage: I only see items from people I invited to get on my home screen.

That is a HUGE advantage for controlling noise and for keeping yourself productive. Especially after you get Twitter’s new lists feature, which lets you split your contacts up into separate pages (I have a page of just Venture Capitalists, for instance, which is a completely different feed from my page of tech journalists).

This is the biggest difference now between Twitter and Facebook and is one that keeps rubbing in that on Twitter you should follow lots of people and brands that you care about, while on Facebook you should follow only people you REALLY care about because they will drag into your view all THEIR friends and that will make your feed noisier and less valuable. Hope your friends choose their friends carefully.

Software architects (especially cloud computing): check this company out

This isn’t sexy like my last two blog posts. No killer video. No consumer service.

But if you are an architect of software services based on cloud computing architectures you have a new kind of problem: figuring out what is going on in your systems across vendors and across services. What’s causing your slowdowns? Is it Twitter? Your own code? The part of your service running on Amazon? Rackspace? Google App Engine?

Nimsoft just announced a new system that will let you monitor your systems. I had a 30 minute conversation with Gary Read, CEO of Nimsoft, about cloud computing architectures and what’s happening in the world of building services and applications that use all these newfangled APIs.

How are you changing your approach to software if you are building systems based on cloud infrastructure?

Part I Discussion of cloud computing and what’s happening in changing architectures.
Part II An introduction to Nimsoft’s new cloud computing monitoring system.
Part III — a demo of the system.

Animoto and SmugMug bring video editing to us idiots

After watching that last video edited by two pros I’m jealous. How can the rest of us who have iPhone video cameras, or low-cost Flip or Kodak cameras, going to make killer professional quality videos?

Animoto and Smugmug, this morning, announced a partnership that makes it possible.

Why does this matter? Well, TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington announced on Twitter that Animoto is his favorite service ever.

Oh, and notice that I filmed the whole interview last night on my Kodak Zi8. Cost? $180.

The new dial tone: video+social media

Last night I attended a Weezer concert thanks to MySpace. When the lights were off you could see the revolution: lots of little screens all over the concert hall capturing the event. I posted mine to 12 Seconds TV.

But there’s something deeper going on. Last week I met up with Leo Laporte and talked about it.

Along for the ride were two documentary film producers. Their results? A video called “the new dial tone.” One of which, Marc Ostrick, was one of the film makers that worked on Obama’s campaign film last year.

What were they holding? Two low-cost cameras (none of which cost more than $200). One is a Kodak Zi8, which is a camera I’ve been using lately on my own Blip channel.

Anyway, they put together a documentary film of the Blog World Expo last week that is absolutely marvelous. In it you’ll see a ton of the biggest names and old-school, but making new media, brands like CNN in social media.

Thanks to Marc and Michael Sean Wright for letting me be part of this.

You can see the revolution happening right in front of you.

What’s another example of this revolution? Watch this separate video with the CEOs of SmugMug and Animoto (filmed on my $180 Kodak Zi8, again) where they show how ANYONE can create very high quality videos with just some photos and video clips. No skills needed. (The new SmugMug/Animoto features were announced today).

What other examples of this revolution are you seeing? Or, even better, making?

The biggest loser in the Twitter search deals

No, it’s not FriendFeed, although yesterday didn’t provide any good news to users there who really would love to hear that their community still matters. Google and Microsoft said “no.”

So, who is the biggest loser in the Twitter search deals announced yesterday (First Bing announced it made a deal with Twitter. Then Google jumped in and said “me too.”)

Facebook.

“But didn’t Facebook make a deal with Bing too yesterday?”

Yes.

But tell me again what market share that Bing has? Somewhere less than 10%. Even if they double that over the next year (hint: they won’t) that means 20%. Now, what’s Google’s market share? Somewhere around 70%, right? So, even if it loses 10% to Bing that still is 60%.

In other words, if you aren’t on Google you don’t exist to most people.

Who doesn’t exist on Google (at least in terms of deals for the firehose feed?)

1. FriendFeed (which is owned by Facebook).
2. Facebook.

Why did this happen?

Well, remember, Microsoft has an advertising deal with Facebook. I bet there’s some funny language in a contract somewhere that is keeping Facebook from making search deals with Google.

Loser!

So, why does all this search stuff matter for tweets and Facebook status messages?

Well, I keep looking at searches for businesses. Things like if you are looking on Google for “Sushi in Palo Alto, CA.”

See that list? What do you notice about it?

I notice a few things.

1. It feels cold when compared to, say, my Facebook feed. Why is that? No friends!
2. There’s no real time news. Did a great shipment of salmon ship in yesterday? How would I know from this list?
3. There are no offers from restaurant #3. This is where the money is and Google is leaving a TON of it on the table here but Yelp is actually showing the way here — open up Yelp’s iPhone app and you’ll see offers to try to get you into the restaurant.

So, how can Twitter help?

Well, if certain Tweets could be routed to this page, especially ones from my friends who will tell me that, say, Fuki-Sushi has the best fresh fish, well, then, that would be very cool and useful. Even further, what if both restaurants and customers could talk about Fuki-Sushi in real time? When I was in Paris last year we were in a restaurant where rats were crawling on the floor. Wouldn’t you like to know that about a restaurant before you took your date there? Isn’t real time very important? I think so. I want to know what the experience is there now, not last night. My favorite sushi restaurant always has a line. Wouldn’t it be fun to see a Tweet from someone who is there telling you that the line at your favorite place is short right now?

And, couldn’t Twitter be used as infrastructure to deliver offers from the restaurants themselves? Oh, yeah!

But all that isn’t the real reason why Facebook is the big loser.

Facebook has another problem. People think it’s a service for talking to your college friends. Or your close “real world” friends and family. I watch my wife and that’s how she uses it. She doesn’t understand that Facebook needs to move her into their public world so that they can turn on search and enable other cool experiences that will go outside of her little walled garden.

It will be professional publishers that drag people to new use cases. Already people are starting to change their behaviors on Facebook because of celebrity fan pages, which are public.

But where will influential people, celebrities, brands, professional publishers, etc choose to publish? Where their words have a shot at getting at the biggest audiences.

Today that audience is on Google. Google is the prize. Repeat that 50 times.

Twitter, so far, has made a deal with Google. Facebook, so far, has NOT made a deal with Google.

Until Facebook can get around the terms in that advertising deal it signed with Microsoft it is the biggest loser of the day yesterday.

It is ridiculous startups have to pay to pitch

I just read Jason Calacanis’ post about angel investors who are charging to have startups pitch them.

That’s totally ridiculous.

I NEVER charge for pitches and NEVER charge to interview startups or people for my video show or to get on building43. I don’t even ask if you are a Rackspace customer. It’s totally ridiculous that such a system exists.

I’ve never heard of such a thing amongst the Silicon Valley angel networks or investors. Might explain why so many companies come here to start up.

Right on Jason for pointing a light on this practice.