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<br /> <b>Strict Standards</b>: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method unfancy_quote::strip_quotes() should not be called statically in <b>/home/martingo/martingordon.org/blog/wp-includes/plugin.php</b> on line <b>166</b><br /> Martin Gordon's Blog / 2007 / November

Notes from Joburg

I'm leaving South Africa today after a week-long business trip to Johannesburg and I've finally had some time to collect my thoughts. In no particular order:

  • Security is a big deal here. All residences from middle class up are surrounded by 8 foot fences upon which are electric fences. Signs announcing "armed response" are all over the place. Radio advertisements for homes note electric fences as attributes of a home as matter-of-factly as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • I posted about Vusi Mahlasela recently but I didn't appreciate his lyrics (the ones in English anyway) until visiting Soweto (the South Western Township where blacks were forced to live during apartheid) and reading about the anti-apartheid struggle.
  • Soweto was not quite the ghetto I pictured. I did see the tiny 100 sq ft homes and tin shacks (comparable to Brazilian favelas) I was expecting, but I also saw larger homes with BMWs and Mercedes parked in front of them. There is much more social stratification in this so-called slum than the names used to describe it suggest.
  • The weight of an empty Coke can is so deeply ingrained that I keep thinking there's soda left in the heavier SA cans when there's not.
  • Before my plane left the US, flight attendants sprayed the plane. I still haven't found the reason behind this.
  • The 16 hour flight here wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Whether my fatigue was due to jet lag or waking up at 6:30 every day is debatable. Regardless, the 7 hour time difference makes any sort of discussion with people back in the US extremely difficult. SA is almost a full business day ahead of New York and since things start winding down at 4:30 here, it makes any overlap in work hours miniscule if not nonexistent.
  • My iPhone gets no service here. When I took my Treo to Spain last winter, I was able to roam there with no problem. A possible explanation might be that international roaming was disabled when I switched to the iPhone but something more nefarious might be at work.

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Hating to Love Facebook

The blogosphere just hates to love Facebook. It took almost three years after it's launch for people like Mr. 5000 to notice it, (although in all fairness only a year after it became open to the public) and now the second something newer and shinier comes along people to start proclaiming that Facebook is dead.

Guess what? The 99% of Facebook users who don't care that Facebook is closed as long as it's not exclusive won't switch away; I also doubt that the 1% who do care won't switch either. App developers won't suddenly leave Facebook because OpenSocial is more widely supported; at best, an OpenSocial (curiously OS for short) app will supplement an existing Facebook app. Apps follow users and the users are still (and still will be) on Facebook.

Users may be fickle in their taste, but so many of them have invested too much of themselves in Facebook (by way of routine, photos, videos, wall posts and other content) to go running for the doors even if something tremendously better came along. The lag between the introduction of a better alternative and the abandonment of the old is long enough that Facebook will have time to react; just look how long AOL stuck around despite much better alternatives in both content and connectivity. Facebook's lock-in, while fragile, is in no way as big a disadvantage as everyone makes it out to be.

If OpenSocial does take off, Facebook can adopt it without much hassle and we're pretty much back to where we are now. If it doesn't take off, then it's probably because of Facebook and Zuckerberg and the gang have nothing to worry about.

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New Twitterrific Offers Ad-Supported Free Version

A new version of Twitterrific, the popular Twitter client for Mac OS X, was released today. The changelog details new features and improvements.

Twitterific Ad

The most glaring change, however, has to be the monetization scheme: either you pay $15 for it or you get an ad in your tweet list every hour. If there ever was a desktop application that could function as well on an ad-supported model as websites can, Twitterrific is it. The ads fit in so seamlessly and they're so not bothersome that it feels like Iconfactory could have gotten away with more ads. But I'll stop before I give them any more ideas.

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