Monthly Archives: September 2013

Glipho homepage

Glipho review: #socialmedia blogging and publishing platform

Glipho homepage
Glipho homepage

 

Glipho social blogging platform review

Update – 4/21/2016  This review was written more than a year ago and Glipho has since gone the way of the dodo….

To blog or not to blog is no longer the question. Choosing the right blogging platform that’s going to effectively share your voice and passion is now front and center. Blogging has jettisoned way past its infancy and is now settling into middle age. While social networks like Facebook continue to play a pivotal role in feeding your relationships and growing your fan-base, blogging remains the piece de resistance, allowing you to spend more time crafting your opinions and concentrating on the mot juste while funneling that content through your social networks driving more traffic to your blog.

Today there are a multitude of blogging and publishing platforms. Blogger, Tumblr, SETT, Ghost, Squarespace, Typepad, PostHaven, Medium, LiveJournal, and Weebly, to name but a few dotting the Web landscape. Some are not yet fully open to the public at large. The grand poobah of them all, WordPress, is zeroing in on 50 million downloads to date and powering just shy of 19% of the Web today. But blogging platforms like WordPress force users to spend much more time on design, templates, and plugins, before you even begin to blog. WordPress is no longer used exclusively for blogging. It’s become an expansive CMS for companies large and small.

With an estimated 200 million + bloggers and nearly 2 billion users of social networking sites, why not expect an even greater volume of blogs? Is it because blogging and developing an audience around your blog remains too daunting? This was the starting point for the emerging free blogging dynamo, Glipho, which opened their public beta back in March of this year. Glipho defines itself as a social network with a blogging platform.

Social blogging made easy

Glipho is the brainchild of Roger Planes, a former consultant and social media strategist to the UK media industry. Roger was busy creating news websites and tools for journalists when the seeds for Glipho were planted. Roger wanted to combine social networking with blogging and tap into the increasing larger pool of those who use social networking channels but don’t actively blog. 20% of Glipho’s bloggers never previously blogged, according to Roger.

Logging into Glipho is easy enough and you can do so by connecting your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or LinkedIn profiles. Then it’s time to create your Glipho profile, which means adding your profile picture, actual blog name, a description of yourself, and your username. You can connect your profile to a host of social networking accounts, including Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Picasa, Flickr, and LinkedIn. This is important because, as with any blogging platform, what counts is getting the word out about your content through your specific social media channels.

Glipho Desk Editor
Glipho Desk Editor

At the top are two tabs, Desk (your text editor) and Invite friends. The latter is obviously Glipho’s attempt to encourage you to invite others to try out its platform. But if you quickly want to get blogging, then click on the Desk tab. The text editor interface is split down the middle making it very easy to drag and drop your content. Editing is a snap and you can import or upload images from your computer, in addition to embedding outbound links.

What I really like is the ability to syndicate your content by importing it from Blogger, Tumblr, or WordPress, all from within your profile page. This is what can help you grow your blog presence, gain more traffic, and generate more interactions among your readers. It’s not automated, but you manually connect your Glipho account to these other blogging platforms. Right now Glipho restricts you to 150 word minimum posts and you can’t import photo-only posts from Tumblr.

Roger told me that there are plans to add to the Desk page a quick “import latest post” that will automatically put into the Desk text editor your latest post or “gliph” from your original blog. It was clear from my exchanges with Roger that things are moving at warp speed and suggestions from users on how to continually improve Glipho’s social and blogging platform are constantly being worked on.

Blogging connectivity – Glipho’s stickiness

When a gliph is published it is connected to other content on the platform, either by Gliph’s relation algorithm or by virtue of sharing the same topic. Glipho’s goal is to consistently remind you of your connectivity with other bloggers and that you are part of a growing community. The “trending writers” column reflects this communal approach. Roger says his team built the “trending writers” algorithm to showcase the most popular bloggers on the platform at any given time. It takes into account all the interactions that can take place on a post (i.e. views, comments, likes, replies, shares on other social networks) for all the posts a blogger has published on the platform. You can rank as a trending writer at any time if your gliph achieves moderate success based on the amount of interactions it receives.

Glypho Trending Writers
Glypho Trending Writers

One of the tastier ingredients behind Glipho is enabling you to quickly identify other writers who share your passions and ideas and connect with them. Click on the Glipho brand logo and you can review a blend of content posted by trending writers. You also can browse from 18 different categories including Fashion & Beauty, Hobbies & Interest, Science, Politics, and Food & Drink.

A very nifty feature is how bloggers can respond and/or reply to other blogger’s posts. At the bottom of each Gliph is the opportunity to “reply.” When you click on reply, you are put back into the Desk text editor allowing you to create your own version of the article with an automatic back link to the original. It easily enables you to add your thoughts on the blog post itself. According to Roger, Glipho is the only blogging platform with this specific reply feature.

I followed Glipho writer/blogger, Holly Jahangiri. I reached out to Holly and asked her what she liked most about Glipho.

“I love its simplicity. As much as I enjoy tinkering with templates, HTML, and CSS – as fun as it is to add and position sidebar widgets and fiddly bits – all of that is also a really good way to procrastinate and avoid writing. The look and feel of Glipho is clean, functional, – and I’m enjoying the freedom not to tinker.”

Profile of Glipho writer, Holly Jahangiri
Profile of Glipho writer, Holly Jahangiri

Glipho requires any post to be a minimum of 150 words. For SEO purposes, this is a good thing. We know Google rewards quality content so it is to your advantage to feature substantive, quality posts. For Roger, Glipho’s platform is designed specifically with Google search top of mind. “Users writing original content are taking advantage of our platform’s SEO, enabling their posts to rank on the first two pages of Google Search Results, which helps them to gain more views for their content than they had on their original blogs.”

To help users understand the effectiveness of their posts, Glipho features basic analytics. Called Insights, it is a feature you can click on and will provide you with the number of views, likes, and discussions or comments that have taken place for each of your gliphs.

Glipho analytics
Glipho analytics

Content curation and Glipho’s future

Content curation plays a vital role in helping any blogger grow and develop their audience. It’s not just about tooting your own horn. You have to show that other opinions matter, not just your own. Glipho recently passed the 200K mark for gliphs posted within the platform. Roger says 80% of the visits on Glipho come from non-users and approximately 1000 posts a week are being generated. Glipho has by no means reached critical mass. Only about a year old, it remains in beta with its focus upon ease of use and responding to users with constant improvements.

Glipho recently introduced its mobile app for both Android and iOS. According to Roger, you can use the mobile app to read, comment, and like posts, follow writers and topics, and discover more gliphs. Glipho’s next goal is to expand the app’s functionality, allowing bloggers to write and publish their gliphs directly from it. For the foreseeable future, Roger says Glipho will continue its mission of providing tools for writers and readers that are simple and effective, enabling users to focus their time on writing, reading, and engaging with the content and fellow users of the platform. 35% of users come from the U.S., same as from the U.K. and the rest of users are scattered among more than 120 countries. Glipho has already received $750,000 from angel investors with plans to raise a new financial round this final quarter, 2013.

If you’re married to WordPress, Glipho is one more opportunity to spread your wings and associate with a relatively new and upcoming social blogging platform. Glipho has a little bit of something for everyone, from the novice to the veteran blogger. As a free platform you won’t be spending time crafting intricate themes, selecting plugins, or developing new templates for your blog. The goal is to blog, get to know other bloggers, and expand your social network. Plans are afoot, however, for Glipho to launch its API and Roger told me that he’d very much like to see what other developers could come up with to improve upon the “Glipho experience.”

I asked Roger what he’s most proud of.

“I believe we have created an accessible platform with a good user interface for both creating and consuming content. All the features are a click away and we have worked hard to provide social media integration with other networks that is completely hassle-free.” And hassle-free Glipho is. Give it a shot.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street fails to inspire Main Street

Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zucotti Park near Wall Street in New York City, which sounded the alarms that the 98% of society are fed up with the egregious income inequality that pervades American life today.

I remember watching on television like millions of other Americans the people and voices who were championing a more just world and were directly challenging the power of the 1%; i.e. the rich bankers and financiers of Wall Street.

Mark Bray, author of Translating Anarchy, spoke on CNN Money about what he felt were the achievements of the Occupy Wall Street movement. These included the rise of popular political action back into the American mainstream; it instilled a sense of class and economic justice into how we think about the way society works; and ultimately the impact the movement had on a whole new generation of activists that inspire future social movements over the next several decades.

Mark interviewed activists from the Wall Street protests and in his book he states that 72% of interviewees had “anarchist politics.” In this case, anarchist means anti-capitalist, directly democratic, horizontal politics, and a rejection of any compromise with capitalism. The next 1960s will be anarchist in character, according to Bray.

What 1960s?

OK. Stop right there. That’s IF there’s a next 1960s. And by then will it be too late? Mark is asked the ultimate question: What did Occupy Wall Street accomplish? Did it adjust tax brackets for the 2%? Did Glass-Steagall get re-implemented by Congress to separate commercial banking from investment banking? Did the minimum wage get increased and be adjusted to reflect the current costs of living in America today? Bray said that the Occupy Wall Street movement ultimately wasn’t about getting legislation passed through Congress. It was about envisioning a world where people have their needs met by society and that current American style capitalist economics is not working for the 98%.

Too many Indians; not enough Chiefs

I’ve got news for you, Mark Bray. While I laud the vision of Occupy Wall Street and protest against the economic disparities that make living in this country more challenging for the 98%, I don’t think Occupy Wall Street nearly accomplished what it could have. This is because it did not coalesce around a strong central organization and preferred to stay decentralized with no structure whatsoever. For the 98%, they are not waiting for the next 1960’s. The 98% want to see legislative action now that tackles the fundamental problems associated with economic inequality. In this case, the rich are getting richer and the middle class is only shrinking.

The only people that will be left to take up the next anarchist revolution will be the abject poor and they do not have guns, power, or influence. Bray harkens back to the Anarcho-Syndicalists, first formed by the International Working Men’s Association back in the 1860s. These anarchist unions were made up of workers who sought direct democratic participation to rectify economic inequality while avoiding any hierarchy. Bray says Occupy Wall Street soared at first because it allowed anyone to participate in political speech without the limitations that an imposed organized structure might put upon it. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, astutely reminded Brey that the Occupy Wall Street movement could not come to any group consensus on what action to take unless more than 90% of the participants agreed to it. Good luck on achieving that number.

Individuals, not groups, inspire revolutions

Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, these are just a few individuals who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the greater good. Their activism inspired massive social change. Yes, groups can inspire individual leaders and for that reason perhaps Occupy Wall Street should put its energies into more chiefs who can champion the cause of economic justice. The fact is, as an anarchist collective, Occupy Wall Street has not accomplished anything on the level of massive societal change. There will one day be another challenge to the status quo that comes from the streets. It won’t be called Occupy Wall Street. And hopefully it will coalesce into a structured organization that supports individuals who will captivate the imagination of the people.

Warriors proposed developments

Governor Brown: Veto AB 1273 – Say NO to mix-use development

Warriors proposed developments
Warriors proposed developments

September 12, 2013

Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

            Re:  AB 1273 – Request for Veto

Dear Governor Brown,

            I call the Bay Area home, and one of the things I prize most about this place is the magnificent, accessible Bay waterfront.

            The Golden State Warriors want to change irrevocably our San Francisco waterfront by overhauling 13.2 acres of piers to lay a concrete foundation over the Bay and then build a 12 story high basketball arena, 500-car parking garage, and a 90,000 feet shopping center atop it.  They also want to bust through existing height limits to build a 17 1/2 story luxury condo building across the street, along with a hotel with two 10-story towers and an additional 20,000 feet of retail space.

            I don’t like this project, and I don’t think an arena belongs on our Bay.  But what makes me really angry is that the Warriors came to the Legislature looking for a way to sideline BCDC, cut off public debate, and make this project “a done deal” without ever letting the local regulators do their jobs or listen to the concerns of the public.  AB 1273 still gives the Warriors special treatment, and is unnecessary for both BCDC and State Lands Commission.  Furthermore, AB 1273 is premature since the design and timeline of the proposed Warriors developments are in constant flux.

            So please, Governor Brown, don’t give the Warriors a leg up that they don’t need.  Please veto AB 1273.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Byron Gordon

Chemical weapons

Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Syria!

The right questions to ask about Syria

Remember those wonderful words of wisdom sung by our most illustrious congressional public servant, Senator John McCain?

I’ve got news for you. The drumbeats for war are starting up again and it sounds eerily just like what George W. Bush and crew were telling the American people about the need to invade Iraq. I’m not saying that Assad did not use chemical weapons upon his fellow Syrians. But Obama puts forth the following question: What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain site and pay no price?

My response, Mr. President:

What is the difference between death by bullet or death by chemical weapon? Enforcing an international ban on chemical weapons requires leadership from the international community, ergo, the United Nations Security Council. This is not a decision to be acted upon unilaterally.

How is it that the United States must again act as the final arbitrator when it comes to enforcing international law anywhere around the world?

What exactly will be attacked in Syria?  Chemical weapons plants?  Won’t that release toxins into the very air Syrians breathe?

Are U.S. military weapons going to target Assad himself?  I believe that would be in violation of international law itself.

Who is to say that by attacking various targets in Syria we won’t accidentally kill innocent Syrian civilians?

Why not engage other Arab countries to put a stop to Assad’s chemical weapons attacks?  And if the Arab League chooses to do nothing about Assad’s use of chemical weapons, what exactly does that say about Arabs in general?  Just how sympathetic are adjacent Arab countries to those Syrians opposed to Assad’s dictatorship and looking to overthrow his iron fisted rule?

What will be the consequences of a U.S. military strike against Syria? How might other Arabs view this act? Will the Arab world interpret this as another example of the U.S. intervening in Arab affairs where it doesn’t belong?

Where is the emphasis on arriving at a negotiated cease-fire between the opposition and Assad? Why not further engage Russia?  Russia supports Assad but at the same time might be able to pressure him to cease use of chemical weapons. Toss a diplomatic bone to Russia and give it an opportunity to prove itself as an international player who is capable of negotiating peace settlements. Surely the Russians could pressure Assad.

Why not engage Iran? The country recently elected a relatively moderate president (for a change) and it has a horrible history with chemical weapons during its nearly decade long war with Iraq back in the 1980s. Saddam Hussein used mustard gas against the Iranians, which left Iranians with a deep abhorrence of chemical weapons not to mention a deep skepticism of the international community that did nothing to enforce any of the existing chemical weapons treaties banning their use. The United States comes across as a hypocrite.

George W. Bush lied to the international community about the presence of WMDs in Iraq. He destroyed our nation’s “moral authority” to act in international affairs. President Obama should learn a thing or two when claiming the moral high ground on behalf of the global community.

Finally, let us not forget that the United States used the most powerful chemical weapon at its disposal during World War II when it bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The United States is an expert at chemical warfare and has no right to judge Syria.

If Obama wants to actually earn his Nobel peace prize now is the time to do so!

But if I haven’t swayed you with any of my pointed questions perhaps John Stewart will suffice. Truth bombs hurt and Stewart has zero patience for the same type of war propaganda that presidents and congress keep parroting time and time again.

 

 

 

Tank Domination

Game Insight previews Tank Domination 2013 gameplay

Tank Domination logo
Tank Domination logo

Midcore gamers will revel in real-time tank MMO simulator gameplay

Strap yourself in because tank warfare just got a little more explosive. Because tank battles are such the rage, yes, Wargaming.net’s Word of Tanks certainly comes to mind, Game Insight felt it was time to up the ante with its entry into the midcore marketTank Domination. The free-to-play game publisher recently previewed Tank Domination at its San Francisco office and I was lucky enough to be invited for the ride.  Now Game Insight is no stranger to hit game making having published free-to-play mobile hits like Mystery Manner(20 million users to date, according to Game Insight’s Brand Manager, Andrew Park) and Paradise Island for Android (achieved #1 mobile game status on GooglePlay for six months) so expectations ran high upon trying out Tank Domination for the first time. Does it deliver?

It’s 2023, and all out war between nations means the planet is ripe for destruction. Corporate armies rule and supply armies of mercenaries with the latest in tank weaponry. Once logged in, you spend time in the hanger deck. You can select from up to 30 different types of battle vehicles, including artillery. More than a hundred tank customizations and upgrades are possible leaving you with the urge to spend more time prepping for battle than actually doing battle itself. Heavy tanks, medium tanks, light tanks, each criteria selected provides your tank with different pros and cons, impacting such variables as speed and power. It took me the second game to recognize that choosing a lighter tank gets you moving that much quicker.

Once settled upon your tank preferences, you load up with ammo, and settle on the country of choice where your battle will take place. A variety of countries and landscapes are available and our test group spent most of its time doing battle in Korea and Iraq. The rich, 3D graphics, built with the Unity engine did not disappoint.  Not fully comfortable using an iPad for PvP battle game play, it took me some time to comfortably navigate my tank through the terrain.  I couldn’t rest for long, though, because my enemies constantly targeted me. “We think it adds a lot of strategic depth to have a match set-up where you think you have cover behind a building until suddenly the building is blown up and you’re ripe for target and need to move on, “ said Park.

A little map in the upper right hand corner of your screen details your team’s location (highlighted in Green) and your enemy (highlighted in Red).  Our team in San Francisco played the GameInsight office in Moscow.  We were nearly 20 online playing Tank Domination in real-time and by all accounts it worked just fine, with the exception of a few bugs.

Tank Domination
Tank Domination

I found myself getting routinely stuck on the sides of mountains and hills. I was unable to move my tank. Tank Domination is still in beta so I suspect this will be corrected soon enough before the game’s Fall release. Getting comfortable using your thumb as the principal means of moving your tank also proved slightly frustrating for me. Console gamers take note. Playing PvP tank battles on an iPad requires sharper thumb coordination than I anticipated.

Playing Tank Domination
Playing Tank Domination at GameInsight’s San Francisco office

The future of midcore gaming

Developing Tank Domination took about a year’s time, according to Park. I asked him what he felt GameInsight was most proud of. “Real-time synchronous multi-player gaming for up to 20 people is not something you see everyday on a mobile device.  Getting 20 players, head to head, on an iPad is cool stuff!”

And while I remain a peacenik at heart, I must concur with Park. Fitting in that five to 20 minute midcore range, I found myself surprisingly energized by Tank Domination. Maybe it helped that I was in a room with fellow gamers who were hooping and hollering as they piloted their tanks with abandon searching to bomb their enemy targets. Wargaming.net will soon be announcing their own mobile tank game, World of Tanks: Blitz, but for Park, it’s not about who is first to market. Engaging gamers with the highest quality of game experience possible is top of mind for Game Insight.

Hardcore game players who typically play more PC games, like World of Warcraft or Call of Duty, are now migrating towards mobile and tablets. Game Insight wants to take full advantage of this shift and Tank Domination’s 3D environments with destructible terrain and cover fits the bill.

Tank Domination iPad Screenshot
Tank Domination iPad Screenshot