Brad Dobbs's Blog


Just another site

Best of Luck Paul Miller

One of my favorite websites these days is Engadget.  Owned by AOL – it is one of the quintessential places to get the latest news on the bleeding edge of gadgets, as my bank account can attest, I try to live from time to time.

One of the contributing editors, Paul Miller resigned late last week citing the “AOL Way” as his signoff from on the site as an editor, journalist and blogger. You can check out his letter here.

In TechCrunch yesterday morning, I came across an interesting post by Paul Carr, who suggested he should have gone with more of a scorched earth exit leading to a dismissal instead of a resignation.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of Paul’s points, I think if anything he was trying to make a little light of the situation while highlighting the “AOL Way”.  You can check that out here, I suggest you read it.

I will take from this article though some of the guidelines that AOL demands that their journalists adhere to.  Pretty scary stuff here (as taken from the TechCrunch article)

  • “each article should be profitable and generate at least [emphasis theirs] 7k PVs/story”
  • “[By March:] SEO checker to be used on 95% of stories”
  • “Decide What Topics To Cover [based on] 1) Traffic Potential, 2) Revenue/Profit 3) Turnaround Time 4) Editorial Integrity”
  • “use [freelancers] sparingly unless paid for by advertiser”
  • “”Carefully craft headlines to grab users’ interest by incorporating in-demand terms and entice them to click onto the article [e.g.] ‘Lady Gaga Goes Pantsless in Paris’”
  • “use editorial judgment & insight to determine production. Ex: “Macaulay Culkin” & Mila Kunis” are trending because they broke up -> write story about Macaulay Culkin and Mila Kunis”.


Now I don’t have any insight into how much Engadget/TechCrunch or any other AOL blog must adhere to this policy, but the fact it seems that this was indeed sent out to staffers means that it is something that must come into consideration in some way, shape or form.  Paul Carr insinuates that TechCrunch isn’t necessarily subject to these rules.

However, when will the top brass of companies like this realize that these sites were built on the EXACT OPPOSITE of what they are outlining for content, and that users can sniff out a “sponsored post” as Gizmodo labels out pretty quick?  I can’t imagine as more of this word gets out that AOL again will end up turning these promising sites of the new wave of journalism into the former shells that they were, and staffers like Paul Miller will start their own sites, again – and bring the readers with them.

The best part is, I am sure AOL will try to buy them too.  @futurepaul – if you decide to start your own gig, I got my journalism degree in 2004.  It’s been awhile, but I would love to join you on some sort of part-time basis.


Filed under: Technology, , , , ,

Mac App Store Opens Today

With a little fanfare during CES 2011, the Apple Mac Store is wedging itself into OS X 10.6.6. With a modest standard software update on your MacBook (or other Mac computers), you will find a rounded version of their standard App Store icon in your dock that pretty much anyone with an iPhone or iPod touch would recognize.

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I sprinted to my MacBook today and downloaded the package and got to work.

My first impression is really two fold. First, it basically behaves just like the iOS version. Fire up a quick search, maybe browse if that is your fancy, click on the free or price icon and it downloads directly to your dock, and placed in your applications folder.

Second, this makes installing Mac software mind-numbingly easy. One of my main frustrations with Mac since I became a regular user a year ago was the app installation process, especially coming from Windows. You would have to download a disk image, open that, sometimes you would have to drag that to the applications folder, sometimes not…there was lot of guesswork, especially for a newbie. Apple has successfully ported the idea of software installation from the iPhone and iPod touch to the Mac with the same ease that made the “app” as popular as it is now.

The usual Apple rules apply, such as rev share agreements and an approval process – but for the Mac developers out there that make great software, this is the ultimate distribution portal. I wouldn’t have discovered Tweetie unless I did some browsing/research and then downloaded. Now, it will probably end up being a top Mac store app with a built-in audience to discover it.

So, download your software update today and get to browsing. Lastly, for everyone that was wondering, Angry Birds for Mac is also available today in the App Store. Go take down those pigs!

Filed under: Computers, Mobile Apps, Technology, , , , , , , , ,

Things I Am Crappy At : Black Ops

Online FPS games, especially Black Ops.

I swear I headshot everyone.  I rarely kill anyone.  However, the kill cam shows them blowing my toes off which resulted in my death.

Then a 12-year old tells me how terrible I am at the game and I am a liability to the team.

I think I will stick to all campaign modes – in those, I am a hero.  I shot Castro the other day!

Turns out, it was his stunt-double, but whatever.

Filed under: Computers, Technology

Rooting + Flashing…an Android Device

Android robot logo.

He is a cute little guy

With one swift upgrade to an iPhone 4, my girlfriend’s old iPhone 3G had become a dust magnet on my computer desk.  The thing about this iPhone is that for the entire 2 years that she used it, it was always kept in a case with a screen protector.  It sat around and was part of a few projects for me on Saturday afternoons just to stretch out my “hacking” (note the quotes, using this term extremely loosely, considering I am not hacking but merely following the instructions posted by people who did the real jailbreaking work…)

I downgraded it to the last version of iPhone OS 3, jail broke it, unlocked it, played with the notion of dual-booting it with Android, but never really did anything with it.  I actually threatened to make it a remote control for the Apple TV I don’t have yet.

So what started out of boredom with a few spare hours this weekend in reading about rooting & flashing Android ROM’s and other general hackery, I traded the dust magnet iPhone 3G for a T-Mobile G1, straight up.

I have flirted with Android in the past with a Nexus One (but twice actually), but never kept it around as I was constantly switching the SIM and having to use it as a primary phone, which was pretty annoying. This time around I didn’t intend to make this a primary device, but a little test bed to really play around with Android.  I snagged a quick pre-paid SIM for it at T-Mobile for $30.00 with basically enough data for me to activate the phone.  It has been on Wi-Fi ever since, so I won’t even get close to the data cap.

What has made this phone fun for me is that it is fairly easy to get into and modify.  The original Google Phone comes with Android 1.6, which is a pretty old version of the “Droid” system that people know and love today.  I think there is enough material for a different blog post in just the jumps Android has made in less than two years, as this phone is a pretty crazy reminder of how dumbphone Android used to look.

I had already done some research on how to root the device and load the latest version of Android on the G1.  I knew performance was going to be terrible, but I really wanted to give it a shot to see if I can do what people are charging $20 bucks on Craigslist to do.

After a few YouTube clips and a step by step tutorial and a few hours, I was able to successfully replace the old version of Android to basically the latest thing in market today (2.2…for now).  The speed is lacking, there isn’t any storage, but there is something fun to be said in terms of completely wiping out this phone, restoring it with something else and actually having it work after I was all done.

It was pretty cool.  I think I can kick up my geek cred a little bit.

Filed under: Technology, , , , ,

So I Answered my first Facebook Question

In the top right of my ever-bloating Facebook homepage has been one of the more recent Facebook product roll-outs, Facebook Questions.

For those of you that are not familiar, this approach of  crowdsourcing questions isn’t anything new.  Yahoo and others, like Aardvark have rolled out platforms that allow people to ask questions of a community to get an answer.  I really think the creation these services are more for opinion than factual question and answers.

Well when you introduce a this service to about 500 million people, you get those who use it for any type of question.  For example, the below.

Bet you didn't know that I invented the Xbox

Bet you didn't know that!

I don’t know Justin Van Ness, but he is my new hero.  I hope he has answered more questions like this.  I threw my color commentary in there for no reason other to be a smartass.  But to help the masses, I share a link with you.

Don’t say I didn’t ever teach you anything cool.

Filed under: Technology, , ,

Let’s Pre-Order a Digital Download…Just Because

After a soul-crushing flag football defeat tonight in Seattle Center, I naturally floated to my laptop to keep track of my fantasy teams and check out if the latest Engadget podcast had downloaded to my iTunes library yet.

In my multi-tab stupor, I noticed a friend who said they were checking out the new Kanye album.  I could write a whole post on why I don’t like him as a person, but his music has always been great.

So while the podcast downloaded, I noticed that I can pre-order the new Kanye album today on iTunes.  Then I thought to myself – why would anyone ever actually do that?

New Kanye album available for pre-order

Here, pre-order a digital copy. Apparently these are scarce?

So I did a few Google searches, and the only thing that the internet can come up with is that there can be (but not all the time) a lower price for a pre-order than when you order it after release.  However, a few of the same searches have shown me that generally for high-demand digital downloads (movies, music) don’t get this price break.

Another thought from the internet was that so Apple can already begin to collect money on albums that haven’t released yet.  I am no accountant, but I think that accounting rules wouldn’t allow the recognition of revenue unless the product/service has been delivered.

If anyone has ever done this, please let me know why, and if there was any benefit.

Filed under: Technology, , , ,

This PlayStation Phone…May Just Work

PSP Phone - photo credit, Engadget

PSP Phone - Photo Credit, Engadget

One of my favorite tech blogs, Engadget just got their hands on some product shots of what appears to be the PSP (or Playstation) phone.  It will be running Android.  It has a slide-out….gamepad.

This idea is just so out there – it may just work.   Where will this product pick up where past failures, such as the Nokia N-Gage failed?  Can Sony-Ericsson, on the brink of irrelevancy, claw their way back into the consideration set?

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Technology, , , , , ,

Ping…"Sniff Sniff"…You Stink

“Ping, it is a social network for music” – Steve Jobs, and Josh Topolsky, who does a great impersonation on the Engadget Podcast

One of the features rolled out in the new iTunes 10 is Ping, an integrated social network that is linked to iTunes and users share away with the world the music that they listen to directly through the program everyone needs if they want to put content on their iPhones or iPod touches.

Slider and Maverick Discuss Social Networking

"Slider, let's discuss your social networking strategy, the one that launched without Facebook Connect."

Ping now has been in market for a few weeks now and I just got around to signing up for it.  Based on the above description, it makes a little sense, don’t you think?

Ping launched with the best of intentions, but the worst of executions and an idea that already is flawlessly executed by another online music service.

However, that isn’t necessarily the point.  MySpace was doing an admirable job when Mr. Zuckerberg decided to grow Facebook outside of just .edu email addresses.  Napster was just trucking illegally along before the RIAA came in and ruined things, but led to the rise of iTunes.

How does Ping miss the mark?  Hit the jump below to find out how if you mix a little arrogance, topped with framing it in a piece of bloatware anyways will lead to – little usage and little incentive to get your friends to join along on the fun.


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Filed under: Technology

My Unofficial Rules of Foursquare

As an avid Foursquare user now for some time, I think it is cool that more and more people are starting to discover the “game” of it all and using it as a way to meet up with friends.

There has been a few times where I have used it to meet up with people who were near me, discover new places and also as a Superuser, close venues that are no longer with us.  I also feel since I was an early adopter (shout-out to by friend Ken who introduced it to me), then I get to make some rules for all the newbies that are getting on board.

So, I give you – my unofficial rules to Foursquare, as I have declared myself the official arbiter of what can and can’t be done.

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Filed under: Mobile Apps, , , , ,

I Didn't Make the Cut

600,000 did though – congrats to those who are getting iPhones that:

  • have apparent yellow screens
  • if you hold the phone just right, will lose reception
  • scratch pretty easy for being as strong as a supposed sapphire or whatever

I think I will just wait a month. I think by then I will have my sights on the Droid X.


Filed under: Technology