Category Archives: Internet

John Chow & The Dot Com Lifestyle

I’ve been reading the blog of John Chow since the beginning. Over that time, John has written in depth about making money online and he has the proof; taking his blog from $350/month to over $31,000/month 15 months later.

While all of the information that John has presented has been amazing, especially watching him diversify his income stream and the different advertising/marketing gimmicks – he recently posted a video which I think sums up what it is all about, better than anything he has written since his blog started:

John says it isn’t about the money and I absolutely agree. If I manage to become a dot com mogal, it wouldn’t be about the money really – it would be about the lifestyle that it affords myself and my family.

I can think of nothing better than not having to worry about going to work, being able to take a holiday at my leisure and not at my employers, spending more time with my family/friends; our own home and the Ferrari in the garage would just be an added bonus.

Microsoft Invests USD$240 Million In Facebook

After a lot of rumours flying around the internet about Facebook looking for investors or buyers and the rumour being continually shot down; today sees an announcement that Microsoft have invested USD$240 million dollars in Facebook. The $240 million dollars is nothing short of a minority stake in Facebook, which has now been officially valued at USD$15 billion dollars, yes you read that correctly billion dollars.

While everything was still on the rumourmill, it was expected that both Google and Microsoft would have been bidding for a stake in Facebook. What has surprised the industry to some extent, is that Microsoft actually won the deal. Of course, this investment has now extended the marketing agreement between Microsoft and Facebook, which now sees Microsoft as the supplier of user centric advertising on the Facebook platform globally, where as it was previously limited to the United States. Of course, Facebook haven’t closed the door on further investment opportunities – we might see at least one other deep pocketed company come to the table yet.

While I appreciate how important this investment was for Microsoft, in a vain attempt to keep themselves in the online marketing game – I haven’t yet joined the dots on how it is going to work. As most savvy internet users will attest, the Microsoft search platform via MSN and its successor Live is some what limited. To add insult to injury, the advertising platform that Microsoft have been building seems so lacking compared to Google, that Microsoft are only recently realising just how far behind they are.

None the less, it’s good for everyone to see some healthy competition in the online advertising space. I expect there will be a lot of people watching this space to see how it develops over the coming months; for all we know this might be the starting point for Microsoft to launch a full frontal assault against Google.

Windows CardSpace, Solving The Identity Crisis

Last week saw another meeting of the Gold Coast .NET User Group and was presented on Windows CardSpace by Daniel Bartholomew.

Windows CardSpace is the Microsoft implementation of the Identity Metasystem, a standards compliant platform agnostic system which hopes to solve the identity crisis. CardSpace is referred to as an identity selector, which is client software which helps create, manage and share personal information in a secure and trusted manner. Since the Identity Metasystem is platform agnostic and built upon WS-*, identity selectors already exist for Linux and OS X.

After you install Windows CardSpace, the user is then able to create Self Issued cards. A self issued card is not unlike a normal business card in that a user tells everyone who they are and they don’t have a choice but to take the users word for it. CardSpace allows a user to create many different digital business cards for themselves, with varying levels of personal information attached to them which may even represent numerous online identities or persona’s. To help solve the ‘you really are who you say you are’ problem that government agencies and financial institutions have been grappling with for the last few years, the Identity Metasystem also provides for Managed Cards. A Managed Card is created by someone who would typically has previously verified the identity of an individual, such that after receiving their managed card – the institution can assert that User A really is User A and is not simply someone posing as User A.

When using an online service, the web site developer can choose to support Windows CardSpace as an authentication mechanism. Once the identity selector is invoked on the client, the user has an opportunity to securely choose which identity to provide to the web site, such that the level of information provided matches the importance or significance of the service. An important point at this point is that if the user provides the same card to many web sites, each web site receives a unique version of that information – such that multiple web services cannot collude.

Daniel presented on an ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit extender for CardSpace, which gives the developer the ability to integrate Windows CardSpace into an existing site with relative ease and good flexibility on the user interface. Daniel happens to be a DotNetNuke junkie as well, the examples that he provided on the night highlighted the existing product integration point quite well. It isn’t all smooth sailing though, Daniel did point out that the developer still needs to do a little work – however the majority of the complex stuff has been taken care of.

Watching the Identity Metasystem mature over the next year or so is going to be quite exciting. Even since listening to Daniel present a week ago, questions I posed to him regarding how CardSpace and OpenID fit together are being answered already with implementations in the wings. If the online identity management scene makes your ears perk up, you can find a whole swag of information at Kim Cameron’s Identity Blog.

Automattic Acquires Gravatar

The ever popular blogging service Gravatar started by Tom Werner has been acquired by Automattic.

For those that aren’t aware what a gravatar is, it’s a globally recognised avatar. I can hear the question already, what is an avatar and stop speaking Greek. An avatar is a little image or animated icon that people often have displayed beside their names in online forums. A gravatar is generally meant to unique to a user and is used with the intention that it’s easier of recognise a user by glancing at an image rather than by having to read their name.

Automattic acquiring Gravatar is an excellent move for the community in my opinion. In the last year or so, the Gravatar service has been failing after having a solid adoption rate throughout the blogging community. It was a vicious cycle really, as the more exposure they received the more users signed up and the more the service struggled to manage that load. The Automattic crew have quite a bit of experience scaling web sites and services out, after successfully delivering services such as Akismet for fighting spam and the massively popular hosted blogging platform.

A quick message by the founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, points out that since migrating the services into the Automattic infrastructure, that it’s already three times faster. It seems they’ve got some pretty cool plans for the Gravatar service in the future as well:

  • Rewrite the service in PHP, the programming language of choice for Automattic
  • Move the image delivery into a Content Delivery Network, reduces their load and lowers end user latency as well
  • Push the 1,000,000 plus avatars currently in into the Gravatar platform so they are available everywhere
  • Integrate the newly rebuilt Gravatar services back into
  • Implement cleaner URL’s for each gravatar

There are a bunch of other features that are coming but those are the ones that I thought were most interesting. Congratulations has to go to Tom Werner for developing a great specialist product to start with that was worth an acquisition. I’m excited to see how that all unfolds now under the management and guidance of the Automattic team.