RIP Digsby–you’re dead (and not just to me)

When Digsby came out in 2008, I was a lost refuge in the land of IM. I broke up with Trillian, which at the time was experiencing painfully slow development during a slow Alpha Testing period.  At the time I was in the IM dessert known as Pidgin: a great IM alternative, but ugly interface. Digsby was a breath of a fresh air, combing the ability to keep myself updated on social networks, emails and of course instant messaging.  I was an avid fan of Digsby from the start, turning friends and family into users of the app.  Over the years, Digsby had its fair share of stumbles, the guys developing Digsby had made a great product and had a great relationship with their user community.

DeadDigsby

Unfortunately, like that Indie band that you’ve passionately followed, they became big and were never quite the same. In Digsby’s case, it was acquired by a company called Tagged back in April. In their blog post, Digsby claimed they were going to continue to support Digsby and they were going to determine the long-term plans for Digsby. Over three months later, with virtually no communication from their blog, in their forum or through their Twitter account – let alone any changes to their app – the long-term plans are all too apparent: there are none!

To be fair, they’ve made small bug-fixes whenever MSN changed their protocols, but the straw that’s breaking my fact is that on July 1st Twitter changed their authentication model, which broke the way Direct Messages are retrieved. I’ve submitted a bug and scoured the forums to no avail.  In fact, the only topic that is getting traction on the forum is the “Digsby Dead” topic, where other fans are concluding that Digsby has in fact died.

So Rest In Peace Digsby. You were a great product which I loved, but I’m not going to continue to use a product which is no longer supported.  At least there’s on take-away: you guys gave Trillian a swift kick in the pants and now they’re passing you by. In related news: I am now using Trillian again.

Please, prove me wrong. I’d be happy to come back.

Going out in Old Town? Make sure you bring your papers!

I came across this story in the Coloradoan earlier this week:

Old Town Fort Collins bars plan to launch ID scanners

You need to read the story, but in a nutshell an initiative called “Downtown After Dark” wants every establishment in downtown Fort Collins to install drivers license scanners, as well as photograph everyone that enters a bar in Fort Collins at night.  They want to build a database of all patrons so that they can easily identify trouble-makers.

They say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”, but I’m not even sure if these intentions are that good. I can appreciate the intention of wanting to curb bar fights and disorderly conduct, but is giving the police a database on everyone that goes out the way to do this? Talk about “guilty until proven innocent.”

If we’ve learned anything by the internet: building a database of personal information will surely get hacked. It’s like what Steve Buscemi said in Armageddon, you’re going to put your trust into something that was built by the lowest bidder? They said that the ID system is being targeted by the small minority of disrupters, but it’s the vast majority that’s going to be impacted when some identity thief gets into that data. Moreover, if you have open access to employees in these establishments, how hard is it for a seedy worker to go in and get the address of woman he’s decided to stalk?

You then have the issue of what’s considered “unruly behavior”. I’m sure the law enforcement in Fort Collins do a fine job, but this system becomes all too easy to track the whereabouts of anyone out to have a good time in Fort Collins. What happens when someone who has unpaid parking tickets shows up at the bar?  What happens if a private investigation firm gets access to this DB. All of the sudden your employer can now find out whether you were drinking the night before you called in sick?

Each one of these systems costs $1800 – multiply that by the number of bars in Old Town and watch those costs sky-rocket.  Those machines need to be paid for by someone – whether it’s the owners hiking the prices of drinks, or the tax-payer when this measure is put on a ballot.

This all boils down to the fact that some bars in Old Town have a problem over-serving people. Instead of cracking down on the patrons who are having a good time, not causing any trouble and pumping money into the local economy, why don’t we crack down on the bartenders who aren’t cutting people off when they need to be? There are bars in Old Town which constantly have these incidents, why not crack down on the owners of these places to beef up their own security before tracking anyone who goes out in Fort Collins?

Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!

A few days ago I was in Turntable.fm DJ’ing in one of those “Anything” rooms, when the songs were trending to the nostalgic (and sometimes cheesy) variety. As my brother-in-law Tony said, I swung for the fences but luckily got a good response with Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap”.  As if the song isn’t classic enough, the music video really drives it home.

It does scare me a bit that we’re starting to look back at things in the 90’s – the era of my teenage years – with the same patronization as we are with the 80’s. Does this mean I’m getting old?

Turntable.fm has taken away hours of my life

A few weeks ago when I first heard about Turntable.fm, I thought it was it was the kind of professional-style DJ site where you re-mix songs and come up with your own trance beats.  As I listened to tech pundits first talk about it, they hyped it up but never really explained what it actually was.

turntable

I’ll try to describe it, but you really just need to go see if for your self: Imagine having a listening party. You sit in a circle with 4 other people and go around and each pick out the next song you’re going to play. Meanwhile, there could be a room full of people listening to the music you’re picking out. If they like the song you get brownie points, if they hate the song it gets skipped. That’s essentially Turntable.fm. In an era where people walk around with ear buds, this is a great way to socially experience music and discover new songs.

You can simply go to listen and vote, and for many it’s a human-Pandora streaming experience.  Different rooms have different genres, but the ones I’ve loved the best are the “anything as long as it’s good” rooms. Secretly I think many of believe ourselves to be music connoisseurs and experience joy in sharing new music with friends. There’s also joy in invoking great music memories by playing a classic song. At the same time you don’t want to disrupt the musical flow.  I don’t like listening to the radio, but I still desire the discovery of new bands and songs – this site gives a great social element to doing just that.

Simply said: you need to try out this site. Come join me! If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll see when I’m logged in and we can DJ together! Fair warning though: you’re going to lose hours and nights to this site!

Google+ – the new tech unicorn?

plus

At this point you’ve probably heard of Google+, their latest foray into Facebook’s territory. "Heard" is probably the key word, because so far very few people have even seen it. The invites have been slim, and after more than a week of being unmasked, I only personally know one person who has received an invite.

As expected though, all of the tech journalists and pundits have received their invites, and since there have been numerous articles, videos and podcasts touting the new service. People have devoted their entire shows to covering the new features and whether Google is a game-changer in the social networking space. I don’t blame the tech journalists for covering this and discussing this – it’s their job.

At the same time, I think that many of the pundits are failing to notice the disparity between themselves and the people they are supposed to inform. I understand the intention of wanting to give people a good perspective of Google+, but hearing these people get caught up in the excitement is only serving to remind me that the pundits are the cool kids, and we are not. They’re inside raving about the meal, while the rest of us are standing outside with our noses pressed against the glass.

Maybe Google may be thinking they’re carefully cranking the "hype" dials, giving the loudest voices the first access, but Google is walking a thin line right now. While people now seem excited about getting a glimpse, their excitement may turn into resentment as people’s patience wears thin.  One can only go so long only hearing about something without any chance of a glimpse.

My hope is one of two things happens: Google starts to open the flood gates on invites, so more of us "common folk" can starts to play with Plus, or that the pundits stop drinking the Google Kool-Aid and let the hype calm down.  Hopefully all of you that want invites will get them soon!

Update: It looks like Google is starting to open up the invite process. I was actually able to get in this morning.  Who else is in?