Steam jumping on the social networking bandwagon

Beginning in July, Steam users can set up their own personal Steam pages and profiles, create and join groups, schedule games with friends, review who they’ve played with, see how well everyone played, chat with groups, chat via voice, and more. These new community services and features can be used with all Steam games, which include new releases and classic titles from leading publishers and independent developers.

Valve Announces Major Update for Steam

While this may seem like YASN (Yet Another Social Network), this one actually makes sense.  Steam has expanded in size recently, taking on Capcom.  And Counter Strike is still one of the most played network games.  Giving players the ability to create an identity within the Steam network that is more than just their name, is a good idea.  I imagine we’ll soon see widgets that can be used on blogs, iGoogle & Desktop aps to display game scores & rankings.

Windows Live Writer beta 2 is out

You can download it here.  Very nice, very clean, the Live branding is obvious & I think I like it.  The ability to embed an image from a URL & not just a local image that needs uploading in great, and you can now select multiple categories, and trackbacks actually work now (as opposed to just putting the text ‘(array)’ into the field in WordPress.

I’ve been hanging out for this update for ages.  I just checked & my insert a bible verse plugin works, but the layout looks a little screwy.  I’ve been meaning to release an update soon anyway.

[via Duncan Riley]

CBS acquires Last.fm for $280 million

Oh this is probably not going to be good:

CBS Corp said on Wednesday it had paid $280 million in cash for the popular music social network service Last.fm.

CBS said in a statement the online service had more than 15 million active users in more than 200 countries and would fit well with its plans to attract younger viewers and transform it from a content company to an audience company.

I love Last.fm (aka Audioscrobbler), it’s one of the rare examples of a community site that found a niche and filled it well.  They’ve recently started expanding their feature set into events listsing and they’re providing a bunch of widgets for other sites.  They’ve also always had an extensive list of data feeds that could be consumed (and which I use for the latest album shown on my sidebar). 

I may be concerned for no reason, the article does say that

The Last.fm team will continue to run the online network under the terms of the deal and work with CBS to apply their community-building and technology expertise to extend CBS businesses online

And CBS has certainly seemed to embrace the new media: they show full episodes online, they have wikis, blogs & podcasts on their site

I just hope that the RIAA doesn’t use this as an opportunity to try an squeeze more money out of the site, like what they’ve done to Pandora. And I hope CBS is smart enough to not wreck a great site.

[tags]Last.fm, Music, CBS[/tags]

Gabbo, I mean, TiVo is coming!

TiVo, the time-shifting digital video recorder that became a household name in the US, will come to Australia in 2008.

For a small subscription fee plus the price of the hardware, Australians will be able to pause live high definition TV, fast-forward ads, record shows and series from any of the free-to-air digital TV channels, and access broadband content such as video-on-demand.

The company today announced a partnership with the Seven Network, which will build the digital platform behind the service.

Sweet.  I really wish Australia didn’t lag so far behind the US on these sort of things.  We need to get much better & cheaper broadband into this country very soon.

New beta of the Verse of the Day Plugin – now with widgets!

I’ve been working on a new version of the verse of the day plugin.  There have been a few reported problems with the verse not updating, and I’ve been wanting to add widget support for ages.  So I’m after a few beta testers.  Doesn’t matter if you’ve installed it before or not, if you want to try it out, you can grab the zip file here.  Extract it into your /wp-content/plugins/ folder and try it out.  If you have already installed the plugin, please deactivate it and delete the existing plugin files before installing this beta. If you want to roll back to the earlier version after installing this beta, you can grab the current stable version from here.

If your wanting to use the widget, it should show up automatically in the list of available widgets.  If not, and you haven’t installed it before, you’ll need to add <?php wp_votd(); ?> to your sidebar to make it show up.

Please leave any bug reports and questions in the comments below, or if you’re a member on wp-plugins.org, please create a new ticket, selecting the wp-votd component and assign it to dalziel.

Thanks in advance!

[tags]Verse of the Day, WordPress Plugin, Bible, WordPress[/tags]

I'm going to the Google Developer Day 2007 in Sydney

Just got the OK from work to go to Google Developer Day at Eveleigh.   I’m quite interested in Bo Majewski‘s Google Maps API talk & the newly engaged Aaron Boodman‘s Building better AJAX applications should be good too.  But mostly I’m wanting to meet other developers who are working on & interested in developing the same stuff I am. 

Oh yeah, and learning new techniques that can be assimilated to the rest of our development team and to leverage our paradigms.  Or something like that… important business reasons for me to be going!

So anyway, if anyone is going to be there, let me know & we’ll meet up!

Australia Technology Park

[tags]Google, Google Developer Day 2007, Sydney, Australia[/tags]

Noembedder WordPress Plugin 1.1 Release

Just released the 1.1 version of the Noembedder Plugin, which adds a <noembed> section to any embedded content (e.g. YouTube videos, etc…) containing a customisable message & for YouTube and GameVideos,  a thumbnail of the video.  This is very handy for people reading your site in an RSS reader, as a lot of them don’t display embedded content. Well, FeedDemon 2.5 will, but plenty of the other readers don’t!

This release added the thumbnails for GameVideos & fixed a few bugs.  The major fix was enabling the plugin to work if the embed section didn’t have a closing tag.  That is, if it looked like this <embed src=... /> rather than <embed src=... ></embed>.

You can download the plugin here, and there are more details on the plugin page.  As always, please leave any comments or questions on the plugin page.

[tags]WordPress Plugin, Noembedded, YouTube, GameVideos[/tags]

Media Watch really don't miss much

One of the joys of working for a media company is knowing that Media Watch is constantly breathing down your neck.  And they really do notice (or at least get told) everything.  Drive published a story last week about how the Ford family is debating whether or not to maintain their controlling share in the Ford Motor Co.  The article was sourced from The Age, but a very small  article summary was added at the top:

Some of Henry Ford’s ancestors are considering the sale of their shares in the struggling motor company.

It is good to see that the elderly are still respected at Ford.

[tags]Drive, Fairfax, Media Watch, Ford[/tags]

"I am heavy weapons guy" – Bring on Team Fortress 2!

I saw a trailer for Team Fortress 2 ages ago & I thought it could be great.  These videos leave me with little doubt that it will be a heap of fun.  Make sure you watch the second one all the way through, the rocket-jump gymnastics at the end is classic.  Definite party game, good to see a FPS that isn’t taking itself too seriously too!

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WordPress 2.2 deployed & all is well

We’re now up & running on WordPress version 2.2 ‘Getz’.  It was a rather simple upgrade path, but I must stress follow the instructions, including doing the backups and the deactivating all of your plugins. 

No obvious changes to the front end, this site should look exactly the same as it did before. I’ve taken this opportunity to cull a whole bunch of no longer used plugins that were sitting in my plugins folder, I’ve really got to remember to deactivate & delete plugins once I’ve decided I’m not going to use them anymore.

On the topic of plugins, I’ve tested my Bible Verse of the Day plugin, Feed Locations plugin and Noembedder plugin and they all seem to be working nicely. No changes or updates needed.

I have, however, just checked in a beta of the Verse of the Day plugin that supports the new Widgets feature. OK, so it’s not new, it’s just new to the WordPress core.  Anyway this has been on my todo list since the Widgets plugin was released, and now seemed a good time to try it out. It’s surprisingly simple to implement & works very nicely.

The Verse of the Day content on the sidebar here is now being generated by the Widget, not the wp_votd() function.  If you’ve already upgraded to WordPress 2.2, or you have the Widgets plugin installed, I’d really appreciate a few beta testers to give this the once (or twice) over before I check in the release. You can download a zip file here.  It contains 2 files that both need to go into your /wp-content/plugins/ folder, overwriting any earlier versions of those files. Thanks in advance!

If you get sick of the beta & want the old version back, you can re-download it here.

[tags]WordPress, WordPress 2.2, Blogging, Plugins, Getz, Verse of the Day[/tags]