Category Archives: Site Reviews

YouTube Red – a week in review

YouTube logo

I had to spend some serious time with YouTube Red to really get a valid opinion. So a week of deep diving and usage and here is my review and opinions.  The first thing I had to take into account was how much do the ads really bother me?  Honestly I am so used to them since the start I ignore them.  Even the additions of cards, links and other monetization doesn’t dissuade me and the masses from watching.

With YouTube Red you enter a world of

Ad-free videos whenever you sign in to YouTube or a YouTube app—on your mobile device, desktop, or enabled TV. Take your videos on your commute or your next trip. Relax or rock out to your music without listening to ads. Watch what you want, whenever you want.

Now in theory that sounds great. But most YouTube videos are about 4 minutes and I am always connected when it is important.  I do not see myself worrying about 4 minute videos when on a plane.  I have movies and other media for that.  Heck they really do not even have an official YouTube Red logo yet.


I was slightly shocked at the $9.99/month fee (even with the free trial period) for YouTube Red.  While I may “Keep supporting artists and the people who make your favorite videos, even while watching without video ads” I am sure most are making a ton of money off of ads already. How is my $9.99 subscription paid across the content creators? Number of views? Downloads? Subscribers?  What if I watch if offline 400 times, do they get more? I see a big flaw in this model if they are losing ad revenue.

Amazon Follow quietly launches for everyone

Amazon Logo

Amazon Follow quietly launched for everyone that adds content to Amazon. Previously, Amazon Follow was invite only as a way for authors to reach their readers. As a constant Amazon reviewer I can now have people follow my reviews for recommended products.

Amazon does not go into deep detail about how many notifications you receive or how they are actually viewed other than the web interface for any outside of authors. A book author could send a short email notice to followers on upcoming book releases and other information.  I do not see them allowing reviewers to notify followers every time a review is posted.  Some reviewers happen to post multiple per day. The following is below in Amazon help:

IdoNotes Amazon Profile

By choosing to share your release, a message from you may be shared with followers in e-mail notifications and will be available on their Follow Updates timeline.

You may receive relevant email updates about the people, brands, and interests you follow.

  • Follow authors to receive new release alerts. You may also receive occasional personal announcements from authors you follow.
  • Follow customers to get occasional updates when they post new content, such as reviews or articles.
  • Follow interests to get occasional updates for popular products and content.
  • Follow brands to get occasional updates when they release products.


As you can see, a simple follow button for Amazon has been added below each reviewers profile. While book authors would be able to reach readers, this allow reviewers like myself to alert you to our reviews and create a larger fan base.

A downside to Amazon Follow will also come into play.  Amazon states that when someone begins to like too many of your reviews they are then tagged as a Fan and their ratings do not count for your reviewer ranking.  This makes Amazon Follow have both benefit and downside at once.

If you are an avid Amazon shopper, keep up with my profile for all my product reviews and feel free to follow.  Also make sure to visit the Spiked Studio page on YouTube for all the big review videos.

Instagram – thank you for new Landscape, Portrait and Layouts

instagram logo

Instagram has finally listened to users and now allows you to post landscape and portrait mode photos. While you could previously do this using other applications, the whole act of going into another app made no sense and was obvious in the timeline.

Instagram landscape mode

As you can see, the picture on the left is the old way where you had to select a specific portion of a picture and crop it down to make it fit.  With the new button in the lower left corner it easily drops the photo to the landscape or portrait size and then you can slide and zoom as needed.  The final result shows on the right of the sample image.

Previously you had to launch a third party app that you authorize to post on Instagram under your account and do the work there.  It then tossed the picture over to Instagram for the final filters and description. This not only saves a step but removes you authorizing numerous third party applications.

Instagram also took matters into it;s own hands months ago and introduced Layout, it’s own companion app for making collages and other formatted pictures.  In Layouts you can take up to 9 photos (some 3rd party apps do 15) and choose the layout design and post to Instagram.

Hopefully they soon add the ability to put multiple photos into a single scrollable posting like advertisers are allowed to do. This could mean uploading a few shots of an event into a single post.  I have to see the developers at Instagram/Facebook would want this ability to come together for users as well much like they did with tagging photos.

Let’s hope everyone gets the update and posts some great landscape shots.  Leave some links to your best ones in the comments.

Goodbye Google Plus – that was fun while it lasted

Google Plus logo

Google Plus has been an underground social network, for lack of any other good definition. Those that wanted longer prose, better images and actual conversations used it constantly. With some changes being made I think the idea of Google Plus as a network is doomed.

It has been just over three years since Google dreamed big and went for a merger of services to hopefully mash together their seemingly endless supply of new applications and products. There was then the fight for the best Google Plus profile URL in case Google did win the network wars. Everyone has learned that no one is really winning the network wars. Facebook is flat, Twitter is flat, Instagram still has some growth but no real way to monetize without being totally Facebook and SnapChat is just growing along with no real plan.

According to Wired magazine  (and now ReadWrite), some changes inside of Google and some sources they use say that the name Google Plus will not disappear anytime soon but what makes it a cohesive product may be stripped down.