Never underestimate the power of the web….

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I have a client who makes coffins – this sounds rather morbid and unexciting, but as well as ‘normal’ coffins they make bespoke coffins as well. This side of the business trades as ‘Crazy Coffins‘ – and what they produce are quite amazing.

It is as you can imagine quite a niche business, but once people hear of it they tell others about it, so growth is somewhat organic. However they do have a Facebook page and put up photos and information about their special coffins. The number of likes on the page were at around 700 a few weeks ago, and then they had some ‘internet luck’….

1499443_581626865250995_1094805643_nA lady who lived in Aylesbury wanted a casket for her ashes in the form of the Star Ship Enterprise from Star Trek (she was a Trekkie). The details and photos were duly added to the Facebook page once completed on the 8th December, and then some internet growth occurred…

Within a day the likes on the Facebook page had doubled, mainly due to a US undertaker who liked the page, his like was then seen by George Takei (Mr Sulu from Star Trek) who has 5 Million followers on Facebook (he is also on Twitter @GeorgeTakei) – the photo then gained 40,000 likes.

Crazy Coffins Facebook page currently has 1855 likes – proof (if needed) that social media still works for marketing!

Twitter or 999?

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This is an interesting question – should the fire services take emergency calls (currently 999) via social media sites like Twitter? Last week the London Fire Brigade said it was considering such a move, allowing people to tweet emergencies instead of dialling 999.

20121223-095617.jpgPreviously it has advised against using social media to make the service aware of fires as it is not monitored 24 hours a day. But it has acknowledged that the increasing proliferation of smart phones means they might actually get a swifter response.

First introduced in the London area on 30 June 1937, the UK’s 999 number is the world’s oldest emergency call service. The system was introduced following a fire on 10 November 1935 in a house on Wimpole Street in which five women were killed. A neighbour had tried to telephone the fire brigade and was so outraged at being held in a queue by the Welbeck telephone exchange that he wrote a letter to the editor of The Times, which prompted a government inquiry (even in those days).

In recent large fires in London the fire service have actually asked via twitter and other social media sites for local reports, photos and videos of fires to help them judge their initial response, and apparently it has enabled them to deal with incidents more effectively. So perhaps this is the way forward?

After all, when 999 calls were first introduced to summon assistance everyone apparently said it would never work!

Street View is back!

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photo2You would have had to have been on a deserted island not to have seen the details of the Apple Maps debacle in recent months. Apple sent Google packing – they had previously had a close relationship with them over many things in iOS (the iPhone operating system). But, in IOS 6 they finally got rid of Google maps with its amazing detail and street view and replaced it with their own Map App – which was (and is) rather poor by their standards (actually by anyones standards!).

Heads have rolled at Apple and they have made a public apology about the Maps – a rare event from Apple. There is talk about them buying TomTom who provide the data to enable a faster solving of issues – time will tell.

But now we have Google Maps back on iOS (iPhone at least) in the form of a new app – and it looks great (much as it did before – but better).

It will be interesting to see what Apples response will be – the pressure is on!

The social games

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Well they are 50% over, the UK’s most widely anticipated sporting event ever. They were going to be the first games of the social media revolution – so how have they been, and has social media played as big a part as expected?

20120810-083833.jpgWell from my point of view I will admit to having been a bit of a sceptic originally, but I believe the games have been an amazing success and I have really enjoyed following them – even while away on holiday in Italy! I thinks as a country we have done a great job and even the most ‘anti’ UK resident is now a fan.

The upcoming Paralympics promise to be the best ever with almost 100% ticket sales as well!

And what of the social media side? Certainly this has made it easier for me to follow events while abroad and at work – the news side of Twitter has enabled almost instant news of medal wins, which has then allowed me to use other mobile apps to follow events live.

The Tom Daley trolling episode showed the bad side of social media – but the rest of Twitters followers soon put paid to his comments.

So all in all I think Twitter and Facebook and the like have added to the experience, but have not perhaps had the impact that was expected – although that was probably a good thing as it was the negative aspects that were being commented upon pre-games more than the positives.

The real star of the Olympics for me (apart from Team GB) – was the BBC – their coverage has been brilliant, something that you appreciate even more when in a foreign country and having to watch their coverage! I really hope that Channel 4 can match their coverage during the Paralympics.

What is the attraction of Instagram?

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20120421-142448.jpgI enjoy photography and would never try to stop anyone taking photos either as a reminder of an event or as an art. However the current mobile phone fad has me confused. The modern smart phone is capable of taking pretty good photos (and is causing a drop in basic camera sales). The iPhone 4s has an 8MB camera and this is not the most impressive pixel count available on a camera phone.

So the ability to take clear well exposed photos is there – so why do people want to use programs like instagram to make their photos look like they were taken on a rubbish snap shot camera like the good old Kodak Instamatic, they even advertise it with an old polaroid camera – and they were rubbish!

Am I missing something?

This is a brilliant explanation of social media…

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This is just brilliant, often the best explanations are the simplest and this hits the nail firmly on the head – and I particularly like the reference to Google+!

iPad two years in…..

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Amazingly the iPad is two years old (last week) – it has taken me two years to get into the iPad owners club, but I have to say now I have one I can really see the attraction!

When it was first launched there were a large number of people who said it was a pointless piece of kit which would never take off – well history has proved them wrong – and it is still in my view the machine to beat.

Why? Well it is a well worn adage about all things Apple – but it just works.

Hand an iPad to almost anyone and they can get into using it very quickly because everything is so intuitive. We have a number of ‘new users’ in the office and they just love it. They are all iPhone users but the experience is so much richer and better on the iPad.

Since getting mine a few weeks ago I have found a number of things that are better than I expected (and I had high expectations). They include;

Browsing – so quick and easy on a touch screen device, our desktop PC at home is slow and is becoming used much less because of this.

Wordprocessing – I have downloaded the ‘Pages’ app and have found it brilliant. the keypad on the iPad works really well (despite what some people say). And using iCloud allows me to share the files across my devices and keeps them synced.

Spreadsheets – The ‘Numbers’ app is also brilliant and allows me to use graphs on my iPad – something that other spreadsheet apps don’t allow. It syncs to iCloud as well.

Evernote – If you don’t use this you are really missing a trick – it is superb.

Games – I am not big into gaming but some of the driving games are amazing.

So all in all I love my iPad, it is not a total replacement for my laptop but it goes a long way towards it. The big plus is the fact that is instantly on. I am sure that Apple will develop the OS even more over the next few years which can only make it better!

And iPad 3 is due in only a few weeks?

Is Facebook really the way to get youngsters to vote?

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The state of British politics does not appeal to the average 18 year old it seems (or to most of us), the percentage turn out at recent general elections has been getting progressively worse so the question has to be how to get the kids involved as they are our future.

And recent research suggests almost twice as many 18 year olds use Facebook than are actually registered to vote!

The Electoral Commission used Facebook last year to encourage teenagers to get involved, with 15,000 going on to claim their right to vote. But analysis of electoral roll data from hundreds of council areas by Experian found the total number is actually falling.

There are an estimated 1.05 million 18 year olds in the UK with Facebook accounts, but only 520,000 who registered to vote, and that was 3% fewer than in 2010.

.Official figures show that only 56% of 19-24 year olds and 55% of 17 and 18 year olds are on the electoral register.

The Electoral Commissions campaign using social media to attract young voters is clever, but is not the answer. As long as our political system remains in its current ‘tit for tat’ state I can’t see youngsters feeling that they have any part to play in the political system – sad but true. And very unhealthy for the future of our country.

Surely we need to make this part of the education system – otherwise our politicians will always be as they are now – how depressing!

Another Google ‘duffer’?

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As I have commented before I really like my social media and things – I keep up with the news via a combination of Twitter, RSS feeds and various news apps. But, in the main its the RSS feeds and Twitter that I find most effective, they provide a short headline that I can either ‘ignore’ or dig deeper on. All part of the ‘sound bite’ generation I suppose.

just not 'nice'

So as I blogged about earlier this week I was keen to give Flipboard a go when it came available for the iPhone and it did not disappoint. I am very impressed with it and find it as an iPhone app should be – very intuitive to use and smooth and ‘nice’ to use and look at.

I have been keen to look at Google’s effort in this sector of the market, it’s called Currents and was released a week or so ago – but only in the USA. I have no idea why Google always seem to do this. They are a global brand so you would think it would be possible to release things world-wide at the same time – but apparently not!

Anyway, I remembered that I have a US login for iTunes that I have used previously to access things like this via the US iTunes store. So after a quick reactivation today I downloaded Currents to have a play.

My initial reaction was that it is quite a good attempt at bringing a magazine style experience to this type of feed – and if Flipboard had not been there it might have been quite impressive! But it just does have the same feel as Flipboard. It is not as easy to use or as pleasing to the eye. More importantly it doesn’t work as smoothly and consequently isn’t as ‘special’ an experience.

Particular annoyances?

  • You have to swipe sideways to read more in an article rather than the iPhone ‘norm’ of scrolling down.
  • It doesn’t show feeds with new stories differently from ones without
  • It is like Google+ – not obvious to use

So will I keep trying it out? Possibly for a week or so, but unless I have an ‘epiphany’ I don’t expect it to remain on my iPhone long-term. Is it me or do Google lack a certain something when it comes to design these days?