Oct 28, 2011

Sad, Bad, Evil day for the web - Google starts charging Maps API usage

I've been a Google fanboy for so long. Google has been one of the companies I've admired for long time. They've been doing so much good for the web and the world with their world class free services. Millions of webpages, blogs, applications and services are better because of a Google services like free maps, Blogger, Analytics, Webmaster tools, Feedburner and all the stuff in their API's. It might be, that now, all that have become to an end.

Google recently announced that they are starting to charge on their Maps API usage. This might sound as a small move, but it might turn out to be a game changing move. There's thousands, if not millions of services out there using their Maps API and now they are all pissed off. Of course Google has tried to make their billing schema so, that service won't cost for most of the users currently. They only want to charge the heavy users. The thing they might have not thought thoroughly is, that people have high hopes for their web services and applications. They might actually see this free limit to be totally insufficient to their future needs. Now all of them are making calculations on their business plans and usage statistics.

Then there's the question in everyone's mind, what will be the next Google service that they start billing? It might be so, that they don't have any plans to bill on any other service for foreseeable future, but definitely there will be lot of guesses and rumors flying around. Let's say what if you are building your service and you are thinking if you would use Google's user authentication system, so that you wouldn't need to build you own. For sure, the questions that will come to you mind is, will they start billing on this one too soon.

This move might be the one that changed Google to be as all the other companies. It might be so, that Google have turned mature and they are now only caring about their profit and cash flow and not about the web and people anymore. It really might be, that these same business people who have taken over most of the other big companies, have now taken over Google and there's strict business targets for all quarters and that's what they will care for now on.

Someone might say that they are just doing business. That's what companies are for. But that's exactly the point, so far Google has been seen as the good guys in the web, not the greedy ones. They have been the guys who are actually making web a better place, with all the free services they've provided. I do know that those haven't really been free ever, but they have hiddenly made the money from advertising and some premium services, but they haven't been greedy enough to bill for other services. Now it look likes that business have won the ideology. They have become greedy.

If you check their financial results, they're doing quite fine. In the 3Q 2011 they did 2,73 billion net profit. I guess it's not a must  for them to start billing on Maps API:
From Google Financial Results

And don't get me wrong. I financially and business point somewhat understand what they are doing. They are after easy wins, they are after quarterly results, they are after money. If you rely on an old school business books, they are doing just as they are supposed to do. But it's a new world. It's a world, where free is a business model. It's a world, where brand means much more than ever. Now they are playing with both, they are taking a hit on their ideological brand and they are stating that we will not be free forever.

From now on any application or service developer, who want's to run a business, can't actually take Google Maps services in to use without considering the costs of that service to them. That will mean they will start to also look for alternatives. And as there ain't that good alternatives existing, the result is that everyone loses. We, the web users, are not going to get as good new services as we have got so far. Also we will not going to get as many good freemium services as we have seen so far. In the end everyone at the web loses.

Maybe I'm playing devil's advocate here, but I feel Google has changed for forever. That's a sad day for Google fanboy. Google has become as greedy as all the others.
Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Oct 21, 2011

Liar, Liar, Liar - We are all liars

I watched this eyeopening TED-talk about lying. Pamela Meyer told about lying and how it is everywhere and done by everyone.

There were two things that hit me the most, first was the statement: "Lying is co-operative act" and the second was "Everyone has a hunger for something". I interpreted these so that lying is most often a kind act from someone to be more co-operative. And also that there are some things that we are eager to be lied about. If we are uncertain of something, we want to hear things that are favorable for our thinking.

I admit I've often lied to someone to be seen more co-operative. When person or subject in question is not important for me, I've played the "yes man" to agree and get on with the situation. I'm sure you have too. Pamela Meyer tells that people are much more likely to lie to a stranger. I think that's a time management system also. I've at least coped with people just that I wouldn't need to waste any time with them.  I've said to myself often, that I don't have to win all the fights. Even if I disagree with someone or I have some more information some subject in question, I might act to be dumper than I really am to just get on with the situation.

Some of you have seen the movie Liar Liar. It's a comedy about lawyer (played by Jim Carrey) who for 24 hours can't lie. It's not a jewel of movie industry, but the strange situations happening in the movie are not that far away from truth as one might think. If we would talk 100% true all the time, there would be so many strange situations and wrangles all around that anything wouldn't really happen. All lying isn't that bad.

I still believe we are more and more going towards the world of truth. People are being much more open and honest about themselves and their interests. Organizations and governments have been forced to be more open. Movements around the internet and world are catching liars from governments, individuals and companies. Lying has become much harder these days and it will bring us towards better, more honest world.

Check the TED-talk from Pamela Meyer on How to spot a liar. There's a book from her also called Liespotting, I'll add it to my to-be-read list.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Oct 20, 2011

Take pictures, focus later camera - called Lytro - now in sales

I blogged some time ago about really cool camera, which let's you focus later. Check my blog post for more information Take pictures, focus later.

Picture from Lytro press site
I've seen cases that these cool ideas never get to production or too expensive for normal people. This isn't one of those. The camera is now available in 399$ to 499$ in their website. So it's not expensive at all. I could imagine that prices go down a lot in few years.

If you didn't read my blog back then when I first blogged about this, go check the camera out. It's really cool and it's really made for internet age: Lytro.com.

Only downside in this phase is, that these are only available in U.S for now, you need Mac to edit these photos and deliveries will start early 2012.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Oct 18, 2011

Amazing footage of Northern lights

I run into amazing footage of Northern Lights from Finland. Finnish production company Flatlight Films have produced the most beautiful footage of Northern Lights I've ever seen.

According to their site, they have shoot the video early this year in North of Finland.

Check their video out: 

Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland 2011 from Flatlight Films on Vimeo.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Oct 14, 2011

Book review - Linchpin - are you indispensable by Seth Godin

I've followed and admired Seth Godin's thinking for some time already. I guess I'm not the only one, since he seems to be one of the most followed person on the web. What I like in him, are the surprising angles he looks at things, almost magical ability to group things together and he's way of presenting his thoughts.

The book Linchpin - Are you indispensable? tells about people who make value to their work over their job description. It's about those who have skills that are hard to describe. It's about those who are not easily replaceable by anyone else. It explains those people, what are their skills and how they behave. What's best is that it also analyses what it would take for any of us to become indispensable.

In the book Seth Godin describes these people linchpins. Also he describes those as artists, people who create something different with their behavior and skills. He gives good examples of linchpins as people who make others feel comfortable and well served or someone who truly cares about the result, not only about doing their job.

In this book Seth Godin talks about how to become a linchpin. He explains how our lizard brains prevent us doing many things, how connections are important, why gifts has a such an important role in current world and economy and lot more. It is an extensive and brilliant insight to why some people just make things happens and others just stick with what they are told to do.

Many times during the book I noticed of things I could do differently and things I should continue to do even more. Like Seth Godin says in his book, it's not going to be easy to become linchpin, but it's most probably up to you. There's something in you that makes you special, you just need to really learn to use your skills.

I've always admired Seth Godin for his ability to say things in compact, even short, form. His blog posts and some of the previous books I've read are carefully shortened to give a clear and simple message. This time it's different. Book is not that compact and I could even say that it's not organized in such a smart way as he normally does. I got the feeling that the subject in question might have been such an important for him, that he might have not been able to really analyze his own doings so well, than with less important subjects. That's at least what I've noticed, what closer the subject is to your heart, that harder it is to subjectively analyze it.

It's a brilliant book, but it's not easy to read. Or the text is easy to read, but some of the ideas are such new and bold, that it takes some chewing to really understand meaning of all of those. To read it, it's for everyone, but I believe most of the people don't really take all of it seriously. I liked it and I hope I have the guts to take in to use the things I figured out during this book. 

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Oct 4, 2011

Book review: As the Future Catches You by Juan Enriquez

 As I first time scanned through As The Future Catches You by Juan Enriquez, I knew it would be something totally different. Typography of the book looked strange with lots of different font sizes and lots of free spaces throughout the book. Even I was prepared, book was able to surprise me.

Book turned out to be arrogant, irritating and controversial prophecy of how the future will turn out. I have to say I hated the book many times, and I almost quit the book in half way. There was still something interesting enough to keep me going. The actual content of the book is in many points quite interesting to read. There's lot of good facts about what's happening in the science currently (in year 2001) and lots of good thoughts how the future might turn out to be. It's just the way Juan Enriquez presents his thoughts that made me see red.

Problem with a book that has controversial thoughts about the future is that anyone criticizing it's thoughts can be stamped to be old fashioned and not understanding anything about the trends of the future. I think that's also the style how Juan Enriquez wrote the whole book. It is meant to diss the people who don't believe in his thoughts and prophesies.

Even thought there was some interesting facts and ideas there, I don't honestly buy some of the things in this book. I don't believe that we will start to manipulate products with human genes as much as thought in this book and I don't even believe that genes has such a big affect to everything as the book thinks. I have to say that Juan Enriquez couple of times acknowledges this on the book, but he doesn't really bring it that much forward. After reading The Genius in all of us I've never thought about genetics as the way I used to.

I think that subjects and contents of this book are important. Also I'm sure that Juan Enriquez is really intelligent guy. So there are all the ingredients for a good book; but this one just isn't. It's too american and too preaching for my taste and it doesn't really give room for thinking as it should.

I genuinely hate the typography and way of writing. I don't think there's a single good sentence in this book.

Maybe he thinks that this subject is far more interesting in big letters.. 
and then he tries to be so cool with different formatting..
and then there are even bigger letters to prove the point...
And none of the sentences finish with a dot..
And the whole thing turns out such a mess.

To be honest, I'm not going recommend this book to anyone. I can show it to some of my friends to get the point, but don't waste your time reading this one. There must be better books about the subject. Subjects itself are valuable, but the book isn't.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen