Sunday, February 22, 2015

The WebRTC Data Channel - finally i get it

*The WebRTC Data Channel*.  i was just about to "repurpose" this community to plain old "Social CRM" when I came across this article.  I would still be intensely interested in building such an application, but not being a developer - and not having identified an "angle of approach" I had to move on - but have been gaining a great deal of understanding of what commercial CRM's do.   

When we were collaborating on this project - or trying to, I noted we hadn't answered that most basic of questions "where is it?".    Team collaborators kept falling back on client service models and we only vaguely decided that it "would be in the app store" - which left unanswered the question, "where is the data channel?" - and how would peers even know another peer exists?    n 

Perhaps the other team members really did understand this - I didn't.   Even with my hippy notion of "peer to peer" something seemed amiss - the tech giants would never allow what I was proposing- not without getting their fingers in it at least, and a number of other things "just didn't add up".   

Then I read this article and suddenly I get it - or at least see a path forward, and I recommend any members of this community who are still interested in this project read it and also do the demo - it is short and quick.  The author correctly notes that the standard has been changing - causing lots of confusion, and also what we had noticed here - that the audio and video channels seem to get all the attention - no doubt because they are more "sexy" but I continue to believe there are huge opportunities in that boring data channel.   Here is a statement the author made that suddenly caused me to "get it":

"While WebRTC is direct peer-to-peer communication, it requires a centralized server to handle the initial delegation of the two peers. There needs to be a 3rd party that helps the two peer-to-peer clients preform the WebRTC handshake. In this case, we have used Firebase. You can use WebSockets, HTTP calls, or anything else that you'd like. Firebase works nicely for this so we've used it here". 
Now, if you have tried their demo the first thing you might have noticed is that they connect you with another peer computer through what they call a "shared identifier" or code word - but in functional terms that is identical to our "interests" keyword.   In this case, two matching "identifiers" will launch a chat client, but shouldn't be conceptually all that different from our intentions to push "interests' like "stamp collecting" through that channel, which would bring up a list of other stamp collectors.   

So who is this mysterious entity building the intermediary for RSS peers?    Go ahead, click the link - I dare you, and read their first announcement to learn who is behind it.   In a way, I am almost relieved - when something looks to good to be true, it usually is. 

Still, after all this time, i am convinced an opportunity remains - and there is a silver lining - few people understand the data channel and the attention remains on video and audio - and since those are bandwidth hogs the pricing is set up for those applications, but data is a miniscule fraction of that - we could probably operate a large network fairly cheaply.   If you are really ambitious start a firebase account and go through their tutorial - they have a 5 minute quick start and while is really is for developers, I can at least see that is it possible now. 

I still don't see "the way" but I can sure see further down the path. 

Note: This post was written for a private forum where we are discussing the possibility of a "Social CRM" over WebRTC.  Contact me if you want more info

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Small Business Friendly Pricing

This is one of those things I have been intending to write about for years, but the post I have had in mind was going to be awesome and definitive, so naturally I never wrote it.   I am going to crank out a crappy post instead, just to do it, and type out a few thoughts - in this case about CRM app pricing - maybe I will come back here and update.

First, the no-brainer - let us start for free, and not with a "trial version" - trial versions suck, and two week trial versions are ridiculous.  Many pps these days often have a great deal of complexity and steep learning curves- that is expensive to us.  We need to be able to quickly get into the app, decide if it is for us and not lose a single minute of work we have put into it it.

A company that gets it wrong in this respect is Salesforce - they start at $50 a month for a limited version and only a two week time period.   No effing way Saleforce - i don't want to have to pay you $50 a month for my own data for the rest of my life- not even though you seemed to offer me some special deal    They are really leaving the lionshare of the small business community - independent small business market to others with this dumb pricing scheme.

A company, in the exact same CRM industry that gets it right is Insightly - 2,500 contacts - definitely enough to have value, social media integration and top notch technical support for free, and thereafter just $9 a month per user.  That's good, but not perfect - there is a "barrier to entry" for team formation there.  A team of three could form, and then when they hit their forth member everyone has to pay - so now it goes to $36 a month - a big jump and not insignificant to many solopreneurs, who may want to be on many teams.  I think there is a way for the CRM service providers to do better than that - encourage team formation in a way that will actually increase their paying user base.   For example a single payment that would allow you to be in as many groups as you want.   I have to assume they have already thought of that so perhaps I will ask them.

I saw another one - Free CRM I think, that was free for 12 users so that seems to be how companies in this industry are pricing - primarily by ?users" rather than by number of records of some other measure.

Lot's of implications to this, but I need to think on it a bit

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Google+:Usecase Fail; Keeping up with Friends & Associates

Part One of a Series: "The Long Slow Painful Death of Google+

The recent brutal and dishonest troll attack on my character on Google+ has convinced me more than ever that it is critical to get off that platform as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  At the same time, I want to do what I can to salvage my considerable investment there - it took a great deal of time and effort to get my 67,000 followers, and 65,000 member business community - these were not gifted to me like that despicable  excuse for a human who launched the most recent attempt at a smear campaign who was actually put on Google's corrupt "suggested user's list".  

I still remember his last comment after sticking his nose in my business and making his disgusting allegation - that I am "making Google look bad" by posting goofy G rated pictures of women in bikini's.    People have the right to think is is absurd that someone would think I have such power, but that is the way many people on Google+ actually think in the culture Google has created there - especially now that it has become dominated by "social media professionals".

Every general will tell you that a retreat is the hardest military maneuver to execute, and getting off a social media platform like Google+ might require almost as much energy to get off as it did to get on, all the more so because Google makes this as difficult at they possibly can and along the way you realize that they own just about everything you thought was yours and give you almost no control over your own information.

I am going to be documenting this process, and along the way I will tell you why I am leaving, and what I am putting in its place.  This post is just about the "why" - and is part of an analysis of  "use case fails" on Google+.    Lots of use case fails come to mind right off the bat - "posting what you want' - you can't do that on Google+  because of the culture there - in fact the only thing totally safe to post on Google+ is posts about Google+ itself - or praise of Google.

The one I will mention here, is the one you might have thought was their primary mission - "keeping up with friends" - because if the poor design of Google+ this is almost impossible.   They use a "continuous stream" - there is not "next page' or "mark this read" to know when you have caught up with friend's posts.   What you see instead on Google+ is "people you follow who post frequently". If a friend only posts every week or two you will probably miss it - unless you take the time to go directly to that friend's profile - something that Google's poorly designed user interface makes tedious.

This reduces "keeping up with friends" to a probability function - if you are lucky, you will see them but only if they post fairly frequently.   Now, there is some evidence that people are posting less - at least I sure notice that from my friends.   That means with fewer posts you will be seeing more posts from the same people, the stream will become less interesting (already happening - the difficulty of reading a card based system  - another use fail)    

So is this a "death spiral" - it is certainly starting to look that way.   It is important to note though, that the system can fail for almost everyone and still not fail for Google.  As much attention as is given to Google "shutting things down" I don't think they will shut down Google+.    It could happen,  A close look at the architecture show that it may even have been designed to account for possible failure - the lack of integration between Google Contact Groups and Google Circles, but things are still pretty integrated and it would be messy.  

More likely we will see what we are seeing now - zombie profiles and ghost communities - and notification messages that go forever unanswered.   I no longer know what it is like to be a new user on Google+ but I would recommend it to no one knowing what I know now - I assume they make some kind of similar "suggested users list" of people they say you should follow.   These aren't your real friends - they aren't even potential new friends.

The fact is, for the use case of "keeping up with friends and associates" Google+ has failed.   The good news is, that smart people know this, and systems are coming on the market that address this exact issue.   More on that later. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Biggest Problem with trying to use Google+ for Small Business

The brutal and dishonest troll attack I had a few days ago on Google+ made me think about writing that blog post "10 Reasons Your Small Business should NEVER use Google+".   I have talked about this before - at least to myself - through my RSS feeds, I read an endless number of blog posts with titles like "10 Reasons Your Small Business MUST be on Google+ TODAY".  

Almost all of these are absolute nonsense - self serving articles written by "social media consultants" that are "factually challenged" to say the least, and sometimes give outright false information, and the never, ever talk about the "downsides" of Google+ for business - which are many and serious.

I have some street cred on this - 65,000 followers and a business community with almost that many, and the simple fact is that Google+ is a horrible platform for small business - in almost every way.  I have a feeling this blog will become a journal of my attempt to salvage my investment in Google+   - but here is one of the biggest problems; when you follow someone on Google+ - you don't get their email address, even if they follow you back.   People often never even see private posts you make to them in Google+ - and TONS of people have dropped out - so if you made a great contact a few months about, it may be all but worthless now.

Two things drove this point home - one was the need to contact one of my moderators on the Entrepreneur's community there to send her a file.  That thing where you are supposed to be able to send someone an email on Google+ even if your don't know their email doesn't work for her, and shy hasn't answered two different posts requesting it - she probably just never saw it.   What a pain in the ass!   Am I supposed to go through this for all 65,000 people who follow me/ - or even just the 4,000 or so I follow?  - it simply is't possible.

The second thing that made me think about this was when I downloaded my Linkedin contacts - I got a nice list complete with all email addresses.  When I do the same with Google Takeout for Google+ I get a bunch of garbage - that essentially forces me to go back to Google+ to try to get the information, making it all but useless.   The reason for this likely is that Google+ was designed to defend against spam, but they really threw the baby out with the bathwater - your "followers" on Google+ have essentially zero meaning - increasingly even in Google+ itself.

Why am I beginning to think more and more I have been playing a suckers game?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Frauds and Liars posing as "Social Media Professionals" on Google+

I have another vicious, out of the blue personal attack on Google+ yesterday, and it was a full day of negative ugly crap I had to deal with.   This one was from Andrij Harasewych  who runs the "Social Media Strategy" community and it wasn't the first time it has happened.  Previously he had trolled our entrepreneurs community on Google+ with some  really vicious personal attacks against people who had posted some mild MLM - which were not against our guidelines but he decided it was his business.

These post were long buried and forgotten but his attacks on our members were filled with cheap shots and innuendo because he didn't like their "business model".   Naturally the people he attacked were outraged  by his lies and had every right to defend themselves against his false accusations - but most of them understandably left Google+.

I can't remember why we were so nice to him and I even had to write a letter to one of the co-owners of his community asking what to do about him.  Clearly it was a mistake because yesterday he turned his vitriol against me with no provocation - none.  He told so many lies about me while he was spewing out comments on different posts, that I could hardly keep track, but basically he saw a drama queen opportunity when he saw a goofy picture of a bikini clad woman I had posted a few nights before and decided it would be clever to claim that because of this I somehow support 'revenge porn'.  Those with a half ounce of intelligence can recognize "concern trolling" when they see it but anyone who looked at those pictures would know how absurd that is.

He didn't stop there, however, he claimed I had somehow I had "forced" him to view these pictures - he knows that is impossible but used word trickery to fool some of our less experienced members that I had done this dirty deed.  

I consider Andrij Harasewych to be a pig and a liar.

Those who know me know how rare it is for me to use words like that about another person but I know for a fact he is a liar because he lied about me - and when he played his "revenge porn" card he became a disgusting pig in my eyes

In addition to being a liar, however  Andrij Harasewych is incredibly stupid.  Among the shit he tried to throw against the wall was another lie about "copyright violations" - atopic about which is is completely ignorant, and some weird claim for entertainment because I have business information on my profile.   I feel really sorry for any company

They say in small business you should give people two strikes - the five or six times Andrij Harasewych  did his drama queen troll crap here before should have been more than one, but his attack and lies about he again here have shown his true character, and I would never do business with someone of such low character or any company stupid enough to hire him.  I know I have wasted FAR too much time on this loser - he is just a failed mechanical engineer who became a failed social media consultant, but I did want to document what happened.

Plus, there is another issue here that should be addressed.   Google+ gives enormous advantage to trolls like Andrij Harasewych.  I spent my whole day yesterday dealing with his shit from his unprovoked attack, and a loser like him simply shouldn't have that much power.   I will be writing more about this but because of trolls like him it is extraordinarily difficult for small business to use Google+ and these "social media consultants" are making it almost impossible to use for social or for business.

UPDATE:  Wow - this Andriv Harasewych dude is one sick puppy.  He came back again at me - month later with his "John Stall" troll sock puppet account that is one of the ones he uses to harass people.   This is one of Google's "suggested users' - wow Google, just way.  I know you have bad taste in people but this is pathetic.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

After 60 years, I finally have a bio

It has been on my list forever and it was a total bitch to write.   Short stuff is always a bitch to write - I need to find that quote about "I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn't have the time".    It kept coming up in all my planning though - a critical building block for business development and social media presence.  So without further ado here it is:  

Rob Gordon is an innovative small business leader specializing in technology project management, business and content writing, and community development. He has worked on projects in almost every industry including software, financial services, infrastructure development, biotechnology, manufacturing and startups. During the dot com boom, he managed a team of 20 project managers for a Silicon Valley consulting firm and has had overseas assignments for Royal Dutch Shell in West Africa and the U.S. Agency for International Development project in Egypt.
Business interests include community development for small business entrepreneurs and advocacy for self employed professionals and the independent workforce. Technology interests include project planning and scheduling systems, small business CRM (customer relationship management) and collaborative tools and techniques that can be used for project and venture acceleration. 
He currently provides professional services for entrepreneurs, small business owners and startup founders who want to change the world, but might need a little help getting organized along the way.   Always open to new business ideas and collaboration with like-minded professionals, feel free to contact Rob by the links provided or through any of the major social networks.

The wording is a little awkward in some places because I hate referring to myself as "Rob" so edited that out when I could.  Just now did a word count - 185 so brought it in under 200 - about right.   May need some tweaks but is better than what I had before, and maybe got rid of some "block" I had.

Another insight today - I did far more work on that accelerator than I though at first and I need to start getting that published - maybe two a week - probably on the World Startups blog - there is an ebook i the making there.

A Blog with no Audience - and That is Just Fine

I finally figured out how to get back to blogging - by getting back to basics, having the right places to post, and not worrying about an audience or posting to someone's "stream".   I want to blog again the old fashioned way - almost like a personal journal - and I may post quite a bit.

So it is not just a big incomprehensive dump, however, I am organizing my blogging into three interest areas:  "Starting from Zero" for personal development,  "The Progressive Libertarian" for politics, and this blog - with right now the rather lame name of "Rob's Business Journey" for business and technology posts.   Having these three blogs will allow me to write more frequently and then to publish to Google+ or Twitter when I want.

I am looking forward to this really - Google+ is a terrible place for writing and while I'm concerned with Google fanboyism in the comments I think I will be able to post more or less whatever I want here.

And speaking of Google - I just noticed on the control panel for blogger that the that they advertise the "Google Business Community" - takes you to that Google+ "Small Business Community" that is run by Google staff.   I have been trying to figure out what Google's vision for communities and also how to get my community data by talking to these people and it is near impossible - I am dealing with a hive mind.

More on that later for my non-audience.