Odnoklassniki.ru – Russian classmates, but abroad?

My last post about Odnoklassniki.ru became the most popular post on this blog. It’s by far more popular than all the tips, links, and tutorials that I’ve written here, combined. It comes up pretty high in related Google search results and brings quite a bit of traffic. It also brings in some comments.

Most of the comments are from people who mistakenly assume that this blog is some sort of support forum for all the troubles they have with Odnoklassniki.ru, or, even, that this site IS in itself Odnoklassniki.ru. I am trying to limit those comments, since they don’t belong here. On the other hand though, there are some really insightful comments.

For example, Gennadiy Zaretskiy has recently posted a comment with the link to this article. Here is what caught my attention:

Foreign users constitute a significant share of the project “Odnoklassniki” audience. According to Mr. Popkov, about 20% of the traffic comes from abroad.

Wow! “20% of the traffic comes from abroad“. That seems like a lot. Odnoklassniki.ru web site is in Russian. Only Russian-speaking folks can make use of it. Also, the whole topic of the classmates is tied very much into specifically Russian users. So, does that mean that about 20% of computer literate (at least to some deree), educated (at least to some degree) young (mostly) people either live, study, or work outside of Russia?

That. Seems. Like. A. Lot.

Read it later Firefox extension

Web Worker Daily is being extra helpful recently. Via one of their posts I learned about Read It Later Firefox extension. It’s simple and, as many simple things – genius! It adds two buttons to your Firefox toolbar, which you can use to control your “I don’t have time for it now, but I want to read it later” list. Great idea, much needed tool, and brilliant implementation – that’s what I can say about it. It has all, and just enough of, functionality that I’d expect from such an extension.

Go check it out! There is even a video demonstration on how it can be used. Instant favorite.

Just ignore HTML 5 for now

A List Apart has a little introduction into HTML 5. They explain the tough process of crafting the standard, how different parties interact, and what they are trying to achieve. It all sounds pretty interesting if you have no idea about HTML 5. Also, it all sounds pretty interesting until you get to one of the final paragraphs (emphasis is mine):

Work on HTML 5 is rapidly progressing, yet it is still expected to continue for several years. Due to the requirement to produce test cases and achieve interoperable implementations, current estimates have work finishing in around ten to fifteen years.

Excuse me? They are working on a standard for the Web, one of the fastest growing, expanding, and developing areas of IT industry, which itself is one of the fastest developing industries of the modern world, and they are planning to finish in 10 or 15 years?!! Hello? Wake up!

Just take a look around. See how this place is different even from two years ago. See how dramatically different it is from five years ago. See how it is unrecognizably different from what it was ten years ago. Try to find a living human being who even remembers how it was fifteen years ago… Guys, what are you doing over there?

No matter how well you plan things today, no matter to how many people in the field you talk today, there is absolutely no way to predict how things will be in ten or fifteen years. Trying to predict this will hard enough job for a single head. Getting a few heads to agree on how this will be is beyond impossible!

If that’s how long HTML 5 will need to come out, we can just drop the effort right now. If it will even come out, it will be totally useless, because people won’t wait for it. If you think that we are moving fast now, you haven’t seen nothing yet. We are just starting. We are in the 1950s of the automobile industry. Web is still a very much foreign concept for our society. Wait a few more years when it will get more natural, and you’ll see what are the real power and speed of development.

Nobody is going to wait for a bunch of guys to agree on something that nobody knows how will come out. People will just come up with their own solutions to their problems. They will aggregate, re-factor, and re-optimize those solutions until they solve the majority of problems. And then they will move on to the next stack of problems. And will go on and on. Forever…

How important is HTML 5? It is needed, yes. But right now. Not in five years, not in ten, and not in fifteen. The problems it tries to solve are the problems of today. If it’s not coming out shortly, you can just ignore it altogether. There will be another solution…

Tip for web promoters

If you care about web promotion of your web site, if you post articles titled “10 steps to do XYZ” or “ABC in 3 minutes”, if you want your blog posts to be bookmarked across all social networks, if you follow your incoming links with more attention than your personal hygiene, then here is a tip for you.

Look at the limitations that social bookmarking services impose on their users.  Make sure that you provide a quick way to bookmark your site with sufficient information which is within those limitations.

Take del.icio.us for example. Which limitations does it impose on the users?  There are a few, but the main one is the length of the description.  Whenever I bookmark your web site, I can only post 255 characters of the description.  This is too much and this is too little.

This is too much if I will have to type my own description.  I don’t have the time to describe all the web sites that I bookmark.  For many of them, I don’t even have any idea of what to write, since I bookmark the web site to check it out later… So whenever I bookmark a web site, I look around for a quick way to generate that description.  And the easiest and fastest way is always a copy-paste.

That’s where that description length limitation becomes too small.  Most web sites have an “About” page these days.  But it’s too long for a description.  A couple of paragraphs could do, and I can almost always find those paragraphs to copy-paste, but they almost never fit into 255 characters.  That’s where you come in.

First of all, make sure that there is a piece of text, less than 255 characters long, that gives me an idea of what the article is or post or page or web site is about.  Secondly, make sure that I can find that piece of text easily.  Make it bold.  Put a border around it.   Slap a “Synopsis” or “About” or “In brief” label somewhere nearby.  You can even go as noisy as “del.icio.us users might want to use this as description: …”.

Why would you want to go into all that trouble?  Because this will help me, your visitor, to keep my bookmarks organized and annotated.  I will be able to find this bookmark much faster later on.  And that means that chances of me coming back, of me sending this link to someone else, or blogging about it are much higher.  And that is what you, as a web promoter, want.  Isn’t it?

Endless loop

I’ve been using Gmail for bookmarking for quite some time now.  It works, but not as good as specialized bookmarking applications, such as del.icio.us .  So, I’m moving many of my bookmarks from Gmail to del.icio.us .  A few minutes later, I see them coming up in my Google Reader subscriptions (I’m subscribed to my own feeds as well for easier searching).  I look through them and think “these are some cool links!  I should add them to my del.icio.us bookmarks.”.  Puzzled…

Morning Coffee Firefox extension

Via this post at Web Worker Daily, I learned about Morning Coffee extension for Firefox.

Keeps track of daily routine websites and opens them in tabs.
This extension lets you organize websites by day and open them up simultaneously as part of your daily routine. This is really handy if you read sites that update on a regular schedule (like webcomics, weekly columns, etc.).

I haven’t tried it yet, but it sure sounds promising. I don’t close my browser very often these days, but I know a lot of people who do. Many of those people also don’t use any RSS readers to keep updated. Instead they revisit their favourite web sites once in a while. Morning Coffee seems to be the perfect extension for them.

If you are still not interested, check the link above for excellent screenshots, which show exactly how this thing works.

The Microsoft experience

I smiled after reading this post.  It reminded me of the fact that in our office, designers use my laptop to test web sites on Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.  We have two guys doing the designs, and one of the uses Windows Vista, which runs MSIE 7.  Another one uses, I think, Windows XP, but with MSIE upgraded to version 7 too.  I heard it’s possible to have several versions of Internet Explorer running on the same Windows installation, but nobody around here knows how to do it or cares enough to experiment.

But the funniest thing in this whole story is that my laptop is running on Fedora Linux.

Odnoklassniki.ru – Russian classmates

I’m always amazed and shaken when ugly things work. I know they often do, but every time it happens, it’s like the first time for me.

There are many examples around, MySpace.com being the most well known. The idea behind it is nice – to provide a place for youngsters to communicate and share pictures and music. But the way it is implemented is truly ugly. Yet, MySpace.com is one of the top visited web sites on the Web.

Odnoklassniki.ru is another example of this. (Odnoklassniki is a Russian word for “classmates”.) Again, the idea was pretty good – create a way for people to find their classmates and all friends easily. 10, 15, 20 years later names and faces tend to fade out and we don’t remember them all that good anymore. So, those of us who want to get re-connected with friends from the old days have some troubles locating those. With Odnoklassniki.ru it becomes pretty easy – pick the region, area, and school or college where you studied, specify the years during which your were there, and you’ll be shown other people who are registered on the web site, who studied at the same place during approximately the same years. Names and pictures are there, and those help a lot.

The way the whole thing is setup is terrible though. First of all, the web site is horribly slow. Always. I’ve been registered there since forever, and I was checking it out once in a while – always slow. Secondly, it tries to be everything – a contact manager, a search engine, people directory, photo sharing and rating service, messenger, forum, and so on. Needless to say, it sucks badly at most of these. There is not a single function that works properly.

But, the main thing is that it works. The web site is very popular in Russia and lots of people register there every day. I myself managed to find and connect with people who I lost and forgotten a long time ago.

When I think about how these things work, this quote comes to mind (from Pirates of Silicon Valley movie):

Steve Jobs: We’re better than you are! We have better stuff.
Bill Gates: You don’t get it, Steve. That doesn’t matter!

Looking forward for new Gmail

Mashable mentions that a new Gmail is coming. And I’m eagerly waiting for the new version, because I really, really want these changes:

One of the features is pre-fetching of messages. This means that when you load a page that has a list of messages, Gmail will fetch them in advance, so that they will be available immediately, when you decide to click on one. This goes along with the new JavaScript architecture that’s expected to bring improved performance. There will also be a new contact manager, which will be shared with other Google Apps, including Docs and Calendar.

More Gmail space?

Today I noticed that I have more Gmail space than I used. Here is a screenshot:

Gmail space stats

I don’t check these numbers every day, but I was under the impression that I had somewhere around 3 GBytes just a few days ago. Now I have more than 4 GBytes. I looked through a few news sites, but haven’t noticed any related headlines.

Anybody has any idea? Is it for everybody or just a few random users? Will it stay or will it go? Will we get more? (as you can clearly see, I don’t need more just yet, but I’m still interested).