Why the StudiVZ disaster won’t lead to a mass exodus to Facebook

StudiVZ, Germany’s most popular social network site for university students and often called a “German Facebook clone”, has been forced to shut down its website for several days following the exposure of a series of pathetic security issues. While this disaster provided hours of great entertainment for programmers and hackers, from a commercial perspective the most interesting question is the one posted by Don Alphonso in his recent blog: What if StudiVZ’s users simply turned to the original and registered with Facebook?

As he writes, this would leave behind an essentially worthless company. However, here’s the main reason why this won’t  happen: Facebook is available in English only. Yes, we’re talking about university students and not about consumers in general, which have trouble understanding even simple slogans in English. Still, we have to face the facts: A representative study rated only 5% of the students as having very good or good English language abilities. I’m serious. Just look at my lousy English – my fellow students thought it was amazing (“You must have spent a lot of time abroad” – maybe so, but not in English speaking countries).

Loosing 5% or even 15% of their users wouldn’t cause irreparable damage to StudiVZ. You’d need a far higher figure to generate the positive network externalities which really make social networking site work. Facebook won’t get there unless they set up a German version. They probably won’t get this done until Tuesday, when StudiVZ is supposed to be back on line. Apparently they don’t even own the domain facebook.de.

Lesson learned: Security and internationalization should be on your mind right from the beginning of a web project.

JAJAH on your mobile phone – it works!

If you have no idea what JAJAH is, you’re probably paying too much for your phone calls. You should go have a look at my post from February.

Good, now that we’ve established I’m not always too late reporting interesting new developments ;), let me tell you that using JAJAH’s VOIP-based callback service on a mobile works very well. While I couldn’t test the “seamless integration” on phones using the Symbian OS, triggering a callback with the Java application is not too much of a hassle either. For a list of supported phones and further information, go here.

Thank you, JAJAH! No longer will I have to postpone making international calls until I’m on a PC. 😀

Please note (to prevent expensive misunderstandings): If you use JAJAH while roaming outside your operator’s network,
you’ll of course still have to pay roaming charges for the incoming (callback) call.

Netobjects Fusion 7.5 kostenlos (upgradefähige Vollversion)

This post is available in German only as is the web site and software mentioned here.

Latest Release! NetObjects Fusion 9Während meiner Recherchen zu dem unten genannten Site-Style-Problem habe ich ein interessantes Gratis-Angebot von nof-club.de gefunden: Unter diesem Link lässt sich die Vollversion von NOF 7.5 gratis herunterladen sowie die Registrierung zur Erteilung einer Seriennummer vornehmen. Beides funktionierte bei mir problemlos. NOF 7.5 bringt gegenüber der Version 7.0 einige nützliche Neuerungen mit und sollte sich auch auf die aktuelle Version upgraden lassen (Seriennummer genügt zur Installation des Upgrades).

How not to import your site styles from previous versions of NOF

If you want to import entire sites from previous versions of NetObjects Fusion to the newest NOF 9.1, just follow these migration instructions. However, what if you only want import site styles?

Add Site StylesWell, here’s how you should NOT do it for versions prior to NOF 8 (unless you don’t want to work with your older version of NOF anymore). I have been using NOF 7 and now wanted to use some of my site styles for NOF 9 too. I didn’t want to import (migrate) entire existing sites at that time. So, I simply used the Style > Add Site Styles Source command to point NOF 9 to the NOF 7 site styles directory.

NOF7 broken site styleBad idea. Using this procedure, NOF 9 leaves the site styles where they are, but transforms them into its new format. This means NOF 7 couldn’t read them anymore and my existing sites looked broken in NOF 7. Unfortunately, when I realized this several days had passed since I had used the Add Site Styles Source command. Therefore, it took me some time to figure out what had happened (first, I wrongly assumed NOF 7 and NOF 9 had problems running on the same machine, which is not the case).

After discovering that NOF 7 couldn’t use the site styles anymore because of the modifications NOF 9 had made, I simply removed the site styles location from NOF 9 and restored the files from my backups. To use them in NOF 9, I made a copy outside the NOF 7 directory tree and included them again in NOF 9. As expected, everything looked fine again in NOF 7.

Netobjects Fusion now produces code that validates

Latest Release! NetObjects Fusion 9One of the things I’ve been doing while not updating this blog was looking for a web editor to replace the ancient NetObjects Fusion 7.0 still used (together with heavy “post-processing”) for some of my most important websites.The programs I had planned to have a closer look at were NetObjects Fusion 9, Nvu and Dreamweaver.

Concerning the first candidate, I had the impression that many features I didn’t really need had been added while no improvements had been made to the code quality, so I heavy-heartedly discarded NOF 9 and started to learn how to use Nvu.

Standing for “new view” and supposedly pronounced “n-view” (not “envy you”), open source Nvu claims to be “a complete Web Authoring System […] to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver”. As I eventually found out, this statement is only true if you compare Nvu to the very first versions of these programs. Not only does Nvu have severe limitations when it comes to using server side script languages like PHP, it is also a very buggy piece of software, making it useless for simple tasks, too. With no bug fixes released since version 1.0, Nvu is dead by now. However, there’s an unofficial bug-fix release called KompoZer, which I didn’t have a closer look at because I’d already wasted too much time.

In fact, at that point I had to stop my “research project” to continue working on my company’s web shops and back office systems. I didn’t even have the time to write a rant about Nvu on this blog. 😉

The next step would’ve been Dreamweaver and indeed I got as far as installing the MX 2004 version which came with a 1&1 webhosting account. That’s when I decided to have another look at the NetObject’s homepage and the NOF 9 newsgroups. I was pleased to find out that a significant update for NOF 9 had been released and even more pleased when I read that all code generated by NOF 9 now meets W3C HTML 4.01 transitional standards. At that point, I couldn’t resist to buy the upgrade. I’ll try to post an in-depth review in a few weeks, but the first impression I had was very good. It seems that the makers of NOF listened to what the users had to say and that NOF is still very much alive.