links for 2009-05-25

  • "Even though applying for a freelance job online is fast, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. You need to consider several issues before rushing your application for a prospective project"
    (tags: job online tips)
  • "Many people have not had the opportunity to see someone use a refreshable Braille device to access the web. I recently videoed Bruce Maguire describing how he uses the internet with a refreshable Braille display. He also demonstrates finding a book on the Amazon site. Transcript of the video is at the end of this document."
  • "API-karttasivuille on ollut jo suunnilleen vuoden ajan tarjolla GAdsManager-objekti, jonka on luvattu tuovan mainosnuppineuloja ja niiden kautta klikkituloja. Jostain syystä kyseisiä mainosnuppineuloja ei juuri kukaan ole nähnyt ja vielä harvempi saanut klikkituloja.

    Nyt Google tavallaan pakitti tekniikassa ja otti käyttöön brutaalin mainosikkunan kartan päälle. Heti tuli kehuja kentältä. Nyt näkyy klikkituloja."

  • "I wasn't affected by last weeks areps.at Facebook phishing scam, but it seems like another one is underway right now. I've been getting some messages on my Facebook account with the subject "Look at this" and "wwww whiteflash be" as the message body. The site whiteflash.be looks like a Facebook log-in page, and is designed to steal your credentials and use them to send similar messages to all your friends."
  • "Facebook has increased the size limit on photo albums from 60 to 200, thanks to a new storage system dubbed Haystack. The jump in storage capacity was a necessity for many users, as Facebook is the largest photo-sharing site on the Web."

links for 2009-05-04

links for 2009-04-29

Choosing Gender (Or How I thought I Became a Female)

I like running, a lot, actually.

I live in Finland.

My first name is Ilkka.

Am I male or female?

(And why the hell am I thinking about this?)

Long story short; some years ago I bought iPod Nano with Nike+ -running sensor. Sensor worked fine during running but doesn’t work when I inline skate (well, obviously as it is based on step counter/acceleration, read more at Wikipedia). Therefore my usage was cut short and nowadays I’m perfectly happy with my Nokia Sports Tracker and N82 -combination, thank you.

Well now, as the Sports Tracker from Nokia comes with a web site (reviewed earlier), so did the Nike+iPod, too (www.nikeplus.com). Nikeplus boasts all the same features as Nokia Sports Tracker’s site and few more (like being able to buy sneakers and music to iPod) but is basically the same site with different skin (this is my opinion, of course. All Nokia/Apple/Nike fanboys can disagree as much as they want).

At NikePlus one creates an user profile, fills in all the important stuff and so on. One of the things one has to tick in the registration form is gender. I’m a male, therefore I ticked “Gender – male” (screen capture below).

NikePlus.com, account info-tab

If I understand the form correctly, I have ticked “male“.

Now, why the weird title and all this before making any point?

NikePlus has these wondeful promotional, playful competitions challenges (like who runs the most distance at two weeks, which one of your running mates runs longest/fastest etc). There’s atm a race between men and women going on, goal to run more km than the other group (Titled simply “Men vs Women – make every run count”. See the ad below). And as some of you may know, I’m all in for a bit of competition!

nikeplus challenge ad: men vs women

And then we come to my first name. As it ends with A, some European (and US citizens) tend to think it’s a female name. Well, it isn’t. In Finland there’s no such rule that male names end with certain letters and/or female with certain (ok, bit harshly said, but anyway).

Anyhoo.

NikePlus sends me occasional e-mails. Haven’t unsubscribed as I quite like them (and Gmail swallows almost anything I can stuff there). Last week I received an e-mail about the challenge between men and women (I’ll just paste selected parts below, italics by yours truly):

We’re ahead on KMs, let’s keep it that way

Men may be ahead on total KMs – but this is no time to get complacent – there’s more than one way the girls could win this race.

Show your female friends the score with the live-updating Men Vs. Women Challenge widget.

Why are we the superior sex? Let’s be kind and leave it at two reasons: strength and competitiveness. So give in to your animal instinct and power your way ahead. She won’t see what beat her (she’ll be running too slow).

Ahem.

Well, yeah, we are the superior sex, aren’t we? “Girls could win this race“?

As I read the e-mail for the first time at my mobile, I thought they have gotten the gender wrong. Which e-mail letter would state men the superior sex? What letter would talk to men about girls – and about showing my female friends the challenge?

Apparently this one.

Well, ahem.

I misread the letter at the first time, have to give you that. And as quite many foreigners mix my gender based on my name I thought that was the case here, too.

Now I’m just wondering which one is more stupid, me misreading the letter or the marketer writing it? (Well, I’m blogging about the letter, giving it free publicity and everything, so that leaves only me.)

Any publicity is good publicity?

Conclusion

  • People can be touchy when it comes to gender based marketing. It might work better than anyone has ever expected – or then backfire and do a lot of damage.
  • Challenges work (and as NikePlus -typed site is filled with runners it works perhaps really well)
  • Don’t assume anything about gender based on person’s name.

Nokia’s Site Chosen as “Best In Finland”

[Update: I was contacted by Webmark about the survey. Read Updates at end of post.]

According to various (finnish) sources (TietoviikkoDigitoday, Tietokone etc),  Nokia.fi was chosen as “best web site in Finland, 2008“.

I don’t even want to begin to conversate about Nokia.fi’s pros or cons – I’ll just focus on how this achievement was published in the news.

Well yeah.

I spotted the news at Digitoday. It states that Webmark, “a company that measures quality of web sites”,  found Nokia’s website the best in Finland (according to their evaluation/survey).
Then Digitoday, as well as all other publishers, continues jabbering about survey/evaluation done, which sites made it to Top-10 and so on.

Nice.

Except that:

  • I didn’t find a single link to survey/evaluation made
  • I didn’t find a single line mentioning tools used in the evaluation
  • I didn’t find a single line mentioning source for this bit of news
    (Where did it come from (Heaven?)? Was there a press conference (where? when? who was invited?)? Did the company post a press release?)

Jolly good.

Now, as I’m by nature mean, nasty and curious, I googled Webmark first. Found eventually their finnish site. And yes! There it was, the press release about “Best Site in Finland, 2007”.

Wait, what?

2007? It should be 2008 now,  shouldn’t it?

No press release about year 2008, just 2007.

Nice.

Well, back to Google.
Tried “webmark suomen paras verkkosivu“. No source, no press releases from original source, just different posts with (virtually) same content. (Other queries returned same results, too.)

Back to original post at Digitoday.  CEO’s of Webmark and Accenture are mentioned, as well as that “at the same time published research done by Accenture” – hey, I’ll just see Accenture.fi for origins!

Nothing at all about these things at  “press” -part of their pages.

Makes one wonder.

Hey guys at Webmark, Accenture, Digitoday and so on, if you read this, please post (all or at least one of the following):

  1. original press release
  2. origin of this news (if it was published at conference or something, where and when?)
  3. actual evaluation data
  4. methods used at evaluation

.. and then I’m willing to believe Nokia.fi is “the best web site in Finland, 2008”.

Update 25.3.2009

I was contacted by Webmark about this post and spent interesting times discussing the survey and methods. I also received some additional material, which made some points mentioned above quite clear.

  1. Original press release was published at the given date at Webmark’s site, only in the afternoon (read it here, pdf)
  2. Announcement was made at “Vuoden verkkosivut 2008” -conference, 19.3.2009. (See the program here.)
    Why didn’t I find the link
    nor the page? Only mention at Webmark’s front page about the announcement and conference (symposium?) was a flash -based banner, which got caught in my Adblock (it’s not a good idea to name banners “banner”, you know.). And when it comes to no origin at news about survey, thank our beloved and overworked reporters!
  3. Evaluation data is not available, but is based on methodology by Mr. Harri Oinas-Kukkonen from University of Oulu.
  4. See point 3 and press release.

(Bit more later…)

Should We Test It a Bit More?

[Editor’s note: Do read the comments of this posting about Jokakoti.fi.]

Always the big question; how much should we test it? When is it ready?

When should we launch the product? Should we launch alpha or beta (private or public)? Is it ok to launch so called perpetual beta (take Gmail for example)?

Pretty good questions.

Lately I’ve read that one should always launch early (see Startups in 13 Sentences for one example).

Well, today I received an e-mail from Mtv3 inviting me to beta-test their new real estate service (jokakoti.fi). I can’t actually remember if I signed for invite – might have done that.

Anyway, used the link provided in the e-mail. Whee, HTTP-basic authentication set to protect the pages! Professional? Not so, IMHO. Typed in the general user name and password combo (was there an ad agency who came up with these?) – what follows?

Screen capture below:

MTV3's new real estate service, Jokakoti.fi as seen with FF 3.0.6, newest Flash installed (and working), running on WinXP

MTV3's new real estate service, Jokakoti.fi as seen with FF 3.0.6, newest Flash installed (and working), running on WinXP

Pretty nice, isn’t it?

Plain blue, small tick mark from Adblock showing that there’s some Flash present.

A quick peek at code;  almost valid HTML, awful conditional comments used for IE and yeah, that’s about it. Flash and Ajax, which don’t seem to work with my sturdy old computer.

Nice.

Accessibility? Can’t even evaluate it as I don’t see the content. Oh wait, I can, can I?

Yes I can: accessibility is not that good.

Lessons learned so far:

  • In order to use the site I have to have Flash 10 (latest version) installed.
  • Beta testing is a fine way to catch some bugs – as we see here;)

Small test with IE7 – no surprise – it works. (Screen grab below)
Pretty nice, though the slides are sluggish and so on.

jokakoti viewed with IE7

jokakoti viewed with IE7

Lessons learned so far?

  • not all users have the latest plugins installed
  • not all users have up-to-date computers (I’d reckon this works like a charm with my laptop)

Last but not the least, a small test with my favourite mobile browser, Opera Mini, using their wonderful Simulator/Demo. (Screen grab below, screen states that one has to have Flash and JS support).

jokakoti viewed Operamini simulator

jokakoti viewed Operamini simulator

Conclusions?

  • Developing cross-browser, accessible websites is not easy
  • One can’t rely on users having newest versions nor fast computers
  • Beta testing is worth one’s while.