Monday, November 8, 2010

RockMelt Builds on Facebook’s Data Portability

An innovative new product has entered the scene that will likely test the resolve of Facebook and others as it relates to data portability. RockMelt ( is a customized implementation of the open source (Google) Chrome browser that tightly integrates social media while maintaining the comfort (and speed) of the Chrome browsing environment. It is so tight in fact that Facebook is likely trying to figure out what to do with this revolutionary – and potentially dangerous (to them) – new thing. You see, RockMelt gives you much of the experience of being inside of Facebook without actually being there – including no Facebook ads — all thanks to Facebook’s data portability capabilities. In many cases the RockMelt browser does Facebook BETTER than Facebook.

Of course if Facebook looks at all of this with an open mind, they will realize that RockMelt has “officially” made Facebook the center of the social communications universe – and FB’s data portability initiatives are powering an increasingly expanding wave (sorry Google, no pun intended) that solidifies that position. The question remains whether Facebook will embrace this direction and take it even further or feel threatened and seek to crush that which it does not control. I for one wouldn’t be surprised if the RockMelt browser became the Facebook browser…

Regardless of the result, it is the innovative use of data portability that sparked this particular seed of innovation.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Facebook Data Portability Takes First Step into the Light

Today’s announcement from Facebook represents the most important statement from them to-date regarding Data Portability. But to be clear, it is by no means the ultimate solution we all seek. Still, it represents major movement in the right direction.

First, you literally can draw a line on the calendar and say “prior to this date it was virtually impossible to get meaningful information out of Facebook without being a programmer” – that has now changed. Is it everything we could want? No, but it’s a pretty good start. It’s not so much what you can do with the information today, rather that it is available and will absolutely fuel innovation tomorrow. Sure, other services will use this information, but Facebook is showing leadership as well as responding to the will of its user base – to the benefit of us all.

Secondly, and more importantly in my mind, this announcement shows the elevation in importance of openness and standardization. More than a few of us scratched our heads when open-source guru David Recordon joined the walled-garden giant not so long ago. So it is with great excitement we learned today that David’s efforts (along with all of his cohorts and team members) have succeeded from the inside where so many others have failed from the outside.

From a pure data portability perspective, there is still much more that Facebook can do, but I applaud their direction and effort. This is way more than PR, this is policy that has grown from within and is now escaping into the light. Today’s announcement is the beginning; the Sleeper is waking; and openness lives on with more on the way.


–Steve Repetti

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How I Came to Uninstall IE9 BETA in 5 Minutes

First, let me say that I am a long-time Microsoft fan. I’ve met Bill Gates a few times and have had dinner with Steve Balmar (back in the original “Year of the LAN” days). That’s not to say that they don’t frustrate or disappoint me from time to time – they do, like everyone else (myself included now and then). Which leads me to the recent BETA release of IE9. I am excited to see HTML 5 support finally make it to the IE platform and was looking forward to testing it on my computer. I am a frequent tester of early release software, so I have no problem with Alpha or Beta releases – however, when the BETA stamp is on it I do have a reasonable expectation that general functionality will work.

My experience with IE9 BETA started well enough --- the system downloaded and installed easily and had no problem that I had other browsers open at the time (IE8, Chrome, and Firefox – yes, I use ALL of them for testing). Once installed I was politely asked to reboot the system, which I did, and (eventually) up came my computer. Everything appeared normal and in its place. There was no obvious magical IE9 button and all of my IE icons on my desktop were intact. So, I clicked on the first one and PRESTO, up popped IE9.

I’ve already been following the progress of IE9 so I wasn’t surprised at the new toolbar design and top screen real-estate efficiencies. It is certainly different and will take some time to get used to it, but my initial reaction was positive. The new IE9 opening page is very nice and really shows off some of the cool things we can all expect to see as HTML 5 starts making its way across the web. The first “normal” page I navigated to was a simple static HTML page and everything looked great; after that, not so much.

After all the hubabaloo regarding flash, I was really surprised that the first page I went to with a simple embedded flash object did not work; that’s not to say it didn’t display --- it did – sort of. IE9 made Flash flash – literally. As I scrolled down the page, the flash object alternatingly was there, then disappeared, then flashed in a strange strobe-like manner! Ok, I thought, not ready for prime time, but I’ll just resume my development projects back on IE8 and “play” with IE9 when I get a chance. Not so fast – ALL of my IE icons now link to IE9! So, IE9 has got to go.

Trying to uninstall IE9 was itself an adventure. It does not show up on the installed programs list and took some time to figure out how to get it off without causing damage. But for now, it is gone. In hind sight, it would have been much better if it had left all of my existing links and applications alone, and simply installed a new icon to use for testing. In any case, I’ll try again at some point and hope that they continue to evolve the product. IE9 is REALLY important to Microsoft --- its success means the difference of carrying on a dynasty, or handing the reigns over to Google Chrome; IMHO.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook Embraces Data Portability – Again

Picture credit: VentureBeat
Today, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, made his strongest endorsements of Data Portability to date. Speaking from the company’s Palo Alto offices earlier today he stated:

“There is this concept of data portability that we’re trying to enable. We believe that people own their information and not only should they have control over it, but they should be able to take it to other services.”

This is a bold pronouncement from a company that has all too often been perceived as being more closed than open when it comes to data policies.

Of course the devil is in the details, particularly in understanding better what he means when he says “this concept of data portability that we’re trying to enable” – hopefully the “concept” is the same one most other folks understand to be regarding data portability.

As for the rest of his statement, it is a significant milestone for him to say “people own their information” and that they “should be able to take it to other services. If this holds true, then Facebook may be on the verge of becoming the largest and most influential supporter of data portability – to the significant benefit of all.

Still, Facebook has been here before – having initially joined the non-profit Data Portability organization and then largely remaining on the sidelines.

Hopefully, this all comes to pass and Facebook becomes the shining example of how a large company can balance direction and profitability with open data policies. If not, Mark’s words will likely become a rallying point that will surely stick in his side.

But, for now we’ll take him at his word, literally, and hope that the corner has turned. If this is in fact the case, then one of the best things that Mark and Facebook could do is to enact an official Portability Policy – just like those suggested by the recently released from the Data Portability organization.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

iPad -- the New Computing Form Factor! (xWinLib announces support of the iPad!)

Today I released support for the iPad in my xWinLib cross-browser library. But first:

Hello, I’m a Windows dude and I LOVE THE iPad.

That’s not a sacrilegious statement or my introduction at Apple Anonymous, it’s a statement based on anticipation, excitement, and realization. Yes, I had to have it the day it came out. Yes, I am a geek, but I also consider myself more of a Window’s guy than an Apple dude. Still, I do own a Mac Air, a bunch of iTouchs, and of course a Macbook Pro (all [mostly] for testing purposes[;-)]) --- but the iPad is truly different.

I like to think that I obsessed on owning the iPad because it represents a new “form factor” – a new paradigm in the computing world – and as a software developer it opens all kinds of new avenues. And while all of this is true – and I do think that the iPad creates an entirely new market that previously did not exist (and we didn’t even know we needed…but we do need it) – there’s more to it… the iPad is COOL!

The day of the iPad release, lines went around the block. I called my local Apple store in the Galleria mall and they told me the line went outside into the parking lot. Best Buy at Pembroke Pines had a line that exceeded their inventory. Double bummer. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait in line to get my iPad. My local Best Buy in Sunrise somehow didn’t get their UPS-delivered shipment of iPads the day before --- and boy were they stressing! I went there the day before and talked to the dude responsible for the iPad rollout at that store – he was totally stressing. The morning of the launch, the guys answering the phone were even more stressed, and they probably went something like this: “Hi, this is Best Buy, no we haven’t gotten our iPad shipment in yet but we are hopeful that it will happen today. Please call back and we’ll be happy to tell you this again.”

After lunch I went in anyway and the “iPad dude” gave me a number for “when (if) they did come in” --- I got number 18, “just make sure you come in to pick it up before 5pm” – no problem! And it wasn’t – I rolled in at 4:30 --- the shipment arrived – no line – they swiped my credit card – and I left with the goodies. S-u-w-e-e-t.

So, what’s all the fuss for what many are calling an oversized iPhone?

Would you leave your personal computer or laptop on your coffee table for others to play with? No friggin’ way. Would you pass your laptop around the room in a magnanimous gesture of sharing? Seriously? Not a chance. Yet the coffee table is exactly where my iPad sits. And that’s just one of the things that makes the iPad so radically different.

The iPad is a household computing device. A media interface. A computer DESIGNED FOR SHARING. And, as a gaming device it adds a layer of SOCIAL INTEGRATION that transcends virtual to, dare I say it, reality!

How many remotes do you have? In my house I’ve got the cable box, blue-ray dvd, TV, surround sound, and an HDMI splitter – and that’s just the family room. Yeah, I’ve tried the “smart remote” -- my son bought me the Logitech model 10billion -- and my wife still shops for wicker baskets to hold all of the remotes.

More so, are we really approaching “the year of home automation”? OK, I already mentioned that I’m a geek – and, yes, I was playing around with creating APIs for X10 device 2 ½ DECADES ago – but TRUE automation is way cooler than turning on and off your Christmas lights with a key fob.

The iPAD IS PERFECT FOR ALL OF THIS. My laptop… not so much. My desktop… definitely not. My server farm… get real…. Hence my belief that the iPad is a completely new form factor for computing – and THAT is why I had to have one… NOW. For all these reasons and more, I made damn sure that my xWinlib library ( provides support and recognition for the iPad platform – TODAY.

And now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to excuse myself so I can test my credit limit in the APP STORE… and I’ve got a few planes to land as I play “drag and drop” air-traffic controller…


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DataPortability 2010

As many of you know, I am a big-time proponent of Data Portability. That simple concept that enables the free-flow of information in intuitive, secure, and informed ways has been a pet project of mine for some time. In fact, many of the products I have developed over the years, including Zude, Scrapplet, FGL, and xWinLib just to name a few, posses significant components of (and hopefully important contributions to) data portability.

I have been fortunate to be associated with the Data Portability Project (, the International non-profit spearheading the charge of Data Portability. My involvement has grown from “just a member” to a corporate officer and member of the Board of Directors. I am humbled by the caliber of folks that I get to work with in this group and others that share a mutual passion and vision for data portability. Today, the Data Portability organization counts among its members and participants many of the thought-leaders in the technology world and related organizations including: Facebook, MySpace, Google, Plaxo, Microsoft, Adobe, and more.

It is with this in mind that I am honored to have been elected as 2010 Vice-Chairman of the DataPortability organization and again member of the board. This is especially meaningful knowing all of the good things ahead for data portability and the consumers and producers of information. I look forward to the year ahead and am excited at the prospect of positive change that data portability will bring to us all!

--Steve Repetti

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Open Web Advocate Chris Messina to join Google

TechCrunch is reporting today that Open Web rockstar Chris Messina is joing Google!

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Chris through the Open Web Foundation ( and Data Portability initiative ( and can unequivocally state that he is truly one of the thought leaders in technology today. I know he will do well at Google and all of which will mean bigger and better things for us all. My advice to Google: listen to Chris, give him whatever resources he wants, and sit back and take credit for your brilliance to bring him into the fold. (oh yeah, and don’t forget DISO !)

And... Happy Birthday Chris! What a great birthday present!!!