More Subscribers? Thanks Scoble!

I logged in this evening to delete some comment spam, and I noticed that my little FeedBurner reader count on my blog had spiked up to the mid-nineties.  It generally hangs out around a slightly more modest 30 subscribers.  My first thought was that someone had linked to one of my posts.  I checked my referral logs, and the only thing I saw was a huge spike in visitors with a blank referrer.  I also ran a check against Pubsub, but still didn’t see any good explanation for the spike.  I then remembered that Robert Scoble had recently published his OMPL file via his blog.  I had clipped that entry to read later, since I was curious what blogs Scoble is reading these days, but I didn’t for the life of me think that my blog would be included.  A quick search of the document showed that my blog was indeed included.  Thanks to Scoble for including me.


 


For the new subscribers, here’s what you can expect from this blog.  I’m not a prolific blogger.  I post occasionally, and sometimes I go silent for a few weeks.  I only post when I feel I have something interesting to say.  I’ve found that when I force myself to post, I’m not as happy with what I produce.  I’m also balancing time between a job, a wife, two young kids, and I’m also working on a master’s degree.  I know everybody is busy.  I could make more time for blogging, but several of the aforementioned take a higher priority in my life.  I’m not trying to be famous or make money with my blog. I just like having a venue to publish interesting ideas & commentary.


 


Here’s a sampling of my favorite posts from the past:


 


Transient (Throwaway) Email Addresses


 


Beware of Bloggers, a Warning to the Traditional Press


 


Disruptive Google


 


Interview With Mike Hall


 


A New Media Model


 


Windows Server, Home Edition


 


Is Blogging Really Conversational?


Lower Transition Costs, Another Way To Thrill Users

In a previous post, I pointed out that having multiple Hotmail accounts is a bit of a pain.  This lead me to think about all the places we have some level of lock-in in our online life.  Getting my email out of my Gmail requires clunky setup of POP email.  Can I get that email into my new Hotmail account (rick@this-domain) ?  Not right now because I don’t have enough space, and I’m not certain if I can setup Hotmail to retrieve POP.  I could setup Outlook express with a POP connection to Gmail, and a Webdav to Hotmail, and then…  We’ve already gone way past what a “normal user” is going to be willing to do. 


Here’s what I propose.  Hotmail, (MSN, Live.com, whoever you are now) could add an option to import Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and any other service that has a user-base that Hotmail would like to have for its own.  They could make use of published API’s where possible, and use POP otherwise.  The kicker is, I want a wizard that everybody’s brother, sister, and grandma can use.  Just require a username & password.  Your servers can do the rest. 


Does this sound a little one-sided?  It does so far.  And Google, etc, could disrupt this functionality by changing APIs, blocking the Hotmail servers from using POP, many different ways.  How do you guard against this?  Provide open easy methods for people to transition _away_ from your service as well.  That way, if Yahoo! shuts you down, you can say: We’re providing a way for users to take their data with them, if you don’t do the same, you are mistreating your customers, and furthermore if you are disrupting their efforts to retrieve their own data, you are abusing your users.


What would be a good way to share this data back out?  Maybe Microsoft’s new SSE for RSS.  In the end, I can invision a utopia where I have an SSE link between my GMail and my various Hotmail accounts.  All of my email is in every account, and I can use whichever interface happens to be better this month.  All of my contacts sync back and forth.  Unread/Status information flows quickly and easily from one service to the other.  Consumers are happy because they have choice, and the services can compete on thier merits.  Maybe let me apply a filter to the SSE links too, so I’m in control of what information gets passed to each service.  Control & choices == good for consumers == happy consumers.


This same idea applies to RSS.  I know I can export/import opml with most services, but in my mind that doesn’t pass the “normal user” test either.  just let me build SSE links between the various clients.  It’ll make me a happy customer.


 

Microsoft’s domains.live.com Beats Google to the Punch on User Owned Domains

Sweet.   I’ve been toying with the idea of giving up my gmail account and just going with an email address on one of my own domains, but I didn’t want to have to worry about spam catching, remote access, or learning how to efficiently use the webmail interface that my hosting providers uses.  I’ve already signed up my family domain and blobservations.net.  I wasn’t previously using any accounts on these domains, so I don’t mind expirementing with them on a new service.  I’m expecting gmail to have this functionality soon as well, but I’ve recently become disenchanted with the gmail experience.  It’s still feels too “beta” for as long as it’s been out, and the occasional service outages come at inconvenient times.


So far I’ve got some gripes/wishes with domains.live.com (the mail component.  I’m guessing they’ll be hosting other stuff under this moniker given the generic name).


The first account I signed up, I activated before going to accountservices.msn.com and setting a country.  This account ended up with a 2MB space limit.  Not cool.  I tried resetting the country at accountservices, but it was still at 2MB.  It may have changed if I was patient, but I tried deleting & recreating the account only to find out that there’s a waiting period to use a previously used account.  This is a pain.  And the other account that I set the country properly first ended up with a 25MB space limit.  In the current landscape of multi-gig mailboxes, Hotmail should just suck it up and keep pace.  I know, it’s hard to scale when you’re as big as Hotmail, but seriously, at least get your guinea pigs up to 1 Gigabyte from the start!  (We won’t really use that much space, we just like to know it’s there!  It’s marketing, not technology!)


These new accounts are adding to my passport account soup.  I think I’m up to about 6 accounts that I actually still care about!  I’d love some mechanism to merge passport accounts, or at least let me open all my Hotmail accounts under one login with a unified interface. 


That’s it for now.  I’ve still got lots of opinions about the classic Hotmail interface, but many are probably already addressed by the Kahuna / mail.live.com beta.  If someone were nice enough to hook me up with a beta invite on that front, I’ll gladly share my opinions!  (just use the contact link on this blog 😉 )