Criticker is the social thinking man’s IMDB.

October 5, 2010

The IMDB business is almost 20 years old (true, just 10 days to go) and although we all love it the site hasn’t changed much or matured beyond its web 1.0 status. Yes it has 57 million visitors every month but it’s not without flaws. Indeed I think there are some interesting lessons to be learned in how to utilise social and crowdsourcing from the little movie recommendations site Criticker.com especially when it comes to movie rankings – read on:

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Aliens – only 8.5/10 ? Pffft come on it’s a 9.1 easy!

So here’s the problem (and I will bet this has happened to you at some point): You watch a movie, love it only to find IMDB users gave it a crummy 6.5 out of 10 (or vice versa – a crap movie gets a good score on IMDB). The issue of course is that movies are rated by everyone INCLUDING people who also hate the sort of movies you love. In short IMDB does nothing more than merely aggregate the mass opinion of everyone. In the real world we make many choices based on trusted opinions, not just those of the many.

Enter Criticker…
Criticker calls itself a ‘movie recommendation engine’. How does it work? It calculates ratings by analysing movies that YOU like/dislike then it finds OTHER PEOPLE with the same likes/dislikes and then gives you a Probable Score Indicator (PSI) based on the result. In short it ranks movies based on scores from people just like you.

The outcome is that when you search for a movie, your Criticker predicted score is much more likely to be the score you would actually give it. Here’s an example: The film I searched for here is Clockwork Orange. My PSI (probable score) on Cricketer is adjusted to 79/100 (that rating is based on other ratings of people like me). On IMDB it is rated en masse at 8.5/10. The reality here is that Cricketer is much closer than IMDB (I’d probably give it a 75).

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Social web 2.0
I’ve been using Criticker for 18 months, I’ve scored about 230 movies and I find the more data I give it, the better it becomes at predicting my scores. Bottom line – this is a truly intelligent and useful crowdsourcing tool and it works. I love it.

BTW: Here’s my profile on Criticker… feel free to hate the movies I ❤ 😉
http://www.criticker.com/profile/eunmac

Oh PS: If you like it, pop them a donation – this is a startup run by a couple of movie buffs and they need support.


Sony NEX-5 … “Want that one”

July 1, 2010

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Nex-3 and the Nex-5 both look amazing, sound amazing and hopefully they take amazing shots. Here’s the lowdown:

DSLR-style quality and shooting responses: compact and easy to use with interchangeable lenses.14.2 megapixels Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, HD 1080i movie, 7.5cm LCD, Sweep Panorama. 16mm lens.

Does anyone own one? Anyone from Sony want to send me one to test?

@handypearce


Nokia 5800 Music Xpress first thoughts Vs iPhone

October 7, 2008

I held off buying an iPhone 3G, partly because I really like my N95 but mainly because the iPhone lacked a few features I use like video calling, MMS etc. The 5800 MusicXpress is the latest challenger so here’s the first look:

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What’s good about the Nokia 5800?
– GPS, Bluetooth 2.0
– Flash 9 built in to web browsing (yeahhhhh!)
– Video Calling, VGA res 30fps
– 640×360 screen
– MMS
– TV out
– 3.2 Mp camera with dual flash Carl Zeiss
– Touch screen (but does not look as good as iPhone
– Accelerometer (for switching landscape / portrait modes)
– Weight (109g)
– Price (est 279 Euros)
– All you can eat music downloads coming soon (here)

What’s Bad
– Can’t see any multi-touch in use.
– Nokia just don’t get UI as well as ‘others’ do. It’s still clunky.
– No transitions (moving between any content causes page refresh).
– Fonts + Menus still too big! (This phone has great resolution but Nokia just made everything bigger Argh! Nokia… please – when browsing contacts some of us want the option to not have to scroll through 500 pages of contacts when we could simply see more on one page).

Accelerometer Game on the Nokia 5800:

Verdict:
Q: Should I buy a Nokia 5800 instead of an iPhone 3G?
A: If you want heaps of features then it’s a YES. If you are obsessed with having an eye-candy interface then it’s a NO.


iPhone 3G Camera Sample image Vs Nokia N95. Best Camera?

August 5, 2008

The images below may be the single reason I don’t buy a 3G iPhone and stick with my Nokia N95 for a little while longer.

Now I should say that I think the N95 and iPhone 3G are both very good phones. Many Amnesia staff have iPhones, but I’m yet to be drawn in despite beeing a total geek and gadget freak. Why? Now, forget the vastly superior iPhone interface and screen for a second, because they both have similar features (3G, GPS, wireless, accelerometer, + tons of apps for both).

The big problem with the iPhone is the camera. It’s a 2 megapixel camera with no flash, compared with the N95 5 megapixel cam with Carl Zeiss lens. These shots below are taken outside the Amnesia office from exactly the same position with good light.

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3G iPhone (above)

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Nokia 95 – Note the much greater field of view than the iPhone.

Now let’s Zoom in on the detail:

Nokia N95 Sample image
Above is a zoom from the N95 shot. It’s at the point where clearly the compression starts to become noticable, but you can read the street sign. There is detail in the shutters at the side and the red alarm bell on the right is distinguishable. 

iPhone 3G sample image zoom detail 
Above is the iPhone 3G. The detail is completely gone at the same zoom level. Not a single letter can be made out on the signpost.

Finally let’s look at the red car the red BMW. Well on the iPhone you can’t even see what brand of car it is, let alone read the numberplate. Good job this isn’t a crime scene.

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The iPhone 3G camera in low light is a lot worse – and it’s not an easy camera to hold still whilst you press the button… so pictures in the pub get very smudgy. Admittedly the Nokia N95 flash is pretty ordinary but better than nothing.

So if you want a single device – camera and phone like me, and you want OK shots that you could print later, then the iPhone 3G has a long way to go. The N95 wins by a mile.

[Amnesiablog Review of the Nokia N73 Camera and sample image here]


An Audi R8 image PR nightmare in Google

August 4, 2008

This is a classic example of things going wrong for a brand. I just watched a Top Gear clip of the Audi R8 which inspired me to do a quick search in Google for “r8″…

Oh dear… it’s an SEO (Search engine optimisation) branding nightmare – the first image that jumps up is a burnt out Audi R8. Given that around 97% of car purchases now involve some online research, this is not what you want people to see straight up.

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The unfortunate Audi R8 image that would send shivers down the Audi marketing team’s spines…
 
So what do you do when Image Search Results go bad?
Here’s some small tips for a healthy life in the chaotic land of Search / SEO:
1. Listen | Observe – this means keeping an eye on what’s coming up in your search results. If you don’t know about it, you can’t fix it.
2. Play a role in the community especially the blogosphere – make sure high ranking sites carry correctly named/tagged images that will index in search. Know the bloggers that influence your results.
3. Optimise your own site as much as possible for images, meta data and other techniques. There are many companies (including ours, plug plug) that can help with this.
4. SEM – Make sure your search engine marketing is in place (in the instance above I did not receive any SEM ads whatsoever.
5. Run a Digital PR campaign. There are various creative techniques which could encourage a large amount of people to get involved with images that are positive for your brand.
6. Provide assets to the masses. Allow users to take your images (the ones you want seen) and distribute freely.
7. Use the social networks. Nothing stopping brands playing a role in the community in an open transparent manner.
8. Create an official Blog. A properly maintained, healthy blog by a brand can do wonders in search. Bear in  mind a blog needs to work (have great content, audience participation and avoid the corporate BS).
9. Talk to Google. Whilst they’re not going to change their indexing algorithms they are a helpful and good natured company and may be able to offer advice.
10. Talk to the site which houses the bad image/content. They may be quite happy to run another more positive story to help, without compromising or asking them to delete their original content. (Avoid censorship – that would be a big no-no).

Unfortunately bad news is big news. If a big ranking site pushes something you don’t like in Search, the only surefire method is to outgun that site in the digital space …and this is a time consuming game.

The lowdown for brands to prevent a search disaster:
Make sure you have a digital strategy, an SEO / SEM strategy, the assets to make it work, a team that is watching …and get it in place as early as possible.


Cuil – a Google Beater? In review:

July 29, 2008

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It’s one of those head turning stories : A bunch of ex-Google employees run off and make their own search engine ready to beat Google at their own game. A tough gig by all accounts. The key differentiator – they don’t hold any of your information. The pitch being that Google is holding too much of your personal data – they don’t and won’t. They claim to have indexed more web pages than Google and a technical setup to rival the giants. 

One important factor may be the URL. It’s two letters shorter (this is a good move) but I suspect that by trying to be ‘cool’ with the literal name Cuil the brand is a little to broad to become the vernacular for Search. “I’m going to Cuil for that” just doesn’t do the same job as “I’ll Google that” – as is the case with “Live Search” which is simply too generic for consumers to adopt as a verb. I suspect a brand name that could replace the Google “verb” may have been a better brand strategy.

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OK, into the product itself – Now first impression counts, and the screen shown here is not a good start. We all encountered different errors at different times. OK these are likely just teething issues but probably not the best start. Google’s consistency has been one of it’s strongest assets – it rarely lets users down even though both Yahoo and Live Search both offer some pretty good features.

Now I did find some strange things happening with the indexing. Typing Wii shows a very strange result as did a fair few other queries I tried. We’ve asked them to look into an issue on one of our sites so it will be interesting to hear what they come back with.

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Bugs aside, there are a couple of nice features with Cuil like the widget below which breaks down categories.

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Cuil also lets you choose between 2 or 3 column layout. Nice to see something different but to be honest I would have preferred to see the additional option of the ‘infinite scrolling page’ here as Live Search offers with it’s image searching – something it does beat Google on in my opinion.

Of course the underlying need to sell advertising impressions becomes an issue with these interfaces because page refreshing = more ads served.

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Is three better than one?

So we’ll keep an eye on Cuil ongoing. All new things are good in  the digital landscape so I think this is a welcome addition to the search wars. Will I use it as my default engine? No, but I’ll keep experimenting and time will tell.